Six years ago on September 17th, the Occupy moment began. Occupy was perhaps a high water mark for the North American anarchist space, although the anarchist idea and practice of occupation on different levels goes back much further. Occupy, assemblies, gatherings, meetings, etc provide anarchists with the face-to-face (f2f) social experiences and opportunity to learn a(n anarchist) culture and survive.
Call me old fashion but I think that anarchism and DIY culture go hand-in-hand. I think that Common Ground, whatever it's faults (and of course there are many and they have been well documented), was the correct response to the reality that Katrina exposed. We are now being exposed to this same dramatic reality week after week. 8.2 earthquakes, multiple hurricanes this year, it doesn't seem to be slowing down.
Rojava, Palestine, Chiapas - all of these are household names among leftists as beacons of struggle against oppression by the dispossessed of the world. Though frameworks like “anti-imperialism” and “anti-colonialism” may be more prevalent among socialists, these and other struggles have continued to attract the interest and support of anarchists in Europe, the US and elsewhere as well.
How often do you talk to people who you disagree with? How do you talk to them? Are they people you've known for a long time, old friends who went in different directions from you, family members, co-workers/students, neighborhood folks? What have you noticed about how you relate to them, what you don't challenge--and what is that based on?
With the growth and increasing pervasiveness of the internet it is becoming more likely that people are being introduced to anarchism, and all things related to anarchy, on the internet. It has been said on the A News podcast recently that there are many anarchists now who experience their whole lives as anarchists online, not in face-to-face contact with other anarchists.
The ups and downs of mainstream politics are generally a clusterfuck to say the least.
How do we respond expediently when things are so unpredictable? What does the slippery nature of the public's relationship with and reaction to politics mean to us anarchists? Is there anything destabilizing about the constant political upheaval that you've found to be beneficial or detrimental to what you do as an anarchist? What causes a project that began as a response to a mainstream political moment to materialize into something that lasts beyond that fleeting moment in politics?
If the latest controversies have taught us anything it is that the newest generation of anarchists (and anarchist-adjacent) deal with political disagreements differently than we have in the past. The story is likely apocryphal but it is said that when Johann Most (German anarchist who immigrated to the US in 1882 to join the labor movement here!) talked shit (generally implying that the Berkman assassination attempt against Frick was not what was claimed by Goldman) Emma whipped him across the face.
In its current fashion anarchism appears inseparable from hyper-localism. However, some anarchists may be disconnected from localized community, either because they travel frequently, they socialize infrequently, or, in general, don’t enjoy interactions with other anarchists. These nomads and hermits may fail to build the most highly valued token of solidarity with anarchist community—long-term affinity built through face-to-face interactions—but if this is true should they be outcasts?