Why We Break All The Windows

Why We Break All The Windows
by Lou Trayette

There has been much debate in recent months weighing the efficacy of various protests tactics. Dividing lines between 'good' and 'bad' protesters have been drawn by those wishing to control the actions of others, certain that they alone are the righteous arbiters of appropriate expressions of anger at the system of oppression forced on the people by law enforcement, the government, and their neo-fascist lackeys.

It is often missed by these self-styled 'leaders of the movement' that they are playing the surrogate role of our oppressors by attempting to stifle the liberation we struggle for.

Many of these 'leaders', loudest bullhorn in hand (obvious future politicians), claim that any actions that do not align with their idea of purity when it comes to effective action against the system are derailing the movement they had envisioned (because it is one they perceive they can control). Actions these 'leaders' disapprove of are said to be stealing focus away from the 'true message'. Over the years the 'true message' has been a constantly moving target to be sure...civil rights, anti-nuclear, anti-war, anti-globalization (what ever happened to that one!?!), environmental concerns, resisting police brutality, and on and on. Whatever the cause du jour, the conversation and confrontation is the same....'good' vs 'bad' protestors and 'productive' vs 'counterproductive' actions.

On the evening of November 4th, 2020 a group of protesters broke windows and committed other acts of property destruction in downtown Portland after splitting away from a separate group who insisted on 'peaceful protest' and the decidedly meaningless concept of 'unity' (a favorite tool of those wishing to halt momentum being generated by those expressing their rage against a system suffocating all of us to varying degrees).

The common refrain in the media, coming from pundits, government and law enforcement officials, as well as 'protest leaders', is that 'random acts of destruction' distract from the message of change being espoused by some. They also revel in the listing of businesses that 'didn't deserve' to be targeted for attack whether it be because of the gender or race of the owner/s or the 'services' they provide.

While there is a glimmer of hope in the subtext of these statements that there are indeed businesses that deserve to be targeted for property destruction, this line of thinking largely misses the point and purpose of actions such as these. What is ignored or not understood by many is similar to the misunderstanding that happens with the looting and arson that sometimes take place after acts of violence against the people.

We are expressing rage.

When rage is released it is often raw, unformed. Rage chooses its targets instinctively not solely tactically. The instincts of a human animal recognize its oppressors and its cages in a less nuanced (and it could be argued more pure) way than when choices are made in the cool and calculated world of academia or mind-numbing large-scale consensus seeking processes.

Rage sees that we are oppressed by more than police, more than government, more than systemic societal and cultural dictates. Rage sees that we are oppressed by walls and boundaries.

Walls and boundaries take many forms, some obvious and some less so. Walls can be cultural, racial, sexual, governmental, or social. But one thing that walls surely are is physical. Rage sees the animal thrash and throw itself at the physical barriers enveloping it. Rage lashes out at the most obvious and fundamental physical expression of its oppression.

When we express our rage, we attack the physical manifestation of a system that has been rapidly constructed in order to separate us from ourselves and stratify those who choose collaboration with our own death.

One of civilization's favorite manifestations of walls are those made of glass.

Constructing and displaying walls of a transparent and fragile substance is the system gloating at our willingness to self-repress. It is the thinnest veneer and representation of a boundary. It is a wall that the system believes we are too broken and domesticated to challenge. A window is a wall that provides no visible barrier and is hardly an impenetrable one physically. Windows are our own self-defeating acquiescence to play their game and subjugate ourselves to their authority.

Windows are the system's proof to itself that it is working. The existence of windows express the health of the system and are a measure of the people's willingness to bow to an invisible set of rules that have been imposed. Windows are the canary in the system's coalmine.

In a previous generation the destruction of windows was referred to as 'breaking the spell'. The spell is that one cast upon us and under which we allow the consolidation of power to go unchallenged.

In a war for our freedom as humans be it racial, sexual, social, cultural, or environmental, windows are the dividing line between a seething caged family of human animals and those of our own that seek to enslave us.

This is why we break all the windows.

*** LouTrayette@ProtonMail.com
*** kolektiva.social/@LouTrayette

There are 22 Comments

This is still a rather weak justification for hitting a bad target. Smashing that church window was nothing more than juvenile self-masturbatory rage. It might have felt good in the moment for the person who did it but its cheap fleeting pleasure for its own mediocre sake. It accomplished nothing, and it resulted in negative side effects (the church is now closed and can't help homeless ppl who really rely on them for food and such) and creates even more backlash against anarchists from the state and the public. The police will have a heavier presence and the public will be less sympathetic to seeing police violence enacted against anarchists and protestors. I don't feel that @'s can afford to create more enemies right now, we already have enough to deal with with the right. Strategically pick good targets and stop childishly attacking bad targets and people who are sympathetic to us because it's only hurting us in the end.

i haven’t read this and won’t, but all churches are valid targets, you all have my blessing

Yeah. tHe mEaNiNg beHinD tHe tArGet is dumb af. people are mad. having an act be a symbol of that anger isnt a bad thing. It doesnt need to be revenge or like punishing capitalists (inefectively) for being bad.

I'm an atheist and anti-religious and I don't have any reverence for churches . However, that particular one basically functions as a homeless resource hub, feeding and helping a lot of the local homeless population there. The kid who broke the windows didn't think or care about how their actions effectes the homeless people who rely on them. They don't have a cushy homes to go to after the demo is over and order order takeout from their favorite yuppy vegan restaurant like the trust-fund blk bloc kid who broke the windows likely does. Check your fucking privilege white boy

you’re right

they should leave the windows alone, which harm no one, and go straight to the charity workers like you. they should agitate the homeless into robbing and biting the hand that feeds them.

except there’s no should, just an angry you.
all churches give charity, just like governments, just like billionaire philantropists. “mutual aid” is often just plain old charity.

if the many pages on the subject are worthless to illuminate, maybe breaking windows is necessary, maybe only a burning church illuminates. rhetoric!

proving you have no idea what you are talking about, just more moralism

you guys really show yourself when you have to add " trust-fund blk bloc kid who broke the windows likely does. Check your fucking privilege white boy"

played yourself fool

"won't someone think of the homeless" is pretty tone-deaf for a variety of reasons, there is something to the question of how much do we want to know about a thing/place before we take a position, make an attack, smash a window.
the evasion style, constant rando-attack got a lot of shit back in those long-gone days for not paying attention to existing relationships and site-specific information.
if we try to find something valid in the "not this church" post, it has to do with that knowledge of place, that i continue to think is worthwhile, even though i also support attack everything all the time. is that only a conflict for me?

to be completely honest, this is a no-brainer for me, and i would wish it were for everyone.

the thing is, in a context where attacks (period) are almost universally repudiated, i will prefer to err on the side of encouraging these actions, and those with initiative, that turn on them and play the role of scolding them like an uptight petty despot peace police, like a catholic school teacher. there is of course a difference between what can be defined as an anarchist in action, and what could be anyone else with a different set of ideals or motives for "attacking" or doing petty vandalism.

anti-semites vandalize jewish graves and temples, disgruntled workers -not necessarily anarchists- vandalize their workplaces, their bosses and their co-workers. lots of aggression, destruction, and murders daily by people who were not "in the right" not by our standards as anarchists at least.

if we are so mindful and zen about this sacred place that is Earth, what are buildings, what is their importance to us? do we transcend beyond attack and levitate peacefully feeding "THE HOMELESS", "THE OPPRESSED", "THE INNOCENT VICTIMS" with our chakra that emanates and falls as mana so they can feast on it like the HOLY COMMUNION.

tbh, i wouldn't lift a finger to hurt one of these garden variety organizers that run soup kitchens and rock the vote, and i would not risk my flesh to deface stone or glass. but if i saw one drown, i'd smile, and if i see a church burn, i cheer.

which is to ignore the stupid comment that we're all responding to, because the comment is not helpful, but to respond instead to a valid point. so yes, all the things you want to say about the stupid comment, fine.
but you haven't really answered my question, which is, how do you (all you yous out there) feel about the idea of waiting to attack until you know a place, vs focusing only on the validity of attack everything all the time.
surely both of those directions can be overloaded in ways that don't work for us?

and also,
how does one decide what to attack, since we don't actually attack everything all the time. why this church and not that one? why this ATM and not that one? if it's convenience, what does that mean, given that it's not random what we (WE! WE! i know) find convenient...

this question is not challenging at all, the boring answer is i don't attack.
broken church windows are not an attack.

people that attack or do food drives have the reasons that justifies it for them, or the do it without thinking about it too much.
knowing a place can come from a familiarity of living there for a long time and paying attention, or by doing diligent research.
i'm not enthusiastic about giving homework, whether it be history, sociology, anthropology, urbanism, so that kids can aim rocks at windows. both are pointless and sad activities, only very tenuously connected. does the information heightened the felt high of the thrill with self-righteousness and smugness? i think they felt justified enough.

the balance you seek is for a brilliant essayist, strategist and tactician also be a mentally disturbed reckless hooligan with nothing to lose.

no one is attacking, this is less harsh than erosion, corrosion, and other deterioration and decay that comes about from the environment. there is rhetoric with rocks, ink, vegan burritos. just as valid and laughable as lighting a scented candle to ward off bad vibes, or throwing a coin down a wishing well. i hope the kid that did it had fun and has a nice day, i'm happy it ruined some other people's day, and i will never meet them.

i said my request was challenging. your reading seems to be a bit sloppy.
but that's cool. you answered the question. maybe other people will have different answers and reflections. or maybe it's just you and me in this universe...

reading this comment inspired me to break a church window

A building loses its spirit and soul when its windows are smashed. The ethers of religious constructs are drawn into the outdrafts which waft from the belfry, and the soul escapes to heaven, or the dark nihilist ghosts sink into the abyss of hell.

Using the same logic, one may as well break the windows of gymnasiums because they are the premises of a patriarchal/feminist physical conquest mentality, just as churches are premises of a spiritual conquest mentality.

solid logic. now let's do the praxis. to the nearest gymnasium, comrade!

Careful, the gym junkies are not pacifist turn the cheek X-tians, they will fight back with uberman ferocity!

anarchist always try and make excuses and justifications for why they do things, usually some political statement saying we do this because of these oppressions of other people.... why can they just want to smash a window or start a fire for no other reason than to send a message... or just because they feel like doing it?

and if you are into Anti civilization and anti-industrialization, you want to get rid of all these buildings anyway, people who have been genocided by the church or affected by it through either its ideology or physical abuse, why wouldn't you want to destroy a church?

destroying a building is never going to destroy an ideology

What you've said is reasonable.

In fact, I wonder why anarchists don't destroy the stock exchange center? The masses, led by liberals, often "occupy Congress" and then pretend that they are the people in power. Obviously, this is a kind of deliberate misleading. With every social movement, the American stock market has become very prosperous. In other words, they don't want to oppose capitalism at all.

On the other hand, capitalism is not an ideology. The destruction of capitalism requires the interruption of its capital blood, the opposition to Puritan Ethics of workaholics, the closure of factories, etc

the believer in the said ideology. To an an-cap, capitalism is a political system, and all political systems use ideology to a degree. Only a few people from radical-leftism/anarchism would call it an ideology because historically it's more of a tool and currencies propagated by authoritarian societies have been around for a very long time.

In response to the above article, the only problem i have with this type of behavior is that smashing windows addressing none of the the problems that make these activists want to rebel. Sure, it's egoism, and perhaps the joy of breaking something is more valuable to everyone than society's lists of proposals for reforming oppression.

Property destruction has the merit of disrupting the ossified set of activities that allow for capitalism's torment to continue, but obviously killing the people involved in perpetuating oppression would be theoretically more efficient. Yet, personally i think a lot of the little things that people do on a daily basis to express themselves and preserve their own sanity are just as bad as so called "oppression". For example, I would get much more satisfaction out of hurting or killing the people who habitually use telecommunications devices to bully and harass people than I would out of mailing a bomb to some technocrat. That's already been done by several different people and clearly it doesn't create a roadblock for technocracy.

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