The following is a collectively-written, anonymous statement on the fiasco with the Maoist-turn within Defend Boyle Heights and their antagonism towards las O.V.A.S.1Overthrowing Vendidos, Authority & the State, the Psyco Brigrade & the radical space La Conxa in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles.
First published here: https://mediarevolt.tumblr.com/ Here we re-publish it in solidarity with these projects. Please feel free to re-share & re-publish this statement.
As pro-revolutionists committed to cultivating revolution, many often look to coalitions to do the work of collaboration and moving with the the oppressed towards revolutionary practice. In actuality, when we work together it’s important to not only iron where we agree and have affinity, but where we disagree and where our affinity diverges, where our strategies might actually be counter to one another: i.e. antagonisms. So that we are not surprised in the future, and we don’t flatten struggles for the sake of false unity.
In Los Angeles, or more accurately, occupied Tongva land, in regards to the recent call to ban and isolate the Psyco Brigade/las O.V.A.s/La Conxa, and Defend NELA and the less recent decision to kick them out of the Defend Boyle Heights coalition:
- There is information conveniently being left out of the conversation by DBH – namely, that the Los Angeles Red Guards and, their front-group project Serve the People, (coalition members of Defend Boyle Heights) were previously banned from the La Conxa space last year 2018 June due to predatory mactivist behavior and recruitment tactics.
- The OVAs/Pscyo Brigade was kicked out from the Defend Boyle Heights coalition after they had started detailing “red flags,” or concerning dynamics and behaviors by coalition members: which had resulted in boundaries being set to exclude Red Guards and STP-LA from La Conxa. Just prior to making a presentation on these red flags within the Defend Boyle Heights Coalition, they were kicked out of the coalition for what they call “identity opportunism”. *Essentially, this term describes a tenet of Maoist ideology. Mainly that “identity politics” is seen as a non-politics since it does not build-up to their desired unified Maoist party line. So then, for Maoists “identity opportunists” are those who they conceive as using their identity as a way to push an agenda other than Maoism. A topsy-turvy inversion of the notion of identity as a site of varied oppressions.
- Since the call for isolation was released one of the signees has come forward disclosing that they did not consent to signing the statement and actually contradicted the narrative of events set forth in the statement (the O.V.A.’s were not kicked out of an event for death threats). This, and other information, casts serious doubt on the alleged death threats and the credibility of the statement in its entirety.
Consequently the drafters of this statement want to offer some solidarity, counter-narrative and perspective to those being asked to sign onto the ban and enforce isolation of the Psyco Brigade/OVAS.
- We remind ourselves of the autonomy and resilience of groups and people free to respond however they desire/need to, defensively or offensively, to predatory recruitment tactics by overt vanguardist organizations. For the purposes of this paper, vanguardist organizations refer to groups who themselves claim vanguardism as a central strategy of their intent, purpose and organizing. Those vanguardist entities which position themselves as the higher authority or specialized professionals in the liberatory movements of oppressed people- the saviors, gatekeepers, proselytizers and managers reproduced in resistance movements.
- We support the role of self and communal determination in combating rank opportunism by left-authoritarian organizations working under the cover of coalitions. To be in coalition is to be in collaboration. Coalitions often hold space for multiple affinities with some strong clear principles and boundaries that bring people together for a shared goal or desired outcome. Some of these left orgs use coalitions as cover to recruit people to their ideology and specifically, their party or organization, and then isolate those who they view as “competition” in the ideological social war when recruitment does not go according to plan. By left-authoritarian we mean those in the broad leftwing who view hierarchy, coercion, state-power, organized authority and policing as a means to an end: sometimes known as authoritarian socialism or Communism.
- We oppose predatory behavior and macktivism for the purposes of recruitment, gaining information and access to space and communities, resulting in collectives and spaces feeling infiltrated. Infiltration is not just an overt act from state agents, but tactics used to gain and manipulate information, access and people, by those convinced their own goals outweigh the dynamics it takes to get there (their ends justify their means). This is not the spirit of collaboration, camaraderie and liberation we seek and spark, which definitely holds within it space for disagreement and rupture. This is symptomatic of an authoritarian tendency in organizing that seeks to control and manipulate instead of empower us to engage in our own liberation. We do not embrace a false equivalence, or conception of liberal notions of equality, by presuming infiltration is weaponized against all genders the same way, toward the same end, with the same impact.
- Ideological divisions exist and have been amplified as the OVAs/Psyco Brigade has developed their commitment to collective autonomy and revolution which leans more toward autonomy, self-organization and a flattening of hierarchies. This cannot be overlooked as a key ideological divide with some of the forces at play within Defend Boyle Heights.
- Gender (and race, ability, sexuality, and more) is not a secondary identity to that of the exploited worker /proletariat engaged in class war. We are, of any gender, engaged in class war. We are, as women, as nonbinary folks, as trans and gender nonconforming people, as men, engaged in class war in particular ways that include all of the iterations in which class war shows up in our lives. We will not, as the below quote by Red Guards LA posits, wait until after a theoretical socialist revolution to use subsequent waves of revolution to “collectivize domestic/reproductive labor” to resolve “the contradiction between men and women”. The contradiction is truly in the daily enforcement of gender as yet another role and job under capitalism and society that is associated with treatment/mistreatment and produces (and is produced by) bosses, masters, and #theotherPig. We will not attack capitalism without also attacking this society. This is not a distraction from class war, this is an amplification of class war.
- “After the revolution the socialist construction of the dictatorship of the proletariat with a reconstruction and collectivization of domestic/reproductive labor will initially resolve the contradiction between men and women. Subsequent cultural revolutions can also resolve the more aggressive residue patriarchal ideas that linger on as the dying old ideas of a dying old world.”.
- As a coalition that has repeatedly and openly not only called for violence, but shamed others for not being down for “revolutionary violence” we find their response to these unsubstantiated death threats to be disingenuous and oddly opportunistic ideologically. Threats of death are serious accusations that concern trust, safety and security and should have nothing to do with DBH’s purported qualifications and judgment of the O.V.As as revolutionary or not. In fact, it is common for women in revolutionary movements to be used for their anger and furious organizing efforts until it is no longer convenient or threatens an established order of things. Bash back, which is a hxstoricaly queer, trans, lgbtq, women, femme direct response tactic, has always been a form of communal defense and revolutionary violence. For example, in 2014 Queerpocalypse descended on the Los Angeles Anarchist bookfair flipping tables and posting up outside the event, in a rejection of “inclusivity” models dealing with queer representation in anarchism and leftism. Folks were agitating the space, addressing centuries long antagonisms between default representation politics, hetnormativity in organizing spaces and the reality of struggle and oppression, especially within “anarchist” spaces. Lived experience and agitation sometimes rises to meet and challenge our theoretical revolutionary spaces- this is not identity opportunism. We insist on inviting our whole selves into our movements or they are not our movements; and we refuse for our participation to be reduced to another form in which we are treated as exploitable workers devoid of our actual selves.
- Beware the forces you breathe life into. It is one thing to call for a boycott of local businesses or nonprofits and expect automatic compliance. It is another to apply the same tactic and strategy on more autonomously self-organized collectives and spaces. We will not fault the OVAs/Psyco Brigade for being who they have always been, women and marginalized genders self-organized toward revolution, and growing into understandings that do not fall in line with left-authoritarian ideologies.
- “A lack of accountability to a higher power” is often weaponized against autonomous folks or anarchists in an intent to portray us as independent and unrelated to the communities we organize in. Defend Boyle Heights is not the higher power we are looking to empower to regulate self-organized community efforts that don’t align or fall in line with their ideology or strategy. Are you?
- We have seen time and time again: even abusers and misogynists receive the benefit of the doubt of Transformative Justice processes, and it is suspicious to see no commentary or transparency detailing any attempts to resolve this issue or address the underlying root issues being dismissed as “identity opportunism”. We look to other iterations in Los Angeles in which figureheads, leaders and organizations have fallen under intense, necessary but methodical scrutiny complete with fact-finding, testimony and even tribunals. Even in such cases arising to the occasion of physical violence and abuse in the name of revolution, after evidence, proof and process that had been gathered, the entire organization was not banned or called to disband. It is one thing to dissociate, break coalition, rupture, and another entirely to call for isolation and actively campaign for isolation. Collective autonomy- collective disposability we oppose the isolation of a radical collective in its entirety due to the actions or threats of a few. This is not accountability, but collective punishment. Even as we recognize the autonomy of each person and the responsibility of our organizing efforts to hold ourselves accountable, to call for such a broad ban and isolation without due diligence and full transparency of the above details regarding coalition member organizations is negligent, amounts to gatekeeping and reminds us of carceral politics that would dispose of community members altogether with no attention to interpersonal hxstories and real-time dynamics.
- We recognize that not all our comrades are familiar with the differences in principles, strategies and tactics between left authoritarian v. more autonomous anti authoritarian organizing within leftist and revolutionary frameworks and communities in general. We caution against dismissing these contradictions as “sectarianism” when there are real time behaviors and interpersonal dynamics in organizing practice that show up according to these lines.
- We know these dynamics and contradictions between revolutionist ideologies are not limited to this time and place. We encourage others to detail their “red flags” and how authoritarian leftism is showing up in their communities, at the cost of their autonomous & anti-authoritarian organizing.
- DBH takes an openly-Maoist line against identity politics which views any sort of attention to identity, other than one’s class position, as being liberal, revisionist or anti-communist. Those of us drafting this piece come from a variety of identities and understand that our lived experience goes beyond our class-belonging (but also includes it): women are harassed on the streets regardless of class; Black people are subjected to gratuitous violence by the police regardless of income; queer people are coerced into heteronormative lifestyles regardless of their job title and people with disabilities which make the sale of their labor-power difficult still are forced to pay for their own livelihood. To say these identities are inconsequential is not only offensive, it deeply misunderstands the nature of the capitalist society we live in and therefore defaults to /privileges entrenched power systems inextricably interlocked with capitalism. But DBH calls attention to all this “identity-opportunism.” As though there is any explicitly gained opportunity, and at the expense of the community or liberatory efforts, to being a woman, a Black person, queer, or a person with a disability, or facing the multiplicity of these experiences in this capitalist, hierarchical and authoritarian structured world.
those of us that have drafted this statement are not locked-away in our ivory towers, writing out abstract essays for academic consumption. We’ve been involved in organizing, creating radical propaganda, putting on events, facilitating workshops, hitting the streets and other forms of radical action, solidarity & mutual aid. We write this because we know how destructive this type of Left-Authoritarian organizing is to the goals we have and we must defend each other against these types of attacks whether from the Left or the Right.
Some Pissed Off ‘Los Angeles’ Anti-Authoritarians
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