“Don’t Go in the Pit”: Active Resistance and the Territories of Political Identity

This article was published in Post Identity, Summer 1998.

The modern spectacle, on the contrary, expresses what society
can do, but in this expression the permitted is absolutely
opposed to the possible. —Guy Debord

The visionary is the only true realist. —Fellini

DURING THE FINAL WEEKS OF AUGUST 1996 a shady group of
characters, social outcasts, and “ne’er-do-wells” descended
upon the city of Chicago. The Democratic Party’s National
Convention did not go unchallenged, however. For
outside the protected spaces of the United Centre (which
served as the Convention site) a new cultural formation
was rehearsing, about to take the stage for its first performance.
This formation, designated “Active Resistance: A
Counter Convention” by its participants, presented a
unique convergence of movements.

The Active Resistance gathering was the largest anarchist
conference since 1989. A ten day counter-convention,
it attracted over 700 activists from North America
and Europe. Activists mobilized against Democratic Party
policies regarding criminal justice, corporate welfare, health
care, homelessness, immigrant rights, and threats to affirmative
action. Participants took part in ongoing workshops
and discussions concerning some of the crucial issues facing
contemporary anarchism: community organizing, alternative
economics, and conceptions of “revolutionary”
politics. Specific issues such as prison abolition, immigration,
and impacts of neo-liberal policies were addressed.
Perhaps more significantly the festival brought to the fore
the paradoxical relationships of territory, community, and
identity-formation in a global age.

Read the whole article here.