TOTW: Gatherings

A whole lot of years ago I went to the North American Anarchist Gathering in Lawrence, Kansas. While I had been to anarchist assemblies and teach-ins locally, this was the first large and non-regional, but explicitly anarchist event I ever went to. Being from the west coast, it was interesting to encounter anarchists from other parts of the country (this was 2002, before the internet is what it is today). It wasn’t for a demonstration against something, it wasn’t a book fair, it wasn’t a conference, it was just some intrepid young anarchists in Lawrence Fucking Kansas deciding to do a thing to bring anarchists together. For a camping trip, of sorts.

Not that there was nothing programmed into the event; it was remarkably well organized. There were workshops and discussions, a queer dance party, a short film festival, skinny dipping, communal meals and clean up, as well as autonomously organized security to deal with the cops, the threat of local nazi skinheads, etc.

While the camp did evict some individuals, who were threatening other participants, the event went relatively smoothly. If I was to be critical, it would be that there was way too much red and not enough green, but that was the nature of the region and organizers at that time.

Since the Lawrence North American Anarchist Gathering, there have been other gatherings like Feral Futures, the Crimethinc. Convergences which ended with the Smack a White Boy debacle and so on, but most of them seemed to focus on bringing together a narrower sliver of the anarchist scene.

I’ve been thinking lately of the degree of disconnection that I often experience in relation to the spheres of anarchist activity I am involved in, and thinking about how different it felt when most things were not based on the internet, but on face-to-face interactions, correspondence by snail-mail, phone calls, and so forth. I wonder what a North American Anarchist Gathering in 2019 would look like.

I think about camping trips I’ve been on with friends and some people I didn’t know so well, I think about sitting at a picnic table over food and sharing laughs and discussion and barbs. These are moments I feel truly engaged, as opposed to internet things and showing up for events as a depersonalized part of some mass. I also wonder if it is even possible to or desirable to aim for some sort of larger thing than the campfire, the picnic table; in a time where Big Anarchist Events are the marketplace of book fairs, would anarchists even care to get together unmediated by economic transaction?

This topic of the week is a bit open ended. I am wondering what others think that might look like, as well as whether it is even something viable or worthwhile, not really because I am interested in organizing one (I am definitely not), but more because I am curious what others think. What might be the benefits? what might be the dangers and challenges? What would be your vision of an anarchist gathering?

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i helped out quite a bit with the kitchen for the feral visions gathering in southern oregon back in 2003 (i think it was). that was a really fun and informative experience, despite the few stressful scenarios that came up during the gathering.

there were, at peak, maybe 100-125 people camped out all around the national forest we were in. it was a spectacular location, and there were many really interesting folks there.

it was the first time i saw the BASTARD folks do their shadow puppet performance, mocking (mostly hilariously) numerous well-known - to us anyway - anarchist personalities, especially jz. i sat near him, and though he did laugh several times, i remember him bitching about it later.

there were some really good workshops (most of which i missed, unfortunately), and the highlight of the whole thing - for some of us - was going to be a face-to-face debate between jz and wolfi. primitivist vs non-primitivist anti-civ perspectives, personified. there were at least 25-30 people sitting in a circle, chomping at the bit for some meaty dialog. it was so pathetic and uninteresting that after some short period of time, wolfi got up and said "this is pointless, i'm going for a swim", and he headed to the lake. i don't recall exactly what was even said prior to that, but knowing both of them personally, i suspect that jz was incapable of actually engaging with the critique being expressed. jz may be a cunninglinguist, but wolfi is a masterdebator. ;-)

the other thing i remember is the whole security culture impact on that scene. there was some serious paranoia, and given that the green scare was just getting ready to kick into high gear, it was understandable. though i personally would have probably wratcheted down the paranoia just a touch. we did get two visits from cops, but nothing came of it.

what i took from that experience, regarding gatherings, is the double edged sword of having an open gathering like that. on one hand, you get to meet folks you would not otherwise have met. on the other hand, you get to camp/eat/talk/hang with folks you do not know and have no reason to trust. one person was escorted out of that gathering, having repeatedly acted like a cop, taking notes at discussions, etc. fuck that shit, i'd rather have a camp-out with folks i know (and folks they know). smaller than an open gathering, but MUCH more fun and less stressful.

maybe i am just showing my age.

bottom line: anything that gets folks (esp urban folks) out into the wild has great potential, imo.

[same anon] and btw, i never heard a single utterance of the phrase "safe space".

"bottom line: anything that gets folks (esp urban folks) out into the wild has great potential, imo."

It makes me wonder how long A! has been making love with the fishes

"Taking notes during discussion, etc"

Also seen this used as grounds to eject someone for being an "infiltrator" and it seems extremely flimsy to me. Hopefully that etc covered a lot of other sketchy behaviour too.

[original feral visions anon here]

not flimsy at all imo. it was asked explicitly of everyone participating in discussions: please no note taking, picture taking, audio recording, etc. then, after seeing him taking notes anyway, he was asked again directly and personally, more than once.

if after all that, someone continues to disregard the desires of everyone else, escorting them out is absolutely appropriate to me. believe me, there were plenty of folks that would have liked to do much more than escort him away. cooler heads prevailed.

just to highlight the level of security culture paranoia that was so prevalent:

wolfi was awakened from sleep one night with a flashlight in his face, asking him if he was a cop.

Ok, so the note taker thing sounds legit but that level of paranoia also sounds very toxic too.

"Social libidinal investments are distinguished according to two poles: a paranoiac, reactionary, fascisizing pole and a schizoid revolutionary pole." Anti-Oedipus

wow, thanks! now it’s all clear! d&g’s straightforward writing always clears things up! lifehack! /s

Summed up by people with mortgages vs football hooligans ;)

i agree, the level of paranoia was a bit overblown, imo. but hey, everyone has had different experiences, and different reasons for their level of paranoia.

just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they ain't watching.

Author of the totw here: I'd be willing to bet that defacto safe spaces were created as needs arose, as opposed to the proscriptive way they are deployed now. That is part of what I wonder about. Would a gathering even work out? Are anarchists so fractured on sectarian lines that it would be a big stinking litter box? I'm not sure. I'd like such a thing to be possible.

Much as I love the BASTARD Conference, it generally pulls a certain crowd. I am in that crowd, but I enjoy engaging with folks not in that crowd sometimes.

there were multiple invitations to "others" to come and speak or give workshops, etc.
but the tendencies don't play well together. (i mean, people don't trust each other, among other things)

signed, bastard anon #398
(also, jz didn't say a fucking word at the conversation with wolfi, until wolfi left, and then jz tried to make some stupid joke... proving wolfi right not to stay, anyway)

(OP) I know that BASTARD didn't intend to be insular, and I don't think it is a fault of the anonymous organizers. I think it is what comes over time when a recurring event attracts certain people. Whatever, I love BASTARD, it is the highlight of every year I can make it to the event.

same as 14:05 - also, that Wolfi/JZ stroy is apocryphal. I've heard it that they were debating on the bank of a lake and Wolfi just got up, stripped, and swam away, We need more stories of this sort.

"I've heard it that they were debating on the bank of a lake and Wolfi just got up, stripped, and swam away,"

nah, the lake wasn't even visible from the circle. and calling it a debate would be beyond a stretch.

there wasn’t even a lake. it was a kiddy pool, and wolfi was already naked, which made jz uncomfortable the whole time.

it was a mosh pit, and jz was actually carrying wolfi around above his head like a pro wrestler, looking for where to throw him. ended up throwing him in the camp fire.

Which goes to show, mosh pits are the best gathering genre available for wild abandonment and spontaneous rupture ♡

BEWARE ! Gatherings are basically Maoist organized events! Anything which is not the spontaneous impromptu convergence of individual desires pursuing organic needs is a political construct and an ideological indoctrination event.

" jz didn't say a fucking word at the conversation with wolfi, until wolfi left"

that may well be accurate, i really don't recall. whatever the details, john was a huge disappointment to me in that situation. it was only after that event that i saw how poorly he responds to critical discussion, let alone as a public speaker in general. at least he's consistent.

"I'd be willing to bet that defacto safe spaces were created as needs arose"

of course there would be, that is how autonomous individuals do shit. i am not aware of any such needs arising, other than the couple cop visits (one was well before most folks where there anyway), where everyone just scattered and either hid or was camped out in the forest "doing their own thing".

aside from one of the older folks helping in the kitchen (an obsessive clean freak trying to impose his rules of cleanliness) i saw very little in the way of authoritarian behavior. unlike almost every @ bookfair or conference i have ever been to.

i'd love to find some way to meet other people who desire anarchy....even just a few people would be great..

not on the moon perhaps, but it feels like they may as well be....outside of the internet, i've only met two people in my life that consider themselves anarchist or desiring anarchy....

That's pretty normal. Certain parts of the world have famously larger concentrations of @s but even then, we are very, very few.

Took me many years to meet a few dozen and I had to seek them out and disliked more than half once I did meet them haha

do you still seek @'s out after those experiences? did meeting other people increase your anarchic relations, or move you to create more moments/situations of anarchy?

Well, one has to admit that the psycho-revolutionary mindset, with its impulsivity and sensation-seeking desires, is not even at least content with its fate, and recent data points to the natural diversity of dopamine levels which single out the exhiibtionist as one who has high levels and is motivated in rupturing collective equilibrium.
Usually they die out or conform to the status quo because of an intrinsic inability to think before leaping.

No, one doesn't have to "admit" to your transparent, hostile misrepresentation. Also, this reads like Le Fool's writing.

living on space junk at the moment who may be interested in converging on the moon if they can nail down the logistical challenges.

yo, i wanna meet u 2. but internet is not the way to do it, so i guess we’re fucked. also anons don’t exist irl. so wear a name tag that says ur @ on the street so potential friendlies may stop and frisk and sniff butts. i dunno

I wish all gatherings were mosh pits of wild abandonment with the heavy beating thrash of drums and guitars drowning out the spokesperson.


I came in after 9/11, and it seemed to young me like an interesting time for a post-anti-globalist anarchism. I remember there being a healthy mix of tendencies at the North American Anarchist Convergence in Athens, OH. Class war types, Bookchinites, primitivists, and post-leftists were all in attendance. Some French ultra leftists even showed up, possibly just to argue with Lawrence Jarach (j/k, sort of).

Later in the decade gatherings, convergences, rendezvous, etc., of varying degrees of size and consistency became more common. Was it inevitable that enthusiasm for them would dim? Even the non-anarchist National Conference on Organized Resistance, as well as similar regional affairs, are long gone, at least in my neck of the woods. I used to know anarchists in nearby states just by their faces. This is not the experience of baby anarchists today.

The bookfair model seems to me like a poor replacement. Gatherings can be large or small, urban or rural, sober or drunken, transaction-friendly or strictly anti-market. A bookfair is static where a gathering is very adaptable across different locations, tendencies, and populations.

I don't know if the larger sort of non-partisan anarchist congress would be possible today, though. It would either be a very small affair for oldsters or a total social media shit show. I would love to be proven wrong, though!

@17:52, from the author of the TOTW:
Yes, book fairs have their place and have served their role, but are basically dead. I say this as a former book fair organizer. I don't think they should be jettisoned per se, but they need to take a back seat to some other sorts face-to-faces. I like conferences, but they feel too focused on talking about ideas. I like (nostalgia) the gathering model, but it feels like it might be a model that is as old (older) than me, and not so timely. What are some other ways we can come together that are not masks and smashy, or punk shows (again, showing my age), or book fairs?

I like the idea of the camping trip and sitting around the fire, but I also appreciate the opportunities to connect beyond who realistically comes to such an event (both b/c the invite list and the geographic bit). I am seriously curious what other anarchist gatherings might look like.

Wolfi, yes! Yes!

Sorry to break it to you, interesting anarchist gatherings happen all over north america every year. You just aren't invited.

ur such a big meanie for rubbing it in their faces! not cool, : (

Which gets to the point. Are the only beneficial anarchist gatherings in this day and age ones with a closed invite list? Is there a point to more open possibilities to encounter/share space with each other?

The question here is really comparative. Why were gatherings relatively successful in the 1960s-90s, and why are they less successful today? One can also add here: why are there other times and places, where gatherings do not/did not happen?

I think we can all answer very easily why there were not/are not anarchist gatherings in Stalinist Russia or ancient Rome or contemporary China or Somalia, and why there weren't specifically anarchist events in stateless societies or among slaves in the deep south. There's clear political, cultural, economic, technological, geographical issues – gatherings don't happen if there's no anarchist movement or if anarchism is indistinguishable from life in general, if above-ground activity is immediately repressed, if people are working too long or can't travel outside limited areas or don't have spaces where they can gather. These are probably keys to today's decline as well.

Yes, paranoia is an issue... we now know that an event with 100+ people will almost certainly have one or more undercover cops in attendance. People have lost the sense that it's possible to have sufficient security through for example not bringing phones or waiting to reveal locations until the last minute. Also people are more aware that the strategy of control is not just about bringing charges and trials. Just being seen at an event can damage social credit (e.g. justify putting someone on a watchlist) and this has a chilling effect because it's hard to avoid. It's not necessarily the degree of real risk which has an effect, so much as the loss of the subjective feeling of being in a space outside the system and its norms.

Yes, idpol/”safe spaces” is an issue... we've seen how this plays out at various bookfairs (London, Montreal, SF, Seattle...) and places like EF!, ABC and CrimethInc. The problem isn't just that idpols try to take over and impose leftist rules – it's also that they disrupt and attack events which refuse to, and fight amongst themselves about which leftist rules are the right ones. And it's the added stress caused to organisers (who are already doing lots of free work for little reward) of the resultant pressure and flak.

There's background sociological issues as well. Fewer anarchists. Blurring (due to low political awareness and education levels) of the difference between anarchy and various statist ideologies. People having busier lives. More irregular working hours. Widespread psychological distress, leaving people burned-out or otherwise incapacitated at the wrong times. People not feeling the need to communicate offline because of the intensity of social media. People being hypervigilant and easily triggered. People going out less. People having a more geographically scattered friendship network. A lot of millennials live most of their life on the internet, they don't have the previous experience of everyday friendship networks, hanging out in the street or at the pub or whatever – and this makes it harder to take the step of going to a gathering. Also I think most people in the past joined local scenes or affinity groups first, and only went to big events later.

Also, in some ways “the gathering” is a very 60s or 90s thing. The specifically anarchist events were a subset of a much wider field. As well as the really anarchist stuff, there was also a lot of anarchistic stuff on a much bigger scale – festivals, convergence spaces at protests, hacker conventions, etc. And all of these spaces are in decline, for very similar reasons (repression + commercial recuperation + safety-first paranoia + idpol + coordination problems). And we're also seeing other political tendencies – everyone from the far-right to social-democrats to jihadis – moving away from gatherings towards online networks and/or small cells. This suggests to me that it's not an issue with anarchy specifically, it's a contextual shift.

Ultimately, I think there were structural underpinnings to reproducing the 60s-90s type of anarchy – which make it possible for instance, to get 150 people in the same place at the same time in a fit state to do anything interesting. Dole autonomy and/or regular jobs with decent hours. Affinity as a normal aspect of life. Episodic rather than pervasive stress. Pre-existing desires which are not just effects of capitalism. Clear limits to the state's capacity to surveil and repress. We lost a lot of these underpinnings during the 2000s. We can't have the structures without the underpinnings. We need to either rebuild the underpinnings or create different kinds of structures.

you said a lot to think about.

i could add that it also comes down organizers’ preferences and the expectations of those who would assist. if events are centered around “doing something” maybe it attracts less people and gets less repeat costumers XD (mass demos around a specific topical cause or slogan, occupy___, bookfair, a play, music show). Maybe people so used to mass media/culture/festival/events expect too much from organizers; a complete itenerary full of activities in the fornat of passive spectator entertainment for all tastes and ages, a clear and secure route, bathrooms, food, security, shelter from rain (ie. a ceiling or tarp), i dunno, etc.

People are gathering in those numbers, networks are just developed to a point where open invites are just not the norm. With a closed invite we are already too many. You keep pointing to idpol like it's a monolithic thing that is alienating people, but it sounds like you're generalizing your own experience of being alienated (likely because you are old and weren't flexible enough with your mores to change, and I'll be charitable and even say perhaps it wasn't a choice, though I don't really believe it) as though it were the norm for anarchists today.
Sorry, it's not.
It's almost jarring, though it lapses into parody, to read your reflections, you are simply way out of touch.

u weren’t flexible enough with your share at the campfire

This totw made me think of Renaissance Festivals and Costume Balls as a camouflage for anarchist social activity. Sometimes the best place to hide is right out in the open.

Then it becomes commodified. The slow creep of collective popularity always crystalizes in a profiteering Spectacle. Only the raggedy individualist remains pure.

: (

But sometimes a certain chemistry turns the gathering into a wild collective experience leaving many of those attending psychologically healed and made more splendidly anarchic :)

I dig how you pissed in those cornflakes and then you were all like - "but here's a better cereal!"

That's life! Now will step over here sir and look at this wonderful choice you have, yes, its all yours, this shiny Model A Choice-mobile in ANY color you like, ready to take you and your autonomy down the road of life in its sleek compact owness. Note the luxurios soft upholestry of its sovereign leather interior and the willful way the transmission changes gear. And you know what sir, it comes with a life long warranty and best of all, ITS FREE!
So if you step over here and sign this you'll have everything you need to leave the gathering sheeple behind as you roar off with a few of your unique friends keeping you company.

I'm inflexible enough to still be vegan, so there's no need to share smores with me, though I'd like to kick it at the campfire.

*looks at smores, puzzled for a moment, wondering which part contains the animal product*

here : )

*hands over a cast iron skillet with your choice of seasoned vegetables for you to hold over the campfire instead*

which part of smores contains animal products? sometimes graham crackers are made with lard, but marshmallows are always made with gelatin



Yes, you'ves!

"Networks are just developed enough"

Oh really?! That's strange because I don't see much evidence of a massive anarchist underground. I mean, what context are you even referring to? The planet? The UK? I believe that's @critic's reference...

Anyway, I agree that the IdPol boogeyman gets overblown by neckbeards and ppl who are traumatized by a nasty exclusionary process (sometimes for good reason).

But it's seems pretty strange to pull up the ladder and insist there's already enough anarchists in the treehouse too lol

There are many public facing anarchist spaces for new people to join in to. Like bookfairs, or the myriad infoshops (that some people here, for who knows what reason, would like others to think are disappearing or no longer meaningfully exist despite all evidence to the contrary.) That doesn't mean you get an open pass into our gatherings when you're a stranger or someone we don't fuck with.

Ok ... Clarity is the issue, yes. You're speaking to the whole internet right now and there's entire countries that are experiencing far fewer open and explicitly @ spaces as a phenomena.

I'm glad to hear you don't have that perception but I'm suggesting it might be the exception, rather than the rule. Lucky you.

14 thumbs down!!!! in this case critic wins by a knockout!

Fuck off anon (9.23), we're talking about ANARCHIST events with open invitations, not how many pre-selected idpols you can fit in a volkswagen. Your idpol events (if they exist at all) are likely circlejerks of groupthink and guilt-tripping. They never become viable affinity groups, let alone autonomous zones. And if you aren't alienated BY idpol (hint: most people are), then you're alienated IN idpol. If you aren't inside idpol, it looks monolithic because there's a rigid set of core assumptions which are black-boxed and virtually everyone holds. But of course, there's 700 flavours or brands which love to fight amongst themselves because they disagree on the finer points of doctrine such as which exact groups count as “oppressed” and which specific clusters of personal experience define the experience of the group. By the way, I find expecting people to have “flexible mores” to be authoritarian, as well as ableist, classist, and culturally racist. Forcing people to adapt to social norms whether they like it or not isn't anarchism, it's assimilationist genocide. You would fit in well in a residential school to Europeanise indigenous kids, with your “change or die” attitude. You would also fit in well in corporate psychology with your personalised blame discourse and encouragement of self-change. And that's not to mention the unnecessary aggression you project at me, which I've also found to be typical of your ilk. Because I'm not one of your easily guilt-tripped liberal “allies” who rolls over the moment you start getting abusive. I bite the fuck back, motherfucker. Flexibility means you sell-out, you have no ethos and your principles only stretch as far as peer-pressure allows. Also I pride myself on being out of touch with normie culture and not being flexible about whether or not the groups I'm part of respect my autonomy, so bite me.

Deep breaths @critic, calm blue ocean!
Most of that rant is probably accurate btw

yeah, i agree with most of it, even if it sounds like it would make for a hilarious copypasta meme, à la "gorilla warfare"

and fragmentation of social life may be a result of the Facebook exuberance of the early 21st century. What seemed like a digital utopia for political organizing has become a big bugbear and left us in a state of paralysis. The noumena has fangs.

is a speed bump and the mods delete comments sometimes otherwise this place is pretty greasy so go speed racer!

was discussed by the gathering on the Proles of the Round Table most recent podcast (#22). It is a Marxist gathering. However, Marxism and Marx were rarely mentioned: it is more of Andrea (Andrea @andrea_lakota on Twitter) talking both in American and her native language about history, white imperialism, cultural colonialism and much more. Well worth listening to. I am relating this to you as you have written 'Fight for Turtle Island.'

Gatherings are still the greatest way to break open the gang gimmicks -as long as they aren't set up by specific gangs themselves- for how their social dynamics tend to be "flattening" relations in putting back people on equal footing (what the gang structure works against, self-servingly, as it is turned inward). Centralization is a problem... especially when it's roughly always the same crowd of spooky lefties, it's pretty good argument to stay away or at least not get really involved.

Ever since the '90s I observed the rise of the "affinity" group paradigm, that really, as I had somewhat foreseen, evolved into a validation of the retrograde tribal politics. I dunno what an affinity group was supposed to be, but what it became over the years was just another type of closed, private, insular gang who tends to be disconnected with the world around. The fact that these well-resourced groups have closed shop to the "outside world", that they also stopped taking couchsurfers or squatters in an open fashion is quite revealing.

The age issue has also increased in weight. Or maybe I'm just getting old. I have seen open events on the public place that were definitely of anarchist character lately, but since they were set up by youngsters this got pretty uneasy for randos, and especially older ones. There's a bunch of preconceptions kids will throw at you if you're a guy in your '30s-'40s and aren't a hippie of sorts. Social stereotypes are heavy and only a radical change in the way we connect to others (i.e. the social bond... the sociological analytic concept) can do this. Therefore gatherings should rely on one or a few rites or referents that bind people on equal footing, which subvert their views of age, ethnic, gender cleavages. The formalized structure of assemblies has been doing that, but anarchists know how counterproductive and overall depersonalizing that is. We need some more playful and non-dogmatic means.

Affinity groups are supposed to be a counter-measure to repression or that's my understanding of the original intention, which I believe dates way back in Italy or Spain.

The model makes perfect sense when you're talking about the kinds of projects that can expect a lot of interest from enemies, they were never intended to replace more open, public @ spaces and groups.

I was talking about how the affinity group has been brought in opposition or competition with the more above-ground gatherings.

Affinity groups are necessary for security reasons, I don't deny that. Yet they fail at being an expandable model of social networking for the same reasons.

And what defines this "affinity" is another issue as well. My contention comes from witnessing plenty of petty-bougie anarchoids who're all about affinity groups, yet this affinity eventually equated with a class affinity...

the way i understood it, an affinity group is a squad formed for often (covert) one-time actions, and the affinity was around the specific means and ends of that action, not more, not less. so yeah, it doesn’t replace gatherings, nor is it intended to.

Exactly. If people got confused about this over the decades well ... That would be very anarchist of them, wouldn't it?

Don't blame the tool, blame the users

That was one of the purposes. But affinity groups overlap a lot with ideas of lived immediacy, human-scale relationships, avoiding massification etc - whether or not they're necessary for security. There's clear parallels with consciousness-raising groups in feminism, Hakim Bey's bees and tongs, primitivist ideas of social scale, the pamphlet "Anti-Mass", the communes movement... In the anti-capitalist wave (c. 1990s-2000s) there seemed to be a broadening of the idea, both of an affinity group as a kind of tactical unit acting as a node in a wider movement, and of affinity groups as the anarchist equivalent to working groups (the "media affinity group" or "cooking affinity group" etc). I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing. Or how much affinity counts as affinity so to speak. But, I do think the affinity approach is preferable, both to mass-scale organisations, and to loose-knit networks of individuals who just come together for mobilisations.

Sounds like "lifestyle" creep to me. If I'm not being explicit about serious tactical issues around repression, then why use fancy terminology at all?

Seems a bit pretentious to me to talk about "cooking affinity" but this is just my asshole opinion at this point haha

Like, just get together with your friends and cook, don't be a weirdo with fancy trendy @ words and we'll avoid this confusion about the purpose of affinity groups. Just my opinion!

Your asshat's showing, tiredoldtroll... I don't get where's your beef with the above comment, but to the use of sharing an analysis and language means to be coming together on same sentiments and intents, to clarify it together, and connect it with others, and a more universal other-ness. How can you go through life without a shared narrative, i.e. without submitting to the dominant narratives, and creating a mutual one?

There's also the path of what they call schizophrenia, but where its unhinged, incommunicated narratives lead you? Perbably just like that guynI knew who went on sucking his own dick and eating his poo in a buddy's apartment, in straight retaliation for girlfriend turning her back on him, then going on his wild adventure outside, walking completely naked at -20.

Uh ... Ok? To reframe, a few comments back, someone pointed out that "affinity" seemed like a limited model and I was suggesting that's only the case if you let the word lose too much meaning, until you're talking about "cooking affinity", for example.

Maybe you just lost the trail sweetheart? ;)

I think this would be great to have more face-to-face, non-mediated, de-internetized interactions. To me the advantages outweigh the costs. It is difficult to navigate, of course, but I think we just need to be with each other. They needn't be political either, because everyone is an anarchist in some way. The more the merrier, any way to get people in circles and create good communication.

First time posting here. I have been organizing in small ways with this group that is bookchinite mostly but they are calling for a Congress of Local Movements in September in Detroit ( They are really trying to bring a broad front across anti-capitalist community groups. I have some issues with their ideas, mainly direct democracy, but I think their is alot of potential in bringing people together. While organizing with them, so far they have not reached out to a number of anarchist orgs like the Long Haul, Wooden Shoe, any infoshops although some members of MACC NYC are involved. Since Symbiosis is securing a free space for people to stay and getting free food together and their will be many organizers there, I think this is a chance where we can make some space for the anarchist network to gather face to face.If this symbiosis group does take off and actually start to build a strong network, it would be nice to be a part of it. If it doesn't maybe something else will come out of it from anarchists gathering together, at the very least a few new friends and some fun. Anarchists would also not necessarily have to participate in the Congress but instead could organize side by side with it, and their is currently no agenda yet scheduled for the congress.

I'm a pretty young anarchist and new to much of it, mid Atlantic, east coast region. I was reading Anarchist History Nerd Brigade's Zines on Love and Rage Network conferences , and was really inspired.( I tried emailing them (the nerds) but I think they are defunct. I saw the link for this webpage on their website today and came here right as you posted this article, which was pretty cool :) I think having a low risk continental anarchist gathering would be really awesome to bring people together and give people the chance to talk and build affinity outside the internet, and in a more discussion based setting. I know there is a lot to figure out, security, safe(r) space policy, content, goals, but the first thing I can do is put the idea out there. Let me know what you all think?

I was 16-17 when we were organizing NAAG. 9 months of planning, pitfalls, interpersonal tensions, awkward divisions of labor, fundraising, and so on. But it came together, and it's pretty cool to read about someone attending now, in 2019.

I think the question you pose is an interesting one; my take these days is that people should do the kind of organizing that engages and inspires them. That means embracing a true diversity of tactics, allowing our anarchist organizing to take many forms, to be plentiful and diffuse; from picnics and potlucks to reading groups and protest, road repair, community gardens and clothing swaps. Not to mention getting involved in non-anarchist organizing, specifically solidarity work and harm reduction. There is no silver bullet perfect praxis.

I wrote a zine about the experience of organizing NAAG, and that reflection ended up sharpening a lot of my criticisms of radical leftist organizing at the time. All the usual stuff - Why is everyone under the age of 35? Why is this gathering 95% white? Why is it 75% men?

NAAG has given me some interesting memories (anyone remember those two kids who decided to jump on the trampoline half-naked during the downpour on Monday morning? And that kid got his teeth lodged in his friend's head? What a time to be alive...). I'm still friends with several of the co-organizers, but I'm curious if anyone made lasting connections at the gathering (I don't think I did.) Ultimately, for the amount of blood sweat and tears that went into NAAG, I'm not going to be organizing something like that again for a while, but I'm in a totally different stage in my life. I'd rather help my fellow anarchist friends organize their weddings, or help them take care of their kids (answers my teenage self's question about "Where are all the anarchists over 30").

Anyway, people should organize the kind of work that speaks to them, gives them joy, resonates with the communities they're a part of. A lot of people just want to talk and explore ideas together, and while it's great to experience that at a national gathering of anarchists, facebook groups and reddit forums will also do in a pinch.

I'd love to see that that zine reflecting on the gathering if it is available anywhere.

Great TOTW picture, btw, got a nice chuckle out of it..

I like the general idea of holding gatherings, and am especially interested in anarchist gatherings that aren't ultra-controlling and cringe-worthy. It goes without saying that there will be presumptions and behavior that attendees won't find acceptable. My suspicion with anarchist gatherings though is simply the fact that they are political in nature, and people who get into this kind of thing use terminology to polarize and start completely needless confrontations. For example, lets look at the "green vs. red" binary that exists in the anarchist space. This intellectual border still exists because both the greens and the reds respond in a reactionary manner to certain things being said. Anarchists pride themselves on getting shit-deep in conflict, but these conflicts are often just spooky and delusional, and the labels they use to identify themselves don't mean much of anything anyway.

I used to be an activist and went to organizing meetings and I honestly never thought they were worth my time, I never like the idea of setting parameters for conversations or delegating speaking time/expertise. Sober emotions are much better for understanding the feel and the energy of what goes on in a social situation. I'm also not down, in general, with threatening people and getting heated about debates unless it remains somewhat playful and humorous.

i agree about the picture. someone should literally try that, put some bowls with tasty foods in a circle. or just put a table with some pizza, some napkins and soda, and no pretenses, labels or slogans. just throw a pizza lunch for chit-chatting with whoever stops by.

Four easy steps to get gatherings to form orderly obedient circle in a room for a photo shoot.
1) Lock attendees in a room and starve them for 3 days
2) Arrange bowls of hamburger meat in a circle in another room.
3) Release the attendees into the room with the bowls of meat.
4) Take photos.

"down with threatening people"? Who is? I mean, seems a strange thing to do at an @ social gathering without a damned good reason. I only threaten the threateners

i meant that in a more basic way, "pay me back my money or ill break your legs!", "you are a fascist!", etc., the spooks have a way of concealing the threatening people, and the bigger voices in the anarchist scene have ways of concealing their egotistical agendas ad infinitum. Lol @ and w/ the pizza table comments, of course anarchists have a way of using food to bait and trap the naive and curious. Bunch of fucking Jehovah's witnesses! Take the fucking pizza and run!

no! don't run! no proselytizing! i just want someone with whom to develop obesity and diabetes alongside with! : (

I helped host a number of gatherings in the late 90s/early aughts. Anywhere from between 20 to 85 people showed up. It was by invitation/word of mouth only for several reasons. 1) We didn't want to be overwhelmed by numbers in terms of food, shelter, size of space, requirements etc. 2) It ensured some degree of likely intimacy and or affinity. 3) It emphasized meeting people that you could see again to do stuff with because most of them probably lived within a shared geographical region. 4) Helped keep cops out.

These gatherings led to events, projects, friendships, activities, actions and relationships many of which continue to last to today, 20 years later.

I think that informal gatherings drawing primarily from local social webs and simply based around sharing ideas, food and skills are 'better' than book fairs or conferences or national forums/symposiums, especially if the idea is to encourage future anarchic activity and lasting relationships where you live.

PS. (At a more recent gathering one of the very first things that happened was a round intended to give everyone the opportunity to state the pronoun they preferred. This was mostly pointless because there were dozens of people in the space and therefore no way to remember who preferred what pronoun. It was just a leftist ritual. It also set a liberal/Idpol tone that emphasized hostile/competing differences/categories.)

Its gud that stuff like this exists so that us sheepish pathetic types can try to find sex partners.

I envision a multiplicity of organizational forms. The old forms of organizing persist because they work so they will persist. Maybe we can think of something new or add to existing ideas. See you there. Cyberia has legs that's what handheld devices are about. This place is a frozen tundra, a barren wasteland. Thanatos is a slow acting poison but its not unrecoverable.

i know who you are! >: (

i’m going to come to your house and scold you for being a silly ninny! >: (

no, silly! no sex or fun is allowed! go to your room and think hard!

ps. i heard people go to a certain rock formation at midnight for a sex. you must practice your mating call. be as LOUD as you can, or you will not be heard. or else they will not be able to find you in the pitch black darkness.

at midnight, it was dark. I was in outer darkness. No one was there. I screamed but no one could hear me scream. I sat on the rock like the thinker until the moon was shining brightly overhead. silly sex fun

I WAS THE ROCK YOU SAT ON darling one! You came down on my rigid nihil-esque essence. Your sent thrills through my crystalline corpuscles. MWUHAHAHAHAAAA!!!

Us wild, black feral animals can withstand the sheer forces of nature due to your IMMANENT CONNECTION to Earth Mother and find our Way in the deepest darknesses of the WILD. When we enter the realm of the dark FOREST we meld under the trees and only the large shiny smiles and precise stares of our unhinged glee can be seen, as we stride holding a blade within our teeth. Somewhere, deep in MONTANA we will meet the other ego-nihilist warriors of the dark, within the dark pit of our sorrow... the Anusian Pit from where ancient wisdom emanates and we draw out bongs from!

pass the peace pipe of whatever you're smoking broh

You sound like you got some anti-intellectual hinderances to get rid of before your mind can bestow upon the intricacies of our planes of immanence! Go back to the muddy world of the real, you pragmatist BARBARIAN!

I'd like to arrange a gathering of bona-fide nihil-esque individuals and put them all through my mosh pit initiation to sort out the posers from the real abyss surfing crew!!

Oddly enough, what you describe might be the only type of gathering that hasn't been commodified or owned by an ideological or religiously worshipped ideal.
That's what's disturbing about gatherings, one becomes a number in a mob rule and loses the nuanced individual choice which makes us interesting/unique. We change into the grey uniform which no longer exercises its own will :(

You should probably stop assuming your neurosis is true for everyone else too. If your individualism is somehow damaged by standing in a crowd, it must be very fragile.

speaking of (un)fragile, i've met people who've gotten bones broken in mosh pits. they seemed cooler than me and i admire them. they were all very attractive, brave and energetic.

That was what made Michael Jackson concerts weird. NO MOSH PITS, the audience were TAME capitalist brats and the songs were self-absorbed NARCISSISTIC TIRADES, it was all so commercial and detached from the audience. UURGH.

i don’t know what you’re on about, i always moshed at mj’s concerts, seems like you weren’t there

Ohh, moshing on the giant inflatable bed with the furry animals and stuff?

The jihadists and mass-shooters gave us efficient *self-empowering* tactics to not just stand up to a huge crowd of maoists, but also bring them back to the true, primordial values in life, suddenly making them desert their own dogmas in favor of self-preservation. So it makes you wonder if my local maoist crowd are sooo tuff up against a crazy individualist who hasn't got anything left to lose, and an ultimate vengeance to gain if they push their arrogance too far...

True, but I'm thinking more of the internal Dasein openess of selfhood to others who let this flow out in gatherings, without any formal arrangements or agendas, just the flow of desires, and this also requires an abandonment of the rational economic mindset, of the possession of property, of things.

How bout an impression?

"I have a complex about phantom crypto-maoist hoards."

Who am I?! 3 guesses.

"cultural Marxism": real or dehumanizing tool of far right demagoguery?

This time, only 1 guess

Was William S. Burroughs at the gathering in Lawrence, Kansas or had he already reached The Western Lands by then?

*whispers* Mommy dear, please give me your opioid suppositories, I have to attend a gun toting gathering today.

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