This is a travel report about my trip to St. Imiere to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the first Anti-authoritarian International. The back story is that 150 years ago Bakunin held its congress there which marks the separation between the communist and the anarchist movement.

The trip was an autonomously organized camp with lots of workshops and concerts. Everyone could propose a workshop or support spontaneously. Instead of complaining that the lines at the food distribution were too long, one could volunteer to distribute food by oneself. Thus, there was no clear separation between producer and consumer as is usually the case in our society.

All prices were so-called “suggested prices”, which means that you could pay more or less. The people there did not care that much about money. The camping site was extremely clean and quiet and could not be compared at all to the camp sites at metal festivals which are usually full of dirt and drunk people partying the whole night.

My first workshop was about activist climbing. At the introduction round everyone had to say its pronouns which felt really weird to me. Then, you should not say Prusik knot, because Prusik was a nazi. Instead we called it a caterpillar. One of the goals of the climbing was to make it as cheap as possible, so everyone could participate. Consequently, there was not much else than two caterpillars and a figure eight descender. This made it very tedious and did not feel as secure as the Grigri I was accustomed to. I wondered if i was really at the correct place. There were a lot of workshops about feminism, queerness, and related topics. These are not my activist struggles. I care about animal rights, cheap living space, open source software, Assange support, Black Metal, privacy technologies, criticism of surveillance capitalism, criticism of consumerism, making home-made jam instead of buying some overpriced capitalist sugar-shit, ….

I was planning to leave the next day, but then I got into a conversation with my neighbor at the camping ground. He was able to cheer me up, as he also had different struggles. He was a punk. Currently he was working at medieval fairs. During the corona years he lived in a rainbow community in Colombia that had problems with theft. Any time someone wanted to expel a thief from the community, some hippie shielded the thief as expelling was against the rainbow ideals. This brought down the whole community.

All in all, the people were extremely intelligent and had stimulating views on life. It was easy to get into a conversation, especially when waiting in a queue or volunteering for a shift.

There was a workshop on anti-authoritarian money. Money solidifies power structure and the open question was if that always has to be the case. In the other hand, money is a comparatively cheap way to settle ownership disputes. My friends from university who were also doing research on blockchains would have had fun. (I’m thinking of you, Ketzu.) Another question was how a collective should handle money that it receives from outside by selling products. If you, dear reader, want to go down that rabbit hole, start reading about value networks or gift economy.

One workshop was held by the Anarchist Black Cross of Moscow. This is a prisoner support organisation that currently supports a lot of the political prisoners that protest against the Ukraine war. One interesting point for me was, that prisoner’s support is a low-risk form of activism, and was not declared illegal even in stalinist times. Also interesting to note is that according to the Black Cross funding lawyers is not unnecessary, even though they cannot change the outcome of a process, as the lawyers may be the only ones allowed to speak to the prisoners and thus they are necessary for staying in contact with them.

At some workshops nobody organized them. This was only apparent after 20 minutes in. It was very interesting to see how the people then started organizing themselves. Sometimes this worked, e.g., at the singing workshop. Sometimes this kind of failed. At the workshop about wild practices, we decided to do some stretching. We stood in a circle and everyone had to suggest a movement which then all of us have to do. One movement was howling like a wolf and stretching. It was like a dream of some weird experimental educator. Before everyone had their turn, i asked my neighbor to go into the woods and do a walk and share some skills. This idea was picked up by the others and we walked into the nearby forest and had some discussions and skillsharing. Then, some people decided they wanted to build a bow drill to start a fire. I and a guy from Britain did not think that this would work, but neither of us wanted to be the arrogant negative guy standing around, so we just watched the others and talked. Of course, the bow drill never worked.

There was a workshop about psychedelic substances on the question of legalisation, decriminalization, or communalization. The question was if a legalization would lead to psychedelic substances being fed into the capitalist machine and the creation of precarious work and how that could be prevented. Currently, the creation of psychedelics works like growing tomatoes on a porch, or like sharing cooking recipes. “Share it, don’t sell it”, was something we could agree on.

Another highlight for me was the book fair. There was everything from large publishers to some hobby projects of people that printed some zines in their back yard. I was very impressed that the people were more concerned with making their ideas known than with making money. Again, most of the prices were just suggested. Special shout-out to the anarcho-nihilist Belgians from the post office distro.

All in all, it was great. Five of five stars. Would do again. I really got some impulses for life and thinking about society and money in a different way that will nourish me for a long time. Special thanks to the organizers and all the people who made that event possible. Thanks to all the people for the nice discussions.


30 July 2023