Monday, March 23, 2020

Mutual Aid to Self-Determination

Mutual Aid to Self-Determination

-Joaquin Cienfuegos

In a crisis is when the ruling class shows its true nature. The one thing capitalists care to safeguard in these times is its system and market above all else. While people die from a pandemic we have not seen in our lifetimes, and people get laid off and are unsure of how they will survive and feed their families -- the state shuts down most means for poor people to survive trying to control the virus. All this comes at no surprise, but these class contradictions become magnified during times of crisis. With all that is happening it is clear what is to blame for the ills plaguing humanity and our planet has always been capitalism.

There is no safety net for those at the bottom. Only the rich can afford to take weeks to months off from work, have jobs that give them a salary to work from home, or have savings to fall back on. Majority of people don't have basic health care to even get tested for COVID-19. Yet the state expects us to fall in line with whatever mediocre plan they have to control disease. They expect us to stay home if we do not serve in jobs that are needed to keep their system running, or are healthcare workers. We are expected to pay rent on stolen land, as well as self-quarantine and just buy groceries or get them delivered. They are cutting public transportation and many service jobs. The economic and health care plans that are being offered to us is not enough for us to survive and it seems like a band aid solution to a problem that has no cure, which is this system.

All this, while their media spreads fear instead of educating the public. This is the norm though: keep the people afraid and while they over-consume out of panic. Even then, who is able to afford buying and stocking up on supplies, when most people live pay check to pay check and in poverty. I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but one thing in history has been clear, that in times of crisis, the fascists have used the opportunity to consolidate their power, as well as implement repressive laws they can use to target communities and people they wish to eliminate and subjugate; in example, homeless, people of color, migrants, elderly and others.

The question is what can we do? I wrote something a few years ago I want to re-share, that is relevant today, titled, “Beyond Survival.” Capitalism is the crisis, and the state will not save us. All we have is each other, and we can see this with all the mutual aid projects popping up or that have been in place for years ( ). The challenge before us, is that we need to have infrastructure in place so we are not just reacting when crisis happens. At least for me, that is not strategic, and is short sighted.  Our tactics also get coopted by the right and liberals alike, and other opportunists with their own agendas. Our goal should always be a better world.

Infrastructure, means building within our communities and beyond, so we can truly be self-sufficient. We can provide what we need eventually for each other (basic needs like food, clothes, shelter, healthcare, and “work”), and not rely on the system. It means working with indigenous people and learning to be on the land. That also means fighting to protect the water, and the people.  It will mean changing our relationship to the land. Otherwise we will always be at the mercy of capitalism and every crisis created by it.

We Can live in a world where people can truly feel involved in solving a crisis like the one we are living under now. Where we can work together to feed, house every one and have health care for every single person. Where people can take time off and and be guaranteed a livelihood (not just professionals). Those things are possible, but not under capitalism, and it won't come from democrats or republicans. WE have to fight to make it a reality, and it will take an actual revolution to bring this about, nothing less.

"My intent is not to spread panic, panic is detrimental. I want to promote the proactive approach of preparedness for our people. I want to strongly encourage our people to truly value and take responsibility for our lives (meaning to rely less on the government and more upon each other),  become more proactive and learn about these strategies and skills related to them. Then determine which one works best for your situation and start to plan, prepare and execute your plan."

-Sakej Ward

Beyond Survival

“No queremos sobrevivir, Queremos Vivir” “We don't want to survive, We Want to Live”

By Joaquin Cienfuegos

 The question of survival can mean many different things to people.  In the movement, it has come to mean what Huey P. Newton meant when he said, “survival pending revolution.”  It has also come to mean, learning to live off the land and break one's dependency on this system of colonialism and capitalist-imperialist white supremacy.  While I am not trying to undermine anyone's struggle here, I feel that the movement places more energy on the former, fighting to survive within a racist/sexist oppressive genocidal society.  I want to discuss mainly what we intend to do, and hopefully get to a situation where we are not just surviving, and we can actually live.

 In the major cities in the u.s. Empire, oppressed people are forced into a situation where we are existing in a state of crisis.  We are always just trying to survive, because we do not have any resources that are our own, we are not self-sufficient, self-determined, or sustainable whatsoever.  We are dependent on the system and those in power for our basic needs we need to live: food, clothes, shelter, jobs and education.  For anyone striving to be free, this is an unfavorable position to be in strategically.   It forces us into a situation where we are reacting, and to those in power, this will always give them the upper hand.

 This is not to say that fighting for better living conditions isn't necessary, it definitely is.  Collectively we need to figure out how to connect these struggles to a larger vision, so we don't get bogged down in a reactionary relationship to our oppression and our struggle for freedom.  What we need to deal with is the professional activists, opportunists, and politicians/political careerists who wish to keep us in line with a form of struggle that is safe and keeps their non-profit or opportunist/political aims safe and payed.  They wish to keep us resisting in a non-threatening way.  This speaks to the cooptation of of the “survival programs” or the “serve the people” programs of the Black Panther Party and other revolutionary organizations of the 60's by corporations/Non-Profit Industrial Complex, due to the effectiveness of those programs.  The fact that J. Edgar Hoover and the Counter Intelligence Program, saw the Free Breakfast Program as the “largest threat to national security” speaks to that.  The difference, however, between the BPP (Black Panther Party), and these Non-profits or other organizations who claim to JUST provide services to people, is that the BPP at least for a long time had a revolutionary program/strategy that connected their programs to a larger vision of a different world.

 Later the BPP leadership went down a reformist path and turned “survival pending revolution” programs into just survival, thinking revolution was too far off in the future.  Today many organizations feel the same way, if they even use revolutionary rhetoric, some are straight up open about reformist aims, or just careerist goals as well.  While some might have good intentions in providing services to the people, many just hope to serve themselves or their pockets.  These folks benefit from the fact that survival not only is a necessity but people's nature is to fight for survival, so this struggle is inevitable.  They act as a cushion for the boot of those in power to prolong our rebellion.  This is part of the privilege of living in the first world, or in the belly of the empire.  There has to be this this facade, that the people are being fed, and are being taken care of, if not by the government, than by their middle-men, the NGO's (and others like them).

 So this type of survival, is one that is controlled, and when we become comfortable, then we build a dependency on this system.  This is very common in the empire.  People get into this unconscious (or conscious) way of relating to the state, without it they will not be able to live, and some will even fight to protect this way of life.  Other comrades subconsciously get caught in this cycle of just reacting to the state, and what it brings down on our communities, and get involved only in this activism.  Many people are stuck in this phase, and can't seem to get out of it; nothing gets built, and nothing really changes.  Our communities, really just struggle to get by... to survive.

 We have to learn how to be human again, this battle is one where we not only decolonize ourselves and our minds, but decolonize our condition, working with all indigenous people to do so.  Recognizing again that we are on stolen land, and work with the rightful keepers of the territory we are on.  This is a different type of survival, and it doesn't just mean doing what is sufficient for our people to live, but doing what is necessary to ensure the next seven generations, and prepare the ground so our children can do the same.  It means that we have to fight, not just to survive, but to drive the colonizer and its system out of this continent and get rid of their way of life.  This will mean learning the “survival” skills that are necessary, these are the valuable warrior skills that will connect us back to the land and our culture.  This is how we will learn how to live, how to be human, and how to live outside of this system.  This is a necessary step for the survival of not only indigenous way of life but humanity as a whole.

 We will not fight to replace this system with another set of oppressors, who also represent the colonizer way of life.  We have to build autonomy, which for that you need land, and you need to have a relationship to it and those who are the rightful caretakers of it.  Having a relationship to the land means many different things, along being able to protect it, because it gives you life.  Fighting for autonomy means going beyond just surviving, but being truly independent of the state and the system.  The only way to go beyond just fighting to survive, and actually live, is to build autonomy while destroying this system and driving out their colonial rule.

Monday, November 26, 2018

That's just bad analysis and politics, in my opinion

I'm not one to "call out" people online but do think we should call out wack analysis and bad politics.

Blaming another oppressed people for your own oppression is just lazy. Yea there are fucked up thinking in all our communities but not putting the blame on imperialism will not only not get us where we need to be it can make matters worst. Narrow nationalism on all parts is not revolutionary,  and is liberal and opportunist in the end.

While there are internal contractions in our communities that we should address daily, we need to work towards uniting to get rid of all oppression once and for all.

Mexico is a colonial state with puppet regimes that serve only u.s. interests, as Central American governments that create the conditions where our families and people have to flee our homelands, lets start from there and build. If we can.

Now more than ever we can unite and build real solidarity  as oppressed people (indigenous and other oppressed allies) to bring down not just borders but the systems that keep them in place.


Monday, March 27, 2017

Statement on My Arrest March 25th

Statement on my arrest

On March 25th,

A group of about 100 or more pro-trump demonstrators marched down Hollywood Blvd, with no counter-demonstration whatsoever.

After a confrontation, the police came and detained me and a trump supporter.

They arrested me after finding brass knuckles in my pocket, then releasing the trump supporter and shaking his hand. Even through it didn't surprise me, it still angered me.

They took me to Wilcox Station and charged me with possession of Brass knuckles, which is a felony.

My bail was set at 20,000 (2,000) and ended up bailing myself out because of responsibilities like work, son, and thinking I had to move my car before it got towed, on an instalment plan. Luckily, a close comrade and other comrades had my car towed to safe place so it wouldn't get towed and accumulate charges.

My court date is on April 19th.

Honestly, what went through my mind the whole time, was these racists cannot march down Hollywood in Los Angeles, without anyone challenging them. I wasn't planning to get arrested, and wasn't planning to do anything, until I was attacked by the trump supporter who claimed I took his "Make America Great Again" Hat, so I defended myself against him and two other trump supporters who hid behind their protectors the Los Angeles Police Department.

I just wanted to put my story out to friends, comrades and family.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

#DesdeAbajo: “Muchos de nosotros no tenemos papeles pero vamos a luchar y a pelear a lado de ustedes”

Rodolfo Montes de Oca 
Desde abajo, es una serie de entrevistas que busca abordar las inauguración presidencial de Donald Trump en USA bajo una óptica distinta, haciendo énfasis en los movimientos sociales y los grupos de base que no se ven representados en este gobierno. En esta entrega hablamos con Joaquín Cienfuegos, activista comunitario, miembro de CopWatch Los Angeles y ex-promotor de la Feria del Libro Anarquista de esa ciudad.

  • ¿Cómo ves la elección de Donald Trump?, ¿Su elección representa a la población norteamericana?

En mi opinión la elección de Donald Trump representa la situación en que estamos en los Estados Unidos y el resto del mundo. Estamos entrando en una época donde el fascismo esta haciéndose más fuerte. En mi opinión el fascismo nunca murió y especialmente los fascistas siempre se han estado organizando y reclutando gente. Estamos viviendo en un mundo donde hay crisis en todas partes y fascistas usan estos momentos para crear popularidad a su movimiento y ideas racistas. Han estado ganando por el mundo y empezó con Brexit en Inglaterra y Trump en los Estados Unidos.

Los fascistas han visto que pueden ganar y ha motivado a ellos, para ser abiertamente racistas y xenofóbicos en sus partidos políticos y plataformas. Les echan la culpa a musulmanes, especialmente refugiados de Siria; y en los Estados Unidos a migrantes de México y también a movimientos de Africanos/Negros contra la brutalidad de la policía. Países imperialistas, con ideología de supremacía eurocéntrica, muchos anglos, que tienen privilegios adentro de estos países, sienten su poder en peligro, los fascistas han podido agarrar apoyo de esta gente.

  • ¿Cuál crees tú que serán las medidas en materia de inmigración de Donald Trump?

En este momento no sabemos que va hacer realmente Trump, y que leyes intentara realizar. Los republicanos en general están al control de gobierno en general y sabemos que las cosas se van a poner más difícil para los 11 de millones de indocumentados que viven en los estados unidos en este momento, y para más refugiados que vienen del sur. Realmente no importa que partido este en la Casa Blanca. Obama, que muchos piensan que era el presidente más progresista que ha tenido este país, a deportado a mas personas que cualquier otro presidente en la historia. Los dos partidos iban a seguir militarizando la frontera y seguir deportando a gente. Especialmente Hillary Clinton que muchos miraban como otra política vendida, apoyaba pólizas del libre comercio y neo-liberalismo que hace que muchos tengan que migrar de sus tierras para sobrevivir.

  • ¿Cómo ves las movilizaciones anti-trump?, ¿desde anarquista hasta demo-liberales?... ¿Es posible aprovechar ese descontento para avanzar en un desarrollo distinto?

Pienso que los anarquistas deben estar al frente. El fascismo es el enemigo histórico  y la lucha va ser larga. El 20 de enero podemos inyectar ideas radicales en movimientos sociales y populares. En mi opinión, los liberales quieren usar este momento para promover el partido demócrata. En este momento de historia tenemos que combatir contra ideas liberales también, ellos son culpables también.  Hay diferente mundos posibles, y todo depende en quien gane, por eso es importante confrontar fascistas donde quiera que estén.

  • Para cerrar… ¿Qué te gustaría decirles a todos los latinos sin papeles que viven hoy en USA?

Todos tenemos que luchar en este momento. Muchas organizaciones no-gubernamentales tratan a latinos sin papeles como personas sin poder que tienen que hablar por ellos. En realidad, ello/as vienen de movimientos sociales, guerrillas y luchas en sus países. Podríamos aprender de las experiencias de ello/as. Me gustaría decirles que nadie puede hablar por ti, ningún político, ninguna organización, y ningún revolucionario; Tienes que hablar por ti mismo, tienes que organizarte, autogestionarte, autodefenderte, y crear tu propia lucha en este momento cuando el sistema capitalista y el Estado, los ve como enemigo/as. Nosotro/as como anarquistas somos también enemigos de los Estados. y muchos de nosotros no tenemos papeles pero vamos a luchar y a pelear a lado de ustedes. En solidaridad.
Rodolfo Montes de Oca
Twitter: @romontesdeoca

Thursday, December 15, 2016

On Solidarity

In terms of building real solidarity and how that looks like, if we are going into a community or land that isn't ours or our ancestors' then we must take a step back and not impose our own ideas or ways of doing things,  but rely on revolutionary/ warrior elements that exist already within for leadership and allow for the natural internal struggle to be pushed forward.

Doesn't mean we can't have ideas or opinions,  we can and should,  in example, in my opinion regarding the Standing Rock struggle, I think if you look at history, the reason why the Lakota people exist today is because they fought and won battles. Obviously the colonizer doesn't forget either and has systematically oppressed indigenous nations in that region. In any popular uprising there will always be different agendas struggling for direction and influence.  As a supporter I hope to side with the radical elements that align with my own vision as well but don't want to impose or get in the way of the natural internal struggle that will and needs to take place within the nation for their overall  fight for land and freedom.

This is how I approach solidarity as I take the fight back to where I'm at and for decolonization as a whole.

My two cents

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Of course I'm an anarchist

Something that really influenced me growing up and becoming politicized was meeting a big Chicano  homie who had gotten out of prison and was working with a community organization when I was about 15 or 16.  He had a bunch of anarchist prison tats and when he was asked about his politics he responded, "I've been in the system my whole life, of course I'm an anarchist."

That resonated with me, having been pushed out of school even though I was in honors and gifted programs. Having been harassed and arrested by police over 7 times and on probation and in juvenile hall already. I felt like this system was designed against me growing up and found out it was.

So those words made a lot of sense to me:

"I've been in the system my whole life, of course I'm an anarchist."

Monday, October 10, 2016

On Fake Posturing

A problem I see in the "left" is that we give up our power and voice to celebrities.

Also we hype up and promote people who are just all TALK and posture.  People who have never been in any battle or real fight, but are quick to take up the spotlight.   I feel people who are real warriors and guerrillas don't want the spot light, but they continue to prove themselves in fighting and self-sacrifice, they also have different roles, more in popular education and building our communities skill sets (to be independent and autonomous which is also low key).

Personally I feel people are smart enough to see through the talk and posturing eventually  but it's the professional activist and white leftists who continue to give power to those folks,  who seek celebrity status and other things.

These structures of imposed fake leadership isn't even something that is native to non-european people, we practice consensus and direct democracy.

Just because someone talks and postures like they're down for the fight (and it might sound good and all), doesn't mean they really live their life that way.  Let's build trust with each other through real struggle  (also internally).

In my opinion the more we democratize knowledge and build our skills the more stronger as peoples we will be and won't need these folks that are imposed on us by the mainstream liberal left and other opportunists.

Anyway #justanotherrant

Let's talk through our actions and show examples to our communities and future generations, how it is to build something, and how we can have victories won by fighting.