St-Imier 2022


Save the dates:
St-Imier 2022
July 8 - August 9
Anarchy 2022
July 28 - 31
Souper et Débat politique, Round Three
A regular political conversation and making-progress get-together, followed by a friendly social dinner for those that have time to stick around. This is an opportunity for you to listen to what other people are thinking and to share your ideas. Discussing problems and opportunities and establishing a flow of concrete action, making change happen and transforming society together.

English, Français, Deutsch, with translations as needed.

Wednesday, December 5th, Espace Noir, rue Francillon 29, 2610 St-Imier, Switzerland
The conversation will start at 18:00 and a dinner will be served at 20:30.

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On Wednesday, December 5th we will most likely continue to talk about the education system in various different aspects. This topic emerged from our second session last week:

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We started out asking ourselves how society would have to operate to address the concerns brought up by our first session on November 7th. It was suggested that the society's education system would be of central importance.

These statements were made: We need better schools. Schools are too regulated, with not enough attention to the individual. There needs to be more freedom, and more motivation on the part of kids.

The example of 'circus schools' in St-Croix was mentioned, an affordable system where kids go in the late afternoon to learn and practice circus skills.

Providing such complementary education of various types could offer a way forward that would potentially be easier to implement than changes to the public school system or attempting to offer an affordable alternative to the current public schools.

We started to investigate these various options in more detail. The option of an alternative school would be harder to accomplish, but it allows the kids to bring their whole energy to the better system. The option of changing the public school system would require a very extensive effort. It was suggested that, since the current public school system is a reflection of a consensus in society to the extent that such a consensus currently exists, making changes would require shifting that consensus. On the other hand, enhancing the education by offering complementary education in the late afternoons would be easier to accomplish, but much of the children's energy would be used up in the mainstream schools.

We noted that identifying an ideal alternative system would be a huge topic. One suggestion was that a parents' collective might be a good starting point to make an alternative affordable.

It was also mentioned that mainstream schools are too competitive, recalling experiences with grading on 'the curve' in the past, for example, which guarantees that some percentage of kids "fail".

There was also a bit of a side discussion, regarding an individual focus vs. a collective focus, as an alternative to existing hierarchical systems of decision making. And a bit of an ontological discussion, such as whether 'the market' is a meaningful concept.

We closed the session with identifying several loose ends that we would want to pursue. We said that one promising approach for a complementary education offering would be in the context of community gardening, for which there would be existing local opportunities that could be acted on. We also wanted to find out more about the circus school in St-Croix and look into the arguments that have lead to recent attempts of "free school reform" failing in several cantons.

For the next session we intend to share our research in these regards. So, it seems likely that we will continue our work along these lines on Wednesday, December 5th 2012.

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Souper et Débat politique à Espace Noir
A regular political conversation and making-progress get-together, followed by a friendly social dinner for those that have time to stick around. This is an opportunity for you to listen to what other people are thinking and to share your ideas. Discussing problems and opportunities and establishing a flow of concrete action, making change happen and transforming society together. English, Français, Deutsch, with translations as needed.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012 starting 18:00
Restaurant Espace Noir, rue Francillon 29, 2610 St-Imier

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Français, English, Deutsch, with translations as needed.

Venez nombreux !

Le deuxième tour aura lieu le 21 Novembre et le sujet sera déterminé par les résultats de la première table ronde :

'What kind of society do we want?', and more specifically, 'How do we want society to operate?'

This topic emerged from the first session of Wednesday, November 7th. Present were Stephan, Javier, Salony, Rosette, Chris, Richard and Roger ....

We started off with the question, 'What are we not doing that we could be doing, and what is blocking us?'. The first answer that was offered had to do with spirituality. The claim was that we are 'not really human'; we don't have 'love in our hearts'; we have 'lost our souls', and our sense of respect. We need to recover our humanity through appropriate practices, such as Buddhism. Our society is how it is because of how individuals are, and only if individuals change, society can change.

An observation was then offered, that social collapse leads people to think in new ways. In Benghazi, for example, with the collapse of Libyan society, people began to self-organize, creating a voluntary police force, organizing medical care, etc. But unfortunately, people then reverted to familiar hierarchical ways. They lacked the self-confidence to continue on the self-organizing path.

From this observation, there is hope that the general economic collapse could be a path to change, leading people to leave behind bad emotions and start a new way of life. But there is also the possibility that the collapse could lead to the re-emergence of fascism, or some other kind of bad outcome.

A suggestion was offered that it might be good to begin developing self-organization in small groups, organizing our own food etc. This could be an example to others and could spread. The observation was offered that we don't need to read anarchists books to do this, but simply need to follow our instincts and gut feelings.

Returning to the question of 'lacking self-confidence', the suggestion was offered that we can gain the necessary self-confidence through the experience of participating in collective decision-making. This could lead to a feeling of collective empowerment. As evidence for this, it was observed that 'primitive' tribes do make their decisions collectively, and do have the necessary kind of self-confidence. It was also observed that such societies have a strong sense of spiritual awareness, along with respect for the Earth and things spiritual.

Toward the end, it was suggested that in order to overcome hierarchy, people need to be unified. It was suggested that unity could be achieved by further inquiry of the question 'What kind of society do we want?', and more specifically, 'How do we want society to operate?'.

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The Transformation Project
Over the past month, Richard has been working on the way in which he intends to move forward, resulting in The Transformation Project.

This project is motivated by the belief that a much better world is possible. A world where society is in balance with nature, rather than destroying nature. A world organized around what people need and want, rather than around creating wealth for the few. A world in harmony rather than a world plagued by conflict and war. A world where people have a real voice in how their societies operate.

This project is also motivated by the observation that the current systems of society cannot be fixed. A better world calls for a whole new way of organizing things, making decisions, allocating resources, dealing with economics, etc. We need a total transformation of society: a whole new operating system for Spaceship Earth.

Read more:

Slides: Real Democracy: the Means are the Ends

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Deepening Democracy Days, June 2-12, 2012

During the first half of June, political activist and writer Richard Moore was visiting from Ireland and we turned these two weeks into a project to not only provide him with a deeper understanding of Switzerland's system of direct democracy but also attempt the rethinking of the workings of democracy, civil society and the economy, looking for a consensus on a new way forward.

First we traveled around Switzerland to meet with various people able to offer unique insights into the political system, and dug deep into the psyche of Swiss democracy to look for lessons learnt as well as new ideas to be applied to deepen democracy in Switzerland, Ireland and Europe.

The weekend of June 9-10, 2012 we hosted an intensive discussion on "Deepening Democracy", exploring the directions in which democracy may be evolved. The group of people that participated was comprised of people loosely related to the Espace Noir project, people from the larger anarchist scene around St-Imier and people with an inherit interest in democracy living in the surrounding area.

All this resulted in the following diagrams and flip charts, and the emergence of the participants as the "beau-sejour" group founding a new organization that we named "St-Imier.org", with a mission to develop and search for conventions and best practices that allow civil society to better self-organize. These conventions should provide ways for different groups and organizations with an internal structure which allows them to reach consensus, to enter into a harmonization process with other organizations like that, in order to develop a larger whole system consensus. In other words, the outcome of this weekend session was that deeper democracy means democracy that relies much less on voting and instead focuses on consensus processes.

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International Anarchism Gathering, St-Imier 2012
All libertarians from the various anarchist movements around the world, and all those interested in learning more about anarchism are invited to gather from August 8-12, 2012 in St-Imier in the Jura mountains in Switzerland.



We will be celebrating the 140th anniversary of the first congress of St-Imier that was held in 1872, when the St-Imier Anarchist International was created after anti-authoritarian members were expelled from the First International.

Historic context: The Jura Federation and the Congress of St-Imier 1872

In 1864, the International Workers Association was founded, quickly followed by sections in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Le Locle, St-Imier and other regions in the Swiss Jura mountains. Many of the members in these sections were working in their homes as watchmakers, were well read, and had an independent spirit. When Bakunin came to the region in 1869, there was an immediate meeting of minds.

As a result of this convergence of ideas, the Jura Federation became the libertarian pole of the First International, opposed to the Marxists. Infuriated by this opposition, Marx did everything he could to eliminate this diverging current. In 1872 he thought that he had achieved that goal. At the Hague Congress he managed to assemble his supporters and with some of his supporters posing as representatives of non-existing sections, managed to get votes passed for the exclusion of Bakunin and James Guillaume, only missing a few votes to do the same to Adhemar Schwitzguebel, which were all delegates from the Jura Federation.

Shocked by these actions, the sections that were sympathetic to the anti-authoritarian current, including Spain, Italy, France, Belgium and the USA, organized a conference in St-Imier, where they passed resolutions that were strongly libertarian. The anti-authoritarian IWA survived the Marxist branch to the end of the century.

140 years after the Congress of St-Imier, the Marxist illusion has dissipated in light of the communist dictatorships. Capitalism lives from crisis to crisis. Social crises, political crises, in addition to the ecological crisis.

Where does the anarchist movement stand today?

The anarchist gathering in St-Imier in 2012 will be an opportunity to review the history of the anarchist movement, its ideas, its achievements, its hopes, its defeats, and its opportunities today; its own battles and those it shares with others: anti-militarism, anti-racism, anti-sexism, autonomous self-management, degrowth, education, feminism, internationalism, non-violence, etc.. A number of workshops and events are already planned: historical lectures, thematic conferences, theater, concerts, exhibitions, films, a book fair, a radio station, a libertarian camp, a self-managed market with organic products, workshops, restaurants, etc..

This international event will be public and wants to be open not only to the entire international anarchist movement, but also to the public at large without discrimination. Free admissions and voluntary pricing will be used wherever feasible, in order to enable as many people as possible to participate in the event. Having said that, the organizing committee will use its discretion to decide which participants will be hosted, based on the ideas and practices that were also the principals of the Anti-authoritarian International. Racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia and all forms of violence and discrimination will not be tolerated.

Based on what has been said, any person, group, or organization is welcome to get involved and join this initiative, suggesting exhibitions, debates, lectures, performances, speakers, workshops, etc..

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