“Why we are with the fighters (what do we mean by solidarity?)”
[ED NOTE: I do not typically use this space to repost pieces from the vastness of the internet, but this particular piece embodies a spirit I quite identify with. I’m reposting it here because it’s unlikely many will have seen it. It appeared in the publication, Return Fire #3, a UK-based green anarchist publication. This version, with the images, was posted by Rob Los Ricos, on the blog ‘we are not afraid of ruins’ “Solidarity Means Attack!” image hosted here ]
We are with the fighters in Kobane, defending their lives and freedom against the fascists of ISIS. Just as we are with all those who take up arms against oppressive regimes, in Turkey and Syria and across the world.
We are with the rioters and looters in Ferguson, Athens, London, and all the streets of the world, wherever people take to the streets and confront the violence of police and state.
We are with the individuals and small groups of insurgent friends who, even though they are few and scattered like fireflies in the night, attack the system however they can.
When it comes to the fighters in Kobane and Syria, we don’t give a toss that few if any of them are anarchists. We are well aware that many are affiliated to the PKK, an authoritarian party hungry for power just like all political parties, whether they call themselves communist, socialist, liberal, democratic, or whatever.
When it comes to the rioters, we don’t give a toss that few if any of them are anarchists. We are well aware that people who get angry and fight in the streets have lots of very different ideas and desires.
When it comes to acts of sabotage and attack against the state and capital, we’re not particularly bothered if they’re claimed with anarchist communiques or initials, let alone whether we agree with all their reasoning or their wording or their choice of targets. We certainly don’t care whether they have the support of “the masses,” or more to the point, of commentators who claim to speak for us all.
What we care about is that there are people standing up and fighting against domination, and risking their lives and their freedom to do so.
The point is that, in dark times, in a world that often can seem locked down by the massive military and surveillance power of the state and capital, a world where revolutionary hopes are again and again extinguished by murderous repression, where in many regions fascism and brutal patriarchal religions are on the rise, there are still people who fight. Who are taking up arms, whether that be a rock or a rocket launcher.
Showing solidarity with the fighters does not mean becoming mindless cheerleaders. For example, even as we support the fight in Kobane, we point out the brutality and authoritarianism of the PKK, and expose lies and cover-ups in its propaganda. If the PKK wins the day, its leadership would become one of the biggest threats to the revolutionary tendencies that are sprouting in Rojava.
Showing solidarity with the fighters does not mean we glorify violence. State institutions, from ISIS to the NYPD or
Metropolitan Police, are based on the systematic use of murderous force. There is no way to overcome them without using violence of our own, though we will certainly never match their levels of brutality.
As anarchists, we make our own choices about whether to actively join in particular combats, how and where to do so, or how to show solidarity in other ways. We make our own choices about what alliances we form. We can spread information and debate to help each other make informed choices.
But what makes us queasy is seeing some anarchists joining in with the chorus of voices that always springs up to slander and condemn those who fight.
Solidarity is important because fighting is hard. And particularly fighting against powerful state forces, against often overwhelming odds. It means risking your life or your freedom. It means dealing with suffering, exhaustion, injury, loneliness, loss and pain.
It means also internal struggles against our own fears, and against our own ingrained social training into submission: articularly, for example, for women taking up arms in a strongly patriarchal culture, and for everyone subdued by a lifetime of living under dictatorial or democratic regimes.
This fear and passivity is amplified by the choirs of liberals, pacifists, professors, party leaders, newspaper columnists, and other experts and representatives who tell us that it is futile, counter- productive, infantile, delusional, hasty, macho, or whatever, to take the fight back to the powerful.
Whenever the state’s monopoly of violence is challenged, this chorus sings out loud from all the TV channels, newspapers, pulpits, schoolrooms, and the rest.
Three and a half years ago we heard it loud in London against the riots, and at much the same time against the uprisings in Damascus and Cairo. Now we hear it in the US against Ferguson. And against Kobane, as most of the left turn on the fighters through blinkers of crude anti-imperialism (US bad, muslims victims) or 19th century revolutionary fantasy (wait for the great glorious pure mass proletarian uprising).
The role of this chorus is to further sap the energy of the fighters. To discourage, disempower, isolate.
We are with the fighters because solidarity is the weapon that breaks through isolation. We are with the fighters because, even if so many of our struggles end with bitter tears, nothing ever changes for the good in this world without a fight, and those who stand against oppression need all the strength they can get.