Anarchist voting : voting Anarchist

Michael Coates

The vote cage - by Brighton Solidarity Federation The vote cage – by Brighton Solidarity Federation

In 6 months on 7th May 2015 we have the opportunity to vote out the shambles of the Con-Dem Coalition and condemn David Cameron to the scrapheap of “one term Prime Ministers”, and Nick Clegg to where he belongs… wherever that may be!

However I as someone who identifies as an anarchist, or anarcho-syndicalist, or anarcho-communist (depending on my mood) I am in theory opposed to voting. As the oft cited phrase, attributed to anarchist hero Emma Goldman, says “If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal” the vote within a Parliamentary democracy is not democratic. As an anarchist I hold that a truly democratic society does not need and is actively oppressed by the appointment of national governments, armies, police forces and other tools of control. I believe that The People are the true authority in society from whom…

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Instagram account highlights online harassment of women

Feminist Philosophers

Alexandra Tweten created an instagram account that compiles screen shots of harassing messages directed at women in retaliation for rejection.

From Ms. Magazine:

After seeing these disturbing messages grouped together, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that our society has a misogyny problem. The same forces that taught Elliot Roger that he was justified in murdering women for rejecting him, the cultural atmosphere that says it’s OK for hundreds of men to catcall any woman in a public space, the thing that drives men to brutally injure women who ignore them are all connected to the sense of toxic entitlement some men possess.

While Bye Felipe (a take on the meme “Bye Felicia”) uses humor to take away some of the power these insults may carry, I also like to point folks to the Tumblr “When Women Refuse,” which chronicles the serious problem of actual…

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Some Bristol Anarchists Response To The Police

Bristol Anarchist Federation

Anarchists wield flaming torches outside Trinity Police Station (click for more info) Anarchists wield flaming torches outside Trinity Police Station (click for more info)

Following on from our statement last year on police harassment of activists, and the subsequent march on a police sation brandishing flaming torches, and our more recent demo in solidarity with Furguson, Mo, we are pleased to put our name to the recent Bristol Defendant Solidarity statement.  The latest wave of police harassment and the history behind it is detailed by the anarchist bookfair collective, and the statement itself is signed and supported by numerous anarchist groups in and around Bristol. Here is the statement in full:

Police in Bristol appear to be stepping up their so far fruitless efforts to find individual anarchists and those that they think are responsible for property destruction actions over the last few years in Bristol. One year after their firearms training centre at Portishead was burnt down, they have turned to…

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Remember the Mutineers

Glasgow Anarchist Federation

Here’s a black poppy for this Remembrance Day.

This goes out to those who who died in, and all those who resisted and continue to resist, the capitalists’ wars. To those who mutinied, went on strike, shirked, refused to kill. For all those they executed for deserting. No more “future soldiers” or sycophantic, slavish patriotism.

Let’s take the fight to the bosses! For disobedience and class war!

Some resources:
Mutinies 1917-1920 – Dave Lamb
How Non-violence Protects the State – Peter Gelderloos
Pacifism and Violence, a Study in Bourgeois Ethics – Christopher Cauldwell

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I Want To Get Better – An insight into accountability and restorative justice.

I wrote this at the start of this year for inclusion into a zine on accountability. I’m still waiting for it to be published, so I got bored and I’m putting it on here. I hope people find it helpful:

TW: Accountability and Consent breaches.

This one is for the “Perps” engaging in restorative justice. The people who want to get better.

I’m not writing this from a holier than thou angle, I’m writing this because I have hurt people, I have put my desires before other people’s feelings and safety. I manipulated people, I broke their trust and breached their boundaries. I took advantage of them because I could only think about my dick, even when I knew it was wrong. I didn’t care. When I got called out it didn’t really sink in. They were wrong! It was their fault! If they had said or done things differently this would never have happened!

This was a pattern on behaviour I couldn’t see in myself. I didn’t behave like that, I was pro-feminist. An ally. An anarchist. I didn’t need a quiet word, I needed a fucking kick in. Instead, and all for the better, I got an e-mail. An invite to begin an accountability process. A process that put my life on hold and sent me to a very dark place, but a process that made me understand what I was doing and why I did it. The ability to see things from other peoples perspectives, and an opportunity. An opportunity to accept responsibility, for restitution and for re-authoring my identity.

I have many criticisms of these accountability processes, a process that has made these past few month the darkest and most painful I have experienced. I recommend reading “Accounting for Ourselves: Breaking the Impasse around Assault and Abuse in Anarchist Scenes” by Crimethinc and “The Broken Teapot” for well constructed critiques of accountability in its present form. However, the only person that put me in this position was me. So I want to talk about using this opportunity positively.

Firstly, Deal with it! When I got called out I began to wallow in self pity, even re-reading the above I see words such as “Dark” and “Painful”. I was only interested in how I felt, in letting people know how guilty I felt. I centred what happened around me. I guess this is a relatively natural response. In the mens group I attend someone else brought up doing this when he has hurt people and everyone there enthusiastically nodded along. In the zine “Ex Masculus” Vanessa Vendetta also raises this issue of perpetrators self pity, self loathing and depression.

I don’t have a way to make this not happen but hopefully you can recognise it now. This is likely the most important step in your process. Without reassessing your priorities there is little that can be done in terms of accountability. The pamphlet “As if they were human: A different take on perpetrator accountability.” Explores how these feelings come about and supports my theory that these emotions are normal. We just need to be able to manage them.

But who invariably deals with accountability in our communities? Women. Potential survivors. The survivor themselves. People close to the survivor. People who are understandably angry. So when I pulled down the shutters and only cared about my feelings, the people I hurt got more angry and I got more upset. Vendetta covers this in the article “With or Without You” saying: “I want him to stop putting off facing the things within him that allowed him to rape so that we don’t lose yet another aspiring radical to the jaws of unaccountable-escape-land. …I end up using the energy I could otherwise put in to being emotionally supportive to a survivor doing what I see as damage control through political and intellectual work around sexual violence prevention and accountability processes…”

Accept responsibility. I wasted time on arguing my point of view. Your perspective may be different, but the perspective of the person you hurt is equally as valid. Semantics and technicalities are not important. So take responsibility.

Get support. I didn’t think anyone would want to support me, I was scared they would hate me, but when people did offer support it made a world of difference. They made me see things clearly, get perspective and showed me that I wasn’t going mad when I couldn’t see a way forward. Counselling also had many benefits as it gave me the opportunity to voice my thoughts and feelings in a safer space and have someone else make sense of my confusion over many aspects of what was happening. I used counselling for social change, which are a great service for activists, and they were very important in me getting my head around what was happening.

Do what is requested. Hopefully the process is “survivor led”, that is the person you hurt will provide requirements for you to fulfil. See this as just one aspect of your process however, not the be all and end all, so make changes to yourself on your own initiative. Self improvement is not something we should be doing when we are told to because we fucked up, it should be a part of our every day lives.

Learn & Listen to how the other person(s) feel. I took what people said to me seriously, but it didn’t really sink in. I was too caught up in my own emotional turmoil, shame and guilt to care about anyone else. For me, reading up on the subject helped. One thing I did was go on to zinelibrary.info the Anarchist library and print off everything I could find on the subject. I read and read until it consumed me, until I couldn’t think about anything else. Maybe I took it too far, on reflection I used it as self-flagellation. But there are loads of great zines to read, some of which I have mentioned here. When I read them some said the same things that the people I hurt had said, and then I could begin to understand what they had meant, to understand their anger. All the zines I mention here are available for free online. Use these resources, they will not get mad at you, they exist to help so read everything you can

Be open and honest. This is very hard and something that I am still struggling to do. It is also important to maintain anonymity of any people who require it. I started with close friends, they were nice about it but always agreed with everything I said. For me, progress began when I told people I trusted but didn’t know that well. I was surprised at how sportive they were while still being able to look at my situation objectively and critically analyse my progress and actions within the process. For me this was the biggest leap forward, it is hard but the most positive step I took.

Re-author your identity. I came across the concept in Todd Augusta-Scott’s article “Letters From Prison: Re-Authoring Identity with men who have perpetrated sexual violence”, in the pamphlet “As If They Were Human”. I have not come across this idea in any of my other reading yet it is pretty clear to me that this is vital to the process of restoration. It is this concept alone that gave me the desire to continue with the process when I wanted to walk away.

Do not believe your identity is fixed. The language of accountability is intimidating: Abuse, violence, assault, victim, perpetrator, rape etc. Many times I felt there was simply no point in continuing, as nothing I could do would make any difference, it would never be enough, I was just a bad person. Augusta-Scott describes how within this generally heteronormative process, it can feel that men are totalised to a one-dimensional “perpetrator” identity, and women are reduced to the one dimensional identity of “survivor”. It is our opportunity to challenge this kind of gender essentialism existent in the process. Not via rape apologism, point scoring arguments or refusal to engage, but via actively embracing the process in order to take steps to re-author our identity.

One area I disagreed with my mediator (the person who was the go between and support for both myself and the person I hurt) about was when he said, in reference to my actions and behaviours: “This is part of who you are.” Well, no. Though I accept what I think he was getting at, which is that I should not hide from what happened, and the process of self betterment and accountability is an ongoing process, why do these identities have to be a part of who I am? Why can’t they be a part of who I was? Without the opportunity for re-authoring identity provided by the accountability process and our community as a whole then there is little incentive to engage in accountability. If we brand every one with no hope of rehabilitation or restoration, then we lose all hope of real justice and just re-create the system we seek to dissolve.

Restitution. Re-authoring identity does not serve to mitigate responsibility for the seriousness of the hurt caused. It instead provides us the ability to face our actions, be able to stop repeating our hurtful behaviours and to address the affects our actions have had on others.

Augusta-Scott highlights that restitution does not carry any entitlement for forgiveness or reconciliation. As it is sometimes unlikely to be able to take steps for restitution directly with those hurt, I found giving something back to the community was a way to move towards restitution, such as forming an anti patriarchy group or otherwise taking steps to challenge the systems that lead to sexual violence and breaches of consent. For me, writing this article is part of that process. I hope people will read this, and I hope it will help them in their journey of accountability, and that as a community we can move towards the world we want to see.

Engaging in such a process is hard, but the right thing to do.

February 2014

Two Workshops at Newport Rising

I’m hosting two workshops at the Newport Rising event next week (Fersiwn Gymraeg yma). It’s being put on by the lovely folk of the Anarchist Action Network, just over the Bridge. It is part of a wider run of events under the banner of the Anarchist Traveling Circus. It looks quite like the Co-Mutiny week we did here in Bristol a few years back after the 2009 Anarchist Bookfair. It doesn’t feel like that was almost five years ago!

sallatc

On Tuesday 27th May I’m doing a crash course in first aid from 4pm-6pm. It’s only two hours so I can’t do much but I can do enough of the basics so you can keep someone alive that otherwise may have not made it before an ambulance arrives plus some other useful bits to keep your comrades in the land of the living. That’s got to be worth 2hrs of your time, right?

Next one is another Why Men against Patriarchy? workshop, similar to the one I did at the Bristol Anarchist Bookfair as that got really positive feedback. That one is on Thurday 29th from 3pm-4.30pm.

Of course there are loads of workshops and events throughout the whole week so check out the program and get over the Newport, the event is aimed at everyone, not just activist types. However with NATO heading there for their big shindig this September it seems wise to meet friendly faces and have a mosey around…

Right-o, I’m off to have a barbecue in the rain!

Challenging Male Domination in Activist Meeting Spaces

I recently went to an interesting discussion on gender roles around work in the Men Confronting Patriarchy group I attend. (I hope to write my notes up about that at some point soon.) Also I jus read the zine “Gender Roles in Conversation” by Corrine Monet (1997), a summarised excerpt from her thesis.

At some points during reading the zine I felt a bit defensive, as Monet repeatedly asserts that men’s behaviour in mixed gender conversation is about domination and critiques others who present other – agreeably marginal – reasons for men’s conversational characteristics causing “glitches” in the theoretical conversational model. I felt like Monet’s text generalised that men not only dominate conversations (which I readily agree with) and that this is intentional (with which I mainly agree), but also that this is a conscious decision. Maybe this was just my defensive male reading of the text, so this is definitely an area I’d like to discuss more.

Continue reading

Philippines: continuing autonomous disaster relief

Felt I had to share this inspiring story with you. Much love for the Mobile Anarchist School and comrade working hard in the Philippines.

DISACCORDS

MISSION 2 POSTER copy

Onsite Infoshop: Mobile Anarchist School volunteers and its immediate network have no time to rest; right after our first mission, we came back to Manila just to complete the requirements for “Climate Crises and Direct Action Forum” where we shared the details of our initiative in Leyte.

We able to gather resources enough to support six volunteers for 15 days action. We discussed the details of our second mission and carefully outlined our plan based on our experience.

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Statement on the SWP and its Rape Apologism

I’ve re-bloged this to state that the SWP will not be welcome at any event I jointly or partly organise. I would also support them being made to leave any even I was not directly involved with organising.

Bristol Anarchist Federation

People may be aware of the allegations of a cover-up of sexual assault and rape within the Central Committee of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), and the subsequent repression of SWP members who questioned it. Anarchist Federation members and other comrades in Manchester and Glasgow were man-handled & attacked when they confronted SWP leaders over their rape apologism. The SWP has not spoken out against these assaults carried out by its supporters.
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Bristol Anarchist Federation has always had strong political, theoretical and tactical disagreements with the Socialist Workers Party, however we have sometimes worked alongside them on broader campaigns.

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