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Don't Believe the Hype: About the Assaults on the "Assaulters"

by Anon
About the recent assaults by "radical feminists"
Circumstances compel us to speak about the physical and rhetorical attacks by "feminists" on the "assaulters" Jacob Onto in New York City and Jan Dichter in Santa Cruz. We see that these actions have had a detrimental effect on anti-authoritarian thought and activity in the milieu, and we have the strongest suspicions that this was exactly what was intended. These attacks were not, except in a rhetorical and emotional sense, about patriarchy or rape, but about authoritarian leftist elements taking control of the radical student movements which emerged in those areas. Our reasoning is as follows.

First we observe the extremely vague yet implacable language with which the targeted individuals have been condemned. We are not here to defend these men's characters or discuss the incidents about which they were allegedly accused. Absence of evidence is not absence of evidence. We do find it telling that we can only say "allegedly accused" because the accusations have not been made public or even specified outside of an extremely narrow circle, and are supported only by the argumentum ad baculum ("might makes right") and argumentum ad populum ("a bunch of other people live this is true, so it must be"). We find it telling that anarchists and leftists have colluded in the creation of juridical structures which are notably more authoritarian than even the U.S. criminal justice system, in which the accused has the right to be informed of charges and to speak to them and to one's accuser(s). These men both attempted to engage in dialogue with the people who attacked them, dialogue that was refused because their opponents wielded charges that were formulated specifically to be inherently not answerable.

Using the appropriately cop-like language of "assault," "perpetrator," etc., authoritarian feminists also avail themselves of doublespeak about "community" and "accountability." What can these words possibly mean when the situation they describe is that of masked vigilantes beating their political opponents and denouncing anyone who disagrees with them as rape apologists? Judge, jury and executors of sentence were embodied in gangs of masked individuals who gloat about their ability to extract confessions under torture, and to impose silence on their targets as well as anyone else, male or female, who showed sympathy with them or criticized their actions. They pretend to speak for a consensus among "radical women" while we know for a fact this isn't so. With respect to any who consider themselves "survivors" of these men and their presumed right to privacy, it's far from presumed how that right trumps a community's right to understand what is going on or why when violence within the radical "community" leaves someone hospitalized (Onto) or permanently withdrawn from radical activity (Dichter). These are very serious incidents, the fact that they may have been carried out on false pretenses is as serious as rape, and as we are explaining, it looks to us like this is the case. Accountability cannot be a one-way street or else it becomes a synonym for punitive and policing power. Why should some "perpetrators" of "assaults" be held accountable, and others not? Can we truly speak of "community" if we cannot answer this question?

We observe the withdrawal of many anti-authoritarians from participation in the radical student milieus in the Bay Area, New York and elsewhere. Again, we cannot believe this is an accident. Both Dichter and Onto were strong anti-authoritarian voices during the student mobilizations of the past year and a half. Both maintained well-read blogs which relentlessly criticized the efforts of authoritarian leftists to recuperate the momentum of these events. For instance, Dichter's posts on the Kerr Hall occupation at UCSC criticized the actions during those events of one Olivia R., an authoritarian leftist student organizer and union employee, who was later one of the key instigators of and participants in the assault on him. It is also interesting to note that the attacks transpired after the polarizing events of March 4 in New York and May 1 in Santa Cruz, respectively, which left the authoritarian left with serious axes to grind regarding anarchist actions that had marred "their" protest events (for instance, immediately after the May Day riot the same Olivia spoke of holding participants and planners of the event "accountable").

Both Onto and Dichter critiqued identity politics, legitimized unions and activist and organizationalist approaches - politics which proclaim solidarities on the basis of gender, race and other identities assigned by the capitalist mode of production, and attempt to legitimize representation on such lines - all of which have been heavily promoted by authoritarian leftist elements in the student movement (as well as every social movement in the past 50 years). As many anarchists made common cause with leftist agendas (or embraced authoritarian politics explicitly), they became increasingly isolated as opponents of frontism; they made the unpopular critiques that only anarchists can make, insisting on uncompromisingly anti-capitalist and anti-authoritarian principles, and for that (whatever else the case may be with them), all partisans of the anti-authoritarian cause owe them thanks and support. It seems to us that this is the main reason that they and their friends suffered violence and alienation from the milieu.

While we have found that we are not alone in our suspicion and discomfort regarding these political lynchings and smear campaigns, almost no one, including ourselves, is willing to put ourselves on the record publicly against them. We and many of our anti-authoritarian comrades and friends find ourselves no longer able to participate comfortably in what remains of a now effectively crippled radical student movement, simply because we don't want to be the next targeted under this or whatever other excuse - the fruits of recuperation through terrorism.

We don't deny that rape and sexism are deeply serious issues which permeate our social system as well as the movements within it. We fail to see how these incidents have made anyone safer from sexual assault - they have only made authoritarian leftist activists safer from anarchist subversion of their flocks. We respect the strong emotions that people have about this subject but we point out that emotionally charged subjects are always the most useful for manipulating people, and that authoritarian leftists are nothing if not manipulative. The way in which these actions were carried out has indicated anything but a sincere and healthy engagement with issues of sex, consent, rape and patriarchy and has encouraged a blinding and silencing polarization by vastly over-simplifying the issues at stake. The attacks have only reinforced the identity politics activist's culture of self-righteous emotional manipulation in which any serious discussion of sex, consent, etc., disappears under the snub "that guy's fucked up" (and its corresponding subtext, "if you disagree with me then you are no better than a rapist yourself!").

Nor have we set ourselves the task, in this essay, of proposing an alternative mechanism of accountability or resolution in these kinds of situations. We posit that the task of the anarchist is, if not less about proposing alternatives, then at least equally to question the alternatives proposed by the traditional Left and our other historic enemies - spectacular proposals for the alternative management of a society still embedded in the gears of capital.

But in case it still needs to be said, these suspicions are not meant as a slight to anyone who feels they have suffered or been violated at these men's hands; we are merely pointing to the extraordinary shady aspects of these attacks and asking the unpopular questions that only anarchists can ask. We further affirm that authoritarianism is the most serious and fundamental issue of all, without which anti-capitalist struggle becomes a backdoor for totalitarianism, and we find these incidents and their fallout to be a very illustrative case in point. We are not relativists or apologists of any kind; we are anti-authoritarian anti-capitalists, and like Dichter and Onto, we refuse to let these principles take a back seat to any other, or choose our political stances by what is popular at the moment. The inevitable consequence of doing so is the disastrous authoritarian recuperation that we have seen unfolding.

Anarchists and some "ultra-left" or "left-communists" believe that social movements can lead towards a total transformation of social relationships through the spread, escalation and interconnection of self-organized struggles during crises in the capitalist system. Authoritarian leftists see in such movements only potential followers to recruit and organize into the Party. There is no dirty trick too low for them in pursuing this aim. Remember Spain. Remember 1968. Remember March 4. Remember every dead revolution. Ask who stands to benefit rather than trusting in groupthink and the claims of professional manipulators. Don't believe the hype.

In solidarity with Jacob Onto, Jan Dichter and all anti-authoritarians everywhere.

- some friends of Fredy.
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Tue, Sep 28, 2010 1:26PM
a squirrel
Tue, Sep 28, 2010 10:05AM
Tue, Sep 28, 2010 1:14AM
Nuff said
Mon, Sep 27, 2010 6:00PM
Fri, Sep 24, 2010 6:26PM
no apologist
Fri, Sep 24, 2010 2:19PM
Fri, Sep 24, 2010 12:40PM
Fri, Sep 24, 2010 12:16PM
Fri, Sep 24, 2010 10:26AM
Fri, Sep 24, 2010 6:41AM
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