- 1 Until They All Fall, Their Statue Our Blood: Using the Tools of History at Hand
- 2 From Freedom to Democracy
- 3 Beyond Identity: Reflections from Queer Anarchist History
- 4 The Political Aesthetics of Crypto-Anarchy
- 5 Red Scares: Anti-Terrorist Law, Race, and Citizenship across the Chilean Transition to Democracy
- 6 Mechanisms of Destituent Power in Bacteria, Fungi, and the Desert
- 7 "Winter is Ending. Its time for Spring: Critical Reflections from Southern Illinois."
- 8 Food Not Bombs: Prefigurative Politics and Building Networks of Resistance
- 9 Aging Rebels: Radicalism Across the Life Course
- 10 From Prison Abolitionist to Demolitionist : Prison Strikes Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow
- 11 Commotion.World: Answering Caravanerxs' Call to Build a World Together
- 12 Never Again Auschwitz, Never Again the Apparatus
- 13 Solidarity as a Strategic Logic of Composition
- 14 LIKE A MISUNDERSTANDING OF SALVATION: On the concept of revolution in the twenty-first century
- 15 Revolutionary Catalonia: Motives of the International Brigades
- 16 “If We Wait, It is We That Will be Burned”: Exploring Violence & Resistance in Ursula Le Guin’s The Word For World is Forest
- 17 Wager Against Prefiguration: Social Reproduction Theory in the Diggers and Diane di Prima’s Revolutionary Letters
- 18 Call outs, Identity, and Punishment in Anarchist/Radical Communities
- 19 Permaculture Communism
- 20 Free musical improvisations in an anarchist perspective: experimentation of non-universal ethics and invention of other spaces against neoliberal captures
- 21 Toward a Transmodern World-System: Alter-Epistemic Resistance in Rojava
- 22 Resiliency in an Age of Repression?
- 23 Friedrich Nietzsche: Emma Goldman’s Honorary Anarchist & My Desire to Reclaim Him from the Right
- 24 The Irreversible is a Place: Destituent Power in the Yellow Vest Movement
- 25 Forging a Trans* Social Ecology
- 26 Utopia as Failure of Imagination: Settler Colonialism, Nihilism, and Liberation
- 27 The Spectre and the Sovereign: The Problem of the Paranormal in Biopolitical Thought
- 28 Potsherds and Possibilities: An Introduction to Anarchist Archaeology
Until They All Fall, Their Statue Our Blood: Using the Tools of History at Hand
In this workshop I will give a survey of activism in Chapel Hill not “around” white supremacist monuments but using the white supremacist landscape to reveal truths about the racism of the university, town, and institutions of Chapel Hill. Black, women activists primarily led this fight forcing Chapel Hill to confront its racist past and present and centering intersectionality. Antiauthoritarian, direct action and a broad coalition of autonomous actors, many typically privileged enough to ignore, came together through the collective dedication to rescue imagined futures that were repressed in the university’s past.
From Freedom to Democracy
Democracy is the most universal political ideal of our day. George Bush invoked it to justify invading Iraq; Obama congratulated the rebels of Tahrir Square for bringing it to Egypt; Occupy Wall Street claimed to have distilled its pure form. From the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the autonomous region of Rojava, practically every government and popular movement calls itself democratic.
And yet it was democracy that brought Donald Trump to power, not to mention Adolf Hitler. Today, far-right parties worldwide are promoting popular referendums on the model of the Brexit vote, and reactionary nationalists are presenting themselves as partisans of direct democracy.
What is democracy, precisely? How can we justify defending ourselves against democratically-elected tyrants? Is there a difference between government and self-determination, and are there other ways to describe what we are doing together when we make decisions? Drawing on From Democracy to Freedom, the latest book from the CrimethInc. collective, we will explore these questions and more. Join us for a lively discussion!
Beyond Identity: Reflections from Queer Anarchist History
As fierce contemporary political debates rage over identity politics, anarchists and queer radicals criticize LGBTQ movements seeking identity-based “equality” within a hierarchical capitalist society. In recent years, queer anarchist projects have challenged the foundations of identity and essentialism. Drawing on insurrectionist, post-left, and nihilist ideas alongside queer theory, they have articulated connections between the refusal of sexual and gender norms and resistance to hierarchy and domination in all forms.
However, the insistence that visions of queer liberation need not rely on identity politics did not emerge in the twenty-first century. For nearly 150 years, anarchists in the United States have theorized homosexuality through an anarchist lens, and same-sex-loving people have drawn on anarchist principles to propose radically different approaches to liberation than those circulating in mainstream LGBTQ movements today.
This presentation provides historical context for alternatives to identity-based LGBTQ politics by drawing on the tradition of same-sex-loving anarchists who proposed distinct visions of social, political, and sexual freedom. Stretching from the late nineteenth to our own day, the story encompasses early theorists of friendship and “the intermediate sex”; feminist radicals of the early twentieth century; the call for universalism and solidarity by Robert Duncan; avant-garde theater and music from the Living Theater to John Cage; Cold War era radical pacifists; the individualist anarchism and revolutionary sexualism of The Storm! and Emile Armand; the anti-authoritarian radicals of the Gay Liberation Front; and much more. This research draws on a larger forthcoming project exploring queer anarchism across the twentieth century United States to propose an alternative genealogy for anarchists and queer activists to draw on today, based not just on the handful of riots usually canonized within LGBTQ history (Stonewall, White Night, Compton’s Cafeteria, and so forth) but on the anarchist tradition itself.
The Political Aesthetics of Crypto-Anarchy
From the clandestine cells of La Mano Negra in rural Andalusia, to BlackNet and the “crypto-anarchy” of online contraband markets a century later, anarchist aesthetics often reference the dark and furtive. But such anarchist projects are also “aesthetic” in a manner theorized by Jacque Rancière: they confront aisthesis as the order of what is sensed and visible, perceived and counted. In our age obsessed with publics and spectacle, the political aesthetics of crypto-anarchy denote modes of subject-formation and resistance built on hiddenness, anonymity, and unintelligibility. These strategies are especially relevant given how, today, anything that appears can be eradicated by a near-omniscient surveillance state.
Rancière terms the forces that delimit who “counts” as a subject “the police”. He counterposes the police to “politics” as a process in which novel subjects appear and, by demanding a stage on which to state their grievances, disrupt the aesthetic order of who may be seen and heard. Rancière’s formulation of political aesthetics offers theorists of anarchism a framework for understanding politics as a polemical event rather than a set of institutions; yet, by predicating politics on the appearance of a subject who plies their logos against the police, Rancière requires the political agent to expose themself for reprisal or subsumption by an infinitely-arsenalled opponent.
Must politics coincide with the risk of emerging in public? Or might there exist a negative aesthetics in which the subject only appears masked, obfuscated, encrypted? I propose to explore this question by examining cases throughout anarchist history in which subjects articulate dissent without becoming known to the police. In so doing, I suggest that politics can occur absent publicity, that crypto can be, more than a technique or technology, a durable political logic. Developing crypto-anarchy as a coherent set of tactics for sustaining politics under the eye of the surveillance state is critical to the continuation of militant anarchist projects.
Red Scares: Anti-Terrorist Law, Race, and Citizenship across the Chilean Transition to Democracy
Since the early 2000s, regional prosecutors and police have used the Pinochet-era anti-terrorist law to prosecute Mapuche political leaders suspected of engaging in vandalism and sabotage against local agricultural industries in the context of land struggles. After 20 years of this conflict, the broader Chilean public has considered the Araucania region of Chile "the red zone” of terrorist activity as Mapuche communities are increasingly policed and surveilled. This paper seeks to understand the racialization of Mapuche as terrorist suspects through analyzing how the anti-terrorist law has developed and been used since its creation during the dictatorship as a legal and juridical apparatus for social control through determining the knowledge and tactics to distinguish between terrorist and citizen. In doing so, this paper will argue that the anti-terrorist law’s definition of terrorism as threats to national security enables the conflicts between local elite, dictatorship-era land dispossession, and Indigenous populations to be perceived and policed as a conflict between a Chilean nation and the Mapuche people. As a result, elite can maintain political power through the same mechanisms of the dictatorship during the post-dictatorship liberal democratic state. The current function and process of racialization is therefore based not on cultural difference between Mapuche and Chilean, but the attendant epistemological differences between a Chilean observer of these legal cases and those who are policed via this legal technology that enables elite to mobilize national security towards their own political and economic interests.
Mechanisms of Destituent Power in Bacteria, Fungi, and the Desert
Accelerating advances in biotechnology routinely subject the constitutive material of organic life to contemporary formations of power. These transfigurations are largely neglected until a moment of crisis; a horrific mutation or an unrelenting blight. Absent a macroscale disaster, invisible biogeographies of cells and cellular assemblages are silently restructured to enable and optimize various forms of extraction. These subtle, perpetual, and ubiquitous influences reconfigure what a body can do. What practices can be invoked to evade corporeal governance without the ideological crutch of “nature?” To address this, I detail biological mechanisms that exemplify three principles which produce alternate configurations of power in vivo. The first concerns the permeability of the individual, with mycological genotypes and horizontal gene transfer as phenomena that confuse biopolitical processes. Such permeabilities challenge an ecology obsessed with crudely atomizing organisms in order to connect them. These connections form the basis of capitalist relations – a market of metabolites where trade has energetic costs. The dissolution of these relations through memetic action as a supraorganism is explored through the dynamics of biofilm formation and growth in microbial communities. The underlying mathematical theory extrapolates this behavior from organic to inorganic matter, such as liquid crystalline formations, suggesting that the density of bonds is a functionally vital principle. Finally, in the spirit of Emergent Horizons, the body is resituated, not in the context of organic material, but in its catalyzing impulses. The functions of microbial memory across various time scales signal a remembrance that has transcended its primitivist urges, towards an embodiment that is neither static nor material, but instead rooted in an evolutionary becoming.
"Winter is Ending. Its time for Spring: Critical Reflections from Southern Illinois."
The Next Eclipse is a vision for regional transformation, focused on building the material conditions for the imagination of autonomy in southern Illinois. We have set for ourselves a period between two solar eclipses, which intersect seven years apart, to open up a new horizon for imagining a future outside the economy and the government. This year, we launched an ambitious and heretical campaign entitled the Carbondale Spring, which dons a strange mask. Refusing any political conceptualization, intentionally forgetting all that we know about the state and the police and the economy, we have made an ambitious proposal for transforming the city of Carbondale into "the most ambitious city in the country tackling the problems of climate change and compassionate responses to social problems." The core of the project is four initiatives we propose for the city government to adopt; the catch is that we deploy a neo-liberal argument to cut the police budget in half. Our presentation will be a reflection on the Carbondale Spring to date, a self-critique, and an invitation to strategize with comrades about next steps.
Food Not Bombs: Prefigurative Politics and Building Networks of Resistance
The Salt Lake Valley features a large community of local food activists dedicated to growing, harvesting, collecting, and distributing food throughout the Salt Lake Valley. This partly manifests itself in the form of a robust nonprofit sector that includes organizations dedicated to growing food in the urban environment, harvesting excess produce from private homeowners and redistributing it to those in need, as well as a collecting food in local food banks and pantries. Despite this broad collection of incorporated 501(c)(3) organizations that cover a wide range of activities, some individuals decide to dedicate some or all of their efforts outside of these organizations. Food Not Bombs, an unincorporated activist group with three independent chapters in the Salt Lake Valley, is one example of where such individuals place a considerable amount of their efforts. This discussion will utilize data collected from a series of interviews and field observations to explore why some individuals are motivated to dedicate their efforts to Food Not Bombs instead of one of the many 501(c)(3) organizations in the Salt Lake Valley. In the process of answering this question, key differences between Food Not Bombs and the nonprofit sector will be illuminated and the unique characteristics and purpose of Food Not Bombs as an organization and social phenomena will be unveiled. In the process, the unique sociopolitical niche that Food Not Bombs occupies in the Salt Lake Valley will be framed.
Aging Rebels: Radicalism Across the Life Course
Long term participation in radical movements can be challenging. All-encompassing goals, hostility to multiple forms of domination, a preference to work outside the electoral system, and opposition by hierarchical adversaries can all beleaguer individual participants. Thus, radical movements face the problem of “leaky” membership in which participants do not “stick” for most of their lives. There are many complicated sources of this problem. To better understand the factors driving movement attrition and that enable staying active, I conducted extensive interviews with long-term anarchists and anti-authoritarian organizers, active across countless movements. A cultural preoccupation with youthful rebellion—and thus the assumption that older folks will eventually integrate into mainstream society—and other myths of youth form the backdrop of how activism, organizing, and movements are popularly viewed. Extraordinary experiences can have a catalyzing transformation upon expectations and priorities, thus redirecting one’s life goals from an early age. An individual’s personality can predispose them to anti-authoritarianism and stubbornness. Biographical unavailability (having a family, kids, job) also draw people out of heavy activity. Radicals have continued to debate and theorizing about how to build sustainable movements that allow for diverse, long-term participation.
From Prison Abolitionist to Demolitionist : Prison Strikes Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow
To discourse: a brief xstory of ever-evolving prison rebellions throughout decades passed. To act: what can be unexpected in what has yet been written? To respond: how can we, on the outside of our own simulation cells, support? To share: bring an impactful message of resistance from the inside, optional anonymity by literal drop box. To imagine: a world without prisons is to continue to threaten the state and welcome all prisoners home.
Commotion.World: Answering Caravanerxs' Call to Build a World Together
We will present a panel on Commontion.World, a mutual-aid experiment in Tijuana, its successes, pitfalls, and long-term strategy for agitating against the border. We started in mid-November 2018 when thousands of folks calling themselves the Central American Exodus were arriving in Tijuana. A few of us went to support the local existing autonomous spaces. Those efforts centered on Enclave Caracol, and have since expanded into collaborations with many autonomous, often migrant and indigenous-led, groups addressing food, tech, medical, legal, LGBT safety, and children's needs. Since November, about 75 of us from around the US and Canada rotated through Tijuana for stays ranging from 3 days to 3 weeks. We organize around the needs and desires of the caravanerxs to facilitate their autonomy from state structures. For example: We assisted with the defense of the migrants’ warehouse and occupied camp. We run supplies across the border when supplies can’t be sourced locally. We fundraise. We collaborate with caravaneras to rent and open an autonomous kitchen space. The women who manage the kitchen decided to remain in Mexico, in part, to create a place of hospitality for other caravanerxs. We installed water tanks for sanitation stations in an outdoor camp of deportees. We've published articles and put together the website to be a clearinghouse for resources regarding the caravans and ICE. We purchased communication devices for folks in the caravans, including a drone for a radical Central American media group traveling with them, to facilitate the migrants’ autonomous control over their messaging. Many borderland communities are fatigued. Fascism in the US has advanced to the stage where the government separates migrant families, imprisons migrants, and criminalizes humanitarian aid. We started the website, because we knew folks would mobilize against Trump and the border paradigm if they had some direction.
Never Again Auschwitz, Never Again the Apparatus
This paper will exam the form of the demonstration (or “demo”) from the point of view of Giorgio Agamben’s idea of the “apparatus” and Theodor Adorno’s idea of the “new categorical imperative.” Summarizing very quickly, “apparatuses” are ways in which the energies stored up in human bodies can be “captured” by distributing those bodies’ gestures, affects, and practices into clearly intelligible normative categories, i.e. by evaluating them as either “right or wrong” or “correct or incorrect.” What is taken to be correct or incorrect is not essential, simply that there is some standard of correct vs. incorrect imposed on what bodies are doing or might do. From this point of view, the role of the resistant body is a) to avoid being “categorized” as a militant or insurrectionary, since this quickly codes the resistant body as “incorrect” (as in the case of a black bloc that is quickly confined and ostracized by “everybody else” at the demonstration) and makes their capture all the easier and b) to scramble and confuse the existing binaries and thereby unleash as much of the bodies’ vital forces as possible before some new set of “ends” and “categories” can be established. Every demonstration must therefore be approached locally, without a view to any “ends” that might be imposed from outside. Neither the ethical principles of the anarchist nor the emancipatory visions of the revolutionary should frame the “destitution” of these sorts of categories and the unleashing of vital energies—they must be allowed to take their own course, their only goal being their self-amplification. The problem, however, with this model is that it entirely abandons the idea of normativity to our enemies, so to speak—to the forces and processes seeking to control and discipline our bodily energies. Once we have destituted the apparatus at the demo—what then? We, too, have our own ends, our own ideas of revolution, which we use to organize and animate our lives from day to day—the abolition of the prison system, the destruction of the state and capital, the dismantling of the patriarchy, the decolonization of the globe, the reparation of slavery, and so on and so forth. How, then, do we introduce ends without setting up “counter-apparatuses,” without becoming a new “party” modeled on either parliamentary forms or the “mass party” familiar to the 20th century? How do we avoid becoming states in our fight against the state? I would like to suggest that Adorno’s “new categorical imperative”—a new “moral law” can help us think through this problem. Its content, Adorno claims, is deceptively simple: “never again Auschwitz.” Its implications, however, are quite complex. The idea is that our vital energies have something “normative” to say to us—that we have our own autonomous ideas of “right and wrong,” and we know them better, more clearly, and more consistently than our enemies can ever know theirs, in part because it resides in the way the world should not be rather than how it should. It is not a disciplinary morality; it has nothing to do with “capture,” for what it condemns is not the use of bodies but their annihilation—not the form vital energy takes, but its blockage. This paper will therefore try to explain what this “autonomous morality” consists in, and how it might help us clarify, both to ourselves and to those mulling over whether to join us, the ends towards which we are striving, and not just at every demo, but every day.
Solidarity as a Strategic Logic of Composition
In the long wake of the 2008 global financial crisis we have seen the emergence of disparate movements around the limits of capitalist reproduction in so-called North America. As the potential for survival through waged labor, social welfare, and non-predatory forms of finance dwindles, we have entered the era of generalized and permanent crisis. Hinterlands of abandonment striate urban and rural geographies, warehouses for “surplus populations” multiply, “natural” disasters bring capitalism’s war on nature home, and the social hierarchies produced by capitalist dispossession outline the differential political violence of a fragmenting civil society. These are the spaces that have been host to ungovernable revolts and movements: uprisings against the police, nationally coordinated prison-strikes, renewed anti-fascist organizing, mutual-aid disaster relief, pipeline blockades, and migrant solidarity efforts have all given shape to a multi-faceted struggle against capital.
One might, following Éric Alliez and Maurizio Lazzarato, view these movements (with the notable exception of the Migrant Caravan) as defensive gestures within the new phase of capitalist warfare, which is defined by counter-insurgency wars amongst populations waged by finance capital. For what is only beginning to emerge is a strategy linking these disparate movements that would be adequate to the scale of the problems they take on, namely, that of global finance capital itself. That is, we are approaching the threshold where it will be necessary to make these efforts strategically legible to each other so that they may connect and mutually reinforce one other.
In this paper I propose to grasp the recent emergence of a new, strategic logic of solidarity. This solidarity is defined not by convergent interests (“class interest” from a common class enemy), but 1) negatively, on the exhaustion of capitalist forms of endurance and 2) positively, on the ability to connect different worlds in struggle without making them commensurate.
LIKE A MISUNDERSTANDING OF SALVATION: On the concept of revolution in the twenty-first century
Given the many social movements of the past decade, we are faced with the question: how are the movements to give rise to a revolutionary force -- that is, a force that is not limited to disrupting a particular sphere of life, but is “revolutionary” in that it defeats the state, suppresses the economy, and makes communism real? In this presentation, we draw on recent endeavors in Atlanta, GA to argue that thinking and building a revolutionary force requires that we (1) act in accordance with a strategic understanding of our historical situation, (2) foster a revolutionary consistency both during movements and in daily life, and (3) put that consistency to the test.
Revolutionary Catalonia: Motives of the International Brigades
This paper analyzes the impact of Revolutionary Catalan anarchist society on expatriated volunteers and their motives, largely through the narrative of George Orwell. This paper will analyze Orwell’s time in Spain and the writings in his popular detailed account of the war, Homage to Catalonia , and will compare Orwell’s motives to those of his contemporaries in an effort to ascertain common trends among volunteers. This paper will argue that the relatively unique organization of Revolutionary Catalan society around voluntary association and equality, both economic and political, drew in and inspired volunteers who had experienced disaffection with the growing number of both neoliberal and authoritarian nations. The social transformation in Catalonia that led to the region’s capital, Barcelona, to be perceived as the center of revolutionary spirit inspired and motivated thousands to pick up arms in defense of a society that they found to be worth preserving. It looks at the impact of growing authoritarianism and economic inequality and finds a correlation between those who had experienced this oppression and inequality first-hand and those who were inspired by Catalan society to volunteer and join the fight. The recent rise of interest in volunteers in the Spanish Civil War has helped to reintroduce discussion on the topic; however, the focus to date has been on the military impact of volunteers and their relation to the immediately following Second World War while discussion on the motives of the volunteers themselves has largely been avoided. While the Spanish War itself may be over, similar movements are occurring today, and the motives behind volunteers in Revolutionary Catalonia contain clear parallels to those involved in contemporary conflicts. Understanding human interest and the factors that drove expats to another nation’s war in 1936 can help us to understand similar volunteers today, namely in Rojava, Chiapas, and Ukraine.
“If We Wait, It is We That Will be Burned”: Exploring Violence & Resistance in Ursula Le Guin’s The Word For World is Forest
Anishinaabe scholar Grace L. Dillon warns us of the settler colonial misrepresentations that science fiction enables, while maintaining it as a useful method of speculating about what could be. I explore what science fiction allow anarchists to imagine as possible options for and limits to resistance in the face of gendered, racialized, and colonial violence. Specifically, I offer multiple interpretations of Ursula Le Guin's The Word For World is Forest, including a synthesis of dominant analyses of the novella, an Indigenous feminist lens on the text, as well as thoughts on its estimation of violence and resistance. My presentation analyzes feminist, decolonial, and anti-carceral models of restoration and redress for gendered, racialized, and colonial violence. I turn to Indigenous feminist critique and social science fiction in an exploration of traditional practices, contemporary applications, and liberatory futurities. I explore questions such as, what do literary texts allow us to imagine as possible options for and limits to resistance in the face of gendered, racialized, and colonial violence? What do feminist science fiction authors create as alternatives to statist kinds of redress, like the criminal justice system? And how can speculative fiction like this inspire present day anarchist responses to violence and oppression? By and large, the scholars to have critically engaged with The Word For World Is Forest are white, non-Indigenous cismen, a social position that becomes apparent when examining their ecocritical, utopian, and romanticized perspectives that fail to account for decolonial Indigenous feminist considerations. In an attempt to address this oversight, I am informed by Seneca Nation scholar Mishuana Goeman’s concept of spatial in/justice. I am also compelled by an imperative to rethink violence and resistance, and end with a meditation on the problematics of how resistant violence is constructed in The Word For World Is Forest and beyond.
Wager Against Prefiguration: Social Reproduction Theory in the Diggers and Diane di Prima’s Revolutionary Letters
Social reproduction theory reminds us that radical strategy must discover the means to dismantle capitalist control of our daily life and not just develop alternatives to it. As long as the capitalist system remains in place, any alternative form of social reproduction can be recuperated by this system, turning radical tactics toward capitalist ends. The relationship between means and ends has been a problem for radical strategy, particularly when reflecting on past failures. Studies of the failed revolutions of the 1960s spawned an explanatory paradigm that collapsed the distinction of means and ends, called “prefigurative politics.” Historians retroactively interpreted many of the most radical political projects of this period as primarily alternative communities or utopian social experiments. The Diggers’ free stores, communes, and occupations are by now a classic example. More recently, the Occupy Movement has added to this trend by putting prefigurative strategies into practice, attempting to model an image of the future within their protest camps. Yet, the Occupy Movement’s reliance on day-to-day practices associated with social reproduction (cooking, care work, shared living) draws attention to a potential contradiction. Materialist feminist theory challenges and denaturalizes the idea that social reproduction is a “labor of love” or revolutionary aspiration. When reproductive labor is valorized as revolutionary in and of itself, it risks becoming what the collective Endnotes calls “a self-organisation of the abject, of what no one else is willing to do.” According to materialist feminists, the crucial role of social reproduction is not located in the prefigurative strategy of presenting alternatives but within an antagonistic struggle against the capitalist regime of work. I argue that careful study of the Diggers further complicates prefigurative narratives by exposing how their strategy was understood at the time: not as a means already carrying its own ends—and certainly not an end in itself—but a means to an end. What historians describe as an alternative community was, for the Diggers, a revolutionary strategy that linked housework, care work, and cultural production to an open conflict with capitalism. In this paper, I will draw on archival research and literary analysis, concentrating on Diane di Prima’s Revolutionary Letters, to demonstrate how the Diggers constructed their revolutionary strategy on the terrain of social reproduction. Once we are free of the constraints of prefiguration, we will discuss the possible legacies and lessons of this failed revolution for our current strategies of resistance.
Call outs, Identity, and Punishment in Anarchist/Radical Communities
It is no secret that “Left” social media is dominated by the act of “calling out”, where “problematic” behavior is publicly exposed and punished by social isolation for failing to uphold a perfect image of social justice. This spectacle of politics crosses into “real life” organizing spaces as a common source of conflict. As extra-state models of “justice,” call outs echo failed accountability processes, which only end with exile from community. But call out culture owes more to neoliberal identity politics and its performance of righteousness. Call outs operate through the carceral logic of punishment, identifying someone as a problem with a solution of isolation. They end up consolidating identity positions created by anti-blackness, settler colonialism, and cisheteropatriarchy, and do nothing to build the communities and world we want to live in. We want to discuss experiences anarchists have with call out culture and its entanglement with modern identity politics. How can we find effective ways to organize without replicating systematic oppression? How can we hold bad behavior accountable, while understanding people cause harm and can learn from the experience? How do we create space where ideas and behavior can be constructively challenged with compassion? How can we build non-hierarchical infrastructure, while not knowing what will work? Can we embrace failure, confusion, and the need to keep starting again? Call out culture creates unrealistic standards that ultimately hinders true revolutionary action and change. It is our responsibility as anarchists to create situations grounded in the present that open up possibilities to alter the way we interact with the world and each other for the future. Anarchism shows there is no obtainable utopia; we need instead constant vigilance to root out hierarchies and oppressions, while maintaining the nuance and complexity that accommodates many different ways of living.
The horizon of our time is marked more than ever by the question of planetary species survival in the wake of hundreds of years of economic, industrial, and agricultural destruction. Permaculture is the only realistic agricultural system which will allow us to sustainably fulfill our dietary needs, limit the ability of the counter-revolution to bolster or re-institute an economic logic of scarcity, and which will tend naturally towards a metaphysical shift, destituting humanism and anthropocentrism, and completely transforming our understanding of life and the world (and thus, necessarily, our ideas of “the good life” and our capabilities to build and inhabit worlds). Today, permaculture is largely marketed as a way for enterprising individuals or small, relatively closed communities to, at best, distance themselves from the agricultural market and revitalize relatively small swathes of land, and at worst to provide themselves with a robust agricultural business practice which requires little input in the form of labor or capital to produce high value commodities. We are interested in instead thinking a permaculture practice that could drastically transform the relationship of entire neighborhoods, cities, regions, to the flora and fauna which make it possible for those communities to exist. In our presentation, we hope to begin this process by providing a gloss on how contemporary permaculture practices might be applied as part of the local articulation of a global revolutionary communist project. We will draw on technical guides to permaculture design and examples of existing permaculture projects, Kropotkin’s arguments around food, agriculture, luxury, and work, Jasper Bernes’ skepticism of technological agriculture solutions in his essay “The Belly of the Revolution,” and meditations on the metaphysics of plant life by authors like Emanuele Coccia.
Free musical improvisations in an anarchist perspective: experimentation of non-universal ethics and invention of other spaces against neoliberal captures
Writing from a interested perspective, i.e., against neutrality and impartiality (Passetti, 2003b), I study the musical practice so called free improvisation attempting to understand its approaches with anarchy, questioning how it produces anarchizing relations between the involved (Biazon, 2017). Let’s take some features. Costa (2016) takes the Bey’s widespread notion of taz of Bey (2011) and shows that free improvisations tends to be realized in places situated at the margin of the instituted and sacralized music and also incites horizontal conversations. Bell (2011, 2014), by its turn says that these practices make imminent not only the potency of anarchy, but also its risks: they exempt the power relations, making possible the experimentation of non-universal ethics and the resolution of conflicts by the mutuality (in a proudhonian sense – Proudhon, 1986). However, for Bell improvisation may also become a war of all against all, when we have struggles for power-over (Hobbes, 1983). For Alonso (2008), free improvisation makes possible a little world in which are experimented the non-hierarchical relations and, at the same time, relishing lives. These statements can also be potencialized by my masters degree’s field research made with Orquestra Errante (improvisation group from USP): in its practices, every performance are preceded and succeeded by conversations and collective contestations, in which those who improvise problematize the proper actions, constantly dissolving each one’s individualities. Today I also try to make a genealogy, in Foucault’s (2004 ) sense, of this practice, trying to understand how it goes from something really close to social movements and contestation of relations based on power-over (as we can see about the pioneer groups Scracth Orchestra, Jazz Composers Guild and Música Elettronica Viva - Beal, 2009, Gendron, 2011; Tilbury, 2012) to something capturing by neoliberalism and it’s “creative” propositions, as pointed by David Bell(2014).
Toward a Transmodern World-System: Alter-Epistemic Resistance in Rojava
World-systems analysis has been a primary decolonial theoretical frame within the academy, especially within the discipline of sociology, for over 40 years. For all of its contributions to our knowledge on anti-systemic movements, development, and geo-culture it for the most part has ignored anarchist movements, autonomous social development, and alternative non-state epistemologies. This is partially due to the neo-Marxist assumptions that it is embedded within that ignore dynamic prefigurative process and see the state as the singular tool for social change. In this paper I use decolonial theory from the Latin American Subaltern Studies Group, primarily the concept of border thinking, to illuminate the alter-epistemic movement in Rojava. This movement does not fit into path dependent models of anti-systemic movements outlined by some world-systems theorists and therefore the production of culture and knowledge that inform the ideology of the movement deserve close attention. For this study I analyze the writings of Abdulla Öcalan in order to show how non-state ideologies are produced and employed within a decolonial movement. This movement is deviant to the path dependent model of nationalist anti-coloniality laid out in world-systems theorization and therefore should be important to scholars, activists, and other critical thinkers of both the decolonial and anarchist persuasion.
Resiliency in an Age of Repression?
How can we better understand political repression as a multi-headed strategy designed to produce docile citizens? How can an understanding of these challenges help our communities, groups, networks and individual develop strategies for resisting repression and bouncing back in times of tragedy? With the noted increase in felony prosecutions of agitators and the associated accelerating authoritarianism reinvigorating Green Scare-era ‘dissent-as-terrorism’ rhetoric, how can we resist, stay active and snap back when knocked down? What can distinguish a stress-driven response to trauma and one guided by solidarity? This session will explore what contemporary repression looks like, how it manifests, and what is particular and unique about the current age. We will examine the strategy of repression from psychological, legal, practical and discursive lenses, and use these frames to touch on means of resistance. After establishing this modern frame, we will discuss how a culture of care, informed by anarchist ethics and traditions, can form the basis of both tactics and strategies aimed at increasing our collective ability to rebound and recover following arrests, incarceration, witnessing trauma and other ‘byproducts’ of engaging in contentious politics.
Friedrich Nietzsche: Emma Goldman’s Honorary Anarchist & My Desire to Reclaim Him from the Right
Emma Goldman notably referred to Friedrich Nietzsche, in her autobiography ‘Living My Life’, as an honorary anarchist, for, according to her, though he was not an anarchist (or a Marxist of any persuasion!) he was in spirit at least an anarchist. Furthermore, according to Goldman, Nietzsche’s hierarchy was not one of “purse” or “birth” but of spirit. I want to explore what this means i.e. to be an anarchist in spirit, while also examining Nietzsche’s work from an anarchist perspective. Can and ought anarchists read Nietzsche? I want to also understand what a hierarchy of spirit means and how it can exist within anarchism? Further, it will be noted by many that Nietzsche’s work, theories and ideas are often referred to by the right. Indeed, Nietzsche’s hierarchy is tainted due to its association with right-wing values. I will briefly point this out in my presentation as it will be my presumption that the audience is aware of said association. As this presentation will be about reclaiming the infamous philosopher from the right, I will focus on how we can reclaim Nietzsche and how we can maintain Nietzsche’s teachings to exist outside of the racist and anti-Semitic influences of the right. If music genres like Death Metal and Oi! are spaces of reclamation from the right, ought Nietzsche too be reclaimed or left for the right to use and abuse? How can we study and discuss Nietzsche and his ideas without engaging in a pointless dialogue with members of the right or replicating their values? How can academics engage with and resist against the misreading and misrepresentation of a philosopher like Nietzsche? How can we, as anarchists, construct a meaningful identity without creating a (new) herd and/or replacing one religion with another e.g. a religion of politics?
The Irreversible is a Place: Destituent Power in the Yellow Vest Movement
How can social ruptures give themselves the means to persist and expand? It’s a question asked by everyone who lives through the power and dignity of a riot, at the moment they must return to the atomized world of work, family, and private life. Demonstrations can spill into riots, subjects-in-rupture can congregate in occupations, protest camps, or pipeline blockades, yet the exceptional character of both always seems to condemn them to finitude and reversal. The order of the riot remains flanked by the disorder of normal life. How can we make the leap from suspending time to reorganizing it, from brief eruptions of collective capacity to generating lasting forms of non-sovereign collectivity? Is it possible (as Joshua Clover seems to suggest) for riots to spill beyond the form of the riot altogether? Can riots engender communally reproductive forms of self-organization? Or is it necessary that another, entirely different trajectory emerge alongside them? Yet, what if it were precisely the ‘exceptionality’ of revolt—the ecstatic space-time of the Event—that formed the shore on which the movements of our time continue to crash? Since their first appearance in late November of 2018, the Yellow Vests in France have broken the received rules of political struggle, pointing the way toward an overcoming of the limits of our present. Among the chief novelties of the movement has been its ability to weave together the distinct spatial and temporal dynamisms of the metropolitan riot and the rural circulation-occupation. In this paper, I aim to highlight how the occupation of ‘roundabouts’ allows the movement to combine the suspended temporality of the riot with a parallel process that relocalizes the very experience of politics itself. The paper argues three things. First, I argue that it is the constitution of collective places—embodied here in the roundabout occupations—that forms what Agamben has termed the ‘destituent’ kernel of the Yellow Vest movement, i.e., that which allows the movement to restore the site of politics to a plane of collective ‘use’ no longer formally cut off from the space of everyday life. Second, in dialogue with Joshua Clover’s Riot. Strike. Riot (2016) and Phil A. Neel’s Hinterland (2018), I argue that in the Yellow Vests’ partisan use of these far-hinterland spaces, in their ability to construct a ‘place’ amidst the ‘non-places’ of circulation, may be glimpsed the possibility of a practical overcoming of the limits that the ‘riot-form’ places on contemporary struggle, which on its own has proven incapable of penetrating the congealed rhythms of ‘normal’ or bourgeois time that constitute the space of everyday life. Finally, I argue that the tactical salience of the roundabouts points toward a larger ethicalpolitical wager: in the destituent paradigm that will define the politics to come, place must supercede position as the point of departure for any rupture that hopes to produce the irreversible and hold out. In other words, the need to invest and defend new places or 'sites of life' willeclipse the centrality of ‘social’ differentiations like identities, or the symbolic positions within amatrix of oppression.
Forging a Trans* Social Ecology
In this paper/presentation, I put the field of social ecology, as developed by Murray Bookchin, Chaia Heller, Ynestra King, Janet Biehl, and others, into conversation with trans* and queer ecologies. I argue that social ecology offers one of the best foundations for developing a radical ecology that is inclusive of trans* people and politics. I further elaborate this through the related fields of crip ecologies and decolonial ecologies. This work seeks to forge neglected connections, to further develop social ecological theory and practice, and to suggest anarchism/social ecology as a political home for trans* and queer ecological politics.
Utopia as Failure of Imagination: Settler Colonialism, Nihilism, and Liberation
Is utopia inherently tied to settler colonial ideology? The word implies a place, even if it is no place. In this negation, we already see the attempts at erasure, removal, and genocide that enabled the European colonial project. Thomas More’s inaugural book owed its ideas of a better world to reports of indigenous cultures in what would come to be called South America. Through the history of utopias, we see that appropriations and presumptions of indigenous cultures continue to serve as inspiration for model liberated worlds. Indeed, Ursula K. LeGuin’s motto of utopian thinking comes from a Cree saying. It is rare for utopias to reckon with preexisting cultures in their use of space. Looking at examples of how utopian sf engages colonial thinking, my paper will argue that the concept of utopia maps onto a simultaneous history of oppressive ideas and liberated spaces. However, this does not mean utopia ought to be abandoned. I want to give up the colonial dream, still in utopian thinking, of the impossible blank slate. Pulling from afro-pessimism, queer nihilism, and postcolonial thought, I will outline the idea of a nihilist utopia that tears down the current utopian/dystopian structures we inhabit and points to a future without filling it in.
The Spectre and the Sovereign: The Problem of the Paranormal in Biopolitical Thought
This paper uses thinkers like Foucault, Agamben, and Derrida to rethink the historical role of the supernatural in the history of modern governments. This paper will explore how marginal beliefs and practice can take on new meanings in a biopolitical frame of reference and how the anthropocentric assumptions of normative modes of governmentality are subverted by belief in almost any form of nonhuman intelligence. Finally, I will conclude that paranormal beliefs and practices have been repressed in the era of biopolitics because they seem to transcend what Agamben calls a state of “bare life,” or, as Foucault puts it, “a body manipulated by authority, rather than imbued with animal spirits.”
Potsherds and Possibilities: An Introduction to Anarchist Archaeology
This presentation will highlight what is going on in Anarchist Archaeology, I'll introduce the emergent sub-field, talk about some of the scholars involved, and hopefully inspire some folks to delve into some archaeology.