Resistance Isn’t Enough

As the machinations of the new political regime continue to turn out one abhorrent executive order after the next, the stark reality of the situation that we are facing has begun to crystallize.

Certainly, we have been emboldened and overjoyed by the massive demonstrations that have taken place across the country: from inauguration day, to the women’s march, up to the recent protests against the Muslim immigration ban taking place at international airports. These incredible and often spontaneous actions highlight the fact that everyday individuals have the capacity and the fighting spirit to mount a serious opposition to the policies of the new administration.

However, we should not be so self congratulatory as to believe that we have the stamina to be in the streets every week, or even that street demonstrations are an effective means of slowing the roll of the proto-fascist dictates being issued by those at the top – let alone are protests the proper tool to construct the sort of society that we deserve to live in.

Historically Speaking

Building lasting social movements in the United States, especially those that have won concessions or are revolutionary in composition, has proven to be a difficult task in the post-9/11 era (and arguably long before). The U.S. anti-war movement saw its’ biggest resurgence since the late 1960’s on the eve of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, with more than a million people taking to the streets in order to voice their opposition to the war. Unfortunately, these demonstrations did little to throw a wrench in the war machine.

Even after the abject failure and imperialist intentions of the war became apparent, the fatigued anti-war movement had little to show for its battles. Some may say that the galvanization of the left in opposition to the turmoil and aftermath of Iraq and the ‘war on terror’, directly funneled into popular support for the candidacy of Barack Obama – who ran on campaign promises of bringing a swift end to the war, curtailing the security apparatus and closing the prison/torture center of Guantanamo Bay, among other things – and this may very well be true.

With the remnants of the anti-war left behind him, Obama was propelled into office in order to bring the atrocities of the prior 8 years to a close. Only, this didn’t happen. Instead, Obama continued to wage war utilizing the growing sophistication of military hardware like drones to kill by proxy, expanding the reach and capability of spy agencies and deporting more undocumented immigrants than any prior administration.

The left’s opposition was nowhere to be seen, thanks mainly due to the Democratic Party’s ability to defang and recuperate large parts of mass movements that they see as moving beyond the pale of ‘acceptable’ resistance – instead redirecting that resistance into the dead end of electoral politics. Look no further than the outcome of the occupy movement and the siphoning off of its energy into the failed electoral campaign of Bernie Sanders.

All of this is to say, simply, that unorganized mass movements which put at their disposal only the tactic of street protest are bound for failure. Whether by burnout, lockout or eventual recuperation, social movements that can do little other than to endlessly march can not win material gains for their participants.

Unfortunately, this seems to be the path that is being forged by individuals who are diving headlong into resistance against the Trump administration – there seems to be a new march or demonstration taking place every week.

Though these demonstrations are not without good reason, questions of both sustainability and efficacy loom large. It is apparent that the new administration pays little heed to what is happening on the street, exemplified thoroughly by the all out defence of their reactionary decrees, rather than a backing down in response to popular opposition. It should be pointed out that this isn’t some kind of historical aberration either – politicians rarely make concessions because of public will – it is only when their power is legitimately threatened do they begin to concede.

As we continue down this road, it seems unlikely that the course of events will change or deviate from its current trajectory, save for either a total exhaustion on the part of those demonstrating, or, a crackdown on protests launched by the Federal Government. In either case, failure of the mass movement (either burnout or repression) will be due to a lack of solid organization.

We’ve shown that we can get people into the streets, but if we are not bound together by material solidarity or any other sort of common thread, we will succumb to fatigue, or worse, be crushed under an authoritarian heel.

What is to be Done?

So what is to be done? At this point, you may be jumping to the conclusion that we should be waiting on baited breath for the chance to get back at the new administration in the midterm elections that will take place in 2018. But, the problem with this should be clear: the Democrats have as much a vested interest in maintaining neo-liberal economic and state policies as the Republicans do. Even Trump’s own confusing ideological plays at protectionism do little to strip away the fundamental aspects of the neo-liberal project – in fact, Trump could be understood as the manifestation of a radicalized neo-liberalism (albeit one that has taken on the veil of some of the more nationalistic and reactionary elements that his Democractic counterparts are unwilling to champion).

Building a Fighting Movement

Instead, our goal must be the construction of a real fighting movement. This movement can not and should not settle for whatever paltry concessions it manages to pull out of this or any future administration.

This movement should be able to defend itself, both from actual physical attacks (from the police, the feds or the far right) and from ideological attacks.

Rather than appeals to legality, which seem to take up much of the left-leaning discourse around Trump and his actions, this movement must be prepared to break laws en masse in order to achieve its goals.

This movement should be prepared to meet the actual material needs of people in the communities where it is strong – whether through food programs, militant defense committees, education or whatever else might become necessary.

This movement should be focused on building power in our localities (neighborhoods, towns, municipalities), rather than single day convergences in large metropolitan cities.

This movement should be democratic in nature and horizontal in composition, federating when necessary (we don’t need self appointed movement leadership).

This movement can and should be revolutionary, with its logical end point being the complete overturn of the apparatuses that not only made Trump possible, but made the last century of imperialist wars, crushing poverty and outright disregard for the environment possible.

The way we get there is this: we must form revolutionary organizations in our communities, or join the already existing ones that have been putting in work. It’s not as hard as it sounds, though it does take patience and persistence. We have to begin to focus on organizing to fight, rather than spend all of our time, energy and money going to protests just to be arrested and bailed out by our friends every week. We have to accept the terms on which this fight is being waged and similarly, accept everything that means.

We have to begin to build a movement that doesn’t organize to resist, but instead organizes to bring into existence an egalitarian society – defeating whatever happens to stand between us and that goal.

We’ve already begun. We hope to see you doing the same.

S.G.V. Against Trump March: A Reportback

On the evening of January 20th, hours after Donald Trump was sworn into office, several dozen militants converged in the San Gabriel Valley – not only to make our stance against authoritarianism clear, but to begin making steps toward actualizing our desire for communities controlled by their own residents.

In the days prior, groups around the SGV engaged in a concerted postering effort, pasting up hundreds of fliers around high schools and working class neighborhoods.

Around 7 p.m. on the night of the 20th, individuals began meeting on a corner in La Puente. Multiple police cruisers and SUV’s were on site and patrolling the neighborhoods that surround the corner as people began to trickle in to the convergence point. By 7:30, there were around 40 people, many masked, waiting for the march to begin. A large banner reading “NO PASARAN: VALLE DE SAN GABRIEL SERA LA TUMBA DEL FASCISMO” was unfurled – prompting the group to immediately take the street.

As the march proceeded down the large residential street of Valinda, chants of: “make racists afraid again!”, “make the guillotine red again!” and “no more presidents!” were shouted as residents looked on, some cheering along, from their homes.

The size of the march was relatively small, granting the group agility as its main asset. Some high school students and various residents who came across the march shouted “fuck trump!” in support, raising the spirits of everyone on the streets. As the march continued, some of those residents elected to join the march for a short period of time.

By 8:30, CHP, West Covina PD and the LA Sherrif’s department had all been called in and skirmish lines formed on major streets that the march passed, in an effort to keep us away from the freeway entrances for the I-10. These skirmish lines were greeted with jeers and chants from the crowd: “la migra, policia, la misma porqueria!”.

The group maneuvered around these blockades, but after quick internal discussion, decided to remain in the residential portions of West Covina and La Puente, in order to try and boost the fighting spirit of the largely working class latino population that resides here.

By 9:30 the march returned to its starting point and all participants were able to disperse in different directions without being snatched up by the police.

We believe that this event is significant for a number of reasons. First and foremost, La Puente and the San Gabriel Valley at large have a unique history of radical organizing. Ricardo Flores Magón and his brothers agitated and hosted speaking events in La Puente between 1916 and 1918. We see the militant nature of this march as continuing that forgotten legacy.

We also recognize that organizing and agitation, especially by militants, rarely happens in suburban areas. Most organizing work places its focus squarely on metropolitan sections. We believe that it is obvious for us to organize in our own communities, the ones that will be directly targeted by the new administration’s agenda.

We aim to build toward a movement of autonomous neighborhoods that can adequately defend themselves from racist vigilante and state repression.

This march was a first step.

All Out for J20 in the San Gabriel Valley!

Inauguration Day, or as it has come to be known, ‘J20’, will mark a day of resistance across the country. There are a multitude of reasons why the agenda of the incoming administration must be vigorously opposed. From promises to target and deport our friends and families, to slashing social programs and rolling back the little progress that has been made to avert climate disaster – it is obvious why resistance is necessary.

On top of this, white nationalists, the ‘alt-right’ and other fascists of various stripes have increased their street presence and organizing efforts after becoming emboldened by the rhetoric of campaign season.

For these reasons we intend to take the streets on the day of the inauguration.

However, this is not an attempt at simply showcasing our disgust for the current state of affairs – rather, it is an opportunity to build power on the street level. Being in the streets on the 20th offers us a unique chance to meet one another, form bonds and begin to cobble together the pieces for a real fighting movement in this country.

As the political climate in the U.S. continues to shift, our communities and neighborhoods will quickly become sites of intense struggle. We must recognize this and use the momentum of the 20th to strengthen the bonds that we share with our neighbors. We can’t win if we rely on ‘progressive’ democrats to save us during the next election cycle. We can’t win if we expect the police or city governments to uphold their promises to protect residents of ‘sanctuary cities’. It’s only when we organize at the grass roots that we can begin to create real power.

We hope that you will join us in the streets on the 20th.

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Join the Struggle Against Fascism in the San Gabriel Valley

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The S.G.V. Anti-Repression Committee is an organization dedicated to fighting vigilante fascist, ‘alt-right’ and neo-nazi activity. We also aim to resist state sponsored repression by aiding activists and organizers who have been targeted by the police.

Our organization is composed of militants who hail from cities across the San Gabriel Valley.

If you are interested in joining us in the fight against the fascism and state repression, please contact us through our email: sgvantirepression@gmail.com

Fascists Leave Threatening Note at Community Center on Christmas Day

The Bridgetown community center, which offers services such as donation based yoga classes and cost-free access to art tools, has been made the target of an online harassment campaign conducted by neo-nazis and the ‘alt-right’. That campaign has now escalated to include physical harassment in the form of vaguely threatening mail.

On Christmas day, members of the collective that operate the center unlocked the door to discover that the following note had been slipped through their mail slot.

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The note, which was delivered in an envelope adorned with a swastika, reads as follows: “HAIL TRUMP. WE ARE COMING FOR YOU ANTI-FA [abbreviation for anti-fascist] ASSHOLES! PREPARE YOURSELF”

The community center is one of numerous spaces that have received similar threats in the wake of the Ghost Ship Fire in Oakland, which claimed the lives of 36 concertgoers in early December. Fascists, neo-nazis and the ‘alt-right’ have seized upon the atmosphere of heightened fire safety sensitivity in order to make erroneous and fabricated complaints to local fire authorities, hoping to have spaces that they perceive as bastions for community organizing shut down.

This event follows a disturbing trend of far-right organizing in the aftermath of the election of Donald Trump. ‘White Nationalism’ has been given renewed legitimacy and platform through media outlets willing to cover its fascist, neo-nazi and ‘alt-right’ adherents without a critical lens.

Though Southern California has a long history of fascist and racist organizing, it has just as strong a history of anti-fascists winning in the streets. Despite an upsurge in fascist activity, it remains clear that these groups in So. California do not currently possess the strength or organizational coherence to engage in a physical confrontation. Instead they resort to cowardly (and ineffective) attempts at intimidating community organizations that they perceive as vulnerable.

As anti-fascists in the San Gabriel Valley, we are committed to learning as much about fascist activity in our area as possible – so that we can then effectively confront and prevent those fascists from gaining a foothold.

If you aware of fascist, ‘alt-right’, neo-nazi or racist organizing in your area of the S.G.V. (this includes anything from graffiti and stickers, to individuals seen sporting white supremacist clothing or tattoos) – please report it to us immediately.  We can be contacted through our email address at sgvantirepression@gmail.com

If you live in the S.G.V. and would like to become involved in anti-fascist organizing here in the valley, please also send us an email stating that interest.

We also ask that you join us in the streets here in the S.G.V. on the day of Trump’s inauguration for an anti-fascist dance party and march. More information here.

If you would like to support Bridgetown and the work that their collective is doing, they currently have an online fundraiser here.

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Fascists Threaten Social Center in San Gabriel Valley

It has been nearly a week since a catastrophic fire in Oakland claimed the lives of artists and organizers who were attending an evening electronic music show at the Ghostship warehouse and living space.

In the wake of that disaster, fire marshals across the United States have used the opportunity of heightened fear to evict long standing arts, political and communal living spaces. Rhinoceropolis in Denver and The Bell Foundry in Baltimore are two of the most recent examples.

Wasting no time in exploiting the tragedy to their own ends, members of the /pol/ board of the notorious website 4chan, suggested that fellow self described ‘race realists’, fascists, members of the ‘alt-right’ and neo-nazis lodge complaints regarding d.i.y. and arts spaces with authorities in an effort to have them shut down. In the first post of the thread, they openly declare that they are attempting to “crush the ‘artspaces’ and venues of the radical left”. They go on to suggest that infiltrating these spaces to create chaos internally as an option that might also be explored.

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Part way through the thread one individual names Bridgetown DIY, an arts and social center located in the San Gabriel Valley, as a potential target. The anonymous poster provides links to the center’s online presence and even pulls quotes from a local newspaper article.

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Though posters on /pol/ and 4chan have a long history of posturing, it’s rare for them to carry out their plans – thanks in part to their inability to go less than 5 minutes without resorting to infighting, in conjunction with their incredibly poor organizing capacity.

Still, it would be foolish to not take these threats (however idle they may seem) seriously. The S.G.V. Anti-Repression Committee stands firmly committed to beating the fascists on the streets and on the internet. We are prepared to defend any social center or gathering place that reactionaries threaten to do harm to in our community.

We ask all those who live in the S.G.V. to report any sort of Fascist, Neo-Nazi or Alt-Right activity to us immediately: sgvantirepression@gmail.com

Your tips and identity will be kept entirely anonymous.

March Against Trump & Fascism

 

 

 

Since the decision came down, we have been grappling with its outcome. Speaking about what the election of Donald Trump means in the aggregate is worthy of another, more detailed blog post, but this is not the time for that.

We participated in the marches that snaked through downtown Los Angeles with throngs of people decrying the clearly espoused racism, misogyny, homophobia and anti-working class rhetoric of the incoming administration. But it left us feeling disconnected from our own neighbors, from the struggles that occupy our day to day lives here in the eastern portion of Los Angeles County.

We thought about how to combat this for a long while and have reached this decision. We want to meet our friends, neighbors, coworkers, classmates and others in the streets – to show our power. We want to build relationships of affinity with one another and the quickest to do this is hitting the street.

So, we are calling for what seems like an unprecedented event in the S.G.V. – a march on the day that Donald Trump is meant to be inaugurated as president of the most powerful and brutal country on the face of the planet.

This march will coincide with what will surely be an entire day of mass disruption and civil disobedience across the United States.

We plan to meet on the corner of Maplegrove and Valinda in La Puente, starting at 7 p.m.

We ask you to show up with signs, banners and courage. We ask you to share these fliers (english, spanish) with those in your life – at your workplace, your school, etc.

We will see you on the 20th.