From Love and Rage: A Look at the Legacy

by Paul Glavin

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2000 issue of Arsenal: A Magazine of Anarchist Strategy and Culture. (

For close to ten years Love and Rage, in one form or another, existed as an organized expression of revolutionary anarchism, representing many of the best and worst aspects of the left. The Love and Rage project involved hundreds of people over many years who took the role of revolutionary opposition seriously while confronting forms of domination in their own work and daily lives. Those involved were committed to ideas and education, to democratic process and organization, to street militancy, and towards the end, to long-term community organizing.

On the down side Love & Rage also had elements of a guilt- based, middle-class politics of self-sacrifice and, among some, a moralism better suited to Christian missionaries. There were those who sought a more “pure” membership, purged of the sins of the dominant society. This took the form of an inward looking examination of each person’s background and preferences that began to lose perspective. A principled, self-reflective commitment to anti-sexism, for example, turned into a bizarre attempt to break down ego-boundaries and reshape character, in a small group setting. There were also attempts to utilize guilt to get people to do more, to contribute more money, or not voice their opinions. These tendencies were derided by others, however, limiting their contagion and rendering them effective only on those already susceptible.

Love and Rage was made up of many different groups and individuals representing a variety of tendencies and with varying backgrounds within anarchism, making generalizations difficult. What they all had in common was an activist orientation and a generally left politics (as opposedto the neo-primitivist, anti-civilization perspectives of Anarchy Magazine and John Zerzan, for example) They were also primarily young. Love and Rage members shared a sense of urgency, of the immediacy of various struggles and of the need to get organized and act, and a general willingness to participate in coalition with other left and liberal groups to pursue similar objectives. For instance, Love and Rage participated in stopping Operation Rescue’s attempts to shut down abortion clinics, while arguing for direct forms of democracy within meetings and extra-legal forms of militancy and direct action in demonstrations.

The various Love and Rage local groups which existed over the years, notably in places like Minneapolis, New York, and Detroit, were constituted by extremely dedicated activists who sustained an interest and involvement in political issues and organizing that continues to be rare. The local groups often combined a consciousness of group dynamics and internal hierarchies with an unbelievable ability to put on public forums discussing current events, while also participating in various coalitions and organizing efforts and demonstrations.

It has been two years since Love and Rage dissolved and it seems appropriate to assess some of the organization’s contributions in light of what is going on today. This account will be partial and necessarily incomplete,hopefully being one of the first of many written reflections.

Ideas and Theory

One of Love and Rage’s positive contributions was that it took ideas and theory seriously in the effort to democratically develop a political statement for the organization. This commitment was also reflected in discussions, leaflet writing, and forums. Similarly, despite some tendencies toward sensationalism, the organization’s newspaper, also called Love and Rage, demonstrated the group’s seriousness about ideas.

Many heated and protracted debates took place between various factions on a variety of issues, mostly within the context of the ongoing process of developing a common political statement for the organization. One of the first debates was actually over whether to even have one.

There was a strong faction, mostly grouped around the Anarchist Youth Federation, which took an anti-theory position, advocating unity through action. The relation between ideas and action, of theory and practice, were hotly debated. This faction argued that theoretical discussion was a waste of time and the working class would better respond to simple language. Their proposed model for Love and Rage was the British paper Class War. Despite the obstinacy of the anti-theory faction, and their condescending assumptions concerning the intelligence of the working class, the project of democratically developing a common political statement went forward.

Although the organization voted to develop a statement, the time devoted to it was filled with ongoing discussion that never resulted in a finished document. Nonetheless, the discussions created a lively forum for radical ideas and competing revolutionary strategies. This allowed a relatively large number of radicals to collectively think through what was going on in the world. At the same time, it involved a variety of people in this process through participation in working groups, writing draft statements, and debating positions at plenaries and in the pages of the paper.

This kind of anarchist intellectual culture does not exist today. The great thing about Love and Rage’s attempt to develop a political statement, in addition to its participatory character, was the way the discussion of ideas took place in the context of an organized attempt to change the world. Thus the ideas, although sometimes abstract or theoretical, were part of an engagement with society.

Too often today, discussions of radical ideas are purely abstract, with little or no relation to organizing work or a larger public. Intellectual work goes on in isolation, or is perverted in service to academic requirements. And on the other hand, as is so often the case, organizing work goes on in a rather rote fashion, with little room to explore theoretical dimensions or argue how tactics are part of a long-term revolutionary strategy or theory of the world.

One current organization which promotes anarchist scholarship, The Institute for Anarchist Studies, funds individual writers, not collective writing projects, because the applications for funding it receives are from individuals. A majority of these applications can be divided into two categories: anarchists involved in academics, and activist anarchists struggling to theorize their practical work. Both could benefit from engagement with a more participatory intellectual culture; on the one hand so their work is less abstract and academic, and on the other to help sharpen and develop their ideas.

With the demise of Love and Rage and other organizations engaged in collective, democratic writing processes, like the Youth Greens, the anarchist intellectual scene has become atomized and fragmented. It is rare to find collective writing projects or popular forums for discussing radical ideas. Without them, people often drift away, or begin to regurgitate mainstream thought about the inevitability of the market, or the state, or about how people are fundamentally greedy and will never change. The dominant ideological, economic, and social realities in America are strong and well entrenched, taking their toll on even the most stubborn militant.Without a vibrant anarchist public sphere to create and maintain an alternative worldview, it is harder for individuals to maintain a commitment to radical politics. And without an anarchist organization, it is impossible to change society.

Anti-Racism and Anti-Imperialism

Perhaps most significantly, Love and Rage brought the issue of race into North American anarchist concerns in a way that was not previously present, at least among white anarchists. This occurred as self-education on race issues, learning about the key role of race relations in unlocking historical forms of oppression in the US context. Simultaneously, Love and Rage prioritized an anti-racist agenda within anarchist organizing.

Anti-Police brutality work, and in cities like Minneapolis, neighborhood cop-watches became a cornerstone of Love and Rage members’ work. Love and Rage members played central roles in Anti-Racist Action, where today many former members continue to be active.

A further aspect of Love and Rage’s anti-racism involved the commitment to organizing across borders to work with comrades in Mexico City, while also making Chiapas and Zapatista solidarity work a high priority. More generally the anti-imperialist orientation of the organization implied an understanding of the privileged and exploitative position of the majority of the West vis-a-vis the rest of the world, a relation based in race and also class.

Some in the organization advocated a more uncritical anti-imperialism. But many others saw that it is possible both to support people in their resistance, by opposing US military and economic domination, and to maintain a principled engagement with opposition movements that does not abdicate our responsibility to be critical of authoritarian practices and tendencies. The central question here is what place North American anti- imperialists have in criticizing aspects of nationalist struggles we disagree with, such as statism or the attempt to forge a national identity by suppressing diversity within a people. Those maintaining a position of critical solidarity won an early debate on the “national question” against those who advocated an unqualified solidarity.

Black Bloc

Early on writers and organizers for Love and Rage emphasized the need to develop a “fighting movement.” This was a provocative way of describing a movement which takes the political offensive while being willing to defend itself against the police in the streets.

The German autonomist movement was a significant influence on Love and Rage and other young radicals in the late 1980s and early ’90s. There were successive waves of autonomist movement in Germany, but the anti- imperialist, street fighting, black bloc version made the biggest impression. In addition to squatting housing and social and cultural spaces for themselves, the autonomen, as they are known, formed large blocs at demonstrations to provide for their own safety against police attacks and to allow more latitude in the streets. The blocs involve people dressing alike and covering their faces with masks to prevent the police from identifying individuals.

Protesters link arms and move together, preventing the police from dispersing people or grabbing individuals.

A black bloc was called for at one of the two big marches in D.C. against the Gulf War. Roughly three hundred black- clad anarchists showed up for the contingent. Being in a bloc demonstrated a large, well- organized anarchist presence in the anti-war effort. It also allowed for more militant action than shuffling down the street chanting tired slogans. For instance, windows were smashed at the Treasury Department building and a break-away march towards the World Bank building took place. Along the way bank windows were smashed and the World Bank building itself was spraypainted. Because of the security of the bloc, only one comrade was grabbed by the police, and that person was unarrested from the police by others. All involved ran to the safety of the bloc, which effectively prevented the police from arresting anyone.

A line of development runs from the 1988 Pentagon Action, where anarchists had an organized contingent and distributed RAGE!, a precursor of Love and Rage, right through to the Seattle Black Bloc. The contemporary idea of a non-pacifist, extra-legal national contingent got started at that 1988 protest against the US wars in Central America. One of the main organizing groups for that contingent, and for organizing Love and Rage, was RABL, the Revolutionary Anarchist Bowling League. RABL held several successful, and some not-so- successful, actions in the mid-to-late 1980s in Minneapolis and published their own occasional paper, the RABL Rouser.

The Black Bloc in Seattle is the most successful use yet of this style of street organization. It helped create a visible and formidable anarchist presence, while enabling highly effective offensive action against corporate property. Combined with the violence of the police against the largely non-violent demonstrators, the Black Bloc is the main reason Seattle became a household word around the world. The Black Bloc anarchists struck a chord, and anarchism, in however simplified a form, seemed to be everywhere.

The Seattle Black Bloc shows there is a potential for developing a far more organized and effective form of street protest. In addition, the larger anti-globalization movement involves many anarchists. For example, anarchist principles are informing much of the organizing of the Direct Action Network, the main organizing group of the Seattle demonstrations and the anti- IMF/World Bank protests in DC.

Love and Rage did a lot to help develop an anti-authoritarian understanding of globalization, sometimes referred to as neoliberalism. In part this was done in conjunction with the perspective put forward by the Zapatistas and Chiapas solidarity activists. Another aspect was simply extending the traditional anarchist critique of capitalism, hierarchy and social domination to contemporary trends. It is good to see this type of work partly pay off in the form of a renewed popular and radical movement which, at least implicitly, is against capital and has an anarchist and ecologcal dimension.
Defining Anarchism

With the decline of Love and Rage, anarchists in the Pacific Northwest have taken the lead in defining anarchism. The positive contributions they bring are a no compromise, militant attitude, a direct action approach, and an attempt to pre-figure the new society in collective living, counter-institutions and sustainable practices like intensive, organic gardening.

An organization like Love and Rage could help coordinate activity and provide a forum for presenting revolutionary anarchist ideas to a larger public through its newspaper. Unfortunately the only national anarchist publications we have now are Anarchy and Fifth Estate. While occasionally publishing something interesting, these publications generally put their own regressive anti- civilization spin on anarchist actions and ideas. They present their rather warped neo- primitivist version of anarchism as being the only one while caricaturing the politics represented by Love and Rage (and Murray Bookchin) as Leninist Old Left.

Love and Rage had its own problems, but at least it brought a social and left perspective to anarchism that saw the way out of capitalism and statism through social movements and direct forms of democracy, not simply smashing technology and returning to a hunter- gatherer existence. The organization maintained a healthy insurrectionary perspective which held out the necessity of social revolution. It recognized that anarchists need to be an organized force for social change, and that day-to-day activist work is an important part of this process. And it maintained the importance of ideas, debate and popular education.

In the future any new revolutionary anarchist organization would need to be a bottom-up, grass-roots confederation of existing local groups. The emphasis in Love and Rage should have been (and our focus now should be) promoting and assisting in the formation of new local groups, affinity groups, and political collectives. Love and Rage erred in not putting more effort in this direction. There definitely was a strong centralizing faction in the organization that successfully took the group in the direction of federation, rather than confederation, arguing against those who advocated a more decentralized approach. It should come as little surprise that those folks no longer call themselves anarchists.

It may be a while before we again see a continental anarchist organization on the scale of Love and Rage. Despite this anarchism seems to be in pretty good shape as we head into the twenty-first century. If we do things right, we can create new organizational forms while learning from the mistakes of the past, as well as from the promising contributions of a group like Love and Rage.

Taken from:

The Continuing Appeal of Authoritarianism

by Sarah Jane Smith
The Love and Rage Revolutionary Anarchist Federation broke up in 1998. The Fire by Night Organizing Committee formed from the feuds that broke it up. This was the only formal organization that emerged directly from Love and Rage at that time, although it is not the only political direction that came out of its end.

Anarchist organizations in the US hold many theories about anarchism and revolution. Love and Rage was one piece of this in its eight year existence. The organization took seriously the development of a strategy for revolution. During this process, some members decided that some basic tenets of anarchism were untenable.

Fire by Night is not an anarchist organization, but in the statement announcing the break-up of Love and Rage and the formation of Fire by Night, founding members said that several of them were still anarchists and committed to anti-authoritarian and anti-statist strategies. In August 1999, however, Fire by Night published their Points of Unity in which they state that as an organization they “no longer believe that anarchism offers an adequate framework for answering the real problems that confront the revolutionary project.”

Further explanation of Fire by Night’s critiques of anarchism are in their pamphlet After Winter Must Come Spring: a Self-Critical Evaluation of the Life and Death of the Love and Rage Revolutionary anarchist Federation. According to Fire by Night’s analysis, some major points of contention in the split were attitudes toward white supremacy, anti-statism, and anarchism’s lack of theoretical development in terms of organizing and revolutionary strategy. In After Winter Fire by Night states its intention to study revolutionary and radical movements in order to draw conclusions about the possibilities for revolution in the US. Points of Unity is the result of these studies.

As an organization containing many former anarchists, what did Fire by Night offer that could not be found in anarchist organizations?

What They Have to Say
Many groups have complained that the anarchist movement is white, male-dominated, and largely middle class. In After Winter, Fire by Night cites this as a problem in Love and Rage and discusses their efforts to change this. Fire by Night sees lack of clarity and theoretical unity as the major culprit.

In Points of Unity, they put forward an analysis of the functioning of white supremacy in the US. Fire by Night makes clear that they view the struggle against white supremacy as primary in the struggle for revolutionary change. They do not discuss how they plan to put this into practice other than by “participating in mass struggles.”

In After Winter Fire by Night cites Love and Rage’s lack of clear analysis of white supremacy and white skin privilege and lack of an organizational strategy as the barrier to the development of a “genuinely multi-racial revolutionary anarchist organization.” The “clear analysis” presented in Points of Unity would presumably clear up this blockage in their path. The examples in After Winter are concerning ideas printed in Love and Rage’s newspaper. They do not inclide an in depth critique of Love and Rage’s actions and have not proposed an organizational strategy or any clear course of action for making the work of the organization anti-racist except that they will “support the liberation struggles of oppressed nationalities.”

Anarchist organizations besides Love and Rage have shown emphasis on anti-racist issues in their work. At the time of Love and Rage’s break-up another grouping within the organization put out a document entitled Towards a Fresh Revolutionary Anarchist Group which shows a similar emphasis and proposed that groups focus their work in Anti-Racist Action collectives as a means of putting that into practice. Some Anarchist Black Cross collectives have focused work on prisons and political prisoners based on an analysis of prisons as part of the machinery of institutionalized white supremacy. These specific projects and others can raise issues and questions about how one goes about challenging white supremacy and the effectiveness of various methods, but this is not unique to anarchism and is not addressed in Points of Unity.

Fire by Night’s analysis in Points of Unity does not offer anything new. In After Winter, Fire by Night complains that anarchists of color were marginalized in Love and Rage. They do not include those voices or any critiques in their analysis. We do not even hear about why they were marginalized. Fire by Night has chosen to leave behind real struggles and experience in favor of creating a new idealized theory.

The critique of white supremacy offers no plan of action other than removed “support.” What Fire by Night seems to miss in its criticism is the power of action. Love and Rage, the Network of Anarchist Collectives, Anarchist Black Cross, and other anarchist organizations and organizing projects that anarchists have been involved in have led to concrete if unarticulated strategic developments towards building an anarchism that can defeat white supremacy. We need more mechanisms that can draw out and document the voices and ideas of these projects and organizers so we can build on them, not reject them if we do not see clear strategic intentions.

Not Anarchist Enough
Fire by Night diverges strongly from anarchist groups in how it proposes to change our current society into one that can build freedom. In After Winter, Fire by Night complains of Love and Rage’s and anarchism in general’s lack of organizing method and theory. Fire by Night offers a debt to anarchism’s “vision of radical participatory democracy,” but how to make this real has become very different in their development of an organizing strategy.

There are themes in anarchist organizing efforts. In almost any anarchist mission statement/points of unity, primary elements are mutual aid, anti-statism and social self-organization. Mutual aid and communication among anarchists and as a means of putting out anarchist ideas are present in the mission statements of the Network of Anarchist Collectives and the Atlantic Anarchist Circle. Collectives or local groups are the main focus of political development and work. Organizing strategies and revolutionary goals are expected to develop within these collectives. Whether the strategies and goals actually get developed is another question, and anarchists could certainly stand to explore this further, pushing ourselves to document and build together working theories that are our own and that confront authoritarianism. Some attempts have been made such as NAC’s Dis/Connection magazine, and the Community Organizing Core that developed out of the Active Resistance conference in 1996.

Fire by Night’s alternative is to find the path to revolution “through direct participation in mass struggles…revolutionary theory must continuously be tested in practice and modified in the light of new experiences.” In After Winter they say that their organizing strategy developed from a combination of what they call “the Zapatista theory of Mandar Obedeciendo or ‘leading by obeying,’ which shares much in common with Paolo Friere’s ideas on pedagogy and the Maoist theory of Mass Line,” although in their description it bears much more similarity to Mass Line theory than either of the others: Fire by Night states that “revolutionaries should, in struggle with the people, draw out the revolutionary content in how they already understand their conditions…. Through the constant repetition of this process a more fully developed revolutionary consciousness emerges.”

Mandar Obedeciendo is a principle that has long been used by Mayan communities. Leaders are elected to fulfill a role and if they do not obey that mandate they are immediately recallable by the communities. Friere’s ideas on pedagogy do bear many similarities to Mao’s Mass line, but he also includes concepts which critique the roles of leader and teacher. Many anarchists have also been inspired by the Zapatistas and Friere, but they have drawn different lessons than reinforcement of Maoist organizing strategies.

Fire by Night is presumably attempting to fill holes that are left by anarchism’s “lack of method.” The organizing theory that they put forward is not new or very well developed. The theory put forward in After Winter cites very few organizing concepts, none of which were developed in contexts similar to the US. Points of Unity repeats what Fire by Night sees as one of the failures of anarchism by not putting forward a developed method for revolutionary organizing or a defined strategy for developing one.

The Final Section
The most glaring and obvious differences between anarchists and Fire by Night emerge in the final section of Points of Unity, “Civil Society and the Revolutionary State.” They critique the state, asserting that it is “above all else an instrument of class rule…(it is) alienated from and operates above civil society…(and) it makes self-preservation its highest priority,” yet in the same section assert that in overthrowing the existing class rule we need to create a socialist state which can create a more egalitarian society. How this state will finally be done away with is through a second revolution which happens after the socialist state somehow allows the “creation of a vibrant civil society of autonomous organization.”

Fire by Night does not even attempt to deal with any of the challenges that anarchism poses to such theories in these points of unity. How the transition from bad state to good state to no state happens is not addressed except that each will be a violent revolution. Questions of developing critical consciousness and participation among “the masses” are not addressed except in the mention of needing a “vibrant civil society.” There is only a vague description of how civil society will participate. In history, transitional governments established in communist revolutions have been no better than capitalist states. They have suppressed or controlled the rebellions and organizing efforts of civil society, rather than allowing it to become “vibrant.” Fire by Night offers no explanation as to why the socialist state they imagine would be any different.Although in After Winter they state an intention to “ruthlessly attack the flaws in all existing revolutionary theory and search for the ideas that can be used,” they do not seem to have searched very far, or attacked very hard.

Work for Anarchists
I admire Fire by Night’s stated goals of anti-sectarianism and working to develop a strategy that learns from past struggles and current realities. Yet they do not offer anything that is well developed or very new in Points of Unity.

In After Winter, Fire by Night packages eight years of experience into a neat analysis critiquing Love and Rage’s and anarchism’s lack of theoretical and strategic development. They have taken the path that many authoritarian communist parties have taken upon seizing state power—history has been retold through their eyes and to serve their purposes. The action and vitality of the anarchist movement disappears when they attempt to remove the messiness of it. In dismissing anarchism, Fire by Night has also dismissed complex lessons and the thoughtful and innovative thinking and work that can be created by anti-authoritarian processes.

Issues of revolutionary strategy need to be addressed by anarchists, but I believe we can find anti-authoritarian answers. Fire by Night is right that we need to find ways to draw out these discussion in our work through collective process and struggle. Let’s make sure that our discussions are deeper and more thoughtful than Fire by Night’s.

Since the publication of Points of Unity, Fire by Night has disbanded to merge with the Freedom Road Socialist Organization.

Taken from:

First Hand Accounts of AR 1996

Lesley’s Chicago

Well the Festival of the Oppressed was amazing. I’d been dropping by all week to help construct dozens of these puppets. The general story line had been worked out by Wise Fool Puppet Intervention – a team of folks from San Fransisco who had also been organizing dance classes in the mornings. The puppet intervention seemed a great way to express a clear message to the community in a non-confrontational manner.

In the morning of the festival of the oppressed, I went with some folks from Oregon and Washington to hang with the local community kids. We made paper plate puppets and bag masks and did face painting. Lots of people from the neighbourhood came out to have fun and ignore the helicopter circling overhead. After a few hours of fun, we got into formation for the piece and headed into the local neighbourhood, a good mix of local people and AR participants.

So. Maybe I can describe the piece. There was a large tower, maybe 18 feet tall whose sides were plastered with multinational logos like IBM, MacDonalds etc. The tower wore a tie and was controlling the two gruesome puppets of Dole and Clinton that flanked it. Pulling the tower was 30 or so workers, consumers, taxpayers and voters – all with appropriate tags. On either side of the tower strutted large CIA and politician puppets and huge pig/cops mingling with the crowd. Behind the tower came the single mothers (replete with babies), the natural elements like fire and water and animals.

The police presence was very high. From the beginning, we had mounted cop escort. It got heavier and heavier, with all sides of the parade being surrounded. It became obvious that they did not take kindly to this puppet manifestation. They tried to separate the group, but especially because we had a lot of local kids with us, we kept together. They arrested people who looked like “leaders” or organizers and one fellows foot was stepped on by a horse. The horses (poor things) did NOT like the puppets and kept rearing and panicking.

We kept going. At a key moment in the route (a major intersection), the walls of the tower were pulled down, revealing the four visions our core workshops had developed including community gardens, justice, collective bookshops, and a clean environment. Out came the goddess-warriors to dance about.

We made it back to the park and the 200 or so of us had a hungry meeting about whether we should go directly to the police station to support those arrested, or whether we should get the food that Seeds of Peace had made us first. Amazing facilitators seemed to get us to a decision – we would go to the police station. So we did. An even more freaky looking bunch than usual, with face and body paint on top of dreads, dirt and piercings.

At the police station we milled about. The lawyers we had supporting us changed their minds – we should go somewhere else and wait for a bit. So off we trooped to a local tacqueria for veggie burritos and beans and rice. Amazing and cheap place coped well with the 200 or so costumed riff raff we seemed to appear. Then back to the police station where motorists were asked to “Honk for Justice” as we hung out. Regular procedure seemed to mean that many of those who had been picked up wouldn’t be released for 24 hours or so.

So I took off with another friend from Toronto, making our way back to the “Spice Factory” the space that we were staying. When we arrived, we noticed paddy wagons around the corner. I mentioned this to the security at our space and not wanting to blow things out of proportion, went to a local pool for a shower and swim (trying to hide the body paint that wouldn’t come off without soap).

When we returned to the Spice Factory, only twenty minutes later, a major evacuation was in process. Cops without badges had entered “The Ballroom” the space where food and puppets were created, had pepper sprayed people randomly, taken folios and lists from the walls.

At the same time, over 100 cops had massed around the corner from the Spice Factory. So everything was removed in record time, people were loaded into any moving vehicle and taken to another location. As I was on a bike I had borrowed for the week, I rode with 8 or so others furiously. It was exciting. We didn’t know about the macing yet, so it just seemed a big game of cops and robbers.

At the other location, I put my bike into one of the school buses that had been organized so quickly. We were being taken to a “secret location”. No names given for a very real threat of infiltrators. We learned that the cops had raided “CounterMedia” the alternative media space and the “Festival of Life” another countercultural event happening in Chicago. In both places, arrests had been made.

At our “secret location”, people buzzed with excitement. Convoys were sent out to the Young Democrats Party that various AR participants had crashed. So along they came, confused and somewhat tipsy, dressed in regulation crumpled ties and clutching half full bottles of Jagermeister from the party. Forays were made to the local store and beer was purchased. Dogs yipped. Twenty vegan pizzas arrived and we settled in for a night without electricity, (but with running water!) We tried to keep quiet, but the cops still showed up outside but just sat there, watching us and asking questions to anyone who emerged.

The next morning, our grimy bunch slowly awoke, fringing the big room like the edge of a hippies poncho. A meeting was called to discuss our plans. Many people decided to leave town that day. Those that didn’t or couldn’t want to leave didn’t really want to go back to the Spice Factory. We would be billeted in the houses of the kind folks of Chicago for the last two days.

A casual final evaluation was attempted. So, what did you think of AR? The best, the worst and what could be changed. Generally, people were happy. Well organized, came out again and again. Too much to do. Hard to get involved if you arrived late. Great sense of community. Great food. Good free skool. Too white. Not enough music. Amazing mix of people from everywhere. Great speakers. I agreed. I thought the only main flaw was people not appreciating the organizers enough. They had obviously committed their lives to this for a good long time.

So we cleaned up and headed into the west end again. Over the next couple of days we partied, played anarcho-soccer, evaluated, and relaxed. Ah. Now I’m sick with a cold. Surprise, surprise. Wish you’d been here. Lovel.

Taken from:

Please see also:

Remembering Active Resistance – cops, Democrats and anarchy run riot in Chicago

by arrrgh-bot eggplant

Haymarket Remembered

Temporary Autonomous Zones: Anarchist Gatherings, 1988-2017

By Lesley Wood, May 9, 2017

Abstract: Examining the programs of anarchist gatherings in the US and Canada since 1988, the paper finds that these have changed form, content and function. Building on a reconfigured tradition that places educational work as a main site of anarchist praxis, it finds that since the 1980s, anarchist gatherings have moved from an emphasis on building temporary autonomous zones of prefiguration, to more modest efforts of strategic skill building and exchange.  The paper argues that one can explain these changes by locating these events in changing social and movement fields. It concludes by suggesting that such events need to be better understood by both activists and by social movement theorists.”

Federation Blues

Love and Rage’s Conference of the Long Knives
by Clyde

Brian’s article in (Dis)Connection (“Intercollectivism: A Critical View of NAC“) addressing the differences between network and federation brought me back to the 1993 Love and Rage Network Conference in San Diego. There were big questions at this time about the structure and purpose of Love and Rage. Some members wanted to turn the network into a federation with defined membership and more formal structures. They wanted Love and Rage to be an entity in and of itself and not just a network of autonomous groups. Other people differed on these points. I thought what was most needed was not a united body to take action on a continental level, but autonomous groups to organize on local and regional levels. A network is useful to encourage and help this organizing. A network facilitates discussion between groups, so that information, experience and analysis can be shared. Political statements and resolutions passed by a continental federation provide a false picture of the theoretical development of a movement. Real learning happens organically at a basic level, in exchanges and discussion between members of the various groups.

Several months before the San Diego conference the newspaper production group split in two after several production group members circulated a letter calling for a federation behind the backs of the others. For this and other reasons having to do with bad process a number of very active members left the production group. There was a strong feeling of tension in San Diego. Several Love and Rage members who had been very active in the network since its formation were strongly pushing for a federation. Many other people were opposed or undecided. Disregarding this sentiment, the pro-federation side pushed their agenda. At one point a straw poll was taken and half the people in the room said we would leave Love and Rage if the changes were made. Most of the women in the conference were absent from this discussion; a women’s only meeting was happening in another room. Yet the decision was made and the rest of us stepped aside, or rather outside; we left Love and Rage.

This isn’t meant as a condemnation of Love and Rage or of federations. All of us present in San Diego share some responsibility for the bad process that took place. Brian states that the role of federations “will actually grow as we move further along the road to revolution.” I agree. Eventually the forces trying to stop us from developing self-determined life and liberated communities will have to be countered on a national and international level, requiring a more structured coordination of our efforts.

But that day will come. The job at hand is organizing ourselves and our communities, for self-liberation and fighting the power. How do we organize projects that attract people and give us a taste of self-determination? How do we fight oppression of our allies and ourselves? Are we ready for counter-insurgency when it comes? Have we learned anything from the ’60s and ’70s?

Taken from:

Black Bloc

From what I understand, Black Bloc tactics emerged in North America because of this call printed in Love and Rage. But semi-recently someone told me there was a Black Bloc at the 1990 Wall St. Earth Day Action. Love and Rage endorsed, participated in and covered that action, so I don’t know. Here’s one account from Paul Messersmith-Glavin:

Remembering the Earth Day Wall Street Action

Active Resistance 1996

Poster from AR1996 courtesy of the Interference Archive.

The Counter Convention, Active Resistance, against the Democratic National Convention in 1996 seems to be the culmination of the Network of Anarchist Collective’s organizing. The last issue of (Dis)Connection was printed for it, but there was at least one more Active Resistance gathering, in Toronto in 1998.

Love and Rage also mobilized for and covered the 1996 DNC.

Wind Chill Factor Online Archive!

There is an online archive of all nine issues of Wind Chill Factor!

There are actual archives of the Baklava Autonomist Collective’s ‘zine, Wind Chill Factor at the Chicago Read/Write Library and Berkeley’s Long Haul.

My ‘zine about the Infoshop Movement in Chicago included an excerpt from a Wind Chill Factor Street Sheet that came out after the last issue, announcing the opening of the Chicago Autonomous Zone Infoshop:

Interview with Autonome Antifa (M)

AA/BO: Bloc of the “Antifaschistische Aktion – Bundesweite Organisation“. Northeim, June 4, 1994. (The organization AA/BO was founded in 1992 and disbanded in 2001.)

You can also read a contemporary interview done by an ex-L’n’R member, Paul O’Banion with a German Anti-Fascist, Bender has been involved in the autonomous movement in Germany since the 1980s here:

Interview with Autonome Antifa (M)

[This interview was conducted by Love and Rage in Sept., 1994. Autonome Antifa (M) is an anti-fascist group based in Goettingen, Germany.]

What differences exist in the German anti-fascist movement?

The differences are in terms of what people do: whether their focus is anti-nazi work, which means either fighting fascism in the street to doing some direct action, to focusing just on the organized fascist groups. And then there are other groups, who do broader politics that make connections between organized fascists and the state, and who focus on the state and on tendencies within the German state. And then there’s also an anti-imperialist struggle that could be anti-fascist in terms of being anti -nazi. That’s something that the radical anti-fascist movement is working out: how to be a political movement that doesn’t just focus on anti-fascist or reactive movements, but rather is revolutionary.

One of the main points of debate in the movement is in terms of different tendencies around the question of organization—what kind of organization. There are people like us, and the Anti-Fascist National Organization (AA/BO), who are interested in form ing a nationwide organization as part of building up the left, to share resources as a federation of groups who work together on things like the Campaign Against Fascist Structures. Then there are people who are more interested in organization as a proces s of talking about ideas, exchanging information, and having contacts. As opposed to the AA/BO, which wants to become a federation that has a statement of principles, which may take years, but which also, since the beginning, has engaged in common campaig ns together. We decided that we wanted to be in this network and we also wanted to start organizing and acting, even though there are ideological differences within the organization and differences in terms of where people want to go. In order to become a n effective group, it was decided that we needed to start acting.

Can you give us a brief history of Antifa (M) and also the AA/BO, how that came about?

The first people came together in ’88 after a counter-demonstration at a local fascist demonstration and out of organizing in schools, but the group didn’t form until l990. The first time the name Antifa (M) was used was in l990, so next year will be o ur fifth anniversary. Since then it’s continued to get bigger, and the structure has changed into semi-autonomous work groups. M is definitely one group—the work groups are a way of dividing work so that M can be more effective and avoid informal hierarch ies and the concentration of power into a few hands. The work groups also have study groups, such as the anti-patriarchy group, which has been meeting regularly since l992. In the anti-nazi work group there’s a strong emphasis on historical work. There ha ve been projects going on within the group on anti-fascism in the area. There are also work groups that organize around a specific action, like a demo. There’s a rotating basis of who takes care of the posters, who does the money, fundraising, and mailing s. The groups all meet together so that everybody has a sense of what the other groups are doing; not every single small decision is made in the large group, but everyone has a sense of everything that is going on.

The AA/BO grew out of conversations in meetings that were started by a discussion paper published by the Antifa (M) in l99l critiquing the anti-nazi movement of the l980s. The paper appeared at a time when there were several other papers floating aroun d, but this paper was different in that it proposed a new way of organizing.

The conversations started out in a really wide spectrum of anti-fascist groups. Out of these conversations came harder issues, like how to organize, under what ideological banner, whether to do purely anti-nazi work or to also have a critique of the im perialist system. As people started to lean toward that, others left the organization, so that, finally, after one and a half years, there was a real sense of organization. In the beginning there were twelve groups in the AA/BO. This is an organization th at is more than just a contact group, this is a group that has politics broader than anti-fascism.

What is the M’s strategy on a local level; do you have some worked-out strategy? Do you rely both on propaganda and action equally, or more on one than the other?

There are two parts to this: one is that the M tries to engage in a wide spectrum of politics to bring in new people and organize new people into the group, and also to organize groups left over from the ’80s. Also, at the same time, we try to create a larger and more meaningful left culture and get ideas presented in the press and push conversations. It is impossible to say that there is one strategy, there are lots of things that we do. We do lots of leaflets for the press and general public, brochur es, posters, presentations, exhibitions, coalitions, demonstrations; that’s part of an attempt to radicalize the anti-fascist movement. And the third part is organization.

What have you done differently than other groups?

When the M started out, things were a lot different. Since then, through conversations within the AA/BO, other groups have also started this kind of work. It’s not so much that the Antifa (M) is different from all the other Antifa groups, although that was partly true at the beginning, it’s just that this tendency in the movement is really growing. The reasons that we decided to do this kind of politics were not just random. Rather, it was a recognition both of what was happening in the left and also i n the larger political situation. The Autonomen had practically disappeared from the public eye, due in large part to internal problems and isolation. That’s what we were acting against. It was also a reaction against the spontaneity and unaccountability of other anti-fascist groups; it turned into a longer-term politics. Another important thing is that the AA/BO works on a delegation principle, and when we do coalition work it’s also on that principle. Before that happened there were big communities wher e anyone could come who wanted to, and there was a lot of fluctuation in terms of who was there. It was very difficult to do politics in that way.

How is the unification of Europe going to change your struggle in Germany?

Because of the internationalization of capitalism, customs and tariffs become necessary for capitalists to carry out their interests in Europe. At the same time, there’s another tendency that moves against that, which is the rise of nationalism, and th e borders are tightened. There’s a whole host of ethnic groups, especially in the East, that are crying for independence. That’s a tendency that goes against the internationalization of capitalism. The fascists are, of course, on the side of people who ar e interested in strengthening the individual nation-states. At the same time there’s also a movement within the fascist countries in Europe to create a “fortress Europe” against the rest of the world, a Europe of the Fatherland. That’s true not just of th e fascists but of the governments as well.

How would you describe the current situation in Germany regarding the extreme right in the past six months?

The situation after the Wall has been worse. The fascists came from all over, and people were on the streets, and there were big demonstrations. All the young people of East Germany went to the skinhead movement and cut off their hair. I think the situ ation is now a little more quiet than just after the Berlin Wall came down and the years after. The fascists on the street are not important enough for the government to use them. They used the fascists on the street to pass the new anti-asylum law, the n ew anti-abortion law, the new social-welfare laws; and now the government no longer has a need for fascists on the street, they no longer have a need for big demonstrations. The international publicity is a bit better now than it was when the fascists bur ned down all the big houses and held big demonstrations, but the fascists still exist. We have a special name for the relationship between the state and the fascists on the street, it comes from soccer when you give the ball to the…

A doubletest?

Doubletest. Something like a doubletest. They use each other to make a new society to build up a new Germany. It was always clear that the state wanted to control the nazis on the street, but never give them power, as in past, because it’s no problem f or the state to introduce new laws, because there’s no left movement. It’s not necessary for the state to give the nazis too much power. They only want to control them and use them, but the state doesn’t want to become the nazis on the street.

When I was there in the summer of ’93 there were a lot of youth who were attracted to anti-fascist groups. I saw lots of kids, l3 or l4 years old, handing out flyers in the metro station. It seemed like there were all sorts of little groups sproutin g up, like Edelweiss Pirates. Is that still happening?

It depends a lot on where you are. You can see a left presence even in fashion. It’s pretty cool for little kids to wear an anti-nazi patch on their backpacks, for example. People look progressive. Groups like the Youth Front try to organize a number o f people. It’s different in different cities.

Anti-fascists make a point of trying to politicize young people. Most young people don’t get politicized by squats or ecological movements, but by anti-fascist politics, and by fascism on the streets and in schools. This is why, if young people turn to politics, they come into anti-fascist youth movements. Also, for older people, I think anti-fascism is the biggest issue on the radical left.

In the US one of the most important issues that the fascists organize around is abortion. Another is countering the queer liberation movement. What are the most important issues that the fascists organize around in Germany and what roles do queer li beration and abortion access play?

The issues are different in Germany. For one thing, abortion was criminalized last year. That’s not a hot topic. It’s already been pushed through by the government. Queer issues also aren’t big in terms of what the fascists organize around. In terms of ideology, they organize around historical revisionism. It’s also interesting to see where the crossovers are between immediately recognizable fascists and the more mainstream conservative right.

Do you think you can estimate how large the general anti-fascist scene is in Germany?

The biggest demonstrations had three hundred thousand people. But I think the organized radical left is about four thousand. I can’t give a number in terms of cities, because they are all so different. It is not possible to count them.

Taken from:

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