In 2012, at the founding conference of our organization, First of May Anarchist Alliance (M1), members of the anarchist and libertarian journal, The Utopian, were in attendance. There were several discussions of affiliation and movement towards building a collaborative political tendency between M1 and The Utopian. The reality being that there already existed crossover between the groups with some members being part of both projects and other individuals having been supportive of each others work over the past years.
Over the next few years there has been support, aid and solidarity between our projects. Increasingly however there have also been questions and differences in both political priorities and approaches to organizing. It is unfortunate that these differences were not constructively raised or worked through. In June, members of The Utopian issued a letter outlining their differences and the break in political solidarity with M1. Several days later they issued another message announcing the end of collaboration with M1. We are issuing our response.
Below our response you will find the link to The Utopian letter and announcement.
First of May Anarchist Alliance
July 22, 2015
1. At its founding, supporters of the First of May Anarchist Alliance (M1), entered into an agreement with supporters of the journal, The Utopian, to work together and develop common efforts to build a revolutionary and anarchist organization. Those efforts have ended and supporters of The Utopian are no longer supporters of M1. The two organizations go their separate ways.
2. From the beginning, it was not clear as to how the two organizations would work together. M1 is and has been an organization of anarchists, actively involved in the struggles of the working class. We emphasize this with our principles of affinity, specifically point two, “A working class orientation”. The Utopian is and has been a group of anarchists who work together to put out a journal.
3. The strength of M1 is being an organization of anarchists, actively involved in the struggles of the working class, but this also is a weakness, as M1 has not been disciplined enough in developing its political approach, its propaganda, drawing out lessons from its work and in developing the framework for its view of the world.
4. Supporters of The Utopian have not been active in M1 for the past year, so the collaboration ended some time ago. Now it has formally ended.
5. The Utopian has published the letter it sent to formally end the relationship between the two organizations, which letter was sent in response to a request from M1 for clarification of certain issues, questions related to the work of the two organizations and whether supporters of The Utopian would participate in the upcoming M1 conference/meet up. The Utopian letter pointed to three main issues as the basis for the split: the lack of written response from M1 supporters to a nature of the period document written by a supporter of The Utopian for M1’s founding conference in 2012; the issue of defense of the right of Ukraine to self-determination in response to attacks by the Russian imperialists; and the fight of the Kurdish people and the PKK and its affiliated organizations in Rojava against ISIS.
6. On the nature of the period document from 2012, it was a useful document. It covered some issues related to the decline of the hegemonic power of the U.S. and was helpful in discussing the outlook of Marxists, the likely rebound of Marxist groups and the inability of Marxism to offer solutions or alternatives to capitalism. No one has or had a crystal ball, so the 2012 document is dated and did not forsee the collapse of the Arab spring, the resurgence of reactionary forces in Egypt and elsewhere, and the growth of ISIS. More troubling is the document’s failure to recognize the depth of despair among precarious workers in the U.S. and other advanced countries and level of attacks underway against communities of color and the Black community, in particular, in the U.S. and the danger of the resurgence of white supremacy. Now, among the central issues we face in the U.S. are the growth and development of the movement against police violence, what is called the Black Lives Matter movement, and the resurgence of white supremacy and racist violence and fascist organizing in response to that movement.
7. A supporter of The Utopian, also a founding member of M1, worked on developing a political response on the issue of Ukraine and the Russian attacks on the integrity of Ukraine. M1, as an organization, devoted considerable time and effort to this discussion. There were various concerns and approaches discussed. At a meet up in Chicago a year ago, the approach on Ukraine was one of the most important discussions. There was general agreement on the approach of defending the right of Ukraine and the people of Ukraine to self determination and opposition to the attacks of the Russian imperialists against Ukraine and developing the approach of military support to the people of Ukraine in this fight despite the role and involvement of right wing nationalists and even fascist forces along with the government of Ukraine in the fight against Russian imperialism. The person who was both a supporter of The Utopian and M1 was tasked with writing up the results of the discussion for M1 and to provide the basis for an M1 statement in defense of the right to the people of Ukraine to self determination and our support and defense of their fight against Russian imperialism even though we had no political agreement with the capitalist government of Ukraine or the right wing nationalist forces involved in the fight against Russian imperialism. The supporter of The Utopian chose, instead, to write an article for The Utopian on Ukraine and ceased activity with M1. That was a year ago.
8. M1 supporters should have completed this discussion on Ukraine on our own and should have stated our position and approach more clearly. The discussion on Ukraine and the right to self determination and the concept of military support without political support to the forces opposing Russian imperialism, helped to inform the discussions on Kobane and Rojava and the fight of the Kurds against ISIS in Syria. M1 did develop its approach on this fight and express its support for the fight of the Kurds against ISIS and held public meetings and discussions on this fight. Supporters of The Utopian were not involved in these discussions or these efforts and did not attend the public discussions on these issues. Contrary to statements in The Utopian letter, M1 did not offer any type of political support to the PKK and its affiliated organizations or attempt to downplay the history of the PKK as a Marxist/Leninist organization. M1 discussed and sought to encourage discussion of the role of Ocalan, the changes in political philosophy announced by the PKK and its affiliated organizations related to the fight against patriarchy, the role of women in the fight, the changes in the approach to national liberation and issues related to a Kurdish state, local autonomy and many other issues. At no point did M1 claim that the PKK and its affiliated organizations had ceased to be a Marxist organization or had become an anarchist organization or that M1 was in political agreement with Ocalan or the PKK and its affiliated organizations. This is false. M1 attempted to participate in discussions related to these issues, in the necessity of fighting the ISIS forces, the role of women in the fight, issues related to local autonomy and the fight for anarchist revolution, the issue of borders and ending borders, and the role of the maximum leader and why that is and was counter to all conceptions of anarchist organizing.
9. M1 continues to discuss and develop its approach on self determination, opposing imperialism, opposing ISIS, opposing U.S. imperialism, offering military support even where we are not in political agreement and so forth. Where The Utopian letter says M1 should “be ashamed” of our approach on Ukraine, we are not ashamed and we continue to develop our approach. We reject the allegation that M1 capitulated to the PKK and its affiliated organizations or downplayed the history of the PKK in the fight of the Kurdish people, while M1 continues its discussions of supporting and defending the fight of the Kurds and others against ISIS even though M1 is not in political support of the PKK and its affiliated organizations.
10. M1 will continue to work to build an anarchist organization based in the actual struggles of the working class and oppressed people. M1 is aware of the need to continue discussions to develop its political approach and to see those discussions through within our organization. These discussions are necessary in order to develop the political approaches and the framework of political agreement for building a fighting and revolutionary anarchist organization. Our forces are small, but we are determined to continue to develop our propaganda and our approach and our beliefs and our organization. We urge individuals and groupings who seek to build a revolutionary and anarchist organization based in the struggles of the working class and oppressed peoples to join with us.
Follow the below link to The Utopian,
The Utopian’s relationship with M1AA
Protesters confront police outside Camden Yards, Bmore.
By B.D., First of May Anarchist Alliance – Detroit Local
ORGANIZE AND FIGHT BACK!
This is not the time for “peace” marches. This is not the time for “healing” in our communities. This is the time to rise up and fight back. From Baltimore to Ferguson to New York to Detroit to Minneapolis to Seattle, people are fighting back against the police murders of our people.
In Baltimore, a gang of police chased down Freddie Gray, dragged him from his bike, threw him down and broke his neck. Freddie Gray, age 25, went into a coma and died a week later from a broken spinal column. These police acted as mad dogs. And these brutal, insane scenes are repeated again and again across this country.
People of Baltimore are resisting the ongoing police attacks. People have fought back against the police and the authority of the state. The governor and mayor called out the National Guard, and a 10 pm curfew has been in place for nearly a week. The prosecutor has filed some charges against the six police who killed Freddie Gray, but they already are out on bail. We all know how difficult it is to get any kind of conviction against a cop in this country. An 18 year old from Baltimore, charged with breaking out the window of a police car on Monday, remains in jail with bail set at $500,000, while the cops who killed Freddie Gray have bail set at less than half of that amount. The system places a higher value on the window of a cop car then on the life of Freddie Gray. This is not the time to declare “victory.” This is the time to organize the resistance throughout the country. Continue Reading…
The following is a short summary of the anti-immigrant violence happening in several cities and townships in South Africa. The Report is made by a member of First of May Anarchist Alliance currently living there.
Report by D.
KNIFE EDGE: An immigrant waits for gangs of locals that attacked foreign shop owners in the Durban city centre yesterday. At least three people were stabbed and one burnt. Image by: TEBOGO LETSIE
It’s an unfortunate situation that’s having an impact on everybody here in Durban. Downtown has been a no go zone during the night, it has been the primary battleground between native South Africans and immigrants in the city. In response the ANC controlled government has organized nationwide counter demonstrations on Thursday that brought out tens of thousands of people, however on the following day more looting of immigrant shops was reported in Johannesburg.
Tension between indigenous South Africans (Zulu’s Xhosa’s etc.) and “foreigners” (Nigerians Ethiopians Somali’s etc.) has been bubbling for a quite a while. SA in particular has a long history Xenophobia that dates back to the days of apartheid and has even increased since its demise. The last big wave in 2008, left dozens dead and injured in Cape Town Durban and Johannesburg. Just last month there was a riot in Soweto where again foreign owned businesses were looted, though some dispute whether it was targeted or just a coincidence that they happened to be foreign. Continue Reading…
SATURDAY APRIL 18TH – 12 NOON
INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE BASEMENT CLASSROOM
111 E KIRBY ST, DETROIT, MI 48202
Public Presentation and Discussion on the Struggle in Rojava
Against the State and Capitalism.
Against Patriarchy and Domination.
For a multi-cultural, anti-racist and free society.
In the war-torn Middle East region formerly known as Syria, a popular revolution is underway. The most dramatic actions by the people in what is now known as Rojava (western Kurdistan) has been the heroic resistance to the military siege by the authoritarian and murderous Islamic State. The people of Rojava have adopted a new program of social self-defense and reconstruction.
Join us in a discussion of this struggle, its relevance to our fight against U.S. and international Imperialism, and its meaning for the whole of the Middle East.
HOSTED BY THE FIRST OF MAY ANARCHIST ALLIANCE – DETROIT LOCAL
Ikemba, a new member of First of May Anarchist Alliance is now training in Germany with a professional soccer club. Here is his report from anti-fascist protests in Frankfurt earlier this past March against a new racist, right-wing formation – PEGIDA – Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamazation of the West.
When the incident of Michael Brown being slain at the hands of the individuals who are supposedly protecting and serving the masses occurred in August I was in Germany, pursuing a professional soccer career. I felt miserable that I was in Germany and I couldn’t find a way in which I could support individuals who were just as enraged as me through direct action. I was happy, enjoying Germany and new experiences, while things in the United States were occurring, that I felt, I needed to be a part of. Eventually, I made my way back to the United States and I quickly began attending protests against police violence. I felt I needed to be involved, although I am often annoyed with the sheer symbolism of protesting rather than there actually being demands made. With that being said, I was content with the militancy that was taking place in Ferguson. I ended up driving down to Ferguson the day after the announcement of the “no indictment” of officer Darren Wilson. I was eager to be involved in protesting, that I felt, would be militant in a way that not many protest in the United States are. Continue Reading…
The resistance following the murder of Michael Brown was immediate, local, based in the community and angry. This resistance grew quickly, folks came to Ferguson to support and, in the fall, with the failure to indict on Brown and the Eric Garner murder in New York, the movement took off in New York, in Ferguson and across the country.
The breadth and depth of the movement surprised many, but there is a resistance in this country. We were surprised by the Occupy Movement from a few years ago, and we were surprised by the nationwide resistance on Trayvon Martin. Now we see this resistance continues to grow and to deepen and to get broader, but it remains, in many ways, not organized.
Encouraging developments were/are many: this started from the community in Ferguson and grew from there. Various forces were in motion. Younger, working class youth from the Black community, more middle class youth from the Black community, many young women and parents. There also was support from the broader movement, which includes many younger, white folks. This also appeared to include some younger middle class students as well as some working class young folks. There also was support and actions from Latino, Asian, Native and other communities. The breadth and scope was encouraging and a new development, I think. This is something we’ve been working towards, and we’ve seen some examples of it.
The range of tactics also was encouraging, from the focus on the police and local government/authority to the no business as usual/shut it down approach to blocking freeways and bridges, actions at shopping malls and other. There were some good examples of direct action tactics using social media to organize, having more than one action at a time in the same community, coordination and taking these actions to the population as a whole all were new directions which grew out of the struggle. There was some creativity and coordination that we haven’t seen before. Continue Reading…
A new pamphlet published by the Minneapolis Local of First of May Anarchist Alliance
Utopian #13 is now posted on our website, www.utopianmag.com.
We’ll start production of the print issue in a few days.
Mount Saint Rosalie (Three Poems)…Bob McGlynn
Movement (The Pentagon, 1967)…Paul Bernstein
Theory and Debate:
There are a couple of related pieces which we’ll post shortly in the “Updates and New Discussion” section of the website.
by Okwute Wkwensu, First of May Anarchist Alliance – Mpls Local
Prisons play a greater role in society than just warehousing people for social control and profit. While all incarceration is violence, physical confinement is also an opportunity to carry out psychological violence. This manufactured stress is not merely a result of sadism carried out by individuals in authoritarian positions like in the Stanford Prison Experiment. I see the purpose as being an attempt to legitimize state violence imposed on incarcerated people by backing it with moral and intellectual authority. In order to maintain control, the prison industrial complex and its administration must maintain legitimacy in the eyes of inmates. If a radical analysis of the prison system were to become popular among prison populations, a vastly greater amount of resources would be needed to maintain control, if control could be kept at all. The same is true for the public. Law enforcement would be rendered almost entirely ineffective without the faith and cooperation of communities. In the Minnesota Department of corrections, all newly committed offenders are assessed for substance abuse problems. In 2008, 80% of those assessed were directed to complete treatment programming. (MN-DOC, 2009 Report to the Legislature) Because of the vast number of treatment mandates, chemical dependency treatment has become the cornerstone for imposing an ideology that attempts to legitimize mass incarceration and mask the interests of capital and state that motivate the growing prison industrial complex. Treatment programs serve several key functions for the department of corrections:
1) Mandating Religious Ideology: The twelve steps have connections to the Oxford Group, a Christian organization that was most popular during the 1930’s. Although there are positive aspects to the AA/NA communities, this is of concern. Especially when treatment is implemented involuntarily. Inmates who refuse or fail to carry out their treatment mandates will have their parole delayed by 30 days and will miss out on opportunities to transfer to lower security levels. Changing the twelve steps by substituting “higher power” where they used to say god does not change the fact that these programs are highly suggestive. While nothing is wrong with an individual practicing the religion of their choice, courts or prison administrations mandating programs that have ideology rooted in organized religion is a violation of rights. This is not much different than if church or any other religious service were made mandatory. Imposing ideology of a religious nature instills a value system in which people are urged to display obedience to an external authority. These principles are mirrored within society. Instead of taking control of their lives, people place their fate in the hands of a ruler. The concept of the first of the twelve steps is powerlessness, and this sets the tone for the entire program.
2) Undermining Prisoner Solidarity: While participating in prison treatment programs, inmates live in areas with others going through the same program. These units are referred to as therapeutic communities. There are many arbitrary rules and prisoners are encouraged to confront and report behaviors in others that has been deemed to be negative by the administration. Inmates are also pressured to inform on others in guided group interaction. Collective punishment and favoritism for informants are common and highly effective control tactics implemented. Constant threat of program failure resulting in loss of parole time, work release or a reduction in security level is used to apply additional pressure and promote inmates giving up information on each other. This causes an environment of distrust among prisoners and essentially creates an inmate population that polices itself. As a result it is very difficult for prisoners in a unit to organize any resistance or express criticisms of the prison staff or program. Those who do not give up information under pressure are said to be “upholding the criminal code” or “conspiring with negative behavior.” It is effective in creating a population of scared, competing individuals rather than a group of inmates with a sense of unity. Prisons, especially treatment units deliberately create environments that won’t allow prisoner solidarity to develop. This leaves inmates with options of being informants and collaborators with prison administrators or taking part of prison politics, which divides incarcerated people by race and gang affiliation. Neither snitch culture nor prison culture is a solution. Inmates need to realize that their power is in their numbers and prisoner solidarity is the only means by which a resistance can be carried out against the prison industrial complex. Continue Reading…
A MESSAGE FROM UPS WORKERS
Sisters and Brothers:
We are a group of workers at the UPS distribution center in Northeast Minneapolis. Like many such jobs, the pay is low and the conditions terrible. The workers at our facility are a diverse group of young people, many of whom are attempting to pay our ways through community or tech colleges. Each day, we sort through and load through thousands of packages into trucks so they can get to their destinations across the country and UPS can make its billions. On last Friday, some of us made an exception… Early last week, we looked into one of the companies which ships through our facility, a company called Law Enforcement Targets, Inc. This company ships shooting range targets to police departments and federal agencies nationwide, and we discovered it was shipping to cops all around Ferguson. They sell product lines like “Urban Street Violence” and “No More Hesitation”. They have photos of sterotypical “thugs,” as well as pictures of gun-wielding children, pregnant women, mothers, and elderly people, all as if to say that you should consider everyone you see as a threat to be gunned down. So, last Friday, a small group of about a dozen workers, both workers of color and white workers, started to stand up to our work contributing to the ongoing violence against the people of Ferguson and the police murder of young black people like Michael Brown. When Law Enforcement Targets packages came into trailers, loaders would remove them and place them outside. When they came across our conveyor belts, sorters would refuse to correctly sort them. When managers asked workers to put the packages into the right truck, they would conveniently find more important tasks to take care of first. We posed outside our building with signs reading “Hands Up Don’t Ship.”
This was simply a start, and most of the packages were placed by supervisors int
o the trucks later. But it is growing. Right now, as this statement is being read, we are at work, continuing with this, and each day more people at work are learning of the action and deciding to join us. We want to put forward a simple idea: we shouldn’t be forced to contribute to racism, brutality, or murder in order to pay our rent.
What if every time the cops brutalized black and brown communities, no one would send them ammo? What if no one would fix their patrol cars? What if their laundry service refused to wash the stench off their uniforms? What if every time they tried to close down a school in a poor neighborhood, janitors at city hall refused to show up to work? What if we stopped having to check our conscience at the door when we clock in?
We’re a far way away from that, and we know it. But we want you to know that you have more power than you think. It’s not just us, people working all sorts of jobs can take on these awful systems if we get organized. For us, we’ve done this through the Industrial Workers of the World, and we know that some of our comrades from the IWW are here today and would be happy to put anyone in touch with us. For you, it may be something different. Whatever it is, we urge you to find ways that we can all stand up to oppression as working people and stop the systems that keep people down. We’ll be there to support you so we can all stand taller together against the violence and brutality.