Anarchist networks, anarcho-activists, flaky shit?

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booeyschewy
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Mar 2 2007 20:02
Anarchist networks, anarcho-activists, flaky shit?

What's going on with this proliferation of anarchist organizations in the NE? The NYMAA, the NE Anarchist Network? Who are these people? It all sounds super loose, activisty, and synthesist-like. I don't want to prejudge from afar though, maybe their doing good work? It seems like maybe there's an activist surge going on with these folks, and whoever the anarcho-galactica group is or whatever. I'm not understanding it.

Smash Rich Bastards
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Mar 2 2007 20:55

The individuals I know of from NYMAA, and the new upstart NE network, are solid comrades. I don't know how successful these efforts will prove to be (I personally think any synthesis project is going to carry irreconcilable contradictions), but the people behind them are sincere enough, have good politics, etc. As far as the U.S. goes, I think the general "movement culture" in the northeast arguably leans more in a 'social anarchist' direction than the rest of the country, so you have many anarchists who may be critical of specific anarchist organizations like NEFAC or WSA but still see the need for formalized organization in some capacity, lean more to the 'red' side of the political spectrum, and also recognize the importance of participating in broader social movements. Differences exist, but overall it seems like relationships between groups are alot less politically antagonistic than elsewhere in the country.

booeyschewy
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Mar 2 2007 21:22

That's good to hear then I was just worried by this quote

"NYMAA is the first explicitly anarchist revolutionary organization of its kind to take shape in NYC in nearly 100 years."

http://www.ainfos.ca/ainfos02532.html

Where I live there's little to no animosity on the revolutionary left, but I think that's because in portland there are literally no organized forces that are active (except FSP who everyone hates). Hopefully those projects go well. Sometimes they can mature into more cohesive political groups with vision. thanks smile

Smash Rich Bastards
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Mar 2 2007 23:03
booeyschewy wrote:
That's good to hear then I was just worried by this quote

"NYMAA is the first explicitly anarchist revolutionary organization of its kind to take shape in NYC in nearly 100 years."

http://www.ainfos.ca/ainfos02532.html

Where I live there's little to no animosity on the revolutionary left, but I think that's because in portland there are literally no organized forces that are active (except FSP who everyone hates). Hopefully those projects go well. Sometimes they can mature into more cohesive political groups with vision. thanks :)

Yeah, its a little weird. Particularly when, in the next line, they say its open to anarchists, anti-authoritarians, "horizontalists", and generally left leaning individuals. I kinda thought a basic requirment to having an "explicitly revolutionary anarchist organization" was a membership that was made up of people who are explicitly revolutionary anarchists. Also, like Flint said in the other thread, it sounds exactly like the rhetoric used by the Atlantic Anarchist Circle (which half of the original NEFAC people came out of, including me and Flint), who were primarily based out of NYC in the late '90s. Its not exactly as groundbreaking of a model as they seem to think it is.

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thugarchist
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Mar 2 2007 23:14

Horizontalists? Fucking hell.

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Bubbles
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Mar 2 2007 23:19
booeyschewy wrote:
Hopefully those projects go well. Sometimes they can mature into more cohesive political groups with vision. thanks :)

dont hold yer breath.

Smash Rich Bastards
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Mar 2 2007 23:40
thugarchist wrote:
Horizontalists? Fucking hell.

You gotta love gringos who romanticize the third world so much that they're willing to use a bad English translation of leftist terminology from Argentina to identify their own politics. Adorable.

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Mar 2 2007 23:51
Smash Rich Bastards wrote:
thugarchist wrote:
Horizontalists? Fucking hell.

You gotta love gringos who romanticize the third world so much that they're willing to use a bad English translation of leftist terminology from Argentina to identify their own politics. Adorable.

pathetic. makes me want to be a fascist.

booeyschewy
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Mar 3 2007 04:56

that's funny i never thought of it that way, I did hear the horizontalism stuff from the Argentinians first in South America. It was so endearing though i didn't think about it.

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Mar 3 2007 22:31
Smash Rich Bastards wrote:
The individuals I know of from NYMAA, and the new upstart NE network, are solid comrades. I don't know how successful these efforts will prove to be (I personally think any synthesis project is going to carry irreconcilable contradictions), but the people behind them are sincere enough, have good politics, etc. As far as the U.S. goes, I think the general "movement culture" in the northeast arguably leans more in a 'social anarchist' direction than the rest of the country, so you have many anarchists who may be critical of specific anarchist organizations like NEFAC or WSA but still see the need for formalized organization in some capacity, lean more to the 'red' side of the political spectrum, and also recognize the importance of participating in broader social movements. Differences exist, but overall it seems like relationships between groups are alot less politically antagonistic than elsewhere in the country.

I don't know about this. I attended the second day of their recent Boston "consulta" and was present for the hours-long, open-group discussion aimed at editing the draft proposal for the network. The largest part of the time spent was spent going around in consensus-procedure circles. The second largest was spent arguing over whether opposition to "speciesism" should be included in the sentence about the network's main basis of unity, or just in a laundry list. Though some pointed out that it was racist to equate racism with "speciesism," others objected that it was speciesist to not do so. My impression was that the latter group won out when some individuals hinted that they would block consensus otherwise.

There is absolutely no language in the entire draft text about class, jobs, or work. The inclusion of the word "anti-capitalist" was the only indication that it was actually anti-capitalist. There may have been some good folks there, but the conversation was definitely not dominated by particularly 'social anarchist'-leaning, or 'red'-leaning, people. I suppose the closest thing was advocating "models like ongoing popular assemblies and community control of resources," though I don't really understand how that is meant if the "communities" in question are trans-species communities.

The language in the second draft now says that the first hallmark of the network will be: "A very clear rejection of capitalism, imperialism, speciesism, and authoritarianism."

Members of the New York and Providence branches of the IWW were present, but I don't remember them saying much during this conversation. If any are on this board I would be delighted to hear their impressions.

petey
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Mar 3 2007 23:17
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Though some pointed out that it was racist to equate racism with "speciesism," others objected that it was speciesist to not do so.

wow

Infoshop
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Mar 4 2007 01:06
MJ wrote:
Members of the New York and Providence branches of the IWW were present, but I don't remember them saying much during this conversation. If any are on this board I would be delighted to hear their impressions.

Well, shit, if you didn't speak up and participate during these meetings, what gives you the idea that you can go around and trash these people?

It sounds like a meeting of younger anarchists who don't quite know what they are doing. It also sounds like the meeting was dominated by the identity politics crap that dominates East Coast activism. Perhaps if you had spoken up about wanting to move things along, then perhaps other like-minded people in the meeting would feel motivated to speak up in support.

From my experience with East Coast activism, these kinds of meetings get bogged down when the "anti-oppression" P.C. nuts start insisting that a group establish positions on crap that just shouldn't be discussed in meetings.

I don't miss East Coast anarchism.

Chuck

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Mar 4 2007 01:09
Infoshop wrote:
MJ wrote:
Members of the New York and Providence branches of the IWW were present, but I don't remember them saying much during this conversation. If any are on this board I would be delighted to hear their impressions.

Well, shit, if you didn't speak up and participate during these meetings, what gives you the idea that you can go around and trash these people?

It sounds like a meeting of younger anarchists who don't quite know what they are doing. It also sounds like the meeting was dominated by the identity politics crap that dominates East Coast activism. Perhaps if you had spoken up about wanting to move things along, then perhaps other like-minded people in the meeting would feel motivated to speak up in support.

From my experience with East Coast activism, these kinds of meetings get bogged down when the "anti-oppression" P.C. nuts start insisting that a group establish positions on crap that just shouldn't be discussed in meetings.

I don't miss East Coast anarchism.

Chuck

wow. you are starting to sound like one of us.

Infoshop
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Mar 4 2007 01:45
x357997 wrote:
wow. you are starting to sound like one of us.

Well, if people actually paid attention to what I say and what I do, then it would be more apparent that I'm on the same wavelength.

I'd really like to see more anarchist organizations and federations out there. Much of my day-to-day work involves networking and providing resources for anarchists and radicals out there. I hope that the stuff I do will be used by anarchists to organize. I can't exactly tell people to go organize, so I'm always happy to hear about new organizing efforts. I'd like to see a bigger, deeper and broader anarchist movement in North America comprised of many groups, organizations and federations.

What I have a problem with is that discussions about new anarchist projects is that too much of the discussion polarizes into sectarian stereotypes. Creating, building and nurturing new organizations is very hard. It's hard to even create and sustain a new non-anarchist organization. Many of the people who come to these meetings, like this consulta, have no experience with small groups and organizations. Some of the people who have experience could use more training and skills. People often get the mistaken idea that meetings are the organization. Meetings are the easy part. The hard part is doing all of the other work necessary to keep the organization running. We're talking about everything from outreach to accounting to recruiting new volunteers to moving buckets around when the roof is leaking.

In my experience, when new groups start talking about identity politics in early meetings, that's a sure sign that the proto-organization has gone off the rails. It's important to talk about race, gender and other related things, but people aren't coming together--most of the time--to talk about and organize around these issues. What ens up happening is that instead of people having organic, direct conversations about these issues, these groups put all of their effort into an rigid system of codifying the organization's position on these issues.

The serious, pragmatic people are driven away by this nonsense. The idiots who promote this crap go unchallenged, because most anarchists and radicals don't want to be seen as being insensitive to identity politics. They just sit there and let the P.C. zealots run the organization into the ground. The P.C. people will yammer on about how the organization needs to "prioritize" these issues, but odds are that there aren't any serious problems in the group when it comes to these issues. get the organization off the fucking ground first and have the fucking P.C. identity politics session after the organization has found its legs.

Chuck

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Steven.
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Mar 4 2007 04:22

I went to a NYMAA meeting when I was over there recently, it was bizarre. Firstly there was all this homemade vegetarian sushi which was really tasty. Then the meeting was really big - much bigger than a London one - and they were bringing in some pretty strict organisational rules and structures. But there was no mention of politics in relationship to the organisation, other than it was "anarchist".

Then it was very american white guilt - the two facilitators actually said - and i'm really not joking - "Hi, we're the facilitators, we're two white guys, we're sorry"!! They also had a "weighted stack" of speakers, where "people of colour" and women would be bumped to the top. Apart from this being stupidly PC, and racialising and sexualising behaviours not inherently linked to race, this actually discriminates against other oppressed groups like gays, elderly, disabled, the young, non-native white english speakers, etc.

Then in the political discussion talking about revolutionary strategy, literally everyone in my subgroup, including Wobblies, was talking about setting up co-ops and shit and revolutionary strategy. Except Wayne Price, but he's a nationalist.

It was pretty depressing really, but always nice to have prejudices confirmed. Especially when they're about anarchists. And American anarchists in particular, ha ha.

I reiterate they were a nice bunch though, I'm sure some of them will get better at least... lots were very young.

Antieverything
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Mar 4 2007 04:48

Weighted stack? I thought I'd seen everything!

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Mar 4 2007 04:51

wall embarrassed wall

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Mar 4 2007 06:05
John. wrote:

I reiterate they were a nice bunch though, I'm sure some of them will get better at least... lots were very young.

Groups like this ruin more people's potential than allow for solid political development. 99% of the North American anarchist movement are nice people. Big fucking deal. I'll take organizing with assholes like MaRK and Flint over nice people anyday of the week.

Did you notice how good Wayne looks for his age? Not much older than when this legendary photo was taken...

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Mar 4 2007 06:21
Infoshop wrote:
Well, shit, if you didn't speak up and participate during these meetings, what gives you the idea that you can go around and trash these people?

First off, I don't think that someone who doesn't think they're likely to be involved in a group should participate in a discussion about its formation. Anything I or the folks I was with would have brought up could only have used up time and derailed the whole effort further. And second, I'm not trashing them, simply reporting the facts of what happened. I don't think it was particularly "red" or "social," is all.

Infoshop wrote:
In my experience, when new groups start talking about identity politics in early meetings, that's a sure sign that the proto-organization has gone off the rails.

Dude. "Speciesism" isn't even "identity politics." Actually the only really engaged objections to the push to make it an animal liberation club were from people who I generally think go a little heavy on the "anti-oppression" jargon in some other situations.

John. wrote:
They also had a "weighted stack" of speakers, where "people of colour" and women would be bumped to the top. Apart from this being stupidly PC, and racialising and sexualising behaviours not inherently linked to race, this actually discriminates against other oppressed groups like gays, elderly, disabled, the young, non-native white english speakers, etc.

Hmm. It does seem silly, but I've seen stack-weighting improve meetings. Usually just letting people who haven't already spoken on a subject skip to the top suffices, but if you're trying to make it clear that despite other symptoms of exclusion the participation of for example people of color is welcomed and encouraged, making sure they get their word in can do wonders. Maybe if you were from a continent where the color line has split the working class down the middle since its very inception, and where even otherwise revolutionary movements have been racially segregated, your opinion here would carry a little more... weight.

Also... nothing is "inherently linked to race," since race doesn't inherently exist, so isn't your point a bit meaningless, even if we set aside history? Or were you really just hoping that as a "non-native white english speaker" you would get some compensatory privilege of your own? :biggrin:

Though I am sorry about the whole cooperatives-as-revolutionary-strategy thing. roll eyes I'm sure if we actually had more of them, people would figure out their limits real fast.

Catch 22
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Mar 4 2007 09:58

*shrugs* I met a number of the comrades behind the Northeast consulta. They're all solid class struggle wobs. In my discussions with them they all stressed the consulta as a way to help bridge the "green/red divide.” Problem was that aside from Boston GMB, no red group endorsed this thing. The consulta was heavily skewed away from class struggle specifically because class struggle folks didn’t get involved or push their politics. However, I do like their plans for the biotech convention actions during Mayday week. According to the comrades, biotech labs are big gentrifiers in the Boston area.

NYMAA is a good group. Its synthesist yes, but that’s kinda the idea. NYMAA isn’t a tight organization, it’s a clearinghouse where groups of people can plug in, form a working group and do their own thing. The typical comments from NY anarchos are that “they don’t do anything’ or “it’s a great place to meet new faces and plug in.’ No one has any illusions about it being some grand revolutionary strategy.

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Mar 4 2007 11:07
Catch 22 wrote:
*shrugs* I met a number of the comrades behind the Northeast consulta. They're all solid class struggle wobs. In my discussions with them they all stressed the consulta as a way to help bridge the "green/red divide.”

red is green.

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Mar 4 2007 11:08
Catch 22 wrote:
*shrugs* I met a number of the comrades behind the Northeast consulta. They're all solid class struggle wobs. In my discussions with them they all stressed the consulta as a way to help bridge the "green/red divide.”

red n black star is green. wall

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Mar 4 2007 17:40

Okay I want to stress that I am writing SOLELY on personal capacity here.

Catch 22 wrote:
Problem was that aside from Boston GMB, no red group endorsed this thing. The consulta was heavily skewed away from class struggle specifically because class struggle folks didn’t get involved or push their politics.

Class struggle folks didn't endorse or push their politics because the initial call made it impossible to endorse. Our local union of NEFAC wanted to participate but we were discouraged by the call. We engaged them in a series of private letters about it, and we sent members to attend both days. We did participate in conversations about anarchist participation in the immigrant rights rallies that will be happening, but none of us in attendance felt we had anything to contribute to the network-forming discussion once it started.

We still haven't met to decide whether to participate/endorse, but based on what I saw on the second day, I personally plan to speak against the idea.

Catch 22 wrote:
However, I do like their plans for the biotech convention actions during Mayday week. According to the comrades, biotech labs are big gentrifiers in the Boston area.

Yeah, and a bunch of hippie animal libbers from out of town comparing immigrants to animals is exactly what we need to prevent displacement. angry

Catch 22 wrote:
NYMAA is a good group. Its synthesist yes, but that’s kinda the idea. NYMAA isn’t a tight organization, it’s a clearinghouse where groups of people can plug in, form a working group and do their own thing. The typical comments from NY anarchos are that “they don’t do anything’ or “it’s a great place to meet new faces and plug in.’ No one has any illusions about it being some grand revolutionary strategy.

Well that sounds great, and in fact the NEFAC collective in NYC is participating and have said good things about the experience. But now one of the hallmarks of the regional network NYMAA is trying to set up is opposition to "speciesism," and I really don't think you should be blaming that on class struggle anarchists.

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Steven.
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Mar 4 2007 18:42
MJ wrote:
John. wrote:
They also had a "weighted stack" of speakers, where "people of colour" and women would be bumped to the top. Apart from this being stupidly PC, and racialising and sexualising behaviours not inherently linked to race, this actually discriminates against other oppressed groups like gays, elderly, disabled, the young, non-native white english speakers, etc.

Hmm. It does seem silly, but I've seen stack-weighting improve meetings. Usually just letting people who haven't already spoken on a subject skip to the top suffices, but if you're trying to make it clear that despite other symptoms of exclusion the participation of for example people of color is welcomed and encouraged, making sure they get their word in can do wonders.

Er, yeah this is simple chairing/facilitating. A good facilitator will bump people who obviously don't feel comfortable speaking. a disproportionate number of these will be women or black, but so what? you give people priority according to their behaviour, not their biology.

Quote:
Maybe if you were from a continent where the color line has split the working class down the middle since its very inception, and where even otherwise revolutionary movements have been racially segregated, your opinion here would carry a little more... weight.

Yeah cheers for being patronising. I'm not sure letting them speak first quite makes up for slavery, if that's what you're hoping.

Quote:
Also... nothing is "inherently linked to race," since race doesn't inherently exist, so isn't your point a bit meaningless, even if we set aside history?

er, no because the chairs of this meeting were prioritising speakers due to their race.

Quote:
Or were you really just hoping that as a "non-native white english speaker" you would get some compensatory privilege of your own?

I meant non-native english speaker. I speak better english than all those yankees with their pants and their biscuits and their sidewalks.

Quote:
But now one of the hallmarks of the regional network NYMAA is trying to set up is opposition to "speciesism,"

roll eyes fuck i hate anarchists/

thugarchist wrote:
John. wrote:

I reiterate they were a nice bunch though, I'm sure some of them will get better at least... lots were very young.

Groups like this ruin more people's potential than allow for solid political development. 99% of the North American anarchist movement are nice people. Big fucking deal. I'll take organizing with assholes like MaRK and Flint over nice people anyday of the week.

jesus i don't mean i'd organise with them or anything, just that they were nice.

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Did you notice how good Wayne looks for his age? Not much older than when this legendary photo was taken...

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damn...

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Mar 4 2007 21:46
John. wrote:
Yeah cheers for being patronising. I'm not sure letting them speak first quite makes up for slavery, if that's what you're hoping.

No, not at all, but it's also patronizing to lecture us about racial politics when you haven't had to deal with the history we have.

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I meant non-native english speaker. I speak better english than all those yankees with their pants and their biscuits and their sidewalks.

grin

What's a sidewalk then? A footpath?

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Mar 4 2007 22:00

star green black makes me hate red n black star and makes we want to be a red star

Infoshop
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Mar 5 2007 00:23
John. wrote:
Then it was very american white guilt - the two facilitators actually said - and i'm really not joking - "Hi, we're the facilitators, we're two white guys, we're sorry"!! They also had a "weighted stack" of speakers, where "people of colour" and women would be bumped to the top. Apart from this being stupidly PC, and racialising and sexualising behaviours not inherently linked to race, this actually discriminates against other oppressed groups like gays, elderly, disabled, the young, non-native white english speakers, etc.

Yep, that sounds very much like East Coast activism. Lots of really good anarchists who get sucked into white guilt P.C. identity politics.

This misuse of some good ideas is what makes me cringe as an anarchist organizer. I've facilitated meetings using things like a weighted stack, but there are only certain occasions when these methods should be used. We had a GPAN workshop in South Dakota a few years ago which has some contentious discussion. A weighted stack came in handy there. It also comes in handy when you have meetings that include guys (and some women) who talk to much and talk over people. Sometimes it's just better to explain that certain behaviors are unacceptable during discussions and decison-making times.

These are all problems that stem from inexperienced anarchists, not something endemic to a certain style of having meetings.

Chuck

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Mar 5 2007 00:34
Infoshop wrote:
This misuse of some good ideas is what makes me cringe as an anarchist organizer. I've facilitated meetings using things like a weighted stack, but there are only certain occasions when these methods should be used...A weighted stack came in handy there. It also comes in handy when you have meetings that include guys (and some women) who talk to much and talk over people.

Yes which is why you weight for behaviour, not for race or gender. At one meeting in NYC once nothing could get done because one woman who was an ethnic minority would not shut the fuck up. Using a race/gender stack (which wasn't at this meeting) she would keep getting bumped to the top ahead of everyone else.

MJ wrote:
John. wrote:
Yeah cheers for being patronising. I'm not sure letting them speak first quite makes up for slavery, if that's what you're hoping.

No, not at all, but it's also patronizing to lecture us about racial politics when you haven't had to deal with the history we have.

If you need to be told that treating people differently due to their race or gender is not good then you need patronising. You can also say that the US is different, but there is a bigger history - and present - of things like organised fascism here which there has not been in the US.

Quote:
Quote:
I meant non-native english speaker. I speak better english than all those yankees with their pants and their biscuits and their sidewalks.

grin

What's a sidewalk then? A footpath?

a pavement you fucking imperialist

Infoshop
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Mar 5 2007 00:41
Catch 22 wrote:
NYMAA is a good group. Its synthesist yes, but that’s kinda the idea. NYMAA isn’t a tight organization, it’s a clearinghouse where groups of people can plug in, form a working group and do their own thing. The typical comments from NY anarchos are that “they don’t do anything’ or “it’s a great place to meet new faces and plug in.’ No one has any illusions about it being some grand revolutionary strategy.

I think that the anarchist movement is so small, even in places like New York City, that anarchists tend to put too many hopes and aspirations into every new anarchist group or project that comes down the pike. Events like the Northeast Consulta can't be all things to all anarchists, but it can be the place where people come together to meet each other and start new projects, or join existing ones. NYMAA is a good idea for NYC and it is taking the right tack by being "synthesist." It can put together events where people can come together. If you want to build your local anarcho-communist group, these events could be a good place to find new people.

Are these projects revolutionary? Not really, but they do provide some infrastructure to nurture the local anarchist community which could develop organizations with a more revolutionary flavor.

We had another meeting of our anarchist discussion group this morning in Kansas City. We had a turnout of 8, which is double of last week. In a city like Kansas City, this is significant. The discussion group is hardly revolutionary, but it does bring together anarchists and people interested in our ideas. We have an infoshop too and a loose community of anarchists, many of whom are inactive right now.

Chuck

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Mar 5 2007 00:49

Chuck, I'm generally fine with non-sectarian networks that have the goal of linking anarchist groups in places where we can work together. However, it nearly always becomes the case that 'red' anarchists get excluded because they generally have defined opinions and don't hold back their views or get driven away because the facilitators of these groups (well intentioned certainly) bend over backwards for every fucking wingnut that shows up.

Where's my fn free tshirt?

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Mar 5 2007 00:50
Infoshop wrote:

We had another meeting of our anarchist discussion group this morning in Kansas City. We had a turnout of 8, which is double of last week. In a city like Kansas City, this is significant.

cry

Infoshop wrote:
The discussion group is hardly revolutionary, but it does bring together anarchists and people interested in our ideas. We have an infoshop too and a loose community of anarchists, many of whom are inactive right now.

Chuck

wall hand wall