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Soma: an anarchist therapy

by Nick Cooper Saturday, Aug. 12, 2006 at 5:38 PM

Soma is a documentary about a group therapy in Brazil which incorporates capoeira, Wilhelm Reich, and anarchism.


an anarchist therapy
a documentary by Nick Cooper

watch the preview ! email: nickcooper@(nospam)indymedia.org ! nickcooper.com

8/17 Tia Chucha's, 12737 Glenoaks Blvd., #22, Sylmar, CA 91342
8/18 7 p.m. 6120 S. Vermont Ave.,LA, CA 90044
8/19 Casa Del Pueblo, LA, (213) 481 - 1986
Saturday night's screening at Casa Del Pueblo has been moved to the Antigua Coffee House.
8/19 7:30pm, Antigua Cultural Coffee House, 4836 Huntington Drive South, Los Angeles, CA 90032
8/20 6:30 Mexican Cultural Center, 310 W. 5th, Santa Ana, CA
8/21/2006, 7:30 p.m. FULL HOUSE RESTAURANT at 963 N. Hill Street in Chinatown

Blinded by torture and with great difficulty walking, 75 year-old Roberto Freire continues his work in a small collective of anarchist group therapists in Brazil, fighting the psychological effects of authoritarianism.

Nick Cooper travelled from the United States to Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Bahia, and São Paulo to capture the exercises, the voice, and the movement of Soma Therapy. He spent many long sessions with Roberto Freire, who having survived the Brazilian military dictatorship, developeded Soma (body) thirty years ago, incorporating Wilhelm Reich's teachings, a martial art / dance form called capoeira angola, and the political ideas of anarchism.

Angola is the traditional African form of capoeira, a Brazilian martial art, which slaves disguised as a dance. Through capoeira, slaves struggled for freedom, practicing movements of evasion to help them escape. Capoeira angola uses many things which Soma therapists find lacking in traditional therapy -- group participation, music, spontaneity, collaboration, mischief, playfulness, and the occasional kick.

Wilhelm Reich was a 'banished' psychoanalyst and former disciple of Freud. Reich believed that people learn neuroses through authoritarian models in the family, school, and at work. Reich sought to remove the authoritarianism from analysis.

Some Brazilian anarchists find Soma's focus on the internal effects of authority to be distracting and indicative of privilege. They expect anarchists to spend more time in the street, initiating action against authority. But, although many Soma participants are activists, they are equally interested in exploring of the psychology of action.

Slingshot Article about Soma ! Soma Brancaleone English site ! Soma Iê site in Portuguese ! downlad a PDF of a Soma book in English

Anti-Power Anti-Fascism Workshop
Nick Cooper


taoism ------ diogenes the cynic ------- zapatista women --------- anti-fascism

For those interested in exploring ways of struggling against oppression in ways that don't create other oppressions, the antipower / antifascism workshop starts with Lao-Tsu and continues through the Zapatistas, touching on anti-fascist non-hierarchical currents in philosophy, criticism, organizing, psychology, and history. Anti-Power is a term which comes from the book Change the World Without Taking Power by John Holloway, which examines Zapatista principles informed by indigenous traditions and the shortcomings of past resistance movements.

Working with Indymedia, Food Not Bombs and other non-hierarchical groups, Nick Cooper became interested in horizontal structures for change, traveling to Brazil in 2003 and 2005 to study Soma Therapy, and to Chiapas, Mexico in 2004 to study Zapatismo. Also, wanting to study fascist and pre-fascist organizing directly, Nick has been attending conferences, meetings, presentations and fund-raisers of the far right, including: The Ku Klux Klan, Focus on the Family / Lovewonout, Republican Party of Texas, Lyndon LaRouche, The Minutemen, and Tom DeLay. The workshop explores all of these groups from the perspective of Wilhelm Reich's Mass Psychology of Fascism, and Hannah Arendt's Origins of Totalitarianism.

The workshop provides an alternative to the history we have learned since childhood, of conquerors, governments and great thinkers like Plato with "Philosopher King" pathologies. We will discuss the story of those who withdrew from hierarchies, those who questioned assumptions and those who struggled and died in resistance of the abuses of power. But even more importantly, we will discuss a history not solely populated by individual heroes, but also by ideas, psychologies and groups.

70 years ago, authoritarianism's traditions and psychologies culminated in a pure form in Nazi Germany. Now, in the most powerful country in the world, it becomes essential to ask what has been learned about the nature of power, and how to avoid its pitfalls in forming an opposition to it.

Nick has conducted this workshop in Venezuela at the World Social Forum, in Washington DC at the National Conference of Organized Resistance, at Houston High Schools (Bellaire, Lamar), in São Paulo Brazil with the Ativismo ABC Collective (read an interview), in Bryan TX at the Revolution, in Houston with The Politically Active Students Organization, and the Art Car Klub, in Fayetteville at the Five Squirrels, in New Orleans at the Iron Rail bookstore, and in NYC with the Icarus Project

download a flyer: color, b&w
email: nick--at--nickcooper.com (replace the --at-- with an @)

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