For the sake of this article I’m going to guess you’re like most Anarchists in the UK... disconnected from any ongoing community of resistance and struck griping about the every declining state of affairs, unable to enact any change on your Billy Todd. You might live in a small town or major city, but the reality is that most of us engaged in the politics of revolutionary compassion are isolated from persistent networks and let’s face it the ones we are in can be a major emotional investment at times. So you find yourself waiting for the revolutionary momentum to kick in, set to idle.
There are a few reasons for this state of affairs really, for a start half of us are busy trying to survive capitalism and can only occasionally pop our heads up for the odd action or book fair. T he revolution seems likesuch a distant concept that many people just try and live the best life however they can, fair play like. Heck you’d have to be half mad to try and get something going, it’s a lot of work, usually for little result. There isn’t any point lying about it or trying to build some romantic vision for you. It’s graft.
Whether it’s a cheery A-B march or ongoing campaigns against parasitic skum, it’s incredibly draining, especially if you have work to be getting on with. It can however be the most rewarding thing you ever do and for every headache, you got to think about the positive changes you’ve worked towards, especially if your crew is results driven.
The first thing you’ve got to remind yourself is that you don’t need to wait for some larger group to come into town recruiting, not the IWW, AFed or anyone else, especially not liberal outfits looking to increase their donor base selling rebellious vibes at the price of a newspaper. The revolution can only come about through the people empowering themselves, working from the grass root, it’s you and yours that will make your home town less shitty.
every word of this advice needs crafting to your aims and intentions.
Starting an alternative father and baby group isn’t going to be to
same as mounting resistance against a coming fascist parade, the
immediacy of a response to a police murder demands a different tact
to founding an Anarchist reading group, so bare in mind these are
generalisations. The first of which is:
* Get Out There And Talk To People. You probably have some pretty strong ideas of what needs to happen around your ends which is grand, but talking to people about setting up something, planting seeds and taking on ideas should always be your first step. You are not an island and you should aim for a new group to be the spiritual property of the collective, founded on your shared ideas from the word go. So get prodding, get talking, get asking folk what they reckon your ends need. Whether you do this on social media or down the pub, hearing people out about what they think about starting up a crew is almost always going to light a fire under peoples asses. They’ve been waiting for something to kick off too.
* If You Build It, They Will Come. It’s a cheesy adage sure, it’s also true. Pick a day, pick a place and let folk know you’re holding a meeting. If this is with your mates have it at your gaff, otherwise somewhere accessible and relativity quiet. The back room of a friendly pub or cafe are the usual spots. These spaces will keep it informal and be easy for people to step in. Obviously context is king but I’d advise against diving into bureaucracy and formality, keep it light hearted and convivial. If you get three people come along. You have a collective. It’s starts there.
* So What Are You After? It’s the big question and your first task as a collective, what are your aims here? Long term and short.
You have to be honest with yourselves. Do what Mary Kondo would do and ask what sparks joy. This is true of any collective, whether you are looking to found a social network, focus a group on a specific issue or create a more general rebel alliance give yourselves some guiding aims. These will be your North Star in the coming struggles, you points of unity and solidarity. Your short term aims will be the corner stone of your...
* Call to Arms. Let’s stop the hunt! Let’s start a food not bombs! let’s run a charity gig! The ideas will pour out, a bit of debate and temperature checking later and – for the sake of the argument – you’ve decided to squat the ol’cop shop and make a free shop. Noice. Now you have a call to arms, your new collective should share out some responsibilities and tasks appropriate to everyone’s capacity and inclination. There is no shame in not being able or willing to take on a role of course but the wider you can diffuse this the less pressure there will be on individuals and the greater the sense of communal ownership!
* The Work Begins. This is where most projects stumble. That’s ok, it happens, just start from the top like. Presuming your crew is full of drive tho you’ll want to build a regular schedule of events. Individuals/working groups should try to get in the habit of reporting back to the group, even if thats just a note to the shared thread saying “Got the drill/ we’veprinted the Section 6’s.” Keep each other in the loop and perhaps more importantly consolidate these growing friendships. Too many activists treat organising like a job, some noble duty they have taken on... lighten up, share jokes, go to gigs, have a laugh. The best comrades are friends, always.
* Educate, Agitate and Communicate! Learn all you can about the action you’re taking. In this case Squatting law, how to enter buildings, defending them and such, not just you but everyone. Share leadership and responsibility. This is vital not only as a philosophical position in Anarchism but also on a tactical level, having a single person be the go to for issues that arise is always going to cause hassle. Now is also the time to step up your presence, make it public, start putting up info sharing related material, provide a point for people to contact you and get involved. Start contacting other groups local and otherwise. Maybe the local SolFed have a few squatters who’d love to be involved maybe Class War want to donate some gear. Your collective is not an island and you are part of a vast ever changing network of mutual aid and solidarity, this is true whether you are “fluffy” or “spiky”, just know your audience. SQUASH the Squatters campaign group are going to love to hear from us, Local Sabs are probably just going to show love and wish our free shop well. Align yourselves with established comrades, accept their support and advice, work hard to develop bonds and trust.
* DO IT. Whether it’s cracking a squat or marching on the town hall, taking action is an amazing feeling. Work with your team and support each other, help out new faces or people who have turned up just for the action. You’ll want to have some media to share to help get the word out but you never need as many leaflets as you thought you did. Honestly a nice big placard and someone brave on a megaphone will be more effective at a demonstration that 300 handouts.
* We did it, Hurray. Now What. once you’ve got something under your belt it becomes real, folk should start to take it more seriously, they’re excited and keen. Keep that energy up! Have an “after action” gathering to discuss and celebrate what happened, share information with the world, thank you comrades and start to look to your next goals. Keeping a regular set of events is critical at this point as is being constantly open to development.
* Make it formal, make it look good. Start meeting up regular, discussing things and taking actions , remember to report back and share it on social media etc. It’s about here that you’ll want to make sure that you have a set of collective aims and principles - by whatever name - If you haven’t got them already. It truly helps to have a written down mutually agreed upon sense of direction. Generating this is almost always a chore but stick it through an make it happen.There will be questions to resolve, from cleaning duties to whether or not you are a dry space. Almost universally here is best to have deference to traditionally oppressed minorities, thats pretty important to progressive organisation. Develop and agree upon processes of internal democracy and problem solving. Remember you are comrades and always act in good faith but it’s good to plan for hiccups. The most vital thing from here on is to keep active and be a presense in your community.
If you are looking to establish a group or campaign contact the Anarchist Federation and let us see what we can do to support you.
We’ll also be expanding this short primer on the website here with in-depth examinations and guides to different models of organising. If you have specific questions or would like us to cover something in particular send us an email. ■