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[Week 1 Discussion] Fire At Midnight Destruction At Dawn: Sabotage and Social War by Kasimere Bran

Submitted by RosaReborn in readingclub (edited by a moderator )

Hello everyone and welcome to the first discussion thread. This week's text was Fire At Midnight Destruction At Dawn: Sabotage and Social War by Kasimere Bran (links to downloads found here). Edit: Some discussion will take place on the riot reading group chatroom which can be accessed here, but there will also be discussions in this thread.

This text focused on sabotage, a method of subverting the capitalist power structure through direct destruction of property on an individual or group scale. The text argues that due to its versatility and simplicity, sabotage can quickly and truly damage capital and the state. While other forms of protest such as boycott tend not to have a large impact, sabotage produces results for direct political and social goals, and is even advocated without any attachment to a particular movement aside from anti-capitalism and anti-statism.

Questions:

  • Will sabotage simply alienate liberals and socdems, we all know how much they hate burning trashcans.
  • Which story did you find most impactful and why?
  • Missing from the text is any mention of street art (graffiti), do you consider this an act of sabotage and is it effective?
  • The text neglects a potentially large field of operation, namely the internet. Do hackers create the same unrest that could lead to revolution? Do you think hacking is safer or more dangerous than physical world projects? Do they need a physical world counterpart to be fully impactful?
  • Are unfocused acts of sabotage accelerationist in nature?

Feel free to address any of these questions, ask your own, or just give your opinion on the piece. Hope you all enjoyed it

Comments

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kore wrote

Lately I've been thinking about how all of this fits in with the increasing surveillance state. Sabotage will get harder and harder.

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selver wrote (edited )

At the same time I feel like security is largely dependent on people believing it's way more secure and inescapable than it is. Look at how much money has been put into a simple task like the TSA, yet people sneak shit onto planes all the time without any problems, people who aren't even particularly motivated. Weapons and drugs get onto planes constantly despite the lengths they go to to prevent it. All the corporations I've worked for have such terrible security.

And then the other factor is that sabotage might lead to better security, but it's a huge drain on their resources as mentioned in some of the essay's examples.

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leftous wrote (edited )

Another factor, is the rise of AI. Not only will AI make surveillance more effective and ubiquitous, it will also reduce the involvement of humans as workers. In the intro to the text, the author mentions sabotage as effective due to the state's weakness which is that:

this system require(s) people’s labor power to function, but it also requires us to produce and maintain its physical infrastructure, enforce its laws, cooperate with and consent to its plans. Ultimately we allow it to exist.

But what if the system no longer required people's labor? Does that render sabotage completely ineffective?

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Cosmicsloth42 wrote

Do hackers create the same unrest that could lead to revolution?

I think Hackers could certainly disrupt the systems that monetary capital is collected, transferred and enforced. They could attack banks, credit cards, collection agencies. However in regards to if they have the ability to the landscape in witch we see the people taking back their cities, towns and communities I don't think so.

I think they can help create a mindset within the people of revolution but at the end of the day it will be those who are out in the street where the people will see the most revolutionary action.

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Tequila_Wolf wrote

I'll chime in just saying this for now:

What I like most about the text is that it shows some great cases where sabotage was effective, leaving me with a sense that it really is something available to us if we want to influence those in power. It's a text that left me feeling more able to be and to act in the world as someone who wants to destroy the current order and replace it with mutual aid networks, which is probably the core thing that I want from any text.

While I did feel empowered, I am also aware of the orwellian level of surveillance in many places where many of us spend our time, and wonder how much that would affect our possibilities.

That said, the kind of sabotage being done here is for the most part not in the middle of cities where surveillance is at its most. It seems that large industrial/mining/infrastructural projects, especially those that span wide areas of land, are most vulnerable here.
It's ironic that the huge amount of land that major companies often operate on leaves them open to attack.

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kore wrote

The fact that sabotage mostly operates in less populated areas reminds me a lot of Desert. Logging operations in the middle of nowhere are on the fringes of civilization. It'd be impossible to do much damage without getting caught in NYC. Just look how they caught the guy in Hamilton.

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selver wrote

Maybe if you don't advertise that you're doing it? Hamilton was sloppy af.

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Tequila_Wolf wrote

One other thing I liked was it pointing out that you could attack companies in your country for bad shit they do in/with other countries.

I imagine Israel could be attacked nicely this way!

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Tequila_Wolf wrote

I don't think of graffiti as sabotage - since as I understand sabotage requires breaking of things to impede their usual function.

It would be pretty cool to combine them, though, making art from what you've broken.

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RosaReborn wrote

Good point, for the specific tasks like protecting lands or bus strikers, graffiti isn't useful. I guess I was getting more at the general disdain form, like smashing a bank window, cutting a cop tire etc. If happens on private property then they have to pay to remove it and people like Banksy promote anti-capital that's big online.

The text really got me thinking about all the things you can do to harm the system, shoplifting from large companies serves to hurt them and provide for your needs. That thinking inspired the hacking question too

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buzz wrote

Will sabotage simply alienate liberals and socdems, we all know how much they hate burning trashcans.

I feel like the proper question is to compare how vanguardism and organised forms of social war operate to apeal to the masses. The benefits of sabotage I see is its autonomous nature means that state propaganda would have a harder time villfying and preventing direct action.

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RosaReborn wrote

This is true, they can't point to some boogeyman organization. The best they can do is label the culprits as 'criminals' or 'terrorists' but the people who would likely be sympathetic would hopefully see right through that kind of language