Autonomous social center
Autonomous social centers are self-managed community centers in which non-authoritarians as volunteers, enact principles of mutual aid. These community spaces in multi-purpose venues affiliated with anarchism, can include propaganda library infoshops and non-hierarchical free skools. Western anarchists have long created enclaves in which they could live their societal principles of non-authoritarianism, mutual aid and conviviality in microcosm; some of these community sites include Wobbly union halls, Barcelonan community centers during the Spanish Revolution, squatted community centers since the 1960s. They share a lineage with the radical intentional communities that have periodically surfaced throughout history and are sometimes termed Temporary Autonomous Zones or "free spaces", in which a counter-hegemonic resistance can form arguments and tactics. Anarchists outside the class-struggle and workplace activism tradition instead organize through autonomous spaces including social centers, squats and mobilizations.
While these alternative, autonomous institutions tend to exist in transience, their proponents argue that their ideas are consistent between incarnations and that temporary institutions prevents government forces from clamping down on their activities. A free, or autonomous, space is defined as a place independent from dominant institutions and ideologies, formed outside standard economic relations, fostering self-directing freedom through self-reliance; these nonhierarchical rules encourage experimental approaches to organization, power-sharing, social interaction, personal development, finance. Social centers can be rented, or owned cooperatively, they are self-maintained by volunteers and close for reasons of burnout and reduced participation if participant free time wanes as their economic circumstances change. Since the 1980s, young Italians maintained independent, self-managed social centers where they gathered to work on cultural projects, listen to music, discuss politics, share basic living information.
By 2001, there were about 150 social centers, set up in abandoned, squatted buildings, such as former schools and factories. These centers operate outside state and free market control, have an oppositional relationship with the police portrayed by conservative media as magnets for crime and illicit behavior; the Italian cultural centers were sometimes funded by city cultural programming. In the United States, autonomous social spaces take the form of infoshops and radical bookstores, such as Bluestockings in New York City and Red Emma's in Baltimore. Since the 1990s, North American anarchists have created community centers and free spaces to foster alternative cultures, economies and schools as a counterculture with a do-it-yourself ethic; these social spaces, as distinguished from regional intentional communities of the midcentury seek to integrate their community with the existing urban neighborhood instead of wholly "dropping out" of society to rural communes. In Great Britain, the rise of social centers as cultural activity and political organizing hubs has been a major feature of the region's radical and anarchist politics.
Infoshops are multi-functional spaces that disseminate alternative media and provide a forum for alternative cultural, economic and social activities. Individual infoshops vary in features but can include a small library or reading room and serve as a distribution center for both free and priced/retail alternative media media with revolutionary anarchist politics. While infoshops can serve as a kind of community library, they are designed to meet the information needs of its users rather than to compete with the public library or per-existing information centers. For alternative publishers and activist groups, infoshops can offer low-cost reprographic services for do-it-yourself publications, provide a postal mail delivery address for those who cannot afford a post office box or receive mail at a squatted address. In the 1990s, available tools ranged from no-frills photocopiers to desktop publishing software. Besides these print publication functions, infoshops can host meetings, concerts, or exhibitions.
For instance, as activist video grew in the 1990s, infoshops screened films and hosted discussion groups that, in turn, encouraged debate and collective action. The infoshop attempts to offer a space where individuals can publish without the restrictions of the mainstream press and discuss alternative ideas unimpeded by homophobia and sexism. Organized by political activists, infoshops are independent, precariously self-funded, unaffiliated with any organization or council, they too are staffed by their own self-selected users as volunteers and like the anarchist media they distribute, operate on inexpensive, borrowed, or donated resources, such as secondhand computers and furniture. As a result and other marginal institutions are short-lived, with minimal income to pay their short-term leases on rented storefronts. Infoshops sometimes combine the function of other alternative venues: vegetarian cafés, independent record stores, head shops, alternative bookstores, but foremost, infoshops disseminate information, serving as library, distributor and hub of an informal and ephemeral network of alternative organizations and activists.
Infoshops sprouted across North America and Europe in the 1990s from the squatted anarchist centers of the prior decade, such as 121 Centre in London. In the early 1990s, a network of infoshops in the United States shared resources and a zine, thus were more developed as a network than the infoshops of the United Kingdom. Separate from
Direct democracy or pure democracy is a form of democracy in which people decide on policy initiatives directly. This differs from the majority of established democracies, which are representative democracies. In a representative democracy, people vote for representatives who enact policy initiatives. In direct democracy, people decide on policies without any intermediary. Depending on the particular system in use, direct democracy might entail passing executive decisions, the use of sortition, making laws, directly electing or dismissing officials, conducting trials. Two leading forms of direct democracy are participatory deliberative democracy. Semi-direct democracies in which representatives administer day-to-day governance, but the citizens remain the sovereign, allow for three forms of popular action: referendum and recall; the first two forms—referendums and initiatives—are examples of direct legislation. In 2019, Thirty countries allowed for referendum initiated by the population on the national levelA'compulsory referendum' subjects the legislation drafted by political elites to a binding popular vote.
This is the most common form of direct legislation. A'popular referendum' empowers citizens to make a petition that calls existing legislation to a vote by the citizens. Institutions specify the timeframe for a valid petition and the number of signatures required, may require signatures from diverse communities to protect minority interests; this form of direct democracy grants the voting public a veto on laws adopted by the elected legislature, as is done in Switzerland. A'citizen-initiated referendum' empowers members of the general public to propose, by petition, specific statutory measures or constitutional reforms to the government and, as with referendums, the vote may be binding or advisory. Initiatives may be direct or indirect: With the direct initiative, a successful proposition is placed directly on the ballot to be subject to vote. With an indirect initiative, a successful proposition is first presented to the legislature for their consideration; such a form of indirect initiative is utilized by Switzerland for constitutional amendments.
A deliberative referendum is a referendum that increases public deliberation through purposeful institutional design. Power of recall gives the public the power to remove elected officials from office before the end of their term; the earliest known direct democracy is said to be the Athenian democracy in the 5th century BC, although it was not an inclusive democracy: women and slaves were excluded from it. The main bodies in the Athenian democracy were the assembly, composed of male citizens. There were only about 30,000 male citizens, but several thousand of them were politically active in each year, many of them quite for years on end; the Athenian democracy was direct not only in the sense that decisions were made by the assembled people, but in the sense that the people through the assembly, boulê, law courts controlled the entire political process, a large proportion of citizens were involved in the public business. Modern democracies, being representative, not direct, do not resemble the Athenian system.
Relevant to the history of direct democracy is the history of Ancient Rome the Roman Republic, beginning around 509 BC. Rome displayed many aspects of democracy, both direct and indirect, from the era of Roman monarchy all the way to the collapse of the Roman Empire. Indeed, the Senate, formed in the first days of the city, lasted through the Kingdom and Empire, continued after the decline of Western Rome; as to direct democracy, the ancient Roman Republic had a system of citizen lawmaking, or citizen formulation and passage of law, a citizen veto of legislature-made law. Many historians mark the end of the Republic with the passage of a law named the Lex Titia, 27 November 43 BC, which eliminated many oversight provisions. Modern-era citizen lawmaking began in the towns of Switzerland in the 13th century. In 1847, the Swiss added the "statute referendum" to their national constitution, they soon discovered that having the power to veto Parliament's laws was not enough. In 1891, they added the "constitutional amendment initiative".
Swiss politics since 1891 have given the world a valuable experience base with the national-level constitutional amendment initiative. In the past 120 years, more than 240 initiatives have been put to referendums; the populace has been conservative. Some of the issues surrounding the related notion of a direct democracy using the Internet and other communications technologies are dealt with in e-democracy and below under the term electronic direct democracy. More concisely, the concept of open source governance applies principles of the free software movement to the governance of people, allowing the entire populace to participate in government directly, as much or as little as they please. Athenian democracy developed in the Greek city-state of Athens, comprising the city of Athens and the surrounding territory of Attica, around 600 BC. Athens was one of the first known democracies. Other Greek cities set up democracies, though most
Some observers believe existentialism forms a philosophical ground for anarchism. Anarchist historian Peter Marshall claims, "there is a close link between the existentialists' stress on the individual, free choice, moral responsibility and the main tenets of anarchism". Anarchism had a proto-existentialist view in the writings of German individualist anarchist Max Stirner. In his book The Ego and Its Own, Stirner advocates concrete individual existence, or egoism, against most accepted social institutions—including the state, property as a right, natural rights in general, the notion of society—which he considers mere spooks or essences in the mind. Existentialism, according to Herbert Read, "is eliminating all systems of idealism, all theories of life or being that subordinate man to an idea, to an abstraction of some sort, it is eliminating all systems of materialism that subordinate man to the operation of physical and economic laws. It is saying that man is the reality—not man in the abstract, but the human person, you and I.
In this respect, existentialism has much in common with Max Stirner's egoism." Friedrich Nietzsche is one of the first philosophers considered fundamental to the existentialist movement, though the movement did not exist until after his death, when his works became better known. While he was alive, Nietzsche was associated with anarchist movements and proved influential for many anarchist thinkers, in spite of the fact that, in his writings, he seems to hold a negative view of anarchists; this was the result of a popular association during this period between his ideas and those of Max Stirner. As such, Nietzsche's Übermensch was representative of the freedom for people to define the nature of their own existence, as well as the desire for a new human, to be neither master nor slave. Nietzsche's idealized individual invents his or her own values and creates the terms under which they excel, taking no regard for God, the state, or the social behavior of'herds', it was these things that drew Nietzsche to anarchists and existentialists alike, showing the clear commonality between both.
Some point to Mikhail Bakunin as following a "philosophy of existence" against "the philosophy of essence" as advocated by Hegel, a figure whom many anarchists, in contrast to Marxists, have found authoritarian or totalitarian. "Every individual," Bakunin writes, "inherits at birth, in different degrees, not ideas and innate sentiments, as the idealists claim, but only the capacity to feel, to will, to think, to speak," a set of "rudimentary faculties without any content" which are filled through concrete experience. Foundational existentialist thinkers such as Søren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche voiced their opposition to Hegel for denying the role of the free individual, glorifying State and Church, claiming "absolute knowledge" about human beings. While influenced by Hegel early in his life, Bakunin was stridently opposed to Hegel around the time he became an anarchist, would refuse to say he was influenced by him; the transcendentalists Henry David Thoreau, were influential to anarchism and existentialism.
In the first and middle decades of the 20th century, a number of philosophers and literary writers had explored existentialist themes. Before the Second World War, when existentialism was not yet in name, Franz Kafka and Martin Buber were among these thinkers who were anarchists. Both are today sometimes seen as Jewish existentialists as well as Jewish anarchists, it is agreed that Kafka's work cannot be reduced to either a philosophical or political theory, but this has not been an obstacle to making links from existentialism and anarchism to his principal writings. As far as politics, Kafka attended meetings of the Klub Mladých, a Czech anarchist, anti-militarist, anti-clerical organization, in one diary entry, Kafka referenced influential anarchist philosopher Peter Kropotkin: "Don't forget Kropotkin!"In his works, Kafka famously wrote about surreal and alienated characters who struggle with hopelessness and absurdity, themes which were important to existentialism, yet presented critiques of the authoritarian family and bureaucracy as well, about which he had strong views as institutions.
He spoke, for instance, of family life as a battleground: "I have always looked upon my parents as persecutors," he wrote in a letter, that "All parents want to do is drag one down to them, back to the old days from which one longs to free oneself and escape." In this regard, he was speaking from experience, but he was influenced by his friend Otto Gross, an Austrian anarchist and psychoanalyst. Otto Gross himself blended Nietzsche and Stirner with Sigmund Freud in developing his own libertarian form of psychology, feeling that they revealed the human potential frustrated by the authoritarian family: "Only now can we realize that the source of authority lies in the family, that the combination of sexuality and authority, shown in the family by the rights still assigned to the father, puts all individuality in fetters."Agreeing with Gross and holding fundamental anarchist views, Kafka would define capitalism as a bureaucracy, "a system of relations of dependence" where "everything is arranged hierarchically and everything is in chains", that in the end "the chains of tortured humanity are made of the official papers of ministries".
Martin Buber is best known for his philosophy of dialogue, a form of religious existentialism centered on the distinction between the I
Antimilitarism is a doctrine that opposes war, relying on a critical theory of imperialism and was an explicit goal of the First and Second International. Whereas pacifism is the doctrine that disputes should be settled without recourse to violence, Paul B. Miller defines anti-militarism as "ideology and activities...aimed at reducing the civil power of the military and preventing international war". Cynthia Cockburn defines an anti-militarist movement as one opposed to "military rule, high military expenditure or the imposition of foreign bases in their country". Martin Ceadel points out that anti-militarism is sometimes equated with pacificism—general opposition to war or violence, except in cases where force is deemed necessary to advance the cause of peace. Pacifism is the belief that disputes between nations should be settled peacefully, it is the use of violence as a means of settling disputes. It can include the refusal to participate in military action. Antimilitarism does not reject war in all circumstances, but rejects the belief or desire to maintain a large and strong military organization in aggressive preparedness for war.
Anarcho-syndicalist Georges Sorel advocated the use of violence as a form of direct action, calling it "revolutionary violence", which he opposed in Reflections on Violence to the violence inherent in class struggle. Similarities are seen between Sorel and the International Workingmens' Association theorization of propaganda of the deed. Walter Benjamin, in his Critique of Violence demarcates a difference between "violence that founds the law", "violence that conserves the law", on one hand, on the other hand, a "divine violence" that breaks the "magic circle" between both types of "state violence". What distinguishes these two kinds of violence fundamentally is their mode of operation; the example Benjamin provides in his essay is that of a General Strike, the latter of, a key element of Sorel's Reflections on Violence. The "violence that conserves the law" is equivalent to the state's monopoly of legitimate violence; the "violence that founds the law" is the original violence necessary to the creation of a state.
"Revolutionary violence" removes itself from the sphere of the law by shattering its instrumental logic of violence. Giorgio Agamben showed the theoretical link between the law and violence permitted Nazi-thinker Carl Schmitt to justify the "state of exception" as the characteristic of sovereignty, thus indefinite suspension of the law may only be blocked by breaking this link between violence and right. Henry David Thoreau's 1849 essay "Civil Disobedience" titled "Resistance to Civil Government", can be considered an antimilitarist point of view, his refusal to pay taxes is justified as an act of protest against slavery and against the Mexican–American War, in accordance to the practice of civil disobedience.. He writes in his essay. Instead the individual should "break the law" if the law is "of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another." Capitalism has been thought by antimilitarist literature to be a major cause of wars, an influence, theorized by Vladimir Lenin and Rosa Luxemburg under the name of "imperialism".
The military-industrial complex has been accused of "pushing for war" in pursuit of private economic or financial interests. The Second International was opposed to the participation of the working classes in war, analyzed as a competition between different national bourgeois classes and different state imperialisms; the assassination of French socialist leader Jean Jaurès days before the proclamation of World War I resulted in massive participation in the coming war. In Mars. After World War II, US President Eisenhower's 1961 issued a warning on the influence of the "military-industrial complex". American right-wing antimilitarists draw upon the statements of Thomas Jefferson and other Founding Fathers condemning standing armies and foreign entanglements. Jefferson's beliefs on maintaining a standing army are as follows: "There are instruments so dangerous to the rights of the nation and which place them so at the mercy of their governors that those governors, whether legislative or executive, should be restrained from keeping such instruments on foot but in well-defined cases.
Such an instrument is a standing army."Right-wing antimilitarists in the United States believe that "A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the best and most natural defense of a free country", as stated by James Madison. To this end, there is much overlap between the Militia movement and right-wing antimilitarists, although the two groups are not mutually inclusive; the term "well regulated" in the above quote is taken by such antimilitarists not to mean "regulated by the state" but rather "well equipped" and "in good
Participatory politics or parpolity is a theoretical political system proposed by Stephen Shalom, professor of political science at William Paterson University in New Jersey. It was developed as a political vision to accompany participatory economics. Both parecon and parpolity together make up the libertarian socialist ideology of participism. Shalom has stated that parpolity is meant as a long-range vision of where the social justice movement might want to end up within the field of politics; the values on which parpolity is based are freedom, self-management, justice and tolerance. The goal, according to Shalom, is to create a political system that will allow people to participate as much as possible in a face-to-face manner; the proposed decision-making principle is that every person should have say in a decision proportionate to the degree to which she or he is affected by that decision. The vision is critical of aspects of modern representative democracies arguing that the level of political control by the people is not sufficient.
To address this problem parpolity suggests a system of Nested Councils, which would include every adult member of a given society. In a parpolity, there would be local councils of voting citizens consisting of 25–50 members; these local councils would be able to pass any law. No higher council would be able to override the decisions of a lower council, only a council court would be able to challenge a local law on human rights grounds; the councils would be based on consensus, though majority votes are allowed when issues cannot be agreed upon. Each local council would send a delegate to a higher level council, until that council fills with 25–50 members; these second level councils would pass laws on matters that affect the 200,000 to 750,000 citizens that it represents. A delegate to a higher level council is bound to communicate the views of their sending council, but is not bound to vote as the sending council might wish. Otherwise, Shalom points out that there is no point in having nested councils, everyone might as well vote on everything.
A delegate is recallable at any time by their sending council. Rotation of delegates would be mandatory, delegates would be required to return to their sending councils frequently; the second level council sends a delegate to a third level council, the third level councils send delegates to a fourth level and so on until all citizens are represented. Five levels with 50 people on every council would represent 312,500,000 voters. However, the actual number of people represented would be higher, given that young children would not be voting. Thus, with a further sixth level nested council, the entire human population could be represented; this would not however be equatable to a global world state, but rather would involve the dissolution of all existing nation-states and their replacement with a worldwide confederal "coordinating body" made of delegates recallable by the nested council below them. Lower level councils have the opportunity to hold referenda at any time to challenge the decisions of a higher level council.
This would theoretically be an easy procedure, as when a threshold of lower level councils call for a referendum, one would be held. Shalom points out that sending every issue to lower level councils is a waste of time, as it is equivalent to referendum democracy. There would be staff employed to help manage council affairs, their duties would include minute taking and researching issues for the council. These council staff would work in a balanced job complex defined by a participatory economy. Shalom suggests that a council court be formed of 41 randomly chosen citizens that have two-year terms. Shalom claims that the number 41 ensures a broad range of opinions, although he says that this number is just a suggestion and it could be lower or higher as long as it was big enough for a diversity of opinion but small enough for discussion and debate; this court would be a check against the tyranny of the majority. It would rule on laws passed and would be able to veto them if the court deemed them contrary to human rights.
Shalom argues the council court should be unelected, as elected members could hold the biases of an oppressive majority. The two-year terms of the council would be staggered: As 21 reached the one-year midpoint of their term, the other 20 would reach the end of their two-year term and be replaced by a new group of 20. A year when that new group of 20 reached the midpoint of their term, the older group of 21 would reach the end of their term, to be replaced by a new group of 21, it is not clear how the court would operate, i.e. by consensus. The council court would have the right to rule on which council, economic or political, has a right to vote on a given issue. A dispute between councils would be resolved by this court, for instance if a minority population insists that its vote should count for more than the larger population, as the majority wants to cause environmental damage to a lake that the minority lives near; the council court would be responsible for evaluating this claim, many different possible rulings could be given.
The guiding principle would be. Regular criminal courts would remain the same, though there might be more juries. Shalom argues that police will be necessary in a participatory society, as you cannot expect crime to disappear in a good society. Police work is a specialized occupation, demanding spec
Anarcha-feminism called anarchist feminism, anarcho-feminism, and/or anarchx-feminism, combines anarchism with feminism. It views patriarchy and traditional gender roles as a manifestation of involuntary coercive hierarchy that should be replaced by decentralized free association, they believe that the struggle against patriarchy is an essential part of class conflict and the anarchist struggle against the state and capitalism. In essence, the philosophy sees anarchist struggle as a necessary component of feminist struggle and vice versa. L. Susan Brown claims that "as anarchism is a political philosophy that opposes all relationships of power, it is inherently feminist". Contrary to popular belief and contemporary association with radical feminism, anarcha-feminism is not an inherently militant outlook, it is described to be an anti-authoritarian, anti-capitalist, anti-oppressive philosophy, with the goal of creating an "equal ground" between all genders. The term "anarcha-feminism" suggests the social freedom and liberty of women, without needed dependence upon other groups or parties.
Mikhail Bakunin opposed patriarchy and the way the law " to the absolute domination of the man". He argued that "qual rights must belong to men and women" so that women could "become independent and be free to forge their own way of life". Bakunin foresaw the end of "the authoritarian juridical family" and "the full sexual freedom of women". On the other hand, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon viewed the family as the most basic unit of society and of his morality and believed that women had the responsibility of fulfilling a traditional role within the family. Since the 1860s, anarchism's radical critique of capitalism and the state has been combined with a critique of patriarchy. Anarcha-feminists thus start from the precept. Authoritarian traits and values—domination, exploitation and competition—are integral to hierarchical civilizations and are seen as "masculine". In contrast, non-authoritarian traits and values—cooperation, sharing and sensitivity—are regarded as "feminine" and devalued. Anarcha-feminists have thus espoused creation of a anarchist society.
They refer to the creation of a society based on cooperation and mutual aid as the "feminization of society". Anarcha-feminism began with late 19th and early 20th century authors and theorists such as anarchist feminists Emma Goldman, Voltairine de Cleyre and Lucy Parsons. In the Spanish Civil War, an anarcha-feminist group, Mujeres Libres, linked to the Federación Anarquista Ibérica, organized to defend both anarchist and feminist ideas. Stirnerist Nietzschean feminist Federica Montseny held that the "emancipation of women would lead to a quicker realization of the social revolution" and that "the revolution against sexism would have to come from intellectual and militant'future-women'". According to this Nietzschean concept of Federica Montseny's, women could "realize through art and literature the need to revise their own roles". In China, the anarcha-feminist He Zhen argued that without women's liberation society could not be liberated. In Argentina, Virginia Bolten is responsible for the publication of a newspaper called La Voz de la Mujer, published nine times in Rosario between January 8, 1896 and January 1, 1897 and was revived in 1901.
A similar paper with the same name was published in Montevideo, which suggests that Bolten may have founded and edited it after her deportation. La Voz de la Mujer described itself as "dedicated to the advancement of Communist Anarchism", its central theme was the multiple natures of women's oppression. An editorial asserted: "We believe that in present-day society and nobody has a more wretched situation than unfortunate women", they said that women were doubly oppressed by men. Its beliefs can be seen upon male power over women, its contributors, like anarchist feminists elsewhere, developed a concept of oppression that focused on gender. They saw marriage as a bourgeois institution which restricted women's freedom, including their sexual freedom. Marriages entered into without love, fidelity maintained through fear rather than desire and oppression of women by men they hated were all seen as symptomatic of the coercion implied by the marriage contract, it was this alienation of the individual's will that the anarchist feminists deplored and sought to remedy through free love and more through social revolution.
An important topic within individualist anarchism is free love. Free love advocates sometimes traced their roots back to Josiah Warren and to experimental communities, which viewed sexual freedom as a clear, direct expression of an individual's self-ownership. Free love stressed women's rights since most sexual laws discriminated against women, such as marriage laws and anti-birth control measures; the most important American free love journal was Lucifer the Lightbearer, edited by Moses Harman and Lois Waisbrooker. Ezra and Angela Heywood's The Word was published from 1872–1890 and in 1892–1893. M. E. Lazarus was an important American individualist anarchist who promoted free love. In Europe, the main propagandist of free love within individualist anarchism was Émile Armand, he proposed the concept of "la camaraderie amoureuse" to speak of free love as the possibility of voluntary sexual encounter between consenting adults. He was a consistent proponent of polyamory. In France, there was feminist activity inside French individualist anarchism as promoted by individualist feminists Marie Küge, Anna Mahé, Rirette Maîtrejean and Sophia Zaïkovska.
An affinity group is a group formed around a shared interest or common goal, to which individuals formally or informally belong. Affinity groups are precluded from being under the aegis of any governmental agency, their purposes must be non-commercial. Examples of affinity groups include private social clubs, writing or reading circles, hobby clubs, groups engaged in political activism; some affinity groups are organized in a non-hierarchical manner using consensus decision making, are made up of trusted friends. They provide a method of organization, flexible and decentralized. Other affinity groups may have a hierarchy to provide management of the group's long-term interests, or if the group is large enough to require the delegation of responsibilities to other members or staff. Affinity groups can be based on a common ideology, a shared concern for a given issue or a common activity, interest or skill. Affinity groups may have either closed membership, although the latter is far more common.
Some expect members to share the cost of the group's expenses. Although affinity groups are a natural way for humans to organize and are, in that sense, as old as humanity, the origin of affinity groups in the current context began in the 16th century in Britain with dining clubs that would meet at a set location and at a recurring time. One of the earliest recorded examples of such was a group that called itself the "Fraternity of Sireniacal Gentlemen" which met at the Mermaid Tavern in London the first Friday night of each month. Membership was limited and many of the Elizabethan Era's most prominent literary figures belonged, they gathered to eat and socialize with other members, to discuss literary matters. During the 17th century, far more affinity groups formed, ranging from large, national or international fraternal groups like the Freemasons to private gentlemen's clubs, to small, informal reading circles or collectors clubs. Unlike salons or other periodic gatherings that had continuously changing participants, affinity groups traditionally have had curated memberships.
A would-be member had to be proposed for membership by an existing member, or would-be members might petition to join on their own. The existing members are required to vote upon whether or not to accept the applicant as a new member; some voting procedures require unanimity, others may require a simple majority of supporting votes. After becoming a member, continuing membership may be contingent upon conforming to rules or shared ideologies, the disbarring of members for a variety of reasons is possible. Affinity groups fall under the category of NGOs, but are further limited by being non-commercial, are not required to have any specific purpose that might affect the community beyond their own group. For example, both a social justice group and a philately group would be considered affinity groups, but the former more resembles the classic definition of an NGO. Affinity groups engaged in political activism date to 19th century Spain, it was a favourite way of organization by Spanish anarchists, had their base in the tertulias or in the local groups.
Politically oriented affinity groups in the United States gained public attention during the anti-Vietnam War movement of the 1960s and 1970s. The term was first used by the group Black Mask. Anti-war activists on college campuses organized around their hobbies or backgrounds -- religious, ethnic group, etc, they became popular in the 1970s in the anti-nuclear movement in the United States and Europe. The 30,000 person occupation and blockade of the Ruhr nuclear power station in Germany in 1969 was organized on the Affinity group model. Today, the structure is used by many different activists: animal rights, anti-war, anti-globalization, to name some examples; the 1999 protests in Seattle which shut down the WTO Ministerial Conference of 1999 included coordinated organization by many clusters of Affinity groups. By definition, Affinity groups are autonomous from any larger body. Co-ordinated effort and co-operation amongst several Affinity groups, however, is achieved by using a loose form of confederation.
Private clubs, for example, may cooperate through reciprocal agreements which allow the members of one club to use the facilities of another club in a different location. Other affinity groups, such as Rotarians or Toastmasters, may be individual units that conform to shared standards so that one may participate in another group of the same name anywhere on earth without requiring the individual to reapply for a new membership. Cluster: The cluster is the basic unit of organization amongst Affinity groups. A cluster is organized in a non-hierarchical manner. A cluster can be permanent, but is more an ad hoc grouping organized for one specific task or action. One can be organized around a common ideology or a place of origin. Spokescouncil: The spokescouncil is an aggregate of clusters and Affinity groups; each Affinity group or cluster nominates one representative to participate in the council. Spokescouncils are most temporary bodies, committed to accomplishing one task or event. Affinity groups tend to be loosely organized, however there are some formal roles or positions that occur.
A given Affinity group may have some or none of these positions. They may be permanent or temporary and the group may opt to take turns in