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(en) Britain, Minutes of the 20/22 August 2004 Anarchist Youth Network Gathering

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Wed, 1 Sep 2004 08:25:55 +0200 (CEST)

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Note: I wasn't sure about including personal opinions in the
minutes because it could be seen as a way of blurring some of
the discussions and points raised, but then I realised,
a) without some individual points (not necessarily, just mine) it
would be much dryer and blander, than it had to be and it could
potentially rival any internal Bolshy publication,
b) nothing is truly objective so there is no point in pretending it can be.
I have also excluded the item of naming attendees, for more or
less obvious reasons and also who contributed on what agenda
item, because everyone virtually made a point on each item on
the agenda, a point which made the discussions quite engaging.
Any problems, october_lost-A-yahoo.co.uk

Some what short of what I was expecting, just less than a dozen,
but account must be given to London and Manchester AYN who
had already sent apologises, so to speak. Also the male to female
ratio and the lack of non-whites, is something that needs
pointing out, but something we shouldnt beat ourselves up

As expected organising a meeting on the first day was a none
starter, so there was some ice breaking, information and talk
regarding the new B'ham squat and some merry discussion
including why olives are middle class The atmosphere was aided
I felt by the lack of electricity! So maybe primitivist’s have a
point, but then again….

Overview of the AYN
The two previous members of the AYN who attended gave an
introduction to the gathering, detailing the AYN's objectives,
history and achievements, but also raising its limitations and why
it consequently collapsed, especially in London.
The sparse bits I gathered was that, originating in the capital a
number of years ago it started on the basis of,
"a vital point of entry for many young people interested in
Anarchism as well as a valuable tool for binding together young
people who are already involved in the movement."

and managed to garner a biggish following with several regional
groups operating. But there was an agreement (or at least I got
the impression...) that the AYN suffered mainly out of trying to
build a national network with limited contacts and how it was
trying to work as a political unit.

Although it appears to have been a small step in
creating/maintaining the AYN and never amounted to producing
or creating much of an output, outside of gatherings and a
website, it did from what I gather manage to play an important
role in bringing together younger activists and developing
contacts, as can be testified with some of the relationships
coming out of that period, this I thought couldnt be

This was probably the most discussed point on the agenda, and
its clear people had different views of how the AYN could or
should function. The basic components of this resolved around
people arguing for different combinations of propaganda,
organised political activity and/or a social network for activists.

There was a consensus that its starting point had to be a social
network, because we had a common factor in that we were
young or new to a scene which had varying degrees of
experience, which compounded our isolation within an already
small movement. It also could as someone pointed out, help us
relate to specific issues which are glossed over by ‘adult
anarchists’ and as someone else said, help ‘remind us
it’s the world not us, who is crazy.’

Centrally I argued we wanted to see anarchists more
organised/polarised to attracting young people who would
otherwise gloss us over in favour of the SWP, or other
authoritarian trends and be burnt out from their bureaucratic
political methods.

Part of being a social support network wasn't seen as
contradicting the idea of doing outreach and propaganda work,
but only a minority thought planned and co-ordinated activities
under the AYN banner was ideal. The majority rejected
co-ordinated activity as the AYN, because of our limited size and
no specific clarity in our political outlook.

There was further discussion leading to clarity on the issue of
putting out AYN propaganda, and that it would have to be
inclusive to most strands of anarchism but allowing autonomy to
individuals and groups where needed. In the end what was
agreed on, was the need above all to be - moral support, advice
– particularly about the law and importantly friendship. The
following summary was agreed upon by the group,
“[The AYN would] facilitate communication between young
anarchists and provide an entry-point to young people interested
in radical ideas, and to develop a social support network.”

Since it was agreed the aim of the AYN was a social network,
both a formal membership and any form of regional organisation
were rejected outright. Instead we would implement the
AYN’s aims through regional contacts - voluntary email and
phone contacts, a website and a shared PO Box for snail mail
(yet to be confirmed but Bristol was suggested at the time), and
future activity as the AYN, which was to be planned under the
next point in the agenda.

>Broke off for food/Discussion about the squat<

Directly planning and implementing activity as the AYN was
seen as problematic and had already been dismissed previously,
so we discussed the problem of doing propaganda and organising
a future gathering. Propaganda was seen as central to the new
AYN intiative.

The AYN we had been told had previously put together a
newsletter for the idea of regular publishing, but this had
sounded to be a disaster by the accounts of those who helped
produce it. The idea of a zine had been mentioned at several
points and seemed to be enthusiastically accepted by the group.
(The main planning of the zine would take place on the Sunday,
and proposals are separate from these minutes)

Aside from the zine the prospect of using another or other
gatherings to engage with a wider circle was well accepted,
particularly with G8 (Dissent) and EF! looming.
Although it was raised about how relevant G8 was, and whether
it was being turned into a fetish and otherwise a drain on our
small resources, which I thought was a sound argument, the
prospect of doing an international solidarity camp by organising a
'Youth Space' and taking time to work with other young
anarchists at a major gathering was well received. To get the ball
rolling in this respect we would wait for further developments on
G8 where a volunteer would try and follow up the idea of gaining
a potential space for young activists to co-ordinate activities at a
relevant counter summit.

Importantly a website and a provisional email account holder was
arranged, to put the backbone into the organisation, but its
something which needs addressing again at some later point.
The points particularly around organising the zine and creating a
'Youth Space' seemed to re-energise the group and set in a
positive feel from the weekend.

Overall, I thought the AYN gathering took an important step in
justifying its continuing existence, while clarifying the previous
problems that had cropped up within the AYN, but it also set out
foundations upon which it can function and do productive and
creative work for the future.

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