Happy new year! Congratulations on surviving. Let’s take stock of where we are.
In our 2022 year in review report, we documented the ebb phase of social movements that followed the upheavals of 2019 and 2020, as the strategies that had previously been successful produced diminishing returns and the authorities learned from their defeats. It remains a defining feature of our era that even the fiercest struggles have largely failed to achieve their intermediate demands. Apparently, those who administer the increasingly fragile social order some call late capitalism are not in a position to give ground. Rather than offering concessions to the desperate and unruly, governments across the political spectrum are investing in repressive technologies and doubling down on their dependence on the police.
Overseas, the consequences of this were already clear a year ago:
The invasion of Ukraine continued a process of militarization and displacement that had already gotten underway in Syria. Amid ecological collapse and war—the side effects of capital accumulation and its consequences—more and more people are being forced into exile around the world.
The invasion of Ukraine is likely an indication of things to come. Over the past several decades, governments worldwide have invested billions of dollars in crowd control technology and military equipment while taking precious few steps to address mounting inequalities or the destruction of the natural world. As economic and ecological crises intensify, more governments will seek to solve their domestic problems by initiating hostilities with their neighbors.
Unfortunately, the events of 2023 have borne out our fears. While the Russian invasion of Ukraine has given way to a grinding war of attrition, civil war broke out in Sudan, Azerbaijan invaded Nagorno-Karabakh for the purpose of ethnic cleansing, and now the Israeli government is carrying out ethnic cleansing in Gaza. These are not aberrations, but glimpses of the future if we do not manage to change course.
This shows what is at stake in our awkward efforts to change the world. In these circumstances, if it is not possible to win intermediate demands, it may be easier to pursue revolutionary transformation outright.
Fortunately, we are not the only ones concerned with these questions. This year, we have been inspired by the tenacity of participants in ongoing struggles such as the fight to stop Cop City—by the empathy that has moved people around the world to act in solidarity with the residents of Gaza—by the bravery of rebels from Ecuador to France. Our experiences coming together in demonstrations, mutual aid projects, concerts, book fairs, and passionate discussions have sustained our faith in the potential of humanity. This story is far from over.
2024 will probably be a roller coaster ride. In the United States, the election season is shaping up to be chaotic indeed, and that will spill over into social conflict on the streets. It’s up to us to show that, rather than choosing between fascists and centrists determined to preserve a self-destructing system, people can come together in networks based in solidarity, mutual aid, and a more ambitious vision of what our lives could be.
This is the best way to prepare for whatever is ahead.
Here, we’ll review our own efforts over the past year—the coverage we have provided from within social movements and the projects we have contributed.
The Ongoing Tragedy in Palestine
On October 7, militants from Hamas and other Palestinian groups breached the Gaza border fence and carried out a series of attacks, killing 1139 people. The Israeli government seized the opportunity to pursue ethnic cleansing in the Gaza Strip. They had massacred well over 21,000 Palestinians by the end of 2023, two thirds of whom were women and children.
In response, the United States has seen a surge of protest and direct action. At the beginning of November, we published a text from the Fayer collective, a Jewish collective that has participated in the struggle to Stop Cop City in Atlanta, explaining why they are committed to solidarity with Palestinians and what they believe it will take to halt the assault of the Israeli military. Over the following weeks, we published reports from anarchists who participated in blockading the Port of Tacoma, a Raytheon facility, and various Amazon locations in order to interrupt the flow of weapons and money to the Israeli military.
As we enter 2024, stopping the ethnic cleansing in Gaza remains one of the most urgent challenges before us.
Stop Cop City, Defend the Forest
Over the past two years, the movement to stop Cop City and defend Weelaunee Forest has become one of the fiercest struggles in North America. Utilizing a variety of strategies, opponents of the proposed police militarization facility have repeatedly destroyed equipment and forced contractors to withdraw from the construction. In retaliation, the authorities have set new precedents in repression, murdering one forest defender and pressing outlandish racketeering charges against 61 more, including the members of a legal support collective. The first of those defendants is scheduled to stand trial beginning in early January 2024.
We have published an array of perspectives from various participants in the movement, including material about the values that inspire them to keep fighting. In the latest installment of our comprehensive history of the movement, we trace its trajectory across the second half of 2023, exploring how the movement has sought to maintain a participatory and confrontational character even under tremendous pressure.
We understand the fight against Cop City as a bridge between the George Floyd rebellion of 2020 and the movements of the future. In seeking to overcome the limits that the uprising of 2020 reached, the participants have set an example that will be of use next time large numbers of people are catalyzed into action.
In January, we published a photoessay documenting the showdown between thousands of police and protesters in Lützerath, where the German government set out to evict an ecological encampment.
In February, we published an article about the imprisoned Italian anarchist Alfredo Cospito. By then, he had been on hunger strike for over 100 days, demanding to be released from solitary confinement. We argued that Alfredo’s strike was a warning—a message about the conditions being prepared for all of us in a society that increasingly treats human life as cheap.
In March, we covered the movement in France against the pension reform as it escalated into a major conflict. In June, the streets of France exploded once more after the police murdered 17-year-old Nahel Merzouk. Unfortunately, as one of our contributors observed afterwards, over the past few years, different segments of the population of France have revolted successively, rather than all at once, enabling the authorities to weather the storm.
Further east, we covered the mutiny of the Wagner private military company against the government of Vladimir Putin from the perspective of Russian anarchists. As we see it, such internal conflicts are the inevitable consequence of the militarization of society and the increasing centrality of armed force in the pursuit of state policy. In Russia, as in Sudan, the government armed mercenaries to do their dirty work, setting the stage for an armed conflict. In Sudan, the resulting civil war has been catastrophic for civilians.
Elsewhere, we reported an inspiring story about solidarity between refugees and exiles, in which Russian anarchists living in exile in Armenia sought to support Armenian squatters. When Azerbaijan invaded Nagorno-Karabakh, we published the perspectives of Armenian anarchists on the events.
Finally, we explored how the Greek government’s decision to evict the self-organized refugee camp at Lavrio represents the intersection of the Turkish government’s war on Kurdish people, the Greek government’s war on autonomous spaces, and the European Union’s war on migrants.
In honor of March 8, International Women’s Day, we published an account of the genealogy of the slogan “Jin, Jiyan, Azadi” (“Woman, Life, Freedom”) showing how it spread from the part of Kurdistan that is ruled by the Turkish government to Iran and elsewhere around the world. Shortly afterwards, in response to the earthquake that wracked Syria and Turkey in February, we published statements from supporters of liberation movements in those regions showing how the Turkish and Syrian governments not only failed to protect their subjects but took advantage of the catastrophe to blockade and even bomb them.
Later that month, we published a report from an Israeli anarchist exploring how Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s efforts to consolidate power and the protest movement that emerged in response to it represented a conflict between competing elites and their respective colonial models, neither of which offered any real proposal to address the oppression and displacement of Palestinians. In October, the day after the October 7 attacks, we published a widely read interview with another Israeli anarchist, Jonathan Pollak, discussing the escalation of violence in Palestine and the repression the Israeli government metes out to those who act in solidarity with Palestinians.
We followed that up with a perspective from a Palestinian in the part of Palestine occupied in 1948, describing life under colonial rule and emphasizing the importance of grassroots organizing and solidarity in the struggle for Palestinian liberation.
In Brazil, 2023 began with a clumsy repeat performance of the incident on January 6, 2021 when Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol in hopes of keeping him in office. At the same time, in Peru, a tumultuous protest movement culminated in a march on the capital city of Lima. We spoke with Peruvian anarchists to get insight into those events.
The year ended with Javier Milei taking power in Argentina. We conducted an interview with anarchists from Rosario in order to understand the decades of social struggle and economic restructuring that created the conditions in which Javier Milei came to power.
Our history publishing this year focused mostly on the early 21st century. We chronicled how anti-fascists won the “battle of York” in Pennsylvania in 2002, comparing that pitched struggle with the much grimmer situation two decades later. We explored the history of the queer anarchist organizing umbrella Bash Back! ahead of a new Bash Back! convergence. Finally, to offer a historical reference point to those seeking to take action against arms traffickers today, we revisited the Smash EDO campaign in Britain a decade ago.
This coming year, we hope to publish more work about the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
In January, police murdered Manuel Terán, known as Tortuguita to their fellow forest defenders. Tortuguita had been occupying Weelaunee Forest in Atlanta for months, and bravely chose to reoccupy it after a police raid the previous December. The thousands of people who have participated in the movement to Stop Cop City have kept Tortuguita’s memory alive in defiance of the forces of repression and erasure.
In February, our longtime friend Jen Angel was killed in Oakland, California. Jen spent her life building infrastructure for anarchist organizing, publishing, and relationships.
On April 19, 2023, three anarchists were killed in battle near Bakhmut: an American named Cooper Andrews, an Irishman named Finbar Cafferkey, and a Russian named Dmitry Petrov. We published a biography of Dmitry. Over the course of a decade and a half, he had participated in revolutionary struggle in Russia, Belarus, Rojava, and Ukraine against a backdrop of intensifying tyranny. The story of his life offers insight into the recent history of the former Soviet Union. It is also an inspiring example of all the things an anarchist can accomplish, even in adverse conditions.
Active Distribution has published a small book collecting our biography alongside some of his writings and those of his comrades. PM Press is distributing these books in the United States now.
On December 6,1 anarchist insurrectionist and author Alfredo Bonanno passed away. Bonanno proposed the refusal of work and the pursuit of joyous revolt as revolutionary measures in the struggle against all forms of domination and despair; his ideas played an influential role in the development of our own collective projects. We prepared a short history of his life.
Finally, we want to give thanks for those we feared we might lose in 2023 who are still with us today. It was easy to imagine that Alfredo Cospito might not survive his hunger strike, but he did. Likewise, a participant in the confrontational demonstration in Sainte-Soline, France remained in a coma for many days because a police officer had attempted to kill him by firing a grenade at his head. Thankfully, Serge recovered.
In 2023, we participated in book fairs and presentations in the United States from Boston and New York to Sacramento and Oakland, as well as in Canada, Mexico, Ecuador, Brazil, England, Scotland, the Netherlands, Germany, Slovenia, and elsewhere.
One of the most exciting events of the year was the worldwide anarchist gathering in Saint-Imier, Switzerland. This festival celebrated the 151-year anniversary of the founding congress of the federation known as the Anti-Authoritarian International—the continuation of the International Workingmen’s [sic] Association, one of the most important European labor organizations of the 19th century. Drawing a reputed 5000 people—mostly from central Europe, but also from as far away as Chile and Australia—the gathering in Saint-Imier may have been the largest exclusively anarchist event of the year.
With the assistance of participants from Germany, Russia, Belarus, Finland, the United States, and elsewhere around the world, we published a thorough report on the gathering, and followed it up with a memoir reflecting specifically on dynamics and discourse around gender and sexuality at the gathering.
This year, to celebrate the umpteenth reprinting of our classic gender poster, we released a 2023 remix of that poster addressing the current threats to gender self-determination and the countervailing forms of solidarity and collective self-defense. Alongside those, we published a discussion of the ways that the battle lines in discourse about gender have shifted over the two decades since we debuted the original. It’s one of the more thoughtful and reflective texts we have completed this year.
In addition to those, we prepared posters in solidarity with Palestinians and with those who seek to defend the forest in Atlanta and elsewhere around the world. All of these are available to download, print out, and paste up on the walls of your community.
This year, we released fully five zines about the movement to Stop Cop City, covering the history of the movement in detail, the various strategies that participants have employed, the RICO charges, and more. These have been distributed in Atlanta and at support events all around the United States.
We also published zines offering a perspective from Palestine, discussing the fight for gender self-determination, describing how to survive a felony trial, and recounting the lessons of the “green scare,” the federal operation targeting ecological activists.
To make printing easier, we introduced a new “ink lite” option for printing our zines when you are short on toner.
After a lull in our audio efforts, we pulled together a new team to prepare audio versions of our articles. This year, we released 20 such “audio zines,” including five about efforts towards Palestinian solidarity and five about the Stop Cop City movement in Atlanta.
You can listen to all of them here.
Over the course of 2023, we published dozens of articles in Spanish; over a dozen in French, Italian, and Polish; and several articles each in Basque, Bulgarian, Chinese, Czech, German, Greek, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Turkish. We also added texts in Danish, Dutch, Japanese, and Kurdish. We’ve published posters and zines in many of those languages, as well. You can find a comprehensive guide to our non-English content here.
We are grateful to all the translators around the world who have worked with us to help us make our work accessible to more people. If you can help us translate anything we have published into any language, please contact us!
In honor of the life of Alfredo Bonanno, we made a short film dramatizing the final section of one of his best-known works, Armed Joy.
Finally, we invite you to participate in a holiday tradition by watching the 2023 edition of “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”
That hardly scratches the surface of everything we’ve accomplished this year—the adventures we’ve embarked on, the relationships we’ve nourished, the art forms we’ve shared. The most exciting parts rarely enter the public record!
As always, all of our efforts are copyright free, produced and distributed by volunteer labor. We’re not trying to concentrate power in our own hands, but to establish reproducible models and put resources at the disposal of horizontal movements. This explains why we rarely pester you with fundraising requests. If you wish to support us financially, you can do so here—but the very best thing you could do for us is to undertake your own projects in the same spirit, or participate in our efforts.
Thank you for sticking with us through another year. We look forward to what is ahead.