Not long ago, we concluded our second annual School Revolt festival, and with it being summer in the northern hemisphere, we decided to take a moment to reflect on what it is that we want to do along with the strategies that we want to engage with. We wanted to take our time to reflect upon the following: What have we done to further our collective work in creating anarchist communities that are based on radical and alternative educational processes? What has and hasn’t worked about what we’ve been doing?
And what can we do from this point forward?
As we reflected on these questions and our own experiences, we noticed a trend that emerged in how activities play out within this collective and definitely among other spaces that we’re active in. This trend is something that we think is important to acknowledge, responding to it as productively as we can. This trend is something that we can call extractivism. In saying this, we mean that many of our activities—such as podcasts, texts, and events—are viewed more as products to be consumed while people extract information rather than using them as calls to build community spaces and grow potential solidarity actions. We recognise that people view our role primarily as producers of content that they can passively consume if they happen to be interested in anarchist pedagogies, and we understand that this is common behaviour throughout many spaces simply because this is how we’ve been taught to interact with the world around us. After all, when it comes to ‘online’ spaces, we’re not really looking at them as extensions of our world and communities.
However, that’s a far cry from what we ever intended, and it’s also quite far from our ethical and pedagogical commitment as anarchists. You see, the members of the organising group have always seen ourselves as a collective who was trying to open up space for others to join so that they could create, experiment, ask questions, practise mutual aid or share their experiences in order to build stronger movements together. We wanted to provide a space for solidarity that would support us in creating a variety of healthy environments that could promote so many possible educational strategies and tools.
For example, this is why we started Joyful Resistance. It was meant as a space where everyone involved in educational processes could find kindred spirits, seek support, or offer mutual aid and care. It was meant to be an active space where anyone who wanted to do so could schedule a meeting whenever they desired, enabling them to build solidarity across regions and hold support meetings with others whenever they felt was needed. Even though anyone is able to lead a conversation, we noticed that the overwhelming majority of people merely waited for us to schedule every single meeting and provide the topics. These meetings, when they did occur, often felt less like the conversations, support, and idea-sharing that were intended and more like expected presentations where everyone else had to remain in silence.
Prior to this past School Revolt, we had already recognised that more needed to be done to encourage others to join us, and this was something that we tried to do. We developed podcasts, wrote texts, and organised workshops and webinars to help further this goal, though we never wanted for those to be the only activities that we ever did. Our goals have never been to passively teach but to show that there is a possibility to do something together, that there can be space in which we all are able to create something meaningful that follows anarchist principles surrounding direct action. We have been careful to constantly use whatever platform we have to remind people that they have the opportunity to join us in any way that they felt they could.
We even thought that a more participatory event, like story writing, would boost interaction among people and help build connections between people within and across regions. But that didn’t seem to happen, and many of the open invitations we continue to extend have rarely been acted upon.
While these efforts have created some unique learning opportunities and have—we hope—been meaningful to everyone, we recognise that we continue to struggle with developing the kinds of connections and behaviours that we would all love to build upon within this collective. The Anarchist Pedagogies Collective was—and still is—meant to be a space where everyone is able to create whatever it is that they need together. Instead, in our past two years, we have felt as if some have treated this space as a place for late-stage capitalist consumption, where we are expected to act as experts who create content for others to simply consume, where we are expected to provide answers to questions that are entirely context dependent, and where nothing other than behaviours related to consumption actually seem to happen.
And we want to make it very clear: We have no intent or desire to support the maintenance of any capitalist structures, and our overall goal is to dismantle them alongside the development of anarchist pedagogies.
Make no mistake! If we’ve done something that has helped you, nourished you, inspired you, or given you ideas for your contexts and spaces, that’s amazing and we’re truly happy to have been there for you! But we want to make it known that we don’t merely want to create a platform for passive consumption and that we want to do whatever we can to encourage active participation. We want it to be more than obvious that we have no desire to continue encouraging the many neocapitalist behaviours we see elsewhere and have experienced in our own past. As anarchists, we can do far more than continue to recreate the exact same structures we have been indoctrinated to believe are the only ones that mark ‘real learning’.
Importantly, we believe that it is necessary for everyone to recognise that this is not how anyone will ever bring about the liberation of everyone on this planet.
Revolutions cannot happen if we don’t work on it together. Change will never appear if we don’t do what we can to create it for ourselves through a wide range of actions. The world will never change if we sit around and wait for others to strive for it without our involvement. We can’t wait for others to do this work for us. We all must do the work now, and we very much need to band together.
No gods, no masters, but most certainly no leaders.
And so, with this, we’d like to outline how the APC will continue to operate. We’re planning to scale down our activities to things that those of us in the organising group can and want to do. We will continue to write, and we will continue to produce podcasts and videos that can help support and share whatever work we’re able to share across the regions we’re in. Perhaps, we might even throw in a live event or two when the feeling hits us or something interesting comes along. We’ll focus on doing the things that we believe we can do well and that bring us joy! If you like those things, feel free to engage with them however you want.
On its own, this doesn’t seem like much of a change, right?
Well, here’s the major difference: We want to foster an environment where people work towards undoing the propaganda in their heads, particularly with regard to schools and academia. We want to support a space that will enable people to engage with a wider range of learning strategies. We want to build a space where people can experiment with developing those strategies.
If you contact us and express interest in any topic, doing any activity, or sharing an initiative, we will always respond in the same way: Do it. Just go ahead and do it. Tell us how we can help and what support you need, and we will do everything in our capabilities to help you. That is what we’ve always wanted to do because our core principles are mutual aid, mutual care, and mutual support through direct action.
Not sure how to go about doing the project or event you want to do? That’s fine! Let’s talk about it and maybe we can figure out how to get it done. We are here to support you in whatever ways we possibly can, and we always have been. We always will be. But everyone needs to also take responsibility to pull things together. If you want to see something done within this space, you will have our support to do it, but we expect that you will take initiative and be responsible for whatever it is that you want to do.
We’ll always have your back, we’ll always support you with whatever we have, but we will never do it for you.
The coordinating group at the APC are excited about what people may come up with. We want to see more of you because we know that there are people out there doing amazing things, and we want to hear from more of you about whatever you’re doing! Seriously, feel free to share it with us!
We’re not experts, and we don’t seek to be experts with all that it entails. Nor do we expect for you to be experts, either. We are all here to learn and create together because that’s all we really can do as we build what we need to support the changes we seek.
You are always invited to join us and collaborate with us because this space is meant to be for every one of us. But that means doing things with us, rather than waiting for others to do anything for you.