Sunday, January 20, 2008

He televised the revolution.

Brad Will died on a dusty street in Oaxaca, Mexico, while documenting a peasant revolt against the Mexican government. It seems like Brad Will was always in the middle of a protest or revolt in some form or another, because Brad Will was one angry motherfucker.

Brad Will would travel from country to country and city to city, agitating against powerful governments and institutions. According to Rolling Stone Magazine, he was one of A-merry-ca's 50 most dangerous anarchist. The government hated his white ass (he was on every watch list imaginable), and ABC News put his mug on the evening news to warn other anarchist to stay away from the Republican National Convention in 2004.

This young white boy from an affluent suburban Chicago family (his father was a Yalie) was ready for a revolution. He had been to countries like Venezuela, Brazil, and Argentina to help poor people organize against their governments. It was just such a protest taking place down in Mexico when he decided to go down there and film it all. Ironically, he ended up filming his own death and thanks to You Tube and other such outlets, it's what he will be most remembered for. After all the revolutionary shit he had done in his life, filming himself getting a bullet to the chest from the gun of a Mexican death squad member, is how most people will come to know the name Brad Will.

No one knew where Brad Will's anger came from. Lord knows he didn't have to be. Brad Will, with his Ozzie and Harriet upbringing and his bucolic surroundings, was just another rich suburban white kid living in A-merry-ca, pursuing happiness and the A-merry-can dream. But Brad Will saw the bigger picture, he saw the world for what it really was; a stacked deck against poor and disenfranchised people. People who have no voice or shot at changing their circumstances. So anarchy was his answer. Disrupt, and destroy. Tear down everything the rich and powerful built up, and screw them all.

Brad Will, you are my fucking hero!

HT Rolling Stone Magazine.


Woozie said...

Why isn't Lenin, or better yet Trotsky, your hero?

Woozie said...

Woo first comment!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Great post. I've just been further educated.

Anonymous said...

He was an anarchist, not a communist. That means he (and I) believed in people's ability to create justice in their own communities, at the grassroots level. He believed in the power of the powerless and justice and dignity for all peoples. He was here in Philly during the RNC, working with the independent media center. I was a part of the R2K legal collective to help support the more than 420 people who were bogusly arrested, which Brad helped to document. He was my friend, and I miss him.... you can kill the man, but not the revolution... "Brad Will, Presente!"
Jody Dodd

Anonymous said...

Rest in peace. But here's what I don't understand about anarchy, and I mean this honestly: help me out.

My mother grew up in small-town Mississippi in the 1930s and 1940s, when the (white) people's ability to create what they considered justice in their own community at the grassroots level was very much alive. The (black) people's ability, however, was, shall we say, limited ...... what do you do in a community where might makes right if there is no overriding instrument to protect the interest/voices of the minority against the tyranny of the majority?

Jeff Sharlet said...

An anarchist group called CrimetInc. has posted my Rolling Stone article about Brad Will online:

Anonymous said...

Anarchists do not believe in the tyranny of the majority... the collective good of ALL people is the anarchists' concern. Brad understood that he came from white privilege that was fundamentally unjust, unearned and unwanted. He sought to challenge the institutions that perpetuate it.... He dreamed of a world of justice for all people... with the voice of the disenfranchised as the guiding voice of how to make that change. It may seem utopian, but it is how and where I want to live.

field negro said...

"Why isn't Lenin, or better yet Trotsky, your hero?"

OK so one out of two isn't bad :)

jody,thanks for sharing, and sorry for the loss of your friend.

Great article Jeff, and thanks for giving the readers here your link.

Your article was the inspiration for this post.

"what do you do in a community where might makes right if there is no overriding instrument to protect the interest/voices of the minority against the tyranny of the majority?"

Tear that bitch down and build it up again. Otherwise the majority will never hear our voice.

The majority needs to understand that if they don't to what's right,eventually there will be no community at all.

The Christian Progressive Liberal said...

White kids like Brad Will is why the Kennedys and the Carters were on the political scene.

They always saw the big picture; in this case, the disenfranchisement of the poor and downtrodden.

Why is it that the good get assasinated, and the evil continue to walk around on this planet?

Dan Leo said...

This middle-aged white dude who discovered your blog a few weeks ago just wants to say: keep doing what you're doing, Field. Great blog.

Christopher Chambers said...

White boys have Will. We have knuckleheads whose sole aspiration is to film Keyshia Cole videos. Lawd. And please don't tell me "oh, but our young men don't have the money to be videographers/documentarians/muckrakers/truth-showers." Please--if you have something in your skull case and nutsack, you can find a way to do this. Too many of our swagger, mumbling young men have neither...

Anonymous said...

CC, the reason we have knuckleheads that aspire to film Keyshia Cole videos is that so much of black America has become about the pursuit of money at all cost. We measure of lives and their value by what we can consume. I think about this even with my own life. When I was kid I love the infrastructure, transportation in particular, streets, highways, subways. It just fascinated me. I was pretty sure I was going to be Civil Engineer until I saw the money people were making in computers, so I did that in college. Fast forward to now, I'm a programmer who's regretting his career decisions and trying move back to what I loved as a kid. Thankfully I'm a position to do that. Most of the kids doing Keyshia Cole videos are doing it for the pursuit of money, their cultural institutions(parents, friends, media etc.) tell them to be successful you have make money. Brad Will influences tell him something different.

Anonymous said...

I understand that anarchists don't believe in the tyranny of the majority. Of course. My question, and I am serious, I want to know, is this: under a system of anarchy, what is to prevent just that? This is not academic to me. The collective good of all people is a wonderful ideal, but when, in human history, has it ever manifested as such? I wonder how communities creating their own justice without outside interference works in Rwanda during the genocide.... Etc etc etc.

field negro said...

OK janine, i think I get what you are saying. In other words, can the anarchist, by virtue of what they are doing,(creating anarchy) create a problem greater than the one they are trying to prevent? ? What if the majority wants the status quo? Don't we need rules and a certain amount of order (popular or not) to keep eveyone in line?

The short answer is yes AND no. There can be order, but there must be also fairness and justice to go along with it. And everyone should have an equal chance to advance their station in life within whatever system has been created. Not that they will, because everyone is different. (contrary to what woozie believes I am not a communist) But everyone should have at least a fair chance.

I think everyone knows injustice when they see it.

Miriam said...

Thanks for that. I always thought of anarchist as just trouble makers not that they wanted ANY society at all.

I learned something.

Miriam said...

did he do anything for a-merry-ca?

Anonymous said...

Keep the strong foundation, just rebuild the house. Excise the cancer, and keep the leg.

Expand the good: don't burn down the house to put out the fire, and don't throw out the baby with the bath water.

-D said...

And how many lives will be lost when the Revolution comes? I suppose they're just collateral damage for the greater good.

Every Big Idea has always been followed by blood in the streets. And it oxidizes like copper hitting the air when it comes into conflict with power and money.

All these Revolutionaries become the very thing they agitate against.

And don't think for a second that it will be the 'privileged elite' that takes the brunt during the "Revolution", either. Which neighborhoods get burned when there's a riot? Yeah, that's right.

I'm not arguing against hope, I'm not Hillary. I'm just saying that power always corrupts, no matter who's hands it's in.

Local power in the hands of local people? You're talking about the biggest devolution of society in centuries. To achieve that dubious objective, the people at the bottom will suffer disproportionately. Breakdown of order leads to murder and rape on a grand scale. Trading breakdown leads to starvation and disease. Child mortality skyrockets.

The only thing that ever benefits the poor and disenfranchised is peace and social stability, coupled with incremental reforms and the MATURITY to realize that no matter how corrupt the powers that be are, no matter how much things are stacked against you, you can't change human nature. Greed has been and will always be a permanent resident in mens' hearts, and no revolution is going to change that.

Keep your Revolution and your bloodshed.

SouthernGirl2 said...

"Tear that bitch down and build it up again. Otherwise the majority will never hear our voice".
Hi Field

I love this blog!

Anonymous said...

I tend to agree with Jimbo.... having been in several African countries and witnessed firsthand the aftermath of true anarchy, when law and order broke down, when no form of government held sway, when "the people" took matters into their own hands .... I'm just not sure that's what I'd advocate. It's not a world I'd like to live in. Of course everyone knows injustice when they see it. Of course we're all trying to create a more just society. MLK knew that -- he called for overturning the giant triplets of “racism, materialism and militarism" and for a radical transformation of American society. But that is a far, far cry from anarchy, as I understand it. I've seen real anarchy. It's horrible.

Marcy said...

Thank you, Field, your sharing re: Brad Will. You never cease to inform, enlighten and educate.

s. douglas said...

Our local independent paper wrote about Will some months ago, and asked why the mainstream media was ignoring his death.

After all, he's an American citizen who was killed by a foreign government. You'd think all the "Patriots" would be up in arms especially considering it happened in Mexico. The country Wingnuts accuse of "Invading" the United States.

I'm right with you Field, Tear the Mother Fucker Down!

Revolution doesn't have to be violent.

I'm fairly certain King, and Gandhi threw a big ass wrench in the machine without firing a single shot.

Anonymous said...

"Revolution doesn't have to be violent."

Revolutions don't have to be violent? Since when?

SagaciousHillbilly said...

Lessee, he's pictured in front of the gov't building in the plaza (Zocalo) in Oaxaca City (about 20 yards from the Terra Nova Restaurant on the left and about 50 yrds from the market on the right) in the middle of an indigenous insurgency. Looks to me like this guy has a death wish.
I wonder what someone with his will and resources could have done working in the streets of Chicago where he was from?

Lola Gets said...

Perhaps you should make him an honorary Field Negro?