Last call for counter-election organizing! With the election only a couple weeks away, anarchists and other critics of representational politics should already have the ball rolling on plans to shatter the illusion of acquiescence and emphasize the possibility of more egalitarian, participatory alternatives.
As our final belated contribution to this effort, we present these two posters. Please print these out and put them up fast!
Also, allow us to direct readers to the latest from the Center for Strategic Anarchy, a speculative discussion of the ramifications of the upcoming election insofar as they will affect radicals in the US.
Finally, let’s end with a look back on the actions anarchists carried out around the elections four years ago:
Blast from the Past
Rejecting the Election of 2004
(excerpted from “Demonstrating Resistance”)
Many anarchists seized the 2004 election as an opportunity for nationwide autonomous actions emphasizing opposition to the farce of representative democracy. Unlike any summit or local issue, the election happened everywhere at once, focusing public attention on a wide range of issues that could be addressed on a variety of fronts. A nationwide campaign on the theme “Don’t (Just) Vote, Get Active” urged people to take action on election day to demonstrate all the possibilities for political engagement beyond the voting booth.
The diversity and scope of the actions anarchists carried out around the election make several of them worth recounting. In Washington, DC, fifteen polling stations were decorated the night before election day with a stencil design fifteen feet long and four feet high reading “Our dreams will never fit in their ballot boxes.” In Baltimore, the following afternoon, a Reclaim the Streets action on the same theme attracted sixty people.
In Portland, Oregon, one thousand people struggled with police to march through the streets. A “Don’t Just Vote, Take Action” march of two hundred people in Tucson, Arizona was attacked by police employing pepper bullets. A spontaneous march of almost two hundred people in downtown Philadelphia blocked a major bridge to New Jersey; everyone escaped arrest except a reporter from a local television news station who was inexplicably attacked by police while marchers chanted “We don’t need no water, let the motherfucker burn!” In New Orleans, a radical Day of the Dead march featuring a marching band, seventy-five skeletons, and an alter screamed and moaned its way through the French Quarter to the riverfront, at which the alter was filled with remembrances of deceased loved ones and then set afire as a naked attendant swam it out to sea; on the return route, participants dragged newspaper boxes and garbage cans into the streets and smashed the window of a stretch-SUV deemed too revolting to ignore.
During Chicago’s “Don’t Just Vote Week of Resistance,” which included several demonstrations and other events, police tried and failed to prevent over one thousand people from taking the streets in a massive unpermitted march. At another incident in Chicago, a rock was thrown through the window of a GOP office in which Republicans were gathered to watch election results, sending glass flying all over the room. Large rocks were also thrown through the windows of the Republican headquarters in downtown Buffalo, New York and a nearby army recruiting center, and the local news station received a letter claiming responsibility.
In Red Hook, New York, 250 Bard college students shut down an intersection in the center of town for almost an hour until police forcibly dispersed them. In northern Los Angeles county, a group carried out what they suggested might be the first banner drop in their area, with a banner on the “Don’t (Just) Vote” theme reading “Workers: Which Millionaire Will You Vote For?” In Vermillion, South Dakota, a town of only 10,000 residents, fifty people maintained a presence outside a voting booth, stretching a volleyball net to bear a variety of signs, sharing food, and inviting all with grudges of their own against the system to join them. The same town was to host another such demonstration two and a half months later on the day of the Inauguration, attracting media coverage from as far away as San Diego, CA.
The day after the election, a march in downtown Washington, DC on the theme “No Matter, Who Won, The System Is Rotten” attracted one hundred people. Equipped with a powerful sound system, it snaked through the streets, disruptive and rowdy, evading police repression. In San Francisco, five thousand people marched against Bush; afterwards, a breakaway group built a bonfire out of US flags and an effigy of Bush, then marched through the city pulling urban debris and newspaper boxes into the street and smashing the windows of two banks. In San Diego, fliers posted the preceding night on UCSD campus reading “Where’s the Riot?” attracted one hundred people to an impromptu forum as to what forms resistance could take next. When the question “Who’s willing to get arrested today?” was broached, many raised their hands.
Two days later, in perhaps the most militant participatory action of the week, a surprise march of over one hundred people bearing torches, drums, anarchist banners, and a two-headed effigy of Bush and Kerry took over downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, decorating the streets with graffiti and destroying bank machines until it reached the state headquarters of the Republican Party. The windows of the building were smashed, its walls were covered in spraypaint, fireworks were set off inside, and the effigy was set afire in the front yard. The following day, over fifty-eight major media outlets ran a story covering the event, in which the state GOP chief of staff was quoted as saying that campaign offices and party headquarters were being vandalized throughout the nation. “They have a right to disagree,” he pleaded, “but to do it agreeably.”
The following night, yet another spontaneous march occurred in Washington, DC, leaving spraypaint in its wake and meeting with enthusiasm from locals. From one side of the country to the other, by day and by night, militants carried out actions that demonstrated the seriousness of their discontent and invited others to express their own.