On a Cascadian Militia, a Response to the Cascadian People’s Brigade

We are pleased to say that the last article we published titled “Democratic Confederalism: How Cascadia Can Be Free” has been being widely circulated, and has received mostly positive feedback. We believe that the heroic struggle of the Group of Communities in Kurdistan (KCK) and their democratic confederalist program will continue to inspire revolutionaries, not only in the present but for generations to come. As such, we’re proud to help spread these ideas.

One of the more interesting responses to our work we’ve seen, is an article titled “Cascadian People’s Brigade: Democratic Confederalism for Cascadia” that was recently posted on AnarchistNews.org as well as the Portland Independent Media Center, which republished our article on democratic confederalism for Cascadia and linked to a grassroots militia called the Cascadian People’s Brigade. In this essay, we will be responding to the question of a Cascadian militia and be providing constructive feedback for our comrades in the spirit of furthering the revolution.

The Cascadian People’s Brigade describes themselves as “… a bioregional community based organisation that is devoted to self-defense, community defense, and neighborhood security.“1 Undeniably, self-defense is a subject that requires a serious approach if the revolution is to survive. We are reminded of the words of Murray Bookchin on popular militias:

Power is also a solid and tangible fact to be reckoned with militarily, notably in the ubiquitous truth that the power of the state or the people eventually reposes in force. Whether the state has power ultimately depends upon whether it exercises a monopoly of violence. By the same token, whether the people have power ultimately depends upon whether they are armed and create their own grassroots militia, to guard not only themselves from criminals and invaders but their own power and freedom from the ever-encroaching power of the state itself. Here, too, the Athenian, British, and American yeomen know only too well that a professional military was a threat to liberty and the state was a vehicle for disarming the people.

A true civicism that tries to create a genuine politics, an empowered citizenry, and a municipal economy would be a vulnerable project indeed if it failed to replace the police and the professional army with a popular militia – more specifically, a civic guard, composed of rotating patrols for police purposes and well-trained citizen military contingents for dealing with external dangers to freedom. Greek democracy would have never survived the repeated assaults of the Greek aristocracy without its militia of citizen hoplites, those foot soldiers who could answer the call to arms with their own weapons and elected commanders. The tragic history of the state’s ascendancy over free municipalities, even the rise of oligarchy within free cities of the past, is the story of armed professionals who commandeered power from unarmed peoples or disarmed them presumably (as so many liberals would have it today) from the “hazards” of domestic and neighborhood “shootouts.” Typically, this is the cowboy or “gunslinger” image of the “American Dream,” often cynically imposed on its more traditional yeoman face.2

We want to stress that the work this quotation is from, “From Urbanization to Cities”, is an absolutely necessary read for any Cascadians who desire a democratic confederalist movement in our bioregion. It is in this sense outlined by Bookchin that we support the creation of a grassroots militia. A revolutionary project that lacked the means of defending itself would be a tragedy waiting to happen. That being the case, it is important that we look at our priorities as organisers.

While it is important that any revolutionary movement be able to defend itself, at this point in time, realistically, we do not have a revolutionary movement in Cascadia. While there are no doubt a large amount of Cascadians who support the idea of a democratic confederalist revolution, as it stands right now we do not have a revolutionary organisation actively organising assemblies in our communities. The Rojava Revolution would not exist if it were not for the Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV-DEM) organising grassroots assemblies and councils. Without TEV-DEM, there would be no revolution in Rojava for the YPG/J to defend. Similarly, in Cascadia there will be no revolution if we are not actively organising assemblies in our communities, networking them through councils, and gradually building dual-power.

Any revolutionary program must be able to defend itself. But more importantly, we need a revolutionary movement that would need defending. At this point in time, rather than organising a militia, it would be more beneficial if we spent our energy organising assemblies in our communities according to mass direct democracy, networking them through councils, and building community-based social infrastructure directly connected to and a part of a revolutionary organisation. Cascadia needs its own TEV-DEM. Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, as revolutionaries we must study the works of Murray Bookchin and refine our understanding of revolutionary theory. Without an understanding of Bookchin’s theory, we have no map to guide us in our revolutionary organising.

Towards a free Cascadia!

Notes:

  1. https://www.facebook.com/cascadiananarchistmilitia/info?tab=page_info
  2. “From Urbanization to Cities” Pg. 243
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