We receive and publish a series of texts and materials distributed during the initiative in solidarity with Chilean prisoners, which took place at the Occupied Bencivenga on 26 November 2021. Two pamphlets: one about the hunger strike carried out by prisoners in Chile, the other is a collection of texts, many translated by the magazine Kalinov Most, which aimed to better focus the topics of the debate: the specific reality of Chilean prisons, solidarity, the struggle against prison. There are also two contributions by Juan and Alfredo for the initiative, which they asked to be circulated.
UNTIL THE DESTRUCTION OF THE PRISON-SOCIETY
(A leaflet introducing the debate handed out during the initiative)
This initiative was born out of the need to send, in our own small way, a gesture of solidarity to the prisoner comrades in Chile, who in the first months of this year undertook two tough hunger strikes. We want to support them, also through the translations in the pamphlets prepared for this meeting, by spreading the determination with which they have carried out the struggle inside the prison, with the aim of feeling it closer to us who are outside those walls and far from those territories. Although at the end of their mobilisation the prisoners did not get everything they demanded, it did allow them to build and forge bonds of complicity, both inside and outside the prison. These bonds have made this struggle cross barriers and borders and, since it has clearly positioned itself against all forms of coercion and domination, thus making itself recognisable and reclaimable by rebels all over the world.
But we are not here today because of simple voyeurism towards distant rebellions. With this initiative we also intend to remark upon our complicity with our comrades who are today prisoners of the State, so that they know that they are not alone. In fact, even in this part of the world we have anarchist prisoners who have recently carried out struggles inside prison. Struggles carried out individually or collectively, strikes and mass revolts such as those of March 2020 against the pandemic management inside jails. Struggles whose quality, to reclaim a concept expressed with emphasis in the contribution that Juan, imprisoned in the prison of Terni, wrote for this initiative, is closely connected to the relations that exist between inside and outside prison. These relations are the same as those which Chilean comrades and prisoners have insisted on by affirming that “prison is part of the options of the struggle, it is a part of it and therefore, instead of being a parenthesis or a pause, configures as one more scenario in which to carry forward the conflict” and that it is necessary to consider “prisoners as comrades active in the struggle, who are in this particular condition as a consequence of a chosen path that doesn’t end within those four walls”. Relations in which it is necessary to invest if we intend to recognize these prisoners as our comrades, accomplices in the struggle against all forms of power, especially at this time when these relations are under attack. The latest repressive operations in Italy have in fact, among the others, the purpose of striking communication between the world outside and that inside prison, putting under pressure epistolary communication through which prisoners continue to be part of the anarchist debate and struggle, by giving reflections, contributions, proposals of intervention and impulse to action. Therefore now more than ever is the moment for increasing the efforts in the direction of greater and greater communication and complicity with prisoners, having as a goal not mere support centred on aid but rather the strengthening of our offensive ability against the system of domination and exploitation.
In this context it seems important to us to strongly affirm the conviction that our relations of complicity and solidarity are our greatest strength, and that it is these that we have to strengthen and nourish, both locally and internationally. In fact, in the public communique at the beginning of the hunger strike the comrades launched an open call to “all those in solidarity and all those who stand against prison and oppression to become active parts of this struggle”. We want to respond to the call during this initiative by discussing how to cultivate these relations qualitatively: how to forge them and above all how to preserve and strengthen them during the “hot moments” of the struggle?
We also feel the need to question ourselves on the concept of solidarity, specifically solidarity with prisoners and the struggles they carry out, the meaning we give it, also starting from the limits and successes that recent mobilizations in Italy have had, so as to go beyond mere support of prisoners in a perspective of convergence between inside and outside prison in the common struggle against this institution and the society that needs it. So what do we mean by solidarity with anarchist prisoners? Through which forms do we believe it needs to express itself?
Alfredo Cospito’s contribution to the initiative in solidarity with Chilean prisoners that took place at Bencivenga Occupato on 26th November 2021
As comrades asked me to write something on revolutionary solidarity and Chile, and on what generous Chilean prisoners are doing, I got started full of enthusiasm even if my information is limited. It doesn’t happen to me every day that I can give my contribution to a debate from inside here. I was ahead with my writing when a search due to yet another arrest warrant for defending terrorism deprived me of all that I had written. I don’t give up and without delay I’m trying it again in the hope that my words will get through censorship and arrive in time for the initiative, otherwise they will find another space, sooner or later they will manage to see the light in some way. In my old piece my reflections on the Chilean situation and on the anarchist practice in the world revolved around few thoughts, which I’ll try to sum up here, and then give them full sense, a more concrete sense inherent to our discourse: “in order to make the contours of things clear, it is necessary to work by subtraction, not addition, in other words, simplification does not only have a reactionary significance”.
By taking the superfluous away we get to the substance, the armed struggle against states. For me the foundation of this struggle can only be nothing other than class struggle and the anti-technology struggle. Starting from the “small” (actions in the territory) we get to the “big” (the collapse of the system). However simplistic this vision is, it is the only possible one at this moment for me. Sometimes certain couplings of words seem misleading and lacking concreteness to me: nihilist anarchism, anarcho-unionism, anarchist individualism, anarchist insurrectionism, anarchist communism… can a form of anarchism exist that is not individual? Where if not in the existence of the single individual can the will to insubordination arise? And if anarchism is not offensive in some way, what kind of anarchism is it?
Anarchism either is or it isn’t. If it doesn’t think of attacking the state it is no longer itself. In order to be, anarchism must produce something, a deed, a semblance of destructive action, a project. I am more and more convinced that in this epoch we must not build anything and that “salvation” is to be found in pure and simple destruction, in subtracting and not in adding. And when I say “salvation” I mean the survival of our species and of life on the planet itself.
These strange thoughts of mine are the tortuous result of your request for me having a say on the contribution that Chilean comrades made from inside jails. But they are also the result of a reflection I had on the discouragement I detected in some letters written by very generous comrades full of pessimism and a sense of defeat. Some complained that all the efforts addressed to solidarity with the rebels who rose up in Italian jails were later recuperated by para-institutional representatives. In particular the fact that prisoners’ relatives preferred to turn to the “radical party” rather than take part in comrades’ gatherings. Their “discouragement” should make us reflect. Here I go back to the discourse I’ve just made on “simplification”, on the fact that in order to make the contours of things clear, we need to work by subtraction not by addition.
But what do we anarchists have to “offer” the exploited? In the absence of radical change, of a “revolution”, just one thing; violence against the bosses and vendetta against the executioners. It is perfectly normal that in the absence of violence and revenge prisoners’ relatives, in order to get at least some “benefits” or “improvements” for their loved ones, turn to those who allegedly have the “power” to satisfy their requests, humanitarian associations, priests and political parties. Clearly it is the absence of violence and revenge that makes our efforts sterile and without perspective. I am convinced that in a period like the present, one of incoherent and sometimes confused rebellions, we should be clear and decisive. Not limit ourselves to the general level of conflictuality, which is very low, but pass to attack. As anarchists we have a remarkable stock of experience accumulated in years and years of action. Hitting, hitting and always hitting in small groups, individually, only in this way will we be able to get results and to hope to weaken the “enemy”. Yes! I think the time has come to go back to a war language (however excessive and snauseating it might seem) because everybody understands it, because in any case it indicates clear attitude towards attack. And here I return to the discourse we are dealing with, revolutionary solidarity and the situation in Chile. A not insignificant characteristic of that country is that the wave of actions which have characterized so-called “Black International” has never stopped. Unrest and action that have also influenced social struggles in Chile. The same thing, it seems to me, is happening in Greece, where actions are coming back in an increasingly clear and sharp way. Through their coherence the imprisoned comrades in these two countries have managed to discuss with the outside with a combative movement. And they’ve done so in a lucid manner, by rejecting fatalism and ideological rigidity. Something that I myself certainly didn’t manage to do. An example among the many of this healthy habit is Francisco’s and Monica’s beautiful response to the semi-demented rigidity coming from the outside. I am referring to the schematic and dull distinction between “pure” prisoners, the “nihilists” deserving solidarity, and the others coming from different revolutionary experiences to be totally ignored. Disgracefully I was included in the “pure”, which caused me a certain displeasure. For what my opinion on the question is worth I am in total agreement with the two comrades, they couldn’t have expressed better what I think too. The Chilean comrades succeeded in something that we scattered anarchist prisoners of the Italian state couldn’t manage to do. To stimulate the struggle outside and to coordinate it with other prisoners through words of fire and above all by deeds. In these last ten years of imprisonment I and my closest comrades have “acted” with all our limitations and contradictions, hunger strikes, even very hard, various actions of damage in solidarity with prisoners in other countries. Not to mention the declarations and claims of actions in court, declarations more or less complete and coherent but all with the will to communicate strength and coherence to the outside. What I want to say with my tirade is that perhaps the “crisis” that the movement is going through here is due to the lack of intensity and spreading of actions. A “simplistic” vision, mine, perhaps things outside are going great and my gaze on the world is distorted by the reality I have to live in, but the symptoms of a sort of crisis, of stalemate, are all there. Smart comrades who clash over futile arguments, a general plumbeous atmosphere of resignation and confusion, an exasperated and “sophisticated” theory that rolls over itself becoming more and more incomprehensible and tortuous. Very sad “public trials” against the lack of “coherence” of some comrades, followed by even sadder mea-culpa. And then nothingness or almost, but we don’t have to despair because in “almost” there is hope, there is happiness and the joy of the struggle.
Nothing is over, everything continues, I am convinced that we’ll see big agitations and it would be a shame to remain behind. Let’s do as in Chile and Greece, let’s continue on the path of the Black International, of revolutionary struggle that overcomes borders and creates worlds. With all the limits of our history certain perspectives have been part of our lives and are the offspring of even more distant experiences. The Chilean comrades have managed to relate to the movement without being blatant or dogmatic and without ever giving up in conflictuality and coherence. Also succeeding in being open and propositional with the movements outside and with various solidarity meetings. Unquestionably my path has been less propositional and full of know-it-all “rants”. It suffices to think of my strong criticisms of gatherings and of my (I am aware of it) disconcerting exaltation of the practice of “terrorism”. I’ve always had my say trying to “push” but in my “obsession” of continuously relaunching is the strength of going ahead, of continuing the struggle. I always feel unsatisfied, it seems to me that I haven’t done enough, and many times in these 11 years I’ve wondered which role I can have in the struggle, I a “long time” anarchist prisoner? Just resist? Things change outside, my comrades themselves change and I continue to find myself in the belly of the leviathan in a kind of Limbo. Prudence has never been my strong point. And each of my writings, however clumsy, actually carries the risk of a worsening of my penal situation (so to speak). Certainly it is not with a light heart that I set myself to write every time, mostly communicating with the outside is a vital necessity to me, not to do so would be like switching myself off waiting for a liberation that might even never happen. Undoubtedly 11 years outside the “game” make my vision of reality problematic. A few days ago, the censors delivered me a letter where two comrades (responding to my undoubtedly “strong” criticism concerning the recuperation of “new anarchy” by the “old” anarchist insurrectionalism) made me see (among other things) how I was talking about things I didn’t know about because they are now distant from me. I’ll get the chance to respond to these comrades about my “claim”, even in a very “hard” way. But I want to take advantage of the occasion they gave me to say that the problem that these comrades raised is more legitimate than ever and has some concreteness.
All the comrades who are inside for a long time pose themselves the problem sooner or later. Inevitably we anarchists set ourselves in an individual manner in the relations with the world, in my case I don’t have an organization to which I can delegate and which I can entrust with the continuation of my struggle outside. Less than ever a unequivocal and indestructible interpretation of the reality outside here. This said, there is no doubt that my way is going ahead groping around and my only compass is a certain intuition dictated by experience. Obviously this doesn’t spare me from making mistakes even if I always try to weigh up the words I use, which can sometimes (as I am aware) be unpleasant. But after all, no one has the answer, or am I wrong?
In conclusion, I think that the teaching of the imprisoned Chilean comrades is all in this phrase by Monica: “prison is only another way to intend the struggle, antiauthoritarian conflict is not over for me, it has only changed form”.
Always for anarchy
Anarchist prisoner of the Italian state
Juan Sorroche’ contribution to the initiative in solidarity of Chilean prisoners that took place at Bencivenga Occupato on 26th November 2021
As a contribution to this initiative I’d like to make some reflections. These are reflections that are born from my relation with shared practices, not only words, and I think that it is advantageous to criticize constructively. I am convinced that without these constructive reflections I tend to plunge into my mistakes and frustration. Therefore I think that these intentions are very important for the development, evolution, both of myself and those with whom I organize myself for the struggle. This is a valid approach for the well being of ourselves and our group, for relations, for the quality of doing, for another qualitative nature and substance. Another vision. An approach which is not a synonym for watering down theories-practices or frank and even animated discussion. This approach is intended towards the development of concrete relations in the struggle. As Francisco and Monica write, these relations are practices of anarchist struggle based on the clash with authority in permanent conflict which has individual freedom as its foundation. The approach of confirming and affirming ourselves in a positive attitude is a way of nurturing and developing, in a less bitter-pessimistic way, the rebellion and the struggle against everything around me (all that is harmful, inimical, enemy), the city, the state-capitalist society: “THE NEGATIVE”. As rebel anarchist I look for well being, liberation on a political, economic, social, psychological-introspective-spiritual level, which can’t be separated from freeing myself from the self-destructive negativity represented by state-capitalist relations, and by acting with awareness we try to get free of this pessimism unfavorable in all the contexts of our lives, inculcated by capitalist-state-colonialist society.
I’m saying this because I believe, I am convinced, that today, here and now, a paradigmatic transformation in facing relations, approaches between comrades and not only, with everything and everybody, is necessary. I can’t affirm that I stand in solidarity with the Italian anarchist galaxy if I don’t respect it, I can’t call for unity of intent internationally if I don’t try to practice it in my life and relations. Certainly this is not simple or easy, but I think that it should be put into practice every day, otherwise it doesn’t make sense.
I’m talking about the negativity of this society, of which we are part, of the fact that we treat ourselves and relate with others as nullities, things, objects, products, possessions, tools (of struggle, etc.), all this is the fundamental base that keeps up society, the state-colonialist system of capitalism. Negativity, nullity, being objects, treating our interactions and others as objects are dynamics we have been inculcated with since childhood, that’s why I must start form a gaze towards myself, on my being racist, macho, authoritarian and also on the new problem of technological relations, taking it on.
These problems take many forms and ramifications (all linked in my opinion), complicated problems to be solved which require in-depth analysis and much, much struggle. Now. I don’t think that the question can be solved or even eliminated with superficiality by saying: “we’ll do it later, when the revolution comes”. Or that tending towards these aspects of the struggle is not part of the class struggle. But we can’t either ONLY shut ourselves in “our communities” or only making analysis, self-analysis, dealing with being objects, racists, homophobic, etc. and not going on the offensive at the broader root of the struggle: state-colonialist capitalism. Inclusion of all the levels of life-struggle is necessary.
And I think, I am convinced that all this is in interaction. That’s why it has to do with active solidarity, which is what I wanted to talk about at the beginning. But I wandered off a little. The growth of relations and the development of active solidarity shouldn’t be separated from these analyses and reflections. Likewise, we can’t do without concrete multiform action which in the union of intent tries to transform into practices from A to Z. Multiformity is qualitative if it is practiced from A to Z, otherwise it becomes blunt. In this respect, the hunger strike proposed by the Chilean comrades was very qualitative both in the multiformness of practices and in the spirit of coherence and complicity in antiauthoritarian practice, inside and outside, and this is quality regardless of the results. It is this that we should improve and develop. Because I know that their struggle was not the end, but the beginning of brotherly relations of solidarity. I am proud of having taken part in the struggle. Together. I take advantage of this occasion to send greetings with respect and love to all the gestures of solidarity and the individualities that put them into practice, here in Italy, in “your” city, as well as in other places in the world. We must continue to CREATE relations with the aim of developing the struggle and the anarchist galaxy both in Italy, I know there are huge difficulties, and on a general level, internationally. Solidarity is a vision that needs balance, which when put into practice alchemically can unite the universal and the specific and vice-versa. The relations of Brotherhood/Sisterhood which form in the concreteness of praxis, with respect, with diversities, the love of comrades that is born while struggling together in mutual solidarity, are quality not rhetoric. It is not an opinion: it is a fact coming from praxis.
But I think that in order to have unity of intent, on both a specific and general level, we need above all to have strength by ourselves. I believe in unity of intent (and I’ll never get tired of discussing it with comrades), but it will have to happen when we are strong and prepared, not unprepared and fragile looking for unity at all costs. For the struggle and for freedom we must have ways, methods and instruments as well as will, courage, great sensibility, faith in the anarchist struggle, passion and belief in what we are and do, with whom we do it. We need to have a global strategy that comes from the analysis of history and of the current conditions, we have seen how in the practice will, courage and faith in the struggle alone are not enough. In order to not be unprepared we need to organize ourselves.
For now I greet you all, I send solidarity greetings to Francisco, who has health issues I heard, to Boris in France and also: strength! To Pablo Bahamondes sentenced to 15 years, courage! To Monica, Marcelo and the Chilean comrades, to Gabriel Pombo da Silva and all the comrades imprisoned all over the world! And to those who continue to struggle outside!