Not Our Comrades: ITS Attacks on Anarchists

  • Posted on: 30 August 2017
  • By: thecollective

From It's Going Down by Scott Campbell

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.

Taken together, these statements offer a robust distancing of ITS from anarchists and anarchist practice across varying tendencies. None were written in the hope of actually changing the behavior of ITS but to unequivocally clarify the distinction between anarchism and ITS. Indeed, since May, ITS has continued on its terroristic path. Most notably, the ITS franchise in Chile claims to have twice placed bombs on Transantiago public buses (one, two). In doing so, they follow in the steps of ITS in Mexico who claimed to have placed a bomb on public buses in Mexico City last October and November and ITS in Brazil who in January claimed to have placed a shrapnel-filled bomb at a crowded bus station in Brasilia. Indeed, the favorite tactic of ITS these days appears to be putting bombs in public areas in the hopes that they explode and maim or kill as many random people (or “hyper-civilized sheep” in their words) as possible.

While indiscriminately blowing up civilians based on a twisted, authoritarian ideology places ITS in league with ISIS, al-Qaeda, and the State, of particular concern to anarchists should be the special vehemence ITS reserves for us and the threat it poses to anarchists. With tiresome predictability, ITS goes on and on about how wrong and bad anarchists are. (Undoubtedly this article will receive such a reply.) At times it is not clear who ITS hates more – all of civilization or just us. But in an odd twist, alongside the relentless defamations, ITS also spends a notable about of energy attempting to recuperate selected anarchist history into their eco-extremist ideology, in particular the few attacks by anarchists in which several civilians were killed in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Like a spurned lover, ITS cannot accept that anarchism is just not that into it. So it adopts a defensive position of projected hatred, all the while continual reaching out to anarchism as if to pleadingly say, “See what a few of you did over 100 years ago? You’re just like us. We should be together, even though I hate you.” Yet in its anarchist revisionism, ITS fails to grasp that even in the rare anarchist action which resulted in the loss of civilian life, it has never been anarchist praxis to kill people for the sake of killing people.

Helpful in understanding this behavior is the matter of ITS’ ideological (or theological) fragility. Though they have been around for six years, those six years have been marked by frequently shifting and inconsistent rationales, beliefs and analyses put forward by the group for what they do and why. They have now sought resolution to their existential incoherence by resorting to the basest of premises: “kill ‘em all.” This oppositional posture creates a Manichean world without nuance and therefore requires no explication or nuance on their part. By proclaiming all to be the enemy, they provide themselves an impenetrable refuge from all critique and also any need for internal consistency. Yet by existing as purely in opposition to everything, with nothing but disdain for all aspirational proposals, they reduce themselves to mere activists. Their actions seek to change nothing, they are symbolic and done simply to make themselves feel better. They are like a graffiti artist who goes out to put their tag on as many walls as possible then goes home, pats themselves on the back and sends out a communique. The tragic part, of course, is that the ITS brand of futile activism involves killing and wounding people.

By creating an ideology against anarchism and also shielding their actions from critique by stating that they believe that they will never change anything, ITS can come across as both inventive and reactionary at the same time. The small anarchist following ITS generates is also telling, insofar as they are people who are already hostile to social struggle and see ITS as developing a critique of currents within anarchism they also wish to attack. In short, while ITS is an instrument we are told to “have a conversation with” and “ask questions about,” in reality ITS is simply a means to an end for those who desire to wage a ‘culture war’ within anarchism. They help normalize and popularize ITS while still holding it at arms-length as a way to divorce themselves from any responsibility. This is something ITS wants just as much as do the people who make money selling their communiques and use ITS to build up their personalities as podcasters and journal publishers. Meanwhile, the very group these anarchists use to reap social capital from threatens to kill us and attempts to blow up our friends and spaces.

That anarchists would want nothing to do with this is unsurprising. It is therefore predictable that as the anarchist rejection of ITS has become more strident, the reaction of ITS has reached new levels of unhinged vitriol. In November of last year, they issued a statement complaining of “censorship” from Noblogs after the site dropped their page. In March, after Chilean insurrectionary anarchist prisoner Joaquín García criticized ITS, it mocked him and called for an attack on “that senile hippy Zerzan” in the same breath. The article I wrote in May apparently touched a nerve and ITS responded with the only tools at its disposal – anger and violence – by threatening to kill me.

Mr. Campbell, you should value your life more. You’re addressing some dangerous people who have killed people indiscriminately for over six years. We are still free, and they have not been able to catch us. How are you so sure that we don’t know the place in Mexico where you “vacation” and we won’t show up as we tend to do? You should chill out because in a country where killing journalists is very common, it’s not a good idea that you go about everywhere with your camera, or you’ll end up like your colleague Bradley Will. Remember him? Only this time the bullets won’t be coming from PRI goons.

For good measure, in the same statement they also throw in some homophobia, referring to myself and others as “fucking faggots,” and some sexism in denouncing the “pussy motherfucker sons of Contrainfo.”

After more anarchist condemnations of ITS came out, they responded with another statement going after insurrectionary anarchists in Mexico along with snitchjacketing the main individual behind the anarchist library and social center Biblioteca Social Reconstruir. It being an ITS statement, of course there is again a fair amount of homophobia and sexism contained within. However, in this case it also clarified an incident that occurred last year at OkupaChe, the occupied Che Guevara Auditorium on the campus of UNAM.

OkupaChe is an autonomous space for a variety of collectives and individuals that for years has been under threat and attacks from the police and university administration. On December 14, after a growing push for the eviction of the okupa, there was to be a large student assembly with OkupaChe as the first item on the agenda. At some point during the night before the assembly, an explosive device was left outside the doorway of the auditorium. It was described as a package made up of flammable material and nails, powerful enough to have started a fire and wounded people at the space as well as passers-by. Initially thought to be part of the push to evict OkupaChe, in March an ITS group mentioned “an annoying device that we left in the mousetrap called che.” In the more recent statement, ITS elaborates further, regurgitating without irony the government’s talking points about the space:

[D]id you know that one of our groups placed a bomb at the “Che Squat”? That was done mainly because they were defaming us and we shit on those anarcho-rock star ex-con politicians and drug addicts who hang out there, because the auditorium is supposedly so legendary: a symbol of “autonomy” and the “combative” student movement of the ‘90’s.

So along with their tirades and death threats against individual anarchists, one can see that they have actually attempted to kill or injure anarchists en masse and cause damage to anarchist spaces. In preparation for this article, I reached out to anarchists in Mexico to attempt to document other ITS threats. They indicated that numerous threats from ITS have been directed against anarchist individuals and projects, but no one felt comfortable going on the record.

In case their reprehensible actions, along with threatening and attempting to kill anarchists, is not enough of a reason for anarchist disassociation from ITS, there is another cause for anarchist concern. ITS proudly proclaims it has never been caught, even though “Interpol has already collected all the information that it could from the Internet about our Mafia.” Yet is that true? If ITS is placing bombs on buses in three countries then why the subdued reaction from the State to an international terrorist movement? The English-language spokesperson for ITS calls himself Abe Cabrera. Abe is an unknown figure among radicals yet has been welcomed into some circles because of his advocacy of eco-extremism. He is open about where he lives, yet remains unmolested by the state. This is odd if Interpol is involved and when compared to the treatment members of the ELF press office received for the less-egregious acts they reported on. I am certainly not advocating that the state target him and to attempt to answer why he hasn’t been would be pure speculation. But as with many of ITS’ own claims, things do not add up.

Aragorn, a member of the Anarchist News collective, laughing on Facebook in response to ITS’ death threat against an anarchist, alongside the posting of that threat on Anarchist News, before it was removed.

Despite all of the above, the disturbing fact remains that various anarchists and anarchist projects in the U.S. continue to provide a platform to ITS. In relaying that fact to both social and insurrectionary anarchists in Mexico, they responded with bewilderment, anger and disappointment that a group that is bombing and threatening them is being propped up in the U.S. by some anarchists. This again speaks to the privilege these U.S.-based anarchists enjoy in treating ITS as an intellectual exercise while comrades in Mexico are under attack by them. Since May, these platforms have posted a slew of articles and podcasts about ITS and personally attacking anarchists who criticize ITS. In response to the ITS statement threatening to kill me, one prominent anarchist in this vein wrote, “OMG this shit is so hysterical. Wow.” And then promptly reposted it on their website. (It was later removed after numerous individuals pointed out that an anarchist site reposting death threats against anarchists was rather outrageous.) Most recently, this same grouping published Black Seed, a journal being distributed nationally that in part seeks to incorporate eco-extremism, including ITS, into green anarchism. A second edition of the eco-extremist journal Atassa is set to be published around year’s end, presumably again by Little Black Cart.

This is pointed out not with the expectation that these individuals and projects will stop supporting ITS. Rather, it is so anarchists are aware of those in our circles who are providing legitimacy and cover for a group whose sole purpose is to murder people and who have a history of targeting anarchists in particular. ITS has proclaimed itself an enemy to anarchists. Its words and deeds reaffirm that. Why, then, should our enemies be welcome or tolerated in our spaces?


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Comments

We've solved it, boys. Aragorn is Hitler.

Less like Hitler, more like a poor man's Donald Trump. Atassa is just his version of Trump Steaks.

Everyone I don't like is:

Hitler
Marxist
Communist
antifa
terrorist
postmodernist
cultural Marxist
leftist
Nazi
moralist
liberal
snowflake
cuck
fascist

Welcome to the 21st century of illiterate dumbed down American political discourse.

Where is the proof that ITS exist and have actually done what they claim to have done? I read the hyperbole but I don't read any substantive proof.

There is no proof. They claim responsibility after the fact and a lot of their "communiques" reek of snark. ITS isnt real. Abe is a sketchball who is either a con or is being conned. Its sad LBC is falling for it.

How is Abe Cabrera so insufferable and pretentious? In The Brilliant episode he raves about how beyond everything he is with his religion and philosophy but doesn't explain it at all. I guess the "sheeple" just wouldn't get it. Cool bro... You know, I am not about dumbing down discourse for mass appeal, but you just sound like a druggie black metal tool (not to talk smack on black metal or drug use, unless you are a tool about it). There's lots of people like Abe out there that posture as having some _really_deep_shit they are into. But they never get close to explaining it or having an interesting conversation about it. It's like a religious experience for him and we have to take it on faith that he's into some next level shit. The 4chan tier memes he posts on his facebook are either cringey or boring. Pepe and anime nazi memes really? Abe comes off like a fanboy. To him it's like"ITS is /our guy/".

Maybe he's right and no one gets it. Better to not understand the level of technological isolation and alienation Abe is going through when there is life and passion outside and away from the screens.

I read two sentences and you refer to the member of a woman as "femicide" what type of hyerbolic shit is this?! Are you stupid? That is the murder of a woman, femicide is a larger process of targeting, killing in mass and subordinating and/or enslaving a gender. Why do you demeen femicide by equating it with murder? This is dumb. I suspect so this is so you can sound morally superior to a violent action group.

You and ARR should be ignored.

I read the comment about femicide to mean that the killing which ITS claimed, fits the mexican context of mass violence against women, which is often referred to as femicide. Seems like a fair description to me. But I suppose I have no interest in defending such a horrific act.

"Femicide" is used to refer to murders of women in Chile at least, like tv presenters use it. From homicide. It might have to do with there not being an equivalent of "murder" in spanish, only assassination and homicide, and "homicidio" sounding male-gendered since spanish is a gendered hell of a language.

Maybe in Mexico it's the same and they picked it up from there.

And Franco was a helluva male-gendered dictator.

Campbell,

ITS is doing things I do not like and I think is fucked. I think there anthropology is broken and they are acting like theologians. I think this bombing connection with Che is important, but I believe there are a series of questions you should ask yourself.

Do you know the action group dynamics and what is really happening in Mexico? Or are you just talking to certain sects of social anarchist and University Students? Said differently, why do you feel to use your time, energy and publshing outlets to comment on these actions and people in another country? How much do you think you really know?

Do you even know what L is talking about half the time about snitching? Are you involved in action group drama?

Did ITS not have a point regarding North Americans and Europeans regarding their flocking to issues and becoming crusaders?

DId ITS not have a good point regarding their violent context in Mexico and how they are serving to deal with it? Why not focus on people perpetrating genocide, ecocide and femicide in Mexico? (Yeah, why are you calling the murder of a woman femicide? I could understand you if they bombed a womans shelter, but come on... maybe contributing to trends of femicide? You do sound dumb).

While they exhibit crap theories and actions, they still have some valid points regarding action groups with their analysis of RAF, ETA and FARC. Then again, I am not sure you are concerned with individual or militant action, there fore you do not care and now because they have gone off the deep-end (a lot or a bit) you think they should be completely isolated and exercised--fulfilling the informal role of the anarcho-cop.

I completely argee with your analysis of their love to hate, but need for attention from anarchists, its even good, but your hyperbol towards them and Aragorn seems a little unjustified and/or weakens your argument (Aragron being a dick and a gossip is nothing new).

So you are an anarchist, whatever the fuck that means, have some relationship with Mexico and live in the Bay Area and you are concerned that these ideas exist and receive some level of interest (LBC is not so good at distributing). Do you think these ideas are going to create the end of the world? Your anarchist space is going to be bombed? Or that this is evil fascism that must be stopped?

The way you have taken this issue up is ridiculous and blindly self-absorbed (and you are not alone), but when you write: "the people who make money selling their communiques and use ITS to build up their personalities as podcasters and journal publishers. Meanwhile, the very group these anarchists use to reap social capital from threatens to kill us and attempts to blow up our friends and spaces." It sounds like you are just doing the same. Finding an issue, affirming a (social) anarchist identity and personality. The only difference is that you are scared, which is pushing you towards anarcho-priest hood (condemning the heretics) and cop (sensor and condemn these ideas). This is lame, unintelligent and fulfilling North American stereotypes.

I wasted my time writing this because this is frustrating and I am still dumb enough to home for more from the social anarchists.

Eat was the only one with their sense about them in this whole conversation. Everyone else a disappointment, falling into the dumb game of ITS

In the Communique where

I know, right?! You need to be pretty damn alienated to think context doesn't matter here.

Scenario A: ITS is legit and does some or all of the fucked up shit they claim. You're either an idiot or my enemy if you're rationalizing ANY of it. Mad dogs get put down, full stop!

Scenario B: This is all an elaborate troll project, hipster snark or perhaps psy-ops to gauge the milieu by its reactions. In this case, we're all idiots?

Nothing but bad options here? Also, Abe's breath smells like ITS balls and I can't understand him because of the ITS dick in his mouth. Nothing wrong with loving that cock in your mouth Abe! This is a safe space ;)

Straight question. Why on earth are you all still locked on to a bunch of nonanarchists? Yes they threatened Scott but in fairness what he expect they were going to do? Thank him? I think not.
Zerzan, Gillis and now Scott really should stop turning everything into a psychodrama about Aragorn. If you're going to take exception to a bunch of mouthy psychos then it's time to learn to accept you're inviting unnecessary trouble and running to Daddy. Then in a twist of exquisite irony, supernaturally blaming Daddy for the reasons you're running to him in the first place.
Your effing government, or should I say rulers, are the biggest killers across the planet yet you're needlessly wringing your hands about a handful of green-leaning mutants several hundred miles away welding an.empty death threat. Please, please, move on.

Because people keep talking about them?

Because LBC and the tiny world of egoist podcasts fanned these flames for edgy hipster snark points?

Because it turns out that no amount of nihilist cool-kid posturing will negate how toxic this shit is?

Honestly, I don't think I've read any pro-ITS stuff other than atassa and the communiques since the hiker murders, and probably even a year or so before that. Nobody I know, online or off, is pro-ITS, including all self-described nihilists I know. LBC has said they're opposed, A! has said so, Bellamy has said so, Black Seed has published stuff against them, etc. etc.

In one of their essays, they point out that the amount of violence they've committed against anarchists (and innocents in general) pales in comparison to e.g. the state of Mexico, or the cartels, and they're right. So given that basically no one is an anarchist and pro-ITS, and there are far more pressing threats to anarchists in general... if there wasn't all this hand-wringing about how bad they are, would we even still be talking about them at all?

So your attention span is shorter than some of us? Or maybe your point is you'd prefer if folks had shittier memories when it comes to who is or was previously endorsing authoritarian death cults? I can sit here and call bullshit without detracting meaningfully from other stuff that actually matters, don't worry!

I'm not really wringing my hands though tbh, I'm just enjoying watching these jerkoffs have to tuck their tails after teeing off on "the left" for years upon years. Every dog has its day :D

I don't think you understand what hand-wringing is, because your first paragraph most definitely fits the bill. "Look! Look at these people who did a bad!"

Though I am curious, what is it that I'm "forgetting"? Because basically everything that touches 325 was pro-ITS at one point, so are they all untouchables now as well?

All this talk of "Antifa partisans" and what not, you folks make it seem like we're doing much worse than laughing at people who made fools of themselves but that's all that I'm doing. Ha ha, fuckin' tools got played!

I'm not interested in "censoring" anybody, I don't have any power to do that, even if I was? Read whatever you like, publish whatever, embarrass yourselves however you want and I'll be here with a smirk on my face, saying - we told you that shit had nothing to do with anarchism all along!

What?

Well, you can speak for yourself I guess, but it seems your IGD overlord is pretty keen on trying to instigate some kind of wierd purge against whatever doesn't fit neatly into his super narrow and milquetoast vision of anarchy. I believe he was quoted along the lines of "if someone isn't into doing anti-fascist work... get rid of them", or some shit. Lol, antifa starting to bleed over into some weird stalin-territory here!

Also... the only thing EE has to do with anarchism is that it's partisans were once a part of the scene, and then left it in the rear-view in a critical kind of way. Besides that, it has nothing to do with anarchism at all and there's absolutely nobody saying that it does. Not Aragorn, not Bellamy, not TheBrilliant, not LBC, not Abe Cabrera, not even the people involved in that tendency themselves.

It's weird. You're acting like this weird, smug asshole smirking and criticizing these people for something they never said they were about in the first place.

Not "acting like", I AM a weird, smug asshole, in good company around here haha! But hey, if that's how you remember the trajectory of this whole thing, you're either covering for your friends or an idiot. Whatever?

The side-stepping and face-saving is boring as fuck but the build up to this point was very interesting indeed!

So to be clear: you're saying that ITS calls/has called itself an anarchist group? You're saying that A! et al. have been saying that ITS and EE are anarchists/anarchism?

lol, silly bitch.

The only one who's being a fucking obtuse moron here is you.

Nope. None of that.

Perhaps the best way I heard this edgelord bullshit summarized was by Abe himself. Something like "they did things and they're still free and it's exciting!!!" You could almost hear him giddily fondling his balls while he typed with the other hand. I was a goth kid in highschool ok? I get it. Seeking cheap thrills in the spectacle from a position of extreme alienation, like the teens who cut themselves while masturbating to shrines of the columbine shooters. Its really not that complex OR interesting and it never was. Clarity achieved? ;)

Abe has a point that you've yet to refute in a satisfying way. Love them or hate them, the fact is their operational security is obviously top notch, full stop. There's a thing or two you could learn from them if you weren't such an obstinately close-minded shit head. Their relevance to anarchists, I'd say, has to do with the fact that they are post-anarchists who left anarchism in a critical way, who's main critique it seems, is how naive anarchists are around the question of violence.

I say that, but obviously they've gone off the fucking deep end and I don't like what they're doing, but jesus christ...

Look dude, you can learn shit from all kinds of people who are not anarchist without necessarily sharing in their doctrine. From ITS to hoodoo practitioners; from bloods and crips to the hells angels; from anti-colonial nationalist indigenous warrior societies to pre-anarchist radical christians and so on.

Stop seeing people and their shit as entire packages of ideas you need to ascribe to in order to fuck with any of it, but rather as idea-arsenals to be looted to enrich your own life and projects. Make sense?

Again .. None of this is particularly sophisticated like I'm struggling to understand it. I'm scoffing at anyone insisting that it is.

I'm a professional goon: narcissistic assholes with impulse control problems who think they're badass are an endless parade of job security for me. Every once and awhile, a handful of them aren't just running off at the mouth and they kill or maim somebody. Note that I'm STILL bored, not titillated like some fools around here.

Then they spout equally boring rationalizations for their asshat bullshit. It's all the same narcissistic crap to me, the "reasons" for attacking random people don't matter. You've automatically cancelled my interest in anything you have to say, listening requires respect and mad dogs get none. Same goes for their simpering, groupie, Stockholm-syndrome fanboys.

Publishing their ideas as "curiosities" is a separate issue of course, more complicated. But you do quickly run in to the familiar issues around providing a platform for absolute scum, especially when you try to claim you're being totally impartial. There's a responsibility there IMO... Anyway, it's 2 separate issues and maybe some of this drama is a failure by the critics to make that distinction clear enough. Maybe LBC deserves to take their lumps and eat a few I-TOLD-YOU-SOs. These fuckers didn't "go off the deep end", you just caught on later than I did.

Factually incorrect. Go back and check it all again.

"Black Seed, a journal being distributed nationally that in part seeks to incorporate eco-extremism, including ITS, into green anarchism."

Right...except for that article by Bellamy, a green anarchist, in issue 5 saying they have nothing to do with anarchist liberation.

Very little anarchist writing is about anarchist liberation. Writing may be entertaining but it's never going to liberate you.

I think you missed my point - I'm saying that calling Black Seed pro-ITS is exaggeration at best, lying at worst.

your "they" is confusing. your point seems to be that bellamy is saying that ITS has nothing to do with anarchist liberation.
correct?

tell that to all the people who have had the process of writing change their lives?

Abridged version of this comment, set to music: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=4G3QzbRw2E0

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