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News ::
Hitting Them Where It Hurts
23 Aug 2001
Using our strengths against their weaknesses--upping the ante and tearing down the system!
The following suggestions are meant for those members of this Movement who believe that the focus and purpose of our momentum is not merely to be reactive to specific institutions (IMF, World Bank, WTO, Nike, President Bush, the Gap, etc.) but that we are dealing with a Systemic problem, and as such should target many other institutions that play a role in perpetuating a system of injustice.

As such, it is valuable to consider our strengths versus their weaknesses. We tend to work best as small, autonomous, decentralized groups. They tend towards centralized, unified, totalitarianism. We tend to be diverse in our modes of exchange and solutions to given problems. They tend to toward centralized, 'standardized' systems of exchange and control, often OVER-DEPENDING on one system or methodology.

Because of who we are, most of us understand that 'it's all interrelated.' We build our Movement with this in mind. Some of us deal with direct action, others with radical media, others with buildings TAZ or communal living situations, others with worker-owned collectives. We all do our part. What I think we need to do is two things-share resources more effectively, and attack more of their weaknesses (or their shared resources) more ferociously.

Let's focus on the second part first. When we consider the enemy systemically, where is the system vulnerable? What do they all depend on to keep their house of cards from crumbling?

The Media

We especially, the Indy Media, understand how corporations control the mainstream media and how fucked up it is that only a few companies control what we see and hear. An interesting fact, however, is that most radio and television broadcast towers are in plain sight in most towns, and relatively unguarded. I propose that we take them out. Preferably all at once-all the TV and radio towers in your hometown, disabled, all on one day. If you can figure out how to cut or disable the main cable outlet, do that to. Why not? It forces people to find something else to do besides tune in and tune out, and it takes away a major commercial propaganda machine.

The Economy

I've talked to a few people about the difficulty of programming certain computer viruses and worms, things like Code Red. I've been told that they are not very difficult to put together. But whom do they generally target? The general idea seems to be to 'slow down' the Internet, a nuisance to some businesses. But if we really want to get them where it hurts, we need to take out their lifeline. It seems to me that the thing that the business community really depends on is the stock market. Okay, why not design some worms to disable the stock exchange. I've been told that the exchange is not connected in any way to the actual Internet, so we'd either need an insider to introduce the virus, or access to a computer on the inside? Is this difficult, I don't know? Abbey Hoffman single-handedly caused a slight dip in the stock exchange one day by dumping a bag full of dollar bills onto the exchange floor. The traders stopped trading and started diving for the money as it flittered down over their heads. These days, bulletproof glass prevents anyone from pulling similar stunts, but I know we have people who are smarter with computers than they are at protected their systems. So why not get them where it will really pack a punch? If we shut down Wall Street with a sea of bodies as effectively as we flooded Seattle, we could really pack a wallop!

While we're at it, why not disable a few banks. Most banks have some heavy security, but it's all about keeping people from robbing them. Well, most of us know that Labor, not Money, makes the world go round. We know that there's enough to eat, and places to live, and resources at our disposal, and that money, to a large extent, is merely a tool to keep us subservient to the wealthy power-elite. So even though we probably couldn't ROB a bank, we COULD probably shut it down from operation. Smashing ATM machines, calling in bomb-threats, and burning down or otherwise smashing up banks isn't really that hard. It's not what they're expecting. They still think banks, and the money inside of them, are sacred. They aren't. If the ELF can take out a whole ski resort, we can take out a whole lot of ATM machines, and a few banks too!

Who's Got The Power

A few days ago, I was downtown in the city where I live, about to rent a movie from a major rental chain, when suddenly the power went out. All the computers went down, none of the cash registers would open. I walked outside and the power was out all up the street and around the block. All the little chain stores were out of commission. None of the employees cared-they work for minimum wage. As far as they were concerned, it was a free break. Since America has never been in any serious danger of military invasion, many of our main power lines are wide open, just swinging in the breeze. Would it be that difficult to sever them? Hospitals and banks have back-up generators, so who would be hurting? Would it be that difficult to sever them the same day some other people disable the television and radio towers? We'd be hurting the pockets of the elite, that's who. Plus, the police would have to rally at intersections and direct traffic, and actually safeguard people for a change, rather than harassing minorities and chasing people down for committing victimless crimes. If we're serious about a revolution, we need to wake the middle class up from their nap. It's like the story of the frog in the boiling water. If you put a frog in a pot of cold water and start gradually heating it up, the frog will grow lazy in the warming water. By the time it starts boiling, it's too late for the frog! Thanks to the failing American economy, more and more people ARE waking up. All it would take to really jolt them awake is a little well-executed mayhem-just enough to piss them off about the big Powers That Be, the bigwigs who control the power, the media, the companies where they (once) worked, the law-makers and the police.

Transportation

As we target delegations like the IMF and World Bank, I sometimes wonder why we allow them to reach their destination hotels at all. Thousands of businessmen and businesswomen spend days at a time in transit between cities every day. Why not disable an entire airport-why not make that a focus of our attack. During the Civil Rights movement, there was a time when the African-American people in this country were going to march on Washington, and they threatened to lie down on the runways and prevent the planes from taking off and landing. Martin Luther King begged for moderation, fearing that this sort of thing would be too militant. Was he right? Maybe it's time to be THAT militant! If we shut down an airport, ANY major airport for even ONE DAY, we would have implemented a major blow to the capitalist system. If our target is the injustice system as a whole, why not? If we target an airport a few days prior to an international summit, then we hit two birds with one stone by preventing delegates from easily even entering the city where the meeting will take place!

The Police

This is a tricky one. As we all know, any direct attack against the 'keepers of the police', the watch-dogs at the beck and call of the power-elite, merely gives them an excuse to beef up their forces and use more deadly tactics later on. So what can we do? A few fun ideas spring to mind. First, becoming a police officer is not difficult. The officer training schools are easy to get into. And once you've gone through the program, there is no law that states you then HAVE to become a police officer. So, why not use this to our advantage to infiltrate their system. We could have all sorts of people on the inside, throwing little monkey wrenches into their attempts at efficiency, their communication systems, their solidarity. Maybe these folks should take some added precautions-using a false identity to apply, having a place in another city to go to afterwards. But hey, they're spying on us all the time, betraying our trust in our fellow activists. Why not flip the script? With a little forethought, we could have some of our 'recruits' on the inside during a major protest. We could conceivably know what they're planning, where they are, what tactics they're implementing (and which ones they're not expecting from us), what their weaknesses are-plus possibly being able to break their solidarity by SWITCHING SIDES during a protest, or fucking with their non-lethal weapons a few days or a few weeks before a planned action.

Another tactic is to use their tools to our advantage. Could we design a virus to use people's modems around the country to flood local police lines or 911 with calls? Could we systematically call in false pleas for help, essentially creating a diversion to keep them from an area we are monkey wrenching? Sure we could. And why not?

All of these ideas are merely that, ideas based on thinking about the LARGER framework, the system we are attacking, not just the individuals and individual institutions that are the vanguard of that system. Because that system is so pervasive, we cannot at this time even conceive of any kind of victory from a full-on, face-to-face assault. We'd be crushed. But I do think it's time to up the ante. The economy, as I said, is pushing the middle-class from their media-drunk daze-all that's needed is a little more of a push, and we'll have the conditions for an actual revolution on our hands.

Now, back to the first element I wanted to discuss: sharing our resources more effectively. I think most of us believe that, given the choice, most people would CHOOSE to eat for free (from Food Not Bombs, community gardens, etc.) than pay for the right to eat. Most people would CHOOSE to share resources and thus have a little bit for all, than for some to have everything and others to fight for a meager portion of what's left. So what we need to do is to make those choices MORE READILY AVAILABLE to everyone, not just our activist friends.

To do this, we need to do two things: develop some infrastructures and do some more outreach. By infrastructure, I do not mean hierarchy. I mean we must build stronger alliances between the different pieces of the puzzle. TAZ groups and infoshops and communes need to share more resources between them. We already share people-lots of people do 'community tours' where they stay with and work for different groups all over the country. What we need to do now is share more solid resources. We need to have 'wish list' pages, ways to let each other know what each group needs to be more effective. The more we can share what we have with each other, the more we can operate independently from the evils of the capitalist machine.

I am personally a solid believer in a need-based economy. If any group has a surplus of any commodity, why not give it to a group that has a shortfall. This is not barter. This is placing value on the USE of a thing. In other words, unless a thing is being used, it is being wasted. We cannot afford to waste ANY of our resources. We need to create our own, autonomous ECONOMY that creates a net to catch those of us who don't want any part of the system we despise. Granted, most of us do not have the resources at our disposal (yet) to accomplish this. Hypocrisy is, to some extend, inevitable for most of us. The point is, we are vectors pointing in the direction of positive change, and we must reinforce our networks so as to create the means by which to support more and more people joining forces with us.

Working in parallel to this notion is the serious need to PUT THE WORD OUT. We need to keep pushing these projects into the awareness of the mainstream. At upcoming protests, I will be out with a team of people distributing literature in the suburbs, directly into middle-class mailboxes, rather than putting all of my energy into marches and tear-gas in the city. I know the mainstream media won't give those people any real sense of why we're in the streets, so I'll do it myself. We need to get the word out directly, ourselves. Why not target more high schools and middle schools for our zines and flyers and posters and teach-ins and art? We need to put our energy into local congregations at local churches. I hate to say it, but white activists dismiss churches way too much! Some of us wonder why there isn't a great deal of diversity in our protests. One of the reasons is that the majority of African-American activists are church-based. We really DO need to do more grassroots organizing through churches and mosques, and put more legwork into going door-to-door in our communities to educate people about the issues.

In the end, let me say that we are all doing great work! Progress IS being made. The ideas I have expressed here are merely meant to be a catalyst for rousing our drive to push ourselves a little bit further, going the distance a step and a day at a time, all the while keeping our 'eyes on the prize.'

'To have progress, you must first have a goal.'

In solidarity,

We
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