Saturday 1 December 2018
Insurgent Battlespace: Revolutionary Anarchist Praxis
The Spanish Revolution of 1936-1939 brought into sharp relief the question of revolutionary war: whether it was to be fought along conventional hierarchical military lines, or along unconventional horizontal militia lines. Crucially, this was not merely a question of strategy and tactics – though military historian Antony Beevor hailed the militia over the conventional military in Spain – but at its heart also of ideology, the motivating rationale for armed action, and the ethic which mobilises the masses.
In the years since the Spanish Revolution’s defeat from within and because of its capitulation to militarisation and statism, and especially during the post-WWII era of national liberation struggles in Asia and Africa and leftist insurgencies in Latin America, the libertarian military option was largely forgotten, and the guerrillas of the 1950s-1980s largely learned their strategy, tactics and ideology from statists, whether Sun Tzu, Guevara, Mao, Giap or others – though as I will show, the libertarian tendency, although occluded, was never entirely absent from anti-imperialist struggles in much of Latin America, and to a lesser extent, North Africa, North America, Europe, and Japan.
What may have seemed a question for a previous age, has however, come to the fore again in the post-Soviet era, starting with the Zapatista insurgency in Chiapas in 1994, moving through the Argentine factory occupations of the 2000s, the Arab Spring of the 2010s, and into the libertarian communist revolutionary experiment in Rojava (Western Kurdistan) today.
But today’s guerrillas, especially those who wish to establish a free society and not merely yet another repressive-exploitative state-capitalist formation, it is a vastly altered battlespace, with hunter-killer drones, cyberwar, intimate satellite imaging, non-lethal weaponry, biometric tracking, over-the-horizon strike capability, 3D-printed weapons, dirty bombs, and so forth.
For post-Soviet libertarian communist revolutionaries, therefore, the question of revolutionary war in this new battlespace, or revolutionary neowar as I term it, is urgently framed by new technologies, new post-Soviet ideologies including Salafist terrorism and a revived libertarian communism – and a whirlwind of competing centrifugal hegemonic-imperialist and centripetal decentralist-proletarian forces.
And yet, this essentially asymmetrical war between the poles of what the autonomists Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt call “empire” and “multitude” or what the anarchist Felipe Corrêa calls simply “domination” and “self-management” has been trapped in resistance forms either shaped by a liberal incapacity to grasp the nettle of power (as in the Occupy movement that “occupies” nothing but pre-existing public space), by a naïve, self-incapacitating mass pacifism (as in the Egyptian Spring’s reliance on the theories of the likes of Gene Sharp), and by outmoded tried-and-failed forms of statist guerrilla warfare (in particular the foquismo of Ché Guevara, the militarism of Carlos Marighella, and the proto-state terrorism of the likes of the Red Army Fraction).
A clear question therefore needs to be asked of anarchists, libertarian communists, libertarian autonomists, and all free-associative, decentralist groups, networks and formations: how do we fight back today? How do we ensure that popular mass forces seize power – the ability to transform exploitative relations – and break it down into local directly-democratic, socially pluralistic administrative bodies, horizontally-federated in order to establish a durable libertarian counter-power? In response I offer to the brave combatants of Rojava and elsewhere an updated doctrine for libertarian communist armed struggle.
Chapter 1. Revisiting Class War
• Means & Ends: the Militarisation Question in the Quest for Social Justice & Peace.
• The Fulcrum: the Militant Minority & the Masses.
• Combating Daesh: on the Need for a Libertarian Communist Revolutionary Guerrilla Doctrine.
Chapter 2. Socio-Military Counter-power
• For the King or the People?: the Mobilising Ethic.
• For God or Liberty?: Strategy & Tactics.
• For the State or the Free Zone?
• For the Party or the Social Revolution?
• The Attractions of Atrocity: on the Avoidance of Terrorism.
Chapter 3. Articulating Proletarian Forces
• Objective Conditions: Insurrectionary versus Mass Strategies.
• Battlespace: Three Spheres Theory.
• Critical Mass: Five Forces Theory.
• Grades and Circles: Libertarian Communist Structures.
• The Grassroots: Beyond the Factory Gates.
• Graphic models of the Three Spheres Theory, Five Forces Theory & Concentric Circles Praxis.
Chapter 4. Escalating Armed Struggle
• Insurrection to Territorial Control: Armed Risings 1870-1959.
• Social Revolution: Anti-Fascist Counter-power 1918-1939
• Vanguard or Rearguard?: Cold War Armed Struggle 1944-1979.
• From Chiapas to Rojava: Post-Soviet Resistance 1994-2019.
Chapter 5. Revolutionary Neowar
• Perpetual War: the Final Solution Frontier.
• Chaotic Resistance: Enabling Divide-and-Rule.
• Organised Intersectional Combat: Arming the Social Revolution.
Postscript: Organisational Models
• Libertarian Communist Military Models.
Glossary & Index