user preferences

New Events


no event posted in the last week

Report from St. Imier International Congress, 8th-12th August 2012

category international | anarchist movement | news report author Monday September 10, 2012 22:28author by Collective Action Report this post to the editors

This year marks the 140 year anniversary of the first anarchist International held at St.Imier, Switzerland, in 1872. In celebration of the anniversary an international gathering was called in St.Imier in mid-August. A contingent of Collective Action militants attended the gathering along with thousands of other anarchists from around the world to discuss politics, create new international ties and, of course, have some fun.

Report from St. Imier International Congress, 8th-12th August 2012

This year marks the 140 year anniversary of the first anarchist International held at St.Imier, Switzerland, in 1872. In celebration of the anniversary an international gathering was called in St.Imier in mid-August. A contingent of Collective Action militants attended the gathering along with thousands of other anarchists from around the world to discuss politics, create new international ties and, of course, have some fun.

From August 8th to the 12th, the small Swiss town was taken over by anarchists attending the gathering. It was hard to calculate the exact number of attendees as the venues and sleeping sites was spread across the entire town and there was a constant flow of people leaving and joining the gathering throughout the week, but estimates have ranged from 2,000 to 4,000. Needless to say with such huge numbers of attendees, and an international gathering of this magnitude being so rare for the current generation of anarchists, the organisation of the event held up in many areas but also had it shortcomings.

The accommodation for the attendees consisted of three camp sites and a sports hall hired by the organisers, and many more attendees hiring out hotel rooms and houses. The two biggest camp sites were located on top of Mount Soleil, and for a small fee of 10 Swiss Francs transport from St. Imier to Mount Soleil was provided for the duration of the gathering via a funicular. The Collective Action militants were staying in one of these camp sites on Mount Soleil and the facilities provided were very good. There was an adequate amount of toilets and hot showers available all day and night. A kitchen was present to provide breakfast every morning and then double up as a bar to provide alcohol in the evening. The camp sites were big enough for everyone’s tents and allowed enough room for fires in the evening that provided a good environment to drink and get to socialise with comrades from around the world. Despite the chilling nights and one alcohol induced violent situation the accommodation was well organised and made as comfortable as camping can be.

The food throughout the gathering was fantastic! There were three kitchens in all organised by three different food collectives. One kitchen already mentioned was located in the Mount Soleil camp sites that only provided breakfast. The other two kitchens were located in St. Imier, one by the book fair and the second in the middle of the town conveniently located between the venues. The two kitchens in St. Imier provided breakfast, lunch and dinner, and tea, coffee and water throughout the day. Considering the huge amount of people the kitchens had to provide food for, all the meals well cooked, tasty and well proportioned. The kitchens were well organised and based on co-operation allowing people outside of the kitchen collectives to prepare and serve food. There was a recommended daily donation of 10 Swiss Francs per day for the meals and unfortunately it appears that not everyone respected this because on the last day the kitchens were stressing that they were currently down 3,000 Swiss Francs.

All the daily activities took place in St. Imier, and the social centre, ‘Espace Noir’, was the main hub. There were another 7 venues spread across the town that were holding talks, round-tables, gigs and movie showings throughout the week, and the local ice rink was drained for the week long book fair. Unfortunately the spaces, organisation and content of the talks had many shortcomings.

The format to the talks was too open and at times frustratingly disorganised. Minus a few talks there was no system in place for translations which lead to many talks opening by asking if someone was able/willing to translate x language into y and z. It wasted a lot of time that could have been used to talk about more topics in greater detail and, at its worst, lead to arguments and vital details being lost in translation.

The content for many of the talks and round tables also lacked depth. A lot of them felt like introductions to topics, which is fine if talks are provided for the more seasoned anarchist as well, which in this case were not. Anarchists from all over the world were present and not enough effort was made to allow the experiences faced by anarchists in different regions of the world to be shared. Moreover the talks were frustratingly retrospective, which again is not a bad thing if they are balanced out with talks on praxis, or used to highlight problems we face today, but this was not the case. Historic internationals have debated both the social ills of the day as well as attempting to find unity on the relevant praxis to create a coherent anarchist response but this was missing from many of the presentations. There is by no means a shortage of topics in this area - from new social movements (like Occupy and anti-austerity coalitions) to the emergence of new tactics in struggle ( like direct unionism or insurrrectionary riots). Instead references to these things were either cursory or needlessly triumphalist, for example, uncritically citing the Occupy movement as a "gain" for anarchist ideas. Areas of essential interest, such as the situation in Greece, were presented by outside observers and raised disputes from Greek activists in attendance. The plenary was also marred by a similar incoherence of political vision with interventions ranging from the essential adoption of Esperanto to the need for the formation of a parliamentary party!

We were also forced to question as to why in a congress held in the middle of an economic crisis, and presented publicly to the press as "an anarchist response to debt", was only one round-table devoted to the subject. This meeting, billed as 'the Crisis and the PIIGS', also raised critical questions on the interpretation and cause of the crisis, particularly the views of the IAF-IFA representative that it could be largely attributed to the activity of a select core of financial institutions and banks. However aside from the intervention of a member of the CGA (Coordantion des Groupes Anarchistes) and the excellent presentation by Paul Bowman of the Workers Solidarity Movement (the technicalities of which I suspect were largely lost in translation) no space for debate and criticism was permitted on this topic in the limited time available. This should have been a central theme of the congress.

There was also a lack of gender and colour politics, no safe space from the beginning and next to zero accessibility for the disabled. As a movement we need to be tackling problems of inclusiveness and accessibility, and creating a safe environment for everyone to express their opinions, concerns and struggles so we can learn to counteract these areas of struggle. Unfortunately, this seems to be a problem still prevalent within the international anarchist movement.

The general organisation of the event was carried out by a small collective that spent most of its time isolated in a room in Espace Noir. If another international gathering is called in the future it would be great to see anarchist principles of co-operation and shared responsibility at the forefront of the organising. If this were the case we probably would see a lot of the highlighted problems remedied. In spite of the negatives we would like to congratulate the organisers of the gathering as the amount of hours put in to organising such an event must be astronomical, but we should learn not to make the same mistakes twice.

During the gathering the CA militants were able to build new international contacts and further forward some debates within our own theory. The Anarkismo tent and delegates had the biggest influence on us, showed the highest level of organisation as well as, in spite of a more limited programme, the clearest political content. This included an excellent presentation by the FARJ (Federação Anarquista do Rio de Janeiro) on the history and lessons to be drawn from the First International, something again that was conspicuously missing from the main programme. It was also one of the few disabled accessible spaces.

One stand-out talk we attended was by a Zimbabwean comrade known as Biko - connected to the Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front (ZACF) - on the historical and contemporary political and economic situation in Zimbabwe. The talk was comprehensive, eye opening and the start of a new friendship for us. It gave us an opportunity to hear about the situation in Zimbabwe from the other side of the news coverage. This was presented as an anarchist communist perspective but also incorporated the experiences and problems faced by everyday workers and trade unionists when trying to organise against the regime. Despite huge repression Biko and his comrades have organised around four fronts consisting of a political studies circle, an arts collective, an Indymedia collective and a permaculture collective that provides herbal remedies for HIV sufferers in communities where medical treatment is inaccessible. The ‘Uhuru Network’ has managed to set up a commune where the four fronts can live collectively. Biko supplied us with CDs made by the network to sell here in the UK - they will be up on our website shortly - and CA will be putting on benefit gigs for these comrades to help supply them with literature and printing equipment for the political studies circle, and recording equipment for the arts collective.

Our meeting with Anarkismo delegates was a high point of the gathering for us, and we would like to send our thanks to them for providing such an informed, stimulating debate. It felt encouraging to be talking and debating comrades that share our passion for political education and critical thinking. It was uplifting to know that some were using an international forum to exchange and debate theories and praxis to better understand how anarchists today need to organise. The breadth of experience was truly astounding and it was great to conduct discussions with like-minded people from across the globe. This was in contrast to other parts of the gathering where it felt that Swiss, French and German (perhaps understandably) anarchists were over-represented.

In all, for the CA militants attending, the gathering was highly enjoyable. As in all big meetings it is often the conversations and debates conducted outside of the official meetings that prove must useful and it was great to be around so many funny, caring and interesting people. We didn’t feel like the shortcomings were big enough to make the gathering unsuccessful but they gave us lessons to take forward to any future international gatherings.

Related Link:
This page can be viewed in
English Italiano Deutsch

Front page

The party is haunting us again

[Colombia] Declaración Constitutiva de Acción Libertaria Estudiantil

Flora Tristán: precursora del feminismo y de la emancipación proletaria

Bil'in - 10 years of persistent joint struggle

In solidarity with the NO TAV struggle

Wave of arrests in Ireland as state tries to break water charges movement

Não se intimidar, não desmobilizar! Toda nossa solidariedade ao companheiro Vicente!

After the election of Syriza in Greece - Power is not in Parliament

[Chile] Movimiento Estudiantil: ¿En dónde debemos enfocar nuestros esfuerzos?

Je ne suis pas Charlie

México en llamas: raíces y perspectivas de una lucha que avanza y la crisis de un sistema político

Sobre la liberación de prisioneros y el restablecimiento de relaciones diplomáticas, por los gobiernos de Cuba y EE.UU.

No to Golden Dawn in Australia!

Abusos y arbitrariedad - retención de JOSÉ A. GUTIÉRREZ, en el bajo Caguán, Caquetá

Could a Revolution Happen in the US?

An Anarchist Communist Reply to ‘Rojava: An Anarcho-Syndicalist Perspective’

Lutar e vencer fora das urnas

In the Rubble of US Imperialism

Elementos da Conjuntura Eleitoral 2014

The experiment of West Kurdistan (Syrian Kurdistan) has proved that people can make changes

[Chile] EL FTEM promueve una serie de “jornadas de debate sindical”

Ukraine: Interview with a Donetsk anarchist

The present confrontation between the Zionist settler colonialist project in Palestine and the indigenous working people

Prisões e mais criminalização marcam o final da Copa do Mundo no Brasil

International | Anarchist movement | News Report | en

Tue 31 Mar, 04:06

browse text browse image

amara.jpg imageAnarchist Women: "Long Live Freedom, Long Live Anarchism!" 00:08 Thu 01 Jan by Anarşist Kadınlar 0 comments

Anarchist Women attending to the Young Women Conference, in a small village Amara which is in Urfa (Kurdistan), made a speech on the resistance in Kobane, the effect of women on this resistance and women's freedom struggle.

anarkismotent.jpg imageDelegation returns from International Anarchist Gathering at St Imier 16:13 Wed 22 Aug by Andrew Flood 4 comments

August saw a gathering of a couple of thousand anarchists from all over the globe in St Imier, Switzerland. This small town was the site of the founding of the Anarchist International in 1872, the gathering was organised to commemorate this event and involved dozens of political, organisational & cultural events. As part of this gathering Anarkismo, the international network that the WSM is the Irish section of, held both a European conference and a global gathering. [Italiano]

ainfos2.jpg imageAnnouncing the addition of the Greek language to the A-Infos project 16:49 Tue 03 Mar by Ilan Shalif 0 comments

The A-infos Collective is proud to announce the addition of a new Greek list to our project.
(A sister to the new born Chinese of three weeks ago and to the older Castellano Deutsch Dutch English Français Italiano Português Türkçe)
The defunct Català, Polski, Russkyi, Suomi, and Svenska sections are waiting for new editors in order to be resurrected...

textAInfos news service adds Chinese language section 17:30 Sat 14 Feb by Ilan S. 0 comments

Ainfos collective is proud to announce the addition of the Chinese section to our multilingual internet information project.

It is joining our other 8 active language sections of Spanish, German, Dutch, English French, Italian, Portuguese, Turkish.

textGood Bye 2007 14:35 Mon 14 Jan by bh 1 comments

Collectif anarchist La Nuit Year in Review

textAsian Anarchist Network (AAN) 12:55 Wed 19 Dec by yerry - Indonesia 0 comments

An international mailing list has been setup recently for Asian anarchists and those interested in the practice of anarchism in Asia. People have been sending in introductions and members hail from all over: Japan, Singapore, Vietnam, etc. Follow this link to subscribe:

Those interested in this topic may wish to check out two resources on this site: Libero International & Resources on Asian Anarchism (

languages.jpg imageAddition of Dutch and Arabic language categories to 22:55 Mon 12 Feb by Anarkismo 1 comments

As part of the expansion of last week we added distinct categories for the Dutch and Arabic languages.

textTenth Anniversary of An Anarchist FAQ! 18:07 Wed 19 Jul by Iain McKay 0 comments

Thisis the tenth anniversary of the Anarchist FAQ marked by an update to version 11.7 for the 19th of July, 2006.

textNew Anarcho-Literature from Zabalaza Books 15:32 Fri 19 May by Zabalaza Books 0 comments

The Zabalaza Books site has just been updated with some new literature in PDF format which can be downloaded. The new material includes revolutionary history, leaflets and posters.

hiroshima_adisabledcomrade05806a.jpg imagethese pix show you our demo in Hiroshima. 22:00 Tue 30 Aug by rebel_JILL 0 comments

these are pix of an anarchist-demo in hiroshima.

more >>

imageBridges between Anarchism and Democratic Confederalism Feb 21 by BrunoL 1 comments

Introduction: discussing the party model and mission – 1

Since the beginning of the Kobane siege by Daesh (ISIS) the Kurdish left, and specifically the Rojava model of social organisation has been studied and followed by several organisations, activists, networks and committed scholars. I decided to collaborate with to produce a series of short articles to expose (and prove) the similarities between the western (and not western too) anarchist tradition and democratic confederalism. While one of my concentrated areas of study is political theory (and radical political theory), I decided to help in drawing the parallels between both paths and familiarising them to one another. I hope this will help and all criticisms are welcome. [Italiano]

imageKevin Carson’s Revival of Individualist Anarchist Economic Theory Nov 30 by Wayne Price 2 comments

This is a review of Kevin Carson's "Studies in Mutualist Political Economy". Carson seeks to revive individualist anarchist economic theory. Taking from Marxist and pro-capitalist economic theories, he tries to develop an anarchist economics which can analyze existing capitalism as well as provide a model for a market-based but non-capitalist stateless economy.

imageA Response to Rojava: An anarcho-syndicalist perspective Nov 14 by Hüseyin Civan 0 comments

We are not fortunetellers, we can't possibly know what will happen in Rojava a month or a year from now. We can't know that this social transformation which not only gives us hope as revolutionaries that struggle in a geographically close region, but also feeds our struggle in the regions that we struggle in, would move towards a positive or negative future. But we are revolutionary anarchists. We can't just sit aside, watch what's happening and comment; we take part in social struggles and take action for an anarchist revolution.

imageStuart Christie's Preface to "Black Flame: the revolutionary class politics of anarchism and syndica... May 11 by Red and Black Action 0 comments

Stuart Christie's Preface to Lucien van der Walt and Michael Schmidt, "Black Flame: the revolutionary class politics of anarchism and syndicalism" (AK Press, San Francisco)

imageThe Political Thought of Errico Malatesta Mar 08 by Felipe Corrêa 1 comments

This text is divided into four main parts for the presentation of Malatesta’s political thought: a.) a brief description of the author’s life, the political environment in which he found himself and his main interlocutors; b.) a theoretical-epistemological discussion, which differentiates science from doctrine/ideology and, therefore, the methods of analysis and social theories of anarchism. A notion that will be applied to the discussion of Malatestan thought itself; c.) theoretical-methodological elements for social analysis; d.) conception of anarchism and strategic positions. [Português]

more >>

image"Black Flame" blog updated again Dec 13 0 comments

The Black Flame blog has just been updated. The blog collates news, views and reviews of Lucien van der Walt and Michael Schmidt's book, "Black Flame: the revolutionary class politics of anarchism and syndicalism".

imageNew Zabalaza Books website Sep 08 Zabalaza Books [ZACF] 0 comments

The Zabalaza Books pages have moved to the new ZB site.

imageConference of European Anarkismo organizations in London Mar 23 Anarkismo European Coordination 0 comments

On the weekend of 26-27 February 2011, delegates representing organizations from the UK, France, Switzerland, Norway, Denmark, Ireland and Italy met to discuss how they could work more closely together. [Dansk] [Deutsch] [Italiano] [Ελληνικά] [Nederlands]

videoComunique from A(A)A. Anon Anarchist Action Feb 24 Anon Anarchist Action 0 comments

In the last few years, Anonymous has gained increasing notoriety for its action against websites, agencies and organizations that promote censorship and control. It has helped spread information and supported protestors demanding freedoms and rights. But the popularity of the movement, the attention it brings along, and the structure it has engendered threaten to push Anonymous away from the decentralized, collective movement it has been. As decisions become more centralized and newcomers jump on the bandwagon, Anonymous risks becoming yet another ineffective reformist group, fueled by well-meaning rethoric but subject to third party interests and paralyzed by its fear of authority...

imageNew Book: Anarchism & Socialism: Reformism or Revolution? Aug 26 0 comments

Anarchism & Socialism: Reformism or Revolution?
by Wayne Price

From the Foreword by Andrew Flood (Workers Solidarity Movement--Ireland):

"This collection of essays by Wayne Price…will hopefully play a significant part in helping us build the movement we need…..This volume represents a good foundation to this process. It revisits many of the essential basic questions and lays down a coherent position in regard to them. Wayne's insights are important to us because they are based not just on a theoretical study of revolution but on five decades of practical experience in the North American left and the anarchist movement"

more >>
© 2005-2015 Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by [ Disclaimer | Privacy ]