--The Green Mountain Anarchist Collective, Vermont Secession (2007)
The Green Mountain Anarchist Collective (GMAC) was politically active between the years 2000 and 2009 and constituted the Vermont affiliate of Northeast Federation of Anarcho-Communists. The collective sought to reorder Vermont (and beyond) according to libertarian-socialist principles governed by an empowered town meeting system of direct democracy.
Founded by David Van Deusen, Xavier Massot, Johnny Midnight, and Natasha Voline, this first generation of the collective came together shortly after the Battle of Seattle and was greatly influenced by the Situationists, Vermont's militant anti-colonial history, and libertarian-socialism. At its inception, GMAC strove to further a popular resistance to capitalism through the building of a more organized and more effective militant apparatus within the left: for the Green Mountain Anarchist Collective this meant organizing, expanding, and making tactical adjustments to the Black Bloc.
The collective took part in a number of Black Bloc actions including those in opposition to the proposed FTAA treaty (Quebec City, 2001), and against fascist organizing attempts in New England (Lewiston Maine, 2003). Individual members of GMAC, prior to the collective taking form, marched in numerous other Black Blocs. From these experiences GMAC observed that the lack of internal organization within the Bloc prevented it from reaching its potential as a vehicle for popular combat (and thus its potential as a vehicle for radicalizing class consciousness). Seeking to address these perceived short comings GMAC penned the pamphlet A Communique On Tactics, which was widely distributed and debated within the anarchist community. The pamphlet, among other things, advocated for the temporary election of tactical officers within the Bloc. These officers would be democratically empowered to make swift decisions on behalf of the whole when engaged in conflict with the state. While GMAC argued that this adaptation was necessary in order to increase mobility (the life blood of a minimally equipped street fighting force), other aspects of the anarchist community criticized these prescriptions as authoritarian in nature and therefore contradictory to the principles of anarchism. GMAC countered that their proposals were in line with those witnessed during the Spanish Civil War via the CNT and FAI. Of those groups that supported the basic tenets of GMAC's views were the Barricada Collective (Boston-MA), and Columbus Anti-Racist Action (Ohio). Aspects of GMAC's proposed tactical reforms were field tested with some success at the Festival De La Pueblo 5 May action in Boston in 2002, and the siege of the Lewiston Armory (in opposition to a failed neo-Nazi organizing meeting), Maine, 2003.
While the collective was influential in better defining basic best practices concerning the Black Bloc tactic, and ultimately reached a receptive intercontinental audience of fellow travelers, a number of its recommendations continue to be met with some controversy in aspects of the anarchist community. GMAC published a book on the Black Bloc in 2002; The Black Bloc Papers: An Anthology of Primary Texts From The North American Anarchist Black Bloc.
The Green Mountain Anarchist Collective did not limit its scope of activity to the Black Bloc. While GMAC sought to tear down capitalism (and combat fascism), it also sought to grow the movement towards libertarian-socialism. Here its focus was aimed within the confines of the Green Mountain region of northern New England. Often working with the Vermont Workers' Center, organized labor, and mass organizations, GMAC prioritized projects that built up directly democratic expression though the creation of grassroots counter-institutions. The major projects it was involved in include the Peoples Round Table Organizing Committee (a project led by the Vermont State Employees' Association), the Dairy Farmers of Vermont (founded in part by future State Senator Anthony Pollina of the Vermont Progressive Party), and the Montpelier Downtown Workers Union-UE Local 221 (a project of the Vermont Workers Center and the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America). As a kind of revolutionary road map charting the way to the Vermont it worked to realize, the collective produced the pamphlet Neither Washington Nor Stowe: Common Sense For The Working Vermonter in 2004.
In addition to organizing, GMAC attempted to gain a wider audience among Vermont's working class and small farmers by producing a seasonal newspaper called Catamount Tavern News (named after the headquarters of the Green Mountain Boys). The paper, which was worker-owned (by the collective) and affiliated with the Teamsters Local 1L, was formed in 2002 and was printed regularly into 2009. It had a statewide distribution of 1500, with 50 distribution points across Vermont (note: Vermont's population was just over 600,000). The paper's bread and butter consisted of articles relating to working class Vermonters, small farmers, as well as providing analysis of local Native American struggles and other major social/political events unfolding in Vermont. Although not a primary focus, the paper also covered regional news (possessing a Quebec Affairs Desk), national news, and international news, through original content. In order to broaden the paper's appeal, Catamount Tavern News also reported on the Vermont Golden Gloves competition, had regular columns on hunting (written by Jonah Black Jack Banis), wild plant gathering, handy hints (for rural living), a crossword puzzle, occasional art & poetry, Vermont history and an obituary page. CT New's last article, published in 2009, was an obituary, written by Xavier Massot, for the newspaper itself.