I don’t like seeing the city destroyed. This is not at all within the spirit of May Day celebrations.
-Seattle City Council Member Bruce Harrell, May 1st 2012
Here we are again. For us, not much has changed. However, the cities
around us have grown, strengthened, become more adaptable, resilient,
and overwhelming in their ability to absorb all of our energy. The
contemporary metropolis is a machine designed to extract capital from
humans and to keep them pacified while doing so. Those who reject
pacification are demonized, marginalized, imprisoned, or murdered.
On May 1st, 1886, hundreds of thousands of workers did not
go to work and took the streets in a General Strike, determined to show
the capitalists that they would only work eight hour days from then on.
In Chicago, the city where the movement for the eight hour day was the
strongest, striking workers were locked out of a machine plant. On May 3rd,
they held a large rally in front of the plant, and when the striking
workers confronted the scabs, the police opened fire on the crowd and
killed several of the strikers. In response to these murders, a rally
was called for May 4th in Haymarket Square.
It was here that three thousand people listened to speeches while
being watched by dozens of Chicago police officers. And it was here that
someone, filled with hatred and anger at the continuing murders of poor
workers, decided to throw a bomb into the crowd of police. Six cops
died and several workers were killed when the police opened fire after
the blast. The square emptied. Everyone left. And then, over the next
few days, eight anarchists were rounded up by the authorities and thrown
in jail. One killed himself in jail. Four were hung. Four were were
eventually released. The anarchist who killed himself in prison, Louis
Lingg, said the words to the court before he was sentenced: I say to you: I despise you. I despise your order, your laws, your force-propped authority. Hang me for it!
These are the people who died so that workers might work eight hour
days rather than fourteen hour days. These are the anarchists that are
remembered on May 1st.
Throughout the world and for over a hundred years, people have
celebrated May Day by actively revolting against capitalist and state
institutions. A cursory internet search reveals a wealth of evidence
supporting this statement. May Day is in no way a day reserved for
exclusively peaceful demonstrations—and it never has been. The city, the
police, the Democratic recuperators, the banks, and the business and
property owners would prefer if May Day was peaceful, for this would
perfectly serve their interests.
For those of you who still don’t understand, we will make it simple:
anarchists fight for total freedom. And on the way, we are consistently
disparaged, misquoted, attacked, imprisoned, and murdered. So now we’re
here, one hundred and twenty six years later, about to say the same
things we have said again and again. Pay attention this time, huh?
Ready? Ok. Here we go. II: Seattle police are investigating after vandals threw rocks
through windows at the home of Mayor Mike McGinn following violent May
Day protests. McGinn spokesman Aaron Pickus confirmed Wednesday that the
rocks sailed through his dining room and living room windows around
midnight. McGinn and his wife were home but were not injured. According
to a police report, the mayor’s wife saw two people outside the home
after the rocks were thrown. One waved and then both suspects walked
away. A police search of the area failed to locate them.
-Komo News, May 2nd, 2012
On May Day, the mayor declared a state of emergency that allowed the
police to confiscate any large sticks they saw people carrying in the
crowds of protesters. This state of emergency ultimately allowed roving
bands of police to dive into crowds and attack people carrying signs and
banners. The justification for these emergency laws was the massive
‘violence’ inflicted downtown by the anarchists. Mayor McGinn and Chief
Diaz busied themselves with hyping the fear and terror through the
mainstream media in order to build support for their one-day, micro
Let’s look at reality for a second before proceeding. All that
actually happened downtown was the smashing and vandalizing of several
widely-loathed corporate shops, banks, and stores. In addition, a half
dozen vehicles had their tires slashed, bodies painted, and windows
smashed. The US Courthouse was paint-bombed and smashed. A few
right-wing citizens and mainstream journalists were physically
assaulted. Needless to say, the majority of the vandalism was directed
against capital. The destructive period lasted no more than an hour, and
probably closer to 40 minutes.
While what we are about to say is simple, we will write it in a bold font so the point is not lost: the state of emergency declared by the mayor was an effort to protect capital and nothing else.
While he may continue to cloak his actions under the guise of
liberal-humanism, the mayor revealed himself yesterday as being a
reactionary guardian of capitalist order and harmony.
The purpose of the anti-capitalist march that began at noon and
proceeded to trash the exteriors and facades of the previously listed
institutions was to attack capitalism. The anarchists
who were present were very clear in their messaging, even if they were a
bit blunt in their expression of it. And it was not only the anarchists
who attacked capital in the early afternoon. Dozens of random people
were swept up in the lightning assault while a crowd of hundreds cheered. The black bloc did not infiltrate any march or movement.
The sentiment of the marchers was largely anti-capitalist and the
vandals were opposed by only a handful of individuals, a couple of whom
are the self-appointed super-heroes of Seattle. These idiots decided to
act like the police and indiscriminately pepper sprayed the crowd around
the US Courthouse. The crowd responded by beating them with sticks,
rocks, spit, and curses. The super-heroes were left behind to ponder
their betrayal of the people they pretend to protect. III: Capital is dead labor, that, vampire-like, only lives by sucking
living labor, and lives the more, the more labor it sucks. The time
during which the laborer works, is the time during which the capitalist
consumes the labor-power he has purchased of him. If the laborer consumes his disposable time for himself, he robs the capitalist. -Karl Marx, Das Kapital, Volume 1, 1867
That evening, as fear of an evening assault spread, bosses and
property owners sent workers scrambling to board up their precious
windows. The plywood screamed “GUILTY CONSCIENCE” onto empty city
streets. Why would Forever 21 think it needed to protect itself against the anarchist menace?
It’s not really very hard to figure it out. “Destroy what destroys
you,” said one of the May Day promo posters. “Revolt for a life worth
living!” said others.
Downtown has by now returned to normal. Cars and buses move freely
through the streets as people numbly trudge from home to work to store
and back again. Shoppers and shop-lifters pass each other on shining
escalators, surrounded by millions of dollars worth of disposable,
sweat-shop produced crap. Teens and middle-aged women crane their heads
around to examine their asses in dressing room mirrors, frowning with
anxiety. Workers slack and pilfer a little at a time, hoping the boss
won’t notice. Dead-time reigns.
Not everyone is as satisfied with a return to business as usual as
Mayor McGinn. Not everyone is as “troubled” and “saddened” by a few
smashed windows as the pancake-faced newscasters. And it isn’t just you
and it isn’t just me. This is what terrifies those who profit from us.
Their worst nightmare is the reality of hundreds of people actively
applauding, encouraging, participating in, and growing ecstatic at the
sight of capital being attacked. They want to obscure this reality
however possible, to prevent the contagion from spreading even further.
Beyond this, they also want to pit different political tendencies and
groupings against each other, fearing a unification of the dispossessed.
While tactics may differ, our goals are the same, and the authorities
wish to prevent us from understanding each other and the beauty of our
The tactics displayed on May 1st not only demonstrate an
ability to attack these seemingly invincible structures, they also
encourage and promote agency amongst people who rarely get the chance to
strike back at the institutions that they despise. The authorities do
not want a populace that asserts itself outside the legal framework.
They want to preserve the system that has brought us all to the dead end
we now face. There is no legal route out of the current impasse. There
is only rebellion, illegality, experimentation, mutation, and abandon.
Our goal is and will remain to encourage people to disregard the laws
that allow this death-culture to grind on and on and on. This does not
only mean destruction—for there is so much to create–but it is
undeniable that destruction is central to this project of snatching our
lives and the earth back from those who have stolen them.
We hope these words find you well and definitively severed from the
narrative of the police and the government. May all of our stories
intermingle, collide, and develop away from the suicidal master-story we
were all brought up to believe. Thank to everyone who came out for May
Day and good luck in all of your future efforts.