The Seattle Group is very small -- not because we’re elitists (far from it!) but because the function we have set for ourselves can best be done by a little band able to act with maximum spontaneity and flexibility, either independently or in voluntary cooperation with other groups. When we grow, it’s time to split. Our goal is freedom: we do not intend to negate it with a ponderous organizational structure.
Nor will we be bogged down in a morass of secretarial and organization-maintenance routine. There just isn’t any time for it. Revolution must be soon, or never.
The Seattle Group was formed in October, 1965. It meets every two weeks, alternately at the Id, now 1408 N.E. 42nd Avenue, for discussion and at the home of a participant for planning and ways-and-means. The group has no organizational structure, and anyone who takes part in its activities is considered a member. In the first year of its existence, its most sustained activity has been the publication of its Bulletins.
Seattle Group Bulletins come out irregularly, whenever anyone writes one. It seems to average a little over a Bulletin every two weeks. They are of varying lengths, up to eight legal-size pages. Each is initialed by its writer, who alone is responsible for it, the group simply providing the media and the milieu. Each quarter we re-run the quarter’s bulletins and compile them in a booklet, along with notes on publications received and excerpts from correspondence; these quarterly compilations sell for 25¢.
Bulletins are free for the asking. But we can’t afford to waste postage sending them to the Dead Letter Office or to people who don’t really want them, so periodically we enclose coupons for readers to fill out and return, to verify addresses and spellings, to confirm interest, and to add new readers. Then we revise our mailing list on the basis of the returns. The Seattle Group wants a live readership.
We’ve stubbornly resisted putting a subscription price on the Bulletins, for two reasons: (1) we don’t want to inhibit the growth of readership, and (2) we don’t want to divert our own efforts to keeping track of sub expirations. And because we know that most Bulletin readers are activists, already deluged with fund appeals from causes at least as worthy, we minimize our requests for financial support. Most of our readers know that ink and paper and postage cost money, and we trust them to send us what they can.
The Seattle Group has produced one pamphlet, and expects to issue others. We’ve issued leaflets for mass distribution; unlike Bulletins and pamphlets, these are undersigned by the group as a whole and express a unanimous position. Since they are of mainly local interest, we haven’t included them in our mailings. (Of course we’ll send on request any that are in stock, as we do with back issues of the Bulletins.)
One of the things -- the main thing, really -- that we hope the Seattle Group’s propaganda will do is to spark similar efforts from others. There’s something forbidding about a printed, regularly scheduled periodical -- somehow, its very format suggests that its staff and contributors have to be professionals, or at least to have some academic or experiential qualifications for expertise, and this tends to discourage just anybody from turning a hand to it. But a mimeograph machine is a really free press. It doesn’t intimidate by hinting that what’s turned out on it has to be slick and professional, and it’s available to anyone; the old machine the Seattle Group uses was bought for five dollars at a St. Vincent de Paul thrift shop. A wide exchange of this sort of informal dialogue, with no force beyond the appeal of ideas, is the logical means of co-ordinating the diverse libertarian groupings now springing up all across the country (and elsewhere!) and the fit carrier for an imperative resurgence of anarchist thought and action.
For the scarcity and the need for constrained labor that have in all times past removed the vision of a functional anarchy to the realms of utopia become obsolete with the advent of cybernated production. However desirable an envisioned state of society, even the most brilliant and dedicated efforts to bring it to reality cannot but fail while the material preconditions for its viability are lacking. Hence the spectacular defeat of past anarchist movements presages nothing. Anarchism is on the rise again, and this time no valid economic need precludes its victory.
This is an entirely new state of affairs, and one for which the existing body of anarchist theory is unprepared. Earlier anarchist thinkers devoted themselves, in the main, to the questions of the desirability of an anarchic society, and of its compatibility with human nature; the tough tactical problems of the anarchist revolution received little attention. Three main streams did emerge: nihilism -- simply bring the social structure into crisis by terror or whatever means, and see what happens; communalism -- withdraw in small groups from the authoritarian society and build ideal communities, hoping that as their virtues are demonstrated the example will be followed; and syndicalism -- by direct action, supplant the present state apparatus with a structure representing the workers and based upon the workers’ organizations. The new anarchist trend appears to lay greater stress on individual behavior -- live as freely as you can within the existing society, seeking a personal emancipation from its shibboleths and taboos. None of these theories, in their present state of development, is adequate to the task of overthrowing the power structure of an entrenched capitalist nation. And that is what must now be done.
In this situation, the widest possible dialogue among activists becomes of critical urgency. Somehow, among the diverse forces now striving for freedom, the prototype of a free society’s organizational forms must emerge -- forms of wholly voluntary association flexible and potent to pool the efforts and realize the desires of each of the infinitely varied individuals in the family of man.
Let all the rebel voices be heard!”
[This pamphlet is not dated, but was produced during the last quarter of 1966. It is mimeographed. The pamphlet was created on 8 ½ X 14 inch mimeograph paper, folded and stapled. The cover is red in color and it is designed as a mailer, so that one side has the title, hand lettered on the stencil with “ABOUT” in outline and “THE SEATTLE GROUP” shaded, and on the reverse the mailing section with the return address hand lettered (onto the stencil) and a space outlined for a postage stamp. The covers are printed in black ink on regular colored (red) mimeograph paper; the interior pages on white mimeograph paper are printed in green. On the inside of the front cover is a hand drawn graphic, which is a variation on the wicked John outlined with the words REVOLUTION, SPONTANEITY, FREEDOM, FLEXIBILITY included in the outside ring. The text, which is typed (with a typewriter set on “stencil” ) is paragraphed as is shown above; however, it is hand justified into columns (this means that the producer counted the letters in each line so that they would line up equally on each margin to the right and left). There are no page numbers. There are four internal (green ink on white) pages, which are actually one 8 ½ x 14 inch piece of paper, printed on both sides, cut in half, and then each page is a half of this. The last internal white page is a coupon to clip. On the front, a hand drawn request “I LIVE IN OR NEAR SEATTLE AND WANT TO BE NOTIFIED OF MONTHLY DISCUSSION MEETINGS” and “PUT ME ON YOUR MAILING LIST”; on the back a hand drawn request “SEND SAMPLE BULLETINS TO” and the inside of the back cover reads :To introduce your friends to the Seattle Group, send for additional copies of this brochure: 5 cents (symbol) each. And at the bottom “Labor donated, as always.” On the bottom of the white page before the coupon page is a hand drawn graphic announcing the coupons. It is extremely likely that the pamphlet was produced by Louise Crowley -- only Louise would have had the patience to hand justify -- but she may have had some help with the graphics, or maybe she did them herself. The writing style in most of the piece is also Louise’s, but not all of it, so it was likely a group effort of some sort. “Legal size” refers to U.S. standard legal paper size 8 ½ x 14 inches. Typewriters had a symbol for cents that looked like a small c character with a / through it. If the typewriter didn’t have this symbol, one simply made it by backing up and overstriking. – Editor]