From resistance to rebellion!

Noon, November 20, 2003
Stop FTAA Convergence Center
Overtown, Miami

I sit surrounded by reports of bleeding heads and tasers, of tear gas and confinement. The police are shooting at steelworkers, isolating the black-clad, dispersing us with abandon. Tense meetings plan how to staunch the wounds, to regroup, to beware. Clearly, the state recognizes our power. Do we?

Four years ago in Seattle I remember feverish activity glinting with half-possible hope, a breathless sense that after decades of desperate isolation we could come together to resist what now we call the Empire. We did. More than that, we created in the plastic wasteland of downtown a liberated zone of roaring, singing, dancing autonomy. Together in the streets (and later in the jails) we saw and recognized in each other the worlds we want, fitting together, changing the course of power.

Rooted in the bracing glory of those moments, our movements were energized. At summit after summit, we came together as communities of struggle to work together, building an infrastructure of organization that grew and flourished as we learned how nonhierarchical social relations can work. Indymedia, street medics, legal support, food not bombs, tactical and communications teams, security, media handlers, housing coordination, convergence spaces, puppetistas, and affinity groups and clusters of every description: over time, we have built skills and relationships that have not only contributed to a sea change in global attitudes to neoliberalism, but a whole new mood of (white) radical resistance in solidarity with the rest of the world.

The state was forced to exhibit its iron fist, over and over. Doing so undermined the brittle facade of legitimacy upon which "democratic" corporate rule depends. That was important and radicalizing, despite media spin and widespread official lies. Thousands of us occupied jails and the courts, forcing our resistance and their repression over and over into public consciousness.

In Seattle we tagged the walls: "We are winning!"

In Cancun, many of us realized that we've won this battle. Neoliberalism has been unmasked. Our movement has recognized its power as a thousand flowers blooming.

In Miami, we are challenged to shift our focus from the suits and their fortress to ourselves and the shadowy new worlds we are becoming: to shift from resistance to rebellion.

We inhabit a time of incredible opportunity. The fortress is collapsing, under pressure from its own unsustainability and the determination of the many struggles against it. Increasingly desperate, the agents of Empire are ever more reckless in their militarized enforcement of a tottering power: the war on terror. Millions realize the destructiveness of the status quo, and yearn for something different. Our infrastructures and skills and communities, from political action to spiritual practice, from cooperative labor to lifestyles of liberation: linked, rooted, they can become the nucleus of a flexible, nimble, rapidly growing revolution of everyday life. The most radical thing we can do is to give everyone the opportunity to experience the world we want, the negation of the world that is, not to watch TV distortions or read wordy abstractions.

But we must be wise. This is also a time of great danger. The state can crush us, as it has so many before. Exhaustion and attrition and despair drain us, bleeding us of our comrades, sapping our ability to grow.

Over and over we launch ourselves upon the lances, offering ourselves defenseless to their battery. Our communities are swamped with drawn-out legal defense, consuming enormous energy. In the face of daily imperial assault on a global scale, even massive police brutality seems almost commonplace.

I suggest it is time to take more direct action. Rather than pressuring the conscience (such as it is) of a hostile media and polarized populace, I suggest this is the moment for we the seeds of rebellion to sprout. In all the nooks and crannies of a startlingly plural multitude, I suggest we declare our autonomy. We are free, when we seize our lives: let our convergences and home communities become facilitations of that always possible freedom. Let us take spaces we can defend by our palpable joy and our contagious liberation. Let us choose the terrain of struggle, make it ever less possible to mistake the character of our desire, make it always more possible for anyone to defect from the Empire and join the revolutions.

Ten years ago this new year, the zapatistas seized much of Chiapas. Keeping open the space of their autonomy by any means necessary has meant limiting direct engagement with the forces of the state. With that room to breathe they are building an indigenous liberation, another kind of social relation, an inspiration for the world. In ways as different as our souls, we are all zapatistas. This January 1, let us take solidarity action everywhere to recognize the liberating (partial) webs of life we already are, to commit to growing them into something as many as possible can taste, and choose, and strengthen!

And here in Miami, let us recognize how close we already are. The police have beaten and abused us; but we have transformed Miami's political culture forever! We have been confined and corralled; but pushed into radicalizing contact with the liberals and labor march! And all around us, the lessons of Cancun are being learned: not simply shutting down the bosses, but embodying another world. Tomorrow, the Really Really Free Market action will create a zone of uncapitalism and collaboration, a gift economy by which to exhibit a society of love.

This is it. All life and everything we love is in mortal danger. Reformist preoccupation with the dictates of presidents and kings no longer helps us. We must risk abandoning our double lives and choose every moment to become new kinds of people, new kinds of struggle, new kinds of power. We can no more afford to ignore the lessons right before us.

Friends, comrades, the revolution is here and now! Let us have the courage to live it well and wisely.

Verdant Darkness Rose
c r i m e t h i n c.    c o r p s    d i p l o m a t i q u e