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(en) US, MACC (MIOP): How to End a Genocide - Abolish the State! (ca, de, fr, it, pt, tr)[machine translation]

Date Wed, 15 May 2024 09:01:59 +0300


Genocide Past and Present ---- As we write this zine, we are in the midst of a genocide happening in Palestine and we are already mourning the deaths of over 33,700 Palestinians with close to half of them being children. The International Court of Justice found it plausible that Israel's acts could amount to genocide.1 Israeli officials are calling Palestinian people "animals"2, a rhetoric that serves to justify the ongoing atrocities against the Palestinian people. This dehumanizing language echoes the historical suffering experienced by their own community, signaling a deeply rooted issue in the structure of our societies that should raise the alarm for everyone. It is evident that none of the existing national and international institutions and organizations are capable of preventing or halting wars and genocides.
Raphael Lemkin coined the term "genocide" in 1944 during World War II to describe the systematic and deliberate extermination of national, racial, or cultural groups within Nazi-occupied Europe. He sought a new term that could capture the unique horror of the deliberate extermination of entire peoples and went on to combine "genos" (Greek for family, tribe, or race) and "-cide" (from the Latin "caedere" for to kill), thus creating the term "genocide."3 However, genocides neither started with the Nazis nor stopped after them.

* Between 1492 and 1900: The genocide of the Indigenous peoples of Western Hemisphere by settler colonialists from Europe involved widespread massacres, forced relocations, cultural assimilation policies, and the introduction of diseases. An estimated death toll based on only the current U.S. geographical boundaries is around 12 million people4, and more across the continents of Turtle Island and Abya Yala.
* During World War I, as the Ottoman empire was disintegrating, the newly created Turkish government, seeking to consolidate power and create a more homogenous nation-state, targeted the Armenian population and other Christian minorities for extermination. Between 1915 and 1923, approximately 1.5 million people were systematically exterminated through forced marches, mass executions, and starvation.5
* In August 1945, during the final weeks of Second World War, the U.S. orchestrated a catastrophic and historic act by deploying atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This unprecedented attack marked the first use of nuclear weapons in warfare and resulted in the mass extermination of over 200,000 people.

* During the early 1990s, Serbian forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina, supported by the Serbian state government and nationalist factions aiming to create an ethnically homogenized "Greater Serbia," engaged in a systematic campaign of aggression against Bosnian Muslims that resulted in the mass murder of around 100,000 people and displacement of over 2 million people.6

* During the Rwandan Genocide of 1994, the Hutu-led government and extremist militias killed an estimated 800,000 to 1 million people over a span of 100 days. The primary victims were the Tutsis, a minority ethnic group in Rwanda, who had historically been favored for administrative roles and educational opportunities under Belgian colonial rule. Moderate Hutus, the major ethnic group in Rwanda, who opposed the genocidal actions, were also targeted in this brutal campaign.7

The historical events mentioned represent just a fraction of the countless lives lost, individuals injured, and communities displaced throughout our history marred by genocides. The Genocide Convention adopted by United Nations in 1948 declares genocide a crime under international law, but it has been unable to prevent further genocides. The post-holocaust promise of "Never Again" has turned out to be both trite and toothless. It is evident that our existing societal frameworks have failed to avert conflict and the continuing loss of life, underscoring the urgent need for structural change. To break this relentless cycle of violence and prevent history from repeating itself, it is imperative that we grasp the underlying forces and mechanisms of the State which have driven these persistent conflicts. Only then can we identify effective strategies to halt this cycle and foster a world where peace and prosperity are accessible to everyone. We must abolish the State.

State: The Invisible Monster of Destruction
Wars and genocides continue to plague our world because Empires and States continue to exist. The State holds a monopoly on violence, claiming the exclusive right to exert force. This principle is a deeply ingrained structure within our societies, where the State grants itself the authority to inflict violence. However, we must challenge and refuse to accept this justification as the norm. Violence enacted by one state against another may constitute acts of war, but it's deemed acceptable in the international community of nation-states as long as it does not contravene international human rights laws. Individual acts of murder are rightfully considered unethical, whereas soldiers are allowed to kill people in the name of their state. State apparatuses are tools for organizing violence in order to dominate extraction of resources, wealth, surplus, or revenue, and to carry out ideological or theological missions, which in turn justify the further extraction of resources. Case in point, the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 resulted in over 300,000 civilian deaths. Initially justified by false claims of Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction and its ties to terrorism, the invasion served as a strategic move, albeit a failed one, to establish military bases and access Iraqi energy resources. When the initial claims that the U.S. used to justify the invasion of Iraq proved to be false, the narrative of bringing democracy and freedom became a central justification for the intervention.
How do nation-states uphold their monopoly on violence? States deploy several critical mechanisms to perpetuate their existence, which lead to a cycle of recurring acts of violence. The primary means by which states achieve domination over their citizens and territories is through hierarchical power structures. These structures are inherently oppressive and exploitative, concentrating power in the hands of a few and consequently leading to the subjugation and marginalization of the majority. The concentration and centralization of power creates a structure that allows those in positions of authority within the nation-state to make unilateral decisions, which, among other results, lead to wars and genocides.
The bureaucratic and impersonal nature of the state means that decisions, including those leading to war, are made within a system that distances decision-makers from the human consequences of their actions. This can desensitize those in power to the violence and suffering caused by war. The few who hold power do not personally engage in aerial bombings or ground combat. The military follows the orders issued by those in power, directly executing wars and genocides. There are 1.4 million active personnel in the U.S. military.8 Some of them have been deployed, some have been in combat, and many have been serving in administrative or other "non-combat" support positions; but all of them support the oppressive state power through their participation and many also experience the state's oppressive nature firsthand.9 In 2019, the overwhelming majority of individuals enlisting in the U.S. military were between the ages of 17 and 20.10 Fresh out of school, navigating through the pressures of capitalism, and having spent years under the influence of the state's machinery of manipulation, young people join oppressive state institutions such as the military or police force.
States justify their violence through the carefully designed education system, media, and cultural narratives that glorify nationalism and demonize the "other." The narrative of self-defense against an inherently violent or deceitful enemy absolves the state and its actors of the moral weight of their actions, allowing for atrocities to be committed under the guise of national security. States have managed to instill in many people a deceptive sense of unity and superiority that rationalizes oppression, harm, and - in the worst case - the extermination of "others." Through the cultivation of a national identity that is under constant threat, states create a psychological environment where people feel perpetually besieged, making the justification of violence seem necessary for survival. Borders further reinforce the notion of separation that leads to exclusionary practices and identities. This environment is not a natural state of affairs but a carefully constructed reality by the nation-state to maintain its grip on power. By shaping public opinion, the state legitimizes its authority and discourages and punishes resistance. The Israeli citizens who refuse to serve in the army are imprisoned by the state of Israel.11 Activists and protesters opposing the "Cop City" project in the Weelaunee Forest in Atlanta are facing racketeering charges for their defense of the ancient forest and the opposition of building the biggest yet training facility for militarization of the police.12 The use of surveillance and policing allows the state to monitor and control, preventing and quelling dissent. This includes the use of police forces to enforce laws and state authority, as well as intelligence agencies to surveil potential threats to the state's power.13
Governments change, and their leaders rise and fall, yet the state endures. The state, as a political construct, acts as an insidious force, an invisible monster, consuming everything in its path - devastating the environment, humanity, and our inherent dignity. The main characteristic of the state that makes it so destructive is the centralization of power and the institutional dynamics of governance. Many overlook, or are ignorant or misled about, this fundamental flaw in the system and instead blame its leaders, believing that electing ostensibly better representatives could make a difference. History has consistently demonstrated that the hierarchical structure of power inherently corrupts or limits even the most well-intentioned leaders. Conversely, hierarchical power structures enable the most despicable and dangerous individuals to seize power. Netanyahu and other servants of the Israeli state have no moral objection to ordering the killing of thousands of Palestinian children, leaving thousands more orphaned, forcing them to experience the shock of the war, traumatizing them for life, leaving them hungry, scared, and alone. This reality alone is enough of a reason to fight for abolishing the state and creating societal structures where such horrific things will never happen again!

Coming Together to Create a Peaceful World

The global reaction to the genocide in Gaza - with thousands of demonstrations worldwide and hundreds of millions of people across the globe opposing the war and the genocide - indicates that humanity is there; it has always been there. There is a global demand for peace, and the vast majority of people oppose the general idea of a war. Wars and genocides are possible only due to centralized authority that can exert power to mobilize armies and pursue wars. So, what do we do to build a peaceful society where wars and genocides become simply impossible, and where everyone can thrive and is taken care of? Before abolishing any state, which seems like a natural step to get rid of centralized power, we first need to learn how to live without a state and according to the principles of the future society we wish to create. We need to practice, experiment, and learn how to live in a society based on equality, direct democracy, freedom of mind and freedom of the body, horizontalism, individual autonomy, mutual aid, self-management, and voluntary associations. The methods used to achieve the change we want to see need to be consistent with the goals of that change. In the here and now we need to build local alternatives to existing structures that operate on those principles, where decisions are made collectively by the community members themselves, rather than by a distant and unaccountable leadership. This ensures that the motivations for war would be either absent or directly challenged and stopped by the people. To bring change and create the society we envision, we must come close to each other, get to know each other, plan collectively, and act accordingly. We need to draw closer to others and restore the sense of community that enables mutual reliance. By actively engaging in the decision-making process, forming or participating in neighborhood collectives and grassroots organizations, establishing community gardens, joining local anarchist groups or starting new ones where none exist, we reaffirm our communal bonds and get closer to our ultimate goal. We need to educate ourselves and others, engage in dialogue, and choose methods of action that resonate with us personally. We must counteract the alienation produced by the state and capitalism with a vision of a community where everyone is taken care of.
Through mutual aid and mutual support, where individuals and communities support each other in the spirit of cooperation and solidarity, rather than competition and conflict, we aim to build relationships between communities that are more humane and resistant to the escalation of conflicts into violence. Smaller, self-managed communities with a high degree of autonomy and cooperation teach us how to interact with each other and diminish the likelihood of large-scale wars. Without hierarchical structures, conflicts within and between communities can be approached with non-coercive and voluntary means of resolution. The emphasis on dialogue, consensus, and restorative and transformative practices aims to address the root causes of conflicts without resorting to violence and a punitive system. The competitive and exploitative nature of capitalism that leads to conflicts and wars will be substituted by cooperation and communal ownership, where humans will have the freedom to explore and create, driven by their own initiative. Together, in solidarity, we can create that world, a world where all voices are heard - a peaceful world where we are truly free, proud to live in, and share with others.

FOOTNOTES

1 United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner. (2024, January 31). Gaza: ICJ ruling offers hope for protection of civilians enduring apocalyptic conditions, say UN experts. OHCHR. https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2024/01/gaza-icj-ruling-offers-hope-protection-civilians-enduring-apocalyptic
2 Reuters (2023, October). UN committee voices concern about rising Israeli hate speech against Palestinians. https://www.reuters.com/world/un-committee-voices-concern-about-rising-israeli-hate-speech-against-2023-10-27/
3 Lemkin R. & Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Division of International Law. (1944). Axis rule in occupied Europe: laws of occupation analysis of government proposals for redress. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Division of International Law.
4 Thornton, R. (1987). American Indian Holocaust and Survival: A Population History since 1492. University of Oklahoma Press.
5 Akçam, T. (2006). A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility. Metropolitan Books.
6 Silber, L., & Little, A. (1997). Yugoslavia: Death of a Nation. Penguin Books.
7 Gourevitch, P. (1998). We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.
8 Statista. (2023, November). U.S. military force numbers, by service branch and reserve component. https://www.statista.com/statistics/232330/us-military-force-numbers-by-service-branch-and-reserve-component/
9 Institute of Anarchist Studies (2016, January). Breaking the Chains of Command: Anarchist Veterans of the US Military. https://anarchiststudies.org/breaking-the-chains-of-command-anarchist-veterans-of-the-us-military-by-brad-thomson/
10 Center for Naval Analyses (2019). Population Representation in the Military Services: Fiscal Year 2019 Summary Report. https://www.cna.org/pop-rep/2019/summary/summary.pdf
11 Al Jazeera (2023, December). Who are the Israeli refuseniks picking jail over the Gaza war? https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/12/27/who-are-the-israeli-refuseniks-picking-jail-over-the-gaza-war
12 CrimethInc. (2023, September). Understanding the RICO Charges in Atlanta. https://crimethinc.com/2023/09/05/understanding-the-rico-charges-in-atlanta-a-sweeping-indictment-seeks-to-criminalize-protest-itself
13 Knock LA. (2023, November). LAPD Is Using Israeli Surveillance Software That Can Track Your Phone and Social Media. https://knock-la.com/lapd-is-using-israeli-surveillance-software-that-can-track-your-phone-and-social-media/
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New zine from the MACC Information and Outreach Project (MIOP)
https://macc.nyc/img/anti-war-zine-April_2024_print-ready.pdf
© 2024 MACC NYC

The Metropolitan Anarchist Coordinating Council (MACC) is an organization based on the guiding principles of horizontalism, anti-oppression, mutual aid, direct democracy, and direct action. We seek to strengthen and support New York City's anarchist movement through coordination of existing and emerging projects.

https://macc.nyc/
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