People are drawn to a commotion. In the marketplace of ideas, winners are often simply the loudest and as anarchists we hold ideas inherently more combative and attention grabbing than those regularly seen on a college campus. This is precisely what makes the campus perfect for radical activism, and was the philosophy which guided the Students for a Stateless Society (S4SS) at Texas State when we held our inaugural Ask an Anarchist Week.
The event intended first to establish S4SS as the primary voice for radical politics and social justice on Texas State campus, and second to communicate to other anarchists on campus that there was an intellectual home for their ideas. Armed with hundreds of pamphlets and a sign which read “Abolish Government Now!”, we set up our tent directly in the middle of campus and invited anyone interested to engage us in dialogue over whatever they wanted. A constant stream of students visited the table, sometimes recognizing the literature and ideas, but more often they were simply interested to hear what the people with the “abolish government” sign had to say. We distributed almost the entirety of our literature, and finished with 40 names on an email list. All metrics point to the event being a great success, but they don’t tell the whole story.
The success of the event was solidified in my mind on the final day of tabling, when I realized almost all of the visitors to the table were repeat visitors coming back to talk about the ideas they had read in the pamphlets we gave them. In our first week of existence, S4SS had not only succeeded in distributing anarchist literature, but managed to create a tiny community where new people explored anarchist ideas and sought deeper understanding of the philosophy.
Ask an Anarchist Week blew through all expectations I had of an anarchist tabling event being held well into the semester, and set a standard for our future activism. I attribute this simply to the commotion we made by being an intellectual group who embraced their radicalism with a touch of flair.
Travis Calhoun is an organizer for S4SS at Texas State University in San Marcos Texas, and a campus coordinator for Students for Liberty.
S4SS at Texas State has a Facebook page and a group.
The group can be contacted through either of the facebook links or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.