The only certainty: some reflections on the “revolt” of October 18th
It has been two years since the wave of mass demonstrations that began on October 18, 2019 and lasted in the streets much longer than the media “reported”. Many of us may have participated in those events in some way. And now, after the decline, and on the occasion of the anniversary, there are a few things worth pointing out, always with the aim of sharpening critiques and continuing the conflict.
(I) Revolt(s) and confrontation during the century of $hilean democracy.
The “revolt”, as many have wanted to call it, meant a generalized breaking point of the “normality” consolidated by the democracies of this territory during the XXI century. This class of “critical” moments is not alien to any government, and, for our part, it is absolutely necessary for us to take into account that the conflict with this normality existed from before and continues to exist after the events of October 18. That is why we cannot forget all the expressions of attack and confrontation that have taken place so far during this period, even though they have definitely not had the stir or the massiveness of the events of October 18 (and probably did not seek to).
If conflict and violence against this normality are nothing new, even less so are consequences of setting out on this path. Prison is not new on the scene, and far from all narratives of victimhood, it is an “occupational hazard”. Although the “prisoners of the revolt” have also enjoyed greater media coverage, and their situation and dynamics are totally different from those of the anarchist-subversive prisoners, the prison will never be strange to those who have constantly materialized their desires to destroy the reality that is destroying us.
To all those who did not follow the institutional channels in the era of $hilean democracy, and who have been an unquestionable source of inspiration and learning for those of us who have taken the same path, but in “our” way… we do not forget you! Anticapitalist and autonomous subversion, the resistance (weixan) of the Mapuche, and the explosions of bombs did not wait for the massive street demonstrations to tear through the annihilating reality of capitalism and democracy. And this does not detract from or call into question the outbreak of the “revolt” in October, but only shows that some have been in constant revolt for a long time.
There is nothing and no one to wait for.
(II) Death foretold: the institutionalization of the “revolt”.
At this point, there is no doubt that what began with street and vandalic fervour on October 18 received its death blow at the ballot box. The brazenness of some candidates of the new institutionality (the constitutional convention) even led them to use images of street violence as part of their electoral propaganda.
This is nothing new either. History has given us multiple similar examples which demonstrate that, far from “crushing” and totally repressing disturbances in the imposed order, it serves this order much better to make them work for it, to control them, channeling them through institutional paths, and treating them as “social movements”. It is due to this that, even after idolizing the street struggle, those who have emerged as the faces of the new, more democratic government, have distanced themselves from the conflict and violence that was unleashed in order to maintain the proper and neat image of the “constituent”. This is not an “about-face”, but a clear demonstration of their vocation as professional opportunists. Whoever has gone “from the street” to the seat is nothing more than a collaborator of domination, and does nothing more than perfect it.
If the demonstrations were neutralized by the government handing over, with ample spectacle, a part of its power to representatives of the majorities, then many of those who took to the streets were seeking nothing more than to optimize the government’s management. The “revolt”, looking at it that way, was not such for everyone. Some simply sought to improve their chains, and even to build new ones, rather than seeking to destroy them.
Regarding this, we know that the big problem with mass protests is that there is no certainty about who is on your side. They could be a sympathizer or they could be an infiltrator, or worse, a citizen willing to turn you in because violence is “not the way”. It is indisputable that the period of greatest intensity of that “explosion” was of great utility to perpetrate attacks and materialize our destructive desires in concrete moments, but it is undoubtedly necessary to distance ourselves from the narrative built around it, since it leads us again to the passivity of citizens, and disguises all violence as a sign of popular discontent against a certain mode of management and/or government(s), and not against the very existence of the government, authority, the society complicit with it, and its guardians.
(III) Some self-critique, and the only certainty
“We do not want other options or consensus with the established. We are with the violence that does not diminish or stagnate, with the violence capable of reformulating itself, rupturist and innovative.” (Joakin Garcia).
As Joakin’s words point out, we must know that we are capable of reinventing ourselves, self-critiquing and learning from our mistakes and successes. And, always, outside of the complicity represented by consensus and peaceful coexistence with the established order and “normality”, whatever it may be.
Perhaps the only lesson we can draw from experiences such as the 18th, though also not new, is that the conflict against this reality must continue: and this conflict existed before and after the massive breaks and has been kept alive by all those who have chosen it as their life option. If we want to position ourselves against all authority, against the material and immaterial cages, the techno-industrial capitalism that is destroying the planet, and all that we abhor, this conflict must endure through our actions.
Conflict, confrontation. That is the only proposal, because it is the only certainty we have to make the present our own. It is the only thing we can try to materialize with our own and always diverse capacities, our associations, our actions and our own pace.
Without haste, but without pause. Without the need to follow the pace of “the streets” or “the masses”, even though this may feel desirable for many. At least for me, it is not, especially at this moment, where democratic normality has been reformulated thanks to what began in the streets. We can reaffirm that we do not need the majority, we do not strive for it, nor do we idolize it, just as we do not idolize minorities, rupturist elites, nor vanguards. That majority-minority game and contradiction should be left for institutional politics. For us, action should remain before words to define which side we are on.
The conflict has never ceased, let it remain in all the unquiet hearts, minds and bodies.
Let our revolts cease to be a milestone and / or anniversary, and become our daily life.
Not complicit, not passive!
Active and aggressive defiance against this shit reality!
A hug for every prisoner at war and for all those who are fighting. Fierce encouragement for those who continue to conspire out there, and a raging tear, which will become a tidal wave, for Kevin and all the fallen.