received anonymously –
Ten years have passed since we wrote this reflection on the 2012 May Day riot in Seattle. It was intended to have been published as an addendum to a much longer work on anarchy and chaos magic which may someday be released. So much has changed, so many uprisings have exploded and turned to ash, so many friends and comrades have fled, been captured or changed…and yet much of this still feels urgent, vital, terrible in its immediacy. I realize now it was written as a letter to the future; in this era of fractured and broken social memory it is difficult to convey how powerful the May Day events across the Earth were for the global insurrectionary movement, how deeply many of us were changed by them. In size and scope they are dwarfed by the immensity of the riots and sieges of 2020 but for us, at that time, they felt like we were contributing to the End of the World. After everything that has occurred…perhaps we were.
I. TODAY AND ALWAYS WE SING A BATTLE SONG
May Day is when many of the internal enemies of global capitalism come together in some way to celebrate Life’s victories and carry the memories of those lives and moments lost to Order’s continued reign. It is a day of Revelry and Rebellion and therefore acts as a node of immense magical energy.
On May Day 2012 in Seattle there was an anti-capitalist march whose central figure was the mass of courageous vandals known as the Black Bloc. In their text “Yes, And” some anonymous comrades from the North American Society for the Advancement of Criminal Sciences (SACS) have provided us with a simple, agonistic definition of this singular practice:
The black bloc is a method to prepare and hasten the clash. It is an anonymous way of being together, outmaneuvering police, and making attacks that radically alter the way we think about ourselves, power and our environments. Contrary to the critiques by those who fail to understand our contemporary situation, the black bloc is a long-term project engaged in a monastic work to develop undocile contagious practices.
As many others have noted, the Bloc is not a “group” in Power’s sense of the term. Other comrades, including those quoted above, have already written incredible reflections on the Black Bloc, characterizing it as technique which, when executed under favorable conditions, lends itself to social contagion. Their inquiry into the Bloc’s limits as a form of strategic antagonism and the methods by which the partisans of disorder might spread the Bloc’s disposition toward open rebellion beyond those limits is noble and necessary; my intention here is not to counter their assertion that the bodies which make up the Black Bloc must move beyond its aesthetic and geospatial specificity in order to intensify the spread of Revolt. In many ways their assertion below remains sound:
In some situations, when the entire struggle is already located as criminal or revolutionary, all black makes sense—that is, it generates a certain meaning, a certain attention to our surroundings. “Black” for us should connote speed and intensity of attack, not ideology. Anonymity can be gained collectively through means other than the color of our clothing. Hats and scarves alone work quite well to make a surveillance camera less effective. An outer layer can be disposed. Shoes can be changed. A large crowd on its own also helps. If a few people in black are throwing rocks, they are easily isolated; if what appears to be “anyone” is throwing rocks, they are concealed by the contagion of the practice. A slow riot, drawn out street fights, the spread of undocile practices. These can be achieved when it is increasingly difficult to distinguish the law abiding citizen from the annotated figures of protest and revolt.
In North America, the tactical aesthetic of “all black everything” has borne strange fruit in many struggles but I count myself among those who believe that its deployment as a technique of uncontrollable power-knowledge remains useful, given that most street confrontations on this continent are automatically classified by Power as both criminal and revolutionary. What I want to advance here – in addition to its continued necessity as a shared space of insurgency – is that the Black Bloc should be analyzed and lived as something more than just “a tension between insurgent identity and event.” As sorcerers we should also experience it in every way as a temporary yet timeless Being made real by the collective intentions of those who – by clothing themselves in the colors of a shared metaphysical Commons and shielding themselves from the Law with masks – become Rioters, the host bodies of the Spirit of Destruction. To our strategic usage of the Black Bloc and our continually mutating embodiment of its underlying ethic of anonymous, collective, joyful Attack we would do well to recognize it as a magical Ritual which can be modified and intensified by other forms of Magic. Spells are, after all, simply techniques which assume the existence of acausal forces.
Like other ruptures in the empty time of Normal Life, this May Day demonstration – which in the months since has elicited a massive, incongruous and paranoid response by the American state apparatus – was a theater of what we have already called the collective anti-political experience of magic as well as further evidence, for myself and many others, of the immense and unpredictable strength of intentions. In addition to those lessons, on an intimate level it once again confirmed the quiet power of totems, which for me designates that class of objects endowed by circumstance and desire with superperceptible energy.
II. HATRED MADE REAL
In the weeks leading up to the anti-capitalist march many who would later participate in the Black Bloc walked the route anonymously proposed by some comrades through the concrete and steel tombworld of the main sector of the City. It was short, beginning at the sterile downtown plaza which had played host to the illegal encampments of the Occupy movement and moving down two important commercial streets packed with outposts of the institutions of domination, including banks, jewelers, expensive stores and restaurants, even a massive glass facade bearing the emblem of IBM, that utterly contemptible architect of so much of the false digital world, whose origins as a corporate pillar of the Nazi extermination programs remains mostly unacknowledged, though telling, especially given its indispensability to the global Technoculture and the computer systems of governments everywhere.
The route seemed to many of us to be safe enough and packed with worthy, obvious targets. Nevertheless, the ghosts of the Black Bloc which had rampaged through that exact same sector of Seattle during the WTO shutdown over twelve years earlier walked with us along the route and guided some of us down a street only one block away housing some of the buildings, including the infamous Nike store, which had been spectacularly assaulted during the WTO meetings. Images of their shattered faces and of the Rioters who had attacked those paradises of the commodity had burned themselves into my mind as a child, and they had helped guide me and many others into the realms of freedom; seeing them unharmed and profitable in the years since had always driven me to fury. They served for many who were transformed during the WTO primarily as unwelcome, localized reminders of the smugly continuing reign of Money and Order.
Accompanied by the spirits of the Rioters who had come before us We walked past their windows in disgust. Though the route was already set, it seemed a great shame that the demonstration with which we hoped to honor the Rebels of the past could not simply move up a block and pass by those nauseating symbols of capitalism’s victory. After that initial reconaissance, the weeks leading up to the demo were filled with provocations by the state and threats by the City against the May Day celebrations, especially the anti-capitalist march. A few days before the demo there was even an “attempted bombing” at a bank branch in the City which was never claimed in any way but nevertheless attributed to “anarchists” in the mass media, leading some of us to speculate that it may have been totally falsified to justify more extreme repression.
In light of this pathetic but mounting strategy of tension I and many others found ourselves intensely hoping for and envisioning a wildly successful and destructive march, in some iterations one which passed by and attacked those insulting symbols of corporate power which had been targeted by comrades in 1999 but remained off of the planned route. This collectively constructed image of a great War Party through the necropolis of Order seemed nearly impossible to achieve given the threatening gestures by the City and its hated police department; nevertheless this powerful vision stayed as a constant in our secret discussions and waking dreams, guiding our preparations for the coming Event, and in light of what came later I see now that the May Day which gloriously played itself out in our shared Imagination became the vessel of a massive, collective investment of oneiric and romantic energies and was therefore in some ways brought into being by our shared Will.
The day came to pass and the Black Bloc – which made up only a part of the unexpectedly supportive crowd – stalked like an army of marauders through the downtown core, taking the hoped-for route along the blocks devastated by the anarchist fighters of yore and evading any real police presence until the very end, after a number of banks and other businesses were damaged and the looming Nike store was spectacularly attacked with black flags, stones and smoke bombs. The lack of organized response by the cops until the end of the demo remains mysterious; some say that in situations such as the one described it is useful to remember that, in a society totally mobilized against open illegality, the Law also decrees where and when the Law shall be suspended – if only to generate public support for repressive measures against those who rebel. But this cynical strategic view doesn’t hold up in the face of the predictable yet overwhelming police strategy we had come to know over the preceding years, and anyway it misses the real point, which is that the Event went almost exactly as we had hoped despite every indication that it would not.
I have no way of knowing whether or not any comrades who joined the demo had previously attempted to strengthen the Ritual Being of the Black Bloc using other codified disciplines of Magic – though I deeply believe that some did – and in any case it does not change the astonishing congruence of our intensely shared dream with our lived reality. In our houses and meetings we inhabited one possible world together and animated it with our destructive Passion; as willful Rioters we experienced this concatenation of energy as positive intent. From afar we launched unending waves of anger and disgust at our enemies in the repressive apparatuses, their commodity temples, and against the City itself; as craven agents of this false and rotting Civilization they experienced our burning vision as negative intent.
If, as other chaos practitioners have already adeptly shown, intention is a form of thought, and thought is a form of energy, then the recent experiences of the warriors who reminded the forces of Control that they do not rule on May Day provide complex but hopeful lessons for those willing to look for them. This much is clear: the refinement and direction of intent is the project of all Magic. Our desires are without measure and the relationship between our intentions and the consensus experience of our Events is both unreproducible and unverifiable except through analogy. Their reality can only be determined by the strength of our Belief and the resolute stature of our Will.
III. VESTMENTS OF THE SPIRIT
Except in situations of massive public disorder, the clothes, masks, gloves, and other tools which mark our bodies as constituent molecules of the Black Bloc must often be removed and discarded in the course of our disengagement from the Events graced by its presence. As such, they are often stolen or bought cheaply so that our relationship with them is minimal and utilitarian, forcing us to deny their singularity and symbolically reinscribe them in the endless cycle of reproduction implied by all commodities. If we survive the Event without being hurt or captured, we are prevented by the necessities of insurgency from saving those assemblages of fabric and wood and metal which have passed through it with us, and we lose their power as vessels of positive energy and as fellow bearers of our memories.
Some call the force invested in such objects luck; its presence in the small things which I have carried with me into and through numerous Events of confrontation has proven itself again and again and their power as charms is reinforced – as are all things – by my Belief and trust in their magic. Civilization’s slow collapse has been presaged by thousands of refusals and uprisings in this first decade of the millennium, and the endless circular front lines of the social war have pushed me and other comrades into varied and unpredictable sites of rupture; as such very little has remained over the passing years, but a few objects have accompanied me through beatings and stampedes and ages of happiness at barricades and I carry them with me still, as totems of that sacred presence felt by all who play their parts in the grand symphonies of insurrection.
Every time I survive the colossal passages through space and time called forth by my conscious participation in the movements of the Spirit I try to save whatever came with me that I did not have to leave. Among those objects now are two grey pieces of fabric, a nail-puller, a camouflage hat, and a hawk’s feather which appeared in my pocket one day while I was climbing out of an abandoned house. Of the objects I listed only the hawk’s feather has remained an unwavering presence. It was one of three totems I carried with me on May Day and the only one I intentionally honored and asked to remain with me. The ritual I enact to remind it of our past is simply to draw it from my forehead to my lips and hold it there for six heartbeats before hiding it in my clothing or pack. While it is pressed to my lips I imagine as intensely as possible a positive and rich outcome for the battle I am about to join. This technique of honoring my totems is raw and untutored, but my continuing survival of sometimes overwhelming situations of repression and violence has only reinforced for me their arcane role in keeping me and my closest friends safe and able to continue our surreal and wondrous lives.
Several other friends and comrades have told me that they also carry totems into those situations which they expect to mutate into confrontations with Power, but their self-made techniques or lack thereof regarding magical objects are unknown to me. As forms of power-knowledge the specific rituals surrounding the totems of anarchist fighters are unimportant; rather it is the disposition to carry them, recognize their enormous potentialities, and share them alongside other tools when necessary which marks us as partisans of the unnameable.
One final excerpt from the only text thus far by the North American Society for the Advancement of Criminal Sciences:
We will more than likely be forced to continue this work for another decade. This monastic work of building a long term project of street confrontation and undocile practices is not in order to prepare for an event in the future. It is monastic precisely because the time in which this project takes place is a time contingent on but external to the time of the work-day. Our victory will come not by messenger, nor by the final orgasm of history. Rather, revolution will be the complex unfolding of billions of relations of domination, accented and accelerated by insurrection. From the time we entered this project to the present, the general geography of everyday struggle has condensed and multiplied, continuously paving the urban and suburban human environment in revolt against this society. There is increasingly less time between capitalist normality and moments of rupture. We expect our victory will be the slow, painful saturation of this world in such ruptures. The task set before us is how we will develop the necessary endurance, means, and vitality to be able to make these ruptures inhabitable.
IV. THROUGH THE GATES
The myriad incantations of the Rioter often appear written on the walls of the Metropolis after marvelous surges of disorder; there are many but two in particular have stayed with me for many years now, and it is precisely because of their simplicity and intensity that I believe they remain some of the most direct instructions for self-initiation into the lawless zones revealed to us by the Black Bloc. They are clear invocations of the eternal Spirit of Revolt. As such they should be spread as power-knowledge among those who are willing to carry the War and as inscrutable signals of our destructive intent to those who side with Command:
BLOCK THE STREETS TO OPEN THE WAY
COVER YOUR FACES TO UNCOVER YOURSELVES
V. THE RISEN WORLD
The turn toward intentional Magical practice should not be read as a call to retreat from Events but rather, as we have already stated, as an insistence that we deepen and expand of the terrain of Action itself, that we arm ourselves with an uncontrollable metaphysical technics whose language is already aiding our invocation of those ruptures we must inhabit; even the dullest revolutionary materialism can’t deny the so-called sociological effect of Rituals to bind individuals to their paths and each other, creating new forms of collective Life which allow the strange ranks of the Autonomous to deconstruct and move beyond the false Self on which the diseased culture of Civilization has written its commandments. We must keep our hatred sharp, our desires shared and articulated, and certainly continue to refine our mastery of the social and material tactics of resistance which the SACS comrades identify as “anti-control sciences.” But as insurgent forces we would only be aided by further study, refinement, and explosive deployment of those techniques of the will which some call Magic. The key now is for our People to refuse that objective distanciation which allows anthropologists to record the magical rites of indigenous peoples in an embarassed silence, observing their social effects – which rebels know as the anti-political experience of magic – but refusing to believe in their physical reality. To move beyond mere imitation, liberal skepticism, and the false epistemes of Science the anarchist galaxy would do well to become collectively and directly attuned to the dark energies close at hand. The rest is already silence.
Domination and its ideologies of accumulation and paranoia are simultaneously the weakest and most widespread forms of Power; they stitch many worlds together to form the Leviathan against which we and our comrades pit our lives. For those antiauthoritarian fighters whose eyes remain unclouded by Order’s false mechanistic universe, the practices of Magic ought to be seen as those secret disciplines of Power which further allow us to evade and transcend the mundane, authoritarian constructs of the civilized mind, enabling us to see and act in this world and others more clearly than our enemies.
This text is lovingly dedicated to all who have fought and died in the long War against Civilization – in all its forms – and to those among the living who carry the ancient Fire which has always lead the Free and the Brilliant across the continents of the Infinite. With all our hearts and by every other means we are sending strength and health to the anarchists and earth liberation fighters around the world who are wounded, running, or under the gun, especially those continuing to stay silent and uncooperative while imprisoned in the concentration camps of the American territories. With your luminous gestures you remind us all that defiance is the most enduring form of bravery.
WHILE MISERY EXISTS THERE WILL BE REBELLION
NOTHING IS OVER