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The key difference between an influential, insurrectionary minority and a vanguard or a populist group is that the former values its principles and its horizontal relations with society and tries to spread its principles and models without owning them, whereas a vanguard tries to control them—whether through force, charisma, or hiding its true objectives—while a populist group offers easy solutions and caters to the prejudices of the masses in fear of being isolated. The populist group never actually overcomes isolation, as that would require forming strong relations that can abide a difference of opinion. Instead, it simply mimics the mass.
Because they both seek the warmth of the herd, the vanguard and the populist often become bedfellows, as the Stalinists and the UGT did during the Spanish Civil War. Within this partnership, the former will be more effective and will make use of the latter.
The influential minority, meanwhile, is prone to developing an antisocial tendency—as its idealism contrasts with the unprincipled pragmatism of the majority—and becoming accustomed to the role of gadfly. If this tendency manifests as a disdain for the rest of society and a commitment to realizing its principles despite and against the masses, it is likely to find common ground with vanguardist groups, who will probably use it as shock troops for carrying out offensives—as in the October Revolution. If, on the other hand, it takes the easier antisocial path of abstracting its principles, it will limit its influence, because nothing around it will reflect its ideals or invite its engagement. Only when they constantly relate their principles to the complexity of their surroundings can such minorities serve as a model for others to become actors in their own right.
The influential minority works through resonance, not through control. It assumes risks to create inspiring models and new possibilities, and to criticize convenient lies. It enjoys no intrinsic superiority and falling back on the assumption of such will lead to its isolation and irrelevance. If its creations or criticisms do not inspire people, it will have no influence. Its purpose is not to win followers, but to create social gifts that other people can freely use.
I am providing and improving this list of writings by Alfredo Maria Bonanno in the interest of charting the progression of that comrades anti-political progression over time. Of interest perhaps is his foundation in a very classic view early on regarding minority struggle and self-management. His later pieces get more diverse and start to focus more and more on the insurrectional struggle as well as developments in capitalism, jail time, and other various topics.
Revolution, Violence, Anti-authoritarianism: A few notes - 1974, 1977, 1984
A Critique of Syndicalist Methods - 1975
Workers’ Autonomy - 1975, 1976
Anarchism and the National Liberation Struggle - 1976
Why a Vanguard? - 1977
Fictional Movement or Real Movement? - 1977
Looking Foward Towards Self-Management -1977
Armed Joy - 1977
From Riot to Insurrection - 1985
Propulsive Utopia - 1987/1988
A Few Notes on Sacco and Vanzetti (From Revolutionary Solidarity) - 1989
Dissonances - (Late 80s early 90s)
Let’s Destroy Work, Let’s Destroy the Economy - (Late 80s to mid 90s)
The Anarchist Tension - 1996
Locked Up - 1997
Apart from the Obvious Exceptions - 1997, 2000
Insurectionalist Anarchism - 1999
The Insurrectional Project - 2000
Palestine, mon amour - (Various Dates)
Some Writings of Alfredo Maria Bonanno in English
Chris Hedges Welcoming Committee in Providence
by Red Zarathustra
Wednesday April 11th, Chris Hedges gave a lecture at Brown University.
The topics included civil liberties, state repression, and the
so-called “liberal class” and its demise. In light of the recent
article describing black bloc tactics as the “cancer” of the Occupy
movement, a number of Providence anarchists attended the talk.
Throughout his talk these comrades stood up and one by one adorned
black attire and bandanas. Hedges noted, “it seems we have some Black
Bloc Anarchists [sic] here, either that or some people are very cold.”
The point of this action was not to intimidate Hedges or the largely
old, white liberal audience, but to show them just how wrong their
analysis of black bloc is. That there are, in fact, faces behind the
masks – normal proletarians – who are willing to engage in discussion
on tactics. The questions and answers section reflected this, even
though the hosts of the event attempted to deny the anarchists the
right to speak.
Hedges made it quite obvious what his opinion on discussion and
challenging his own ideas are. Simply put, he openly told of his
frustration of going to general assemblies only to encounter chants of
“diversity of tactics” rather than tactical discussion. It was
apparently because of this that he felt there was absolutely no
discussion needed then. He himself merely needed to chant
“non-violence” and the matter was settled. No discussion, no desire
His arrogant handling of critique was perhaps a side-note to his
prescribed vaccine to the pathologized black bloc. He purported that
we must acknowledge the police are the 99%, that we must not taunt or
harass the police, nor must we be bold and take actions that could
potentially cause repression. This struck me wrong two-fold. First,
it misunderstands solidarity. It implies that solidarity has
terms, that it is only given when actions meets a check-list and there is no room for autonomy. What this does, leading into my second point, is
disenfranchises significant portions of the 99% – namely people of
color. It enforces what the late Joel Olson called the White
Democracy. Put succinctly by Olson, “When people of color have to
enter a movement on white people’s terms rather than their own, that
is not the 99%. That’s white democracy.”*
At Brown University, Hedges gave an apocalyptic view of the past and
present conditions of resistance to capitalism. Given this and his
inability to have a constructive discussion with the very people he
wishes to call a “cancer” (some of whom have been the backbone of
resistance in the past 20 years!) it becomes more and more obvious
that he stands in the camp of the bourgeoisie. Hedges and others like
him are the same people who would put his enemies against the wall if
he somehow inherited state power. Though he denies being a dogmatic
pacifist he also believes that the black bloc is morally wrong, that
physical resistance to american imperialism should only occur when it
is a minute before midnight and it is seemingly too late. If the
movement was made up solely of people like Chris Hedges we’d be dead
and gone by now.
We hope Chirs Hedges enjoyed his stay in Providence and his welcoming committee at the lecture.
*Whiteness and the 99% by Joel Olson.
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