Tag Archives: violence

2015 is the Year

From the EF! Newswire.

So, check it out. I’m hopped up on coffee. A lot of it. I’m going to try to continue to combine nouns and verbs in each of the sentences that follow, but I can’t make any promises.

2015 is the year that swivilization—this oppressive death machine—is going to grind to a halt. We can resolve to make it happen, not in some distant and nebulous future but right now… our every act of resistance, small daily acts in pulling the proverbial fire alarms, can accumulate into one massive clusterfuck. Continue reading

Reformists Part III: The Third Option

angry-capuchin-monkey-4785558Third part in a series. Here’s part 1 and part 2
Sometimes bad news is good news. When you come to the conclusion that reformist action is impractical, unreasonable, and futile, it doesn’t foreclose on resisting completely. Every steel door that slams shut should always provoke us to contemplate how to cut the bars windows. Slamming the steel door of reformism liberates us to consider direct action, which is what anarchists WANT to do in the first place.

In the prison context, that again leads back to a discussi Monkeys. Now, before going any further, please kee that I wa the super-duper-uber-mega-ultra-hyper-tur the pretext of bei the Army of the 12 Monkeys– an accusation I have consistently denied. My counsel, Richard Kerger, has action, SWAIN VS. MOHR, now posted at seanswain.org, challenging this frame-up. Having said that, I was a witness to what occurred at Mansfield Correctional when the Army of the 12 Monkeys happened, and I think I’m fairly qualified to present an analysis of what this event implies for anarchists and for direct action in and outside of prison.
Continue reading

Radio Essay: In Support of James Kilgore

This originally aired on The Final Straw radio show.

Have you heard about the case of adjunct professor James Kilgore at the University of Illinois, in Urbana-Champaign? Kilgore is an interesting guy. In the early 1970’s, he was a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army, which makes him a personal hero of mine. The SLA was an urban guerrilla faction that robbed banks, kidnapped Patty Hearst, and- along with the Weather Underground- effectively brought an end to the Vietnam War. As one demand for the release of Patty Hearst, the SLA had Hearst’s father, the publishing magnate, deliver millions of dollars in free food to the inner-city poor of Oakland.
There is a PBS documentary called “Guerrilla”about the SLA it’s inspiring.
Starting in 1975, Kilgore went underground and lived overseas until 2002. Kilgore came back to the U.S. and plead guilty to possession of explosives from 1975 and to passport fraud. He served six years in prison and since 2010, Kilgore has been on the faculty of the University of Illinois in Urbana, teaching classes on Urban Planning and Global Studies. Continue reading

Sean Responds to the Anarcho-Trolls

We sent Sean comments from his recent post to @news, and he wrote this response.


SEAN SWAIN RESPONDS: A couple of important points that need responses. In “De Mystifying”I concluded the US would not carpet bomb its own cities, not because the government if beneficent- it isn’t I believe US pilots ordered to bomb a US city where the pilots family lives,and would be more likely to bomb the White House instead. Also,based on the fear of that being true,the government would never roll those dice .A second issue is the irrational premise that irregular warfare can only be employed by authorizing specifically. Marxist-Leninist : Spartacus led a guerrilla war against the Roman Empire, using strategies learned from the “ barbarian slaves.” It was the greatest slave revolt in history and Spartacus was not a Marxist-Leninist. Also the Shawnee organized a federation of tribes that employed strategies and tactic of guerrilla warfare with great success until the federation unraveled for reasons NOT related efficacy of their approach. Later, the Lakota defeated the US Army in 3 consecutive engagements using guerrilla strategies and tactics, something the Vietcong (who were Marxist-Leninsts) cold not do. Later still, the Chihuahua Apache waged a decades long guerrilla war against the colonizer. If you have to be an authoritarian and a Marxist-Leninist to be an effective guerrilla, clearly Tecumseh, Crazy Horse and Guantanamo never got the memo. Marx never so much as mentioned guerrilla warfare. Lenin never used it . The strategy preceded both of them.

Never forget, contrary to the official story, Lakota women killed General Custer with frying pans. Emulate them.



Sean Swain (the fucking “wingnut”who believes rifles will still fire even if its not a Marxist-Leninist pulling the trigger.)


Dear Ukrainian People,

I want to thank you for your inspirational resistance to tyranny. Here in the United States, we made a show of resistance a while back, but in the face of police violence we surrendered and went back to our assigned seats; we lacked the courage, drive and determination of Ukrainians. Where you met state violence with rocks and gas bombs and ski masks, we met state violence with delusions of nonviolence and beatitudic dreams that permitted state violence to prevail and continue.

I saw news clips of your occupation of the Presidential Palace and our media’s scorn at the oppulence found there. Of course, our Presidential Palace – called the Whitehouse in our country – still stands, much larger and far more luxurious, complete with helicopter pads and movie theaters and bowling alleys and a basement bunker complex commonly called “Cheneyville.” The corruption and decadence of your tyrants cannot compete with the corruption and decadence of ours. Yet we do nothing.

We can’t do anything because our cops have guns while your cops only have…guns.

So, it is my hope that you will recognize that deferring now to your parliament to resolve the problem is the same mistake that the people made in Cairo, and what you have to do is oust your parliament also.

Rid yourself of the whole troublesome hierarchy.

Then, if possible, I would ask you to help us. We in the United States need you to send us some Ukrainians to topple _our_ tyranny. We’re paralyzed and incapable where you have proven to be mobilized and effective. We need you to sweat and fight and bleed for our liberation. We’ll do _our_ part of course. We’ll hold signs and sing songs and come up with snappy rhymes, things like, “1-2-3-4…,” and “Hell no, we won’t go…,” and so on. We have 200 million firearms we can put at your disposal.

Just don’t expect us to _use_ them. We exercise the right to bear arms, not _fire_ them. We’re like the world’s largest drill-and-ceremony color-guard. We don’t want to get dirt on our clothes or blood on our hands or soot on our faces.

We need _you_ to accomplish a noble and necessary struggle that we cannot undertake for ourselves.

Please respond quickly. This sprawling police state is really intolerable.

Freedom or Death,

Sean Swain

De-Mystifying Political Violence: Toward a Rational Framework for Analyzing Violent Armed Struggle in the U.S.

In Pacifists Suck, I attempted to point out the fundamentally delusional worldview and the internal inconsistency of exclusivist nonviolence proponents. I hope this provides a useful framework for analysis and leads to an effective rejection of exclusivist nonviolence from any future, revolutionary effort. However, this is only part of the intellectual process that needs to be undertaken before a real and effective revolution could be sustained.
We also need to de-mystify violence.
If we consider the question of what violence is, and by that I mean what it really is and not what it has been conveniently re-defined to mean by those who wish to keep us in our assigned seats, we have to recognize that violence is pervasive in life.
Lions eat gazelles. That’s violence. It’s ultimately violence of a non-moral quality because we don’t ascribe concepts of “right” or “wrong” to life in the wild, but violence is violence. Likewise, we eat organic things.
The burger we eat wasn’t delivered by the burger-stork. Somebody hit a living creature in the head and killed it and harvested its meat as a resource to meet your demand for physiological re-fueling. Those carrots and potatoes were living and, if we believe the fascinating research recounted in Language Older Than Words by Derrick Jensen, plant life is also sentient.
Your stomach is a graveyard. Continue reading

A Vision of the Future: Where All the Roberto Adinolfis Walk With a Limp

Originally published at 325nostate.net and reprinted in Dark Nights issue #39.

By Sean Swain, anarchist prisoner

Back in May 2012, Roberto Adinolfi managed Ansaldo Nucleare, constructing nuclear power plants all over Europe, including the one in Kroko, Slovenia, and Cernadova, Romania. Adinolfi had power, money, prestige, and influence. To him, the suffering and death in Fukushima, Japan wasn’t nearly as real as his spacious, air-conditioned office or his luxurious Genoa home or his expensive suits.

Sometimes, you have to crack a few eggs to make an omelet. And besides, none of his death-traps had melted down yet.

Yet. Key word. Yet.

Roberto Adinolfi with his power, money, prestige, and influence never noticed that vehicle following him home. He suspected arrogantly that he would spend an entire career raking in money hand over fist by rolling the radioactive dice and betting millions of other people’s lives, and he would never have to answer to anyone at any time, anywhere. Continue reading

Distinguishing Freedom From Recognized Rights

rightsSean Swain
Submitted for OSP Writing Contest, Black History Month, 2014

Distinguishing Freedom From Recognized Rights
(500 words or less)

Any discussion of rights must distinguish real freedom—the absence of external regulation—from the concept of “recognized rights” arising as it does from theories of constitutional authority and law. To contrast, real freedom is a condition of existential reality, while “recognized rights” are paper fictions.
To understand real freedom, one must imagine two points at either end of a continuum. The first point, “freedom,” is “the absolute absence of external regulation.” At the opposite end of the continuum is complete external regulation, the absence of freedom. Thus, where freedom exists, there is an absence of external regulation, and vice-versa. The line connecting these two points represents interplay between the two opposing forces, varying degrees of freedom and regulation:

Freedom  —————————————-——— Absolute external regulation
(absence of external regulation)                      (absence of freedom)

Importantly, implicit in this analytical framework, freedom cannot coexist with government, because government’s purpose is to govern.  To govern is to regulate, and where regulation exists, as already established, freedom is absent. Thus, governments by their very character are the antithesis of freedom. Continue reading

Swain for Governor Campaign Announcement

swain really what's the worst Media Release

Anarchist prisoner Sean Swain Runs for Governor
as a Write- in Candidate from Ohio’s SuperMax Facility,
Invites a Million Carpetbaggers to Hijack Election

Sean estimates that he received approximately (8) eight votes in 2010, the last time he ran for governor from prison. Back then, Sean Swain had a hard time convincing voters they should “abolish” the state of Ohio, electing Swain with an anarchist mandate to forcibly disassemble the State once and for all. But Swain says a lot has changed since 2010 and he believes a sizable groundswell is coming around to his way of thinking– that the government, and the corporations whose interests the government serves, are the real enemies to be resisted and eliminated.
Swain points to the Occupy Movement, which was pre-figured in his 2007 work Last Act of the Circus Animals, and it’s violent disbandment by the government’s agents of control as proof that many are imagining “a different future.” Swain believes he has the plan for getting there. If elected Ohio governor Swain promises to:
* Decommission the Ohio National Guard
* Empty Ohio’s prisons and turn them into squats
* Recognize Native American land rights as set forth by the Treaty of Greenville
* Arm the tribes with national guard weaponry, to include tanks and attack helicopters,
* Refuse to sign any budget causing the government to shut down, and
* Sign an Executive Order making it legal to assassinate him if he remains in office longer than 90 days.

Continue reading

Pacifists Suck: How Arresting Revolution Maintains a Violent World

Pacifists Suck: How Arresting Revolution Maintains a Violent World
by Sean Swain

When a guy kicked in my door in 1991, I panicked and stabbed him to death. I didn’t own a gun. I didn’t believe in guns. I always ascribed to the wisdom that if somebody wanted to come to my home and shoot me, he would have to bring his own gun. So, in the years that followed, perhaps in part motivated by a need to make sense out of this tragedy, I encountered Gandhi. I read everything I could find and became a veritable Gandhi expert, even consuming everything by and about his students–Martin Luther King, Cesar Chavez, Gene Sharp (who wrote the exhaustive Politics of Nonviolent Action), and other fellow travelers like Archbishop Oscar Romero in El Salvador.

I became convinced that only nonviolent direct action–and exclusively-nonviolent direct action–held the solution for changing the world in any constructive way. As a member of CURE-Ohio’s prisoner advisory board, I successfully advocated for that organization to develop a policy for supporting prisoner nonviolent direct action. In 2002, I was recognized by no less than Rosa Parks herself for my public advocacy of nonviolent action, and the co-chair of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s National Campaign for Tolerance added my name to the Wall of Tolerance.

I share all of that to demonstrate that I am fully versed in the theory and practice of nonviolent direct action and that I used to be among those who insisted on exclusive nonviolence as the only solution. But I am no longer under the influence of that powerful delusion and I recognize, reasonably and practically, that political violence is a necessary feature for any successful effort at social transformation.

Exclusive nonviolence doesn’t cut it. It never did, it never will. In fact, those who insist on exclusive nonviolence and thereby hold all social movements hostage, demanding that all tactics employed by all participants meet the nonviolence litmus, are the biggest impediment to social transformation that currently exists. “Pacifists,” the idealist followers of Gandhi and MLK, are the most culpable accomplices to the continuing violence of our current status quo.

Principled pacifists, threatening withdrawal from social movements if violent tactics are considered, doom every social movement to which they are a part. They limit resistance to only those tactics that will inevitably fail. This proves true in the most glaring recent example of the Occupy movement, when police employed brutal and violent repression to push resisters out of the public space. The resistance ultimately dissolved in the face of State terror because pacifists’ limitations prevented Occupy from preparing effectively to meet violence with violence, precluded any plan to deploy violent offensives that would diminish the State’s capacity to confront Occupy with such overwhelming force, and ultimately foreclosed upon even the consideration of tactics that may have altered history.

Reality: Cops are violent.

Reality: Cops are going to employ violence to impose “order.”

Reality: If those who truly desire to challenge the-world-as-it-is want to be successful, they will have to develop strategies for meeting, countering, and overcoming State violence.

Reality: Violent revolutionary action is the solution.

Of course, principled pacifists are unwilling to participate in any social movement that contemplates violence and/or property damage, not even in a nonviolent or noncombatant role, thereby diminishing the potential numbers of the resistance and dooming it stillborn before it ever emerges.

But what is it, exactly, that principled pacifists are opposing? Is their opposition reasonable? Just how “violent” is violent revolution, and does it result in more violence than a continuation of the existing order of things?

Let’s take an analytical look at violent revolution, the solution that principled pacifists oppose and ultimately prevent: We can get an idea of what happens during a revolution by considering the data from previous revolutions. We know, for instance, that in the English, American, French, and Russian revolutions, only a maximum of 5% of those country’s populations–at peak participation–were involved in the resistance. So that means that 95% of any given population does not participate in a revolution.

This is important for us to consider as we weigh the violence that principled pacifists oppose, and the violence that principled pacifists ultimately choose to perpetuate–the State violence of the current order. The violent revolution that pacifists prevent would foreseeably involve 5% of the population at most. That means pacifists prevent 5% of the population from successfully liberating 100% of the population through recourse to bullets and bombs.

This ratio is also borne out by more recent struggles, including the Cuban revolution. In Cuba, rebels never numbered more than 5,000 in a population of roughly 11 million people. This puts max participation at 4.5% against a regime materially-supported by the United States.

In that armed struggle, the rebels killed something like 300 of the regime’s forces.

Using those numbers, an armed struggle in the U.S. that would successfully topple the existing order would involve 13.5 million people, a mere fraction of the number of the currently unemployed. So, by all accounts, principled pacifists aren’t opposing a wild orgy of violence that engulfs 300 million people and plunges the U.S. unto absolute madness, they oppose an armed struggle that, at most, would involve 13.5 million rebels.

But, that’s still not a fair presentation. While 13.5 million would be involved in the rebellion, not all would be involved in direct armed struggle as combatants. We have to consider that many of those people would be medics and cooks and logistical support. You’ve also got large numbers of rebels who would engage exclusively in nonviolent forms of resistance like hacking, intelligence gathering, promotion, and recruitment, not to mention those who specialize in sabotage exclusively against property.

It is important to remember that just because a rebellion incorporates the strategies of violence, not all rebels necessarily participate in the violent components of rebellion. Normally, just a fraction of any given force ever engages in actual combat, fighting, shooting, and dying. So that we cannot be accused of under-estimates, let’s say half of the rebels would be involved in direct violence, although this ratio is likely very high.

In an armed struggle in the U.S., that would put the number of rebels engaged in actual direct fighting at less than 7 million.

I read somewhere that we have 200 million guns in the U.S. We could arm every combatant of a successful revolution by distributing just 3.5% of the guns we own. In so doing, we could end the current order and all the suffering and death it causes globally, year after year. It would take 7 million people, at peak participation, willing to pull a trigger to bring about a future we deserve.

With 7 million armed rebels in a revolutionary engagement involving a maximum of 13.5 million, we could reasonably expect a number of deaths as high as 810,000. And that’s if the government forces continue fighting until the rebels can reach the doorstep of those calling the shots.

That’s if the U.S. military is willing to side with the government, against the people.

More people than that will be killed by drunk drivers.

More people than that will kill themselves, because the current order relegates them to lives that are intolerable.

Consider: If principled pacifists willingly played nonviolent roles in a violent revolution, 300 million people would be liberated with less than 1 million casualties and the foreseeable end result would be a net gain rather than a loss when we consider all of the lives that this current system will inevitably chew up if it isn’t taken down. And that isn’t even factoring in people all over the world who suffer and die as a result of U.S. actions.

Consider: If, prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, principled pacifists participated nonviolently in a violent revolution, millions of lives would have been saved at a cost of fewer than 1 million. That means if we act now, and pacifists allow the revolution to take its course, we can save millions of lives in preventing the next U.S. invasion and bombing of some defenseless country before it even happens.

To be a principled pacifist is to foreclose upon a revolution that would save lives. That means, in the final analysis, pacifists are against the preservation of life. They are so enraptured with their delusional, fast construct and their narrow, unrealistic definition of violence, that their “principled” inaction obstructs what would transform the world and preserve countless lives long into the future. Their principles matter more than we do.

Consider the next drone strike.

Consider the unarmed Black men killed by police.

Principled pacifists are the unwitting shovel that the ruling elite uses to dig its mass graves. Their complicity in crimes against humanity is inexcusable. Let’s hope that, for the rest of us who do not share their Kumbayah delusions, they stop obstructing the real solution before it’s too late.

Recommended reading:

Anatomy of Revolution, by Crane Brinton War of the Flea, by Robert Taber Politics of Nonviolent Action, by Gene Sharp The Logic of Political Violence, by Craig Rosebraugh