Weekly Insurgency 12/21/2020
Compiled Antifa Docs, Learning From The Left, Oregon Showdown, Strategic shift?
Welcome to the Contextual Insurgent Project by writer, analyst, and activist Erin Smith.
This is your Contextual Insurgent weekly roundup, where I link you to a selection of the previous week’s previous notable events/articles/tweets and contextualize them with a short analysis drawn from a synthesis of hands-on experience and theoretical knowledge.
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Last Week’s Antifa Docs, Compiled For Your Convenience
Hello friends! Last week I linked a repository of fascinating leftist documents and guides that included everything from detailed Hong Kong barricade-building instructions to the latest DHS riot control manual (and much, much, more). I had lots of great feedback from that, but some folks did have issues accessing the docs and/or sorting and downloading all the files, so I did all the work for you and dropboxed it all in a single, one-click-download 170 megabyte folder. This is really great stuff and I can’t recommend enough saving it offline, it’s awesome reference/research material if nothing else. Antifa Docs in a dropbox folder
Learning From Lefties (Because Yes We Can)
“At some point in the last 40 years, the conservative movement should have taught us to exercise power in ways that don’t involve the state. This is what leftists do. They actively train people to create effective pressure movements that coerce compliance with their demands. The response of conservatives to this coercion is to double down on—the importance of ideas.”
“Hard lefties understand that if you want someone to change his behavior, you have to be able to inflict actual material loss on them. Not devastating bon mots, not status hits, not embarrassment. Actual material loss. For politicians, this means votes. For other people, usually, it means money.
Republican voters don’t want YouTube videos or pugnacious tweets from their elected officials. We can produce those on our own, thanks. What we want is material effect. If you’re an officeholder, and you’re not willing to materially help your allies and materially hurt your enemies, there’s really not any point of you being there.”
You may notice I share a lot of David Hines’ stuff, and there’s a very good reason for that: he’s done absolutely amazing work researching leftist organizing theory and tactics, and he does an even better job condensing it all down to useful tips and thoughtful guidance. There’s a small exercise you may recognize in this piece that I adapted and included in my podcast on Tribe Building 101, and it’s a really chewy piece overall. If you’re on the Twitters, you can follow him at @hradzka (and indeed you should)
Tensions Rise At Oregon Capitol Lockdown Protest
Monday there was a lockdown/Covid restrictions protest at the Oregon State Capitol by members of various right wing groups, some of whom came armed. The Oregon legislature was meeting in closed session, and when the demonstrators were refused entry by police things turned ugly. Several doors were damaged and windows smashed out, pepperballs and OC spray were deployed, and there were multiple scuffles and at least four arrests.
This event was concerning for several reasons. Firstly, it indicates the normally “back the blue” Patriot crowd is rapidly losing patience, sympathy, and respect for law enforcement under the current conditions. Several times officers were called “pigs” and “traitors”, shoved, had their commands ignored, and even sprayed with bear mace, and the Patriot group even managed to force their way into the building before being physically blocked at an inner checkpoint.
Secondly, video shows the escalation was organic and unplanned, with no steady leadership or real organization. This is an issue because the loudest and most hot-headed in those situations tend to be the most influential, and if there isn’t an experienced cadre of organizers to guide things they can quickly spiral out of control.
2020 has certainly not lacked for violent riots, the difference here is the preponderance of armed people engaged in direct action and physical conflict with cops. This fact probably played at least some role in the (all things considered) relatively restrained LE response, the downside is agitated, armed people with poor impulse control is a recipe for disaster. Generally speaking (there’s always exceptions) the activist left does a somewhat better job keeping their armed groups from going hands-on or getting snared in the middle of the action.
I don’t want to sound like I’m praising leftists here. But there’s a difference between mentally preparing yourself beforehand for conflict with the cops (and making sure any armed people are standing back from the scrum) and a bunch of armed protesters adjusting on the fly to a key tenet of their value system (back the blue because cops support us) not working out like they assumed. There’s been several shootings over the past few weeks at protests, I will admit that I have some concerns that a hothead may designate cops as tyrants and escalate things to a tragic degree. This will probably become even likely, the more LE begin to consider (and treat) right wing protesters as potential threats.
Lara Jedeed is hard lefty press and not remotely objective, but she took great video yesterday. I follow a bunch of lefties for mostly obvious reasons, one big one for me is getting takes on these kind of events from their perspective; it really helps me understand how their minds work.
Antifa Defensive Shift in 2021?
Something I suspect we’ll see going into 2021 is a focus on eviction defense actions from antifa and the activist left, as well as attempts at more autonomous zones. CHAZ failed for a long list of reasons (starting with being so large it was essentially indefensible) but Portland’s RHED was a definite improvement, with better barricades and a smaller area that could take advantage of interior lines.
There was a serious leftist push towards tenant unions around April 2020 (when it was obvious how badly the economic wheels were coming off) and with 30+% of Americans currently behind on their rent or mortgage, I fear there will eventually be plenty more opportunities to barricade and defend small areas from the cops. This sort of tactic plays into the concept of dilemma actions while building solidarity with the local community, and can almost be seen as an homage to their Autonomen roots.
I’ll flesh this thought out more in the future, but thanks for subscribing and I hope you give this a share!