TOTW: A Life Worth Copying

  • Posted on: 11 December 2017
  • By: SUDS
Make it better

Not long ago anarchists were gifted copycats. The autonomist movements of Europe set a prime example of how to take an idea, open it up to participants, and allow for them to experiment and improve on ideas as they went.

The Social Centre Movement was key in imagining anarchist spaces seeking freedom from the status quo, and gave birth not only to the infoshop but also to the DIY movement, and longer-lasting experiments like Christiania.

As those projects fade, what is there to take their place? In an environment where today’s generations feel pressured for both time and money, and wherein rapid urban development is a reality out-competing independent efforts, is such autonomy even possible?

We are dispersed over wide open planes, barely connected to one another, and certainly disconnected when it comes to our cooperative efforts, so what can we really hope for when anarchist projects are organized in a vacuum?

There was once a time when copycatting efforts led to a proliferation of anarchist activities including infoshops, indy media, free food events, cop-watching, disaster relief, dinner parties, and other forms of franchise-activism.

Today the definition of anarchist activities has solidified into a more narrow category which mostly consists of activism. Is there still space to generate and participate in activities that go beyond these definitions and yet remain anarchist? And can these activities outlive our own efforts? Or, are we simply creating more of the same: DIY projects which rest solely on the shoulders of a few productive @?

Are dinner parties, paper mache masks, and happenings/situations past their prime? When we talk about community self-defense, free spaces, temporary autonomous zones, and other forms of anarchist culture, are we being anachronistic and optimistic?

What sorts of projects might we commit ourselves to that exist in the realm outside of struggle in order to copycat others? Is there any point now that we’ve lost?

We may go to work, we may secure our comforts, we may chat online, and we may visit events of political theatre, or share our thoughts on news sites, but what lasting impact can anarchists have that are worthwhile enough to copy and execute?

Are the days of SUDS and “getting shit done” over?

What innovative efforts do you have to offer that are not simply ironic? Is it a waste of time to try?

If you’ve got something worth copying, please, share, and let’s see if there is indeed anything that exists for anarchism outside the missionary lifestyle of activism.

category: 

Comments

The first thing people do in periods of downturn is regroup. Create a layer of people who secede from "society". Recruit as many people as we can into this layer (possibly through some kind of Freirean or consciousness-raising-style pedagogy). We had this historically, but we had it without creating it ourselves - we had the autonomous spaces from the 60s counterculture, we had "recruits" coming in through various social movements and subcultures (punk, raves, eco-camps, student movements, anti-nuclear, etc), and with these we deepened autonomy, creating areas like Exarchia and Kreuzberg. Today we need to do it more intentionally, using newer means like the internet, and we need to do it more radically, because the system has hardened and the conveyor-belts are gone.

The most important thing is that an anarchist social world continue to exist. We need an autonomous world with an autonomous discourse before we can have autonomous social struggles. There's a lot we can learn. Look at how illegal Christian sects organise in China. Look at how the Muslim Brotherhood responded to repression under Nasser. Look at the history of resistance to totalitarian regimes, in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, in Nazi Germany, in Latin America. Also look at successful models of (non-anarchist) revolt such as the Chinese Communists and Hezbollah, as well as anarchic ones like the Zapatistas. There's a model for successful revolt: small groups operating in isolated areas, winning public support by providing welfare services, avoiding violence and coercion against the population, and spreading propaganda, creating an alternative economy, at some stage excluding government forces, and then expanding these zones. Post-left anarchy could do this on a global scale, though it would need to schematise its doctrine somewhat, make it more workable.

The way I see it unfolding is, first we reforge ourselves as a movement by splitting decisively with identity politics. Then we regroup in small, largely clandestine groups devoted initially to lifestyle and ideas (Hakim Bey's bees and tongs). When we get to a certain size, we start creating base areas, possibly in the Third World (similar to how the Maoists grew). From these we build up a quasi-anarchist economy and the infrastructure of a global network, including our own responses to all important social and cultural needs. As we get stronger, we start disrupting state power and capitalism, and expand to more and more zones. This way, we reach bolo'bolo in about 20 years.

"Post-left anarchy could do this on a global scale, though it would need to schematise its doctrine somewhat, make it more workable."

Bullshit. Post-left anarchy is fucking useless for anything except endless critique, otherwise I agree but you won't get any of the things you're talking about without a solid basis for large groups of people to relate to each other. Post-left can't be made in to a "doctrine", nor should it be. The doctrine of heres-why-i-think-your-ideas-suck can't be used to build anything.

You really think leftist economics brings about anarchy? To the above I would only disagree that it could be global. Anarchy and anarchism really can only be regional as I highly doubt a global hundred monkey effect is going to happen. As Martucci says anarchy will not be some monochromatic configuration but part of something panarchic. Otherwise I agree with the steps.

post-left isn't about making knives, it's about making knives sharper.

How do I keep up with this?

My pet theory: we can now watch that techbro fedbook exec lamenting how he helped destroy the fabric of society (good riddance) but more importantly, perhaps the pendulum is about to start backswinging?

I predict the millennials are just starting a 10-year-minimum process of detoxing from the worst excesses of social media. New technology exploded in the mid-2000s and now the hangover is sinking in: a whole generation came of age, drowning in a narcissistic void and what comes next is a sort of luddite reactionary phase for the radicals. What they'll be waking up to is the hands of the rich around their throats, better late than never! Just look at all the hammer and sickle LARPing going on already, all the polls about anti-capitalist sentiment.

All of which is to say that I don't think the social centres are done, I believe their time is coming again as people start to tear themselves away from their devices. The social desert of the last 10 years was borrowed time for the oligarchs but the honeymoon phase with any new technology must end.

As for whether these social centres are "missionary" anarchism or something more authentic, that's up to the people who put in the time but this problem tends to fix itself when radical scenes aren't dominated by bored rich college kids.

" techbro fedbook exec lamenting how he helped destroy the fabric of society (good riddance)"

Riddance for WHAT? I ain't sure you're really understanding. You're not getting rid of society, it just has been subverted from the top, by the NSA and some billionnaires.People are being mass-programmed to get their daily dopamine on the screen. Even I have been doing that on this site. Society is what we NEED, just not the society that's being imposed to us, which now is pretty much social media.

You're not going to make anyone believe that people isolated in their apartments (or cells) in front of a screen as their only friend is any precondition for liberation. This just in: people DO die in isolation in this world. When the social spaces are gone, what do you think will happen to humans plugged on screen for whole days?

I'm sure I wasted a joke on you..? It's just his quote "Tearing apart the fabric of society" and I'm an anarchist so … but apparently I'm not that funny or possibly you're just a bit dense? Whatever.

I'm currently involved in running social spaces and I've been doing it more than half the time for the last 10 years. The problem was that nobody would come to events… so we would sometimes wonder if we were wasting our time. Since the Trump election, the winds have changed and people are starting to seek each other out again. This is my point: the deep forms of techno-alienation and isolation were a temporary phenomena. How could they not be? Only a terminal sort of fatalism/cynicism/nihilism would let you believe that tens of thousands of people will literally do nothing until they starve. Things just have to get bad enough and people start to move, they always do.

Don't let the Trump bump fool you. What you are seeing is the effects of a high speed internet society. The social centers reflect the old analogue past of libraries and bookstores. Those days are over. Anarch/anarchist ideas will have to adjust to the new media ecological context. Only a contraction of complexity will change this.

What is a contradiction of complexity?

As in collapse leveling down.

Contradiction is an inappropriate term in this context, rather counter-alternative, which would be minimalism.,

I'm sitting in the social centres, watching all the bug-eyed millenials starting to show up, unsure of everything, barely even realizing that they're trying to ask a question… but they're showing up. What would you know of it ziggy? You aggressively advocate for never leaving the house. You're the militant agoraphobe.

how does one undo the affects of technological alienation? By simply getting together and being alone together? The question is whats the difference between a click of the mouse and speaking truth to power? Not a whole lot; both are passive.

Also, don't forget that nihilism is not synonymous with passive nihilism; the active sort of nihilism has plenty to speak to the concept of antipolitics. The basic difference is not getting hoodwinked into believing that "We" will achieve anything, simply because people are interested. remaining skeptical/doubtful/cynical is just plain intelligent; and it would be foolish to make any concrete predictions, on either side. Nihilists also say, corrosively: probably not; nihilists also say, corrosively: is it interesting, can i achieve a sense of jouissance?

regroup at your nearest homeless shsleter. end of story.

then return to your girlfriend's condo afterwards and use the library that's close to look up protests and participate in activism.

and rinse and repeat the shelter, girlfriend/friend's place, ect.

also, who do post-left anarchists talk to and organize with when there's no anarchists around immediately or locally? there's a difference between allies and comrades, that's for sure.

Why was the first comment deleted? I wrote it and can't see anything problematic with it.

This style of forum administration adds risk and an element of chance to the game. You never know if your post will become part of the permanent record or just exist temporarily on the site. Some people may get to see your post and others may not, we can even refer to posts that have been deleted which adds an element of mystery to the mystique of the admins and to ourselves.

The prospect of being banned makes it a more rarified atmosphere and raises the value of the space. Not everyone has unlimited access to the forum, there is a chance that your access may be denied. Also the frequent Drupal errors and outages mean that at times the website may be completely unavailable to everyone not just the censured.

Some forum software can probably ban by IP address which makes evasion more difficult but there are ways to work around that too. So you've been condemned to the virtual gulag, the best use of this time is reeducation and rehabilitation, good luck on becoming a proper citizen (+_+)

by the repetitious employment of the comma, i'd guess that there's Le Way but, its quite confusing, trine akeep track of it all ! ,,,p

Anyone else notice that when emile doesn't post, @critic doesnt either, raising the suspicion that they are the same person.

omg, they are not the same person. Shut your mouth-fingers.

I'll sell you this magic rock which keeps tigers AND emile away. Only $99.99!

(ha! mouth-fingers)

emile is a paper tiger. you're clever.

PS: sometimes I feel personally offended by the CAPTCHA. this one said "KKk TV" like, srsly.

The EMILE 9000 is a wreath of pretty flowers which smell bad.

nowhere is EMILE 9000 so desparately needed as among a shipload of illogical humans

Hey maybe emile was EMILE 9000 before @critic, he needs someone to talk to, to respond to his posts, or he feels neglected. I think he's sulking now, cos @critic beat his ass.

17:37 No, thecollective smacked emile's hand a few days ago. Gave them a week to think about their behavior.

IDONTEVENBELIEVEYOUBECAUSETHATWOULDBETOOAWESOMEIFITSTRUE

#329 and #330

unfortunately .. I'm just the random lurker and that's my post. I have no connection to thecollective other than occasionally poking gentle fun at them while quietly respecting that moderating this plus would be fucking painful.

shhhhhhhh.

;)

If that's true Random Lurker then great trolling right there. I reckon Emile thinks he's banned (or about to be banned) and that's why he's gone quiet. With his persecution complex, it probably doesn't take much to convince him!

Hey thanks @! I'm just a humble troller of trolls.

17:54 those comments were addressed to LeWay - emile's comments are still moderated as usual

You noticed! *squeal of delight*

noticed what?

my paper-tiger joke. reply appeared in wrong place as usual :/

Wow, DONT YOU SEE WHAT'S HAPPENING!!, without emile we're all starting to implode and tear eachother to pieces with petty snide remarks and innuendo. Emile served a purpose, to be the sites scapegoat for all our deficiencies and flaws. We have to rein in this reign of rejection!

I will walk away from Omelas!

Thought this was like, pleasant banter at a party without -that- guy who never shuts up?

17:51, my bad. I was just showing off.

I have read things. *preens*

Yeah, like a party/orgy on Omelas where everyone is smug and happy, and the resident scapegoat suffers for all of us,,,

LIKE JESUS DID PRAISE THE LORD, I SHALL DEFECATE IN HIS MANGER IN THE REENACTMENT AT THE PARK TONIGHT MWUHAHAHAHA

17:36 Yes! and I finally got the emile-zedong reference. Took me a month.

I'm not Emile, you dunce. That would be hilarious if true though.

I'm not clear whether or not Emile has been banned for a week (I don't think so as he posted on his containment thread after thecollective warned him) but he's been so tied-up kicking back at me there, he's neglected to spam all the front-page topics.

He's busy copying and pasting a draft walltext to reply to you which makes the Great Wall of China look like a 5 yr old's lego attempt replicating his back yard fence.

i don't see any comment having been unapproved on this thread. perhaps you're getting your threads confused?
i'm diggin' gel's attitude though.

but yeah seriously that was me, and I recount having written basically:

Social centers in NA have went to legalist. On the other hand social centers, due to their usual purpose, are better off being legal in places where evicting clandestine squatted spaces is part of the normal.

BUT then again... what our anarchism amounts to when it is reduced to be doing shit within the confines of legality -i.e. the enclosures- especially when it comes to be LIVING TOGETHER or partying? The private has been reprivatized these days. While I laud the efforts of some anarchos to keep them opened -somewhat- we're still trailing behind the agenda of publicizing anarchy as a form of life.

So I mean, legal spaces are still fine, they're great especially when used in educative and fun purposes, but I can't overlook the critical quesiton of what they buid up in terms of subversive resistance to the social order. Also isn't there other means of building a subversive, liberating situation than opening private (even if collective) spaces? Like what about just reappropriating "public" space?

I dunno... this maybe just the zetigeist. Or worse, the current social confiugration of digital enslavement we got, that, you know... reinforces cleavages and walls, makes people less motivated in talking to others. I can see the Facebook popo doing high fives while reading this, but this is also their brethren who'll end up in the same cesspool.

And here's the punchline:
Just look at your current physical position as you're reading this....

We're using the Machine in a way that is turned against ourselves!

lol but...

0_0

"Went to legalist" is kind of a funny way of saying that any openly illegalist squatting movements have been mercilessly crushed. Most of the movements of the past had one simple, obvious thing in common; they took place in cities with an excess of empty buildings, lax enforcement and property owners for whom the stakes were very low. We're in different cities in the same country Fauve so I assume the economics aren't that different.

I meant "went legalist".

And I wasn't moralizing anyone for "going legal", yet there are contexts of lighter policing where clandestine spaces can last for a while, assuming it's not with a bunch of first level people who'll be putting it on Facebook the day before you move in. But yeah, that's likely to imply going on the outskirts of town... which is also the case for Euro occupations in more regulated areas.

Some of you in Montreal may now about a few publicly-spread squatting attempts in town last Spring.

They obviously weren't made with the aforementioned purpose (of creating a more lasting living/partying space), but rather -as I understood- as some kind of reformist attempt at causing political leverage for social housing demands. Even tho I was received badly by the support crowd when I attended one of the actions, the hot-dogs were fine, lol... But not much fun going on.

And of course it would have been pretty hard to keep these places occupied, but with a more humble and consistent approach... who knows?

I didn't say you were moralizing. I'm suggesting that every squatting project I've seen that lasted more than a few days (sometimes a few hours), was clandestine. Secret squats are totally a thing but by their nature, they're not very political.

So any time you try to open up a squatted "social centre" like all the famous examples, you get crushed. This process is so efficient in my city that I believe it's fully conscious on the part of the piggers. They've learned that if they leave the political squats to get dug in and start building community support, things get out of hand. It's a scorched-earth policy.

Hence why I see it as a potentially more productive way to be instead "going public", in the sense of using the public place, irl, including the corporate-run spaces. For sure they'll be TAZ... but not by (defective) design like the TAZ, simply just because any permanent effort is unlikely.

BUT, anarchic TAZ-like gatherings have been happening for a long while in some cities in Europe, even in the center of Paris by the Seine (if still happening, it's people free-partying on a weekend evening, usually students). Many native people in Kanadian cities got their way to do it as well, by "loitering" the public place in groups, that allows them to be reacheable, talkable...

Additionally public spaces are very, very tricky for the government to repress due to the fact that...
1- ...they're pretty much all over the place
2- ...can cause bad PR, likelihood to cause a drama over the internet
3- ...they're the fucking public place
4- ...if you get beaten/gassed/arrested/shot, that'll be in broad daylight, not in some isolated spot where nobody's looking.

I'm confused. does this mean just hanging out in a park?

Fauve does this sometimes, spends 10 paragraphs describing something nobody else would even bother remarking on. But hey, at least emile isn't here tonight, right?!

Oh by the way … you're saying we should just all gather in public parks and stay there … so like, OCCUPY the parks?! OMG WHY DIDNT WE THINK OF THAT?! (seriously Fauve, you smoking the good shit tonight?)

"SHOCKUPPY"

"FUCKUPPY"

"SOCKPUPPETUPPY"

Or like... Don't fucking put a label on it, for once.

I've been on this for months. By that, I mean that I mentioned it once before. ANARCHIST FIELD DAY GAMES. How fun would that be?

And always self-absorbed and me me me, typical artist type.

I say let's have a candle-lit dinner together this Celebration Day, shall we?

omg. right? I'm talking to an artist, rn.
Like, better than the activist... idk. Dating sucks.

If those are your only two choices …

hopefully not; it's just I think the more interesting people are either hermits or, like me, similarly unfortunate in courtship. But it's actually four choices. Artist, Activist, Both, and Alone.

Ok I might be dumb or boring sometimes but you're kinda right... it's way more interesting to get lost in over-convoluted texts on the eternally more complex TERF wars. I mean, a struggle depends on it!

Kinda like.... Yeah ... But more like having it mille plateaux and playing djembe n shit.

Srsly I mean going public more specifically as in "going outwards". Which doesn't mean to be bothering people like Church of the Latter Day Saints or Larouche Pac, but really just doing whatever you like to do inside that may spread an anarchist critique or activity, and do it where randos can feel comfortable initiating contact and even participating.

What people usually do into parks, and their behavior, is a private use of the public space. Like transposing their relationships outside, yet by what I'd call "bubbling". In lesser sophisticated towns this is less likely to occur and people may be more open and easygoing.

What I'm talking about here is rather "commoning", or publicizing the private... what most people hanging out in parks are shy or apprehensive about (or usually don't have the patterns of thoughts to even think about it). Why aren't you doing reading groups outside -and loud- for instance? Why do you need a socisl center for this?

It's one thing to be telling loners to stop being shy, but a tougher thing to realize how groups or crowds tend to be even more reclusive and shy than loners, and to get over it, to turn outwards.

uh … I've been to many a reading circle in parks and social centres both, dude. It's mostly weather-dependent?

Also, if I try and picture what you're describing, my friends are screaming excerpts from Atassa at yuppie dog walkers who immediately run away and it's pretty funny but I sort of doubt it will build the commune. I had at least one montreal anarchist literally run out of our space because some google-bookchin joker was reading aloud from his favourite tome.

I thought the Olympia blockade was supposed to be the shiny new model?

Well no one's forcing you outside of your basement, sweety pie. And of course you've tried it all, in any way conceivable, so you can come back here like a Starbucks telling us how it'll be a failure no matter what, but that staying in our boxes is sooo powerful.

Also feck off will ya?

That's ...definitely not what I'm saying or doing. What the hell is wrong with you?

I wouldn't worry about seeming presentable. I think the point is to make the space anarchistic? Not to conform to anything.

So ok! Lets start again. I didn't say anything about being presentable. What I was too polite to say is Fauve's idea was really dumb and vague, more of the same old crap that doesn't work. Clarity achieved?

More importantly, the kids in Olympia just put on a how-to clinic if any of you greasy-keyboard muhfucks are paying attention?

No I never went to Olympia, mister, and I neither am in touch with the crowd over there, Major Fuktard. But good for them if they started a clinic. No that's actually great and part of the few things I was really willing to gfet involved into

I hate it when people need me to provide them with real-life examples so that it ain't too vague for their brains to compute, more like IMAGINE.

Look at me.

LOOK. AT. ME.

Are you seeing a brain crutch at your disposal?

Oh dear, more Me Me Me.

A clinic in methadone or what are we talking about here?

Trying to explain to Fauve that there's other people on the continent doing some very interesting work right now but he's too busy being annoyed at me because I called his idea dumb (cuz it is).

You seem like a repressive person, dood. Perhaps even anal-retentive... Maybe smoking some weed would ease your butthurt?

I don't see what's dumb with "going public" or doing some of your cocooning activities on the public place for a change. Assuming it is not, as the suggestion states, to be proselytizing around for some new disciples to butt-fuck later... Bombing shit around is dumb too from a certain POV... Just like silly smashy-smashy that's just being done to make you and your poseur buddies look like the rad kids in town. A great many things in what people do are dumb, there's offense to take from this. But where is your more clever practice, then?

"there's NO offense", I meant!

haha

I'm "repressive" because I disagree that reading-circle-in-a-park is a new idea?! Are you fucking serious?! Holy shit … you seem hopelessly dense but I'll try one more time…slowly. THIS WEBSITE, that you're currently reading, as well as IGD and several others, have a bunch of in-depth info about the OLYMPIA FRACKING BLOCKADE. I was suggesting that those folks in OLYMPIA who just had some relative success against energy conglomerates and the state, while building up their capacity, is worth some study. Note that this is the THIRD TIME I'm saying this in this thread. Also, I could smoke you under the table fool! I'm from the west coast.

so simple yet so hard to replicate!

nothing like that has been removed.

COIN strategy has changed. The state knows how social centers work these days. The climate has generally become more oppressive. Between broken windows policing, catch-all laws and counterextremism. A lot of countries where squatting was legal or tolerated have banned it. Eviction has been speeded up. Movements have been criminalised. In general, police have got a lot more proactive/pre-emptive (attacking things before they happen), a lot quicker in their responses, and they've also been unshackled a lot, or given special powers for particular situations, or catch-all powers they can reinterpret and deploy. So something they would take half an hour to respond to in the 1970s, they will be there within a few minutes now. Some countries have policies of quickly evicting new political squats so they can't gather momentum. Squatting, and autonomous zones in general, are based on an opportunity-structure where the state focuses on the core of its territory. Anarchists and other marginal groups occupy territory around the margins, which is sometimes almost free from policing and state presence. Increasingly the state has occupied and militarised these marginal zones to defeat this strategy (which was also the strategy of al-Qaeda among others). In COIN today, “black holes” and zones of “state failure” are actively feared, pre-empted and prevented. This has changed the terrain of struggle a lot. Squatted social centers can't be decades-long, stable core hubs for projects in the same way they used to be.

But it seems they still can, in some places. In Greece, a lot of the old centers have been lost, but new ones are created and defended. But in Greece also, a lot of the strategic focus has shifted from university occupations and battles in the city center to defence of areas such as Exarcheia. The annual December and September riots seem to take place mainly in Exarcheia now, because the police have been trying to occupy the area for the last decade. Barcelona had a number of squatted social centers a few years back. There's one, I think, in Hamburg. The ZAD is basically a giant squatted eco-camp which has successfully resisted several brutal evictions. But the difference is that a squatted space can't be the starting point, the launchpad. The local scene needs a bulk of numbers already, to create and defend a squatted social center. The early repression attempts need to be rapidly fought off or retaliated for, and there has to be a quick reoccupation or a new occupation if this happens. So the strategy of six anarchists breaking a squat, opening a social center, providing space for projects, and expanding from there isn't viable now – but using social centers as part of an already sizeable movement is still possible. This is because the contemporary state has a lot of raw power, and a lot of capacity for intense one-off deployments of overwhelming force, but it doesn't have much stomach for a long fight, it lacks long-term resources and is cost-averse and risk-averse. The strategy is to hit fast, hit hard, and cause enough terror or demoralisation that the adversary doesn't try again. Once this strategy fails, it's a lot weaker. The current state likes highly visible, “deterrent” media events involving excessive violence and a massive show of force, and uses these events to show that the state is omnipotent and its adversaries are powerless. Ultimately it's not very successful unless the targets themselves believe they've been destroyed. Organised crime groups, insurgencies, deep web marketplaces, mass migration, to take just a few examples, have proven pretty resilient in the face of both day-to-day securitisation and spectacular events. Anarchism seems to have been affected more drastically. Probably because we also rely too much on big events. A non-clandestine, squatted, openly anarchist social center is very visible to the state, with a very visible means to attack it. It's very vulnerable to the current COIN strategy.

It seems like things were easy before. Autonomous zones existed, squatted social centers served as hubs, repression was less intense. But the thing is, this wasn't necessarily initially the case. Things were easier when/where we had a degree of power. The German state tried to brutally crush early autonomist movements and was fought back by militant squat defence, sabotage and black blocs. It was only when it became clear that repression was expensive and backfiring that the state turned to partial tolerance (partly to encourage legalisation). Similarly, Holland legalised squats BECAUSE of the autonomist movement, around the same time it attacked the largest squatted district. And even at their height, the state tried to attack autonomous zones, we saw things like Mainzer Strasse, enormous evictions at huge expense in Holland, attacks on Norrebro and Christiania. The difference is that the attacks were sometimes fought off. States either couldn't evict the squat because it was intensively fortified and militantly defended, or the attempt to evict the squat led to thousands-strong riots, blockades and sabotage actions which rendered the attempt very costly. This was largely about numbers and militancy: an attack on one squat in Germany, Spain or Holland was taken as an attack on all the squats in the city (even if there were disagreements between different centers), and the whole squatting scene – which was large – would respond to an attack at any point, and would respond militantly. And they would help each other by constantly breaking new squats – in Holland they had a day of the week when they would always break new squats, meaning they were breaking new ones faster than the state could close them. Another factor in Europe at least is that the state couldn't escalate to the use of military-level force in Europe in those days, it was a public-relations nightmare, and it risked radicalising the left, causing greater violence. These days they're quite prepared to use SWAT-level tactics very early in the process, especially in America but also in Europe. The US seemed prepared to use more violent tactics a lot earlier (MOVE, Waco, Little Rock) but has also escalated. This makes things a lot harder. In the “war on terror” climate, autonomists daren't match escalation with escalation. And at the height of the movement, we developed countermeasures against regular police and riot squads, but not against SWAT.

Are there no longer squatted social centers in America? I don't know the US context well, but the US must be one of the hardest places to squat, given the massive incarceration rates, the small and not-very-militant scene, and the fact that trespass is a crime. Britain used to have dozens of social centers, but a good portion were always legally owned. We lost a lot of them in a wave of repression in the late 2000s. There's still residential squatting, but it was banned about five years back, and a few people jailed. In Britain I'm reading that the average residential squat lasts about three months now. Big visible anarchist projects, usually squatting an oligarch's mansion or an old bank, are quickly repressed. But there's still lots of anarchists living in squats, or in vans or caravans. And there's still a dozen or so legal social centers. The thing is, although squatting's banned, it's still legal to squat commercial buildings. It's also banned in Germany, Spain and Holland, but there's still a lot more squats there. The size of the movement is as important as the changed climate I think. In Germany there were articles roundabout 2007 gloating how there were “no more squats” in Berlin or Hamburg. (There were, of course, lots of legalised ex-squats and other legal collective housing projects). This was temporary, and by 2017 there are a few big political squats again. But still, right before Hamburg, I saw articles in the mainstream press celebrating how “squatters used to drop heavy objects from a height on police, and that never happens any more”. Then of course, during Hamburg, this happened. So, I think the media like to portray temporary ebbs and flows as if they're permanent disappearance. Because for them, the fact that squats (or raves or counterinfo or Travellers or any anarchic project) exists to begin with is anomalous, weird.

Raves are another example. Free parties in Britain in the 60s-70s were basically legal and not suppressed. One time in the 70s, people deliberately held one at a provocative government target, even after being offered sites elsewhere. The police tried to repress it, and there was outcry. Things got worse in the 80s with the Battle of the Beanfield, then again in the 90s with the Castlemorton moral panic and the Criminal Justice Act. Raves survived for awhile – but cops got very good at shutting them down early or pre-emptively by blocking roads, and targeting organisers by seizing sound equipment. So the rave/festival circuit gradually started to wither, and a lot of the festivals went “legalist” - making huge compromises (Glastonbury, the biggest, put up fences and stopped allowing free entry). At the same time, the commercial club scene grew, and took a lot of the demand away from the rave scene. Today raves are back – and there's a few drivers – increased poverty and alienation, crackdowns on the legal club scene, stretched police resources. The trick is to build up a mass of people before police know what's happening, then fight them off if they try anything. The police will smash the whole thing before it starts if they can, but if there's a mass of people, they'll judge it too risky and hold off until it ends. They'll try to stop new people joining, but they'll sometimes get routed when trying to do this. They'll also go in heavy at the end, but people seem to anticipate this now and disperse as a group (complete with sound system). So the old patterns of repression are less effective.

A lot of the strength in the recent past stemmed from social context. Squatter-punk anarchism was rooted in a social layer of people who were BOTH economically marginal AND relatively educated, or left-leaning. Some were middle-class youths facing precarity for the first time, or working-class youths exposed to university education before it was neoliberalised, or people affected by the early forms of deterioration in the welfare state, literally finding survival strategies in social movements. Some were coming in from the punk scene, which was huge at the time, or from mass social movements like the anti-nuclear and anti-roads movements. European squatting took place in a context where a lot of regular people were squatting anyway, because of shortages of available housing.

Today, young people with anti-systemic instincts are going in different directions. For starters, a lot of people are keeping their heads down to avoid danger or stigma. Poor people's survival strategies increasingly hinge on recognition as “deserving poor”, which makes them hyperconformist. This is a huge problem historically for progressive movements – it's discussed in Freire's texts from the 60s, also in a conservative climate where survival depended on elite patronage – and there's ways around it, but anarchism's never dealt with it before. Also, a lot of progressive young people coming up are getting into idpol. Aside from the political issues with idpol, they seem horribly naïve about things like security culture, surveillance and self-expression. It's a central part of their politics to do everything in full public display, to not pay attention to minimising risk or avoiding repression. So you'll see them posting on Facebook, under their real names, about riots and overthrowing the system and how they've been arrested for shoplifting or had an abortion or they're living in a squat in such-and-such a city. They seem to think that any effort to stay anonymous or filter discourse into particular spaces is a betrayal of their right/duty to speak, and by extension, “silencing” of their group. This may be what comes of growing up with surveillance as the norm (not just social media itself, but things like CCTV in schools) – I don't think they even SEE it as part of the strategic field, they take it for granted, and ignore it. Then on the other side, people who would have become anarchists twenty years ago are attracted to the alt-right because they're repulsed by idpol (sites like 4chan are basically online autonomous zones). And also, there aren't so many downwardly-mobile middle-class progressives or educated, socialist-rooted, upwardly mobile working-class progressives in general any more. Precarity is no longer the shock it used to be, and the fact that people are less educated and more consumerised is also probably significant.

Basically, there's now information overload. Far too much information on just about any topic for anyone to read. Because of this, there's attentive stress – people's attention is constantly overstrained. Therefore, there's attentive rationing – people have to choose or prioritise what they give attention to – and there's attentive scarcity – some people and issues don't get attention because they're triaged out. Somewhere along the way, people have come to feel that being triaged out of others' attention is life-threatening or amounts to being wiped-out; and for movements, the academic theory that movements are framing strategies directed at the media has become more popular. Hence there's a tendency for activism to take very visible forms. This is why a lot of today's “radicals” are such heavy social media users, so massively into self-exposure of their own lives, and also why they avoid giving attention to things like security (a certain blasé carelessness is a correlate of attentive rationing). Anarchism has always relied heavily on clandestine and not-especially-visible forms, even for legal activity. Avoiding being seen is a big theme in Hakim Bey. Graeber says about Madagascar, the fact that people could live anarchically was largely a result of their remaining invisible. Scott says similar things: people create anarchy under the noses of authoritarianism by keeping it hidden, until it's strong enough to break free. In insurrectionism, it's important that visibility and intimacy happen at the level of the affinity group, not the wider society – don't get caught. And this strategic tendency towards clandestinity is exacerbated in a context like today's – when the state is looking for big one-off shows of force, and reacting rapidly and brutally to whatever it can see. The trouble is that this runs up against the zeitgeist, swims against the flow – whereas in the 70s-80s, autonomist approaches ran WITH the zeitgeist and drew people in.

It's something we can recover from, but we need to start somewhere else. Like the Chinese house churches – start with gatherings at people's houses, or with mutual aid networks, or with consciousness-raising. We really need to find ways to get people who aren't currently thinking of themselves as oppressed individuals struggling against/in exodus from a dominant system to start thinking this way. Something like Freire's approach might work. Once we have the numbers, we can start creating and defending squatted social centers again.

WOW. Everyone is starting to sound like emile in another genre.

Invisibility is a very Stirnerian insurgent(as opposed to revolutionary) way of doing things minus the Vanguard guerilla nonsense of course. I would only add that anarchists and anarchs(full blown individuated Stirnerian types) should also develop a hinterland approach(think places like Northern Idaho). Unfortunately much of these areas have been ceded to the Xians who are basically the pagans of this age whether you like 'em or not.

Also fuck all y'all with short attention spans who don't appreciate dense but quality posts. This ain't William Gillis.

Sometimes if they're too long or too thick or loaded with content they can be a little intimidating but what do I know I'm a Freudo-Marxist.

Yeah, weird, I agree with ziggy! Great analysis, worthy of being its own article although I suppose it's just an op-ed. I don't travel much so it's good to hear that a lot of the problems aren't specific to my region.

The Olympia blockade seemed to hit a sweet spot like you're alluding to, they lucked out with a jurisdictional battle between different police departments which bought them time so it seems to be about picking the exact right place to ninja the commune and as you mentioned, you can't ambush without sufficient strength. Need at least a few dozen blockaders with support.

Olympia seems to be an imitation (possibly unintended) of a common protest type... There's a tactical model often seen in the "Third World" which consists of small mobile groups carrying out blockades of/around strategic hubs (road, rail, airport, extractive industry), usually at multiple sites. This will be done in rural areas and protesters may either defend barricades or fade when approached. I've seen instances where pigs/army would spend all day clearing barricades, only for them to pop up again in the territory they've just left. Places shut down for months. In Northeast India it's become a part of normal life. The closest I've seen in the North have been things like the ZAD, and some of the rural summit protests such as Gleneagles and Heiligendamm. I guess the structure's less friendly for it in the North, the infrastructure's better and protesters are mostly urban - but I wonder what would have become of Occupy or Nuit Debout if they'd taken this route. Another common tactic is the ville morte or bandh - a shutdown of an entire town or region, often enforced with barricades. Very like a general strike, except it doesn't have to be a union which calls it, and again, disrupting circulation is central.

Definitely a fascinating "area of study"! Of course you're absolutely right that none of this is new concepts but I like how it's tailored to the situation in much of the Pacific Northwest and doesn't require a prebuilt mass movement. Especially like how they did maximum disruption for minimum of legal costs, etc.

Used to be called a "stasis" in Ancient Greece, but there's little further knowledge of how old this practice is. The statis was a city-wide"general strike" (even though I had the term for having been way overused by all sorts of union(c)rats and platformists alike through the years) and best reflects my dream vision of how a contemporary a city should be. I.e. a dirty, chaotic, trashy environment with no police, and external regulations that are as significant to the people still living there as the Holy Bible to hipsters. A Third World city? Something of the likes. Or maybe Detroit... but again the geography may be working against it.

But most people are just interested in living well. Which often means getting themselves out of this misery they're into. Capital succeeds at giving them the hope for it, and for every social milieu a different dream of progress and prosperity applies. Techies got transhumanism, migrant workers got business management.

And the anarchists, well... some achieve to provide with unalienated aspirations, but I wouldn't say that of the toxic milieus of highly-developed big cities, lost in identity politics and activism, where the best they'll do is getting involved in the ridiculous nonprofit bureaucracies, and maybe graphic design (which feeds and provides warmth and security to so many people, as you may know, lol). So it's also gotta be a kind of large-scale social arrest that may help relieving them from their misery. Like putting back self-organization and direct community on the menu of their daily lives.

But how do we get there is the question that anyone who agrees should better be asking themselves, as this is the tricky part. Denizens of the polis in ancient times had a rather small, centralized socio-geography to their advantage, and they also weren't plugged on to Fedbook/Reddit (or Anews lol) even more than they are plugging wih their loved ones. Med cities have developed in a highly-centralized fashion. Several-story blocks all squeezed together, and narrow streets serpenting in chaotic ways. Then when you venture to the limits of the city, well you see that there are actually limits, that may be just a border of concrete on the side of a dirty road. Then there is the wild.

Whereas the insane sprawls in NA are the exact ontological opposite. They're making us directly dependent on the capitalist economic mass-level infrastructure, through a geographic dislocation from the start. And this configuration keeps spreading, no matter how the city centers may become unruly. But this gets even weirder when SHTF in some insignificant suburb.

Think about the Ferguson uprising. Ever looked at what's in the suburb on the other side of St-Louis? Yeah, a major U.S. Army facility. But people are not rioting in cars, not even on bikes most of the time, no matter how they should. I can see them using the subway when there's one, but those can be easily controlled/shut down as well, or maybe less during busy hours. Therefore the matter of overcoming dislocation becomes a priority... but will it mean to be taking over the fluxes of transportation, or just paralyze them? Obviously the Tiqqunian thesis would say the latter, and the platformist/marxist one, the first.

Outside of these means, creating a stasis in a contemporary North Americain urban center is a laughable idea, unless through some major disruption of the State-managed grid. The diverse masses are just gonna keep lining up to go to work and consume, as capitalists will keep getting stronger and healthier. Because the masses are no strangers to capitalism; they play the game of upward social mobility as well. The commies you know are also at it, when they get past their twenties. So forget about "convincing the workers", they're already enslaved down to their hearts. Marketing is a love affair. Nadja Tolokonnikva wrote in one of her prison letters how she feel in love with advertisement when she was a young girl. Sensibilities are wasted, love is but a commodity relation. The solution lies in the mind, in its relationship with the physical world.

This realtionship at the moment has been taken over by a technocracy. But this technocracy is still weak and defenseless, if you know where to look at. The reified social relationship administered by this technocracy can be easily disrupted, and if it does, has the potential to directly subvert the situation on a mass scale. But who will do it, beyond a few enlightened individuals? That's another story. Your usual anarcho-Leftists may too busy with social media turf wars at the moment... in between work shifts.

The cities you're talking about... I've read that El Alto is rather like that. Sprawling city near La Paz, Bolivia, officially a shanty-town, every area has a village square, the whole economy is informal, almost pig-free or used to be. And yeah - the difference between El Alto, northeast India, or Ancient Greece, and somewhere like America or Europe today is mostly the lack of direct community and direct horizontal social life. I don't mean this in the stupid communitarian way that conservatives, Clintonites and left-anarchists whine about - shared norms and all that shit. I mean people actually talk to each other, actually know who their neighbor is, actually have relationships which aren't just working in opposite cubicles or watching the same movie or being Facebook friends. So when something affects a lot of people, they can organise quickly, through these everyday networks. How do we build something like that? Not sure really. In autonomia it seemed to happen almost as a side-effect of people living autonomously. There's various discussions of this kind of “everyday anarchy” in Colin Ward, Trapese Collective and so on. Of course we have to remember the downside too. Small local communities lend themselves to witch-hunts, and many of these societies have strong family structures which can be quite restrictive.

Current metropolitan areas, and the entire world economy, are actually relatively easy to disrupt. Because the world is hyperconnected, because of just-in-time production, because infrastructure is underfunded, because everything's organised around short-term profits for financial speculators. I remember a case where a flood in Thailand led to a global shortage of hard drives, because all the world's hard drives were made in this one small industrial estate. Road traffic is often very close to gridlock and lots of companies are working just-in-time, meaning a very small disruption will shut them down. The state itself periodically shuts everything down itself (lockdowns and suchlike) and, paradoxically, the state's response to unrest is typically more destructive of economic life than the unrest itself. I remember reading somewhere that the economic disruption caused by the pigs on the London Mayday where they shut down the city center and kettled everyone was much greater than the rather small economic damage the year before, when people trashed a few stores. There were reports of businesses in crisis because of the London Olympics, because of the massive disruption and because locals were leaving for the duration. Millions lost because a bomb hoax sent from half a world away shuts down an airport. These kinds of things. But, I don't think economic loss bothers them very much – we're in an overproduction crisis after all – and the system tries to leverage the cost of disruption to poor people and workers for legitimacy. This is the real problem for the strategy – it hurts us, or our potential allies, as much as it hurts the enemy. Baudrillard says it's like nuclear deterrence – capital threatens to take us all with it if it's destroyed. In fact, capital periodically threatens to withdraw from areas if it doesn't get its way. A lot of the most exciting locales, capital HAS basically withdrawn except for a few extractive industries. The trick, then, is to render the wasteland survivable, and deal with all those fantasies of progress which are frustrated by the withdrawal of capital.

Just got done answering an email from an Anarchist in India on how to set up an altar to Jesus Malverde. Try Combining Taoist Fu-style sigils and Card Magic.

It's OK nerds. Even if I'm white, I'm a hoodoo practitioner and so "cultural appropriation" doesn't apply because I just call it egoism!

It's time to start casting for net neutrality! Summon the spirits to kill the bad guys! Support me on Patreon!

You're starting to sound like some messed up crackhead from under the highway overpass.

Much obliged comrade! Okay okay I know St. Cyprian is the Patron Saint of Necromancers but hear me out....how about evoking a drunken, trickster immortal?

This shit is like when the douchey cool kid suddenly gets into Magic & has his rich parents buy him all the rare cards. He didn't earn that.

It's a fucking shame that of all the narratives and aesthetics anarchists try to reclaim or reverse we don't go after the Tower of Babel. Can you imagine anything more essentially anarchist than uniting all peoples and ascending the heavens to poke god in the eye?

What are you a Doctor of anyway? I am a Physicist. Everybody knows this.

Screw you Gillis! I'm a hoodoo Doctor. I'll tall you ALL about it, but first! Check out my New video up on the Patreon discussing mafias, moose lodges, and the Underground Railroad. How the FUCK do these things fit together? What do they mean for Anarchists? Find out and HELP KEEP ME ALIVE here: https://www.patreon.com/doctorbones

Me has sausages if you'd like, you Red capitalist shill.

That's willgilltroll and dr.bonestroll, probably the same troll. You can't hurt their feelings, sorry :(

Add new comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.
CAPTCHA
Human?
L
U
9
s
z
A
z
Enter the code without spaces.