New Year, New Us (The Origins of the Autonomous Student Network)

ASN’s original banner, created shortly after their reorganization and renaming

Originally published by the Autonomous Student Network in 2017, announcing their reorganization as a group under the name ASN. 

The past 6 months have been good for us. Since September, we have worked on the construction of an anti-statist, anti-authoritarian, anti-capitalist student force. Using the shell of the S4SS, we cut off any lasting ties with the capitalist and pseudo-capitalist forces claiming to be “anarchists” that had dominated the UT S4SS, in both image and content, for the past few years. Building from the ground up, we worked with a group ranging from 3-7 dedicated members to perform outreach and find a place within the revolutionary circuits of Austin and UT. We made ourselves present, if unannounced, in most blocs and demos throughout the fall. Those who have encountered us in the midst of these events know who we are. We found that, even with our limited resources, we could serve an invaluable role in providing critical analysis, logistical information, and other tools to enable others in their activities.

We provoked widespread discussion and reflection with our Open Letter to the UDems. We were active in the tracking and destruction of fascist propaganda and other antifa activities. We have circulated materials on security culture, propaganda for J20, and antifa support. When ATXResists began to form in the aftermath of the election, we invested our energies and pushed for a model of decentralized coalition building to balance autonomy and coordination. We have built relationships with Austin Anarchist Black Cross, Revolutionary Student Front, The Palestine Solidarity Committee, and Queer & Trans Student Alliance, to name a few of our friends. We successfully hosted what we hope will be the first of many radical potlucks, bringing together old and new friends. Our victories have been small but meaningful—we have begun to find each other and form the necessary material, emotional, and political solidarities for getting out of the unbearable situation of this world we find ourselves in.

We greet 2017 with hope and despair. We find despair in the rise of a fascist regime, in the global rise of right-wing populism, in the global march of capital, state terror, climate change, and infinite other minute and mega catastrophes which seem to make life so dreary. Yet we find hope in each other, in the bonds and resistances we form to give meaning to each other and to the worlds we wish to see. In line with this hope, we find the need for a New Year’s Resolution.

We are announcing the death of the Students for a Stateless Society at UT. In its ruins you will find a stronger social force—The Autonomous Student Network.

This was a tough internal decision to come to, and we are somewhat sad to see the name S4SS go. We quite enjoyed our reappropriation of what was once an “Anarcho-Capitalist” safe haven. However, we reached a point where the name itself and our affiliation with the Center for a Stateless Society (and market anarchism writ large) became an obstacle for us, inhibiting our ability to find comrades and act in solidarity. We have had many friends express concern that the association with the C4SS could serve as a deterrant to those who may search for us online and find the C4SS instead. Many anarchist-communists have reached out, curious of whether we have shed the AnCap baggage of the old S4SS. We have found ourselves disgusted by the liberalism of other S4SS orgs, such as the A&M S4SS—which published a criticism of militant antifa actions and instead invested its energies in attempting to argue with and “disprove” Nazis, organize the silent protest during Richard Spencer’s A&M speech, and get screen time on CNN. We have been aphalled by the fact that a former founder and leader of this organization defended the rights of bourgeois bosses and right-wing backlash against professor George Ciccariello-Maher

For these reasons, we have decided to change our name—to enable others to find us and to better represent who we are and what we are fighting for.


On the name:


Autonomous—because we aim not to govern, but to smash governance. Because we do not aim to replace our current masters with new ones or become masters ourselves, but ensure the space for new relations and forms of life to emerge without the violence of any oppressive structures, including the State and Capital. Because we struggle not only for the autonomy of students—to decide on matters internal to student life—but autonomy from being students—to abolish the type of world that produces the “student” as a certain form of laborer (in waiting/training) through its distinction from those Others excluded from the University (the homeless, displaced, poor, black, indigenous, queer). Because in our struggles we aim to retain autonomy and produce autonomy, to wrest back the terrain of struggle from those who would direct it towards the dead-ends of reformism or authoritarianism.

Network—because we do not claim to represent or lead, but enable and agitate. Because in our operations thus far, we have found our work and our numbers to be most effective at taking quick actions, leading by example, producing gestures, and connecting people. You will rarely find us in a solid line or singular mass in a bloc. Instead, we are distributed throughout the blocs we find ourselves in, pushing the energies towards insurrection, taking on tasks we can accomplish as they emerge, protecting each other, spreading news, and refusing governance. We believe in the beauty and strength of a network, for we cannot be reduced to any singular member or demand. We are not radicals in isolated milieus or reading groups. We are defined by our relationships, by the strength and intensities of our bonds that enables us to find each other and plan our liberation from this world.

The secret is to really begin.

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