Organizing

12 Things to do Instead of Calling the Cops

12 things to do instead of calling the cops zine

This short zine offers 12 suggestions that people can do instead of calling the cops. They focus a lot on simple things that can be done to avoid having to call the first place such as compiling alternative resource lists for mental health and encouraging people to approach those in they are having issues with rather than getting the state involved in a conflict. Underlying the entire zine is the premise that strong communities can make it possible to handle conflicts without involving the police.

9 Theses on Insurgency

9 Theses on Insurgency Cover

This text from the Institute for the Study of Insurgent Warfare begins from the premise that anarchists in the United States are at an impasse. With the decline of Occupy and the simultaneous increase of class conflict around the world, anarchists are struggling to intervene in relevant way and are struggling once again with the question “what is to be done?”

This zine argues that anarchists should reconceptualize their efforts in terms of insurgency and move beyond the realm of activism. It argues that the critique of activism must be stronger than simply rejecting its forms (i.e. lodging complaints with authority figures) and move towards a critique and practice that transcends activism. Moreover, rather than simply focusing on abstractions – as activists and anarchists often do – the zine asserts that anarchists should develop a material understanding of how their enemies actually function. In turn, this will help illuminate new ways forward.

The zine is pretty dense and contains a fair amount of theoretical jargon, but a patient reader will be able to glean helpful insights.

A World Without Police

a world without police zine cover

This guide is published by the excellent website AworldWithoutPolice.org which has as its goal the complete abolition of the police. To that end, this pamphlet provides an excellent introduction to the problem of the police (exploring their history and reasons for existing), as well as offering many specific suggestions for moving towards a world without police. The discussion centers a strategy of disempowering, disarming, and disbanding the police with practical ideas of what that could look like and what it would take to get there. Overall, this is an excellent pamphlet that would be great for getting in the hands of folks who aren’t already familiar with critiques of police and policing.

Affinity Groups: Essential Building Blocks of Anarchist Organization

affinity groups: essential building blocks of anarchist organization cover

This guide provides a nice introduction to anarchist affinity groups. Affinity groups are small groups of friends who know and trust each other deeply and who have a desire to undertake a shared project of some kind (whether that be an action or a publication). This guide provides background information on the advantage of affinity groups, suggestions for participating in an affinity group, and working with other affinity groups. There are discussions of tactics, security culture, and decision making. It’s an important guide for folks undertaking anarchist activity.

After We Have Burnt Everything

This zine explores the after-math of the militant clashes at the 2009 NATO Summit in Strasbourg, France. It is a multi-contributor zine exploring the topic of “revolutionary strategy and emotions.” As a starting point, the zine includes an article that critiques some of the militant posturing and the attitudes of some participants within the black bloc to make a larger critique about the fetishization of militancy in anarchist circles. Following the essay, there are a series of responses that criticize and affirm many of the points the initial author(s) make. It is a useful as prompt for further thinking about strategy and the points raised are worth considering even outside of the context of the NATO Summit.

Against Assemblies

Against Assemblies

This short zine is a compilation of two articles from the United Kingdom, “Death to Assemblies” and “We Don’t Want a Mass Organisation”. The articles present a basic critique of assemblies as a form of leftism that seeks to manage and flatten struggles. The zine does a good job of highlighting the limits of “mass organizations,” “assemblies,” “movements,” and “direct democracy.” In place of these forms, the zine argues for vibrant self-organized and informal efforts. The articles were informed by a squat/occupation and the experience with so-called “radical assemblies.”

Anarchism and the English Language

This zine features an essay by Kristian Williams titled “Anarchism and the English Language” in which Williams criticizes many of the ways in which anarchists chose to communicate their ideas through written language. Williams criticizes the use of vague phrases, specialized language, rhetorical inflation, and more. It’s a very good consideration of the topic. The zine also features a brief piece by Crimethinc which questions some of Williams recommendations. Together, they make for an excellent discussion of the topic.

Anarchist Study Groups

This pamphlet by “The Tuesday Night Study Group” is a pamphlet put out by a long-standing anarchist study group in the Bay Area of California. The pamphlet explains how they decide what they are going to read, how they facilitate discussion, how to decide on logistic matters (where to meet, how often to meet, how to get people involved, etc). It’s a helpful pamphlet for those who want an easy and worthwhile anarchist project to start in their area.

Anarchy & Alcohol

This zine by Crimethinc is a classic examination of the role that alcohol plays in the anarchist space. It features a critique that looks at how alcohol use (and abuse) within the anarchist space fosters apathy, connects with patriarchy, and blunts revolutionary efforts. A second essay looks at the role that alcohol and intoxication has played in the creation of civilization. Highly recommended!

Anti-Mass: Methods of Organization for Collectives

Anti-Mass Methods of Organization for Collectives

This is a classic essay from the 1970s that argues against idea of “mass” organizing in favor of focusing on the primacy of the collective. From the introduction: “The uniqueness of developing collectives is their definitive break with all hierarchic forms of organization and reconstructing of a classless society.” Despite its age, this zine offers important considerations and arguments for organizing collectives.

Archipelago

Archipelago

Sub-titled “Affinity, Informal Organization, and Insurrectional Projects” this zine explores the topic of affinity and informal organization. The author(s) argue that informal organizations based on affinity are the ideal ways of acting as anarchist because they overcome the limits of qualitative projects and organizations that exist as ends in and of themselves. Incorporated into the text are criticisms of formal organizations and discussions of what exactly affinity means.

Breaking with Consensus Reality

Breaking with Consensus Reality

As anarchists, we place considerable emphasis on consent and the framework of consent as a means of approaching our personal interactions. While this works well in some situations, is consent the best framework through which to analyze direct action tactics and strategy? This zine explores the topic, looking at how we define consent, power, and reality. It argues that a more fertile approach might be the politics of seduction and desire, illuminating new and previously unimagined possibilities and situations. It’s worth considering, both for its discussion of the limits of consent-based political actions as well as its discussion of how “consensus reality” limits our ability to conceptualize alternatives.

The text originally appeared in an experimental Crimethinc publication called “Terror Incognita.”

Build those Collectives

Build Those Collectives

This zine provides an excellent overview on what a collective is, why you should organize one, how you do it, and what you do once the collective is formed. It offers a bunch of helpful ideas on everything from running meetings to communicating with other groups. It also includes several essays exploring different aspects of collectives, their history, and their power. Highly recommended!

Build Your Own Solidarity Network

Build Your Own Solidarity Network

This zine looks at the Seattle Solidarity Network—an organization that uses direct action to fight for the specific demands of tenants and workers. It’s an interesting approach to anarchist “community organizing” and this zine offers a good overview of how to start such and organization while also delving into some of the strategic rationale that underlies their work. The zine covers everything including how to get started, what tactics seem to work well, how to run meetings, etc.

Building: A DIY Guide to Creating Spaces, Hosting Events and Fostering Radical Communities

Building is a comprehensive guide to hosting events as a means of creating radical communities. The zine primarily provides a thorough guide to creating spaces (whether they be opening your house or some other type of space) for hosting events. While it is primarily concerned with hosting musical events, the ideas for organizing and promoting could be used for any type of event. The zine is very much rooted in anarchist politics and offers tips on dealing with the police, creating “safer spaces,” and even offers a helpful glossary of terms. This is a very good zine and one that properly orients DIY against the mainstream.

But What About Beer?

Sub-titled “A FAQ on drug consumption at common activist spaces – camps, events, social centers, etc”, this zine from Europe is designed to provoke a discussion about drug and alcohol use within activist spaces. It works as a rebuttal to many common objections about drug and alcohol use within radical political spaces.

Caught in the Web of Deception

Caught in the Web of Deception: And Other Writings on Anarchists and the Media explores the anarchist attitude towards the media. Rather than operating from the assumption that all media coverage is good media coverage, Caught in the Web of Deception argues that the media plays a critical role in propping up capitalist democracy and that as such anarchists should approach it as the enemy. This is an updated version of a pamphlet originally published by Venomous Butterfly and this version substitutes the original discussion about anarchists and the media in Europe with communiques and writings about recent anarchist actions against the media.

Chasing After Ghosts

Subtitled “A critique of anarchist organizing, and its worst contradictions, in the North American context,” Chasing After Ghosts is a thorough critique of the anarchist milieu in the United States and Canada. It’s a strong and realistic critique that collects a lot of criticisms that have been said it various places and weaves them into a single critique. Going back to the anti-globalization era, it looks at many different anarchist practices: Food Not Bombs, summit protests, Really, Really Free Markets, collective houses, etc and discusses the limits (and in some cases positive attributes) of different anarchist practices. Chasing After Ghosts also delves into many anarchist controversies and debates including local organizing, coalitions, working with liberals and leftists, etc. The zine also offers some suggestions on where anarchists can go from here. It’s relevant to our local context (Grand Rapids, Michigan) and parts of it are likely relevant in cities across North America.

Collective Process: Overcoming Power

Collective Process Overcoming Power

This zine looks at the often and sadly unrecognized dynamics that can often occur in egalitarian collectives. The zine covers common problems, how they manifest themselves, what the group and the individual can do to address them, and more. This zine is great for people having issues in their collective and for collectives who want to guard against such problems.

Collectives: Anarchy Against The Mass

Collectives: Anarchy Against the Mass

This short zine provides a basic introduction to collectives and how they challenge the dominant notions of “mass” based politics and society. It argues that the goal of a collective is replication of its form—encouraging others to start their own collectively-run efforts—rather than persuading everyone to join one big collective. It’s a good read for people starting an anarchist collective.

Copwatch 101

Copwatch 101

This guide—it’s really more of a “packet” than a zine—provides an overview of how to start a “copwatch” group. For those who are unfamiliar, copwatch groups seek to end police repression by monitoring and recording police interactions with people on the street and informing people of their legal rights. The guide explains how to do on-the-street observations, offers tips for recording the police, legal advice, and explains how police departments are structured.

Counter-Info: A "How-To" Guide

counter-info how to guide zine cover

This is a zine-formatted version of an article that originally appeared on It’s Going Down that explains how to launch and maintain an anarchist counter-information website. The intent of the article is to encourage the use of websites (as well as other means of communication) to increase the visibility of anarchist ideas, practices, and forms of resistance. It offers practical advice on setting up a website, doing outreach, etc.

Along with the original guide, this zine contains excerpts from an essay explaining the use of counter-information as an approach to media by anarchists in Greece. It gives some helpful context for the use of the term amongst anarchists.

Critical Thinking as Anarchist Weapon

Critical Thinking As Anarchist Weapon

This zine is focused on helping anarchists develop critical thinking skills as a means of generating theory that will better enable them to act in the world. The zine is subtitled “Some tools for use in debates, discussions, meetings, study groups and in developing an incisive anarchist theory and practice” and to that end it offers two essays (“An Introduction to Critical Theory” and “What is Ideology?”) alongside an excerpt from Max Stirner’s The Ego and its Own. Also include are is a comprehensive list of logical fallacies which can used both for desconstructing others’ arguments and sharpening your own.

Crowbar Chronicles

Crowbar Chronicles

Sub-titled “Some fragments of a life made by breaking and entering” this zine from the squatting/autonomous movement in Europe is a poetic ode to that lifestyle and all that it offers participants. In prose that is at time quite beautiful, the author reflects on what they have learned and experienced by squatting. Invoking the relationships they have formed, the practical skills they have learned (from making flyers to defending buildings), and the political lessons they have learned, this text is an inspiring story of a life project lived in opposition to capitalism and the state.

Dining with Vultures

This zine from 2015 looks at recent anarchist engagements with the mass media in the United Kingdom, specifically concerning recent anarchist actions in Bristol. It critiques the way anarchists have engaged with the media and raises questions about the utility of interacting with the media. The zine argues that because mass media cannot—by definition—serve a liberatory process, anarchists should not engage it. The zine uses real examples to make its points, moving beyond being a theoretical meditation.

Electoral Politics are not a "Gateway Drug"

electoral politics is not a gateway drug zine cover

This zine – while rooted in the 2016 election and the campaign by Democratic Party candidate Bernie Sanders – analyzes the ways in which electoral politics serve to weaken social movements and struggles. It engages with the idea that electoral politics can serve as some sort of “gateway drug” whereby radicals can engage with supporters of a particular candidate and draw them into a movement or radical politics. As the zine argues, this never happens and after the leftist candidate de jour ultimately fails to both win and “bring people into a movement”, most of their supporters fall out of politics. The zine provides both an analysis of the Bernie Sanders campaign in 2016 – which many radicals (and sadly even some anarchists) supported – as well as an overview of similar efforts in U.S. history. Hopefully the lessons of the Sanders campaign can serve once and for all to bury the idea that electoral politics has anything to offer.

From Movement to Space: The Anarchist Open Assemblies

from movement to space cover

This short essay from author A.G. Schwarz discusses the assemblies used by anarchists in Greece and explores the ways in which this approach might be used by anarchists in the United States. Most notably, Schwarz argues that for the assemblies to “work” anarchists in the U.S. must begin conceptualizing themselves in a new way, thinking of anarchy not as a “movement” but as a “space” where different ideas come into contact with each other. The author argues that in Greece, anarchists respect a plurality of approaches and initiatives and actively resist efforts to consolidate anarchists into a single organization or movement.

Give Up Activism

Give Up Activism Cover

This text is a classic critique of “activism” written in the wake of the June 18, 1999 actions against capitalism and the emerging politics of anti-capitalist/anti-globalization protest. Despite its age, it provides important insights into the way in which many radicals and anarchists adopt the role and identity of the “activist”. As a consequence, they adopt the forms of “activism” uncritically. In so doing, the text argues that radicals cut themselves off from the population, marginalize their struggles, conceive of themselves as experts, and engage on a symbolic and ineffective terrain.

This zine also includes a postscript to the original text in which the authors engage with feedback that they received to the original text, further clarifying and expanding on their original ideas.

This remains a thought-provoking text that offers important reflections on radical practice. Unfortunately, many of the attitudes and practices in the text remain features of contemporary anarchist and radical activity.

How To Promote Events

How To Promote Events zine cover

This zine is a modified version of a guide published by the Beehive Collective that shares ideas for organizing an promoting events. It begins with the basics of giving yourself enough time to successfully pull off an event, finding a venue, promoting an event (with tips for email, social networks, newspapers, etc), designing posters and leaflets, and other ideas. Throughout, there are good tips on promoting events based on the author(s) experiences.

Mass, The Left, And Other Walking Fossils

Mass, The Left, and other Walking Fossils

This zine is made up of selections from the book Anarchy in the Age of Dinosaurs. It was written by the Curious George Brigade back in the early to mid-2000’s at the tail end of what anarchists often refer to as the “anti-globalization era.” Some of it no doubt is a little dated, but for the most part it offers a good starting point for an anti-leftist critique: it rejects the idea of “the mass,” the notion of duty, single-issue campaigns, compromise, coalitions, permanence, false unity, etc. In their place, they offer a vision of anarchy based on affinity, decentralization, informal networks, and autonomy. There’s lots of good insights contained in here!

One Four Seven

Subtitled “some notes on tactics and strategy in Durham’s recent anti-police marches” this zine from Durham, North Carolina was published in December 2014 after a rowdy anti-police march in response to then recent police killings. The zine focuses primarily on the tactics used by the marchers, mixing in a description of what happened along with analysis of how things worked and didn’t work. Among the topics covered are combative tactics, barricades, highway takeovers, kettling, and de-arresting. Throughout the discussion there are a number of insights shared that could be applicable to similar situations elsewhere.

Opening Doors: A Primer

Opening Doors is a useful introduction to squatting. Whereas other zines on the topic are clearly dated, Opening Doors was written after the “housing crisis” and comes out of the context of increased foreclosures and empty houses. It discusses how to form a group, how to find a building, how to secure a building, moving in, and provides basic legal information (although it can be a little Portland-specific as that is where the authors come from). Overall, it’s a useful zine if you are interested in squatting or learning more about it.

Organizing Communities

This zine by Tom Knoche explores the idea of “community organizing” and offers an anarchist critique of traditional approaches to community organizing. In place of those models, Knoche argues that anarchists can engage in this work in a way that promotes anarchist visions and practices. The author outlines some possible goals for anarchist community organizing while looking at how anarchists determine success in community organizing, the tactics they use, and how they decide where to place their focus.

Organizing Social Spaces as if Social Relations Matter

In this essay, anarchist Cindy Milstein looks at how anarchists organize social spaces and asks how our efforts would be different if we organized in a way that prioritized social relations. Acknowledging that anarchist social spaces often are not the most welcoming spaces, Milstein shares reflections on the topic sparked by her participation in the 2013 Social Spaces Summit held in Unceded Salish Coast Territories. These reflections ask important questions about how things would look in our spaces and in our resistance if we organized in a way that emphasized the importance of social relations. This is a challenging zine in that it asks anarchists to think deeply about the environments we are creating within our spaces of resistance.

Ours: Occupation Guide

ours occupation guide zine cover

This guide combines insights on building and land occupations from two groups based in San Francisco: Homes Not Jails and Occupy the Farm. While the context will likely be different for folks not living in those areas, the suggestions and analysis offered within the zine provide helpful ideas for anyone thinking of undertaking an occupation. The section on building occupations presents a case study of the SF Commune at 888 Turk and draws insights from that experience, while the land occupation discussion focuses on the use of farming as a means of occupying land. In both cases, many important issues are raised. Beyond the practical advice, there is plenty of inspiration scattered throughout this zine.

Point of No Return

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. The stories are interesting and they are worth reading as we consider how to best relate to folks who aren’t already anarchists.

Reading for Revolution

This zine collects three essays by the Black Orchid Collective on creating strategies for revolutionary reading groups. There are two shorter essays that explore important questions relating to literacy and education, while the bulk of the zine is the zine is the essay “Do-It-Yourself Strategies for Revolutionary Study Groups” that offers strategies and ideas for developing radical study groups. The suggestions are very specific, offering exercises that can be done to improve reading skills, build up confidence, and offer ideas for developing discussion points. There two appendixes that offer a sample curriculum and a bookmark that offers ideas for enhancing reading skills. This is a very detailed discussion that contains a lot of helpful suggestions.

Seattle Logistics Zine

Seattle Logistics Zine WTO

This very lengthy zine explores the logistical organizing and work that went into the 1999 convergence against the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Seattle. It provides a detailed overview of how several components of the mobilization were organized including security, space coordination, volunteer coordination, medical support, legal support, and the action scenario. This is an exhaustive zine that would be highly useful for folks interested in organizing and strengthening future mass mobilizations and direct actions.

Shared Path, Shared Goal

Shared Path Shared Goal

This zine is a great introduction to consensus process. It covers what consensus is, the hand signals used, why you should use consensus, the various roles in consensus process, and various tools that can be used to help the process. It also looks at some advantages and disadvantages of consensus and includes helpful drawings and diagrams. It’s a good thing to give to people new to consensus process.

Small Town Organizing for Anarchists

Small Town Organizing for Anarchists

This zine contains a wealth of helpful suggestions for anarchists living in small towns who want to create anarchy. Topics covered include finding other anarchists, deciding on what projects to work on, figuring out how to relate to liberals, and doing a distro—this zine is full of good ideas and advice.

Not only for small towns, the authors of the zine state: “If you can count the active anarchists in your areas on your fingers, this guide is for you.”

Some Remarks On The Need For Open Assemblies in Berlin

While rooted in recent experiences in Berlin, this zine is a worthwhile consideration of anarchist assemblies and their possible uses as informal structures able to facilitate actions without the need for formal organizations. The zine argues in favor of an approach in which affinity groups call assemblies on an “as-needed” basis to sharpen both contemporary struggles and analysis. It argues in favor of an organizing culture in which anarchists embrace a plurality of different views and perspectives and facilitate ways in which these perspectives can be shared, rather than “organizing” anarchists into one particular group, campaign, or struggle. The zine has a lot of important suggestions and ideas that could help facilitate a shift in how anarchists conceive of organization, affinity, and political identity.

Squatters' Handbook: “Political” Squatting Tips

This zine from Homes Not Jails explores the idea and process of squatting as a “political” organizing tool. It offers a number of helpful tips on how to squat, the legalities of squatting, how to identify empty homes and other spaces, how to establish utilities, and how to fight evictions.

The Illegitimacy of Violence, the Violence of Legitimacy

Coming out of the context of the debates within Occupy Wall Street as it spread across the United States, The Illegitimacy of Violence, the Violence of Legitimacy is an essay by Crimethinc that explores questions of “legitimacy” in social movements. What does it mean to be “legitimate”? What does it mean to be “illegitimate”? How are these terms related to the discourse around violence and non-violence? In exploring the topic, they conclude that the quest for “legitimacy” strengthens the state and weakens resistance movements.

The Really, Really Free Market: Instituting the Gift Economy

This zine is a reprint of a piece by Crimethinc that explains what a “Really, Really Free Market” is and how to organize one. It’s a good introduction to the essentially free flea markets called “Really Really Free Markets” and how they can potentially be used to spread anarchist/anti-capitalist ideas. The guide is very comprehensive, covering everything from advertising to potential drawbacks.

The Spaces Between

The Spaces Between Cover

This zine contains writings from anarchists in North America (primarily the United States) who live outside the anarchist “hotspots” on the coasts. It consists of a series of responses to interview questions posed by The Spaces Between project. Respondents come from cities covered are Evansville, Minneapolis, rural British Columbia, Modesto, Louisville, Athens, and Tucson.

The questions and responses cover a number of important issues including general political understanding, how people combat isolation, how they relate to the larger anarchist space, and the type of projects people are engaging. This is essential reading for anarchists in North America, as it should ideally broaden our understanding of what it means to be an anarchist and what anarchy looks like in a variety of different places.

Together: Booklet to Form Affinity Groups

“Together” is a lengthy zine that explains how to create affinity groups as a tactic for political action. The zine is very comprehensive, looking at how to form affinity groups, challenges affinity groups face, coordinating between affinity groups, how to make decisions, and more. The zine is also offers helpful suggestions for analyzing actions and looking out for poor group dynamics. The zine comes out of Germany and as such has a different context than what one might encounter in North America, along with a few translation issues. Still, it is worth consulting.

Towards A Less Fucked Up World

Towards A Less Fucked Up World Cover

Towards A Less Fucked Up World: Sobriety and Anarchist Struggle is a zine published in the early 2000s by Nick Riotfag that explores the role intoxication culture plays in anarchist communities. The zine provides a thorough exploration of the issues around intoxication and anarchism. Topics covered include “Masculinity, Rape, and Intoxication,” “Youth Liberation and Sobriety,” “Intoxication and Corporate Culture,” “Intoxication and Social Life,” “Intoxication in Oppressed Communities,” and many more. There are also two stories detailing how intoxication often plays out in anarchist communities and reflections on how to develop an anarchist sobriety. We’ve been tabling with this zine for years and it always inspires good conversations!

This edition includes a revised text that differs from what was in the first edition of the zine as well as an afterward that includes reflections on the zine and the conversations it spurred. The “Afterward” originally appeared in the book Sober Living for the Revolution: Hardcore Punk, Straight Edge, and Radical Politics.

What's the Non-Profit Industrial Complex and why should I care?

This introductory zine explains the “non-profit industrial complex” and how it functions to limit radical movements. It draws heavily on the book “The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex” and presents examples of this works on an international and national level. This particular zine isn’t the most nuanced argument, but it’s a helpful introduction to the topic and asks important questions about the institutionalization of social struggles.

Whatever You Do, Don’t Talk to the Police

Don't Talk to the Police Zine Cover

This short zine/pamphlet offers basic advice for people engaged in political activity who will likely encounter police as a result of their political work (everyone will, it’s only a matter of time). The zine starts with the premise that people should not talk to the police and offers practical suggestions on how to minimize interactions and avoiding incriminating one’s self and other participants. From their it moves on to discuss the importance of making opposition to police an essential part of grassroots organizing. It also offers some basic tips on attending street demonstrations as well as suggestions on how minimize the potential negative ramifications of social media usage.

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