The Soviet of Washington: Updates from the Salish Sea

soviet / советский (noun): 1: A revolutionary council of workers or peasants in Russia before 1917 (forcibly dissolved by the Bolsheviks by 1922).

The Return of the IWW

In 1936, nearly twenty years into the global counter-revolution, the Postmaster General remarked “there are forty-seven states in the Union, and the Soviet of Washington.” In the 1880s, thousands of radicals chose Washington as the most suitable location to live anarchist-communism without the interference of the state. Numerous communes were established along the Salish Sea and by the 1910s the anarcho-communist IWW had come to dominate the lumber camps, the waterfronts, and the mills of Western Washington. The most famous of the communes was called Home.

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During its twenty one year existence, Home hosted dozens of Italian insurrectionists, harbored dynamiters and arsonists, had its own newspapers, its own post office, its own farms, its own mill, its own school, held lectures by none other than Emma Goldman, and offered refuge to every anarchist fighting in the struggle against capitalism. Some of its members and visitors went on to organize massive industrial strikes, foment riots, and many were deported during the Red Scare of 1919. This was the same year that Home ceased to be a commune. The land was divided into individual plots and sold away as private parcels. Today, the only remnants of the commune are a few houses and the old school house, still covered in century old graffiti carved into the wood by anarchist school children. A row of apple trees planted by the anarchists stands across from the school house. Near the sea is a small plaque commemorating the small community of anarchists that changed the world from the banks of the Salish Sea.

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In 2017, the IWW is now the largest anarchist organization in the United States. Its membership has vastly increased since 2010 and it is now part of the largest prisoners union in the country. The IWW General Defense Committee is now once again spoken of openly in anarchist circles across the country. On November 5, 2016, the IWW held a march to remember the 100th anniversary of the massacre in Everett, Washington. Over a hundred anarchists and wobblies march to the site of the massacre and laid wreathes in honor of the IWW members murdered by the police in 1916. This show of force from every local IWW branch marked the beginning of a recruiting drive that continues to this day. Unlike every major union in the United States, the IWW is committed to the destruction of capitalism.

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Since the march in Everett, one event has given the local IWW significant attention, although the reasons for this are quite bleak. On January 20th, the night of Trump’s inauguration, a member of the IWW was shot by a fascist in the Red Square of the University of Washington. After the media’s initial confusion had passed (the Trump supporting shooter referred to his victim as a “white supremacist”), the victim was correctly identified as an anti-fascist wobbly. His affiliation with the IWW was mentioned by most of the local media and an online fund-raising website has raised nearly $60,000 for his medical expenses. This money was raised in less than a week, in stark contrast to the fund-raising website for a Mount Vernon police officer shot in mid-December 2016 which collected around the same amount only after a month of solicitation. This is a fact that should not be discounted in the current political climate.

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Fascists, Guns, Cops, Politicans, and Airports

After the Trump loving shooter turned himself in to the University of Washington Police he was quickly released after claiming he fired his weapon in self defense. Had the shooter been an anarchist, they would have immediately been charged with conspiracy to commit murder or membership in a terrorist organization. At the present time, no charges have been filed by the King County Prosecutor’s Office and the victim has stated through his lawyer that he “isn’t interested in using the apparatus of the state to punish the individual.” At a time when overt fascists are attempting to seize the entirety of the federal government, refusing to accept any form of “legal” recourse is a bold statement. The more government agencies fall under the sway of Trump, the less legal recourse there will be for anyone who objects to the actions of the state. This injured Wobbly has reminded everyone that in the coming future any form of justice will be entirely of our own making and outside the realm of “the law.”

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Five days after the shooting at the University of Washington, a group of car prowlers were searching for things to steal in the parking lot of Beaver State Park in Sammamish, just east of the lake from Seattle. The thieves were interrupted by a young man who noticed their attempt to break into his car. As he ran towards them, the thieves got into a gold SUV and attempted to flee. Instead of letting them go, the young man pulled out a pistol he was “legally” allowed to carry (much like the fascist at the University of Washington) and began firing on the car. His bullets didn’t connect with their intended targets and in self-defense the thieves ran over the young man, killing him. When the local media began covering the murder, it was revealed the young man was the son of an active Seattle Police Officer. It is more than likely that his father encouraged him to carry and be prepared to use a gun at the slightest provocation. Rather than focus on how the young man turned a case of car prowling into a life or death situation, the media and local law enforcement began a witch hunt against anyone suspected of being involved.

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(Gold SUV used by Kadeirdre Rials to run over cop’s son)

The first reprisal came two days later on January 27, 2017, when several King County Sheriff’s Deputies surrounded an apartment in Des Moines with their guns drawn. Supposedly they were look for a sixteen years old boy. When two different young teens (16 and 17 years old) exited the building, the police opened fire, mortally wounding the 17 year old. The police claimed the two suspects had guns. The 16 year old ran away pursued by police dogs and managed to hide in a nearby apartment until the SWAT team forced him out.

While the 17 year old was dying in the hospital the next day, the King County Sheriffs arrested a 23 year old woman named Kadeirdre Rials and an unnamed 17 year old woman in Skyway in connection with the murder in Sammamish. The King County Sheriff’s Department then arrested a 16 year old woman in Federal Way on January 31, 2017. Kadeirdre Rials is now being held in the county jail with a $1,000,000 bond while her two comrades are now incarcerated in the King County Juvenile Detention Center. The authorities claims Rials was the driver who killed the cops son. Once these women were captured, the sheriff and county prosecutors announced their official story to the media.

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(Kadeirdre Rials)

The Sheriff’s Department and the county prosecutor claim that Kadeirdre Rials and the two other women were a team of thieves with past criminal histories. Their practice was to steal credit cars, use them quickly, and then move on. On her Instagram account, Kadeirdre describes herself as a “mother first.”  None of these women were armed when they were shot at by the son of a police officer. The authorities did not explain what led them to murder a young man in Des Moines other than their ready-made explanation of “he had a gun.” They have not publicly stated how the young men were involved with the three women. This is the type of “legal” witch hunt that all local law enforcement are allowed to engage in whether Trump or Obama is the president. These “legal” executions by the police deserve to be challenged openly. As we all know, they happen every single day in the United States. Unfortunately, the media and law enforcement appear to be winning the media war in this particular case of three women defending themselves.

In an entirely (although not completely) unrelated matter, the current Seattle Police Chief stood with Seattle Mayor Murray and announced they would not allow Trump to violate the city’s sanctuary status for immigrants. On top of this, the Washington State Attorney General refused to comply with the immigrant ban order and sued the Trump administration for its “unconstitutional order.” He is one of a dozen other state’s Attorney General’s who have firmly stated their opposition to the new policies of exclusion and xenophobia. This came after two massive mobilizations, the first at the SeaTac airport, the second in downtown Seattle. In each instance, every politician involved attempted to contain the energy and initiative of the participants.

Over 10,000 people were said to have descended on the airport in protest of the Trump immigrant ban. At first, the Port of Seattle Police shut down light rail service in an attempt to prevent protesters from reaching the airport. Once enough journalists started complaining, the King County Executive swooped in and announced the situation had been fixed, democratically. After the protest reached a critical mass of participants, the local socialist Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant implored the protesters to go home and save their energy for a rally in downtown Seattle the next night.

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This announcement came just as the first federal judges ruled against parts of the immigrant ban, allowing members of the government to be perceived as the saviors of the day. Once the crowd has thinned out thanks to the standard socialist backstabbing, the police attacked all who remained, pepper sprayed them down an escalator, and then made multiple arrests. The next night, 15,000 people poured into downtown Seattle to protest the immigrant ban and listen to politicians give speeches. Obviously, the center of Downtown Seattle is not the SeaTac International Airport. This show of force was widely televised by the local media and shown in an absolutely positive light. No arrests occurred and the rally turned into a peaceful, hours long march through downtown. It is not surprising that a City Council member would want the airport and the light rail to function smoothly and preferred to have people march around on empty streets the following evening. Should Kshama Sawant openly push for more than a brief, symbolic rally, the local capitalists to which she is beholden would no doubt ensure her base of support is eroded before the next election. The socialists in Seattle are beholden to the very power they claim to oppose.

Oil Pipelines, Coal Trains, and the Battle to Save the Salish Sea

Despite our absolute distrust of every government official, the alliance of liberal politicians, business leaders, and local media now stand in stark contrast to their conservative counterparts aligned with the Trump administration. Shortly after the Inaugural protests and the Women’s March, a Trump loving Washington State Senator named Mark Miloscia took to his Facebook account and began calling out everyone who took to the streets against the new administration.

He wrote: about “the ugly, unAmerican, and unChristian protest activities we have seen yesterday, and now today, across our state and nation by many people I know! For Shame! For Shame!” This statement was immediately latched onto by several local Democratic politicians who mocked this Republican and affirmed their ability to protest the new president. Mark Miloscia was once a Democrat but has now shifted into a rabid conservative and is currently hopped up on Trump juice. Representing the small town of Pacific, Washington, this senator is relatively benign compared to some of the others.

On January 23, 2017, the Trump administration announced its transition team for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The team includes a Republican senator from Ferndale, Washington named Doug Ericksen. After the blockade of rail lines leading into the Port of Olympia, this Trump loving swine announced he would introduce a bill aimed at stopping what he called “economic terrorism.” In the digest of the bill, Ericksen explains that the new law “authorizes the prosecuting attorney to file a special allegation when sufficient evidence exists to show that an accused or accomplice committed an offense to cause an economic disruption.” While this bill will never be passed thanks to the Democratic Party controlled State House and the Democrat governor, the Trump loving cretin now has a new arena in which to soil his diapers.

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(Doug Ericksen very happy to be shaking Trump’s tiny little hand)

Before being made part of the EPA transition team, Doug Ericksen was the assistant manager for the Washington State Trump campaign and in the run-up to the election proved himself to be a loyal lackey for the orange faced child-molester. Prior to this, he was a lobbyist for oil and gas interests in the Washington State Senate. As chairman of the Senate’s Environment, Energy & Telecommunications Committee, Ericksen has directly fought with Governor Jay Inslee over climate change, being of the opinion that it doesn’t exist and should be ignored.

Doug Ericksen represents his hometown Ferndale, a small town between Bellingham and the Canadian border. This town is eight miles from the Cherry Point Refinery which is owned by British Petroleum and provides jobs to over 900 people, many of whom live around Ferndale. In addition to this is the Phillips 66 Ferndale Refinery which employs 450 more. In total, petroleum workers account for nearly 15% of the Ferndale population. According to a study undertaken by a two local professors, each job at the two refineries produces an additional five “multiplier” jobs, thus accounting for nearly half the population of Ferndale. According to the same study, the average annual wage for a refinery worker is $156,000. In no uncertain terms, Doug Ericksen is the baron of a small petro-kingdom and with his new position at the EPA he hopes to have enough clout to help push forward a new SSA Marine rail-to-ship coal terminal just south of the Cherry Point Refinery.

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This coal terminal was largely defeated by a coalition of indigenous tribes and local residents. The application was denied by the Department of Natural Resources, the permit was denied by the Army Corps Engineers, and the SSA coal terminal project seemed dead until Trump was elected and Doug Ericksen appointed to the EPA. Along with Ericksen, Trump appointed his Washington State campaign manager Don Benton to the EPA transition team. Benton is a Republican Senator from Vancouver, Washington, a city where a proposed rail-to-ship oil terminal is also being challenged by local residents and pushed by local Trump supporters.

As members of the EPA, both of these pigs will now be able to advocate directly for their respective fossil-fuel terminals. While the struggle against these people and their death economy has been relegated to the legal realm, real resistance will be necessary to stop them in the future. The type of rail blockade demonstrated in Olympia is exactly what Trump-loving, boot-licking swine like Doug Ericksen are afraid of. For this reason alone, everyone who is against Trump should adopt them as quickly as possible. Up until now, struggles against fossil-fuel fuel industry have relied on treaty law, permit denials, and application rejections to forestall these projects. Faced with a fascist state apparatus that can write its own laws, only direct struggle will have a chance at saving the Salish Sea from destruction. Nothing makes this clearer than the metropolis of Vancouver, BC.

The Imperial City, Gray’s Harbor, and (again) the IWW

Fifty miles north of Ferndale is the imperial city of the Pacific Northwest. Vancouver is an accumulation of capital unlike any other on the Salish Sea. It is the newest, the wealthiest, and the most thoroughly colonized metropolis on the West Coast, a place where the housing costs are so absurdly high only the most specialized members of capitalist-bourgeois society are allowed to live a normal existence. It is host to the most despicable mining companies on the planet (which fund both major universities) and thanks to Justin Trudeau, the backstabbing, crocodile-tear shedding Prime Minister, a brand new oil pipeline will be built from Alberta to the waters east of Vancouver.

After making clear he had “listened very carefully to the many diverse perspectives that exist in B.C. on this project,” Trudeau said he was going to ignore the objections of the indigenous and allow the Trans Mountain pipeline to be built anyway. In this he was fully backed up by the liberal bourgeois of British Columbia and their masthead Christy Clark. If the pipeline reaches the sea, it will fill the water with endless oil tankers and increase the chances of catastrophic spills that will effect marine ecosystems from Vancouver, BC all the way down to Olympia. If Trudeau and Trump have their way, the Salish Sea will become black with petroleum and coal.

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While there is much acknowledgment of living on stolen land in British Columbia, there is very little done to stop the advancement of Canadian colonial infrastructure. The liberal bourgeois like to placate their own guilty consciences by attending endless events honoring the indigenous while at the same being the full and undeniable beneficiaries of colonialist accumulation. When it comes time to actually prevent the pipeline from being built, it is unclear how the comfortable denizens of Vancouver will respond. The contradictions running through Vancouver society are immense. The narcosis of extreme wealth seeps into the minds of everyone who is allowed to live in its high priced neighborhoods.

Unlike their counterparts in the United States, the liberal bourgeois of British Columbia have no Trump to rally against. Instead they have a pretty-boy puppet who can look nice until the end of his term and help them forget how destructive their lives are to the planet. In the meantime, they engage in token acts of solidarity with the most non-confrontational indigenous people they can find. The guilt of the secular, liberal bourgeois is equaled only by that of religious catholics. Both religious factions participate in elaborate rituals in order to purge themselves of shame and guilt.

Although it has yet to reach a fever pitch, that struggle soon to erupt in Vancouver, BC will be immense. The amount of rage that Trudeau and his smug liberal cronies have provoked cannot be overstated. It will be more than a relief when the false tranquility of colonial Vancouver is ripped apart through the force of its internal contradictions and the arrogance of its ruling class. The coming year will signal the start of construction on the Trans Mountain pipeline, and with it will come fierce resistance from the indigenous tribes whose land was stolen and continuously tarnished by the greedy Canadians.

In stark contrast to this vast metropolis is the small city of Hoquiam, Washington, less than a five hour drive south from Vancouver, BC. The city rests on the confluence of the Hoquiam River and Gray’s Harbor. A rail-to-ship oil terminal has been proposed that would fill the harbor with tankers and congest the rail lines with dangerous oil cars. The rail line from Hoquiam travels east through several towns before connecting to mainline near Olympia. This terminal has been opposed by a coalition of the Quinalt Indian Nation, local fisherman, and even a few commissioners from the Port of Olympia. In a public statement, these commissioners called on the Port of Hoquiam to not allow dangerous oil cars to roll through the region and endanger the environment. In response, the Port of Hoquiam pointed out the Port of Olympia’s hypocrisy given it was the largest exporter of fracking proppants in the region.

Recently, the Washington State Superior Court ruled that the Texas-based oil company Contanda must prove that the Hoquiam oil terminal fully complies with the Ocean Resources Management Act. Contanda did not plan the terminal according to these environmental regulations, believing it could circumvent them. Now, even the Hoquiam City Council has taken the side of the State Supreme Court and the oil terminal appears dead. However, given the new Trump administration and their clear plans for the environment, matters are no longer certain. Just north of Hoquiam is the Quinalt tribal reservation and the legal remains of their ancestral birthplace. They are the leaders in this fight against the oil terminal, as it will be their fishing territory that will be affected by any spills or industrial accidents. But beyond their legal rights to the sea, the tribe does not want to see their beautiful, forested shorelines blackened with oil.

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On March 4, 1912, the IWW shut down every lumber mill in the city of Hoquiam. The strike soon spread across the river to Aberdeen, Raymond, and Cosmopolis, paralyzing the local industry and eliciting the wrath of the bosses. Their simple demand was a raise of fifty cents. In Aberdeen, a vigilante mob organized by the mill owners trashed the IWW hall, arrested many strikers, and beat many more out in the marshlands. After this, they were loaded onto box cars and deported out of the region. In Hoquiam, a similar mob surrounded nearly 150 strikers and forced them onto waiting boxcars. But before the train could leave, the mayor, the train workers, and the families of the strikers surrounded the vigilantes and freed their comrades and loved ones from deportation. While the city of Aberdeen may have been a reactionary stronghold, the city of Hoquiam remained a refuge for the IWW. The Wobblies went on to paralyze the lumber camps of Western Washington in the middle of World War One, using Hoquiam as one of their main bases. The IWW remained strong in the region until the 1920s when the split between anarchists and communists became irreconcilable.

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Just like in Everett, the memory of past struggles can be invoked and reanimated in Hoquiam. In the struggle that lies ahead, we hope you will follow the big black cat and either join the IWW or form an anarchist group and begin to take action. We hope this analysis has been helpful in identifying the lines and showing the sides in this increasingly volatile situation. Take whatever action you see is necessary and never let the bright light of anarchism go out. Keep the flame alive, no matter what.

Anarchist International (Western Branch)

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