Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Can happen, Will happen, Stuff happens

I have been in an awkward position lately regarding the whole “anarchist” thing. Here in Minneapolis there has been a big controversy involving a group that I have volunteered with and people that I know (on all sides of the issue) that has gotten so incredibly nasty that I have started feeling embarrassed to be associated with any of this. And more than anything I feel just plain heart-broken that all of this is happening. Also, in places much farther away from here other self-proclaimed “anarchists” are doing other things that I have similar thoughts/feelings about, though since they are so much more distant from me these are not quite as intense as the local Twin Cities stuff. No matter how you cut it, though, it is all just pain, exhaustion, embarrassment and overwhelming defeat all around.

And yet, despite all of this stuff, I am still whole-heartedly into the whole anarchism thing. My reasoning is this – people who consider themselves to be “anarchists” are not necessarily the same people who actually make real-life "anarchy" happen. The people who publicly adorn themselves with that particular fringe-label are the folks who (hopefully) subscribe to particular political & social analyses, values, principles and other theoretical interpretations. The actual making-anarchy-happen part is another thing altogether, requiring an entirely different set of skills. Some of the people whom I’ve met in my life who I would say are very successful at living anarchically in their own lives and relationships are also often folks who have never even heard of “anarchism” and who would run away as fast they can if somebody wanted to try to instruct them on the theory about it.

The same goes with social and political change. In my life-time perhaps two of the people to who were most effective at enacting change in the world at large (although not necessarily the kind of change that I am wanting) have been folks like Mark Zuckerberg and Mohamed Bouazizi - not the scores of people out there who proudly proclaim themselves to be “revolutionaries”, “activists”, “organizers”, and “social change agents”. In this current era that we live in, mass social and political change seems to come about more from somebody happening to do something at the right place and the right time that sparks something within people that already exists within them but has been laying dormant waiting to come out. This is the same rationale behind anarchists and other self-proclaimed “revolutionaries” who endorse things like riots and armed struggle, but the difference is that I don’t think that those kinds of things are actually successful at achieving the kind of society that “anarchism” is supposedly all about.

I once asked a guy who was an anarchist for many years why he still stuck with it all. Throughout his “anarchist career” he had seen so many different failures, dysfunctional dynamics and sheer nonsense over the years being carried out by people within the “anarchist” scene, and yet he's still there. His response to me was “well, what is the alternative to being an anarchist? To become a jerk who starts bossing people around and making threats?”

It is exactly this – anarchism is a way to look at the world that takes away the masks and the lies of the things that we call “government”, “capitalism”, and “authority” in general. Seeing the truth of these things does not suddenly make one into an angel in one’s own behavior. An evil is still an evil even if one has failed at achieving the good. I am not about to start believing in something that I know is wrong, harmful, and is in fact destroying so much of life on this planet just because the alternative has not come about.

What it comes down to is that I believe that an anarchist society, and an anarchist social revolution that achieves such a society, is possible, not probable. That is the difference. “Can happen” and “will happen” are two separate things. I believe that in all likelihood various authoritarian regimes, alienated social relationships leading to social fragmentation and ecological devastation are the future for humanity. And, at the same time, I do believe that “another world is possible”.

I am reminded of a quote by Carl Rogers – “When I look at the world I'm pessimistic, but when I look at people I am optimistic.” I believe that within each human being are great vast capacities for love, creativity, sharing, courage, cooperation and expression. The thing is that this is all safely locked away in people, made out of reach by fear, by anger, by old habits and sheer laziness. Continuing on with the same-old, same-old does nothing to unlock oneself nor does it contribute anything towards getting rid of the chains that the world at large has around us all.

The value that I find in anarchism is that of being an ethical framework that guides both how one sees the world and how one chooses to act within that world. The world is as it is, here and now, regardless of what labels are ostensibly placed upon that world or society. The people within any given society are behaving in certain ways and engaging in particular social dynamics, and the benefit of having an anarchist lens to view it with is that it enables one to more clearly determine how one wants to respond and act in relation to what is going on. In other words, one can see more clearly what one is contributing to, what one is not contributing to, how much, and in what ways. Certain dynamics, certain relationships, can be more liberatory, dare I say more “anarchist.” And these particular kinds of dynamics and relationships can build on each other to ultimately have an anarchist society, a new anarchist world.

Not that this will happen. But it can.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Some things never change

In 1999 I was a student at a two-year Community College, mainly because I did not know what else to do with my life. I was an angry, alienated, young anarchist guy, and I had to do a required Public Speaking class in order to get my degree. I ended up dropping out of that class twice because I hated it so much. By the third time that I took that class I decided to adopt a "fuck it" attitude and to just go ahead and give a public speech about something that I actually cared about - namely, anarchy.

I delivered that speech, with great enthusiasm and passion, and my audience was stunned. I was known (or not) as a quiet, friendless, shy and nerdy guy, and here I was standing in front of the whole class vehemently denouncing Civilization as such. People did not know what to make of it.

It just so happened that the timing of things was such that I delivered my speech just days after the Columbine High School massacre shocked the nation. I recall that after I delivered that speech and class was over, myself and a bunch of other students were walking to the parking lot to leave the school. One of the other students who was present was saying to her friend, "Oh my god, this kid is going to be just like those Columbine kids! Did you hear him?!" Her friend then noticed that I was walking within earshot of them and nudged her to draw her attention to that fact. The one speaking then turned and noticed that I was right there and shrieked.

With this as context for the whole thing, I now present to you the original speech that I delivered. I still do like what I said in it and I would make just small changes to it if I were to deliver it now. I can only hope that the other students who were present in the audience then ended up becoming life-long anti-civilization anarchists.


Society is bullshit. With each and every day, with each and every minute the absurdity of it all increases.

It becomes more obvious that the way we operate now, the way we LIVE is a sheer mockery of all life.

With each moment that passes, more species of life become extinct, more pollution is released into the world, and more wild-life is being permanently destroyed.

With each moment the planet's very eco-system is being torn apart and it's effects become more obvious all over the world.

With each moment that passes economic stratification increases, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer all over the world.

With each moment more and more people are imprisoned, fined, taxed, executed, spied upon, bombed and murdered by government in various ways, eventually leading to the united states having the largest prison population in the world, and growing.

With each moment we become more detached from nature.

Concrete surroundings, air-conditioned rooms, automobiles and artificial lights become the norm while true nature becomes something that is seen in the back-ground of commercials that we watch on TV after work.

With each moment we loose touch with our spirituality.

Spirituality becomes institutionalized into religion and mass-marketed back to us, while cold notions of scientific reason and progress are used as an artificial replacement.

With each moment we become more UNHEALTHY!

We are over-worked and over-stressed with very little time left for sleep, rest and relaxation.

More junk-food is invented and marketed to us while the "healthy" food becomes filled with artificial chemicals.

Sports become "spectator" sports and concern for healthy living becomes a mere "health fad" or "health craze".

With each moment our creativity and imagination are destroyed.

Pressure to obey orders, follow the rules, blend into the crowds, and bend to the whims of the bosses and the Markets leaves no room for us to follow our own natural curiosity, interests and desires.

With each moment we all become BRAIN-WASHED, lied to, tricked and deluded in various ways.

Advertising, propaganda and the conformist mind-set are inescapable in our society, anywhere you look you find some product being pushed, some government lies being given, some ideology being crammed down our throats.

With each moment that passes we are all being MURDERED!

Unhealthy life-styles pushed on us by an over-worked, ignorant, stressed-out, fast-food consumer culture has lead to massive amounts of death caused by auto-mobiles, unhealthy diets, various forms of legal and illegal drugs, and cancers from man-made causes.

With each moment we loose our enthusiasm for LIFE!

We become used to the routines of mind-less repetitive and monotonous jobs, standardized indoctrination at schools, bureaucratic nonsense and red-tape, and bland "entertainment" that is marketed to as broad an audience as possible, that we forget and neglect the wide range of possibilities and potential that exists out there for us!

With each moment that passes we become more ALIENATED from each other!

Our society pushes us to view one another impersonally, as mere OBJECTS - objects in business, objects to be governed and controlled, objects in relation to the divine.

We no longer see one another as real human beings, we see each other according to a LABEL - you are an employee, customer, a "bad guy or a good guy", tax-payer, sex-object, criminal, parent, believer, student, you are not longer a human being.

With each moment that passes we become more alienated from OURSELVES, we let conformity to society determine who we are and obedience to authority determine what we do.

True self-reflection and self-responsibility is replaced by the opinions of others and mass-media and the dictates of the Rat Race.

With each moment hope is destroyed and replaced with defeatist ideas about "human nature" and "inevitability".

With hope gone, suicide increases drastically, among the young and old alike.

If we continue down this path, all life will die, it is as simple as that.

If we continue, we will become mere soul-less objects working blindly for our mutual destruction.

Authority is the cause of all of this, the moment we allow ourselves be controlled, we doom ourselves.

The moment we view our fellow human beings as mere objects to BE controlled, we doom ourselves.

A complete world-wide revolution is needed, but this can not be accomplished through politics, political parties, violence or ideologies.

The revolution begins with YOU, not anything above you.

Destroy everything that has been programmed into you, a life-time of school, mass-media, bosses and following orders has left us totally detached from reality.

Destroy authority, destroy society - Let us discover life for OURSELVES!