The First Ever Meeting of the East Coast Canada RAAN
More than a dozen people attended the first ever meeting of the East Coast Canada Red & Anarchist Action Network. The following document (please supplement this document with "Defining the Red & Anarchist Action Network") was drawn up by participants and used as a basis on which to build further discussion.
Defining the East Coast Canada Red & Anarchist (Action) Network (ECC-RA(A)N)
The following words are an exercise in futility. Since its inception the Red & Anarchist Action Network (RAAN) has suffered from the larger anarcho-cultural need to define and categorize its own existence into various fractions of an unappreciated whole: to condense the experiences of countless participants into a hastily-written summary. In short, to define and self-define according to the pre-existing formula of ostensibly insurrectionary activity (in both "organizational" and "anti-organizational" forms). This page seeks to counter these distortions by presenting different viewpoints as to the essential nature of the East Coast Canada Red & Anarchist (Action) Network (ECC-RA(A)N), perhaps at the risk of being confusing in the sense of not offering a single pre-defined box in which to fit the network.
We are excited by the resurgence of the RAAN-hub and expect the network to grow in influence in direct proportion to the amount of energy each unique individual brings to the project. However, we feel the need to define ourselves as a distinct network with its own context and its own interpretation of the RAAN founding documents; our locationality provides us with the ability to highlight and elaborate some of the lesser defined notions which were originally brought to the fore by the main RAAN organizing efforts. Our context is the following: something is brewing in the east coast. As countless anti-authoritarian groups split ways we are faced with a growing population of hopeless comrades, but we do not see this as an indication of defeat: it is an indication of potential. Battle lines are slowly being drawn and we are coming to recognize that our enemies are in the most unlikely of places. Comrades are finally beginning to distinguish themselves from the wider authoritarian milieu, older anarchists are growing up and finding friends in other places , and lower-class and homeless anti-authoritarians are being excluded from the larger middle-class scenes. We place an emphasis on good theory but feel the need to act in order to take advantage of the current situation: we have written "action" under erasure in the title of our network because we believe that it is impossible to dissociate it from the implications of thought and, as a young network, we are in the process of thought. We have universally agreed that the important questions for us are among the following:
1) What is the problem of the anti-authoritarian milieu in Eastern Canada?
2) What is the relationship of the ECC-RAAN to the larger RAAN network?
3) How can we overcome the problems of meetings?
4) What is our relationship with the rest of the Left?
5) How can we maintain an anti-authoritarian base network?
We have only begun to discuss these questions. Beneath each question we have found only more questions. However, we have all converged on the basis of our understanding that there is a crisis of anti-authoritarianism in the east-coast; we have identified the following problems which we hope to further articulate in the future:
1) Centrally Planned Committees; we have identified at least three "linchpins" for the radical milieu in eastern canada. That is, radical culture appears to conglomerate around these three central nodes. We believe that these distinctive activist organizations act as hegemonic blocs and operate with more power than they deserve. We believe them to be a hindrance to anti-authoritarian organizing and we would like to explore tactics for overcoming this problem.
2) Scenesterism; Scenes are a hotspot for gossip, the construction of trends, and the building of social capital. Scene culture in Halifax and Fredericton, in particular, drains our radical potential. We must find ways to erase the scene or to have it play a much less significant part in our everyday lives.
3) Mutual Aid/Diversity of Tactics; There is a strong misunderstanding as to what mutual aid means in the east coast. Activists/Scenesters have used doublespeak to convert the meaning of these concepts into an embrace of purely authoritarian projects with nonreciprocating support. At the same time anti-authoritarians are not being offered any hospitality because of petty ideological differences. We will either retain and defend these two notions or build something new and more nuanced in its place.
4) Isolationism; potential comrades are being excluded from scenes, cliques, and middle-class activist projects. These folks have always been willing to join our struggle and yet we have overlooked them, and we will continue to overlook them. We will find new ways to network with the most isolated comrades in eastern canada.
This list is only a brainstorm. We hope to encourage action but also good theory and we hope that our social form will manifest itself as a "reflective anti-authoritarian network" (or, "an organized contradiction"), that is, as a network that anti-authoritarians can see themselves within. We hope to combat all forms of sectarianism, activism, scenesterism, *as well as* the external policing of our desires by any number of political and social institutions. We will support all comrades in struggle.
Drafted September 15th 2009