Reportback from May Day Festival – Olympia

received anonymously –

“Does a disdain for populist mass movements mean that we want to be alone in our struggle? That would certainly be a caricature of the insurrectionary. If the strongest motion of capitalism is the movement towards alienation, than the strongest attack would be the one that communicates, the one that connects us, the one that mixes us, the one that overcomes isolation. Burn everything but our bridges!” – A. G. Schwarz, The Riot or the Attack[1]

Anarchist struggle takes place on many different terrains – physical, (anti)economic, (anti)political, etc. – but the one that is most forgotten is social. The social terrain – the ways in which we relate to ourselves and each other and to strangers. It is on this terrain that different hierarchies – racial, national, gendered, abled, etc. – are either re-enforced or broken down giving space for new relations to flourish. The social terrain is the terrain of our every day lives and the basis of the reproduction of social relations.

I begin with this to put in context this report back – often reserved for demonstrations and attacks – and why I think the Anarchist May Day festival was important. It’s no secret that anarchists all over the country but maybe especially in the PNW have been having a rough time – between the (necessary) post uprising movement decomposition, COVID isolation, higher rent, more work (and more dangerous work due to COVID). It’s been hard to do anything but just barely scrape by – and in just barely scraping by we are too busy to be in each others’ lives, to analyze our conditions, to attack. That’s why I think this festival was so important for Olympia because – in my eyes – it constituted a not insignificant attack on isolation and alienation that has taken hold on many of us.

A day before the event was to take place the event was noticed by a particular right wing media personality who had inspired multiple mass shootings, and two right wing streamers who were in town with the “Freedom Convoy” publicly stated their intention to disrupt the event. This was obviously alarming and people came through to talk through options regarding the event. “Safety”, accessibility, and the need to be able to hold public events were all weighed together. I say “safety” in quotes because as anarchists we have enemies and our enemies take what we do seriously – while we are used to planning for the police we have to also be actively planning for disruption from the far right. This is a three way fight[2] after all. People decided to continue on with the event as planned – there wasn’t enough information on the plans and capacity of right wingers and we couldn’t be scared out of public eye by the simple threat of disruption because if we lose the ability to do public events we will only get smaller and weaker. This in mind, people made different plans for different scenarios and came prepared with medical supplies.

The day of the event came and not a single nationalist showed up! Even the police presence was surprisingly small and out of the way. What many people worried would be a total shit show ended up being an incredibly rejuvenating day. Around 50 people came through which is more than I’ve seen show up to any thing in Olympia since 2020! Kids from the local skate park came and hung out for a bit, and a few random people hanging in the park and living in the apartments behind it came by and chatted for a while as well. It wasn’t just a coming together of “us”, but also an important act of appearing in the lives of others as well.

Food and baked goods were shared, distros came through with zines, books, stickers, markers, weed, hormones and other goods, people brought plant starts and free clothes. Connecting us to our history of struggle was an alter to fallen anarchists and others killed by the state, and a pinata of the Seattle federal courthouse that got smashed in 2012 was made (and filled with candy, condoms, matches, and other such things) and smashed to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the smashing and surviving the repression and grand jury that followed.

It was a huge success and after a particular grueling and isolating two years a breath of fresh air and – if we want it bad enough – a sign of the spring and summer to come. These moments of coming together are crucial to remember we are not soldiers whose duty is revolution, but people trying to live our lives and it’s in the day to day living and interacting with each other that the bulk of any revolutionary activity is built. But for anything to be built we need create the time and space to be with each other, to see and talk to each other, to plot, scheme, and plan together. The first step is always “find each other”, and that finding – that search – is a continual process.

Let a thousand new friendships and complicities bloom in the spring of anarchy!

Long live anarchy! Long live may day!

[1] https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/a-g-schwarz-the-riot-or-the-attack-solidarity-and-questions-for-us-anarchists-after-may-day

[2] https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/j-clark-three-way-fight

[2] https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/j-clark-three-way-fight