An Introduction to the Anarchist Affinity Group

Sorry, everyone. There is no official organization to join to become an anarchist. Because of this, anarchism has confused many people who are used to normal political organizations or groups. Anarchists appear nearly spontaneously amidst the human population of the world. Their individual beliefs assuredly vary, but the central unifying belief is that there should be no government. Another unifying belief is that people should not be governed, nor should they govern themselves, but instead they should decide their own fates based on free association. The purpose of this article, however, is not to present the philosophy of anarchism, but to instead highlight some tactics anarchists have employed to change and remedy their immediate situations.

If you are an anarchist in Seattle and are looking for “the anarchists,” look no further than your closest friends. These are the people who you must act with, because they are the only people you can trust. If your friends are also anarchists, you can talk endlessly about philosophy and the news, but this will eventually grow boring and pointless.

If you want to begin to change and influence the stifling reality of capitalist democracy, you can go two directions. You can focus on social actions such as leafleting, opening a people’s kitchen, planning demonstrations, and agitating around specific issues.

But if you would rather do something immediately, something that may not be legal, you will need those friends closest to you. These friends will be your affinity group, the people you will act with in the future.

Whatever plans you come up with, keep them secret, obviously. Locate some malevolent or hostile entity, think of a way to attack them, plan it carefully, and then go out with your friends. Your actions can be as serious as your intention and goal is. This is how anarchists have spontaneously started revolutions and uprisings for over 200 years: small groups that don’t know each other, acting independently, with other anarchists acting socially, en masse. If you ever commit an illegal act, it does not mean you cannot find and seek out other anarchists. It is important to share ideas, thoughts, and have conversations with other people you have something in common with. Just keep your mouth shut about your shady crimes. However, it might be preferable to avoid anarchist circles and form your own.

Obviously, the authors of this article chose the first option, engaging in social action. What we are telling you has been culled from numerous texts and testimonies written by anarchists throughout time. One anarchist who has inspired these words is named Alfredo Maria Bonanno, an old Italian man who is still alive and fighting. In 1977, he wrote these words:

Anyone who is determined to carry out his or her deed is not a courageous person. They are simply a person who has clarified their ideas, who has realized that it is pointless to make such an effort to play the part assigned to them by capital in the performance. Fully aware, they attack with cool determination. And in doing so they realize themselves as human beings. They realize themselves in joy. The reign of death disappears before their eyes. Even if they create destruction and terror for the bosses, in their hearts and in the hearts of the exploited there is joy and calm.

Old Alfredo spent a year in jail for writing Armed Joy, the book these words are from. He spent much of the time between 1977 and 2011 writing, traveling across Europe, expanding informal anarchist networks, and generally being a dirty old man. In 2009, at the age of 71, Alfredo was arrested in Greece for robbing a bank. He was caught driving away from the bank with the robber in the passenger seat. 46,000 Euros were found in the car. It is unknown where this money was destined to go, but it’s clear that his commitment to joy, freedom, and rebellion has kept Alfredo going into old age.

There are many other sources of information about anarchist action, but one basic principle is laid out above: find your closest friends and act with them. If you are an anarchist, the best people to find are the ones you trust. Trust and friendship is our greatest weapon. Use it well and take care of each other. Good luck in all your efforts.


This article originally appeared in Tides of Flame, issue #5. It is available in mini-zine format with “Good Manners for Street Parties.”


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