Monday, June 01, 2009

Thoughts on the BTP's "meatspace gathering"


I just spent a tremendously enjoyable weekend in Kansas City at the second annual Boston Tea Party "meatspace gathering." Thanks to Jim Davidson for putting this event together. Notes and asides:

At one point "confirmed" attendees for the event numbered in the 30s. The actual active1 attendance was 50, but only with application of the Bob and Doug McKenzie metric conversion factor ("double it and add 30"). Folks, if you aren't going to attend an event, don't RSVP "yes, I'll be there!"

That said, having only ten (non-metric) people in attendance allowed for a nice, intimate "roundtable" affair.

A plurality of attendees were in one way or another formally affiliated with, and damn near all would likely characterize themselves as supporters of, the Alliance of the Libertarian Left. Two attendees were past vice-presidential candidates, two were current presidential candidates, two were past chairs of the Boston Tea Party, one was a past and one a present "public official." One was "a vegan, but not an asshole," the rest were apparently omnivores. Attendees came from as far afield as California and Maryland. 20% of active attendees and 23% of nominal attendees were female. I could probably think of other ways to demographically describe the makeup of the event, but enough's enough.

I had considered trotting out my stump speech as a presidential candidate, but even in advance that didn't feel quite right.

By the time we got to Kansas City, my intent was to riff on William Blake's maxim, "the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom." I won't try to pass that off as particularly original ... it just struck me as a new and possibly attractive skin for some of L. Neil Smith's hardcore "don't move to the center, move the center" wine.

By the time Brad Spangler was done with his presentation, it was clear that the weekend was going to be given to brainstorming on the best ways to raise revolutionary consciousness, and to hashing out strategy in terms of "politics" versus "anti-politics." I can't think of group better coincidentally composed for the purpose of such a discussion.

I can't speak for anyone else, but I came home with a lot to think about, including how to convert one of my own digressions into a paper. Seeing as how Spangler referred to that digression as "maybe the most sophisticated argument" he'd ever heard in favor of engaging in electoral politics as part of an anarchist/agorist strategy, it seems like a worthwhile thing to follow up on.

In honor of our own counting methodology, we split the evening between English (12 oz.) and metric (750 ml.) units of measurement. It occasionally got loud, but it never got ugly. A good time. Thanks again, Jim!

[update: Jim Davidson has posted his opening remarks from the gathering here]

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1. There were actually 13 people who came to Kansas City for events, but three of them -- Tamara and our sons -- took their anti-politics all the way and spent most of their time on recreation rather than on formal event participation. I think they may be onto something.

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