Alternative Libertaire: États-Unis M1 au pays des capitaux, des libertaires chez l’oncle Sam

The following is an article from M1 to the February edition of the newspaper of the French organization, Alternative Libertaire (AL). AL contacted us asking for a review of who we are, our activity, and further thoughts on anarchist strategies. AL also asked for some outlines of the participation of anarchist revolutionaries in the U.S. Occupy movement.

We appreciate AL for giving us the opportunity to communicate to the broader anarchist and libertarian movements globally. The AL article was translated from English to French and suffers from some small mistakes. First, M1 is not a member of the international Anarkismo network. We encourage greater collaboration with Anarkismo, contribute documents to their website, and when and where possible demonstrate solidarity with their project and member groups. But we have not endorsed the Anarkismo statement.

Second, in outlining the type of activity that M1 see’s as important, we mentioned a few different formations including the Ontario based Steel City Solidarity project. We support Steel City’s work, their victories, and would like to promote their activity as models for “class intervention” by the broad anti-authoritarian and anarchist movements. However, M1 does not have any members in Steel City Solidarity. Our mention was a nod of support to our friends in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

We have provided the link to the Alternative Libertaire article and included the full English version below.

États-Unis M1 au pays des capitaux, des libertaires chez l’oncle SamFirst of May Anarchist Alliance – ou plus vite dit M1 – a été créé à l’occasion du 1er mai 2010 aux États-Unis. Formée à l’origine de groupes affinitaires réunis autour de projets militants, M1 est aussi membre d’Anarkismo. Sur fond d’analyse du mouvement Occupy, elle présente ses positions.

« Lève-toi/ Ce système il faut le renverser/ Tu devrais en avoir marre/ Renverse le système/ Lève-toi ! », chantait le MC Boots Riley, du groupe militant The Coup appellant à la grève générale et à la fermeture des ports le 12 décembre 2011. Le mouvement Occupy a engendré une escalade des formes de résistance au système : grèves, blocages de port et actions directes. Si les manifestations de masse dans les villes étasuniennes ne reflètent pas toutes la pratique et les idées du mouvement, elles expriment bien un réel potentiel d’élargissement et d’évolution de la critique de classe et de l’État. Anticapitalisme, anti autoritarisme, actions collectives innovantes et expérimentales font partie de ces nouveaux mouvements. Depuis leur tout début, anarchistes révolutionnaires, radicaux d’extrême gauche, anticapitalistes et syndicalistes libertaires – tels les IWW – se sont impliqués dans les AG, les comités et la résistance active.    Read more.


“You got to get up right now/ You got to turn this system upside down/ Your supposed to be fed up right now/ Turn the system upside down/ Get Up!”. – Get Up by the Coup


Radical Hip Hop MC Boots Riley of The Coup lends his support and music to recent organizing video# for a December 12th, 2011 General Strike and shipping port shutdown in the United States. The attempts at strikes and disruptions are the latest in an escalation of resistance to the functioning of the system and is directly emboldened by the emergence of the Occupy movements. While the mass social protests in some U.S. cities don’t necessarily reflect the politics and practice of the Occupy movements as a whole these movements do contain and express real potentials for the development of a broad and evolving critique of class society and the State. Anti-capitalism, anti-authoritarianism, creative and experimental forms of collective action are all a part of these new movements. From the beginning radical anti-authoritarians, anarchist revolutionaries and anti-capitalist and left libertarian union militants such as those within the Industrial Workers of the World[1] have been involved in the organizing and activity of the general assemblies, working groups and subcommittees, and active resistance.


In a joint communiqué First of May Anarchist Alliance (M1) and the anarchist and libertarian socialist journal, The Utopian[2], commented,


“…we believe it is crucial for all anarchists to participate in this movement and work to build it. We also think it is essential that we explicitly propagandize and organize for both anarchist methods of struggle and for an anti-authoritarian social vision/program. We urge all of our groupings, formal and informal, while remaining free to experiment in these matters, to recognize the need for some degree of ongoing coordination and, at critical moments, the effective concentration of our forces. Weakness and disorganization in this respect will allow important events and possibilities to pass us by as well as allow attacks on the autonomy of the movement to go unanswered”.


While this excerpt is particular to the Occupy movement it nonetheless indicates the general orientation of M1 to activity within the working class and social struggles. M1 is a specific anarchist organization launched Mayday 2010. Previously we had existed as an informal anarchist affinity group. M1 members had collaborated over many years through an array of radical projects including antifascist, immigrant solidarity, labor, and anti-war/anti-militarist.


We founded M1 on four principles: 1) a commitment to revolution; 2) a working class orientation; 3) a non-doctrinaire anarchism; 4) a non-sectarian and multi-layered approach to organization. These principles are elaborated in our initial political document, Our Anarchism[3]. It is with this document that we highlight the commonalities we have with other social revolutionary trends within the anarchist tradition as well as our differences and points or departure.


Through M1 we attempt to develop collective estimates and analysis of 1) our immediate activity and organizing, and 2) the broader social-political terrain. This analysis helps in the determination of strategic considerations and approaches for intervention. M1 is based on a solid activist and interventionist model.  It is the emphasis on strategy and action that differentiates M1 from many other North American anarchist groupings.


We consider that strides towards more theoretical and tactical unity would tend to flow from practice and analysis rather than proceed from a necessarily more abstract and less tested programmatic/theoretical unity that could conceal actual differences.


This said we are not content with creating loose networks. We are for the creation of an organized and effective anarchist/anti-authoritarian Federation. Revolutionary organization and strengthening anarchism presently would best be served in our view by collaborating through joint-work in ways that both expand already existing initiatives and struggles or through creating new formations that could heighten the profile of radical and revolutionary anti-authoritarian approaches to social questions.


We consider this process a type of tendency building rather than the creation of a unitary organization. Within this revolutionary anarchist tendency our respective organizations would continue to test their own approaches and ideas while contributing to these collaborative projects.


It is this approach that we define as “non sectarian and multi-layered”. In some respects this mirrors the dual organizationalism of many Platformist and Especifist groupings.


However, we are not convinced that the binary concept of dual organizationalism is adequately representative of our activity. While we have created M1 as a specific organization we emphasize the need for a multiplicity of formations collaborating in constructive and creative processes; a diversity of revolutionary organizations collaborating on determined initiatives as well as undertaking autonomous projects. Between these organizations is ongoing dialogue and debate on strategy and method.


Some of these initiatives are of a popular, semi-mass character and are autonomous from the long-term and specific anarchist and anti-authoritarian organizations.  The role of revolutionary anarchists is to assist in the building and organization of these popular movements, helping to maintain the participatory and directly democratic nature, while simultaneously identifying, drawing out and promoting the radical anti-system currents and potentialities of these movements. The revolutionary union movements (Industrial Workers of the World); radical anti-racist/anti-fa (Anti-Racist Action and Antifascist Action); and independent class struggle direct action networks (SeaSol and Steel City Solidarity ) are examples that represent the movements revolutionary anarchists must continue to participate in and build.


It is our experience that individuals, unconnected or not necessarily partisans of any one political sect, find it compelling to join broader initiatives which thereby they would be affiliating with our movements while gaining access to varied anarchist takes and viewpoints. This aids in enhancing their personal education in both radical politics and anarchism. The revolutionary anarchist movement gains in its methods being studied, tested, supported and advanced through practice.


The wave of global protest is opening up real space for class struggle and social revolutionary anarchists. M.A.S., W.S.A., Common Struggle / Common Struggle / Lucha Común, Common Cause, and Union Communiste Libertaire[4] are all directly involved with Occupy and anti-austerity resistance. M1 has attempted to coordinate with these organizations as well as with revolutionary anti-capitalist forces of the broader libertarian left[5]. Returning to the issue of the general strikes and port shutdowns there is a growing sense of political and social possibility outside of and independent of the domination of the system. While we would not consider that these protest movements exist as either a counter-hegemonic bloc or a dual power against the system, they do contain elements that may prefigure a developing radical alternative.


However there are risks and challenges ahead. The anarchist and radical left are a minority and still evolving. We lack resources, infrastructure and numbers. While our movements are expanding and developing a wider base of support, the emerging fight will demand much more from us.


It is clear that the initial stages of the popular Occupy experiments were a mixed bag. Numerous tensions, political factions, and some anti-social elements contributed to a lack of political and organizational cohesion, if not for outright disarray, in varying degrees from locality to locality. Yet the protest movements have remained a popular and generally dynamic concept. It is clear that the Occupy movements can sustain themselves in some form or the other. This makes Occupy attractive to factions of the ruling class (notably the Democratic Party) and their quasi-independent proxies (the union bureaucracies).


We saw on the Nov 17th National Day of Action Against Austerity and in Solidarity with Occupy concerted coordination and action by the Service Employee International Union (SEIU) in many cities. In NYC SEIU President Mary Kay Henderson was arrested. The SEIU is one of the largest U.S. business unions mixing a top-down staff-driven, corporatist organizing approach with an aggressive rightwing social-democratic lobbying/electoral strategy. While the SEIU is but one of the many business unions in the United States (and U.S. colonized territories such as Puerto Rico) this has made the SEIU a formidable force in the realm of U.S. labor relations.


In Detroit the SEIU working through their campaign, Good Jobs Now, lead an attempted occupation and shut down of a main road leading to the International Detroit-Windsor Bridge crossing. This was promoted as an “Occupy Detroit” event, even though there was no coordination between the various local occupy groups and it has come to light that SEIU organizers told Occupy organizers to stay away. In Chicago, SEIU attempted a shut down of a major downtown bridge. And so on and so forth across the country. None of this is coincidence. We should be assuming that the SEIU and other union bureaucracies are attempting to define an alternate strategy for the “99%”.


Seemingly to appear from below, this strategy will materialize as a militant form of social democracy. The road and bridge blockades and occupations; anti-eviction campaigns and the re-housing people in foreclosed homes; civil disobedience with actual arrests; etc., all of this is intended to present what would appear to be a radical activist agenda capable of attracting in a popular way any and all peoples who have become politicized in the current climate and want to act. To many people, on a tactical level, these actions may very well be indiscernible from the revolutionary anarchists and radical left. What is different is that the union beauracracies are for system reform via a quasi-direct action, where we are for an anti-capitalist, anti-system revolutionary politic expressed through mass direct action. The business unions want to capture, contain, and ultimately channel this movement into some form of electoral strategy for the re-election of President Barak Obama and his Democratic Party. We are for organizing in ways that aid in the development of an independent, creative and confrontational set of politics that undermines the legitimacy of the system.


For more information on our activities including current campaigns we would direct readers to our website:

[2] FROM OCCUPATION TO EXPROPRIATION! Build on the Anarchist and Revolutionary Potentialities of the Occupy Wall Street Movement,


[3] First of May Anarchist Alliance, Our Anarchism,


[4] Many of these anarchist and libertarian organizations are collaborating in a new network,


[5] D12 Hella Occupy publication,