November 16, 2020
From Anarchy In The Burbs (USA)

Key Take-Aways:
The U.S. Empire uses poor, BIPOC regions of California to test its newest systems of governance and because of this, Inland Empire residents must pay attention to the way unique problems in our region present themselves (for example, the emergence of the logistics sector and its ensuing warehouse construction).

– Autonomous organizing is not one-size-fits-all, and for this reason, we must analyze the IE’s unique material, geographical, historical, and demographic conditions to center our unique struggles and find methods of resistance that can liberate us accordingly.

The preceding blog post in this series explored the intersections between uprisings in the outskirts, the urgency of organizing in overlooked racialized regions, and parallels between the material conditions in the Inland Empire and Ferguson, Missouri, home of one of the largest insurrections of the 21st Century. This post will explore the new forms of autonomous organizing that can potentially arise from non-urban regions like the Inland Empire. This post argues that we must pay special attention to the intersections of race, lived experience, material conditions, geographic specificity, and class to appropriately experiment with autonomous methods crafted specifically for unique places and contexts.

California (and the IE): The Birthplace of Strategies for State Repression

The state of California is a unique place for many reasons. Unfortunately, history has taught us that California’s most unique trait is that this state is the literal laboratory for American empire to test out new mechanisms of oppression. California is full of examples of attempts to implement stronger forms of racism, refine police tactics of repression, among other advances in the science of population governance. It has accomplished these things primarily through its manipulation and shaping of space and land. Specifically, these are spatially-based solutions to perceived or crafted crises. In other words, this state has historically controlled BIPOC populations via territory, such as (but not limited to) its creation of the following: racist state technologies of power, segregation, redlining, prisons, policing, environmental racism, gentrification, border militarization, and so on. California is the testing lab for improving the operations of this American machine; it is the birthplace of what we now recognize as SWAT teams, created in the first place to repress revolutionary Black organizing in the 1960s. These advances in repression-via-territory are first piloted and beta-tested in the poorest and predominantly BIPOC areas or regions, and then spread everywhere else.

The Inland Empire, likewise, has been the battleground for new forms of racial capitalism, such that the IE has literally become a key part of the infrastructural backbone of the entire United States. We will continue to elaborate on these arguments in other blog pieces, but basically, the IE plays an essential role in the actual logistics of this empire through its distribution, transportation, storage, and production of commodities. However, the IE has not always had to play this significant economic role for the rest of the US. Those who govern the state, capitalists, and other planners collectively created and shaped a new, emergent form of capitalism in the 1980s onward; a new, logistical racial capitalism in the region known as the IE. This coincided with many global capitalist restructurings, migratory patterns, and changes in racial demographics that have given the IE’s BIPOC communities their primarily working-class characteristics. The logistical racial capitalism that has only recently been birthed in this region is the beginning of a new state solution, one aimed to more efficiently govern and discipline the people in the IE.

De-centering Unrelated Societal Paradigms from IE Struggles

This brings us back to the possibilities of autonomous organizing in a place like the IE. We should center indigenous resurgence and Black liberation as the main goals of our autonomous movements and analyze the possibilities of their attainment. However, autonomous organizing methods are not a one-size-fits-all formula or program. For example, we can see the shortcomings of urban-centric forms of organizing and the organizing done in white-dominant spaces for their inability to effectively translate into different environments and with different communities. We must not assume homogeneity in the ways that racial capitalism, the state, patriarchy, etc. have gripped different spatial landscapes and regions. For these reasons, we should shape and transform our organizing methods to best suit the particular contexts we find ourselves in.

Similar to how we must contextualize organizing based on unique geographies and material conditions, we must also de-universalize Eurocentric notions of liberation and freedom. This is not about forcing ourselves to fit the mold of conventional (i.e. urban-centric and white-dominant) organizing but rather, centering ourselves, our stories, and our experiences first by using autonomy as a blueprint that can be applied to unique contexts. By situating our struggle in Black, Indigenous, and subaltern ways of knowing and experiencing racial capitalism and the state, we can understand the necessary forms of resistance that will be based on our firsthand, lived realities. Who else can better understand how to get free than those who are directly oppressed?

Re-centering our Region’s Particularities in our Fight for Liberation
As we consider adjusting autonomous methods, we need to look at the ways that systems of oppression operate differently in places that are non-urban and predominantly non-white, such as the Central Valley, the High Desert, or the Inland Empire. We argue that we can come up with effective strategies by first grounding our analysis of different manifestations of state, capital, and cis-heteropatriarchy as they vary across geographies, place, and time; this allows us to anchor oppression spatially within its unique geographies. Thus, the strategies and intentions of resistance and escape must change based on spatial contexts. The following diagram is a visual explanation of the kind of elements our organizing methods should be paying attention to:
In the same way that the state experiments with new forms of governing mechanisms, the forms of resistance that are taking place and will take place here also serve as a testing ground. The re-appropriation of autonomous methods in the IE can be a presentation of potential forms of resistance that can inspire and push other regions to set new bars for what fighting back might look like. In the end, we want to think concretely about how to best organize ourselves here. We want to think about the potentials for autonomy in the ‘burbs, such as: the ability to engage in autonomous movements, building hubs and networks, mutual aid dispersal, inter-regional coordination, dynamic and tactical mobility, as well as other possible and inter-related spatial strategies of freedom that center BIPOC. Every crisis is an opportunity, and given the current lack of initiatives in the IE, the possibilities are all around us, waiting to be actualized.