Heroes and heroines

(July 29th, 2017)

Heroes and heroines. The important people and loved ones in your life, inside and outside of the anarchist space. This has been a monumental week of solidarity for the anarchist heroes and heroines we have come to love. July 20th thru 27th was a week of solidarity to support defendants arrested while protesting the inauguration of Donald Trump, six months prior on January 20th (#disruptJ20). July 25th also marks the International Day of Solidarity with Antifascist Prisoners that originated in 2014 in support of an Australian friend. Our lived philosophies and endeavors, whether successful to some degree or not, will often steer us toward trouble and into the roughest spots of the sea. After the storm has passed, we’re often faced with the brutal results, friends and loved ones hurt in need of long-term care and others facing long stays behind bars.

As anarchists, I think one of the things that we have learned to do well is support our friends in trouble or at least aim for such heights. In many ways, the sole praxis of being an anarchist means perpetually being in sights of those who wish to see us fail. It’s terrible enough that often it seems, the feelings we express towards other anarchists and their projects, people on the same team, is the harsh sectarian reality of real life, like a mirror reflecting the worst of society back onto us. Over the years, the regional and international solidarity efforts have made a large impact. In the United States over the last years, some IWW branches have went from organizing in the factories to organizing incarcerated workers (Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee), to the delight of many red anarchists. Prison solidarity work is often one of those thankless projects for those involved. It’s tough to keep up the steam at times, especially when directly dealing with your enemies, the jailers, the police, the courts. It’s nice to see the growth of new projects, groups, and events year round to support not only anarchists in trouble, but for the total abolition of all prisons and prisoners.

Going back to title of this editorial, perhaps we should use a different word for heroes and heroines. Yes, utmost respect to those facing time and total solidarity, but the word just seems like too much of an idolization of each other. No, I’m not talking about “kill your idols” kind of view either, but that the language of society and heroes is often associated with those of superpowers, fighting against something. Of course, a heroes welcome home is called for, but the hero worship and idolization of each other seems off for anarchists. A quote from the retired NBA player Charles Barkley comes to mind where he says, “I’m not a role model” in an old Nike commercial of all things marketed to the culture of cool.

On such a note, this past week a recent text on It’s Going Down regarding prison solidarity work called-out readers for doing-nothing, nothing-doing. “Dear reader, I do not mean to insult you but chances are the most active you’ve been in the last year-and-a-half is critiquing our president at your favorite bar.” Ouch! This random shelling of dear readers must totally be spurred to action now, leaping from their bar stools to help the revolution throw newspaper boxes in the streetz. As every wise anarchist critic knows, as the old saying goes, if you don’t riot you can’t complain. End text.

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