local counter-info projects?

i moved to a mid-sized american city a few years ago for school. a bunch of (campus-y) leftists but not really any anarchists. i was brainstorming the other day with one of the tiny handful of people i know that "would be down to do stuff" and one of the ideas that came up was something like Modesto Anarcho or Plain Words, a zine giving a radical spin on local affairs. i would really like to hear from anyone who has experience with something like this that they think might be useful to share.

go big. open another Red Emmas or Wood Shoe

You gotta ask yourself, in consideration to the social setting where you are... is a zine really a good idea of a media to reach out to people? Are people likely to even read it beyond the images/artwork?

Perhaps there's other ways to relate to people... maybe something more live and direct, that involves having an actual presence?

I've always found that part of the downside of zines is to not be able to address subjects expressed in these.... like zero comment section. Back in pre-internet days, journals and zines used to have a mail-in comment section. But beyond that, there's gotta be a possibility, even if once in a while, to meet and chat, or perform rituals. That's how cults work... they don't just publish shit around. They reach out to people in a way people can reach back to them.

Then you ask for full submission and money/children on their part. ;-)

yes, i remember the pre-internet days..! we'd have an email address for people to write in. i know all the kids are on social media all the time these days, but we don't really want to play into that. also thinking of the principle that "intelligence is a force multiplier"; it's a pretty miserable town in a lot of ways and the small activist scene is dominated by tankies, progressives and random wingnuts - the typical lefty shit salad. and a lot of people aren't even aware of current events that we would want to underline, like violence and corruption in the police department, ongoing gentrification, and ecological destruction caused by development - much less thinking about how they tie in together and what we could do about it.

as far as activities that involve showing our faces and talking to people we have talked about doing some kind of food not bombs type thing. it can be really tough to keep something like that going though and i don't know if it is the best use of our time and abilities to act as volunteer social workers. i like the idea about rituals though...


It's obsolete in the internet digital information age. If you are going to do something do something in regards to skill sharing, rewilding or aesthetic endeavors. Be apolitical in orientation.

Theres something to having a physical space as far as keeping people engaged, cultivating community, and creating actual discussion among anarchists even if you can spread information faster using internet based methods.

The cities that have infoshops, bookstores, cafes are all better off than they would be without it.

The other concern that is very obvious yet rarely discussed about infoshops is how, in a context of bad security culture and dubious radicality they can totally serve as honeypots, for the State agencies or for hostile groups like Maoists or even crypto-fascists.

And here comes the question of what honeypots really are, what purpose they really serve, how they work. Aragorn in his latest convo with SUDS appeared to have this odd, naive conception of a honeypot... that they're apparently made to attract anarcho bombermen and other hardcore insurrectos, for the FBI to catch them on-the-spot. I don't believe that's what honeypots are used for, unless maybe in punctual situations like a counter-summit. Honeypots are used as HUMINTEL versions of Facebook... to know who's who in the milieu, who knows who, who's into what, etc. They can be useful tools to map the anarchist networks and more or less PASSIVELY collect data.

Like do you conduct regular bug-detection searches in your space, that are open to the public? All that got local anarchos stiff about countering, afaik, were bed bugs... I'm here referring to well-hidden electronic bugs listening/filming that's happening there. Do also have countermeasures against cell phone tapping? They exist and they're somewhat cheap, you know?

If you got an infoshop that's under surveillance, and has potential long-term undercovers being involved, then this means that anyone who shows up can be recorded as being at least "anarcho-curious", which, while not meaning much, can open to a vast range of speculative potentials. Is this person just anarcho-curious for a moment, because they came across some flyer or zine and would like to know a bit more about this or that aspect. or are they more seriously committed to one form or another of insurgency? Are they just loners, destitutes, or rather richly-connected persons who travel across underground networks of terrorists and saboteurs?

Spaces like these are also compromising when it comes to covertly-radical State employees -like military men especially- who're likely to get in trouble if they are found, through coming across their perfect opposites, namely snitches and/or electronic surveillance, to be hanging out in anarchist social centers.

I can't believe nobody's been thinking too much about these problems.

Im heavily involved in one of the spaces youre describing. We think about it. Treat the space like you know its compromised because it probably is. And if that means you don't want to be seen there, then don't. Is it giving the state too much for what we get in return? Im not really sure.

I respect those who're not pretending these are "safer spaces" and it can also be a measure of trustworthiness for a group to be promoting their center as not safe against surveillance. On the other other hand it IS possible to make a space safer even if "safe" doesn't exist. Kinda like Tor.

if i'm going to do a counterinfo project, i usually treat it more like a way of encouraging friends or acquaintances to write more. I want to know what my local scene thinks about what's happening in the city, and a "public" medium like a zine/newspaper/counterinfo site might encourage folks to sit down & think about more than a convo at the bar would. *(if a couple dozen people skimming a zine or blog post counts as public)

The infoshop is definitely not obsolete, so long as it's treated like a place to encounter radicals outside of your echo chamber as opposed to a propaganda outfit or an activist organizing hub. In my town, the infoshop is a drop-off point for extra dumpster food, the weekly neighborhood squatter skill/tool share, a place to grab one of the 2 rival local anarchist papers and see what non-internet beef looks like, etc etc

But there's also no sense in replicating shit's that's already being done. We don't need an A-News forum for every city, Indymedia died for a reason.

The whole social networking to organize activism is just political clutter going nowhere except down the Idpol Sarlacc maw. Before internet, natural voluntary gatherings were smaller and more personal and local, not global or national clubs of facebook clones. Before the net, just a phone call or a chance crossing of paths in the street or down the mall preserves the charm and surprise of the spontaneity that life should steer towards, mass totalitarian internet-works destroy the possibility of impromptu creative events happening.

You don’t think randomly stumbling on to some kid’s counterinfo project on the internet offers similar potential? I remember being scared shitless when I found 325.nostate when I was like 16 and skimming thru about a bunch of (easily reproducible) actions all signed “me myself and I” or some shit like that - ideas like that don’t really hit the suburbs without people wilding out just so someone will read their shitty prose in the form of a communique

Indymedia died for several reasons. And one of these ias that it was based on the asumption of Left unity, inclusive of a leftist vision of anarchism.

Lots of value in finding what there is to say that's specific to where you are. Physical newspapers privilege the spaces where people physically go, which is a good thing, it just takes a lot of hustle. But any publishing project, it's hard to reach people. Because it's not that anarchist ideas aren't available if people want them, it's that they don't seem relevant or we don't have much to offer.

I'm involved (or have been involved) with quite a few counter-info projects on my area and the most effective ones have always been when we pick something specific and figure out what we have to say on it as anarchists. Then you need to go beyond the space given over to dissent. Journals that run insulting hit pieces on the powerful, postering that is persistent and offensive, websites that publish communiques of illegal actions in addition to essays and analysis... Because as anarchists, we oppose free speech because it separates ideas from their consequences, words from actions. A well-aimed counter-info project can open up a surprising amount of space for other forms of activity and can also situate anarchists as not just another vendor in the marketplace of ideas, but something that engages in a fundamentally different way from the democratic forms about which there is so much apathy

I've gone kinda apprehensive towards f2f counter-info projects, especially social centers, for the obvious honeypots they can be. Maybe in some derelict town the Midwest that wouldn't be, but in big super-policed cities these centers reek the smell of net snitching. And of course there's always this influx of gullible Black & Reds who'll take everything at surface level, gonna get laid with ISO/DSA/RCP tools and think the only cops there can ever be are either in uniform, or to physically-fit, casually-dressed males above 30 years old, while the latter may just be celibate dudes who wanna get laid in a funnel-shaped society where mostly everyone's into families at their age.

So yeah I guess that print recurrent zines put at the right places and which might include some gnarly subversive shit like porn or ultra-violence could be appealing... no wait that was the '80s. What can be appealing to millenials in print form, or should we move instead to the world of video games and electro music?

what about online info projects? the question seems to be about what a small group of people who don't have much to work with can do to contribute "momentum" in a locale without much in the way of an existing or organized scene (which can be both a curse and a blessing). that seems, at minimum, like a relatively easy place to start. as far as more outside-the-box alternatives, it depends on who you are and what sort of connections, skills and resources you all have already...


I have attempted to start a forum topic concerning such support networks and the like to no avail. I seem unable to do so. This is a link to the anarchy101.com question that I posted very recently. Please do not delete. My child has been taken by the USA state. I am vulnerable, without family or many financial resources. My support network is largely out of the municipal region.

Start doing stand-up

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