Pittsburgh Organizing Group (POG) formed in 2002 as part of the global justice movement. Our purpose was to participate in that movement while popularizing, within Pittsburgh, forms of organizing and resistance that were characteristic of the summit protests of those years. In practice this meant favoring consensus decision-making, spokes-councils, trying to win even if at the expense of some false notion of “legitimacy,” a support for diversity of tactics, a confrontational orientation towards the state and corporations, combining direct action with education, disruptive marches, wheatpasting, banner drops, etc.
Soon we became active in the anti-war movement. Ideologically we became an explicitly anarchist group.
Over the years we organized a large number of rallies, marches, pickets, forums, picnics, and propaganda campaigns. Some of our activities have been singular events, some were part of larger campaigns (most notably our anti-military recruitment campaign). The issues we have dealt with have varied greatly, as have our approaches. More than a hundred people have cycled through the group as members over a 9-year period and thus our group took on different flavors at different times. We got some things right and also made many mistakes. Many of our efforts have been analyzed, evaluated and documented in our semi-annual magazine, the Steel City Revolt, and in reports and communiqués through the years.
In 2009 our group began tentative discussions on disbanding. And then the White House announced that the G-20 summit was going to be held in Pittsburgh later that fall. Given our particular activities over the years, communication resources, and familiarity with dealing with the police and state repression, it made sense to us to aid that mobilization.
After the G-20 a large number of new people began, and continue to, express interest in getting involved in the group. It is difficult to adequately address the many issues that initially led to sentiments of disbanding – issues that persist —when there are continually new folks getting involved who are excited to jump into organizing.
In 2011 it is clear to the ten of us who currently comprise POG that the local and global terrain has changed while we have not been able to develop new approaches that justify our existence as an organization.
Social movements have shifted, as has the context in which we organize. We do not need to serve as an initial entry point for people becoming interested in anarchism because there are now a variety of other anarchist projects, initiatives, and scenes within Pittsburgh that can fill this role. Recent turnover suggests to us that people are joining our group because of our past rather than our current activities. We are not breaking new ground or initiating interesting efforts. The fact that we have not been a means through which to effectively respond to the priorities individual members have often articulated is indicative of the fact we lack the common ground required to collectively organize.
We feel it is time to give the group proper closure.
We do not want to fall into the trap of perpetuating our organization simply for the sake of its own existence, a path that is quite seductive when you still have ample members and supporters, and an easy comfort with organizing semi-regular events. Rather than continuing to tweak our structure, as we have over the years, we want to let POG go in order to make the space for ourselves to continue experiments with other projects and, for some, other structures. Members of our group are involved in a variety of projects outside of POG, as we’ve always been. The lessons we have learned over the past decade of organizing will inform the challenges we will continue to face in our work.
Projects such as the Steel City Revolt that fill a specific and worthwhile niche locally may or may not continue as a separate collective, dependent on discussions among the members who were bottom-lining the publication. The cultural events we organized, such as the annual anarchist ball and annual anarchist picnic, may or may not continue without POG.
We send our goodbye salutations to all those we have worked with over the years, all those in prison, all those continuing or beginning to fight. We maintain, as we always have, hope in the future and belief in the necessity of continual action and reflection.
Love and Anarchy Always,