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May 5, 2013 11:15 PM   Subscribe


 


anarchists are boring

graffiti, 1987
posted by philip-random at 11:26 PM on May 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


anarchists are boring

homunculus: I was just thinking of posting that profile article the other week. It led me to read Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology which is absolutely fantastic in a huge variety of ways.
posted by cthuljew at 12:14 AM on May 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


A Radical Anthropologist Finds Himself in Academic 'Exile'
posted by homunculus at 11:16 PM on May 5


It's behind a paywall.

Also, Graeber = <3
posted by Avenger at 12:17 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Academia requires a kind of social cachet, and a balance b/w fame and cult status. Aside from some of the problems of citing and sourcing in his large book, he and his work is quite populist. I think that you can only be so populist w/i the academy before they no longer consider you one of them, if you are american. (Derrida, who was kind of loathed in his native France, is the exception here) (So might be Cornel West, but he tends to be tenured in disciplines w. less cachet)
posted by PinkMoose at 12:49 AM on May 6, 2013


I’ve never understood why “progressives” don’t understand this. The mainstream right understands it, that’s why they go crazy when it looks like someone might be cracking down on far-right militia groups, and so forth. They know it’s totally to their political advantage to have people even further to the right than they so they can seem moderate. If only the mainstream left acted the same way!

Progressives used to go crazy when it looked like someone might be cracking down on far-left militias, but it didn't work out so well.
posted by three blind mice at 1:12 AM on May 6, 2013


Normally, when you challenge the conventional wisdom—that the current economic and political system is the only possible one—the first reaction you are likely to get is a demand for a detailed architectural blueprint of how an alternative system would work, down to the nature of its financial instruments, energy supplies, and policies of sewer maintenance.

I call bullshit. I challenge conventional wisdom every day and never once has anyone asked me about sewer maintenance. This author clearly has never actually tried to challenge conventional wisdom.
posted by twoleftfeet at 1:13 AM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


David Graeber is one of the most important voices of our time. I dare anyone to spend time with his book "Debt: The First 5000 Years" and not be profoundly impacted re: the need for a serious rethinking, reacting, and reconstruction of the way we recognize and exchange "value", worldwide.

I'm not an anarchist, mostly because the anarchists I read about - and many (with a few exceptions) I have met (perhaps I've met the wrong ones) - have been very one-dimensional, essentially selfish, and seemingly incapable of understanding the forward results of their actions.

What I've learned from Graeber is that my early perceptions of anarchy are rather limited, and that a "humane anarchy" (self-reinforcing, as a phrase) is possible.

I agree wholeheartedly that small, "bottom-up" movements that spread like a virus is the most effective way to change. Top-down is not going to accomplish anything other than newer oppressive regimes. The Italian social philosopher, Franco (Bifo) Berardi hints at the same thing.

We're in the well past the beginning of profound changes in self-governance, with states - perhaps unconsciously realizing that the game of ultimate control is over - doubling down on stuff like universal surveillance as a last gasp dying throe (or, if effective, as a means to state self protection).

In the meantime, we have an opportunity (born of the necessity for sustainable change brought on by the beginnings of collapse of the current order represented the Wall Street fiasco of 2008; the current structural implosion of the EU (via the Euro), and the doldrums that are fast infecting Asian cultures.

It's going to get interesting.
posted by Vibrissae at 1:39 AM on May 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think Debt:5000 years is important. I am also heavily aware that it's context as an ideological work perhaps places its rigour as a work of history in quesiton.
posted by PinkMoose at 1:52 AM on May 6, 2013


I'm just going out on a limb here, but this post and the post two doors down make me think that Occupy is ready for a comeback. I'd like that.

But then, the post seven doors down is about handlebar mustaches.

You've got to pick your battles.

posted by twoleftfeet at 2:05 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just saw his tweet about this article: "New Yorker uses Democracy Project as excuse to tell middle-brow readers what they should think of anarchists"
posted by robcorr at 2:06 AM on May 6, 2013 [9 favorites]


The world revolution of 1968, in contrast—whether it took the form it did in China, of a revolt by students and young cadres supporting Mao’s call for a Cultural Revolution; or in Berkeley and New York, where it marked an alliance of students, dropouts, and cultural rebels; or even in Paris, where it was an alliance of students and workers—was a rebellion against bureaucracy.

One of these things is not like the others.
Which one is different? Do you know?

posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 2:07 AM on May 6, 2013


Such is the power of a sprawling and sophisticated state: the bigger it gets, the easier it becomes for us to imagine that we could live without it.

You spelled "Ahaha fuck you!" wrong.
posted by cthuljew at 2:12 AM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why does Dave want to downplay the around 30 plots to kill Franco and the decades of heroic ongoing resistance by the maquis after the defeat of '39 with his wishy-washy no-bombs-for-a-hundred-years bullshit? ::insert ironic grrr smiley:: Though more likely, since he knows his stuff, he was quoted out of context or had some US-specific set of criteria in mind.
posted by Abiezer at 2:23 AM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why does Dave want to downplay the around 30 plots to kill Franco

For that matter, what about the anarchist militias that halted Franco's army in 1936? Anarchists raised and supplied an army that held out against the combined weight of European Fascism for years. They lost, but they certainly fought harder than the democratic French shortly thereafter.

One lesson of the Spanish Republic is that anarchist movements are vulnerable to subversion from within. The ultra-direct democratic procedures of Occupy seemed to render them immune to cooptation, though perhaps a little cooptation by center-leftists would have helped it survive.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 2:43 AM on May 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


I would say that a lesson of the Spanish revolution was that the anarchists perhaps weren't anarchist enough, though here we are talking about a section of the CNT leadership, not all anarchists (the Friends of Durruti for example were vehemently against the entry into government).

I am a little wary of being overly critical though, as personally they must have felt they were in an impossible situation, and saw their actions as being necessary to defeat the fascists.
posted by spectrevsrector at 2:54 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


We can have a parade and serve hot hors d'oeuvres...
posted by GallonOfAlan at 3:23 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ok, I'm going to slap myself on the wrist for getting into the standard derail when anarchism's brought up (anywhere, not just here), of talking about Spain. Avid bingo players will be looking out for a reference to Kronstadt.

Back to the article - I always think bringing up 'anarcho-capitalism' when talking about anarchism is kind of nonsense. Anarchism is a historically grounded movement rooted in socialism and anti-capitalism. Rothbard himself once more or less admitted this himself in an unpublished article entitled 'Are libertarians anarchists?'. As an aside, he also admitted elsewhere that the word libertarian was nicked from the left, its usage traditionally being more or less a synonym for anarchist in the socialist sense.

I think you can maybe look a little beyond Spain and the Commune. There's certainly something interesting in the recurring creation of councils in say, the German revolution, Hungary 56 and the Portuguese Revolution. Ancient Athens might also be worthy of consideration (and of course I'm aware of all its flaws and hierarchies and not holding it up as a direct model).

And I don't see Marx/Marxism and Anarchism as necessarily being at odds. Marx was a dick over the IWMA, but then Bakunin hardly covered himself with glory. You could argue that Marx's ideas on the state changed after the experience of the Commune. And not all Marxists are Leninists. There are marxists that I'd see as allies - e.g. council communists.
posted by spectrevsrector at 3:26 AM on May 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


Graeber interview on alternet about the new book.

I recently watched the youtube of Donald Kagan's history of ancient Greece. He made the offhand remark that aristocrats like the Yale tenure committees are radically egalitarian amongst themselves and will hammer down anybody who tries to rise above the crowd.
posted by bukvich at 5:36 AM on May 6, 2013


"Debt, The First 5000 Years" is available in PDF or audiobook for free here.
posted by Brodiggitty at 5:40 AM on May 6, 2013 [8 favorites]


david graeber is like the borg queen of OccupyTM, you were sold on a autonomous collective acting to change history but then you discover it's all being run by a femme fatale in cheesy bondage gear.
posted by ennui.bz at 6:30 AM on May 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow: "The world revolution of 1968, in contrast—whether it took the form it did in China, of a revolt by students and young cadres supporting Mao’s call for a Cultural Revolution; or in Berkeley and New York, where it marked an alliance of students, dropouts, and cultural rebels; or even in Paris, where it was an alliance of students and workers—was a rebellion against bureaucracy.

One of these things is not like the others.
Which one is different? Do you know?
"

-----------------

I imagine you think it's the Cultural Revolution. Except... It was an attack against the bureaucracy. In fact, he encourages rebellion. Here's his discussion with his niece Wang Hai-Jung regarding rebellious students, and to let them rebel, for example.
posted by symbioid at 6:40 AM on May 6, 2013


The Well-Tempered Anarchist, a review of James C. Scott's Two Cheers For Anarchism. Scott is more famously the author of Seeing Like A State.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:45 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I call bullshit. I challenge conventional wisdom every day and never once has anyone asked me about sewer maintenance. This author clearly has never actually tried to challenge conventional wisdom.

But who will wash the dishes? Whose gonna clean the toilets. AH HA! IT WILL NEVER WORK HURR DURR.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 7:08 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


My uncle's question was "who would work in the rendering plants?" I can still remember this from twenty years ago for some odd reason but I don't think I ever heard anybody else talk about rendering plants. He wasn't clever enough to think that up by himself so I'm sure it's some kind of conservative secret code phrase.
posted by bukvich at 7:26 AM on May 6, 2013


> David Graeber is one of the most important voices of our time.

Damn straight.

> I'm not an anarchist, mostly because the anarchists I read about - and many (with a few exceptions) I have met (perhaps I've met the wrong ones) - have been very one-dimensional, essentially selfish, and seemingly incapable of understanding the forward results of their actions.

Jessamyn and I are anarchists, if that helps...
posted by languagehat at 7:27 AM on May 6, 2013 [19 favorites]


Debt is a mind bomb. I'm still reading it, but it's one of the most exciting books I've ever read.
posted by grubby at 7:37 AM on May 6, 2013


I watched a pack of Graeber worshipers put self-organizing horizontalist principles into practice in Downtown Oakland. The most aggressive, most radical folks ended up alienating everybody else.

From November 2011 - November 2012, the turnout they could muster went from 20,000 to about 3-400.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 8:03 AM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I got about halfway through Debt before this got posted towards the bottom of a thread a few weeks ago. Does anyone have anything to say about it?
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 8:45 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


We did.
posted by zabuni at 9:10 AM on May 6, 2013


Was that a response to me? Am I missing how those two posts have to do with each other ? I remember that post to the blue but it predates the Brad DeLong post I linked to by a year (though that DeLong post is a summation, I suppose) and I don't see his name on the Crooked Timber seminar or in the comments to the post.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 9:20 AM on May 6, 2013


I watched a pack of Graeber worshipers put self-organizing horizontalist principles into practice in Downtown Oakland. The most aggressive, most radical folks ended up alienating everybody else.

Don't you think it also had something to do with the constant, violent response from the police as well that led to the numbers falling? I mean, all the other occupies in America were mostly negotiating to hold onto a symbolic tent info table on a lawn somewhere, while Oakland was still drawing several thousand to radical actions like Move in Day after Occupy 'peaked'.

Not that there wasn't a lot to criticize within OO, but I thought the overall anarchist plan pushed from the beginning at the assemblies (to take a building) was an obvious escalation, and a tactic that could have easily spread.

Here's David Graeber speaking at Occupy Oakland.
posted by bradbane at 9:30 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


The one that blows my mind is Graeber's talk at google. He looks like he is being tortured. He is in what looks to be a hundred chair room with 50 people in the audience preoccupied with their own laptops utterly ignoring him. He picks up his coffee cup from the podium 50 times in 50 minutes and does not sip from it a single time. If you did a drinking game where you took a drink every time he picks up his drink cup you could not get halfway through his talk.

It is an interesting contrast to Lady Gaga at google.
posted by bukvich at 9:57 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thanks for that link to the Stranger article, cthuljew. There are indeed successful, long-term experiments in anarchist and directly democratic living all over the place. They are small scale, yes, and that's a feature, not a bug.
posted by eviemath at 9:58 AM on May 6, 2013


> The one that blows my mind is Graeber's talk at google. He looks like he is being tortured. He is in what looks to be a hundred chair room with 50 people in the audience preoccupied with their own laptops utterly ignoring him. He picks up his coffee cup from the podium 50 times in 50 minutes and does not sip from it a single time. If you did a drinking game where you took a drink every time he picks up his drink cup you could not get halfway through his talk.

Huh? I only watched sixteen minutes of it because I have to get back to work, but in that sixteen minutes I noticed him pick up the cup four times. Now, maybe I missed one, but an average of once every four minutes isn't particularly striking (not to mention that it's completely irrelevant and I wouldn't have noticed it if you hadn't made a point of it). And as for his looking "like he is being tortured," I'm completely mystified. True, he's not jumping around and grinning like a baboon, but he is, after all, a historian and not a stand-up comedian. I would describe his usual expression as "thoughtful." At six minutes in he laughs quite heartily; at 7:25 he chuckles; at 8:52 he laughs merrily again; at 12:20 he starts smiling and chuckling for a while; at 16:00 he laughs again—does that sound like somebody who's being tortured? You must have some powerful preconceptions to react that way; I won't make any guesses as to what they are, but you might want to take off those glasses next time.
posted by languagehat at 10:44 AM on May 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


The one that blows my mind is Graeber's talk at google. He looks like he is being tortured. He is in what looks to be a hundred chair room with 50 people in the audience preoccupied with their own laptops utterly ignoring him. He picks up his coffee cup from the podium 50 times in 50 minutes and does not sip from it a single time. If you did a drinking game where you took a drink every time he picks up his drink cup you could not get halfway through his talk.

I don't see this either. I saw him accepting a book prize last year in front of an audience of friendly anthropologists. He was more rain soaked and energized then, but his mannerisms were essentially the same. That's just how he acts I think. Nothing to do with the situation.
posted by mariokrat at 10:58 AM on May 6, 2013


Jessamyn and I are anarchists, if that helps...

yo
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:18 AM on May 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Jessamyn and I are anarchists, if that helps...

Hullo!
posted by stet at 11:27 AM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


To expand on that point:

I'm not an anarchist, mostly because the anarchists I read about - and many (with a few exceptions) I have met (perhaps I've met the wrong ones) - have been very one-dimensional, essentially selfish, and seemingly incapable of understanding the forward results of their actions.

Hi there. I'm an anarchist with strong syndicalist tendencies. My experience with other anarchists is that they can be the most paranoid, insular and elitist jerks I've ever met in my life. They can also be the most open, generous, compassionate and joyful people I've ever met in my life. And of course, there's all the other types in between. Anarchists comprise folks from the urban squatter to the academic writer to the rural DIYer to the suburban dreamer. They run the gamut of people who want to return to a hunter-gatherer society to those hoping for decentralized socialism to those who don't really know what they want, but know quite well what they don't. I won't go into the particulars of my politics, but suffice it to say I have in mind the society I want to live in, and try my best to live accordingly. I put more importance on building the new society within the shell of the old than on tearing the old one down.

It's nice to meet you.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:29 AM on May 6, 2013 [10 favorites]


Jessamyn and I are anarchists, if that helps...

Hiya! There are so many more of us here than I thought there were. This makes my day.
posted by ActionPopulated at 11:32 AM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I should also say that I thoroughly enjoyed the half of Debt that I did read and was well on my way to considering it a book that literally everyone should read when that DeLong blog entry got posted. Now I wonder how much of what I read is actually factually true.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 11:48 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Steely-eyed Missile Man: DeLong's complaints were discussed (at length) in the comments on the Crooked Timber seminar linked earlier (the comments on the seminar itself, and on MeFi). The only new development in the last year is that BDL seems to think it's a laugh riot to bait Graeber on Twitter.
posted by cdward at 12:21 PM on May 6, 2013


they can be the most paranoid, insular and elitist jerks

Have we met?
posted by Bangaioh at 12:22 PM on May 6, 2013


Well, after reading that blog post I now think this DeLong guy is a sociopath. Not sure I really learned much else from it, though.
posted by selfnoise at 12:34 PM on May 6, 2013


"Debt, The First 5000 Years" is available in PDF...."

Ah crap. There goes my weekend.

I keep getting anarchism mixed up with anti-iconoclasm. Oh, and the other thing: once the peasants pick up the reins, as they say, how do you make sure it's not you they drag to guillotine?

This (third paragraph) is where the rant goes. I actually wrote it, but then I deleted it because of all the typos I make when banging the keyboard with my fists.

Freedom is illusory, is what I take from this. I was never more free than when, some years ago, I didn't have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of. I also didn't have any relationships to maintain, or a job that required me to toe the mark. I have given up certain of those freedoms for a place to live and a loving relationship. I am happier now than I was then. What's the message here?

The notion of the credit economy's pitfalls is compelling, sort of like Darwin...maybe some of the details are not in focus, but species come and go, and we somehow stand on the shoulders of those who've gone before.

So, you anarchists, will you take the helm? Then, what are you going to do about world peace and cancer? And all those kids without food, or parents? Or those simple-minded fuckers with bunkers and hoarded guns who have god on their side? I'm pretty sure you guys realize that the people on the upper end of the trickle up system are not going to retire peacefully and let us run the utopia on humanist terms--they will have to be dragged kicking and screaming to the guillotine.

An anarchist without a plan is like a Baptist without a bathtub. Are we to have a revolution just for the hell of it?

(I don't use emoticons, so please don't imagine me on a spittle-flicking shouting binge.)
posted by mule98J at 12:37 PM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I keep getting anarchism mixed up with anti-iconoclasm.

I think you mean iconodulism.

I'm sympathetic to the spirit of anarchism and to many of the goals its advocates profess, but it seems utterly futile to be an anarchist in anything other than the most metaphorical or Thoreau-vian way. I imagine it to be something like Unitarianism, only with rocks. Something which may, in fact, be sublime, but I don't know where it goes.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:25 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


International Anarchist of Mystery here <--
posted by grubby at 1:30 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Graeber is a leftist and identified himself as such when calling the Black Bloc a "cancer". (*raises hand as one of Mefi's anarchists*)
posted by bonefish at 2:07 PM on May 6, 2013


I'm not sure what's going on in your comment, bonefish, but it was Chris Hedges who said that. Graeber was on the other side of that exchange.
posted by cdward at 2:18 PM on May 6, 2013


doh! my bad! Please disregard my comment @ll!
posted by bonefish at 3:27 PM on May 6, 2013


I'm more or less an anarchist too.

mule98J, lots of folks are working on creating the world they envision. They are doing it on small, local scales all over the place. The links in the OP where Graeber talks about his view of revolutions and the role of revolution may be helpful. The link to the piece in the Stranger that cthuljew provided talks about some of the local-to-Seattle examples of anarchists working to create the institutions and world that they want. A crucial distinction to keep in mind when reading about anarchism is that the political philosophy does not involve lack of organisation, but non-hierarchical organisational structures.
posted by eviemath at 3:27 PM on May 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


A definite anarchist sympathizer, here.
posted by gingerbeer at 8:15 PM on May 6, 2013


Well jeez, I was it before it was cool.
posted by anarch at 10:56 PM on May 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


Every system of government should aspire toward anarchy. In a perfect world, every being would govern itself and would interact harmoniously with other beings. External government would be unnecessary.

Anarchy - the absence of external government - is the ideal state. This will happen in a future where beauty is prized over power... we'll get there.
posted by twoleftfeet at 12:19 AM on May 7, 2013


I guess I have never got anarchism. I had a drunken chat with an anarchist one evening, who was a pleasent if forthright fellow, who explained that anarchist communities existed around the world, consisting of small self sustained villages of people working together quielty. My response to such a notion was that A-such communities existed only because of the tolerance of governments and B-I wouldn't want to live in such an existence anyway.

Perhaps I'm missing something but structure is needed, and ultimately force is needed. To say that our current form of governance is perfect is obviously not true, but it seems to me that a form of government which concentrates power in an elite few is fairly inevitable, in that it has always appeared. Our current, imperfect solution to that is to give the people the power to remove the elite from power. Unfortunately that elite currently only covers those with direct political power, and not overwhelming financial power, for instance.

Perhaps its a little unfair to expect anarchists to have all the answers, but I'm not sure I've heard any really, only idealism with a ... in the middle. I guess my issue is that on the few occasions I've had anarchist utopias described they haven't sounded that great to me.

I'm willing to admit that I've likely missed something along the way here of course, I'm not exactly well read on the subject.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 5:15 AM on May 7, 2013


My response to such a notion was that A-such communities existed only because of the tolerance of governments

This is kinda misreading things a bit. It doesn't matter if a state is attacking the community or not; if it is able to function separate from the grid, it is successful.

Perhaps I'm missing something but structure is needed

And there's different types of structure. Anarchism is not the lack of structure; it's a non-hierarchical form. This is why anarchist communities tend to work better on a smaller, more localized level. Conducting the daily affairs of a small community through direct, transparent, consensus-based democracy isn't complicated nor all that different in result from a hierarchical structure.

I don't presume to have ideas about a large-scale revolution; I'm thinking about my local area first and foremost. But that tends to be the approach anyway.

a form of government which concentrates power in an elite few is fairly inevitable, in that it has always appeared.

People were probably very much of this mind when others started bringing up the possibility of life without feudalism. "It's always been this way" is a notion that has been repeatedly defied, for the sake of human progress; we'd still be living in caves otherwise.

I guess my issue is that on the few occasions I've had anarchist utopias described they haven't sounded that great to me.

That's cool, and fortunately, you have the personal liberty not to be a part of any such community. Let freedom ring!
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:35 AM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Graeber is a leftist and identified himself as such when calling the Black Bloc a "cancer". (*raises hand as one of Mefi's anarchists*)

Nevertheless, Hedges' estimation of the Blac Bloc anarchists jibes with my notions of civil disobedience as a powerful tool. I accept the BBA as being not representative of anarchism in general. This notion leads me to believe that anarchism comes in flavors, so labels in this case are not particularly instructive, except out towards the pointy end of the stick, so to speak.

I was present in Washington DC during the 1971 May Day demonstrations, and was amid the wonderful, controlled confusion as a guest of the VVAW. This was where I became aware of the marvelous levels of organization among the various factions of the, so called, "Peace Coalition." I propose that the body of demonstrators, generally, in each of the coalition's factions were well-prepared, not just with talking points and rhetoric, but with detailed tactical instructions on the nature of the confrontations they were about to engender.

A thing that impressed me was the high level of awareness in the power of theater: studied non-violent resistance was the theme. Intelligent engagement of the bystanders was the outstanding tactic. The idea was to polemicize, not alienate. Therefore, all and any theater that led to damage to property or confrontation with bystanders was discouraged. When the inevitable happened, and the demonstrators came together with the DC police, they were carefully instructed on tactics that would keep their arrests from becoming violent, shown how to posture in non-threatening ways, so the cops wouldn't have to make quick decisions about their safety when they were dragging these guys off to the buses.

I'm not sure how the Occupy participants were organized. One thing that didn't seem to gain traction was the media reports about police abuses: this sort of thing was labeled "reactionary-ism" back in the day (of the Peace Coalition demonstrations), and exploited by the organizers when it became part of the theater. Not many people, though, wanted to be in front of the billy-clubs, dogs, and tear gas. It seems to me that, mostly, it was the onlookers, who hadn't been properly instructed and were just in town for the weed and party-scene that got caught up in that.

You have to have a wall to push against. Cops with clubs are handy metaphors. It's hard to push against abstracts, such a greed, unless you can objectify them. This is difficult in street theater. One way this was done (back in the day) was when the VVAW made up Tiger Cages and pulled them through the streets. Other similar scenes made good theater, and agents worked the crowd to engage people in dialogue. Several groups comprised the coalition, and their various tactics are instructive, for those who wish to employ non-violent energy to modern issues. I hasten to point out that the non-violent part resides only on the part of the demonstrators. Hard core organizers will sacrifice their treasure and health to the cause.

It seems the only things surviving those times was the energy of sex, drugs and rock and roll. I'm tempted to let cynicism be my rest frequency, except that I was elevated by the effort. I watched the people move the government. I also discovered that greed is relentless and hubris is infectious, an epiphany that dampened my hopes a bit. We (the good guys) could be overwhelmed by them (the bad guys). I was exhilarated at the prospects, if only for a while, until the buzzkill of the 80's took the edge off. When will they ever learn?

But movement was achieved, if only in the smallest degree. My dog finally go enough cheese, for example. Oh, and schools were integrated, even though racism was not affected much. Women were elevated from chattel into the wonderful world of tokenism, and the good ol' boys have to go outside to smoke and tell dirty jokes. Ah. Progress.

Well, never mind. It's your turn. (Don't forget, if you are them, it doesn't do any good to struggle against them.) Good luck.
posted by mule98J at 8:34 AM on May 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


Cannon Fodder, while there are anarchists who just envisage self sustained villages operating relatively independently, that's not really a majority vision. It's definitely not mine, and I don't think it's very desirable. Federalism has always been a core anarchist idea - the structure that Marisa Stole the Precious Thing referred to. Anarchism is not anti-organisation, but pro a more democratic form of organisation.

Sorry to just drop in a link (short of time), but from memory this article by Bookchin covers some of my objections to small-scaleism, and sketches out a rough federalist (or in his terms confederalist) structure: The meaning of confederalism
posted by spectrevsrector at 8:58 AM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the link! I guess I'm pro the democraticisation of organisations and politics in general, so perhaps I'm more sympathetic to anarchism than I thought! I still think theres a massive question mark about how we get from A to B but I suppose thats always the way. The op rather underlines the problem with anarchism as a concept: because it necessarily rejects figure heads, its rather difficult for the uninformed observer to get an idea of what it is.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 1:25 AM on May 9, 2013


I find that Cindy Milstein's "Anarchism and its Aspirations" is a very nice (and not too long) intro/overview of modern anarchism.
posted by eviemath at 2:27 AM on May 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


(So might be Cornel West, but he tends to be tenured in disciplines w. less cachet)

Cornel West: 'They say I'm un-American'
posted by homunculus at 1:27 AM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


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