What is anarchism by Alexander Berkman from “ABC’s of communist anarchism”.

’Can you tell us briefly,’ your friend asks, ’what Anarchism really is?’ I shall try. In the fewest words, Anarchism teaches that we can live in a society where there is no compulsion of any kind. A life without compulsion naturally means liberty; it means freedom from being forced or coerced, a chance to lead the life that suits you best. You cannot lead such a life unless you do away with the institutions that curtail your liberty and interfere with your life, the conditions that compel you to act differently from the way you really would like to. What are those institutions and conditions? Let us see what we have to do away with in order to secure a free and harmonious life. Once we know what has to be abolished and what must take its place, we shall also find the way to do it. What must be abolished, then, to secure liberty? First of all, of course, the thing that invades you most, that handicaps or prevents your free activity; the thing that interferes with your liberty and compels you to live differently from what would be your own choice. That thing is government. Take a good look at it and you will see that government is the greatest invader; more than that, the worst criminal man has ever known of. It fills the world with violence, with fraud and deceit, with oppression and misery. As a great thinker once said, ’its breath is poison.’ It corrupts everything it touches. ’Yes, government means violence and it is evil,’ you admit; ’but can we do without it?’ That is just what we want to talk over. Now, if I should ask you whether you need  government, I’m sure you would answer that you don’t, but that it is for the others that it is needed. But if you should ask any one of those’ others,’he would reply as you do: he would say that he does not need it, but that it is necessary ’for the others.’ Why does everyone think that he can be decent enough with out the police man, but that the club is needed for ’the others’? ’People would rob and murder each other if there were no government and no law,’you say. If they really would, why would they? Would they do it just for the pleasure of it or because of certain reasons? Maybe if we examine their reasons, we’d discover the cure for them. Suppose you and I and a score of others had suffered shipwreck and found ourselves on an island rich with fruit of every kind. Of course, we’d get to work to gather the foot But suppose one of our number should declare that it all belongs to him, and that no one shall have a single morsel unless he first pays him tribute for it. We would be indignant, wouldn’t we? We’d laugh at his pretensions. If he’d try to make trouble about it, we might throw him into the sea, and it would serve him right, would it not? Suppose further that we ourselves ant our forefathers had cultivated the island and stocked it with everything needed for life and comfort, and that some one should arrive and claim it all as his. What would we say? We’d ignore him, wouldn’t we? We might tell him that he could share with us and join us in our work. But suppose that he insists on his ownership and that he produces a slip of paper and says that it proves that everything belongs to him? We’d tell him he’s crazy and we’d go about our business. But if he should have a government back of him, he would appeal to it for the protection of ’his rights,’ and the government would send police and soldiers who would evict us and put the “lawful owner in possession”.  That is the function of government; that is what government exists for and what it is doing all the time. Now, do you still think that without this thing called government we should rob and murder each other? Is it not rather true that with government we rob and murder? Because government
does not secure us in our rightful possessions, but on the contrary takes them away for the benefit of those who have no right to them, as we have seen in previous chapters. If you should wake up to-morrow morning and learn that there is no government any more, would your first thought be to rush out into the street and kill some one? No, you know that is nonsense. We speak of sane, normal men. The insane man who wants to kill does not first ask whether there is or isn’t any government. Such men belong to the care of physicians and alienists; they should be placed in hospitals to be treated for their malady. The chances are that if you or Johnson should awaken to find that there is no government, you would get busy arranging your life under the new conditions. It is very likely, of course, that if you should then see people gorge themselves while you go hungry, you would demand a chance to eat, and you would be perfectly right in that. And so would every one else, which means that people would not stand for any one hogging all the good things of life: they would want to share in them. It means further that the poor would refuse to stay poor while others wallow in luxury. It means that the worker will decline to give up his product to the boss who claims to ’own’ the factory and everything that is made there. It means that the farmer will not permit thousands of acres to lie idle while he has not enough soil to support himself and family. It means that no one will be permitted to monopolize the land or the machinery of production. It means that private ownership of the sources of life will not be tolerated anymore. It will be considered the greatest crime for some to own more than they can use in a dozen lifetimes, while their neighbors have not enough bread for their children. It means that all men will share in the social wealth, and that all will help to produce that wealth. It means, in short, that for the first time in history right justice, and equality would triumph instead of law. You see therefore that doing away with government also signifies the abolition of monopoly and of personal ownership of the means of production and distribution. It follows that when government is abolished, wage labor and capitalism must also go with it, because they cannot exist without the support and protection of government. Just as the man who would claim a monopoly of the island, of which I spoke before, could not put through his crazy claim without the help of government. Such a condition of things where there would be liberty instead of government would be Anarchy. And where equality of use would take the place of private ownership, would be Communism. It would be Communist Anarchism. ’Oh, Communism,’ your friend exclaims, ’but you said you were not a Bolshevik!’ No, I’am not a Bolshevik, because the Bolsheviki want a powerful government or State, while Anarchism means doing away with the State or government altogether. ’But are not the Bolsheviki Communists?’ you demand Yes, the Bolsheviki are Communists,but they want their dictatorship ,their government, to compel people to live in Communism. Anarchist Communism, on the contrary, means voluntary Communism, Communism from free choice ’I see the difference. It would be fine, of course;’your friend admits. ’But do you really think it possible?’

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“There is no communism in Russia” By Emma Goldman

Let us now turn to production and consumption, the levers of all existence. Maybe in them we shall find a degree of Communism that will justify us in calling life in Russia Communistic, to some extent at least.

I have already pointed out that the land and the machinery of production are owned by the state. The methods of production and the amounts to be manufactured by every industry in each and every mill, shop and factory are determined by the state, by the central government—by Moscow—through its various organs.

Now, Russia is a country of vast extent, covering about one sixth of the earth’s surface. It is peopled by a mixed population of 165,000,000. It consists of a number of large republics, of various races and nationalities, each region having its own particular interests and needs. No doubt, industrial and economic planning is vitally necessary for the well-being of a community. True Communism—economic equality as between man and man and between communities—requires the best and most efficient planning by each community, based upon its local requirements and possibilities. The basis of such planning must be the complete freedom of each community to produce according to its needs and to dispose of its products according to its judgment: to change its surplus with other similarly independent communities without let or hindrance by any external authority.

That is the essential politico-economic nature of Communism. It is neither workable nor possible on any other isis. It is necessarily libertarian, Anarchistic.

There is no trace of such Communism—that is to say, of any Communism—in Soviet Russia. In fact, the mere suggestion of such a system is considered criminal there, and any attempt to carry it out is punished by death.

Industrial planning and all the processes of production and distribution are in the hands of the central government. Supreme Economic Council is subject only to the authority of the Communist Party. It is entirely independent of the will or wishes of the people comprising the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics. Its work is directed by the policies and decisions of the Kremlin. This explains why Soviet Russia exported vast amounts of wheat and other grain while wide regions in the south and southeast of Russia were stricken with famine, so that more than two million of its people died of starvation (1932–1933).

There were “reasons of state” for it. The euphonious has from time immemorial masked tyranny, exploitation and the determination of every ruler to prolong and perpetuate his rule. Incidentally, I may mention that—in spite of country-wide hunger and lack of the most elemental necessities of life in Russia—the entire First Five-Year Plan aimed at developing that branch of heavy industry which serves, or can be made to serve, _military_ purposes.

As with production, so with distribution and every other form of activity. Not only individual cities and towns, but the constituent parts of the Soviet Union are entirely deprived of independent existence. Politically mere vassals of Moscow, their whole economic, social and cultural activity is planned, cut out for them and ruthlessly controlled by the “proletarian dictatorship” in Moscow. More: the life of every locality, of every individual even, in the so-called “Socialist” republics is managed in the very last detail by the “general line” laid down by the “center.” In other words, by the Central Committee and Politbureau of the Party, both of them controlled absolutely by one man, Stalin. To call such a dictatorship, this personal autocracy more powerful and absolute than any Czar’s, by the name of Communism seems to me the acme of imbecility.

Introduction to afro-pessimism: The avant-garde of white supemacy by Steve Martinot & Jared Sexton

In 1998, Critical Resistance: Beyond the Prison Industrial Complex, a national conference and strategy-session, re-posed the question of the relations between white supremacy and state violence. Fascism was the concept often used to link these two terms and the prison industrial complex was considered to be its quintessential practice. The political-intellectual discourse generated at and around Critical Resistance shattered the narrow definitions of racism that characterize many conventional (even leftist) accounts
and produced instead a space for rethinking radical alternatives.This sort of shift in the political landscape has been imperative fora long time now. The police murder of Amadou Diallo comes to mind as an event requiring such re-conceptualization. The Diallo killing was really plural since it involved other police murders as imminent in the same event. Diallo’s killing was plural beyond his own many deaths in those few seconds, a killing that took place in the eyes of his friends and family from as far away as Guinea. In the immediate wake of his killers’ acquittals, the NYPD murdered Malcolm Ferguson, a community organizer who had been active in attempting to get justice for Diallo. (The police harassed the Ferguson’s within the next year and arrested his brother on
trumped up charges.) Two weeks after Ferguson’s murder, the police killed Patrick Dorismund because he refused to buy drugs from an undercover cop, because he fought back when the cop attacked. The police then harassed and attacked Dorismund’s funeral procession in Brooklyn a week later, hospitalizing several in attendance. (The police took the vendetta all the way to the grave.) Tyisha Miller was murdered in her car in Riverside, California by four cops who knocked on the window of her car and found that she simply didn’t respond. Angela Davis tells the story of “Tanya Haggerty in Chicago, whose cell phone was the potential weapon that allowed police to justify her killing,” just as Daillo’s wallet was the “gun” at which four cops fired in unison. To the police, a wallet in the hand of black man is a gun whereas that same wallet in the hand of a white man is just a wallet. A cell phone in the hands of a black woman is a gun; that same phone
in a white woman’s hand is a cell phone.There were local movements in each of these cities to protest acts of police murder and in each case the respective city governments
were solicited to take appropriate action. Under convention aldefinitions of the government, we seem to be restricted to calling upon it for protection from its own agents. But what are we doing when we demonstrate against police brutality, and find
ourselves tacitly calling upon the government to help us do so? These notions of the state as the arbiter of justice and the police as the unaccountable arbiters of lethal violence are two sides of the same coin. Narrow understandings of mere racism are
proving themselves impoverished because they cannot see this fundamental relationship. What is needed is the development of a radical critique of the structure of the coin. There are two possibilities: first, police violence is a deviation from the rules governing police procedures in general. Second, these various forms of violence (e.g., racial profiling, street murders, terrorism) are the rule itself as standard operation procedure. For instance, when the protest movements made public statements they expressed an understanding of police violence as the rule of the day and not as a shocking exception. However, when it came time to formulate practical proposals to change the fundamental nature of policing, all they could come up with concretely were more oversight committees, litigation, and civilian review boards (“with teeth”), none of which lived up to the collective intuition about what the police were actually doing. The protest movements’ readings of these events didn’t seem able to bridge the gap to the programmatic. The language in which we articulate our analyses doesn’t seem to allow for alternatives in practice. Even those who take seriously the second possibility (violence as a rule) find that the language of alternatives and the terms of relevance are constantly dragged into the political discourse they seek to oppose, namely, that the system works and is capable of reform. After the exposure of the LAPD’s videotaped beating of Rodney King, after the rebellions of 1992, police violence only became more rampant and more brazen across the country. After the Justice for Diallo” movement in NYC, the police murders multiplied, and police arrogance increased. It was as if the anti-racist campaigns (or uprisings) against police violence were co-opted by the police to augment their violence, rather than effectively closing it down as they had explicitly intended. In the wake of countless exposés, the prison industrial complex has only expanded; the reportage on the racist operations of capital punishment and the legal system more generally have become absorbed in the acceleration of execution rates. Why do things get worse after each hard fought revelation? Where do we locate the genius of the system? Something is left out of the account; it runs through our fingers, escaping our grasp.If the spectacle of police violence does, in fact, operate according to a rule of its own (as the anti-violence movements argue), what does this suggest about the social institutions that generate it and which it represents despite persistent official disavowals? First, the relationship between police violence and the social institution
of policing is structural, rather than incidental or contingent (i.e., an unfortunate but minor part of the job). Second, the cultural content of the actual policing that we face is to be a law unto itself, not the socially responsible institution it claims to be in its disavowals. Third, a question: is this paradigm of policing a methodology for a form of social organization? If so, of what are the police the avant-garde?They prowl, categorizing and profiling, often turning those profiles into murderous violence without (serious) fear of being called to account, all the while claiming impunity. What jars the imagination is not the fact of impunity itself, but the realization that they are simply people working a job, a job they secured by making an application at the personnel office. In events such as the shooting of Amadou Diallo, the true excessiveness is not in
the massiveness of the shooting, but in the fact that these cops were there on the street looking for this event in the first place, as a matter of routine business. This spectacular evil is encased in a more inarticulable evil of banality, namely, that the state assigns
certain individuals to (well-paying) jobs as hunters of human beings, a furtive protocol for which this shooting is simply the effect. But they do more than prowl. They make problematic the whole notion of social responsibility such that we no longer know if the police are responsible to the judiciary and local administration or if the city is actually responsible to them, duty bound by impunity itself. To the extent to which the police are a law unto themselves, the latter would have to be the case. This unaccountable vector
of inverted social responsibility would resonate in the operating procedures in upper levels of civil administration as well. That is, civil governmental structures would act in accordance with the paradigm of policing—wanton violence legitimized by strict
conformity to procedural regulations.For instance, consider the recent case of a 12 year-old African-American boy sentenced to prison for life without parole for having killed a 6 year-old African-American girl while acting out the moves he had seen in professional wrestling matches on TV. In demanding this sentence, the prosecutor argued that the boy
was a permanent menace to society, and had killed the girl out of extreme malice and consciousness of what he was doing. A 12 year-old child, yet Lionel Tate was given life without parole. In the name of social sanctity, the judicial system successfully
terrorized yet another human being, his friends, and relatives by carrying its proceduralism to the limit. The corporate media did the rest; several “commentators” ridiculed Tate’s claim to have imitated wrestling moves, rewriting his statement as a disreputable excuse: “pro wrestling made me do it” (San Francisco Chronicle,
3/25/01). Thus, they transformed his naïve awareness of bodies into intentional weaponry and cunning. One could surmise, with greater justification than surmising the malice of the child, that the prosecutor made a significant career step by getting this high profile conviction. Beyond the promotion he would secure for a job well done, beyond the mechanical performance of official outrage and the cynicism exhibited in playing the role, what animus drove the prosecutor to demand such a sentence? In the face of the prosecution’s sanctimonious excess, those who bear witness to Tate’s suffering have only inarticulate outrage to offer as consolation. With recourse only to the usual rhetorical
expletives about racism, the procedural ritualism of this white supremacist operation has confronted them with the absence of a real means of discerning the judiciary’s dissimulated machinations. The prosecutor was the banal functionary of a civil structure, a paradigmatic exercise of wanton violence that parades as moral rectitude but whose source is the paradigm of policing. All attempts to explain the malicious standard operating procedure of US white supremacy find themselves hamstrung by conceptual inadequacy; it remains describable, but not comprehensible. The story can be told, as the 41 bullets fired to slaughter Diallo can be counted, but the ethical meaning
remains beyond the discursive resources of civil society, outside the framework for thinkable thought.It is, of course, possible to speak out against such white supremacist violence as immoral, as illegal, even unconstitutional. But the impossibility of thinking through to the ethical dimension has a hidden structural effect. For those who are not racially profiled or tortured when arrested, who are not tried and sentenced
with the presumption of guilt, who are not shot reaching for their identification, all of this is imminently ignorable. Between the inability to see and the refusal to acknowledge, a mode of social organization is being cultivated for which the paradigm of policing is the cutting edge. We shall have to look beyond racialized police violence to see its logic.The impunity of racist police violence is the first implication ofits ignorability to white civil society. The ignorability of police impunity is what renders it inarticulable outside of that hegemonic formation. If ethics is possible for white civil society within its
social discourses, it is rendered irrelevant to the systematic violence deployed against the outside precisely because it is ignorable. Indeed, that ignorability becomes the condition of possibility for the ethical coherence of the inside. The dichotomy between a white ethical dimension and its irrelevance to the violence of police profiling is the very structure of racialization today. It is a twin structure, a regime of violence that operates in two registers, terror and the seduction into the fraudulent ethics of social order;
a double economy of terror, structured by a ritual of incessant performance. And into the gap between them, common sense, which cannot account for the double register or twin structure of this ritual, disappears into incomprehensibility. The language of
common sense, through which we bespeak our social world in the most common way, leaves us speechless before the enormity of the usual, of the business of civil procedures.

Crimes against humanity by Lorenzo Komboa Ervin from “Anarchism and the black revolution”

It is the rich who decide what is or is not a crime; it is not a neutral designation. The laws are written to protect the rich and those who act as agents of the State. But most personal crimes art not committed against the rich, they are usually inaccessible. It is poor and working class Black people who are the major victims of violent crime. The Black female is the primary victim of rape and abuse by the Black male in this country. The Black male himself is the leading homicide victim in the U.S. by another Black man like himself, and sadly our children are among the leading victims of child abuse, many times by his or her own parents. We do not like to think of these things in the Black community, but we are battering and killing ourselves at an alarming rate. This is not to deny that the Capitalist social system has created frustrating, degrading conditions of life that contribute to this brutality and fratricide, but we would be lax in our humane and revolutionary duty if we did not try to correct this problem on the short-term, and also make Black people assume responsibility for our actions. I am not talking some Black conservative or “law and order” garbage here, but rather recognition of fact that we have a problem.

We have an external and an internal crisis situation facing us in our community. The external crisis is racism and colonialism, which works to systematically oppress us and is responsible for whatever internal crisis there is. The internal crisis is the result of an environment where drugs and violence (both social and physical) are rampant, and life is sometimes considered cheap. Black-on-Black crimes and internal violence are destroying our community. It is undoubtedly self-hatred and the desperate economic and social conditions we live under which makes us prey on each other. Drugs, frustrated rage, prostitution and other vices are symptoms of oppression.

We kill, beat, rape and brutalize each other because we are in pain ourselves. Thus we are acting out anti-social roles defined for us by someone else, not ourselves. In our pain and confusion we strike out at convenient and familiar victims; those like ourselves Them are ordinary Black people who steal and rob just to survive under this system, because of that unequal distribution of wealth. Further, for same of us, in our desire to “make it” in Capitalist society we will stop at nothing, including murder. And finally, there are those who do whatever they do because of drug addiction or mental sickness.

Whatever the reasons, we have a serious problem that we must remedy because it is tearing away at the moral and social fabric of our community. It will be impassible to unite Black people if they are in fear and hatred of one another. It is also obvious that the police and government rectify this problem and that only the Black community can do so. The courts and prison prevent the situation from recurring. Therefore what can we do?

It is the community, through its own organizations of concern, which will have to deal with this problem. Community self-managed programs to work with Black youth gang members, (a source of much violence in the community), rather than the military approach of calling in the cops, empower the community rather than the racist prison bureaucracy and the cops. Also, the community-run drug rehabilitation groups, therapy and counseling groups, and other neighborhood organizing help us to effectively deal with the problem of internal violence and hopefully defuse it. Most importantly it involves the community in the effort.

But we cannot totally depend upon counseling or rehabilitation techniques, especially where them is an immediate threat of violence or where it has occurred. So, to insure peace and public security, a Black community guard service would be organized for this purpose, as well as to protect against the white Power structure. This security force would be elected by local residents, and would work with the help of people in neighborhoods. This is the only way it would work. It would not be an auxiliary of the current colonial occupation army in our community, and would not threaten or intimidate the community with violence against our youth. Nor would such a community guard protect vice and organized crime. This community guard would only represent the community that elected it, instead of city hall. Similar such units would be organized all over the city on a block-by-block basis.

Yet the Anarchists go further, and say that after a municipal commune is set up, the existing courts must be replaced by voluntary community tribunals of arbitration, and in cases of grave crimes, connected with murder, or offenses against liberty and equality, a special communal court of a non-permanent nature would be set up. Anarchists believe that antisocial crime, meaning anything that oppresses, robs, or does violence to the working class must be vigorously opposed. We cannot wait until after the revolution to oppose such dangerous enemies of the people. But since such antisocial crimes are a direct expression of Capitalism, there would be a real attempt to socialize, politically educate and rehabilitate offenders. Not by throwing them into the white Capitalist prisons to suffer like animals and where, because of their torture and humiliation, they will declare war on all society, but by involving them in the life of the community and giving them social and vocational training. Since all the “criminology experts” agree that crime is a social problem, and since we know that 88 percent of all crimes are against property and are committed in order to survive in an economically unjust society, we must recognize that only full employment, equal economic opportunity, decent housing and other aspects of social justice will ensure an end to crime. In short, we must have radical social change to eradicate the social conditions that cause crime. An unequal unfair society like Capitalism creates its own criminal class. The real thieves and murderers, businessmen and politicians, are protected under today’s legal system, while the poor are punished. That is class justice, and that is what Social revolution would abolish.

But understandably, many persons want to end the rape, murder, and violence in our communities today, and wind up strengthening the hands of the State and its police agents. They will not get rid of crime, but the cops will militarily patrol our communities, and further turn us against one another. We must stay away from that trap. Frustrated and confused, Black people may attack one another, but instead of condemning them to a slow death in prison or shooting them down in the streets for revenge, we must deal with the underlying social causes behind the act.

Anarchists should begin to have community forums on the cause and manifestations of crime in the Black community. We have to seriously examine the social institutions: family, schools, prisons, jobs, etc. that cause us to fuss, fight, rob and kill each other, rather than the enemy who is causing all our misery. While we should mobilize to restrain offenders, we must begin to realize that only the community will effectively deal with the mater. Not the racist Capitalist system, with its repressive police, courts and prisons. Only we have psychology and understanding to deal with it; now we must develop the will. No one else cares.

Instead of eye-for-eye punishment, there should be restitution to the victims, their families or society. No revenge, such as the death penalty will bring a murder victim back, nor will long-term imprisonment serve either justice or the protection of society. After all, prisons are only human trashcans for those that society has discarded as worthless. No sane and just society would adopt such a course. Society makes criminals and must be responsible for their treatment. White capitalist society is itself a crime, and is the greatest teacher of corruption and violence.

In an Anarchist society, prisons would be done away with, along with courts and police (except for the exceptions I have alluded to), and be replaced with community-run programs and centers interested solely with human regeneration and social training, rather than custodial supervision in a inhuman lockup. The fact is that if a person is so violent or dangerous, he is probably mentally warped or has some physical defect anyway, which causes him to commit violent acts after social justice has been won. If such people are mentally defective, then they should be placed in a mental health facility, rather than a prison. Human rights should never be stripped and he should not be punished. Schools, hospitals, doctors and above all social equality, public welfare and liberty might prove the safest means to get rid of crimes and criminals together. If a special category such as “criminal” or “enemy” is created, then these persons may forever feel an outcast and never change. Even if he or she is a class enemy, they should retain all civil and human rights in society, even though they of course would be restrained if they led a counter-revolution; the difference is we want to defeat them ideologically, not militarily or by consigning them to a so-called reeducation camp or to be shot like the Bolsheviks did when assuming power in Russia in 1917.

There are two major reasons why activists in the Black community as we move to change society, its values and conditions, must immediately take a serious look and act to change the political debate around crime, prisons and the so-called criminal justice system. Those two reasons hit right home! One is because during any given year, one out of four Black men in this country is in prison, in jail on parole, or probation, compared to just one of every fifteen white men. In fact Blacks make up 50–85 percent of most prison populations around the U.S., making a truism of the radical phraseology that “Prisons are concentration camp for the Black and poor.” It may be your brother, sister, husband, wife, daughter or son in prison, but I guarantee you we all know someone in prison at this very minute! The other primary reason Blacks have a vested interest in crime and penal institutions is because by far, most Blacks and other non-whites are in prison for committing offenses against their own community.

Prisons are compact duplicates of the Black community, in that many of the same negative and destructive elements that are allowed to exist in our community and cause crime, especially drugs, are in poison in a more blatant and concentrated form To call such places ‘correctional” or “rehabilitative” institutions is a gross misnomer. Death camps are more like it. These prisons do not exist to punish everyone equally, but to protect the existing Capitalist system from you and I, the poor and working class.

The high rate or recidivism proves, and the so-called authorities all agree, that the prison system is a total failure. About 70 percent of those entering prison are repeat offenders who commit increasingly serious crimes. The brutality or prison experience and the “ex-con” stigma when they are finally released make them worse. Basic to solving these crucial problems is organization. The Black community and the Black Liberation movement must support the prisoners in their fight for prisoners human rights They should fight far the release of political prisoners and victims of racial injustice. They should also form coalitions of groups in the Black community to fight against the racist penal and judicial system, and especially the unequal application of the death penalty, which is just another form of genocide against the Black race. And finally, and maybe most importantly, local community groups must begin programs of re-education with brothers and sisters in prison because only through planned, regular, and constant contact can we begin to resolve this problem that so directly touches our lives. Abolish prisons.

Lorenzo Komboa Ervin “unemployment and homelessness” from his book Anarchism and the black revolution

In the first three months of 1993, the U.S. Labor Department’s Bureau of labor Statistics listed official unemployment rates at about six million persons or just seven of the labor force. Under Capitalism half that figure is “normal” and nonsensically is considered by Capitalist economists as “full employment” even though this is millions of people consigned to economic poverty of the worst sort. But the government figures are intentionally conservative, and do not include those who have given up actively searching for jobs, the under employed (who can’t make enough to live on), the part-time workers (who can’t find a full time or steady job) and the homeless of which them are now between 3–5 million alone.

Of the 6 million people that the government does count as jobless now, less than 3 million are given any unemployment compensation or other federal or state aid; the rest are left to starve, steal or hustle for their survival. A person without a job under the Capitalist system is counted as nothing. Every worker has the human right to a job; yet under Capitalism, workers are dismissed form employment in times of business crisis, overproduction, depression or just to save labor costs through less workers and more speed-up. And some workers cannot find jobs in the Capitalist labor market because of lack of skills, or racial or social discrimination.

But the government’s figures lie, private researchers state that the total number of people who want full time jobs and thus cannot find them amounts to nearly 14.3 million persons. Clearly then this is a crisis situation of broad proportions, but all the government is doing is juggling and hiding figures. But the figures do show that Blacks, Latinos, and women are bearing the brunt of the current depression The National Urban League in its “Bidden Unemployment Index” (included as part of its annual “State of Black America” report) reports levels of 15–38 percent for Black adults 25 and older and incredible levels of 44–55% for teens and young adults 17–24 years. In fact, Black youth unemployment has not declined at all since the 1974–1975 recession. It has stayed at an official level of 35–40 percent, but in the major cities like Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles, the real unemployment rate is more like 70 percent. For Black youth the unemployment rate is three to five times higher than that of white youth. Capitalism is making economic exiles of Black people as a whole. The fact is that unemployment is concentrated in the Black and Hispanic communities, and is greatly responsible for the most destructive tendencies inhuman relations and deteriorating neighborhoods. Crime, prostitution, suicide, drug addiction, gang fighting, mental illness, alcoholism, and the break up of the Black family, and other social ills — all are rooted in the lack of jobs and the denial of essential social services in their communities. It is actually racial genocide in the form of social neglect.

Unemployment is profitable for the bosses because it drives down the wages of workers and helps the employers to keep the workforce under control through this “reserve army of labor,” which are allegedly always ready to scab. Because of pervasive discrimination against Blacks, Latinos and other nationally oppressed workers, including higher levels unemployment — the jobs they do get art generally on the bottom rung. This is also profitable for the boss, and divides the working class.

Homelessness is just the most intensified form of unemployment, where in addition to loss of job or income, there is loss of housing and lack of access to social services. There are now millions of people homeless since the last 15 years, because of the Capitalist offensive to destroy the unions, beat back the gains of the civil rights struggle, and do away with the affordable housing sector in favor of yuppie gentrification in the cities. You see them in cities, big and small, and what this reflects is a total breakdown in the Capitalist State’s social services system, in addition to the heating up of the class war waged by government and the major corporations, It shows, more than anything, that Capitalism worldwide is undergoing an international financial panic, and is really in the beginning stages of a world depression. In addition to the 90 million persons who live below the poverty line and three to five million homeless in the U.S.; there are another 2.7 million homeless in the twelve nations of the European community, and 80 million people am living in poverty there, with millions more in the Capitalist countries of Japan, Korea and other parts of Asia. So although Black workers must organize and fight against homeless and unemployment in the U.S., clearly there must be an international movement of workers to fight this economic deprivation, as part of the overall class struggle. In every city in North America, the Black workers movement should organize unemployment councils to fight for unemployment benefits and jobs for the jobless, the building of decent, affordable low-income housing and an end to homelessness, as well as against racial discrimination in jobs and housing. Such councils would be democratic organizations, organized on a neighborhood basis, (to ensure that it would be under the control of the people, and against infiltration and takeover by liberal or “radical” political parties, or co-optation by the government), which would be federated into a citywide, regional, and national organization. That organization would be a national Black unemployment league, to create a mass fight back movement in this depression. It would be made up of Black community unemployed councils from all over the country, with delegates elected from all the local groups. Such a national organization could meet to map out a large-scale attack on unemployment, as well as serve as a national clearinghouse on Black unemployment conditions.

On the local level in the Black neighborhoods, it would be the community unemployment councils which would establish food and housing cooperatives, lead rent strikes and squatting, initiate land and building reclamation projects, establish producer and consumer cooperatives, distribute food and clothing, and provide for other services: they would establish neighborhood medical clinics for free treatment of the homeless and unemployed, rodent control programs, etc., and they would deal with community social problems (brought on by unemployment), and other issues of interest They would build hunger marches and other demonstrations and carry the people’s wrath to various government offices and to the businesses of the rich. Not only would the unemployment councils be a way of fighting for jobs and unemployment benefits, but also the councils would a way to a obtain a great deal of community self-sufficiency and direct democracy, instead of totally depending on city hall, Congress or the President, and helps lead to the kind of confidence among the masses that a Black municipal commune becomes a serious possibility.

One of the most important functions of an unemployment movement is to obtain unity between the employed and unemployed or homeless, and workers solidarity across race lines. The employed and unemployed must work together to struggle against the Boss class if they are to obtain any serious gains during this period of economic crisis. Workers who are on strike or protesting against the boss would be supported by the unemployed, who would even man the picket lines with them and refuse to scab. In turn the workers would form unemployed caucus in their trade unions to allow union representation of these workers and also force such unions to provide food and other necessities, make funds and training available to the unemployed, as well as throw the weight of the unions in the fight for decent jobs and housing for all workers. The Capitalist bosses will not be moved otherwise. Make the bosses pay for their economic crisis!

Here is what a united movement of workers and homeless must demand:

  1. Full employment (zero unemployment) for all workers at union wage.
  2. Establishment of a shorter workweek, so that workers would be paid at the rate for 40 hours of work for 20–30 hours a week on the job.
  3. End homelessness, build and make available decent affordable housing for all. Repeal all loitering, anti-panhandling and other laws against the homeless.
  4. End the war budget, and use those funds for decent, low-income housing, better schools, hospitals and clinics, libraries, parks and public transportation.
  5. End racism and sexism in job opportunities and relief benefits.
  6. Jobs or a guaranteed income for all.
  7. Full federal and state benefits for unemployed workers and their families, including corporate and government funds to pay the bills, rents and debts for any laid off worker, and unemployment compensation at 100% of regular paid wage, lasting the full length of a worker’s period of unemployment.
  8. National minimum wage set at prevailing union entry wage.
  9. Government and corporate funds to establish a public works program to provide jobs (with full union rights and wage scale) to rebuild the inner cities and provide needed social services. The program and its funds should be under the control of committees democratically elected from poor and Black neighborhoods, so as to avoid “poverty pimps” and rip off job agencies, or government bureaucrats.
  10. Free all persons in prison for crimes of economic survival.

These, and the demands previously mentioned, are merely a survival program and agenda for unemployed workers; the real answer is Social revolution the elimination of Capitalism, and workers’ self-management of the economy and society. This is a vital first step however. Them would be no unemployment or social need for wage labor in an Anarchist-Communist society.

There is no communism in Russia by Emma Goldman (part one)

Communism is now on everybody’s lips. Some talk of it with the exaggerated enthusiasm of a new convert, others fear and condemn it as a social menace. But I venture to say that neither its admirers—the great majority of them—nor those who denounce it have a very clear idea of what Bolshevik Communism really is.

Speaking generally, Communism is the ideal of human equality and brotherhood. It considers the exploitation of man by man as the source of all slavery and oppression. It holds that economic inequality leads to social injustice and is the enemy of moral and intellectual progress. Communism aims at a society where classes have been abolished as a result of common ownership of the means of production and distribution. It teaches that only in a classless, solidaric commonwealth can man enjoy liberty, peace and well-being.

My purpose is to compare Communism with its application in Soviet Russia, but on closer examination I find it an impossible task. As a matter of fact, there is no Communism in the U.S.S.R. Not a single Communist principle, not a single item of its teaching is being applied by the Communist party there.

To some this statement may appear as entirely false; others may think it vastly exaggerated. Yet I feel sure that an objective examination of conditions in present-day Russia will convince the unprejudiced reader that I speak with entire truth.

It is necessary to consider here, first of all, the fundamental idea underlying the alleged Communism of the Bolsheviki. It is admittedly of a centralized, authoritarian kind. That is, it is based almost exclusively on governmental coercion, on violence. It is not the Communism of voluntary association. It is compulsory State Communism. This must be kept in mind in order to understand the method applied by the Soviet state to carry out such of its plans as may seem to be Communistic.

The first requirement of Communism is the socialization of the land and of the machinery of production and distribution. Socialized land and machinery belong to the people, to be settled upon and used by individuals or groups according to their needs. In Russia land and machinery are not socialized but _nationalized_. The term is a misnomer, of course. In fact, it is entirely devoid of content. In reality there is no such thing as national wealth. A nation is too abstract a term to “own” anything. Ownership may be by an individual, or by a group of individuals; in any case by some quantitatively defined reality. When a certain thing does not belong to an individual or group, it is either nationalized or socialized. If it is nationalized, it belongs to the state; that is, the government has control of it and may dispose of it according to its wishes and views. But when a thing is socialized, every individual has free access to it and use it without interference from anyone.

In Russia there is no socialization either of land or of production and distribution. Everything is nationalized; it belongs to the government, exactly as does the post-office in America or the railroad in Germany and other European countries. There is nothing of Communism about it.

No more Communistic than the land and means of production is any other phase of the Soviet economic structure. All sources of existence are owned by the central government; foreign trade is its absolute monopoly; the printing presses belong to the state, and every book and paper issued is a government publication. In short, the entire country and everything in it is the property of the state, as in ancient days it used to be the property of the crown. The few things not yet nationalized, as some old ramshackle houses in Moscow, for instance, or some dingy little stores with a pitiful stock of cosmetics, exist on sufferance only, with the government having the undisputed right to confiscate them at any moment by simple decree.

Such a condition of affairs may be called state capitalism, but it would be fantastic to consider it in any sense Communistic.

Ashanti Alston’s “Childhood and the psychological dimensions of Revolution” (Final part)

NEEDING MORE THAN YOU BARGAINED FOR

We need so much more than the “science” of Capitalist Economics, Pan-Africanism, Socialism, Spirituality, guerrilla warfare, etc., to enrich our understanding of the problems of human bondage and self-enslavement. No matter how effective the Mask in enslaving us to the habits, obsessions, ways of thinking, relating and reacting we can destroy it and restructure a whole new identity or character. We have available the kind of analytical and “self-actualizing” psychologies to help us produce that gut-wrenching revolution of The Soul. Here rests and operates that “inner social dynamic” which automatically makes each of us work to fail, to FAIL in carrying out one’s own and one’s group’s most righteous of intentions and endeavors. We need to develop, to self-develop the kind of liberating habits and ways of thinking/feeling/willing/working required to help us succeed in Life in general and in Revolution in particular.

How can people who have been the target of what has been the most effective and dam-near total psychological domination BY THEMSELVES create the conditions and processes for Freedom? For an inner freedom that is a necessary preparation for building the kind of clear, diverse, national revolutionary movements for changing this whole society?

First is by realizing that in this today’s phase of scientific capitalism, the repressive (psychic) domination and (social) administration of society becomes an advanced “1984” -scientific, productive and total. When Malcolm X spoke of their powers to manipulate us and have us thinking that our true friends were our enemies, and vice-versa, even he knew deep the manipulation reached into our very souls. It went deep enough to make us think that we were doing our own thinking and acting. And Malcolm had only penetrated THE TIP of the iceberg.

No one is immune to the psychic domination this oppressive monster, or “god”, has over us. The invisible Mask maintains that domination, that blind addiction to authoritarianism. It represses the instinctual freedom desires of a person. This is true even when one is ALONE with NO VISIBLE political or police force near us. Like the slave who will not, WILL NOT run away from Massa when unchained and no physical obstacle in sight. The only obstacle is her/his personal fears, her/his mentality of fear … a fear that paralyzes the mind, the body, the soul. No more Kunta Kinte. You got TOBY now! Don’t worry because he don’t need those metal chains anymore. Same Mask, same “dynamic” of self-enslavement. Instead of the natural curiosity and drive to go after Life and learn of its greater possibilities – there is a fear of life, and self-imposed limitations. The same fear that immobilizes and paralyzes. That Fear of Freedom. Sacrificed is the natural fiery, streaming desire for life, love, learning, thinking, playing creating. Sacrificed is self-esteem, self-confidence, will power, risk-taking, creative and critical thinking and a natural desire for sociality. Here we are talking about the very undeveloped capacities necessary to fight successfully for freedom and happiness.

We still carry that character mask of Slave Mentality today. We have no developed capacities for truly LIVING (the self-actualizing development towards a full-humanness), and so, no true durable STRUGGLE capacities. We, as revolutionaries, are as neurotic as anyone else in this society. It is a mass neurosis, a mass sickness, and we are a part of THE MASSES. The personality problems that stem from those early traumatic experiences don’t get exposed and resolved for our betterment merely by reading and taking on new beliefs. No matter how militant, scientific or moral. What we’re doing is merely piling, PILING more stuff ON TOP of problems already caused by a poor uprooting of racism, sexism and authoritarianism per se inside of us. IT IS A GHETTO INSIDE THERE, and you don’t intelligently build a new identity on top of an old, crumbling foundation structure that is fragile, re-decorated, “shouldabeencondemnedlongago” psychological tenements.

The problem is how to change the whole ghetto-ized or niggerized mind/body/soul chain system so that in self-discovery and development of wholesome, enriching and enlivening capacities, one can be better able to truly take hold of new, liberating ways of thinking and relating as in guiding principles and life concepts. Here we especially mean one’s critical, emotional, sensual, creative and physical capacities in and for life per se. Does what we believe, do our behavior patterns inhibit, repress or distort the “fire of life? Or does one’s beliefs and behavior promote and nurture that “born freedom,” that potential primarily for creating higher, diverse forms of liberating, human natural relationships, cultural and sexual happiness, psychological self-determination – and as critical, for social revolutionary struggle, including the complex underground machinations called for?

In order to radically change the ghettoes, you have to get out the dynamite, the giant digging cranes, the ball crushers, power jacks, etc.. You have to carry through the tasks of blowing up, knocking down the old physical character of the ghetto. Then you have to keep on digging deep through the surface, past hidden layers of earth to prepare for a new, clean foundation. That is the concern here: preparing for a new, clean foundation for freedom. And we’ve got a lot of garbage and backed-up, antiquated sewer systems in our psychological characters to deal with. This is the PREPARATION of changing the Masked Character Structure.

Just like the construction workers, the re-construction of the character structure require us to DIG DEEP into the many layers of our personal pasts, for those hidden, buried potent capacities screaming to be free for living fully, for developing naturally towards the fullness, the wholeness of life. It is from this BASIS that the capacities for a mix of revolutionary life styles, including all its dangerous implications, should be developed. Talk about struggle, conflict? LIKE NOTHING YOU COULD HAVE IMAGINED. The living, potent knowledge available to us now, can help us to conduct this inner radical reconstruction that inescapably puts us through some hellified psychological and even biological changes. And this is just what we need!

“After difficulty comes ease.” – The Quran

WHERE TO – WHAT NOW?

This calls for a different kind of boldness or courage. It impels you to confront and challenge not just the external enemy of all shapes, sizes and dress, but the internal enemy who is YOU, an yet NOT THE YOU you are silently SCREAMING to be. There is the need for the courage to seek out amongst ourselves the men, women and youngsters (regardless of race, sex, class or belief) who are at least INTERESTED and WIILING to venture on this journey (a rugged journey, mind you) in putting ourselves through, and having others of like interest put us through, the kinds of personal, emotionally upsetting, gut-wrenching experiences necessary to discover their selves and piece back together a human being fragmented by this oppressive culture. This is synonymous with being, becoming REVOLUTIONARY, which is synonymous with being at peace with one’s self. Anyone whose attitude is that s/he is already revolutionary (or human) enough and don’t need to go through no more changes is obviously a self-enslaved person who is satisfied with remaining stuck in the same old mold. That type of person cannot, and more than likely WILL NOT, help him/herself nor allow others to help her/him unless that particular negative anti-freedom attitude changes to one that is indicative of an OPENING to the world of positive “stimuli,” goodness in people, enriching, liberating experiences, and the like.

So, the primary purpose of this paper (and my idea with others before me of the primary task of this stage of human struggle in Babylon) is to help each one and each other SEE, as penetrating and broadly as we can, the Masked Oppressor within us. These self-hating, self-enslaving mechanisms which have become an unconscious and invisible force is operating off of our induced fears of LIVING FULLY, affectively restricting our capacities for struggle and freedom. We’ve got to break through if we are going to change ourselves into capable, human peoples who are determined to take responsibility for creating radical social-changing lifestyles.

Reading Is A Must! SO we must seek out the kinds of information that can show us:

1) How we each are prevented by the society (through culture) and how we prevent our own selves (internalizing culture) from developing our potentials as human beings and revolutionaries, and

2) How we might bring forth those buried potentials and capacities to be free, constructive, creative, willing, loving, independent, communal, responsible, playful, sensual, honest, assertive, playful, and revolutionizing.

Part 3 of Ashanti Alston’s ” Childhood and the psychological dimensions of the revolution”

PSYCHIC IMPRISONING BY CULTURE

To teach us to repress ourselves in the name of Respect and Obedience to Authority (parents, preachers, teachers, principals, police, politicians, etc) DEHUMANIZES us. If a child is forbidden to express his/her feelings, explore her/his potentials, s/he will never be able to unfold freely in a rich and joyous life … OR in a life of Revolution dreaming, creating, destroying, healing, contesting, renewing … The social repression and its learned self- repression is going to negatively affect his/her concept of self and her/his ability to relate positively to self, others and environment with a sense of freedom and responsibility through love, work and critical reflection. The reactions to those traumatic or fearful events in one’s earlier life has armored one’s psychological make-up against the Natural, the Instinctual.

Our self-concept is, and has been, continually bombarded with negative experiences and subliminal messages which leave us with the feelings of insignificance, self-hatred, helplessness, powerlessness, and lifelessness. The way we learn to cope with it is by THE MASCARADE. Remember the song,

The stage is set,

the curtain goes up,

and everybody’s playing a part..

This is the result of Coping without ever being conscious of the process we are going through.

The Mascarade – everybody has their particular mask, a psychological or character mask that is UNWITTINGLY created by the child’s reactive attempts to deal with the traumatic experiences of a culture imposing itself on that child. That mask is the NUMBER ONE block to freedom, in the psychic and social sense. It serves to bind up and distort the righteous streamings of living energy into socially acceptable, pathological thinking, feeling and acting … characterizing a society oriented to race-ism, class-ism, sex-ism, imperial-ism, profit-hunger, war and other anti-humanistic tendencies.

CAN’T IGNORE THE “PSYCHOLOGICAL DIMENSION”

We’ll be able to understand, in greater depth, the problems that block Revolution in this country when we are more willing and daring to learn about the psychological dimension, or that dynamic aspect of the Mask. It is what one perceptive activist referred to as “self-inflicting psychological oppression.” It arose from a discussion of the ways in which people in general, and activists, in spite of their high self-opinions, perpetuate the very society oppressing them by holding on to the ideas, opinions, beliefs, addictions, attitudes, gestures, relationships and established traditions that make this National Life powerful and workable for the Rich and already Powerful. To understand this, to make an honest attempt to understand this, you must step out of the obsession with The Masses, or with proving studiousness and loyalty to a particular ideology or belief. For this, you must start BY EXAMINING YOUR OWN DAM SELF!

This is why the point is being stressed that child-rearing, as we practice it, is a mechanism of personality- or character-structure formation. Put another way, it is plain ole SPIRIT-BREAKING. In particular, it is a source of our most enduring, stubborn and persistent personality problems all through the course of one’s life. And before someone forgets, this is specifically concerned with THOSE OF US WHO ARE ACTIVISTS, REVOLUTIONARIES, in SELF-OPINION. Why? Because we are the ones out on Front Street talking about (and trying to) educating The Masses and organizing them to enter into a revolution. We are also the main ones to land in prison, graveyards, psycho-wards or survive under the most dangerous conditions due to our commitment to “take on” this System.

As we are now, we are NOT ready, and primarily because we’ve successfully avoided that NUMBER ONE CONFRONTATION of SELF, of our personal problems hidden under a pile of revolutionary (and/or religious) theory and belief systems, aggressive posturing and political hatreds. It is in opening ourselves up to this that we need to demonstrate real, concrete COURAGE. Getting out on Front Street declaring a new Revolutionary Party or Army, the squeezing of a trigger, the taking off of a bank, dope dealer, pig, charging into kkklan demonstrations, whatever the obsession with physical, combative activities – they are quite secondary to the kind of GUT-WRENCHING, NERVE-WRECKING inner changes we need to make to DE-CONDITION ourselves from psychological loyalty to this oppressive system. The wrenching off of the Mask is preparatory and inescapable IF we are to eventually be successful in realizing our high verbally expressed goals.

Part two of “Childhood and the psychological dimensions of Revolution” by Ashanti Alston. 

NICE LIES – PAINFUL TRUTHS

Home (or family), church, school, peers, etc. have the function in common of causing the child or person to restrict and distort the living physical, intellectual and emotional expressions of that dynamic, charging energy of life, of Freedom within. It is done in the nice-sounding names of “civilization”, “God,” proper upbringing, Education, Manhood, Citizenship and the American Way.

Take the home. Just as we say that Prison is but a “microcosm” of society in general, so too is the Home. Home is that part of society which is first entrusted with the mission, or responsibility of molding us into what the Ruling Order has defined and instituted as acceptable. Those cultural forces converge upon each human being at the youngest of age. At such a period the person is helpless, defenseless as the “Spearhead” of these molding forces are the members of the family within the institution of the home.

The early distortion of our naturally positive drives and pure feelings with morals, taboos, nice lies, scaring lies, compulsory duties, repressive religious and secular adherence, racism, sexism … frustrates, twists and distorts the natural, positive life functioning of the infant. It makes both child-life and adult-life miserable, frustrating. Each person comes to develop a plasticness or front of being, of trying to be nice, polite, obedient, civil. Each person tries to “cope”; some become abusive and rebellious. None understand what makes them repress and deny that child-like “innocence” which is a purity and openness to Life’s inner and outer forms.

That front becomes a seemingly permanent fixture containing and expressing Life-denying fears, hatreds, worries and inhibitions inside. All or most of our character or personality problems in later adult life stem from these childhood oppressions that were never brought to consciousness, and understood, in order to be resolved in the interest of that person’s psychic, biological, social, and communal health. No matter what the endeavor, these person problems affect the process and outcome of all we did, do and will do, mostly without our ever realizing or being conscious of its relationship.

The reason why even revolutionaries -or sincere-meaning people who get involved with movements – cannot change their social circumstances is because they do not recognize or just deny the existence of powerful unconscious, self-enslaving emotional habits, thought patterns and defense-mechanisms WITHIN THEM that overwhelms the best and most righteous of intentions and endeavors to change society. This is the inner social dynamic of the Mask whose function it is to frustrate and repress the vast potential of each and every human being to be free and wholly alive.

Look at this process of mask-forming, role-fitting, and chronic frustration and distortion of the human being’s living energy into conforming behavior, from another angle.

The painful but inescapable truth is that our “homes” are like kennels or prison-factories where Mama and Papa raise us pretty much like dogs. Yes, they “loved” us and all, BUT … More time and energy is put into trying to (and mostly succeeding) DOMESTICATE us, than with actually raising, nurturing good healthy life-affirming qualities. Children’s humanness, their naturalness is not respected. That, especially, which makes us so unique, apart from all other species, is not respected: our very human emotions and intellect. Even our basic biological needs and natural rhythms are subject to mechanical, pseudo-scientific measure. Early the child is being forced into submitting to authoritarianism.

It starts with such seemingly meaningless things as feeding and teaching the child to “cooperate”; cleaning or bathing and teaching the child to be still and “cooperate”; peepeeing and dodoing and potty-training the child; teaching the child ONE perspective of life – YOURS; teaching sexist, racist and other shit whose message is to be “loyal” to Authority. It is here that the saying “Action speaks louder than words” is relevant. The overt and subtle messages come across to the memory more through people’s actions, their behavior. For example, parents don’t sit a child down and actually say, “You are the Inferior One because of your age, sex, and race.” It is given from the daily behavior of parents and significant others. Again, it is not that the child must not be raised or taught – it is the Why and How behind it.

The infant can naturally signal hunger and should have her hunger satisfied then. But Mama, many times, ignores this and forces the baby to comply with what’s convenient for Mama, or with some so-called scientifically worked out time schedule for feeding. When this happens the baby is being put through some heavy trauma. That baby is not “scientific” nor so rigid. S/he is an organism of natural rhythm and needs, of harmonious instincts and pure feelings.

The authoritarian manner of forcing a child to COMPLY, to CONFORM, to SUBMIT to a rigid schedule instead of its natural rhythm an signaling, or to force him/her to eat when they’re not hungry, or to strap a child to a high-chair and let him sit there until he “learns” how to eat CIVILIZED, is cruel punishment. But even in this example, it is done supposedly on the child’s behalf – for the child’s own good. It is one example of a “nice lie” honestly believed in by parents, but based on old myths and new scientific” myths.

What about the child’s FEELINGS? Or does it matter? What about the harm done to the child’s nascent sense of self and potential for self-determination? This is what is crucial here. In the place of a possible healthy, lively, free self-hood and self-determination (which could grow naturally under non-oppressive culture or in a fight-back…) comes the first pieces, THE FIRST PIECES of the Mask. And always it is with struggle: the baby cries, kicks, fights … the baby eventually succumbs and loses touch with more and more aspects of that vital fire of life (Self).

In the classic play, Hamlet, it is said: “God has given you one face, and you make yourself another.” When any oppressive society demands and institutes practices that influences a child’s self-repression of his/her own naturalness, in the name of Civilization, or Moral Upbringing, and the like – it is a cruel assault on the very potential and capacity of that human being to be free, whole, alive, loving, strong, curious, and responsible. An assault on being YOU!

THINK BACK

Go on, think back.

Open up that ole hidden chest where those ancient memories are stored. The ones you never had cause to ever think about again. The ones you never knew had such significance or influence on you at present. They aren’t all nice memories either. You know that. Many of them evoke anger, hatred, ill-feelings towards those significant persons in your earlier life. But never-the-less, you have got to face them. Think about how those early traumatic experiences, conditioned your development into the kind of person you are today.

Man, if you, as a youngster, spoke out at home and it was directed at your parents or other adults in a manner that wasn’t considered “nice” or “respectful,” why you were liable to GET THE PISS SMACKED OUTTA YOU. You were liable to get your butt whupped or threatened with a whupping. And it didn’t matter, in general, if you had a legit beef, a good point, a concerned interest, or just plain angered by something done to you that YOU perceived as wrong, unjust, or questionable.

By the parents’ reaction (including body language and actual verbal expressions) you are taught a lesson that will play on your behavior not only in relation to your parents but with ANY other AUTHORITY FIGURE you deal with.

You don’t talk back to me, boy!

You aint grown yet, girl!

You don’t tell ME what-chu gonna do.

I’m yo’ Father! I’m yo’ Mama!

You’re gonna OBEY me, dammit!

Just wait till your Father gits home!

And then once you’ve learned to shut your mouth and not express your self in natural manners, the emotions come out in soundless physical gestures that HIDE your true thoughts and feelings. But even the Physics of it is an apt indication to “experienced” parents that you are STILL rebellious. That you have learned to HIDE the truth within you at an early age shows that you are learning the more “advanced” and subtle ways to , personally and socially, control yourself. This is a shame because it means you are learning to be other than, OTHER THAN your true self! Think back.

What-chu got yo’ dam lip poked out for?

Better put-cho lip back in before I put it in For you!

I hear you pouting and you better stop!

You stay right here and if I see one tear umma really give you something to cry for!

What kind of upbringing is this? What are its consequences for the child, in its childhood AND its adulthood? It is an AUTHORITARIAN UPBRINGING, one designed to instill FEAR of those human elements in society who are recognized as POWERS. The child has NO RIGHTS that a Parent or Adult is bond to respect. The black man has not rights that the White Man is bound to respect. The worker has no rights that the Boss is bound to respect. The female has no rights that the Male is bound to respect. The colonized has no rights that the Colonizing Powers are bound to respect. And the examples could go on. It should be obvious now that the foundation for the perpetuation of Status Quo, Power Structure … is laid AT HOME. It is the actions, and beliefs guiding those actions, of parents and other significant social figures in our lives which cause the child to conform, in psychological loyalty, to the very kind of oppressive regime which exterminates, extinguishes the potent, streaming energy of Life within. In other words, you have learned to contain, repress or even virtually completely extinguish that wellspring of freedom burning within you. We are prisoners of our own upbringing

Childhood & The Psychological Dimension of Revolution by Ashanti Alston (first part)

​PEOPLE WHO TALK ABOUT REVOLUTION AND CLASS STRUGGLE WITHOUT REFERING EXPLICITLY TO EVERYDAY LIFE, WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING WHAT IS SUBVERSIVE ABOUT LOVE AND WHAT IS POSITIVE IN THE REFUSAL OF CONSTRAINTS, SUCH PEOPLE HAVE A CORPSE IN THEIR MOUTHS

RAUL VANEIGEM, from THE REVOLUTION OF EVERYDAY LIFE

I had a typical upbringing where the inner-city was Niggertown with all the customs and traditions of racism, sexism and powerlessness. You come into this kind of world ignorant but increasingly learning about people, society, roles and duties. You recognize the Supreme Authority of the Whites, the Rich and “God,” of the poleece in the streets. Of the preachers and teachers in the churches and schools, and of the parents and older folks in the home and neighborhood.

Though my first “authority” figures were my parents (and older brothers and sisters) I soon found out that beyond the world of home, there were others in authoritarian positions over me. But whatever or whoever the authority, the cultural lesson that tied it all together was the one that began in the home: Respect and Obey your Parents! Do as we Say. We know how to Raise you.” Disrespect and disobedience was not to be tolerated. Funny, you didn’t like it as a child, yet you found yourself following the same customs and traditions when you were in the role as Parent, as an Authority. It made your life as a child miserable in many respects with the roles and chores, the do’s and don’ts and all. But, it was said to be Necessary if you were going to Fit In and Make It in this society.

No child just automatically conforms to such authoritarian raising, such methods. There is naturally rebellion and resistance. But you are just a child, weak and dependent upon those around you to “prepare” you for the real world. So what can you do but eventually submit, conform to their social designs? I am certain that I had to learn through this process of instilling Fear in me, to cement each lesson in my soul. Not like I got it much, but I didn’t like to get my butt whupped, didn’t like to be shouted at, threatened, ordered to stay in the house away from friends and games and al. They were upset with my natural wild zest for life and mostly, all of their measures were designed to restrict it, that “wild zest.” I didn’t know but it was obvious that I had ongoing choices to make to please them, whether I liked it or not. Mama knows best – Papa knows best … but I didn’t know a dam thing! Hell, I guess that I was just suppose to go along with the program. It was no question that when I did, it brought more rewards than punishment, and when faced with a choice between the two, man, you get tired of punishment! Without ever fully understanding why, you come to realize that the things you truly want, desire to do, think, say, feel … have got to be repressed, hidden and if done at all, done on the sly. Just can’t be you. Why?

Once those customs and traditions become a part of a person they form a psychological “mask” quite unknowingly to the person. You come to don that mask reluctantly, as your every physical, mental and emotional fiber resists. But once its fastened on your face, on your soul, it functions just like your heart pumps blood, lungs air, or stomach digest food. You forget about, or repress the memories of, the traumatic experiences which created the mask, and go on through life not even realizing that it governs, influences, pulls and jerks your every physical, emotional and intellectual activity. It effectively cuts you off from being in direct touch with your true feelings, with your spontaneous contact with the outside world, with friends, with your energy, and with your curiosity about life in general.

Poor child has no idea that its dependency upon those who raise him/her is gonna cost him/her that natural, playful, soulful zest for life; its psychic and biological health and development twisted and suffocated by a series of traumatic experiences designed and invoked in the name of God and the American Way and good child-rearing practices to produce a powerless, dependent, fearful, self-enslaving, law-abiding citizens (first- and second-class). Its sad that parents don’t see the real damage they inflect on their children in their rearing methods, but the end-result always show in the inability of people in general to govern their own lives without an authoritarian figure hovering over them; it shows in their apathy, hopelessness and feelings of insignificance.

After the coup d’etat of the Family Institution over the natural freedom and aliveness of the child, that child is trained into an adulthood in which it will continue to repress freedom (its full human developmental capacities) and continue the whole process anew in its offspring. What was done to your parents in childhood, they did to you, and you, in turn, do it to yours.

And so on, never thinking about the harmful consequences of blindly carrying on traditions which distort our humanity. It is here, though, and in this way of words and behavior, that the sexism, racism, capitalism, the religious, intellectual and moral belief systems, as well as the lying, dishonesty, irresponsibility, emotional denial, liberalism, manipulation, egotism, slavishness, etc., are taught and passed on.

In sociology the process itself is called “socialization” or “enculturation.” The object is to “civilize” the child and keep everyone bind to the traps of tradition and belief. But what it amounts to is a vast suppression of the force or fire of life within the child or population in general, because it is that “fire” which rebels against any kind of oppressive socialization which is not in harmony with the free development of a human being’s potential for healthy, satisfying love, work and knowledge. What is wanted is a well-behaved, obedient, productive person who will NOT disturb nor question the Established Authoritarian Order, but will merely carry on as proscribed and arranged for generations.

Generally, there is one brief period in the human development cycle where we are, relatively, free; when the culture has not yet restricted, twisted, or distorted the natural, spontaneous Living Expressions of a thinking, feeling and doing human being. This period is from birth to 3, 4 or 5 years old. The child is “born free”. This is when our emotional, physical and mental energies are most delightfully burning, most alive, vibrant, responsive, honest, curious, sensuous, logical rational and crazy. You fear not new things or people; you fear not adventure or trying new activities; you don’t become stuck in anxieties or depressive moods; nor worry about what others think about you.

You are open, receptive and geared to nothing else but Life itself and all its pleasure and struggle. You are just a wellspring of energy to love, to learn and to act.

Every day, every minute and every experience in the life of a child is one of curiosity and a powerful drive to learn … about things, people, self. Those eyes are bright, observant. Those hands and arms, legs and feet are moving and touching, reaching. That child, every child – a natural explorer! Eyes, mouth, ears, hands, senses. Not only does s/he learn and do from seeing, hearing, touching, feeling, tasting the objects of its surrounding reality. They also learn about themselves and the use of the capacities of eyes, ears. Hands, legs, feet, tongue, muscles, sexual organs, thinking and feeling and the whole “humanimal” range. In other words, they are on the road – naturally – to self-discovery, in its totality and on his/her own terms. Self and surroundings are ONE. But …

These days or years of “born freedom” are not going to last long in our culture. Our society is not geared nor interested in nurturing human development on the basis of natural freedom. It is geared to develop us on the basis of Authority – class, race, sex, age, etc. The need to OBEY, rather than the need to BE, is the over-riding concern. This is what makes “childhood” as we had it imposed on us, an oppressive institution. Good ole Western, U.S. child-rearing is an innocent-appearing good-intentioned Fire-Extinguisher used to put out a fine, sweet, bright and wildly burning human flame, in the person of an Uncivilized, unADULTerated child. And let it be said again and again, so that there’ll be no misunderstanding: The ground-breakers, the spirit-breakers or foundation builders of this pillar of psychological loyalty to the social system is the Family, Parents, Brothers, Sisters and other relevant figures tied to your immediate surroundings.

It is not that the child must not be taught or “raised” – it is the Why’s and How’s and what actual characteristics are being produced in us by our addiction to the traditions and beliefs that keep them alive. We are born into a society which has been in existence for several hundred years, complete with its own established way of life, life philosophy and institutions for perpetuating its existence via education and other political power institutions. Its basic ways and beliefs, as in terms of sexual and class relationships – the why’s and how’s – have roots going back 6 to 10 thousand years. One insignificant, tee-ii-iny baby, coming into the world knowing nothing of it and at the complete Ômercy’ of other people to care for it, cannot contend with society’s tremendous and awe-some cultural forces.

When society grabs hold of that child, it becomes a nonsensical one-sided battle: the Social Imposition -vs- the Natural Requirements. The former is geared towards molding you to fit a predetermined work, race, sex, age role, or roles that serve a set status quo or totem pole. If you are born into the bottom, then tuff. You will be raised in a manner appropriate to it. The social requirements for growth are tied to serving a Power Structure for ruling class, sexist and racist goals. The latter, is geared towards your need to “be”, to be in a process of “being”, discovering yourself in potentials and capacities through unadulterated interactions and interdependencies between you and your social world. Child -vs- Society? Natural -vs- Social? The Living, vibrating, flickering flame of life -vs- the fire extinguishing, repressive, life-deadening Mask? Poor child – Poor ADULT: both losers!

Where the child first lived with an abundant spring of energy, with emotional honesty, absorbing curiosity and a general openness to life per se, parents and other cultural forces have caused him/her to self-create, self-shape and self-fasten a Mask over the abundantly enlivening, human developmental energies. The dynamic aspect of these human energies is that they are always life-affirming, freedom-bound, pleasurable and empowering, that is when one is not caused to fear their streamings and unfoldings. The dynamic aspect of the Mask is just the opposite of the “free spirit.” This person is trapped in fear of deeply-felt life, of self-determination, of pleasure, of personally powerful wholeness. The person who is caused to fear those genuine outward positive streamings of human energies – under the cultural imposition of life-deadening, repressive beliefs and practices – maintains a mechanical split within him/herself between feeling and thought, emotion and intellect, intuition and reason, nature and culture.

When this person “comes up” under such a setting, the adaptive aspects of human biology causes him/her to form character or personality structures trapped and addicted to the very oppressive “life” s/he has come to accept as “natural.” Given are the basics of vocabulary, behaviors, rules, morals, bias, etc. from which you learn to express, re-enforce and reproduce a rigid split in mind/body/soul according to socially approved standards.

Whether conscious of it or not, the person accustomed to, and receptive to , the society’s authoritarian beliefs and traditions, does not normally challenge her/himself to affirm those “anti-social” deeply-felt feelings or longings for un-ADULTerated life. The beliefs and traditions do not challenge the person to consciously allow his/her sexual, emotional, intellectual and physical seeds to develop in a more natural, less culturally oppressive way. And it is rare the person who will allow the Rebel Fire of Life within to be channeled into the human developmental forms that are indicative of personal and social freedom, consciousness, responsibility and happiness. It is even rarer the person who will know HOW to follow the faintest or strongest “inklings” and desires to be free or change the circumstances of life as s/he knows or has known it.