Within anarchist circles—and especially broader radical political groupings—it is not uncommon to see calls for anarchists to “unite” around specific goals, politics, or identities. Historically, such efforts don’t go very well, resulting in a rather predictable series of disagreements or over-simplification of ideas for the sake of greater unity.
In recent years, an alternative mode of relating based on affinity, autonomy, and informality has thankfully become more common. One way in which anarchists can foster a culture of informality is by creating anarchist assemblies. Assemblies can help anarchists come together and coordinate their efforts in structures larger than affinity groups, but in ways looser than single issue campaigns or formal groups. The recently published zine “Some Remarks On The Need For Open Assemblies in Berlin” by Ill Will Editions offers some useful reflections on anarchist assemblies in Berlin and how they can be used to sharpen anarchist struggles.
From the introduction:
We think that the original call out for an assembly, and the assembly itself, was a good step in this direction, but we want to further stress some of the particular ideas that it addressed, and to discuss some of the problems that we see ourselves facing in Berlin. In the last assembly it seemed unclear to many of the people present what exactly those of us assembled there should talk about: was it the basis from which we struggle and our highest aspirations, or was it the details of particular struggles in Berlin and how we see ourselves engaging with them? To some extent we find this to be a false opposition: obviously, there needs to be space for both. Additionally, it seems to us, that often times the big picture is spoken about best through the details, and that the details need to be framed within our larger analysis and orientation to avoid becoming “activisty”, lifeless, and stale. It seems like this confusion and debate is born out of an instinct to turn an open general assembly into a kind of informal organization, something along the lines of the previous Autonome Vollversammlung (AVV). For us this is exactly what needs to be avoided. Instead, we would like to suggest that what we need to develop is not one “general assembly” that starts to look more and more like an umbrella organization, but rather a culture of general assemblies in Berlin: the open assembly not as a once a month meeting, but as one of our basic forms of self-organization. By contrast, it seems like all too often in Berlin the instinct of the autonomist/anarchist milieu is to rely on relatively closed processes and closed meetings for planning actions, developing ideas, and engaging with existing struggles.
You can download “Some Remarks On The Need For Open Assemblies in Berlin” from us either in a printable or screen readable version. We’re also happy to send out printed copies, you can order them from us online.
The zine makes excellent reading in general, but is also particularly interesting when paired with the short essay “From Movement to Space: The Anarchist Open Assemblies” by A.G. Schwarz. In the essay, Schwarz examines the anarchist assemblies in Greece and the ways in which they help facilitate an anarchist milieu that emphasizes imitative-taking and plurality over unity.
As always, there are dozens of more zines in our catalog that explore similar topics.