Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Beer & Revolution: Roundtable Discussion on Borders and Movement

This month Beer & Revolution's format is switching from hosting speakers to a roundtable discussion format. The discussion topic will be "Borders and Movement," and we've invited two Phoenix area collectives busy fighting the militarization and ideology of the border. The good people of CAROB (Central Arizona Radicals Opposing Borders) and the O'odham Solidarity Across Borders Collective will be present to offer their perspectives on how we can give the heave-ho to the current society of misery and domination, and start some kind of new project of freedom. This will be an open discussion, and as always we encourage participation, criticism, discussion, and new ideas.

This is the fourth monthly Beer & Revolution meet-up for valley anarchists, last month PCWC brought out northern Arizona anarchist Joel Olson for a chat on fanaticism and the struggle against white supremacy (audio can be heard here). Over 30 anarchists and other politically minded people came out for an engaging discussion, the usual selection of tasty beers on tap, and the opportunity to meet new folks from around the valley.

Join us for Beer & Revolution this Sunday, Saturday 13, as usual this will kick off at 9 PM and the discussion will get started after 9:30 and will be held at Boulders on Broadway in Tempe. This event is free, non-drinkers are welcome too, and don't forget to bring a friend as well! See you this Sunday, cheers!


crudo said...

That's an awesome graphic.

withoutrezzz said...

I just stumbled upon this...Beer and revolution? Alcohol has been a colonial tool of the oppressor against Indigenous Peoples throughout the world. Im suspect of any "revolution" that starts in the bars... it reeks of white frat boys in disguise. Interested in a response:

Phoenix Insurgent said...

You're gonna want to read this because it is part of what inspired us:

Beer and Revolution: Some Aspects of German Anarchist Culture in New York, 1880-1900

Also, I don't think anyone said a revolution was going to start in the bars. It is certainly not our position. The bar is a social space that we are utilizing with a good amount of success to expand the areas that are considered political and to promote discussion of anarchist and anti-authoritarian ideas. Those who do not drink are free not to do so, and those who cannot be around alcohol can stay away and attend other events.

In the interest of discussion, please clarify your position.

Hit us back through email if you want at

withoutrezzz said...

Youre right, you dont say youre initiating a revolution, your statement is of a "realization of social revolution". The "realization" is still bound to a capitalist institution and industry that is very much exclusive and exploitative (advertising, etc). Or is the bar worker owned and operated? And would that even matter?

Aside from i've already stated, these are potential issues i see with your event:
1. Accessibility
- What about youth? No one under 21 is allowed in your "realization of revolution".
- What about women who feel unsafe at bars? Should they just "stay away" as you suggest?
- Indigenous folks who understand the nature of the alcohol industry, its use as a military implement, and it's continued impacts on our communities.
Should they just stay away too?

2. Capitalism
- Aren't you ultimately patrons?
- Aren't you ultimately generating revenue for the owners of the establishment and the corporations who supply your beverage?
Why not a free and public space that is more inclusive?

"those who cannot be around alcohol can stay away and attend other events."

Ok, at least you have made your condition for participation clear. So it is an exclusive club.

Now on to the essay:

First of all, German's arent "immigrants" to the "amerikas", they are settler colonizers.
This essay doesn't help your cause.

The author of the essay proposes picnics as well as saloons, why not use the picnic example as a more inclusive community space? Or is that too FNBish?

The essay furthers the argument that anarchism just may be a white boy club:

"Why was it that the large majority of socialists and anarchists were from European descent? This typical pre-WWI phenomenon has been food for thought for many scholars, but it is significant to realize that it also troubled the German anarchists during the last two decades of the nineteenth-century. In a larger perspective, this brings to light the question of how inclusive an anarchist organization should be without compromising too much its own principles –an issue still relevant today."

Are you standing by these unclear euro-centric "principles" to maintain some type of exclusivity? Because that seems to be just what youre doing.

Phoenix Insurgent said...

We are not believers that every event be inclusive to all people. In my opinion, this is an impossible standard. What is more important is that there are a multiplicity of events to appeal to a wide variety of people. We fill a void and I can assure you that folks of all inclinations towards alcohol and backgrounds attend, including indigenous folks. Likewise, the bar is actually a restaurant, so I think accessability issues centering around age are generally not so much an issue.

Nevertheless, while I point that out in order to counter you claim, I want to re-emphasize that I in no way feel that B&R is bound by this criteria. One thing that PCWC has taken to heart is the idea that white folks need to be talking to white folks about race and class/settler society in a way that communicates to them the importance of challenging white supremacy as a strategy for bringing down capitalist society. I think if you look at the topics we have hosted, you will see that we achieve this. Will this particular project satisfy everyone? No. But I'm fine with that, especially since we utilize other methods to reach other people (the magazine, the upcoming broadsheet, tabling, speakers and other organizing projects). Our projects seek to undermine white supremacy, but it isn't our only criteria, so where you see apparent contradictions, what you may be seeing is an emphasis on one particular potentiality or mode over another. Also, while I appreciate the settler argument, I have to say that reducing German immigrants to NY in the late 19th to early 20th century to settlers doesn't exactly express the whole story.

But there is another narrative about alcohol and work. In much of American culture, alcohol was often a resistance strategy, and the bosses were pretty quick to ban it from factories and other places, including re-organizing workers lives in ways that prevented the drinking of alcohol. This strategy was often religious in nature (look into the Methodists and their relationship to the emergence of capitalist production, for example), but not only. Often it was also legal, too. Workers back in the day frequently used (and continue to use) alcohol and the social spaces it centers on as ways to attack capitalism in terms of shirking work and such. Back in the day, workers fleeing the enclosures fought pitched battles over drinking on lunches and taking Mondays and Tuesdays off for celebrations and festivals as a class war attack on the factory system. St. Monday and St. Tuesday, they were called. The point is that alcohol has frequently served a different role than you suggest. Reducing the argument to black and white doesn't cover it. The case is not universal and this is the space we operate in.

Is the bar a business? Yes, of course. As has been said, the capitalist will sell you the very rope you intend to hang him with. For me, the question is not whether we fit into some idea of anti-capitalist purity, because pre-rev such a thing does not exist. As I said, the point is not to be purists, but to politicize an otherwise de-politicized space (or, to turn it from a space of the recuperation of capital into an oppositional space). This has been successful, I believe. But, fortunately for everyone, this isn't the only project we engage in, so it isn't necessary for it to bear the burden of perfectness. It only has to fulfill it's criteria, which I believe it does. That said, I can tell you that we have organized picnics of the type you advocate.

I think the real problem with your argument is your attempt to get at a universitality that does not in fact exist as a real possibility. Because of that, I find the argument generally not useful when it comes to organizing in the real world. If you see a void in the general organizing that goes on in the Valley, I encourage you to fill it. The whole movement can only benefit should you do so.

Phoenix Insurgent said...

Also, I recommend the artice "Rise of the Saloon" by Roy Rozenzweig, which I will link below. His book "Eight Hours For What We Will: Workers and Leisure in an Industrial City, 1870-1920" is an interesting treatment of the conflicts between the capitalist class and the working class about the organization of daily life. It covers more than just bars. Check it out here: