Activist Journeys zine

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Watch this space for updates

Deadline: January 31st

Personal solutions which helped you keep on going, finding your place in something bigger than yourself.

– Developing skillsets and philosophies for achieving more, as one person linked into an entire movement, than anyone could do on their own.

I’m looking for collaborators as well as contributors. I am interested in the activist journey: I’ve come to see it this way and I’d be interested in hearing from others who can relate to this: my experience and observing others is that it begins with a growing awareness and resentment of social, political, corporate injustice – to a belief in ones own ability to effect change through direct action.

What for you, was the trigger to direct action, to militant activism, rather than a more validated or socially acceptable predisposition to dissipate anger through ‘grumbling’. Once active, what sustained you? What personal beliefs, experiences, made you ‘other’ than the norm, kept you in there from one campaign to the next?

My experience arose from abusive relationships which made me sharply aware of, and determinedly fighting, abuse of any kind. Then through experience of the activist struggle, relationships, direct actions, campaigns, travel, deprivation, joy – there came a realisation that in and of itself, direct action is less directly effective than at first hoped or expected. A wondering at ‘what I am personally achieving’ and, is it enough.

At first in this stage, I experienced disillusionment, and something close to burn out. And then I found that there survived, the human spirit, innate optimism that drove me in the first place and then an innate excitement, a ‘what next’.

There are so many stories out there of disillusionment and burn out, but if you can relate to this process, this ‘what next?’ or something akin to it, I’d be really interested in reading about this in your writing.

What drove you and what sustains you? Was it the advice and support of friends, was it your understanding of events as they unrolled, was it things you read, or listened to, elements of all these things? This is where I am right now, and I’d like to hear your journey to here, or to the somewhere near here where you are.

We won’t be able to publish everything that gets submitted, but may hold articles for future issues with the consent of the authors.

Wordcount Guideline: Articles should be between 1000 and 3000 words.

We are also looking for radical artwork so please submit high resolution copies to activistjourneys@gmail.com

Further Reading – Suggested Topics

Sample text zine of articles above.

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Activist Journeys Pilot pdf

Not for publication, for online viewing only, a test example in displaying similar articles and formatting.

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Contributors

Raz O’ConnorSinger, musician and writer promoting ecological and working class consciousness

Beau NafydeNotes

Rhian K BrendanLexical Straw & Revelatory Image

Steven BensonTowards Utopia

AndriaeUsersvoice

SqueeThe Blog of Eternal Wretch

Cori WongThinking Through Life in Transformative Ways

David CharlesWord’s aren’t enough – Let’s do something

Alex EtchartWolf and the Owl

Joe McBloggesJoe’s Permaculture and Writing

Robin – Sometimes my life feels like a series of gas stations

Anonymous – One persons take on resisting the dominant culture

Your name – A taste of your writing

My Own Half Written Contribution

Everyone has to deal with the absurd, the unfair, the irrational at some stage in their life; I justified this to myself that I was on a spiritual journey, that chaos was a challenge, set out to develop me.

But my resentment towards my dad and others who would abuse their authority, drew me inward, turned my virtue ethics into a monastic discipline. It gave me a script and made me quite serious, I wouldn’t engage with others on anything I deemed unreal or fake, because I couldn’t see the point in starting a conversation if we were both simply trying to affirm our original positions.

This track could have easily lead me to cynicism if I hadn’t found activism, politics gave me a stage to perform my resentment, and I was happy I was developing a skill which was action, but I was still emotionally removed.

I was searching for places where it wasn’t shameful for people to rely on each other for emotional and practical support. Where your own development was actually dependent upon the growth of the community, narratives that make it easier for people to embody principles, a life of habit forming where you can better negotiate ethical actions in solidarity.

I found lots of communities isolating themselves off, fostering this creative energy that I loved, but being so young, I was raring to put my energy to use in the revolution, ideas of each moment holding its own meaning, felt short of the appeal of a lifetime’s worth of potential long-term goals. Though I set about tasks like turning an acre of deforested land into firewood for the winter with relish, I couldn’t help gaining more pleasure from sizing up each piece of wood, for how it could fit into my next crazy tower project, than for its intrinsic meditative power.

After building a stage, putting on some big parties and planting some token veg, and enjoying the liberated grass of fallen trees, to then come back to see an acre long road of 10m high piled stones for coal diggers to move along, I was hurt, but I knew I’d made the right decision in thinking seriously about the long-term battle ahead.

Dale farm would awaken me to the joys of the human struggle for what felt so obvious in our hearts, equality and liberty for all, I carried on to many a spectacular action, lived alongside foreign communities where the battle lines were plain and there was a strong focus on support.

At some point I felt drawn back to struggling on problems closer to home, I wanted to act where I saw the most glaring holes in societal empathy, where people left it up to government, and either forgot about the victims or grumbled along feeling disenfranchised, that just wasn’t cutting it for me. Not that I believed direct action could make up for every form of systematic abuse carried out from above, but I wanted to challenge people to extend their awareness, to people without papers on a journey of hell, that our rulers were intent on extending indefinitely, the Calais jungles.

I found a simple enough way of coping with the exhaustion, taking regular breaks holidaying to a squatted farm near Wales. I spent my time teaching people to climb, building walkways, treehouses and comedy triple tripod structures, I could relax somewhat being back in this space with a stronger conception of ideal leisure than ideal work, but still doing practical, token, physical jobs for their own value and it was a sense of strong community that wasn’t under immediate attack which made me happy.

At the same time I was getting my sense of self-worth by the practical solidarity I was lending to Calais, and the small humanitarian gains we were occasionally able to make in an intensely inhumane environment. Whichever place I was staying, my headspace was always in the other one, the cost to me of this divided life was a certain dissociative malaise, a slippery sense of what was real that arose from living two very separate lives.

I realised I was living the 9-5 life I’d sought so desperately to escape of strictly divided work and leisure where people agreed to be sold as commodities for their labour in the day and then funnelled into consumer nightmares at night, I was just living a hyper exaggerated version something akin to how truck drivers or army officers mythologise the job, I was perpetuating all the worst aspects of the work/leisure divide.

We had made some progress advocating for the women’s squat in Calais, forcing the council to back down on evicting, and offer up 1 strictly regimented house with services in return, but the winter truce was ending and I needed time to take stock of the friendships fostered and beautiful experiences of living in common, and back off for a time, while all the organisation fragmented, and the summer of pent up anger and sporadic clashes began.

At the same time as the meaningful organisational capabilities were breaking down on the ground, I was left to understand that the habits of kinship I’d created with people were the only real tangible limits of the struggle, for myself and others. Those emotional ties would be the only thing that could keep drawing us back in to an otherwise impossibly messy situation. Solidarity activism forced me to see the world in stark contrast to romantic visions of spectacle revolution.

This was the beginning of learning to forgive myself for holding myself to a standard of harsh impoverished independence, because it was only by throwing my whole body, heart and mind into each new project that I could appreciate how utterly and completely alienated I felt from my whole existence of trying to ascribe to a utopian ideal.

But I also had a beautiful calming perspective on why it was necessary for me to live this romantic reality in order to get to where I am today, like Camus wrote of Sisyphus rolling the boulder up the hill, I could look back and be happy because I knew for myself that all that happened before me, was ok.

Plus some pretty graphs

conceptual graphs

(click to enlarge)

* The emergent working society of leisure
** Reclaiming Work Beyond the Wage Based Society

conceptual graphs 2

(click to enlarge)

* Sans-papiers, l’anarchisme fatal (people without papers, the fatalist anarchism)
** Therapy of Desire Theory and Practice in Hellenistic Ethics
*** i am no hero, and neither are you thoughts on how our histories of abuse inflect our anarchist practice
**** ‘‘Give up Activism’’ and Change the World in Unknown Ways Or, Learning to Walk with Others on Uncommon Ground
***** Autobiography of my mother by Jamaica Kincaid (total acceptance in pessimism, resists colonialism by refusing to be optimistic)
****** The Wretched of the Earth by Franz Fanon (Bad Anarchism Aestheticized Mythmaking and the Legacy of Georges Sorel)

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Possible Submission Topics / Further Reading:

Find here some of the copy pasted explinations I’ve given to people to give them a sense of what I’m looking for. Simply put what sustains you, and what motivates you. The hope is by keeping it as general as possible, the responses we get back will be both varied and personal.

Writing format – a few central questions, no agenda

“Point of No Return is a zine that explores the points at which a number of anarchists made the conscious decision to become anarchists and/or realized they were anarchists.”

“I am no hero and neither of you, contributions were made in response to the prompt ‘How have our histories of abuse inflected our anarchist practice?’.”

Obviously not naive to the limits of realism either (see By, For, and About: The “’Real’” Problem in the Feminist Film Movement By Shilyh Warren)

I really enjoyed your zine, and think there needs to be more stories told about Anarchist journeys not just to help non-anarchists understand us, but to help us understand each other and how we relate to the world in novel and unique ways.

There are many books, zines and essays advising how we’d ideally organize together, support, transform etc. Titles like ‘Organizing Social Spaces as if Social Relations Matter’ aim at critiquing a certain ethos, in the hopes of moving the movement in a certain direction. What I really like about ‘Point of No Return’ is it asks people to respond to a central question, so any ‘agenda’ that is present is reduced down to the author second guessing what is the best answer to make them look good, which the reader can easily pick apart.

My simple idea is to get people to reflect on how they sustain themselves as an Anarchist/Activist, what common language and thinking we have found useful in our daily lives to reach new material victories and create healthier communication and environments.

A Variety of Experiences:

and finally…

  • Personal solutions to complex community organising

Biography – an effort in the humanities

Anyone who’s lived a hell of a life but isn’t as confident writing, I can mock up a set of interview questions from our conversation over the phone or skype, and do a bio piece.

Ecology

Any and all activists:

  • Doing Overseas Solidarity; building easy maintenance environmental solutions to bolster community autonomy.
  • Living closer to nature, wild food gathering and permaculture.
  • Self-building tools, crafts and preserves.
  • Ecology/biology/geography students and researchers
  • Field surveyors faced with ethical dilemmas

Sample of questions put to amazon mycorenewal volunteers:

Utopian vs Internationalist

Do you ever worry about what role you play as activists parachuting into foreign struggles, what rural ideals you bring with you?

Sympathy Advocacy vs Tactical Militancy

How do you hold all that grief in your heart, seeing the damage and turn it into positive energy? To be able to think long-term and feel affirmed in your tactical choice to be educators?

For example you could be advocating for funds for barricades and tree-sit watchtowers first, and DIY community building second. What part does your enthusiasm for ecology and earth based cultures, play in your life journey and wanting to strengthen those ties before another generation is lost.

Local vs global / Emotional vs Rational

I imagine everyone understands that the world’s largest rainforest is more important than the destruction of a small park in their neighbourhood in terms of environmental issues. Obviously both are important but do you worry that people find it easy to extend human solidarity locally and yet can be complicit in environmental destruction on a large scale internationally.

Personally I’d be curious to know if any of the volunteers read Zapatista spring and found any commonalities.

“The key features of our system are its low cost, ease of maintenance, modularity, and versatility to different pollution situations. These factors will aid us in scaling this project to the wide span of the problem.” – Amazon mycorenewal blog post

“Eight volunteers converge to help campesinos build a water system in Chiapas—a strategy to bolster the Zapatista insurgency by helping locals to assert their autonomy. These outsiders come to question the movement they’ve traveled so far to support—and each other—when forced into a world so unlike the poetic communiqués of Subcomandante Marcos—a world of endemic rural poverty, parochialism, and shifting loyalties to the movement. The quiet dignity of the local compañeros and echoes of B. Traven, Conrad, and Camus, round out this epic yarn.” – Synopsis of Zapatista Spring, Ramor Ryan.

Organizing

Structurelessness, informal hierarchies, identity impact conscious

Dis-identification

Agency

Mental Health

Finding your own healthy self-care routine, discovering normal in a society that rates your mental health by how high functioning you are in a competitive social climate.

Nomads

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Philosophy and Education

I believe as you do that philosophy has a way of helping you overcoming hurdles in your thinking and finding happiness in movement, which has the added benefit of highlighting the ridiculousness of learnt prejudices like the racial contract.

I wonder if you’d be interested in talking or writing about your personal journey with conventional truth:

When you realized how philosophy had helped you, what gave you the energy to want to show others, specifically what led you to believe it was a useful endeavor, or was it more visceral, like you really wanting to expand the conversation on Bell Hooks and Nietzsche because you wanted to be understood for your own ideas and be able to understand others.

Or was it perhaps that your ideas just grew and grew till you were enjoying the excitement of being able to have a small piece of the world wide conversation, to spark good thinking instead of just commenting on dead old white men’s thoughts.

What are your thoughts on evolutionary psychology, even if society is just a field of antagonisms which function as its discursive limit, do you think we can say human behaviour is becoming more empathetic to the community outsider or the global network as opposed to just the tribe?

Is it useful to think about humans desire to imagine an ideal community in biology as something inherent?

As an aside I’m expecting a lot of responses will comment on the usefulness of the Activist label to them personally, I wonder for you as someone who has found their place as an educator, changing hearts and minds, coming up with fantastic social analysis of examples of systematic oppression like the Penn State sexual abuse cover up.

Would you have any words of advice to someone who dedicates their time to material militant struggles like gentrification, but struggle with activism as a label that fails to usefully describe a fluid role but instead prescribes rules of behaviour on the ground?

I’ve seen many friends sea saw between being subsumed by resentment giving up the activist name for insurrectionary to the opposite were friends become overly impact conscious and regretful of their past roles as outside agitators in a losing struggle and refuse to play the optimistic role again and give up activism to become education as the only solution absolutists.

Personals

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Prisoners

Political/environmental/self-defence

Relationship Anarchy

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Resilience and Post traumatic growth

If you’re familiar with one or more of the subjects below and are interested in writing personal stories that meander about general issues you’ve come up against surviving, growing, learning how to make change happen, for yourself and your adopted community. Have a read of the call out for my new zine project, Activist Journeys.

I think a more general approach would be really useful in broadening the conversation, if people could write a personal story of surviving abuse as one important part of a larger journey that might have even kick started something positive for them, like resilience, post traumatic growth. Personal is relatable, open questions like, what has your Activist Journey felt like at different times, looking back, what are you most happy about, how have you sustained yourself through thick and thin?

About Consent

What was the impetus to write a basic manual to open up conversations about consent? Was it aimed at fellow students at university or perhaps a social centre in your community? Was it conversations you had with survivors or friends and partners of survivors? It may have been led by your own thoughts or experiences of consent issues?

Survivors of sexual assault

The challenges of opening up to friends and strangers, hoping not to be treated as delicate flower, Recovering from trauma, setting goals for what you’d like to accomplish and what healing and resilience could look like in your life and community.

People Called Out for Sexual Assault

Learning to change your own social conditioning, going through an accountability process or finding hope through justice doing.

“We are not exempt from being the oppressors– oppression is ingrained in our development. It is however scary to see in yourself that which you hate in society. Know what sexual assault is!”

Accountability Processes, Communities Responding to Sexual Assault

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About sexual assualt, rape, sexism and racism

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Community Empowerment Toolkits and personal stories of winning

Skill-sharing personal solutions

Sex Militant

Against normative

Sex Critical

I’m interested in how your negative experiences of abuse, living a marginalised or limitied sexuality inflected your journey into anarchism/activism. The way you approach direct action confrontations or opportunities of hope, what you could get away with without asking.

Topics such as a realistic appreciation of sadness, the limits of experience open to you being born into a narrative of kyriarchy. How you opposed social rules precisely by refusing to accommodate yourself to it or to be responsible for reproducing it in any way. Whether that’s neoliberal sex positivism, sex conservatism, colonial master/servant relationship, transphobia etc

Sex Positive

Radical Slut Dis-covery: building and re-building our sexual selves

Psychology and Rebellion

Assuming existential psychoanalysis is still relevant to you, I wonder since you situate your pathologically anarchist psychology as outside the standard model pathology pumped out of the identity factory, whether you could go an extra step to say surface level happiness from having goals achieved, are less accessible in this society to the outsider/ pathological anarchist?

In essence I’m asking whether or not you have the inherent desire to strive for the prizes on offer to those who work hard, if happiness is achieving our goals, the pathological anarchist has to be more creative if happiness is winning. What drives them necessarily needs to be trophy making, coming up with and deciphering what would make ourselves happy on our own terms, and finding new and novel avenues towards those ends. Finally in this way whether we will always be doomed to being cognizant of pulling the strings that hold up one’s own charade? Of delaying living for always seeing and choosing the option to perfect the rules of the game first and foremost.

Solidarity Activism

Hey all, I’m putting together a zine on the Activist Journey. I’m looking at how people sustain and motivate themselves to keep on going. I lived in the women’s house in Calais over the winter of 2013/14 when numbers on the ground were small before everything blew up this last summer.

The story in the picture comes from my first zine called Protest and Identity formation. It follows an experience I had with the pressures of Calais. With my next zine I want to go much further and make a collection of stories of personal struggles with these big ideas; such as a privileged persons parachuting into Calais, doing solidarity activism rather than leaving it to the state or philanthropists, finding ways to cope with the impossibly messy situation on the ground.

This time last year I was coming out of my post-Calais burn out blues, scribbling away, trying to process the age old questions, how did I get to this place, where should I go on from here to find that passion again, just trusting in my hands and the keyboard to process my own struggle was a big step to finding meaning in movement again.

By the time I’d reached my recent past in my writing, where I was able to find a context to reflect on a year spent in Calais without feeling total and overwhelming dread at nothing being enough, a weight had truly been lifted.Trusting myself to put down some of my own experiences for how they were meaningful to me without hoping to highlight everybody’s plight simultaneously.

I realised it was enough to understand my existential struggle at living in solidarity with other radicals with less free choice than me, living bare life in the jungle, fuelled on emotion, needing to propagandize, but fearing the police repercussions on the migrants of every direct action, always feeling like nothing was enough, and everything you did mattered.

I shared my love and solidarity with the strongest people on earth, for whatever value it was worth and knowing that, I could begin to take myself a little less seriously.

So that was one part of my story, and having processed that, I’m now interested to put together a zine collection of activist journey’s . What brought you to this life, what sustains you, have there been challenges in remaining motivated, how do you see yourself moving forward?

Personal solutions to complex community organising

Anyone who; wrote a great research paper/theory piece on the bigger picture, would be interested in reducing the jargon down, and giving the personal narrative behind the writing of the paper, coming to terms with new realities.