In Milwaukee, even after two folks were arrested this weekend in connection with ongoing investigations into the RNC protests, a U.S. Bank was smashed up and tagged with an anarchist symbol.
In Olympia, an audacious bunch attacked a police station with torches and rocks, trashing at least one police car in addition. A fairly creative reportback offers motivations and a look into ostensibly the northwest anarchist scene, though the issues seem as though they would resonate beyond:
All of the ingredients are here. We have each other, we have our friends and the friends of friends. But we are usually consumed with our lives and the things which fulfill us. We know that insurrection would fulfill us, but that, of course, is something which will never happen here. Mobilizing those around us for a common purpose seems to be impossible. And when we actually get 25 or 39 or 76 people on the street, we are flooded with a cacophony of criticism for everything we should have done and did not do. Sometimes this criticism comes from friends. And when we ask why they were not there, they reply, “I did not want to be disappointed.” With these friends, we continue to go to parties and shows.It's interesting that although there are numerous references to the Coming Insurrection, authored by "The Invisible Committee," the conclusion of the reportback suggests invisibility as a drawback:
But our invisibility, so far, has made us irrelevant. In the United States, our invisibility is no different than other invisibilities: invisible murders, invisible poverty, invisible misery. We do not grow stronger with our invisibility. We rot with it. And no one outside our circles knows that we exist.The Invisible Committee take an opposite stance, seeking power in insivibility:
Visibility must be avoided. But a force that gathers in the shadows can’t escape it forever. Our appearance as a force has to be held back until the opportune moment. Because the later we become visible, the stronger we’ll be. And once we’ve entered the realm of visibility, our days are numbered; either we’ll be in a position to pulverize its reign quickly, or it will crush us without delay.So, which is it? The Olympia authors equate invisibility with isolation -- for them, the invisibility of the U.S. anarchist scene is not a force gathering in shadows but an irrelevant subculture. Visibility is relevance, and relevance is reality: "we need to convince our friends that we are real and that our desires and rage our real." Ergo, the degree to which one is "real" is the degree of visibility one has.
This points to a tension within forms of clandestine action. The nature of the action demands degrees of silence on the part of the participants, yet the ability of the form to spread is dependent upon the degree of attention and mediated coverage the act receives. The value of insurrectionary acts lie in the nature of the relationships formed and transformed, not the particular acts themselves. But it is the particulars and not the relationships that are the focus of attention in the aftermath of such an act.
The emphasis on visibility as a pathway toward insurrection is a recipe for spectacular actions escalating in militancy without gathering the social strength to defend themselves. The desire to be visible may distort the reality of irrelevance and lead to dangerous and foolhardy measures taken by a minority with delusions of grandeur. I don't mean to speak ill of actions like those in Olympia, only to caution against the mindset this communique seems to encourage with lines like, "Everything is cumulative, and one expression of anger fuels the next one." Anger is fuel, but it burns hot and dies fast.