Translated by Act for freedom now!
A quarter of a century ago a comrade was arrested for robbery. After the arrest another comrade wrote to tell him that since the ‘accident’ he now saw him in a different light, seeing him as ‘a man who deserves respect’, whereas before he had just considered him ‘one of those rather opinionated ego-tripping intellectuals’.
I obviously don’t know why the second comrade had had this idea of the first, but it cannot be ruled out that it could also have been due to rumours within the anarchist movement. What a stroke of luck that the robbery failed, at least many got proof that he was not just a windbag – as some had said – just sitting at a typewriter criticizing everything and everybody and churning out theory, but somebody who puts that theory into practice. An anarchist, in fact.
Twenty-five years later, definitely influenced by rumours in the anarchist movement – the kind of rumours that are heard in private discussions, at public meetings, concerts, on demos – many claim that certain comrades just sit at computer keyboards criticizing everything and everybody and writing theory, in short, do not put this theory into practice. Doing fuck all, basically. We don’t know the main reason for thinking and saying this, but probably the fact that they have never been caught red-handed helps to feed the chatter. Ah, what bad luck, not getting arrested … Put under investigation, at most, but that is a whim that investigators indulge against anyone who professes to be anarchist ..
But why does this sleazy gossip take hold and magnify? Because it is particularly convenient to discredit anyone who expresses doubt and criticism – whether deemed founded or not – lowering the content of the critique. Instead of answering it with another, just as bitter and sharp, critique the critics are passed off as people who are unworthy of being taken into consideration, because they cannot do anything else and, so, “don’t merit respect.”
But what is most worrying in such matters is not the nasty habit of gossip-mongering, which does no credit to individuals who would like to transform the world by reproducing its misery, as the police attention that accompanies it. Beyond what someone does or does not do, in fact, is the claim to be aware of it – by comrades !, mind you – that is staggering, and how this conclusion is reached.
Not being able to get news in first person – for fairly obvious reasons – how do you reach these conclusions? By navigating through the wonderful world of the internet, holder of Truth and Knowledge by virtue of all that the sites of the movement report or don’t report, through items in local and national newspapers and / or claims.
The gaze becomes investigator, the eye scans, trying to read between the lines, divinatory qualities are revealed, judgment and sentences are passed … this lot do, this lot don’t, these others might have done but didn’t, while these others could have done more and better … It is not a provocation to talk about a police attitude here, it is a well-founded affirmation because it is precisely the way that investigative bodies often put forward their hypotheses; it is a gaze that it would be good to abandon, given that the first necessity for anyone who wants to fight the State and Authority is to not think and talk in the same way as they do.
The reverse of this mentality is the claiming to know what others do, and how they do it. This is also the result of a police attitude and mindset, that becomes public and turns into informing pure and simple. Those who act this way have always been called snitches, and rightly so. But it does not create a sensation when practiced by apologists of hierarchical struggle, theorists of the verticalization of struggles, those who for years have continued to make insinuations in public encounters, slandering comrades who paid with their lives for their struggle against the TAV, way back when it was neither popular or trendy, and sabotage was not yet an approved practice.
Amidst this vast sea of mud, there is one question that everyone should be asking themselves yet doesn’t: but me, what am I doing and what more can I do? Putting forward doubts and trying to advance one’s own theory and practice, thus attacking and providing oneself with new theoretical and practical tools, would surely be more useful than looking around trying to understand what others are or aren’t doing.
In this way one might avoid finding oneself yet again, in another twenty-five years, seeing some arrest as a stroke of luck: at least everyone will know that the arrested person this time around had been doing something, and had not just been sitting at a warm keyboard, criticizing everything and everybody and churning out theory.
To be considered, from then on, someone that deserves respect!