Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

Feds Label Three Cities as “Anarchist Jurisdictions”

U.S. Attorney General William Barr recently designated the cities of New York, Portland, and Seattle as “anarchist jurisdictions.” Whether or not the term is being used accurately (it is not), the label of “anarchism” against opponents has been used historically by governments to justify or institute repression.

Andy Barns

September 27, 2020
Facebook Twitter Share
Illustration: “Funeral of the anarchist Galli,” by Carlo Carra, 1913. (Museum of Modern Art)

Originally published in Socialist Resurgence

U.S. Attorney General William Barr recently designated the cities of New York, Portland, and Seattle as “anarchist jurisdictions.” This reasoning followed the lines of a memo issued by Trump a week earlier, and the characterization was partly an attack on Trump’s political opponents in the Democratic Party. It fits in with the wider fear-mongering election-year campaign of Trump, whipping his base into a fearful, violence-fueled fervor about “antifa” and BLM conspiracy theories.

It should be obvious that these cities are controlled not by anarchists but by pro-capitalist Democrats. Moreover, Democratic mayors and governors—hardly anarchists themselves—have had no qualms using state violence to quell protests. Although large cities will certainly have individuals who self-label as “anarchist” and believe in some version of anti-authoritarianism and anti-capitalism, these cities are not in a situation of dual power—that is, engaged in a real struggle between pro-capitalist forces and working-class revolutionaries for political control.

Nevertheless, it must be understood that the label of “anarchism” against opponents, whether used accurately or not, has been used historically by governments of a wide variety (bourgeois republics, fascist regimes, and bureaucratic “socialist” regimes) to justify or institute repression.

Mass media can be used, and has been used, to fool certain sections of the population that people who are struggling against oppression are monsters. This is exactly what’s happening in the Trump movement. It’s textbook capitalist propaganda, dividing the population based on certain wedge issues so that they do not combine and overthrow the real enemy, the rich industrial and financial capitalists who exploit labor-power for profits.

Solidarity Against Political Repression

Designating these cities as “anarchist jurisdictions” opens the door ever wider for the state to justify repression against political opponents, silence our First Amendment right to protest, and strip away people’s civil rights.

It is incorrect to believe that this will only affect self-described anarchists. It is incorrect to assume that by affiliating with the movement for socialism, or social democracy, or capitalist Democrats, or none of these, that you will be safe. Any action taken to resist this oppressive, racist, and undemocratic capitalist dystopia may get you the “anarchist” label and repression—and perhaps even prison.

If you consider yourself a socialist, it is incorrect to refuse to defend anarchists because of their theoretical failings (and vice versa), when your natural ally against the capitalist state is under attack. We would be weakened by this act. We only find strength by acting together.

In order for the workers’ movement to successfully overcome the power of the capitalist state and bring real democracy and justice to the world, once and for all, our movement must stand in solidarity with all political prisoners and against all forms of state repression. We must resist sectarianism and recognize that in this moment, if our forces do not act in solidarity to free all political prisoners and retain ALL democratic rights for ALL persons, then we cannot stand against the state.

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
— From Martin Niemöller (1892-1984)

Facebook Twitter Share

Guest Posts

A protester waves a sign that read "unionize" near the Country Club Plaza Starbucks store where dozens of Starbucks employees and union supporters protested alleged anti-union tactics by the company Thursday, March 3, 2022.

El Paso Starbucks Workers Are Organizing in the Face of Relentless Union Busting

Starbucks’s preemptive union-busting tactics in El Paso, Texas, have backfired and inspired workers at the Fountains to unionize.

Paul Ginestá

May 20, 2022
A tank firing in Ukraine during the Russian invasion.

Global Military Spending Reaches Record High

World military spending has passed $2 trillion for the first time ever. Now, more than ever, we need to fight for a world that eliminates competition and war, and fight for international solidarity.

Robert Narai

May 17, 2022

The Biden Administration Is Protecting the Murderers of Breonna Taylor, Tamir Rice, and Others

The Biden administration said they were on the side of Black Lives Matter. That was always a lie. And now they are protecting the murders of Breonna Taylor, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner and many more Black people by cops.

Daniel Werst

May 10, 2022
A protest, people are milling around. In the center of the frame is a woman playing the trombone.

‘I’m Not Waiting Until After The November Midterms For My Rights’ Speech By A Feminist Activist In Detroit

As protests against the leak of the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe V. Wade take place around the country, Detroit-based activist Rebecca Paris made the following speech at a rally. We re-print her speech here.

Rebecca Paris

May 7, 2022

MOST RECENT

The Kids Are Alright: Meet the 17 Year Olds That Want to Unionize Starbucks

They haven't finished high school yet, but they are already fighting to organize the first union at Starbucks in the San Francisco Bay Area. Driven by the unionization wave sweeping the country, two 17-year-olds are organizing with their coworkers through a chat called "Union Babes" and fighting the company's union-busting campaigns.

Police office crouches behind a riot shield which reads "Shelby Township Police"

BLM Leader In Court to Challenge Racist and Retaliatory Charges

A Detroit leader of the Black Lives Matter movement is set to appear in court to challenge racist and retaliatory felony charges for marching to demand the firing of a Chief of Police who called BLM protestors “subhuman” and said they belonged in “body bags”.

Somali troops stand in formation during a graduation ceremony after being trained by U.S. forces in Mogadishu on Aug. 17, 2018.

Biden Is Expanding U.S. Military Intervention in Somalia

President Biden recently approved an order to send hundreds of troops to Somalia. This move serves the interests of U.S. imperialism by taking advantage of the very political instability it helped create.

Sam Carliner

May 20, 2022
Semi-empty store shelf with a few cans of baby formula.

The Baby Formula Shortage Is a Capitalist Crisis of Social Reproduction

The baby formula shortage is a consequence of capitalism and a crisis of social reproduction. Formula should not be commodified and sold — it should be free and a basic right for all parents.