On events and non-events in Portland

10/03/2016
by Admin Admin

On Sunday, August 21, Aragorn! and Little Black Cart held a discussion at Anarres Infoshop in Portland called "The fight against fascism isn't epic (but it seems like it is and that's part of the problem)." This was originally supposed to be a talk about the limitations of anarchist franchises, including antifascist organizing (outside of antifa), food not bombs, and anarchist bookfairs. it was going to be unusual in its focus on personal experience, which Aragorn! has a lot of on this topic. Unfortunately, due to the outrageous reactions on social media to the title, the original discussion was heavily modified. Aragorn!, who was attacked throughout multiple social media threads, did not feel comfortable opening up to the room. Instead, we had a less personal, but still engaged, discussion on a variety of topics of interest to anarchists, including the importance of infrastructure and doing projects with and for anarchists.

Before, during, and long after the discussion was finished, the threads filled up with comments misrepresenting Aragorn! and the Little Black Cart event at Anarres, framing it as anti-Antifa. Without any personal knowledge of the discussions being had, or the personal histories of the people involved, people associated LBC ideologically with our enemies. Alexander Reid Ross, in particular, who has a book in process that is a hit piece against newer forms of anarchism, was one of the main players suggesting that this talk was part of "creeping fascism." Apparently he saw the hand-wringing over the presentation as an opportunity to promote his own writing.

The tone of the social media threads was exactly what you'd expect from a social media witchhunt; plenty of comments attacking the presenter (as a stupid old man who doesn't know anything about antifa, one who must be high, is a hippie, is a liberal, etc.). Those of us who know him in real life, whether you like him or not, will laugh at these bizarre remarks, clearly made by people who have not only never met him, but apparently never even spoken to anyone who has met him. While this would hardly be worth mentioning, unfortunately, the manufactured online outrage has affected real life, in that the Sacramento group doing solidarity work for the anti-nazis attacked on June 26, has severed ties with us, despite the fact that the entirety of our connection was us giving them things to support their work. Their unhappiness with us was entirely on the basis of this two-day social media spectacle.

We have been accused of encouraging people to move away from anti-fascist and anti-racist work. What is true is that we want to open up space for conversation on how to make our attacks against the-world-as-it-is more effective, interesting, and sustainable. The fact that a conversation questioning tactics by one of the most dedicated anarchists you will find is so easily derailed should be of extreme concern to anyone else who is serious about the real fights that we are in. And the idea that this seems to be based entirely on people's insistence that their struggle is "epic," as if "epic" is a synonym for "good" is perhaps part of the problem.

All of us at Little Black Cart have in pointed, direct, and material ways supported and organized various anti-racist and anti-fascist actions for years. Some have for decades. We have planned events for anti-fascist prisoners, we have supported them on the outside, we have fought in the streets. One of us did a presentation against fascism at the last BASTARD conference. One of us was stabbed and almost died at the age of 20 by racists, who targeted him as the most outspoken of the anti-racists in Sacramento at the time. The same person started Sacrament Anti-Racist Action and was in Sacramento SHARP. Another of us was part of Berkeley Anti-Racist Action, as well as John Brown Anti-Klan committee, to mention just two pre-internet groups. The fact that all that experience is worth nothing to those who can't be bothered to do a minimal amount of research is just one more disappointment in this shit show.

Those of you who know us, know that this is just another bump, and not even a big one really, in a long and winding road. People's incapacity to have more sophisticated conversations is part of the reason LBC exists in the first place. I guess we have more work to do because people aren't hearing what we are saying.

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