On the suicide plane attack on the IRS offices in Austin

Date:

Joe Stack recently committed suicide by crashing an airplane into the IRS offices in Austin, Texas. He left a manifesto describing the long path which had finally led him to this decision.The note he left us is surprising in that it doesn't fit the caricature of the American anti-tax protester generally presented to the American public through the media. Instead it starts with a general anti-authoritarian outlook and proceeds to one that is opposed to the horrors of the profit motive. We can see these elements at play in this short excerpt:

Why is it that a handful of thugs and plunderers can commit unthinkable atrocities (and in the case of the GM executives, for scores of years) and when it’s time for their gravy train to crash under the weight of their gluttony and overwhelming stupidity, the force of the full federal government has no difficulty coming to their aid within days if not hours? Yet at the same time, the joke we call the American medical system, including the drug and insurance companies, are murdering tens of thousands of people a year and stealing from the corpses and victims they cripple, and this country’s leaders don’t see this as important as bailing out a few of their vile, rich cronies. Yet, the political “representatives” (thieves, liars, and self-serving scumbags is far more accurate) have endless time to sit around for year after year and debate the state of the “terrible health care problem”. It’s clear they see no crisis as long as the dead people don’t get in the way of their corporate profits rolling in.

The perspective is one of someone lonely in their despairing of a system over which they have no control. However, while lonely, he was not alone. He is quite right in describing a system of immense power that literally kills people for profit: a health care system run by health insurers with no purpose except to take money and deny care, and an IRS that is sucking the money from the working class and handing it over to the Wall Street bankers and military contractors.

Joe Stark was driven to commit a horrible crime. It was terrible in that he endangered and possibly injured others, but also that he allowed himself to be victim.

He was not a political philosopher. This is apparent in his manifesto, which does not develop a coherent solution to what he viewed as a hopelessly corrupt system. Instead it displays a resolution to take some action - a drastic and final action. His decision isn't surprising as the only channels of communication to which most people have access is an endless cheer-leading session for the system that is chewing us up and spitting us out.

Such methods come to the fore when the populace is weak and the few are extremely powerful. It is the product of not just Joe Stark's defeat, but the defeat of the American wage-earning class.

"Propaganda by the deed" was once a common occurrence. It was a time in which ruling class power was focused and the workers and had little or no hope and very little organisation. It was through the organising of the working class, into unions and as a mass movement, that the conditions were changed, the scales tipped, and the working class was able to win the 8 hour day, the 5 day week, and living wages.

We are again in a period in which we can no longer afford to defer the question, but most seize the reins of destiny ourselves. The antidote to the spread of the poison of desperation is for the wage earning class to come together, organise, and once again present a real challenge to the stranglehold that capitalism now has on us.

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