(RussiaToday) Sep 11, 2011 – Police clashed with violent demonstrators in Greece’s second-largest city of Thessaloniki as more than 25,000 people ranging from taxi-drivers to sports fans joined a wave of anti-austerity protests, while Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou delivered his annual, keynote speech on the economy. Two people were arrested and nearly 100 people detained, police said, while at least two demonstrators were injured during the clashes. Fire bombs were seen being thrown at riot police opposite the university as they stood on the grounds of the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair where Prime Minister George Papandreou delivered his address.
(guardian.co.uk) Anarchists disdain the customary use of “anarchy” to mean “chaos” or “complete disorder”. For them it signifies the absence of a ruler or rulers, a self-managed society, usually resembling the co-operative commonwealth that most socialists have traditionally sought, and more highly organised than the disorganisation and chaos of the present. An anarchist society would be more ordered because the political theory of anarchism advocates organisation from the bottom up with the federation of the self-governed entities – as opposed to order being imposed from the top down upon resisting individuals or groups.
What does it mean to be a ‘liberal’?
- Liberalism’s remarkable adaptability explains its bewildering variety. It is perhaps the very political condition of modernity, writes Ed Rooksby
The historic anarchist movement was a workers’ movement which flourished from the 1860s down to the close of the 1930s. On the other hand, anarchist precursors can be traced back to Chinese Taoism and Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu, as well as to classical Greece and Zeno of Citium. It has been argued convincingly that the Mu’tazilite and Najdite Muslims of 9th-century Basra were anarchists. Examples begin to multiply in Europe from the Reformation of the 16th century and its forebears (for example, the Bohemian Taborites and German Anabaptists), the Renaissance (François Rabelais and Etienne de la Boétie) and, in the mid-17th century, the English revolution (not only the Diggers and Gerrard Winstanley but also the Ranters).
Some 18th-century figures are even more obviously anarchist: the Rousseau of A Discourse on the Origin of Inequality (1755), William Blake (1757–1827) throughout his oeuvre and William Godwin in his great Enquiry Concerning Political Justice (1793). Unlike Blake, whose ideas made no impact on his contemporaries, Godwin exerted considerable influence, most markedly on his future son-in-law, Shelley, who went on to become, in Peter Marshall’s words, “the greatest anarchist poet by putting Godwin’s philosophy to verse”. Marshall goes far beyond this fairly conventional wisdom by claiming both Blake and Godwin as “founding fathers” of British anarchism.
It is, however, very significant that Godwin was not recognised as an anarchist thinker until the very end of the 19th century (and Blake not for another hundred years). Anarchism first needed to be named as such, as it first was by Proudhon in 1840 in What Is Property? where he not only calls himself an “anarchist” – “I am (in the full force of the term) an anarchist” – but also attempts to appropriate “anarchy” as a positive concept, emphasising that he is “a firm friend of order”. Further, anarchism had to come into being as a social movement, which it only did from the third quarter of the 19th century. Kropotkin could then call Godwin “the first theorist of stateless socialism, that is, anarchism”.
Anarchism is notorious for its diversity. Its accepted varieties range from the egoism of Stirner, through the individualism of such Americans as Tucker and the mutualism of Proudhon, both of whom accepted (within strict bounds) the institution of private property, to the collectivism of Bakunin, communism of Kropotkin and revolutionary trade unionism of the syndicalists. What connects almost all of these into a coherent political stance is unremitting hostility to the state and parliamentarianism, employment of direct action as the means of attaining desired goals, and organisation through co-operative associations, built and federated from the bottom upwards. Of these it is the first that is entirely distinctive to anarchism. The state is rejected not just as integral to the current order but crucially as the means to any desirable transformation; and whereas Marxists and other socialists have had ingenuous faith in its eventual “withering away”, the anarchists’ pessimism that the survival of the state in any post-revolutionary society will lead to the exact opposite has been historically confirmed with the amassment of tyrannic power by communist states.
For a century and a half anarchists have been overwhelmingly socialist, despite the concurrent existence of small numbers of individualists in Europe and the USA. A fruitful approach to understanding anarchism is to recognise its thoroughly socialist critique of capitalism, while emphasising that this has been combined with a liberal critique of socialism, anarchists being united with classical liberals in their advocacy of autonomous associations and the freedom of the individual.
Anarchists are commonly associated with bomb-throwing and (currently) mayhem on the streets, but in reality they disagree over the means to be used to attain their ends, ranging from extreme violence to the non-resistance of Tolstoy and taking in all points between – other than legal, constitutional action.
Fifty to 60 years ago anarchism appeared to be a spent force, as both a movement and a political theory; yet since the 1960s there has been a resurgence in Europe and North America of anarchist ideas and practice. These were deeply embedded in the “new social movements” of the last quarter of the 20th century, although the activists of the peace, women’s and green movements were commonly unaware of it. Anarchist organisation and attitudes continue to characterise much environmental activism at the beginning of the 21st century.
Britain almost certainly has a greater number of conscious anarchists nowadays than at any previous point in its history and, in addition, there are many more natural anarchists: that is people who, while not identifying themselves as anarchists, think and behave in significantly anarchist ways.
(freedompress.org.uk) Next to Mikhail Bakunin, Peter Kropotkin is the most famous and important of anarchist theorists, and was one of the first to advocate the theory known as Anarchist Communism. His lifelong love of science and nature led him to develop his political theory which he saw as the most sensible, and perhaps more importantly, the most natural form of social and political organization. In developing what he thought to be the most natural means of human organization, in terms of studying human needs and the most rational and equitable means of satisfying them, he laid out some of the basic ideas that would later be developed into the philosophy of Social Ecology, as well as other schools of ecological thought.
I will try to demonstrate how the tactics that Kropotkin developed in his time working within the anarchist movement have come to be used by radical environmental groups, often called ‘eco-terrorists.’ Apart from detailing the tactical methods which eco-terrorist groups have inherited from Kropotkin, I will also attempt to show how Kropotkin’s philosophical writings on anarchism and evolutionary theory have come to be incredibly influential within the environmental community. In doing this I hope to show the theoretical framework that eco-terrorist groups are working in, because I believe it is essential to understand the development of these theories into the modern period as a way of both understanding, and addressing the issues we face as a global community today.
To begin, however, we must start by laying out some of the concepts that went into Kropotkin’s thinking in order to grasp a better understanding of his overall philosophy. Firstly, there is the influence that nihilism had upon him. Kropotkin wrote of the nihilists: “The life of civilized people is full of little conventional lies. Persons who hate each other, meeting in the street, make their faces radiant with a happy smile; the nihilist remained unmoved, and smiled only for those whom he was really glad to meet.” 
The first sentence of this quote alone describes perfectly the nihilist view of society: whatever is accepted, reject; a perfect recipe for a rebel such as Kropotkin. It also, however, shows an incredible display of honesty. A nihilist would say one should not sugar coat something simply because it is the societal norm to do so. One should instead do it because one generally feels that that is the appropriate action to take. This level of honesty can also be seen in examples of Kropotkin’s life, as even his harshest critics could not deny the amount of honesty and gratitude that he radiated.
This break from traditions and norms are a critical aspect of modern anarchist thought. The anarchist conception of freedom is very heavily situated upon radical notions of individualism that does not “bend before any authority except that of reason,”  and nihilism also views life as ultimately meaningless, without a higher purpose or meaning to life. If one were then to hold a nihilistic conception of the world, things such as societal norms and traditions, as well as religious doctrines would lose much of their relevance.
Another conceptual aspect of Kropotkin’s thinking is that of our natural ability as humans to rebel. Kropotkin’s fellow Russian anarchist Mikhail Bakunin writes: “Yes, our first ancestors, our Adams and our Eves, were, if not gorillas, very near relatives of gorillas, omnivorous, intelligent and ferocious beasts, endowed in a higher degree than the animals of any other species with two precious faculties—the power to think and the desire to rebel.” 
In this quote, Bakunin reveals elements that would become absolutely paramount in Kropotkin’s thinking, and the theories he develops: the concept of evolution (of which more will be said shortly), and combining our natural capacities for intellect with our natural desire to rebel. In Bakunin’s view, humans are essentially animals. We are not some entity distinct or outside of nature, but instead we are in nature. We make up one portion of the ecosystem, and while Bakunin was not thinking as complex about this issue, Kropotkin develops it further, and the environmentalist groups that will be discussed later will grab a hold of this as a central theme in their respective philosophies.
For Bakunin and Kropotkin then, rebellion is something that comes as naturally to us as a species as breathing and thinking. Or, better yet, our natural capacity for rebellion—which is for Bakunin and Kropotkin the rebellion towards freedom—is the evolutionary product of our natural capacity for thinking. We naturally want to rebel against the status quo towards complete freedom, which for Bakunin and Kropotkin is anarchism.
This natural tendency of rebellion towards freedom obviously implies a very progressive view of history. Kropotkin, however, would extend this to claim that every occurrence in nature is naturally a progressive occurrence, such as is found in dialectical materialism. Let me explain: sixty-five million years ago, an asteroid crashed just off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula of modern day Mexico. This event heralded the end of the dinosaurs, as well as seventy percent of all the life forms on earth at the time. So, as cataclysmic as this event was, it provided for the conditions necessary for mammals to evolve, and now here you are with a paper in your hands reading about it. Kropotkin saw revolutions in just the same way: a possibly violent event which ultimately would bring about some sort of progress. This shows the very dialectical way of thinking which guided Kropotkin throughout his life.
One last critical aspect of Kropotkin’s thought, before we move on to his political theory, is the theory of evolution. Kropotkin wrote a work, Mutual Aid: a Factor of Evolution, and in the work he states: “Mutual Aid would be considered, not only as an argument in favour of a pre-human origin of moral instincts, but also as a law of Nature and a factor of evolution.” This mention of mutual aid being the fundamental factor of moral instincts is crucial to Kropotkin’s ethical and practical arguments for anarchism. In a political pamphlet published in 1909 entitled, Anarchist Morality, Kropotkin asserts: “The feeling of solidarity is the leading characteristic of all animals living in society.” He goes on to say: “Thousands of similar facts might be quoted, whole books might be written, to show how identical are the conceptions of good and evil amongst men and the other animals.”
George Woodcock writes in an introduction to the Kropotkin anthology, Evolution and Environment: “Kropotkin considered that the application of evolutionary theories to the development of human societies provided a basis in reality as well as in science for his ideal of a liberated society.” This view that science and technology can play a prominent role in liberating society is a concept that will be returned to with the introduction of Murray Bookchin and his theory of Social Ecology, but for now we move to his political theory.
Kropotkin writes of anarchist communism as “a synthesis of the two chief aims pursued by humanity since the dawn of its history—economic freedom and political freedom.” He goes on to claim: “We are communists. But our communism is not that of the authoritarian school: it is anarchist communism, communism without government, free communism.” 
Kropotkin’s work, Mutual Aid, is critical for understanding why he felt humans could carry out this type of society. In Kropotkin’s view, humans are animals, ultimately no different than any other on the planet, and given his argument for mutual aid in the evolutionary process; he argues that, if given the chance, humans would naturally order society in this way. So, it is in fact unnatural, in Kropotkin’s view, for humans to subjugate one another and instead are capable of incredible amounts of empathy and aid.
Given Marx’s claim that history has been one of class struggles, where one class utilizes the state apparatus to oppress opposing classes, Kropotkin argues that if humans are ever able to take control of the means of production, they will have no need for the state. Here, Kropotkin and other anarchists differ from Marxists in one crucial aspect: tactics. Marxists believe the state should be seized in the revolution and utilized to bring about communism, and anarchists believe it should be destroyed in the very process of the revolution. The goal is the same but the strategies are vastly different.
I have attempted to elucidate briefly the theoretical aspects of Kropotkin’s thinking, and next issue I will illustrate how radical environmental groups have been influenced by these ideas. For a more complete view of his ideas I would strongly suggest delving into his body of works on the subject such as: The Conquest of Bread, Fields, Factories, and Workshops, Mutual Aid: a Factor of Evolution, as well as the anthology Anarchism: A Collection of Revolutionary Writings.
 Peter Kropotkin, Memoirs of a Revolutionist, p. 298.
 Ibid. p. 297.
 Mikhail Bakunin, God and the State, p. 9.
 Peter Kropotkin, Mutual Aid: a Factor in Evolution, p. 4.
 Peter Kropotkin, Anarchism: a Collection of Revolutionary Writings, p. 95. Quoted from Anarchist Morality.
 Ibid. p. 90.
 Peter Kropotkin, Evolution and Environment, p. 12.
 Peter Kropotkin, Anarchism: a Collection of Revolutionary Writings, p. 61. Quoted from Anarchist Communism.
 Ibid. p. 61.
Part 2 available here: Peter Kropotkin & Radical Environmentalism (Part 2)
(Ghost of Vanzetti Blog) A lot has happened in the days since I last posted on this subject. There have been sixteen arrests alleged anonymous “members” and an increase in unfounded claims and accusations being heaped on Anonymous as well. There was a new bill introduced today as well that if passed would allow the government to fine companies $5,000 a day if they do not comply with new stricter storage guidelines for user information.
Before I start to digress here is some information for those looking to support the Anonymous arrestees:
She has a support site setup, those wishing to donate can go to this link for more info. There is also more information over at the Anonymous Solidarity Network site and over on facebook. And more helpful information: the National Lawyers Guild advice on what to do in event of a home search is over here and the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Surveillance Self-Defense project is over here.
With the arrests of these comrades I felt the need to write something that portrays what I’ve seen and learned about Anonymous since I started writing this blog and doing interviews. I’ve been thinking about this piece for a while, so it’s hard to know where to start… at the beginning of course, as always.
“The internet can put millions of people in contact at a great distance giving them the opportunity to exchange ideas, information and more. Protesting via the internet, this protest can expand beyond national borders for hours. The internet is the only form of free information that exists.”~excerpt from an interview with a participant in Anon’s #Opitaly
A military intelligence analyst decides to follow his conscience and reports for duty one day, where he proceeds to download thousands of classified military documents onto a Lady Gaga CD, soon to be transmitted to the world via the internet… Later, over 3,000 angry citizens of the internet gather in a chat room to co-ordinate their online demonstration against PayPal and others, calling it “Operation Avenge Assange”…Soon, these same disgruntled internet citizens from across the world coordinate their efforts for the benefit of those struggling in Tunisia, then Egypt, then many other countries, a DDOS for the dictator’s site, hundreds of black faxes for his offices, meanwhile others disseminate greasemonkey scripts and care packages to circumvent government censorship, and when the “shutdown” comes, they send faxes with information on how to connect using dial-up modems… Even later, the oblivous police bust through front doors with gun’s drawn, securing a dangerous “mastermind” in pajamas here, a twenty year old college student there. 32 arrests, and another 16, the media trumpets misinformation, but we can all be sure of one thing, 16 arrested today, and many more continue on in their place…
I never would have expected something like this before, but now it seems so logical. Looking at the way the internet was constructed, looking at the social issues preceding the upheavals of the past months. But to think I’d go from cursing the isolation of my computer, the alienation of Facebook statuses and school emails, going from this to having meaningful conversations with people countries away, people I’d never meet, more than that, connecting with unknown pseudonyms, and that being more than enough. The realization there existed such a thing as Anonymous, a collective will working at all hours of the day.
Anonymous’ support of the ousting of Ben Ali, Mubarak, along with their other operations, the support for Bradley Manning, a precursor, the anarchist running comms at the G20 protests in Pittsburgh, tweeting police radio chatter and movements, and then were the flash mobs in Philadelphia, the Egyptian who told me they used blackberry messengers to organize protests there, then I read it was used in the London riots, the constant flow of information both legal and illicit, the failure of multiple governments in shutting down the internet, and the failure of multiple government Internet Security contractors to keep from getting hacked over and over; and not even mentioning Wikileaks. It’s undeniable now; sure there’s risk, sure there’s no uprising without physical protests, but is there an uprising these days without the internet, a computer, or at least a few cell phones?
“Relations of affinity do not exist on the basis of ideology or quantity, but start off from reciprocal knowledge, from feeling and sharing projectual passions… It is the horizontal link that concretises the practice of liberation: an informal link, of fact, without representation.”~ At Dagger’s Drawn
Here’s what I propose: instead of making a point to draw borders and boundaries between ourselves and others, let’s do everything possible to connect and associate for mutual benefit, at least to find the moments where our individual worlds intersect… It’s the same story all the time from those with something left to lose, Mubarak tells the Egyptians the protesters are outside agitators, their revolution succeeds, and the media and “good citizens” alike take great pains to point out that London isn’t Cairo, that San Francisco has no Tahrir square of its own. They divide and divide, the “violent” protesters from the “peaceful”, the so-called leaders of Anonymous from the rest of the movement, Anonymous from regular society, young from old, black from white, on and on.
What do I say to that? The obvious answer- the Egyptian revolt had no leaders, neither did the riots in London, neither does Anonymous, and neither do I motherfucker. Leave elections and politics to those who stand something to gain from them. If you and I can work together on a horizontal, equal basis towards a shared goal or project, that is more than enough for me… The question is how to convince others that strength of organization depends more on diversity than conformity, how to extend the moment of fantastic rupture with society, how to make sure those like the Libyan Transitional Council never again wrest control from a horizontal insurrection… The question of who to trust and what tactics to use… The question of- How?
“It is still from the anonymous mass that the unknown with the will to live arise in mutiny. To say we are the only rebels in a sea of submission is reassuring because it puts an end to the game in advance. We are simply saying that we do not know who our accomplices are and that we need a social tempest to discover them… Not only do we desire to change our lives immediately, it is the criterion by which we are seeking our accomplices.”
~At Dagger’s Drawn
There’s no doubt about it, we’re more numerous than we were. Malcontents and undesirables, dreamers and schemers, co-conspirators, idealists and nihilists; more importantly we’ve grown in strength. Sure there are the minor ebbs and flows in support, but take the long view, we’re still growing, we’re still learning… Learning that maybe we weren’t outnumbered or outmatched all this time, like the Egyptian people learned after thirty years. And hey, at least there’s an upside to making the Guy Fawkes mask a best seller for Warner Brothers, hopefully they’ll sell out soon, then everyone can go get their money back, and more!
Of course anonymity is key here, a V mask or a bandanna, a balaclava or a VPN (or a collared shirt if the situation calls for scam-o-flage), in the street or in IRC, keep your face, your name and any other identifying features hidden in public. Again, how, how to convince people to demand nothing, or demand everything, either way, showing your face won’t convince them.
And the internet is a great place for expanding, learning, and connecting. As the anon I quoted earlier said; the internet allows people from different countries around the world to exchange knowledge and ideas as well as grow their protest exponentially in a short amount of time. I know others would agree with me when I say I felt genuinely affected by the events in Egypt. The perfect examples of this new global solidarity are the Anonymous freedom ops. In the words of a different anon:
“<anon> well surely American people have a perception of anonymous, some Arab people another and Europeans another and so freedom ops as concept started with optunisia.
<anon> sure we attacked Zimbabwe before but the concept got rounded during tunisia events. people in tunisia nowadays have kept a lovely image about us.
<anon> mainly between young people. freedom ops were since then, jumping around different countries
<anon> so then tunisia, egypt, iran, yemen, bahrain, Syria, libya
<anon> we touched venezuela during chavez media control laws. and we attacked spain about leysinde since december
<anon> its important to see on that aspect. leysinde for example, started back to december
<anon> related to some law pushed by US govt in spain regarding copyright, but wikileaks of course
<anon> people in spain got the pic about it and if you were following the events in spain back to puerta del sol things
you’ll see that leysinde woke up many feelings on that movement as background
<anon> all is related. what is happening nowadays its about people getting angry because they are tired of how things work on the world
<anon> so back to tunisia
all these things are happening cause Tunisian people showed it’s possible to fight for their rights. i remember nobody knew anything about them before
<anon> i searched for news about that country before starts the attacks and nothing
<anon> people got their revolution to get rid of a dictator who kept all fortune for himself
<anon> without any big interests getting involved and anonymous was there. backing them all times they needed. when they came here,
they wanted media attention to their problems,
they wanted the world to look what they were living
<anon> we promised to get them attention but they should go then to the streets cause revolutions cannot be made just on the internet
<anon> so well…it seems it worked”
A foreign event is now a local affair. We’ve gained the ability to make connections and effects in other countries, while simultaneously strengthening our organization, by decentralizing across the globe. And did I mention the shared tactics? There was the #school4lulz over at the Lulzsec IRC, and there’s the #tutorials and #anonsec channels over at the Anonops IRC. And of course the learned skills from the freedom ops. Again, here’s the anon from above:
“<anon> well DDoS was deployed, defacement too, we took their mailservers and we spammed obscene messages from them to whitehouse cia nsa mi6 10downingstreet etc
<anon> telling how to kill people (signed ben ali)
<anon> probably some viruses break on censorship dedicated servers
<anon> a greasemonkey script was written to workaround some Tunisian gov’t try to phishing their citizens, using their privileged position as middle man proxy for population. also dial up free internet connection were offered for Tunisian people to connect to the outside
<anon> well thats what i can remember right now”
I’m tempted to show more proof of the powerful influence of technology/computers/social media/the internet/Wikileaks/Anonymous on social struggles, but I’m trying to avoid turning this blog post into a term paper… I was tempted to wait longer to flesh out these thoughts, but now seemed as good a time as any, considering this situation is ever-changing. Specifically, the strength of the internet is that it’s the most dynamic form of communication ever invented.
As a final thought, I’d like to say I know things aren’t all bread and roses on the web. I know of the arrests and the obstacles, but I also know the momentum is moving our way. All the more reason to shout: FREEDOM TO ALL THE ACCUSED! They are some phenomenal human beings and they deserve all we can do to support them and more… And you’ll notice I said freedom to the accused, if they are guilty, all the more reason to support them!
Until the next time…
“I need to become anonymous. In order to be present.The more anonymous I am, the more present I am. I need zones of indistinction to reach the Common.To no longer recognize myself in my name. To no longer hear in my name anything but the voice that calls it. To give substance to the how of beings, not what they are but how they
are what they are.”
(freedompress.org.uk) Israel’s social protests
What began as a spontaneous tent city protest, mimicking the Tahrir square and Spain’s 15M indignados, has developed into one of Israel’s biggest anti-government protests in recent times and a universal call for greater social change. In less than a month from when activists occupied Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv and turned it into a camp in protest at rent increases and the country’s deepening housing crisis a mass movement as emerged with tent cities springing up throughout the country demanding ‘social justice’ from a unpopular government.
Thousands upon thousands of angry Israelis took to the streets in a co-ordinated day of action and although the main focus was on housing – Tel Aviv rents are estimated to take up at least half of people’s income – there was also anger about the government’s handling of the economy and disintegrating welfare state.
Despite the relative peaceful nature of the protests officials were quick to blame radicals and anarchists for their role in the protests, perhaps fearing a more revolutionary tone to the growing unrest.
Minister of Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Yuli Edelstein took a swipe at the anarchists involved declaring. “These are despicable people who have no connection to reality or to the demands being heard. This is a group that leeches on to the real demonstrators” adding “We need to separate them from the rest of the protesters.”
In Jaffa, dozens of Arab and Jewish protesters rallied against the government carrying signs in Hebrew and Arabic reading “Arabs and Jews want affordable housing,” and “Jaffa doesn’t want bids for the rich only.”
From a start of a dozen tents in centre Tel Aviv to the 2,000-tent camp there and many other local ones throughout the country, and from a few hesitant direct actions to a huge 200,000-march.
In the big Tel Aviv demonstration part of the local anarchists – including the anarchists against the wall marched as a block with flags, placards and chants. According to an veteran Israeli anarchist Ilan Shalif ”We marched from the Rothschild Boulevard where the already 2000 tent campers dwell now on the way to the museum square – who was too small to include all of us. Most participants were chanting all the one hour march. Some speeches where carried at the square. When the tent dwellers and others who live in that direction walked back following the demonstration, hundreds of protesters blocked the intersection of Kaplan and Ibn Gvirol Streets – a major junction in central Tel Aviv. People used various materials available to barricade. They chanted among others: “Revolution! Revolution! Revolution” and “Non-violence! Non-violence!”.
Police started to confront the roads blockers – detained many and arrested some of them. About 200 detained during the confrontations. More than 40 were arrested. Most of them were released during the night on signed bail. Few activists of the anarchists against the wall were among the arrestees”.