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Renewing the Anarchist Tradition
Archive: Summer Conference 2006


Friday, September 29th

  • 8:00 to 9:30 pm

    Lucy Parsons and the Chicago Anarchist Movement
    Jacob McKean

    In the years before Haymarket, Parsons helped launch a grassroots anarchist movement in Chicago unlike any other in the world—pioneering for its experimentation with decentralized networks of collectives, an emphasis on individual and collective direct action, and its successful grounding in immigrant working-class communities. During this time, Parsons authored an impressive and mostly ignored array of writings. By grafting direct action on to a rigorous class analysis, bringing together a critique of imperialism and civilization, and exemplifying effective interpersonal organizing across common boundaries (a U.S.-born, English-speaking woman of color organizing among a largely male, German-speaking immigrant population), Parsons provides a framework for uniting various competing threads within anarchism. This presentation will provide a summary of her work and writing in the years before Haymarket followed by a discussion with an emphasis on their relevance.

    Jacob is a writer and troublemaker presently living in New York City. He did his research on Lucy Parsons while working on a thesis at Columbia University.



    No Exit: Bringing the World Home
    Cara Hoffman

    Our bodies have become both metaphors for and physical examples of overconsumption and environmental degradation. This is a psychic as well as physical condition, resulting in a reliance on manufactured nutrients, and "cures" allowing people to consume whatever they want without consequences. Human breast milk now contains high levels of PCBs, mercury, and flame retardants, making it "safer" to feed infants synthetic substitutes. We are unable to escape the constituents of our bodies. Regardless of geography, humans now contain the physical evidence of psychic failures and brutalities - nuclear blasts, chemical manufacturing, and so on - for which some seek help in the form of chemotherapies, nuclear medicine, and so on. These paradoxes result in humans who are embodying the world, in all its toxicity, and being "thrown" - in the Heideggerian sense. How do anarchists create active strategies for "being in the (contaminated) world," and turn embodying toxins into embodying a revolutionary acceptance and radical response to our position as humans?

    Cara is an independent journalist and the author of two books published by Factory School. She has worked as a staff reporter for various newspapers throughout central New York, and currently works as a creative copywriter for a consulting firm.



    Societal Movements: Learning from Bolivia
    Leila Martin

    This discussion will look at Bolivian social movements, framing their struggle against neocolonialism and global capitalism as the functioning of the social immune system of the Bolivian working class. We will look at the social capacity for successful resistance in the context of three interrelated spheres of autonomy: cultural/psychological autonomy, organizational autonomy, and material/economic autonomy. The COB (Bolivian Worker's Central), the CSUTCB (Single Syndical Confederation of Peasant Workers of Bolivia), and the Bloque Social (an unofficial confederation of revolutionary syndicates, federations, cooperatives, and associations) will be examined. We will also look at problems in the movement and the implications of the election of Evo Morales.

    Leila lived in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, on a Rotary exchange when she was sixteen, and went back for ten months this year for a slightly less-elite experience. She is an Institute for Social Ecology graduate.



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