Unconvetionally thoughtful

Slingshot received this communiqué from South Carolina some months ago. Although the discussions at this Consulta have since been superseded by the PreNC meeting of the RNC Welcoming Committee (see article page 3), we liked the thoughtfulness of this article and thought it would be helpful for others to read. We publish only selected portions here.

On May 12th and 13th, a faction of Unconventional Action hosted a Carolinas consulta in Chapel Hill, NC, as a way for anarchists and anti-authoritarians from across the Carolinas to develop strategies for resistance against the Democratic and Republican National Conventions in 2008. This was also intended to deepen the broader personal and political networks of solidarity and mutual aid across the Carolinas and to share news and feedback about local struggles.

It may seem strange to organize a gathering primarily focused on mobilizations so far in advance. We believe it is important for anarchists to be developing our own strategy for the conventions right now: both so that we are not forced to act within a framework of authoritarian and/or reformist-led permitted marches, and so as to spark a new dialogue that brings the failures of capitalism and electoral politics to the forefront of public debate. By strategizing, coordinating, and organizing early on, we can seize the initiative and create a situation conducive to accessible, participatory direct action.

This cannot be a closed-door process. We believe a good strategy enables a wide range of groups with different skill-sets to coordinate and integrate a range of tactics, in a way that respects and encourages the autonomous decision-making of those groups. Past experience has taught us that it is unrealistic to expect hundreds of people from different parts of the country to be able to develop an effective strategy at a last-minute spokescouncil held two days before we hope to shut down an entire city center. Ideally, affinity groups across the country should know exactly what their roles will be many months in advance, so they will come mentally, physically, and tactically prepared to fulfill them.

Although a strategy must be publicly determined and widely known, tactically, individuals and groups of friends decide what roles they will play within it, and only they need to know the specifics of what they take on.

. . . .

Goals for the protests distilled from brainstorming early in the consulta:

• To be inspirational, energizing, inclusive, and relevant to everyday life

• To remind people of the government’s failures and manifest a viable alternative to the two-party system

• To organize actions with a clear message, that are self-replicating–i.e., that offer a model which can be repeated in other contexts

• To create sustainable structures with the momentum to continue beyond the protests

• To shut down the cities, delay and disrupt each convention and the media coverage; to deter cities from wanting to host the conventions in the future

• To respect and work with local people and movements on their issues and concerns

• To support community projects and local organizations in the host cities

• To provide awesome medical and legal care for everyone involved

• To focus on the themes of “No War,” “No Warming” and “No Borders”

• To offer space for a range of tactics to provide opportunities for all varieties of activists

• To use the media to our advantage

. . .

The Carolinas consulta was organized in part to encourage other regions hold similar events, because we believe that the process by which we coordinate strategy proposals and organizing can result in anarchist networks and infrastructure that will last long after the Democratic and Republican Parties are dead and gone. These networks and infrastructure are at least as important as shutting down the conventions. To that end, we encourage others to organize consultas in their regions, to publish and distribute materials about the conventions, and to initiate dialogues with other groups and individuals.