Rethinking anti-militarism in times of social war

  • Posted on: 22 December 2016
  • By: Anonymous (not verified)

From Bordered by Silence

On the need for debate about the militarization of states against intensifying popular uprisings and revolutionary mobilizations

Translators note: This article is a proposal for a discussion on how to oppose the militarization of social conflict that was circulated among radicals in the territory of the French state on and other sites. This is a global problem, and so if you want to contribute to this discussion, I will share summarize or translate responses from anglophones and share them with folks on paris-luttes.

“In recent years, ethnic, tribal, social, and political problematics have re-emerged and contributed to tensions and conflicts in many regions of the world. […]
“The logic of insurgency and counter-insurgency have become essentially urban questions […]
“Guerillas, insurgents, and other non-state actors have taken advantage of the benefits of operating in this environment and will doubtless continue to do so.”
NATO – Operations in urban areas 2020
2.3.2 The Nature of the Enemy – April 2003 [1]
the NATO Research and Technology organization in Neuilly-sur-seine [2]

“The militarization of the state progresses at a hectic pace. More and more often and for many different reasons, military-style solutions are chosen that disturb or threaten to disturb the fragile social equilibrium”
Anarchist Prisoners of Korydallos
Letter on the assassination of Marian Kola – August 2013 [3]

In times of war. If it weren’t for the avalanche of alienation dispensed by the fourth estate, the media, and its commentaries that fade into declarations by decision-makers — ministers, presidents, religious leaders, and kings — we wouldn’t need to spell this all out. But the change in how uprisings happen and how they are repressed is clear, which means a debate about them is obviously necessary.

Going forward, for the powerful, there are no clear front lines to hold: all conflicts have become asymmetrical. There are no longer regular armies to force into submission by diplomacy or strategy, treaty or ceasefire. Now, their enemies are everywhere and all wars will be total. The only victory is unconditional: by annihilating the adversary (by murder, enslavement, or imprisonment) or by full control over their subsistence and environment. This is done by means of magnetic cards (credit or ID), NGOs, military and police checkpoints [4], and by generalizing technological advances (like biometrics, surveillance, and virtual social networks).

Here, we want to highlight that this avalanche of disinformation — the TV news steeped in a warrior tone, where even the reporting is set to imposing music — strategically misleads us, like the propaganda during the Second World War that tried to conceal terrible events in order to morally defeat the enemy civilian population.
Here, we want to highlight that the ongoing militarization of repression is aimed at Us: Those who are in conflict with the existent, its structures, its defenders, and its false critics.

Of course, scenes of cops in action, armed to the teeth, and the moving declarations by military commanders and soldiers, as well as police and gendarmes, are demonstrations of the means used by the state to defend itself.
Immediately, the testimony of terrified citizens and the families of victims ring out from the machines of the fourth estate, justifying the “emergency” measures “put in place”.

But again, we need to clearly distinguish the propagandistic practices from the real ones and the fictional reasons from the true motivations. We need to distinguish the Logic of the State from Insurrectionary Motivation. Not that of some priest, imam, or ideologue, but those of the exploited, the deserters and the rebels. .

We need to see the reality of the current conflict clearly:

The atrocious reality of the state’s war, bloody and fratricidal like it has always been, used to take territory, resources, and cheap labour, or, foolishly, just for power games.
The conflictual reality of revolution and how it envisions itself. By refusing the the symmetry of the forces traditionally in conflict; by refusing the formalism of our ways of organizing compared to those of the rebels; by refusing militarism, by taking as our goal the end of all states, the end of all wars, and the beginning of peace and anarchy. Or communism, according to your taste in words.

We will start by setting our local reality in a proportional relation to the global reality. We will debate the state of emergency laws [5] and the movement of refugees, as well as the forced adoption of the Labour Law [6] and of austerity measures throughout Europe, and land defense, in the ZAD of Notre-Dame-des-Landes as well as elsewhere.
We will talk about the movements in the banlieues [7] and prisoners movements, in the French territory and around the world.
We need to talk about war and those who live it, it in Iraq, Syria, the Mediterranean, the Alps, Calais and on our doorstep.

We need to rethink anti-militarism.


1] Full report (maybe use Tor or something for clicking NATO pdfs):

2] Neuilly-sur-seine, the richest of Paris’ suburbs, is also one of the political bases of the main right-wing political parties

3] Published in Avalanche Dec 2013:

4] In Paris now, security checkpoints are routine and a search (usually just of your bag or coat) is required to enter any public space, like university buildings or libraries, and its very common to see checkpoints established in transit hubs and near demonstrations or large gatherings. The level to which we are all expected to “participate” in security is astonishing, but quickly becomes normal

5] France has been under a state of emergency since last November that gives extra powers to police and intelligence services

6] La loi travail, or the labour law, sparked a massive social movement this past spring. For some sense of what that looked like:

7] Referring to certain suburbs of major cities where poor and racialized people are concentrated and that are famous for their outbursts of collective rage



And contribute ideas if possible

But this didn't really say anything, did it? It just got as far as posing the question framed in the title. But then there was nothing beyond that! Come on!

Yeah … exactly. All I could think after reading is - oh, I already did that.

Spent many years thinking about use-of-force and the context: the differences between sacred self-defence and fearmongering jingoism, the grim reality of vast power imbalances and the tactical solutions to those type of problems and most importantly, the distinction between thinking, autonomous warriors who choose to fight together and soldiers who mindlessly take orders.

The way to "rethink anti-militarism" is to let go of any vestigial pacifism and moralistic opposition and accept that force is the oldest, purest form of politics; just another tool in the box.

and meanwhile the living space that all forms of life share is completely written out of the picture as a non-actor.

the human concept 'politics' leaves out this continually unfolding situational force, influencing the very relationships the attributes of which get referred to as politics

we spend so much time amplifying attributes as if they were all there was

So you did it, but where did it take you? What resources were useful along the way? What are some of your concrete answers to the issues raised?

I'm not attempting to write a thesis here, it's still taking me. Resources are the same as always: people, strategy, tactics and materials. The essence of the praxis is to shift away from theory and abstraction and in to active resistance. Look at the rail blockade in Olympia for a practical example where the dust has recently cleared.

It's rather funny seeing some of those who justify social crackdowns talk of a "state of siege," they have no idea what a seige really is. Seige warfare is simple: you sit and blockade(sound familiar?) Nothing goes in except your projectiles, and nothing comes out except those who wish to surrender. Both symmetric and assymetric sieges are possible.

An enemy can be placed under siege by blocking vital strategic goods at their border, at the point of production, or anywhere in between. To protect a long supply line in a global, "no front lines" war can be nearly impossible. Look at the trouble Nigeria has keeping oil pipelines running? No oil going out means a lot less money going back in and puts both Shell and the Nigerian government effectively under siege.

If the front line is everywhere, then nothing can be protected. Suppose those unable to either cross or blockade US borders shut down a few dozen crucial mines instead? In a globalized conflict they can also carry the war to the homes of the mining CEO's, even if the mines are in Congo and the mine bosses live in Waterloo. Unless the mine bosses are from the US themselves, they may find it not worth their while to be part of the fight. This works just like a banker deciding Huntingdon Life Sciences or the Dakota Access Pipeline is too many protests at their house to be worth the tiny addition to their profits.

If the capitalist decide to occupy the mines in an attempt to force production they still need labor. Strikes and pickets can be suppressed by armed force but just plain refusal to show up is not so easily countered. In a lot of the rural environments where these mines are located, even labor conscription could be defeated by melting away into the forest. It can also be defeated with focussed attacks on those carrying out the enforcement of labor conscription until their mercenaries seek safer work elsewhere. Here in the US, the builders of the Dakota Access Pipeline lost 1/3 of their labor force to a mix of unpaid wages and "concern" about protests. The Morton County Sheriff could do absolutely nothing about that,

The validity of the old "Root Force" anti-infrastructure strategic targeting model has been proven by the effect of the Keystone XL campaign in blocking growth of the tar sands industry in Occupied Canada. In 2010, the tar pits were producing all the "oil" they could ship, and could not expand due to the local glut and inability to ship their shit out. The Keystone XL and multiple other pipelines were the planned solution. Enough of them were stopped that the tar pits were prevented from expaning until the 2014 collapse of oil prices. Trump now wants the Keystone and others in Occupied Canada are still pushing pipeline too, but the constraint to tar sands production is now oil prices below cost of producing tar sands "oil." In other words, the Siege of Alberta did not have to hold forever, it only had to hold until something else happened, namely the 2014 oil price collapse.

Even the Pentagon can be taken down this way. Suppose the Indigenous communities in Peru decided enough is enough, and shut down the country's lithium mines like what MEND did to Nigerian oil exports. That shuts off the global supply of lithim batteries. The Pentagon has become highly dependent on them, as have all those security contractors, checkpoints with battery powered scanners, et all. It would take years to get new mines flowing in other countries, and during that interval the US and all of the big industrial economies are vulnerable. This is like the little airplane that sinks a battleship or a carrier with a torpedo in WWII. Until that ship is replaced, a huge hole opens in that side's defensive and offensive capability.

The examples you provided are ultimately very few and far between. Blips on the radar. Pennies on the dollar. Or, on the Benjamins, really.

The US' combined arms, NATO, the MIC, however you wanna frame it, is near omniscent in its power and resilience. Any physical opposition is absurdly asymmetrical. There is a reason the frontlines of war moved away from physical battles, into propaganda and economics. The World Wars proved long ago the total destructive power of modern industrial western militaries.

We've had the propaganda & economic wars since then. The internet has accelerated this battlefront. This is where anarchism has leveraged itself in the modern age, often subtly. Gender anarchy's long tail crashing through 2016 is proof of this. What next then? Are propaganda & economics still the most-symmetrical frontlines? What comes after them? Perhaps the next technological paradigm shift, whatever that may be, will decide that.

Those examples are significant exactly because of the power imbalance. Economic warfare is the only front where there's any possibility, the systems of commodification are vulnerable.

You are strong because you are weak? The acts are significant because they are insignificant? Eons of human civilization speak against the vulnerability of 'systems of commodification.'

Arrogant categorical statements and straw-manning detected. Who said we're talking about me? Eons of civilization include endless underdog narratives and stories of successful asymmetric warfare waged by smaller forces against larger ones.

So what's your agenda today friend? Just feeling kind of critiquey?

Confidently using terms incorrectly, such as in this case, 'strawman' & 'categorical statements', neither of which were used. Arrogance would also be related to a shock at having one's ideas challenged and a resulting emotional response. Arrogance would also be found in using the term 'friend' sardonically. Anonymity is a sandbox, anon. Put ideas forth for battle or play. There is no ego nor identity here.

The straw man is you assuming I was talking about myself, which wasn't the case and frames your suggestion of my logic somehow being a contradiction. It isn't. Your arrogance is pretty damned obvious, don't think we need to break out the dictionary there and yes, I'm extremely arrogant too. I recognize my own. You didn't answer the question though, what's your agenda?

I accept your admission that you are arrogant, however I still disagree with your unfounded attempt to paint me similarly. I don't understand your parting question.

Wasn't seeking confirmation on either subject, for the record. I asked about your agenda because the striking similarities between self-indulgent, nihilist/egoist trolling and counter insurgency narratives are interesting to me.

Self-indulgence is compatible with struggle. There's no secret agenda for me to reveal, barring the mystery of subconscious thought, perhaps. When you ask someone what 'their agenda is' that is a cessation of attempting to understand. It is a demand of the other to confirm one's suspicions & prejudices. It is a false question; a demand wrapped in a lie.

Or to cease masturbating and use english, I'm suspicious of your motives, yes ...

I am speaking English. I can equally say: are you listening in English? But these are non-sequiters. The demand to 'speak english' is the same as the demand to reveal 'hidden agendas.' Empty words atop a command to conform to you. Refer to my previous comment. Suspicion, insult & commandment are all you have shown in this exchange, while putting forth no ideas; no creativity. That you also conflate masturbation with things-you-don't-like seems an oddly intimate reveal in this context. Thus the form you have been tending to is one of a paranoid dictator who despises pleasure—an all too common find in the anarchist milieu.

Absolutely ridiculous straw-manning: I can comment on your ample charms and question your motives without any risk of being a "paranoid dictator". I have no actual power over you, just a few opinions that seem to raise your hackles. Safe to say, your motives are the "common find" around here, cultivating a sense of intellectual superiority.

No, historical determinist idiot. Rule of the strong never applied to humans as far as most if not ALL societies have been ruled by flimsy manipulative hypocrites who could get their asses whipped any day by at least 60% of the proles. Power is a system, the State is a conspiracy of voluntary servitude (read La Boétie). The State's strength is air made solid, its police's power is founded on its psychological terror exerted on a daily basis.

But what history proves is that, just as Laborit wrote, that the soft always ends having the last word on the hard.

This battle for liberation is multidimensional.

Why do you preface your recommended readings with insults? To make air into solid is quite the alchemal trick, but these are no magicians and magic is not real. To believe that the state came from thin air is to buy into its narrative. "Power is a system," "60% of the proles" & "liberation is multidimensional" are margarine phrases, buzzphrases. You regurgitate communist rhetoric.

I never mentioned anything regarding "rule of the strong," so you are wrestling with your own demons there. I made a point about resiliency.

That you reference exotic surnames does not grant you special insight nor intellectual authority.

for the author of article, I would change like this:
author said: On the need for debate about the militarization of states against intensifying popular uprisings and revolutionary mobilizations
I say: On the need for debate about the militarization of states against the whole society and not only against rebels.

maybe author is egocentric or he doesn't care for others, but it is okay to lead and personal private fight against the state (rulers and their minions).

for me, the thing is very simple: billionaires and politicians want to turn society back to the 19th century, there is no more socialism to compete with capitalism, capitalists don't want to give to the workers 2000 Eur salary any more, to achieve their aims, they (politicians and billionaires) do some things parallel:

1) they privatize the state already 30 years, the state is there to serve riches and the riches should own the state (with trump, riches even become politicians, they don't need to corrupt politicians anymore, they will make the law and use force as they need it)
2) they produce financial crisis to push down the value of work (salaries of workers, they make mass of homeless and people should be happy if they work for 200 USD monthly, they will produce more crisis, 2008 was just the first one)
3) they produce terrorism to implement totalitarian system i.e. militarization, all terrorists were "observed" by the secret service and jailed before they made attacks, it means spies poisoned their food and harassed them many years, i.e. spies produced terrorists. american banks (the cia) corrupted hollande, merkel, etc, now their produce together terrorism, to implement totalitarian system and to make money from insecurity (the cia monkeys are CEO in boeing, lockheed martin, general dynamics, etc). the cia monkeys (CEOs) get 20M USD salary per year, to produce conflict and war all over the world, to sell arms (military equipment), and to make a profit for owners of mentioned companies (billionaires). they make business from terrorism, from insecurity, they misuse any protest to militarize the cops, etc. it is their business.

It is the same with France and Britain, they have historical colonial politics that benefited several rich people, they have also companies that produce arms/weapons, they are similarly organized like the cia and american billionaires (military industrial complex).

I believe that many anarchists are still "on the level of teenagers" who don't see what is happening around and they still drink beer and make philosophy, then one day it will be too late, they will be like flies in the web of spiders. spiders make the web already many years and flies drink beer, when they see they felt in the web, it will be too late, spiders will execute them even if they say one word against the government. going back to the 19th century means going back to the brutality: totalitarian militarized system with 21st century technology for observation and repression. really like flies against spiders. of course, maybe other people will be more optimistic, I recommend you all to read from gleen greenwald, it will open your eyes about the level of the web around us, and maybe it will move your hand, to take a gun instead of beer, already now it is late (drones, nsa, executions without court process, etc).

what they did against Muslims, they will do against anarchists, before or later, they will finish the process of going back to 19th century (totalitarian militarism) around 2030:

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