FRR Audio: The Broken Teapot

  • Posted on: 14 December 2017
  • By: Anonymous (not verified)

We present to you a reading of The Broken Teapot, 2nd Edition, put out by Sprout Distro.

[ Link to audio ]

From the Sprout Distro site:

The Broken Teapot (2nd Edition) is a collection of five essays that explore the limitations of current anarchist models of “accountability” in situations of rape and abuse. The zine raises a number of important questions regarding the “accountability processes” that have been developed over the past ten or so years to deal with these issues within the anarchist space. It’s an important piece to consider when thinking about how “broken” we all are.

I read this zine about a year ago, and at that point the only interaction that I had with accountability processes was as a third party observer in an activist group. A few times, someone would be declared a criminal for committing the crime of sexual misconduct, or perhaps they were declared a (too overtly) racist/sexist, and then sides would form, loud online discussions would take place, and eventually the 'abuser' and some of their side would be banished. This happened a few times, but it was people who I didn't particularly care about so I wasn't invested.

A few months after reading this zine, it happened in the punk house I used to live in. I still knew most of the people living there, so I was definitely invested. I could see the patterns pointed out by this zine as they were happening. Maybe it was because these people were my friends, or maybe it was because I had the framing of this zine, but this time around I had much more sympathy for team 'abuser', and how this would turn their lives upside down. The story ends a few months later with no one I know left at the punk house.

This zine has been out since 2012. It has good ideas about accountability processes. It'd be nice to say it's changed the way "we" deal with trauma, but it looks like the same mistakes are being made over and over. Enjoy the zine and have a good cry about how bad we are at conflict.

By Dirtroll.


  • 0:00 Introduction - Anonymous
  • 11:20 Safety is and Illusion: Reflections on Accountability - Anguistia Celeste
  • 26:25 Love You Too Much - Alex Gorrion
  • 46:28 Questioning Rape - Anonymous
  • 1:22:35 Half a dozen lessons I might never learn, not until those troubles come around - Anonymous

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Thanks for doing this! I'm skeptical that people who find themselves on the virtuous side will be able to take criticism and change their attitudes and behavior, but maybe it can help console their victims.

I think criticism can reach "the virtuous side," if only consequentially, pragmatically(?). Like, when a friend group or a crew suffers from unfortunate conflict engagement, one might hope to not replicate that behavior again, self-righteous feelings or no.

I remember when I was really jealous of friend groups or anarchist scenes that had any sort of accountability process, because I'd only been familiar with scenes (more punk than anarchist) that didn't give any shit at all. Women were kicked out of housing for talking shit on men, domestic abuse was "no one's fucking business," and I knew of a women who'd barely whispered of her rape get banned from the house for "smearing" the other party.

But then I saw the strict, formalized accountability process because my friend was going through it. "Sharks smelling blood" came to mind.

I don't have any answers.

The answer is don't be a blood-thirsty shark while conducting accountability processes and don't allow others to exploit these methods for their own petty power games. This shit isn't supposed to be pretty but it can be done correctly.

I am highly skeptical that they can be done "correctly," or that being done "correctly" resembles anything I would want. The ones I have seen and heard about make the criminal justice system look almost sane.

That's up to you but anything involving a bit of applied logic can be done wrong. I've been involved in plenty of failed accountability processes and a few that were done right, it's just another skillset. Think of it as something essential like food production. Any community will need some form of this skill, so anarchists, by definition, either cede this realm to the state or learn to do it themselves. It's a demystification thing, not as if the cops are rocket scientists, they just collect information and then take action based on it. Serious people can apply antiauthoritarian analysis to accountability and take appropriate action.

I don't think that anarchic or elective anarchist communities or groups should be in the business of any kind of formal virtue behavioral imperative. Having seen this accountability process become weaponized in the greater digital world with reputation killing effects(which will INEVITABLY include those innocent or not so guilty) I can conclude that this is one of those BAD anarchist leftist activist pre/configurations that has been recuperated for this emerging age of soft power.

Usually things ceded to the state are things that are more tailored to it.

This is a great statement: "Usually things ceded to the state are things that are more tailored to it."

The point is that the state doesn't get to have its monopoly on force, therefore, you'll need to know how to deal with conflict yourself and that's obviously not just about physical fighting, right? Investigation, accountability and enforcement are part of that too.

In the immortal words of Spook Rat, "I don't believe you."
you can do accountability processes correctly? I don't believe you.
you've been involved in accountability processes done right? I don't believe you.

Yo, you're lying, he's lying and she's lying
My man over there he's lying, you know what?
You're building up a bunch of lies, straight lies

*facepalm* Look, forget that lexicon because apparently it's triggering you or whatever. Call it whatever the fuck you want. Do you want to live in any sort of group where people can do extremely transgressive, shitty things to you and your friends and loved ones without consequences? … No?

Then you need an alternative. So what would it look like? I know what I would do.
Are you just being contrarian right now or do you have an alternative?

My experience has been that people in my scene have done possibly rude things or had bad communication and then 'accountability processes' were set up to do actually extremely transgressive, shitty things to these 'perpetrators.' My problem is more what is being interpreted as crime and then the scapegoating of these criminals. Maybe you're great at this and you would call someone out for badjacketing and you only participate in these processes when there has been actual harm done, and I'm just being some asshole on the internet.

Many of the essays in this zine really resonated with me. If you hadn't read it yet, you really should it has some excellent points.

Probably too late with the reply but yeah, badjacketing would be one of the thousands of ways things could be done wrong or with malice. Everybody involved in the process has to be accountable too. Like I say, these are skills and you don't blame the skill itself for human error or malicious misuse.

If someone is able to sail in, smear somebody and whip up a mob frenzy based on false allegations with no proof, you have a whole separate set of problems and of course, this is very transgressive behaviour too! That's a very dangerous, toxic person.

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