I’ve been a longtime follower of SubMedia and respect the founders. That said I have rarely found anarchists to have an understanding of geopolitics or the CIA either. Every rage against a government is considered organic unless the US state department seems to say otherwise, even when they’re patently right wing such as in Nicaragua or Venezuela. My feeling is simply that anarchists ignore geopolitics at their own risk and the risk of the issues they purport to care about. So I am publishing the back and forth I had with Submedia over email. It is a little cantankerous but there is no security reason not to and we can learn from each other.
I’m sad to see anarchists go into another US endorsed position on Ukraine. There is a sad lack of serious analysis even though the situation begs it. Russia literally says they are there performing a denazification of Ukraine. Considering the antifa movement you’d hope folks actually gave that a serious analysis before jumping in with a typical one off of the US state department position.
The video was made to help raise funds to support anarchist comrades in Ukraine, and anarchist refugees who have left the country. If you think that is a US State Department position, then I would respectfully suggest you re-examine your binary view of the conflict. As for Russia’s official state narrative on the ‘special operation’, both Ukraine and Russia have neo-nazi elements in their armed forces. The video we put out was a pretty modest effort to encourage people to offer direct support to people on the ground who are not only not nazis, but who are much more strategically placed to ultimately fight against fascism in Ukraine than an invading foreign army.
Hey, i’m a bit confused and would love to actually here more on this stance. Here’s the background on that video.
Anarchist Black Cross reached out to us to make a donation video for them. We were specifically in connection with ABC dresden and ABC Moscow. The idea was to help them get donations for their chapters in Poland, Russia, Germany and ukraine to help on the ground community support efforts. We hate US, NATO just as much as we hate all other states which includes Russia and Ukraine. Our goal to was help raise money for them to work with getting food out to communities, doing on the border support work for people fleeing the country, as well as supporting ABC Moscow in their efforts as well. This also included a basic support for any anarchist/antifa guerrilla factions that reject the Ukrainian and US military but support their own forms of self defense.
We don’t support the Russian state but we also don’t support Ukrainian state or US state or NATO. the script was written by the people apart of this international ABC group that includes both people in Russia and Ukraine.
Does this explain our stance more? Its unfortunate that maybe people misinterpreted our ideology and there’s clearly something we can learn from this about how we phrase our titles, how we use footage, and how we endorse script writing, but ultimately this general stance I feel whole hearted about whether or not we did a good job relaying that information.
From Me to SUBMEDIA2:
So you didn’t say anything against NATO or the US or the Ukrainian state only against Russia. The examples you put in, the maternity ward, the mall and even to some degrees Aleppo are all contested. The maternity ward I’ve looked at most and am pretty convinced it was not at all what it seemed by western media. Likely it was empty of patients, occupied by Azov. The mall had clear before pictures that it was parking Ukrainian heavy military equipment. Aleppo was stories put out by the White Helmets which are also horribly unreliable at best or total lies. I could dig out the links to show this but you can do that as well, just know that many journalists and leftist researchers have called all these into question. And false equivalency of Russia and Ukraine or Russia and the US just doesn’t do the situation justice. The greater evil loves such a neutral stance.
My 2nd Response to SUBMEDIA2:
I respect SubMedia, have had the fortune to host some events for Franklin Lopez, I dunno if this is he, down in the Olympia/ Portland area. Not to say I always agree. My activist background has a lot of history in Latin America solidarity, Hugo Chavez more than the Zapatistas, although great love for them. Which is just to say, while I appreciate the anarchists domestically I argue for better internationally. I’ve been continually annoyed by the anarchist left of the US on foreign policy. From Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba to Libya, Syria and now Ukraine. So in some ways this is just a long standing argument on my end with a community I feel friendship if not fully a part of.
That said, here I am trying again. Upon seeing this video I am disappointed. Submedia is part of a tiny sliver of the media landscape that is precious to me as the overwhelming majority is corporate or national. The sliver shrinks further with the loss of TruthDig and Chris Hedges losing his main platform. Democracy Now hasn’t found a war during a democratic presidency it couldn’t justify. And let’s face it, anarchist research has been dumbed down to sloganeering youth, a good turn towards the masses away from the ivory towered jail of academia maybe, but easily dialed up in down by the Democrats frankly. Hard liners would vehemently disagree but we all saw the marches shrink after Biden and it begs the question when jumping from hot issues who is making them hot?
On the situation in Ukraine, I had hopes that the excitement of the past 6 years towards Antifa would cause some anarchists to question our MSM when Russia openly states they are going to “denazify” Ukraine. Just a longer pause to weigh the claims rather than brush it away like most. The pictures of Ukrainian soldiers covered in Nazi tats, the Boogaloo boys going there to fight, these are things that hardly made an impact it seems on anarchists in the US. And the simplistic write off of saying Russia is equally as bad or worse, like find a single Russian with a nazi tattoo, you won’t. Not to say they don’t have their issues, they certainly do, but I feel like Russians know the fundamental difference between fascists and not.
The US is sanctioning the Russians, which is an act of terror and war against the Russian people. The US is dumping billions for bombs to Ukraine, as if the US government cares at all for the people of Ukraine. Like where is the anarchist argument against this? Shouldn’t that be a broad based leftist position? I expect liberals to be silent but anarchists are too? I mean how is the support of refugees by anarchists any different in than the support by liberals? Sure, there may be some in mutual aid efficiencies and community building but frankly this isn’t Occupy Sandy where the government response was wholly inadequate, the EU and the US is mobilizing billions towards this, if for nothing other than useful PR.
No, this video you all made lacks. Slap Amnesty International on it and drop the word anarchist and there would be zero difference in substance. I just hope for better nuance, depth and critical thinking about the propaganda we’re all being forced to choke down.
SUBMEDIA2 Response to Me:
Thank you for this thoughtful response. I don’t fully agree with everything you said but now understand far more where you’re coming from. Our intention was to solely help raise money for ABC Dresden/ Moscow for the efforts they’re making but clearly we did a bad job in articulating that. The script was written 90% by these comrades anyways.
I will say one thing which is … isn’t that a massive assumption to say “find a single Russian with a nazi tattoo, you won’t…I feel like Russians know the fundamental difference between fascists and not.” We
don’t know that for certain right? We don’t live in Russia either… Unless you went to Russia and did a massive survey of everyone living there that also feels like a massive assumption.
I will say something that has been hard for us is finding the opportunity to make shorter videos and work on a feature-length documentary while all working separate jobs. the sad fact of the matter is that most people don’t even watch our more in-depth videos. People want short takes and the numbers on our viewership for our longer episodes have significantly fewer views. In fact, this Ukraine video has given us the most traffic than any other view we’ve put out recently. We are launching a new shorter news show in two weeks and will have this feature-length documentary on social media surveillance on social
movements out this summer- something that is incredibly in-depth in analysis and nuance. There are only four of us that do submedia work. Making videos with in-depth analysis that involves writing a script,
recording audio, and doing the videography and editing or sourcing for footage is incredibly time-consuming. And hard to do when you’re working a job that pays your bills. It’s been really hard to find the balance for us in a media landscape that rewards controversial short hot takes. What do we do if no one watches our stuff? And what happens if we make a video that ends up missing the mark? Do we just give up? I hope that’s not the case. I’d rather people try and flop here and there than just stop.
Regardless, I do appreciate your response. I’m sorry we’ve disappointed you. It wasn’t our intention. Although I suppose with making an analytical (or attempting to be analytical) anarchist media outlet, we
all won’t agree completely on our stances. Hell some of us disagree on issues even with the collective.
Anyways, I am taking this critical feedback to heart
(btw I’m the only person who lives in the US on this collective. We have
two people who live in South America and two in Canada. )
Response from SUBMEDIA1:
Here’s an image of the leader of the Donetsk People’s Republic giving a medal to a Russian soldier wearing a SS insignia and an ‘Odin’s knot’ patch. It’s not a tattoo, but this Russian solider is 100% a nazi. And he’s not the only one, by any means.
Here’s an example of another Russian neo-nazi fighting with the Russian mercenary army, the Wagner Group.
And you should also look into the influential Russian fascist, Aleksandr Dugin, if you’re not familiar with him.
Anyway, I don’t really have any interest in a drawn out argument with you over this. Despite what you’ve said, we are not supportive of the Ukrainian army. This video was to raise funds explicitly for anarchists in Ukraine who are fighting against the Russian invasion (and who do not have access to the weapons being supplied by Western governments). I’m sorry you didn’t like the video, but with all due respect, I don’t need to be lectured over my lack of critical research skills by someone who thinks that the Russian invasion of the Ukraine is somehow all about the US. That is a typical American view of the world. I would encourage you to move past the ‘alternative’ media you’re consuming and check out some analysis from anarchists on the ground in Ukraine, Russia, other Eastern European countries or from exiled Syrian revolutionaries, for that matter.
All the best,
Heatscore – subMedia
I think we kept to our positions but it was a frank discussion and that’s good. I respect their point of view and more so that they would chat. Many anarchists wouldn’t bother. I believe that we all need to keep talking and reading each other.
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