I just spent eight days in Acapulco, Mexico, and I survived...barely.
But it wasn’t the sensationalized violence of the city or the drug war that pushed me to the limit. It was Anarchapulco, which drew a horde of somewhere between 1500-1600 radical anarchists to the Princess Hotel.
But it wasn’t these anarchists’ extreme ideology or lawless behavior that drove me to the point of collapse.
It was the heightened adrenaline and subsequent exhaustion of spending over a week indulging in high-level intellectual speeches, workshops, conversations, and nights out with my fellow extremists. And it was amazing.
I’ve been back home in Los Angeles for a week now, and I’m just barely getting back to my normal energy level after pushing myself to absorb as much of the event as possible. Even so, the mental and physical depletion that came as a result has been entirely worth it, and I don’t want to wait another year to do it again!
This was my third time at Anarchapulco, and it was by far my favorite. One reason for this is that this year featured a Health & Wellness retreat before the conference started. It included everything from yoga (I taught a two-hour alignment workshop) to a cacao ceremony to wisdom from the lovely, revolutionary Dayna Martin on peaceful parenting, and it reaffirmed what has always stood out to me about this particular conference: There is an openness to — and recognition of the need for — inner healing and development.
While other freedom conferences bring together great voices in our movement for liberation and freedom, this consistent component and health and wellness (my first year I spoke on yoga philosophy and last year I taught a class), is unique and very much appreciated.
Case in point, after teaching my alignment workshop on Tuesday, I was able to attend a lovely sunset heart-opening yoga class on Wednesday (Anarchapulco had both morning and evening classes each day). Mackenzie Wolf’s class focused on our individual power and energy and our ability to expand it outward into the world, and it reminded us to be grateful for our experience there along with the city and locals of Acapulco for helping facilitate it.
While health and wellness are certainly appreciated, the organizers also stepped up the speaker lineup, including highly-revered figures like Ben Swann and Ron Paul, both of whom have inspired me and many other speakers for years on end. Swann’s speech on the first day of the conference focused both on the true meaning of fascism — suffocation of the individual and the government’s power to decide which freedoms people may exercise — as well as his ability to continue his operation with the aid of Dash cryptocurrency. I would love to be able to tell you where to watch this speech, but one of my main criticisms of the conference is that they are charging for access even to recorded versions (hopefully, Ben will upload his speech separately as some speakers are doing). Update: I'm told that the speeches WILL be released eventually. :)
I was honored to give my speech on the same day, and despite some serious Powerpoint technical difficulties (another minor issue with the conference — why couldn’t they click a single button and make my presentation full screen?!), I was able to present my current thoughts on the “State” of independent media. In a talk that hopefully someday will be published publicly (I didn’t record mine because I was unaware they wouldn’t be uploading the speeches to Youtube as they have previously), I discussed the tendency of both creators and consumers of independent media to spread often faulty information without fact-checking because we tend to remain mired in the old mentality of believing whatever we are told, a key component of statism.
I was followed by the likes of Benny Wills of Joycamp (if you don’t know him, do yourself a favor and watch his performance from last year – he brings an amazingly different, comedic, and poignant element to the conference unlike anyone else).
With the first day of the conference gone, Thursday night brought the first of many nights of anarchist social events; the first night out was the Palladium night club with performances from conscious rappers like the Freenauts (this included a cameo from Jeff Berwick, the Dollar Vigilante, himself), Alais Clay, Backwordz, and two members of the Wu-Tang Clan, Prodigal Sunn and Killah Priest, who flew out just to perform at Anarchapulco and declared to Josh Sigurson of World Alternative Media that taxation is theft and cryptocurrencies are the future.
The following day, speakers like Luis Fernando Mises discussed the need for inner work to truly achieve a free society, yet again echoing one of the reasons I love this conference.
One of my favorite people of all time, Larken Rose, then debated the notorious Lauren Southern in what was dubbed “What About Muh Borders?” I caught a chunk of the debate, and to be perfectly honest, it was really difficult to watch. Like, really, really difficult. I do tip my hat to Southern, undeniably a statist, for attending an anarchist conference, but I was unable to take her seriously after she admitted she believes the U.S. government and military are less of a threat than potential immigrants. I was genuinely surprised (and admittedly disheartened) at how many people cheered her perspectives at an anarchist conference. Nevertheless, conversations after the debate remained mostly civil.
Following a moderate earthquake that, from what I hear, sent conference attendees flying out the doors (I was blow drying my hair in my hotel room), Ron Paul took to the stage. To my immense luck, I was backstage when he got there and had the pleasure of shaking his hand and telling him how much he contributed to the path I’ve decided to take in life.
His speech, which largely discussed financial institutions and their contributions to perpetual war, was followed by a gala dinner where each speaker had their own table and guests were invited to sit with us. As an introvert, I was expecting this to be difficult, but it actually turned out to be one of the best nights of the event; it was so heartening to be around individuals who value peace and freedom and do not want to violently impose their views on me through the force of government...and that is why Anarchapulco holds such a special place in my heart.
While the speakers were amazing, from Derrick Broze and Jeffrey Tucker to Larken Rose, G. Edward Griffin, and Ron Paul – as well an entire day dedicated to cryptocurrency — the event would still be worthwhile for the simple gift of finding and sharing experiences with other humans who share your principles and values. One encouraging pattern I noticed was that many people I spoke with said they got into cryptocurrency first and found anarchism through it (I’m used to the reverse of that!).
Whether I was grabbing lunch with strangers outside the conference at Verde Vegan, helping @kennyskitchen prepare a vegan barbeque for a group of extraordinary humans, lounging around on the beach in the evening before watching hundreds of baby sea turtles being released into the ocean, meeting fellow crypto enthusiasts at a pool party at the hotel, or having hours-long conversations on the balcony of a hotel room in the middle of the warm, humid night, I was continuously lit up by the human connections that draw me to this conference. These connections, to me, are exactly why freedom will eventually prevail. Our ability to engage peacefully and with compassion and friendliness and to create a community based on mutual respect for each others’ self-ownership is evident at Anarchapulco, and it’s why I keep coming back.
Though there is certainly a need to make the conference more accessible, and the current organizing team, which worked relentlessly to make the event memorable (and I’m very grateful for their efforts!), could use several more team members next year… but Anarchapulco continues to provide a week of intellectual stimulation, community, hope that someday the world will be free, and confirmation that we are already well on our way.