This is fundamentally a question about illegalism. And there are two questions nestled in here: why do you personally choose to work wage labor instead of crime, and why should people submit to wage labor instead of committing crimes?
When the term “wage slavery” entered the vernacular, it was contemporary with American chattel slavery. It wasn't socialists, or Marxists, etc. that used it. It was slavery abolitionists. Two prominent examples are Frederick Douglass and Harriet Beecher Stowe. While Africans and African descendants were being whipped and killed, some of those who escaped would turn around and compare their previous condition as chattel slaves to their new condition as wage slaves. Thus, it's not a new term, it isn't something invented by academics, socialists, anarchists, or modern anti-capitalists. It was originally a statement that wage relationships are literal slavery. I want everyone to keep this fact in mind, to help frame where I am going with this.
Further, when I say “choose” in the title I don't mean it in the pseudo-choice “voluntaryist” sense, as if either crime or wage slavery are free, peaceful, or voluntary arrangements. But I do mean it in an absurdist or existentialist sense, in that you can in fact wake up one day and decide to go to work at Subway or choose to rob Subway. Alternately, you can choose to lay in bed for days at a time, or hang yourself by a rope in your closet. This does not deny the material conditions that influence one decision over the next (e.g. the consequences of working at Subway versus the consequences of robbing Subway), but rather affirms what Jean-Paul Sartre called “radical freedom.” You don't have to submit, although there may be consequences for not submitting.
I actually don't expect the few illegalists here to answer, and I might even discourage it. I don't want anyone to implicate themselves in a crime. I want you to keep going strong. I'm interested in hearing why people have chosen to submit to wage slavery versus crime. To go back to the first framing point: there were slaves who submitted to slavery, and there were slaves who started insurrections, fought masters, got beaten, got killed, or ran away and escaped. Why are you in the first category (the wage slave who submits) and not the second category (the slave refuses to submit)? If we truly believe that wage slavery is slavery, why are so few anarchists willing to reject wage slavery in full, throw it off, and lay down their own lives (or at least take the high risks of crime) instead of enduring slavery?
In an earlier comment on a different topic I said that I didn't trust anarchists who had not been arrested. This was unpopular. Probably because most anarchists (especially the American Reddit demographic) are not criminals, are not illegalists, and have not been arrested. However, I don't mean this to be a personal attack. The purpose of direct action/illegalist/insurrectionist groups is criminal. You have to be able to trust those people. And a good way of knowing if someone can be trusted, of knowing if someone can handle the inevitable interrogation and criminal justice ringer, is if they've caved under pressure or resisted in the past. If someone has been arrested and they didn't snitch, that's a good sign you can trust them. Further, if someone has been arrested and they did snitch, you've weeded them out. This does not even need to be a political/social/anarchist crime. It reflects upon how well someone is able to cope with arrest and provides an indication of their trustworthiness and dependability.
This is not “who is a better anarchist.” It's a practical tactic for forming illegalist, insurrectionist, and direct action groups with people you can trust.
(I wont go into people who are arrested and become informants, unfortunately you just may not know. And so there are some limitations here. But, in most cases, if someone is arrested and snitches you will find out during the legal discovery process or the street grapevine.)
There was one response that said I “glorify crime,” “romanticize crime,” or something to that effect. Friends, if you've read any illegalist literature, it all glorifies and romanticizes crime. The act of crime in and of itself, be it illegalist (e.g. for your own financial gain to avoid wage slavery) or insurrectionist (illegal, but for political/anti-political and without lucrative purpose), is supposed to be liberating. In fact, every time someone posts a picture of a riot, a burnt police car, calls an arrested anarchist a hero, etc. they're glorifying crime. Look at Bonanno's "Armed Joy" - does this not glorify crime?
Now, there is no glory and nothing romantic about prison. Prison sucks. There is nothing glorious about a lynched slave. But this does not mean that crime itself is neither glorious nor romantic, nor liberating, nor joyful, nor beautiful. We don't blame the anarchist criminal here for being a victim. We blame the prisons. We blame the lynchers. The anarchist criminal is not at fault. The state, the prisons, and the police are. As a minor footnote, in anarchist revolutions past and present (Spain and Rojava), “martyrs” were/are glorified and elevated. In Spain, militias were named after anarchists killed in heroic attacks on fascists. In Rojava, there are murals painted and walls plastered with the pictures of revolutionaries who died fighting Daesh.
There's nothing great about getting killed, either. But this does not mean that getting killed – or going to prison, or getting arrested – is not the inevitable consequence a heroic revolutionary act. In fact, it's something you have to accept as a revolutionary, an illegalist. It's something everyone who fought in Spain, or who are currently fighting in Rojava, have accepted. Thus it is both an inevitable and necessary act of individual and collective revolutionary struggle. We should treat the anarchist martyr, the illegalist, or the prisoner, the same way we we would treat the failed runaway slave, or the failed slave revolt leaders, who are ultimately caught and killed by slave hunters. They were brave, they tried, they didn't make it, but maybe someone else will. Who condemns the runaway slave for trying to escape?
Why, then, is there so much opposition to crime from anarchists? Not necessarily in word (although also, unfortunately, a lot in word), but in deed. And why do so few anarchists seem to be criminals (at least in the USA)? What is holding you back, exactly? Why isn't illegalism a real trend – and not only a trend, but the most prominent trend – for anarchists?
CapitalKiller, r/Anarchism 8 Comments
[7/27/2017 11:28:04 AM]
Fundie Index: 4
Submitted By: Katie