Originally posted on It’s Going Down.
Translator’s note: The Okupa Che is an auditorium taken over during the 1999-2000 student strike at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, the largest university in Latin America. An autonomous, anti-authoritarian space, it has faced constant repression from state and university authorities. Yorch, a member of Okupa Che, was detained on Wednesday, when police planted a backpack on him containing large quantities of crack, clonazepam and marijuana. He is now being held in a federal prison in Hermosillo, Sonora. Regeneración Radio reports that there is a strong rumor the Federal Police are preparing to evict the Okupa. Several collectives have condemned Yorch’s arrest and the UNAM Academic University Assembly has issued a sign-on letter calling for Yorch’s freedom and an end to attacks on Okupa Che.
February 25, 2016
Translated by Scott Campbell
To the independent media
To allied collectives and spaces
To the general public
For several years and in various ways we have been denouncing and exposing the campaign of vilification and harassment unleashed globally against the anarchist movement and Okupa Che in particular. No more than three months ago fake text messages directed at specific people in the name of the Office of the President threatened the violent eviction of the space and the possible location and detention of some of its “squatters.” Added to that, various hit pieces in the media have appeared in recent weeks making several claims that are supposedly related to the existence of the space. Periodicals complicit with UNAM’s Office of the President and with the State – La Razón and El Universal, for example – have thrown around conjectures and assumptions about business, drug trafficking and robbery, using the risky and premeditated theory that all of this is overseen by people connected to the squat.
Originally posted on El Enemigo Común. Esta nota también está disponible en español.
On January 11, five young people returning home from a weekend birthday gathering were detained by police in Tierra Blanca, Veracruz, Mexico, where they had stopped to get something to eat. Susana Tapia Garibo, 16; José Benítez de la O, 24; Mario Orozco Sánchez, 27; José Alfredo González Díaz, 25; and Bernardo Benítez Arróniz, 25, can be seen on surveillance footage being taken into custody by members of the Veracruz State Police. Following their detention, nothing more was heard of them until Monday, February 8, when the burned remains of two of them, José Alfredo González Díaz and Bernardo Benítez Arróniz, were found on a ranch in Tlalixcoyan, 40 miles from Tierra Blanca.
Prior to finding the bodies, several members of the State Police were arrested, including Marcos Conde Hernández, the district chief for the area including Tierra Blanca. According to the government version, the police handed the youth over to the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación, some of whose members have also been detained.
There are few things better or more powerful in this world than a good story. The human capacities of communication, creativity and meaning-making allow for the transmission of individual narratives to be collectively experienced through the similarly remarkable capacities of empathy, identification and mirroring. These gifts can certainly be abused when directed in the service of hate or fear, but I am interested at the moment in the positive potential of the process when it invokes feelings of love and communion through the shared experience and recognition of beinghood. Emmanuel Levinas argued that what emerges through this intersubjective face-to-face encounter with the Other provides the basis for ethics, or as he pithily put it, “For others, in spite of myself, from myself.”
That every one of us can both tell and receive stories is a remarkable proposition. We each carry our own personal story and the longer our hearts beat, the more our stories integrate knowledge and experience, hopefully resulting in wisdom. Yet within the Cartesian paradigm, now manifesting through the hegemony of neoliberal capitalism, far too often the voices of wisdom are silenced by the privileged beneficiaries of the current system, who cloak their own self-interested rhetoric in the veneer of logic and rationality. Through the institutions at their disposal, they impose their worldview on others, coercing adaptation and assimilation. For the purposes of this piece, my concern here is how this worldview denies the validity of subjectivity, intersubjectivity and interiority, except when it can be commodified, tokenized or otherwise rendered impotent. Such is its insinuation in our lives that even disciplines dedicated to interiority, such as psychology, more often than not constitute colonized terrain.
In June 2015, Perspectives on Anarchist Theory, a project of the Institute for Anarchist Studies, published an essay by Kevin Van Meter of the Team Colors Collective titled Freely Disassociating: Three Stories on Contemporary Radical Movements. Moved by his proposal for an anarchism with principles, I responded to Van Meter’s essay in July with Towards an Anarchism with Principles: A Response to ‘Freely Disassociating‘, also published on the IAS website.
In October, Van Meter offered a thoughtful reply to my piece, posted as a comment here. Shortly thereafter, IAS published another essay by Van Meter, Insurgent Islands: A Continuing Conversation on Anarchism with Principles, an impressive document that takes the discussion deeper and in new directions. Rather belatedly, today I put forward my closing thoughts – for now – in response to Van Meter’s reply. My response can be found below and also in the comments section on the IAS website. Reading what follows makes more sense in the context of the aforementioned essays. If you have the time and interest, I encourage you to read the pieces linked to above before proceeding to this last entry. I would like to thank Kevin Van Meter for his insightful work and for encouraging my thinking around these topics. Similarly, I thank the Institute for Anarchist Studies for making the space available to have this discussion.
Firstly, I would like to thank Kevin Van Meter for his thoughtful and constructive response and encourage readers to take in his article “Insurgent Islands: A Continuing Conversation on Anarchism with Principles.” Secondly, I apologize for my much-delayed reply. In it, I will comment on some of Van Meter’s points/critiques and hopefully refine some of my arguments from my initial response.