Some people have been interrogating us over our approach to ‘safer spaces’, and don’t seem to like what they hear in response. We have detailed already what the collective thinks in the ‘policy’ and our piece ‘Civilisation is an Unsafe Space’. We have made it crystal clear that we support survivors, and are against any form of oppression or domination, but realise there are flaws in the current processes for dealing with physical and sexual abuse in ‘radical’ communities. We contend that safer spaces policies have typically been disempowering, problematic and open to misuse. As anti-authoritarian anarchists we oppose a ‘code of conduct’ carved into granite, and don’t believe this approach will work in our desired community, based on past experience.
No one has really given us any worthwhile feedback, or been able to pinpoint precisely what it is they don’t like about what we have written so far. The conflict stems from the fact that a group of people from Melbourne wanted to control the ‘safer spaces’ processes and tried to force us to have an elite crack unit of ‘grievance collective’ experts in charge. They say we don’t have any experience in this ‘work’ and need to be educated about supporting survivors. Some of these emails to us have been merely boring and condescending. Others have been highly offensive, insulting, presumptuous and triggering for our collective. All of this is why we are now going to post this write-up, delete our ‘safer spaces’ policy, and never adhere to another one. We will detail all our reasoning for this.
There has been a wave of people, who claim to be specialists in this field, demanding that we listen to them and change our approach. The most damaging thing is that these people are so arrogant, so high and mighty, and so desperate for control, that they haven’t considered the fact that our collective may be composed of survivors, with a different approach to healing from trauma. As we keep reiterating; we identify civilisation as the basis, the source and the driving force behind abuse, hierarchy and domination of other people, that’s why we want it in ruins.
We have no desire to run around with pink armbands on telling everyone what to do, but we support survivors in our immediate circles. How on earth these people consider us part of their urban ‘anarchist community’, is beyond us. How can you establish ‘community’ of any sort with people over the internet who you have never met? This is precisely why ‘community’ has become such an overused word, and its misuse becomes a barrier to rebuilding genuine connection with likeminded individuals. We have no desire to sort any of this out online, and that’s why we haven’t given out our names to everyone who demands it. The people who have contacted us seem to be a ‘community’ of anti-oppression activists that parrot eachothers’ words and silence everyone else who disagrees. It is clear to us they want to define what is and isn’t appropriate ‘survivor support’ to maintain some sort of power in some sort of broader ‘anarchist’ scene that we don’t care about and are not a part of. The Fierce Dreams collective includes survivors of several types of assault throughout our lives. We are not going to disclose any of it because it is no one’s fucking business except our trusted friends and networks.
The most bewildering part for us is that our exchange with these people is based around emails and blog posts, which we feel are abstractions and not grounded in any real life dealings or interactions. There have been a lot of long-winded emails lecturing and patronising us. These folks were incensed that that we would not give them complete control over safer spaces processes, and a monopoly over the ‘grievance collective’, a concept we fundamentally oppose. It’s quite nauseating to have folks we don’t know tell us we don’t have enough experience and credentials to organise what was basically a camping trip, and that they know best and need to be in charge. One of the most unintentionally hilarious emails encouraged us to read the zine ‘Support’. As if we have not read that zine! This is an old publication. Yes it has some good content and insights around consent and survivor support. However, most of the stuff we have directed people toward are recent responses and critiques of the approach outlined by ‘Support’ and similar publications. For people who claim to be experts, they probably need to read some more recent material and have more context. We have linked to some zines that we think are relevant, and we believe they go a lot further in examining abusive patterns in our communities, and these articles resonate much more with our goals and desires for liberation.
The safer spaces experts have waged a political campaign against us by sharing the emails we wrote with their friends, and now we are fielding complaints about the way we have dealt with the situation. We don’t want to actually go into all the details, and break their privacy. But the point is that chastising us for our ‘incorrect’ approach to ‘safer spaces’ will not work. We do not feel a shred of guilt or shame regarding our dealings in this situation. This seems to be the intention of all these banal emails, so that we can be compliant and controllable but it won’t happen. We are not the villain because we don’t see eye to eye on this issue, and we need to stress that we tried to reason with and communicate with these people to achieve some sort of understanding. We are not deliberately fanning the flames of this conflict, just speaking our minds. We have our own struggles, which you know nothing about, and we refuse to acquiesce to the moralistic grandstanding of these anti-oppression crusaders. We have tried our best, but we feel like we can’t spend all our time on dealing with demanding people with whom we have little common ground.
The cabal of safer spaces specialists believe they are making a substantial difference in their community, and in a way they are – for the worse. We are convinced that a lot of divisiveness and drama has occurred as a result of certain peoples’ preoccupation with establishing control over every possible occurrence in every radical current. There are other well-meaning folks who simply drop out, focusing more on their own life and moving away from radical or revolutionary projects because of the constant pressure to say the right thing all the time. We hear people expressing concern all the time, behind closed doors, but we need to confront these folks because the problem seems to be snowballing. The facts are that anti-oppression politics can be a minefield for event organisers, and this is why no one wants to organise things, and so not a lot of public anarchist events happen!
We are sick of sifting through emails trying to figure out what people are going on about while they mindlessly drop buzzwords, explain their ‘resume’ in the anarchist scene and lecture us about things we already know. We need to focus on our much more important business of trashing civilisation, connecting with solid friends, creating positive and empowering experiences, and supporting eachother through this heavily mediated and alienating modern world we find ourselves in.
Without authentic community that you trust, no safe space exists. You can attempt to control people as much as you like, and do everything possible to force everybody to abide by a ‘code of conduct’, but it won’t work, and the people who need to hear it the most will ignore you. In the end our target and our enemy is civilisation and it transcends the boundaries of your infoshops, parties and radical ‘spaces’. Every time we step out or front door into mass society we are behind enemy lines. We intend to confront this threat together, while healing from and defending ourselves against the ongoing assault on our minds, bodies, and spirit.
We won’t be making any more statements on this topic, at least online. We have said plenty for the time being! We are fallible, we don’t always use the right words and this should not be the focal point. We will not waste any more time on this insidious conflict that just drags on and on, and offers us nothing of value. We are not trying to make the situation worse but we are speaking our mind. If any of them were anti-civilisation anarchists who were serious they would have turned up at Fierce Dreams and talked to us in a respectful manner about tangible things that can be done to approach a safer space for everyone. We are steadfastly refusing to engage any more on this issue over the internet, and won’t waste our energy on every condescending leftoid who contacts us.
We stand by everything we said in our posts, if you want to respectfully talk in person we are not hard to find, and we are simply doing our best to keep an anti-civ critique rolling in Australia. If you want to join in and feel as if we are on the same page that’s wonderful, and if not we don’t give a damn. We won’t accept that this issue of survivor support degenerates into another way for leftism to derail any effort toward liberation. We support all survivors of trauma, are against any form of oppression or domination, and will never accept abuse (including manipulation and coercion) in the anarchoprimitivist community we want to create.
For those in struggle, and toward rebuilding genuine community,
READINGS ON THE TOPIC
Here are some more recent readings on survivor support but also anti-oppression politics in general. If someone actually read them then we might have a bit more to talk about, because you would know where we are coming from. We feel like we are treading over the same old ground.
Accounting for Ourselves – http://www.crimethinc.com/blog/2013/04/17/accounting-for-ourselves/
Betrayal – http://zinelibrary.info/betrayal-critical-analysis-rape-culture-anarchist-subcultures
Lines in the Sand – http://zinelibrary.info/lines-sand
The Left Hand Path of Repression – http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/crocus-behemoth-the-left-handed-path-of-repression
Ideology of Victimisation – http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/feral-faun-essays
Not our Vision of Liberation – http://news.infoshop.org/article.php?story=03/01/14/5609262
Fire and Ice – Laurel Luddite and Skunkly Munkly (a great book on healing from trauma).