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On January 18th, an unnamed group of self-identified Black anarchists released a statement entitled: Black Armed Joy: Some Notes towards a Black Theory of Insurrectionary Anarchy which includes an overt call for armed violence and criticizes the contemporary anarchist movement in North America, particularly the role white anarchists, for being insufficiently committed to revolutionary violence.

The title is an apparent homage to insurrectionary anarchist author Alfredo Bonnano’s 1977 work Armed Joy. Bonnano’s publication, which has a poetic almost stream of consciousness style also contains a critique of hierarchical leftist organizing methods and includes a call for violent action.

The document is dedicated to former Black Liberation Army (BLA) member Russell “Maroon” Shoatz, who died in December of 2021 following a compassionate release from prison where he was serving a life sentence for the 1970 murder of Philadelphia police officer Frank Von Colln.

Shoatz is the author of The Dragon and the Hydra, a criticism of Leninist-style Democratic Centralism, which takes examples of historic black revolts in the Caribbean to argue for a de-centralized revolutionary effort.

Black Armed Joy was posted on several websites including The Haters Cafe (a blog which describes itself as a “project run by Black and Brown proletarians”) and the website of the Online Anarchist Federation which aggregates a wide variety of anarchist content online.

The ‘zine (as such publications are called in counter-cultural circles) begins with definitional terms for both anarchism and insurrection, emphasizing a quote from former Black Panther and convicted plane-hijacker Lorenzo “Kom’boa” Ervin, a Tennessee-based Black radical and author of Anarchism and the Black Revolution.

The authors criticize what they call the “reformist and authoritarian ends of the Black Left.” This appears to be an indictment of the high-profile Black Lives Matter (BLM) and affiliated organizations. The authors write:

Despite lifting up figures such as Assata, they label any sort of Black rebellious activity as “too fast” or “not ready” or complain about the ultra-left “ruining” their plans for revolution despite the rebellious actions of Black youth in the summer of 2020. They do not want black people to study the Black Liberation Army’s tactics. They wish to erase [Black Liberation Army member and Black anarchist] Kuwasi Balagoon and his rebellious ways. They wish to erase how Assata Shakur was liberated. They wish to erase the general strike of the Slaves. They wish to ignore the Maroons. They just want us to participate in their reformist campaigns to “Defund the Police” or “Community Control of the Police”. 

The Black insurrectionary must reject these positions.

While the best known of the BLM organizations, Black Lives Matter Global Foundation has been led by self-identified “trained Marxists,” the organization itself has been under fire from the militant left for some time over what is perceived as an overly reformist rather than revolutionary agenda, and the shortchanging of radical street-organizers and local chapters while the national organization has taken in millions in donations.

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Kyle Shideler

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