St-Imer International Gathering: Who's participating? Who's Going?

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Aug 16 2012 18:01
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For the past week, thousands of anarchists from across the world have been converging in St.Imier, Switzerland to celebrate the 140th anniversary of the founding of the Anarchist international. The gathering took the form of a festival and educational, with music, films and entertainment as well as workshops and discussions.
On returning from the St Imier gathering, two anarchists, one a member of the UK Anarchist Federation, were detained for nearly two hours at Heathrow by SO15 (counter-terrorist) intelligence who initially refused to identify themselves to the detainees. During the detention, the anarchists were told that their normal rights did not apply, and had their names, addresses, email addresses, DNA, photographs and fingerprints taken. The detained anarchists were also forced to sign forms – which may or may not be legal – waiving their rights to silence and a solicitor. Police also conducted a thorough search of personal possessions, photocopied literature and passports and took information from phones and cameras.

Jesus, that's awful.

akai
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Aug 16 2012 18:14

MT, don't be a sexist. I assume the poster of the we are poking fun at was a woman, not a guy.

I am sure that the WSA member could have a good time. It is enough to ignore 3/4 of the people and find ones that you think make sense to talk to.

But I would repeat one of my basic criticisms, don't know if posted here. If such a substantial part of the movement is comprised of loonies, another part comprised of, basically "serious" ones, but who prefer to sit and talk about exoteric topics than mobilize, another part maybe too close to the authoritarian left in practice, wouldn't it be a hell of a lot more efficient and sensible just to get together a meeting of the social anarchists of one sort or another?

MT
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Aug 16 2012 18:44

i thought that the word "guy" can stand for both sexes. anyway, back to the topic. i might not get an answer here, but it cannot be a coincidence, that this type of people met in St. Imer. I mean, if you prepare invitations and "advertise" something in one way, then it seems to be impossible that most of the people would be loonies or, fuck, drunk punks! so, we could go even further and hypothesize about what organizing as a specific organization these days really brings and what culture it builds. I mean, we know these types of people in every regional scene, don't we? so perhaps we should be surprised that they concentrated in such big amounts in St. Imer. SO in fact I don't think that promotion of the event was the problem but the whole state of anarchist specific organizations. but let's think even further - wasn't this the case before in the past. And i mean the past even before the craziness that developed after 60's.

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Aug 16 2012 18:50

MT - what you saying? I've re-read your post half a dozen times, it doesn't make any sense.

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Aug 16 2012 18:52

Spiky, thanks, I was only joking. I've mostly heard good things about the bookfair over the years. If all goes well money- and time-wise, I will come (probably along with some other comrades). Hope to get to know as many people from the forums personally as possible!

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Aug 16 2012 18:53
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And i mean the past even before the craziness that developed after 60's.

Do you mean this? grin

akai
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Aug 16 2012 19:09

I just mentally imagined the folks from St. Imier all sitting around in the nude.

akai
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Aug 16 2012 19:17

Seriously, I understand MT's idea here. Some of the anarchist specific organizations seem bent on the widest spectrum possible approach, so of course we can expect this to be part of the result. When we asked the IFA about the idea of meeting with the rest in St. Imier, we were told by one member (don't know if it was a representative voice or not), that the idea is to have good relations with all anarchists. And basically I was told off about what he seemed to believe was picking fights with anarchists. But, we have to look things at things straight: all anarchists include primitivists, strange post-modernists... in eastern europe they include nationalists, constitutionalists, anarchist political parties, anarcho-bolsheviks, some people working in the government or trying to get there, anarcho-capitalists, etc. etc. So... I think the question is also about where you drop the line and either say, these people aren't anarchists in my book, or say, OK, they are anarchists, but we won't spend a lot of time dealing with them because we have other priorities and gotta get on with them.

MT
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Aug 16 2012 19:20

ok, sorry for bad english, i will try to rephrase.

I don't think it is coincidence that there was so many loonies. One could say that it is because invitations for the events were made in too open way trying to get absolutely all sorts of anarchists there, but I think it is not the case. So I am wondering if the inherent problem isn't the existence of specific organizations as such. and here one could say, that specific anarchist organization is very needed but many of them are just shame. however, i would ask if this wasn't the case even in the past (not only last 10-20-50 years). I hope this makes more sense now:)

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Aug 16 2012 19:27
akai wrote:
in eastern europe they include nationalists, constitutionalists, anarchist political parties, anarcho-bolsheviks, some people working in the government or trying to get there, anarcho-capitalists, etc. etc.

What are anarcho-bolsheviks? I've heard of national bolshevism, but never of anarcho-bolshevism!

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Aug 16 2012 19:43

i agree that there should be generalized social anarchist conferences. perhaps the more independent social anarchist groupings could make space for this?

i've been to many of these types of gatherings in the US. if you make it open to all you are gonna get the loonies who just want to camp or come to debate and fuck around. this is why the CSAC conferences have been invite only, and way more useful for direct collaboration and building or relations to the point we have a more formalized network here in the states, with a great possibility of one or two unitary organizations coming out of it.

akai
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Aug 16 2012 19:43

It's the anarchists who accept bolshevik methods and even some who think the dictatorship of proletariat is necessary in the so-called "transitional phase".

It would need a whole new thread to list all the insane type of anarchists I have seen around here. It's hard to say which are currently the most insane. Maybe the anarchist party in Ukraine SAU, which on the one hand proposes elements of anarcho-capitalism, on the other hand, Makhnovism. But in the past there were even more insane than that.

And the pro-insurrectionalists also are usually close to the lunatic fringe.

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Aug 16 2012 19:45

Cheers MT - that's a bit clearer mate!

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Aug 16 2012 19:51

So, can somebody say something about PKK and ETA people who were in St. Immer? I've heard that PKK had lecture and that they are now "anarchists", because Appo is reading Bookchin and likes "democratic confederalism". I've actually talked with two Turkish anarchists who came to Croatia to make lecture about PKK being anarchist and having 5 million anarchists members.

akai
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Aug 16 2012 20:27

I think Croatian comrades managed to get to that so ask them.

That's really insane about PKK but at least one tendency I know is really supportive of national liberation shit and makes all those groups into anarchists, so I wouldn't be surprised.

But, you know, since there were some nut isolated cases there glorifying the anarchist movements of the 1860s in a very literal way, like advising that we return to their politics, I wouldn't be surprised if some see the national question in the same way as the ones from that time.

Not joking.

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Aug 16 2012 20:39

I've mentioned that I was on lecture by 3 Turkish anarchists who talked in support of national liberation struggle of Kurdish people and PKK organised in Zagreb by MASA (here's source so that people don't call me sectarian for being just internationalist: http://masa-hr.org/content/demokratski-konfederalizam-u-kurdistanu). Also, in Zagreb there were series of lectures on direct democracy and some comrades talked about "democratic confederalism" in Kurdistan based on that lecture. I've confronted them there with informations I've got from member of Turkish section of ICC. So, those Turkish anarchists claimed that PKK switched to anarchism, that it has 5 million anarchist members, that they are not advocating national state, but "democratic confederalism" which is anarchist concept and of course, there were bunch of fairy tales about some kind of PKK's communes for abused women, about villages which are run on direct democracy and similar bollocks. Documents which ICC comrade provided me about this "democratic confederalism" clearly show that this is nothing but a nationalist project of creation nation state, of course, run by Kurdish bourgeoisie. But yeah, PKK is anarchist.

So, I really don't have to ask comrades from MASA about PKK, cause I know their position. What I'm more interested is what were these nationalist ***** doing there in the first place? Who did gave them place for preaching their crap etc... Bloody hell... PKK haha

akai
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Aug 16 2012 21:04

Well, crazy ideas about anarchism. Nothing one can say except that municipal libertarians and anarcho-national-populists really are silly fucks.

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Aug 16 2012 21:07

Well, I couldn't agree more smile

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Aug 16 2012 21:54

In WSA we have a comrade that lived in Turkey for a while and befriended anarchist and left communist militants there. He is also pretty interested in this PKK supposed turn towards libertarian municipalism/confederalism. On the Syria thread there is a bunch of talk about this too, and there was a German Indymedia article talking about how in the civil war situation there some Kurdish areas have instituted a council democracy. When talking to him about this stuff though it seemed they were still very much regionalists but in a more practical sense of these supposed currents want to stake out autonomy for themselves via some form of the above, but don't think the situation is close enough that the world revolution or whatever is in the waiting. So long story short sounded more like a desire to create semi-autonomous zones short of outright nationalism. Being a staunch internationalist I am still wary of this and really would love to hear more from comrades about this.

Also K are you really a "bolshevik" or you just kidding. I thought you were more autonomist/left communist close to KPK/MC?

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Aug 16 2012 22:05
sabotage wrote:
Also K are you really a "bolshevik" or you just kidding. I thought you were more autonomist/left communist close to KPK/MC?

Trust me, K. is a "bolshevik"!

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Aug 16 2012 22:10
sabotage wrote:
Also K are you really a "bolshevik" or you just kidding. I thought you were more autonomist/left communist close to KPK/MC?

"Bolshevik" thing was a joke, because of all this "sectarian" crybaby bollocks from mr.IFA guy. You can click on my profile to see how did I decide to describe myself, even I don't see how is this important for discussion. You can read arguments I gave and agree or disagree with me no matter how do I call myself. After all that's more important then these tags, because as we can see we have people who call themselves anarchists and yet they are loving nationalist gang called PKK wink

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Aug 16 2012 22:11
Android wrote:
Trust me, K. is a "bolshevik"!

Councilist wanker.

Mark.
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Aug 16 2012 22:39
sabotage wrote:
In WSA we have a comrade that lived in Turkey for a while and befriended anarchist and left communist militants there. He is also pretty interested in this PKK supposed turn towards libertarian municipalism/confederalism. On the Syria thread there is a bunch of talk about this too, and there was a German Indymedia article talking about how in the civil war situation there some Kurdish areas have instituted a council democracy. When talking to him about this stuff though it seemed they were still very much regionalists but in a more practical sense of these supposed currents want to stake out autonomy for themselves via some form of the above, but don't think the situation is close enough that the world revolution or whatever is in the waiting. So long story short sounded more like a desire to create semi-autonomous zones short of outright nationalism. Being a staunch internationalist I am still wary of this and really would love to hear more from comrades about this.

For a deeply uncritical take on the PKK's turn to libertarian municipalism you could try reading this article by Janet Biehl (Murray Bookchin's partner):
http://new-compass.net/node/265

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Aug 16 2012 22:47
Kontrrazvedka wrote:
"Bolshevik" thing was a joke, because of all this "sectarian" crybaby bollocks from mr.IFA guy.

Nah, not having that, you fucking sectarian wankstain. I think I'd rather communicate with a stalinist than a snidey fucking anarcho gobshite like yourself. Tosser.

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Aug 16 2012 22:59
Serge Forward wrote:
Nah, not having that, you fucking sectarian wankstain. I think I'd rather communicate with a stalinist than a snidey fucking anarcho gobshite like yourself. Tosser.

According to age you've posted you could be my dad ie. you should act more mature. Even I like tosser as expression. It's one of my favorite British English "insults". Also, Stalinists are actually good company. I dislike Trots thou, cause they tend to be pretentious hipsters.

Btw. are you one who called PKK gangsters? smile I mean your "International" did organise this, right?

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Aug 17 2012 00:13
akai wrote:
Anybody who wants a different view of this can look here: http://anarchistnews.org/content/140-years-later-and-were-still-talking-about-same-old-stuff#comment-208991

Some things there true, but you will quickly see the "political" (sic) flavour of the author and realize that some of the comments are ridiculous.

I personally would be very happy if serious anarchists hold their own events, away from the cesspool of the broader "movement".

I have keenly observed that unless its boiled down to invites only, numpties are bound to come in their droves. The various cliques and hangers-on are happy to use whatever occasion to push their bourgeois influences or participate in the spectacle. I recall the Anarchist Conference 2009 held in London, where there were clearly participants who were neither anarchist or had any investment In our struggles, yet were happy to turn up and talk rubbish.

akai
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Aug 17 2012 07:10

JoeM., this is true and obvious. The question is what the organized anarchist movement wants to do. Keep spending loads of money on such enterprises or perhaps organize fewer but more frequent working meetings with concrete projects.

akai
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Aug 17 2012 07:48

Just a clarification on PKK. The leader, Ocalan, in taking up democratic confederalism, also criticizes the traditional nation-state model. Thus one can understand that some people reading this can imply that this is a break and heading in the municipal libertarian direction. However there is a bigger question and that is whether as anarchists we recognize the change in the direction of the leader as indicative as a change in the direction of 5 million people.

The leaders who seem to have great power can be influential, so no doubt this idea has been popularized. But I wouldn't make any judgments without seeing it on the ground. Not the least of all because the democratization of society is an important libertarian goal, but not the most important as it doesn't matter too much if crap decisions are taken in a democratic way or not.

Am not totally critical of this change in the PKK though and think it is in a more positive direction. Just think it's a mistake to try and reach and call things anarchist like that.

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Aug 17 2012 08:08

Okay, here's my comments on the whole Saint-Imier do...

Overall, it was fucking brilliant. I met some fantastic people, some great comrades and all this took place in a really beautiful setting, where the locals were really friendly to all the anarchos invading their town.

Let's get one thing straight. IFA did not organise the gathering at Saint-Imier. What IFA organised was the IFA congress and daily open meetings on a wide range of topics for the wider public.

As for the organisation of the rest of the gathering, it was actually very well done. The camping and catering for so many thousands of people was excellent. The fact that those organising the food may have all been a bit alternative-stylee with dredlocks and suchlike, and not exactly in tune with some of the more... ahem... serious Libcom militants, in no way negatively affected the high standard of the food provided (which was incredibly welcome in a country as pricey as Switzerland) or the general organisation.

Some negatives... as far as the participation of PKK or ETA people goes, this is the first I've heard of it. I didn't even know they were claiming to be libertarians now either, which just goes to show how little I know. Mind you, if PKK were genuinely libertarian communist and no longer nationalist, why would their involvement be a problem?

Another minor negative was the proselytising vegans who weren't happy with the vood available there being a great advert for vegan nosh, but decided to piss off every non-vegan attending the event... and then start bellyaching that they felt 'unsafe' when people told them to fuck off.

Also... why were so many anarchoids going round barefoot? Was this out of some deference to anarcho-primitivism? I'm fucked if I know. But what did disturb me was when a camp toilet overflowed and more than a few barefoot warriors seemed perfectly okay with treading in shitty water. Now call me old fashioned, but I'd prefer it if the furture anarchist society could avoid things like typhoid and dysentry.

Last negative... why is Switzerland so fucking hilly? I'm knocking on a bit and only used to flat surfaces and was I completely knackered walking about the town.

I participated in several talks and the level of discussion was generally pretty good. In the meeting on nationalism, which was attended by about 300 people, I gave a broad view of nationalism, left and right and anarchist responses to national liberation. Alternative Libertaire spoke on anti fascism within French unions and MASA spoke on nationalism in the Balkans. As meetings go, it was dead good. Still no sign of the PKK and ETA.

Those of you who are more negative abut the event, I'm not saying you're wrong, just that your experiences seem different to my own. Of course, it's the wider anarchist movent, which includes crusties, trusties, assorted fuckwits, so it'd be amazing if there weren't negatives. But really, they didn't spoil it much, and some of them maybe even contributed a bit.

akai
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Aug 17 2012 09:12

Thanks for that report.

Back to PKK...first, a simple question is what the structure of PKK is. It is a political party, isn't it?

So if we ask about liberatarian communism, the question remains how reflective the views of the imprisoned spiritual leader are. Also, if we ask about libertarian views, then we also should ask about the murders of some prominent members who left to form alternative parties.

We can also ask about the real links between PKK and DTP, which the leadership obviously wanted to act as its legitimate political arm. There is very little support for the DTP, hence one wonders about the actual support of the PKK politics, as opposed to PKK as a paramilitary group and opposition movement. There is some research to support that a good deal of the people on the ground joined PKK merely for questions of self-defense.

So again, how does an organization become declared libertarian communist? By the conscious decision of its membership to go down that path, understanding what that means, or by the intellectual political propaganda made by a leader who is in prison?

BTW, we are talking about 5 million people, not one.