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OWS and Anarchism
December 2, 2011 10:37 AM   Subscribe

Occupy Wall Street's anarchist roots
posted by anotherpanacea (16 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: We've got a bunch of OWS threads already, maybe add this to one of them. -- cortex



 
As a practical, meaningful term, "anarchist" is the right thing to call the "Occupy Movement". As a baggage-carrying pre-defined label in the catalogue of political labels, it's almost libelous.
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:49 AM on December 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


Graeber, excellent. He's got a great take on this. And would have been "metafilter's own" if we'd put on our best behavior for company.

I'd linked this previously, if anyone is hungry for more.
posted by Stagger Lee at 10:52 AM on December 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's worthy of note that anarchists were perhaps the first political movement to realise that terrorism, even if not directed at innocents, doesn't work

Oh bullshit. There are plenty of anarchists who aren't against firebombing or other forms of property damage to accomplish political goals. Terrorism isn't just killing people, it's also the threat of violence.
posted by Hoopo at 10:57 AM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think most anarchists would say that property damage != violence. Violence is something you do against actual people.
posted by bradbane at 10:59 AM on December 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Thanks, interesting piece and plenty of meaty political arguments to address - so I'm going to do the usual, and nit-pick some of his general background in the introduction to those points instead (though I do think it casts light on those points he makes):
Dave needs to sort his anarchist history out, off the top of my head, The First of May group were still practising armed resistance less than forty years ago, and they were the inheritors of one of the very few instances of an anarchist movement achieving the necessary scale to begin building the new society, which they defended with arms, also within the hundred-year period he thinks it's all been NVDA or peace and love. Odd.
Why do I think the Spanish experience casts light on anarchist praxis today, given the various historic specificities which are hardly comporable? Because it's full of the dilemmas of pragmatism and principles in a real-world situation where the social revolution genuinely gained ground, so seems the last piece of anarchist history you'd want to set by the wayside.
posted by Abiezer at 10:59 AM on December 2, 2011


From the article:
Anarchists wish to see human relations that would not have to be backed up by armies, prisons and police. Anarchism envisions a society based on equality and solidarity, which could exist solely on the free consent of participants. ... Anarchism is much more than simply grassroots democracy: It ultimately aims to eliminate all social relations, from wage labour to patriarchy, that can only be maintained by the systematic threat of force.

Honest question: In this envisioned society, how do anarchists intend to enforce contracts and simple buyer/seller mercantile agreements?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:59 AM on December 2, 2011


Terrorism isn't just killing people, it's also the threat of violence.

Everything is terrorism. Someone should start a war. Oh, wait.
posted by IvoShandor at 11:01 AM on December 2, 2011


I think most anarchists would say that property damage != violence. Violence is something you do against actual people.

Google "Define violent."

"Using or involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something: "a violent confrontation with riot police"."

Violence is not just something you do against people. Smashing windows and destroying shit is sure as hell violent, even if nobody's home.
posted by Tomorrowful at 11:01 AM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Chomsky: Anarchists try to identify power structures. They urge those exercising power to justify themselves.
posted by sswiller at 11:06 AM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]



"It's worthy of note that anarchists were perhaps the first political movement to realise that terrorism, even if not directed at innocents, doesn't work"

Oh bullshit. There are plenty of anarchists who aren't against firebombing or other forms of property damage to accomplish political goals. Terrorism isn't just killing people, it's also the threat of violence.
posted by Hoopo at 10:57 AM on December 2 [+] [!]


Put the emphasis back on "political movement." Anarchists, as a political movement, moved against terrorism as a tactic. This largely happened as the union movement grew, and those desperate bomb throwers fell to the wayside.

That doesn't mean some individual members, or even groups, can't have differing opinions on tactics.

Frankly though, I'd argue that the movements theorists have always been uncomfortable with terrorism as a tactic. Even back in the 19th century, when there were there were some "anarchist assassins" running around.
posted by Stagger Lee at 11:06 AM on December 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think most anarchists would say that property damage != violence. Violence is something you do against actual people.

This is exactly why people say "A conservative is a liberal who's been mugged."
posted by John Cohen at 11:06 AM on December 2, 2011



Terrorism isn't just killing people, it's also the threat of violence.


And the state totally has a monopoly on that.
posted by Stagger Lee at 11:07 AM on December 2, 2011


Yes, AdBusters' initial occupation proposal was heavily influenced by the Spanish protests.

"Anarchism has historically gained more support and influence in Spain than anywhere else".

I love both Spain and (realistic) Anarchism. :)
posted by jeffburdges at 11:09 AM on December 2, 2011


This is exactly why people say "A conservative is a liberal who's been mugged."

Except that mugging someone is an act of violence against an actual person.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:09 AM on December 2, 2011


Most anarchists don't smash anything except hierarchical structures of organizing. The propaganda of the deed branch of anarchism is a small one.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:09 AM on December 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


What matters how the OWS has roots in a rather old tradition? After all, Am democracy based on capitalism did NOT recognize corporations as people...what is more important is the change advocated: 99% of the people in this nation are screwed to benefit 1% etc etc
Libertarianism is simply anarchism with bow ties...
posted by Postroad at 11:15 AM on December 2, 2011


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