Tracing the lines of the barricade

“Which side are you on?”, asks a famous american labour song. Perhaps the answer to the question, taken as a question with revolutionary implications, has never been simple, contrary to the illusions of hindsight and/or ideology.

This seems to be particularly so for anarchists at a time of seeming spreading insurrections. If anarchists are present in many of the latter, they “dominate” none; from Hong Kong to France, from Algeria to Chile, anarchists are nowhere the majority and anarchism is nowhere the reigning ideal of the rebellions.

What to do then as an anarchist? (We here ignore the diversity of “positions” that go by this name, for the sake of simplicity).

What follows are two possible (and, we believe, uncertain) answers to the question. The first is the transcript of a radio interview with Tomás Ibáñez in which he addresses critically the participation of anarchists and libertarians in the protests surrounding the Catalan independence movement. Ibáñez’s evaluation is essentially negative, for the ideological and historical reasons that there is nothing emancipatory in “national” liberation and because the current nationalist movement of Catalonia is an essentially State centred, hierarchically organised movement (even recognising its diversity) which denies political autonomy.

“That no one decides for you.” This is one of the great anarchist principles which loudly shipwrecked in the current libertarian drift in Catalonia. And it shipwrecked because this principle has to be renounced if one wishes to participate in the gatherings convoked by the leaders of the procès and in the struggles which they promote.

And yet however much we abide by this principle of political autonomy, it is not always a simple matter to abide by it when anarchists are (often invisible) “minorities” within larger social movements, and as minorities, they may often be “pushed” to actions which are not entirely in harmony with their beliefs.

(Perhaps the most notable historical example for anarchists of such “compromise” was the participation of anarchists in the republican government of spain during the revolution/civil war of 1936. See: Geoff Bailey, Anarchists in the Spanish Civil War).

Should they then exclude themselves from such movements because they cannot fully decide for themselves, anarchists may find themselves withdrawing from almost every uprising and social movement where such autonomy is not possible.

Ibáñez’s position is not an apriori one; he criticises the participation of anarchists in the Catalan movement because of nature of the latter. It is then for each to judge whether his evaluation of that movement sustains his judgement.

What is not clear however is how the principle of political autonomy can be held to in any categorical manner. Despite its centrality to anarchist thought and practice – and the anarchist can always retreat from political engagement when the principle is violated – political realities, past and present, appear to render any blunt application of the principle impossible. Any demand for absolute autonomy for anarchists in the current (and past) insurrections would most likely only exclude them from them, thereby consigning anarchists simultaneously to ideological purity and political irrelevance.

Any judgement of whether a social-political movement calls for or deserves the involvement of anarchists will always be contingent on particularities of events, and will thus be relative to circumstances, in other words and in some sense, “unprincipled”. This is essentially the position assumed by Peter Gelderloos, in the second essay that we share below.

The risk then of course is that we become so unprincipled that we lose ourselves, as Ibáñez so forcefully argues in the case of Catalonia.

Those of us who continue to have an ideological affinity – in this case, anarchism – are burdened by a 19th and 20th century political imaginary of “revolutionary vanguards”, whether in the form of labour unions or political parties. Anarchism has only very rarely assumed such a role – consciously or unconsciously -, and yet we are often tempted, at least in thought, if not in practice, to aspire to some kind of movement hegemony. Failing that, we sit at the sidelines, judging events which we can only read through ideological lenses, or we “do our thing” on a much smaller scale (e.g., urban and rural squats, parallel cooperative economies, cultural activities, media production, and so on).

Our times seem to very much be times of insurrection. What then are we to do when large scale insurrections erupt?

I continue not to desire a State for anyone (… and nor a government).

Tomás Ibáñez

Barcelona, December 23, 2019.

On these days, which neighbour Christmas and which are propitious for the formulation of desires, we share an interview with Ibáñez for “Radio la Nevera” centred around a critical collection of essays addressing the “Catalan conflict” – and which includes contributions by him – published in book form by Pepitas de Calabaza entitled I do not desire a State for anyone.

1- You speak of a drifting or a shifting taking place among a part of the libertarians. What are you referring to by this?

Well, I am simply referring to the fact that a part of the libertarian movement in Catalonia has ceased to be libertarian. … It’s that clear. I will try to explain.

A drift or shift is in effect taking place, but not because a part of the libertarians are moving away from a certain straight line that would mark the correct trajectory, the canonic trajectory, which should be followed because of certain ideological imperatives demand it.

No. In fact, no such line exists. The libertarian moves through a very broad space between border lines which separate what is properly libertarian and what is clearly not.

For example, despite the fact that the libertarian is defined as a space completely devoid of dogmas, it is obvious that the exploitation of others, the creation of hierarchies, and other things along the same lines, are totally incompatible with it.

As we libertarians move through this ample space, it falls to us to sketch and trace our own course, to define our own trajectory on the basis of our own criteria, and this means that various trajectories, very diverse trajectories, always find room within the libertarian camp.

Thus the drift that has been taking place for some time now does not consist of a moving away from, or a diverting from, a preset course, as occurs when a ship losses its assigned route. The shift or loss in this case consists more of losing control over the course which one aims to follow, as a ship would which has broken its rudder.

In the example that presently concerns us, the libertarian drift does not consist in deviating from a specific route which would be the only correct one to follow in the midst of the current conflict, but in allowing oneself to be carried by the currents instead of deciding autonomously one’s own trajectory.

And this kind of drift is especially worrying because the fact of renouncing one’s own autonomy and allowing others to decide in one’s place is, yes, something completely incompatible with the libertarian idiosyncrasie.

“That no one decides for you.” This is one of the great anarchist principles which loudly shipwrecked in the current libertarian drift in Catalonia. And it shipwrecked because this principle has to be renounced if one wishes to participate in the gatherings convoked by the leaders of the procès and in the struggles which they promote.

I am not exaggerating … Without going any further, the recent participation of libertarians in the mobilisations of democratic tsunami, a tsunami where no one knew who took the really important decisions, nor how those decisions are taken, yet which everyone accepts as if they were orders, constitutes a good example of this drift, this loss of direction, which is completely contrary to a libertarian attitude.

2- You defend that dominant nationalisms must be fought against, but you also denounce ascendent nationalisms. Is this what libertarians are doing? Must ascendent nationalism also be denounced?

Of course. But in effect those libertarian groups against which I protest have completely forgotten to denounce ascendent nationalisms. They fail to do so in here in Catalonia, as well as in many other parts of the world where specific collectives are being repressed by dominant nationalisms and who struggle against this repression.

In fact, I fear that a great confusion is being created, on the one hand, between what actively promoting struggles against dominant nationalisms means, something which every libertarian would agree with, and, on the other hand, to support and become involved with struggles developed by dominated nationalisms against the former so as to gain national liberation.

It is with this last, with the struggles against dominant nationalisms, that no libertarian should participate in if s/he is to maintain a certain coherent with her/his own ideas.

The struggles for national liberation of certain collectives in no way concern us. What is however very important for us are the struggles against nationalisms, and even more, if these latter are dominant, but also of course if they are “dominated”.

It is obvious that the struggle against repression and against domination defines us; it always has. However, what is completely foreign to us, or which should be, is to support a nationalism, however “dominated” it may be.

Of course, to the extent that we have a common enemy, it is understandable that confluences between, on the one hand, struggles against dominant nationalisms and, on the other hand, struggles for national liberation, be produced. These confluences however cannot propitiate any alliance, and much less a fusion, or anything similar.

The enemies of my enemies need not be my friends, and in fact very rarely have they been, as was widely demonstrated in 1936.

It is clear that coincidences may arise along certain trenches of conflict and that the same target is pointed at, but never without losing sight of the insurmountable discrepancies that make it impossible to speak of a common struggle.

It is a matter of struggles which may temporarily coincide, but which are never a common struggle. Some of us struggle against dominant forms of nationalism, Spanish nationalism in this case, because we reject all nationalisms, and, of course, this one as well and categorically.

Others struggle against this same nationalism because they want to promote their own disguised nationalism, this one, with the mask of independence.

Consequently, however much we have a common enemy, the fact remains that we continue to be enemies, and this means that there can be no peace between us, nor even an ephemeral and fragile armistice, because even though we are fighting the same enemy, we cannot cease to fight against the enemy which we have next to us.

3- You speak of the mythification of the 1st and 3rd of October and of an overestimation of the capacity of popular self-organisation that showed itself in the defence of the polls. Could you explain this to us.

With regards to the 1st of October, things are often presented as if the referendum initiative, its convocation, as well as its practical organisation, were all the result of a popular movement rising up from below.

And, of course, in reality, this completely conceals the enormous weight and power of the governmental institutions of Catalonia, precisely that which made the referendum possible and that which encouraged the population to go to the polls.

In fact, the 1st of October is mythified as soon as the institutional framework that made the referendum of that day possible is occluded or minimised.

Careful, the fact remains that the people who went to the polls did so freely, and that a good many of them put up an admirable resistance to the repressive efforts to impede the vote.

But neither should one pass over the fact that a good part of this “protagonism” had to do with the strongly motivated militancy of nationalist collectives and political parties; a militancy which every 11th of September amply demonstrated its extraordinary sense of discipline, obeying in a detailed and ordered manner, almost militarily, the organisational instructions dictated by the National Assembly of Catalonia.

If the training of the nationalist militants is taken into account, along with the role which these militants played in the organisation and in the development of the resistance, and if is added to this the intervention of the Catalan state institutions, which was very decisive in my mind, then the popular self-organisation of the 1st of October was neither exemplary nor extraordinary, as is so naggingly repeated to us.

As regards the 3rd of October … well, three quarters of the same occurred. It should not be forgotten that the general strike joined the “nation’s strike” called for by the government and a part of the Catalan business leadership.

Of course, it is not a matter of belittling that general strike, but nor should we mythify it. And it is clearly mythified when the role and the weight of the government and bosses had in making it successful is hidden.

A general strike and a nation’s strike at the same moment … This demonstrates, once again, and if it was still necessary to do so, that nationalism is always, always, inter-classist.

I believe that with what I have said up until here that it is quite clear why I speak of the mythification of the 1st and 3rd of October.

What saddens me is that it has been elements or groups to which I feel very close who have contributed to mythifying these events. It saddens me because those who benefit from this mythification are nationalist parties, institutions and associations which, with success, have hastened to engrave these dates with gold letters on their patriotic calendar, almost on the same occasion as the 11th of September.

4- You contend that when a movement of struggle includes an important nationalist component, the possibilities of an emancipatory change are strictly null. Do you not believe that these mobilisations can serve to acquire practices of struggle which are today forgotten and which can carry the struggle beyond concerns of full citizenship and even nationalism, in benefit of other struggles?

Let’s see. If, on the hand, we concede a certain credit to the thesis that struggles with a strong nationalist component never lead to an emancipatory end, something amply demonstrated by history, and if, on the other hand, we admit that the current struggles in Catalonia have a strong nationalist component, something which to me seems difficult to deny, then the conclusion obviously follows and falls logically by its own weight.

The relation between these two facts makes it abundantly clear that the current struggles cannot lead to any emancipatory perspective.

To think, as some libertarians do, that these struggles can give way to struggles disconnected from any nationalist motivation and transform themselves into something completely different from what we have today is to take one’s desires for reality and to fully succumb to magical thought.

By what strange miracle would the enormous energy, and even the passion, which drives the current struggles in Catalonia cease to be nationalistic, to thereby transform itself into an energy and passion of a more or less libertarian character, and therefore, radically anti-nationalistic?

This transmutation of one thing into its opposite appeals to concepts that have more to do with alchemy than with political thought.

To believe in the possibility of this miracle, one must either be terribly ingenuous, or, something even more disturbing, have the need to find and formulate arguments which permit hiding, consciously or unconsciously, the very inclinations towards nationalism on the part of some libertarians who involved themselves in these struggles.

6- In your last article of the book, you state that “it is indispensable reconsider mistakes made and, above all, to not deceive ourselves by magnifying the more spectacular moments of the struggles and overestimating some of their more positive aspects”. Do you believe that with all of the time that has passed, that a reflection has been carried through about the merits and the mistakes of the libertarian participation if the procés?

I want to believe so. I want to believe that effectively for those who have involved themselves in these struggles have carried out a reflection on the merits and mistakes of the libertarian participation in the procés. I have to confess however that for my part I have not found in everything that has been published until now a clear exposition of the achievements that have been made.

I am of course referring to gains of an eventual libertarian character, and not the simple acknowledgement that the mobilisations called for by the protagonists of the procés are not losing stamina with the passage of time.

And nor have I found a well argued account about the errors committed. Therefore, we find neither an exposition of achievements, nor an analysis of errors.

The only thing that we can read are multiple justifications for this participation, as well as blunt criticisms of those who refuse to involve themselves.

For my part, I continue without seeing any gains anywhere and, on the contrary, it appears to me that the mistake of the libertarian participation is manifest.

It is enough to think, for example, of the way in which the comrades who set up their tents in the Plaza Universidad of Barcelona were used to increase numbers in the protests against the criminal sentences handed down in the procés, and who were later abandoned by the nationalist elements. (el diario)

And I emphasise, for “nationalist” elements, even though these dissimulate their nationalist commitment behind the “independentist” label.

To involve oneself in the procès is to put oneself in the service of nationalist strategies and to slowly buy into its very discourse, due as much to the mixing with activists of the procès, as to the need to justify this collaboration. One of the characteristics of the discourse assumed consists of magnifying the moments of struggle, and in presenting the conflict as a battle against repression and as a defence of freedom.

This discourse makes it possible to capture the sympathy of those who struggle precisely against repression and in defence of freedom, but always and in all fields, not only when it affects struggles for national liberation.

I know that I cannot irrefutably demonstrate this, but I am convinced that certain elements of Catalan nationalism, concretely certain elements of the CUP (Candidatura d’Unitat Popular), have elaborated a political strategy that consists of trying to integrate the libertarian movement, its militants as much as its historical references, in the national-independentist road map.

The fact that a part of the libertarian movement falls into that trap does not cease to produce some unease, and frankly, I find it regrettable.

For my part, I continue not to desire a State for anyone … and nor a government.

International solidarity when things are not black and white

Peter Gelderloos (Roarmag 02/01/2019)

As 2020 is off to a rebellious start, a wave of struggles with growing intensity continues to sweep across the globe, from Chile to Hong Kong. People are rising up against government repression and austerity measures, or trying to defend themselves from right-wing coups. None of these uprisings are simple or homogeneous; some include elements anti-capitalists may strongly disagree with, and the necessity of self-defense against the advances of the far-right often puts us in a position of defending left-wing governments we may have well founded criticisms of.

When these complexities and critiques are brought up, the ensuing debate usually devolves into a total polarization in which one side denies any possible criticism and the other side prioritizes their criticism over solidarity. As an end result of this kind of posturing, each side denies legitimacy to the other and claims their own position is above reproach. But criticism is oxygen for the struggle. Revolutionary movements that do not honestly consider their own weaknesses are setting themselves up for failure. And when a movement cannot develop relevant responses to a situation of growing misery and exploitation, when it betrays the dreams that launched it in the first place, it is paving the way for the right to come back with a vengeance.

We can do better than this. In order to extend effective solidarity, we need to identify some principles and patterns that will help us achieve this.

Urgency and proportionality

When people are dying in the streets, questions of survival need to take priority. This means understanding the alliances people make in context. A progressive political party making a tacit alliance with a far-right party to stay in power another term — as happened after the last elections in Barcelona — is an entirely different kind of pragmatism than Kurdish fighters accepting US aid in a fight for their very survival against ISIS and Turkey, or anticapitalist protesters in Hong Kong, facing a brutal onslaught by police and an extradition law that promises future repression, fighting alongside those who want a liberal political system in the US sphere of influence.

We should be honest about the complexities of a struggle and openly discuss the authoritarian tendencies of certain allies, while keeping things in perspective and correctly identifying who presents an immediate threat to our survival or freedom, or that of the people we are trying to support from a distance.

People in Bolivia have been fighting in the streets for the future of their country. The mostly Indigenous protesters opposed to the coup that ousted Evo Morales have already suffered massacres and disappearances, while the groups behind the coup are receiving support from the US and right-wing governments in the OAS. Which is the bigger threat right now; specific policies of Morales over the past ten years that damaged Indigenous autonomy and destroyed large swathes of rainforest, or the evangelist, neo-fascist political groups with military and paramilitary support that want to annihilate Indigenous cultures, subjugate all the working class and indigenous people in Bolivia who have been fighting for their dignity, and accelerate the despoliation of the earth? Obviously, the latter.

In a somewhat similar vein, anarchists in Ukraine had to find a coherent, effective position in the 2014 Maidan movement and the subsequent outbreak of war in Donbas. On the one side, there was a heterogeneous alliance of Ukrainian progressives, centrists and fascists, most of whom favored a closer relationship with the EU. On the other side were Russian nationalists, Stalinists and fascists — and the Russian military. Anti-capitalists from the region tend to be critical of both the EU and Moscow, as well as fascists of any stripe.

The debate largely centers around prioritizing different threats. One relevant argument holds that Russia is the dominant imperialist power in that part of the world, and people are safer if they remain outside its orbit. Russia and its client states like Belarus routinely arrest, torture and assassinate anarchists and other dissidents. A large part of the movement has had to flee into exile, and it is pertinent that Ukraine is one of the relatively safe countries they flee to.

Any criticism of the different positions comrades adopt that does not take into account very real questions of survival with regards to Ukrainian and Russian fascists as well as Russian police actions is liable to be ignored by those who personally face those dangers.

Survival must be a priority. But we also have to keep in mind that as long as capitalism controls our survival, it cannot be the chief compass point for revolutionary struggles. There is also an important criticism to be made of survival in a liberal, individualistic sense: the survival of our specific bodies, and not the survival of our dreams and desires, the survival of our communities, cultures, or histories.

While we fight for our survival and that of allies near and far, we also need to create other paths of struggle so that the very way we live increasingly takes on revolutionary implications. Otherwise, we will always be sacrificing long-term considerations for short-term necessities. If survival means continuously supporting the latest government or political party that won’t put us on the chopping block so quickly, we will never be able to contest capitalist designs on our lives.

For survival to be a revolutionary consideration, it must also include the survival of our communities, histories and dreams.

Who is the protagonist?

“The people” or another more specific but equally essentialist category almost always make an appearance in debates around how to position ourselves with respect to a complex conflict. There is an authoritarian habit of claiming to speak on their behalf, of justifying our own position as the only one that is in the interests of said people.

It is quite possible that the first time in history the term “the people” was used in a politically effective way, it was already a manipulation: segments of the bourgeoisie, legitimizing their own interests and justifying a most profitable change to the structures of government and society, namely, giving property owning males the vote, privatizing land and enclosing the commons under the guise of abolishing the privileges of Church and aristocracy. They included themselves as part of “the people,” the new source of political legitimacy, even though they had very little in common, and a great deal of antagonism, with most of the other people included in that group.

Nonetheless, many on the left still use this term uncritically, without acknowledging that any iteration of a “people” is a multifaceted, shifting, fluid, heterogeneous group with no consensus, no fixed interests, and with their own voices, their own capacity to constantly redefine their interests.

This essentialist operation smoothes over — or tramples down — the many ever-changing differences between people, because to represent a group you must first deprive it of its own multitude of voices. And you cannot climb onto the backs of a group of people and steal the power they generate without claiming at some level to represent them.

When it is a case of someone making essentialist statements in support of a distant group they do not belong to, it is obvious how this is problematic. But it can also be problematic when people position themselves as representatives of a group they actually belong to.

This is by no means a call for liberal atomization. “Individuals” are probably an even more artificial category than most groups (topic for a whole other article, but if you even just take, say, respiration, immune systems, or knowledge, no one functions as an individual; rather, we function as a part of networks that include all living things; nobody breathes without trees or learns without those who came before us). It is instead a call for nuance, a distinction between speaking up for collective experiences, and implying that everyone in a collective agrees with us or can be represented by us.

It is inevitable to use simplifying phrases like, “solidarity with the Bolivian people.” Already, we are leaving out the racist evangelists and capitalists who also make up a part of the Bolivian people, though when one sector of a society attacks and dominates the rest, espousing a racist and classist logic, they are asking to be discounted. Whether or not we are a part of the group in question, we should be clear these are our values — values we are happy to explain and defend — that justify delegitimizing a group of people.

But when we go a step further and claim “those who do not support Morales are anti-Indigenous” or “those who do not vote for Obama (or, as will probably be the case in 2020, a white Democratic candidate) are racist,” we are insisting in an underhanded way not only that all Indigenous or all Black people have a similar experience of racism, but that all of them believe in the same strategy for change, and it just so happens to be the strategy we espouse.

This is an authoritarian operation, silencing all the revolutionary Indigenous and Black people, in these two examples, who have different ideas on resistance, and appropriating an extreme degree of unaccountable power as one claims to speak on behalf of so many others — unaccountable because they are obscuring the fact they are expressing their own values and instead imputing those values as the natural, essential belief of hundreds of millions of people.

This would be ridiculously horrible if I, a white person, were to do it, but it is still an essentialist, authoritarian operation that silences difference when someone does it within their own category. And those most likely to be silenced by this operation are those with the least access to institutional power and dominant technologies of communication.

Anti-imperialist realities

I have learned a great deal in conversation with a Venezuelan friend who is a Chavista. While she is more critical of Maduro, she believes that Chávez sincerely and effectively tried to use the state to support popular movements in Venezuela, while also maintaining and expanding petroleum extraction so that the country could acquire the foreign exchange needed for survival. She did not work for the government: her experience and her perspective is from the streets, from the popular movements.

She fully acknowledges that petroleum and coal extraction exacerbated conflicts with multiple Indigenous communities, but also that centuries of colonial and neocolonial economic structuring meant that the country was utterly dependent on global capital flows just to feed itself. This falls in line with Walter Rodney’s analysis of the Soviet Union and the possibility for socialism in Africa: a revolution within a country does not entirely save that country from occupying a colonial or extractivist niche within the global capitalist economy.

This view is not by any means a free pass for authoritarian socialists; rather, it requires us to make distinctions between different degrees and strategies of authoritarianism. In my friend’s experience, Chávez was valuable to popular movements precisely because he gave those movements space to grow and temporarily kept the racist aristocracy off their backs, but it was primarily the movements that were making things better, though government resources played an important role.

On the contrary, the Soviet Union quickly curtailed the autonomy of the social movements and soon crushed those movements altogether. It is worth noting that the state unopposed proved to be the quickest path back to capitalism. But in Venezuela under Chávez, though the government did resort to violence against those who opposed it, as all governments do, it also adopted a wholly different relationship with social movements.

Venezuela is different from Bolivia; Evo focused on institutionalizing the movements rather than empowering them, and did not hesitate to attack them when they protested some policy of his. Again, this approach is not the same as that practiced in socialist Russia, China or Cuba, but the frictions and disappointments it caused can also help explain the early success of the coup against Morales.

I can recognize the reality of my Chavista friend’s experiences without believing states are an appropriate tool for revolutions. I can argue that government, private property and wage labor are themselves intrinsically colonial forms antithetical to liberation. That it is all but inevitable for a competent bureaucrat like Maduro to follow a charismatic visionary like Chávez, and similarly for a Stalin to follow a Lenin.

I can argue that a total rupture with the global capitalist economy — which no socialist state has ever undertaken and which no government is structurally capable of accomplishing — is actually the only hope for a real revolution. I can use the example of the great revolutionary gains when peasants and workers won their autonomy, free from the state, in Ukraine in 1919, in Shinmin Province in Manchuria from 1929 to 1931, in Catalonia and Aragón in 1936, every single time crushed not by the right, but by an authoritarian left that to this day is allergic to criticism.

I can also point to the much more recent example of the período especial in Cuba, in the ‘90s, when people subjected to a total blockade organized their own survival at the margins of a government on the edge of collapse, afraid to get in their way.

I can fervently believe that an anti-state strategy is the best one in all of these cases. But that belief is irrelevant if I do not also recognize that it is a question of life and death if a country cuts itself off from global capitalism without transforming its economy. As such, many people will prefer to keep one foot in either world, despite the difficulties and as yet unresolved dilemmas that strategy entails.

Common enemies

In closing, I want to offer an image, a proposal, that transcends facile polemics. Despite our disagreements, would we stand on the same side of the barricades? Who among us would not be on the same side if we were suddenly together in Bolivia, at Standing Rock, in Charlottesville, in Ferguson, in Chile, in Lebanon? We would not all go to the same protests, not all the time, nor participate in the same initiatives, but when things got hot, when on the other side of the street it was the cops, the fascists, shooting at us, getting ready to charge, I would like to think we would fight together, looking out for one another’s survival.

Those who do the most to keep these flame wars going are ensconced behind computer screens or in ivory towers and do not have to face situations of actual danger. But the rest of us have long become accustomed to the impoverished forms of solidarity favored by these types. On social media, a post insulting one faction or the other, denying their revolutionary credentials, gets passed around tens of thousands of times. Another one, suggesting we find which evangelical churches or private companies support the far-right in Bolivia, gets ignored.

A suggestion that we identify common enemies, power structures that all of us would oppose, who sow misery from the very poorest to the very richest of countries, would require us to give up our shallow posturing and take risks together, despite our differences.

That is exactly what needs to happen.

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2 Responses to Tracing the lines of the barricade

  1. Peter Gelderloos says:

    I think the appropriate counterpoint to the Ibañez interview is not the Roarmag essay but an actual account from the streets of Catalunya, like this one,
    contradicting Ibañez’s account: the heaviest protests and riotings occurred after the supposed leaders of the movement told people to go home. So not only were most anarchists not following the orders of some leaders, most people in the movement also maintained their autonomy. It was clear to anyone who was actually in the streets, it was primarily an insurrection against the police, not for Catalan independence.

  2. Julius Gavroche says:


    Thanks for the note. Last October, we translated another piece by Ibáñez on the protests in Catalonia, with a reference to the CrimethInc. Collective’s account that you cite, precisely to invite this debate. ( We thank you nevertheless for putting your finger on the matter. Our concern, in re-posting your Roarmag essay, was to have Ibáñez’s interview also read against a larger horizon.

    In solidarity,


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