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An Enthusiastic Response to “Black Armed Joy”

Here we have a response that was emailed to us with the author asking us to publish it on our site. We saw no reason not to do so as we hope to see more critical engagements (they don’t always have to positive!) with Black Armed Joy. Of course, we want to emphasize this does not necessarily align with the views of the “haters collective”, we are not the authors, and we have no intention to speak for the author.

an enthusiastic response to “Black Armed Joy”

i read “Black Armed Joy” and came away feeling energized. it felt like an opening. it was exciting and honestly a little messy but i respect the attitude a lot. some highlights:

“please shut the fuck up about France.” – lmfao

“On so-called “Mutual Aid”” – this whole section went off

“It is clear that anarchism exists as a scene rather than a revolutionary movement when there are multiple majority white “anarchist” projects in majority black or POC cities.”

“We cannot emphasize enough that black anarchists and revolutionaries must take up the critical questions of revolutionary strategy in the coming years.”

here i want to take up your invitation to critical engagenent in order to push black insurrectionary/revolutionary theory out of north amerika to dig deeper and reach further. please forgive me – or not, fuck it! – for not spending too long on everything i agree with or don’t have much to add to rn.

one of the things “Black Armed Joy” does that excited me is take up the best parts of the long tradition of talking back to the cracker “left”, laying out how they’re not about that life while simultaneously pointing towards new directions to build. it models how criticism can be an enormously productive activity, and moves like these have often been part of the many long and wandering paths that black revolutionaries have taken in the development of anti-oppressive movements.

i do feel that part of this process means…internationalizing, taking a global perspective. you probably get this, but i wanna be loud and clear for readers: the problem with anarcho-scenesters picking up all their inspiration from europe isn’t so much that they’re importing strategies and tactics from elsewhere, but that they’re refusing to learn from us. (so inspired by the yellow vests and shit that they happily overlook the marches against immigration, fascist overlap, etc etc) let’s just remember that “us” doesn’t only mean “Black insurrectionary history in this kountry” but Black insurrectionary history worldwide. you’re right to name Palestine, Rojava, central and south amerika as places from which we can learn much. but i do feel that these locations are seen as important sites of international “solidarity” because white activists have chosen to make them so (and largely symbolically rather than materially). they have not granted this “honor” to most of the world. they have not been inspired by the waves of urban uprisings against neocolonialism that have swept Africa throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. they won’t turn to the South Pacific and recognize comrades fighting to liberate West Papua and Kanaky. they don’t know or care when our people are flipping police cars in Gwadloup or Kòrsou. they seek france instead of Ayiti. we don’t have to follow this same path.

your essay takes on real declaration-of-war energy by the time we reach “The Prospect of Revolutionary Violence”, which is good. i hope you can take some time to engage with the history of revolutionary guerrilla warfare, so that as things kick off we can actually win. when we give the Black Liberation Army and its veterans (some of whom are still with us) their appropriate place in history, we should also remember that they fought alongside contemporaries in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, and Azania; they learned from the Tupamaros in uruguay and the OIPFG in iran; they scared the shit out of the same nato fascists as the Red Army Faction in germany; they expropriated the same wealth as the M-KA in denmark. we can and should learn from armed struggles in Cuba, Vietnam, and elsewhere without imitating their politics or structure wholesale.

ultimately, an insurrection is a beginning. the outbreak of an uprising marks a departure from the status quo; the persistence of an uprising holds the potential of transforming an insurrection into a revolution. what will keep the fires burning are strategies that allow black people newly politicized by their circumstances ways to participate that are attentive to their abilities and desires; tactics that give black people who’ve seen rebellions fail before good reason to believe that this time will be different; and agitprop that reminds everyone why we are never fucking going back to business as usual.

we should understand that military history and [counter]insurgency studies aren’t the exclusive province of “war in terror” fascists and creepy ass crackers hoping to bring back the glory days of colonial conquest. we should understand that no matter how prepared we think we are, we will need to make plans for how to keep the struggle going when people are unexpectedly captured, tortured, deported, assassinated. we should understand that while the struggles of colonized non-black people may often converge with our own, they are not the same as our own, and any alliances we form should be dissolved if they transform into same old hierarchies. for that matter, we should understand that “allyship” is as much about building relationships with black people in circumstances very different to our own as it is about dealing with white and other non-black people who are supposedly “on our side”.

i don’t wanna ramble forever, so i’ll bring my reply to an end. just keep in mind that social war is not a metaphor: if you escalate, you can expect the same from both your open enemies and fake allies. this is the lesson that liberatory forces have learned the hard way in past revolutionary struggles, and the grim reality that numerous practitioners of revolutionary guerrilla warfare are facing in their own campaigns today. the situation on the horizon looks better for revolutionaries everywhere if we take up our task while heeding the lessons of those who fought before us, wherever they are now.

as the BLA wrote back in the day: “THE SOONER BEGUN, THE SOONER DONE!”

(by the way, some of the leading personalities behind Ill Will are nb”poc”. they might not be white, but they sure think white, and no doubt there are some black clowns cosigning them too. watch out for those types, “anarchist” or otherwise…)