Greater Denver Area: Call for an Anarchist May Day
So far the IWW has called for a “General Strike” in Denver, the website denver general strike has actions posted, but not even the Denver IWW, which launched the idea, has any of its own public plans for marches, rallies, parties, etc. on the site yet. I hope that they come up with some, preferably coordinated with the migrant community. I have no illusion that the general strike will succeed in a significant portion of the population joining, or doing much to shut down the city. Currently the one and only event listed is the Occupy march at 12:30, and a possible address from political prisoner Siddique Abdullah Hasan at the same march and rally. However, many anarchists do not feel safe at Occupy events and see it as a place of heavy surveillance, political co-optation, and social repression. Furthermore, after Denver ABC’s official withdrawal of legal support, supporting Occupy feels to many of us autonomous anarchists as a form of betrayal to part of the anarchist community. Finally, the Occupy movement does not represent, although it may have certain affinities with, the vision and values of many anarchists. Supporting the Occupy movement can leave a dirty feeling for many of us.
I will not elaborate on the history of May Day, it’s undeniable anarchist (and Pagan) roots, nor its state-leftist cooptation. Rather than focus on the history, anarchists, especially in the US, should look at May Day as our most important holiday. It’s a time when we assert our ideals, not just our opposition. It should be a time of wholeness, combining celebration with mourning, love with anger, and hope with criticism. On May Day we should assert ourselves as individuals, unite with our communities, and display our vision to the rest of society. Too often our tone has been solely critical, “anti”, almost reactionary – in its literal sense. Such concerns are valid, but must be balanced with more rounded, circumspect understandings. There was an attempt at this in the recent march of the elves in Denver, but even there the tone was still more of a critical attack than a self-assertion, if not in the full rage of anti-police brutality marches. Past anarchist attempts to join the Occupy marches in the fall also had a more convivial tone, which was both playful and creatively disruptive. However these were basically unorganized in their messaging as well, and ended differently than they began.
Secondly, throughout the US as well as in Denver, many recent actions, by anarchists and also many by Occupy itself, have almost always tended to be single-issue based. Such actions may be strategically useful, and important. However, these attract a core group and a target demographic, but play too easily into party politics, non-profit co-optation, and general pressure-group pluralism of liberal “democracy”. As already mentioned, they are generally negative rather than positive, and often attack issues that other left-leaning political non-profit organizations already acknowledge as problematic. These actions seek media attention, and are often misrepresented as part of a larger state-based lobbying, if not electoral agenda. As anarchists we acknowledge the existence of a common enemy, but also a systemic web of power, the particular institutions of which cannot merely be replaced or reformed piecemeal. It must be confronted as a whole, and so too we must present a comprehensive alternative.
It's time that we also took steps to promote our own vision and critique the dominant construct in a similar manner. For at least one day, let’s take a break from engaging in political campaigns, and work more on building community. Let’s confront power but also build our own dual power. Whether we have a party, a march, a parade, a rally, a concert, a festival, or a riot, let it be empowering. We should do this for ourselves, but also to attract others. We're more fun, more cohesive, more organized, more coherent, more committed, more interesting, and often more knowledgeable than the alternatives on the left. Denver doesn’t have the setup to really have a comprehensive, multifaceted, highly resourceful and broad-based anarchist community organization ready to educate and transform the lives of masses of people anyway. Nevertheless, we can make a case for our dedication, our passion, our unity, the beauty of our vision and the strength of our convictions that needs to be re-asserted for ourselves just as much as to show others.
If people still only want to join the Occupy march, let’s have a unified, cohesive, organic anarchist section to that march. Obviously in the unlikely event that the police make such a setup impractical, we should reconsider. But otherwise, if we do join Occupy, let’s at least try to stick together, create a somewhat safer space for at least ourselves, and begin to present an image of insurmountable imagination.