Note from Insurrection News: We don’t necessarily agree entirely with everything in this article but still felt it deserves to be shared particularly in light of the recent crackdown on the Straight Edge movement by the Spanish state.
A friend in Germany recently asked me to clarify why I am straight edge and to explain what I think is the link between antifa and straight edge. For one thing, both inside and outside of the antifa scene straight edge often has a negative reputation. This is generally the idea that straight edge people are self-righteous, exclusive, dogmatic, judgemental, inconsiderate, selfish and occupying the moral high ground. In a lot of cases this is unfortunately very true but I would at least like to think in my case and in the case of other antifa straight edge people I know that it is not the case. I personally like to promote inclusive and ‘positive’ straight edge principles which will attract people rather than repel them.
Straight edge is a broad spectrum of ideas, practices and principles but it generally has three core principles such as no tobacco, no alcohol and no other drugs. Some straight edge people interpret this as total abstinence (As in my case) or in the case of a straight edge friend of mine, not total abstinence but not getting shit-faced. Some straight edge people are vegan, some are vegetarian and some eat meat. Some abstain from ‘promiscuous sex’ or sex altogether and some abstain from prescription drugs and caffeine. Personally, I’m a vegetarian, I love sex, only abstain from prescription drugs which contain codein and limit my caffeine intake to a healthy dose but I stick to the core three principles vigorously. Straight edge has also been heavily linked to the hardcore music scene and that is where it certainly began but it has also spread to other scenes such as skinhead (Usually RASH, SHARP, trojan etc.), casual, crust, punk, people who would not even consider themselves part of any scene or movement etc.
Before the politics come into straight edge there are the obvious reasons why straight edge is beneficial such as your health and fitness and the health and fitness of those around you.
So where do the politics come into it and why specifically antifa/anarchism? I believe that it is perfectly compatible on a practical, principled and political level. On a practical level if you are involved in physically confronting fascists (Not every antifa straight edge person is involved in physical confrontation) then it aids in fitness, alertness, responsibility and independence. The majority of drugs decrease alertness and responsibility and one famous scientific example are the British military’s LSD tests on military personnel. The result was an inability to fight and decreased to non-existent alertness and responsibility. So OK, LSD is a extreme example and it is hardly surprising that this would happen when consumed. Although in terms of affects on alertness and responsibility, is it really any different to say cannibis, alcohol, E’s, coke etc.? Well of course between such drugs the level of intoxication is varying and is ultimately subjective but nevertheless when used, a user’s ability to be totally on-the-ball is decreased. Where responsibility is concerned, a user’s level of responsibility decreases with awareness. The physical fitness aspect is common sense and knowledge especially where the more ‘heavier’ drugs are concerned such as smack, crack, meth, krokodil, baltushka etc.
So why not just abstain before and during actions? Well because in the long term, continued use can lead to a longer term and sometimes permanent decrease in awareness, alertness, fitness and responsibility.
Then there is the principled level which is where I myself may seem a little preachy. Putting it simply, drugs are fucking awful and pointless. Of course people use drugs for varying reasons and for many it is symptomatic of deeper problems but nevertheless, taking drugs is not ideal and ultimately fucks people’s lives up in one way or another. Drugs can ruin lives and communities and can create a dependence which some people rely on to ‘have a good time’, deal with their problems etc. Of course I recognise some people do have deeper problems which lead people to drug use which I can not even begin to understand but that does not deviate from the fact that drug use is not exactly ideal and provides a false escape for some. One person I have known literally all of my life and considered each other as friends became a heroin and crack user roughly 10 years ago and now I can walk straight past him, even making eye and one-way verbal contact with him (I usually say “hello”, “Alright?” or whatever) and he does not even recognise me and sometimes is even totally oblivious to my or even his own existence. I know he had (And has) a terrible life, a much worse life than my own, but neverthless it pains me to see him (And of course anyone else in such a state) in such a shit state and knowing that minus the deeper problem, the smack and crack are responsible for his life going way, way downhill. I predict he will be dead in the next 2-5 years.
For those who take drugs recreationally to ‘have a laugh’ or to have a ‘good time’ I will open the floor and ask, just why? Why is it so hard to enjoy yourself in the atmosphere and company you are in? Surely it would be good to enjoy the moment being fully aware of what you are doing and to fully experience the moment as it really is? Surely you would want to fully recall and memorise the good times you had? Taking drugs recreationally to ‘have a good time’ creates a ‘false reality’ (The oxymoron is intentional) and a separation from what is real and what is not and so not really experiencing the moments as they really are.
OK so, enough of the soap-box preaching and onto the political/straight edge cross-over. One point worthy of note to begin with is that there is a current attempt by fascists to infiltrate existing straight edge scenes and for fascists to even create their own (One pathetic example is the so-called ‘NS Straight Edge UK’ twats). Fascists have a tendency to infiltrate and fuck with scenes such as hardcore, skinhead, punk and even ska and hip-hop (I kid you not). This is where straight edge anti-fascists can come in and provide a counter-force to prevent fascists infiltrating the straight edge scene and controlling and fucking it up like they have done with other scenes or to drive out fascists which have already successfully infiltrated the straight edge scene. There also exists a greyzone which needs to be countered. The greyzone and fascist attempts at infiltrating the straight edge scene has a negative impact on both political and apolitical straight edgers. This is the reclaimation and self-defence of the scene.
Secondly, the state and the wider capitalist apparatus somewhat wants us to take drugs, want working-class people to kill ourselves. They want us to take drugs as a means of very subtle social control. I do not believe that the whole drug problem is a result of some state programme (With the exception of the introduction of crack, smack and cheap booze to black communities in the U.$.) but I do believe that the state and its wider apparatus can see how beneficial it is to them. The state and wider capitalist institutions may of course tell us how bad drugs are but this is only lip-service. Whilst they may pay lip-service in condeming ‘illegal drugs’ etc. they encourage the legal and much larger drug dealers such as Proctor and Gamble, Bayer etc. in the name of ‘commerce’ (Anti-depressants and codeine have fucked-up as many people as smack or any other drug has).
Thirdly, the legal drugs of alcohol and tobacco are amongst the biggest capitalist industries. Going straight edge is a boycott of some of capitalism’s largest and most profitable industries.
I divide capitalism into three markets, the white or ‘legal’ market, the grey market or the black market. The legal capitalist market is what we usually see capitalism as right down from the huge multi-nationals and banks such as McDonald’s, Bayer (The original creators of heroin), JP Morgan, BAE Systems etc. to the petit bourgeois such as the local shop and small business. Then we have the ‘grey capitalism’ such as the industries which are illegal but given backing by states and other capitalist institutions or industries which are legal but traded illegally) and then there is the ‘black market’. The black capitalist market is of course the ‘illegal’ industries such as illegal arms deals by non-state or non-state sponsored bodies, human trafficking, ‘illegal drugs’ etc. Drug dealing whether ‘legal’ or ‘illegal’ is capitalism, it is just that in the ‘illegal’ sense the government rarely takes revenue (Unless they confiscate or take duty) so they make it illegal. Nevertheless, someone is exploited at some point along the way. To this end I would not blame drug users, I would blame the dealers. It is not the drug users which are the vultures, it is the dealers. They are capitalists plain and simple! Users are a symptom and result of capitalist society, they do not cause the alienation and other ills in capitalist society, the state and its wider institutions do. The dealers are the vultures which push this poison to some working-class people, they play a big part in the destruction of our communities and the lives in them. The dealers prey on people and I would no more blame drug users for that than I would blame people who take out loans from the loan sharks of the payday loan companies (And of course also the illegal variety of loan shark). Loan sharks and drug dealers are vultures all the same and those who feel compelled to use either are not responsible for the conditions which cause both to exist.
Of course some drug users do horrible shit and how to deal with that is subject of a much wider debate.
So in order for straight edge to be relevant outside of the scene and into the wider community we should help users and act against dealers and the idea of taking drugs itself! It is not enough to simply abstain from intoxicants or to not get shit-faced but we need to take a principled stand against them.
(via linksunten indymedia)