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Jan 19, 18

The Cinema Committee Reflects on 2017 from Belarus to Philadelphia

From The Cinema Committee

We’ve all heard the story before. People still tell it from the moldering dankness of their mom’s basement. It goes like this: George Soros contacts The Anarchist Antifa Supersoldiers and hands over bulging bags thick with gold in exchange for doing his bidding. Interesting story, right? Well, turns out plenty of shitholes on the internet tell it nearly every week. Since we can’t seem to convince anyone that we’re broke a a joke, and since everyone is calling everyone else a Russian spy, we thought it appropriate to celebrate our current predicament by weaving it all together in a simple and clear narrative. Contrary to popular reports, the international anarchist movement is beholden to neither George Soros or Vladimir Putin. All flags look the same to us. Every country is our homeland.

While the techno-overlords continued to blast the San Francisco Bay Area with their continuously stoked housing crisis, several individuals found it wise to begin burning down luxury housing developments in the city of Oakland. These fires began in 2016 and continued into 2017, each of them completely destroying their targets and costing ten of millions of dollars. The latest was in July when a luxury apartment block caught fire in the heart of Downtown Oakland. These arsons have been wisely left unclaimed by their authors. With the housing and homeless crisis plainly visible for all to see, the sight of burning luxury apartments is a simple message difficult to misinterpret.

Across the continent in Philadelphia, the local anarchist movement has grown quite strong in the past years and become popular for organizing and marching against Trump. Since the fall of 2012, local anarchists have printed their paper Anathema and chronicled events in their city and beyond. With housing costs rising and homelessness increasing, some individuals found it wise to sneak into some luxury developments and torch them to the ground. This arson took place in the Point Breeze neighborhood in 2017 and garnered wide attention in the local media. In another act of rebellion, a group of fifty people rampaged through a series of new developments and trashed everything that reeked of luxury. These two events happened within weeks of each other and sent a clear message against this new luxury development most liberals view as normal. Because of the fluid and toxic news cycle of our current era, few people remember these important activities outside of Philadelphia.

Over the course of 2017, the anarchist struggle against capitalism accelerated in the United States without anyone really noticing. While much attention has already been given to the popular mobilizations against Trump and his fascist goon squad, other anarchist activities often fall into the memory hole. One such event took place further inland in the city of Pittsburgh. After mobilizing to support striking inmates in the Allegheny County Jail and holding protests outside the walls, a group of people decided to physically attack the jail and the police with sticks and rocks. After smashing windows and getting into a brawl, several people were then arrested and thrown inside. The next day, another group camped out in front of the jail with coffee and food. They hung banners on the walls weighted down with rocks similar to the ones thrown the night before. With a palpable sense of humor, this group waited for their comrades to be released and showed no fear in the face of repression.

Throughout all of this, the alt-right were in their college dorm basements making Youtube videos about Antifa Terrorists burning luxury developments and Violent Thugs smashing cop car windows. Perhaps this is why our actions fall into obscurity. Under the weight of a dozen counter-narratives, clear our actual message often gets lost. For example, we are definitively against capitalism and all political parties, yet according to the internet we have been variously employed by Hillary Clinton, George Zoros, The Illuminati Lizards, the Koch Brothers, and Vladimir Putin. Despite the mountain of public evidence to the contrary, the internet is still convinced of its deranged fantasies about anarchists. In order to help set the record straight, we felt it appropriate to highlight some bona fide anarchist activity within and around the Russian Federation. While we may be denigrated as Illuminati Lizards, our comrades in Russia are labeled as CIA agents and often forced into clandestine activity. The operations is identical.

In an illegal act filled with rebellion and defiance, a group of anarchists held a fiery march in November of 2017 through the streets of Moscow that defied the police-state ready to punish them all. Each step was a risk for this group and yet they took them anyway. Further to the west in the contested land of Ukraine, a group of individuals have been attacking targets in and around the city of Kiev. This past November, a group burnt the offices of an extortionist utility company in response their raising of gas and electric tariffs. Earlier in the year, another group burnt the headquarters of a fascist group who harassed anarchists during the 2014 Euro Maiden protests. In the meantime, different groups have also taken out earth destroying equipment and vehicles outside Kiev. In one unique instance, a lone individual decided to take a pistol into the streets of Kiev and shoot empty luxury vehicles. In a country split between CIA-supported Neo-Fascists and Russian-backed separatists, this anarchist activity is refreshing to say the least. But hey, don’t go telling the internet about it. They might get the idea we’re against capitalism, the state, and its fascist cronies.

But it doesn’t stop there. A lot’s been happening just to the north. In the spring of 2017, anarchists in Belarus began organizing popular demonstrations against a proposed “parasite tax” aimed at the poor. These demonstrations grew until they were repressed by the state with many anarchists thrown into jail. In response to these arrests, a wave of solidarity spread from Belarus to Ukraine and then to Russia. Anarchists in all three countries supported each other in various ways throughout the year and as a result have grown stronger. After the repression of the popular uprising, anarchists in Belarus kept on with their work spreading texts, hanging banners, pasting posters, painting slogans, burning offices, and engaging with their surroundings. Because the proposed “parasite tax” effected the entire country, anarchists became stronger in multiple cities including Brest and Minsk. Their recent contribution to the social struggle has not been forgotten by the dispossessed of Belarus.

In conclusion, we’d like to turn to the wonderful neighborhood of Exarchia in the city of Athens. It has been an anarchist neighborhood for decades and decades and has become more powerful since the uprising of 2008. Most recently, anarchists build barricades at the edge of the neighborhood and fought the police on December 6, 2017, the ninth anniversary of Alexis’ murder. While these clasdeadly storyhes happen every year, 2017 solidified the strength of what anarchists have built in Athens. There are now several squats housing refugees from Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan, among other places. The police-sanctioned drug dealers have been pushed out of Exarchia after a long and deadly story that has barely been told in English. While there is still internal conflict in Exarchia, every year the anarchists show how strong they are. Since 2014, the neighborhood has been barricading itself during its fights with the police. This didn’t happen organically, it took people making the call and a lot more people organizing to make it happen.

We leave you here, in center in Athens, and wish you all the best through the coming year. In case you didn’t notice, the movement is huge now. Keep it growing and make it thrive. Stay safe and never stop. Capitalism will end anyway. You decide when.

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Situationist and anarchist inspired collective that produces films, collages, and documentaries.

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