A - I n f o s
a multi-lingual news service by, for, and about anarchists **

News in all languages
Last 40 posts (Homepage) Last two weeks' posts

The last 100 posts, according to language
Castellano_ Català_ Deutsch_ Nederlands_ English_ Français_ Italiano_ Polski_ Português_ Russkyi_ Suomi_ Svenska_ Türkçe_ The.Supplement
{Info on A-Infos}

(en) NEA #7 - Claim No Easy Victories: Anarchist Analysis of ARA and its Contributions to the Building of a Radical Anti-Racist Movement - by Rory McGowan, BRICK Collective (FRAC-GL)

From Northeastern Anarchist <northeastern_anarchist@yahoo.com>
Date Tue, 22 Jul 2003 09:08:42 +0200 (CEST)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E

1) WE GO WHERE THEY GO: Whenever fascists are
organizing or active in public, we're there. We don't
believe in ignoring them. Never let the nazis have the streets!
WORK FOR US: This doesn't mean we never go to court.
But we must rely on ourselves to protect ourselves and stop the fascists.
ARA, we have lots of different groups and individuals.
We don't agree about everything and we have the right
to differ openly. But in this movement an attack on
one is an attack on us all. We stand behind each

FREEDOM: ARA intends to do the hard work necessary to
build a broad, strong movement against racism, sexism,
anti-Semitism, homophobia, discrimination against the
disabled, the oldest, the youngest and the most
oppressed people. WE INTEND TO WIN!

-Anti-Racist Action's ‘Points of Unity’

The current climate of war and repression is foisting
on us an urgent need to try and decipher what in hell
is happening. Questions of capitalist restructuring
and expansion, occupation, white supremacy, racism,
white privilege and fascism are all topics being
raised in anarchist circles. Questions, that are of
the utmost importance in our developing of a fighting
movement that can intervene in struggles that are
breaking out, or soon will.

Without veering too far into negativity, it must be
said that for much of the North American anarchist
movement, we are short on theory and much of an
analysis of historical conditions and developments.
While there is growth and promise, we still have an
uphill journey. Partly because the current anarchist
movement is quite young in age and does not have a
solid connection with any historical lineage - no
institutions or infrastructure that we can claim some
linear connection to, not much living history that is
explicitly anarchist and maps out decisions or breaks
made for the political or social advancement of our
groups and people in struggle. However, this isn't to
say we haven't participated in any way or that were
short on experience. Since the mid 1980's the North
American anarchist scene/movement has been developing
collectively and taking part in struggles that, when
examined, can give lessons to build on. We are young,
but we have been a part of many not-so-insignificant
projects and battles. Looking back wards from recent
direct action against the war, to the globalization
protests, to political prisoner/prison abolition work,
to Zapatista support, to further back with
anti-apartheid work and solidarity with people of
color and the oppressed, including Black and Native
struggles, looking at this it is clear anarchists have
sought to develop ourselves by learning from and being
real participants in these many fights.

It is in these struggles that we can gage our success
and failings, and with the formation of critical
perspectives, applied and integrated into our work, we
may be in better positions to identify, defend, and
help generate more autonomous and potentially
insurrectionary action.

For fourteen years the work of ARA has been to
popularize the ideas of direct action in the fight
against racism. Along the way ARA's own internal
development has meant connecting racism to other
struggles against oppression, from the pro-choice and
anti-patriarchal organizing to pro-queer struggles to
emphasizing the continual need for participation and
initiative in political direction from young people.
While there is no single, homogenous, ARA political
line beyond ARA's ‘Points of Unity’, generally, ARA
has and continues to be an anti-authoritarian arena
for debate and action around the connectedness of
various forms of oppression. This allows for an
experimentation and self-activity essential to the
development of a conscious movement outside of the
control and direction of the State. Constructing
organizations and movements at the grassroots can be
instructive in both the difficulties and
simultaneously the radical potentials of people in

And that is what we need. From a revolutionary
perspective, we need movements that can challenge
peoples notions of what is possible and then sketch
out in our heads what its going to take to make our
endeavors succeed. Is ARA such a movement? Is the work
done by ARA building towards an actual radical
opposition movement? Is that even the intention of
ARA? After forteen years what has ARA's contribution
been? And what has been the contribution of anarchists
within ARA? If we find in ARA the elements that are
essential components of a movement capable of
influencing the emergence of radical currents, is ARA
up to the challenge of understanding and building on
these elements.

These questions represent a kind of "ruler" that I
think we size up ARA with, and provide a context for
discussion. While I hope this article answers these
questions, I am prepared to admit that it only
scratches the surface and prompts more questions than
it satisfies (but this isn't a bad thing). If ARA is
to be relevant it's got to be constantly subjected to
a critical assessment of its work, from outside and
from within. And in regard to the broader discussion
of where we revolutionary anarchists see organizing
potentials and lessons to be learnt, then ARA may be
as good a starting point then most anything our
movement has been connected to.

To best access the impact ARA has had and what role it
could play in the future, it could be helpful to look
at its past and development. From starting as an
organization of anti-racist Skinhead crews in the late
1980's, to remaking itself into a political movement
of nearly two thousand during the mid 1990's, and
ending with the current period of the ARA movements


ARA originally came out of the efforts of Minneapolis
anti-racist skinheads to create an organization that
could combat the presence of nazi skinheads in their
city and its neighboring city, St. Paul. The Baldies,
a multi-racial skinhead crew having members of black,
white, Asian, and Native American origins, was
fighting the Nazi skinhead group, the White Knights,
and had set a code within the local punk and skinhead
scenes: if Baldies came upon White Knights at shows,
in the streets downtown, or wherever, the nazis were
warned once. If Baldies came across the nazis again,
then the nazis could expect to be attacked, or served
some of what the Baldies called "Righteous Violence."

While the Baldies actions went a long way to limiting
the presence and organizing efforts of nazis in the
Twin Cities areas, the Baldies realized that a
successful drive against the nazis would mean having
to form a broader group that appealed to kids other
than just Skins; ARA was that group. However, the
attempt to make ARA into a group beyond the Baldies
was met with limited success, and ARA remained
predominantly skinhead.

But the experience of the Baldies was not limited to
Minneapolis alone. Across the Midwest, nazi activity
was growing and anti-racist Skinheads were organizing
in similar ways to what the Baldies had done. Soon,
these different anti-racist skinhead crews were
meeting up with each other and deciding to create a
united organization of anti-racist skinhead crews. ARA
as a name was adopted and a brief network of the crews
was formed: the Syndicate.

Like Minneapolis, Chicago had multi-racial crews.
These ARA skins were generally left-wing sympathetic
and in Chicago it was not uncommon to find some Skins
warming to Black liberation/Nationalist ideas. And it
was not just racist and nazi ideas that were
confronted. The Chicago ARA crew banned the wearing of
American flags patches on jackets on bomber jackets (a
standard piece of the Skin attire). At this point in
time this was a rather significant step in Skinhead
circles. While many Skinheads could claim to be
"anti-racist", a vast majority also were ProAmS (Pro
American Skins). It was generally unheard of to find
whole crews of Skinheads rejecting patriotic
trappings. Many ARA skins took their cue from the
words of groups like Public Enemy, America was a
racist nightmare and the Stars and Stripes a symbol
for, "...a land that never gave a damn."

The success of ARA could be found in its being a truly
organic product of a youth culture. Young people, in
this example Skinheads, were creating a group that was
explicitly anti-racist and sought to confront and shut
out the nazi presence in the scenes specifically and
the cities generally. ARA as an idea was made a pole
to rally around and as an actual body of people it
fought for "turf" and the establishment of a type of
hegemony - lines were drawn and you had to choose
where you stood. From putting on music shows, to
producing zines and literature, to holding conferences
where people could meet up and hang out while
simultaneously trying to build an actual political
project capable of fighting and winning.

However, ARA had many weaknesses' that would lead to
this initial incarnation having to be "reformed.” ARA
was at this point predominantly male, and despite the
growing political consciousness and understanding that
ARA needed to be more than just a Skinhead group, the
emphasis placed on physical confrontation and violence
often breed a mentality where in the end, ARA was only
about beating down the nazis. Larger political
concerns became subordinate to the internal scene
life. Women in the ARA groups saw double standards.
While emphasis was placed on combating the oppression
of racism, sexism ran rampant. Several women would
leave ARA to look for a politic that dealt more
fundamentally with Patriarchy. Some left in plain
disgust at the macho behavior of some ARA men. Other
women decided to stay in the movement and challenge
the behavior and attempt to integrate radical and
feminist ideas into the core politics of ARA. The
decision by these women to stay was based on the
realization that there were few other organizations
existing that were as radical and militant. ARA had
managed to attract a number of dedicated and
determined individuals and this encouraged the idea
that it was possible to develop an anti-sexist vision.

ARA helped expand peoples understanding of politics
and oppression but the sword is double edged, and the
new political consciousness worked to illustrate the
limitations of this first incarnation of ARA. ARA
needed to grapple with its internal contradictions if
it was to develop into the broad, militant anti-racist
youth organization and movement it originally hoped to


>From '88 to '90 ARA had spread throughout the Midwest
United States and was even seeing some West coast
groups spring up. However, by 1991 the Minneapolis
grouping represented the most consistent and in many
ways the more diverse and politically engaged group,
this was made possible in part by ARA's relationship
with revolutionary anarchist groups like the RABL
(Revolutionary Anarchist Bowling League). Despite the
somewhat silly name, RABL had a rep for being
extremely confrontational and solidly pro-class war
anarchist. Some of the members of ARA and the Baldies
were involved with RABL and hoped to bring anarchist
politics into ARA's program.

While keeping the militancy and uncompromising
attitude that ARA had been built on, anarchists in ARA
made efforts to address the weakness that had run
through ARA earlier. Attention to Queer struggles,
Patriarchy, imbalance of power between whites and
people of color, were all issues thrown to the fore

ARA Minneapolis was trying to turn itself into a
popular, anti-authoritarian direct action group.
Institutionalized oppressions of class society were
given as much priority to thought and action as the
continued struggle against nazi organizing. From
police brutality to anti-war activity to actions to
defend abortion clinics, ARA was a much more dynamic
organization and this aided in its recruitment of new

ARA had ceased to be a group centered around Skinhead
culture, and while the limited potential of ARA's
first wave had been overcome, problems would still
plague the group. Understanding class, gender, sexual
definition and internal sexism would continue to be a
challenge for ARA. By 1993, ARA in Minneapolis had
reached a stage where after an extremely intense and
inwardly focused grappling with group and individual
identity, ARA almost totally fell apart and for the
next year ARA remained dormant. It was now in Canada
that ARA would find its strength.


Toronto ARA was formed in 1992 as a response to a rise
in nazi activity in the city. Arson, vandalism, and
physical attacks were being carried out by fascists.
Made up of anti-prison activists, native/indigenous
organizers, anti-racists, anarchists, and kids from
the local punk and skinhead scenes, ARA went to work
to challenge and shutdown the fascists.

At this point the main organization of fascists in
Toronto was the Heritage Front (HF). Founded by long
time neo-nazi and KKK organizers, the HF was
attempting to bring the different nazi tendencies
together under its banner. The most well known of
these fascist groups was the pre-Matt Hale COTC
(Church of the Creator) which served as the "muscle"
to the HF's political rhetoric.

Through the work done by ARA in the States and its
promotion in the radical anti-imperialist press, Love
and Rage's newspaper, and the punk scenes many
publications (in particular magazines like MRR and
Profane Existence), ARA as a name and model seemed to
be the best avenue for organizing a grass roots,
militant, and independent anti-racist project.

Like previous ARA organizing, emphasis was put on
creating a visible culture through music shows,
literature, and mass in your face demonstrations. ARA
Toronto was having organizing meetings of over a
hundred and their demos were in the several of
hundreds. Toronto ARA quickly became a successful
campaign and it's establishment in youth scenes and
areas of Toronto like Kennsington Market made it
impossible for fascists to carry out their activity
openly. ARA proceeded to go after the HF leadership
and held "outings", instead of organizing boring demos
with speakers talking to the wind, ARA mobilized to
march on the homes and hangouts of the nazis.

While previous incarnations of ARA had envisioned
themselves moving towards a broad youth oriented style
of organizing, it was Toronto ARA which really
illustrated the potentials for ARA to do just that.
The support and interest ARA created in less than a
year’s time was seen when an anti-HF demo in downtown
Toronto in January of 1993 drew over 500 anti-racists
who were going to prevent HF members from marching
through the streets. The ARA contingent was attacked
by police on horse back, with some ARA members being
arrested for assaulting police.

Despite the attack, ARA found the demo an overall
success. The demo sought to shut down the nazi march
and it did that, but it went further and showed ARA as
an organization uninterested in playing the games of
established liberal "anti-racist" and left groups. ARA
knew that direct action was a more powerful force than
lobbying for State action or selling papers - two
things which will never stop racist and fascist

The success, and draw towards, ARA's work would soon
catch the attention of larger political Left groups.
Organizations like the IS (International Socialist)
tried to enter into ARA, but after a period of a
couple months were voted out by a 2/3 majority.
However, ARA now a known force and center for militant
youths and activists would be sought out more and more
for joint actions and Left groups would try and place
themselves into a position of "leadership" within ARA,
this especially with the formation of the ARA Network
in 1995.


In 1995 several different groups came together to
discuss creating a united front of various independent
anti-racist forces. ARA had reemerged in Minneapolis
and met with members of the MAFNet (Midwest
Antifascist Network), an ARA type group that contained
several Left tendencies from anarchists to smaller
Marxist groups like the Trotskyist League to older SDS

After much debate, the new body would be called the
Anti-Racist Action Network, and would be held together
by the ‘Points of Unity’ (POU). Any individual could
participate in a chapter so long as they agreed to the
POU (although, different chapters could have
additional political points of unity, reflecting the
specific groups political orientation. This would
later cause trouble where one groups POU would be
taken as the Networks). Strategically, it brought in a
larger mass of people and could be a vehicle for
taking direct action and democratic left ideas of
organizing to a higher level. The new ARA Net was also
genuine in its not being a front for any one political

Utilizing internal discussion bulletins, national
meetings, having a delegate system to facilitate
decision making between the different chapters, ARA
Net represented something new and fresh. And it also
was an overwhelmingly anti-authoritarian organization.
A sizable segment of the membership identified as
anarchist and were now in a position to argue for
anarchist models of organizing. There was no other
movement that was currently existing that saw
anarchists in a position to define avenues of action.

Anarchists involved with Love and Rage Revolutionary
Anarchist Federation worked within ARA to keep the
organizations structure and aims transparent and
participatory. Love and Rage, as an organization,
viewed ARA as a potential mass movement (e.g.: SDS),
where politics could be raised and debated and where
through practice and constant analysis win people to
more and more radical positions. The relationship
between the different political tendencies was often
rocky, and there was constant debate around the
setting up of different committees and how much
influence they would have. Other issues of contention
were the ability of organizations to join ARA en
masse. ARA Net was set up on a chapter basis, and each
chapter was made up of individuals. No organization
could just join ARA Net. Chapters could have its
members coming from any tendency, but a specific
organization could hold no sway beyond the number of
chapters their members were apart of. And even then
each chapter was allowed only two votes. This made it
difficult for Left sects to highjack ARA for
opportunistic interests.

The next several years saw hundreds of activists join
up with ARA. Network annual conferences could easily
see 500 in attendance and conference weekends would be
a mix of both decision making plenary and educational
workshops with topics ranging from anti-Prison work to
Colonialism to State repression to developments in the
Far Right movements.

But the life's blood of ARA remained its action in the
streets. The following years from '96 to '98 provided
ARA militants the greatest chance of demonstrating the
politics of the movement on a much more mass level.
But this period would also emerge as the most
difficult period in ARA's life. From accountability,
to the need for a more coherent analysis of race,
class and gender, these issues along with the ever
present need to struggle against sexism, patriarchy
and internal power imbalances would come to dominate
the movement unlike at any time previously. Internal
conflicts would split ARA at the seams and it would
take the pulse of the new protest movements erupting
in Seattle '99 to give help ARA a new focus and


Newspapers were scrambling for info on the new street
militants and their ideology of anarchism, debate
started to rage in the radical press. The Black Bloc
was seen by some as misled youth, interested only in
adventurism. Sometimes the Black Bloc was condemned
outright and treated as criminal - an attitude that
rolled in from the established Left. During riots,
liberal and leftists do-gooders actually tried to
defend capitalist property from the anarchists. In
several instances, avowed 'pacifists' have attacked
the Black Bloc in an effort to protect places like the
Gap and Starbucks.

The actions by the Black Bloc and anarchists turned
traditional politics on its head... ARA groups quickly
defended the Seattle Black Bloc, seeing a similarity
in tactics and motivation - also in the way that
militant anti-fascism had suffered from the
denunciations by the established left and liberal

The Seattle events had an immense effect on the ARA
movement. ARA, like many groups, was taken by surprise
when the Battle of Seattle erupted. The profound
change the demonstrations had on political discourse
and life itself could hardly have been foreseen. In
ARA, there had long been debate about expanding our
role and focus beyond the most basic anti-racist
organizing. Many saw ARA as a grassroots direct
action, anti-racist, anti-nazi, and for many ARA'ers,
anti-cop movement. But explicit anti-capitalism was
never taken up as a whole. Within several individual
chapters this would have been probable, mostly in the
anarchist dominated groups in Minneapolis, Detroit
(two cities that also had L&R members as active ARA
organizers) and Chicago. But within ARA, there were
tendencies that saw adopting more explicit politics as
potentially detrimental to ARA. Seattle helped to turn
this around.

But this gets too far ahead, it is important to first
outline the pre-Seattle ARA period and raise what
events were fueling its growth and significance.

Throughout the Midwestern United States, Klan groups
were on the offensive and holding blatantly
provocative mass rallies that could attract hundreds
of supporters. The Klan and assorted neo-Nazi allies
were pinpointing cities that were faced with
tinderbox-like racial tension. Fights around
affirmative action, welfare, police brutality,
housing, continued school de-segregation practice, or
any struggle that brought about conflicts that poised
people of color against the interests of White
Supremacy in either its institutionalized form or
autonomous actions by White citizens, the Klan would
use as an opportunity to polarize the debate and saw
their numbers and influence grow. Klan groups, like
the one lead by longtime KKK member and neo-Nazi Tom
Robb, became seen as fighters for White "rights."

>From Cincinnati, Ohio to Ann Arbor, Michigan, the Klan
started holding its demos but the effect was that
thousands of counter demonstrators came out to vent
their disapproval and hatred of the racists. In some
of these cities the smoldering racial tension that had
long been present was about to be ignited. It was this
counter-organizing that became the main thrust of the
ARA Network. Doing pre-rally agitating, trying to meet
up with sympathetic groups, and boldly stating that
the aim of it's counter-protesting was to "shut down"
the rallies, ARA established itself as the group that
rolled out to force the racists to take flight.

In particular, there was a massive riot that erupted
when the Robb Klan faction came under attack from
Black residents and ARA'ers in Ann Arbor. Police
attacked the crowd using tear gas. Several Klansmen
and fascists were wounded by protesters. Six years
later, that riot is still talked about in Ann Arbor,
partly due to continued legal issues brought on by the
subsequent arrest of dozens of anti-racists charged
with inciting and participating in mob action and
assault. The arrests came two months after the Ann
Arbor action, when at another Klan rally in Kalazamoo,
Michigan, police using both video tape and statements
made by "peace" marshals, identified several
activists. The "peace" marshals, whose ranks were
comprised of mostly older male Trade Unionists, had
seen their influence and authority at the Ann Arbor
rally ignored and undermined - they had been unable to
prevent anti-Klan protesters from (un)peacefully
taking matters into their own hands. While Ann Arbor
was seen as a victory for anti-racists, the later
arrests seriously demoralized many ARA'ers and showed
that ARA was not completely ready for the
repercussions of its activity. Many arrested activists
felt let down and un-supported. The combination of
high legal costs and the potential of lengthy jail
time left many activists feeling alone and
insufficiently supported. Even more, without a solid
political understanding of how these actions were part
of a broader strategy, it is easy to see how the
stress could make some question the relevance of what
ARA was doing. There were cases of activists asking
why they were risking so much for a few hours of
street fighting. This is a real concern that should
not be discounted.

Many radicals in ARA could point to the significance
of the mass action: sharpening political differences
and solidifying existing positions, generating
spontaneous organizing and/or the need to quickly
reassess plans, the coming together of comrades and
new groups of people, and polarizing the mass of the
protesters against the police and government officials
who would be spending time and money to allow the
racists to rally. For anarchists, this atmosphere
provided opportunities to speak and agitate for more
radical positions and actions while simultaneously
supporting steps being taken by folks from the
communities who were operating outside of any
political formation and sought to work in ways that
directly went against government or community
"leaderships" sanctioned plans and conduct. Out of
these actions, connections and dialogue could be had
about what the needs of the communities are, beyond
these one time explosions of anti-racist action. For
anarchists, an assessment of the confidence and
abilities of our forces could be made. Anarchist
revolutionaries wanted to spread and popularize ARA,
but personal and group development was equally
important. This process of developing a nuclei, or
cadre, of fighters is an important point of militant,
extra-legal activity.

The ability of a movement like ARA to resist the
emergence of a centralized, top-down structure where
there would be a minority determining the politics and
the strategy, would be found though the widest
possible discussion and planning within the various
ARA circles, and stressing the collective process. It
happened on more than one occasion that one person
would form an ARA group and would attempt to exercise
ownership over it. Others who would come into the
group would feel as if their opinions and work were
subordinate to a few who may have greater economic
resources or social influence. As with any growing
movement, the result was an attraction of individuals
who sought to use the movement for their own ends,
rather than making ARA the property of the whole of
the membership. These groups did not last long within
ARA, but they had the effect of alienating many new
and enthused activists, including women, who felt some
of the ARA locals were controlled by men who were
interested in women for dating purposes more than as

It should be emphasized that at this time (1996-97),
ARA had reached its pinnacle in membership, easily
estimated at 1,500 supporting activists. The anti-Klan
organizing and a number of anti-police brutality
campaigns initiated by ARA groups had helped swell the
ranks of ARA. But in 1998 at the ARA national
conference several internal conflicts would put the
fire to ARA and test its ability to cope with its own
weakness'. A series of accounts from women of having
been treated in abusive and demeaning ways, and one
woman ARA activist having been sexual assaulted by a
male involved in ARA, lead to a major split. Local ARA
groups collapsed into different factions and
individual members would sometimes side with
particular split off factions in other cities,
depending on who knew who. At the core of this was the
fact that several women felt that their concerns and
struggles against sexism were being ignored or
undermined by their own male "comrades". Women were
told to not bring their personal issues to the
meetings and long standing cases of blatant male
chauvinism were discounted as having been exaggerated
by women to suit their private interests. ARA's
movement structure had little in terms of a plan of
resolution. ARA existed as a loose network centered
around the POU, and mechanisms of accountability and
action to solve internal disputes and problems of such
high and sensitive degree were not present. A few
activists intimately connected to the situation used
this unfortunate truth to evade criticism. Though ARA
was being affected as a whole, individuals directly
involved (or who had sided with certain persons who
were being accused of sexism and misconduct) would say
that the matters were of local concern and that they
were uninterested in Network involvement, despite
several women contacting ARA groups and individuals in
other cities asking for help because the local group
would not deal with, and in effect would try and mute,
the issues.

Attempts at mediation failed and ARA left its annual
conference splintered and demoralized. Several local
groups never regained momentum and others who
outwardly appeared strong would themselves come
crashing inwards. Most notable was the split in the
ARA affiliated RASH UNITED (Red & Anarchist Skinheads)
who split into East Coast and Midwest factions, and
ultimately ceased all together (a Canadian RASH in
Quebec continued but was more thoughtful and committed
to group accountability than many of its American
counterparts). Once again cases of sexism and
un-accountability by a mostly male membership caused

While the next year did not see ARA groups stop their
organizing, it was a rough year and introspection on
the part of many in the movement slowed down outward
perceptions of action. It was crucial for ARA to
grapple with its limitations, and many comrades worked
tirelessly to open up debate about what had happened
and what needed to change: how groups formed or were
"vested" into the ARA Net, structures and practice for
resolution, rotating Network roles, and attempting to
hold more gatherings where internal network life and
issues involving its members could be discussed. ARA
would remain a network of chapters united around the
Points of Unity, but it was smaller and the level of
discourse was more intense and productive than before.
If ARA was to continue as a movement, then a higher
commitment on the parts of its overall membership was
required and a realization that a few words of who it
was or some mechanical structural adjustments would
not be adequate. Emphasizing political quality over
membership numbers was what the movement needed.

Even current internal strategy plannning and political
discussions have been influenced by this introspection
started a few years back. Drawing out experiences
within ARA combined with developing theories of women
in society and our movements, several ARA chapters
have tried to draw more attention to the need for
anti-patriarchal organizing and political
priorotizing. The Chicago ARA group (which found its
beginnings firmly rooted in clinic defense and
exposing far-right ties to the anti-abortion
movements) is one chapter that has tried to integrate
a more serious women’s focus into its work. With a
recent ARA conference held this past April, and the
fact that several committed and longtime ARA activists
are women and continue acting as "responsibles," ARA
will be hosting a women’s conference towards the end
of summer to continue to elevate anti-patriarchal
politics to the front of direct action, and
anti-fascist, organizing.

But moving back to Seattle. It was at this time that
several ARA affiliates re-grouped and started to
organize, building off of their connections and
history of direct action. Seattle was a moment that
lit up peoples imaginations and many ARA groups that
were still active threw themselves into the various
mass protests. Seattle, Washington DC, Cincinnati, and
Quebec City saw numerous ARA militants participating
in the protests' planning and actions. While internal
debates over anti-capitalism and ARA's adoption of
this as a unifying politic continued, the majority of
ARA supported the organizing and saw issues of
"globalization" intrinsically connected to larger
struggles around race, gender, and class inequality.
Another point for ARA to organize around was the
increased attraction the "anti-globalization" movement
was having for far-right and neo-fascist groups .It
was here that work by smaller ARA groups took shape.
More theoretical works were developed to analyze ARA's
activity and the emerging social movements - from
advancements and tactics in State repression to the
needs of social and more specifically, revolutionary
left - to build on current battles with the State and
resist co-option or destabilization, to the influence
the new movement was having on other areas of
struggle. Mass protest and the increased connectedness
movements had with one another via internet and these
series of mass demos helped expand possibilities for
quick mobilization and affinity that had in the past
been established less frequently and taken a greater
period of time to develop.

But ARA's orientation was not to be defined solely by
its relationship to the anti-globalization movement.
ARA had for years been struggling against racism and
fascist organizing. Many Klan groups saw their rallies
cease as they suffered from their own internal power
struggles, State infiltration/repression, and having
ARA outmaneuver them on many occasions, by
successfully mounting campaigns to build effective
street and community resistance. But new fascist
organizing, lead by more sophisticated and potentially
dangerous fascist movements, started to emerge. In the
days following the 9/11 attacks, the National Alliance
started a campaign to build on white people’s
insecurities and fears. ARA participated in defense of
Mosques and Arab centers. Struggles to fight the
tightening of immigration laws, the rising number of
cases of detentions and deportations of immigrants,
and the general racist backlash, were all areas that
ARA activists found themselves involved in. Yet the
rapidly changing circumstances of 9/11 and the
escalation of Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq made it
difficult for much of the Left and progressive forces
to get a stable footing. The US State was quickly
moving to inact stauncher repression measures that
were geared towards silencing protest with fear and
intimidation. More concerning, they may potentially be
launching a campaign of infiltration and encapsulation
wherein the State may actually direct the activity and
political trajectory of a group or movement by
utilizing moles and dis-information. The authorities
were now working overtime to curb outbreaks of
militant action.


A recent article entitled "Revolutionary
Anti-Fascism,” published in NEFAC's agitational
magazine Barricada, posed several questions about ARA.
While it praised ARA's commitment to organizing street
level defense against racist attacks and fascist
groups, where most of the Left fails miserably, the
article is critical of ARA's continued lack of
developing positions on a range of issues: patriarchy,
white supremacy, class, and even fascism. The article
is important and I sympathize notably with its
emphasizing that ARA needs to seriously grapple with
political questions and commit itself to a higher
level of debate, whether or not there is immediate
agreement. Where I disagree with the article is that
beyond articulating radical anti-fascist positions it
see's ARA's main contribution in the past and future
as its anti-fascist organizing, anti-fascist
organizing that is based more times than not on
straight-forward anti-nazi activity. A point the
article makes is that where there is no visible or
active nazi presence, ARA groups fall into a state of
inactivity. This has become an unfortunate reality for
a lot of ARA groups and shows an inability to connect
anti-racism with other struggles beyond the pale of
nazi activity. Anti-nazi action is important, but like
past ARA attempts to attack inequality and oppression
in the interconnected realms of race, gender, and
class exploitation, current ARA activists would do
well to connect with developments in their cities,
communities, schools and workplaces. Sorry for the run
on sentence, but the main point here is that
anti-fascist politics should be a lens threw which we
view class society as a whole. It is a critique of
power and anti-human tendencies and its incorporation
coupled with a willingness to fight and utilize direct
action in whatever arena we are struggling in, may
help to develop the neccessaru mass movements capable
of breaking down our societys rule of exploitation and

I chose the title "Claim No Easy Victories" to point
out that ARA has been an essential fighting movement
in North American radical politics. Its success in
mobilizing and politicizing hundreds of activists can
not be ignored. Current organizing by anarchists would
look vastly different if ARA had not exploded into the
scenes, or had ceased when difficulties arose.
However, while significant advancements have been the
result of ARA organizing - the development of
anti-fascist politics, staunch defense of collective
and decentralized organizing, the use of direct action
and militancy in the face of a legalistic and pacifist
Left, and the important defeats of various fascist
organizing - ARA still has a long road ahead of
itself, and it may be too easy to rest on what has
been done thus far. Success is temporal and fleeting -
the struggle continues...


For more info on ARA, the book Confronting Fascism,
and the women’s summer conference hosted by ARA
Chicago, contact: ara_chicago@ziplip.com


Rory McGowan is a printer by trade, a long-time
supporter of Anti-Racist Action, and currently a
member of the Federation of Revolutionary Anarchist
Collectives - Great Lakes (FRAC-GL).


The Northeastern Anarchist is the English-language
theoretical magazine of the Northeastern Federation of
Anarcho-Communists (NEFAC), covering class struggle
anarchist theory, history, strategy, debate and
analysis in an effort to further develop
anarcho-communist ideas and practice.


Current issue is $5ppd ($6 international) per copy,
back issues are $2ppd ($3 international) per copy.
Subscriptions are $15ppd for four issues ($18
international). For distribution, bundle orders are $3
per copy for three or more copies, and $2.50 per copy
for ten or more.

Checks or money orders can be made out to
"Northeastern Anarchist" and sent to:

Northeastern Anarchist
PO Box 230685
Boston, MA 02123, USA

****** The A-Infos News Service ******
News about and of interest to anarchists
COMMANDS: lists@ainfos.ca
REPLIES: a-infos-d@ainfos.ca
HELP: a-infos-org@ainfos.ca
WWW: http://www.ainfos.ca/
INFO: http://www.ainfos.ca/org

-To receive a-infos in one language only mail lists@ainfos.ca the message:
unsubscribe a-infos
subscribe a-infos-X
where X = en, ca, de, fr, etc. (i.e. the language code)

A-Infos Information Center