This article appeared in the April 2013 print edition of the Portland Radicle.
The Pacific Northwest has been dealing with state repression that has affected communities across the region. How can we continue to build trust, friendship and community during this time of increased state surveillance and negative media attention? How do we reach others outside of our small communities to express anarchist ideals and solutions to the problem of capital?
The work we are doing, if we are committed to it, will be as difficult as it is necessary. To call out power, to challenge it meaningfully, to stop oppression in our lives and not in some fantastical hereafter, and to create a new society based on camaraderie and creativity is exhilarating, but it can also be terrifying. Seeing your comrades persecuted, not only by police, but in the capitalist world at large is difficult. Your ideas and their weight come back in full force when the people you love are jailed, institutionalized, threatened and abused.
I know a great deal about surveillance, repression and negative representation in the press. As trying as all this has been, the powers that be acted as if I would breathe fire and start a revolution at every stop I made when I spoke. But what was I doing? Spreading ideas. Telling people, who had perhaps never considered the conditions of their slavery, that they could seize the reins of their own freedom! I told them how to do it. How terrifying for the repressive forces in the world. I drew thousands more to see me than I ever would have if repressive forces had not decried my influence.
Many people will not benefit in their repression, however; it means they will lose their jobs and housing. Being a convicted criminal or being branded as an “anarchist” will close many doors. Since this is the case, learning to support one another while you struggle against capital is crucial. This means solidifying bonds to make your communities strong and materially supporting your comrades in need. If your friend goes to jail, as mine did, agitate on their behalf, never forget them, and make them feel loved and supported while the state subjects them to the torture of confinement. Know that repression may be inevitable, and proceed with this knowledge, but also know that many heroic and ordinary people before you have battled the same. If your communities know how to resist, how to defeat grand juries and investigations, how to do legal support, how to advocate for prisoners and how to defend members of your community in these times, you will go a long way to making yourself stronger and more resilient.