As the United States totters ever closer towards total collapse and WW3 looms on the horizon, one question burns with increasing intensity in the minds of Anarchists everywhere: what can I do to help destroy things?
Not since the heyday’s of the early 1900’s has the moral and social fabric of America the Brutal been so close to the tipping point, the minds of an entire populace so close to boiling over. We live in a unique age, a transitory position; Radicals of every stripe are quickly abandoning the long dead tactics of the Protest Left in favor of militant activity, going so far as to form armed squads. The State not only knows this but expects it, which says something quite dire about what lies ahead of us considering the massive build-up of military units for such an occurrence. Things are bad, real bad, and people everywhere feel the need to do something. The fact is violence DOES work and people are starting to realize that.
Radicalism has long been clubbed by the idiotic beliefs perpetuated by the Democratic party. With Bernie’s betrayal people are starting to look for alternatives. There is an itch on the arm of Leftists everywhere, a sullen pimple begging to be popped. There is talk of “real revolution” and what that might entail. It’s a question whose time has come. The religious belief in nonviolence that we’ve all had passive-aggressively shoved down our throats states that an individual must allow an entity in opposition to see the evil in his or her own ways and voluntarily change because apparently people switch out belief systems like vape liquids. This, as if by magic, will somehow spread across society and create lasting change. Of course it’s all a lie. This foolish notion places an extraordinary amount of faith in the human conscience and assumes people are rationally deciding the course of their actions and has proven it’s bankruptcy. If the dogma of “conscious choice” were true the entire field of advertising wouldn’t exist. If an individual had a working conscience in the first place would they actually engage in activities with threaten and destroy various forms of life on this planet, support a state that exports war and death to millions across the globe? The entire system depends upon people NOT acting rationally and not ethically reflecting on those same actions. I can assure you cops and soldiers sleep like babies.
Other factions, primarily on the Left, want us to wait for some Grand Revolution, accepting our lot as tools in some dialectical gear work, forced to silently taking blow after blow until enough critical mass has been reached until….well, nobody seems to know. Serfinski in Blessed is the Flame notes that almost every concentration camp run by the Nazis had an organized resistance, some even with weapons. Thousands of prisoners were part of these organizations actively plotting the moment they would put an end to the widespread slaughter and liberate themselves. The problem was that the plot never came to fruition, times were never quite right, things were never ready enough. The bodies continued to pile up as fast as each new unspeakable horror was unleashed yet hierarchical leaders remained steadfast in waiting for the picture-perfect weather. Even social protests like better wages, social security, more rights, while certainly admirable, are mobilizations with an expire date that lead back to passivity. The only thing we learn by waiting is to wait.
People want to act, want to do something. Scores of the restless are filled with piss and vinegar looking for a target. Hands are willing with only one question remaining: who the fuck do they do it with?
It’s a question I’ve asked myself, and one that lead me to message the fine folks over at Insurrection News, a clearing house for “news, counter-information & incitement from the global front lines of anti-capitalist insurrection & social war.” The way I saw it there were a few outfits out there, but you’d be hard pressed to find one better than the infamous Informal Anarchist Federation, a shadowy “terrorist” group better known by its Italian acronym of FAI, the same one whose “death squads” I covered for Disinfo:
“[The] FAI/FRI made it clear this is no collection of high-school students with a passing interest in Bakunin. This is hardcore Propaganda of the Deed.“The fire, the attack, the threat against any representative of the church and the power is fully justified,” noted the Anarchists, “We have the weapons and our willingness to attack them. Their days of revelry are over.”
The FAI/FRI is probably the only Anarchist collective on the planet capable of backing up that claim, having launched arson attacks against cellphone towers in Russia as well as Chilean banks, sabotaging Bristol train lines, even shooting out the kneecap of the head of an Italian nuclear engineering company.
These guys and gals don’t play around and aren’t interested in “influencing the argument” or “moral victories.”
Masked Anarchists striking fear into the heart of the bourgeoisie? Be still my beating heart! So where does one sign up?
The short answer: you don’t.
The long answer is much more complicated.
“FAI doesn’t really have a membership as such, it is an informal organization,”explains Insurrection News. While it may not have offices, ranks, or official structures, that’s not to say one couldn’t become part of it. “A person is only an FAI member when they carry out an action under the FAI name. It’s more of an idea than some kind of actual organization.”
Alfredo Cospito, the jailed Anarchist who was convicted of an FAI-FRI action (kneecapping that nuclear power company executive) elaborates and highlights the effectiveness of this “informal” organization in a letter from prison:
“I’ll never tire of repeating it, in my opinion the informal federation must ‘limit itself’ to being a simple instrument which even comrades like myself, totally extraneous to any organization, can use, giving themselves the possibility of relating with other individuals or nuclei scattered around the world. FAI-FRI is a weapon of war, and the simpler its structure, the more elementary its dynamics, the more efficient it will be. Reducing its complexity increases its effectiveness….
Rather than wait to be issued commands the FAI operates as a symbolic mast-head for individuals or groups to gallantly raise their own black flag of Anarchism; there is no leader to capture, no informants to pay off, because cells do not come into contact with one another.
Both coordination and assembly are exposed to repression, everyone knows everyone else, it’s like a house of cards, if one falls all the others fall. The FAI, in a very simple and natural way through the collective experience of dozens of groups scattered throughout the world has, without even realizing it, substituted these two old methodologies with revolutionary campaigns that don’t need deadlines or reciprocal knowledge, only the actions speak. There’s no need for coordination when it is sufficient to communicate the beginning of a campaign with claims, pieces of writing that follow the actions and open debates among different tensions (insurrectionalists, individualists, nihilists, social and anti-social anarchists) thus creating new trajectories that are never characterized by uniformity, ideology, politics. As for the assembly this is a way of politicizing, and rendering ideological the simple and natural relations of affinity, friendship, love, sisterhood, brotherhood that every FAI-FRI group has within itself and which concern their most intimate lives and only in the moment of the action intertwine with the existence of the informal federation…
The informal federation follows its trajectory of war which within the limits of its strength wants only to destroy and build nothing. An unpredictable trajectory, which is never ideological, never political, never constructive, and which sometimes intersects with that of the ‘real movement’. Two trajectories with quite different objectives, the first the anarchist movement, combative, violent, revolutionary with its assemblies and specific organisations and the second the FAI-FRI, a simple instrument, elementary, basic, informal to make war, strike, then disappear, communicate without ever becoming visible. The two trajectories must be kept separate from each other as they would annihilate each other if they came together.
Above all one thing must be clear, one is only part of the FAI-FRI in the moment of the action, then each one returns to their life as anarchist, nihilist, individualist, to their own projects and rebel or revolutionary perspectives with all their adjuncts of assemblies, coordinations, affinity nuclei, occupations, communes, struggles in the territory and so on and so forth.
The FAI-FRI (at least that’s how I see it) is not a party or a movement and even less an organization, but a means to strengthen single affinity groups or single individuals of action through international campaigns that unite our forces without coordination, without surrendering precious freedom.
A means that can be used by any anarchist who aspires to destruction here and now. It’s not a perfect instrument, many things could be improved starting with the international campaigns, which, I think, have never been exploited to the full. Imagine concentrating forces on objectives of the same kind, on an international scale…“
Other organizations, such as the Earth Liberation Front and it’s sister organization the Animal Liberation Front have used similar informal, cellular structures to devastating effect, causing millions of dollars worth of damages all without a single arrest from 1997 to 2000 noting in one FAQ:
“This cell structure has been extremely effective in ensuring the continuation of the organization with minimal arrests. Law enforcement, particularly in North America are trained to recognize and deal with organizations that have a leader, a hierarchy and a central headquarters. The ELF does not contain any of these.Due to the autonomous and underground aspects of the ELF cells, an infiltration into a cell by no way means the entire movement will be stopped. If one individual or even one entire cell is captured by authorities, other individuals and cells will be free to continue their work as they operate independently and anonymously from one another. The cell structure is a type of guerilla tactic which has been successfully employed by various movements around the world for ages. It can be a successful tactic when used properly against a greater military power.
The ELF does not have any sort of physical membership list or meetings you can attend to become involved. Remember, the ELF revolves around not a physical base or classically designed structure, but instead an ideology. If you believe in the ELF ideology and you follow a certain set of widely published guidelines, you can conduct actions and become part of the ELF.
Individuals interested in becoming active…need to follow the above guidelines and create their own close knit anonymous cell made up of trustworthy and sincere people. Remember the ELF and each cell within it are anonymous not only to one another but also to the general public. So there is not a realistic chance of becoming active in an already existing cell. Take initiative, form your own cell and do what needs to be done!”
As mentioned before the FAI has been notoriously successful. 180 fire and bombing attacks were carried out by one group alone under the name of “Conspiracy of Cells of Fire,” filling the servants of the State with more dread than any “occupation” could have. Attacks are oriented around aspects of society in specific campaigns rather than location-driven co-ordinates, allowing members to strike in any way they deem feasible. A call for revenge in the name of fallen anarchists called “Black December” yielded at least 63 successful actions in one month across multiple continents. Says another FAI text, “Using specific campaigns as a strategy (for example against the prison system or the plunder of the earth and of animals) we can easily cause a short circuit to the normal functioning of society. For example, a campaign against prison that includes posters and leaflets against prison, sabotage and arson against the companies that build prisons and/or get rich with their management, letters to imprisoned anarchists, attacks on jailers and prison governors, explosive attacks on judges in solidarity with anarchist prisoners, would unquestionably be a strong campaign that would cause cracks in the prison walls. This kind of mobilization can strike the prison regime and create unpredictable situations inside the prison, and even help the comrades who want to escape.”
Attacks can be carried out by individuals or cells of comrades, reject the idea of any centralist model and chosing to start from the basis of individual initiatives that want to collectivize. As one group put it “At group meetings, each comrade had the opportunity to propose a plan of attack, thereby opening up a debate on planning, timing, political analysis, and operational problems posed by a given target’s location. During these discussions, there was no guarantee that we would reach agreement. Opposing arguments sometimes developed into a powerful dialectic, especially regarding the strategy and prioritization of timing, and quite often there was more than one proposal, so we then had to choose which we were going to select and which we were going to keep in “storage” to be refined in the future.”
From there a number of communiqués were signed by groups (Nihilist Faction, Breath of Terror Commando, Terrorist Guerrilla Unit) that arose out of each separate initiative, an ingenious method that leaves cops guessing and chasing dead ends. After reaching anagreement, whether as the entire collective or as a separate initiative, the attack is usually planned. Each member contributes; information was culled from newspapers, magazines, and the Internet; the area where the action was to take place is reconnoitered and mapped; the approach to and withdrawal from the target laid out (avoiding cameras and police checkpoints), including alternate routes in case something unexpected happened, and of course keeping in mind the eventuality of a confrontation with the pigs. There were also support groups, “hideouts,” ways of asking for help, etc.
Of course the FAI isn’t just anything and everything. The FAI are nihilists, individualists, and insurrectionists of the highest caliber. To add one’s voice to such a chorus is to be well acquainted with the songs of destruction they sing and the theories behind them. The above video does a good job of giving you a quick primer on just what Insurrectionary Anarchism is. Rest assured though its actual action they live for, not theoretical posturing. A childhood brush with arson holds much more weight than a college degree in dialectics.
110 years ago the leaders of the world slept uneasily on feathered beds, nightmares of bomb-wielding Anarchists chasing them from the front page of the morning paper to the borders of dreamland and everywhere in between. It was an age where no office was too mighty and no life too noble to be removed jut as ruthlessly as the rulers treated the people. Stories of daring and adventure were as common as the concrete victories they produced in the lives of those that actually had the nerve to pursue them. It was an age so restless, so burning with brimstone, it was enough to keep Anarchism on the map even with a century of bitter defeats ahead of it.
Those same conditions are here again. So too can be the victories.