Petty criminality and the social war

Reprinted from Milwaukee Indymedia, some anarchists in Milwaukee put together a list of actions and things that happened in their area in 2008. It's a list of mostly minor vandalism and banner drops here and there, and as such its posting received some criticism of being a "social bore" for not being connected to wider social struggles.

For Chicago, a list this long of graffiti and vandalism throughout the city could probably be compiled on a daily basis -- none of it necessarily having the kind of 'political' or social intentions that many of these have, but the actual impact, perhaps, being more of a nuisance to city government and property owners.

Is this the central purpose these types of acts -- nuisance and economic damage? One suspects that if that were merely the aim, then it would be unnecessary to write messages or issue claims of responsibility and revolutionary treatises about them. Who is the intended recipient of these messages and who actually receives them? What is actually conveyed?

Portions of this blog are dedicated to being a "crime blotter" of sorts and seem to glorify (fetishize?) certain acts of criminal behavior -- even those without political intentions -- and while I can't speak to the motives of the Milwaukee anarchists, my own reasons for spreading news of such acts are directed both within and without the anarchist (or radical/activist/etc) milieu.

Anarchists are often suckered into the Leftist self-absorbed delusion that our acts are paving the way towards revolution. It's perhaps a reflection of our need to convince ourselves that we matter, that our ideas are the correct ones, and that we are productively using our time to achieve a fantastic goal. We see this in the distortions and fabrications of report backs from conferences, convergences and actions and the rhetoric posing as critical analysis and strategy. Even lists such as the one below can contribute to this, inasmuch as these activist gestures can be mistaken for signs of social conflagration.

We need to put our own actions into context and not be convinced that our having an analysis of capitalism and government makes what we do any more important or meaningful than the thousands of acts of subversion, revolt and empowerment that regularly take place in the lives of those who have never read Bonano and don't give a fuck about twinkle fingers.

To the extent that those who desire to exacerbate social conflict can differentiate this desire with reality (as in the authors' description of these acts as "efforts over the last year to experiment with conflict"), the anarchist crime blotter serves the opposite function of the police crime blotter -- whereas the latter inspires fear, the former inspires (dare I say) hope. We feel all around us of the watch of panopticon, the sense of futility, the inability to achieve our desires. The anarchist crime blotter shows us that the state is not all knowing, all seeing, all powerful. Whether it's a bank robbery, a bricked window, a graffiti tag or an occupied factory, individual and collective acts of revolt against the alienation, violence and drudgery of capitalist life offer (to me, at least) the reminder that there are always cracks in this system, and the future is not necessarily bleak.

Beyond that I'm reminded of an explanation of the essay "Why I Love Shoplifting," and that its purpose was not necessarily to convince anarchists to start stealing but to encourage thieves to take a look at the social context of their daily activities, and perhaps to begin dreaming of larger adventures -- what's the line? Better to loot than shoplift, to ambush than to snipe, to walk out than to phone in a bomb threat, to strike than to call in sick, to riot than to vandalize.

As far as I know, Chicago anarchists do not have a collection of clandestine acts of 2008 to glorify this New Year's Eve. We speak to one another of our quieter victories, relish our survival for another year, and take stock of our possibilities for the future. And we have this cool banner from a Greek riot solidarity demonstration a couple weeks ago:


This is a compilation of some actions that happened in the Milwaukee area during 2008. It is in no way a complete list, nor does it give an accurate reading of all the resistances and conflict within the city (inherently permeated by them). The minor and major contradictions of everyday life within a city explode and take form in a multitude of effects, but what has been compiled here are what appear to be conscious efforts over the last year to experiment with conflict and build off of these experiences - to act in concert, in solidarity, for themselves or for fun, etc.

A more thorough analysis and elaboration of the direction things seem to be headed in is in order.

January 8th: two banners dropped reading "destroy the election" and "choose your own adventure" claimed by some milwaukee anarchists

January 17th: three banners dropped reading "whoever wins we lose", "9-1-08, st. paul, it's on!" and "let the end come: 9-1-08" claimed by some milwaukee anarchists

January 17th: anti-RNC graffiti on condo developments that read "shut down the RNC" and a circle A.

Febuary 5th: banners dropped reading "victory against politics", "9-1-08" and "shut down the RNC" on the national day of action against the elections called by Unconventional Action.

Febuary 5th: bannners dropped in osh kosh reading "Demicrans and Republicrats both fuck working class" and "8.24.08 Receate68.org / 9.1.08 NORNC.org."

March 18th: recruiting center on Oakland ave vandalized with spray paint and window broken for anniversary of the war in Iraq. http://mke.indymedia.org/en/2008/03/209413.shtml

March 20th: Anarchists and Anti-Authoritarians from around the Midwest blockade downtown Milwaukee and halt traffic for about 30 minutes leaving fences, news paper boxes and trash bins in the middle of the roads in wake of their path. 4 people were arrested.

March 24th: The CEO of Oshkosh Corporation, Robert Bohn, arrived at the Oshkosh Country Club to give a presentation to the future business leaders of the world finding a message for him painted across the front entrance and door. It read 'You're Days Are Numbered Bohn (A).'

March 31st: It was reported that early in the morning the intersection of Highway 21 and Sawyer Avenue was blockaded. Dumpsters and their contents, along with other debris, were strewn across the intersection effectively blocking it for morning rush hour traffic. An altered road sign was placed in front of the toppled dumpsters reading 'Road Closed Due to War.'

March 31st: Two banners were spotted within the city of Oshkosh. One was hanging from a security fence in front of an Oshkosh Corporation Defense factory. It read 'Oshkosh Says Fuck the War Truck.' The other was hung on a guard rail overlooking Highway 41. It read 'End the Slaughter in Iraq.'

March 31st: Around a dozen people gathered at the headquarters of Oshkosh Corporation dressed as robots. They were accompanied by a shopping cart fashioned into an Oshkosh Truck which was devouring a young child while robot techno was blasting out of its mouth. The people played games and danced for a little over an hour bringing laughs, frowns, and looks of intense frustration and disgust to the faces of Oshkosh Corporation employees and police alike.

June 7th: Bash Back Milwaukee and Anti-Racists throw water balloons filled with glitter at Nazis who came to pridefest to protest.

July 4th: Army Recruiting Center vandalized again with "get the fuck out" as well as a circle A and circle e sprayed on the front of the building.

July 5th: Four Milwaukee area Starbucks had their locks glued and were closed for prime hours of business as an action for a international day of action against Starbucks.

August 14th: "A gang of anti-hipster hooligans trashed an Urban Outfitters in Milwaukee." Displays were flipped over and merchandise strewn into the street outside.

September 1-4: Many autonomous actions happened throughout the city of St. Paul and Minneapolis, in attempts to "crash the convention" or simply experiment with possibilities for going wild.

November 5th: Police car attacked at Riverview dorms in Riverwest

November 5th: ATM attacked and vandalized in solidarity with people facing state repression

November 5th: USA Today newspapers throughout the city were wrapped with a false cover the claimed "capitalism wins at the polls" and "anarchy brewing in the streets."

December 13th: Two banner drops in solidarity with RNC Arrestees and Greek Rioters that read "Solidarity means attack: this is global social war" and "Burn Greece Burn: Alex was here"

December 13th: "At least 21 ATMs, banks, and businesses had their locks glued or were otherwise vandalized all across Milwaukee" in solidarity with RNC arrestees.

December 20th: Chase bank in Osh Kosh had its locks glued and paint thrown at it.

December 20th: "Vandalism claiming solidarity with greek anarchists, and denouncing police officers" reported to be seen all over Milwaukee.


Anonymous said...

who's jealous?

Criminal Anarchy said...

jealous? there's more vandalism in my neighborhood on any given night than committed by anarchists in all of milwaukee in a year.

moreover, the desire to see ourselves in blogs, zines or crime reports should not determine our trajectory, and the sentiment to do so is extremely dangerous and distracting.