Anarkata Thought In Real Time

[image description: several rectangles with black colored borders. The column of rectangles to the left shows a purple gas planet with ominous clouds, two plants: a light purple and dark, deep purple, a purple sky filled with blue stars, an ancient purple tree with leaves at the top, a purple, soft moon, and purple ocean and sand. The column to the right announces the ‘Anarkata Freedom School Black August Kritical Kickback Series’ in a white colored rectangle. A blue-colored rectangle holds the logistical details: ‘Saturday August 22nd @ 9 pm EST’ in bold black lettering. The theme for this Kickback, in black lettering over a green background: “’It’s Material Baby’: Anarkata Thought in Real Time”]
  • Overview of kickbacks and the spatial guidelines – 

Kritical Kickbacks are chill, accessible, nonhierarchical, chance to get in touch w anarkata principles through political education, mutual aid, or both. Since we push ourselves to an Anarkata frequency here, we want to center the most marginal among us, guard the lane against harm in the space, keep ourselves to that wavelength and not reproduce any transphobia, ableism, religious bias, fatphobia, or any oppression. 

  • Black August 

Black August is a revolutionary tradition that began in the 70s. Emerging in California prisons, the founders of Black August sought to honor the life of George Jackson, who died a political prisoner. Black August commemorated several other militant radicals, freedom fighters, through study, solidarity, struggle , and spiritual discipline. Over the years, the Black August tradition has come to honor the many deaths and births of Black revolutionary ancestors and political formations, from across the Diaspora, which all somehow converge during this month. 

  • Each is themed different; today’s will be about Anarkata thought from a material lens

“If a white man wants to lynch me, that’s his problem. If he’s got the power to lynch me, that’s my problem. Racism is not a question of attitude; it’s a question of power.” – Kwame Ture

For Kwame Toure, the issue of racism is not so much about the idea of racism, but the material structure of power behind it. This is in contrast to an idealist approach to understanding racism. For context, idealism is about understanding social oppression in terms of ideas first and foremost. It was really established by European traditions, and so folk like Marx had to develop a counterargument through materialism. Material analysis is relevant to our struggle as well.

When people say that someone doesnt have a job because they didnt work hard enough, they usually attribute it to a failure in someone’s mind, someone’s thinking rather than looking at the system. This is an idealist perspective. It says ”I have to think smarter, I have to move differently” but the material perspective will say ”what structures are in place that prevent me from getting a job”

What are examples in our lives of idealist explanations for oppression?

‘Ím a teacher… I hear these all the time… Often times the excuse given when 90 percent of the teachers are white when … the excuse you get is ‘not enough Black teachers are applying’ … It is a very simplistic, dismissive answer. [but] there are 2 truths to that: on one hand there are lots of Black… teachers out there. In my program there were only 2 white people. On the other hand, who many of these schools hire… to them… ‘we wanna stick with hiring the same type of people we been trying to hire’ [white teachers]. [Part of it also] is that if you are traumatized by the school system, maybe you [as a Black person] might not want to [join that profession].”

”'[the function of]] idealism… is to obscure the issues of the world.”

”When i think about idealism, I think about how if someone is poor and instead of saying that I am poor because of a system of oppression, people say Im poor because my thinking was not together. I gotta change my thinking, not change the system, in order for my concrete, lived experience to unfold different. That is idealist.”

”Kendrick Lamar… [he] said he doesnt engage in politics, because he is a Hebrew Israelite. He said we dont need to attack the system, we just need to realize we are Hebrew Israelite. [but] Kendrick is still a Black man and will be treated as such regardless of believing he is a Hebrew Israelite. But his idealism makes him avoid attacking the structure.”

”When shootings happen, if the shooter is white they blame it on mental illness… They dont look at the access to firearms or the political culture around him, they just blame it on him having a bad day. It always has the effect of justifying settler colonialism. It is idealist”

”Cis men are the OG idealists. They come to conversations about gender, and it always is about appealing to the idea of manhood when they want to explain how society is structured. They look at social issues and are just like ”as a man, I think…”’

”Shoutout to J Cole.” [Cole exemplifies the idealism inherent to cisheteropatriarchy]

”Exactly. Idealists always go off just they thoughts; cis men really think the ideas in their heads is enough. Noname came through with material facts, information about structures, and nigga said his thoughts was enough to analyze the world. Cis people in generally really a ‘tHoUgHts’ ass bitch any time they talk about queer issues. No basis in our real, lived conditions, just based on their abstract value systems about gender.”

”It is [paternalistic]. I dont get bent out of shape by these rationalizations. [these men] use it as a way to circumvent things that are foul, that they know are foul… So they dont have to be accountable, based on their social stature.”

”It is a deflection tool, exactly. When you are invested in something bad, that you know to be bad… you turn to idealism. S, they cannot say openly that they arent hiring Black teachers so they use the idealist deflections to mask their investment in the system.”

Someone jumped into the chat with the article ”Transphobia is a respectability Politic.” 

”Yes cis people often want to blame the oppression of Black people on the fact that we supposedly havent reached the nuclear family ideal. Instead of Black struggle being understood in material terms, colonial terms, capitalist terms, they just simplify everything to the fact that we didnt meet the standard of a nuclear family. But the nuclear family is not a liberating social arrangement. It was clarified by colonialism and capitalism in order to keep people in their place, and in the colonial context it was weaponized against us to weaken our nations and community formations.”








”They snakes. They use this to justify abuse.”

”The line hurt people hurt people is an idealist line. Not that there is no relation between being hurt and being abusive, it is just that the relation is a material one. It is that people who are abusers have power, access to capital or to other systems… So we have to look at what systems tell abusers that what they do is okay, or which allow them to get away with it [patterns of harm, violence, manipulation, etc].

”Dreams and reality are opposites. Action synthesizes them.” – Assata Shakur

”This one is speaking about dreams and reality. The use of ”synthesize” is a reference to materialism. Dreams: the world we want as Black people to get free; and the reality, the world of oppression, we gotta put in work to get there. When she uses the word ”synthesize” she is referring to dialectics. It took me a while to understand it, but it is basically about contradictions. The US is built on slavery, oppression of Black people; those benefitting from it are not Black. The contradictions is between us and them; the synthesis is us acting on that contradiction to get to our goal [our ”dreams”] of freedom. It is about the contradiction between social forces and logic of systems. Capitalists, their interest is to make as money as possible. The business is doing whatever they can for that: they cut your wages, move to get the best tech, find the hardest working people to pay the less money. But there are other forces: the market, and then us, and these dont all work in logical ways when put together. If the capitalist is making enough money to have mad products, but workers cannot make money cuz wages are low, eventually you see economic problems at the structural level… So, oppressive systems will always have logics internal to them that dont make sense, contradictions. And that illogic/contradiction will eventually become a tension, a social problem. This is why globally we have labor movements everywhere, because capitalism is everywhere and so its same internal problems are gonna cause the same kind of expressions of resistance to have to pop up. Something I think about also is the recent police reforms: we get the Democrats on one hand, we get Black people who want freedom. The system needs to repress us, though: so they will introduce body cameras in the face of our resistance in 2014. The reform happened, but that does not mean the contradiction [between their need to repress us and our struggle for freedom] was… resolved, so even with the cameras and civilian review boards, years later, we still see protests. Everything goes back to the same.”

What are some other examples of systematic contradictions that we notice?

”Going off your point about reform… in Prison industrial complex discussions, people dont realize that prisons as they exist now is a result of reform itself. You cannot reform oppression; it is ridiculous. Even though punishment in this country isnt what it was in the 1700s, the standard punishment is not necessarily getting punished in the street, but all the reforms that were introduced in the 1800s, 1900s, are why it is the way it is today. The prison system is still a repressive force. People say reform is good, but looking at the systems, there is still oppression. The contradiction will continue to live until people realize that the answer is abolition.”

”Thinking about ableism… disabled people were subject to abuse [being warehoused historically in violent institutions]. Then deinstitutionalization was pushed by alot of disability justice organizers, but also the Reagan administration. But we didnt see the creation of community based resources [for disabled folk]. What we saw was the shift from disability from being seen as a medical issue, where it was over-medicalized and robbed disabled people of autonomy. But now it is a criminal issue. So now at least 1/4 people in jail have a disability or mental illness, coming out of hospitals and prisons with severe disabilities as a result of the carceral process. People thought it would be reform because of all the exposes on deplorable conditions in the system, but ended up shifting from one form of repression to another.”

Discussed more examples of violence in medical institutions and prisons

”In New York City, even though they have discussed removing police from schools, all they really have done is change who pays the police in schools. It is all symbolic. No longer is school safety being paid by the NYPD, but now they are still cops, just cops for the DOE. It is performative [it does not change anything]. Reforms dont make things better. We have school safety patrolling the hallways like they are patrolling a prison. How do you retrain that when these people are trained to look out for catching a kid doing something wrong? That is more than just 3 weeks of training [to fix].”

”Schools in itself are carceral… Teachers can choke kids and call the police on them. They have police in schools, the police took the place of disciplining the kids that teachers used to have [before reforms]. It is beyond just police [too], because if you dont get good grades, placate the teacher, follow directions, you will get beat. They will have you put into jail. It was done 40 years ago, and they are doing it today. They have the ability of adjudication, or of a psych eval. Before they didnt have overt cops in schools, but they did still had a police presence and send you to a psychiatrist or break your arm. The teacher”

”The school system itself did not exist in the US for the entire history of this country. It wasnt until there was economic changes at a certain period where society needed a way to train young people how to be workers is that we get a public school system. So the system exists to sustain capitalism. It will always have a repressive function. Any reform will just help them find smarter ways to pursue their material/power interests over us in the school. So yeah, of course they might have banned corporal punishment in schools, but because oppressors still need to use the school system to repress us, now it is transferred to the cops. But then when we push to remove cops from schools, now that repressive function is transferred to carceral agents within the school system itself.”

”The system is trying to resolve a contradictions: neurodivergent people dont fit into capitalism neatly. Capitalism needs a certain work day and standard to be productive, that we dont fit neatly. So they need to make sure we dont actually act on these contradictions, though; they need to make sure it doesnt reach a level of social tension. So that is why the idealism comes up, to keep us from seeing it clearly. And it is central to the reform.”

Jai Renee Gwalmachai: “action and actual physical/visible change that happens in real time is how we move, we want it today…. NOW….. immediately…. ASAP. Making people wait for equitable access to material resources, humanity, and sociopolitical and socioeconomic power is the physical manifestation of oppression. We are here to disrupt that…. by any means necessary”

” Idealist explanations for oppression are used to manage the tensions by obscuring things. We need to move now to get at the things they are trying to obscure from us, the roots of this system. We cannot wait for reforms.”

”Alot of the way mental health is treated is idealist. Alot of it comes directly from the Nazi regime, Hans Asperger (a piece of shit) who decided which children should go to death camps and which ones are ”high functioning.” He decided that the ”high functioning” ones had Asperger’s which means they can be workers. People praise him for saving these kids, but really he used an idea to find a way to exploit a contradiction between the type of workers that capitalism needs and the autonomy of disabled people. He found a smarter way to uphold oppression. Those diagnoses was created from torture and obscene research based on idealist explanations of people’s value [that obscure the contradictions between capitalism and disability justice].”

 ”I thank you for pointing that out. Because liberals are idealist, they wont see that what Asperger really did was just obscure the contradiction between disabled people’s struggles/experiences and capitalistic thinking. Even today, so many programs that focus on helping disabled people really on trying to make us fit into this productivist mould and if we cannot fit that, we are to be disposed of. ”

”Even if you are so-called ”high functioning” it can also cause your disability to be erased, especially if you are Black, or cause things to get worse for you as your needs are overlooked.”

”As a special education teacher, [i see] students who are Autistic, and I see how certain teachers respond to [them] and they will say ”well yesterday you were able to use x y and z” or ”well this other kid can do it and they are also on the spectrum so why cant you?” Another teacher was like ”well he is high functioning so why cant he do what I asked him to do?” Seeing the attitudes of teachers toward any students with a neurodivergence, it is wild to me because they claim to accept them when it is something perfect box differences like ”each kid is good at art or reading or music” but when it is something that is different and shifts [these standards] it is no longer accepted. If you are disabled, then there is a box of expectations, and if you do not fit then your needs are ignored.” 

Took a moment to breathe and shift conversation. This is heavy stuff.

”When I think about about using a material lens and looking at contradictions, I feel like that is important to helping us make connections between things to give an explanation for the social unrest we see right now. Like the uprisings this year did not come from nowhere: coronavirus exposed alot of the contradictions already built in capitalism. Like people saw that these industries could not thrive without our labor, which is why they started failing but they also saw the government bail these industries out financially all while it left our hospitals without masks and gloves. Money was poured into businesses over the people. They saw money put into cops, they saw our neighborhoods get locked down meanwhile white people was able to still party or even protest the quarantine without repression. So much about what capitalism relies on was revealed and so naturally people are gonna rise up at a much heightened level of militancy than we saw before. Whereas in 2014, the militancy was isolated. We had rebellions in Ferguson and other places, but these were largely in the regions that were living through the contradictions between Obama’s postracial fantasy and their real lives. Other places were gamed by the liberal lies and so they could not see the contradictions as clearly so unrest was not as widespread or visibly riotious.”

”Yeah, at that time in places like Ferguson, 70 percent of the tickets was going to Black drivers. It was almost a throwback to the Black Codes. It was an economic issues… created by white supremacy and white supremacist institutions like police…. But the contradictions were [most stark] in less widespread ways than now. This time the focus of it wasnt just in major cities…”

”As revolutionaries, if we know that idealism is being used to manage the social tensions. So we as revolutionaries have to do the opposite: we have to help people understand their right to rebel and we do that by, as Tiffany Pollard said: “look at the material.” Showing them the contradictions that are being obscured by these simplistic answers they give.”

”Idealism is a coat of armor… But if we are thinking as revolutionaries, then we look at the weak point in the system when we look at the contradictions. We dont have to spend time arguing where they argue, they want us to convince people and reform. But we know where the weakness is, where the contradictions are. Let us start there.”

”When we think about contradictions and material analysis, we also gotta think about who has every reason to ignore these contradictions. Some people are gonna try to manage the tension for the oppressor; it might not be worthwhile trying to raise consciousness with these people. That is why Im not gone center politicians, not gone center celebrities. And Im not gon center black artists, black business owners, black academics, because they all have a material investment in their profession. They have no reason to really try to identify the problem with this system and act on it. So as revolutionaries we gotta center the most marginal. We gotta think about who is ready for the whirlwind… It is usually not those coming from dominant social positions or those with privilege. In my case, during this uprising, I been focusing on people who been houseless. Not even the folk who only now want to organize because they about the lose the property they got due to the pandemic and economic fallout. No, Im centering those who always been on the frontlines, homeless women and other maGes. People who been in shelters since 2004, who were always overlooked, and now the pandemic is being used as an added excuse to overlook them. These the people when I talk to them about how NYC has mad empty properties but there is a housing crisis, and when I tell them that developers are just holding the property for future profits, that they using the pandemic to still hold onto it all and not use it for the people, that we have a right then to house ourselves by taking over these properties, those folk be more likely to act on these contradictions in that radical way.”

”Contradiction doesnt just apply to systems, it applies to individuals. The black business owner might empathize with our struggle against cops, but at the end of the day they have property and the police issue will not affect them the same way as someone who is not an employer. Materially, as a Black person they might be able to be hit with the problem… but because of their class position or class interest, it is gonna be different. The plan of action they might wanna take is gonna be different.”

”This season, I saw many people sharing bail funds… Then, Black out tuesday came, business owners was trying to line they pockets. They told people to use social media not to focus on the riots but on their businesses. We gotta look at the material of how these people are moving. They literally managed rebellion, in a time when we coulda used the fact that everyone was sharing bail funds to talk about abolitionist support. Now folks are blacking out off social media to support Black businesses, not thinking anymore about the reason why a riot happens.”

”If you look at where they are materially invested, it isnt the same place that the people rioting in the streets are coming from. We have to look at their material investment as business owners.”

”And this moment has not just had much upheaval around class contradictions, but gender ones too. Lots more people are trying to hold abusers and cis men accountable, and cis people are also tyring to hold onto transphobic violence in stark ways. In all of this, we see certain people coming through to suppress these discussions and shield things. We have abusers… they  material investment in shielding especially if they have clout and making money off the movement. That is why they dont want to be deplatformed. And we have men who get to exploit labor from women and other maGes, and they dont wanna lose that.”

”Alot of this is coming from people not understanding… the decolonial project. You dont compromise on it. If you are compromising, the people with the least amount of power will always lose. I am seeing alot of fervor about Black August celebrations, but I am appalled at how people have Black August events but never once connect abolition to the work. Never have any formerly incarcerated people doing education, no one is talking about sites of incarceration for disabled folk, in schools and hospitals that act like wings of the carceral state. It has been incredibly difficult to even talk to people or when I get messages from people encouraging me to go to the event where folk will shout slogans and go home and forget about it. It is not leading to organization nor mobilization. Black businesses are there to make a bag. Why would you have commerce at a Black August event? When money should be going to people’s books, people’s bail funds.”

”That mentality of ”imma get my first” works when you tryna get symbolic and performative shit”

”These people [also] working with the police.”

Talked alot more about bag chasers, entreprenegroes in the movement, collaborating with the cops, and how some of them might be former gang members who work for the state

”What is the system im dealing with, what contradiction makes it weak, and who are the oppressed people who have a mutual stake in the struggle when we look at the material.”

”There are people who have every reason materially speaking to not give a shit. It will be so much easier in this time of cooption when we bring clarity to these discussions by talking about the social tensions, and what plan of action people need to resolve them, by identifying contradictions in the material structure of this society. It helps you know what lines in the sand someone is drawing. You dont have to cancel people if you dont want to once you realize where they stand, but it does just help you identify who is worthwhile when you tryna raise consciousness because you wont be wasting your time, energy, labor.”

”Bear in mind, these slogans will be thrown at you by people when you challenge them. Abolition is not a place where you will make or keep friends, because people have different levels of investment, because of the… material. Whether that investment is in clout, opportunities, clout, or actual money. If you a clout chaser, an academic, looking for grant money, you are not gonna be easily dismissed or disposed of as a radical but otherwise it is different. If you are used to having some sort of pull or draw, that will fade away real quick… And if not, you will see a steady withdrawal of support. That will happen.”

Suggested resources:

Look At the Material zine (pdf)

On Contradiction (Mao Zedong)

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