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The Las Vegas A-Cafe and Radical Re-Orientation at UNLV

Here's a pretty old post from the blog archives of Geekery Today; it was written about 15 years ago, in 2008, on the World Wide Web.

Here’s the latest on Southern Nevada ALL and anarchist organizing in Las Vegas.

We’re starting a Las Vegas A-Cafe. (By we, I mean both Southern Nevada ALL and some other local anarchists I’ve contacted. Look out, we’re conspiring.) The Anarchist Cafe is intended as an informal gathering for anarchists (of all stripes, sects, and creeds) to meet and talk with each other–which is free-form enough to allow people just to meet up and hang out if they want to hang out, but y also where they can talk some shop, spread some news, and float some ideas for action. The idea comes from events in Califas (SoCal, NoCal). For the time being, we’re being rather literal by holding the event in an actual coffee house, because they have good meeting space, comfy chairs, and don’t expect us to do anything more for it than buy some of their drinks. Hopefully the first meeting will bring together some new faces and old. The first meeting is:

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008
6:30pm – 8:00pm
@ The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, Running Rebel Plaza
4550 S. Maryland Parkway, Las Vegas, NV 89119

Bring yourself. Bring a friend. And bring anything — ideas you’ve had, projects you’re working on, literature, zines, flyers, art, whatever — that you’d like to share with some like-minded people. For myself, I’m going to try to encourage everyone to sign on for some networking projects, bring a lot of ALL literature to set out on a table, and chat people up about possible local actions and projects.

For more details, see the Vegas A-Cafe website.

In order to announce the upcoming A-Cafe, to raise awareness about the domestic and foreign and perpetrated by the State, and to reach out to incoming and returning students at UNLV, Southern Nevada ALL took its second flyering action today — the first day of classes for the upcoming semester at UNLV. We’re calling this outreach action Radical Re-Orientation. Right now, we’re limited mainly to posting flyers and distributing handbills. In the future, if we gain more of a foothold on campus, I hope that we can really trick the event out, through some strategic use of tabling, more extensive first-week events, and hopefully coordination with other groups on campus. But, in any case, for now, there is the A-Cafe, and there are the flyers and handbills. The numerical majority of the paper that we’ve been pushing has been a pair of new flyers on police brutality, a handbill on anarchy, and a flyer announcing the A-Cafe event. In addition, we also have some fresh copies of existing flyers on how we are forced to pay for war and torture through government taxation.

Cops are here to protect you. (#1)
Cops are here to protect you. (#2)
Taxes Pay For Torture (#1)
Taxes Pay For Torture (#2)
Taxes Pay For War (#1)
Taxes Pay For War (#2)
A-Cafe invitation
Vegas Anarchy / What Is Anarchy?

The handbills are designed to be printed out as a double-sided 4×4 sheet, with the logo on one side and the What Is Anarchy? text, with a link back to the A-Cafe website, on the back. We’ve dropped a few in public places, and spread the rest around under car windshield-wipers and on doorknobs; the idea is for the front to catch your eye with the logo, and the back to give some idea of what we’re all about. I hope to re-use the design with a bunch of different texts on the back; for the first one, I tried a capsule summary of what anarchism is about. Thus:

What is Anarchy?

Anarchy means lawlesness. It does not mean riot or chaos. The government schools and the corporate media have taught you to believe that Anarchy means disorder because they need you to believe that order and peace can only exist where they are imposed by government laws and enforced by government police. The elite few who pull the strings in the government and in the corporate media need you to believe that social order requires social control. After all, they intend to do the controlling. They expect you to surrender your freedom to their authority. In exchange they promise you peace, protection, security, and order. But what they deliver is fear, war, police brutality, and humiliating "security" checkpoints. Their "order" means taking orders. Their "protection" is a prison.

In Anarchy there is another way. Instead of a coercive order imposed by government, we believe in consensual order. Instead of "protection" from brutal government cops, we look to individual and neighborhood self-defense. Instead of "relief" from indifferent government welfare bureaucracies, we look to fighting unions, worker solidarity and cooperative community-based mutual aid. Instead of "order" imposed by obedience to government laws, we look to voluntary contracts and agreements between free people negotiating as equals.

We oppose all government prohibitions, government taxes, government borders, government police, and government wars, because we are for peace, freedom, and social harmony. These can only exist between people who come to agreements as equals, not between people who are forced to obey out of fear. It is government law that produces violence, riot, and disorder. Only in Anarchy can there be true order, real peace, individual freedom and social harmony.

If you are interested in learning more about these ideas, or meeting other people in Las Vegas who are working to make them a reality, check out the Vegas Anarchist Cafe at: http://vegas.anarchistcafe.org

We put up about about 150 flyers and passed out about 200 handbills today. We’ll be spreading more anarchist love in upcoming days. I’ll let y’all know how it goes in terms of attention, new contacts, and the A-Cafe. As usual, if you find any of the pictures pretty or the text useful, they’re all freely available for you to reuse and recycle as you see fit.

If you are in the Las Vegas area (or you know someone who is) and are interested in the A-Cafe or in Southern Nevada ALL, I’ll be at the A-Cafe on Wednesday, and I hope that several other ALLies will be there too. If you can’t make it to the face-to-face, by all means drop us a line. If you want to put up flyers, feel free to contact me — I can hand you off a stack of flyers to put up and give you some idea of the areas that have already been hit — or feel free to print them up yourself from the PDF and put them wherever seems best.


20 replies to The Las Vegas A-Cafe and Radical Re-Orientation at UNLV Use a feed to Follow replies to this article · TrackBack URI

  1. Jeremy

    Looks good – got any versions of those posters that other groups could use?

    Thanks for giving us ideas about what to do on our own turf!

  2. Roderick T. Long

    Looks great — except “Anarchy means lawlessness” puzzles me a bit. It doesn’t mean that etymologically, nor do all anarchists in practice reject the notion of law. Indeed, you yourself have elsewhere endorsed the notion. What am I missing?

  3. Black Bloke

    I had the same question as Roderick, but he beat me to it (by several hours). Other than that, and the grammatical errors here, this was a good post. I’ll probably end up incorporating some elements of it into something I’m doing.

  4. scineram

    Rod beat me to it too.

  5. anikhaque

    The State was conceived by Max Weber as a monopoly on the legitimate use of force. It may not exist so much as an institution of inhererently good laws or principles, but rather a social order that, at best, emerges in societies to minimize the arbitrary application of violence or, at worst, the mere natural result when groups within societies have successfully monopolized the use of violence.

    According Weber’s definition, anarchism is simply a social order where there is no monopoly on the use of violence. Like the State itself, there may be nothing inherently good or bad about it. In a good anarchy, such as a market anarchy, private institutions offer police protection, justice, and other defense services. There have historically been few functional examples market anarchies, but the most familiar one may be the Wild Wild West.

    The problem with anarchies may not be that they are bad, but rather that they are unstable. I suspect that males, in particular, are evolutionarily wired to monopolize the use of force. In a society composed entirely of females, something of a stable Weberian anarchy may be possible. There may be some deep underlying connections between feminism with anarchism.

  6. Roderick T. Long

    “I suspect that males, in particular, are evolutionarily wired to monopolize the use of force.”

    Even if I believed in that sort of sociobiological hypothesis (which I don’t — I think it’s empirically unfounded and conceptually incoherent), why wouldn’t the motives that lead males to seek the monopolisation of force also seek them to oppose others’ monopolisation of force?

  7. anikhaque

    I realize there were some problems with that statement, so let me clarify.

    While at an individual level, you or I are free to do anything we pretty much choose, when large groups of human males get together it’s statistically probable that a monopoly on the use force will eventually emerge.

    This may not be the case for large groups women or dolphins for that matter. My hypothesis is that Weberian anarchies may be inherently unstable in populations with large numbers of human males.

  8. Roderick T. Long

    That still doesn’t answer my question though.

  9. anikhaque

    Why wouldn’t the motives that lead males to seek the monopolisation of force also seek them to oppose others’ monopolisation of force?

    They would. The same motives that lead men to monopolize force are the same one’s that lead them to oppose the monopolization of force by others. In fact, a prerequisite to the monopolization of force is opposing the monopolization of force by others.

  10. Roderick T. Long

    But my point was that widespread opposition to the monopolisation of force by others can also lead to an absence of any such monopoly.

  11. Araglin

    Professor Long,

    I’m familiar with your anti-sociobiological writings, and have a good deal of sympathy for your overrall position, but: do you acknowledge that chemical compounds (such as pharmaceuticals, steroids, and like) can effect people’s desires, abilities to inhibit impulses, and their likelihood of taking (or refraining from taking) certain actions?

    If so, wouldn’t you also have to acknowledge that large quantities of testoterone coursing through the bloodstreams of a territory’s inhabitants might be strongly correlated with the prevalence of status contests and a propensity to resort to violence?

    I’m not making a determinist argument — that mentality is somehow crudely reducible to bio-chemistry, but isn’t your argument against such determinism erecting a kind of mind-body duality, with an impermeable divide between what happens in or to a body and the thoughts, desires, and actions that issue forth from mind?

    Best, Araglin

  12. Soviet Onion

    “My hypothesis is that Weberian anarchies may be inherently unstable in populations with large numbers of human males.”

    I can think of a quite a few counter-examples. While medieval Iceland was initially discovered and settled by extended families from Norway, the subsequent wave of immigrants during the early period was comprised largely of young and dispossessed men from all over Scandinavia and the British Isles, resulting in a society that was disproportionately male, and remained so well past the point when its non-monopolistic legal order was formalized 930 A.D. This system worked in stability for over three hundred years, finally breaking down at a time when the ratio of men to women was equal.

    In fact, your example of the American West is an even more extreme case. Mining camps during the California Gold Rush were almost exclusively male, as were the cattle boomtowns to a lesser extent; do you really think prostitution would have been so widespread if whole families had been moving out there? Yet far from trying to dominate each other, Westerners managed to compromise and establish dispute resolution mechanisms without attempting to monopolize those functions.

  13. Rad Geek

    Roderick, Black Bloke, scineram,

    Well, there is a sense in which I reject the notion of law and a sense in which I don’t. If law means something like general and enforceable rules of justice, or generalized conventions and rules of procedure for settling disputes about justice, then I’m happy to accept the notion of law; if it means a prescription legitimately enforceable and binding in conscience because issued under color of government authority, then I reject that entirely for the usual reasons. (Both in the sense that I think that the things to which statists apply the term laws are without any color of sovereign authority, and also because I think the statist conception of law itself depends on a logical impossibility, i.e. a just state.)

    The question is as much a rhetorical one as anything else: whether, given the dialectical context, it makes more sense to leave intact the statist identification of law with authority, and then attack the claim that order requires law (in the sense of government edict); or whether to attack the statist identification of law with authority, while leaving intact the claim that order requires law (in a sense divorced from the notion of a sovereign legislative authority). Elsewhere I’ve favored doing the latter, but I’m just as happy to do the former if it better suits the rhetorical context.

    I’m trying this way of doing things because my suspicion is that anarchistic conceptions of law mainly appeal and make intuitive sense to confirmed anarchists, or to people who are already immersed in the natural law tradition. To the average person on the street, it takes a fair amount of explaining. Which is fine; I’m all for explaining. But if my audience is the average person on the street and I have only 3-4 short paragraphs to work with, I think that it’s probably easier to just go ahead and use the word law in its authoritarian sense, in order to convince people that laws (in that sense) are not necessarily and can rightfully be broken or simply ignored (after all, there are plenty of cases in popular culture of people who are thought of and talked about as heroic law-breakers), than it is to uproot that conception of the law, motivate the new conception that you want to replace it with, and then still come back around to explaining the kinds of alternative institutions that anarchists envision in place of government enforcement. So I chose to use the word lawlessness to mean without government legislation or government jurisdisction as a rhetorical choice, in order to be able to quickly get on to the point that government laws don’t deliver what the government promises, and to talk about how anarchy provides another way.

    Does that clarify?

  14. anikhaque

    Soviet Onion, you cite some interesting examples, but it is still the case that it mostly men that are attempting monopolize the use force. An increase in the presence of females is in fact likely intensify this kind of behavior, not diminish it. Given that, it’s not really that surprising to me to see cases where men living functional Weberian anarchies when not in the presence of women.

    It may sound as if my conjecture stands on fragile philosophical underpinnings, but I’m actually drawing on an idea which was developed by Nietzsche, namely the “will to power”. Though he does not seem to understand women very well, his insights into male behavior are frighteningly insightful.

  15. Black Bloke

    Thanks for the clarification RG.

  16. Roderick T. Long

    I’ve never denied that biological differences can affect what default impulses people have. And although people have the freedom to overcome those impulses, not all of them will, and so such impulses can affect the statistical distribution of various kinds of behaviour.

    But it’s a big leap from there to the claim that these biologically-based impulses are incapable of being overcome or channeled by cultural factors, which is what it seems to me one has to assume in order to conclude that these differences make anarchy “inherently unstable.”

  17. Araglin

    Professor Long,

    Thanks for your reply (assuming your last comment was intended as a response to my questions). I didn’t mean to imply that I agreed with the claim regarding “inherent instability,” which I found somewhat interesting but not terribly persuasive. I actually think that your argument about how the very same dispositions that might incline some towards seeking to impose a monopoly on the use of force would also incline others towards resisting such an imposition, goes quite a long way towards refuting the position of “inherent instability.”

    I suppose the only rejoinder I might want to make to you is this: while one’s biological inheritance and socio-cultural conditioning can never dictate deterministically what one will or must do (because of praxeological free will), these things may well have significant probabilitistic effects (as you mentioned), such that sociobiology (at least of the sort one might encounter with Trivers or Daniel Sloan Wilson) could well do some important explanatory work. I have my own problems with more reductive biological accounts of human life, meaning, etc. (especially as deployed by militant-atheist types like Dawkins whose concept of “memes” to me renders any claim to having arrived at scientific truth self-defeating, or those who would try to underwrite a narrow gene-centric account of economic “self interest”), but wanted to make sure that it is not your position that your take on praxeology (and of Sartre’s account of emotion) renders inevitably nonsensical any recourse to sociobiological accounts of why humans may by and large behave in certain ways.

    Cheers, Araglin

  18. Roderick T. Long

    “I wanted to make sure that it is not your position that your take on praxeology (and of Sartre’s account of emotion) renders inevitably nonsensical any recourse to sociobiological accounts of why humans may by and large behave in certain ways.”

    Fair enough; and agreed, that’s not my position. I think the prospects for sociobiological explanations are more limited than most sociobiologists do, but they’re not zero. That said, many of the arguments I see even for the narrower, more probabilistic claims strike me as dubious.

  19. Soviet Onion

    Charles or whoever it may concern,

    A friend of mine developed a really effective strategy for outreach at colleges. In addition to talking with students and distributing lit on the opening days, try to sneak somebody into the dorms ahead of time, before anyone has moved in, and just slide the relevant materials under every damn door in the in the entire building. That way it’s right their faces as the first thing they see coming into the year. Being an anonymous present also adds an element of mystery that helps pique their interest.

    Likewise when you do the in-person outreach, you could also tailor your aesthetics to match some prominent symbol on the pamphlets (say a colored “ALL” symbol on an otherwise black and white pamphlet). That way people are more likely to draw the connection between you and their anonymous benefactors.

    Aggressive marketing? You betcha. Don’t be afraid to play dirty when spreading good ideas, folks.

    This would work equally well for every instance of students returning with a fresh mind, including winter and spring breaks.

  20. Rad Geek


    Thanks. I think that’s a great idea. I’ll be sure to include it when I add a section (hopefully soon) to the http://libertarianleft.org/ website about getting your message out in the community, and in people’s faces, on a low budget. Here in Vegas, we developed a couple of handbills (more to come soon, I hope), which I originally designed to be stuck under a car windshield, but which should also serve for slipping under doors.

    The only caveat I’d want to mention for a plan like this is that, at many colleges, you may have to already have someone on your side who lives in the dorm, or at least studies at that college, in order to get around dorm security. (At UNLV the doors are locked, anyway, unless you have a keycard. You could wait for someone to come out or prop the door; but if you’re there before students arrive, nobody much will be going in and out, and if you’re there after students arrive, they’re likely to have security measures like an ID-check or sign-in system in place.)

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