Watch the Radical Democracy Conference panel on “Autonomy and the Insurrectionary Turn” livestream feed here:
The second morning of the Radical Democracy Conference in the Wolff Conference Room began with a panel I was a discussant on, AUTONOMY AND THE INSURRECTIONARY TURN. This panel discussed one of the major elephants in the room: Anarchism! Given the tendency for ‘radical,’ academic conferences to lie further in the realm of over-intellectualization and over theorization, it is crucial for a Radical Democracy Conference to include practitioners an activists who can report ‘from the ground.’
Therefore, having real squatters come speak about squatting is crucial.
Rowan Milligan discussed the historical and contemporary cultural practices, experiences and laws around squatting. Quite beautifully, Rowan interrogated and problematized the previous perception, discursive and social, that asserted that there is a crucial distinction between squatters who squat for political and collectivist reasons, and those who do out of need and destitution. The crucial move Rowan makes is to assert that these distinctions don’t carry weight, because almost all squatters squat out of need, but can still be political. Squatting as such is always political because it by nature has to resist property owners, landlords, banks, courts, police and the state at large.
Michael Lodenthal presented his work as a critical discourse analysis of insurrectionary texts, manifestos and communiques. His research method examines the terror rhetoric both devised by anarchists and insurrectionaries, with the performative weight of shock, and also charts the ways in which states, citizens and activists are affected by these insurrectionary discourses, either towards mobilization, or towards stasis and fear.
Aylon Cohen tackled, theoretically, a method within anarchist mobilization called Insurrectionism. The crucial points of insurrection as a method, as understood by Alfredo Bonanno, requires a casting off of the bonds to work, and replacing work with a call to play. Secondly, the insurrectionary turn is a turn away from organized movement building towards non-coercive and self-directed mode of direct action taking as a choice made by a smaller affinity group.
The discussions were quite impactful and contentious, fielding critiques of anarchist modes of mobilizing, to discussing the ways in which affect and anti-anthropocentrism can be more deeply integrated into anarchist thought, and, finally the panelists made a thoughtful defense of some ethical and normative assumptions that anarchism depends on..
Autonomy And The Insurrectionary Turn (Wolff Room)
(I) The Politics of the Crowbar: Squatting in London, 1968-1977 – Rowan Milligan, University of Oxford
(II) The Politics of Direct Attack: The Discourse of Insurrectionary Communiqués – Michael Loadenthal, George Mason University
(III) The Insurrection of Feelings and the Feelings for Insurrection – Aylon A. Cohen
>>Discussant: Louis Jargow, NSSR