Italy – Words from anarchist comrade Anna Beniamino

We are publishing a text by Anna Beniamino from the women’s prison of Rebibbia:
Anarchists read a lot and write even more, perhaps this is because of some excess of book culture which shouts at the top of its voice about ethics, while they find it difficult to understand it and forget to apply it in the reality of everyday life. And… as soon as they realize the mistake has been made they write more pages and pages (it is not clear whether for private use or for a selected audience) redundant with rectifications which sound even more shaky and hypocritical than declarations during trials, when not amusing in their anxious contradictions.
I don’t enjoy acting the moralist locked up between four walls, but as I recognize that certain silences risk being filled with others’ chatter, I think it is the case to dwell upon a curious phenomenon of inversion of sense and references in speech, a phenomenon which is two years old and not yet clarified.

On the occasion of one of the many anti-anarchist repressive proceedings, as a defence strategy those on trial, who had been in prison for a month, decided to give spontaneous declarations, which were filed at an appeal review trial in February 2019. Without going to the heart of the contents, the first incongruity is that this was done out of comrades’ sight, the movement (…this mysterious entity which we all refer to anyway), showing their political and “ethical” (with all due inverted comas) evaluations concerning practices of attack, modalities of relations and contexts of interest of their movements… only to the judges.
Strange, isn’t it? In my naivety on movement correctness I grew up hearing a different refrain, something which sounded simple, to discuss even furiously but leave swords and knives outside the courtroom. Instead, moving with the times, the moral of the story is a different one. Once the damage is done, and if someone realizes it, let’s put a patch over it, or more than one according to the interlocutor.
The much evoked “ethical” compass becomes a useless burden in getting by, trying to remain afloat. The afterthought “discretion” “in the will to not aggravate the mistake by adding words useful to the repressors”, thus not discussing publicly subsequent steps, after having already privileged such an interlocutor, sounds particularly clumsy and concerning. The fact of not wanting to throw everything in the web when it has already been placed in a court is an obvious upturning of values. To name this attempt at getting by between accusations to be challenged with contempt and the defence of one’s own immaculate conscience, “that oscillating line between technical and political” or to affirm that “statements of principle” were made in the secret of a court confessional, taking a few stones out of one’s shoe, only demonstrates how the basis on which the strong points of one’s “political” acts are placed is shaky, gelatinous.
In these times of everyday psycho-police, I think we are all (as frequenters of movements and, consequently, of courtrooms) aware that they are making us pay for our ideas and the solidarity between comrades with years and years of stolen life and that often repressive operations move on sounding out, more than on facts, the positions expressed in papers and publications, on the solidarity expressed and the vivisection of human relations. On this basis one often attracts attention, by weighing up the meaning of each single sentence, each single slogan. But this must happen in a positive sense, a priori, weighing up the meanings (in public and in private) not as an afterthought, out of fear of a sanction. Otherwise ethics becomes merchandise on sale, cheap, because it is faulty.
The first step to be made when facing facts would be… to make an effort to know them before taking a stand, and this not only for defence purposes. To hasten to explain one’s reasons along the lines of fearful reading of the charges or the media uproar produces monsters in the worst case and unpleasant hypocrisies and simplifications in the best, the latter only playing the game of the inquisitors. Individual responsibility, the refusal of hierarchical structures and of carrying out indiscriminate acts are tautological for anarchists: I may or may not decide to reiterate them in a courtroom according to a series of factors. The basic problem is above all to be in harmony with one’s co-accused, solidarity among comrades. The basic problem is above all the awareness that judges play dirty and we don’t, or at least we shouldn’t, even with words, which end up tainting only those who pronounce them recklessly.
June 2021
P.S. If you find this little tale too cryptic you can start the treasure hunt for tears and subsequent patches by asking those directly concerned who had hoped for a debate… en privé.
Anna Beniamino
C. C. di Roma Rebibbia femminile
via Bartolo Longo 92
00156 Roma
Translated by act for freedom now!
via: infernourbano