(print by Andrea Marcos, www.dreamarcos.com)
Dear fellow troublemakers,
First and most important, we hope that you, your loved ones, and comrades are doing as well as can be during this challenging moment. COVID-19 has turned the world upside down, and so many people are now grappling with difficult stresses, emotions, and losses. Our hearts go out to you.
As anarchists, we’re also suddenly facing specific dilemmas, such as what our self-organizing tactics and strategies can and should look like, and whether to keep our spaces open and/or cancel our events. It feels painful not to be able to gather face-to-face, and instead try to maintain our social relations while physically distancing. Yet as in most moments of disaster, anarchists are thinking collectively, initiating beautiful forms of mutual aid, and being extra responsible about caring for and protecting each other because it’s the right thing to do—not because state or capitalism tells us so.
Against this background, we’ve made the difficult decision to cancel our Anarchist Summer School, originally scheduled for August 1-9, 2020. We’re committed to this project over the long haul, though, and plan to reschedule when it’s possible to hold group gatherings again. We’ll miss cultivating community with old and new friends this coming summer; we’ll miss our beautiful, generative, brave space. Yet it feels the only ethical decision at this point.
In the meantime, we—like so many others—have turned our attention to mutual aid and solidarity projects. If you’re involved in any of these types of organizing efforts, please add them to the “Collective Care” directory, so we can continue to find, inspire, and borrow from each other. Or if you’re looking for something to plug into, also see the directory and you might find a nearby project: https://mutualaiddisasterrelief.org/collective-care/.
with grief, love, and rage,
IAT Workshops 2020
Workshops are TBA as some workshops are changing and new ones are being added. Below are descriptions of workshops that we have confirmed, though the form they may take has changed.
The Anarchist Summer School is a gathering of adult troublemakers of all ages who come together for eight days to immerse themselves in rigorous co-learning in a co-created community of care. Together, facilitators and participants, we aspire to build a vibrant space of popular education that celebrates social anarchist as well as radical feminist and queer thought, traditions, and practices; cultivating intergenerational relationships with each other and the nonhuman ecosystem; and challenges us all in generative ways to stretch ourselves and grow through critical thought and serious yet playful experimentation.
What does that look like exactly? Unlike a traditional school or academic setting, we learn, teach, think, practice, eat, feel, share, socialize, reflect, grow, and so much more together, whether in our barn-as-classroom, doing meal prep with others or offering an informal skills share, or around a campfire. Over the eight days, the Anarchist Summer School’s schedule and offerings, from workshops to social time, aspires to weave ideas, questions, and themes into an increasingly powerful, generative conversation that both challenges and nourishes everyone.
ART AND/AS ACTIVISM
ARTIST/ACTIVIST/DESIGNERS FROM MONTREAL/TIO’TIA:KE
This workshop will provide opportunities for discussions on the role of art in social struggles and the multiplicity of ways in which artistic practices support radical movement building. The facilitators will share examples of diverse approaches drawn from their own experience as artist-activists (in antiracist and anticolonial struggles, Palestinian solidarity work, student activism, queer liberation, and anticapitalist cultural production), highlighting both successes and failures within specific campaigns and contexts. They will examine the affective bonds that are a central component of collective art making and the experiencing of art to show how they are essential to the building of solidarity within as well as between social movements. The workshop will also include hands-on skill-share time using both DIY creation techniques and the facilitated tech and tools at a Worcester anarchistic makerspace. The sessions hope to challenge the separation between “art” and “activism,” revealing and deconstructing the ideological frameworks that structure all artistic practice.
Facilitators are members of a network of artist/activist/designers from Montreal/Tio’tia:ke, working out of and in collaboration with LOKI design studio, and Sidetracks Screenprinting collective. LOKI, a multidisciplinary design and communications studio working at the intersection of graphic design and social change, creates images, objects, and experiences that engage, empower, and oppose.
This workshop will explore the history, structure, function, and ideologies of colonialism, anticolonialism, and decolonization from an anarchist perspective. For starters, it will offer a broad historical overview of colonialism over the past five hundred years — anarchism in anticolonial action. This requires understanding and confronting the interconnections of empire, capitalism, race, and resource extraction. It will then focus on how anarchists (in both colonizing and colonized positions) have related to anticolonial struggles, including those identified as national liberation struggles. The workshop will consider various specifically located traditions of resistance and liberation philosophy/praxis that have affinity or share some key concepts with anarchism. Finally, the workshop will center on anarchism and decolonization today, concentrating on some contemporary hot spots of empire and settler colonialism, identifying manifestations relevant to participants, and considering ethical and practical concerns for action, taking into consideration how anarchistic thought and praxis might look in different political, social, and cultural contexts.
Maia Ramnath is a writer, historian, teacher, activist, and performing artist living in Lenapehoking (New York City). She is the author of the books Haj to Utopia and Decolonizing Anarchism, and a contributor to several anthologies including No Gods No Masters No Peripheries, Routledge Handbook of Radical Politics, and Palgrave Handbook of Anarchism. Maia is currently working on a book about the South Asian Progressive Writers movement and its international politics from antifascism to Afro-Asian solidarity. Both in writing and action, she centers the intersection of anarchism and anticolonialism. She has been involved in organizing for many years in various capacities around intersecting manifestations of economic justice, environmental justice, racial justice, gender justice, global justice, Palestine solidarity, indigenous solidarity, antifascism (including the Hindutva variety), anticapitalism, and anti-imperialism. Maia is still (always) struggling to figure out a more effective and accountable way to be-do-practice-make-share-learn-build-contribute-support-fight based on the responsibilities, entanglements, and opportunities that her own structural location entails. She believes that understanding the past, imagining the future(s), and taking action in the present are intimately connected.
DIRECT ACTION PRAXIS
This year’s praxis track will focus on mutual aid disaster relief work. This track will emphasize the discussions within IAT by co-learning skills of creative thinking and problem solving that is guided by the communities, and those most vulnerable within them, impacted by disaster. The camps ongoing discussion of anti-colonial work, and exploration of imagining different ways of inhabiting bodies and spaces are integral parts of the skills shared for disaster relief work. This in practical terms will be learning how to set up, organize, and ensure the resilience of field logistics such as setting up field kitchens and medical tents.
REPRESSION AND RESILIENCE
What does political repression look like today? How can it be reflected in past eras? How has it changed? And how can we learn to be more resilient in our movements, networks, and communities? These key questions will be examined in this hybrid workshop-discussion. We will begin by exploring how repression operates generally, and how to understand these strategies. How can repression be examined psychologically, legally, practically, and through the lens of language and discourse? What lessons can we take from the Red Scare, COINTELPRO, the Green Scare, and specific methods of domestic policing, including infiltration, surveillance, grand juries, and laws such as the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act? What can we learn from the increase in felony prosecutions, conspiracy charges, and antiprotest laws? Finally, how can we build on this knowledge to discuss strategies and tactics for countering repression, acting boldly, remaining free, and increasing our abilities to bounce back when knocked down?
Michael Loadenthal has been an anarchist organizer and trainer for the past two decades, and regularly writes and speaks about strategies of resistance, state repression, and political violence. He has been an organizer with a variety of local, national, and international networks helping to plan and protect direct action campaigns on four continents. He works as a precariously employed professor of sociology and social justice studies, and directs the Peace and Justice Studies Association (PJSA) and the Prosecution Project (tPP), which seeks to untangle the prosecution of political violence in the US court system.
TRY ANARCHISM FOR LIFE!
In the best spirit of anarchism, this participatory workshop will strive to create a space of learning together, drawing from our shared understandings and experiences. It will explore anarchism as an ethical compass, which points simultaneously to an overarching critique of all forms of hierarchy and an expansive social vision of what it could mean to be free people in a free society. The workshop look at how anarchism can offer a way of thinking—a critical or dialectical theory—to find “cracks in the wall.” And crucially, it will dig into anarchism as a living, breathing, prefigurative politics, utilizing illustrations from messy-beautiful experiments in the here and now that at once gesture toward a liberatory, loving world. At its heart, this workshop will revolve around what it means to aspire toward and practice an “everyday anarchism,” where notions such as self-organization and self-governance, mutual aid and solidarity, autonomy and collectivity, dignity and care, to name a few, become commonsensical second nature as well as the basis for new social relations and social organization.
Cindy Milstein is author of Anarchism and Its Aspirations, coauthor of Paths toward Utopia: Graphic Explorations of Everyday Anarchism, and editor of the anthologies Taking Sides: Revolutionary Solidarity and the Poverty of Liberalism and Deciding for Ourselves: The Promise of Direct Democracy. Long engaged in anarchistic organizing, contemporary social movements, and collective spaces, for the past few years Cindy has focused on doing support work for the J20 defendants and others facing state repression, touring extensively with their edited anthology Rebellious Mourning: The Collective Work of Grief, and co-organizing the Montreal Anarchist Bookfair. Cindy is a core collective member of the Institute for Advanced Troublemaking, working on another edited anthology on contemporary Jewish anarchism, and is honored, when called on, to do death doula and grief care.
Here’s what some participants from the first two summers had to say about it:
“Bright and beautiful space, … imagined with intention, love, and care.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever had a time in my life where I’ve felt so nurtured in mind, body, and spirit at the same time.”
“[The Anarchist Summer School] was complete immersion into a consistently supportive and experimental anarchist mind-set that left me feeling transformed. … This immersion changed my heart and my resolve.”
“There was a culture of care. … There was a large amount of warmth and acceptance. I could see anarchist ideals realize themselves in the ways that we were treating each other, which is rare.”
“Everyone was willing to listen, learn, and grow.”
“I think a running theme I took home was to always be thinking prefiguratively. I think I often fail to strategize more tangibly about creating the world we want because I’m so caught up in responding to the world we don’t want.”
“There was a lot of invitation to be open and vulnerable; that we can be generous with each other.”
“I felt there was a really great balance between orderliness and organization and fluidity, and I liked that the learning processes were collaborative.”
“I liked the arc of what we built together.”