Move Like Mycorrhizae: Some Suggestions for Praxis

[image description: a plot of dirt with a pale blue sky over it. A thin plant pokes up from the dirt, but its roots are vast and stretch far below and wide, branching out infinately. To the left, we see a piece of paper, torn at the bottom, with the following words in black ink: “my team/no livestream/we move in silence like soul splitters/Go gettas/hittas, winnas/initiators, saint, sinners/build steady and get ready/we solvin it/like paint thinners”]

What are mycorrhizae?

mycorrhizae (pronounced “my-core-ih-zigh”) are mutual relationships between fungi and plant roots. They move nutrients between plants they are connected to. They can also sap nutrients from one part of a fungal network. They spread vastly within an ecosystem in ways that prevent researchers from being able to trace where the network begins or ends. They play both pathogenic and symbiotic roles. They develop in very steady, slow ways. Occasionally you see mushrooms sprouting up, aboveground, but mycorrhizae are primarily an underground entity. In this Kickback we see them as emblems for what Anarkata movement building feels like, since we work from the ground (or underground), and work from the roots (as Black Anarchic Radicals). 

Kritical Kickbacks

Kritical Kickbacks are chill, accessible, nonhierarchical, chance to get in touch w anarkata principles through political education, mutual aid, or both. Since we push ourselves to an Anarkata frequency here, we want to center the most marginal among us, guard the lane against harm in the space, keep ourselves to that wavelength and not reproduce any transphobia, ableism, religious bias, fatphobia, or any oppression. This also means these spaces don’t demand vocalizing thoughts of everyone but also that the voices of the most marginal among us who want to communicate is prioritized. 

Black August – 

Black August is a time to commemorate Black freedom struggle, to fast, to study, to train, to fight. Almost five decades old now, Black August began in California prisons after the death of George Jackson in the 70s. Focused on revolutionary freedom fighters, the Black August tradition has grown to harness attention to a range of important moments in Black history—such as the Ferguson uprising which happened in August 2014, the birth of Marsha P Johnson on August 24th, and the birth of Oluwatoyin Salau today, to name a few. Black August has spread beyond the prison movement to other political trajectories like the wild thing/Anarkata Turn. We commit to study, solidarity, struggle, and spiritual care in the name of the most marginal. 

Introduction – 

Anarkata has nine ideological touchstones that help us build revolutionary communities in a way that is 1) Pan African/African-centered, 2) anarchic, and broad based in terms of drawing on 3) Black militant traditions and multiple tendencies such as 4) Black feminism, 5) Queer/trans liberation, 6) Disability Justice, 7) Black Radical Ecology, 8) Afropessimism/Counterhumanism, 9) Prison Abolition. 

We work to undermine and destroy all hierarchy and class domination, by harnessing radical (anti-capitalist, anti-colonial) propositions around Black cultures of opposition. 

We fight for self-determination and Black autonomy, through centering the most marginal, and building from below. 

This requires a dialectic between communalistic organizing models and comprehensive organizing models, because this allows us to combat both internal threats and external threats to Black liberation. 

Internal threats are manipulative, abusive, selfish, ego-driven community members, especially cis men who have not done the work to deprioritize tendencies toward cishetero-masculinism and gender violence or even boujie folk (and boujie wanna bes) who put their aspirations for success under capitalism in the way of the activities and perspectives we need to actually get free.

External threats are infiltrators, wreckers, snitches, feds/police, fascists who want to bring about our demise.

We must guard the lane against all of these, and we do this most effectively by grounding ourselves in Black Anarcha/Trans Feminist (or “Anarcho-Pantherist”) understandings, methods, and principles such as intersectional (margin-centering) analysis, care work, trauma-informed approaches, boundary setting, capacity work, accountability culture, restorative/transformative insights, consent culture, political education, mutual aid, and community defense. 

From there we try to build a revolutionary movement in a way that encompasses multiple spheres of activity, to address different facets and phases of struggle. This is a complex task that historically folk have taken a rigid, centralized, “build the party” approach to meet. Anarkatas avoid this framework because it has been hierarchical or authoritarian in many ways. 

What is hierarchy?

Anarkatas say all hierarchies leave Black people vulnerable to capitalist exploitation and colonial domination. In a hierarchy, someone or some group/class has authority and uneven access to resources, knowledge, skills to push their will or interests on another person or group. In a hierarchy those with authority reinforce the material interests of the ruling (capitalist/colonizer) class by keeping people subject to their own (or someone else’s) authority and access to resources, knowledge, skills. Hierarchies are generally upheld by those whose interests are not aligned with the best interests of the masses or margins, although sometimes the oppressed reproduce them. In a hierarchy, the person/people with authority exert their will/interests over others at the interpersonal and organizational level, in ways that ultimately reinforces or intersects with the coercion, manipulation, violence, neglect, repression and exclusion built into larger structures of dominance, oppression, exploitation. Hierarchy causes important information, leadership skills, resources, and power/access in the world of revolutionary activity to get centralized in and dictated by one place (or individual). This can limit the capacity for members of the community to freely or organically take initiative in matters of liberation struggle. This also puts movements at risk of infiltration, intel-gathering, and destruction by the enemies/feds/pigs/wreckers because now there are easily identifiable Great Men running things who can be targeted. Historically speaking, and even now, such individuals are often men, and such orgs are cis male dominated or masculinist in their character. And even when they are not, they run the risk of reproducing patriarchy or some other form of oppression (such as ableism) heaping all kinds of violence and exclusion that does direct harm to our beloved community members and vastly underdevelops the movement. 

Network (A summary) – 

The network is an alternative model for building a revolutionary movement. It is based in Black Anarchic Radical practice. Those who roll in a Network are striving to be a coordinated yet autonomous set of ”decentralized” radical formations and radical individuals. Everyone ”associates” with each other freely. Each agent works to build a revolutionary (anti-capitalist and anti-colonial) movement from the ground and through centering the margins. 

Along with a decentralized orientation, a basis in free association, and an intersectional framing that involves both group actors and solo actors, the Network nurtures the capacity for “free initiative.” This is the individual capacity for autonomous, principled action in matters of liberation. It is encouraged through African-based leadership models that harness collective participation in revolutionary movement building and that prioritize the intentional spread of skills, resources, access, and knowledge so the most marginal can take up struggle on our own authority. A core facet of this work is political education and mutual aid.

Using this formula, the Network moves to address multiple spheres of revolutionary activation, the various sites of struggle most contentious for our people (whether it be housing, police brutality, education, food access, medicine access, and more). To pull this off effectively, a Network must involve strategic boundary setting through a mode known as Concentricity, which involves both underground and above ground approaches and requires a strong sense of vigilance, caution, or intolerance toward certain dangerous or potentially dangerous forces (from abusers to cops to nonprofits and more)

Decentralized (orientation) –

Anarkata networks are ”decentralized” because they are built on not subordinating anyone to a particular person or party. Everyone holds their autonomy as human beings and catalyzing agents of Black liberation. Even more, experienced or seasoned organizers and radicals don’t take more precedence in Networks. This isn’t about dictating movements but struggling with and together. Any form of leadership is focused on spreading the leadership capacity by encouraging free initiative. One does this by intentionally transferring the resources, spaces, skills, knowledge, understandings, methods, principles folk need to take matters of liberation in their own hands. A key aspect of this is political education and mutual aid. 

Free association (principle)

Free association is a core Anarkata principle. It means when we form a Network, collaboration, partnership, comradeship—we do so on our own accord/will. We don’t do so because we are forced or because we feel pressured to by the power, access, resources, skills, etc someone or some group might have over us. Our bonds are made in ways that are intentional and understood as mutually beneficial (both sides recognize that each has something to offer to one another’s growth in free initiative/leadership capacity). We set healthy boundaries and figure out our capacity for this work together. Every person and formation has the freedom to safely stop rolling with either the Network as a whole or specific partnerships and connections (with either whole formations or just individuals) in the Network. We link up out of recognition that we have a place in living legacy of resistance, a shared interest in liberation, and the same margin-centering and revolutionary commitment for our people/community. Access to the knowledge, skills, resources that allow for participation in this legacy, or the development of this interest, or the growth of our liberation—none of it is locked in the hands of one political formation or individual. 

Free initiative (principle)

Free initiative is another core Anarkata principle. This is the capacity for self-led radical activity. Free initiative, like much of Black life, balances the divide between individual and collective. Free initiative in the revolutionary context is like improvisation in the jazz context, the dance circle context, the rap cypher context, the vogueing context. When it comes to improvisation, the individual (or group they are in) contributes something of their own creation, from their own interest. They directly build on what is generated in the performance/circle/cypher/battle. They are inspired by the legacy of the artform. They have an awareness of its history, structure, purpose that was developed through learning from and with the collective about it. They are encouraged to perform by the collective and what they contribute benefits both the whole collective’s experience and their own. All of these elements are true of free initiative: self-led contribution, in a collaborative experience, informed by a legacy and collective study of history/structure/purpose, all nurtured by and in community, in a way that is liberating and beneficial for both the community and the individual. Political education and mutual aid are a great way to raise our consciousness and strengthen our capacity to act together so that free initiative and all its elements can flourish. 

Political formation

The term ”political formation” is a broad label to describe groups or units dedicated to some form of radical activity. This can include the usual political parties and organizations (examples like the BPP, STAR, and BLA). It also includes affinity groups, alliances, coalitions, collectives, teams, squads, posses, even ensembles, gangs, fraternities/sororities, secret societies, people’s/liberation armies, etc. 

Unaffiliated individual

An ”unaffiliated individual” is someone who may be an organizer or may just be someone who supports the organizing in some way, but they dont do so through (or in the name of) a particular formation at all (examples like the women Fred Hampton spoke of who were willing to defend the BPP breakfast program from cops even if they were not formal Party members). 

Above ground vs Underground

In a Network individual Anarkatas or Anarkata formations may associate and address spheres of activity in ways that are formally announced whereas other will associate and address these spheres in ways that are informal. The choice between the formal or the informal will be based on whether the individuals or formations associating and building have chosen to to operate at an underground level or above-ground level. 

With underground operations, there is a lot of stealth, lots of informational security, and concealment of those involved. The activities are likely stuff that’s gonna prompt increased repression or surveillance—like more militant or escalated actions that either are or could be spun by the government as illegal. The underground operations oftentimes have been led by clandestine units that provide a community defense (and/or defense training) role and may even help with funding revolutionary activity. The above-ground operations oftentimes have been led by non-discreet individuals or formations that provide a people’s education, advocacy, mutual aid, community building role. 

Above ground operations are less likely to require stealth, invite informational risk, necessitate concealment, and prompt repression or surveillance. These activities are more front-facing and cannot necessarily be taken or spun as illegal (although the government has a history of taking away rights or bending their own laws to suppress us). 

Every movement needs both underground operations and above ground operations. Historically, the same formation and/or individual has fulfilled both above-ground and underground operations. But we follow advice from Assata Shakur and suggest that the same individual or the same formation, especially if they are in a Network of associations, does not mix both above ground radical work and underground radical work into their constellation of organizing activities. To mix the two is a huge security risk for everyone.

Leadership – 

Leadership is distinguished from hierarchy/authority by Anarkatas, based on observations made by Sam Mbah in ”African Anarchism: A History of a Movement” about indigenous African societies. According to Mbah:

“in many parts or Africa a symbiosis arose between groups earning their living in different manners-they exchanged goods and coexisted to their mutual advantage… Political organization under communalism was horizontal in structure, characterized by a high level of diffusion of functions and power. Political leadership, not authority, prevailed, and leadership was not founded on imposition, coercion, or centralization; it arose out of a common consensus or a mutually felt need… There was a pronounced sense of equality among all members of the community. Leadership focused on the interests of the group rather than on authority over its members.”

Mbah highlights a clear distinction between leadership and authority that is resonant to how other Black Anarchic Radicals roll. In the article Kickbacks, Ancestors, and Wildcats: The Anarkata Turn, sib ProfOund writes:

“Leadership is more like nurturance and requires a lot of accountability to the success or survival or growth and self-empowerment of the so-called ‘led.’””

Many indigenous Afrikan societies aren’t necessarily anarchic, but they arrange themselves in communalistic and egalitarian ways that allow leadership to flourish more often than hierarchy, which is why they inspire us. In this way, leadership is accountable to the people’s needs and their will. A core aspect of leadership for Anarkatas is intentionally transferring skills and resources and knowledge/information so that people can therefore guide themselves and take free initiative in matters of our material liberation and revolutionary community building. But a leadership-led dynamic can become hierarchy when it fails or refuses to meet that end. This is why anti-capitalist, anti-patriarchy, anti-ableism and anti-hierarchy understandings must be bridged in the anti-colonial movement. Hierarchy keeps Black people from throwing off our chains under colonialism, ableism, capitalism, and cisheteropatriarchy. Leadership should help Black liberation flourish in as expansive and intersectional ways as possible. When leadership unfolds in this fashion, then everyone and every formation in a “network” of associations is assumed to have equal standing. No one person/formation is taken as the sole or primary source of legitimacy in or for the Network.

Go Back and Fetch It (principle)

Anarkata is a mosaic of principles, methods, understandings that can sometimes involve reappropriating traditional philosophies and practices for use in revolutionary context. For example, many Black Anarchic Radicals have taken up the tradition of “Susu” in unique ways for their particular Anarkata trajectory. This process of repurposing traditions often gets called ‘Sankofa’ (taken from the Akan concept “go back and fetch it”). What it does not involve is monolithizing and idealizing traditional and/or precolonial thought and practices. Anarkata does not assume all traditions are universally applicable for each Black context or that they are inherently anarchic/liberatory. The Sankofa process for Anarkatas is a dialectical one in a way similar to how Kwame Nkrumah discusses tradition in “African Socialism Revisited.” In this text, Nkrumah distinguishes a material approach from the idealist approach that assumes precolonial African traditions are completely devoid of class (and other hierarchical) conflict. Nkrumah writes:

“what [we] must recapture is not the structure of the “traditional African society” but its spirit, for the spirit of communalism is crystallised… in its reconciliation of individual advancement with group welfare.”

Here, it is clear that we recognize a communalistic and egalitarian character and impact in ancestral practices and thinking, but understand that they must also be modified and consolidated into revolutionary propositions that specifically address modern capitalist/colonial/cisheteropatriarchal/ableist contradictions.

In this Kickback we will invoke some African traditions to illustrate some of the organizational features we suggest here, but do understand that some of them have been applied in idealistic ways, and that we should not repeat the errors of neocolonial forces in the past. As Amilcar Cabral once said:

“”If we want to do something in reality, we must see who has already done the same, who has done something similar, and who has done something opposite, so that we can learn something from their experience. It is not to copy completely, because every reality has its own questions and its own answers for these questions.”

With that in in mind, Anarkatas can and should review our cultural histories, both traditional and modern, to find more social and political innovations than the ones expressed here. Dont take just our suggestions, but also look to or even develop new organizational practices to consolidate into revolutionary propositions. In the end, how we roll is about building an anti-capitalist/anti-colonial revolution that is decentralized, vigilant/strategic, margin-centering (intersectional), and somewhat comprehensive (hitting several spheres of activity), and is not concerned primarily with cultural revivalism. 

Practical/Theoretical Catalyst Group – 

A catalyst is a kickstarter for getting Anarkata thought and Anarkata activity coming to fruition in a particular place, at a particular time. Catalysts help to nurture the fires already being used to burn the plantation. The suggestion for Catalyst group is found in Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin’s “Anarchism and the Black Revolution” 

Ervin explains that the catalyst group is a:

“federation of affinity groups in action. This Catalyst group or revolutionary anarchist federation would meet on a regular basis or only when there was a necessity, depending on the wishes of the membership and the urgency of social conditions. It would be made up of representatives from or the affinity group itself, with full voting rights, privileges, and responsibilities. It would set both policies and future actions to be performed. It will produce both Anarchist-Communist theory and social practice. It believes in the class struggle and the necessity to overthrow Capitalist rule. It organizes in the communities and workplaces. It is democratic and has no authority figures like a party boss or central committee.” 

The Anarcha-Pantherist spaces that Anarkata: A Statement came from can be considered a Catalyst group. Catalyst groups have to be ‘beholden’ or accountable to the needs of Network and community (as it says of leadership in the Statement), which requires consistently checking in with their associations. A Catalyst group is not a vanguard party. Any Catalysing force must ground itself like the ashe: grounded in community, as Catalyzation is an operation that can be accessed by all who are striving in an Anarkata frequency. The Catalyst Groups in a Network should have participants who are ‘contextual’ rather than permanent actors in that particular operation; so they arise and roll out when it’s necessary. Like with all formations, it is important to us that any catalyst groups which may have to form are comprised particularly of intersectionally marginalized members of our community—especially disabled and trans Black women, houseless folk, sex workers, incarcerated folk. Catalysts often jumpstart spreading leadership capacity and nurturing free initiative in the beginning stages of a Network. As this process rolls on, new Catalysts come into play and build off or modify what’s been previously generated based on context-specific needs of the community and Network. Catalyst groups do not lord themselves over revolution but are emerging in struggle based on the needs and interests of the people. 

Political Education Forum (ubuntu)

The political education forum is a public setting in where individuals are raise their revolutionary consciousness and their capacity for radical action. Our Anarkata Freedom School Initiative is an example of a political education forums. The Forum and the Catalyst are not the same.

A ‘forum’ could be a platform or set of platforms, or a collective or set of collectives whose primary focus is to be a ‘front facing’ formation. This means the Forum is one of the easiest ways to get in touch with Anarkata activity, theory, and ideology or methods. These are often educational, distro and community spaces (offline and/or online). The Forum’s primary focus is political education events to spread the intro to mosaic of Anarkata principles for others. Forums host broader community political education and distro events, and teaches/demonstrates new ways of moving in an Anarkata trajectory based in militancy and care work. 

The distinction between a Forum and a Catalyst is that the Catalyst groups may work to consolidate and even guide ideas and overall practice based on what community/Network needs are brought to them, and then act on it (with the goal of transferring leadership capacity through intentionally proliferating the access to and use of skills, knowledge, and resources in revolutionary involvement). Whereas the Forum might give suggestions about a direction in practice or theory without necessarily moving to initiate them, instead encouraging those learning in the Forum to step into that leadership capacity and the use of free initiative themselves.

As the name suggests (ubuntu), the spirit of a Forum is “I am because we are.” We move to inspire individual obligation to maintain certain ways of being within the collective, encourage catalysts. We learn in the forum what it means to support collective wellbeing from the perspective of free initiative. As a touchstone for learning the living legacy of Anarkata tradition, Forums help with remaking our ways of being and social relationships based on centering the most marginal.

For context, Ubuntu is a philosophy that comes out of South Africa and practiced in Southern Africa places like Mozambique. It says: ‘I am because we are.’ It is harmonious. We are further through the collective as one.

It is a challenge to capitalistic culture that dictates individuals to be atomized. We are not given the radical imaginations to pursue harmonious relationships outside of violent capitalism. This all falls in the aspect of going back and fetch it, but not in a way that idealized pre-colonial times, it is a practice of breaking from colonial activities. 

Ubuntu has best been described as an african concept of personhood. In the western world, the development of despotic states and alienation of community by said states has created a concept of personhood based a dichotomy between the interests of the individual, and the collective. This creates an idea that an individual acting to create good for the community is inherently detrimental to good for themselves and vice versa, and crafts the idea of an atomized individual, at the heart of capitalist idealism and psychology.

The concept of Ubuntu by contrast eschews this false dichotomy. Today it is most commonly taken to mean some variation of “i am because we are”. The concept refers to an african conception of personhood existing and being determined not in opposition to collective or community, but by community. Personhood and the highest fulfillment is achieved in relation to ones community, and by persons working for the benefit of the community. By maintaining harmony and wellbeing, breaking from oppressive relations within the community, and fulfilling obligations to the collective, we create an environment in which we can best flourish as individuals and best express our uniqueness and have our unique needs met.

Ubuntu is a different way of being than the competitive individualistic form of personhood we have been forced into by capitalism and its material structures. In achieving our liberation, we must build structures and relations which foster ubuntu, spreading wellbeing and leadership capacity within the community, facilitating community care around the most marginalized and bringing us into this new way of relating and being. 

Again, in cautioning against idealist uses of Ubuntu, we want to echo some warnings from Kwame Nkrumah about how traditional communalism relates to socialism:

“Whereas communalism in a non-technical [as in life before colonialism] society can be laissez-faire [unfolding somewhat organically due to the material conditions], in a technical society where sophisticated means of production are at hand, the situation is different; for if the underlying principles of communalism are not given correlated expression [through modern material struggles], class cleavages will arise, which are connected with economic disparities and thereby with political inequalities; Socialism, therefore, can be, and is, the defence of the principles of communalism in a modern setting; it is a form of social organisation that, guided by the principles underlying communalism, adopts procedures and measures made necessary by demographic and technological developments.” (emphasis added)

From this perspective, it is through anarchist, communist, anti-colonial, feminist, disabiliy justice, Pan Africanist education that we defend a new conception of being, defend an ”i am, because we are” understanding of the self. Political education “allows us to make well-informed, principled and responsible decisions regarding our liberation.” As the Anarkata Statement says, “[political education] increases our ability to act on our own and in collaboration with others regarding matters of liberation and provides a foundation for doing so. Without political education, our efforts would dissolve into baseless, unprincipled chaos. In this way, political education provides the very conditions of possibility that support our people in the use of our autonomy…. Political education will ensure that Black people realize our revolutionary potential. We want to empower ourselves not only to lead (for) ourselves, but to do so in a responsible and educated manner.” Material praxis is the goal, not just ideal, and a political education forum helps us begin to shape that.

Mutual Aid Pod (halumbe)

The mutual aid pod is a concentrated effort to harness the flow of resources to specific intersectionally oppressed (superexploited) community members. This serves to keep the most vulnerable from being further overlooked, which can unfortunately happen even in movements that claim to be committed to mutual aid. Each mutual aid pod forms an ongoing and long term relationship of material aid with a specified number of marginalized members of our community such as those in prison, houseless folk, sex workers, undocumented folk, trans folk, disabled folk. A Pod must not be allowed to function as a de facto cadre that covertly monopolizes itself as the sole point of contact or access to resources, skills, knowledge. A Pod spreads leadership capacity around mutual aid and proliferating skill, knowledge, resources to enable the appearance of other MA pods. Pods must use political education to nurture the general growth of revolutionary consciousness and free initiative among the people. An example of an ongoing mutual aid Pod is the Prison Solidarity Kritical Kickback Series in our crew’s particular Network, where we have raised funds for specific incarcerated Black queer/trans siblings, and run phone zaps to meet their demands, and write letters to them while studying abolitionist literature as a form of political education. 

As their name implies (halumbe), the mutual aid Pods “pull together” community around the most vulnerable, seeking to equalize access to material resources and undermining power disparities. Pods ensure that one formation does not take up full responsibility of MA practice (as can happen sometimes) or that certain people don’t get forgotten as a mutual aid project expands. These pods form new social understandings of collective aid and work, resting on equal standing with community members. They can expand to function like a collective subsistence organ if you will, dealing firstly with basic survival or infrastructural needs like food and housing or support for/after surgery.

For context, Halumbe is the original Mij Kenda for the Kenyan Swahili phrase Harambee. It means to pull or push together. It was used by Jomo Kenyatta following the independence of kenya as a call for kenyan communities to develop themselves without the use of resources from the colonizer, and central banking and market apparatuses. The history of it is that after the british left kenya, rural areas were severely underdeveloped, and very little of the capital created and concentrated by colonial processes remained in the country in a form accesible to most kenyans. In order for kenyan communities to develop, produce roads, infrastructure and educational opportunities they had to “pull together”. This meant villages and townships pooling their efforts through common funds, collective labor, pressuring large contributions from those in the community who had more, and democratically developing their localities to meet the needs of the community. Harambee also included women forming their own economic harambee units so as to achieve greater self sufficiency, as gendered labor divisions in colonial capitalism had created a divide in which women in the village had been locked out of wage earning labor, resigned to household agriculture, and made dependent on the wages of men in their family units who were able to labor in the cities. Capitalism has corrupted the concept harambee and today in kenya, the term has some association with political patronage from politicians who use support for harambees as a come up opportunity.

There was a historically bottom up nature of halumbe and historical harambee as autonomous activity rather than state or institutional policy. It is over time that political patronage and Kenyatta’s neocolonial beurocracy coopts the harambee movement into political patronage projects and attempts institutionalize the larger success projects of the movement (which predated independence). 

And so we suggest fetching the original context of a word which kenyatta simply yelled to the newly liberated kenyan people, Halumbe. For us this means to pull together our underdeveloped communities by transferring resources from those who have more toward the autonomy and political power for the most marginalized within the community.

Again, we echo here Nkrumah’s words: “… [the] quintessence of the human purposes of traditional African society reasserts itself in a modern context [through materially oriented socialist procedures and measures].” This is not mere cultural revivalism. We must remember the revolutionary orientation of mutual aid (an anti-capitalist/anti-colonial revolution) that halumbe is being applied to.

Mutual aid is not charity/nonprofits, as is happening when it gets liberalized. Mutual aid does not imply moral superiority of the giver over the receiver. In the charity/nonprofit approach, those with access to more resources or who hoard them simply throw a few crumbs at the people suffering from the very system that allows the rich and privileged to have enough to donate anyway. The intention of charity/nonprofits is never to build something that challenges that system itself. Charity/nonprofits rely on capitalism. But, with mutual aid, the focus is on a principle of self-determination, where oppressed peoples are striving to take charge over how our own societies/communities are structured and how we collectively meet our needs. We use mutual aid to kickstart our struggle to organize ourselves from below, from our own infrastructures and cultures and relations, not relying on mainstream/capitalist authority, ideas, and institutions.

Mutual aid is done thoughtfully and from a place of radical (anti-capitalist and anarchic) conscience. Mutual aid is not about a simple sense of compassion for the ”underserved” like we see with charity and nonprofit work. Examples include organizing and benefitting from food drives, donating clothing or money directly to those in need, financial advice, tutoring, child-care, help navigating social services, and community defense networks, to name a few. Mutual Aid is based on the principle of investing in our communities now, for a return later. Under capitalism, the person who offers aid today maybe the person who needs Aid tomorrow. Strong communities practice mutual aid. 

Through mutual aid, people are identifying our various material needs (food, clothes, funds, emotional/mental care, medicine, and more) and then ”mapping” geographies of aid, strategically pointing out who can fill the need and how we can meet that need together but on our own accord. Importantly, mutual aid is like a space to rehearse revolution, as it is a practice that helps us become more confident and understanding of skills we have or can learn to use in meeting our needs and freeing ourselves. Anarkatas use mutual aid as a starting place to helps us become more aware of why autonomy from colonial/capitalist Man and white power is necessary. 

Collective Work Unit (ujima)

When it comes to certain skills and objects, a degree of focus and specialization ends up unfolding in order to effectively produce, source, provide specific supplies and particular services in/for a Network of Anarkata associations. This is a unit who concentrates around producing or providing for direct use or need (rather than for sale to acquire currency), and to achieve a surplus for further distribution. From food to housing to paperwork to security, to mobilization, and more—these formations help their associations by seeking to provide for both their direct connections as well as the larger Network and community, each along somewhat specialized lines. But, these Working Units cannot monopolize themselves as the sole or primary point of contact or access to resources, skills, knowledge, supplies, services, etc. A Unit also spreads leadership capacity around its specialized labor through proliferating the skills, knowledge, resources to enable the appearance of other Units. And they nurture the general growth of revolutionary consciousness and free initiative among the people through political education. As the name implies (ujima), the Units help us all with forming community around collective work, which is to say, nurturing our collective capacity to take up whatever work is being specialized in. This goes beyond just mutual aid and sharing of resources and immediate needs. It extends to larger projects, in a way that’s not isolated or atomized. Every Unit also keeps track of their internal logistics around how much that unit can produce, what it needs as inputs for productions, and how much it can sustainably give to other formations and individuals. Those taking up leadership in this operation disseminate and decentralize the capacity to take up the collective work and rotate their leadership, especially among the most marginalized (rather than remaining as permanent actors in this regard). Normally, Ujima often gets depoliticized, and used in liberal ways, but for Anarkatas it is applied to a work Unit to make sure that the skills, knowledge, logistical understanding, resources, and revolutionary consciousness are always being proliferated in our community. This can occur in different work units or cells. For example, there is a group of folks who specialize in acquiring seeds, storing them, disseminating the seeds, and growing food from them. They go around to different individuals and formations in the Network to help folks do so as well, while also teaching one another what’s needed to grow and store seeds and distribute seeds effectively. Another unit is making masks with a set of 3D printers as their specialty, storing some, disseminating the rest, while working to proliferate tools, knowledge, skills, resources, etc necessary for that kind of work, or expand access to to it all, so that folk have capacity to also fulfill the same operation for themselves. 

Unity Contingent (umoja)

Across the Network, a way to coordinate across different subsistence, distribution, and production capacities may unfold. These are communication and logistics spaces/entities made up of membership from Interlinked Catalyst Groups, Collectives, pods, Units and other formations and individuals in a Network of Anarkatas. They actively kick and keep track of asks for support and resources across the network. They harness the community power to fill in gaps wherever they might show up. Contingents spread leadership capacity around maintenance of our Network of associations by proliferating skills, knowledge, resources to enable the appearance of other Contingents. Through political education, Contingents nurture the general growth of revolutionary consciousness and free initiative among the people. As the name might imply, “Umoja” contingents push us toward unity, by providing support as middleperson between formations who dont have the supplies/services they need, or who dont have the direct connections to suppliers needed so that they can acquire said supplies/services. They helps us harness community attention to where there are logistical gaps in a Network. Then they help with providing or linking to direct labor, skills, knowledge and resources to form new formations that address consistently unmet needs. Any leaders in this capacity spread the skills, knowledge, resources needed so that others can step into these operations and/or develop other Contingents. 

Cooperative Hub (ujamaa)

Anarkatas take over physical spaces for use by a Network of associations and by community. These get called Hubs. The cooperative Hub reclaims space to form community around commons. These will run gardens, develop open access kitchens. The cooperative Hub extends to the takeover of factories or equipment (means of production). Hubs are a way to open up access spaces and equipment to catalyze new Units and other formations popping up and help communities meet their own needs. Hubs also work to spreads leadership capacity around seizing and developing cooperative Hubs. They proliferating skill, knowledge, resources to enable the appearance of other Hubs. Through political education, they nurture the general growth of revolutionary consciousness and free initiative among the people. As the name implies (ujamaa) is about harnessing our cooperative economic means on a larger scale than just mutual aid (pod) or collective work (unit). 

For context, Ujamaa is derived from the swahili term for familyhood. ujamaa has come to mean a form of collective or cooperative economics. Though many know it as a more abstract principle via kwanzaa (one that is often misintepreted to support black entrepeneurism and capitalists), Ujamaa as historically practiced has been a concretely socialist concept and economic practice. It refers to a concept within the pan africanist tradition of socialism, which espouses collective ownership and benefit, and work to meet the needs of the people (rather than capitalist individual ownership, shareholder ownership, wage labor, and work to accumulate personal or organizational profit in currency) as well as the cooperative and communal enterprises set up in line with this concept. 

The term came to prominence under Julius Nyere in Tanzania. Nyere had saw how capitalism had impoverished the people of his nation and destroyed much of their traditional collective economic structures. To Nyere, it was inherently african to practice collective economy, tied to a pre colonial and uniquely african idea of personhood and community, and the communal village economy. In his eyes liberation for african peoples should seek to eschew the western systems of the market and capitalism. 

Ujamaa meant the nation of tanzania creating a socialist collective economy more in line with their precolonial being, based on collectively owned, democratically managed agricultural collectives, working to meet the needs of the people rather than lining the pockets of owners. It meant tanzanians coming together to form collective enterprise not only within the marketplace, but also enterprises which would avoid the market and commodity exchange altogether, producing and operating to directly meet the hunger and educational needs of the young nation, free of normal monetary compensation. To apply ujamaa to our context today, we must seek to establish common means of production, from mere open physical spaces, to agricultural plots, to factories. Ujamaa means establishing these, managing them in a collective and democratic manner in order to serve the community, and making these and/or their fruits of their use, freely available to the community”

Thinking back to Kwame Nkrumah in African Socialism Revisited, though, we want to remind against seeing Cooperative Hubs in an idealist light. Nkrumah has important critiques to bring to our assessment of how concepts like Ujamaa have been used in African revolution, namely this:

“The defeat of colonialism and even neo-colonialism will not result in the automatic disappearance of the imported patterns of thought and social organisation. For those patterns have taken root, and are in varying degree sociological features of our contemporary society. Nor will a simple return to the communalistic society of ancient Africa offer a solution either. To advocate a return, as it were, to the rock from which we were hewn is a charming thought, but we are faced with contemporary problems, which have arisen from political subjugation, economic exploitation, educational and social backwardness, increases in population, familiarity with the methods and products of industrialisation, modern agricultural techniques. These — as well as a host of other complexities — can be resolved by no mere communalistic society, however sophisticated, and anyone who so advocates must be caught in insoluble dilemmas of the most excruciating kind.”

These are wide-ranging questions that we cannot provide complete answers to here, but that we suggest Anarkatas keep in mind for long term, thinking about how to creatively address them while still standing in our principles.

Maroon Hub (cumbé)

Anarkatas take over spaces to establish safe houses and squats and underground railroad kind of things that are hidden and low key. These “maroon” Hubs are there to harness communities around meeting the safety and defense and housing needs for the most marginal, especially victims of gender/domestic violence, undocumented folk, trans folk. These Hubs involve storing food, medicine, weapons, etc. as well as maintenance and security. Maroon Hubs also spread leadership capacity around seizing and developing these Hubs and proliferating skill, knowledge, resources to enable the appearance of other Maroon Hubs. While these formations are underground, it is their above ground associations who will through political education, nurture the general growth of revolutionary consciousness and free initiative among the people. As their name implies (cumbé), these reclaimed spaces serve to form community around settings of flight/refusal for the most vulnerable. 

For context, Cumbe derives from the Manding for a high up and out of the way hill or place. The word comes from the afrovenezuelan tradition of maroonage. Venezuelan africans did not make up the majority of their nations and could not organize free black communities in the way that other african peoples had, thus many of them turned to the cumbe, a form of maroonage in which they would reside in high hills, sheltering from slavery, colonialism and antiblackness. These cumbes existed within networks of connected cumbes and routes for trade, travel and raiding. The economy of the cumbe, like many maroon economies, was communal and socialistic, based on collective agriculture and on more capable and prepared members of the community going out into the antiblack world to trade contraband or agricultural goods, conduct raids and recruitment in order to free other africans, and steal resources held by colonizers, so that they could provide for the less capable or more marginalized members of their community, and bring forms of wealth and sustenance denied to them into the cumbe. They were highly secretive, and remained in hiding until liberation, in which cumbes and leaders from the Cumbes played a major military role. 

Taking from the lessons of the Cumbe, we must seek to build similar covert and networked spaces of refuge for the most marginalized in our community, where they can have personal and political autonomy and the resources they need, and like those maroons of the cumbe who journeyed on the trade routes and raiding routes, those of us who are in a position to must do what we can to provision for these refuges, and siphon resources from the larger antiblack world into them”

Grapevine – 

The grapevine is the rumor mill. As Patricia A Turner points out, rumor has an important place in Black history for how our community helps us understand our oppression, even if the information is inaccurate. 

For Anarkatas, the grapevine is more than just about passing information you heard. The grapevine is an experience of constant information sharing in Black culture that is communal. Anarkatas make use of the “grapevine” as a concept to describe revolutionary communication infrastructure that is not formally recognized or easily traceable. The Underground Railroad had codewords within Negro Spirituals to send messages. We see this as the grapevine. There are other forms of code—whether spoken, sung, written, or communicated in a sign language—that Black Anarchic Radicals use. When dap was developed as a form of solidarity, we say that is a grapevine. When street niggas wear flags or throw up a set, we say that’s a grapevine. Communication along the “grapevine” can also take the shape of traditional stories (“Our ancestors used to say…”) or proverbs (““we fight for the fungus that is the fungible, we move like mycorrhizae”) or ritual/chants (“we pour one out for all the wild things Man caint house”) depending on your needs and context.  Finally, the grapevine also includes social media, such as all the secret ways people discuss racism to keep from getting banned on Facebook, or all the cultural references through memes and gifs that only Black people truly understand. The virtual grapevine is also about all the encrypted ways to chat and encode information that you want to keep hidden from our enemies. The knowledge accrued in the grapevine infrastructure is internal to Black Anarchic Radicals and its spread must happen carefully.

Concentric Circles

Concentricity is a personalized guidepost for managing your associations. Concentricity helps you map out what your associations entail. Concentricity helps you map out how underground your associations may or may not be. Concentricity helps you map who you give access to what information about you. Concentricity helps you determine how removed or proximal certain formations and individuals are gonna be to you or to specific formations and individuals. Concentricity helps you figure out what spheres of activation you and your associations should be rolling in and at what level (above ground, underground) for each sphere. Concentricity relies on principles of free initiative, free association, and the unlocking of individuals as a catalyzing agent of radical change. The various formations and individuals in a Network do not have to roll in all the types of Concentric Circles below, but they should use Concentricity to manage how they address the spheres of activity most pressing for them. Anarkatas will pull this off in a way that is strategic and vigilant, but still flexible, and in a way that guards the lane against oppression, abuse, manipulation especially of the most marginal. 

There are five features to Concentricity

Central Node/Active Agent

Predicated on your individual actions. You as central node are site of pure agency as well as accountability to your community and any formations or individuals you commit to. The viability or sustainability of your associations depends on the capacity you decide on. As active agent, you possess the most information about your motivations, spoons, goals, and details of your personal strategy. All modes of revolutionary activity are available to you, but take precautions not to endanger community and your collaborators. It is not advised that you engage in above ground and underground activity at once because it can put your sibs, even the whole Network, in danger.

Inner circle/Inner Circles

As central node, you designate your inner circle, or perhaps multiple inner circles. Inner circles have the highest access to levels of personal information about the central node and each-other and also to sensitive information about revolutionary operations. If you have multiple cells, they will overlap with you, which is another reason why it is not advised for the central node to engage in both above ground and underground activity. Inner circles require the highest level of personal trust, and we recommend a limit of 7 active collaborators for each central node. Inner circles can be formations, but they don’t have to be. Communication about sensitive topics should happen in secure settings: if in person, strive to minimize the likelihood of eavesdropping (turn off the phone, communicate in low tones or in codes or in signing, cover your mouth to keep your lips from being read); and if online make use of technology that are known to guard against infiltration, that are encrypted, which dont share/track information to the feds or other risks

Circle of Familiars

Beyond the inner circle, there is a circle of familiars comprised largely of individuals, collectives or orgs who due to geography, area of focus, practicality or other reasons are not in your inner circle but have been determined to be relatively trustworthy by you or by the members of one’s inner circle and can be relied upon to a greater or lesser extent to assist in the work of liberation, through the principal of mutual aid. Members of one’s inner circle are often drawn from the circle of familiars as trust is gradually built up and a relationship is established. For those operating above ground, The circle of familiars may have access to a limited amount of personal information about the central node and the workings of the inner circle. If you are trans or disabled, it is possible that any cis or abled accomplices (that you trust) are held in the Circle of Familiars. The circle of familiars can be called upon to provide support at public actions or demonstrations, to help with training you or your community in hands-on skills or self defense, can assist with fundraising through promotion or the creation of art and copying or translating texts, sharing tutorials and other resources, developing theory, etc. It is possible someone’s circle of familiars is a formation they are part of but it doesn’t have to be, as there are unaffiliated organizers who roll with a circle of familiars. Communication online and offline does not have to be as guarded, although this one still should still be quite cautious. 

Active Periphery

Beyond the Circle of Familiars is the next circle of removal, the active periphery. This large circle is a very mixed bag which while a hotbed of energy and a point of radicalization may also contain closet reactionaries, secret enemies, liberals and radlibs. The level of personal information and operational knowledge shared in whatever sphere of activity you address here should be little to none. Beginner level political education, mutual aid, fundraising, mass mobilizing such as rallies and marches and vigils, calls to action, phone zaps, and broad based introductory networking is the focus here. As trust is built up on an individual level with an individual or collective on the active periphery, they may eventually be moved into your circle of familiars. It is not advisable to admit anyone from the active periphery directly into your inner circle without a period of time gaining trust in the circle of familiars. Those who operate underground will probably not work or communicate directly with the active periphery. The active periphery is suited best to front-facing low risk above ground engagement. Here is where one might make momentary coalitions or engage in mass work that uses partial demands. Communication is way more open, so that includes speaking out or using social media, although one should still be somewhat cautious. 

Passive Periphery

Beyond the active periphery lies the Passive Periphery. The passive periphery is the world or the public at large. This is a multi racial, multi-tendency field of theoretically infinite size and radical potential but also the highest threat level where operational security is concerned. The level of contact and sensitive information shared in the spheres of activity that you address here should be none. Introductory level political education in the form of articles or zines or memes, dissemination of propaganda, consciousness raising, online community building, mutual aid networks, fundraising, public kickbacks in the community, front facing public actions or demonstrations can work well here. Individuals and collectives can move from the passive periphery to the active periphery in the early stages of relationship building. Communication is at its most wide ranging here

Spheres of Activity

These are also known as “spheres of activation.” They are sites of struggle. Police brutality is often one of the first spheres of activity Black people get politically activated in. Prisoners’ battles, education battles, housing battles, food justice battles, reproductive autonomy battles, immigration battles, environmental justice battles, disability rights battles, trans rights battles are all potential spheres of activity. Each sphere can be approached in an underground fashion or an above ground fashion. Each sphere can be addressed through one or more of the Concentric Circle types. Viable Networks of freely associating Anarkatas activate Black (Anarchic ) Radical activity in multiple spheres, through a diversity of Concentric Circle types. This does not mean every formation or unaffiliated partner in the Network is rolling out radical shit in the same sphere (ex. Everyone building around food justice). This also does not mean every formation or unaffiliated partner in the Network is addressing the various spheres with the same type/number of Concentric Circles (ex. Everyone rolling shit out at the passive periphery). Being coordinated and vigilant, and being truly intersectional (margin centering) when you address these spheres of activity is tantamount to effectively building a movement along Anarkata frequency. 


  1. Anarkatas should have zero tolerance policy for known/outed abusers and any “accountability”/“healing” process requires first the disassociation of these actors, and then putting resources, support, labor, and focus given to the victim/survivor and secondarily impacted people (ie, other survivors, folk in proximity who were groomed into not noticing the abusive/manipulative patterns). Abusers’ process is deprioritized and any conversation on “re-entry” is not held unless that is the consensus based on the needs of survivors, secondarily impacted people, and community. 
  1. Anarkatas should not work with cops, military, and folk that are employed in institutions that warehouse and abuse disabled folk. People who were formerly in these institutions must be approached with caution. Be vigilant about vetting to check for who could using skills learned from what they claim is their former job with State and carceral institutions to further violate most vulnerable. 
  1. Anarkatas should keep landlords and employers/bosses at the passive periphery. Collaborating with them is not a viable sphere of activation because from a material standpoint, rent is theft and a wage is exploitative. Not many Black people hold power in these ways, and a few who do must understand that their material investment in these positions is part of the capitalist/colonial project. Their interests are more often than not self-serving or liberal, although some Anarkatas have had rare, momentary partnerships with certain businesses (like laundromats or coffeeshops) from which to activate shit in the passive periphery.
  1. Anarkatas should keep folk who are working for the academy/university or the NPIC/NGOs at the active periphery. While there are working class and underclass people in these positions, the institutions they work for pose serious contradictions to contemporary struggle. These folks should not be the primary focus/presence or starting place for our movement building, and depending on the institution, some should be avoided if their organization/school has a role/complicity in active violence against the most marginal.
  1. Anarkatas should approach ministers and clergy with caution after the active periphery. If they are a rich or abusive person, they should not even be considered at all. Anarkata is not an anti-religious/anti-spiritusl trajectory. Plenty if BARs are religious/spiritual, and many BARs are atheist or agnostic, or disbelievers. The issue is, most formal religious institutions require that the primary accountability is to building the religion separate from building a revolution to challenge the ruling authorities and implement alternative structures for the oppressed. This contradiction becomes exclusionary and a cooption of radical energy. 
  1. Anarkatas should deprioritize the leadership and visibility of anyone who already has clout or renown, and be adamant about preventing clout-chasers and bag-chasers from overtaking revolutionary movements. Cults of personality and opportunism must be studied, called out, and closed out of Anarkata trajectories. Revolution is the conscious expression of unconscious strivings in the masses and margins, not the brilliance of one person’s mind, brand, resume, persona. 
  1. Anarkatas do not allow cis men to associate in a Network as unaffiliated individuals. Due to history of cis male irresponsibility and violence, it is only through membership in a formation that has clear accountability processes and consistent political education around gender that cis men can roll in a Network. Any cis men moving through Anarkata this way must operate an ascetic level of rigor to ensure they don’t even give the appearance of cisheteropatriarchal violence. Cis men are deprioritized as leaders in the Anarkata Turn and are encouraged to put time, attention, energy in helping the free initiative, safety, and leadership capacity of Black women and other maGes to flourish. 
  1. Anarkatas deprioritize and discourage the leadership and visibility of light skinned Black folk and Black folk racialized as “mixed” or “ambiguous.” Any such individuals should prioritize supporting and encouraging the free initiative and leadership capacity of darker skinned Black individuals who are impacted most by anti-Black colorism and its material effects.
  1. Anarkatas prioritize building revolution with and for Black people because we believe the horizon of the contemporary struggle for planetary liberation is Pan African in character. At the same time, there are considerable Third World influences within Anarkata that make for potentially principled partnership with other colonized people. For Black folk who know they are isolated in regions with non-Black folk of color, the emphasis should be on supporting Pan African liberation struggles and the radical activity/free initiative of Black people. Black Anarchic Radicalism is not to be tokenized for the liberation of nonBlack community formations.
  1. Anarkata stands against ageism, and maintains an intergenerational orientation. Elders are not to be erased or treated like Mammies and youth are not to be silenced, exploited, or preyed on. Intergenerationality builds a revolutionary movement through allowing for a culture of learning across time periods and helps us stand in a living legacy of Black Anarchic Radicalism
  1. Anarkata does not base comradeship on “family” and “friend” as the only relational model. Radical communities should involve study, solidarity, struggle, mutuality, much love, dedication, accountability, consent, boundaries, trust. But “family” and “friendship” have been too warped by colonialism, rape culture, and capitalism to allow for these elements, if left unexamined. Unfair, often ableist and transmisogynoirist expectations over people’s emotional capacities and behavior traits get brought into movements when comradeship is assumed to be based off friendship and family. These models cannot sustainably or fairly be applied to all radical partnerships, collaborations, associations. Everyone has relational needs but we should set healthy boundaries to keep from developing toxic movement cultures and spaces rife with trauma bonding 
  1. Anarkatas do not believe politicians, the political apparatus, and government structure are the necessary site of social change for our people. Taking cues from Modibo Kadalie, we understand that as the moonlight is a response to the sunlight, State policy is always a response to mass activity from below. Historically it has been assumed that this process implies there can be shared alignment between governed and the governing bodies. Revolutionary movements have used demands to the State as a sphere of activation. Anti-colonial and socialist experiments under a State paradigm do exist because of this history, and since Anarkatas affirm self-determination over we affirm these projects as ongoing sites of struggle (not advocating for their disruption in the way white anarchists do). Anarkatas do, however, understand that the State is a European invention, formed on a transition from religious/feudal world to a secular/capitalist world, that involved gender violence, ableism, and the antiblack production of colonial “Man” as the pinnacle of human subjecthood under the State. Through the nation-state formula and the notion of ”sovereignty,” which was formulated to stabilize conflicts between Western nations that arose because of imperial conflict, the modern government apparatus takes life in class struggle along the ”color line” (the division between colonizer and colonized nations). To this day, most States are neocolonial and outright imperial and so their alignment is with capitalist interests for the West—not the interests of the most marginal. Anarkatas stand in making sure all power gets to all the people first, and not their proxies. 

Suggested resources:

African Anarchism and Communalism 

Anarkata 101: AID Feedback Loop (pdf) (video)

Black Anarchism: A Reader

African Anarchism: A History of a Movement

Anarkata: A Statement

Kickbacks, Ancestors, and Wildcats: The Anarkata Turn


Anarchism and the Black Revolution

Message to the Black Movement

African Socialism Revisited

Class Struggle in Africa


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