Sunday, April 25, 2010

Phoenix Insurgent: Resistance to SB1070 that you may have missed.

One of the problems with the overwhelmingly leftist orientation of the anti-SB1070 rally today, as evidenced by the seemingly unending admonitions to register to vote (for Democrats), is that it tends to obscure potential fractures and fissures on what may appear to be unanimity on the right with regard to the bill.

If you know anything about PCWC these days, it's probably that we look precisely for these kinds of potential openings in movements so that we can force open a space for more libertarian (in the traditional anarchist and anti-capitalist sense of the word) organizing, especially if we can encourage the development of contradictions that will cause a falling out on one side or another of white supremacy, and particularly amongst white movements on top of that. In our evaluation, it is the cross-class alliance of white supremacy that screws up what might otherwise be a revolutionary working class solidarity that would allow the overthrow of the capitalist state.

Anyhow, the events of the last few days have been momentous indeed, but in the rush of media attention and, as I mentioned before, due to the overwhelmingly leftist reformist orientation of the anti-SB1070 movement leadership (since they control the bulk of the message -- often with Stalinist like precision), some smaller actions have been overlooked. Here I will highlight two of them.

The first is of someone known to PCWC, and with whom we have interacted very cordially at a variety of our events, but who I won't identify since I don't know if he wants to be named. Regular attendees of PCWC actions and events will probably know him. The video linked below, taken by someone in the counter-protest on Friday, shows this person bravely moving into the reactionary crowd and calling them out vigorously for their support of the bill. In true fanatical fashion, this man begins yelling forcefully "This bill is the mark of the beast!", "Prepare for the New World Order!" and "Who would Jesus hate?!".

This is important for a few reasons. One, it comes at the right reactionaries on terrain that they are familiar with. This is something that we, as anarchists are not able to do anywhere near as effectively. Two, it opens a front on the reactionaries from their rear, hitting them in a way and from a direction that they do not expect. Three, it comes as a heartfelt and genuine defense of the true values professed by the libertarian and even Christian right, while recognizing the general tendency not to live up to them in any meaningful way.

In my opinion the disconnect that is being called out between professed Christianity and actual results derives from their adherence to white supremacist values. They defend their cross-class alliance of whiteness over their professed values of Christian love for their brother and sister, effectively. And, probably most importantly, the charges made in the video demands accountability and asserts an either/or dichotomy that attempts to erase middle ground, asserting, will you be Christian or will you hate? Will you be Christian or will you support the "mark of the beast"? This is very important because to oppose the bill in many ways contains within it the potentiality of refusing the alliance of whiteness. PCWC has spent quite a lot of effort encouraging this sort of thing and I welcome it and support it. Cheers for this revolt!

The second video is one published by Shelton at 4409. Shelton is perhaps best known amongst anarchists for his work around speed cameras. We have engaged on this front several times in the last year, encouraging their work but also being critical of pointing out what we perceive to be the unconscious white supremacist undercurrents of their strategy.

I want to be clear, this is not to say that we consider Shelton a white supremacist or anything of the sort. Even though he opposes what he calls "amnesty" for the undocumented, we believe that the racism inherent in the argument he makes is not conscious or malicious: it is the sort of white supremacy that underlies most of the assumptions that underpin white organizing in general, whether of the left or right. The flaw is not his in particular and it is important to separate it from the kind of overt racist strategy that we see being pursued by those who support the bill.

And, indeed, the arguments that Shelton has made in the past against the bill are generally pretty good although, as with the anti-SB1070 current on the left, he suffers the same problem of demanding increased policing at the border. On the left, this manifests in a demand for reform that included heightened border patrol enforcement at la linea itself. This is important for a lot of reasons, but not least of all because it sacrifices the lives of people that live on the border, specifically but not limited to the Tohono O'odham people, whose land down south is bisected by the border and who have an inherent right of travel across it. This right is currently under heavy assault by the very forces that many opponents of the bill propose to "secure" the border.

On the right the opposition to SB1070 is weakened by a similar assertion that if policing at the border were increased, then there would be less need for internal surveillance and checks on movement. Indeed, this is also the critical flaw in the libertarian/constitutionalist opposition to internal border patrol checkpoints. You can see how, ironically, these two positions, though from opposite poles of the political spectrum, suffer from the same problem. The fact is, militarization of the border must be separated from the discussion of SB1070 (and, of course, it must be opposed). If not, it remains a devil's bargain that sells some out in the name of defending others. That's not solidarity.

So, in that context, consider Shelton's interesting new video, in which he goes to the state capitol and confronts legislators on the bill and its effects. Aside from its entertaining nature, it is really informative about the kinds of opposition to this bill that could -- and sometimes does -- spread from the right. This is a tendency that I continue to believe is worth engaging with and I would be very interested in developing some sort of way of further fleshing out common ground for critical solidarity with elements of this type that are interested in challenging the bill and constraints on free movement generally (the position we defend). Of course, in the end, we will not accept any increased policing at the border because we believe in free movement for all. However, that in my opinion does not preclude the increasing investigation of points of common struggle within this milieu.

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