Antifa on a Conservative Campus: Possibilities

Ten things you can do to combat racism and xenophobia ...

from Radical Education Department

Recently, we’ve seen powerful Antifa actions on college campuses like Berkeley and the University of Virginia striking back against emboldened white supremacists and fascists. We’ve also seen how crucial Antifa is on college campuses after neo-Nazis like Richard Spencer proclaimed they are targeting colleges as recruiting-grounds.

But what if you’re on a conservative or even reactionary campus?  This situation poses special challenges for Antifa.  It may be difficult to find anything beyond a small group willing to mobilize against fascism and its roots in the white supremacy, misogyny, and imperialism central to capitalist society.  And activists confront not only widespread apathy,  but also the real possibility of backlash from both administrators and many other students and faculty. The threat to contingent faculty is especially great. The situation can seem hopeless.

Still, there is great value in cultivating a radical Antifa presence on conservative campuses.  In this post, I point out that importance by drawing on my own experiences as part of a small Antifa group on a conservative campus.  And I start to assemble a list of other, further radical possibilities beyond those we explored.  I hope, then, this reflection could be helpful to people in similar situations.

1. Some background: Villanova and the Charles Murray Action

Villanova University is a notoriously conservative school.  Many students in its overwhelmingly white and upper-class student body vocally support the Trump administration (with “Make America Great Again” signs and parties, for example; check out this endorsement of Trump in the college paper).  It was in this context that white supremacist physical violence erupted on campus.  Two of my own students of color mentioned to me the fear they felt for their safety on campus.

Villanova has also been openly hostile to progressive activism.  For instance, one contingent faculty-person in our group–Nova Resistance–was explicitly threatened with being fired for another, very benign and non-disruptive, organizing project on campus.  In recent years, Villanova administrators rescinded a speaking invitation to a queer activist.

We formed Nova Resistance to disrupt an invited talk by the white supremacist, anti-worker, and misogynist pseudo-intellectual Charles Murray in March 2017.  In the lead-up to the event, two of us had tried to create a large faculty and student action; they were either ignored or met with anemic, sanctimonious arguments for “free speech” or “boycotting.”

In the days prior, one of us hung very simple posters across campus to call for resistance.  We distributed it by slipping it secretly inside the student newspaper and taping it across many campus buildings.  Nova Resistance officially met for the first time only hours before the event began.  Members made signs, and made a plan for the action.  Some of us were very new to more disruptive, small-group tactics.

By the day of the talk, we were only a handful of activists, with at least one person coming from off-campus.  The event was heavily guarded many hours before.  A police helicopter circled overhead; campus swarmed with armed police carrying many thousands of dollars of military-style equipment; there were numerous conspicuous undercover cops; and so on.  The talk was to be held in a secure basement location on campus with very limited seating–obviously chosen because it is the building that houses campus security.  Moreover, we discovered that, in addition to campus police, the university paid some $15,000 to hire the police force from Radnor township.  Clearly, administrators were spooked by the ghost of Middlebury.

Four made it into the crowded event, while a few others remained outside to prepare for a protest and teach-in after our eventual ejection.  As soon as Murray took the stage, two from Nova Resistance stormed the front of the event, blocking the projector screen with a banner. The plan was for the two to stage a silent action during the event while a banner and signs were held to under-cut the talk.  Others were to create an increasing disruption of ridiculous noises, cheers, heckling, etc., all as a way of interrupting and hopefully halting the talk.

Almost immediately, the two of us who were standing at the front were accosted by belligerent audience-members.  One person in the reserved seats in the front row–neither security nor a talk organizer–grabbed the shirt of one of us and seemed nearly on the verge of punching him. The talk’s faculty organizer, as well as an unaffiliated, liberal  professor, approached the two Nova Resistance members at the front, trying to convince them to cease the disruption.  Another member of our direct action team went to the front of the room with the other two.

Fairly quickly amid these confrontations, one of the three activists at the front began more disruptively yelling about Murray’s fascistic ideology, the school’s implication in it, and so on (departing from the group’s plan of silence).  However, the activists refused to engage directly with the attempts at heckling or negotiation and instead resolutely stated that they refused to have their university provide a podium for a reactionary eugenicist, racist, misogynist hack. After around 15-20 minutes of this, campus security threatened to arrest the activists if they did not allow themselves to be escorted out of the event.  They chose the latter option in order to re-consolidate outside. One member filmed the encounters and eventually posted them on our social media outlets.

Outside we rapidly escalated.  One of us brought a megaphone.  Using this, we organized an impromptu, direct-action “teach-in” immediately outside of the windows of the Murray talk.  The crowd that formed around us was perhaps 40-50 strong and fairly receptive–unusual for Villanova’s campus–though the crowd was largely passive.  We screamed and chanted (“No Murray!  No KKK!  No fascist USA!” etc.) into the open windows of the event with the megaphone, creating additional disruptions, although the windows were rather quickly closed.  The police then confronted us, telling us we had to cut the megaphone (on threat, apparently, of arrest).  We continued without amplification for a while, and then left. Members of Nova Resistance were approached by local news outlets for interviews and quotes.

We were not ready for the next steps.  We had no statement prepared and hadn’t set up any social media outlets to post videos or analysis or to garner more support and visibility.  Later that day we whipped up a Facebook page and began posting media, and within a few days we submitted an article for the school newspaper and created a manifesto-style statement, posting them as well.  But our lag left us without a voice at a time when our actions were being interpreted and either supported or condemned without our own voice helping to shape the narrative.

(It should also be noted that the school newspaper, The Villanovan, warped the statement they ran without consulting us, toning down and pacifying our language.)

Nova Resistance then began to meet regularly, renaming itself the Radical Education Department (RED).  We reframed our task beyond Villanova as the creation of a radical left think-tank developing Antifa practices across college campuses.  We used the visibility and experience from the event to inform a number of articles in left popular media (for example, thisthis, and this).

Edited for

Fueling the Fire


Wave after wave of community protests have been taking place in South Africa. People are angry that after twenty years of so-called freedom they are still confined to living in shacks, having to defecate in communal toilets, and having essential services terminated when they can’t afford to pay.

by Shawn Hattingh (ZACF)

Wave after wave of community protests have been taking place in South Africa. People are angry that after twenty years of so-called freedom they are still confined to living in shacks, having to defecate in communal toilets, and having essential services terminated when they can’t afford to pay.

What fuels this anger further is that on the other side of the cities and towns, in the old white-only suburbs, the elite and middle classes flaunt their wealth.

Yet the ruling class – white and now black capitalists, top state officials, and politicians – have waged non-stop war against the working class to deepen this inequality. The reason they have done this is to increase their wealth – this class war lies at the root of the protests we have seen.

Many of the people that have been involved in the recent protests – or their parents – had hoped for a better life with the fall of apartheid. Under that horrific system, the black working class (workers and the unemployed) were subjected to racial oppression and exploitation. It was cheap labour, in the form of the black working class, which generated huge profits for corporations. To ensure the lowest costs of the reproduction of this exploited class, the apartheid state forced people to live in homelands and townships in which the most threadbare services were provided. The consequences were that the black working class were deliberately kept in poverty and when they rose up they faced the apartheid state’s gun barrels.

Fast forward to today. One can scarcely believe the reality in which the black working class finds itself, which materially is often as bad as under apartheid.

Since 1994, the portion of Gross Domestic Product which goes towards wages has declined. The implications of this are that in real terms the wages of the black working class have been in decline since the fall of apartheid. Unemployment too has exploded as capitalists have reduced their labour force, mechanised, and implemented flexible labour to boost profit rates.

The post-apartheid state has been central to the war on the working class. It has redirected wealth upwards towards the ruling class. It has done this through various means, which have included spending on infrastructure for corporations and tax breaks for corporations.

Since 1994 the tax rate for corporations has been driven down from 49% to 28%. This is money that could have been used to improve the lives of the poor through providing, amongst other things, decent services and housing. At the same time, however, Value Added Tax, a tax that targets the working class, has contributed a larger and larger part of the state’s revenue. Far from being an under resourced state, the South African state has been shifting wealth from the working class to the ruling class.

At the same time, the state has been active in attacking the poor. In real terms (inflation adjusted) spending on services for the working class has remained largely stagnant since 1994. On average the state under the ANC has allocated less than 2% of the budget to housing for the working class. As such, services like water, electricity, housing, sanitation, healthcare and education for black working class areas are a shambles.

The national state under the stewardship of the ANC has also dramatically reduced the amount of money that it transfers to local governments to deliver services such as sanitation and refuse removal. This has been done to please international capitalists in the form of speculators. Speculators tend to target buying the bonds of states with low debt levels. To keep debt levels low at a national level, the South African state slashed transfers to local governments.

This means local municipalities have less for service delivery. To try and generate income, local governments have adopted cost recovery for services to the working class, such as electricity, water, sanitation and refuse removal. The consequences are, if you can’t afford to pay you don’t get the services. Making matters worse is that at the level of local government, municipalities have outsourced basic services. For a connected local elite, usually linked to the African National Congress or in some areas the Democratic Alliance, this has been a godsend. This has seen contracts for housing and service delivery being handed out to those who have connections to politicians. The consequences of these neoliberal policies is that service delivery is abysmal.

The reality is that the state does this, at a local and national level, because it is an instrument of the ruling class. States exist to enforce the rule of a minority elite over a majority. Even in a parliamentary democracy, it is the elite that indirectly and directly control the state and they use it to increase their wealth.

Of course states do provide some services to the poor. These are and were concessions that have been forced on the ruling class by the working class through the history of struggle. Indeed, the black working class only receives some support from the state – although meagre – because of the history of struggle. Under neoliberalism though, these concessions are being rolled back, and it is this that is once again fuelling protests.

The role that the state plays in protecting the ruling class can be seen in how the police have reacted to the protests. Most people involved in protests try to follow the state’s prescribed procedures to air their grievances, for example engaging in Integrated Development Plans – and only embark on protest once these proved to be dead-ends. But once people protest, the police react violently.

The working class, however, has proved that it won’t lie down under the fire from the ruling class. This is where hope lies. What is needed now is for these struggles that we have been seeing across the country to link, based on self-organisation and direct democracy. There are many challenges to this, including toxic party politics, but if society is too change it will have to be done. The fire of resistance needs to burn; and to do so struggles need to link and become a force capable of blunting the attacks of the ruling class in South Africa.

Edited for

Anarchy Radio 10-10-2017


Neither the Las Vegas massacre or the dope OD epidemic (leading cause of death for Americans under 50) bring out questioning of this stage of social existence. Blade Runner 2049. Eve of “antibiotic apocalypse” re: global resistance to the drugs. Plague rages in Madagascar. Upcoming Rewilding Conference in Portland. Need for standardized emojis. Action news, one call.

Edited for

Longview Anarchism: Transcending the Existential Threat of Freedom


Skin as Thick as Bark

As asinine, cultish leaders fascistically toy with the notion of nuclear warfare, we are reminded yet again of the fragility of human life. That humans have advanced as far as we have is remarkable. It reminds me of the feeling of awe I have when realizing that we limited humans drive hurtling boxes of steel around and don’t kill each more often than we do. Really, brava humanity. And yet, on a long time scale, we are less than a blink. After all, dinosaurs roamed the earth for 165 million years, and humans have only been around for about 6 million. Although dinosaurs did not reach the level of existential responsibility and consciousness that humans have, they were still wiped out by natural phenomena. Many pessimists see our extinction as an inevitability and almost usher it in, giving it a seat in their home with a misanthropic accelerationist’s glee. It’s wiser to recognize the exponentially harrowing conundrums that we do and will continue to face with an eye of hope. At the very least we should act in accordance with a path that hope might suggest. The game theoretic dilemmas of technological advancement present threats, but they also offer opportunities for freedom. The alternative can only be devastation and the void, so gambling on a future is, however unlikely to succeed, a sound bet. A longview anarchism represents both a determinism, and an infinite array of possibility.

The Fear of Knowledge

Each new existential threat to humanity increases both the rewards of coordination and the risks of defection. With the invention of firearms came the genocide of indigenous peoples the world over, but, like the boomerang of advancement, in time, those guns gave rise to fighting forces that overthrew the very same colonial despots. With nuclear weapons have come both the horrific attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as clean nuclear reactors capable of supplying unprecedented levels of more sustainable energy. The more easily we can destroy ourselves, the more meaningful becomes our responsibility not to do so.

Currently most of the largest human controlled existential threats are under the control of governments. The fate and responsibility of the human race is, in many ways, entrusted in the hands of a select few individuals. Unfortunately, two of the current lagerheads of this somber commitment are Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un, mediated only by Dennis Rodman. However, as technology progresses, so too will access to the means of existential threat become more accessible to a greater number of people.  Hackers could destroy the hospitals or power grids of an entire nation from a single computer if they possessed the drive and ability. Network penetration testers cringe when they go to large infrastructure facilities and see an outdated version of Microsoft controlling the lives of thousands or even millions. None of these scales of damage from an individual would have been possible a short time ago. Yet somehow we’ve made it this far despite the odds being consistently stacked against us from the moment we mutated to become multicellular organisms on a hurtling rock in the sky with water and oxygen. We must be doing something right in terms of the coordination problems we face and yet, our brittle mechanisms fray and crack before our eyes. When sociopaths and cult-leaders control our destiny alone, we’re screwed but distributing control of these threats and avenues of possibilities creates new dilemmas of ethical responsibility and coordination.

There are a seemingly infinite number of existential threats facing the human race or earth itself (ignoring for now threats facing the entire universe) and, increasingly, those threats will be available to the individual. When a 3d printer can print a genetic disease capable of constantly morphing and increasing its virality, a single person could devastate our species. However, if one person could print that so too could we remotely print antibodies to cure the epidemics facing rural Africa after centuries of structural denial and exploitation of resources on the continent. The trend is clear that, assuming technological advancement continues, humans will decentralize ways to both destroy and save ourselves. A tactical personal nuke may seem inane now, but 30 years ago so did an iPhone. We’ve already created and proliferated the ability to 3d print untraceable ghost guns. This isn’t just waxing teleological either. Technological development moves rapidly and, at times, with exponential acceleration. The bones for epochal shifts such as quantum computing and strong AI are also already underway.

Hope or Something Like It

“When many individuals use reciprocity, there is an incentive to acquire a reputation for keeping promises and performing actions with short-term costs but long-term net benefits. Thus, trustworthy individuals who trust others with a reputation for being trustworthy (and try to avoid those who have a reputation for being untrustworthy) can engage in mutually productive social exchanges, even though they are dilemmas, so long as they can limit their interactions primarily to those with a reputation for keeping promises.”

– Elinor Ostrom, A Behavioral Approach to the Rational Choice Theory of Collective Action

Those who are prone to panic dread the advancement of technology, simultaneously ignoring the countless lives that it saves and tangibly improves and carving out worry wrinkles with regards to its possibility of misuse. The nature of existential threats, though, generally follows a predictable game theoretic impasse: if you try to kill me, I will kill you. This simple stand-off of mutually assured destruction is the base reality for the cold-war model of nuclear deterrence and works in a great number of cases. But game theoretic dilemmas are generally subjected to artificial constraints in order to make sense of the decisions and dynamics at play whereas, in reality, a given dilemma may be plottable through game theoretic lenses but is far more complex than a simple prisoner’s dilemma can contain. For example, a base prisoner’s dilemma intentionally ignores the possibility that the two individuals being interrogated have a deep bond of trust in which a Nash equilibrium of refusing to snitch on one another is virtually the only conceivable outcome. Many activists during the green scare refused to snitch on their friends in just this way. The classical prisoner’s dilemma did not take history into account at all until the introduction of Axelrod’s iterated dilemma in “The Evolution of Cooperation.” Trust can transform the dynamics of artificial constraint, but the development of trust in a game theoretic landscape is complex and contingent on the rules of the game. Subjectivities are a difficulty in game theoretic thought, but it can still account for mistakes and miscommunication in a “trembling hand perfect equilibrium.”  Although two guns pointing at each other might be the two-dimensional reality of many existential dilemmas we face, it can be opened to a transformative third option that changes the rules of the game entirely. Coordination and trust strategies in a non-zero sum game (a game with some benefit of cooperation, even if less than betrayal) represent this possibility in a simplified manner. The key to trust is that interactions be repeated, have a high degree of communication, and that there is a non-zero sum possibility. This creates reputation, an essential component of coordination strategies in game theory as it applies to real world scenarios.

In a game of chicken involving nuclear weapons, the possibility of deproliferation seems like a fantasy. As each side escalates, there is a clear incentive to strive to be the dominant force, despite the fact that every increase in power also increases one’s likelihood of personal devastation. And yet, it is possible to cool a cold war. The U.S. and Russia remain locked in a nuclear standoff, but the temperature is somehow vastly different than during the Cold War. The rules of the game have changed. The war games of nations and fascists concern everyone, even as we have little ultimate say in their direction. However, the more say we have in the direction of national leaders decision-making in this regard, the more the power of devastation has also been democratized. Currently the U.S. president has very little standing in their way from  immediately launching a nuclear weapon, but are you positive that a national vote on whether to bomb the DPRK would really yield a more favorable result? Scary as it may be, people must share the burden of responsibility, both risk and reward.

Anarchism is nothing if not compass points for ethics and coordination strategies orbiting around the twin principles of liberty and empathy. Disagree as we may on the details, the basic premise that coercive power should be abolished and personal freedom maximized is, at its heart, an attempt to change the rules of an existential stand-off. No matter how unlikely, or even impossible, the utopian strivings of anarchism may be, they simultaneously represent the paths through the long-term existential threats facing our species and its role in the ecological universe.

The New Man [sic]

One limited vision of this ideal is a deprecated stand-off wherein everyone has the power to destroy everything else but no one will. We live in a lessened version of this now where individuals do have the ability to cause incomprehensible damage, but, for the most part, we don’t and don’t want to. There are of course exceptions to this rule. Eco-fascist groups like Individuals Tending Towards Savagery have developed an information hazard paradigm wherein their utility function includes the destruction of all of humanity —of course with them being last to die. In their earlier iterations they at least claimed to be doing it in a misguided attempt to prevent ecocide, but, as time went on, their nihilism, either perverted or distilled, crystallized into a fetish for violence, and they ironically expressed a lack of moral motivations. Niche and minute as this group may be (despite reprehensible platforming by Little Black Cart and the Anarchist Library among others), they represent a perverse point of gravity in the study of coordination strategies to existential threats. They represent the saboteur free-rider and the failure of “The New Man.”

The New Man is a palingenetic mythos that posits a utopian human, perfect according to the discursive forces of a given paradigm. The concept has found tendrils in fascism, communism, liberalism, anarchism, and transhumanism. The New Soviet Man was to be strong, intelligent, selfless, hard-working, and, most importantly, loyal to the values of Marxist-Leninist thought. Despite the anti-utopian bent of much of Marxist thought, the New Socialist Man represented the hope, teleological fate, and indeed, the necessity of Marxist-Leninist (as well as Maoist, Trotskyist, and Juche) theory in the human realm. The Übermensch of Nietzsche was one who could reject religion “and install his own set of values which are ‘Beyond Good and Evil’… who could reject the ‘God hypothesis,’ who could look the truths of pessimism in the face and still say ‘Yes’ to life.” This Übermensch would “cease to be an ordinary human; such an individual would in fact become a Superhuman.” This idea was later adopted and distorted by the Nazis to support both a policy of eugenics as well as the creation of a class known as the untermenschen that they associated with all “undesirable” races and proclivities. The Fascist New Man is traditional in outlook, hyper-masculine and “alpha” yet stripped of all individuality in its service to the übermensch leader. What these and other iterations of the New Man represent are attempts at grappling with the difficulties of imposing a utopian or universal worldview onto the limited shell of human decision-making. Such is the cry of every visionary: “Things would be perfect if they were just different!”

Faced with the dilemma of human imperfection and its tragic effect on utopian schemes, many understandably turn to a pessimistic realism which favors a wide variety of gun-facing-gun style game theoretic standoffs as methods of curtailing humanity’s savage impulses. From such views are derived things like the Hobbesian social contract in which we surrender certain freedoms to governance allegedly in exchange for public goods such as security. Hobbes, however, did not have the prescience to foresee the hyper-information era we now live in where all of our greatest threats are completely globalized beyond the frail imagined boundaries of nationalism. We can’t fault him for not predicting the possibility of strong Artificial Intelligence with a utility function at odds with human interests, but we can recognize that the social contract is worth less than the paper Leviathan was written on. Overcoming our own internal existential threats is simultaneously our best hope for being able to survive an external threat such as strong AI– or a giant meteor. Hobbesian misrepresentations of game theory would ideally be worthless, but they’re the fodder for countless cruel and patronizing policy and laws corrupting our capacity for coordination.

Anarchism says that liberty is interdependent and relies on the many forms of empathy as a vehicle towards transcending our siloed outlook while protecting our rights to individual autonomy. Since liberty is interdependent, both our threats and possibilities transcend the shallow boundaries we’ve constructed between us and our environment. The Anarchist Man is a myth and our struggle for it an infinite regress. However, that very same struggle holds the weight of our entire future on its shoulders. If we cannot learn to ethically coordinate, then we will not pass the coming tests for our species. If we can’t play nice, then we will die and destroy literally everything. Alternatively, as we transcend each level of existential dilemmas, we create a new playground of freedom and responsibility.

Longview Anarchism as Distinct and Common

“In every deliberation, we must consider the impact on the seventh generation… even if it requires having skin as thick as the bark of a pine.”

– Constitution of the Iroquois Nations

The notion of planning far in advance and learning from history are, of course, not novel concepts. The notion of a longview is written into the cosmology of a great number of indigenous traditions and worldviews. In fact many more collectivist leaning societies such as China historically have much more of a longview, both past and present than the United States. The relationship of Buddhism to this view of time is noteworthy. The discussion of ancestors in many African traditions resembles a similar attempt to honor the past and prepare for the future. Longview anarchism descends from these understandings while diverging, at times dramatically, from their conclusions.

There are languages themselves which lack definitive concepts of the Western vision of now. In contrast, longview anarchism does not demand a rejection of the continued present. In fact a temporal granularity and a relevance to the moment is necessary. Anarchism as a broad and nebulous field attempts to deal with a wide variety of issues both immediate and meta in nature. These many threads are attempts, however wonky and at times misguided, to navigate towards a future in which we can adapt, survive, and perhaps even thrive.

These adaptations will take infinite forms throughout our species’ continued evolution, possibly even beyond our current Sapiens form. After all, to have a stand-off with strong AI we would have to either posses equal ability or remain a non-threat (or aid) to its internal utility function. Though we will never be The New Man, much less the Transhumanist New Man, the progress of individuals on the many planes of anarchist liberation are to become invaluable gifts to the people of the future, who will face ever greater challenges on the journey to anarchist freedom.

Technology creates complexity which presents a clear path towards decentralization of power. It is no coincidence that internet freedom radicals are hunted voraciously by authoritarian regimes while secure communication channels and access to the free internet are repressed. This is because information is valuable. The withholding of information is a strategy of domination especially when access to information clears paths of freedom— either to destroy or to create. Governments cannot repress or prohibit technology. USB drives full of western TV shows are smuggled into DPRK and the history of drug laws shows that prohibition of anything, much less knowledge, yields an opposite and magnified effect. Information is subject to the laws of entropy which hold far greater sway than any national law ever could. Tyrants continue to use advances in technology to secure greater access to hegemony, but sentience hunts for cracks and anomalies. Curiosity will kill the king.

Anarchism that takes a longview demands that we recognize these tendencies of freedom and shift our star maps accordingly. Beyond the deprecated stand-off described in the section above, another ideal emerges —a world not where everyone could kill everyone and doesn’t but a world where every sentient node has absolute power over their domain and the complete inability to coercively remove power from another. Killing another is, of course, removing one’s most basic freedom of life, and, as such, an anarchism that does not seek a transcendence to this power play is short-sighted. Although we must play the cursed game of existential prisoner’s dilemma, it should only be as a path to towards transcendence. Transcendent thinking changes the rules of the game.

But this negative freedom is only the first step in a realization of the necessary path to our collective and individual liberation. This third path of the great existential standoff is only a stepping stone. Anarchism, taken to its logical conclusions, suggests that we have the power to contribute to each other’s freedom, not just to cease to reduce it. This type of power, the power to ethically coordinate in a non-zero sum game, is the beating, raw heart of anarchist striving and the only path for our continued evolution.

Anarchism that does not have this absolute interdependent freedom as its end goal only approaches anarchism, but dares not gaze directly into its fiery soul.

It requires “skin as thick as the bark of a pine” to face the precipice of our fragility and choose flight, but we can do it. In a sense we do it every day when we ward off the ethereal existential dread that is presented by our dilemmas. Anarchism that takes a longview says not only that we have to face this, but also that, despite our monumental tragedy and failures both past and future, we have made it this far, which is a testament to our capacity to take another step forward into the universe — caminar preguntando. This is far from a demand for perfection nor is it intended to be a clear outline but rather a plea for curiosity and a recognition of the scale of importance of this project that we all hold, like a delicate yet nourishing seedling in our chests. It’s possible to both resist and to cooperate. Freedom is our only choice.

Edited for

Radical Leftists Built Their Own Reddit After It Banned Them

From Vice

“I decided to delete my Reddit account and make a site where socialists and anarchists wouldn’t get punished for talking out against fascism.”

Last December, Reddit banned a subforum called r/LeftWithSharpEdge, for “multiple violations of site wide rules.” The relatively small anarchist community—a screenshot from the Internet Archive last year shows that it had less than 400 members—was a satirical reaction to a similarly named forum, r/LeftWithoutEdge. Sharp Edge was more radical, and intended to counter r/LeftWithoutEdge’s “inoffensive, milquetoast brand of socialist,” ziq, one of subreddit’s members, told me in a direct message.

Then it got banned, for what ziq says are unclear reasons. “The Reddit admins refused to explain why they deleted our sub,” they said. What is known is that Sharp Edge was deleted the same day it was featured on r/SubredditOfTheDay, a popular forum that highlights subreddits across the site.

After r/LeftWithSharpEdge was taken down, ziq decided to leave Reddit and create an independent anarchist community free from its rules., which was originally called, is an “alternative that is focused on community building and openness, and not controlled by a corporation,” ziq told me. The original name was intended to sound similar to Reddit, but was later changed to avoid potential trademark issues.

“The anger from the Reddit left sphere was big enough that I decided to delete my Reddit account and make a site where socialists and anarchists wouldn’t get punished for talking out against fascism, joking about ‘eating the rich’ and sharing ‘subversive’ anti-capitalist memes and literature,” they explained.

Raddle isn’t the first site to emerge out of outrage at Reddit’s policies. When Reddit instituted new harassment rules in 2015, and subsequently banned several hateful communities, Redditors built a new site called Voat. It became a favorite among the alt-right, and promised to never censor its users posts. Far-right online communities often build their own spaces after getting kicked off bigger, mainstream platforms, like 8chan, for whom the forum 4chan was too tame, or Gab, which is intended loosely as an alternative to Twitter.

While Voat’s free-wheeling, hate speech-is-free-speech culture could reasonably be called the opposite of Raddle’s, both sites were created because of perceived censorship by Reddit’s administrators. They’re evidence of how large platforms often struggle to moderate communities whose beliefs are seen as outside the norm.

“We are very clear in our site terms of service that posting content that incites violence or harasses will get users banned from Reddit,” a spokesperson for Reddit said in an email. “We have banned r/leftwithsharpedge due to repeated violations of the terms of our content policy, which we communicated clearly to the moderators.”

Raddle, which has a poison dart frog as its logo, feels like a simpler version of Reddit. It’s fast, relatively easy to navigate, and has familiar Reddit features like upvote and downvote buttons that push posts to the top of the site. There are a number of political subforums, like “EatTheRich,” as well as more typical fare, like “books” or “tech.”

Like r/LeftWithoutEdge, Raddle’s user population appears fairly tiny, but there are no exact numbers. Raddle doesn’t have advertisements or run analytical software, so its size is difficult to calculate—but that’s by design. The site is meant to be an alternative to social networks that profit by monitoring user behavior and serving advertisements.

“We have no ads, no tracking, no user profiling and we don’t collect or share any user data with anyone,” ziq said. The site is community-built and anyone can contribute to the code.

Ziq’s commitment to privacy is an appealing virtue for Raddle’s users. “I’m always very uneasy about the lack of concern for privacy online,” Tequila_Wolf, a user who posts frequently to Raddle, told me in a direct message. “When you have friends on government lists who get harassed at every border because, say, they are members of Anarchists Against The Wall, you know you don’t want to get on that list.”

Ziq originally built Raddle on WordPress, but a skilled developer soon stepped in to create a more sophisticated version of the site with less limitations. “I spent five hours straight putting together new software that could run the site and threw it on GitHub,” Emma, the lead developer, designer, and system administrator behind Raddle told me in an email. “After three months of coding (including one month off due to burnout), we switched to the new software.”

Raddle is moderated differently from other sites—the focus is on completely excluding bigotry. “Socialists of all stripes, social democrats, liberals, conservatives and anyone else who wants to partake in a community where bigotry isn’t tolerated in the name of ‘free speech’ is welcome to join. The one condition is that bigotry stays out of the picture,” Emma explained. “Our belief is that freedom from harm trumps freedom of speech.”

Emma said that whether someone should be banned from Raddle is determined on a case-by-case basis. “We recognize that we aren’t all flawless beings, so an otherwise decent person who slips up and says something that can be construed as bigotry will probably get away with a warning,” she told me. “On the other hand, we won’t tolerate users who post in bad faith and who consistently step over or skirt the line.”

Raddle ultimately came out of more broad problems ziq and Emma saw with Reddit. Ziq complained about how it has increasingly become a recruiting ground for the alt-right, the social network’s overemphasis on America (r/politics, a major subreddit, only discusses US-based politics, for example), and the fact that the site’s code isn’t open source, among other issues. Emma mentioned what she says is a problem with harassment on the site.

“To me, the biggest problem with Reddit is how its administrators ignore the routine harassment and witch-hunts of marginalized people that takes place, with r/The_Donald being the most prominent example,” she said.

r/The_Donald is an enormously popular subreddit that rallies for President Trump and his policies. “I could forgive Reddit if T_D [r/The_Donald] owed its existence to a doctrine of absolute free speech (which I’d still think is misguided), but the reality is that T_D is their big cash cow,” Emma told me.

Raddle is ultimately a place where leftists can be themselves, without constant confrontation from users who arrive from subreddits like r/The_Donald. “Having a space where you don’t have to constantly listen to or defend yourself from fascists is important, and Reddit has shown that it isn’t willing to provide that,” Emma said.

More broadly, Raddle, like every good internet community, provides an escape from the outside world. “I want to contribute to the building of an online community that allows me and others to exist, and allows us to resist the world as it rains down harms upon us,” Tequila_Wolf told me.


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TOTW: Bullshit Jobs and Anarchist Integrity

How does one make a living in this world and still have some kind of integrity as an anarchist? Usually this means handling money, and often that means having a job, and most likely that job is bullshit. But of course, none of this necessarily has to be the case.

Various sub-philosophies within anarchism have been advocated for how to do this, namely Illegalism (stealing for a living), Agorism (black market businesses), Rewilding (hunting & gathering) and Communalism (living & working on communes). But even though these approaches exist, very few anarchists seem to actually practice this. And those who do practice it don’t tend to do it for very long or they treat it as a kind of side-hobby to engage in on their free time off of work (i.e., that which really pays the bills).

And then on the other end of the spectrum, there are the ways of making a living that are absolutely off-limits for anarchists. Usually these are considered to be jobs in law enforcement, the military and being a prison guard. Sometimes the sphere of forbidden jobs is expanded to include anything where one is employed by a government or where one is a boss who has the ability to fire & hire other people. But even with that, there are anarchists out there who have those kinds of jobs. So the zone where one can lose one’s anarchy card based on one’s profession then gets to be a bit murky.

So between these two extremes, pristine revolutionary purity on the one hand and complete hypocritical douchebaggery on the other, how do we navigate life in this world dominated by capitalism and statism, maintain some sense of dignity and integrity as anarchists, and still reliably get food on our tables and keep a roof over our heads? (and once you’ve figured that out please put in a good job reference for us)


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London Anarchist Bookfair, Saturday 28th October 2017

 Kate Sharpley
London Anarchist Bookfair, Saturday 28th October 2017

2017 London Anarchist Bookfair will be on Saturday 28th October from 10am to 7pm.
Venue: Park View School, West Green Road, N15 3QR
Rail/Tube: Seven Sisters (National Rail or Victoria Line) / Turnpike Lane (Picadilly Line)
Buses: 41:, 67, 230, 341 (get off at stop near junction of Black Boy Lane and West Green Road).

As always, more details about what’s on closer to the time at

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