“We are an image from the future.”
— graffiti in greece, 2008
Rebellion has ruptured the placid suffering of yesterday.
Those of us who have acknowledged the ongoing class war in this society, siding with the oppressed, have seen these moments before. Moments where the police are turned back, overran; where anything becomes possible after they have been routed. But always these moments were brief glimpses of what we are capable of — always control reestablishes itself and snuffs out the many worlds we are creating.
Never before in my lifetime has rebellion been so far-spread, capable of sustaining itself for so long.
Through the flames and the clamor of streetfighting we embody our collective strength, sustaining our visions of those worlds we carry in our hearts. Control was shattered, and the enemy took too long to regroup. Now youths from Brooklyn to the Bay Area have glimpsed the overwhelming possibilities of revolt.
Spontaneity ruptures all attempts at control.
The oppressed have burned the illusions of helplessness.
History has returned, and we, the masses, are giving birth to the future.
But birth is not simply a matter of blood and pain.
We must create communities of resistance, the fertile soil for the worlds we desire. We must strive for complete autonomy — by means of growing our own food, being able to heal one another, organizing community defense groups, establishing our capacities to harness energy, to educate our people, to carve out territories where we can regroup, learn, grow, and intensify the struggle.
This is the infrastructure of resistance necessary to transform rebellion into sustained insurrection.
The streets of the united states have recently resembled the streets of greece or argentina, or any of dozens of other countries in which the oppressed, the poor, fight back. The wave of unrest embodied in the Occupy movement reached its high-water mark in late 2011. The current wave is far more intense, as people in this country are learning, almost from scratch, how to fight back.
We are quickly arriving at that crucial chasm between riot and insurrection. We must not repeat our mistakes. We must prepare for the intensification of struggle.
“We are not in the least afraid of ruins.”
The path forward must be made by walking.
All the theory, the critique, the commentary and analysis imaginable will not keep the fires burning, neither in our hearts nor in the streets.
That being said, theory has its place, as does memory, and storytelling.
“As there are many demons with men’s faces
It is wrong to join hands with everyone.”
In October 2011 we watched the events in Oakland and elsewhere unfold on laptop screens at Occupy Cleveland. Some were shocked and horrified in the face of such overwhelming violence. i was anxious and hopeful. The police forces were cracking down on Occupy encampments across the country, and the violence in Oakland and the Bay Area more broadly had captivated many. Few in this country had ever experienced anything like that — hence the shock and horror.
But i had already come to terms with the inevitability of this struggle.
i anticipated a spiraling confrontation with the state and corporate powers due to the global manufactured economic crisis and the resistance to it. At that moment it seemed the spiral was moving from shouting and marching to property destruction and unleashing spontaneous collective power, overwhelming buildings, bridges and highways with our bodies, among other tactics. Perhaps i was a few years too early, but i may have been correct about the Occupy experiences being a process of maturation for many people.
Alas, the barricades did not last and the wave was broken.
For many more, the incessant violence of the paramilitary forces against them and their relations has made it abundantly clear that murder will continue to be the daily status quo, largely with impunity — except for the consequences we inflict.
The police gun people down every day. The real question is how has it taken this long for resistance to echo the gunshots and fight back against the police.
Anyone with a decent grasp of the situation overall could easily predict such forms of rebellion. i believe various state forces anticipated this, as evinced by the response of the national guard and higher-ranking forces.
One does not have to be possessed to genius to see the stormclouds.
We do not say we welcome the flood, but we are not afraid of ruins.
What we must consider is our overwhelming lack of organizational capacity to commit to intensified levels of struggle, logistically, in terms of experience, or in terms of preparedness overall. In point of fact, we cannot even give a rough estimate of our numbers.
So we must use this to our advantage. We must do without far-flung organizations and focus on our strengths, in mass revolt and spontaneity. But these do not fuel themselves, being only a point of contact in the broader struggle.
A movement without teeth will still starve if it cannot feed itself.
We must learn to take this rage in our chests and transform it also into life, into gardens and dwellings and forms of energy that flow with nature, with all our relations. i am not advocating so-called “green” technologies as a solution in themselves, but rather for our capacity to exist on our own terms, to live without being dependent on the system in any way. And it is what allows us to do this that must be protected with our strengths. If the flames of revolt lack the fuel of autonomy, they will fizzle out and leave us as though castrated. And if the our fuel, our soil, our capacity to exist on our own terms, lacks flame and the capacity to harness fire, then anything we create will be easy to kill, as we constantly bear witness to.
Our greatest teachers are among the indigenous of the earth — those who live with the rest of life and not against it. They are engaged in life-or-death struggles, refusing the quiet death of assimilation of the agonizing death of starvation.
We must follow their examples, creating our own ways of being that can co-exist, and defending them with our lives.
In my life i have tasted, however sparingly, the immense beauty of simply living with the flow of life, “living off the land.” If we live in harmony with the intimate web of life we develop deep, powerful bonds — a deep-rootedness vital to struggles against overwhelming odds.
And we must acknowledge that we are engaged in a life-or-death struggle.
We have what it takes to finish this dying way of life and replace it with 10,000 blooming worlds.
Neither fear nor coercion will paralyze us.
We refuse to forget, to die quietly.
In these passionate nights we brush against the future.
With a gentle strength from a hard place,
for the next seven generations,
You can write to Connor at:
Connor Stevens #57978-060
PO Box 8000
Bradford, PA 16701
Learn more about the Cleveland 4: http://www.cleveland4solidarity.org/