On Sunday 14th March Anarchist Federation members new and old gathered in the Kebele social centre in Bristol.
Unfortunately Matt from Portsmouth who was down to facilitate a couple of the items at the last minute was not able to attend so the group opted for a more informal discussion based around the agenda items.
Nick from London spoke for about 15 minutes on how the Anarchist Federation came in to fruition and its development over the past 25 years (Birthday Party?).
Then there was a discussion allowing people to ask questions about how the AF runs and possibilities for development in the future.
We discussed the importance of getting involved with the AF at every level. Members are encouraged to get involved with their local group (if you don’t have a local group get some mates together and form one). The AF will be able to function better if task done on the national level are shared out more evenly between members so ask about what you can do to help. Don’t forget international level too.
After hummus, salad, pitta bread and lemon cake for lunch it was back in for part two. We started with a video: “Anarchism and Anarchy: A Historical Perspective” – Opening Talk at the 2009 North American Anarchist Studies Network Conference by Barry Pateman, anarchist historian and writer.
Visually not overly exciting but it really got us all thinking so search for it (it’s split into five 10minute parts).
After the film we discussed what had been said. Most of this was based around one of the final, very valid but almost depressing points Barry Pateman made. As a movement anarchists (and the radical left in general) can flit from campaign to campaign, camp to camp and action to action without taking into consideration the long term impacts and implications on communities and individuals of struggles, actions and campaigns.
We discussed the importance of working with communities to build relationships with anarchists and others in the communities in order to perpetuate class struggle.
Though we were few in number (10 of us) we were in a great position to have some interesting discussions and come up with new hopes and ideas for the future of the AFed. Some of the visiting London group present were founding members of the AF while the hosting Bristol group only formed two months earlier and contained the AF’s newest recruits. On top of this a comrade from Dorset who cut her teeth on the activist scene in Spain.
Toward the end of the final session the discussion changed to whether local AF groups should communicate and organise regionally, this was answered with a resounding yes, and in that moment AFSouth was born, a regional organising forum for all those AF members whether affiliated with a local group or individuals from the south of England and south Wales.
But how? We needed a format that could be easily accessed and used by all members and allows the ability for a member to chose what information they access and what they involve themselves with. It was soon decided that nobody wanted yet another e-mail list, although these are a great way to disseminate information to people they clog up peoples in-boxes with small talk and trivia which members must trawl through to find what is relevant to them.
A Bristol comrade suggested the use of something called Crabgrass, all the rage on the grass roots circuit in Bristol (Kebele, IWW, Indymedia, and Bristol Afed all have one) it was unknown even to the Londoners!
Produced by those lovely folk at Riseup, Crabgrass is like Facebook for activists (that is to say not monitored by the CIA or letting you know that some girl who you vaguely remember from school has got a duck on her imaginary farm). Crabgrass is essentially an internet discussion forum that would allow AFed members to co-ordinate region-wide actions or events, upload posters or pamphlets they designed, get help proofreading or editing an article for Resistance, vote for the location of the next regional meeting, read the minutes of other local group meetings, create private areas for boring local admin and decide on the flavour of the first post revolution cake (Got to be chocolate!). It takes five minutes to create a profile and entry must be approved by existing members so is as secure as you can get.
AF-South is now live and needs you, create your crabgrass profile now at we.riseup.net then visit we.riseup.net/afsouth and request to join. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further information or help with this newfangled technology.