Hi. Welcome to the site. Please check out the About Us, and if you have a question about crime and/or punishment, perhaps look at some previous questions along those lines first.
Welcome to Anarchy101 Q&A, where you can ask questions and receive answers about anarchism, from anarchists.


+3 votes
thinking very vaguely of the recent NFAC movement, which is a black defensive militia. that particular group is completely statist/nationalist, and while they claim not to have leaders, they sure do have a loud and charismatic spokesperson. there is no pretense of anarchic desires.

recognizing the problems with "mass" organizing, is it feasible for individuals who just want freedom from the state, capital and the institutions of oppression, to take up arms and - strategically - make their presence and strength known. (which seems to be all nfac is about, flexing muscle in a defensive posture).

i am not against violence, but i am also not a masochist. and while i love to see capitalist property destroyed, i don't see that tactic as making much difference in the lives of those most (and most often) oppressed. primarily it serves to strengthen - at least the resolve of, if not the measurable strength of - the state and its supporters.

what would it mean to have a several thousand anonymous (via masks and clothes), armed militia-looking motherfuckers strolling down the streets of portland, oakland, kenosha, rochester, etc etc etc? especially if they are NOT doing the "random destructo" stuff, but rather making a strong, quiet, defensive stand?

impossible, i suspect. but definitely fun to imagine.
Doing that assumes the opponent (state) will let them do that and/or take it easy on them.

If unsure of how the opponent would react, I wouldn't say a mass of people strolling down the street armed is a good defensive tactic. Unless the goal is to intentionally put themselves into a defensive position for some reason. Letting the opponent know your numbers without a degree of deception is a bad idea. If it was offensively like swarming or human wave approach there may be a degree of success. It's the 21st century tho

Wikipedia tells me the nfac leader is Grand Master Jay. Isn't that one of the guys from Run-DMC? Or is the name a play on the way the kkk labels their leaders and not one of the guys from Run-DMC? So like if this was the klan it would be Grand Wizard Jay. The mind of Zubaz wanders.

I got confused and the brain of Zubaz got stuck when you wrote you're not against violence, but you're not a masochist. You're not against violence and you don't enjoy pain and humiliation? Perhaps you meant a sadist and you're not down for some S&M action. CBT ain't my thang.
I don't think someone vaguely supporting violence makes them either an S or M. I vaguely support violence because outside of a human context it has a cleansing effect, for example, wolves are smart and actually exhaust herds of animals as a group so that the slowest and weakest ones get eaten, so they are only really targeting the animals that nature was already wearing down to begin with, sometimes they are the oldest ones in the herd. When they are the oldest, that can reduce suffering for the victim...

But, talks of militias and violence always evoke a certain amount of skepticism within me in terms of conversations with humans. It always feels like the start of some paranoid mind-gamey shit. Having read a lot of books concerning this matter (pacifism as "pathology", the attassas, mein kampf) i generally feel like the author is saying the urge to commit brutal acts on OTHER PEOPLE is inherently "good". I've had a lot of arguments with people who are into anti-fa on the web concerning this, because i tend to get this vibe: "well hey hatefulness and intolerance is bad and all, but fascist violence is super bad, so it's clearly okay to direct our hatred towards THEM."

And unfortunately for the human race, because of their activities, delusions, and obvious physical weaknesses, there are some serious cleansing events going on due to their domineering behavior. I wish us well, yet at the same time i hope that we are extinct within 100 years, because humanism over its few hundred year existence has caused a lot of shitty suffering.
z: lol run dmc! totally understandable, but no that was jam master jay. unless my memory fails.

my masochist statement was more about trying to mount a defense against a much stronger enemy. i have always thought that going head-to-head against the state is somewhat masochistic - at least to me it would be. i do not choose to live my life in a constant state of war against a far-better armed enemy. my war is the war to create my life on my terms, against everything in modern human mass society that wants to deny me that. it's tough enough just fighting that one, at my age.

the bpp back in the day were a fantastic example of "community security", at least on the surface. i wish nfac was half as ballsy. but of course the bpp (and probably nfac, though i don't know) were completely authoritarian, and no way i'm buying into that shit. yet in the right situation, i would absolutely pick up my gun and fight with them for that moment.

is it possible to have an anti-authoritarian group large enough to make some real noise, yet without imposing the authoritarian mindset that prevails in all military outfits (that i am aware of)?

the monkey wrench gang (approach) always seemed more applicable in my life. just thinking outside my comfort zone, i guess.

Thanks. It does indeed look like it's Jam Master Jay. I understand the masochist comment now and it certainly would be masochist-like going into something knowing the chances are high you'll be wounded, killed, tortured, locked up...etc.

This NFAC sound similar to the Deacons for Defense and Justice, but with a nationalist bent to their group. Afaict this NFAC provides armed protection for protestors and that's really about it. I read a little bit about them and the media comparing them to the Black Panthers Party doesn't make sense.

The NFAC people should look into what occurred with the black liberation primitivist eco-extremists collective aka MOVE and the police in Philly. The police instigated a shootout with them, then a few years later hundreds of cops swarmed their living space, instigated another shootout, and dropped a miniature bunker buster bomb on their living space.  So, it'd maybe best for them to err on caution and maybe not have their group in the same place at the same time. It'd be like shooting fish in a barrel. The state really doesn't like political-like groups of black people with guns compared to other groups with guns.

I think that perhaps there could be an anti-authoritarian military like group that could cause some ruckus temporarily. However, it wouldn't take long for it to break apart without structure and people that have experience with military strategies and theories. Having everyone, regardless of how large, in the same area wouldn't be the best idea. 

Something like the plot of The Spook Who Sat By the Door in combo with The Monkey Wrench Gang would be interesting irl

2 Answers

+2 votes
lol for the upvotes with no responses. i guess many of us have similar questions. though also, the question gets muddier as it goes on. (don't we all...)

anyway. initial thoughts: i think it is possible to have anarchist militias. i think that militias that challenge military orthodoxy (a la what i've heard of the rojava folks rotating authority to different folks, and actively rejecting women's traditional cultural roles). this is to operate from anarchy as a verb, rather than as a noun (ie a direction we can move in, vs a place we can necessarily reach). i also think that military force is just one more kind of force/coercion that tends towards abuse, but not sure if it's substantively different from other kinds of force, except in as much as the culture makes it so. is there something inherently more problem-full with physical force? is there any way for us to know?

put another way, such militias would attract, both as enemy and as friend, folks who we probably wouldn't want to be around. does that mean we shouldn't learn the skills or form such groups anyway? i don't think so.

i think having options is better than not having options.
by (52.9k points)
"i think having opinions is better than not having opinions."

lol, to me that is an incredibly strange opinion, so let me explain my actions that you so clearly detest...

i voted up the question because i think these kinds of prepper questions are useful, even though acting on them in a unique individual's situation is not always a good idea.

Really, my personal attitude towards any sort of militia depends on the people in the militia, and their stated goals and purposes. Thinking that I need to post that, especially when many people on the internet have warned me against speaking in various ways...is just...wow. I don't even understand how to respond to that very eloquently.
you seem to have misread my last line.
lol, my bad, i'm usually more careful about what i read when it's a book or something...when i'm doing that i tend to make a habit of rereading things if i felt i didn't fully absorb the words on the page.

but i guess your comment about non-commenting upvoters triggered me and i just made dumb assumptions about what you were saying. For me it has personally been a defense mechanism to try really hard not to get caught in the recent surge of politically militant language, so overall, i agree that anarchist militias can be consistent with anti-authoritarian thought, yet the concept of "militia" can especially go in the other direction considering that probably the only people now adays in the US who have a good understanding of battlefield logic were people formerly in the military, if that makes any sense to you? I tend to be extremely skeptical of people in our super-technological society wanting to form militias or making arguments in favor of violence just because a lot of people are disconnected from a less intellectual and more natural reality (including myself..). Yet, on the other hand, no reason that should stop anyone from trying...
+3 votes

On the face of it, the answer to this question is a clear yes: of course it's possible to form anarchist militias -- this is something that has been done before and is being done currently. It does raise the question of just how different those times or places are from your time and place, my time and place, and the answer to that is much more complicated, especially if we are not true historians. It seems that the most common and debilitating lesson people learn from history is to conceive of possibilities only up to the point of what we see having been done (and often then trying to imitate that but only becoming a pale imitation, a historical reenactment society, or a group of LARPers who pretend they are not LARPers). What makes things worse is that what we see having been done is a narrative written by the victors and in which a lot of the most interesting things are hidden away. So we get the idea, for example, that armed black militancy in the 60s looked mostly like the Black Panthers, and there are no history books about the small, mobile, offensive, informally-organized groups. (I'll talk about this a bit more below.) The flip side of this is to largely ignore history in order to feel a greater sense of possibility, but this is a huge mistake because history has a great capacity to strengthen us.

To get back around to your question, I have questions. Why a show of force? I am not much of a strategic thinker, but I don't much see an advantage to anarchists flexing muscle in a defensive posture. For a community that is congregated and in danger of getting shot up by some wingnut racist -- a black church, say, or a synagogue -- I think some kind of armed guard makes a certain amount of sense (and means not working with the police). For anarchists at a book fair or some kind of public gathering, I'm not entirely opposed to the idea, but I don't think a lone shooter is going to get too far in (or be too likely to wander into) a place like that where some portion of the crowd is likely armed. For the scenario you're describing -- walking down the streets of Kenosha etc as a show of force -- I'm just not at all sure I get what the idea is. It seems to involve traveling from different places, which has advantages but also comes with big costs and risks: Where will they sleep? Where will they eat? Where will they meet up to organize this armed stroll? All this for what exactly? Intimidating police officers? It seems there are more effective, less costly possibilities. The idea behind the Blank Panthers' show of force seems more effective than what you're describing. If the cops know that black people are arming themselves and forming patrols in various places specifically against police violence, this will deter them more than one big anarchist (or "Antifa") march in one city one time.

But even then, there was a lot of disagreement around the BPP about whether a defensive posture was a good idea at all -- the alternative being small, mobile, offensive groups, which were also actively organized on a pretty big scale and which took part in the riots in '68. There's a great little history of all this in Movement for No Society. It seems abundantly clear to me that the mobile/offensive model is much smarter for "our" side of the asymmetric conflict than the static/defensive model. The latter has its time and place, I just think it's far away from where most of us seem to be here and now.

by (20.4k points)
overall a great engagement with the subject matter presented by the asker...

i also have been attracted to the black panther's community self-defense, i actually have talked to my leftist friend about doing these kinds of things, but we never go through with it because of work and also the un-inspiring starting point of just "buying that gun". I feel like a more cohesive/coherent identification of possible threats or enemies is completely necessary than the one that me and my friend have shared just about "americans being crazy, anything can happen".
anok: thoughtful response.

perhaps my specific use of "defensive" was lacking sufficient forethought.

i would surely not want to have a "march" in some city, in the vein of a protest or something. but if i had 50,000 of me, with guns, i would probably take great pleasure at being in louisville when the breonna decision was announced, or in minneapolis when george floyd was murdered. defensive only in that i would probably not start shooting without some specific impetus. seeing that cop on his neck was way more than enough impetus.

am i talking about just another "community security" concept? i really don't know. no answers here, just questions and fleeting thoughts. that's all i'm capable of these days.
@funky: in the video of george floyd getting suffocated, there were already a lot of people who were disgusted by what they were seeing, part of the major issue i see with fighting the state is that it has many tiers to it. Even if you win a fight with the cops, they can still later come after you later. I honestly think the documentary "tread" on netflix is probably the most inspiring thing i've ever seen in terms of an offensive posture against the state...but yeah of course he lost in the end, also really funny guy overall too. If anarchists had tanks like the one that guy built they could clearly defeat the national gaurd...
The Killdozer is an inspiration to us all.