Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Introduction to The Outlaws history and theory

perspectives on the 'criminal' outlook — of gangs, individualists and other rebels — and its relationship to revolutionary politics

From any more or less revolutionary period will spring gangs halfway between social subversion and delinquency, temporary illegalities, hoarders, profiteers, but especially, a whole range of uncertain conduct which one would be hard pressed to characterize as "revolutionary," or "for survival" or "counter-revolutionary," etc. Ongoing communization will resolve this, but only over one, two, perhaps several generations. Between now and then, we must prepare ourselves — not for a "return to order" which will be one of the key slogans of all antirevolutionaries, but by developing what makes the originality of a true communist movement — essentially, it doesn't repress, it subverts.

— Jean Barrot, For a World Without Moral Order

There is much to be gained from an honest study of outlaw culture from a revolutionary viewpoint. The social category of ‘crime’ includes a wide range of behaviors, from the marginalized forms of capitalist work that employ ghetto populations to more subversive and less easily categorizable lifestyles. At its best, ‘crime’ can be a sort of shared symbol for networks of individuals defining themselves as ‘outsiders’ in relation to the established order, and the key element that allows these individuals to circumvent and subtly attack the social mores and prejudices that are forced onto them. And then, its also important to remember that any kind of bid for revolutionary change is also and always defined as ‘criminal’. With this project, we are trying to gather bits of histories and analyses that can help to clarify our attitude towards the ‘crime’ problem and related problems: drugs, gangs, uprisings and riots, workplace sabotage, etc.

The above quote by Jean Barrot does a lot to put our viewpoint in perspective. The problem of glamorizing or supporting the ‘criminal outlook’ is an obvious trap we refuse to fall into. Outlaws include many people whose lifestyles offer few solutions to the problems we see in the world, and many who we see as little more than sad symptoms of a working class divided against itself. But an essential part of our perspective is that of refusing the simplistic division of supporting or opposing this or that particular contradiction that power presents to us: every thing which happens does so in a wider context of class struggle, and the suppressed cultures of subjected classes, no matter how incomprehensive and even self-destructive they seem to middle-class observers or sociologists, are based on elements of subversive revolt against the established order and these elements are the potential building blocks of mass struggle. It is up to us to recognize these points of resistance and support them.

Neither legalism nor illegalism, but constant struggle against control!

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