From Antagonismo translated by Ediciones InEditos
Reposted with Permission
How much more can they take from me? They got my blood, now it’s my car! […] High-octane crazy blood fillin’ me up. If I’m gonna die, I’m gonna die historic on the Fury Road.
– Mad Max: Fury Road
Days like the one we have today, Jan. 4th 2017, of rage and adrenaline will be remembered. They are special, since contrary to the days that we individually treasure, like a great birthday, those vacations on the beach or a colorful day of the dead; these days will be remembered by all, by many of us as extraordinary days.
Just a few days ago, here in what they call Mexico, the price of gasoline was announced to shoot up between 14 and 20%, “due to the rise of international prices,” according to [Mexican president] Peña Nieto. He failed to mention that it this was due to the Energy Reform which his administration promoted. This is nothing new to anyone in the country; every year the price of gasoline rises and with it the price of other commodities shoot up, like food, transportation, clothing, rents, etc. From one day to the next the pain was felt with 17 pesos and then from 18 to 19 and now more than 20 pesos. Trump won, Brexit passed, the situation in Syria worsened; everything goes from bad to worse. But it continued to be a normal end of the year when the gasolinazo was announced, since we thought nothing would happen if everyone was already used to all this. But this was not the case.
This week people started to talk each other. The revolt has began. The distant protests in Baja California and Sonora began to be shared by word of mouth. They said that in Baja California people seized fuel lines and began to give gas away to anyone that went by. That they blockaded the highways in Oaxaca, that there were protests in Jalisco, Chiapas, Chilpancingo and Tlaxcala, in Morelos and in Can-Cún.
Then the protests began to get closer. In Acolman, Ecatepec, Naucalpan, Nicolás Romero, Cuautitlán, Tultepec and Tecámac, Cuautepec [municipalities in the State of Mexico]. That they even reached Gustavo A. Madero [northern neighborhood of Mexico City]. That they’re coming! They’re on their way! Who knows who they were, but they were many, angry and committed. They began to appear on social networks via images and videos. They were everybody, every single person, us. The revolt burst forth.
STEAL EVERYTHING YOU WANT AND RETURN NOTHING
Do not fear the destruction of commodities. Do not grow afraid at the sight of the looting of stores. We do it because those commodities are ours. You (like we were in the past) have been raised to get up every morning with the goal of creating things which later will not be yours. Reclaim them and share them. Just like we do with our friends and our love.
– Written by Greek workers to the students, 2008
In my neighborhood, everyone was outside checking the scene, running around, watching out, talking. Further north in Ecatepec and in nearby neighborhoods, proletarians looted stores like Coopel and Elektra, supermarkets like Wal-Mart, Chedarui, Bodega Aurrera and Soriana. Some rumors spoke of even of ATMs, banks and pawn shops being looted. That day I was working in the morning and a co-worker complained that he was late because they had shut down the Mexico-Pachua highway. That he was from Coacalco and that there had already been looting there as well as rumors of clashes with the police. What pissed of this co-worker more was not so much being late, but that now he could now join in the looting of a Coopel store. Everybody was talking about this at work: “now they’ve really gone too far,” “for real I would arm myself and rise up,” “well normally I wouldn’t do that, but since they’re already looting, that feeling of contagion and emotion in the people… well, then I would definitely get myself something,” “if it was organized and continuous then it would be even doper.” Everyone chimed in and laughed nervously, as though full of excitement, like if it was a celebration of the Epiphany for the rich [holiday celebrated with gifts for children in Mexico]. Then the whole way home I would hear whispers on the metro about some looting happening here or there. And to boot, arriving at the swap meet near my house, a group of ladies debated: “it’s coming our way,” “well they’re not gonna do anything to do us, and if they do well there’s more of us,” “well they’re only looting the big stores, they’re not gonna come to the swapmeets,” “well if they come here I’ll run them off,” “well then bring it on girl.” I machiavelliaclly asked them, “who’s coming jefa?“, “the looters, haven’t you heard? they’re all over the place. They say they’re robbing everything.”, “no jefa, they’re people just like us, they’re not gonna do anything to us, anyway they’re only looting the big stores,” I told her to calm her down and to let her know there’s nothing to worry about when it comes to the wares she’s selling at the swapmeet. In reality she really had nothing to fear. What was important was to discuss something which we never talk about. Whether it is necessary or not to loot during protests, whether it’s yes “because we’re fed up as fuck,” whether it’s a no since “we have to attack, not just steal TVs to once again alienate ourselves,” that we’re “all fucked.”
Looting, destruction of commodities and machines have comprised a list of recurrent practices of the rage and riot of our class, the proletariat. Since the days of pirate attacks up until the rage of the children of Ludd1. Since the Argentinian revolts of 2001 up to the burning of cash and commodities during the Greek insurrection of 2008. The madness of jouissance, rage mixed emotion, those proletarians with saws opening up the steel curtain of the Elektra [store] as though it were a gift from the Three Kings, is a hole in time which reignites revenge, a window unto life. To rob those who rob you is justice, to burn those who shackle your life is to struggle, to break with normality (because not everyday we loot stores and supermarkets) is the spark that we need. But it is not enough.
Let us rethink all this. I sell the time that makes up my life. If this is so, when one works one exchanges one’s own lifespan for money which is accumulated labor. Part of that money is a foregone business expense so that you may survive, be able to eat, have somewhere to sleep, so that you may continue working for them. What is left over, after having paid for food and transportation, is either used up two ways: you use it or you save it. You spend it on entertainment and “fun”: you go to the movies, you buy drugs or alcohol, you got out with your boyfriend, you buy a new cellphone. You buy, you consume: and since most of us do not have enough to get an iPhone7 (nor do we want it) then you ask for credit to buy it with whatever is left of your paycheck. A new TV, a washing-machine, an XBox, clothes, sneakers and maybe even a new cellphone. Those national chains which grant the most credit are Elektra and Coopel, as well as those which have Western Union since we have families sending us money from the U.S. [desde el gabacho] and that money usually ends up being spent in Elektra. Those stores that are in the suburbs and the towns are also those which hook you by paying off little by little, and everyone knows that you end up paying double the original price. Then why the fuck are we always doing this? Elektra was looted but not IStore or Palacio de Hierro for the simple reason that those stores don’t exist in our neighborhoods. And they are not here where we are because we simply do not have the means to spend our savings on their commodities for the rich. There are no Liverpools [high-end retailer] on every corner and when there is one they are guarded by a bunch of police officer inside of a mall. When it comes to spontaneous looting, proletarians loot and reclaim commodities from those big name stores which are nearby and in suburbs on the periphery of the city. Because that is where we live! Where we’re overcrowded; where were we have to commute for two hours on public transit to get to work to keep on wasting our lives for a couple of pesos.
Looting is not only logical, it is inalienable. We expropriate what other proletarians make. We expropriate that little bit of life that we would sell for some new sneakers, or a television. Or food, or clothes, or more money. This is when we begin to distance ourselves from the figure of the good citizen that does not push, run, scream but does vote. The type of person who when upon a problem with their neighbor, go to the courthouse; if they were robbed they go to the police which then extorts and belittles them; if they have a labor grievance they take it to the union. Rather, the proletarian that loots is the kind of person who takes their life into their own hands, becomes responsible for themselves and eliminate all those bullshit forms of mediation, all those obstacles and trammels impeding life.
BUT WHAT ABOUT AFTER I ROBBED THAT TV?
All that we got, it seems we have lost
We must have really paid the costBurnin’ and a-lootin’ tonight
(Say we gonna burn and loot)
Burnin’ and a-lootin’ tonight
(One more thing)
Burnin’ all pollution tonight
– Burning and Lootin’, Bob Marley & The Wailers
Of course expropriation is inalienable and necessary, but then what? After you rob the TV on, you sit down on Sunday, turn it on and watch your favorite TV show, you change the channel and the 3 o’clock news tells you what happened last week was really bad, and that the looting was done by infiltrators and the bought-off. “I’m not an infiltrator” you tell yourself; “neither am I bought-off,” but they’ve transformed your act into a representation. Literally. Something strange, an image external to you, to your needs so that you do not catch the contagion, nor others, so that you keep off the streets. And that is because if there is something difficult to do in this life, it’s breaking with normality. Many flames of revolt die off because we have to eat to struggle, and we can only eat if we have money to buy food, and you have to work to have money and so then we all return to work and revolt dies off. True, we cannot struggle all the time, but there is a difference between a battle and a war.
In this society everything is a commodity. This society, which accumulates things in a sick and obsessive way, is called capitalism and then when this accumulation has grown too great and monstrous, and which we start to lose comprehension of, we stop and just gaze it with popcorn in our hands. One proletarian called it a society of the spectacle. The war between the dispossessed and the capitalists, between classes, is also subject to these very rules. They put up the board and the rules, but they never understood or were able to control them. After looting there are two things: you stay in your seat and watch a movie, with your new BluRay DVD player and SmartTV (both robbed) and you then you return to work so that you can pay for Netflix of Blim, which you signed up for and to pay off the debt to the bank, to Coopel and to your aunt, and to be able to buy food and pay for the rent or you prepare for a second attack. Many of us have taken on this war but it is not easy. When you realize that you are fed up with this society and that you want to attack again, the first feeling is one of swimming in the middle of the ocean, far from anyone. Then you remember that don Beto also took part in the looting and that you saw Frida running with a cellphone from Elektra. We found each other in the streets. We were never alone. That is because all of us in the hood are in the same condition of waged labor. And to move forward, from the battle to the war the next step is to organize that rage.
MAY THE SPARK BURN OFF ALL THE GASOLINE
Those who failed to realize that for Marx and for the revolutionary proletariat unitary historical thought was in no way distinct from a practical attitude to be adopted generally ended up becoming victims of the practice they did adopt.
– Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle (Thesis 95)
A co-worker told me, “ah fuck it, we gotta get some guns then,” without a doubt perhaps, at some point we should…but first we must recognize each other and know the battlefield. This week there has been assemblies and meetings and in the following days there will surely be more. This is when we can breathe and think of our next move. But when this happens, two things will occur: Talking for hours in assemblies where organizations will arrive, like political parties, unions, guerrillas?, the Torchists, the Trotskyists and all those other fuckers. They are gonna make the assembly extra long and will fight among each other saying that the movement must be reduced to “Out with Peña” or “For a new constitution” as though a new piece of paper would resolve everything. They will pretend to be the House of Representatives and will arrive to a single conclusion: nothing. Or perhaps a peaceful march, from the Angel of Independence to the Zócalo, which will end up being stopped at thehemiciclo a Juárez and that’s it3 …or we can ignore them… or run them off and organize ourselves for ourselves. Without ideologies, equipped with our intuition and our practiced memory, remembering that others before us have revolted, and that before us there has been looting and blockades, that we are not alone and we are not the first ones. These experiences will help us these coming days. But fuck, we also gotta not spook ourselves. In all wars there have always been agents of propaganda. By this I mean people who have been entrusted with disseminating lies enough times so that it becomes the truth we expect, then we repeat it and finally we end up thinking that’s what we really think. Today all of the media, the Internet, the Left and Right-wing newspapers do this. Let’s not read them or watch them, and if we do read them, let us critique them, and if we critique them we negate them and we then create our own version which we live, this will be our propaganda. In this way we will find more people on our side.
We also know that things are never on our side, that is clear. That our struggle is not for a better country or for more democracy. That which France and the USA has had, but if you look there has been looting and revolt there too because the world of the commodity is there also falling apart. There are proletarians at war, expressing their rage everyday and which last year rose up in insurrection. We are the same here and there.
These days we can continue with looting and rioting, which makes up an important step in our battle. We can continue this way, continue to reclaim some of our lost lives, then take on more and more and more….and then even more. We will be able to dream and live, change out what is rotten in this world, who knows, we could even become history recognizing itself as revolution. If we cannot, we will leave an important experience for those who follow, but only if we struggle. If not, your children, your nephews will continue in debt to satisfy their false needs, working into old age and they will remember that in 2017 a family member stole a television.
Death to all which gets in the way of the life of the proletariat on its warpath!
“I’m heading to my local looting, but before that:
Who’s robbing who?
I’ve seen videos of people expropriating from stores like Coppel and Elektra, infamous for giving the most usurious credit, stores which seek out the low-income, since they would not be able to otherwise buy a stove, a fridge or a TV, but in the end they end up paying more than double the given price, businesses which enrich themselves with our poverty like always. It is no coincidence that these were the stores which people set off to take a little of what was taken from them, with that weekly debt crockery, and people went down to that 21st c. store and did a bit of justice in their own way.”
ENHORABUENA [a cafe in a posh part of Mexico City]
Journalist: What does all this have to do with the Gasolinazo?
Intervieweee: Everything, it’s the same enemy with many heads.
– Publication of a globetrotting proletarian
Jan 4th. 2017. Mexico City
“We’re telling the fucking government, that they’ve gone too fucking far. Those of us in Las Tranca are going to defend ourselves, we’re not gonna be intimidated by any fucking government. Enrique Peña Nieto, the people of Las Trancas Azacpotzaclo calls you a motherfucker! (the words of a really pissed off proletarian), you motherfucking rat! Here we are ready, just look (::takes out a blade::), with fucking blows we are going to die here, dawg. Now you know fucker!”
– a pissed-off proletariat. Jan. 4th 2017 Mexico City
The social democrats will come to tell you
Do not loot
The bourgeois will come to tell you
Do not loot
The activists with support programs will come and say
Do not loot
The university specialists with their investigative programs will come and say
Do not loot
The union leaders will come and say we must work more and this is how we will raise our wages and they will tell you
Do not loot
When they see that nothing works and they are the same miserable lot they will turn to looting.
But in that moment there will nothing more to loot since IT WAS YOU WHO WERE ALREADY LOOTED.
– A fat proletarian, Mexico City. Jan. 4th 2017