Anti-Gun Anarchist Manifesto (2023)

For Reuel and all who fight.

Before I get serious, let me be clear: this is not a call for pacifism. This is not a call for nonviolence in the face of barely comprehensible brutality by police, prisons, the state, and its lynching accomplices. In fact, the point of this essay is to call for more explicit attacks on our enemies, more direct confrontation with our suffering institutions, and a more conscious integration of resistance to these atrocities into our daily lives until such resistance becomes like It breathes naturally. .

I believe in fighting anything we can get our hands on, but I'm tired of the constant obsession with guns in radical (especially anarchist) spaces. I'm tired of admitting failure at the fringes leading to a reactionary stance in which we lose focus on how our orientation reproduces the world around us. This post is an attempt to critique what I see as a culture of self-delusion about what guns are, what they do, and how they affect our relationship to the world and those around us. My goal is to articulate a broader stand against it so we can be better prepared to bleed and become the bane of this world.

Survival is not enough.

I still want to win.

I want this most.

what the hell do you want

Illusions and Illusions

We live in a world of endless and purposeful brutality; targeting the most marginalized. The mechanisms that cause our pain are vast, pervasive in almost every aspect of our lives, and growing. The police are on our doorstep, their vigilantes are always eager for a chance at the ritual of keeping capital flowing, they wait on the wings for their chance to crack skulls. Sometimes on the subway, sometimes outside a Walgreens.

Our bodily autonomy is being stripped away as abortion is pushed further into the impossible and trans presence is criminalized to the point that the bathrooms we use have become a game of Russian roulette. With every law passed, every hour of drag history threatened, every act of violence documented on film, I saw many people with whom I have an affinity echo a similar refrain:

"This is why you need a gun"

Every time I hear this refrain, I stop and sit back, unease rising from my gut to my throat and out of my nose. I was unnerved until a question came up "What do you think the weapons will change?"

I've worked with guns all my life. I learned to shoot at a young age, first with a shotgun, then a rifle, then a revolver. I learned how to clean and maintain firearms. I learned to make eye contact and verbally confirm control when I received a gun. I feel comfortable holding a gun in my hand. I say all this, rather awkwardly in the process of thinking it through, to reassure the reader that however strange my criticisms may seem to you, they are not motivated by irrational concerns or fear of guns. They are intentional and as accurate as possible.

It goes without saying that to think that gun ownership is a meaningful response to violence against marginalized populations is to crystallize the illusion that gun ownership is getting closer to being “safe” and that having more guns is becoming more dangerous. "Safer". Owning a gun will never make you safe in a world where the marginalized, blacks, targeted non-whites, the poor, the visibly gay, the immigrant, the handicapped, the homeless A sense of security, for someone who is incarcerated (in a prison or very similar psychiatric ward).

If you want to keep breathing, no weapon can stop a sheriff from carrying out an eviction. You can't have any weapons to reignite the heat. If someone really wants you dead, no weapon will keep you alive unless you turn yourself into a mere surveillance machine, sacrificing your life for the never-guaranteed hope of survival.

If there is any resemblance to "security", it will not come from arming ourselves individually, even in large numbers. It will come from a pervasive culture of hostility to formal and informal institutions of power. It will come from a culture of spontaneous resistance, a culture with the potential for rebellion. Weapons can be part of certain definite behaviors in that culture; however, they are neither necessary nor sufficient to produce it, and may (as I discuss later) prevent its continued existence. The only chance we have to protect each other is to make progress in the social wars of our time.

But it is incredibly risky for a radical, especially an anarchist, to recognize his place in a social war, to acknowledge the risks and costs, and to start building this culture of confrontation. Confronting what we must be willing to lose is pretty scary if we are truly willing to win. Many people do not face this risk. They look elsewhere, any other way. Instead of taking an offensive stance to articulate worthwhile actions and put them into action, many revert to a defensive (even reactionary) stance of arming themselves, just waiting for the imminent genocide, the imminent collapse. They may have other projects they're involved in, but they're mostly ways to pass the time. They don't try to gain an advantage, so there's no danger of losing it. Yet they believe in their activism because they arm themselves and are ready to defend marginalized groups (which may include themselves), which is the most radical thing a person can do.

But genocide is not coming, it is here. It's in billing departments and hospital waiting rooms. It's in classrooms and lunch lines. It's in the archives and the church hall. It's in interrogation rooms and cells. They are no more willing to fight now than they were before arming themselves. Its position or orientation has not changed, only its expression has changed.

We cannot pave the way for liberation, and not if liberation means being able to determine for ourselves what is a life worth living. A few shots may help, but they will never be enough to counter a world built on the logic of centralization of power, of which guns are the primary expression.

The Concentration of Power and the Reproduction of Everyday Life

This is where I kind of point it out. I don't think the illusion of safety is the main reason people buy guns, although I think they convince themselves otherwise. I think people get guns because of the fantasy of having hyper-concentrated power. We live in a world of incredible alienation and disempowerment. We look outward, thinking that we are largely incapable of affecting our surroundings. In this context, it's easy to fetishize machines that can irrevocably alter our existence at the push of a button.

For radicals disillusioned with the prospect of a revolution or mass movement, weapons became a way of assuaging this disillusioned existential dread. By having such a machine, they were able to maintain the belief that they could actually enforce their will in the world if they wanted to.

These fantasies became so ingrained that even when these beautiful moments of real resistance erupted, armed militants ended up emerging as de facto police forces, rather than exploiting the exposed weaknesses of our enemies. These power fantasies inevitably blind radicals to the experimental spaces that open up before them, so these radicals actively suppress the experimental and insurgent potential of others in those spaces. I've seen too many of these "aggressive" police forces in 2020 to trust a guy who showed up to a riot with an AR.

Precisely because of these experiences, which have seen self-proclaimed radicals and anarchists take on policing in so-called anti-police spaces, it seems imperative (especially in a society defined by colonialism, anti-blackness, racism, etc.) relational world). .) questioning the role of machines that so subtly focus energy in our space.

If we seek and end policing, we must also seek and end the relationships that sustain policing.

fetish like a smoke screen

Perhaps the most immediate consequence of persistent superstition and fantasy seems to be how it changes our relationship with the gunmakers themselves. I have rarely, if ever, seen these manufacturers considered viable targets for direct action, even at the height of anti-police mobilization, despite the fact that the only reason police were able to commit violence on such a large scale was because of these The manufacturer supplies them. Has almost infinite arms.

I invite you to sit down and think about this question. Discuss it with friends at your next gathering or reading group. Is it because you don't care? Is it because you think the goal is too abstract? very dangerous? How does the culture of gun ownership in activist spaces affect the way we talk, or don't talk, about gun manufacturers?

If you don't care, fuck you.

If you think this goal is too abstract, I ask you if you would say the same about the police, or prisons, or the capital city, or any other undefined system we condemn in flag-downs or communiqués.

If such an action is too risky, I ask whether you have adequately considered the risk of not acting. Is your risk assessment tied in any way to your current proximity and comfort priorities?

The fact that anarchists have been virtually silent on these views in recent history, to me, shows their complete reluctance to engage in the real conditions of the social wars we find ourselves in. If we are unwilling to think about finding ways to disrupt the supply of weapons to the police and military, we assume that they will inevitably become armed as they are.

It's like admitting defeat because we'll never be able to match the police or the military in the area of ​​weapons acquisition, and even if we could, the only way we can match them in a weapons-centric conflict is by becoming our own soldiers, and thus losing our autonomy rights and lives.

I refuse to admit defeat, I refuse to perform any duty in an incompetent revolutionary army. I long for life, and I long for a life worth living.

expropriation, use, destruction

As I said before, while it is neither necessary nor sufficient to create a culture of hostility to the existing world and all its intersecting brutality, guns can serve a certain purpose in a given operation and are therefore worth using. We think they are useful.

We conscript (personal weapons and the means to produce them) in order to free arms manufacturers from engaging in speculation, while depriving our enemies of the means to brutalize us.

We use what we commandeer as we see fit when we believe such action is warranted.

We do what we can to destroy what we commandeer.

Most importantly, we have destroyed the means of producing these weapons. As long as there is a way to mass-produce weapons quickly, there will always be a ticking time bomb waiting for the next police or military to show up.

In its simplest form, a weapon is a machine designed to kill. Most pistols and rifles produced today are specifically designed to kill people. I reject the normalization and fetishization of such machines within anarchist spaces.

While I'm not naive enough to believe in an idyllic future where nobody hurts anyone, I'm certainly idealistic enough to believe that a world without these machines is possible. If you don't agree, that's okay, you can stand up for the weapons factory, and even point a gun at me while I light a match.

As I said at the beginning, I want to win. I want this most.

Victory, to me, is like the ashes of all police stations and prisons mixed with the ashes of all factories, including those that make weapons.

Victory feels like concentrations of power are constantly being challenged wherever they appear.

It seems that children are playing and adults are playing.

It seems to be breathing, breathing freely, whatever that means for each of us.

It can't look like everyone has a gun while we wait for the next cop to show up.

I will never be able to breathe in that world.

I need to breathe.

So grab a gun if you want. Learn how to use it, learn how to clean it, and how to properly hand it over to others. But never, never let it become more of a killing machine than it is. It's not security, it's not defense, and your desire for it doesn't replace the need to disrupt its production on a massive scale. Someday he needs to disappear, like all other vestiges of the police and prison world. I just hope you'll understand when the time comes.

"The most useful thing you can do with weapons is to render them useless as quickly as possible"
~ in the drawn dagger

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