By JESSICA MASULLI
Anarchists from all over Virginia gathered in Woodard Campus Center for the third meeting of the Virginia Anarchist Federation on Feb. 23.
The Anarchist Socialist Theory Club of Mary Washington hosted the meeting. The Virginia Anarchist Federation is in the process of creating a sustainable group so that anarchists can have connections throughout the state.
“It has already succeeded in uniting anarchists in different areas of the state,” said junior Sylvia Sierra.
“By uniting anarchists, we are not only able to do things to affect change, but also able to explore our ideology in order to make it practical rather than abstractly idealistic,” said sophomore Michael Isaacson.
The federation has had two meetings in Richmond, one in November and one in January.
“At the first meeting some proposals were made for how to structure it,” said junior Jeff May. “There were a lot of debates and issues weren’t solved.”
The next two meetings were much more organized, due to an effective facilitator and clear goals. At the second meeting, the points of unity were discussed and voted upon, but the wording was not finalized.
At the third meeting, the points of unity were agreed upon. They also talked about working groups such as propaganda and outreach.
The meetings can often take as long as six hours because the process of consensus voting is laborious. Everyone in the room must agree for a proposal to be passed, and if one person disagrees a discussion and clarification ensues.
“The people involved are really dedicated and educated about the cause,” said Connor Kow, a senior at James Madison High School. “But the process can be very draining.”
For Isaacson, the idea of starting an anarchist federation seemed contradictory.
“As I thought more about it, I realized that an organized collective such as federation could help to unite anarchists and demystify anarchism so as to make it both visible and active as well as relatable and accessible,” Isaacson said.
Many of the members of the VAF may be working toward different causes, but by creating a federation they are all joined and support various events. Most agree that society and the VAF should be run democratically and free of oppressive hierarchal structures.
A few of their fifteen points of unity from the VAF website includes: supportive of participatory direct democracy, supportive of a basic respect for all individuals, supportive of the creation of a stateless society, and opposed to a culture of militarism.
The difficulty with the points of unity comes from people having different ideologies and word choice.
“We all have different visions,” May said. “An anarchist Federation doesn’t work alone, but we can support and coordinate with other groups with similar causes.”
Many of the anarchists here at Mary Washington are very excited about the direction this group is taking.
“If it does grow, it is going to be awesome that we helped start it,” May said.
“I think that as long as we are focused on maintaining a non-hierarchical structure,” Isaacson said. “We won’t run into problems such as becoming a political party, becoming a guerrilla group, becoming a bail fund, etc.”
Susan Knick, the assistant vice president for public safety, said that there was no increased security for this event.