The ALL Double Feature: SFL NYC and the 2014 Boston (A) Bookfair!

Well, I mean, I didn’t forget per se’…I just…okay, you know the drill, let’s just get right into it!

The last hurrah!

The NYC conference went well. My friend, Allen was there once more to lend me a hand and helped chip in for people who didn’t have a buck on them or for someone whose conversation he particularly appreciated. So doubleplus thanks to Allen for that stuff!

I also had some interesting conversations with both anarcho-capitalists and minarchists. Allen especially had a long and drawn-out conversation with a minarchist that seemed to end in agreeing to disagree. The minarchist’s main problem seemed to be about “stability” and whether anarchism could have it and state’s couldn’t. I tried to impress upon him that states have never historically been very stable (especially when starting out). I think it also depends on what counts as “stable”.

Now, I can’t very well say that the massive amount of privacy violations, police brutality, taxation, war and corporate power over the market is “stability” the minarchist would want or defend. But the nature of the state to my mind means eventually realizing that the state is going to want these things eventually anyways. That way it can more easily enforce its will on the populace and make them easier to subjugate before them.

The NYC conference was also notable for being the conference that I saw the least amount of presentations. I only saw the presentation on Uber and one of the editors of Reason who was…super mixed. They to be fairly un-nuanced on the legalization of weed, the accumulation of wealth into small hands (surprise!) and those who are currently rich in general.

One of the coolest things was hanging out with a friend of mine named Micheal who was kind enough to walk back with me to one of the buildings when I forgot my luggage bag with the pamphlets in it! Wish we had gotten a chance to hang out more man but it was great while it lasted. 

Thanks again to my host, Juliana for the place to crash and being such an awesome host while I stayed there.

NYC was somewhere between Philly and Boston in terms of the money we made. The reaction seemed overall fairly neutral-positive. Some people looked at the table and stared blankly before moving on but that was the most negative thing we got.


The Boston Anarchist Bookfair went super well overall. ALL/C4SS made around $25 on the first day and hanging out and tabling with Devin was a bunch of fun. On the second day my original partner in crime, Avery, once against joined me for tabling. It was actually kind of poetic how we both ended up tabling together in Boston at the last conference just as we did in the first conference. Well, except the first one was in Cambridge…but close enough!

One of the people from just came by, bought a Markets not Capitalism and a few other pamphlets on mutualism which kept me excited for quite a while.

I picked up Demotivational Training from Little Black Cart for free in return for doing a book review of it and also bought Egoism from them. Wish I could’ve bought a lot more but my wallet was crying for mercy by the time the book fair was finished. 

In other news my talk went pretty well. Around 10-15 people attended maybe and everyone seemed to dig it. They had good questions and were well engaged and overall it just seemed like the book fair more generally was a great experience.

One talk that particularly stood out to me was a discussion about the Black Bloc which had a lot of cool chatter about strategy and tactics. I’ve weighed in on the Black Bloc before (crtl + f “Black Bloc”) and my opinions largely haven’t changed. But it was good to get so many different perspectives on the matter. Especially people from other countries dispelling the notion that it was all romantic and awesome as a tactic over there.

I also think that their voices were heard and largely respected and that there was, in general, just a good culture of respect. There was this one guy who had the sort of typical, “yeah but what about the respect of the media?” and someone made an excellent point that that’s asking the wrong question or framing it wrong. The media will paint us however they want to paint us, with or without our consent. That’s what they’ve always done and they’re not going to stop just because we don’t don black masks and upset the social order.

Another way of looking at it is that even when peaceful civil-disobedience is noted and its cause is highlighted (I don’t have any data on how often this happens) it’s more of a benign, “oh, look at those funny protesters, now back to sports!” but with a Black Bloc, the media knows to take it a bit more seriously. Even if it’s a bad sort of serious, at least the Bloc ensures some attention-getting.

Then again, attention-getting isn’t everything and it certainly shouldn’t be our only value if we want to have a more just goal.

So this is a tricky subject and in the end I think I’m much more in favor of the Bloc as a defensive tactic, i.e. de-arresting, a show of solidarity, defending unarmed protesters against the cops, etc. etc.


To end off, I’d just like to than everyone who made the Autumn of Anarchy possible:

Allen for helping me table

Avery for helping me table

Charles for helping with the pamphlets on ALL of the fronts

De for being my first host and giving me a place to stay for a day or two

Devin for helping me table

James for helping the pamphlet deal with Charles work out

Juliana for the awesome housing

Paula for being a wonderful host

Patrick for being an awesome organizer for the B(A)B and letting me help out

I am sure I’ve missed some people and thanks to those as well!

Until Liberty Forum/AltExpo in early March…

Report Back: 2014 Boston Students for Liberty Regional Conference

Some of the titles we had on sale! (The BitCoin sign is for another table)

SFL was overall definitely exhausting but more importantly a welcomed experience in general.

Things got off to a rocky start due to a lack of tabling space but when one of the tablers randomly left a little later in the day Avéry (pictured here with me at our first table locaiton), my partner in crime for the day and I were able to get a pretty good spot next to FEE (which Jeffery Tucker was “tabling”).

One of the things that caught me off guard was how many people were minarchists or constitutionalists. I was under the impression that SFLers tended to be more radical and more welcoming of anarchism. But I seemed to be meeting more outspoken constitutionalists than anarchists.

In addition, ALL/C4SS was also the only explicitly anarchist organisation there. We were the only ones selling things (I am pretty sure) and it showed because a lot of people cited not having money or cash on them. This was a bit of a bummer in a few instances and it definitely diminished the sales we couldv’e gotten otherwise. Though it also seemed to hold true that most people just didn’t bring money either.

In the future it’ll be a good idea to have it so we can accept things like Bitcoin, other crypto-currencies, Paypal and perhaps more importantly, credit and debit cards.

But in terms of the sales we did get, we sold some discount zines and gave a handful of zines away to ALLy Juliana at the end and a few other people throughout the event. We also managed to have the Molinari Institute/C4SS banner up for a bit (our third tabling location) which was cool.

The talks were a mixed bag for me. The Law Enforcement Against Prohibition talk’s statistics on the drug war were…staggering. But their “solution” was more state control (regulation and taxation) over drugs which reminded me of Ryan’s excellent article, Weed Legalization as Privatization, Disempowerment.

Dan D’Amico had an interesting talk on mass incarceration that seemed to lack much data to really conclude anything too strongly. Still, it was an interesting look at what goes into deciding what’s mass incarceration and based on what factors.

He also alleged that racism doesn’t cause the legal disparities in prisons, courts, etc. but that these legal systems make it easier for racists to be racists or for people with otherwise inhibited prejudiced views to act on them more easily? It seems to me that even if that were perfectly true it would just create a feedback loop of racists perpetuating the legal system which perpetuates them.

But I admit to not having looked at the data D’Amico presented in its original context so I’m definitely open to being wrong here. That’s just my own intuition given the data he gave and my own interpretation of it and whatever else I’ve heard and know.

There was a guy named Edward Lopez who had a talk on “bottom-up politics” and that was interesting but seemed to focus on corporate entrepreneurship more than independent kinds. It also had too broad of a definition for “politics” and seemed to be defining it as anything intentionally designed could be problematic in some big way. I think that’s a bit too Hayekian for me.

Finally there was Jeffery Tucker’s talk which…I’m not gonna lie, was kind of inspirational. I know some people think Tucker is a bit over-dramatic with his enthusiasm (or appears such) but he really does seem to be genuine about his feelings and ideas. And he makes a pretty convincing case to me that the state due to it being bound up in geography is inherently going to have trouble (though I think he may overstate the trouble) dealing with non-geographic tactics of activism (Bitcoin, crpyto-activism in general, etc..).

He also criticized the “socialists” for attacking stuff like Uber and Lyft and asked if they were really against the political and economic elite. Because it seemed to him that libertarians were the one who were the socialists! We just want different means (here he brought to mind Gary‘s excellent work on Socialist Ends and Market Means).

After the talk was over I achieved my greatest accomplishment by getting Tucker to admit (and it wasn’t really that hard) that he was a socialist in the sense of Benjamin Tucker. He also added that he only really disagreed with them on issues of scarcity…which due to technological advances he thinks are becoming less and less relevant.

In general I had a lot of great conversations and found the time to re-read Anna Morgenstern’s excellent essays on why anarcho-“capitalism” is impossible (including the re-visitation).

Roderick’s Long’s 10 Common Objections was pretty popular but that was mostly because there seemed to be so many minarchists.

And most of the minarchists there seemed puzzled by either the leftism or the anarchism. I don’t think there were a lot of both. Most an-caps seemed to be agreeable to the fact that we were anti-state. One of them was down with our aims of more worker cooperatives, unions, anti-racism, etc. etc.So the an-cap reception seemed a lot better by comparison.

My speculation on why the minarchists didn’t balk at the leftism way more than the anarchism is because I think most of the minarchists were too caught off guard by the all too obvious anarchism that they couldn’t even notice the nuance of it being leftier than an-caps.

The discussions I had about anarchism contra minarchism were also a bit weird and surreal to have. One of the people I talked to was a member of LEAP and made “might makes right” arguments and acted like I was against arbitration or mediation of disputes per se even though I keep stressing that I just didn’t want a monopoly of these things.

Overall, the conference, although a bit disorganized thanks to Suffolk University deciding at the last minute to make their homecoming that weekend, was a fun experience and hopefully there’ll be a bit of better organizational luck next year!

The Power of Note Taking and Other Revolutionary things – NYC (A) Book Fair Trip 2013

This post just goes to show…even if I give myself a month of leisure for doing this I can still somehow do it later than I said I would…

Introduction – The Invention of this Little thing Called “Notes”

The trip to the NYC (A) Book fair for 2013 happened more than two months and I made sure to take a fairly copious amount of short-handed notes in the form of problems that arose, topics that were discussed and so on. As we go on in this story hopefully it becomes much more coherent than my previous attempt.

To explain why ALL-oNe was tabling it was because Darian and company (AKA NJ-ALL) couldn’t make it this year, or at least not long enough to effectively table. So Darian paid for the table and  ALL-oNe de facto took over for him since we planned on attending anyways.

Something to note before I get started is that, financially speaking ALL-oNe was successful (or at least in my opinion we were) because I had my major travel costs completely subsidized through pamphlet and book sales alone. We also made some new friends and got some more recognition in the general NYC scene. I made a few contacts myself that I followed up on and for the most part got returning contact from.

Of course, that doesn’t mean the trip wasn’t bumpy at parts, if you followed the link above you can see right near the top that the book fair had some…difficulties to put it lightly this year. From the organization of the event itself, to inner disputes in the NYC scene, to exterior disruption (both from cops and…well we’ll get to that) and more.

This trip was full of interesting topics, new revelations and perspectives, reaffirming a few beliefs here and there (confirmation bias is a very sweet thing indeed) but before we get into the book fair I want to discuss the tirp to New York and the Bradley Manning event that Jack and I went to before the book fair.

The trip to NY

Jack and I left Massachusetts around 12 PM and before you know it we were talking about all sorts of things. Jack had been reading about WWII and more specifically about the general George Patton and his relation to the war. We also discussed meanings of capitalism and who coined the term “anarcho-capitalism” (turns out it wasn’t Rothbard according to Jack).

We also discussed how we saw fire departments in relation to police departments with the former being much preferable overall due to their reaction chain (i.e. fire departments respond to actual and obvious threats mostly while cops have a nasty habit of creating them or being a byproduct of them).

Scott Crow was also a periodically mentioned in our conversation and that was mostly a discussion of me being excited to meet him, see him talk on mutual aid and that I was finishing his awesome book.

Another person I was excited to talk about was Cody Wilson and mention my ideas on his rhetoric (which I’ve still yet to collect in essay form as I meant to…) and what I thought was so captivating about it and why that was important.

Along the way to NYC we stopped off at Connecticut to meet up with the gracious host who allowed us to stay at his house. His name was John and he seemed to me a very typical good-natured guy with some notions of what Jack calls “gut-libertarianism” while also having some sort of odd sense of spirituality that him and Jack discussed a few times. Either way he was a very kind host and I at once felt pretty welcomed and at ease in his place.

After munching on a few things and having a few conversations and meeting John’s housemate Jack and I took off via the train to make the Bradley Manning event.

Bradley Manning Event With Birgitta Jonsdottir

(Ignore the date, my camera wasn't set properly...)

This was on the Friday before the  anarchist book fair, April, 5th and I was unsure what to expect. I knew it’d probably have an anarchist or two but I also knew there’d be many of the “more consistent mainstream leftist” types there. The ones that see at least some of the shit that Obama is doing and saying, “Oh wait a second…that’s the same as Bush!”.

Now, sure that’s no anarchism, but compared to the typical mainstream leftist? That’s gold.

At any rate, Jack and I walked into the event (it was located at the Judson Memorial Church, where many of the last book fairs have happened) and noticed a few booths. One for, of course Bradley Manning and the other had a big anarchist symbol on it and read, “Free Hammond!”, but we’ll get to that later.

The table near the entrance and near the audience  was covered with the Wikileaks release of “Collateral Murder” which Birgetta originally helped release. The seats near the screen were near-capacity and if I’m remembering correctly the event was ready to start in a few minutes or so by the time we walked in. So after briefly taking in what was there Jack and I sat down somewhere near the front.

Before the panel started a few documentaries were played. One was called Providence and was only five minutes and another was focused on Iceland and the movement for more transparency in government. I didn’t take any notes on it so I can’t say much past that.

The Panel

The panel itself started after a little bit more of setup and we were quickly introduced to the panelists:

(From right to left)

Sam Seder

Peter Hart

Kevin Gosztola

Alexa O’Hara

The speakers were introduced, with Birgitta being the “big star” there, as it were, coming all the way from Iceland to visit the US. Birgitta mostly focused on her collaboration with activist circles in helping Bradley and what we can do here and now to help Bradley in an active sense. Alexa and Peter were more interested in the legalistic side of Bradley’s case with Kevin being mainly interested in the media aspect. Sam Seder was the moderator.

The discussion first hung around the topic of alternative media and the effects it’s had on the campaign to free Bradley and it’s use more generally. Of course the panelists mostly seemed to see this alternative media as a transitional thing that phases out Fox News, MSNBC and so on and thus makes government “more accountable”. They’re not necessarily so interested in building alternative structures for more radical purposes (i.e. replacing state-controlled media in total) but at least they recognized the media’s general corruptness (even the more “liberal” ones).

A point was raised about the Fort Meade march that recently happened by Birgetta which raised the more general topic of understanding the technical points of the case (which was Alexa’s and Peter’s main points) and actually feeling empowered enough to do something for Bradley. Alexa seemed to take the (rather blunt, honestly, but well deserved nonetheless) criticism from Birgetta. Kudos to Birgetta at any rate for bringing up the distinction from being legally informed to informed to the extent that you feel motivated to actually do something.

Now, knowing the legal background can be helpful to some for sure, I don’t doubt that. But sometimes it can often make one feel as if the battle is hopeless or there’s not much that can be done. If you’re fighting all of these huge legalistic jumps and think of all of the machinery involved sometimes it can be more paralyzing than empowering. But if you can turn technical knowledge into more empowering knowledge (which is certainly possible so this dichotomy is by no means a strict one, more of a cautionary one) then that’s fine too.

Further on a question was asked by Seder about whether Bradley Manning  represented something much bigger.

The answer for me (and seemingly the rest of the panel) was pretty obvious: Of course.

Manning represents growing government repression against it’s declared enemies, he represents the injustices of the present “justice system” and the many huge faults of the military system and system of command and so much more.

Was Wikileaks simple a media operation or a whistle-blower operation?

This was another question asked, but the answer to me seemed to be both but as I recall the panelists mainly focused on the latter, which is understandable.

How the US press was treating and continued to treat Manning and the general case was examined in particular by Alexa. Who pointed out that in a court hearing she went to about, she was one of the only reporter there and one of the only other ones was asleep in his chair.

A pretty funny quote was given by Kevin (if I’m remembering correctly, though it could’ve been someone else) about the fact that Manning just wanted peace and the Department of State remarking that that was their job. The irony was not lost on the audience and many audible laughs could be heard afterwards.

One specific point that was made by Alexa which was…unnerving is that Manning will almost certainly be found guilty of something (or it might’ve been that because he had already plead guilty to some charges…) and therefore the main task of the campaign was to now minimize the damage to Manning in legal and of course prison/punishment terms.

Towards the end of the panel some final words from Birgetta was a plan to do a bunch of guerrilla marketing for Manning via the internet and in real life any way that people could. While Alexa and Peter focused on educating others and yourself and sharing their sites and getting active and understanding the law.

After the Panel

There was a cool, “I am Bradley Manning!” photo that I participated in (Jack unfortunately had to duck out for a second while it was about to happen) and Jack got to get a picture with Birgetta.

I ended up talking to the guy at the “Free Hammond!” table and he seemed like a nice guy. He said he’d be at the bookfair after explaining the Hammond case to Jack and I. We’ll see him in a bit on the first day of the bookfair and talk more about him then.

I took some more pictures and Jack and I headed back, tired but excited for the following days. On the train ride back Jack and I both wearily involved ourselves in some pamphlets we got from the “Free Hammond!” table. I also happily managed to finish Black Flags and Windmills, making me feel much better about being present at Scott Crow’s upcoming talk.

Upon returning to our host in Connecticut’s house I finally got some internet in and caught up with some of the goings on that I had missed out on.

I soon fell asleep and prepared myself for the first day of the book fair.

Day 1 of 2 of the Book fair

What a "welcome"!

After a not so restful sleep (though to be fair, that’s probably the norm for these sorts of things for most of the people there) Jack and I boarded the train from Connecticut back to New York again and ended up getting to the bookfair on time…

But as you can see above something was amiss…the door to the book fair was locked. To be clear, the front door to the cultural center itself was fine (it was locked but there were people inside already who let us in) but this door was bolted shut. Apparently it wasn’t the cultural center like I originally thought but some Facebook group that took issue with the event.

So the book fair was off to an…interesting start, to say the least.

Meanwhile Jack and I got reacquainted with Aragorn! who Jack and I had met at the previous bookfair (look towards the end where I mention someone who reminded me of someone straight out of Lord of the Rings). We had an short chat about C4SS, left-libertarianism and his feelings of tentative solidarity with individuals like Kevin Carson but due to the fuzziness of the borders (I think he thought we were too close to an-caps…) he just couldn’t bring himself to ally with ALL and the like.

I told him that was understandable and we also discussed AltExpo and where we all got our news (I half-ashamedly admitted I mostly got it from my newsfeed on Facebook) and also discussed the weather in the west coast (Aragorn! is from California) versus the east.

After a bit more doddling and assisting other vendors get their stuff through the front door of the cultural center the door was finally unlocked around eleven AM which was an hour later than  what it was supposed to be so things got delayed a little. When finding our place in the room the lead guy Chuck asked us if we were the “capitalists” and I just nonchalantly said yes, I wasn’t interested in debating capitalism at the moment and I think he was half-joking anyways.

Jack and I set up the table bit by bit waiting for the Marxist group that was next to us (a “Humanist Marxist” group I guess…) but they ended up being next to some other people. So we eventually started expanding out our pamphlets on the table.

After figuring out my own style of setting up (I set up the format the first day with a bit of advice from Jack here and there with the reverse happening the second day) I quickly headed off to Scott Crow’s talk…finding it was rather empty. Unfortunately due to the late start of the book fair and not having most people know where talks were yet Scott’s talk only ended up getting under ten people but it still turned out to be a great talk.

Scott Crow’s Talk

Unfortunately due to me losing the program for the book fair and the website for the book fair not displaying the official titles of the talk (if there were any) I can’t give you much more than a general title like the one above.

Scott’s presentation was pretty fun to watch. It was a powerpoint presentation with various sections that he pretty much zoomed through (due to time constraints in starting a little late so more people could come in and wanting to field questions) but still managed to deliver in a pretty satisfying way.

Scott started off with his basic position that liberation involved all of us or it involved none of us. And told personal stories of empowerment to guide us through why he thought that. From his early days in activism to meeting some of the important people who he knows today and who he learned a lot from. Scott heavily emphasized the need of collective liberation.

He then got into how the Common Ground Collective formed and what his experiences were like at the time and moving forward. How he felt like Don Quixote with the windmills in his endeavors yet he keeps going on anyways.

Within the context of tactics Scott said stuff like smashing windows shouldn’t be treated like a fix but more as a symbol and I think that’s a somewhat understandable argument. I’ve said some things on that as well in this post while discussing the Black Bloc.

In talking about Katrina and his story there Scott explained the timeline of events. Looking for his friend in New Orleans Scott eventually left after a few days due to a lack of preparedness and supplies but came back soon after. The government response was slow and hard to get a grasp on and pretty irregular and there were white vigilantes, double standards for cops in terms of how the laws applied (there’s something new…) and many more threats from the get go

Moving away from that topic Scott brought up something that he said the ELZN which he called, “leading by question” which I found pretty useful and helpful. The basic idea being to organize and lead associations via questioning and collaborative efforts rather than top-down commands.

Scott talked about what Common Ground provided which was a mixture of medical and sometimes legal aid, mutual aid, armed defense and more. Common Ground also got more than three million dollars  in donations in just three years. Keep in mind it was still a fledgling radical organization throughout most of that.

However Scott was quick to point out CG’s problems such as the issues of subtle sexism that took place that sometimes took a backseat to be addressed because of other pressing needs. And there were many others than that such as basic organizational issues as well as how external organizations were sometimes dealt with.

But after discussing this Scott wanted to talk about what was next and some basic principles to keep the movement going:

Dream the future – know your history – organize your people – fight to win

Articulate your dream

Make long-term strategies

Don’t just react

Dual power – Think beyond activism

Connect our struggles and reflect on them

Think of the movement as a movement of many movements, like many boats

Respect a division of tactics

Don’t be afraid

Shift culture by:

Building the road by walking revolutions every day

Keeping it sustainable

Remembering that not all jobs are valuable

So yeah, lots of aphorism type stuff but you cold tell Scott honestly felt this way and these weren’t just cool slogans and that, if he had the time, he could talk the day away explaining what he meant.

Especially interesting was that last one about not all jobs are valuable. A friend of mine who came in half-way name Joel brought that up and he and I both really liked this one because it’s certainly something that some anarchists take for granted. The idea that because certain roles in an organization exist that they must be filled. But sometimes they’re not necessary given certain circumstances. For example not enough people or enough money or resources for a certain role to justify existing.

A more broad interpretation of this is to reevaluate jobs more generally and realize that just because someone can have a certain job, doesn’t mean it’s a valuable one to hold. The general position of society is that if (for example) the president gives five-thousand more jobs to people in a given economy that president must be doing something good. But that’s not necessarily the case if the jobs themselves aren’t of much use to the people in the economy itself.

Scott only got a few questions from the small crowd that had gathered and afterwards I talked to Joel a little. We discussed some of the points we liked like the point about jobs and(Joel also brought up liking Scott’s ideas on having a code of ethics instead of morality.

I talked to Scott and a friend of his from Philadelphia named Nick who also liked Voltairine de Cleyre! I didn’t manage to get to ask Scott the questions I wanted to but I’d get my chance later. And just finding out that someone else named Nick who was also an anarchist was a big fan of Voltairine was good enough for me.

After Scott’s Talk

Promptly after discussing Voltairine and Scott telling me he’d talk to me a bit later on Joel and I went back to the book fair. We ended up checking out some of the bookstands near ALL-oNE’s both and talking about some of the books that were around. A book on Joe Hill especially caught Joel’s eyes. We also discussed (albeit very briefly) Franklin Rosemont again and I’m fairly sure I once again gloated that I brought him up to Thaddeus in real life before Joel did online.

By this point I checked out the In Our Hearts which was an anarchist collective that I had a friend in. He was helping us get some pamphlets and did an awesome job of doing so. So my many thanks to him. I’d eventually get quite a few great pamphlets from them.

Also around this time Jack and I had pretty much figured out that we could expand the scope of ALL-oNE to the entire table and started planning and arranging accordingly. We were strongly promoting the C4SS trifolds that gave lots of basic info on the center and what it was about and of course some of what the larger left-libertarian project was about. We ended up passing out almost all of them which was around 100!

Joel and I decided before too long though that we were hungry and would go out and get some food…this turned into an adventure rather quickly. Joel and I couldn’t at first find a place we mutually wanted and as it turned out there were some allergy issues but they were eventually resolved and we went to a pizza place a few blocks away (I know, getting pizza in NYC? Blasphemy!).

While at the pizza place I saw a pretty blatant expression of bossism. An employee had made a mistake that seemed rather minor but one of the customers made a huge deal out of. Now I was already kind of mad at the customer (they struck me as pretty self-righteous and entitled…) but what the boss did was even worse. First the boss gave the employee some discipline in the form of somewhat yelling at him and getting angry and then once the customer was sitting and happy (or relatively anyways) the boss did it again. Even though the situation had been fixed, the customer was happy and the employee was doing their best to fix the issue.

I was tempted, on my way out to give my regrets to the employee that he had to deal with that nonsense but didn’t know how to express it or how it’d be taken. So I somewhat morosely walked out with Joel once he was done with his food.

It was around 3:30 PM when we got back and I had already missed some of the safer spaces talk that I was unsure if I wanted to go to so I decided to just call it a missed opportunity. Besides that Jack had been waiting there for a while so if I remember correctly I took over for him for a little bit. Either way I eventually found Scott Crow again once Jack got back and Scott and I had a nice chat.

A Chat with Scott Crow 

The discussion lasted around ten or fifteen minutes and the first questions involved my interest in what he thought of mutualist and indiivdualist philosophies of anarchism. Scott gave me the impression that he didn’t really care as much about the philosophies so much as what people do. He told me that it really didn’t matter as long as you were striving towards collective liberation, helping your brothers and sisters in a given community and not just out for yourself, etc. A lot of this made sense to me and I was glad that, in general, Scott seemed to be pretty accommodating to many different forms of anarchism.

Don’t get me wrong though, Scott still seemed to know where to draw the lines, for instance citing pretty basic problems with anarcho-capitalists and outright dismissing things like national-anarchists and so on. So I think Scott’s got his head pretty much on right when it comes to these matters. But I can’t say for sure just from this brief conversation of course, that was just the impression I got.

Surprisingly Scott explained that he didn’t think unions (even ones like the IWW) are really necessary for the workers. I think he prefers worker-run cooperatives and collectives and alternative institutions to forming wildcat unions. And I mean…I can’t really blame him for having things against unions, due to the way that a lot of them have gone. I don’t remember really getting a good reason from him why they weren’t necessary anymore (I think they’d be necessary even in a post-state controlled world, let alone the one we’re in but I digress…) but that was his opinion anyways.

He also brought up his issues with egoists and egoism which he said seems to mainly consist of people in it for themselves and not really interested in collective liberation or many things that make anarchism…anarchism.

On a very general level I’d have to agree. Most egoists (or people who like associating with egoists either as comrades or whatever) seem to just be using the philosophy to be excusing being an asshole to other people. I really can’t see how that’s too related to the project of anarchism. But this isn’t to really discredit egoism per se but just to speak to my personal experiences with those who call themselves egoists (for the most part, there’s been a few okay and even good ones of course) and those who associate themselves with those types of people.

Around the end of the conversation we discussed C4SS vs. the Ron Paul supporter types with Scott telling me he had much more respect for the former than the latter and talked about some of the issues he had with the latter. I was rather happy to hear Scott’s sympathies to C4SS and his general kinship he felt for us at the Center.

Before Scott and I parted ways (at least for the moment, we’d talk again the next day) he gave me his email and encouraged me to stay in touch with him. He told me if I ever tried to write a book and get it published in PM Press that he’d help me out and even put in a good word. I left the conversation with a very positive impression of Scott and the sort of guy he was.

After the Chat

During the next period of tabling (from around 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM or something) I had various conversations with various people. I noted a few topics that came up either enough times to be noted or just seemed like important things.

One of the things that frustrated me was (once more) communicating the message of free market anti-capitalism or just left-libertarianism more broadly as well as mutualism more specifically. At one point I re-read an introduction to mutualism by Kevin Carson just to get a better idea of how to explain it. It wasn’t that I didn’t know how to explain these ideas per se’, I just wasn’t sure how to do it for the given audience.

By 5:00 PM we had around $40 and had made a significant amount of that from pamphlets and not necessarily from books at all.

Joel also brought up a point a few times that it’d be better to refer to the Center as a media center rather than a “think tank” helpfully noting that, “think tanks…well tank”. In other words it just doesn’t come off well to say we’re a “think tank”. The language isn’t quite right to begin with and it’s generally not how C4SS really carries itself or describes itself either. I’ll try to keep this little communication tip in mind for the future.

An interesting discussion arose between me and a correspondent who thought the anarchist project was unrealistic. He seemed to agree that the current structure of things was wrong in some ways and problematic but that anarchists needed to seize power to change anything involved in the structure itself. I disagreed and said that not only was such a task impractical (especially for anarchists) but completely contradictory to what our means and goals our. It seems unhelpful to suggest that anarchists, for instance take control of the drone strikes or take control of the larger prison industrial complex and that somehow we can shift these things from the inside.

I not only don’t see how such a move is practical but I don’t see why it’s desirable to act as if something like this doesn’t have it’s moral issues. Even if we could somehow seize the power of the state, why would we? Just to maybe see the future a little better through a bit more blood or a bit more control? I don’t feel comfortable going down that road. I feel as though this is comparable to the one rule Batman has: don’t kill. And if he does sooner or later he’s gonna go down the same road that individuals like the Joker have.

Now, unlike Batman, I’m not a pseudo-psychopath who’s gonna just hang people over buildings mercilessly instead or drop them and break their legs or break their spirit through fear and control (I think you may as well kill them at that point and leaving them alive seems to be the more problematic approach here but this is a nerdy discussion for another time…) but hopefully you see my point.

…Sorry for that very nerdy digression.

I have no interest in claiming or seizing power from a system that I oppose in most cases. Would I use the system to my own advantage in form of life-subsidies (like food stamps or whatever)? Absolutely. Taking the government’s money so I can live without working and further my own personal goals and political goals sounds completely reasonable to me.

And if you’re gonna accuse me of doing this because I’m lazy all I’ve gotta say is you’re damn right.

At any rate a few more conversations were had and I thought I had discovered that Red Emma’s was having volunteers for the summer but it turned out I had misheard what was going on. Either way hopefully those that do volunteer will have their notes online and I can learn more about how places like Red Emma’s works.

I also found out that Wooden Shoe Books actually had a piece of Voltairine de Cleyre’s home in Philadelphia that was recovered when it was torn down. They were also selling, The Gates of Freedom: Voltairine de Cleyre and the Revolution of the Mind which was awesome to see too. Maybe the Nick from Philadelphia had to do with this? I later asked him but he said it wasn’t him. So I never really found out who put that on their list but I was happy all the same.

The place was winding down and I decided to walk Joel outside and say our goodbyes. As it turned out we wouldn’t see each other the next day. I had walked out earlier because I thought I had heard about Nazis in the front but didn’t see any people in the street saluting Hitler or whatever so I went back. Going out a bit further I noticed some people in a group, a few holding 9/11 Truth signs and a few others who seemed somewhat out of place. I didn’t really make any sort of connection though.

As it turned out…

A “Discussion” With Some National-Anarchists (Yes, Really)

I went back inside and told Jack about the 9/11 truth people (for full disclosure there was only a few people of the group interested in that specific topic) as I thought he might enjoy that discussion. When he came back he told me that they gave him the poster that they were handing out about National Anarchism.

And then this happened. 

…Well, something like that anyways. I don’t think I can come up with a reaction face/gif/video that accurately depicts my face when this happened (something like a cross between a light bulb going off over someone’s head like in a cartoon, having your mind blown, being like “wut?” and confused…try fitting that into one thing…) so I’ll just have to settle for that.

I immediately told Jack I’d go out there and talk because I had never met any National Anarchists before in real life and so I more or less stormed out there (minus the goose stepping of course…). I had put it all together (if it isn’t obvious by now) that the National Anarchists out there were the “Nazis” who were outside and that these were the people that were being barred from coming in.

Being the really friendly guy I am I came walking quickly out to them with this, “re-introduction”:

“So you guys are the “fascists”, huh?”

At least…I tried to emphasize the quotations part of that because I actually and genuinely wanted a conversation with them to better understand their ideas in real life. When would I have another chance like this?

So after saying that they of course denied being anything of the sort and the conversation started from there. I asked them what their positions were and the individual from their group who I talked to said they stood for many of the basic principles of anarchism. That they were against the state and that they supported economic freedoms for all and so on. But I was pretty skeptical and wasn’t just gonna end it there and here’s where the conversation got pretty frustrating.

I started asking them questions about cultural authoritarianism: sexism, racism, heterosexism, etc. And they said that none of them were in favor of nor supported any of these things…personally. But they said that if people wanted to set up their own, for example of course, racist communities and be racist amongst themselves then that shouldn’t be a problem. Furthermore they all seemed to pretty much unanimously decry the left’s obsession with cultural policing (as I think they’d term it) and seemed to be claiming that freedom of association is a rather strict absolute notion that even cultural pushbacks may violate.

I tried to explain to them the notion of “cultural spillover”, that is, the notion that when you have certain communities and they share certain cultural values in close or even somewhat close proximity to other communities there’s likely gonna be overlap in terms of social interactions between the two. Therefore there’s going to be an overlap of cultural values in each community too, especially if they’re gonna live next or even just near each other. So my concern was with racist communities not exactly being happy with the fact that they were in the stark minority and then trying to (peacefully) encourage others to do the same.

And even if racists weren’t directly encouraging their attitudes or cultural norms to others having that influence on children or having that influence more generally on other communities can often come very much to the detriment of individual liberty. Because these sorts of cultural norms (racism, sexism, etc.) tend to have us as human beings collectivize other people to the extent that having things like charity, respect and so on become at least very difficult to do. For me as a thick libertarian  my methods of opposing cultural authoritarian attitudes or things that may encourage such attitudes mostly revolve around peaceful activities unless the people involved are actively planning to use violence against those that they discriminate against (the Golden Dawn may fit here but it’s perhaps debatable in any case…).

Golden Dawn, by the way was mentioned as a result of things that come from things like discrimination, hatred, bigotry, that, while may sometimes act peacefully also specifically targets immigrants for various sorts of harassment and violence.

Eventually though I got too frustrated to carry on the conversation and Jack and another friend of ours was waiting to go out and get food. Earlier, a woman from the Earth Liberation Front had been trying to talk to them alongside me but it seemed for naught. Much of what they said made little sense and it didn’t help that a few of them just continually kept talking over her and not giving her the space she needed to talk about how she felt. On top of that the woman didn’t even seem to really want to talk to them either, she just wanted to let them know she disapproved but they kept denying what she said when she spoke to that effect and kept trying to push for more conversation. Not the nastiest of stuff mind you but still pretty rude and disrespectful.

Late Night Saturday

Me, Jack and our friend ended up at a burger place and did a little discussion of safer space policies and their effect on anarchist circles. They were both pretty hostile to the idea thinking that the ways that feminists operate it doesn’t breed effective results. I tried to continue the conversation but it eventually just dissolved and we left the place we were eating and soon parted ways.

As Jack and I were getting on a train we ran into one of the people who were with the National Anarchists and they claimed (pretty convincingly) that some of them were attacked as they stood to do a picture in front of the bookfair. I’m unsure the veracity of this claim, though like I said she seemed to be pretty sure of it. But either way I don’t advocate violence against National Anarchists since they’re pretty much laughable. According to her around 9:45 PM and someone was punched in the face and in the ear and their flag was stolen. Again, I don’t really know how true this is but either way I wouldn’t support it even though I strongly disagree with National Anarchists.

On the train ride back to Connecticut I read this pamphlet about safer spaces called Safety is an Illusion which was an interesting read. Perhaps at one point I’ll have some reflections on it.

As we got back to our host’s place in Connecticut I quickly fell asleep after maybe a little computer and woke for the final day.

Day 2 of 2 of the Book fair

Sharon Presley's essay on Voltairine in awesome pamphlet form!

Getting back to the book fair I wasn’t really sure what to expect, whether any of the stories I heard about with the National Anarchists were true or not and if they were or even if they weren’t what the book fair would be like. Talking to me and Jack’s mutual friend from the night before we learned that everything seemed normal. So we both headed over to our table to find it just fine too. The book fair was seemingly going to continue okay.

I also managed to get to talk to Scott Crow once more and we again touched on the theme of unions although what we specifically mentioned I don’t remember. He said that in terms of left-libertarianism he felt more connected with agorists because he felt things like counter-economics could be a really good strategy. The dichotomy between protests and counter-economics was brought up as well and if I’m remembering correctly Scott showed some preference towards the former, though I could be misremembering. We talked about a few other things but one particular part I remember was Scott commenting on me writing stuff down on my notebook as if I was a federal agent, I got a good laugh out of that.

I want to highlight another moment that day which was one of the organizers of the Boston Anarchist Book fair actually stopping by the ALL-oNE table and saying he was happy to see me and us here. It was a very pleasant and quick exchange and it was something that really brightened and lifted my spirits.

There was also a talk on psychology and authority that was pretty interesting. It used some of Freud’s conceptions of ego and super-ego to discuss the lack of equality in conversations that happens a lot of time in society these days. With cops and other people being the super ego and the ego being those under themselves. The problems of hierarchy and psychology were also briefly touched upon and seemed fairly convincing to me at the time even though I roughly knew those problems anyways. Duringt the questions and answers section of the talk discussions about how to empower people to resist authority were brought up. Examples ranged from cooperatives and certain examples to living off the grid which was debated about how practical it was for some as opposed to others.

Jack soon went off to a Pirate Party meeting and during the Q&A raised some questions of efficiency and so on with using electoral politics. Meanwhile I continued interacting with folks who were interested in the ALL-oNE table. Darian Worden of NJ-ALL and C4SS also stopped by and we conversed on my experiences with the National Anarchists and the oddness of the anarchist space being required by the cultural center to have security. Darian also raised concerns of space management in terms of National Anarchists and other potential entryist groups trying to gain ground.

I went around to Aragorn’s table to check out his inventory. He helps organize Little Black Cart, quite possibly one of the most interesting tablers at the event. I say this because they openly carry egoist, nihilist, cynical and all around very odd books that are highly stylized and pretty impressive aesthetically speaking if nothing else.

I talked to him a few times while looking for Scott and sporadically throughout the book fair. I had sent him a friend request (or the other way around, I forget which) on Facebook the night before and he made a funny comment about being friends “forever” now that we knew each other online. I also was thinking about how the left doesn’t “own” anarchism but then I don’t really think anyone does.I believe the tradition of anarchism is, internally consistent in that it is ungovernable. Aragorn and I talked about Bob Black a little bit and we also discussed what he was selling and various other things, I told him to keep up the good work.

Towards the end there was a people of color caucus trying to organize (or something to that effect) outside and then in the main hall and the security wouldn’t let them do either because of “fire hazards” and “blocking the exit” I actually garnered the gusto to ask one of them what was going. And while he was attempting to tell me the other guy told him not to say and then he said he didn’t know anything. Very nice people indeed.

As you can imagine this caused a lot of controversy and a small-scale protest started outside against the exclusion of the group having some sort of access to a meeting. For the record they were in a specific corner in the main hall that hardly would’ve blocked people from getting to exits or escaping a fire. But this didn’t seem to matter to the security guards.

Jack and I started to pack up and we said goodbye to our neighbors and a few other people. I talked to the women who attempted with me to talk to the National Anarchists and I said goodbye to some of the organizers too and wished them better luck for next year. Not that I thought the event was bad (I didn’t) but there were obvious issues with the venue that I hoped would either be corrected by the next time around or else there would be a change of venues altogether.

The ride back home from Connecticut was mostly inconsequential (at least via my notes) Jack and I got into a few discussions about conspiracies, historical revisionism and certain thinkers and stopped off for food once if I’m remembering correctly. Other than that though not much else happened besides saying goodbye to our great hosts as we were leaving Connecticut.

Conclusion – Reflection and Recommendations

I had a lot of fun at the book fair, re-solidifying certain contacts, making new ones and even finally seeing National Anarchists in real life just added to the memorability of the event (if I’m to look at the positive side of that experience). I got to see some people who I’d never see otherwise, didn’t spend too much money, saw a few great events, met Scott Crow and someone else named Nick who really likes Voltairine, it was just a great time for me in general. At least on a personal level.

That said, them having a security team caused many more problems than solutions and while the security guards seemed lax and seemingly pretty reticent at first to do what they were supposed to and rather inconsistent in their application they eventually stiffened up quite a bit. It started with closing down the possibility of the meeting (at least from my experience) and continued with them asking people to move out of the steps, telling people to not be in between the hall and the exit and to choose a side. Petty tyrannies become abound as time went on and it was really unfortunate.

Besides that problem though for me personally at least a lot of the conversations were great and I felt like ALL-oNe had another successful event financially speaking. I’m unsure where the next one will happen but maybe with my new found membership in the Lucy Parsons Center  I could start become more aware of the Boston book fair earlier than usual and talk to the organizers.

Stay tuned for a post on Porcfest 2013 and AltExpo #13 “Lucky” which had the Auburn Alabama ALL Distro table in ALL-oNe’s stead!


ALL Towards the Polycentric Order! – AltExpo #12 and Liberty Forum 2013!

Well it’s that time again! It’s time for a month-or-so late update on an event ALL-oNE went to the month-or-so prior!

As always, this year’s Liberty Forum took place in February which means AltExpo #12 took place around the same time. This time around Jack and I were fortunate to get the whole amphitheater that’s in the basement section of the Crowne Plaza Hotel, courtesy of the kindness of the Liberty Forum organizers and more specifically Chris Lawless (thanks again Chris!). With this in hand AltExpo was geared up to take on the role of the alternative more strongly than ever before.

But how did that go? And what speakers did we have? And how did Liberty Forum itself go?

Well….we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s start with a brief run-through of Thursday.

Thursday – Getting in

AltExpo in the main program!

I got in a little later then I wanted to due to traffic and various delays so it ended up being around 7:30 or 8 PM that I got in instead of between 6-7 like I wanted to. I wanted to get in earlier so I didn’t miss catching James Tuttle as soon as possible. I ended up meeting him at the entrance near the main foyer and learning that he was having dinner with another speaker, Steve Cooksey, at the fancy bar and restraint in the hotel. So I joined them. James was apparently discussing the value of 3D printing  and why it could sever a liberatory purpose for a libertarian movement. I gorged myself on what James was talking about…the food wasn’t half-bad either.

After about a half-hour or so Darian Worden showed up and we all talked until we decided to go back to James’s hotel room. Steve decided to go back to his own hotel room for the night so he could get some rest. I saw him once or twice more throughout the event and said hi and talked briefly but never managed to get a chance to really talked to him. He seemed nice though.

Once back in the hotel room Darian, James and I all got ourselves comfortable and I got myself set up with the internet relatively quickly (though sadly the internet was a little spotty off and on throughout the weekend). Jack came into the room and a few other friends joined and we all ended up talking until 12:00 or 12:30 in the morning. Jack ended up meeting Jeffery Tucker in an elevator on his way up and brought him along at some point. Jeffery said a few things about how “anarchy is life” and how beautiful life is and then said he had to depart for the night to get some rest for his opening speech the next day.

Jack and I also discovered (as you can see above) that AltEXpo #12 had made it into the main program!

As for the rest of the night, well unfortunately most of the informal discussions between myself, Darian and James have been lost to memory. But the general themes were discussions of what an anarchist society should tolerate and what it shouldn’t, what anarchists should do during war, how anarchists should handle war, how anarchists should handle other communities (such as a “Nazi community” or the like) and what to do about them, agorism and more. Definitely a very fun informal talk.

After most of the people left James and I stayed up to discuss his talk the next day that was gonna be on Freed Market Anti-Capitalism and C4SS and he was going over it with me and asking what I thought of it. I was constantly impressed by his passages and remember having nothing but high praise for it as he read bits of it to me. I read bits of my speech back to him if I’m remembering correctly and we had a few conversations about my talk and his and what we wanted to work on, etc.

We both (of course) stayed up way too late but still managed to wake up around 9:30 the next day.

James was preparing for my talk and I was nervous…why would that be you might askl?

Because I, a person who had never done this before, was introducing James.

Friday – February 22nnd – Day of James’s Talk 

James Tuttle Speaking!

Before James’s Talk

Like I said, I managed to somehow get myself up with only four or so hours of sleep. While I was getting ready and finding things to eat (and quickly discovering bringing a few clementines wasn’t gonna be a sufficient way to keep me going off and on) I was also helping set up the ALL table which was set up sometime before 11 AM though I can’t remember exactly when.

From there what I was doing is a bit of a blur now. Generally speaking I was either manning the ALL table, getting ready for James’s talk or trying to find some food. In terms of conversations I had with people at the ALL table I can’t say I remember too many in general (and this goes for the event in general, though I do remember someone made a big $50 donation on Saturday!). I know I spoke a few times but when I did they were typically just explaining left-libertarianism or explaining the left more specifically or giving recommendations for certain pamphlets. Nothing really sticks out in my mind but then I didn’t write anything down and this is a month later so it’s quite possible something big was discussed before James’s talk and I’m just not remembering.

Regardless I was absolutely ecstatic (and nervous) for James’s talk and fueled on nothing more than some noodles in a cup as I headed downstairs to introduce James.

James’s Talk

(I’ve asked and obtained permission from James to take direct quotes from the text version of his speech which I happen to have on my computer)

My introduction was very brief (though I originally intended it to be a little longer and convey way more enthusiasm and so on but alas…) and I kept it to just who I was, who James was, what his talk was about and giving the mic over to James. Unfortunately, just as what would end up happening with me in my speech I forgot to get someone to take a picture! So I don’t have any pictures of me doing the intro to James’s talk or me doing my talk at AltExpo #12. But hopefully once the video to both of these things are up that’ll make up for my blunder there.

The audience was almost full and Jack was operating the powerpoint. In remembering it recently he called it a “stirring” speech and I definitely have to agree with that assessment. I’m not gonna go over James’s speech and analyze a bit of it, what I liked and what I found interesting in the hope of explaining what James was talking about, why and the basic main parts and points of his talk without giving away his whole talk until it’s online.

Overall I felt James’s speech gave the FMAC (Free Market Anti-Capitalist) approach and critique a very good explanation.

James’s outline of his talk was as follows:


I would like to start out by talking a about the C4SS, its mission and successes. Then I would like to present a couple themes to orient our approach to this subject and clarify a number of terms found in a typical left libertarian critique. And finally discuss how these change the way we talk about “markets”, with a focus on breaking down the time-honored notion of the “invisible hand” into the antagonistic invisible fist versus the resistant invisible molotov.


As you can see James’s talk certainly seems quite imposing but amazingly James was able to fit the basic idea of all of this within thirty minutes! I for one thought that was pretty impressive. Given the scope of this and James’s time I don’t know if I was unsure how James was gonna fit all of this in in a very not only highly accessible but also fairly comprehensive way but I felt as if James delivered both of these things nonetheless.

In citing the success of C4SS James says,

Since October 2006, C4SS has published over 2,200 articles, to include 15 academic level studies. We have documented over 700+ reprints of our articles in mainstream media outlets. C4SS articles have been translated, by volunteers, into French, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Russian, Spanish and Swedish, and we have Media Coordinators for our Spanish and Dutch translations. And C4SS is proud to be the institutional home of the innovative and prolific Kevin Carson.

Further, he adds that,

…we pay our writers, are financed through micro-donations and partnerships, and are additionally staffed by enthusiastic volunteers and supporters, like myself.


Indeed, the successes of C4SS have been felt on a global scale by now and the op-eds have been published all over. There’s probably not a day that goes by that I don’t see a piece by C4SS that was published that day or the day before or that someone isn’t discussing something to do with C4SS. The Facebook page has over 5,000 “likes” and the Youtube channel for C4SS Media has over 13,000 combined video views with over 300 subscribers despite only being re-activated only very recently by myself and James Tuttle.

James’s main concepts in the talk were how to thematically tease out the FMAC critique which he explained through “Diafra” and “SbyMC”::

Difara: Damage Identified, Find a Route Around.

SbyMC: State by Monocentricism.

The first aligns with the general feel of what a FMAC tactic would be constituted by. We would use our approach of recognizing things like the subsidy of history and then find a way around it through direct action, counter-economics, dual power strategy  and education anything else that strikes at the root.

The root, for James and for FMAC who take a more Ostromite position on this, is monocentrism as opposed to polycentrism but what’s the distinction?

James quotes Horia Terpe, in his article  Between Monocentricity and Polycentricity:

The meaning of polycentricity was understood, both in the original 1961 article and later conceptual refinements, in opposition to monocentricity, as a system with multiple centers of power and decision making that are formally independent of each other.


And James adds,

Monocentric systems, by contrast, have reduced, singular, or hierarchical centers of power and decision making with fewer and fewer formally independent units.


The project of the FMAC critique and position then is to not create a single institutional space where FMAC norms and values can be built but many where many different conceptions of freedom and social experimentation can be had.

As James describes it elsewhere:

 The “market” in market anarchy, for me, is a vocational, lifestyle, life-path bazaar; the more options the better I feel that authority is curbed and monopoly buried.  I see/want a world where people can browse, taste test, try on, kick the tires and hassle free return any life they fancy; or knuckle down on one thing and feel the novel sensation of fusion with or mastery of one skill or craft, pushing it into new boundaries, ripping it up and starting again whether it be post-punk music, cabinet making or Starcraft II.


Indeed, a good way of looking at the fundamental ideal of anarchism is a sort of “voluntary abundance” that Voltairine speaks of and not only in wealth but also necessarily in options as well. As James notes well, the more options the more we can be convinced the authority that Voltairine hated and that we want to find a route around as FMACs the more we can be convinced that such an authority has in fact been undermined. More choices, more systems, more options, more freedom operating in a form of voluntary abundance in which people empower themselves through direct action, solidarity and more. The versatility in tactics, in systems and in the very means of living gives people a far better way of living then under a monocentric system.

But what makes systems that act monocentric bad? James and others have reached similar conclusions: It’s the problem monopolies.

For more on this, James elaborates on the major harm of monopoly and quotes Roderick Long and adds in his own comments:

Monopoly, on the other hand, is morally discouraging, and as it blocks our every attempt to “find a route around” our moral confusion grows until we either submit or explode.


Roderick T. Long points out, in his article Libertarian Anarchism: Responses to Ten Objections, with monopoly comes moral problems: “why us? What’s so special about us?”, incentive problems: “why should I attempt to improve production, offer a lower price, or better quality?”, leverage problems: “if the monopolist doesn’t like me, for this or that reason, the price could become impossible to meet or impossibly contingent”, and knowledge problems: “how do I know I am offering the best product for the best price?”.


James reasons that monopoly is guilty of blocking out one of the most fundamental things about FMAC which is the Diafra method. Without that progress is lost to the monocroppers who imperalize and colonize social spaces for their own benefit to the detriment of the many. The state is just one such institution that does this and many other values or ideas that can propagate institutions or relations like it (sexism, racism or heteronormativity being three that James specifically mentions later in his talk). This therefore calls for (in my opinion and I believe this is James’s as well) a thick libertarianism that holds a thick bundle of concerns and will not only find ways around the damage that these institutions, values and relationships cause among people but find ways to challenge, critique and undermine as well.

But how do we confront this? As James correctly notes, the typical answer would be the invisible hand. But in the past the iron fist has been right behind this hand, meaning that perhaps the invisible hand by itself is an insufficient means to confront monocropping (which is, according to Peter Evans, a professor of sociology at the University of CA, Berkley: “…[an] imposition of blueprints based on idealised versions of institutions whose applicability is presumed to transcend national cultures and circumstances…”) and monocentrism more generally speaking.

So what’s the answer?

In quoting William Gillis, James thinks he’s figured it out: The Invisible Molotov:

For those of us interested in resisting and undermining coercive power, the issue is less how a truly freed market might one day improve our lives, but rather how the faint sparks of freedom in the market today are already working against hierarchy, banditry and the concentration of power and how those sparks might be stoked. Therefore our interest is not the market’s invisible hand, per se, but the invisible molotov it carries


But how to use it?

The FMAC approach, in the end isn’t interested in raising up monocentric systems the phenomenon of monocropping so that certainly leaves out raising up the state.

So the only thing left to do is bury it.

Let’s start writing that eulogy today.

After James’ Talk

Despite my somewhat lengthy elaboration from James’s talk and James’s own wonderful insights of course there were plenty of time for questions.

…Unfortunately the first one was quite literally:

What is left-libertarianism?

I, on one hand, can understand. This is all new to most of the audience. Some people were probably a bit confused, a few even baffled and one or two even left when leftist and right-wing conflationism was brought up as well as the anti-capitalism made more explicit. So I can understand the question in a sense.

But in another sense it’s somewhat puzzling and altogether frustrating that, in a speech in which LLism was more or less the focus of the talk the first question would be what it was. Now, granted, James never specifically defined the term LLism so I can understand that but I hope it can be also understood why hearing this first thing’s first after a talk like the one I just talked about above might seem a bit odd, if nothing else.

In any case James answered the question quite well by saying he appreciated Hess’s left-right spectrum and Gary’s The Left in Left-Libertarianism as well as seeing the approach of LLism to be about distributed power. Charles Johnson, coincidentally, had a recent post about this subject as well.

For Hess it’s about comparing the propensity for opposing or supporting concentrations of power and given that LLism is about distributed power and libertarianism more generally is as well it would make libertarianism on the left side of things if correctly viewed. Adding in Gary’s concepts of having libertarianism concerned with subordination, exclusion and deprivation means a libertarianism concerned with things commonly associated with the left within the confines of dispersing power. And dispersing power and going as far as you can with that to Hess, Chartier, James and myself means anarchism and also left-libertarianism.

Other questions were about polycentric orders versus panarchism and I don’t remember exactly how James differentiated the two so I can’t comment there.

Oh, and after I asked James what would he first recommend for people wanting to get into Ostrom’s work (he recommended this by the way) I compared the state to the overly-attached girlfriend (except that the state will actually kill you…)…so yup…that happened too.

After…After James’ Talk

The talk seemed…fairly successful. In my (probably overly honest) opinion it seemed as though some of the crowd was confused about what to make of it exactly, some who were already entrenched in LLism got it and were energized by it or generally liked it and others (like I said before) apparently disliked it enough to leave during the talk.

I can’t exactly pose why it was a mixed result like this except that maybe more things needed to be broken down further for the audience or that certain subjects just weren’t broached enough. But there’s always work to be done with this stuff and either way I was very impressed with James’s work, his writing and his speech overall. So in my opinion it was a great success!

I thanked Chris Lawless (by the way, isn’t that a great last name for a libertarian to have?) for having James there and giving him the opportunity.

After that, I went back to helping with tabling for ALL, discussing left-libertarianism with some folks (mostly non-hostile, friendly and curious as I recall it) and hanging out with various ALLies.

Eventually the hunger got to me and Jack and I went to the nearby supermarket in his van to get some food and whatnot. Eventually it became night and AltExpo had a bit of a party going on for most of the night.

Two things of note happened at the party as I recall it:

1. A conversation with James Tuttle about comic books and superheroes

2. James Tuttle, me Darian Worden and a few other people talking about IP.

The first was no real surprise to me. James Tuttle loved comic books and I knew that. He had discussed the similarities between Batman and a character of Les Miserables and about Batman (the Nolan version). So once that conversation began I was pretty pumped. The conversation mostly revolved around typical figures such as Batman, Superman, Iron Man and even a few Deadpool references here and there.

Darian, me and James briefly discussed The Watchmen and the latest comics for them (I wasn’t too up on this having never seen the movie nor read the graphic novel) and both James and Darian lamented a certain character who they felt ruined things. The conversation on comics was also continued on my Facebook

In all I remember the conversation being very enjoyable. Discussing the pros and cons of Batman and how we pretty much wouldn’t want to hang out with any of the characters. In a choice between Batman and the Joker I at first leaned towards the Joker because he’s a bit more interesting to be around while Batman is so methodical and seemingly crazy to a large degree. But upon second thinking I suppose Batman could be trusted more to not kill me for totally arbitrary reasons. Instead he’d just hurt me for his damaged and half-baked notions of justice.

On the topic of Batman, I highly recommend, Batman: Under The Red Hood. Gonzo Times has written about it here. I also recommend Year One, the re-tellings of Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns which are all great as well. And if you haven’t watched Mask of the Phantasm…well…

Moving away from comics the IP debate was a bit interesting, though I have a little less to say about that. More or less there was a person who was interested in technology who lived on the west coast and was talking about IP. James, me and Darian and him (and a few other people) started discussing the topic with him and he emphasized not necessarily knowing the best way to handle IP in the right way while me and my ALLies were pretty strongly coming out against it.

In the end I referenced him to Kevin Carson’s work on the subject as well as (at least if I recall correctly) Roderick Long’s. Hopefully it gives it a consideration.

I can’t remember much from the conversation itself sadly but soon after that most of us went to bed (it was probably around 3 in the morning and I needed to get up around 8!).

It’s probably not a good idea to do this when you have your speech going on around 12 PM the same day right?


AltExpo #12!

AltExpo #12

Eye-Opener: 8-10 AM

…Of course not!

Instead of waking up around 8 like I wanted to, I ended up waking up closer to 10 AM if memory serves (though honestly some part of me now feels like I was lucky to wake up at all to be honest…) and made it for the end of Kevin’s talk which is partially caught on video here. You can see me enter the room around the 17 and 30 second mark meaning I probably woke up and got down there around 9:30 or so.

It was a nice informal and friendly audience. I can’t really recall what happened or what Kevin Innes talked about but you can catch most of it there in his own words if that helps.

Unfortunately I won’t have that luxury for most of the other speakers. Most of the other speaker’s talks have not yet been uploaded to AltExpo’s YouTube channel.

That’ll be remedied all in due time but for now…

I’m gonna go talk by talk and detail what I remember or at least some personal notes and various other things that happened around the same time as the event if I wasn’t there at the event. Unfortunately due to tabling  for ALL, taking care of other priorities, at one point getting my talk printed out (which ironically I don’t think I used…).

Jack’s talk: Building New Libertarian Community

Unfortunately while I think I was there for most (if not all) of Jack’s talk I don’t really remember much of it. One part of me wants to blame a lack of sleep for this one but I don’t think that cuts it. Nevertheless the audience was pretty good. Somewhere between 15-20 people if memory is serving me correctly. Jack sounded off on what AltExpo was, what New Libertarianism is and was and how those ideas and the AltExpo ideas are relevant to building a community. Aside from that rather innocuous sounding description I remember it being a good opening talk for AltExpo.

Jame’s talk: Libertarianism and Radical Labor

Unfortunately/fortunately Jack, James and I all agreed that putting James’s speak about radical labor and libertarianism would be (strategically speaking) a good precursor to my own talk which very much touched on that same topic.

On the plus side, this meant that the audience that stuck around past lunch (it was my personal decision to more or less “sacrifice” my talk in the form of having at lunch instead of having another speaker’s talk sacrificed…more on my reasoning for that later) but on the negative side I was getting ready for my talk and started doing that about 10 minutes or so.

It took most of my time to get my talk printed because I was waiting on a few people which, as it turns out wasn’t as big of a deal for me or for you since James had already done this talk before but it’s worth noting that even so James had explicitly mentioned me to Darian and myself in his hotel room that he had rewritten a few things and added a few details here and there. So think of it as a more primed version of the talk you’ll see there.

Hopefully that “primed” version will be up sooner rather than later…

…But until then…

My talk: Towards a Counter-Economic General Strike

So I definitely wasn’t nervous at all. Really. But either way I was only presenting to (as it turned out) 10 people or less and I did it right after I got a nice deep breathing and relaxing exercise from Kevin Innes. In addition I was sitting down so I wouldn’t (hopefully) continue my bad habit of awkwardly (read: painfully distracting) fidgeting while presenting. Gotta work on that…

At any rate I’ll give a bit of an overview of my essay and what I talked about and why I thought and still think it’s important. I probably won’t go as in depth as I did with James’s talk but it’ll be fairly comprehensive for those who just wanna get a general sense of what I was talking about.

Before I get to that though, I just wanna elaborate a little on why I chose the lunch period (of all periods) of time during Liberty Forum. The basic idea was that I was an organizer so that if my talk wasn’t well attended and the event overall still went well then I’d be happy. But for someone who only really had to worry about their talk I didn’t really like the idea of them only presenting to 10 or less  people, just didn’t seem fair to me. As it turned out it way the right move to make.

My general purpose of the talk was to elaborate upon why I thought agorists and anarcho-syndicalists have more to discuss and talk about and potentially even work together about if they realize their commonalities as well as their differences. This doesn’t entail a whitewashing of their differences or the fact that there are differences and for some of those differences there are not easy answers sometimes. But nevertheless I attempted to define agorism and one of the main syndicalists tactic (I did not feel comfortable enough in my knowledge of anarcho-syndicalism to do an overview of the philosophy so I focused using one of the anarcho-syndicalists main tactics to explain in a roundabout way what some of their concerns and foundational concerns were). I also addressed them a bit more head on in the conclusion too.

Even so, I totally admit I should’ve done more research on the philosophy of anarcho-syndicalism before delving into this project but my defense for this is saying that my main focus was on the tactics of counter-economics and the general strike and the philosophies were a bit of a second priority for me (at least in this talk). Which doesn’t mean that the philosophies aren’t important to compare and contrast (and, indeed, I do this periodically throughout the talk, albeit in small and controlled ways) but just that I didn’t feel comfortable enough to tackle that. And, like I said before, that wasn’t my main focus within the context of this talk.

Going back to the talk, showing that alliances can be made between these groups (in tactical spirit if not more than that) is part of a larger project of me calling on different factions of the anarchist movement to come together and analyze each other’s thoughts (something I’m guilty of not doing myself of course, especially in regards to anarcho-communism and primitivism, etc.) and realize that these “ideological chasms” that we envision between us are sometimes more self-enforced than actually-existing.

One of my main lines in the introduction of the talk is that this essay is a project that is most interested in talking about one of my most major aspects of my work and ideas:

Synthesis of many ideas while remaining a strong core of disciplined but flexible principles can lead to rewarding experiences, tactics and ideology


Now obviously that’s a pretty general thing to say so I’m not exactly going for mind-blowing things here. But I do think this general idea is one that is under-emphasized, under-appreciated and generally over-looked by anarchists who feel that their economic system is the “key” to anarchism. I’m inclined to say that certainly some systems are better than others at certain things.

For example maybe anarcho-communism works better in small and decentralized agrarian areas while mutualism and individualism work better with larger and more industrial and interconnected communities and towns. I don’t know, but I’m not about to claim any three of these schools of thought (or any of the others either under their umbrellas or around them) have the one definitive “plan” to get us “to” anarchism.

And to go on a side-issue/tangent I’d also like to stress that the end goal isn’t anarchism but progress because there’s not just some magical place called anarchism (and while we’re at it nor is there a magical tradition) and until we learn that progress is generally what justifies our actions and indeed our existence then anarchists are gonna be stuck in the past in some way or another. Which isn’t to say the past isn’t worth looking at, is worth forgetting, isn’t worth deep analysis and constant analysis when needed but getting ourselves knee-deep in tradition (of all things) doesn’t seem like a healthy project to me for anarchists to take on.

In the end, I hope I delivered a satisfying and a thought-provoking talk to the people who attended my talk. A few of the people who stuck around for my talk they said they appreciated it. And before via emails most people said it looked good/fine and another person after the speech when I sent it to him said he liked it. So I’m feeling okay about my talk in general.

Ironically during my Q&A (I thankfully had 10 minutes left over) someone who had came in late asked me what the talk was about so I had to re-state what I was trying to do and how I was trying to do.

As you can see on the title I’ve put it on my own personal blog (it’s the first time I’ve updated it in many months sadly…) though not all of the links are up and the emboldened and italicized words didn’t transfer as well (though that’s a minor thing so I don’t think I’ll do anything about that) but it’s more or less up. I might do a few revisions here or there but for now what you see is what you’ll get.

…Well ya know, until I fix up my fifty page plus original version of the talk that included much more theoretical and some practical elaborations about the content, aims and practices of a counter-economic general strike.

But I wouldn’t suggest holding your breath about it if I were you.

Darian Worden’s Talk: Thoureau and Tomorrow: What a Libertarian Forefather Teaches Us

Darian’s talk was another one that I mostly missed. I was feeling pretty tired after the talk and wanted to catch a bit of Darian’s talk but in the end only stuck around for some of it at the beginning and some it at the end. As you can see though Darian has been kind enough to have a version of it that was appropriate for C4SS as an article there. So go and check it out, I’ve read it and definitely liked it a lot. It looks like Darian knocked it out of the park.

During this time I think I got some food and hung around the ALL table for a bit but then again I remember some of the end of Darian’s talk and talking about feminism and Thoreau (which is briefly mentioned at the end of Darian’s article version) and looking for a specific quote from one of Thoreau’s essays. Other than that I’m sad to say I don’t remember much.

But like I said, just reading what was put on C4SS and via what I do remember from the talk I remember (as per usual) being impressed with Darian’s work.

John Bush’s talk: Sustainable and Autonomous Communities Initiative

This one is a bit of a bummer as I literally can’t say anything about this talk other than I got the brochure from John at the beginning and then had to go man the ALL table for an hour or so. I heard John’s talk was well received and Jack related to me that he enjoyed it. The audience seemed pretty big as well and I don’t really have any doubt that John was a very capable speaker.

Nevertheless you can see what he was talking about above (which, ironically until now, I had no idea had been put online).

As for my time at the ALL table I’m gonna have to confess that nothing particularly is striking a bell for me in terms of conversations I had.

Theresa Earle’s talk: Community Food Security

Okay, so this is a talk I can recall. I specifically made sure I could get in on this talk since I had heard Theresa about the consensus decision process that she helped facilitate in Occupy Boston and knew she was a smart and capable thinker and man did she not prove me wrong!

First off Theresa opened up with no script. Period. She had nothing in her hands (except a few notes she hardly ever looked at which were placed on a table near her) and no powerpoint either. And despite that she had pretty much memorized everything she wanted to say, said it in a pretty emphatic, passionate and overall endearing tone and manner.

Second, Theresa referred to statistics, personal experiences and more to illustrate her points in a fairly comprehensive and believable fashion. She also peppered her points with bits of humor here and there and with a relatability that seemed really grounded and out of the clutches of obscure ideology or philosophy that can sometimes happen at events like this.

Before Theresa was even done I was raving on Facebook that I thought she was pretty much the best speaker AltExpo had thus far (and made it clear I was only speaking for myself).

As to what Theresa was talking about? It was mostly geared towards her interest in having open access and nutritious food via farms and operating our own farms in our own communities and having them self and locally produced so we can move away from the governmentalized and corporatized food distribution systems that are in place now.

I certainly hope Theresa will come back and speak more at Porcfest for AltExpo #13!

SABA Cooperative (Shasta Stewart, Evan Pierce, Rich Angell)’s talk  – Co-operative Living

Danny Panzella – Alternative Currencies and Peaceful Revolution

Justin Holmes and Kieran Prasch – Mesh Networking

Unfortunately I pretty much missed the last three talks before Thaddeus Russell’s talk so I can’t even really comment on what happened on each of these talks.  I was mostly online trying to keep up with current events online and manning the ALL table and engaging in discussions with people who were curious about left-libertarianism.

Of particular note was that I actually met Thaddeus Russell in the area where you buy the books near Jim Dodson’s Liberty Books stand. He and I looked at each other for a few seconds and I asked if he was Thaddeus and he said he was and I told him who I was (we had communicated before online, mostly through Facebook). We then engaged in some discussion about him and his political positions and left-libertarianism’s relation to anarcho-capitalism and other left-anarchists. We went back to the ALL table and I talked to him a bit more with Darian and another ALLy or two. It was quite fun to discuss stuff with him but he eventually had to go off to his room.

I caught the end of Danny’s talk and it seemed alright but either way there’s a link to basically what he was trying to get at with his talk at AltExpo. Though, as you might be able to tell, it’s a talk that happened before that. The talk he gave at AltExpo was a bit more refined version of that talk with a few more things added on to make it a bit longer. When I came in it was a Q&A and it seemed to be going fine.

I caught some of the beginning SABA talk but I had to keep running around due to manning the ALL table and keeping other things in check. Seemed like they had a big audience though and hopefully were well received. I meant to catch up with Evan more but never did so as much as I wanted.

As for the mesh-networking talk it was pretty packed when I came in at the end to catch Thad’s talk and it seemed to be going well. Unfortunately I can’t say much more than that due to a mix of not knowing what exactly they were getting at, forgetfulness and general lack of knowledge of the subject they were bringing up.

Thaddeus Russel’s talk: Renegades for Freedom

Note: The speech linked above was the LF version of the AE #12 talk.

First off, I must say I was a bit nervous about Thaddeus’s talk.

This wasn’t because I was nervous about Thad talking (no, I was ecstatic about that!) but I really hadn’t seen Thad since I had seen him last. And I had hopes he’d show up at AltExpo for a bit beforehand but to no avail. Frantic texting and IM’ing around yielded me no results for Thad’s whereabouts so (as I remember it) as I finally decided to head upstairs a little before Thad’s talk he was there in the elevator looking a bit more dressed up and I headed back to the Ampitheater.

Thad’s talk, of course, went amazingly well (not that I expected much less).

The audience was a bit more mixed for Thad’s talk, and by that I mean numbers. Surprisingly for it being at dinner time (an unfortunate reality of making Thad the closing speaker…) Thad still managed to get around 20 people or more to his talk. And he didn’t disappoint.

He started off by asking the audience whether we thought dancing was okay, if women not walking with a chaperon was alright, if listening to things besides classical music is okay and so on. More or less he was trying to discern how “open” the audience was to the sort of “seedy” underbelly of American culture that Thaddeus praises in his book, A Renegade History of the United State.

Surprisingly to Thad, everyone pretty much agreed with him the whole way through.

After that he started going through how the whores of older times were the first to achieve and not merely advocate equality for women like the feminists. He also proclaimed that every women in the audience was a whore. Why? Because most were wearing bright clothing, make up, were without a male chaperon and generally acted like the whores did back before the feminist movement even got started. A provocative point but a very good one.

He also chastised libertarians for not being so great on the work ethic and then (for me at least) amazingly added,

Except for my good  friend Nick. … But I’m sure there are other Foridsts in the room.


To top it off I sarcastically asked him if he was saying that there was anyone else in the room that loved Voltairine de Cleyre and he responded by saying,

No, don’t push your luck.


Definitely a great moment for me.

At any rate he continued talking about how alcoholics basically earned the worker forty hour week, better wages, the weekend and so on through their obstinate refusal to go for what the boss wanted out of them.

One notable quote I thought to type out to a comrade I was talking to then:

There should be postage stamps with gangsters on them. There should be postage stamps with brothel owners on them. There should be postage stamps with drunks on them.


He mentioned the gay liberation movement and the Stonewall Inn incident and how the modern gay movement is a shadow of such events now.

His speech went on for about thirty minutes and he got a good amount of applause.

It actually was the case that because the talk was happening during dinner that he was wanted to be up there by 7:45 but when I mentioned this to Thad during the Q&A he had some choice words for it and kept going. The Right to be Lazy was used as a reference to give an example of criticisms of the work ethic that Thad used or sympathized with.

Interestingly, Thad also remarked he actually respected conservatives because at least (typically speaking) they’re honest about their shaming and puritanism while progressives aren’t so honest. Thad then added that this means that while he’s aware of which side of the barricades that the conservatives are on he feels he needs to “barrel” through the progressives first before doing much about them.

Overall I was very impressed with Thad’s talk and definitely appreciated him being there.

After AltExpo #12 – Hospitality in the AltExpo suite on the 2nd floor

First off I just want to say that overall AltExpo #12 was a huge success!

In a discussion that happened a few weeks or so after the event, in trying to recall it both Jack and I had serious issues trying to come up with problems we had. The speakers were great, the talks were great, the topics were interesting and informative, the audience receptive, the general receiving positive and the costs all but covered! Much discussion of important topics from a wide range of issues were covered and covered in pleasant and well needed ways.

Wrapping up the ALL table was done a little hastily by myself while my head was rushing with excitement and not exactly thinking. So James ended up taking all of the things off of the table (due to a mess up on my part).

Other than that though the night transitioned well into the “hospitality” section of the night and this is where the Twilight Zone portion of this story begins.

The Twilight Zone

While there was a bit of a hospitality thing going on at AltExpo things didn’t really start until after Vermin Supreme‘s movie was over in the Ampitheater and I got a friend or two to mention that stuff was going on at the AltExpo suite rooms.

Within about a half-hour or so the rooms in the suites were packed pretty full of people. Before that I had done some playing on my bass guitar, gotten in a few small conversations here and there and felt somewhat engaged with people and in a good mood to discuss things, man did I pick the right night!

As more and more people came in, more and more conversations began and this is where The Twilight Zone begins.

From approximately 1 AM to 4 AM I was in many different debates about left-libertarianism, landlordism, the definition of the word “voluntary”, rape culture, the definition of (of course!) capitalism and all of the “lovely” things that entailed.

I ended up talking to various anarcho-capitalists, a minarchist or two and had plenty of lively debate…let me try to sum it up.

One of the anarcho-capitalists I was talking to was a guy who me, Jack and James had spoken to earlier about the definitions and terminology behind capitalism and why it was at best a lackluster word for libertarians to use. We particularly referenced Advocates of Freed Markets Should Embrace “Anti-Capitalism” and used the terminology there to try to separate different ideas of capitalism and try to help him figure out why we were against capitalism.

Ultimately this conversation (and many others) resumed during the hospitality thing in the AltExpo suites. It got to a point where my interlocutor started defending the “choices” that wage-makers (and, if memory serves me, even wage-slave kids in foreign countries!) were making and somehow saying that this sort of system is progressing towards a better world. I was almost beyond belief. We went in circles and circles about capitalism, wage-labor, social-capital, landlordism and a whole bunch of other topics.

My general feeling of his positions were that they were pretty much what I’d hope an an anarcho-capitalist wouldn’t be. I made the argument that the worker, even in the US has their choices artificially constrained by corporations, the government and systematic elements that his critique of actually-existing capitalism (though he wouldn’t call it such) was missing. I don’t remember what his responses were but I do remember another libertarian (of the right-wing persuasion it sounded like) complaining about entitlement and the victim playing that some people. I was already thinking about other conversations and was getting too angry to find it worth my time to engage with that person too.

Nevertheless it continued well into the morning. At one point I was asked about my position about rent and I think James puts it correctly that:

 I think a salient distinction between C4SS and other forms of anarchism re property-like relationships, is *skepticism* and *context*. 

This is a major focus of our freed market approach. 

We are *skeptical* about rent, for example, not claiming it wrong or right prior to context. Other forms of anarchism, depending on who you talk to, are *certain* about rent, again for example, that itis either right or wrong – period – regardless of context.


At the time however I was unsure how I felt about rent and so on. It’s still not something I feel solid on but I guess keeping the context and skepticism approach in mind I suppose within the context of the contracts and negotiation being more or less equal between “tenant” and “owner” that I’d see significantly less to be skeptical and cautious of. It would be in such a state that the relationship between the two would be (especially comparatively to now) more or less equal with the roles of both being pretty blurry and it’d be hard to tell who was what in any real easy way like it is now.

Now, that wouldn’t mean it would be beyond reproach but the skepticism and context of it would situate it more closely with an anarchic relationship. Even so though I’d say that with the breaking up of the many monopolies  (especially credit and land) that renting in general would be less prevalent than it is right now and when it would occur it’d be between free equals and uniques who have plenty of options for themselves in terms of where they live and what they do with their lives.

But at the time I really had no good answer so I pretty much just said that. As you might imagine, it wasn’t well received.

Eventually I ended up resting and sitting on a bed talking to another friendly interlocutor who was a minarchist but still engaged in the conversation with me well and surprisingly whom I had a better discussion with (I feel). We talked about patriarchy, feminism and libertarianism and Charles Johnson’s excellent essay on that topic. We also talked a bit more about landlordism and my problems with it and I finally was able to explain a bit more of my position on it and why I felt like I did.

After what seemed like an eternity I decided I was tired and that I needed to go to sleep if I wanted any chance of waking up in the morning.

To paraphrase Thaddeus,

“[Anarchism] sure is a lot of work!”

Sunday – Getting Out

Me with Thaddeus Russell!

My day started off around 10 AM or so (still only getting me five hours or so of sleep) and happily discovered that the leftovers of the morning buffet were being allowed to be given to us peasa-I mean people who couldn’t afford it!

Anyways, I “dined” for the first time in a while and felt a bit recovered.

With that I set up the ALL table and managed to get a few purchases from a few people and a lovely anti-voting poster from Davi Barker from the Vote for Nobody Campaign. After that I packed back up the boxes rather furiously in order to get things taken care of so I wouldn’t miss anything else that was going on. I would later regret this as I had to organize the pamphlets again but it ended up not being as big of a deal as I thought it would be.

More on that later though…

I helped get some of the suites for AltExpo set up and I rushed down to see Thaddeus’s talk. And of course as I walk into the room someone left a few glass cups that are made for drinking wine on the floor and under the seats. So I of course knocked a few around a little bit and ended up breaking one of them. After a few looks from people (yes, I’m socially-awkward and physically clumsy folks, thanks for noticing!) I managed to pick up some of the cups (luckily it was only broken in big parts not small so I didn’t cut myself) and put them on a nearby table.

Thaddeus (thank goodness) didn’t even pause (though the video seems to suggest he kind of laughed it off for a second or so) and kept going on.

I’m not really gonna go into his talk since it was more or less the one he gave at AltExpo. But more or less the talk there went fine  and the Q&A was interesting. After the talk I ran out to get my bags which had a copy of Thad’s book to discover…all of the stuff was gone! The pamphlets, my guitar, my amp, my bags, everything!

I immediately panicked and asked around if anyone had seen it and no one had seen anyone take it. I asked a few people at the front desk for anything and they said they’d check. Luckily I ran into Jack within a minute or so of that and he told me that he had moved all of the stuff to his van. I had told him where my stuff was and didn’t think he was gonna do it so soon and to make matters worse had forgotten I mentioned that to him!

But even so I got my book signed once I got the stuff back and a few pictures with Thad. Definitely one of the highlights of my weekend!

Unfortunately Thaddeus had to leave for his flight soon after his talk so I ended up hanging out with James and Jack in the main foyer of the hotel while Jack was finishing up an interview with someone from Reason TV. I don’t know if anything became of that but I somewhat doubt it as the same happened to me last year and I don’t know that anything happened there either.

Regardless James and I were pretty much worn out and both feel promptly asleep on some comfortable furniture for about a half-hour until Jack woke us both up for James to get ready for his hotel ride to the airport.

Jack and I and another friend that we made during the day after Thaddeus’s talk and signed was over and said goodbye to James as he went off to the airport.

After that, Jack me and our new friend went to a nearby pizza place to talk politics while I dazed off and watched a crappy movie on the side half-brain dead still. While there we discussed a bit about morality, Max Stirner’s The Ego and His Own and I also recommended Robert Anton Wilson‘s Natural Law, or Don’t put a Rubber on Your Willy which he later read and let me know he enjoyed. By around 5 PM I was ready to go home and take a nice nap.

I came home to a nice three hour nap or so after having a wonderful weekend.

Conclusion – What’s Left and What’s Next?

Voltairine de Cleyre painting I own

ALL in ALL it was a great weekend and I am definitely grateful to anyone and everyone who helped AltExpo #12!

I think the idea of communication is constantly being beaten in my head time in and time out and hopefully as a result of this (and other things) I’m getting better at this. I definitely learned just from writing this blog that I have to write stuff that happens at events, conversations I have, important notes from talks and so on. I should also try to write these blog posts just a little closer to when they actually happened. But ya know…I don’t want to aim too high now…

I don’t have much else to say about the events or Liberty Forum. For the most part I hung out at either the ALL table or AltExpo and while there were a few talks (like the Thaddeus Russell talk and a political vs. non-political activism panel) I mostly did not attend the main event (which makes since sense I was assisting organizing a whole ‘nother event as well as a table and a few other important things. So I was a little short on time for other things to say the least. Nevertheless though it was exhausting (I didn’t even feel totally back to normal until a day or so after the weekend was over!) I had tons of fun and am excited for AltExpo #13!

Expect that when ALL-oNE goes to the NYC (A) Bookfair I’ll have a bit more detailed of a memory when I upload the post. Happily and sadly ALL-oNE will be tabling in NJ-ALL’s stead due to a lack of participants from that group being able to make it this time around. It should still be a good time though and I hope you can make it! Scott Crow will also be there which is very exciting for me as I’m currently  reading (and furiously attempting to finish) his Black Flags and Windmills which I’m quite enjoying.

Now as for when that post on the bookfair will be posted…

[Editorial note: I did indeed take much more copious notes for the Bookfair…hopefully it’ll add up to a much richer post!]

ALL-oNE Returns to Boston: The 2012 Boston Anarchist Bookfair!

Hey, I know i’t s been a while as per usual. I meant to upload a review of Karl Hess’s “Community Technology” but never got enough edits to feel totally good about it. That may be forthcoming or I might just check it over myself and then do it. We’ll see.

Either way, I regret not reporting on my experiences at the second 2012 Liberty LOVE fest, that, despite some mild interference from the police due to “illegal selling” of alcohol went reasonably well and made us here at ALL-oNE remember the importance of getting contact information a bit better…

I also did a speech there was was decently received even though it was cut sharply from its original length due to scheduling complications. I’m unsure if anyone got video of my speech (I remember asking but forget if anyone ever did it) but either way I’ll eventually upload it on my Youtube channel anyways.

I also attended, in late August, the 2012 Providence Rhode Island book fair and while ALL-oNe missed the opportunity to table there (don’t worry, we’ll get it next year with any luck!) we had a good time meeting some organizations in the New England area, meeting up with some fellow ALLies and having some interesting discussions on the issues of race at one of the anarchist organizations in Providence called Libertalia.

I wish I could remember more of the conversation but it was an interesting one and we ALL ended up having a good time. But I’d simply be too remiss to not do the report at a bigger event than Liberty LOVE Fest and one that was in the same scene as the Proidence one and one we’ve reported on before.

So with that, I hope you’ll enjoy the report from me (Nick Ford) back from the 2012 Boston Anarchist Bookfair!

Getting Ready

New ALL-oNE Literature!

There were preparations to be done even before we could really feel good about the bookfair. The main one being an updated inventory. Unfortunately Jack and I realized, quite late on, that our inventory hadn’t been updated in quite a while and that we could use some more pamphlets from an ALLy, whomever that ended up being.

We ended up asking Charles Johnson who runs the Distro of the Libertarian Left and who very graciously and helpfully prepared a bunch of new pamphlets for us (and threw in a few extras for free!). Thankfully it arrived on the day that Jack and I were to leave for the Opening Show. We got a little over $50 for the following:

  • [I had two stacks of pamphlets, the following was found in the first stack]
  • Problems of Anarchism: Property, Labor & Competition, by William Bailie (1893)
  • The Economics of Anarchy, A Study of the Industrial Type, by Dyer D Lum (1890)
  • 3 The Free Market as Full Communism: Two Essays on Mutual Ownership & Post-Scarcity Market Anarchy. By Kevin A Carson
  • Market Anarchy, Ecological Order: Three Libertarian Views on Environmental Protection (MA #32 . August 2012) by Kerry Thornley, Mary Ruwart & Karl Hess Jr.
  • The State by Randolph Bourne
  • No Matter Who You Vote For, The Winner is Always the Government. Stop Voting . Start Building. (MA #34 (October 2012) Essays by Charles Johnson, Kevin Carson, Roderick Long & Randolph Bourne
  • Property Rights in Celtic Irish Law by Joseph R. Peden (this was a surprise hit last year so we ordered more copies)
  • Scratching By: How Government Creates Poverty as we Know it by Charles Johnson
  • 3 Intellectual Property is Theft!: How “Intellectual Property” Impedes Competition by Kevin Carson
  • [Second stack]
  • The Ethics of Labor Struggle: A Free Market Perspective by Kevin A. Carson
  • Liberty, Equality, Solidarity: Towards a Dialectical Anarchism by Charles Johnson
  • Libertarian Feminism: Can this Marriage be Saved? by Charles Johnson and Roderick Long
  • Free Market ***Anti-Capitalism***? State Socialism & Anarchism: how far they agree and where in they differ by Benjamin Tucker
  • A Catechism of Anarchy by Anonymous (Mary Hansen, Voltairine de Cleyre & The Philadelphia Anarchists)
  • Anarchism and American Traditions by Voltairine de Cleyre
  • The Iron Fist Behind the Invisible Hand by Kevin A Carson
  • The General Strike by Ralph Chaplin
  • 3 A Critique of Anarchist Communism by Ken Knudson (another surprise hit from last year that I wanted to bring back)
  • The Industrial Radical: A Quarterly Publication of the MOLINARI INSTITUTE

I took pictures of all of the pamphlets from plenty of different angles and the pictures are all publicly accessible so feel free to look around! For the amount of pamphlets we got and for the quality they were in and content provided it was quite a good deal.

Many many thanks to Charles for helping us out so last minute!

(Maybe next time we’ll ask a bit earlier…)

The Opening Show

Opening Show                                                                    (“Not sure if I hate my boss – Or all bosses”)

With the pamphlets out of the way and our inventory looking a bit fresher than usual it was time to pack up and hit the road…about an hour or two late. But it turned out to be fine. The place was pretty chock full of anarchists, those simply curious, music-lovers, tablers, various people who didn’t really belong (security guards, a guy who was leaving when Jack and I got in came out with a business suit…) but it made sense because it was taking place at the School of the Museum of the Fine Arts, which, as Jack explained, was ironically subsidized by a lot of the ruling class themselves. But we anarchists had it for the night and that was what counted.

We got in when a band was playing that seemed to be mixing poetry and a foreign language (possibly Middle Eastern?) but I was still absorbing the environment and trying to re-adjust myself to the scene that I hadn’t really been in since last year. I actually recognized one or two faces from the year before but for the most part no one really stood out to me. There was a guy who I thought I knew from Facebook and who I might’ve met at last year’s bookfair but it turned out to be someone else…good thing that kind of stuff isn’t awkward…

I started looking around and quickly remembered how out of place I sort of feel in anarcho-communist circles due to the way they dress and the way I dress. But I also quickly realized that’s not something that really matters and what I was there to do was have some fun before it was time to get down to business for the next two days. So I went to some of the tables, grabbed some pamphlets here and there (including Voltairine de Cleyre’s “Crime and Punishment!”, made a few donations to the organizers and slowly but surely became more and more engrossed in the music.

The first bit of music I really got interested in was from a woman who’s name was Susanna Smash and whose singing and incurable optimism and interest in radicalism really spoke to me against what some in the crowd might think or feel. She was really talented at singing and was a one-woman act. I spoke to her after  her performance congratulating her on doing so well.

In any case there was a puppet show intermission between some bands that touched on the themes of love and was pretty entertaining. I believe they were from the Bread and Puppet and so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. The second intermission they did was funny about how the whole system being exploitative was “boring” but kind of lacked punch and came off as social-democratic/reformist when they talked about “not enough [state] funding” for schools, etc. instead of building up alternatives.

Either way the music continued and up next was an interesting band led by Evan Greer that had a children’s songs that gave a good middle finger to the cops  mixed in with some other songs that were fine enough for me.

After that a really stereotypical anarcho-punk band named PigStomp came out.

How stereotypical you may ask?

This stereotypical.

L’oreal: Because he’s worth it!

And no, I didn’t take this photo on purpose…I swear, I was just lucky. But more seriously their equipment kicked ass and they had the aesthetic totally down…for whatever that’s worth to you.

Up next was the second to last act which was Spider Cider a jazz-hop (hip-jazz?) band that freakin’ ruled (in a non-hierarchical way of course :P)! It was led by Jacob, who was, incidentally hosting Jack and I at the place he lived with some others via collective housing. The lyrics were snappy, the jazz part of it rocked and I just had a great time!

Finally Far More than 40 blew away all of my expectations as a Rage Against the Machine cover band and rocked the whole place. People were going crazy and so was I. It was a wonderful time and I got a chance to talk to some of them afterwards! It turned out the guitarist was actually one of the organizers of the bookfair and recognized me from Facebook saying he and the others joked about me being their biggest supporter and I told them I was also pleased in having their support.

He then added that he thought ALL was actually pretty cool  but some of the people that can sometimes be associated it aren’t necessarily as much. I agreed and made a comment about anarcho-capitalists, but I forget what.

And thus ended  the opening night, with a  head full of sweat on a cold winter’s night and plenty of exhaustion to go around Jack and I soon returned to the collective house that Jacob lives in and around 9 AM woke for the first day of the bookfair.

Bookfair Day 1


The first day of the bookfair started out a little before 11 AM with Jack finding parking for his van and me setting up the table a little after 11 AM.

The reactions that followed from our presence could be mostly categorized in one of the three possible scenarios:

1. A look of confusion/disgust (confusion seemed much more popular) and then a quick or slow movement away from the table.

2. A look of confusion but one that lead to curiosity more so than presumptions and which typically led to a small conversation and/or a purchase of a pamphlet or what have you.

3. Ignoring the table completely (statistically speaking this was probably the biggest part of the three but I think most tables can say that…at least I hope!)

I was always glad to see the 2. sorts of people and fortunately for ALL-oNE as the days went on we typically got quite a few 2.s rather than 1.s.

On the first day it ended up being that I’d man the table for most of the day (up until 4 PM upon which Jack would return and we’d both table) and Jack would go to some talks. Originally I wanted to split them as there were talks on both days that I wanted to see but it just ended up working better and was fairly equitable in the end.

In terms of the people I interacted with I’ll try to keep it limited to those that I found memorable.

The first person I remember was someone who was asking me about counter-economics (we had the ALL banner which said “starve the state, go countereconomic!”) and from there we had an alright five minute or so conversation on the topic. It focused on getting the definitions right, talking about how it’d apply to strategy and if counter-economics is so effective why the third world countries aren’t more anarchic. In response to the last part I remember emphasizing that the black markets that exist in third world countries largely lack a libertarian consciousness in terms of how they operate. So anarchic or anti-authoritarian movements more generally aren’t simply gonna be easy to organize just because of the existence of large-scale black markets or underground markets, etc.

Another person who came by was a guy from Worcester who opened with jokingly telling me that we seemed better than we did online. He also told me about something called the SAGE alliance and suggested that I look them up and try to get in contact with them for future projects. He later messaged me on Facebook telling me about a bunch of other projects going on in Worcester and it seems to me to possibly be a promising thing but I guess we’ll just have to see…

In terms of sales they seemed to come sporadically with the occasional big bulk purchase. One of the most memorable ones was an individual from the Sacco and Vanzetti Commemoration Society who liked archiving things from every table when he could. He payed around $10 for all of our new stuff (I gave him some discounted prices for buying a bunch) and it was definitely one of our cooler deals!

Another person who talked to me actually knew me from online via the mutualism Facebook groups. We had a discussion about a few topics but one in particular was whether anti-capitalist markets could help housing for those in need. I told him that I thought the smashing of Tucker’s big four monopolies (especially land of course) would be a big help towards such an effort. And though I may not have mentioned this point, Voltairine de Cleyre’s idea of anarchism as a sort of “voluntary abundance” instead of just seeing anarchism as a means for markets to flourish but people in general (instead of the institutions or mechanisms they use/control) might help as well. Either way, he said he was interested in buying some stuff but would return later when he had some cash.

On the subject of cash however, ALL-oNE tried to make our policy on buying things a bit more lax. First, we tried to make it more explicit we had some pamphlets that were free/donation based and that went pretty well. Next, we also told people if they didn’t have the necessary money for the purchase they could just give us what they had/what they felt it was worth to them in terms of what they had. Even with these new (and in my opinion much needed updates) the person buying pamphlets typically either had the money, would come back when they did or would just take the free ones. A few people offered to barter and unfortunately at the time I was too unsure if that was a good move so I declined. But perhaps that’s an idea for the future? We’ll have to see…

Lunch was definitely one of the most interesting times of the bookfair. While probably more people were in the main room where the vendors were and conversations were happening  they were still rather sporadic at coming to the tables (it seemed to be like that in general though and not just for us here at ALL-oNe but perhaps I’m wrong about that, not sure). Unfortunately, on the subject of lunch, due to my pickiness I had to settle for some bread and fruit and some juice/water, etc. plus whatever else I could eat (which thankfully also included intermittent eating of pumpkin pie! :D).

Jack returned from the talk he had just been at saying it was alright but was hoping the next one would be better. He was gonna attend the direct action talks next and while I was interested about going to one part and him another he ended up attending both, which was fine by me.

One of the other conversations I had with someone at the bookfair was on the subject of markets more generally and how I could think of them in a “left” context. What followed was me trying to explain how I thought markets could potentially be a leveling field for a freer society. I contrasted this leveling sort of market with the rigged and captured markets of today which I said were controlled and captured for the delight of the capitalist and ruling class at large. I forget exactly what convinced him (of course!) but it was an awesome feeling to actually get someone to agree with me. It actually took me by such surprise that I paused for a second when he said it made sense and then asked him if he actually agreed.

The time in between discussions, Jack coming back and looking around the tables mostly had me preoccupied with reading the latest pamphlets that we got (Kevin Carson’s, “The Free Market as Full Communism”, some of “Market Ecology” and a few others) and I kept diligently making sure that Dyer D. Lum’s “The Economics of Anarchy” was kept to the side. It was the only copy we got and I wanted to read it for myself at some point…plus two greedy capitalist points for me I suppose…

Jack eventually came back which gave me some much needed time to stretch my legs and check out some of the tables. The stuff at Black Powder Press particularly impressed me in its scope and level of different pamphlets. Apparently they’re simply a re-publishing distro based in CA (they came ALL the way from California!). I eventually picked up 10 of their pamphlets for about $10 or something like that. It was quite a deal! They take submissions too so perhaps we’ll ALL see ALL-oNE or more generally speaking ALL zines in their library some day…

In the meantime I dropped my camera with the lens out while I was browsing their library and effectively broke it. So it was at this point that I couldn’t take any more pictures. 🙁

After that I (frantically) tired to fix it back at the table but it was no good. So in frustration I just sat there with Jack for a while, went over the day and tried to do some more sales. I did a little more “window shopping” at the tables and had a few more conversations with folks but none that I can specifically remember. By the end of the day we had made up for half of the costs of the purchase from Charles!

If things went as well tomorrow then we’d be in good shape…

It was with these good thoughts in mind and high hopes that we left most of our stuff at the bookfair (at our own risk of course, but we weren’t concerned since anarcho-communists respected possessions last we checked… :P).

Day 2

On the second day I was fairly excited right off the bat because a friend of mine from Worcester MA was gonna be coming up to Boston to meet up with Jack and I. Even more exciting was that he was not only gonna help us table and so forth (and he had helped us out at previous events too!) but that he let me know in the morning that he’d be able to make it before 11 AM (originally it was gonna be later)!

We met up with him in the main room for the vendors and then proceeded to figure out that he and I would go to the talks from eleven to four and then we’d reconvene with Jack and the ALL table for lunches and breaks in between.

What follows are some of my most striking reactions and memories of the talks my friend and I attended.

Safer Spaces (11:00-12:15)

This talk was notable to me for being totally unorganized. I don’t fault the people in charge of the talk per se’ (after all, they were mostly organizers of the bookfair too!) but I do wish the talk had been a bit better organized. Not only did it not start until twenty minutes after when it was supposed to but an important pamphlet that was supposed to be there for resources didn’t make it.

Fortunately things went uphill from there as we got into various scenarios and tried to collectively figure out for ourselves what a safer space would be and wouldn’t be.

They made an interest points about the term safer space as opposed to safe space. Namely, that such a thing as the latter can’t exist. You can only make spaces safer, you can only approximate and keep going forward. Thus, saying a space is safe is somewhat disingenuous (even if it’s not of an intentional sort). Now, to be clear, the speakers only really said that first part but I think what implications I drew from their statement seem clear enough to get.

But what is a safer space?

safer space is a place in which anti-oppressive culture cannot only be formed and cultivated but progressively developed by better ensuring that people’s voices are heard, that certain groups aren’t marginalized and that people feel welcomed to express themselves in a free way so long as it’s not oppressive.

That’s a rather rough definition but I’m not aiming for comprehension here, just a rather rough outline so people might get some sort of notion about what was going on in the talk.

So throughout the rest of the talk the organizers went over several scenarios and tried to see how we would react. One of the interesting things was the topic of the level of response in proportion to what was going on in a given space. So, for example, if an older gentleman was simply trying to be friendly to someone and was trying to (or was) touching them in some way that made another person uncomfortable we all pretty much agreed the answer wasn’t to openly shame that person (let alone publicly!). After all, the intent was not malicious and the older gentleman (in the scenario given) isn’t trying to cross any boundaries intentionally, they just happen to be.

So it was decided that a solution to non-predatory sort of boundary crossing should be something that would be “non-ruckus” inducing such as privately telling the older gentleman (in this example) that they’re crossing boundaries. A third party might not even be necessary at all and all might be necessary (in this case) is that the individual person telling the other individual what’s going on. The important thing is to make sure both parties know what’s going on and that people feel safe and physically comfortable.

It’s also good to keep in mind the feelings of both parties. There’s no reason to unnecessarily hurt the feelings of either the person who feels like their boundaries being crossed nor the person crossing those boundaries. Now, if it is intentional or malicious then the feelings of that other person (the ones crossing the boundaries that is) might matter to a slightly less extent depending on the context of the scenario. Even so, I’d argue that there are still limits to the amount of shaming (public or otherwise) that’d be warranted in a given context.

Examining our own behavior, how we may reinforce bad perceptions or behaviors as well as not noticing others is also important in dealing with other people. Because if we can’t even see what we are doing (at least in part) then how can we hope to help others? Understanding ourselves therefore is one of the key ways in which we can better make sure that spaces can get safer.

Lastly, what are your intentions in a given scenario? Do you feel comfortable with dealing with the situation directly? Are you better suited to simply be a bystander who might get involved if stuff goes wrong? Or do you think (because of personal involvement with the given participants or your own personal issues that might be separately going on) you shouldn’t be involved at all?

If you’re feeling like you should be removed from the scenario you should always take yourself out of it until you feel like you can come back to it and deal with it. Sometimes that means coming back once the situation is totally resolved and other times it means coming back when you’ve simply cooled off. Either way, make sure you’re trying to create safer spaces with a cool head. It does us no good as a movement if we’re all frustrated at each other instead of trying to get shit done.

There’s more to be said about the talk and my feelings but overall I very much enjoyed the talk (whatever its problems) and hope that more discussion can be had on it. I signed up to receive the pamphlet I mentioned before about safer spaces so I’m hoping to receive that soon!

Lunch (12:15-1:15)

Like the day before I wasn’t much interested in the food that was being served (not the servers fault, I’m a picky eater!) but I made due with some fruit and bread, etc.

Checking in with Jack at the ALL table it seemed as if we weren’t off to much of a good start for the day. Jack hadn’t gotten any sales (or else it had only been a few) but on the plus side had had a few cool chats with some folks nonetheless. As I stayed there with my friend from Worcester and Jack we were talking about the talk I just went to and what I thought of it as well as what else I was gonna do during the lunch break.

As it turned out Black Powder Press not only had good pamphlets but they also take requests like I mentioned before and it was at this point that I actually found that out. I’ve thought of some titles but am interested in hearing other ALLies thoughts on what we should send to them!:

Women and The Invisible Fist – Charles Johnson

The Iron Fist Behind the Invisible Hand – Kevin Carson

Forth Generation Warfare & Standing Orders for Open Sources Insurgencies – John Robb

Fuck Neo-Liberalism, Fuck Borders – Joe Peacott

General Strike – Ralph Chaplin

A Critique of Anarchist Communism – Ken Knudson

As far as much else, I don’t remember anything specifically happening. I believe Jack had quite a long talk with a few people about the history of the libertarian movement and how we as left-libertarians fit into it. Unfortunately on both people I believe we forgot to follow up by asking if they wanted us to add them to our email list.


Community Accountability and Transformative Justice (1:15-2:30)

It was 1:15 before I knew it and my friend and I were off to the next talk. We only got there a few minutes late and the room was packed already! It was a fairly sizable room (classroom but still…) but even though it was only a few minutes after the talk had started there were no chairs left. Throughout the first few minutes of the talk (or more) there was still people coming in here and there.

The talk was described as such:

This workshop will focus on community accountability and transformative justice, specifically addressing constructive means of fostering a culture of everyday consent, accountability, and support. Anarchism is a project of community building and it is our collective responsibility to confront and transform the way oppressive systems manifest themselves in our collective and individual lives. This workshop will offer concrete and tangible recourses for implementing our vision of a liberatory society.


Clearly this was an important topic to the folks at the Boston Anarchist Bookfair. It was definitely the most packed talk I went to (but then again I technically only went to two talks and an IWW meeting that I’ll talk about soon) so perhaps there’ll be more discussion in the future. The amount of people there seems to warrant that much!

They started off with some basic definitions about what transformative justice was, especially in comparison to restorative or restitution based justice. The speakers talked about how these can fail because they can be too limiting, based too much on the old system of doing things (they did not expand on this idea and I forgot to ask them in more detail their objections to restitution and restoration based justice) and that sometimes restorative justice in specific can suck because the conditions beforehand might’ve sucked too. In which case, restoring the relation to previous circumstances might not always be the best answer.

There were multiple parts of creating transformative justice and keeping it there and so on. The speakers talked about a consent culture versus a culture of fright as well as a culture of transparency, destigmitization as a strategy towards a better society and after they were finished with that and a few other things the questions session began.

Most of the discussion focused around feminist issues such as rape culture, survivors (as in people who survive rape) and most notably a woman at one point stood up for literally almost five minutes on a rant about how patriarchy and all these other oppressive systems (states, capitalism, etc.) reinforce each other. And while to me some of it seemed somewhat off-topic (though I’m not necessarily saying I disagree with everything she said…) to the talk, at the end of it she got a rather good share of the people in the room to applaud her.

Aside from those things I must be honest with you, my dear reader, and tell you I don’t recall much of the event past that. Nothing that was really said made too much of an impact on me )then again, I’m writing this a few weeks later so it’s partially my own fault as well of course) and I felt like a lot of the Q&A was somewhat off topic but perhaps because of the wide range of topics that’d fall under something like community accountability talking about accountability for rapists and making sure survivor’s voices are heard are important. Either way I’m not saying that stuff isn’t important I’m just unsure how much of what was talked about had as much relevance as I would’ve liked to have seen.

At one point when they got around to me I made a point about something (I, of course, forget what) and when referencing another person misidentified their preferred pronouns (gender wise) and quickly doubled back and apologized instinctively. Afterwards they told me they appreciated my candor about being sorry which I appreciated. But then I proceeded after I had finished having a nice quick chat with them to make a joke to my friend using a sort of “dumb” voice so I thought to myself, “how much good is it being polite in one aspect if I can’t do another?”.

Something to ponder.

Break 2:30-2:45 

Not much had changed for Jack if I’m recalling correctly. He had gotten a few sales finally and even more good conversations (and possibly one or two people on the email list to boot!) but nothing more was really to be had.

It turned out not to matter much because the next thing my friend and I were attending, the IWW meeting was going to start sooner than we thought.

We rushed down to the first floor to see what we were in for…

IWW Meeting (2:45-4:00)

I wasn’t sure what exactly to expect from the meeting but what I hoped for (a Q&A type discussion in a small circle with folks introducing themselves and such) went out the window pretty early on.

Now before I say anything more let me be clear:

If there’s one union I’m gonna support, it’s gonna be the IWW. The amount of autonomy due to the lack of union bosses, the lack of hierarchy, the equitable decision making, the actions they take, their tendency to have anarchists, the historical support they typically had from anarchists (including Voltairine de Cleyre in her essay, “Direct Action”) and more make me unequivocally support the IWW.

That said…I have my issues.

First off, the meeting was just that…it was a meeting. And unfortunately it wasn’t an introductory meeting…just a meeting. I know I could’ve just came and talked to some of the position-holding folks in the Boston IWW or just one of the members in general but it would’ve also been important to hear what generally the people in the group thought it was good to emphasize and let others know. So right off the back the whole context in which I was attaining knowledge wasn’t much to my liking.

Another issue was that the only times they ever really explained what an action was or what was going on was when someone reminded the person talking to do so. I know that most of the folks there were IWW members so I get it to some extent but for the most part it was like the observers really had no presence there at all.

Those issues aside however the members seemed nice enough though and the actions were all ones I supported. They talked about unionizing some oppressed workers and trying to do so on the larger scale industries and talking about whether such and such industry was a good place to do that. They talked about some basic financing stuff and generally came to such conclusions quickly and efficiently from what I saw.

There were a few complications though, such as a debate over a given proposal on changing some part of the IWW constitution which brings me to my tendency to think more highly of something like comrade William Gillis’s essay Organizations Versus Getting Shit Done (and I even have some smaller affinities to his slightly more radical proposition in The Union Makes us Weakthan some of what was going on at the meeting. Which I guess means I have some sympathies towards some autonomist Marxist and post-leftists points on organization insofar as stuff like the IWW goes.

But that isn’t to say I want the IWW abolished or something or that I think mass movements are unimportant but I do have some sympathies to the ideas that William talks about and think they should be talked about more. Mass movements can work great but they should never be tactical dogma and as Konkin said, the revolution starts one person at a time.

So while the meeting didn’t necessarily convince me of joining the IWW, it did for my friend who’s more of a syndicalist than a left-libertarian (in the ALL sense of the word I mean) himself so perhaps he “got it” better than I could.

For myself I just sheepishly told the people at the IWW table once we got up there and my friend was finished signing up that I was moderately interested but was unsure because of plans to move away from NH to MA and some other complications. So in the end I decided not to sign up for the IWW. And while I don’t deny that there’s a possibility I might do so in the future once I read more up on the history of the IWW (at present I’m reading up on the history of the anarchist movement, certain figures in the movement, etc.) but I still can’t say for full certainty that I will.

Nonetheless in the end I fully support the freeing of the unions and hope that more things like the IWW can exist in a much more decentralized and informal manner.

The Closing of the Bookfair (4:00-7:00)

With the meeting over with I had much to ponder and not much time to do it in.

I counted up the money owned so far and as it stood we had a little over half of what we had to pay Charles for the pamphlets! That was a pretty decent victory but I was still hoping we’d do better.

Miraculously in the last three hours we got some great passerby and it was largely due to the ALL-oNE table being one of the last tables still standing (ironically the Earth First! table was the last table to close before the bookfair was over). We had one person who wanted a few different articles, someone who wanted a collection of what I’d most recommend and then we hit the jackpot:

Someone came in wanting to buy Markets Not Capitalism for us as well as a bunch of other pamphlets for $30!

While ALL-oNE only makes 1/4th of the price that we actually sell M!C for (we sell it for $20 so we get $5, ya know, if you don’t feel like doing the math…) we made enough from that sale and the other stuff to come out ahead of the costs of the pamphlets we bought!

So the bookfair ended on a happy note…well more like an interesting note.

There was a guy on the table next to us (I don’t recall which table it was) with a name that reminded me of something straight out of Lord of the Rings or something (note: I’ve not read or seen the movies, so I just mean generally) and he said that he didn’t much care for market anarchists and Marxists (seemed like a post-leftist sort of guy which is cool I guess) but managed having an okay discussion with Jack and my friend while I was starting to pack up our stuff. I wish I could’ve listened a bit more but he was fairly knowledgeable about the ALL and what we were about, etc. so that was still nice to see.

It was interesting to say the least to finally see another person who actually knew about us, friendly or not, sometimes recognition (of any kind!) is a good thing.

Concluding Thoughts

Well there’s not much more to say, I thanked the organizers for having us once more and told them I’d love to help them with a survey or whatever they give us so we could let them know what we thought and what worked and what didn’t.

Overall I definitely learned to appreciate the anarcho-communist side of things a lot more (which happened at last years event as well I think) and continue to learn the value of communication and better understanding of who I’m talking to, why I’m talking to them and so on. I’m hoping more connections can be specifically made in the Worcester area and hopefully more ALL themed action can take place so that ALL-oNE might get a stronger hold on itself as an organization.

The trip was definitely a success overall and I’m excited to attend the next one!

Towards liberty, equality and solidarity!

[Note: ALL-ONE should be attending the 2013 Liberty Forum at a joint table with NJ-ALL (and C4SS as well!) as well as having some of its members at the 12th AltExpo speaking. More to be announced as more things are finalized!]

“We Are The Birds of the Coming Storm”: Nick Ford of ALL-oNE’s trip to Chicago for the Anti-G8/NATO Protests

"We are the birds of the coming storm." -August Spies

Let me first start with an apology of sort. I sincerely meant to write this long ago but was so back-logged by other obligations, tasks, ideas and general laziness that it has set me back…up until now. Now I want to try to remember and give you back the details of the event and what I experienced and learned in Chicago.

Also please note that times may be off due to what my camera had (and I don’t remember when I readjusted it correctly or if I did at all).


Opening – Why did I go?

One of the biggest questions from the get go is obvious, “Nick, why on earth would you go? Did you want to be arrested? Did you have a death wish?” and so on and so forth.

Indeed, I had comrades who wished they could’ve gone but didn’t in part because of the massive police state present (though if it didn’t exist, paradoxically I’m unsure so many people would’ve showed up…) and some outright said fuck that to it and I understood why as I do now. So why would I go? In a word (or two): To learn.

I’m simply not gonna learn much if I spend all (or most) of my time in New Hampshire observing whatever happens here. I might learn a lot and perhaps even plenty to get me by but to do more than that I think I need to explore what’s out there. Chicago was out there and with the group 99% Solidarity providing bus rides for free. So with that and previous arrangements being tried out and somewhat successful I made my plan to go to Chicago.

It was also a chance (just like Porcfest recently was) to network with people, make a few lasting connections and so on. Unlike Porcfest though this proved to be more interesting because it involved mostly people I didn’t know. Only caricatures I had heard and images I had perceived as well as interpreted. In that sense I was very much cautious but in some ways also prepared for what I would see on this trip. Of course nothing could prepare me for a trip of this magnitude but at least I had my bearings…mostly.

So in summary I went to learn, to explore, to network, to connect and more. I thought of this trip as a good way to grow as an individual and a more informed person and perhaps learn some new things along the way. How did the trip match up to these aims? Well let’s see what happened.

Day 1

I made sure I wall packed up and met outside with two people I’d get to know pretty well over the course of the next almost-week: Mark Provost of Occupy NH and Occupy Boston and Jose of the same. We made it to where the bus would get there in the dead of night just in time, around 11 PM. That was the good news. The slightly less good news as having to wait another hour (ore more) for the buses to actually get here. Apparently the organizers figured most people would be on activist time…it was a good assumption that unfortunately led to a pretty widespread case of first world problems. The problems had just begun though.

Mark, Jose, myself and other comrades (including Garrett Ean of went on the Boston bus while a few Boston people would be fortunate to go on the seats that were left over from the Rhode Island people. The trip, however, proved a very short one. For only 20 minutes out of Boston…the bus broke down. Thus began the longest and the most trialing part of the trip…the beginning.

How would we get to Chicago? Would I ever get there? When would I said Voltairine de Cleyre’s gravesite now? When would I be able to meet these people again? What would I miss? Would I have to sulk back home? What could I do?

All of these questions and more perforated my mind for almost the whole night. We would be stuck in 20 minutes outside of Boston for the next seven hours with any repairs that were made being very much in vain. I ended up only getting an hour or two of sleep but still getting some very interesting conversations out of the deal. And in the end it ended up being a blessing in disguise.

For one thing the discussions that went on outside the store ranged from how the presidential elections and the outcome thereof will affect the larger leftist movements, discussions of religion and discussions of Zionism and the new world order. Lots of interesting stuff among a small group while most of the others stayed in the bus and rested or tried to figure out what was going on.

I tried to be calm and I tried to take it in stride. I tried to hope that somehow, some way, we’d get out of this bad situation and get into a better one, but I just didn’t see how that’d be happening.

The morning came before I knew it and somehow 7 hours had passed us all by. We were going to get another bus from the same company finally…only it was gonna drive us back to Boston and let us figure shit out for ourselves…wonderful!

By 8:30-9:30 AM we were back in Boston and I came up with the name “Boston Stragglers” to term our group. Somehow it had stuck and since then a few people have actually used the phrase to call our group which makes me smile.

The pressure was on though. If we couldn’t get a ride, and fast, we’d be pretty much stuck here. A bus, even if it came (somehow) that morning and maybe even skipped some important steps would probably have us be late by a day or more. If we couldn’t get a bus, other buses (like Greyhound) looked too expensive and the train did as well what did we have left? Sure we had planes but it’s not like…

And after hours of negotiations and back forth (no…seriously, we were there from like 9 AM to 3 PM) Mark Provost and the rest of us managed to get roundtrip tickets to Chicago for free. Ecstatic, relieved, beyond joy, none of these things remotely come close to the collective feelings we all had combined. It was wonderful.

And for the record Mark put us all to shame. I may have had the laptop that Mark used to beg for cash and raise awareness and so on and so forth but his leadership skills and organization prowess was really great and without Mark I’m unsure if we could’ve done it let alone come anywhere close.

But where to now? Well Mark, Jose and I all went back to Mark’s place for the night (since the plane ride wasn’t till around 6 AM the next day). On the way we (of course) came across a car crash that pretty much happened as we were on the road. I never heard it or saw it but Mark did and we all went out to check out the scene.

It was…surreal to say the least. But it was quickly determined the women was gonna be alright and was only shaken up. The scary part? Mark hadn’t even flinched and even I was feeling a bit oddly underwhelmed by the whole situation.

After we got back to Mark’s? Catching up on Facebook a bit and then delicious (and huge!) pizza…did I mention it was delicious? It was also from a local store instead of a corporation so that made us feel a bit better about it too.

Now it was time for the plane and…oh shit…the TSA…

Day 2

As an anarchist airplanes make me understandably nervous. Ever since 9/11 the airplane industry has, of course, been an increasing focus of government privilege, regulation, supervision and more. The TSA (Transportation Security Administration) are, of course, one of the biggest reasons. The scanners, pat-downs, disrespect of personal possessions and human dignity and so on make it difficult for a libertarian of any stripe (anarchist or not) and even people beyond that in many cases to be uncomfortable. Some of my comrades have even gone so far as to deliberately avoid the plane even if it means avoiding large gatherings (say…Porcfest?) of other comrades.

So of course I was nervous for those reasons. But besides those reasons I’m not a fan of flying. I hate the process and the general bureaucracy of paperwork that always makes me feel paranoid I forgot something. I’m not a big fan of heights and if anything went wrong with the plane…well I’d be pretty much fucked. So although I was pretty damn happy I had gotten a ride I had obvious reservations about it being a plane…

Nevertheless…everything went better than expected.

To start off with we all made the plane on time and the process to get in while still a little nerve-wracking wasn’t anything rehabilitating or something that ruined my day. I wasn’t randomly patted down and it was actually pretty smooth. I remember being so shocked it went well that I asked, “That’s it?” and they said it was so I scurried to where I had to wait for the plane. So that went fine. What about the ride itself? Relatively uneventful. Check and check!

When we got off we were supposed to be picked up by a convoy but that ended up not happening. Whatever, we were in Chicago. I couldn’t believe it and I excited as all hell.

After some deliberation we decided to take the train and split up. Some would go to the protest and carry their bags along the way and others would drop their bags off at the church we were gonna stay at for the next few days. I chose the latter position for a few reasons, namely that I was carrying a bunch but also, and perhaps more interestingly, I didn’t come to Chicago for protests, or to be more specific, protests don’t often interest me that much.

Why would I feel like that? Well ok, a bit of an explanation is in order.

Brief Aside #1: On the Effectiveness of Protests

There’s a good reason I generally stay home instead of go to big events and socialize with people…well besides often times lacking money or lacking a car anyways. Being an introvert and having autism makes it difficult to deal in a work-environment scenario let alone a big mass movement. And consequently being in big movements means often times your associated with things you might not want to be. A de-individualization of the self is certainly not something I like.

But it’s a lot more than that really. When I was there I remember I was there to network, learn what I could, see Voltairine’s grave site, see some friends from online and perhaps other things. But protesting? That wasn’t on the top of my list and it mostly comes down to strategy.

I’m simply not convinced protests do much at the end of the day. It’s a lot of walking, chanting and it’s a show of “force” I guess? But I just don’t see where the force is in chanting the same five chants over and over again. I don’t see what’s so forceful about the same state-socialist/liberal reformist/vaguely leftist/democratic establishment entryist fucks/small contingency of radicals complaining about the same thing (the 99%) really does. I mean it gets media attention and perhaps opens up plenty of well-meaning debates but among who? Who benefits?

I just don’t see protests as that much of a thing to do except perhaps networking, learning how to better smash the state (especially dealing with the thugs in blue) and just perhaps engage in some mindless chants.

That said, I’m not against protests. Sometimes they can get radical and militant and inspire plenty of further collaborations and useful counter and alternative institutional buildings that move us closer to a truly freed society. And when they do that then I’m cool with it, but how much they do this and how they could is a larger question then I can address here.

In summary protests certainly can be useful but the actual amount is hard for me to gauge and in any case missing just a little bit of the first protest which was basically having the nurses union (ironically the group that helped pay for the buses to begin with) calling for a heavy dose of tax reform under the guise of helping the worst off. Yuck.

End of Brief Aside, Day 2 Continues

At any rate the church was nice enough and easy to get to. On the way there we saw a newspaper that made the acronym of NATO stand for “Now Arrives The Ordeal”…yikes. Just what had I gotten myself into?

Once we had arrived at the nurses rally I immediately sought out my comrade William Gillis who ended up being one of the few ALLies to my knowledge who actually answered my call to come to Chicago. We soon met up and started introducing each other along with his friend whom I almost thought was named Rand but instead was named something humorously similar. They discussed the benefits of markets vs. the privimitist critiques of it and it was such a relief to be discussing things in such terms. William was a friendly man and a cool guy from the get go it seemed. He told me he wanted to go to the grave sites as well and we arranged for it to happen the next morning.

After we met up I went into the crowd to get half-way decent pictures of Tom Morello telling them I’d be right back. But they either had somewhere to go or didn’t hear me because when I got back they had left. Morello made some comments about history not made through rulers but the people which I appreciated but was notably out of place in such a rally. At any rate I caught up with some Boston Stragglers on the way to the protest and walked into some fellow radicals (or at least they didn’t like the cops…that’s a good start at least) saying, “No justice! No peace! FUCK THE POLICE!” in front of the cameras. It was a bit much in terms of attention grabbing and I’m unsure the point (and I believe one person got arrested) but it was all leading up to the protest.

Once the march started it was hectic. Much more hectic than I thought. At one point we got up near a bridge and the police wanted us to go down the street under the bridge. The crowd protested this…control of the protest? And though I didn’t realize at the time it was obvious to many that they were trying to pen us in and not let us converge with the other protest that was going on. People started occupying the park unsure what to do but eventually went around the park to the other side of the road to meet up with the other protest.

At one point beforehand I had been roughly grabbed by a cop and told to get back in the street instead of the park where I tried to head to (this would be the only time a policeman would touch me on this trip as it thankfully turned out but I was almost instantly terrified) and once we caught up with the other protest…I somehow lost them in the confusion of the police when they closed in on us at another bridge location. From there I tried to go another way and caught up with another small contingency who also got lost. An hour later I was back with the main group.

The main group had moved to Grant Park for a GA later in the night, dancing, discussion, talks on direct action and much more. I ended up participating in a protest that assisted one of the longest going strikes in the US as it turned out. We chanted “What’s disgusting? Union busting!” sang the old favorite “Solidarity Forever” and so on and so forth. We got the strikers a bunch of attention and media coverage and I for one hope they can get better wages and conditions of work.

After that there was a GA that I didn’t attend but I somehow bumped into William again and re-confirmed our plans for the morning. I soon left back to the church with the Occupy NH/Boston crew and soon fell asleep on the hard floor with only my sleeping bag as cushion in a gym.

William and I would meet around 11 AM to see the graves and in the words of a wise philosopher:


Day 3

Although I went to bed a bit later and actually managed to get online a bit through a hotspot (which would be most of my access throughout the week) I still woke up around 10 AM and managed to get to he train station by 10:30. I got to where I was supposed to meet up with William by around 11:30 and we waited for his other friends for maybe 15 minutes or so. Then we were off!

We ended up meeting my other friend (and fellow Voltairine de Cleyre enthusiast) Brian Truncale who arrived with us at Forest Home Cemetery around 1:30. And yes, the martyrs are supposed to be buried in a cemetery called Waldheim but apparently Forest Home in English equates to Waldheim and since they are next to each other…they’re pretty much the same thing.

Getting there was such a treat. We all headed straight for the monuments and due to Brian’s expertise made quick work of finding it. On my Day 3 photo folder you can see all of the pictures I took and that others took of me.

I found Voltairine’s grave and…well…I was at a loss for words. I stood there for what seemed like a while and wasn’t sure what to say or how to feel. This was my favorite anarchist, right below me. Buried at such a tragically young age and not around to help give the movement the many clues she gave during her life of what’s next and what could be. The feelings I had are, for the most part indescribable. But I’ll try my hand at it.

For the most part I stared blankly at it. It was surreal for sure and I wasn’t sure what one reaction should have. Should I be sad she’s dead? Happy I got here? Happy I got to see this? Sad that she had such a small grave site? Happy she got one at all? Should I be angry that almost no one recognizes here? I wasn’t sure how to feel.

Apart from that I even took some time to more broadly reflect on the martrys of the Maymarket Affair. How cruel it all was. How unfair. How the system had worked against those struggling for liberation. Against those who sought a better world. Against those who dared to say, “rise, rise and rise again!” instead of the typical kneeling called for beneath the boot of the state.

I also saw the graves of Emma Goldman (who recently had her birthday!) as well as Lucy Parsons and a few others I believe. It was simply amazing the sort of history that was there.

Brian, William and I all discussed several different topics and Brian ended up saying (twice, because I prodded him and asked him to make sure he was serious) that I was much more of an expert on Voltairine and had read much more on her than he had. I couldn’t (and still can’t) believe this but if he believes as much I guess he’d know better than I would.

As we left William told this story of an amazing rebellion that happened back in colonial times that almost overthrew the then existing government in the US that was made through pirates, various Indian tribes and other groups. It was probably one of the most amazing stories I’ve heard and I’m sad to say I can’t remember too much of it now. But it certainly did make an impression on me.

William, Brian and I parted ways from William’s friends after they decided they wanted to go to an anti-capitalist march later that night that was sure to have comrades and fellow radicals. Unfortunately I wanted to just have a day to speak with William and Brian and relax before the big day of Sunday.

We all ended up talking for a while (perhaps from around 2:30 to 3:30 PM before Brian had to go) and then William and I probably talked for another hour or two. We talked about the state of the libertarian movement, the Stacy Litz incident, S4SS, Kevin Carson, how to deal with student debt, anarcho-transhumanism, the scene that existed in Portland and various other subject. It was a wonderful time and I shall certainly cherish the great time I had with William. I won’t get into the details of our conversations but they were quite intellectually stimulating while still being a lot of fun.

We soon both departed for one of the places where food, wi-fi and other things was located. I stayed there for the rest of the night just wanting to relax. From the livestream the march didn’t seem to be going well. Police had them penned in. A few people had been run over by police cars and one person in the place started hysterically crying when they found out their friend had been taken to an emergency room. It was surreal…

From there I eventually left around maybe 10:30 or a bit later and arrived back at the church for some general camaraderie, spaghetti and more! We recounted our days to each other (or at least some of us did) and I went to bed happy and later reflecting that had probably been one of the best days of my life.

Day 4 + Aftermath

On the final day was the big march. This was it. The final march against the G8/NATO (more so NATO) and the day that if anything big was going to happen, today was the day. Man what a day it turned out to be…

But first, I got up with the rest of the people and some of us managed to get to the rally (there was a rally with a lot of music and speakers at a huge park before the big march) around 11 AM. We prepared ourselves with some late breakfast and joined the crowd and what a huge crowd it was.

The media coverage was simply huge. There was a station from, I believe, China that was it’s largest news network just to give you the idea of the coverage. There were probably thousands upon thousands of people there. I tried to stay with Mark and Jose who I was with at the time but once I went to lay down for a second to recover some energy I lost them in almost no time.

None of the talks really interested me. They were soundbites and heavily overly-simplified versions of reality mostly going through the mouth of liberal reformists. I mean, don’t get me wrong, some of the messages was good (one speaker even talked about the harms of public schooling!) but for the most part the talks were inane and I didn’t derive much pleasure from them. Besides that I was pretty much by myself, couldn’t meet up with William while he was there because he was busy.

There were some bright spots. There was a HUGE “Support Bradly Manning” sign and tons of people had stickers and some had signs, so that was awesome. Some of the more radical people had donuts on strings like those in Toronto and held it out in front of cops. I met up with Vermin Supreme very briefly and asked if he remembered me and according to him he did. We’ll see and talk more of Vermin later on though.

The rally kept going on until about 3 PM when the march finally started. We were headed towards a few blocks away from where NATO was taking place and some veterans were gonna throw away their medals in defiance of the ongoing wars. Woo.

It was simply incredible how many people were here. The media had its own section (which I mistook for a section of activists at first and soon found myself stuck in for a short while) and the activists or marchers had their own section. The amount of people? I couldn’t tell you honestly. Later on I literally sat on the sidewalk for about 10-15 minutes and watched almost the whole march go by.

The countless people I saw…well just go to my Day 4 + Aftermath photo folder to just get a snippet of what I mean. But to sum it up…

There were anti-tax payers, IWW people, radicals, Black Blocers, appeasers to government, Food Not Bombs, Bradley Manning supporters, cops, cops on bikes, cops in trucks, media on vehicles, a LBGT section, anti-Gitmo folks, a few places had speakers used to amplify certain chants and of course the section where the veterans were…and so much more.

We finally got to the spot around 4:30 till around 5:30 and the speeches were simply incredible. Even though they fell under the same line and some of them even explicitly apologized for the police it was touching. If I remember correctly at one point when one of the veterans started crying for what he had done I almost started doing the same. They were all heavily anti-war, anti state-based occupations and very passionate.

After that though…well…two words:

Black. Bloc.

Yup, the Black Bloc started gathering around their own group and forming larger and larger and aiming towards where NATO was and urging (I imagine) others to join as they wanted to. The police (at first) only had a few lines as you can see here.

Then the clash happened

I was back. I couldn’t risk getting the shit beaten out of me for trying to give some transparency to an institution that by its very nature can’t be. I couldn’t risk getting arrested when I’m already upper-lower class at best. I couldn’t risk fucking up the Bloc due to my lack of experience. And I couldn’t risk scaring my loved ones half to death. So I retreated a bit. I wasn’t necessarily happy about it but for me personally it was necessary.

I wasn’t that far back though. I tried to pick some sort of middle ground but it was never stable. People kept coming and going. Either going forward to help the Bloc or West to get away from it all or (like me) to watch from a distance while not getting too involved that you get a baton to the head.

Around 6 PM it happened. The blue helmets (AKA the riot cops) came in full force and were in full force. The push had failed and the Blocers were being pushed back. The Bloc had almost no support. The radicals who were there were outnumbered by the cops 100-1 and those that were there had very little means of defending themselves. Broken sticks from signs, maybe a rock or two and fists, lots of fists. But it wasn’t enough.

The cops had batons and they used them as you can see in the video. Some had shields and all of their armor as I found out has some sort of internal cooling system so they could stand there forever with no real worry of dehydration or anything. The armor was thick and the helmets were as well. Some measly sticks weren’t going to do much against the cops.

Within a half-hour the Bloc became visibly pitiful. They had been reduced to a small group of people who were bravely (though mostly foolishly) trying to make a stand against the cops. It was heroic but it was also in vein.

I saw it. I saw bloodied faces, heads, hands and more come by. I saw the medics rush by with people in their arms. I saw barricades broken down just like other people were. I saw comrades I had just saw maybe not a few minutes before it seemed battered and bloodied. And the police were sitting pretty.

It was pretty revolting to me. And we kept getting pushed back. Thankfully I ran into some fellow Boston Stragglers and we conglomerated…the three of us. I didn’t know where anyone else was and I was in a daze quite frankly. My grandmother texted me worried about me and I told her I was still there but unharmed as of now. She wanted me to leave.

And rightly so. There was no real telling what the police were going to do. Were they going to use pepper spray? Mass arrests? Were they going to use the LRAD to kill our ears? Were they going to just beat the shit out of those who dared to remain? We didn’t know. And this fear and lack of knowledge made many turn away.

And to a certain degree I understand because this is how the state wins: Through a show of force and through causing the masses to fear. Fear so much that they won’t rise up with what should be their fellow comrades against the oppression of the police. No, people were driven out. Whether it be due to this fear, a general lack of care about the Blocers (fuck them! they don’t do anything for the movement! they’re just violence junkies!), they don’t like the radical tendencies in the movement and wouldn’t mind if it shut up (peace and love man! even if the cops are beating you? sure!) and to some degree I understand. But at another end this bothers me to no end.

People should’ve tried to stick with the Blocers. Why? Because the Black Bloc is…get ready for this…an important strategy in the struggle for liberation from oppression institutions and framing of minds.

Now why do I say this? Let’s have another brief aside…

Brief Aside #2: A Brief(ish) Left-Libertarian Defense of the Black Bloc

Let me start off by saying: Yes, one of the tactics of the Bloc is to damage property.

That said there are other facets to the Bloc that should be pointed out. And the Bloc itself should actually be identified and its means briefly analyzed.

First off, the Bloc does use violence (that’s what militant strategies tend to o after all…) and they sometimes target property. Both of these things are true and I just want to get it out of the way from the get-go that I totally recognize this. But there are a few key points I’d like to take note of.

To start with it’s typically not any sort of senseless violence. The violence is, what Jeffery Juris calls in his paper “Violence Performed and Imagined: Militant Action, the Black Bloc and the Mass Media in Genoa” “performative violence” as Juris explains:

Performative violence is a form of meaningful interaction through which actors construct social reality based on available cultural templates.

And furthermore:

I use performative violence here to refer to symbolic ritual enactments of violent interaction with a predominant emphasis on communication and cultural expression. … In the context of political action, performative violence can be seen as a mode of communication through which activists seek to effect social transformation by staging symbolic confrontation based on ‘the representation of antagonistic relationships and the enactment of prototypical images of violence’ (Schröder and Schmidt, 2001: 10).

Certainly there are some Blocers who will use violence just to cause trouble or use violence (which are typically speaking based on my best guesses, limited personal experience with the Bloc itself and research provocateurs or people who don’t actually care about the tactic itself…) but they’re in the minority from what I’ve gathered. In any tactic you’re gonna get a few people who just leech off of it for their own benefit and don’t actually care about the movement per se’ just what it can give away. For the Bloc that’s sometimes giving cops their chance to be as violent as they want or to further undermine the Bloc or for wacky individuals to have some fun under the guise of “revolution”.

It should be emphasized (really re-emphasized by this point…) that the Bloc is not an organization or movement. There are no leaders of the group, no Bloc HQ, no official committee that decides what they do or how they do it and so on. The Bloc is simply a tactic that anyone can use. And so when liberal pundits like Chris Hedges talks about it being the “Black Bloc anarchists” he’s dead wrong. I don’t have the time to go over the origins of the Bloc (perhaps in the future) but you can find a pretty good read on it here

As Don Gato in the paper, “To Be Fair, He Is a Journalist: A Short Response to Chris Hedges on the Black Bloc” explains:

Now, as a journalist, I really don’t expect Hedges to be able to “research,”—it does seem to go against the prime directives of the profession, but let’s be clear: There’s no such thing as “The Black Bloc movement.” The black bloc is a tactic. It’s also not just a tactic used by anarchists, so “black bloc anarchists” is a bit of a misnomer—particularly because Hedges doesn’t know the identities of the people under those sexy, black masks.

Gato goes on to further explain that the Bloc can be used for a variety of means that aren’t always necessarily on the offensive side of things. They, as he puts it “…looked mostly defensive—shielding themselves and other protesters from flash grenades and police mob violence with make-shift shields (and even one armchair).”

So there’s no reason to off-handedly write off the Bloc movement at least. They can be used for a variety of purposes which include plenty of defensive ones. This includes (but is not limited to) throwing back canisters at the cops who threw them, making shields to protect themselves and less radical protesters, having the Bloc in general might make the cops a bit more wary of fucking with people, having less militant protesters get away easier through their contingency and so on.

Not only this but let’s look at the performative violence they perform. Who is it again? For the most part it’s against multi-national corporations. Nike (which has dozens of sweatshops in other countries), Starbucks (which has a history of repressing union-organizing and other big time corporations.

Now some of my comrades might persist, “What does this accomplish?” and “You’re still destroying private property!” and so on.

It’s a point well worth examining what all of this does. And Juris examines that in his essay:

Everyday protest often goes unnoticed, while the iconic images of burning cars and pitched street battlesbetween masked protestors and militarized riot cops are instantly broadcast through global communications networks.

But adds that:

At the same time, police and government officials can manipulate violent images, decontextualizing and reinserting them within narratives that frame protestors as dangerous criminals or terrorists. Indeed, social movement struggles are largely waged through media wars of symbolic interpretation.

It really is the pinnacle of this tactic: How will it be interpreted? And unfortunately most times the media is none too polite to those who decide to take their protesting a bit farther. But how much does this actually hurt the tactic?

Well as Juris points out it more or less nullifies the action to the general public because it’s reinterpreted as some sort of “senseless violence” (which performative violence per its own definition cannot be to begin with!) through the media’s lens. Some may see that or others may want to see that and others might just be paid to see that. But whatever the case that perception is there so how do we deal with it?

First it must be recognized that (as Juris concludes in his paper) that these sorts of radically militant tactics are going to be double edged swords. And that to some extent or another it’s going to backfire on the movement if we’re not careful in our actions. What we have to do then is be careful in our actions. We should certainly (if we’re going to use the tactic of Blocing at all) use it defensively and even offensively if necessary. Use it against those corporations that have assisted in the large-scale robbery of the people through assisting the state’s regulations, taxation, restrictions on smaller businesses (not that smaller businesses are all angels mind you but barriers to entry certainly restrict market place innovation) and to increase the costs of maintaining itself by smashing it’s shit up.

Perhaps though, You are Not the Target Audience. Perhaps, it’s not the majority of people we need to win over and it’s worth keeping in mind that:

Even the American Revolution–a campaign that sadly wasted much to replace one authority with another–was won with the support of barely over a third of the populace. You don’t need a majority to derail an injustice.

And further:

It doesn’t matter if a riot is directly successful on the scale of burning down city hall or permanently evicting the police from a neighborhood, what matters more is the change in perceptions. There’s a long history of social struggle skyrocketing after street confrontations–not because folks believe a few busted windows or bruised cops pave the road to a better world, but because it at least demonstrates potential.

There’s much more I could say on this issue (and if this seems a bit disjointed it’s because I’m trying to take on multiple issues within 1,000 words or less and still couln’t) and I think even Karl Hess and Rothbard (of all people!) can back me here and so can many here.

In the near future I’ll have a much more exhaustive defense of the Bloc coming from a left-libertarian (in the ALL sense of course) perspective but in the end I think I’m going to be Hedging Our Bets on the Black Bloc for now…at least to one extent or another.

End of Brief Aside #2, Continuing now with Days 4 + Aftermath

So why was the Bloc so weak to begin with? As it turned out, several people told me (including people from the west coast) that 99% Solidarity did not want Oakland to come. Why? Because as William said, “They’ve got their shit together.” and 99% Solidarity certainly didn’t want the Bloc to have any sort of force or for state-capitalism and the state itself as well as the oppression of the police to be taken out from the bottom up in any meaningful sense. No! We’ll just wave peace signs, signs in general, do a bit of marching and seminars and that’ll fix shit!

In order for that to happen the 99% Solidarity people apparently lied about how many people wanted to go (you needed 50 or more) and said that in total they only had something really close to 50 but that didn’t cut it. How convenient…

Without that group of more professionally trained and experienced Blocers the Blocers were mostly east coast people with a bit of a mix of some west coasters. The kids, as William said, had a lot spunk, spirit and god bless them and all for that but it certainly wasn’t enough when push came to shove.

Speaking of pushing and shoving we were eventually pushed out of the area by around 7 PM and me and the people I was with headed back to the church for the night. We ended up having more spaghetti, checking on our comrades at the church and making sure they’re ok (unfortunately one of ours got this as a parting gift from the cops for trying to pull people out of the way of harm (again defensive stuff from the Bloc).

We tried to sleep though…

In the morning I woke to decide what I’d do. I ended up deciding I’d help clean with Mark and the rest of the crew and then try to scramble over to the place that William and I had hung out with two days before after the cemetery.

I got lost along the way but finally got there around 2 PM and hung out with William for a few hours. He told me all about his favoring for the Bloc and we saw several comrades who had been beaten come in and out of the location. It wasn’t a pretty sight. We went out for pizza right down the street and had some great talks about the IWW, other comrades and more.

Towards the end William and I bid each other farewell as he encouraged me to not to miss the plane…thankfully I didn’t and it was a relatively pleasant ride home as well.

We all got back to our respective places and a month later here I sit telling you what I thought of the whole thing…

Closing – A Left-Libertarian Take on the Chicago Trip

Overall, what did I think of the ordeal?

Well it certainly wasn’t perfect. There were the cliche’ calls for reform from many in #OWS but that’s to be expected in any sort of populist movement right? Perhaps to one extent or another. Still, the reformism certainly pissed me off at some point. The blind love of police, the defending of the social services given off by the state (which should be replaced by intentional communities built on the values of liberty, equality and solidarity) and the nurses rally in general (even if it was the reason why most of us got there to begin with…) was a bit nauseating.

I kept thinking, “How are higher taxes gonna be put on the rich when the rich control the system and most here probably believe something similar?” Was it through an electoral candidate? Well if he/she is in favor of that who’s going to actually give money to them? Certainly not the corporations that gave out plenty of the money to Obama. I thought about this a lot on one of my walks to get wi-fi at night and it just didn’t make sense to me. I just don’t see how (or why) the 99% would (or should) struggle for some sort of tax increase on the rich.

Let’s say it happens…ok, so what? More money is given from them to certain services that those in power want to see…why wouldn’t that be war? War is probably one of the most profitable things that the state can do for itself. Culturally it induces a state of fear, docile-ness, subservience and blind alliegence. Sure it invokes resistance as well but typically it’s never enough to do much in the short-run, maybe the long-run but either one is a long shot historically speaking. It must be remembered that War is the Health of the State.

So that part certainly didn’t jive with me. But what did jive with me? Stuff like Food Not Bombs, the location William and I kept going to had free food, wi-fi and a real sense of community, consoling and help to each other. I felt like I was a part of something that actually cared and somehow existed in the real world. So the sense of community was real and certainly was one of the most real ones I’ve ever experienced.

The culture was wonderfully eclectic in some ways (though sadly uniform in others in terms of asking for mere reformism instead of doing systematic critiques of state or capital based power) but overall I certainly appreciated the culture and community there more than I did in some libertarian events. We all felt pretty joined and open to me as opposed to a little closed off and isolated. To be clear I’m not saying all libertarian events are like that at all (Porcfest of course was for the most part nothing like that!) but it can bear down on me sometimes.

Each protest I went to was mixed. The chants were the same old (“Show me what democracy looks like!” “This is what democracy looks like!”, “Who streets? Our streets!” (and then some radicals would add “Tear up the concrete!” which was cool enough) and other various chants). I’ve gotta say one of my favorite chants was, “You’re sexy! You’re cute! Take off your riot suit!” I chanted along with that the first time and then started it the second time, it was quite empowering and awesome. A radical message mixed in with some good ol’ “peace and love” liberalism.

My experiences with William were both gratifying and awesome, as were my experiences at the grave site…both of which made the trip worth it alone. Overall I had a good time and overall I certainly embrace August Spies quote, “We are the birds of the coming storm.”

Yes, indeed. We are the birds of the coming storm. We are the bringers of what Voltairine de Cleyre calls “The Hurricane” we are biter, bruised and torn at first…”But yet thy time is not…”. We wait patiently while building gradually towards our revolutionary ends and, “The tide has turned; the vane veers slowly round…”. We are now angry, full of bleeding hearts, we are screaming at that deaf sky.

Finally, “The tide flows in, the wind roars from the depths” and our rage is strong. In our furty we hurl the tyrants down. We needed no prayer and needed no god to answer it. We did it swiftly and effectively. Our anguish and hate has culminated in a revolutionary haste .

It is de Cleyre’s notion of “The Hurricane” that we bring. Not with meaningless reform but with gradual change towards revolutionary ends with a sort of “haste” about ourselves. This “haste” recognizes the urgency of alternatives to the current society as the IWW does when it say “build the new society within the shell of the old” and urging all workers to unite against capitalism and the state.

Through our anguish, our tempered hatred of authority (hatred isn’t personally for me but tempered enough I feel it can be used effectively perhaps by some and in any case it’s just an example taken from Voltai’s text) and our bleeding hearts. These hearts that they’ve torn out of us in the interest of making sure we fight each other all the way down the line.

Sounds romantic? Good. Anarchism is probably the most romantic thing I think you can get into. And I mean that in a few different ways. Living anarchism in any fashion to any degree to me is like a lovely dream that I aspire to. It’s a wonderful future I take steps towards in every day of my life if all goes well. Maybe it’s just haf a step or 0.999999 of a step or not even that. But I want to keep moving forward towards reclaiming as much of my own life as I can. The trip to Chicago helped crystallize some of these feelings and, if you can believe it, radicalized me a bit more than where I was.

I’m thankful to my comrades who hung around with me, had some good discussions with (especially William and Brian) and I’m thankful for the nurses and for the people less radical than me existing that way I can feel like I’m still crazy and like the building of this “Hurricane” is going to take sometime and that’s ok.

That’s my report from Chicago.

May we continue to bring news of the coming storm and remind the ruling class that we don’t need them, they need us.

(Looking for more info on what happened here in my opinion? Check this interview out!)

The Importance of Communication (Re-)Learned: ALL-oNE goes to the 6th NYC Anarchist Bookfair!

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Sorry for the extremely late posting of this but I was waiting for an editor to come look it over but in the end he just never found the time so I’m just gonna post it now. Hope you enjoy!

(As always Julia has posted her write-up before me but I, as always, recommend reading it of course!)

I know it’s been a while since I’ve last posted anything but I usually hold off until we either has some big announcement to make (and that the thing that’s being announced is pretty stable) or until we’ve gone to some sort of event. In this case it was of course the annual anarchist book fair that takes place every April. Though it’s unorthodox in comparison to other posts I do just want to briefly talk about the trip down only because it was interesting and related to anarchism. Conversely the ride back up wasn’t too eventful in regards to anarchist theory and practice so I shall not talk as much (if at all) about that.

The Ride Down

Thankfully we made okay time considering everything that was going on (constant changes in logistics, money concerns and so on) but the important part (at least for me) was a few practical problems Jack brought up that I just want to take the time to bring up and then talk about how we responded and elaborate on a response of my own.

They were:

1. Would it be better to take a corporate job than starve on the streets if those were your only optios?

2. What would you do (as an anarchist) if a foreign army invaded?

3.  What’s the next best tactic towards achieving freedom?

1. For the first answer the general consensus was that yes, it is better to take a corporate job over starving in the street (say, working for a company like Halliburton or something of that sort). You could still give the money that wasn’t going to yourself to the cause of freedom. I also made the (I think worthwhile) point that if you are in a situation like near-poverty or starving in the street I doubt you have such bargaining power that you’d be able to even get a job like that. So the whole situation seems unlikely in my eyes but even if it somehow did happen I definitely would say take it and not only take it but try to put that money that you make to yourself and other counter-powers that will weaken the corporations.

For example try to organize a fighting union or something to undermine the corporation within itself if you somehow can. If all else fails then just try to enjoy the job as much as you can until you can get one less…corporatized. Obviously it sucks that you’re helping a war-company or a corporation in general make profits when they’re a state-guaranteed (more or less) privileged entity over others but practicality comes with and sometimes before theory.

2. This one was a little bit less organized but more or less came down to us (“us” being those who are in the car and answering the question) saying we’d either organize our own defense networks or organizations that were independent of the state or getting there.

Personally I don’t mind either option. I think I’d prefer to high-tail it if things got too messy but if the independent organizations actually could be set up and linked together when needed then I’d support the cause for independence. I’m not a huge fan of war of course as an anarchist but such an emergency case would probably override such an idea anyways. And though running away might seem counter-productive it might be possible set up our own independent associations and so on away from the warfare while the state tries to deal with the foreign menace. I sincerely doubt it could deal with both at the same time. But that’s just a brief sketching of some answers so I’m not saying they’re air-tight or anything.

3. See here, here, here and here.

With the exception of the third question I think it becomes a little clearer that theory and practice are really intertwined and shouldn’t be tried to separate. Separating one from the other typically results in either the corporate job not being taken or it being taken but not being made the best of. Or in the second case one side actually chosen or ill-prepared tactics done out and so on.

Anyways Jack raised some important questions that, as he says, ALL ALLies should be able to answer.

NYC Anarchist Bookfair

The 6th Annual NYC Anarchist Bookfair (Day 1)

We got there around 1 PM effectively making Jack and I miss Occupation and Direct Action vs. Electoralism which is one of the talks we were especially interested in. But it didn’t matter too much as we soon got re-acquainted with the area and started searching around for good books and the ALL table of course. I quickly scoured the book fair area pretty fast and had caught up with Darian Worden of NJ-ALL but not before I got in a few situations that I’ll have to learn from.

The first was a recurring problem: Aren’t you guys just anarcho-capitalists? Are you guys anarcho-capitalists? Oh, yeah market anarchism…so anarcho-capitalism basically right?

To be fair this “recurring” problem only happened twice or so but each time it happened I couldn’t help but think that most people at the book fair probably thought the same. Just like at Liberty Forum where we might’ve been thought as “dirty socialists” by the libertarians who were there. But is this a problem of left-libertarianism and if so how do we deal with it?

Well it is a problem and it isn’t.

First off it’s an obvious “problem” how libertarianism could be seen as a justifiable framework to further leftist values or end goals. Especially due to the seemingly incompatible ideas and values that come out of the libertarian camp such as apologetics for corporations or the “wealth producers” and so on. Nevertheless I see left-libertarianism as an ideological and practice-driven concept that either will uproot the commonly believed framework libertarians have or drastically change it in ways that are more productive towards leftist values and goals. How it does this (briefly explained anyways) has been laid out (in my opinion) by Gary Chartier here and here and of course in a much bigger way in Markets Not Capitalism (the PDF can be found here) so I’m not gonna try to duplicate what has already been done elsewhere. Suffice it to say I think the knowledge is out there for people who truly want to understand left-libertarianism to at least some degree or another. But that just brings me to how it’s not exactly the fault of left-libertarians.

There are people who just don’t want to know any better. They want to live in their own preconceptions of what “left” and what “libertarianism” means and that fusing such “liberal” and “conservative” ideas is an oxymoronic at best and at worst a sort of entryism into one camp or another. These sorts of people are people who I don’t know if they can be reasoned with. It’s certainly worth a shot and we shouldn’t discredit them or anything solely based on this opinion but it certainly is a bit tougher to tell someone that what they’re thinking about simply isn’t relevant.

In this case the charge of “anarcho-capitalism” relies on a whole bunch of assumptions which may or may not be warranted depending on terms, context and so on. So for myself left-libertarianism is not anarcho-capitalism because left-lbiertarians have no love for the word capitalism (you can see this in MNC) and this is either etymologically speaking or in general (at least for me). Left-libertarians reject the fact that markets must somehow be intrinsically about capital or just one thing. Really the only thing freed markets have to be about is ensuring the free relations and exchange among individuals. Bosses needn’t necessarily apply.

The whole “what is capitalism?” debate is overplayed and I don’t dare rehash the whole thing but really the crux of this all is: What do ALLies tell people who walk up to their table or see our shirts and so on and say, “What are you an X?”

Because even if it’s not an anarcho-capitalist it might just as well be a “dirty socialist” or a “mutualist” or a “centrist” (because I said we’re “between” anarchist communism and capitalism…which is a false dichotomy anyways but I hadn’t thought of that at the time) so what do we say?

First off try to see where they’re coming from. Let’s take the anarchist communist and what they’re saying: “So what are you an anarcho-capitalist?”

So basically the whole fallacy they’re coming from is conflating capitalism and markets. This is actually the perfect mistake because there’s a whole book entitled to dispelling this conflation. So you can do the obvious thing and just recommend the book or (what’s more likely) you’ll have to just mention it as an aside (and probably mention there’s a free online version too) and get into some conversation with them. What do you do in the conversation then?

Try to be clear and concise. This’ll be difficult but it might be best to just say something like,

“No I’m not but I can see why you’d think that. I, as a left-libertarian think that markets are a perfectly reasonable way to have individuals self-manage themselves and freely and mutually beneficially cooperate with others if they choose to and that this is an inherently anti-capitalist way of doing things if done right. This is because historically systems that have been called capitalism and have acted in capital’s best interest as opposed to the consumer, the worker, the environment. But if we flip this on its head and have a market place with no state, less of an emphasis on thing-worship, carelessness of context and community organizing around the concepts of mutual-aid, direct action, dual power and other tactics and conceptual frameworks then the market just might have the chance to be the best anti-capitalist vehicle we can get.”

Maybe something like that. But even that’s just off the top of my head and will only beg more questions but then I’m only trying to give my ALLies a strong lead-in rather than an entire conversation. The term “free market anti-capitalist” is also perhaps a pretty good title to give oneself and is (as Markets Not Capitalism as a title was intended to be) obviously provocative but with good reasons and intentions behind it.

Unfortunately the few times it was brought up I was unsure how to answer off the top of my head in a sufficient manner and Darian ended up taking the lead the first time around anyways and the second as it turned out. So I did’t get to stretch my ideological legs much in this department this time around. Still, communication is an important topic.

Before I left for the first talk that I was gonna see with Jack another libertarian actually came over to the table and struck up a conversation with me. It was more or less the same type conversation I was jut talking about except this time it was the opposite: an anarcho-capitalist trying to make the claim that there really wasn’t any real difference between the left-libertarian position and the anarcho-capitalist one. I won’t get into the conservation but I’ll just say that in cases like this we must first start by separating anarchism from capitalism and what either term might or should mean, etc. Why they’re incompatible in one sense or another and how we as LLs differ from popular anarcho-capitalist foundational beliefs and expectations for a better society.

Consensus Decision Making Workshop

Consensus Decision Making Workshop

On to the first talk which was: Consensus Decision-Making: A Workshop on Technique and Trouble-Shooting

Jack and I attended this event and I was pretty excited to learn about consensus decision making and how to put into practice. There was a formal introduction to everyone around the table that was there and then we began by talking about the basics of what consensus decision making was, how it operated, a few popular misconceptions and correct perceptions. This section was informative enough and I took some decent notes which has them saying that consensus decision making is about:

Dialogue between equals

A rapport

More about collaboration than compromise

If we want to achieve a more democratic society our means must reflect those ends and that’s where consensus decision making comes in

Getting the essence of the group out of a dialogue

Another big part of consensus is listening and really having similar interests to the people in the group and want to achieve something at least similar to what they want to get out of things. To do this a lot of listening is necessary to make sure we’re all on the same page in the group.

The certain roles of a given consensus based group are as follows:


Timekeeper (Self-explanatory)

Vibes-keeper (Makes sure everyone is doing alright and feels comfortable)

Scribe (Takes notes for the group)

Note-taker (Takes notes for themselves to be or not be shared with the group later on)

Facilitator (Moderator, keeps a “stack” or a list of the people who want to speak so to keep things more organized)

There are different signals as well:

The “twinkle” (silly name I know…) is waving your fingers upwards to show approval (disapproval is downwards waving of the fingers)

After doing some troubleshoot with a variety of different situations we came together again to determine why people do this to begin with, here’s the answers we came up with:

– Politically structured empathy

– Equal power, voices

– Most democratic

-Builds ownership, accountability

– Means reflect ends (as mentioned before)

-Everyone has a part of the truth

There were a few other parts of the process too that were brought up:

Openness and honesty

Having “check in”s and “check out”s with the people in the group.

A few things to keep in mind like WAIT and WATT (Why am I talking and Why are they talking)

There’s also a “non-stacked” way of doing things called a “popcorn” style in which everyone puts things in the conversation by just speaking up which is another way to organize such meetings.

Finally, an interesting thing to remember or emphasize is that breaks should be taken and that the process shouldn’t be dull or boring. Play games, divert yourselves from the conversation and make some jokes or something if the process gets too tedious. Or else you can merely break the process down into more manageable bits if that doesn’t help. There are many paths to take.

So that was a lot of what I got out of the talk, there’s a lot more to it than this and if you’re interested you can email the people who put it together at for questions.

The Anarchist Roots of #OWS

The Anarchist Roots of #OWS

I want to move on to the second (and last as it turned out) talk that Jack and I (and this time around the rest of the group too) attended Occupy Wall Street’s Anarchist Roots: How Nonhierarchical Values Became the Principles for a Mass Movement 

We got in it a bit late due to some of us wanting to take a break, meet back up and catch up and so on so we missed a little bit of it. And on top of that both Jack and I were so tired we may or may not have nodded off once or twice! But all was well in the end and one of the most interesting questions I thought the panel brought up was also probably the most obvious: Should we occupy again? Will it happen? Should it happen? Is it inevitable? And so on.

Most people on the panel didn’t think it’d happen. They reasoned that the protest of #OWS had already really happened and now that people had learned the dangers of centralizing movements in one place decentralization among networked and federalized autonomous groups was probably for the best. But each speaker made it clear that they were only speaking for themselves and that anything could happen. Some of them seemed like they’d be interested in participating and others seemed more indifferent or seemed to have a more “let’s wait and see” sort of approach if it did happen.

So while the panel seemed a bit mixed on it (this is based on my recollection from over a week ago with notes so take what I just said with a grain of salt…) I want to briefly talk about my view on this.

Some comrades of mine said it best very recently that the best thing about #OWS was the fact that there was no easy label to put on it or everything involved (or at least more than other protests anyways). It was a new sort of protest (at least in my lifetime and to my knowledge of the lifetime I’ve lived thus far…) that had never taken place before and was allowing all people to come in with their own favorite issues. Thus conversation had to happen and people wouldn’t just walk up (at least not as much) and say, “Hey aren’t you just a…”. I think that’s a great environment.

But sadly (and happily!) I must say that I think #OWS has (for the most part) fizzled out. I haven’t done any deep analysis, or talked to many people about this or even paid attention to what’s going on with #OWS these days but that’s pretty much why I’m saying this. Because if there was something to be paying attention to I’d have heard about it. The few times stuff has happened I’ve heard about it and paid a little attention to it but nothing major. And basically at the panel discussion my thoughts were more or less confirmed that it’s split up into several working groups and these groups all come together when necessary. So it seems like (to me anyways) #OWS has done it’s job in settling the stage for further activism in the future. And that’s a good thing in my opinion.

I took a few shots of the ALL table when we returned which you can see

Finally after this talk and getting a bit refreshed we spent about an hour coming up where to go (a group of 10 in total I believe) and we hung out for the remainder of the night with the groups splitting up into two different apartment buildings with ALLys in New Jersey. I fell asleep not long after watching the movie Office Space for the first time and being reminded how the workplace can seem just as authoritarian as states can be at times.

The next day wasn’t too eventful, just a fun day of some food, catching up some more, organizing, networking but no talks. David Graeber didn’t end up showing so Julia and I ended up hanging out in the park until we were picked up and ALL headed home.

Concluding Thoughts

One of the most important things for me this time around was definitely communication and how we can communicate things better. With Porcfest 2012 and consequently the next AltExpo coming up the lessons of Liberty Forum and now the NYC Anarchist Bookfair should be remembered and taken into consideration. How we want to display ourselves, engage with ours, how we represent ourselves, what literature we put out, what we say in defense of “left-libertarianism” and more ALL should be taken into consideration as much as possible.

In the coming months more events should be happening and when they do you can be sure I’ll try to get out some write-ups on them!


Of Alternatives and ALLiances (AltExpo X, Liberty Forum 2012 and Beyond!)

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Wow! It was an exhausting week for Alties (people who like alternatives to the mainstream) and ALLies! I’m (once again) a little behind my friend and comrade Julia who has already written this great piece on the goings on. But I’ll be sure to give a bit of a different (and perhaps a little longer) perspective on things.

Before I start however I’d really like to thank anyone and everyone who showed up to  AltExpo X and at the ALL related-events (such as the left-libertarian introductory panel which had both members of ALL-oNE, NJ-ALL which should have video in the coming months!) and the ALL table. You guys really made it possible to keep going and keep our chins up through any of the nonsense that might’ve happened and the general stress of trying to set these things up and doing it right.

Thanks a lot!

Thursday 2/23/11 (TekArts Open House, AltExpo X)

The event for that night was a presentation by David Rosco on the viability of a peer-to-peer alternative to the internet itself! The alternative to the internet is called the Infogora and relies on P2P networkings and open-source software to keep things new, creative and of course free. You can just watch the presentation if you want to hear Dave give his own descriptions of it so I’ll just leave it at that. The event was well attended with well over 10 or so people if memory serves. Discussion continued for a few hours after the event stretching into the late night based on the talk and other common interests. Music was playing, discussions and clarifications were held and made, it was a great time for all who went and AltExpo X was off to a great start!

Friday 2/24/12 (AltExpo X in Manchester, Liberty Forum 2012 in Nashua)

AltExpo X in Manchester

AltExpo X: Feb. 23-26th 2012

AltExpo X: Feb. 23-26th 2012

Due to some logistical errors and mistakes (such as staying up too late the night before!) AltExpo X was off to a bit of a rocky start. We managed to get to the Quill in Manchester around 10 (instead of 9) but those who had arrived were relieved to see that most people hadn’t arrived yet. I then began my own talk on Voltairine de Cleyre (and I’ll do my own two hour full-length on Youtube or maybe make it an event and do it somewhere else like a live-streaming site such as!) which ended up going past an hour before I even knew it! I meant to hand out this before/after the talk was over and throughout the talk I had to ask a friend to scroll down…so it was a bit disorganized. By the time I started talking we had a little over a handful in attendence and throughout the day the numbers of AltExpo X would fluctuate between 15-20 people in attendance. Even though all of that was the case however I was well received and a few people were even pretty impressed with both my knowledge and passion so that definitely boosted my morale.

Next up we had Darian Worden of as well as NJ-ALL who was speaking on left-libertarianism and its aims and ends. He did a fantastic job summing up what left-libertarianism was all about. Something that particularly stood out to me was Darian’s elaboration on the principles of power and how left-libertarians see it. They see power as not something that’s bad in of itself but only when such power is unequal among others. Unequal power among people means that people can more easily exploit and dominate others and since libertarians are against that we should support equality of authority among all people.

This goes back to some of Darian’s articles on C4SS most of ALL might be this article on building counter-power to create authority vacuums. Darian continued on to list some basic principles and demands that a left-libertarian may give (he stressed that this was a elaboration on possible left-libertarian values and not the defining presentation for it) and listed such things as removal of police brutality, foreign bases and more. Darian finished up with plenty of time to spare so a heart discussion over certain situations and which class (capital or labor) holds the most power or who would be our first target if we wanted to radically change the way we live. Darian summed up the left-libertarian position succulency on this matter as wanting to build up from below and wanting to cut down from the top. I think that position myself (naturally) has some credibility to it. If Darian ends up releasing his talk in text form or doing another video of it in the meantime then hopefully we can give access to it sooner rather than later.

Jack gave a talk on “New Libertarians” and summed them up as people who follow the New Libertarian Manifesto and want to help build the counter-economy and so on. I was running back and forth checking on the ALL-oNE table (of which, that’s only one side, I might add) and trying to get some lunch. So I ended up coming in and out of the talk but luckily hanging out with Jack for quite a while now I had heard a lot of what he was saying before. But it was important for him to get this message out even if he’s done it before and I’m of course glad that he did.

By the time it was Jack’s talk (which I forgot to get some pictures of due to my hunger and running around) the audience had gotten around to its peak of nearly 20 people in attendance (as in sitting in the talk area, this isn’t counting the other people hanging out in general). Considering the venue that the Quill was and the amount of people that the room could hold this was actually a decent amount of people. Especially considering that AltExpo had so much organizing to do and not enough time to really advertise it as much as possible we got a good crowd all things considered.

Up next we had Rocco Fama from the NYC Division of the Vote For Nobody Campaign who talked about how Nobody won the general election in NH and beyond. We also had Davi Barker and Matthew Cropp talk about their experiences in #OccupyWallSt. which led to a fascinating mix of a call for less electoral politics and more alliances with the people who come from the left. It was also a nice break from the Ron Paul fest that things usually are at these events so to see Rocco talk specifically against the Ron Paul campaign was a refreshing thing in of itself.

Moving on we had Teresa from Fr33 Aid (who wrote her own short summary of the events at LF 2012 and AltExpo X here) talk about non-profits and Fr33 Aid and their relation to the libertarian movement. Unfortunately once again due to my running around and trying to get the plans in order to head over to the Crown Plaza Hotel for Liberty Forum 2012 led me to miss good portions of Teresa’s presentation. Nevertheless Davi Barker (who I just mentioned) managed to get video not only of Teresa’s talk but also of Rocco’s talk. I know Teresa’s talk can be found on that short summary and hopefully Rocco’s talk will be uploaded soon because I know it was recorded as well.

Finally Kevin Innes did a talk on “Fearless Yoga”. I was off and on with this event as well, still trying to get some odds and ends organized but this was the summary of the event posted on the AltExpo X event:

“The Revolution begins within. So, is it possible to increase our courage, confidence and inner poise to be an effective and joyful activist for positive change? Meditation and yoga have been an acknowledged form of self-development that have been used for thousands of years to create a revolution in personal life. Kevin Innes has designed a series of exercises that are specifically designed to create a powerful synergistic effect to propel your life forward, and inward, thereby creating the Revolution within you, and around you, that you have come to this planet to experience. Are you ready?

He received advanced training in Sweden in 1979 and in India in 1981 and has taught in Germany, Austria, Greece, Yugoslavia, Nepal and Canada. These techniques he also incorporates into his teaching of music. His practices served him well during the two years he recently spent in jail as a political prisoner.”

If you’re interested in that then hopefully the video of that will be released soon!

Liberty Forum 2012 in Nashua 

After some hectic last-minute organizing Jack managed to make it for a panel he’d be on about the agora in NH at Liberty Forum in the ampitheater. Unfortunately due to the time it took to get there I missed Jack but the video should be up soon with decent quality both in sound and video. For now there’s this short clip of Jack speaking in so-so quality (both video and audio wise).

Once I got there it was time to check out the ALL table and what a table it was! See some of the things we sold here, here and here. The table would be later re-organized but this was the way it stayed for a while. When I got there it was early in the evening, around 5 PM and I rushed around to copy and print handouts for AltExpo, my presentation on Voltairine and of course ALL-oNE. I managed to handout quite a few copies of the ALL-oNE fliers (with a little over or less than half of what I originally had which was 25) and a few Voltairine handouts as well! I managed to meet up with ALL of my ALLies including Bile and Tennyson from NJ-ALL, Patrick Coleman of, supporters of ALL like Steven J. Howard and others! It was a great time and there was hardly anyone who had negative things to say. Most importantly plenty of things were sold including multiple copies of Markets Not Capitalism. On the subject of that book, ALL-oNE’s own copies of MNC didn’t arrive until the next day and so we decided to save it for future events. I’ll talk more about future events a bit later though.

Once all of the catching up to do was done, dinner among ALLies was held at the nearby bar and restaurant t that was in the hotel itself. Mid-way through Jack and I had to see what we could do for the remaining AltExpo X speakers in the Free For All that was taking place downstairs in the ampitheater. We managed to not only get in all of the speakers we wanted but also an ALL introductory panel. More on that later but in summation the day portion (and early evening portion) was a big success overall!

After a bit of riding to pick up Julia (who made the blog post that I referenced in the beginning of this post) we returned to TekArts to listen to Matthew Cropp give a presentation on Credit Unions and their appeals to anti-statists. It was chock full of useful information and even sparked a few ideas in my head as well as the last of my reserve energy. By then most people were exhausted but amazingly most people managed stay awake and not only then but pay attention rather intently. Afterwards there were some questions and comments from me, Julia, Jack and more. Once the talk was through discussions lasted a few more hours before most people started turning in.

Saturday 2/25/12 (AltExpo X in Nashua, Liberty Forum 2012 in Nashua)

Saturday was hectic but a bit more under control. First off, although most people slept in a bit more AltExpo X talks didn’t start until 10:30 AM (or around that time) so we ended up making it to Liberty Forum by around 12 PM. The day before during the planning process of the Free for All in the ampitheater  we decided to have an ALL based panel to help introduce the people who were attending about the ideas of left-libertarianism from 4-5 PM. We also had Sharon Presley talk about how to stand up to authority which is a talk you can also find here, here and here.

Meanwhile Julia joined, Darian, myself, Tennyson, Bile, Patrick Coleman and others at the ALL table switching off and on. Eventually we switched up the organization of pamphlets to accomadate for some books from Liberty Books like these, these, these and these in a better location then the back. So we ended up doing this, this (which was Darian’s awesome idea!), this and finally this. The ALL/C4SS table ended up making probably over $100 while ALL-oNE didn’t make that much due to having to share space, poor logistics and so on. Nevertheless a few copies of NLM were sold (which is pretty important of itself) and ALL-oNE overall learned how to organize a lot better for future events. So it was very much a useful learning experience for ALL-oNE members.

The crowd at the Liberty Forum was surprisingly mostly receptive of us but we of course had a few people that were pretty hostile. One person who in particular who was fiery about the concept of “left-libertarianism” is described by Julia. I’ll quote her at length:

“”I don’t understand this,” he said. I could feel the contention just waiting to come out. “What’s up with all this ‘class struggle’, anti-bosses stuff? It sounds like marxism. Are you marxists?”

I thought to myself, no, words like “exploitation” and “struggle” are not just the words of marxism; they’re the words of our current reality.

Darian, Nick, and I tried reasoning with this guy. We explained how, as anarchists, we are against economic authority like bosses and landlords for the same reason we’re against the state. The propertarian, of course, tried to argue that bosses and landlords have every right to have power over others because those dominated by them have the ability to leave, which, apparently, can’t be said of the state.

I told him, “Being able to leave your boss doesn’t legitimize the boss’s power. If we lived in a society where there were stateless territories people could escape to, would that legitimize the state?”

He used the same old arguments we’re heard propertarians use to legitimize capitalism and delegitimize libertarian socialism. He asked us again to explain left-libertarianism to him in the same condescending manner he had when he first approached us. We handed him a copy of the introduction to Markets Not Capitalism (which we had been giving out for free), but he quickly put it back on the table. Nick explained that left-libertarian is an umbrella term. He pointed out that my views on private property are very much the mutualist and social anarchist notion of occupancy and use. He instantly became fired up. Once again, I told him that the reason for my views rests on anti-authoritarian principles, that private property and absentee landlordism create extremely authoritarian relationships and systems which I seek to abolish. Again, he used the whole, “it’s not really authoritarian because you can leave,” excuse, and again I told him that being able to leave does not legitimize anything. I decided to ask him how he would maintain his ownership of any land he didn’t actively use if we lived in a stateless society. He made some remarks about “mob justice” and then openly admitted that he’d shoot squatters on-sight. Not surprising. He also admitted that he’s a “minarchist” who doesn’t support a stateless society for a few reasons.

I decided to take a different approach. “As an anarchist, I don’t see why anyone would want to own more than they use,” I said. “I know we live in a society where who we are as a person is based on what we own instead of what we do, and of course, we’re always going to own stuff – possession is just a fact of life – but we should focus more on what we do and our relations with others instead of what we own. I know I wouldn’t care about owning that much stuff if I knew I was valued for who I am as a person.”

He didn’t seem to understand me, and soon enough he left.”


Aside from that however, most of our interactions were pleasant. This includes the ALL panel in the ampitheater. Darian, Tennyson, myself, Jack and Rocco all tried to do our best to introduce people to the ideas of left-libertarianism. We started off talking about what LLism meant to us and then what essays and books we recommend in relation to LLism and then took some questions. We ended up starting at 4:20 due to someone else wanting to talk and going on till a little bit over 5:20. It was a productive sessions that resulted in a bit of clarification in my own ideas as well as others and hopefully gave the crowd that we had at the time some things to think about.

To sum up ALL’s success I quote Julia again. This time it was a post she made on the Mutualism group on Facebook:

“Three hour sitting at the ALL table at LF and only one right-libertarian has tried to strawman us so far. I feel that’s a huge success”

Well said.

The stragglers by this point for AltExpo X took off to TeArts for Julia’s talk which can be found here and was a very small but informative and informal session between friends and comrades. The ride up to TekArts was an…interesting one, but I won’t get into that and besides Julia’s post says more than I could possibly want to waste on it so check her blog out on the subject if you so desire.

There’s not much to say about Sunday, it was mostly filled with packing and getting organized for future events.

Concluding Remarks and Future Events!

Well, it was quite a wild ride for AltExpo X and ALL-oNE! Lots of excitement and a few more networks were extended via the events as well as hopefully some new alternatives brought to attention for some people. Overall AltExpo X and ALL-oNE definitely did a great job despite the snags here and there. We’ll make sure next time around we’re more organized and prepared for what’s to come.

Speaking of that there’s an anti-war conference in late March that ALL-oNE is already gearing up to make if possible. So we hope to see you there if we make it! Plans are being made for an ALL contingency in Chicago for the G8 and NATO protests as well as to make the NYC Anarchist BookFair in mid-April! Lots of events coming up and soon we’ll start using the calender more as well as creating an archives page so people can access tons of left-libertarian related sites, essays, books, videos and more!

Catch ya later!

Get Ready for AltExpo X!

AltExpo X: Feb. 23-26th 2012

AltExpo X: Feb. 23-26th 2012

We at ALL-oNE are proud to let everyone know that we will have a presence at AltExpo X this coming week! We should’ve announced this much earlier on but formulating plans on the event itself as well as a various other assortment of other projects left me little time to think about doing such a thing.

Our presence at AltExpo X will not be limited to one location this year! We’re gonna be on Manchester on Friday in The Quill which is located on 131 Amory St.  We’ll be there set up from 10 AM to 3 PM and we’ll our usual huge list of zines, booklets and more!

We’re also proud to say that we’ll be partnering with Liberty Books who have generously provided us numerous left-libertarian and left-libertarian related material for our tabling efforts on a consignment basis..As of now the plan is to have these additions  generously given to us by Liberty books only for Friday! So if you’re going and want to see some extra material then come on Friday. It’ll be a bit more pricey than our other works but also in short supply and well worth your time so I hope you can check them out.

Also, via James Tuttle of the Tulsa ALL and editor of ALLiance Journal has given us quite a few new pamphlets to our list with all of the proceeds going to C4SS!

ALL-oNE will also be sharing a table with some C4SS members who shall be coming to Liberty Forum and predominately be showing on Friday and Saturday. While we’re there we’ll return to just promoting our own literature and the C4SS specific literature.We’ll also be partnering with those from NJ-ALL as well in hopes of bolstering activity for ALL in general.

Due to a recent inventory check ALL-oNE also has almost all of its pamphlets numbered and properly priced. So if you have any troubles with our pamphlets we have a reference point to help you out with how many we have of something that you may be looking for or the actual price of the pamphlet.

On each of these nights Jack and I (Nick) shall be helping out ALLies (and others) by giving them free/donation based space at TekArts hackerspace which is located in Milford NH. If you’re an ALLy and in need please message me or Jack on Facebook. We may be able to work something out but keep in mind that TekArts, while it may be a fairly large place, can only hold so many people. So you should RSVP with us ASAP.

So if you have alternatives to our alternatives we encourage you to stick with them so other more needing people can take up the space in your stead. However, we welcome anyone who wants to drop by at night for one of our nightly talks which will usually be focused on left-libertarian ideas.

Speaking of talks here are some of the planned talks (as of now) that will be going on that include left-libertarianism:

– I’ll be doing a talk on Friday in Manchester at 10 AM about Voltairine de Cleyre, who, while she wasn’t a left-libertarian herself per se’ has had a great influence on myself and a lot of other ALLies in their lives.

-After that at 11 AM Darian will be giving a talk on a left-libertarian world and what we want to see in a truly freed society, how to get there and so on.

-At 12 PM Jack will be giving a talk on the New Libertarian.

-At 1-2 Rocco Fama will be giving a talk on the Vote for Nobody campaign and how Nobody “won” the election.

That’ll be the main ALL-type topics and speakers but we’ll also have at 9 PM-10 PM Thursday-Saturday three other talks that are related to left-libertarianism. They are:

– On Thursday we’ll have Dave Roscoe speaking about the alternative to the internet itself in the form of an open source peer to peer networking system called the “Infogora”. (This talk will be given at 7:30 due to the kickoff day also being a TekArts hackerspace open house day)

– On Friday we’ll have Matthew Cropp speaking about Credit Unions, their viability and possible relation to libertarianism.

– On Saturday we’ll have Julia Riber Pitt talking about solidarity vs. charity, the benefits of instilling solidarity into communities and culture instead of relying on private top-down charitable organizations and so on.

In addition we may have more talks and of course at TekArts we’ll probably have discussions as well. The last thing to announce about talks is that we’ll have a roundtable ALL-oNE discussion from 10-11 PM Thursday-Saturday. It’ll be a pretty informal chat but hopefully we can ALL decide on some topics as we get there. We’ll try to set up a as well so we can broadcast these talks.

One of the biggest things we’ll be trying to do at these events is not only introduce the left-libertarian ideas but also ALLy with social-anarchists before in light of our pleasant recent trip to Lucy Parson’s Center and the older trip to the Boston Anarchist Bookfair that happened late last year. So in that spirit do we have people like Julia and Matt speaking and have gone out of our way to invite other social-anarchists as well.

Finally, and this may be the biggest news and so I’ve saved it for last, ALL-oNE will be selling copies of Charles Johnson and Gary Chartier’s new book: Markets Not Capitalism for $25 at the events it is at which includes all of the events from Friday-Saturday. We only have a limited amounts and there’s already a pre-requested order that we have so make sure you get them before they run out!

That’s about it for now, if there’s anything else to announce or you want any other info, etc. etc. then we’ll try to let you know on our Facebook page, hopefully we’ll ALL see you soon!

(The ALL-oNE email is my own at for any questions you’d rather not post her or on Facebook, etc.)

Thoughts on “Occupy Anarchism” by Cindy Milstein at the Lucy Parson’s Center

As usual guys, sorry for not posting lately. I haven’t been too busy with ALL-oNE as of late and I’m hoping that’s gonna change with Liberty Forum coming up next month as well as a tour of the new hackerspace TekArts.  Not only that but there’s been talk of having an ALL-oNE office space for distributing zines, storing them and generally coming up with ideas to further the left-libertarian movement! So these are both exciting things but I’d like to get to the blog post now, but stay tuned!


So full disclosure: My friend Julia has already done her blog post so our blog posts may mirror each other at times (and in fact I’ll be reading her blog post at times just so I can remember some of the specifics just in case I forget!) but I hope to give a different perspective then what Julia gave (though I think she covered it well enough of course). With that in mind I certainly recommend reading her blog post as well!

The Talk

Now I wasn’t sure what to expect or get when I got to the Lucy Parson’s Center but I was pleasantly surprised that although I felt a little out of place (as I typically do among the more social/communist-anarchist crowd) it wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been. Especially being with Julia and knowing that she had respect for my a lot of my opinions and that she was usually welcome among the same crowd put me at ease a bit. Not only that but my girlfriend Lauren was with me as well for some moral support and general interest since she’s an anarchist herself. Overall then although I was unclear on what was going to be said or the general demeanor of the crowd I was pleasantly surprised. The talk was titled “Occupy Anarchism” and was going to be delivered by (thankfully) one of the few contemporary anarcho-communists that I’m more familiar: Cindy Mlstein. Her talk was part of a speaking tour she’s been doing lately. I was especially interested to see a different take on the Occupy Movement then the typical right-libertarian glib about how it’s just a bunch of economic illiterate state-socialists for the most part.

Cindy’s take was better: It was more that most people were apolitical or at best liberals (she didn’t clarify what this meant to her but I’m guessing the sort of standard liberal today?) but either way my expectations were that she’d discuss in a different and refreshing way and she did.not disappoint. The idea that most people at #OWS were for the most part apolitical and just didn’t know much in general about what they’re doing makes quite a bit of sense to me. Basically a lot of the people went there because they’re upset at something and to a lot of libertarian’s credit they usually say that at least being angry at the system and showing it is better than nothing. With that I agree but of course Occupy was so much more than that and that was one of Cindy’s main points throughout the talk. She was trying to make the point that if it were not for the anarchists a lot of the so to speak “soul” of #OWS would not be there. This of course includes consensus decision making/direct democracy, direct action, lack of permits, lack of political involvement with the democrats and government-backed labor unions, selling out to one big leader and so on. If all of these things had not been in place then I doubt #OWS would’ve lasted as long as it did and indeed doubt Cindy would’ve either.

Her first impressions of the #OWS people were that they were “crazy”, “disorganized”, “lacking basic knowledge” and other related impressions. But she was also fascinated by them. She couldn’t get enough of the protest and told us she spent more than a week in New York when she had just accidentally showed up there to stay with some friends for a bit. She also accidentally went back to Philadelphia a bit before the Occupy Movement started there and immediately started getting interested in the ways that they operated there and tried to see what she could do in a more decentralized “organization”. What she found was that it was a generally pleasant experience even if a lot of people were just angry and didn’t know what to do about it. It didn’t seem like these people even had strict agendas and perhaps while they may support state policies and stuff like that it seemed from what Cindy was saying that they’d only do so because they lacked a direction. It was Cindy’s contention (and a good one at that) throughout the talk that the anarchists gave them some of this direction.

None of this about anarchists being one of the best parts of the #OWS movement is to say that anarchists were always welcome. I vaguely recall Cindy telling anecdotes (a lot of her talk was anecdotal which is fine with me) about how some anarchists were sometimes not welcome in some events or were greeted with hostility because people thought they’d break stuff or whatever. Either way even if what I remember is untrue it’s not hard to believe that anarchism and the occupy movement overall probably had a love-hate sort of binary relationship.

Cindy also recalled some “Ron Paul type people” (and some person in the audience didn’t know who Ron Paul was which was…surprising to me given the sort of libertarians I usually hang out with and know on Facebook) who carried guns and typically kept to themselves at the Philly occupy movement. And then she talked about when they actually did something of their own accord they asked Cindy and her other comrades for help even though they never did anything themselves to help them before according to Cindy. Nevertheless Cindy and her other comrades took it upon themselves to help them deal with the situation when they needed help. As Julia said it was…”amusing”.

Another divide that Julia talks about in her own blog post that I should repeat and stress since I thought it was so important was the divide between people who thought the cops were their friends and others who knew they weren’t. For instance Cindy mentioned at one point that some of the white people were saying things that indicated they sympathized with the police while the blacks and other minorities who were there (they were outnumbered in the Occupy Philly gathering  but still present) weren’t so sure. And so as time went on though a lot of the people who thought the police were their friends eventually found out the hard way that they were not. This was a good divide to talk about because it really spoke to a lot of what had to happen at Occupy at times so people would recognize that the larger point that the state is not their friend. But of course when the state is largely trampling on black people and other minorities and poor people in general it’s hard to see that when you’re white and middle class I suppose. That’s not to say there’s something wrong with being that but that your blinders are probably on to some degree or another because of who you are.

That leads me into one of the last things I want to talk about in Cindy’s talk: privilege and power. She did discuss the ideas of white, male and other sorts of privilege that exist in society. And I being a bit of an oddball libertarian tend to agree that whites, males and straight people all have certain privileges over other people. These things would later cause some problems in the audience for one reason or another but I eventually spoke up and addressed the thought that the idea that talking about this stuff has to be condescending and so on (thanks to Julia for having such a good memory and quoting me near-exactly):

“When you address white privilege, you don’t have to be condescending. It’s not supposed to be about making people feel guilty because they’re white. It’s supposed to be about pointing out the fact that the culture and the system put you in a certain role because of who you are.”


I stand by this statement, but that leads us more into the discussion then the talk itself which I don’t want to get into here. So to wrap up here I thought the talk was overall well presented and the highlights for me personally were certainly talking about privilege and power (though I should note Cindy says she prefers power than to say privilege but doesn’t deny either exist), the discussion of anarchism in relation to occupy (so basically most of the talk) and the dividing sides about police and how they learned was particularly interesting. And of course Cindy’s view on the Occupy movement was refreshing for me too. So overall I certainly had a good time listening to her…of course there were disagreements and I’d be lying if I didn’t talk about them so let’s talk about it for a little bit but I’ll try not to doddle on it.

Problems with the Talk

Although they weren’t many since as I told Julia after the talk it was a pretty general talk that I think even people who weren’t anarcho-communists could get into they were obviously striking and reminiscent of the anarchist movement in general. I am (of course) not an anarcho-communist even though we may both support similar tactics like direct action and dual power as well as my view for labor to be fully compensated and preference for collectives and cooperatives as opposed to the traditionally top-down hierarchies that are in the big corporations of the day. Nonetheless I have nothing really against any interest, rent or whatever. Now I know that anarcho-communists (and mutualists as well such as Julia) wouldn’t force people who decide to do rent or go into those sorts of relationships would forcibly prevent them from doing it (and if they would I’d say their anarchist credentials should be heavily under suspicion) as long as the choices are not made (as they largely are in the current society) because of desperation and the way things like structural poverty, wage-slavery (also see here) and more that keep people limited in their choices to say the least.

Another big contention I have with Cindy but more appropriately is her (and the anarcho-communist idea in general) idea that property in general is theft. I tend to be of the position that a plurality of ownership systems would work out and compete between different neighborhoods insofar as they can  still cooperate in mutually beneficial ways. As long as a culture of solidarity is crafted between people in the sense of people wanting to generally help others and trade with others in mutually beneficial and consensual trades then I think in general people can live together without too many huge disputes. That doesn’t mean I think there’d be no conflicts, suffering, struggles or whatever in a truly freed society but that putting in the principles of liberty for the individual and subsequently associations that form from that premise, equality of authority in decisions that directly affect all involved and (again) a culture of solidarity I can see anarcho-capitalists living side by side with the anarcho-communists to one degree or another anyways.

Finally, I’d like to point out that Cindy seemed to just treat anarchism as anarcho-communism and then that’s it. I mean, even though I’m a left-libertarian I don’t say that anarcho-capitalists aren’t anarchists (though sometimes I wonder…) I just say them and other right-libertarians are inconsistent anarchists. I don’t think they’re not anarchists at all (and I know that’s a contentious issue) because I’m not interested in that sort of discussion either way. My thing is le’ts talk about our premises and conclusions and where we get them from and why we believe them and see what we can work out. There’s no reason to dismiss (what I think) could at least be some useful single issue alliances or whatever even if we do want to write off the anarcho-capitalists (though I won’t and try not to)  and I believe at one point Cindy actually said something along those lines.

Nonetheless I told Julia that I’m not an anarcho-communist but this talk wasn’t about this exactly but how anarchism (as Cindy saw it) and it’s relation to the Occupy movement and in that sense and most others I enjoyed it. But of course I figured it’d help to point out some disagreements before I get to the second hour of the talk which was the discussion.

The Discussion

The first person who talked was…well…let Julia tell you,

“The first person in the audience to speak started by throwing her finger up at Cindy. She ranted, “First of all, before people can be educated in all this philosophy, they need food on the table and a roof over their head. Grub before philosophy.” She went on and on for well over five minutes. “And another thing, enough with this ‘you know the movement is getting somewhere when the white cis males are getting involved’.” She ended with a nasty, “So all white cis-men in this movement need to shut – the – HELL – up.”‘


So yeah…I was twiddling my thumbs so to speak for most of her five minute rant but wow was it uncomfortable. Julia whispered to me as she started that, “It’s about to get really sectarian.” and man was she right with this lady! But either way I didn’t know what to think of her message. I mean it sounded like a familiar sort of argument (the “grub before philosophy” sort of thing) but Cindy just gave a calm reply that Occupy was a great example how we can do all of this and even have it be sustainable. And as Cindy said at one point in the speech, “If there’s anything anarchists know how to do right it’s Food Not Bombs!” and I think she was spot on with that. So the woman’s bad presentation and Cindy’s great response basically made me not want to take the woman very seriously even if she took herself…more than a bit too seriously.

Either way the conversation moved on to discussion of privilege and my girlfriend tried to talk about how we shouldn’t just discount people who are “privileged” just on that basis as irrelevant or not actually existing which was a great point. But again Cindy had a great response, she talked about how the guy who she didn’t have much respect for who she called “privileged” wasn’t because he was privileged but because what he did with his privilege and he was a known a-hole. So once again Cindy dealt with questions calmly and effectively, kudos to her for that.

I then spoke myself about slut shaming  and how the talk of privilege might be better presented if we talk about the way it affects human lives in a negative way (and hopefully a direct way too to further the link between the two things). I was surprised to see that a girl in the front didn’t know what slut-shaming was since I figured most people in the room would. It didn’t seem like many people did so I explained it something like this, “When a woman’s sexuality is trivialized once she sleeps with more than one man regardless of the way she does it or how or why and so on.” I don’t think this is fair and you can see a  long debate about it on the ALL Facebook page and why I think as much. Just do ctrl + f and look up the word slut shaming and you’ll find it. But my point seemed to be well received enough nonetheless.

A few other people talked about their experiences with the Occupy movement and I don’t think anything in particular stood out to me (and such seems to be the case for Julia as well on her blog post since she doesn’t mention anything either) but it basically revolved around other people’s experiences with the Occupy movement and where it’s heading and if it’ll be somewhere good. Cindy at that point just started lettinga bunch of people talk and  I think as I remember it handled them all pretty well.

I was the last person to speak as the talk came to a close which is where I talked about the privilege discussion we had had and some more tips on how to perhaps talk about it better. Now I’m of course no expert on privilege or how to talk about it (though no one is probably but many are probably are better than me) it hasn’t taken me long to make these suggestions. Julia said I was being “friendly but blunt” on her blog when I was talking and I suppose that’s fair. That’s usually how I like to come across, I’m being friendly about suggestions or disagreements but I want people to know I’m disagreeing or what my position is so I’m as honest as I feel practical in the scenario.

All the Rest

After the talk Julia asked me what I thought of it and I told her basically what I’ve said here…well ok I shortened it to the much less verbose, ” It was a good talk. I’m in no way an an-com but I liked a lot of what she said. You have to find a common ground. Voltairine knew that.” (something like that…I’m using Julia for a reference here for something I said just to give you a sort of insight into how bad my memory with these sorts of things can be).

Julia then talked to Cindy and I gave her my thanks for the great talk. Lauren, Julia and I headed back to the train station (and along the way got in a small discussion of privilege again but Julia dealt with that well enough so just check out her post!) and soon after got back home.

…But what really really really mattered was that I got “The Haymarket Speeches 1895-1910” written by Voltairine de Cleyre for $1! Yeah, I was pretty stoked and I’m going to finish it as I wrap up here so thanks for keeping up with us and we’ll ALL be back together soon!