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What is the rationale for the smash-a-thing + communique strategy?

+5 votes
Or the corresponding strategy of small (10-100 people) anarchist marches in response to local issues currently in the news?
asked May 12, 2013 by anonymous

2 Answers

+5 votes
I am going to go ahead and assume that this is a good-faith question, because even if it isn't, it is worth discussing.

Both strategies you talk about are important to anarchist movement and action. By smashing things and then issuing communiques, anarchists ensure that their (most often minor, but not always - one could look at one side of this spectrum being a minor act of vandalism and the other end being Vail getting torched) actions are not dismissed as random. It suggests a position of confrontation.

At the same time, communiques serve to share (to some extent) tactical options that can be easily replicated by others. It creates the feeling that things can be done, shares that they are being done, and (hopefully) encourages others to act against things they hate in ways they find effective.

Small(ish) marches in response to local events allow anarchists an opportunity to make their analyses public, demonstrate their opposition to (or support for) whatever it is addressing, and also allows a space to practice moving and acting in a group together in a public situation. It creates moments where we can play with tactics, learning what works in various situations, and at the same time allows us to find each other and develop affinity and trust. It also creates a situation where people see anarchists acting, and (sometimes) feel drawn to similar perspectives, or recognize their own feelings in those expressed by the anarchists.

The danger with both small marches and (especially) minor acts of smashism is that they become fetishized or turned in to more than they are. They are a tactic, and they can be a goal, but our dreams and aspirations can be more than them (though if we just want to smash shit, why not, really?)
answered May 12, 2013 by ingrate (20,130 points)
+1 vote
I think that most of the time, it's mostly a way of claiming responsability for an action (or multiple actions) before the media or authoritarian organizations spread some shit about what happened. Especially when some direct action take place in a big gathering, a big protest or a "social movement".

At least, the goal might be to counter-strike the propaganda against some direct action (that generally consist in smashing some stuff, like property of companies, banks or other capitalists, or some parts of state institution like the police, courts or prisons). Generally, these actions are also on a low level of conflictuality or violence. Like it didn't involve to totally destroy an entire building, something like that, or to use explosive material, to hurt anybody or even to terrorize anyone. In fact, most of the time this kind of action is supposed to be mainly "symbolic" (even, to me, it's always a way to attack the system of domination and oppression, and where the goal should never be to "make a symbol" which reduces any action to a spectacle).

This question of reducing this kind of action to something spectacular, which the media contributes to, are also a great question in the anarchist spaces and movements all around the world. And if the goal of a communicate should be to explain the action(s), many anarchists supporte the idea that it shouldn't be  a way to give some consistancy to something you say : but only to join the gesture to the speach, and vise versa.
 
Communicates seems also important to many anarchists because they think that if sometimes "action speak louder than words", all actions don't "speak" for what it have been done, and that you may want to explain it or complete it with your words.

As long as it seems necessary and appropriate to you : like not to comment the fact that you set fire on a dustbin, and then produce some unbearable revolutionary gossip.

And so I think that I guess what you question underlies : is it always usefull and does it always make sens to use this formula "smash + communicates" ?
Regarding to what I wrote just before, my answer is no : of course.

Some anarchists from barcelona wrote this funny text criticizing the anarchist-nihilists of the FAI who just gone to far with the "communique-mania". You can read it here : http://anarchistnews.org/content/communiqu%C3%A9-anarchist-actions-barcelona-and-response-nihilist-comrades

There is also a very good italian insurrectionnary anarchist text written about this, called "About some old issues of actuality among the anarchists, but not only". Unfortunatly, it wasn't translated to english yet. But if you read italian, german, dutch or french, you can find it here : http://translationcollective.wordpress.com/2010/02/04/su-alcune-vecchie-questioni-dattualita-fra-gli-anarchici-e-non-solo/
answered May 12, 2013 by okapy (2,120 points)
The latter text is available in English (even if not the best translation...) under the title "On a Few Old Topical Questions Concerning Anarchists and Not Only" here:
http://turbellaria.blogspot.com/2010/03/on-few-questions-concerning-anarchists.html
Alright, fine ! that's the one I was searching for. I didn't know it was translated to english. That's a very good one to me.
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