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According to this statement, the trees are coming down in Richardson Grove. Jeff Muskrat is rousing the troops.
Addendum: Uh, I don’t know what’s really going on actually, but if you read the post through the link early on you might want to head over now and read all the comments before getting too worked up.
That was the name of my “affinity group” in my first civil disobedience action. An affinity group is loosely, and perhaps pretentiously, modeled after the anarchist cells (“grupos de afinidad”) in Spain during the Spanish Civil War who organized in a fairly non-hierarchal manner and found themselves shot at by communists as well as fascists. It operates on a decision making process known as “consensus,” which is in theory a non-hierarchical alternative to majority rule, though I often found that it was more authoritarian in the lack of formal process checks on the more dynamic members of the group to manipulate the discussion. That may be a topic for another thread some day.
Meanwhile, this post is for posterity. My political experiences weren’t particularly unusual or more dramatic than those of any young activist during the 1980s. There’s a popular perception that the activism of the 60s ended with the “me generation,” when in fact in terms of numbers there were far more students socially involved in the 1980s. We may not have had the flair for street theater of the generation before us, and most of us chose quieter approaches: soup kitchen volunteerism, PIRG organizing, blending science and politics into environmental studies majors, and electoral work most prominently expressed in the Jesse Jackson campaigns. But we also organized and attended demonstrations. I’ve already posted some reflections on them. We also had the “direct action movement” out of which some of the local brands of activism would evolve. There’s a history being lost. The Baby Boomer activists have plenty of outlets for their history. The Gen X activists also have some stories. This is one of them. (although technically speaking, my year of birth was the last official “baby boom” year).
Anyway, for those unfamiliar, the affinity group has been a chief mode of organization in the “anarchist” wing of the environmental and anti-war movement. In my freshman year of college, I joined up with a group of fellow UCSC students to attend a protest of MX missile testing at Vandenberg Airforce Base down near Santa Barbara. The MX, later named by Reagan the “Peacemaker” in an Orwellian irony appropriate for 1984, two years before the things were actually installed and activated (they’ve recently been decommissioned). They were high powered MIRV missiles which were ostensibly intended to survive a Soviet first strike in order to take out Soviet cities even if most of us were already dead. However, a number of strategic experts felt that the missile’s first strike capabilities would put the Soviets on edge and bring us closer to midnight on the Doomsday Clock. There was extensive opposition to the testing and a protest was organized for the Spring of 2003.
That’s the backdrop. This is an account of my first civil disobedience action. I don’t think it’s remarkable. Plenty of people who will read this have much more experience than I, and probably have much more fascinating tales to tell. But it’s a small part of history which shouldn’t get lost. And I have a few reflections. Food for thought. Read the rest of this entry »