The anarchists only close shop if it rains or snows. Otherwise, every Friday, you can find them here at Von King Park in Bed-Stuy, under tent and banner reading Brooklyn Free Store, handing out goods and sometimes services completely gratis. The tent sometimes blows away in a strong wind, and has to be duct-taped to bricks. Other times a brisk gust will catch the texts sitting on the infoshop desk: zines, commix and reprinted manifestos with ambitious titles like the The Abolition Of Work, big ideas on cheap paper with ink that runs. But most people don’t dilly-dally with propaganda of the revolution. There’s too much free stuff.
Changing the economic system to one that is more democratic is fundamental to shifting political power away from concentrated wealth and to people. However, decentralized and democratic economic systems will not address all of the crises that exist sufficiently. Some, such as finance, health care, energy, climate and transportation require national approaches and coordination. When political power begins to shift, these bigger solutions can be put in place and greater transformation will be possible.
Every Friday — weather permitting — a free shop pops up on the corner of Marcy Avenue and Lafayette at Von King Park in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. Residents are welcome to donate goods and take goods at no cost. While passersbys look at the sidewalk with piles of neatly folded t-shirts and pants, bed sheets, and crates stuffed with old books and magazines, they cannot help but notice something that appears to be more than just a donation center. Some volunteers huddle underneath the white tent to stay warm, some help to fold clothes, and others hula hoop by crates of books. Just behind the folded clothes stands a table with stacks of anarchist zines, are two red banners hanging over head that read “ANARCHY” in hand-painted white letters.
ON Wednesday night, as a fierce northeaster bore down on the weather-beaten Rockaways, the relief groups with a noticeable presence on the battered Queens peninsula were these: the National Guard, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Police and Sanitation Departments — and Occupy Sandy, a do-it-yourself outfit recently established by Occupy Wall Street.
Midafternoon today, after doing some organizing work at Interference Archive (from below!) to help facilitate talks/discussions about “art and revolt” by the visiting Sublevarte Colectivo, a group of street artists that formed out of the 1999-2000 student strike at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and six of whose members will soon put up their “The Persistence of Dreams” exhibit here at our autonomous nonnational(istic) space at 131 8th Street in Brooklyn (opening reception/talk on November 16; http://www.facebook.com/events/183120365145843/), I headed over to the new Occupy Sandy Relief distro site for Red Hook at 83 14th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues in Brooklyn to lend a hand for a bit. On my short walk there, I thought how the Occupy dream, which had turned into a nightmare for so many of us, was now not only persisting but in fact transforming into something far more dreamlike than any of us could have imagined a year ago — a self-styled and effective “hegemonic” force in what mutual aid looks like and indeed is all about, in sharp contrast to “The Persistence of Dystopia” in the wake of Hurricane Sandy for some many in New York and New Jersey.
On Saturday October 13th a couple dozen people gathered at in front of the Post Office on Franklin St. with banners, signs, and literature to counter election year rhetoric. Several banners were tied up around the square, free literature and food tables set up, and hundreds of anti-elections anarchist pamphlets handed out.
The history of co-operatives is of people pulling together their collective power to interact with, rather than counteract, capitalism, in a way that defended their interests against its worst excesses. The best known of the early co-operative societies, the Rochdale Pioneers, pooled resources to create a consumer co-operative. That is, a group of working class people could take advantage of bulk-buying staple products in order to access enough decent food to feed themselves and their families in a time of hardship.
It’s been almost a year since Occupy Wall Street began and quickly evolved into a nation wide series of events. In that time we have witnessed an increase of attention and interest in anarchism and black bloc activity. We are excited about all the new arrivals but are also concerned for their safety. There are many texts available about black bloc tactics as well as about how to minimize your risk of experiencing harm while engaging in these kinds of actions, but these texts are largely only available through obscure publications and websites. We wonder if things would have been different for the Cleveland five if they had been able to access some of this information prior to winding up in a police trap. The following is a letter to the new arrival, may it find you well and be of some use to you as you experiment with new means of approaching freedom.
On August 19th, a group of people marched from the northern end of the Central District down 23rd Avenue to the old Autonomia social center. The bottom floor of the building has remained unused since the social center was forced to close in the fall of 2011 due to harassment and repression from the gentrifiers, the police, and the city of Seattle.
If you live in America in the 21st century you’ve probably had to listen to a lot of people tell you how busy they are. It’s become the default response when you ask anyone how they’re doing: “Busy!” “So busy.” “Crazy busy.” It is, pretty obviously, a boast disguised as a complaint. And the stock response is a kind of congratulation: “That’s a good problem to have,” or “Better than the opposite.”
We periodically ask our readers and supporters to support us with a financial donation. We are hoping to raise $500 this Spring for our ongoing operations. We've been busy lately fixing technical problems, planning improvements for our tech infrastructure, and talking about how we can bring more original content in the future to our readers.
Checks and cash are accepted, but contact us to make special arrangements.
What we've been up to lately:
Server improvements and optimization: You may have noticed that the website hasn't been down very much in the past month. Dave and Chuck have been busy cleaning up the server, slaying evil spambots and otherwise optimizing the server and websites. This is necessary so we can make further tech improvements and have a stable environment to publish more original content.
Infoshop News: We recently started a project which will upgrade Infoshop News to the latest version of Drupal, a popular content management system. This will allow us to do more interesting things with Infoshop News, from multimedia to subject tagging. This new software will also help us prevent downtime problems. We expect this project to be finished by the end of Summer 2013.
Infoshop Library: This week we will resume adding content to the Infoshop Library (http://www.infoshop.org/Library), which has been relocated to new software on our site. Content from the old library will be re-added to the library in the next couple of months. We will also be planning ways for more volunteers to get involved with this project.
Infoshop OpenWiki: The wiki is currently offline, but the old wiki content will be migrated to the website in the next couple of months.
Infoshop Forums: The Infoshop Forums will be migrated to our Drupal website this summer. We haven't decided yet if old content and user accounts will be migrated.
If you'd like to help with any of this, please get in touch!