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+6 votes
It seems that as the lines between anarchism and activism become increasingly defined, and the numbers on each side grow, fewer and fewer long term projects are considered anarchist.

Most of the long-term-goal not activist projects I am exposed to have to do with internet sites, publishing, writing, reading.......texts and books. While projects around writing and reading are totally awesome (!!!!) and also obviously offer ways of connecting intellectually and socially, sometimes these projects are also businesses, sometimes they are really limited int terms of the learning styles or types of interactions they offer, and sometimes I wonder what are other useful ways to make a productive commitment.


3 Answers

+4 votes
Most of these I have encountered, others only imagined:

Communes, squats, squatted houses, squatted social centers, squatted restaurants, squatted bars, social centers generally, urban gardens, squatted parks, unschools, secret gardens, infoshops/bookstores/libraries, 'points of secession' & multipurpose spaces generally in various places (cities, small towns, countryside, wilder regions etc), and the underground (literally or figuratively) routes to connect them, "making space," tearing down walls or at least making holes in or under them, tearing up roads... a project dedicated solely to taking out surveillance infrastructure in a place would be cool... or Internet infrastructure

Music, dancing, theater, various performance things, cabarets, salons, fashion shows, free stores, murals, operas, films, shows, games...

Developing food autonomy, cultivation and fermentation and preservation and preparation of food and other ingestibles...

Communication infrastructure, hacking spaces and classes...

Health stuff, martial arts and weapons training, medical training...

Magical stuff...

Scanners, anti-scanners, robotics. EMP?

by (20.5k points)
I forgot bike projects. I swear it wasn't intentional :)
Also I'm looking forward to seeing ideas from other people.
What do you mean by "Scanners, anti-scanners, robotics" ? I gave this an upvote but was confused by this part. I strongly agree with the food autonomy line of thinking...and social spaces/infoshops are usually positive for me.
I mean technology that can either intercept or disrupt the communication used by hostile forces. And robotics is pretty self-explanatory, right?
anok:  if you're still listening -  could you elaborate on 'squatted restaurants' and on 'secret gardens'?
I'm not sure i understand how the first would operate?  And for the latter, perhaps i'm adding too much from my imagination?

Oh, and you forgot drones.  :D
Yeah, 'squatted restaurants' does seem unfeasible. I believe I was thinking of a place that is open, 1 or more nights a week, for a collective dinner cooked en-masse with a suggested donation to cover costs. A good place to get cheap, decent food in a social setting. Sort of like what is called a 'secret cafe,' but happening regularly instead of as a one-shot deal. The idea appeals to me. I haven't been to one, but have heard of them abroad.

Secret gardens... are sort of like urban/community gardens, but secret. You can find them in abandoned places with good land for growing and with fences, walls or plant life hiding them from outside view. I've been to one, heard of another, and much prefer them to the usual community gardens. (misanthropy?)
ok, the first could be the private clubs i've read of (kropotkin?) where a group of friends rents a cheap apartment and uses it as a common kitchen (or safe house) for common meals and socializing.  Or i saw something in a documentary about a collective house in montreal that dives dumpsters and makes a common meal for themselves and their friends most evenings of a week.  This could easily be opened up to friends-of-friends-of- though.  Interesting!

the secret and guerilla gardens are what i'd thought; though if combined with the idea of Forest Gardens with its emphasis on food producing trees and perennial (sp?) plants it has broad implications - every suburban lot lined with fruiting shrubs and medicinal herbs, every urban park filled with fruit and mast trees, and on...

How can anyone who has stared at the naked face of inhumanity be accused of misanthropy?  (only by those cosseted in the folds of mass delusion of course.)[but i talk to trees, so what the hell do i know? :) ]
+4 votes
There is a difference between anarchists doing projects and an anarchist project.   

Many projects that anarchists participate in are centered around d.i.y. ethics or pre-figurative politics. These projects claim the title anarchist through their intention of fostering independence from state and social systems to meet the participants basic needs, such as food, transportation, health care, housing, "education", self-defense, emergency services, entertainment...Ultimately these projects usually retain some dependence on capitalist infrastructure, but more importantly, they do little to dismantle it. While the initial excitement of realizing that ones owns capacity is greater than commonly advertised is exciting, and has potential, it is not enduring. The process of integrating these projects into daily life and adjusting them to fit the expectations of a greater social context, while often attracting to them activisty types and reformist values, places these projects into the "anarchists doing projects category".

An alternative to "creating the world we wish to live in" is propagandizing the destruction of the one we currently inhabit. This can come through action or through media. Writing, audio, video, imagery are all media for spreading ideas. While I see nothing wrong in the manipulative aspect of this project, for it to be successful in terms of people actually seeing/reading/hearing/knowing it requires the exploration of some questionable components; namely compromise and capital.

As for the action side of propaganda, it is an anarchist option, but it is not a long term project in itself. An individual can make a commitment to the long-term project of their own illegalism, for example, but if it takes a stable group to make a long term project than this certainly shouldn't be that. . .

Speaking of individuals and groups......this question seems to be seeking ways that anarchist can interact WITH EACH OTHER with a general and productive goal, and so my answer focuses mainly on that. But, there is always the anarchist project of re-wiring oneself away from society, and towards a place of lawlessness and autonomy, and bringing that endeavor to whatever relationships you are in....

And, hopefully, those relationships become deeply committed and produce things; writings, plays, parties, readings, homes...that are unsettling and demand people respond to them in ways that are out of the norm. To build with others places in space and time that people can think or act differently, and to have them change constantly. While the exact product is changing, the people and the intentions behind it don't.

So, long term anarchist projects must be ones where a "family of affinity" commits to constant provocation that is lawless enough to be unacceptable socially but avoids the short-term temptation of mere smashy-smashy.
by (240 points)
You seem to be saying that propaganda is basically destructive of capitalist infrastructure and so even though propaganda projects often make compromises around money they don't fall under your critique of the prefigurative projects. I think this is an interesting argument and I'd like to hear the reasoning behind this distinction.
Well, I dont think propaganda projects are pure and infallible or anything, but I do think it is different to make compromises around money then it is to make compromises around "politics". The big difference is that the product of a propaganda project is allowed to be fantastic and imaginative because it is an idea, not a process of meeting daily needs. It does not require practicality or social permission in the same way that  bike shop looking to fit into a neighborhood does, for example. Basically while a propaganda group might make compromises based on access to economic resources that doesnt have to come across in their product, whereas the compromises that prefigurative projects make are inherent in their attempt to use capitalist space for anti-capitalist endeavors.
+2 votes
my primary long-term project is the creation of my own life, on my own terms, as independently of the current systems/institutions of domination as i can possibly be, in free association with other individuals as much as desired. creating a (largely) self-sufficient life that provides me with my basic needs (water, food, shelter, ...) as well as meeting my primary desires (solitude, trusted friends i have strong affinity with, fun and games, sex, music, reading, ....) as best i can. there is no more important long term project i can imagine.

however, i can think of other projects that might also be fun.

- developing and disseminating non-technical means of secure communications (there are some awesome and fairly simple encoding mechanisms that are pretty foolproof and easily implemented - if somewhat time consuming)

- developing and disseminating maps (and the like) of places that can be useful for others looking to survive and thrive outside the current context. eg, in a given city, a map that shows where to find the best dumpsters, the best stores to liberate consumables from, all known surveillance cameras, radical bookstores etc, safe places to sleep, ...  or, in rural areas, showing where the best garbage dumps are (not the municipal ones), where development/construction is happening (for scavenging materials as well as potentially more destructive purposes), places to find good water, places to harvest edible and medicinal plants/animals, ...

- coming up with the strategy and resources necessary to destroy every drone that will soon be invading our lives (as they already are invading the lives of folks mostly outside the us) ...

[that is just off the top of my head, there are no doubt many others i could think of]

none of these are necessarily "anarchist" in nature, but they sure lend themselves easily to an anarchist perspective.
by (13.4k points)
Every drone (so far) has a flesh and blood pilot _somewhere_ ... just sayin' ...
Other than bottle rockets and piano wire, i'm short on ideas; but this is where the fight is going.

Drone murder death from the sky/Big brother's all-seeing eye/Conform or you will die/ I'd rather.. I'd rather...