Source: Inferno Urbano
Via & Translated by act for freedom now!
Blank spaces and black letters – On the repressive operation “Sibilla”
To express annoyance or disappointment in the face of power is not for us. Convinced as we are that between freedom and authority not only there is an unbridgeable gap but also that the former is the expression of irreducible otherness towards the latter and that the two are incompatible and irreconcilable, we persevere in firmly believing that the only possible relation with power is a relation of war. Either you are subjected to it or you destroy it.
This is the reason why resignation, surrender and, ultimately, capitulation become clear in the indifference towards the State. We anarchists retain an idea of freedom which is too extended and uncontrollable to be allowed to be “satisfied”. Our idea defines and – where theory flows into practice – intends to express integral and absolute freedom which scorns all kinds of compliance with power, which effectively smashes the false democratic “freedoms” being given to us, which in an eternal yearning for revolt strikes with action the persons and structures of power, disintegrating the space and time of authority.
Sometimes, especially when conscience is arid of will, the cumbersome presence of the State in all fields of existence and everyday life manages to make its courageous opponents withdraw, and in this way they begin to postpone the realization of their projects infinitively. Hostility becomes indifference. In this way, little by little, the goal becomes that of keeping on with a form of antagonism more or less adorned with radical desires. Rather than destroying the world of authority we prefer de-existential withdrawal which aims at building up our “small world”, by dedicating ourselves to ourselves, our deadlines, relations and even “self-management”, “self-determination” of milieus and situations.
But this “world”, can a space where it is possible to satisfy the desire for a life without any kind of coercion exist? Therefore, can it coexist with the world outside there? In a few words, does the possibility of escape exist? In the last decades the anarchist movement of Italian language has been long full of these convictions inherent to a possible “escape” from reality camouflaged by the usual radical and alternativist rhetoric. After all it is the “usual” search for motivations – to be placed firstly before ourselves and then before others – before our almost total inaction towards power. Then any pretext is good and “the fire of our passions”, as we had carelessly considered it some time ago, we can now put back in the drawer where we keep other more or less juvenile exuberances.
Clearing the way from the miserable pretexts that each finds in order to silence their conscience and place a veil of indifference between themselves and the “outside” world, it is necessary to dwell on three aspects. First of all a possibility of escape from reality has never actually existed: every private garden, every “happy island” (be it a physical space or a conclave of intellectuals) survive only thanks to the tolerance of capital. Secondly, one and only world exists: that in which we disgracefully find ourselves surviving and from which – whatever you say – it is not possible to call ourselves out, firstly because power, now more than ever, demands even our everyday ideological compliance with its reasons, if not the direct joint participation in its needs. And in this sense our refusal or desertion implies consequences at all times and no matter what, be they big or small. Finally, a form of freedom that ends beyond my home door or that exhausts itself outside my reassurances is delusive, deceitful: it is not freedom.
Freedom is a complex concept that eludes easy categorizations and at the same time remains immediately comprehensible to those who are ready to consider its call, to taste its content. And for this reason whatever kind of “freedom” given to us by anybody, not only will we expose it as scum, but we will fight it actively precisely because it is inevitably a joint-participant and expression of the principle of authority. Freedom doesn’t contemplate neither the logic of calculation (therefore it doesn’t admit any sort of “gradualism”) nor that of preservation: our yearning for it attacks ferociously any calculation aimed at revolt and abandon any logic that tends to the preservation of life. To stay away from the State and capital means to preserve life itself, to hold it over the superficial indifference which is even too easy to embrace. In my opinion to face the State and capital, to face authority, only this means to begin to live. And it is only when life enters the dimension of risk that it takes propulsive strength, a strength belonging to utopia.
In the current historical period we can even more note how there is less and less margin of a life centred on the exclusive cultivation of one’s reassuring certitudes. In all fields of social reality there is less and less space for mediations, for reformism. To camouflage our choices is more difficult and it is increasingly visible how certain convictions or undertaken paths, rather than leading us to enrichment (even enrichment of our “experience of the struggle”), have already brough about surrender to power for a long time. We are in an epoch where disinterest, inaction, lack of solidarity, inoffensive attitudes are praised when they are not even elected to real “virtues”. And we can see all this also in milieus that many considered as bearers or promoters of antagonism to the status quo.
Needless to point out in these lines how these praises and supposed virtues are totally functional to the State and capital. In the light of this very sad situation, where also wide social sectors of the exploited masses claim the right to be integrated in the society of control which is showing itself day after day in the context of the tightening of repression carried out by western democracies which – even if they maintain their formal appearance intact – are rapidly “evolving” or rather showing what in fact they’ve always been; there, in the light of all this I think it is necessary to reiterate once again the value and significance of our anarchist and revolutionary choices. We anarchists have a dream which is the expression, an expression that can’t be suppressed, of the reasons of life against obedient existence, humiliation, submission that power is trying to inculcate in our consciences. That’s why we believe that freedom is first and foremost, here and now, in the conflict against all forms of power, in the wild desire of practical and concrete destruction of authority.
This dream incessantly places us in front of blazing, compelling questions, which call for our attention, commitment, therefore our revolutionary responsibility. What does to live a life mean? Are our principles, practices really the expression of a permanent social war which doesn’t admit hesitation? Perhaps anarchism is a “hobby” for us? These are questions which if placed in the right way, can represent agony to those who have anarchy close to their hearts, exactly because, even before posing themselves as questions of methodological order, have the surprisingly revealing capacity to be immediately and radically at the base of problems, illuminating the questioning reasons of anarchism and its inevitable placing itself in a situation of risk, the only dimension where it is possible to glimpse the freedom we are yearning for.
Repressive operation “Sibilla”, which emerged last 11th November with dozens of searches, the arrest of two comrades (including one already locked up, Alfredo Cospito) and another four subjected to restrictive measures (all of them quashed by a court a little more than a month later) – a repressive operation particularly directed against the anarchist paper Vetriolo, with the police seizing all the copies they could find – gives me the chance to make a few observations, not much of a “novelty” for that matter, concerning disinterest, inaction, lack of solidarity, inoffensive attitude. These miserable choices and conditions, which among other things were the object of biting and radical criticism in the pages of Vetriolo since the very first issue, are actually an immediate expression of what we can concisely define as resignation and capitulation in the face of the State and capital.
Having the investigation carried out by Perugia prosecutors in the context of national antiterrorism prosecution assimilated the files of a previous and much more consistent investigation made by Milan prosecutors (centred on the paper, the comrades editors and other comrades), I take the occasion to dwell – without opportunist “technicisms” – on one of the two main accusations made to us, that of instigation to commit crime, an accusation that was successively assimilated precisely by the investigation “Sibilla”, probably following the recommendations of some judge or cop in the context of the above mentioned coordination between various prosecutors engaged in “activities to contrast the anarchist-insurrectionalist” phenomenon undergoing for a time at a national level. My reflection doesn’t focus much on the specific accusation – from which I am not interested in defending myself – but it takes the occasion offered by this repressive operation to explore some aspects on the nature of anarchist publications and theory.
Among the aspects on which the accusation of instigation is based there is the alleged “being clandestine” of the paper, obsessively defined as such by the carabinieri of Raggruppamento Operativo Speciale [ROS, Special Operative Group] starting from the usual conjectures and suppositions that reality itself – even before some more or less democratic judge – is set to prove wrong. The definition of “clandestine” paper is necessary to endorse the thesis (following the usual repressive conviction that anarchists meet and associate on the basis of a “double level”: the one explicit and visible, the other one clandestine and illegal) maintaining that “behind the paper a specific organization would hide, an organization dedicated to the realization of explosive and incendiary attacks thus “relaunching” anarchist action in the Italian territory.
The repressors have repeatedly written, with particular reference to the instigation to commit crime, that the paper “expressed concepts strategic to the orientation and mechanism of instigating propaganda having the concrete ability to cause the perpetration of specific unintentional crimes against the international and internal character of the State, with the purpose to subvert its judicial, political, economic and social order through the practice of violence”. Why did the carabinieri take great care of elaborating such muddled an expression such as “ concepts strategic to the orientation and mechanism of instigating propaganda”? Because in the last five years Vetriolo has represented for the anarchist movement of Italian language an important space where they could find concrete, articulated and in-depth analyses on the State and capital, on the nature and origins of the State, on the current conditions of exploitation, on the “new form of authoritarian turn” (as we intended to define the repressive tightening ongoing in recent years, even before the coronavirus epidemic), on the theoretical-practical bond of anarchism, on the anarchist revolutionary methodology, on illegality and propaganda by the deeds, on internationalism and the necessity of the international. The attack on Vetriolo places itself particularly in the light of the fact that this paper has never been neither a container nor the result of editors closed upon themselves: it is full of, almost overflowing with, analysis, corrosive social critique, and for those who in these years have materially edited, discussed and distributed it, the paper was not a medal, a recognition, a flag to be waved in order to be noticed in some milieu.
To attack this paper was almost unavoidable on the part of the repressive apparatus of the State: whether a repressive operation against the paper had to happen was not a matter for discussion, the question was when it had to happen. In the light of the results of the operation in terms of arrests (which were annulled after a month, as already said), it is reasonable to say that a worse situation could have appeared, also considering that the public prosecutor had demanded the arrest of eight comrades. The intention of worsening the prison situation of comrade Alfredo Cospito in terms of affliction and restriction also seems to have faded for the moment (except for censorship measures on correspondence, which he is periodically inflicted).
The expression “concepts strategic to the orientation and mechanism of instigating propaganda” refers to a triple aspect. First of all it is the result of the fact that the repressive apparatus didn’t succeed in charging any anarchist with the many incendiary and explosive attacks that took place in the years 2017-2020, nor did it succeed in setting up any trial for many of these actions. Since 2017 the repressors have been comparing the articles that were published in the paper with written claims concerning at least a dozen actions, with the intention to find stylistic and lexical resemblances and coincidences, besides conceptual similarities. Besides maintaining an impressive monitoring activity on the paper, the intention was that of “linking” at least one of the comrades under investigation to at least one of the actions in question, so as to be able to proceed with a series of arrests with specific accusations besides instigation to commit crime and subversive association with purposes of terrorism and subversion of the democratic order. Therefore, having ascertained, according to what they say, that some articles, in particular the three parts of the interview “Which international?” with comrade Alfredo Cospito, contained conceptual coincidences with written claims, they thought it well to coin the fine definition of “concepts strategic to the orientation and mechanism of instigating propaganda”, a definition only good to wipe their arses – as for all cops’ wastepaper.
Secondly, in recent years the State’s bodies have displaying an increasing tendency to attribute revolutionary insurgency, therefore the carrying out of actions by comrades, to an earlier work of “instigation” made by some anarchist publications. Why? Certainly because they intend to strike the publications themselves as such. But not only: the intent is that of striking papers and magazines in order to push towards a downward adaptation in the elaboration of the theory and even the lexicon used. Theory must become “blunt”, incapable of affecting reality, of bonding differences – given that it is only by “division” that anarchist ideas affirm themselves, not by “inclusion” (anarchism doesn’t support any sort of “all-inclusive” theoretical pluralism). The State moves in this sense because all in all the level of the conflict has been at its lowest for a long time, therefore – according to their point of view – anarchists should better become moderate, put an end to determined and radical publications as concerns theory and revolutionary intransigence, therefore willingly accept passivity, desistance, inaction.
The almost “obsessive” definition of “clandestine” linked to certain anarchist papers and magazines is the expression of this downward adaptation that the State intends to stimulate in anarchists: the goal is that of pushing towards a sort of “clandestinity” of the publications and anarchist activities in places and in the streets. Certainly this goal is nothing new. In the 1990s ROS carabinieri defined anarchist publications such as Anarchismo and Provocazione as being of “internal circulation”. As happened in past years with the latest edition of Croce Nera Anarchica and with the paper KNO3, today Vetriolo also becomes clandestine, an updated version of the “internal circulation” of thirty years ago. The almost declared intent is that of making us hiding in a small hole, a little corner where we are more easily controllable than we already are.
In the light of these considerations it is however necessary to criticize any typology of political opportunism meant to defend itself from the definition of “clandestine paper”: as anarchists we refuse this definition not because we consider clandestinity as something not desirable or not realizable by comrades or because we deprecate it, but because this definition has been created by repressors, because it wasn’t us who chose this modality of distribution (for a paper in this case), because comrades – when they edit properly clandestine publications – do so by their own (strategic, contingent, methodological) choice and never following a precept of the repressors, which is something that is all in the latter’s favour. Therefore, in the face of this invitation to downwards adaptation the response must be the same as ever: no moderation or arrangement, no compromises or half measures.
Thirdly and finally, this definition of “concepts strategic to the orientation and mechanism of instigating propaganda” expresses the sharp inability of the State to understand that actions carried out by anarchists can’t be the result of instigation. The relation between the propaganda and spreading of anarchist ideas and anarchists’ intransigent revolutionary action doesn’t coincide with the relation between an instigator and someone who is being instigated. I don’t even think that instigation can actually exist because those who act – inevitably – have certainly already developed such determination inside themselves that they don’t need to be “instigated” to do something, to carry out an action. Autonomy of thought and action is such that it overcomes, in the practice, the “need” of instigation.
In my opinion, instigation reminds to a meaning that is not congenial to anarchism or to anarchists themselves: it has already been said that to instigate is like throwing a stone and hiding. I agree. Anarchist thought, as well as action, is never presumed to be cowardice. Anarchists spread their ideas, certainly they consider the precipitation of events as a desirable perspective, they intend to exacerbate the conflict , they rejoice when the State’s characters and structures are struck, but they are not mere “instigators”. They are not so either when they place involvement in the globality of the conflict, illegality, propaganda by the deeds ahead of a generic “celebration” of the action itself. Therefore we affirm ideas with resolve and coherence, we carry out things with unique courage and determination.
Moreover it is necessary to consider that the judicial-legislative apparatus defines its terminologies and conventions always by diminishing the revolutionaries, misrepresenting their theory and practice with the purpose to pass off the necessity of the struggle as something impracticable, inadmissible, madness, the result of “cowardice”. It is up to us not to surrender by defending our publications and above all the actions carried out by comrades.
Therefore the problem of instigation doesn’t exist for me and I am not interested in any reasoning over a possible defence against these accusations. I don’t recognize in justice any capacity to evaluate or to decide over our theories and practices, less than ever to define them. If anything, the fact that my ideas are considered as instigation makes me smile because the will to destroy the state order and the current social structure is much greater than any “instigation”, it overcomes the latter in the practice, given that it is only in [the will to destroy] that the theoretical-practical bond typical of anarchism expresses itself totally and deeply, and we’ve known for over 150 years that anarchism involves constant pouring of thought into action and vice-versa. Words can be recognized by someone, in which case this someone will do what they think more adequate with them, perhaps making them their own, keeping them or spreading them, and they might as well remain empty words, unheard, simple elucubrations of exclusively theoretical nature. The task of anarchist theory is above all that of critical analysis of the problems that by and by present themselves to us or that challenge our conscience. We give these problems a critique which is social, not political. Therefore the problem of critical analysis has never had anything to do with hypothetical instigation: the reason is its placing itself directly in the conflict – without facing it or turning it outside -, in the conviction that to analyse also means to criticize and to criticize always means to analyse something, and here I rule out the superficial meaning that most of the times is given to the concept of critique. Therefore it is in critique, in the analysis of problems that we find some of the fundamentals of anarchist theory.
As concerns my experience, I have had the good fortune to be able to know anarchism practically since forever. It is through anarchists’ books and magazines that I understood how the strength of negation – irreducible negation which finds its way with practice – has been the motive force leading to revolutionary insurgency and individual revolt. In the words of many anarchists I’ve found my own curiosity, my own desire of discovering and analysing, but my anarchist revolutionary choice, which started when I was in my early twenties, came later. I am the son of migrants and proletarians but above all I am anarchist, not because I learned it from our books and magazines, which – let’s not forget – have been put under accusation since they exist (something altogether different than “exceptional” therefore, so much for the fine democratic souls frightened by the attack on “freedom of expression”), but because I am made of these experiences, choices and convictions myself, which remain intact today as is solidarity with comrades in prison. Without delays, without hesitations.
Francesco Rota Sulis
Published in anarkiviu.wordpress.com on 20th January 2022 and in Bezmotivny, bimonthly anarchist internationalist paper year II, issue 3, 7th February.