Grand Rapids Anarchists on US Social Forum

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Dan Clore

Jun 6, 2010, 6:06:32 PM6/6/10
News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:
Grand Rapid Anarchists on United States Social Forum in Detroit, Michigan

The 2010 United States Social Forum (USSF) is taking place at the end of
the month in Detroit, Michigan. The gathering�billed as the largest
gathering of grassroots movements in the United States�will be held from
June 22 to June 26. Conference organizers claim that it isn�t just
another conference, but rather is a movement building process.

The forum is modeled after the world social forums that grew out of the
anti-globalization movement and builds on the 2007 USSF that was held in
Atlanta. There are hundreds of workshops scheduled and there will be a
variety of meetings during the week. Overall, it is an event that hopes
to unite the grassroots �left� in the United States under the slogan
�Another US is possible.�

For anarchists, the event offers an opportunity for networking and
building relationships with folks doing a wide range of political work.
In addition, there are some workshops that focus specifically on
anarchist organizing:

Class Struggle Anarchism in the 21st Century: Re-Centering on People�s

This workshop will focus on what has been at the heart of anarchism
since its birth in the 19th century � a commitment to furthering the
class struggle of working peoples. Anarchists affiliated with Anarkismo
and the Class Struggle Anarchist Conference will discuss the workplace
and neighborhood organizing we are doing in cities across the country.
Members will share their experiences working on movements to strengthen
the working class, including topics on tenants� rights organizing,
workplace struggles, anti-militarism work, struggles to preserve public
education, preventing sexual violence, and working against white
supremacy. We will discuss the relevance of anarchist politics to the
economic crisis that is destroying cities across North America, as well
as the attendant racism, sexism, and nationalism that is heightened by
such a crisis. We will also discuss the challenges anarchists face in
supporting truly democratic and participatory social movements in the
21st century. How can we best overcome the structural hurdles to
building strong people�s movements? How can we collectively deal with
and engage people drawn to the rhetoric of the right? How can we build
people�s power? What will it take to make a people�s victory?

Resisting State Repression, Defending the RNC 8

This workshop will include background and an update on the case of the
RNC 8, anarchist/anti-authoritarian political organizers from Minnesota
charged with conspiracy for helping organize resistance to the 2008
Republican National Convention, as well as a strategizing session to
help create a movement response to their October trial. The RNC 8 were
preemptively arrested and charged with terrorism before the 2008 RNC
after their group, the RNC Welcoming Committee, had been infiltrated for
a year and a half. Targeted because of their political ideologies and
associations, they have been fighting their conspiracy charges
(successfully getting two terror charges dropped) and preparing for
their joint trial. We seek to support their struggle and connect
repression locally to the crackdown on dissent and resistance
nationwide. A movement is only as strong as the defense of its arrestees
and prisoners, and its challenge to the structures that allow the state
and the prison industrial complex to operate. Thus, the desired outcome
of this workshop is to create concrete plans for both supporting the RNC
8 during trial and defending everyone�s ability to organize towards a
world based on justice and liberation for all.

Are We Addicted to Rioting?

In the aftermath of recent mobilization in Pittsburgh and Vancouver
anarchists and global justice activists have hotly debated the efficacy
of militant street protest as a tactic or as a strategy in broader
struggles for liberation. Some critics have pointed to black blocs and
property destruction tactics as divisive and unnecessary, calling for a
return to more community based organizing models. Other organizers have
argued that militant tactics are help to catalyze resistance. In this
workshop, members of POG will examine the efficacy of militant street
protest in Pittsburgh and beyond as well as recent calls to abandon such
protest in favor of local community organizing efforts. Presenters will
share personal experiences from the streets and the grassroots
organizing efforts leading up to the Pittsburgh G20 summit. The first
half of the workshop will consist of a presentation on the organizing
process leading up to the Pittsburgh G20 summit and an overview of some
ongoing community-based anarchist organizing in Pittsburgh. The second
half of the presentation will be a facilitated discussion on the role of
confrontational protests and summit mobilizations in the broader
anarchist movement.

Direct Democracy and Autonomy: Collectives, Assemblies, Self-Organization

For many of us, political organizing isn�t just about the demand for
justice and equality in specific instances but rather the transformation
to a just and egalitarian society. This starts with the way we work:
from the bottom up. Over the past decade there has been a resurgence in
nonhierarchical organizing based on antiauthoritarian models, including
everything from small collectives, large general assemblies, housing
cooperatives, participatory economic models, and much more. Through
these methods of organizing, people are able to prefigure their desired
society while maintaining the most participatory framework they can
present. Yet even as the advantages become evident and these forms
spread, top-down organizing throughout the Left is still the norm, if
not in name then in practice. In this workshop, antiauthoritarian
organizers discuss various models of nonhierarchical organization, along
with their uses, benefits, setbacks, and successes, drawing on personal
experiences and contemporary examples of direct democracy and autonomous

Anti-Authoritarian Praxis in Times of Economic Crisis

This panel discussion will host authors from a collection of short
essays from anarchists around the U.S. on the topic of the financial
crisis, published especially for the U.S. Social Forum by the Friendly
Fire Collective. Some of the questions explored in the journal are: why
has there failed to be large scale radical-leftist resistance to the
crisis, and how we could imagine building projects to combat the crisis
in the future? Capitalism continues to expose itself as a failed system,
and this panel will explore why it is critical that anti-authoritarians
develop cohesive and convincing arguments for alternatives in North
America. Not only do we feel that it is necessary to make transparent
the structures of domination at work under the crisis, but we also feel
we must imagine the tools with which we hope to dismantle them. It is
our hope that this combination of analysis and strategy will be a
breeding ground for new and exciting anarchist praxis in the United
States over the coming years.

Occupy Everything: Transforming Public and Popular Education through
Antiauthoritarian Praxis

The past year has seen the fight for access to education taken to a new
level as students from kindergarten through PhD programs have united
with educators to say no to cuts in education. On college and university
campuses around the United States, students have utilized the tactic of
occupation both as a form of protest against the continued attack on
education and as a tactic in the fight against the capitalist education
system and the transformation of education itself. This panel will
address two primary questions: How do we challenge the systemic attacks
on education in ways that not only defend what we have but also push
back on the system itself, guaranteeing everyone access to education and
allowing us to revolutionize the way that people are educated? And what
does this systemic transformation look like, and how can we redefine the
terrain from which we educate? The workshop draws on the experiences of
participants in California�s recent student occupations as well as
organizers of alternative models of popular education to examine from an
antiauthoritarian perspective how we can proactively shape and institute
the idea of �education for all.�

Dan Clore

New book: _Weird Words: A Lovecraftian Lexicon_:
My collected fiction: _The Unspeakable and Others_
Lord We�rdgliffe & Necronomicon Page:
News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:

Skipper: Professor, will you tell these people who is
in charge on this island?
Professor: Why, no one.
Skipper: No one?
Thurston Howell III: No one? Good heavens, this is anarchy!
-- _Gilligan's Island_, episode #6, "President Gilligan"

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