to the War Efforts
are living through scary times. Clearly the US Government and its
allies believe they have a grand opportunity to realign domestic
and international relationships in their interest. This is
frightening: major shifts in the political landscape threaten to
tear the ground from beneath our feet.
these glacial shifts in the political scene also offer
anti-authoritarians a unique opportunity to obtain a new, more
secure footing in our struggle against economic exploitation,
political hierarchy, and cultural domination. Political conditions
are changing radically and, if we respond correctly, we have the
chance to advance our movement to a much higher level.
of all, we must not be cowed by present circumstances, as
disturbing as they are. On the contrary: recent events call upon
us to exercise political leadership in the best, most principled
and visionary sense of the term. This is our challenge, and one
that we can meet with an anti-authoritarian vision and politics.
believe it is imperative that anti-authoritarians formulate a
coherent response to the war buildup and their role within the
growing peace movement. We must not allow our perspective to be
subsumed under more prominent but less radical tendencies in the
left. Also, the peace movement is presently defining its politics
and structures and we have a great opportunity - at this moment -
to engage the movement and push it in the most radical direction.
purpose of this letter is to explore the contours of an
anti-authoritarian position on recent events. We encourage you to
discuss this letter with your friends and comrades and to prepare
for broader discussions that we intend to initiate in the near
future (we will send more information soon).
want to address three important issues in this letter: structure,
politics, and the future.
We anticipate that the anti-war movement will experience
divisions similar to those that beset the peace movement during
the Gulf War. In other words, national organizing efforts will be
split into two organizations: one will be pacifist and more
libertarian in character, and the other will be more militant and
Stalinist. Both will be top-down mobilizations, built around
well-known “leaders”, and awash with a moralism that would
turn off even the most open-minded citizens and activists.
we think our immediate challenge is to ensure that the anti-war
mobilizations are decentralized and democratic in structure:
specifically, that those doing the work make the decisions in
these organizations. We recommend the model of assemblies,
spokescouncils, or other horizontal networks of small,
decentralized groups that are unified around an anti-authoritarian
vision of social change. This will assure that those at the base
hold decision-making power and thus that the mobilization reflects
the political consciousness of the base, which is typically more
radical and sane than that held by the leadership. It will still
be possible for sectarian groups to infiltrate the base, but much
harder for them to seize control. We believe that instituting such
a decentralized structure is consistent with a principled
commitment to democracy and should be our first act of defense
against the party building hacks and the omnipresent “leadership”.
Decentralized political structures have little significance unless
complemented by a decentralized, radically democratic politics. We
need to have radically democratic goals as well as methods,
anti-authoritarian means and ends. Our response to the war must be
concrete, immediately comprehensible, and one that gives political
content to our democratic structures.
we are aware of two positions on the war:
rightwing position asserts that the US is entitled to take
unilateral military action against whomever. This position is not
reasoned, just retaliatory, and is thus utterly barbaric. The
argument crumbles when faced with questions of social justice.
liberal-left position condones military action against Osama Bin
Laden if - and only if - the UN or some pre-existing international
legal body decides that such action is required and determines its
nature. This appears to be Z Magazine’s position, as well as
position is inadequate because it appeals to the political
authority of the UN (and/or similar bodies). This is untenable
because the UN is an illegitimate political body and thus
incapable of determining a just or unjust response to the terror
attacks. The UN is illegitimate because a) it presupposes the
nation-state, which is inherently anti-democratic and b) because
the US has veto power over many of the UN’s most important
decision-making bodies, such as the Security Council.
anti-authoritarian position must obviously be much more radical
than the liberal-left position. We believe that
anti-authoritarians should advance the following demands:
all war criminals must be brought to justice (and judged by an
international people’s tribunal). Osama Bin Laden, Augusto
Pinochet, Henry Kissinger, and those who have committed acts
of terror and violence must be held accountable for their
actions and dealt with accordingly.
there should be an international grass roots
reconciliation commission on global terror. This assembly will
define the terms of terror and the appropriate responses to
it. There are existing decentralized, grassroots networks and
organizations that could provide basis for such an initiative.
we must oppose military action against Osama Bin Laden,
Afghanistan, or anyone else until these first two conditions
We believe that anti-authoritarians should work to radicalize the
anti-war movement. We should ensure that it is democratic and
decentralized in structure, that its demands are
anti-authoritarian in content, and that we use this movement to
build cooperative relationships with the oppressed and enraged
throughout the world who share our horror at the US’s impeding
military action and the world it seeks to create.
believe there is a great potential to create a radically
democratic and deeply oppositional movement against the war. We
believe this movement could sustain the accomplishments of the
struggle against global capital and bring our movement to a new
level of engagement, diversity, and radicalism.
world is possible,
Marina Sitrin (active with the Direct Action Network)
Chuck Morse (active with the Institute for Anarchist Studies)
on Anarchist Theory -
Vol. 5, No. 2 - Fall 2001