Fibonacci Insurrectionism

1²= 1 Revolutionary Individual

I don’t like the term “insurrectionalism”. It’s got too many syllables, and I don’t see what the “al” really adds to it apart from that. Insurrectionism is easier to say, for one thing.

I mean, some people will shy from anything with “ism” at the end. But I don’t know, it’s got to be there really, cos it’s just a theory. That’s what “ism” means to me anyway. A lot of people would definitely shy away from the word “insurrection”. But what other word can we use?

I guess “insurrectonalism” could be taken as meaning the theory of being “insurrectional”, like, as an attitude or something. Maybe that kind of makes sense. Insurrectionism would then be a broader theory of insurrection in itself. And maybe that’s what we need too.

A lot of literature I’ve read which uses the term “insurrectionalist” or which is identified with that tendency, seems to be a lot more about the subjective attitudes it may be good to have if you are being “insurrectional”, like being distrustful of organisations and being willing to take action yourself, even if results are uncertain.

That kind of thing is good, I myself am a fan of writing about subjectivity, but we need to also be able to explain our actions in a wider context, and specific contexts too, not just generalisations about class struggle and the negation of the state.

I would like to talk about the Fibonacci sequence in order to talk about a few points relating to this. I am not trying to advocate some new ideology based on numerology and mysticism, it’s just a poetic devise. Ok?

You start off alone – 1 – just a single consciousness, a single body. You want to do something about the fact that you are conscious that society is not as you would wish it to be, that there are many things you wish to see destroyed, negated.

The first step is to find another – 1 – who feels the same or, at least similar enough. I remember the first time this happened to me was when I was very young, maybe eleven or twelve, walking down a corridor at school. Me and a friend were talking about revolution, and he said “so, shall we do it? Are you serious about this?”.

1² + 1² = Two Comrades, or Insurrectionary Buddies

We started a newsletter together in the school with some other people, tried to create a buzz, talked about how we should get rid of school uniform, that kind of thing. We had vague ideas about wider political issues and a general sense of the system being all fucked up, but that was all. Maybe my friend knew more than me, who knows. But it was something.

Once there are a couple of you, you are more likely to be able to find another couple – 2 – which has already formed without you, in fact you could probably find two. Then there’s gonna be three couples, working together, and with that you should easily be able to find

more people.

This is gonna get confusing unless you actually know what the Fibonacci sequence is: 1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55,89,144,333,477,810,1287,2097,3384,5481,8865,14346,23211

It just keeps going up like that. Each number is what you get if you add the two numbers before it together.

What I’m talking about is starting a group of people that gets bigger and bigger, in a way which uses the Fibonacci sequence. You square each number of the sequence and then add them all together.

So you actually start with 1, then there’s 2, then 6, then 15, then 40, then 104…

After 23 steps you should have over sixty thousand people!

Sounds like a pyramid scheme? No! A Spiral, dummy!

Like the galaxy, like your DNA, like the swirling water going down the drain.

Mathematical poetry, there’s beauty in those numbers, if only you could see it.

Get some graph paper if you wish. If it is within your means.

Draw the little squares and rectangles and try to map the spiral. That’s the easy part, actually drawing it requires skill I don’t have.

“But why? Just because its golden?” I hear you asking

“I thought you said this weren’t no mystic shit?”

The point is that at each stage you will be adding only just over half of what you already have, maybe around two thirds. Once you have six, you add another 9. Then you have 15, and you add another 25.

You’re trying to just over double your numbers each time, sticking to the golden ration between new recruits and existing members.

Of course the exact number won’t match up, that would be stupid, and you’re gonna be losing people the whole time as well. But that’s the way to grow, like a spiral. Not like a linear progression going up and up all the time.

Get the new people, then consolidate that gain. Let them merge in with the group, and let the nature of the group change as a result. The old relationships between original members will change as new members arrive. There will be a while of transition.

But don’t let it solidify into something new too quickly, cos as soon as it’s bearable you have to go to the next level, get a whole load more people in. You have to keep finding groups that are the same size as or smaller than yours to merge with, and if they don’t exist there isn’t much you can do. Except perhaps inspire them into coming about…

At different stages, different things are possible. Don’t try and do something that you don’t have the numbers for yet and don’t keep doing what you did when you only had a few of you once you’ve got more. Everytime you get more people, let the group try and do more things, take on more functions.

For example, in a riot situation it is good to be able to look after yourself for the most part, 1, but to have a “buddy”, 1, who you promise to look out for and who also looks after you. The two of you can find another 4 people, and then you have the first three steps of the sequence: 1, 1, 2. The numbers are squared, that’s why graph paper is good, so you can see it. The two is really a 4, the 3 a nine.

1² + 1² + 2² = 6 person Affinity Group

The six of you can be an affinity group made up of three pairs of buddies. Each individual is the beginning of the sequence. They are all the first 1, they are also all a part of the 1,1,2. All they have to know is that their first loyalty is to themselves, their second is to their buddy and their third to the rest of the affinity group.

An affinity group of 6 can do a lot. They can pick a target beforehand and try to attack it, hoping others will join in. They can change their mind in the middle of battle and communicate this change relatively quickly.

Militarists always say that in the field you need a clear chain of command and for people to just obey orders regardless of the stresses in the heat of battle. This is why we can defeat them, because they are idiots.

Cops will stand there looking terrified with blood pouring down their faces whilst hundreds of angry youth are trying to knock them down, waiting in vain for the order to retreat. Soldiers will do something similar.

Our chain of command starts with ourselves, as individuals. We are the ones defining our own mission objectives, our own wider strategy and our own long term goals, not some businessman somewhere far away from the action.

But 6 people is pretty much the maximum for this kind of thing. 6 people who know each other well can have a hurried conversation or make a few hand signals to each other in the middle of a chaotic situation.

I have seen groups of ten or more trying to do the same with terrible consequences for us all. Ten or fifteen people moving as one group is very obvious to our enemies and causes them to attack us when we are not ready.

1² + 1² + 2² + 3² = 15 person Collective

Fifteen is the next level up from a 6 person affinity group. 1 squared plus 1 squared plus 2 squared (4) plus three squared (9). Fifteen, about the maximum number of people you can have at a formal consensus meeting, like for some kind of collective.

Collectives are more formal than affinity groups. They cannot be based solely on vague feelings of affinity but must have some kind of actually defined lowest common denominator. With that many people you can’t expect all of them to be friends, but you can expect them to be comrades.

Meetings of around fifteen people have to be structured. You need someone to act as facilitator, or maybe more than one, to give the meeting a kind of other-worldly air, to make everyone feel like the normal modes of conversation are being suspended temporarily. You can’t just but in an interrupt someone or just suddenly go off on a tangent of your own. You have to be patient, wait your turn to talk, make your point succinctly, and focus on how to resolve whatever problems are coming up. It’s tough, but worth it when things go well and everyone respects each other.

But trying to do all of that with any more than about fifteen people is just going to make you want to rip off your own head. It is realistic to expect that fifteen people who already know each other and agree on some basic points to be able to reach unanimous decisions together on day to day questions. For the first hundred thousand years of human existence we lived mainly in groups of about 15. But after three the next Fibonacci number is 5, which squared is 25. That plus the fifteen you already had is 40, and 40 people cannot have a meeting together.

I have seen it tried, I have even seen a room of 300 try to have the type of meeting that only a group of 15 could successfully achieve. It becomes a farce, the structures that small groups put in place to prevent hierarchies or authority figures emerging just become hierarchical structures in themselves.

In a meeting of fifteen people each person with speak on average one fifteenth of the time of the meeting. So if the meeting is an hour long they will talk for four minutes. In reality some people will say nothing or very little and others will make a few longer contributions, but that’s what averages are.

A collective of 15 people is enough to organise a lot of projects. They could write, print and distribute literature. They could organise demonstrations. They could plan clandestine actions that are more complicated than those a group of 6 could pull off. They could cook a load of food and give it out on the street.

A collective can do lots of things, but it is usually better for it to have a pretty defined function, a brief “job description” that has been based on a real analysis of the situation the collective members are in and a realistic and achievable aim. So maybe a collective can say “we are a bunch of anarchists and we want to write literature and hold talks about anarchist theory”, and it could very well manage to convince quite a few people over time of the validity at least a few concepts, but if it tries to say “we are a bunch of anarchists and we are going to bring about a revolution” maybe it isn’t going to be very successful by it’s own standards.

Collectives, or anything bigger than them, can also bring into being smaller groups to do specific tasks, which we usually call “working groups”. Working groups are about the same size as an affinity group and so can organise themselves pretty informally while they are doing whatever they are supposed to be doing. But they are still part of a larger formal structure, which is the collective (or larger organisation).

By this I mean that if a formal meeting of a collective decides that a working group should be formed for some reason, to research some particular information for example, then ideally the members of the working group would have met up and at least achieved something by the time of the next collective meeting. If so, at least one person from the working group should give some form of report on what they did to the bigger meeting. The same goes if an individual person or pair of “buddies” has declared at a collective meeting that they will do something in particular and the rest of the people have agreed that they should be the one to do it. If you say you are going to do something at a meeting and then don ‘t do it, you should at least come to the next meeting and explain why not, even if it was just because you were too lazy.

In my experience there are only certain types of people who are really suited to working in this formal way. It requires individuals to be punctual, organised, respectful to others during meetings and to recognise that they have some responsibility to be held democratically accountable for actions they take in the name of the collective. Many people have problems doing most of these things. But I really think that once a group gets to a certain size, formal decision making structures really are necessary for the group to be considered democratic.

There is a text available for free online called “the Tyranny of Structurelessness” which explains in great detail why formal structures are needed, and I can’t be bothered to repeat everything it says here.  All I would say about it, as I have already said here anyway, is that for smaller groups it’s not really necessary. A group of four or five people should be able to have a fucking conversation and listen to each other properly, unless one or two of them really are absolute bullying dickheads, in which case, why are you working with them?

1² + 1² + 2² + 3² + 5² = 40 person network

But what if you are part of a growing group of people and don’t happen to be the kind of person suited to formal collective meetings? If there are enough people, such as 40, to stick with the Fibonnacci numbers, you can form what I would call a “network”.

A network is a loose structure with a “semi-formal” decision making process. The internal politics of “networks” can sometimes be confusing as different people are likely to want more or less formality in the structure. The network may be made up of two or three collectives, or a collective and four or five affinity groups, or just a load of affinity groups, or even just a load of individuals, or any combination of the three things.

I would imagine that a network made up just of individuals with no stronger ties to each other than just shared membership of a network is probably not going to do very well or have much substance to it. I have seen many “networks” form and most of them never got past the stage of having a meeting to decide that they were a network.

But then I have seen others which have formed and carried on, going from strength to strength even as their component members almost completely change. These have usually been made up of several different smaller groups of varying size as well as a few random individuals. Networks are good forms of organising to allow individuals who are not part of anything corresponding to an affinity group but who still want to work with others in some way. Many people who may not have the best social skills in world make up for it by being extremely skilful in other ways, and it is therefore not only discriminatory but also foolish not to allow them some form of participation.

Like a collective, a network also needs to have some kind of stated purpose, but due to the amount of people involved and lack of a formal decision making process, this stated purpose should be something as simple as possible – a “lowest common denominator” approach. I would argue that once this stated purpose is agreed upon, network meetings should not really try to have a decision making function at all.

I think that the best form of meeting for a loose network of people is what I would call a “forum” meeting. This is when people basically just have a group discussion that isn’t necessarily aimed at “consensus”, like a meeting of a formal collective would be. In a forum meeting, people talk in more of a vague “bigger picture” way about things, suggesting ideas about how the whole group should go forward and seeing what the response to those ideas is.

For example, say there is a “forum” meeting of a network that has been based around environmental issues in a particular town and an individual makes a speech of some kind about how they need to do more publicity in the town about the health risks of a particular new development. Other people at the meeting might all nod their head in agreement, maybe no one else says anything contrary to it, and that in itself is enough. It shows that the idea has a lot of support within the network, and is therefore worth putting into practice. So the individual can go back to their affinity group or their collective or just their “buddy” and start getting on with the work of making some publicity materials, confident that other people in the network will probably help distribute them.

Or it could be that someone stands up in a forum and calls for immediate sabotage action against the project. This would probably lead to some debate or even angry disagreements and questions about whether or not it’s the right time or worth the risk, or if they should wait for public support. Hopefully none of the arguments against would be based on pacifist ideology, or else it would not be an insurrectionist anarchist network. Pacifists should probably ignore this whole text and stick to hierarchical organising, sheep that they are.

So the individual may still go back to their affinity group and starting planning to do the action anyway, knowing that not everyone in the network will be happy about it but still believing that it’s a good idea. Or they may take the disagreement as a sign that they just shouldn’t do it. That’s the whole point, it’s still up to the members of a network to decide to do whatever they want, they are not bound to decisions made at forums, because there shouldn’t be any.

Not only is this a benefit in terms of individual freedom, it is also a benefit in terms of security. If a group gets so big that it falls under the category of what I describe as a network, then it is extremely stupid to try and make decisions with everyone in the room at the same time. Whether you dismiss it as a conspiracy theory or not the fact is that the State does have secret agents working for them and that these agents are used even on pacifist groups campaigning for their legal rights to simply be upheld, even in the most “democratic States” (a contradiction in terms). So any group prepared to break the law, with a revolutionary analysis behind it, should definitely expect to be infiltrated, and in fact, to act as if they already have been.

One of the things infiltrators do, obviously, is feed information to the authorities about the details of actions that are being planned and those already undertaken so that arrests can be made. Therefore the details of actions should never be discussed in a forum or even formal collective meeting, because then the likelihood that an infiltrator will know is extremely high. Formal meetings and informal “forums” are part of the Public Sphere, whereas affinity group meetings are Private. Of course, you could always have an informer in your affinity group, and that would certainly be awful. It has happened to people I know and they were extremely shaken up by it. But even then at least only the actions of the members of that affinity group should be known about, not everyone in the network.

But infiltrators do not just feed information to other cops. They have also been known, in cases such as the Counter Intelligence Programme of the US FBI in the late sixties and seventies, to deliberately disrupt the decision making processes of revolutionary organisations (and a loose network is still a form of organisation), to create internal conflicts out of nothing or to make existing ones worse through antagonistic rhetoric and behaviour. Undercover FBI agents infiltrating the Black Panthers even sent insulting letters to different faction leaders signed in the names of their rivals, to drive the factions further apart by adding a personal dimension.

This kind of dickhead behaviour in a formal structure can really fuck a lot of things up for everyone – witness the depressingly large number of Black Panthers who are now either dead or in jail.  But at a “forum” meeting it doesn’t really matter as much. People can have a massive row at a forum meeting and still carry on all their activity as if nothing happened, because the whole point of a forum is that is a time when people can discuss things in the abstract a bit without it necessarily affecting the current strategies of everyone involved.

But, as with all things, there are limitations to informal networks as well. Little groups of people doing different things and vaguely helping each other out now and then is nice, but it can get frustrating when you get enough people in the network that you feel there is potential to do a lot more. Large groups of people making a complex plan together and putting it into practice with them each taking on different functions as part of a smooth machine takes a lot of formal organising. It has to, or else whatever the big master plan is won’t be democratic- there will be people having to do things they had no say in. What’s more, lots of conversations will have to happen with few enough people that it is safe to discuss incriminating details, and yet these conversations still somehow be part of a democratic structure.

1² + 1² + 2² + 3² + 5² + 8² = 104 member federation

The form of organising that I would suggest for when there are this many people trying to do things that are this complicated is what anarchists in general call “federation”, which may be slightly different from what other people mean when they talk about federations. The governments of Russia, the US and Germany all call themselves federations, but they are certainly not the kind of structures I am advocating.

Federations are large groups of people who make decisions together not by all piling into a room at once and trying to talk it out, but by splitting into smaller groups and electing delegates to a small meeting where the delegates talk amongst themselves. Any decision that the delegates make has to then be ratified by all the smaller groups that they’ve been chosen from. The delegates should also be different people each time there is a delegate meeting. That way they are definitely not any form of authority over anyone else, they are just messengers between groups.

To illustrate it further, let’s go back to the Fibonacci numbers. To get the figure for 40 we took the sum of the squares of the first 5 numbers in the Fibonacci sequence (1 squared is 1, plus another one squared is 2, 2 squared is 4 so you add the 2 you already have to make 6. The next Fibonacci number is 3 which squared is 9. 9 plus the six you already have is 15. The next number is 5, which squared is 25, plus the fifteen you already have is 40. Ok?) The sixth Fibonacci number is the sum of the previous two, which were 3 and 5, so you get 8. 8 squared is 64. That plus the 40 you already have is 104, which should be enough for a federation.

The federation of 104 members would ideally be made up of 10 collectives of around ten people each. I say “collectives” rather than affinity groups because though some constituent groups of federations may actually have only around 6 or less people and therefore be small enough to be considered an affinity group, they still need to have at least a minimum degree of formal organisation. These groups of around 10 need to at least be able to formally come to a consensus on who their next delegate is going to be and whether or not they agree with any proposals that have come out of the previous delegate meeting.

Ten delegates should be able to have a formal meeting amongst themselves about what their delegated positions are going to be. Ideally delegate meeting should actually be quite boring, with people just acting out roles that they have been assigned by their groups. It should not be a place to have vague open ended conversations like you would in a “forum” type meeting, because there is a danger that the delegates would just be talking about their personal opinions rather than simply representing the consensus opinion of their group. Because the delegates from each group are chosen before each delegate meeting, people who are shit at being delegates because they are too egotistical, forgetful or downright dishonest should theoretically not be chosen again. That’s what accountability is all about.

Getting all these processes to work smoothly is extremely hard. You can’t just write a constitution about how things are supposed to work and expect it to start off like clockwork. It takes time for people to get used to working like this, and things that take time also take patience. But if people manage to get it working, it can be a remarkably stable form of organisation. There is archaeological evidence that indicates that before Columbus sailed the Atlantic there were whole regions of North and Central America is which forms of federation similar to this were the system of government for hundreds of years . Today in the territory claimed by the EZLN rebel army in Chiapas, Mexico, a form of federalism based on similar principles to that which I have described is the system of government for hundreds of thousands of people.

But we are not talking about how to run communities right now, we are talking about how to organise as revolutionaries right now in our present day condition of alienation from political and economic power. To me an Insurrectionist organisation is one that sees its role in part as being about taking action rather than simply talking about other people taking action. The central idea of Platformist anarchism is that anarchist organisations are necessary to help raise consciousness amongst oppressed people, but that it is the oppressed people themselves who must take action for revolutionary aims to succeed. I do not think that most insurrectionists actually disagree with this. I certainly don’t, because it would be stupid to think that self-identifying insurrectionist anarchists, as a tiny minority of the population,  could ever really achieve much by our actions alone.

But consciousness raising requires action. You can’t go around writing graffiti and posters and flyers and stickers and newsletters and zines and blogs about why the “working class” should take direct action and then not take action yourself. If you do then most members of the “working class” will tell you to fuck off, or at least shut up. Maybe some of them will be inspired to take action just to show you up for being the coward that you are. Of course, if you genuinely are completely incapable of taking action yourself due to some kind of disability, then sure, you’re not necessarily a coward if you just talk about it. Talking about it is still worth doing. But you are a lot more likely to sound like you know what you are talking about if you are actively involved in struggle yourself.

A Federation that is big enough and well organised enough to carry out impressive actions will gain a good reputation amongst people who hear about the action and see the benefit of it towards revolutionary aims. It should also have enough intelligent people involved to be able to collectively figure out what kind of actions actually would have this effect, by analysing the situation and taking into account what actions it could realistically pull off and how the people they are trying to influence actually think. It would be nice if everyone who was getting ripped off or shat on by some corporation or government agency already was pissed off about it enough to support anyone taking action against them in order to gain a little more liberation, but unfortunately this is usually not the case.

So maybe some people would support a mass shoplifting action from a big supermarket chain to give free food to the hungry but not one where you also robbed the cash register and the booze aisles. Depends where you live. Some communities might be full of people who’d disrespect you if you didn’t nick all the alcohol. These are the kind of questions that social analysis is supposed to solve.

The point is you want people to talk about the federation like “oh yeah, those guys/girls/people. They’re pretty cool. I get what they are about and like what they do” and for them to then check out the website or posters or whatever and see what the message is. And the message should be “Like this kind of shit? Well, what are you waiting for? This is how you can do it yourself: step one, form and affinity group…” and then explain the whole damn Fibonacci thing from the beginning again.

That way you have an organisation which is constantly starting off little Fibonacci spirals of insurrectionary activity. It is a meme that can replicate, or at least it should aim to be, like the spirals of DNA in our chromosomes. An insurrectionary organisation should see replication as the criteria of success for its actions. If no one’s copying you then you aren’t doing anything worth copying.

All of this stuff: being able to analyse things realistically, being able to organise and pull of complex actions, being able to effectively associate those actions with a DIY message and give effective assistance to help new insurrectionist organisations get off the ground after you’ve helped inspire them to do so, all of it takes organisation. It takes people volunteering to take on specific tasks and being held accountable to the others on how well they do the job. It takes a lot of meetings, a lot of debates, a  lot of consensus building, a lot of politics, basically. So it needs to be done by a formal political organisation, such as a federation.

1² + 1² + 2² + 3² + 5² + 8² +13² = 273 people in a movement

But federations are not the end of the story. The whole point of this spiral metaphor with the Fibonacci structure is that there is no end to it. If things go well revolutionary activity should spread and spread and never back down. That’s when you know you’re doing something right, when your actions and analyses are replicated by more and more people.

8 plus 5 is 13, which squared is 169. Add that to the federation of 104 and you get 273. What do you call something like that? A number of people big enough that it could include a federation or two and any number of independent collectives , affinity groups, buddies and individuals?  The only thing i can come up with is “movement”, though I would hope a movement would be a fuck of a lot bigger than that, and it is. Anyway, I am getting pretty bored of talking about maths all the time and I’m sure whoever’s reading this is too.

Anyway, in reality a federation can be a lot bigger than 104 people, and again, you would hope it would be. You just need to add more layers of delegate structures. 10 people choose one person to go to a meeting of ten delegates who choose some kind of Superdelegates to go to another meeting of ten Superdelegates, and so on. I don’t want to get into the maths again. Too much…

So let’s talk about movements. They have too many people involved for them to possibly know each other, so they are like what Benedict Anderson said nations are, Imagined Communities. Like with nations, people in a movement are not bound together through face to face contact but through shared identification with an abstract idea. No matter how up to date an empirical a movement’s analysis may be, it is still something abstract at the end of the day. It’s not something you can touch.

The movement is not an organisation. You will never get everyone in the movement together in a big room to all make decisions together. It is made up of both formal and informal structures, and this is it’s strength. This is why it is better than a federation.

One of the limitations of a federation is that because all the constituent parts of it have to be formal groups themselves, everyone who participates has to be the kind of person who is suited to those kinds of formal structures. This excludes a lot of the best people in the movement. Being able to patiently sit through a meeting is not a particularly inspiring trait to the average person on the street.

But a federation that is self-consciously only one part in a wider movement which is more important than the formal structures of the federation itself, has to potential to be incredibly effective and dynamic, and to help the movement as a whole to be a lot more organised while still being fundamentally chaotic.

Say that people in the federation start talking about some upcoming change that the local council is going to make to the community, closing a library for example. Maybe they only start talking about it in the first place because someone not in the federation mentioned it to some of them. The federation with its organisational capabilities could start to organise some people to research more about it, some other people to write polemic articles about it, other people to fundraise money for other people to print up a load of leaflets about the issue.

During the process of producing this literature the federation has to come up with a collective position on the issue, or else the literature cannot be said to have been produced by it as a whole. So each group has to decide what they are gonna tell their delegate to tell the delegate meeting their position is. Maybe in the process some of the groups participate in forum type meetings in smaller networks that they are also part of and discuss the issue there, getting feedback from non-federation members and some of these feedback may influence what the federation’s official position ends up being.

When the literature is finished, maybe it gets discussed at other informal forum meetings by both federation members and non-members. Maybe some non-members like it and help distribute it, even though they are not part of the federation. Maybe some don’t like it and decide to produce their own literature instead, as individuals or as collectives, with a slightly different position. Maybe there are even two or more federations in the same movement with slightly different positions. The more the better.

With at least some awareness already having been made, perhaps many people feel that it is time for action. Some affinity groups may have already begun taking some forms of action already, hacking into the council’s computers or some other form of sabotage. But the federation also starts a kind of intellectual process of it’s own about what forms of actions it thinks should be taken. This process is again influenced by informal meetings with non-members. Again, at the end some people in the movement agree with those forms of action, and start organising clandestinely to achieve them. Again, perhaps some don’t and do something else.

Maybe the federation’s idea for action works, and starts a wave of copycat actions by loads of other people. Maybe the federation’s idea doesn’t work but one of the other smaller groups’ ideas does. Maybe that smaller group’s analysis was sharper precisely because it was born out of a critique of that of the federation. Maybe not but if it is, maybe the federation members are humble enough to admit they were wrong. Maybe they aren’t, but it doesn’t matter, because now the wave of actions is outside of the control of those that instigated it. It has become an Insurrection, maybe just a small one, maybe just a symbolic one, maybe one that doesn’t end up changing anything at all. Or maybe not.

This is an example of how the benefits of formal structure and those of dynamic flexibility can be combined. To fetishize one over the other is sheer foolishness. A formal organisation that shuts itself of from wider informal networks in the movement is not only less capable of achieving its own aims, it is also less likely to come up with good ideas for aims in the first place. It is also likely to survive if faced with serious pressure from the State, especially because it’s structures are fairly open to it’s agents to manipulate. Clandestine affinity groups who only know the names of a few of the people taking action with them are more likely to survive, but they are also less likely to be democratic or to develop a mature analysis. They also face difficulties seeking each other out for collaboration, and this is where they can be aided by piggybacking on the structures of more formal organisations in order to come into contact with others that they can have private conversations with later.

Small “movements” like this have the potential to adapt and change as they face pressure from the state and changing circumstances. If one collective or federation is wiped out, all the raw ingredients to build new ones are still there in the informal networks, which become larger and stronger as the more temporary formal structures help them to grow. Hopefully these movements will figure out how to take action that replicates, and the much hyped “mass movement” can finally come about.

This is not about making a mass movement of anarchists, simply a mass movement of people acting for themselves, in their own interests, united against a common enemy, the State. It is not anarchist ideology that needs to spread, it is revolutionary practice.

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