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Bricks to Break and Bricks to Build

Valhalla Weekly - Security, Software, and All Things Research
Valhalla Weekly - Security, Software, and All Things Research
Breaking windows is easy, building societies is hard

Bricks to Break...
Photo Courtesy ChinaDaily
Photo Courtesy ChinaDaily
I frequently waffle on whether or not to call myself an anarchist.
I do believe that a state-less society is possible, and I do believe that an ideal state-less society is far preferable to the state-dominated world we live in now. I believe that the vast majority of evils and atrocities that are observable and are yet still hidden from view are attributable, directly or indirectly, to the state and its associated violence.
That said, anarchist political discourse, or more fairly main stream anarchist discourse, falls into a lot of the trappings that political discourse of the nihilist sort on the left, right and center fall into as well.
We don’t acknowledge The Duality of the Brick.
This week is the week of 4th of July, a day where Americans celebrate their independence, independence that was fought for and won against a tyrannical British state by some scrappy and hardy founding fathers, mothers and children. This is a holiday that we very frequently celebrate as a Breaking Brick Holiday, a day that exemplifies the patriotic violence we used against British rule to break the chains of taxation without representation, etc.
It is a day that, this year, was marred by at least two public shootings at 4th of July festivities.
In Highland Park, a man opened fire on a crowd of people stealing from this world seven precious lives and wounding over two dozen others. In Philadelphia, front pages will not show concert goers eating hot dogs and hamburgers watching with dazzled eyes the beautiful fireworks displays that pierce the tranquil night sky: they will show hundreds of mothers and fathers clutching their young children as they flee the sound of gunfire with intensely metaphorical explosions scarring the terror-filled void above them.
This is a society built atop bricks meant to break.
So much of conservative, anarchist, liberal and other political discourse is so heavily founded upon the Bricks that Break, the violence necessary to found a fledgling nation, the violence necessary to secure our existence against an ever-coming tyrannical state, the violence necessary to secure “freedom” at home and abroad. When we speak of “improvements” we are frequently taking aim at systems we mean to smash: policing, fascism, capitalism, communism, gender conformity, gender non-conformity, wokeism, conservatism and the rest. This inherently reactionary style of thinking focuses entirely on critique and very little on the opposite side of the coin, because, frankly, the critique is easy.
It is easy to point at the terrorized children in schools across the country, clutching their friends and family in fear of yet another monster hell-bent on destroying young lives seeking education, knowledge and wisdom to say “that is what I am against, this is what we need to end and destroy.” It is easy to point at a system of state violence that steals black and brown lives from our communities at a rate that would be unfathomable if it did not come with a thin blue line label and say “that is what we must overcome.” It is easy to look at a military industrial complex that has only churned up generation after generation in meaningless bloody wars and say “that is what must be dismantled.”
Critiques are often the easiest possible part of the puzzle. Building something new is often far harder.
Bricks to Build
I could open up a couple of walls in my house, tearing the sheetrock from its place with my bare hands, and take a hammer, axe or other instrument to a couple of beams and would be able to meaningfully dismantle my house to the point of rendering it inoperable. I’m not a carpenter or an architect, but I know enough to know what beams are load bearing, and if I didn’t it would be a matter of hours, not days, until I would be able to guess by sheer force what beams I would need to destroy to pancake my home.
If instead you gave me an empty sand lot and told me to build my home from scratch, I would hardly have a clue of where to start.
Give me a day and I could enumerate dozens, hundreds of systems in our society that need breaking. Policing, federal governance, the private healthcare industry, private prisons, industrial farming, fossil fuel companies, academia… you name it, I could probably give you a reason the system needs to be abolished. Give me a year to research what those systems should be replaced by, and I would have a half-assed and desperate amalgamation of personal praxis and flimsily researched prescriptions. And that’s speaking of myself personally, as honestly as I can. I would venture to say that many, if not most, others across a variety of political philosophies would fall into the same camp.
Being fair, there are those that hold both bricks. They have sharp critiques paired with answers of what to build on top of the ruins of the system they believe should be destroyed. I’m honestly not even that against pure critique, because it should not necessarily be the job of the oppressed to figure out what kind of society to build on top of the graves of their oppressors.
What I do mean to highlight is that there are two bricks you can choose to wield: the Brick to Build and the Brick to Break. Both are necessary for meaningful change, especially change of the revolutionary variety. We as a society need just as many, maybe even more builders than breakers. We need to have discussions about systems to build, either to replace the systems existing or to radically subvert them.
I personally want to wield the Brick that Builds.
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Valhalla Weekly - Security, Software, and All Things Research
Valhalla Weekly - Security, Software, and All Things Research @valhalla_dev

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