Group plans anarchism-awareness series at UNC

Aug. 23, 2014 @ 02:17 PM

A University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student-anarchist group is again holding an anarchism-awareness event series this year.

It’s the second year for the series, which the group said they started last fall after a dispute arose over funding for college groups.

The anarchist group, the UNControllables, is holding the “Radical Rush Week” Sept. 2-11. The line-up of events, which will be hosted by the group and by other organizations, includes an anarchist short-film showing, a discussion led by an anarchist and former Black Panther Party member, and a presentation on police surveillance.

The group started the series in reaction to a funding dispute involving the UNC Chapel Hill College Republicans, according to a news release from the group.

Last fall, the UNC Chapel Hill College Republicans accused the Student Congress of political bias after their full budget request of more than $8,180 to bring two speakers to campus was not met, according to reports from The Daily Tar Heel.

Kathryn Walker, chair of the UNC-CH College Republicans, said in an email that they were given “significantly” less money in the year due to the Student Congress’ decision that the “speakers we wanted to bring to campus were not ‘intellectual enough’ even though their credentials were incredibly significant.”

The conservative group’s allocation of about $3,090 was smaller than allocations to the anarchist group, the UNControllables and to Siren Womyn Empowerment Magazine, the newspaper reported. The story was also covered by, Fox News and Walker said they were eventually able to raise additional private money to bring the speakers to campus.

Walker said in an email that this year, they’ve requested $9,151 for speakers they’d like to bring to campus.

“We plan for most of that to go towards speakers we would like to bring to campus. We have again chosen speakers whose credentials are significant, and we hope to receive the majority of our funds,” she said in an email.

UNControllables member James Murphey said the dispute led to the launch of the week because he said it led to mischaracterizations about the group and “we wanted to speak for ourselves.”

“They thought it was undeserving for a group that was so critical to the government and capitalism and racism and sexism — and all forms of oppression — to be getting more funding than they were used to,” Murphey said.

The group itself was formed to “facilitate education about the political philosophy of anarchism,” according to the release.

Michal Osterweil, a global studies lecturer at UNC Chapel Hill, said there are misunderstandings about anarchist ideas.

“Anarchism is a system of belief in decentralized power and mutual aid societies and a lot of community-oriented projects, and they just have a very intricate and interesting political philosophy that I think a lot of people don’t know about,” she said. “They hear the word ‘anarchist,” and say…‘I’m not against order and I’m not against everything.’”

She also said that civil disobedience, property destruction and direct action are “very much” a part of the anarchist repertoire. She has studied movements that have involved anarchists including the 1999 protests of the World Trade Organization.

She added that she doesn’t agree with all of the choices that local anarchists groups have made, but also believes that the different instances should be taken separately.

Anti-capitalist anarchists were involved in the 2011 occupation of an abandoned commercial building in Chapel Hill, the Yates Motor Co. building, according to previous reports in The Herald-Sun.

And that summer, masked intruders damaged property and blocked access to elevators at Greenbridge condominiums in Chapel Hill, according to previous reports that also reported involvement by anarchists.

And last week, anarchists claimed responsibility in an online post for damage to Chapel Hill police vehicles.

Murphey said he can’t “blame anybody who chooses to fight back and defend themselves from police violence or from the government.”

“I think a lot of people conflate anarchism with destruction and violence, whereas actually, governments have committed more destruction and violence often in the name of freedom and order than any anarchist ever has,” he said. “And we would like to see a world without government and without capitalism.”

For more information about Radical Rush Week, go to the website