Back when I first began selling my labor for a wage in the wasteland of suburbia’s strip malls, I can recall the tedium of stocking shelves, summoning up insincere courtesy in the face of entitled customers and obnoxious bosses, comparing the stacks of money counted at the end of the day with the totals on our paychecks, and feigning adherence to whatever motivational façade management cooked up to mask the reality of our exploitation.
Yet I also remember, much more vividly and fondly, the latent and occasionally eruptive defiance among my co-workers. This included the constant collective complaining about the job, taking more and longer-than-approved breaks, working as little as possible, fudging time sheets, stealing, and the intermittent screaming matches with the boss in the middle of the store. Underpinning all these actions was an unspoken but broadly understood code of silence when it came to such transgressions and, when appropriate, expressions of support for them.
At the time, I didn’t think much about this, it was just how things happened and I’ve encountered similar experiences to varying degrees in every workplace since. Our actions weren’t guided by a political framework nor was there any attempt to organize them in a directed manner. It was more a spontaneous, innate reaction to experiencing the coercion of capitalism. I had cause to reflect upon this anew while reading Kevin Van Meter’s new book, Guerrillas of Desire: Notes on Everyday Resistance and Organizing to Make a Revolution Possible, published by AK Press and the Institute for Anarchist Studies.
In May of this year, the eco-extremist group Individualists Tending Toward the Wild (ITS) issued a statement claiming responsibility for the murder of two hikers in the State of Mexico and the femicide of Lesvy Rivera at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in Mexico City, providing as justification for these acts their belief that “every human being merits extinction.” In response, I wrote “There’s Nothing Anarchist About Eco-Fascism: A Condemnation of ITS” for It’s Going Down, denouncing both ITS and the U.S.-based anarchist platforms that disseminate and promote the group’s activities.
While by no means the first anarchist condemnation of ITS, it did garner a bit of attention, facilitated in part by the responses of ITS and its supporters, which we will turn to in a moment. Shortly thereafter, strong critiques emerged from other quarters, in particular from insurrectionary anarchists such as L from the UK, Eat from Indonesia, and a joint statement from former members of Anonymous Anarchist Action, Conspiracy of Cells of Fire, the Mariano Sánchez Añón Insurrectional Cell and others in Mexico.
“When horror knocks at your door, it’s difficult to hide from. All that can be done is to breathe, gather strength, and face it….I shared news of the woman found in University City. From the first moment, I was angered and protested the criminalization of the victim. The next morning I woke up to the horror and pain that she was my relative.”
– Statement from the family of Lesvy Rivera to Mexican society
“[W]e take responsibility for the homicide of another human in University City on May 3rd….Much has emerged about that damned thing leaning lifeless on a payphone… ‘that she suffered from alcoholism, that she wasn’t a student, this and that.’ But what does it matter? She’s just another mass, just another damned human who deserved death.”
Some things shouldn’t have to be said, but as is too often the case in this disaster of a world, that which should be most obvious often gets subsumed to the exigencies of politics, ideologies, money, emotion, or internet clicks. The purpose of this piece is to condemn the recent acts of eco-extremists in Mexico and those who cheer them on from abroad.
This is a special IGDCAST with Sofi, an anarchist compañera from Mexico City who is deeply involved in a variety of solidarity and organizing efforts with anarchist prisoners in Mexico. The audio interview is in Spanish, while below is an English transcription, along with two song MP3s you can download separately. If you want to see more in depth reporting on what is happening in Mexico, be sure to support our Mexico trip fundraiser.
We start off this episode with a recorded greeting from the Cimarrón Collective in North Prison in Mexico City. Then Sofi discusses the persecution and repression facing the anarchist movement in Mexico City as well as a review of the situation of four anarchist prisoners currently being held by the Mexican state. We look at the corruption, exploitation and neglect that occurs in Mexican prisons and what compañeros on the inside are doing to fight back. In particular, there is a focus on the Cimarrón Collective, a formation started by anarchist prisoner Fernando Bárcenas that has autonomously reclaimed space inside the North Prison and self-manages a variety of initiatives. For listeners, perhaps the most intriguing one will be their punk band, Commando Cimarrón. A couple of their songs are included in the podcast.
The interview then wraps up with discussion of a proposed amnesty for prisoners being put forward by “leftist” political parties in the Mexico City government and the response of our anarchist compañeros. Lastly, there are suggestions for how the struggle for their freedom can be supported from outside of Mexico. Throughout this post, we include links for more information, primarily in English, and photos of some of the art produced during workshops organized by the Cimarrón Collective.
Following a calamitous event such as the election of Donald Trump, the first reactions are often visceral. Those who view it positively gloat and interpret it as greater permission to act according to their more base impulses, seen in the increase in anti-Semitic, Islamophobic and racistattacks since November 8. Those who view it negatively experience a kind of shock and anger. In an attempt to process the unexpected, those emotions frequently are vented in the form of projection, utilizing shame and blame in an attempt to shore up a challenged worldview. Social media exacerbates this by permitting us all to become unfiltered pundits, clicking the “post” button to bestow legitimacy upon any thought that may pop into our heads or trying to acquire social capital by presenting oneself as the holder of the correct analysis.
I’m of course of the opinion that Trump’s election is a negative occurrence. The thousands who have been militantly taking the streets all around the United States are an encouraging sign, especially heartening are the youth, disenfranchised by this system yet perhaps the most at risk from it, organizing walkouts of their schools. The immediate and spontaneous rejection shown in the streets establishes an important oppositional framework for the long road that lies ahead and serves as a way to communicate to one another, to those most at-risk under a Trump regime, and to the rest of the world that the fight back is already underway. But as we are all aware, street actions are never enough. From an anarchist perspective, this moment calls for reflection along with action. In my view, I see three main tasks: a) problematizing electoral politics; b) understanding Trump’s victory; and, c) planning for the long haul.
It’s been several weeks since the last Insumisión. Apologies for the break, but now we’re back at it and as always there’s a lot of ground to cover. Before diving in, I’d like to share that in the next couple of months, an It’s Going Down contributor will be spending a chunk of time in Mexico with the goal of producing lots of original content. If you value the work we do here at IGD and would like to see it continue to grow, please consider contributing to the trip fundraiser or making a donation in general. We also recently published a call for translators to help put out even more content from Mexico. If you’re interested, get in touch! And now let’s take a look at the latest from Mexico…
After two weeks on hunger strike, due to the health of some and in order to avoid serious complications, anarchist prisoners Fernando Bárcenas, Luis Fernando Sotelo and Abraham Cortés, as well as activist Jesse Montaño, have decided to continue their collective struggle inside the prison with indefinite fasts and have ended the hunger strike.
We are reposting the text signed by Fernando Bárcenas.
Forty-eight years after the Tlatelolco massacre we continue demanding justice for the murdered, disappeared, persecuted, tortured, defamed, and imprisoned, as even though the killers and masterminds have not been tried and punished, those compañeros who fell in the militant struggle remain present in the popular and social struggles today as part of our memory, solidarity, guidance, dignity, strength, inspiration, rage and courage. Today, no one doubts that IT WAS THE MEXICAN STATE who planned and carried out that mass murder, just as it did with the disappearance of 43 teaching college students on September 26, 2014, as from Tlatelolco to Ayotzinapa one can trace a historical continuity that affirms the totalitarian character of the state that today we can characterize as “narco and terrorist.”
During a press conference on September 28, anarchist prisoners announced the beginning of an indefinite hunger strike. They are compañeros Fernando Bárcenas and Abraham Cortés, prisoners in North Prison, Luis Fernando Sotelo, prisoner in South Prison in Mexico City, and Miguel Peralta, prisoner in Cuicatlán Prison in Oaxaca. The strike is in rejection of the 33 year and five month sentence given to Luis Fernando Sotelo, to mark three years since the arrest of compañero Abraham Cortés on October 2, 2013, and in solidarity with the prison strike underway in the United States against the exploitation of prisoners’ labor and in support of the revolts against the killings of African-Americans by police in the U.S.
The three compas in Mexico City have gone on hunger strike, while Miguel will go on fasts.