Some reflections and points of view from a barricade
September 14, 2009
Many of us shouted: “To the police station, cabros!” There was strength, there were people. But more will was lacking, perhaps more tactics. The terrain was favorable, the police station was only two blocks away. There weren’t many cops, only a minibus. A better organized group would have given them the war that they seek every day, that they maintain, that they establish and defend. There is no talk of managing these little explosive spaces, or manipulating the 60 young people who were there that night. But it would be useful to understand ourselves in the context of the damage we wanted to cause. Because it’s clear that we came out to tangle with the police, and if a cop was left with three fewer teeth, or a shot-up hand, or a fractured arm, then so much the better. But if we weren’t prepared, then nothing would be worth so much risk; our strength would be diluted, our desires would only be a little nighttime game.
But that shout said it all. “To the police station” contained our meaning. It was the specific moment at which we were able to break from the everyday of commodities, relinquishing the heavy burdens of labor, academic responsibilities, and social lethargy that this society—out of the most psychological fear—forces us to accept, take part in, and witness. That mob of incontrolados attacking a condominium was the same one that stormed the Bastille, the same one that took to the streets of revolutionary France to hang the rich from the lampposts, the same riffraff that Marx insulted as lumpen. In the depths of its unconscious, the society of the rich (in which it is not only the wealthy, but rather each and every one of us who makes society function day after day, generating little spaces of power in which exploitation and cruelty are practiced) is afraid of being attacked, robbed, and humiliated by that lumpen, which has nothing to lose. Well-recorded are the scenes of past centuries’ internecine struggles in which the last (or the first, depending on how we look at it) level of the social pyramid falls like a raven on the homes, businesses, and palaces of the rich. That fear doesn’t disappear, and it makes itself evident year after year on March 29 and September 11 through the influx of media propaganda generated by the television stations, the political parties, and the government, who look to channel that psychology of fear toward the protection of their terrain and the justification of their own existence. It is an influential performance that congeals perfectly in the heads of the citizens and makes them into what they are.
What remains to be done, then? Go on. Hold up the barricade until they break us. Physical space disappears, and for an instantaneous, spontaneous, minuscule moment of space-time, the relation to capital is destroyed. In that—I insist—minimum square meter, we replace all the social paranoia, all the stolen happiness, all the usurpation of our free time by work hours; in the end, we replace all that our families have (and they have) taught us, for a period of time in which nothing is the same as before. “Setting aside the rubbish they talk about this day, at the present time leftist groups have been mourning for 36 years, while the ones on the corners every September 11 are the kids and young people who are there to start a personal war against the police. And there will always be contempt for authority; that is eternal. Dates like today (when they say that the lumpen, the delinquents, and the vandals come out) are a space, concretely physical but also symbolic—although the explanation can be confusing at times—in which a group of human beings, protected by one another, no longer fears the machinery of repression embodied by the police. If the leftist intellectuals sitting so comfortably at their desks look down on and insult those ‘children who do not know why they protest and were not there on September 11,’ it is because their annoyance stems from seeking to represent the entire left of capital and looking to reaffirm on each ‘controversial’ date that it is they who are the representatives and the spokespeople for the ‘excluded,’ as they like to be called. Their problem is that the combative youth are not interested in mediation via the left of capital. There is no validity to it for them or for others,” I thought, while I saw a group pull up some wooden panels protecting the construction of a Líder store on the square.
I eventually come to the end. The smell of smoke and tear gas was oppressively unbearable.
To be continued . . .
- An Incontrolado
Some nighttime photos from September 11