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(en) New Zealand, Dissident Voice* #7 - Anarchists Meet and Greet and Talk, Talk, Talk…

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Sun, 26 Dec 2004 09:11:55 +0100 (CET)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E
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The 2004 anarchist conference –‘@ Gathering' – attracted
about 60 people in all from around Aotearoa. Originally planned for Labour
Weekend the conference was moved back to Guy Fawkes weekend so as
not to clash with the anti-racism march in Wellington – as a result it
was very intensive as three days worth of workshops were packed into two!
The conference followed on from last year's conference held at Marama-iti
in Wanganui. The conference attracted quite a different crowd as there
was much more emphasis on political and social issues than those oriented
towards lifestyle, and perhaps tried to bring politics back into the anarchist
movement which hadn't seen a distinctively politically focused conference since 2001.

Workshops and discussions included a fairly wild debate on anarchism, the
nature of class, Tino Rangatiratanga & anarchism, sexism in the
movement, workplace organisation, men's & wimmin's discussion groups,
anti-semitism, independent media, the Catholic Worker movement and a
discussion called ‘the politics of cocks and cunts'.

As expected, a group of blokes from the National Front turned up and
stood on the street outside the venue and generally made fools of
themselves – but seemed to pose little threat. Despite this, however,
the gig planned for later that night was called off due to fears that the
National Front would make an appearance and instead festivities moved to
a couple of flats around the city.

Perhaps the most important discussions were with relation to sexism in
the movement and gender dynamics, a subject that became a particular
focus of the conference. The general ‘sexism in the movement'
workshop occurred at the beginning of the conference and was well
facilitated but really only began to scratch at the surface. The next day the
wimmin's and men's groups managed to more openly and seriously raise
the issues that had only just begun to be touched in the sexism workshop
and ended with both groups, which had met separately, coming back
together and sharing their discussions. While emotionally draining, most
agreed this was one of the most significant opportunities the conference
provided and was long overdue.

The conference hosted a lot of quality workshops, and allowed for lots of
informal networking, but I think if people had gone expecting to come out
with a clear direction for the movement they would have been rather

The strategy discussion, which was painful at best, did however come out
with a few constructive suggestions. Foremost among these was to have
get-togethers as a movement more often and around specific topics or
campaigns. For example, spending an entire weekend focused on
discussing how we are going to approach the upcoming election, or the
next war whenever that comes around. Beyond providing a lot of practical
suggestions like hosting more skill-shares, writing more and providing
social services, the strategy discussion also emphasised the need for
anarchists to actively attempt to link up with other social movements or
groups as is already happening in Wellington between anarchists and
radical Maori activists. And, of course, the need for explicitly anarchist
groups in regional areas was again emphasised.

Overall, the conference was a much-needed opportunity to get together,
network, learn and talk politics, but at the same there are a few lessons we
should be taking from the experience and applying to future gatherings. I
look forward to the next one!

--- Torrance
# Aotearoa Dissident Voice - New Zealand's most unrespectable
revolutionary rag. Aotearoa Dissident Voice is a free volunteer-run
magazine that aims to provide an open space for the free flow of
anarchist and libertarian left news, analysis and creativity.
www.dissidentvoice.org.nz edcollective@dissidentvoice.org.nz

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