The black flag means negation, anger, outrage, mourning, beauty, hope, and the fostering and sheltering of new forms of human life and relationship on and with the earth. This book aims to destroy many of the assumptions and stereotypes about anarchism, anarchists, and anarchist movements. It introduces Mario Diani's definition of a social movement: networks of individuals and organizations, united by some shared identity, that engage in extra-institutional action with the interest of changing society. Social movements must be composed of individuals. The book provides new insights into individual participants in anarchist movements by investigating what the micro-level characteristics of contemporary anarchists are, and how these characteristics differ from those of anarchists in past movements. The anarchist movement can be interrogated from many vantage points (especially macro- and meso-analyses), in both longitudinal and cross-sectional contexts. The book explores the usefulness (or lack thereof) of social movement theories for understanding anarchist movements. It challenges the assumption that the state is a strategic location of opportunity from the perspective of radical, anti-state movements. The essential dimensions of "new social movement" (NSM) theories are discussed, with highlights on the differences between the contemporary anarchist movement and other NSMs. The book also explores ideas from major social capital theorists, and considers the value of social capital. Whereas most sociological research on anti-authoritarian diffusion and isomorphism has focused on mainstream organizations or reformist social movements, anarchist movements pose a particular challenge to the earlier findings focused on the non-anarchists.
On Labor Day in 1988 two hundred hungry and homeless people went to Golden Gate Park in search of a hot meal, while fifty-four activists from Food Not Bombs, surrounded by riot police, lined up to serve them food. The riot police counted twenty-five served meals, the legal number allowed by city law before breaking permit restrictions, and then began to arrest people. The arrests proceeded like an assembly line: an activist would scoop a bowl of food and hand it to a hungry person. A police officer would then handcuff and arrest that activist. Immediately, the next activist in line would take up the ladle and be promptly arrested. By the end of the day fifty-four people had been arrested for “providing food without a permit.” These arrests were not an aberration but part of a multi-year campaign by the city of San Francisco against radical homeless activists. Why would a liberal city arrest activists helping the homeless? In exploring this question, the book uses the conflict between the city and activists as a unique opportunity to examine the contested nature of urban politics, homelessness, and public space, while developing an anarchist alternative to liberal urban politics, which is rooted in mutual aid, solidarity, and anti-capitalism.
This book is an ethnographic study of the internal dynamics of a subcultural community that defines itself as a social movement. While the majority of scholarly studies on this movement focus on its official face, on its front stage, this book concerns itself with the ideological and practical paradoxes at work within the micro-social dynamics of the backstage, an area that has so far been neglected in social movement studies. The central question is how hierarchy and authority function in a social movement subculture that disavows such concepts. The squatters’ movement, which defines itself primarily as anti-hierarchical and anti-authoritarian, is profoundly structured by the unresolved and perpetual contradiction between both public disavowal and simultaneous maintenance of hierarchy and authority within the movement. This study analyzes how this contradiction is then reproduced in different micro-social interactions, examining the methods by which people negotiate minute details of their daily lives as squatter activists in the face of a funhouse mirror of ideological expectations reflecting values from within the squatter community, that, in turn, often refract mainstream, middle class norms.