Monday, February 7, 2011

The Myth of the Network

Think back to when you were young. Perhaps you are still young. But try to remember the feeling you got when you first became interested in and began to explore radical (anti)politics. Think of that naive belief you may have had that there was a teeming revolutionary movement right around the corner, that all you had to do was run out and join it and someone would put a rifle in your hands and you would spend your days playing cards at the barricades beneath red and black flags. Remember seeing images of the Black Panther Party for the first time, their disciplined movements and strikingly similar dress filling you with nostalgia for a time you probably never knew. Remember seeing videos of the Zapatistas, scores of rebel soldiers in ski masks drilling with their bayonets in exercises that probably had as much to do with cultivating a romantic image in the media as with any readiness for combat. And that image made your heart swell.

Myth is humanity's attempt to explain that which cannot be explained. Those things which to us appear so incomprehensible as to blur the threshold between our everyday lives and some greater, unexplored dimension become mythologized in the hopes that we might preserve an essential spark of what it was to have felt it. Myths are what we turn to when trying to describe something so complex, so ultimately sensory, that no rational formula would have been able to account for it.

And what is the yearning for liberation and the will to destroy all that which impedes it if not sensory, rather than rational? Why is there is no standing revolutionary army for us to join, when that essential impetus towards it seems so ingrained? At some point we become aware of the different factions and rival ideologies within the so-called revolutionary movement, and we either transform into a close-minded partisan of one idea above all others or simply turn so jaded as to no longer hold out any belief in the value of our actions as individuals.

But before that pitiful climax, prior to the dull routines that so many of us see ourselves falling into, there is still that initial catharsis where - if even for a brief moment - we just "get it": all of us who see in our lives the potential for a break from all politics and economic slavery are essentially compatible in those core beliefs, and it is only a false separation bred of the rational mind that keeps us disconnected from the raw power of our collective myth.

The Red & Anarchist Action Network is nothing if not the conscious manifestation of that myth. Our ideology need not be internally coherent, and some would believe us to have broken the very laws of physics simply by our continued existence. But these things do not matter to us, our membership having been entirely composed of those who simply "get it". RAAN is that revolutionary army you've been looking for, and all that remains is for you to treat it as such. Look into yourself and envision what that army would feel like, how raw and visible its presence would be, how audacious its very existence and how confident its movements as it decolonized every space it came into contact with. No more half measures, no more aborted attempts, and certainly no more convoluted processes by which those who will never "get it" might try to create the revolutionary army. It already exists, in myth and image yet real nonetheless, and it waiting for you to imagine yourself a part of it.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Criticisms and Responses

Some interesting discussions happening this month around the RAAN project. On October 8th, an essay titled "A Brief Constructive Criticism of 'RAANismo'" was posted on

Two days later, a group of self-identified RAANistas authored a text in response to the critique.

Both texts are now available here:

Thursday, October 7, 2010

RAAN Smashes Democratic Party HQ in California

On Saturday night the Democratic Party's campaign headquarters in Modesto, California was vandalized by members of the Red & Anarchist Action Network (RAAN)


(10-04) 08:24 PDT Modesto, Calif. (AP) -- Modesto police are looking into whether vandalism at the Stanislaus County Democratic Campaign Headquarters over the weekend was politically motivated. Party leaders say vandals threw rocks through five of 11 windows on the building and spray-painted "RAAN" on the wall. Regional director Gary Robbins told KXTV that the initials stand for "Reds and Anarchists."

Police say the attack happened sometime between late Friday and early Sunday. The windows displayed signs for Democratic campaigns, including that of Sen. Barbara Boxer. No nearby buildings were damaged, and no arrests have been made. Volunteers spent Sunday cleaning up the mess, putting off their campaign work with just four weeks left before the election.

Source: SF Gate


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Less Platitudes, More RAAN

The IMF Resistance Network has put out a short text entitled Beyond the Local/ Global Dichotomy: On Summit Demonstrations, Solidarity Actions and the Necessity of Consistency which, in the interest of continuing our explorations into the willfully self-limiting nature of today's radical milieu, we'd like to take a look a closer look at.

Now first off, let's skip over any pretense at an analysis of summit demonstrations or whether they are useful. Suffice to say, the general trend within the Red & Anarchist Action Network has tended to be away from these set-piece confrontations that allow for mass arrests and surveillance while forcing us to engage the enemy on terms they have set. This particular essay, however, perhaps because the subject of a summit demo is so stereotypically anarchist, gives us a lot to look at in terms of attitudes and conclusions that are becoming more and more indicative of the current state of the movement.

Some selected quotes:
"In the current climate of action in antiauthoritarian circles we have run into a little bit of a bind... abstract anarchist threat that comes to take up a lot of energy and only engages for a short period of time, only to see that energy dispersed after the last dumpsters are rolled back down their respective alleys and the last windows replaced.

...The importance of solidarity actions needs to escape this odd format of global referendum on the popularity of our politics and become a way to understand global resistance to capitalism as a convergence of anticapitalist actions, actions that can be more or less coordinated, more or less in concert with each other.

...But solidarity needs to be seen beyond simply the dates of a meeting and needs to be understood as a constant stance, a constant series of actions in widely dispersed sites over a consistent period of time.

...Deciding that we will not allow our existence to be limited and defined through the flows of markets, and that we will do what is necessary to create the space to live a life that is worth living. But that decision must exist outside position papers like this one, it must exist as an active, alive convergence of the energy generated by anticapitalist actions.

...It is not about smashing capitalism, but about generating disruptions of enough magnitude, in enough places, consistently enough to make its operation impossible. That means that confrontation must feed confrontation, on whatever scale possible, at whatever site possible."

None of these are statements we might disagree with. Some of them have even been expertly worded so as to make us feel as if resistance might actually be possible! But then here, as always with these texts, is where we hit a brick wall: where is the actual proposal? Besides "getting serious about this", what exactly is supposed to be done that isn't already being done? This essay could be criticized as a call for martyrs, but in that sense it is only even more typical of the current anarchist milieu.

What is needed now - not just for a summit protest but for the movement in general - is the concrete presentation of steps that can be taken in order to tangibly achieve such laudable objectives as the creation of an "alive convergence of the energy generated by anticapitalist actions". Where is that presentation? Why does nobody seem to have it? The movement now is only capable of expressing itself in platitudes, each time becoming more articulate but in no way coming closer to any understanding of how the goals it seeks will actually manifest. "More people break more shit" is not a strategy. Not one that will be able to sustain itself, at any rate.

This is where RAAN comes in. The RAANista model is the only proposal on the table right now that would allow for anticapitalist actions - at any level of intensity - to noticeably build upon each other and accumulate into a consistent momentum. We do not wish to see the banner of RAAN opportunistically taken up by those who would resist the IMF; rather we hope that those who have already affiliated themselves to the network's project will become more and more aware of these current trends in anarchist discourse, and understand the specific gravity of these obstacles which have already been identified many times over, but will never be surmounted without the conscious and widespread implementation of RAAN as an organizing model.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Reflections on the Demise of Bash Back!

The full text of the new article, "Reflections on the Demise of Bash Back!" from the sixth issue of Pink and Black Attack has been posted online at the RAAN hub's discussion forums. Click Here to read.

We encourage all those interested in the RAANista project to closely study this text and contribute to our public discussions of it, as there are many lessons to be learned in terms of the practical development of autonomist networks and what obstacles we may have to face in the future.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Late Reaction to the "Bay Area Action Assembly..."

These comments are a little late in terms of their delivery, but reflect criticisms that were voiced within RAAN at the time of these events and can still be seen as relevant to future projects.

Following several well-publicized eruptions of social unrest in the San Francisco Bay Area in the wake of the murder of Oscar Grant and then again after the trial of the police officer responsible (as well as several other recent instances of police violence in central and Northern California), Bay Area radicals put out a call for an "Action Assembly of Anarchists and Comrades" on August 8th with the stated aim of developing a praxis consistent both with the prevailing mood and the status of the Bay as being home to the "largest population of anarchists in the nation".

From the outset, RAANistas had very pessimistic expectations about this event. We needed only recall the Summer of 2006, when a diverse grouping of radicals in the Bay Area were able to briefly create some serious momentum behind a few street actions undertaken in the name of "Anarchist Action". Soon after, word was getting around that Anarchist Action was to become the de-facto banner under which radicals would rally, and "chapters" seemed ready to spring up across the country. Truly, Anarchist Action seems to have been a high water mark in the potential of the North American anarchist movement. So what happened to it? After creating the country's most widely-credible anarchist organization in practice, Bay Area radicals decided to sit down and try to create it in theory. The resulting effort - the Praxis Conference - said much and accomplished nothing, and Anarchist Action dissipated as quickly as it had appeared, without anyone seeming to have learned any of the important lessons that the experience had to offer.

So what happened at the August 8th "Assembly"? The author was not present, but based on numerous accounts from the event it would seem that predictably enough Bay Area anarchists were able to gather together and concretely agree that they are against police brutality.

And so it goes. The "largest population of anarchists in the nation" again squandered a historic opportunity to seize the moment and create a visible focus for the revolutionary movement... all in favor of sitting down and trying to talk about how to create a visible focus for the revolutionary movement. Once more we must return to the assertion brought forth by RAAN: there is only one question of vital importance to anarchists at this moment, and that is how to accumulate and preserve the momentum of their already-occurring but sporadic and unorganized attacks on the system while creating a psychological linkage between them. We believe that only an "organization" will be capable of fulfilling these roles. Not the kind of organization you have to "join", and much less the kind you would have to go to a meeting for, or receive orders from. The kind of organization RAAN seeks to become is one only in the mind; it is a paradigm through which the scattered activities of the radical milieu become irreversibly seen as bound together in a single thrust for liberation. It is precisely what Anarchist Action was on its way to becoming, before it stopped and questioned how to achieve what it already had. It is a consciousness that allows us to step back from our activities and arrange them in such a way as to make them more effective than they ever would have been as isolated sparks in the night.

But one will never be able to make RAAN real and physically constitute it as a nationwide tendency by calling for assemblies to discuss the possibility. The only thing we can do is act as if it already exists, as if there were already a broad tendency of anti-capitalist action in this country; dedicate our actions and identities to its name, and watch as we achieve overnight what years of conferences and conspiratorial meetings have barely even dreamed.

RAANismo o muerte!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Emergent Property 01

We are proud to announce a new RAAN newsletter focused on our evolving theory, titled Emergent Property. It may be considered the sequel to Emotional Poverty. The first issue may be downloaded from the RAAN hub here.