140 years later and we're still talking about the same old stuff

  • Posted on: 15 August 2012
  • By: worker

<table><tr><td><strong>Report back from the St. Imier Congress, Switzerland, August 2012</strong>

by Miss Noire (no relation to Espace Noir)

From August 8 to 12, 2012, thousands of anarchists from all over the world gathered at St. Imier, Switzerland, to celebrate the 140th anniversary of the St. Imier Congress at which the Anti-Authoritarian International was founded, which many believe to be the historical beginning of the anarchist movement. Among the fifteen delegates who attended the original meeting was Mikhail Bakunin, who also stayed in St. Imier for a little while.

St. Imier is a small town of less than 5000 inhabitants. The anarchist space Espace Noir, which has been going since the 1980s, can be found on the main road in the middle of town. It hosts a restaurant, bar, infoshop, cinema and concert venue, as well as a gallery. Walking around town, one can see several plaques discussing the anarchist history of St. Imier, some complete with pictures of Bakunin and Kropotkin. It certainly is a very special place and it was already so 140 years ago when the Jura Foundation, made up of watchmakers (highly skilled artisans), had its stronghold there.

The gathering of 2012 is said to have been the biggest anarchist gathering in 20 years. Anarchists from all over the world attended, including some from as far away as Japan, South Africa, South and North America and, of course, from all over Europe. </td><td><img title="19th century meet the 21st. Are you disappointed?" src="http://anarchistnews.org/files/pictures/2012/greenscience.jpg"></td></tr...
I arrived on Thursday evening, by which time the congress had already been going on for over a day, and it seemed like I had already missed the “best” talks. According to many people I spoke to, these were the presentation by a Zimbabwean anarchist (who talked about their exciting projects of a communal radio station and a recording studio for poor people etc) and a discussion about anarchism and sport, facilitated by Gabriel Kuhn. Some presentations had to be cancelled because presenters did not get their visas; for example the Chinese anarchist who wanted to present a talk on anarchism in China.
Upon arrival I thought I had arrived at a punk gathering - the streets were roamed by beer-drinking crusties and punks with big mohawks. This was certainly not what I expected and, to be honest, I was disappointed, but I soon realised that the presentations were packed with people who were neither. In fact, there was a very interesting (but not surprising) division between the punks on the streets and the people who attended the presentations.

Also surprising was that there was no visible police presence, at least no policemen and -women in uniforms. Apparently this is how St. Imier usually is: sleepy and safe and not needing a police force.

The programme given to every new arrival was in French only and very chaotic. The map in it confused everyone and the venues were scattered around town. It took a few days to get used to. The campsite was located on a mountain to which one could only get by funicular [i.e., a tram up a mountain] which cost eight euros for the weekend. Because of this, some people camped wild or stayed in one of the many abandoned buildings in town.

The food, which was all vegan and amazing, was prepared by three different kitchens and cost a suggested donation of eight euros per day (for three meals). It appears that many people ate for free, as on the final day it was made public that the kitchen was down 8000 euros (although I'm sure lots of people then went back to donate more). All the food provided was prepared by groups for free and lots of volunteers always helped in the preparation. The dishes were washed communally too and it really seemed to have worked pretty well.

Many people complained that the event was based on money but upon further examination most of it was based on donations and there was no entrance fee. While events like Burning Man are based on gift economies, there are huge entrance fees. I think the organisers did their best considering their huge costs (apparently 100 000 Euros!) They rented huge venues and even had electronic equipment for simultaneous translations in the main hall, which surprised everyone. As far as I know, the event was partly funded by a call for donations and St. Imier t-shirts were sold for 12 Euros to help more with the costs.
Language, however, was a big issue. The event was heavily dominated by French and many talks were not translated, or informally translated by volunteers who often struggled. Some of them, however, did an amazing job! Some talks stretched into eternity because they were translated into two languages. The Esperanto clique took this as an opportunity to promote their language.

The talks themselves were often crowded and the ones I managed to get into were often boring. Also, the level of discussion seemed very basic and many talks felt like presentations for beginners. There was a debate about anarchism in the modern world which was mainly about the occupy movement and the Arab Spring. Another debate centered around anarchism and modern social movements, which was really just the same. I was disappointed that there was only one talk about the environment (which I missed because I was still confused about the program at that time, but it was given by anarcho-syndicalists, so go figure), nothing around critiques / analyses of civilisation, nothing on animal liberation and nothing about queer struggles. All the talks I attended felt old-fashioned and anarcho-syndicalist in tone. However, and this is what amazed me the most, many people took things into their own hands and organised ad hoc workshops on topics such as civilisation, animal rights and many other topics. There were also many regional connection meetings - probably the most important lasting contribution of this gathering.

There was a daily anarcha-feminist workshop (most of these were "non-mixed", meaning women only) which ended with a statement and "intervention" at the final meeting concluding the same things as are concluded at almost every anarchist event; in essence, angry women shouted about the lack of female speakers. I found the intervention a bit embarrassing. These so-called anarcha-feminists complained about not being given enough space even though they had the entire great hall every day! Anarcha-feminism seems to be dominated by radical feminists and identity politics these days. I wish people would get over it so that I can call myself an anarcha-feminist again without feeling ashamed. At least Europe is not nearly as bad as the US, yet. The statement called for a non-mixed anarcha-feminist international gathering in 2014. The only good thing about it was that it was written in a slightly sarcastic tone. As long as anarcha-feminism is dominated by this self-victimising form of identity politics, it will not contribute towards a gender-equal anarchist movement. It wants women to be victimised instead of empowered, and here the socialist feminists, sadly, have a better analysis. In my view, one of the daily anarcha-feminist meetings could have given way to a space for a critique of civlisation. After all, patriarchy is rooted in civilisation.

Speaking of interventions...as I already mentioned, all the food provided was vegan and there was a long debate about this for months before the congress, at which it was finally concluded that vegan-only food should be served so that everyone could be fed. However, Espace Noir (which hosts a restaurant without a single vegan item on the menu) decided to fry sausages in the evenings. Some animal rights activists (who claimed to be the ALF) took this as an opportunity to smear dog shit on the grill on the third day, and on Saturday evening the grill was surrounded by a human chain. "There's no excuse for animal abuse" was chanted, and water was poured over the fire. Some of the participants were violently dragged away and slapped in the face. They were even asked about who was in charge of the action! The next day they held a workshop of why they took such a drastic action and I heard that a lot of non-vegans who attended were actually pleasantly surprised, and that they also received huge applause at the final meeting when they read out their statement. I also heard that for many French attendees this was the first time they had ever heard about animal rights. Surprisingly, it seems like most people - even non-vegans - saw this action in a positive light.

Another interesting event that happened was that Aristides Pedraza, a long-time member of the Swiss OSL in Lausanne, got pied at a debate and accused of being a cop. A statement was issued by an autonomous Swiss group as to why they had pied him. He denied these allegations with a passionate speech loaded with testosterone, saying he was never a cop, only an adviser to a communist politician in charge of internal affairs in his region. By the way, this wasn't the only testosterone-filled speech on the weekend. Anarchist men, please calm down a bit!

For some reason, the two anarchist "internationals" (IFA and Anarkismo) had separate venues to which they retreated to speak about the working class and draft boring statements that were presented at the final meeting. Luckily these venues were far away from the rest of the gathering, which was welcomed by both the two groups and everyone else.

The icerink at the bottom of town, next to a gorgeous stream, hosted the anarchist bookfair, which was huge and amazing. There were thousands of books in many different languages and it could even be that for once, more books were sold than t-shirts. There were also many pamphlets, posters and leaflets given away for free and the bookfair also became an important gathering point for many people, as well as the location at which the best vegan food was provided.

There were also two cinema venues that showed movies (mostly in French) all day long and hosted (mostly punk) concerts in the evening. The concerts, however, were not free, which also upset many people.

As with all such big events, there were a few incidents. There were some rumours about a man being attacked by three other men who wanted to rape him, but he used martial arts against all of them and defeated them. I don't know how true these stories are. There were also some non-anarchists who tried to intervene in the debates, but they were always shut down immediately.

One incident involved a Jamaican guy who got really drunk and became aggressive towards his girlfriend on the campsite. People tried to intervene but for some reason he stepped into a fire and severly burned his legs. The ambulance wanted to take him to hospital but he refused, so they called the cops. However, the anarchists sent the cops away.

On Sunday a few people noticed the church bells in the main square were ringing for a long time. Apparently some guy ran into the church to ring the bells himself. Maybe it was the same guy who shouted "anarchism is shit" at us.
The final meeting was packed and passionate. No final statement was drafted as was originally intended. Michel Nemitz from the Fédération des Montagnes Libertaire and Espace Noir, one of the main organisers of this congress, mentioned that the people of St. Imier were pleasantly surprised by the anarchists, whom they had originally feared would set the city on fire. The city council even asked him to repeat the event on an annual basis. There was another DIY meeting with the name "what if we stay?" but I'm not sure what came of that. There are lots of empty buildings in St. Imier, including the building at which the original meeting 140 years ago was held.

Conclusions: 140 years later the congress was more inclusive. There were no women present back then. There were more delegates. It seems like the anarchist movement has grown in the last few years even though it's nothing like it used to be and it certainly isn't a working class movement anymore. Some of the traditional anarchists seem to romanticise the working class from the outside, almost like anthropologists who study "noble savages". Yet even though we are more modern, and maybe more inclusive, we are still not modern enough to talk about the pending environmental collapse with the urgency needed. The talks for me were disappointing, but the space to meet old and new friends was amazing.


Thank you for the report back. Even more bummed that I did not attend. It annoys me from here thinking that the first thing people saw was a bunch of crust punx, blah.

the report is a bit weak in a number of aspects probably because the writer didn't funny understand the nature of the event which is fair enough
- it was actually organised by IFA and Anarkismo groups in Switzerland & France
- Anarkismo ins't an international, its an international network
- the Zimbabwe meeting took place in the Anarkismo tent - in fact the more boring meetings tended to be the general ones for reasons that are obvious enough
- there is nothing strange about what the writers calls 'syndicalists' (I suspect they mean class struggle anarchists) doing environmental presentations, in Europe such organisation are at the center of environmental struggles
- the social center always has a BBQ in it, it wasn't introduced for the conference - also I'd guess less than 1/5 of those present for the vegan statement clapped it and a few actually booed it
- the punks on the street actually paid for a lot of the expenses of the conference through their beer guzzling
- not sure of why they have highlighted the national (and by implication 'racial' origin of the drunk guy - I heard this discussed 100 times there without anyone feeling the need to throw it into the discussion. This may be a European sensitivity as reactionary media here will be sure to highlight the 'race' of anyone accused of a crime if they are a migrant while progressive media will almost never do so.

so wish I hadn't been taken to switzerland as a child and was instead taken by my parents as an adult... to this. lol. i also wish my mom did more activism then back Bradley Manning and Greenpeace, too, though.

fucking vegan idiots and punks


probably the same people

fucking anarcho-liberals

I can't think of anything more liberal than animal rights vegan punks

as far as i can tell, there is only one true definition of liberal: people you don't agree with

The whole point of post-modernism has been wasted except that women are included, but have a feeling that was from romanticism and not gender destruction. Similarly, the veganism is from a sentimental or gastronomic angle and not from a grounded environmental vision of sustainable diet. Wot I just said sounds moronic, but I just couldn't be bothered going deeper, but someone may see my point.

yeah i hear ya

20 years ago? 1992? I seriously doubt any specifically international anarchist meeting came close to anything like this outside of the first wave. I have read some reports that 5000 people attended. I mean yeah, thousands of people attend anarchist gatherings and events in specific locations every year but this is clearly different.

Interested to know where the 20 years thing came from.

How about the International Anarchist meeting and festival in Barcelona in July 1976? There were probably 10,000 attending this following Franco's death and the initial rebuilding of the CNT again aboveground. (The FAI was still illegal at the time, though.)

I considered that but the absolute vast majority of the people attending were Spanish which is why I glossed it over. I mean, it wasn't even 6 months ago when the Greek Anarchists brought out 5k in central Athens for what was essentially a parade and literature distribution.

I am not really clear on anarchist organizing in the late 60's early 70's in terms of mass assemblies but I assume there wasn't anything as large or comprehensive as this. If I am wrong I would definitely like to know.

That said, I am still totally unclear on what may have happened 20 years ago.

i thought about venice in 1984, it was estimated that there were 3000-5000 people from all around the world.

there exists also a book about that gathering: http://www.waste.org/~roadrunner/ScarletLetterArchives/BlackRose/BR11/In...

anyway, i wonder if this gathering in st.imier has any importance for the future as it was totally ignored by many anarchists all around europe. in november there will be another international anarchist gathering in zürich, switzerland, organised by other people, which will probably be much more interesting...

Thanks, although that article says it most likely topped out at 3000 people with 2k max during the weekend. Either way, never even heard of that conference so thanks for the links.

Haven't heard about the Zurich conference, any info online about it?

i've read the number 3000-5000 from a book by horst stowasser, just copying.

until now there is no call for it on the internet, but check out http://andiewaisendesexistierenden.noblogs.org .
last year there was a similar gathering/bookfair in brussels with people from all around europe. there were like 150-200 people during the main discussion, which may seem small compared to st.imier, but the theoretical contributions were really impressive: http://subversive.noblogs.org/invitation_eng/

Yeah, every year there is the San Francisco @ book fair with thousands of participants in the states. Probably the larger yearly gathering really.

Got any linky for that gathering in Zurich?

Is it at that squat that I never managed to find among that urban wasteland of high capitalism? Was still easy and fun to steal from luxury stores, at least. This is Switzerland.

im sick of kropotkin-esque cultural elites, how many bridges between anarch-ishm and high society do we need? how many spectators create the specticle?

"One incident involved a Jamaican guy who got really drunk and became aggressive towards his girlfriend on the campsite. People tried to intervene but for some reason he stepped into a fire and severly burned his legs. The ambulance wanted to take him to hospital but he refused, so they called the cops. However, the anarchists sent the cops away."

No it wasn't. French student strikes and the Greek uprising of 2008 were. THat was just a super mega Anarchist Bookfair.

"The final meeting was packed and passionate. No final statement was drafted as was originally intended."


"These so-called anarcha-feminists complained about not being given enough space even though they had the entire great hall every day!"

Glad to hear America has had an influence.

"The statement called for a non-mixed anarcha-feminist international gathering in 2014."

What would all these non-mixed anarcha-feminists do with men?

castrate and murder i guess? after all as comrade silver wrote, the anarchist man is not our comrade!

Castrate them. Some people live their lives as nothing more than Freudian cliches.

Typical vegan behavior. Every vegan I've ever met has been deeply authoritarian and self-righteous.

Typical ___ behaviour. Every ___ I've ever met has been etc.

Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck you, mate.

You should get out more.

I should, but then I might meet more asshole vegans.

I liked this report back. It captures the essence of contemporary anarchism: juvenile, petty, modish, liberal, passive-aggressive, riven; in short, in no way a threat to the established order. Come to think of it, I can't think of an anarchist gathering that would need police (I mean to defend windows or newspaper boxes maybe, but...)

I liked the one about the guy who asaulted his girlfriend stepping into a firepit. I went to a Rainbow gathering once.

if we arent working class then what are we??? i make minimum WAGE......


"Some of the traditional anarchists seem to romanticise the working class from the outside"

y u uutside anarchists ?

‘anarchism’ is, in this article, implicitly described as a ‘thing-in-itself’ that is changing over time. ‘things-in-themselves’ only exist in our heads, they do not exist in the physical reality of our experience. if there were a group that called themselves ‘the kingdom of Ralph’, this group could grow larger and their speeches more inflammatory and articulate, while at the same time becoming less relevant and less influential to the dynamics of the common living space. instead of being taken seriously and brewing tensions, the group meetings could be looked upon as a joke or curiosity.

of course, the continuing development of ‘anarchism’ does not have to be measured by the number of people attending anarchist meetings, nor by the eloquence or lack thereof of their speeches. it could instead be measured by the rising anti-authoritarian tensions in society, like the rising amplitude of the ‘singing’ in the pot on the stove as it comes towards the boil.

those who are delivering the fiery speeches at the time the tensions come to the boil are often labelled as the causal fomenters of the turbulence. the opposite of this is the physical reality; the tensions come first. the song sings the singer.

relational tensions aka ‘fields’ are the physical reality [Mach]. the ‘boil’ that erupts in the tensioned flow [e.g. the hurricane, tornado, convection cell] is a case of ‘the song singing the singer’.

why do we look at the ‘boil’ or the ‘fiery speech giver’ as if it/he were a ‘thing-in-itself’ with its/his own raging causal powers to 'stir things up'?

why?... because Western civilization confuses science and its simplistic doer-deed ‘what things-in-themselves do’ mental models for physical reality. the tensions coming from increasing public rejection of authoritarianism/sovereigntism and coming from increasing pressure for a return of free-associating only ‘find a voice or spokesperson' after the fact of the rising of tensions.

the song that sings the singers can create strange breeds of singers, but these singers are not the song. this view that the singer sings the song into being is an upside-down view that is nevertheless popular; e.g;

“It [the article] captures the essence of contemporary anarchism: juvenile, petty, modish, liberal, passive-aggressive, riven; in short, in no way a threat to the established order.”

the alternative view where the song sings the singer is also implicit in the comments on this article.

“im sick of kropotkin-esque cultural elites, how many bridges between anarch-ishm and high society do we need? how many spectators create the specticle?”

should we NOT compare ourselves and our ‘movements’ to sailboaters in a tempest that derive our form, power and steerage from the habitat dynamics we are included in? why should we compare ourselves and our ‘movements’ to powerboaters that derive our form, power and steerage from our inboard equipment and processes, as in the ‘thing-in-itself’ mental model?

the former ‘sailboater’ analogue wherein ‘the song sings the singer’ appears to be more in accord with our life experience, of being uniquely, inextricably, situationally included in the continually unfolding relational world dynamic. we can’t escape our inclusion in a continuously unfolding relational world dynamic, nor being uniquely, situationally included in it. therefore, ‘the song sings us.

but the latter ‘powerboater’ analogue where ‘the singer sings the song’ is the default preference in Western civilization, because we actually believe in ‘things-in-themselves’, absolute local, material ‘beings’ with ‘independent existence’ and we believe, as reductive, doer-deed science says, that the world dynamic is rendered in terms of ‘what things-in-themselves do’. that is why, when we want to know ‘how anarchism is doing’, we focus on the ‘singers’ instead of the ‘song that sings the singers’. that is why we wait for the anarchist messiah or messianic group, who, through his/their brilliant articulate voice, will arouse the masses and induce them to shuck off their authoritarian/sovereigntist trappings and be born again as freely, relating/associating people who no longer need to be orchestrated by central authority.

we’ve got it all backwards. a messiah can only sing the song that is in us, otherwise we would pay him no attention.

to scrutinize a group of self-declared anarchists in regard to our assessment of their power/ability to sing a song that will rouse the masses, is a total ‘red herring’. the bakunins and the kropotkins are simply ‘chirping’ about what they feel are relational tensions in our society, the song that is singing singers such as themselves.

that being said, when the singers that the song is singing capture the song sufficiently well, there is a ‘feedback’ effect that ‘spikes’ the amplitude of the signal, as when what goes into the microphone is precisely that which is coming from the speakers.

^^Hendrix fan^^

yes, we all have that wild/natural artistry in us, but we are too busy taking direction from central authorities, including the one that inhabits the brain and instead of assisting us in letting the song of nature that we are each uniquely situationally included in, sing us, ... we let it inject its own analytical hogwash [most of which comes from indoctinated belief systems] to centrally drive and direct our behaviour and development.


First comment is that yes, the event in 1984 was of a similar size or even bigger. Many smaller regional (or "national") gatherings happened in between, some reaching a couple of thousand, but not the same international scale. In the last decade, rather there were large gatherings of anarchists at some other events, like anti-summits or protests, not anarchist specific events.

It is amazing for me that anybody saw the event as having too many "anarchosyndicalists". I suppose Americans are not used to those creatures and might have problems even identifying them. There were only a couple of events related to that and most events seemed to be dominated by synthetic anarchists in my opinion.

Personally I am glad that the organized elements of the movement had their venues and tried to work, despite the hoards of petit-bourgeois rejects looking for subsitute issues to get worked up about. I personally was really glad that there weren't a bunch of workshops on anti-civ or vegan cooking or whatever. I would have been glad if all the pretentious academic and artistic shit was absent, but apparently that's how people like to spend their time.

As for the idiotic comment about romanticizing the working class from outside, I understand that the "movement" as it were also contains declasse elements of bourgeois brats, even ones who later reject work and live off the excess of their fat rich imperialist compatriots, but you are simply outnumbered by the rest of us who come from the working class and are in the working class. This is a good thing: at least we are living in the same world as the rest of the people and not in some anti-civ make believe place.

No greetings.

Spot. On.

yawn.......yet another Leftist Anarchist using idiotic Marxist dismissals (like petit-bourgeois) against other Anarchists who think differently than they do....

Right! And what's an 'anti-civ make believe place'? Sounds racist and denigrating.

Laughing rather than yawning over here. Certainly am not a leftist, with no support of any left parties, politic groups and certainly no support of reform of the state. But it is the petit-bourgeois who don't understand that the majority of people in the world don't live out of dumpsters and have other worries in the world besides sausages on the barbecue and so on. As a matter of fact, probably a lot of people in the world who are hungry would not see that action as very funny.

Anyway, don't worry about the lack of anti-civ workshops, you can always promote that ideology here over the internet.

The 1998 Anarcho-Syndicalist Review Editorial Board called, they want their arguments in bad faith back.

"bad faith" would imply that they aren't right on the mark though.

and they are.

-"Petit-Bourgeois" implies shopkeepers or other proprietors of small businesses. You could have said they exhibited "bourgeois sensibilities," or that their actions were "bourgeois in nature." It would have likely been no more accurate, but at least it would have made sense. Unless, of course, all vegans are well-to-do small business owners. In which case there are evidently several dozen million vegan proletarians in India who don't actually exist. Drink beer and eat meat like the mysterious "everyday worker," or risk non-existence in the "class-struggle anarchist" fantasy world. I drink beer, and eat meat, and work in a factory, but I don't claim that this makes my life the template for some farcical John Everyman.

-"If you hate technology, why are you using the internet?" Oh, ok. If you hate capitalism, why do you have a job? Is that you, Graham Purchase?

I know all this shit, because I used to spout it myself. All the easy answers for "class-struggle anarchism." Circle the wagons, 'cuz there's a horde of monstrous primmies, post-leftists, and insurrecto-fascists swarming your way, slavering and jabbering about "liberating their desires" and "killing king abacus," spurned onward by the martial swagger of their hideous emperor, Bob Black. And the only thing that can stop them is trying to blend in with the proles, the "normal people," the Chernyi Narod, or whatever cliche is in with populist circles these days. Of course, they really want the same things you want, but alas, they are blinded by their ignorance, and only a proper Christ figure in a newsboy cap can liberate them from their shackles!

Quiver, ye mighty! The ever-lovin' General Strike is on its way, provided everyone sends their dues to the relevant office and finds their right and proper place on Father Haggerty's Hamster Wheel.

heheheh, good rant! But every "marxist dismissal" has a kernel of truth.

Occupy was a case-study in this. For every 10 kids that had never been in the streets before, there was 2 or 3 "single-issue activists" who'd never tried to relate to a broader struggle before and they were just as amazed when their revolution didn't magically happen in a month or two of polite, peaceful dissent.

The petit-bourgeois (of course) includes the children of the small business owners who inherited many of the tendencies, even as they're being ejected out of the bottom of the shrinking middle class in record numbers and "discovering" anarchism and radicalism in general. Maybe what started as a hobby to combat suburban alienation is becoming increasingly relevant to the future?

Not to say every vegan bike-riding hipster artist lifestyle type fits the profile exactly ... but profiles only have to be right the majority of the time to be accurate.

If anarchists make up approx 1% of the population, that must mean there are 3 million anarchists in China. WOW!!! Maybe the revolution will start there, awesome!!

I think you mean more like 10 million in China and 3 million in USA. of course the distribution from country to country is sure to be quite varied. Your comment does seem to be intended as sarcasm though as revolutions don't necessarily work based on such figures alone and 1% might even be a high estimate.

It's pretty funny that so many negative responses to the report presume the author is American.

This is pretty funny as well

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE- Anarchist Federation (UK)

Anarchists Detained by Counter-Terrorist Police on Return from Swiss Conference

For the past week, thousands of anarchists from across the world have been converging in St.Imier, Switzerland to celebrate the 140th anniversary of the founding of the Anarchist international. The gathering took the form of a festival and educational, with music, films and entertainment as well as workshops and discussions.

On returning from the St Imier gathering, two anarchists, one a member of the UK Anarchist Federation, were detained for nearly two hours at Heathrow by SO15 (counter-terrorist) intelligence who initially refused to identify themselves to the detainees. During the detention, the anarchists were told that their normal rights did not apply, and had their names, addresses, email addresses, DNA, photographs and fingerprints taken. The detained anarchists were also forced to sign forms – which may or may not be legal – waiving their rights to silence and a solicitor. Police also conducted a thorough search of personal possessions, photocopied literature and passports and took information from phones and cameras.

During the detention, the police constantly accused the anarchists of lying about involvement in criminal activity and alleged that they would be conducting follow-up police action against one of the detained anarchists. In addition to this, SO15 officers asked a number of inflammatory, irrelevant and offensive questions, including ‘what would you do if someone raped your mother?’ evidently in an attempt to cause emotional upset and illicit angry or violent responses. One member (28) who did not want to be named for fear of reprisals from the police, said “We were treated like criminals. I told them I went to the congress as I am an amateur journalist and I write articles about activism. They saw my note book, camera and Dictaphone but they said I was lying.” One officer said ‘You said you are an anarchist, I’ve seen anarchists on the news, they are violent, throw molotov cocktails and disrupt people’s lives not write articles”.
The counter terrorist officers either didn’t know or chose to ignore that, during the first day of the gathering, the International of Anarchist Federations (Of which the UK Anarchist Federation is a member) had issued a statement rejecting all terrorist tactics as a means of achieving an anarchist society.

In contrast to the actions of the UK security forces, the local press and residents in St.Imier reported very positively on the anarchist gathering.
With this incident, we are seeing a further slide towards political policing and the criminalisation of political ideologies. The two detained anarchists have not had any involvement in any illegal or violent activity, or any activity that would concern the counter-terrorist police. As in the past, when Metropolitan police called on people to give information about local anarchists, anarchists suffered harassment for their political viewpoint.

As class-struggle anarchists, we believe that the state does little except serve the interests of the rich and powerful at the expense of ordinary people. This is seen clearly when people who hold views critical of the state are treated as criminals and terrorists. We seek to create a classless society, based on freedom, equality and co-operation. We believe in the capacity of ordinary people to run society themselves, without the interference of bosses or politicians. This incident was not in response to any crime and constitutes repression and criminalisation of a political ideology.

Editors Notes:
Anarchism is a political philosophy that seeks to build an egalitarian society in which mutual aid, co-operation and direct democracy replace capitalism and the state.
The St Imier Congress was a gathering of anarchists from all over the world to celebrate the 140th anniversary of the first international anarchist gathering in the Swiss town of St Imier in 1872.
The Anarchist Federation is a federation of class struggle anarchist-communists in the UK who seek to build an egalitarian society.

Anarchist Federation


"During the detention, the anarchists were told that their normal rights did not apply, and had their names, addresses, email addresses, DNA, photographs and fingerprints taken. The detained anarchists were also forced to sign forms – which may or may not be legal – waiving their rights to silence and a solicitor." Why would anarchists cooperate with the state? Were they threatened or tortured? Last time we heard about these Afed blokes they were condemning certain tactics/incidents.
*Don't do anything illegal! Don't smoke cannabis! Don't take LSD! Don't fight back! Anarchy will be granted to you when your benevolent masters see fit or are persuaded by your essays and street protests!*

they seem to lack basic knowledge of European anarchism hence the assumption

Were any Swiss newspaper boxes tossed into the street?


Have to say, me and my friend are sitting here giggling at the absurdity of the writing here:

"There were some rumours about a man being attacked by three other men who wanted to rape him, but he used martial arts against all of them and defeated them. I don't know how true these stories are...People tried to intervene but for some reason he stepped into a fire and severly burned his legs."

This is comedy gold. Please, serious anarchist writing.

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