re: what if a state is decent? Resistance isn't a goal in itself, right?


Real resistance, real organization, is done against the State, not with its blessing. Never trust an Org.


what if a state is decent? Resistance isn't a goal in itself, right?

my response, unsent, to the commenter:

It is Friday March 7 2024 in the United States and the full text of the new Safeguarding National Security Bill draft in Hong Kong, revised from the 2020 National Security Law that was a direct response to the 2019 anti-extradition bill protests, has just been published online. I glance at Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP)'s table outlining the new offenses, one of which includes "insurrection." I jump to that section in the draft--Part 3, Division 1. "Insurrection" covers a wide range of activities from joining, aiding, or starting an armed conflict against the Chinese armed force to committing "a violent act"--it just has to be one violent act--that endangers "the sovereignty, unity or territorial integrity of China or the public safety of the HKSAR as a whole." Regardless of where you fall within that range, the draft states you can be imprisoned for life--and the law would have extraterritorial effect. Later I see another headline from HKFP that highlights Part 7, Division 2, Clause 93--which states that "absconders"--people who have knowingly been issued an arrest warrant for endangering national security but not appeared in court for 6 months--are liable to have their Hong Kong passports cancelled. On top of other prohibitions against people providing financial support, providing housing, or starting a business with the wanted person on pain of 7 year imprisonment, and prohibitions against the wanted person for continuing work, the entirety of the "Measures that may Apply against Relevant Absconders" serves to completely incapacitate anyone who seeks to escape prosecution under the draft version of the Safeguarding National Security Bill. I am thinking of Lai Ke, the Chinese transgender activist who was effectively kidnapped by the Hong Kong police en route to Canada for alleged immigration offenses and is now indefinitely detained at Castle Peak Bay Immigration Center. I wonder if, under this proposed Safeguarding National Security Bill, the state couldn't extralegally and indefinitely detain someone wanted for breaking the National Security Bill in order to forcibly satisfy the 6 month period required to create an absconder so that it could continue repression through legal means. I think of the standard anarchist definition of a state as the monopoly of violence. I feel like this is a good example of what the anarchists mean.

The point is, a state, by nature as a hegemonic controller of political conditions, will never have the necessity to be "decent." There is no magical tipping point after which a state is guaranteed to fall due to its abuses of power, because resistance against a state is by nature materially asymmetrical--the state, in order to maintain its hegemony, uses the law, the economy, and the carceral system to prevent all challenges against it, especially if those challenges are by force. Liberationists and the state do not begin as equals in power, but as enemies under hierarchy, with the state at the top needing to keep liberationists on the bottom in order to maintain its position. Therefore it is a mistake, as a liberationist, to begin by thinking of the state as your equal by deploying metrics such as "decency." Decency is a variant of liberal civility, which, as I've explained before, is a carceral tool designed to shut down radical and revolutionary politics. Unless your goal is political moderation, "decency" should not be the target when it comes to the state. The target should be destruction.

Resistance is a goal in and of itself for some people. Examples: punk (which I've understood is primarily about antagonism against the status quo), some strands of insurrection that are against revolution as a form of hierarchy, and some strands of nihilism or nihilist-adjacent practitioners who go for pure destruction with no desire to create something new from the ashes. Personally I'm reminded of what Joy James says in "Radicalizing Black Feminism" from Seeking the Beloved Community:

“Revolutionary” denotes dynamic movement, rather than fixed stasis, within a political praxis relevant to changing material conditions and social consciousness. With a fluid rather than fixed appearance, the emergence of the revolutionary, remains episodic. As conditions change, what it means to be a revolutionary changes (therefore, the articulation of a final destination for radical or revolutionary black feminisms remains more of a motivational ideal, and the pronouncement of an arrival at the final destination a depoliticizing mirage).

I am for anarchy and communism, for a revolution that overthrows hierarchy and capitalism. And I also believe that once both hierarchy and capitalism have been overthrown, there will be new material and social conditions that may call for new revolutions we cannot yet imagine. But besides the future, I also belive that in the present, anarchy and communism is not the only way. There are radicalisms and revolutions that are illegible to me that I cannot co-opt into my own without reproducing the very oppressive structures I supposedly wish to destroy. So one of my principles is to always protect the potential for liberatory action and movements, which is not the same as making resistance the end goal in and of itself. My end goal is collective liberation, which necessitates a dynamic approach to liberation itself--requires that I do not treat it as a perfect answer that I must convince everyone to agree with, but instead as a continuously open question to which I can only answer in part.