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Commentary :: DNC : Organizing
Revolution or Alienation?
28 Jul 2004
I was at the bazaar today and I've been involved in anarchist organizing for a while. At some point today I started thinking about how the people who weren't involved in the "scene" perceived us. Vangaurdism is for authoritarians; not anarchists. But I think that we're perceived as vangaurdist sometimes. I feel that we've built some strains of a very interesting subculture and movement that is fun to be a part of and that is doing a lot of good work. But I feel like we need to step back a second and think about how our rhetoric, ascetic and project focus/ implementation relates to what we claim to want. For example, does "smash the state" or "up the punx" or half the rhetoric that we use mean anything to anyone outside our own egos?
I was at the bazaar today and I've been involved in anarchist organizing for a while. At some point today I started thinking about how the people who weren't involved in the "scene" perceived us. Maybe I shouldn't have; maybe I should have been like: "fuck that, why should I give a fuck about what other people think?" But the truth of the matter is that I do. Vangaurdism is for authoritarians; not anarchists. But I think that we're perceived as vangaurdist sometimes. I feel that we've built some strains of a very interesting subculture and movement that is fun to be a part of and that is doing a lot of good work. But I feel like we need to step back a second and think about how our rhetoric, ascetic and project focus/ implementation relates to what we claim to want.

For example, does "smash the state" or "up the punx" or half the rhetoric that we use mean anything to anyone outside our own egos? Does our rhetoric actually communicate what we're all about and what we want or does it contribute to misunderstanding of what we are and what we're all about. Are we communicating with people or at people? Does our rhetoric alienate potential allies from us because they see what we're doing as a sub-cultural thing that doesn't relate to them? Are we caught up in old-left revolutionary or hippie or punk rock rhetoric or some other subcultural talk when we communicate with others not like us? If our rhetoric is about expression of ideas and not about conformity, then what are we expressing and how do we think expressing is going to connect us with our communities, our regions and our world? Are we being dismissed because we are so self-absorbed and focused on our own subcultural styles of communication that we can't understand how others communicate?

And this kind of bridges over to our ascetic. There's something to be said for the effect that dressing in anti-conformist ways have in combating a larger mindless control system. Situationism and the original punk rock seemed to be a lot about that. But what was originally anti-conformist, has that just turned into another form of sub-cultural conformity? An anti-conformity conformity? Does it have any effect anymore? Could the effect instead now just be a further separation from potential allies because other folks dismiss us as a subculture and don't feel like they connect to our ascetic expression? How does this contribute to lack of real diversity among anarchists? Are our political beliefs just another fashion? What kind of "insider"/ "outider" dynamics are we creating by our ascetic? Are there more effective ways of communicating what we're trying to communicate through our ascetic, if we're actually consciously communicating anything at all?

And lastly, what about our project focus/ implementation. How integrated are we really into our communities? Are we integrated enough to build projects that make a real step towards social revolution? Do we have alternative projects and counter-institutions that could replace the system we have now? Are we actually building towards them? Are we doing it in ways that are effective and inclusive? Are we ready to make real long term commitments to these projects or are our projects just another way to fit into the scene? Do we give a fuck enough to engage in the kind of projects and do the kind of work that doesn't have glamour or excitement; but in the long term actually make a difference? Are we also just caught up in a world of instant gratification without the determination to build towards a world ready for revolutionary change? Are we ready to engage and connect with the world at a deeper, more serious level than just another sub-cultural scene? How are we really stepping things up? And what ways can we?

I don't mean to be negative. There are a lot of really positive steps that we're making. But I think that we also have a long way to go. And I feel like progress is going to be made if we start thinking about our actions and our commitment levels for the long-run. I feel like we need to be thinking about our rhetoric, ascetic and project focus/ implementation on a much deeper and serious level than I can do in this short commentary. And I think that these are among many other things we're going to need to do to move beyond a subculture and become and inclusive and effective movement towards social revolution.

This work is in the public domain.
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Re: Revolution or Alienation?
28 Jul 2004
as an anarchist volunteering with grassroots Kerry campaigners I realized how much more we have in common, and I don't see the Democratic progressives as being any less then the Green Party people we work with all the time. Why is it that we don't listen and try to understand others with different view points but our working toward the same goal, some sorta social justice system. I am an anarchist, a squatter, i wear punk clothes listen to hardcore am i anarcho poser just because I am helping our Democratic party progressive allies during this election? I don't think so and guess what most of the african american, queer and other people around think I am doing the right thing. I asked them because I believe in building coalitions, because it's going to take alot for a revolution.
Re: Revolution or Alienation?
28 Jul 2004
check out the g-8 protestors in Georgia, they did a fix-shit-up action--brilliant , constructive and inviting--google that shit!
Re: Revolution or Alienation?
28 Jul 2004
Totally see where your coming from and aggree. I was at the Bazaar today as well and was contemplating similar ideas. There's so much isolationism going on that goes way farther than simply not wanting to stand with Democrats because we both don't like Bush. On the rhetoric issue your dead-on. Not only is it hollow but it sounds really stupid sometimes especially in contradicting situations. I can remember back during the marches right before the war and kids were chanting "WHADDA WE WANT?! PEACE!!!" and then directly afterword screaming "SMASH THE STATE!!!" What does "smash the state" really even mean anyway? Nobody's actually doing it and nor should they. It's just some bullshit slogan that kids yell yet i doubt ever think about why their yelling it. Aside from all that the thing that really bothered me today about some of the anarchists, including some of the righteous cats who organize for the BTS, was their bitchy, free-speech stifulling, hypocritical responses to those who showed up with different view-points. Sure they did get the permits for the event and if these people were trying to get on stage or take over I'd understand. The first situation I saw was when some idiot ChristianRightProBush guys tried to walk through with big signs. A bunch kids swarmed him screaming to "get the fuck out! we have a permit!" One kid was banging a drum in his face screaming and one kid even pushed the guy once not in self-defense either. Of course the media swarmed over quicker than the cops and everyone from the LA Times to the Globe we documenting firsthand the hypocrisy. Of course that tiny one-minute situation didn't characterize the day as whole in any way but but thats what the media will report and it's not their fault, its the fault of those who cause the scuffle. Same thing went down when some nice guy who wanted set up a voter-regist. boothe and draw pro-Kerry caractures, thogh they let him stay after swarming him and looking hypocritical again in front of the media. Their argument was baseless on the grounds of supporting free speech. "We have a permit!!" I know BTS is real efficient but I can't believe that they are now adopting the idea that free-speech should only fall within the confines of legally permitted zones. With that sort of thinking the "free-speech zone/ camp" set up by the city is good idea. I actually witnessed some BTS organizers contemplating calling the police! (Or just beckoning them from 10 feet away) So when the Gap or Dupont Chemical calls the police to protect them from activists the cops are "fascist corporate goon-squads" but when a nice guy who happens to be Pro-Kerry wants to takeup 4 square feet at the Bazaar the cops are usful tool to "protect and serve" the purity of the event. Is that what BTS views as "real democracy" as the title of the event(Really Democratic Bazaar) suggested.
Re: Revolution or Alienation?
28 Jul 2004
Hmm, sounds like there is indeed some hypocrisy going on with the BTS (which is not only anarchists, by the way). Calling in the cops during a protest is never okay, for any reason. But I don't think this justifies some of the assertions in Sylvia's post. I don't think anti-authoritarians should stand by and let Christian fascists spew their hate with impunity either. They may be against Kerry, but they are NOT on our side! This article is very astute in its observations about the state of the current anarchist movement, its need to reach out beyond the punk and activist subcultures, and especially the importance of viable counter-institutions (yea!). But Sylvia is wrong in implying that a retreat from militancy is the solution. We need greater militancy, not less, and yes, we DO need to "smash the state!" How else will we bring about revolution? This article is not a rejection of social revolution but a celebration of its potential; its strength is in its call to make our miltancy REAL and RELEVANT to everyday people. So yes, let's reach out to average Americans; let's continue fighting for change in coalitions with all progressives, radicals, and anti-authoritarians; let's practice tolerance and peace and free speech; but lets not give up our principles or our revolutionary zeal either. One more small thing: I think the author meant *aesthetic* not "ascetic."
Re: Revolution or Alienation?
28 Jul 2004
Sorry I got your name wrong Stygia. Not sure what teh fuck I was thinkin'. Stupid me!
Your busted "Boston Anarchist'
28 Jul 2004
Boston AnarchistError! Hyperlink reference not valid.
“ I was at the bazaar today and I've been involved in anarchist organizing for a while” You mean that event without any activist today, are you try to psychoanalyze us? “Vanguardism is for authoritarians.”“Democratic” convention are not? Talk is cheap, especially on this site, let’s see some action
“I don't mean to be negative”
Re: Revolution or Alienation?
28 Jul 2004
it may be time for you to break away from anarchisms spontaneity and try to come at revolution from a strategic standpoint. From revolution back.

lifestyle anarchism and self-cultivationism are not revolutionary
Re: Revolution or Alienation?
28 Jul 2004
There is some serious bullshit disinformation being spread on this thread. The BTS would NEVER call the cops to come to anything for any reason. I don't know what the hell is going on on this thread, and it's probably just one troll posting over and over again to hear his own voice, but these sort of lies and slander are divisive and stupid.

This thread contains a post from someone claiming to be an anarchist who is working to elect Kerry! And the BTS is being slandered with stupid lies that noone with any knowledge of the group would never believe anyway, while the idiot working for Kerry is called "reasonable"? This is Bizarro Indymedia.

Just last night the FBI was swarming around the family, friends, and apartment of another Boston organizer and in the meantime, anonymous liars are coming on IMC and saying the BTS called the cops? WTF is wrong with you people. Damn. If you're not collecting a check from the FBI to spread this kind of COINTELPRO lie, then I'd suggets you stop working for free.
Re: Revolution or Alienation?
28 Jul 2004
Odd and interesting thread. Here's a link to the "constructive action" that someone mentioned:

http://newstandardnews.net/content/?action=show_item&itemid=514

That sounds like it might be productive, and a way to demonstrate to the community that anarchists are serious about wanting to make a real, concrete difference in local communities. I've heard of people doing this with community gardens too, and I love that idea. But that's just one action. What do we do when there's NOT a mass demo going on in our community?

What I feel we need is a strategic campaign of constructive community and bioregional organizing. We should continue with the mass demos, because they can be an excellent means of "demonstrating" both our visions for another world and the brutality of the current social order. But in between such demos, we should work in our community to build "dual power" organizations or institutions. By "dual power," I simply mean that our organizations should have a realistic potential for being the new infrastructure of a new society of our own creation. How will we get our food, shelter, joy in life, etc., in accordance with anarchist principles such as non-hierarchy and free cooperation? In order to do this, we'll need community agriculture, cooperative housing, some form of directly democratic community decision-making, etc. This community organizing is the base that we need to coordinate the logistics of our own survival and flourishing.

I'm a big, big fan of a revolution that includes [but is not limited to] ending the existence of the State once and for all. But until we're actually ready to run our own lives, then all of our gung-ho agitation against the State is just talk. If we want to walk the walk, we need to find some way of creating a new society in the shell of the old rather than simply saying "The old society is bad and we want to destroy it."

I'm working on a book about my vision for how we may pursue a constructive, broad-based, successful revolution:

http://treesong.org/revolutionofone/

But my approach is just one among many. What I would really love to see is more and more anarchists, anti-authoritarians, libertarian socialists, etc. getting together to discuss (A) how to create a good society, and (B) how to organize in a way that keeps us situated within ou communities rather than alienating everyone by seeing ourselves as some "vanguard" -- which, as someone else pointed out, is almost certainly an authoritarian notion.
Re: Revolution or Alienation?
28 Jul 2004
"Are we being dismissed because we are so self-absorbed and focused on our own subcultural styles of communication that we can't understand how others communicate?"

No. You are being ignored because your ideas are laughably juvenile to 99% of people over the age of 17.
Re: Revolution or Alienation?
28 Jul 2004
anarchist fashion sense leading to alienation of other anarchists who dont want to look like a bunch of clowns? no... i wont believe it.
Re: Revolution or Alienation?
28 Jul 2004
"No. You are being ignored because your ideas are laughably juvenile to 99% of people over the age of 17."

Okay Democrat, now try applyiing your sophisticated critigue of anarchism to the French Commune or the anarchists' response to Franco's dictatorship during the Fascists' takeover of Spain in the 1930's. I suppose those where such petty events spurred on by juvenille dellinquents' need for attention that Orwell completely wasted his time by writing about it in Homage to Catalonia.
Re: Revolution or Alienation?
28 Jul 2004
I have to say that while some of the comments to this post are less than stellar, the actual post has a point. No matter how much we hate to admit it there are anarchist who are anarchist for subculture sake. They would rather spend a protest screaming and fighting with the 5 Nazis who happened to show up then reaching out the those who are interested in what we have to say. They would rather get drunk and go to a show then spend the time and effort learning the nuances of their arguments. No matter how much we try the whole world will never wear all black, nor quit their jobs to become a revolutionary. Not, of course, unless we are able to provide an alternative to the paycheck that feeds their family and pays their rent. Our communities must be self sustaining. People will not break from the status quo without a solid alternative.

The question we have to ask is are we doing everything we can to create that alternative. If you are that is great, keep it up convert your friends, you are the strength in our movement. But if you idea of contributing to the cause is wearing all black covering your face and showing up to protests to break shit, you need to grow up. This isnt a movement of teenage boys and it is a movement of ideas and organizing. The people who I am speaking of have a chance to advance the movement. They are exposed to our ideas, the implementation is just not there yet. Let me make it clear that I am not saying that property destruction is not a valid and necessary action, I am just saying it should not be the only action.

We are at a point where our numbers should be growing. People are disillusioned with the government and are looking for an alternative. If we can not provide it someone else will. This is a big summer for us, we have the potential to reach out to more people, diverse people. If we are not able to achieve that goal then our movement is in trouble.

New York will teach us a lot, we will learn what we are made of while we stand united staring into the eyes of the enemy. But we should also take that time to look around evaluate were we are and what we need to do. Stand up, Rise up, but please realize that the revolution will only occur once we have the foundation for the alternative.
Re: Revolution or Alienation?
28 Jul 2004
I saw this article and was impressed..while not agreeing totally with it, it had interesting suggestions on how to implement actions locally.

Getting Free: A sketch of an association of democratic, autonomous neighborhoods and how to create it by James Herod

http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Strate/GetFre/index.htm
Re: Revolution or Alienation?
28 Jul 2004
Thank you for the thoughtful article and thank you to the people who posted thoughtful responses.

I think it's really important to ask these questions and to listen to each other in the discussion about them. If we can't listen to each other, how can we have an authentic "movement"?
Re: Revolution or Alienation?
28 Jul 2004
Lets not think of the people who aren't involved in the scene as one group and let us remember that our allies must come first and foremost from oppressed communities not from "middle America." There is tremendous diversity in America and this is our strength. Lifestyle anarchists have done alot of good work around trying to find ways to live that are consistent with their ideals, but that doesn't mean we want everyone to wear all black. And people are generally not put off by anarchists and/or young people if they get to know them. The great failing of the mass protest/black bloc/etc movement is that it does too little to increase face-to-face long term interaction between young white anarchists and people from other communities who are also doing social justice work. We can't think about what we look like to the masses on TV. We look like nuts and the corporate media will always make us look like nuts, whether or not we make it easy for them. The real work is in building bridges with other communities.

Which brings me to another point. Has anybody here read Betita Martinez's "Where Was the Color in Seattle?" Let me post two paragraphs here:



Four protesters of color from different Bay Area organizations talked about the "culture shock" they experienced when they first visited the "Convergence," the protest center set up by the Direct Action Network, a coalition of many organizations. Said one, "When we walked in, the room was filled with young whites calling themselves anarchists. There was a pungent smell, many had not showered. We just couldn't relate to the scene so our whole group left right away." "Another told me, "They sounded dogmatic and paranoid." "I just freaked and left," said another. "It wasn't just race, it was also culture, although race was key."

In retrospect, observed Van Jones of STORM (Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement) in the Bay Area, "We should have stayed. We didn't see that we had a lot to learn from them. And they had a lot of materials for making banners, signs, puppets." "Later I went back and talked to people," recalled Rashidi, "and they were discussing tactics, very smart. Those folks were really ready for action. It was limiting for people of color to let that one experience affect their whole picture of white activists." Jinee Kim, a Korean American with the Third Eye Movement in the Bay Area, also thought it was a mistake. "We realized we didn't know how to do a blockade. We had no gas masks. They made sure everybody had food and water, they took care of people. We could have learned from them."



Anarchists need to get out of their often self-imposed cultural ghetto and make real human connections with people different than them and get involved with long term solidarity work with oppressed communities. If we do that, more people will see us as assets, as Rashidi says in this passage, rather than as "dogmatic and paranoid" as the other protester said. The anarchist movement will be healthier, bigger, and just as importantly, anarchists themselves will learn a tremendous amount.

Mass protests are great and fun exciting and, perhaps, effective. But the other 51 weeks a year are more important. Those are the weeks that should be shaping the the way we look to those not involved in the scene, not the way we look this week.
Question for Sean Sacco
28 Jul 2004
Isn't the issue of lack of color within the anarchist movement being addressed in part by APOC? (Anarchist People of Color) I know they have a chapter organizing in Brooklyn N.Y.
Re: Revolution or Alienation?
28 Jul 2004
I have a very personal and (I think) relavant story and view to share. I am relatively new to the progressive movement and was launched in that direction by the war for oil in iraq and the obvious greed and corporate corruption that motivated it. I am someone who read a lot but often what I read was establishment bs; that kind of shit affects how you think after years and years of programming. It is difficut and time consuming to start the process of re-education--and the problem I think is that many people after reading the NY Times and Washington Post and the authors they endorse for years and years are operating in a fantasty world that they really and truly believe in, hence the perception that protestors are troublemakers with nothing real to say, which we know is not true.
So, I think there needs to be an emphasis on compassion and understanding that 1 trillion dollars per year spent on propaganda in the United States will inevitably affect people's consciouness. We must reach out and educate or there is no freaking hope. That word education is so fundamentally important because without it people do believe that anarchists are "lunatics" like the cover of that paper in NY said, when it is simply not true. Or people will respond with befuddled expressions to the concept of class war or smashing the state. I used to. I just didn't understand what was going on. I myself dress kind of conservatively, and I look like a preppy abercrombie boy. I can't help that. I went to a conference in Lawrence, KS, which was amazing. I learned so much at the many seminars at the We Are Resisting conference there this summer. I made frieds and connected to people. At the same time, I felt like I was being rejected by a lot of the others because of my appearance. I went to the library and came back to the convention area and a guy who i thought i was making friends with asked me "how'd the debriefing go"
I felt crushed and angry and humiliated and kinda hopeless. When people are irrationally making judgments because other progressives/radicals are not interested in punk music, the punk scene, or punk dress, I think alienation occurrs and that stalls the movement. Punk music is cool, and I like punks and how they dress, but it is just not for me. Does that mean I am not "radical enough"? or that I am with cointelpro? I felt like a significant number of the activists there felt that way; others didn't of course. And I just think it's absurd to have to worry about something like that. If someone has a corporate label on their shirt, you should reach out to them and educate them about things you know that corporation is doing to its workers and give them a logical and coherent reason why they should boycott that company, not simply ignore them or ask questions that alienate.
Anyways, it's my two cents. I am still learning and know I have much to learn. This is just how I feel you know.
Re: Revolution or Alienation?
28 Jul 2004
Yes of course the pigs are on this site and yes of course they speard all sorts of disinformation and hate. Fuck them who cares...By paying attention to their inane and flawed reasoning useful discussion is derailed, and thats exactly what they want. If you see a stupid post on Indy ignore it. Who cares? It means nothing to other people and everything to us activists. So leave the trash where it fell and do discuss something useful. Calling names and acting paranoid is a useless act. Yes they are on our boards and they always will be. Thats why we should be using a variety of methods to communicate in the first place. We started out one step ahead and the fuckin pigs are starting to catch up. Its time to regain that lead.

The Fix Shit Up ws a great idea. In addition to protesting bullshit like this we should be helping the downtrodden. They are our best allies. Those that have been fucked repeatedly by the system know its brutality first hand. They will also be the first to denounce it and stand at our side. If what we push is organisation from the bottom up we need to start with the fucking bottom. Not just helping them up but helping them to sustain. People without proper footing will never embark on for a cause. First they need to take care of their own comfort, then they will worry about others. "food not Bombs" is an amazing program. It would be even more amazing if those they served actually helped out; Gathered supplies, made food, helped distribute it, spread the word of mouth.

What we need are community organizations. We dont have to set all this shit up on our own. The people can set it up for themselves. We just need to jumpstart the damn thing. So when they say organize, it means people. People are the power, the more people the more powerful. We dont have to make anything work...we just have to show people that they can make it work, themselves, without any outside authoritative power.

People have problems doing things on their own. Most off them are like sheep and wish to be led, wish not to think for themselves. So we must show those that can lead how to lead; we must show those who wish to follow how to rise up when led astray. We must show people that the individual is worthless without the whole. The company is worthless without consumers, the government without slaves. We need to show people the good they can do for their own communities by doing it ourselves.

Please excuse my intellectual masturbation...
Pigs on the site
28 Jul 2004
Pigs have never flooded indy media the way they have of late. We are under attack, and if we employ a pacifist non-response, we will be seriously harmed. We need to get over all that grade school bullshit about worshipping the constitution. To hell with property rights, and to hell with "free speech" when it is used to justify leaving the BS of cops up on our web sites. WE HAVE A RIGHT TO DEFEND OURSELVES!
PIGS AND COINTELPRO
29 Jul 2004
Hi,

I am not a pig. I think the system is fucked completely. I do think the only way to fix it is to junk it completely and take back power from the multinational corporations and the Washington elites and return it to the people and thier communities. I know you cannot have a revolution without having revolutionaries; I do not think an effective strategy is to alienate people who are truly interested and want to learn about anarchism and its movement. Isn't the point supposed to be about cooperation, free association, freedom, fraternity? How are such values being implemented when someone tries to articulate an honest response to an article and is attacked as being a pig? Would you please tell me what about my post made me an authoritarian? Would you reach out and attempt to educate me instead of calling me names? I did go to the conference in Lawrence. I do believe in the principles of anarchism. I am active in my community, and I am not a pig. It is unbearably frustrating when the whole point of my post was that many people who would be friendly to the ideas, the intellectual matter and substance of anarchism are being put off by the emphasis of some in the community on certain lifestyle values without educating others about the reason for them, which I felt in Lawrence and St. Louis. There are words for that: snobbery, elitism. And I don't care what anyone says about that. I was there at an anarchist conference in Lawrence and then spent time in some anarchist collectives in St. Louis, and met many great people but was put off by what I could best describe as lifestyle elitists. I understand some of the princples now, but when I first showed up in Lawrence I was freaked out and thought about leaving myself, like some of the people of color who left another convergence center.
If we are not reaching out to people and educating them and leading them in the path of liberty and solidarity, then there will be no change. If the purpose is real change, then we need a lot more people involved and on the streets and in their communities agitating for change in order to effect real social prgress. When I was in Lawrence, Ward Churchill said the left ends up canablizing itself, and I can see this in the screaming of "pigs" and "cointelpro" at people who post on this website and attend conferences and don't conform to a certain look. It is not an effective strategy. If you are going to call someone a pig, back it up. If you are going to say someone is with cointelpro, back it up. It pisses me off for one, and it is counterproductive. Tell me what you think! That is all I am looking for; a sense of community and solidarity and the truth. Don't scream at me. Talk to me.
What I said earlier about education is true. Ask a random person on the street or even a relative: what is anarchy?
Almost everyone I've asked has said chaos, etc. This is a falsehood. But this is what most people believe. Don't spend your time calling me a pig. Spend it educating me and others about anarchism and what it really stands for. I expressed my frustration with my feeling that I have so much to learn. The amount of inherent pretentiousness in screaming pig at others who ask questions and make honest statements is enough to make me cringe.
I do not understand these approaches.
Re: Revolution or Alienation?
29 Jul 2004
Wonderful prose and forethought
to pastor m
29 Jul 2004
That's a pretty condescending proletariat view you have there. Why would you assume that poor people don't, can't or aren't organizing? Why do you assume that they need to be "led"?! What a jerk! How about you find some people who are trying to do something for themselves, and there are PLENTY of them who need support! Do you have a problem being a second banana? Why not follow the lead of the downtrodden! Your post was horribly eletist, and that is another problem within our movement! Why not get a minimum wage job at a fast food place and get to know the people who work there, maybe you could help unionize it, but let others lead! One of the main things we ALL have to get over to make the world a better place is ego. Ego is the root of greed and power lust.

I know some people from my town that were very turned off by the Black Tea Society, they asked me why anarchists were behaving like thought police, to which I had to respond, I don't know them or why they would act that way. They were told not to bring their tee shirts because they weren't the right "message". The shirts said "Kerry- Don't make me vote Nader!".
Re: Revolution or Alienation?
29 Jul 2004
Revolution happens on a multi-cultural level. There needs to be a sharp edge to cut through all the crap. There are plenty of sub cultures that have similiar beliefs and dont look like anarchists already.
Re: Revolution or Alienation?
29 Jul 2004
There are also anarchists who do not look like "anarchists". Although the idea that someone could "look like an anarchist" is something I wish we could get away from as a movement.
Re: Revolution or Alienation?
29 Jul 2004
Re: the "hypocracy," of anarchists in the BTS, I was under the impression that it was some "peace marshals" from ANSWER who called the cops and started screaming about a permit.

Re: the free speech rights of fascists goes, I think the response should be proportional to the actual threat they pose and what they are doing. Certainly I won't bother debating with a KKK or bonehead rally, but one dude with homophobic and misogynist views standing quietly with a sign is someone to debate using facts and logic, not mob to tear up his signs.

Re: the "wrong message" T-shirts, I understand why someone would say that, but I'd be interested to know the affiliation of who actually said that, and whether that was some agreed upon policy or just what some dude on the spot said. If it was an actual agreed-upon policy, then that sucks. Otherwise I think whoever said that needs a talking to :-).

Finally, regarding the "laughability" of anarchism, I can personally state that I've never met anyone outside the "I don't pay attention to politics but I listen to Rush Limbaugh everyday" set who dismissed anarchism out of hand. Every single person I've talked to who's actually examined anarchism as a political philosophy agrees that it would be better than any present system. The only real disagreement is whether it's workable--and I think the disagreement stems from the fact that society today is so atomized, and so many people are disconnected from any skilled, productive labor (thanks to "free trade" and the bureaucratization of life), that the mere idea of an autonomous *group* project is considered "strange". It really seems to me that people in the U.S. (and probably the entire so-called "western world") view themselves as if they were just disconnected incompetents trying not to get fired from pushing paper until they die--which strikes me as killing your soul so you don't notice how much your life hurts.
Re: Revolution or Alienation?
30 Jul 2004
Alienation.

Most people don't want to smash the state. We want to take it over for the benefit of many. We want to use the state's monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force to enforce the the public interest. The state is not inherently evil; it depends on what it's used for. The only revolution most of us want is called DEMOCRACY, so that the state is used to ensure economic & social justice.

If your goal is to convince people to join you, you should do it in the most effective way possible. If that means getting a hair cut, bathing, and wearing cleaner clothing, then any pragmatic activist will do that in a split-second. If that means coming up with ways of communicating your ideas so that mainstream Americans can understand you, then that's what needs to be done.

"Anarchist"-appearing demonstrations are retarded. Do you think a significant number of people are going to join you from seeing such demonstrations? Do you think you'll have any effect on the decision makers you're protesting against? Not if they're conducted with a small number of people whose only achievement is to alienate mainstream Americans from worthy causes. To have any effect, a protest demonstration needs lots and lots of people who don't all look and sound like "anarchists".

Plus, a protest demonstration is not where the real action is anyway. The real action is organizing to get more people to participate: organizing in our communities and workplaces. labor organizing, community organizing, even issue advocacy organizing. And most importantly, there must be electoral organizing, so that the people control the government.

And then once we have control of the state, we can institute common sense measures to keep the state democratic, to institutionalize democracy: public financing of campaigns, proportional representation, media reform, better civic education in our schools, etc. I actually don't plan on being a career activist because I'm confident we'll win significant, permanent, democratic victories within the next 20 years. but I'm just rambling now. keep on keeping on
To Phil
30 Jul 2004
Sounds like reformism to me. Remember Martin Luther King's warning: "beware the tranquilizing drug of gradualism." Neither hair cuts nor electoral politics are an answer. Working together with diverse people at a real enough level where all this seems laughably superficial is the answer.
Re: Revolution or Alienation?
30 Jul 2004
some I agree with, some I don't. We as Americans have been told what to do and how to do it for so long that we don't question anything. We are herded like cattle. Big business runs the country. It is time for the American people to question.
Re: Revolution or Alienation?
30 Jul 2004
FUCK POLITICAL CORRECTNESS, it went down with the trade centers.
On Reform, "Gradualism", Haircuts, and Electoral Organizing
30 Jul 2004
To Sean:

Yup. Reform is what I seek, not to be confused with "gradualism". Why would anyone want justice to be realized gradually? I want us to change the procedural and substantive policies of our government immediately. Of course, organizing happens gradually at first, so many of the wins will end up coming gradually, but not because we believe in some philosophy called "gradualism". We all want to re form our political economy. I think our disagreement lies not in how fast we want the change to happen, but to what end. Some here seem to believe that the state is inherently evil, which I think is just silly, and others believe a democratic government has an important role in society.

I happen to think that getting a haircut could make organizing easier if it makes you and your message more accessible to more people.

Any movement that leaves out electoral politics may fall far short of its full potential. What could be more effective than replacing the key decision makers with ourselves? Campaign finance and Florida aside, this country is still one person one vote, and we can elect people like Dennis Kucinich and Bernie Sanders to office.
What do we have in common?
30 Jul 2004
Me and some friends wrote a play that started the day after "the revolution." After defeating our common foe, "we" realized we didn't have much left in common. Everybody had a different idea of how to proceed.

I read Ayn Rand as a teenager, and when the GOP convention came to my home town in 1992, I worked as a youth volunteer. I even cheered during Pat Buchanan's speech, and I'm brown, people! (Good thing I was too young to vote.)

I thank Kurt Vonnegut for setting me straight. I atteneded the 2000 RNC and DNC as an indymedia reporter. After spending some years in the Bay Area bubble, I now make puppets and participate in creative direct action in Houston, once more.

My point is that to dismiss Republicans or Democrats or frat-boys or whoever as "evil" doesn't serve our purpose. I don't think I was ever nearly as shallow as those stereotypes, but I was once on that side, and now I'm all red and black.

If you believe that you have a better way, won't reasonable people see the wisdom of it? It's always better to engage and welcome people than to alienate them.
Attn: Phil
31 Jul 2004
Alienation.

"Most people don't want to smash the state." Actually I would say that most people including the people who founded this government considered the goverment a necessary evil whose purpose was to control the majority faction a.k.a. the people without power or money (See the federalist papers).

"We want to take it over for the benefit of many." Heard that one plenty of times.
"We want to use the state's monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force to enforce the the public interest." Enforce it on whom? The public? The state enforces the will of those in control. All wills should be considered so nobody/ everybody should be in control. Decentralized diversity of living coordinated and federated.

"The state is not inherently evil" Power inherently corrupts and upholds the interests of those who have it; we need equality and freedom not a privledged ruling class of people in power taking our freedoms (like they did in Russia)

""Anarchist"-appearing demonstrations are retarded." That's the problem. People think that there's an anarchist appearance. But there has never been an anarchist appearance until the late 20th century. Anarchists have always been working class people who dressed like everyone else. But you get situationism, punk rock and all the sudden anarchism becomes a fashion statement which keeps people from finding out what it;s really about.

Do you think a significant number of people are going to join you from seeing such demonstrations? "anarchists".

"Plus, a protest demonstration is not where the real action is anyway. The real action is organizing to get more people to participate: organizing in our communities and workplaces. labor organizing, community organizing, even issue advocacy organizing."
True.
"And most importantly, there must be electoral organizing, so that the people control the government." Electoral politics is for rogues or dunces. If the people actually controlled the governement, then what would the government's purpose be? Government is a tool used to legitimize systemic oppressions by the ruling classes on the rest of us.

"Some here seem to believe that the state is inherently evil, which I think is just silly, and others believe a democratic government has an important role in society." You're either ignorant or deceptively manipulative. If you're dismissing anarchism as silly in a genuine manner, then you're obviously ignorant of its histories, theories, and practices. You can disagree with it if you like, but no one whose actually studied it would call it silly. Or you have studied it and you're being purposefully deceptive and manipulative by calling it silly to try to delegitimize it in the eyes of people who are unfamiliar with it. The way monarchs used the word democracy and chaos interchangably in the 1500s and the capitalists and authoritarians use anarchy interchangable with chaos today.

"What could be more effective than replacing the key decision makers with ourselves?" If you mean that literally as replacing the goverment with the people making their own decisions in decentralized coordinated communities (anarchism), then I agree. If you mean ourselves as some presumptuous vangaurdist party that's supposed to know what's good for us better than us, then you should re-read the history of the Russian and Chinese revolutions (in particular) among others. Or just read Animal Farm by George Orwell.
Attn: Phil
31 Jul 2004
Alienation.

"Most people don't want to smash the state." Actually I would say that most people including the people who founded this government considered the goverment a necessary evil whose purpose was to control the majority faction a.k.a. the people without power or money (See the federalist papers).

"We want to take it over for the benefit of many." Heard that one plenty of times.
"We want to use the state's monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force to enforce the the public interest." Enforce it on whom? The public? The state enforces the will of those in control. All wills should be considered so nobody/ everybody should be in control. Decentralized diversity of living coordinated and federated.

"The state is not inherently evil" Power inherently corrupts and upholds the interests of those who have it; we need equality and freedom not a privledged ruling class of people in power taking our freedoms (like they did in Russia)

""Anarchist"-appearing demonstrations are retarded." That's the problem. People think that there's an anarchist appearance. But there has never been an anarchist appearance until the late 20th century. Anarchists have always been working class people who dressed like everyone else. But you get situationism, punk rock and all the sudden anarchism becomes a fashion statement which keeps people from finding out what it;s really about.

Do you think a significant number of people are going to join you from seeing such demonstrations? "anarchists".

"Plus, a protest demonstration is not where the real action is anyway. The real action is organizing to get more people to participate: organizing in our communities and workplaces. labor organizing, community organizing, even issue advocacy organizing."
True.
"And most importantly, there must be electoral organizing, so that the people control the government." Electoral politics is for rogues or dunces. If the people actually controlled the governement, then what would the government's purpose be? Government is a tool used to legitimize systemic oppressions by the ruling classes on the rest of us.

"Some here seem to believe that the state is inherently evil, which I think is just silly, and others believe a democratic government has an important role in society." You're either ignorant or deceptively manipulative. If you're dismissing anarchism as silly in a genuine manner, then you're obviously ignorant of its histories, theories, and practices. You can disagree with it if you like, but no one whose actually studied it would call it silly. Or you have studied it and you're being purposefully deceptive and manipulative by calling it silly to try to delegitimize it in the eyes of people who are unfamiliar with it. The way monarchs used the word democracy and chaos interchangably in the 1500s and the capitalists and authoritarians use anarchy interchangable with chaos today.

"What could be more effective than replacing the key decision makers with ourselves?" If you mean that literally as replacing the goverment with the people making their own decisions in decentralized coordinated communities (anarchism), then I agree. If you mean ourselves as some presumptuous vangaurdist party that's supposed to know what's good for us better than us, then you should re-read the history of the Russian and Chinese revolutions (in particular) among others. Or just read Animal Farm by George Orwell.
Re: Revolution or Alienation?
01 Aug 2004
Another good article on the subject...
Race, Anarchy, and Punk Rock:
The impact of cultural barriers within the anarchist movement

by Otto Nomous

http://passionbomb.com/race/features/racepunk.htm
Re: Revolution or Alienation?
01 Aug 2004
Another good article on the subject...
Race, Anarchy, and Punk Rock:
The impact of cultural barriers within the anarchist movement

by Otto Nomous

http://passionbomb.com/race/features/racepunk.htm
One Purpose of Government: Public Goods
02 Aug 2004
"If the people actually controlled the governement, then what would the government's purpose be?"

Here's a big one: To overcome the problem of collective action and provide public goods (see an intro econ text book and read Mancur Olson's The Logic of Collective Action).

To provide or regulate things like roads, public transportation, the internet, velcro, building codes, currencies, banking, radio/tv airwaves, space exploration, etc.

so that mankind can engage in large, capital-intensive projects that benefit everyone, and to do it so that nobody cheats by not contributing their fair share.

This cheating is known as the "free rider" problem. Governments can institute a fair system of taxation, so that public goods can be invested in properly.

2) Governments can make up for the unequal distribution of resources across the globe, so that some communities don't have an unfair advantage over others.

3) (this is Locke's purpose) Governments can protect inequality, the inequality caused by unequal laboring, so that the fruits of those that labor harder are protected.
purpose of government continued...
02 Aug 2004
Also, governments provide a grievance-remedial instrument: the courts. If someone is wronged by another, he can sue for compensation.
And, don't forget about the criminal justice system. Ya know, to lock up (and restore if possible) rapists and serial killers.

So anytime coercion is used against anyone, I think you need a government to provide controlled, democratic coercion. Without government and law, what do you have? potentially disastrous, arbitrary forms of coercion. And if you don't have, then you have a government.

Our disagreement may lie with the definition of government. I'm using Max Weber's definition of government as the organization that has a monopoly on the legitimate use of force. If an anarchist society has a way of legitmately using force, of legitimately coercing people to do things they otherwise wouldn't do, then there is a government somewhere in that society.
purpose of government continued...
02 Aug 2004
Also, governments provide a grievance-remedial instrument: the courts. If someone is wronged by another, he can sue for compensation.
And, don't forget about the criminal justice system. Ya know, to lock up (and restore if possible) rapists and serial killers.

So anytime coercion is used against anyone, I think you need a government to provide controlled, democratic coercion. Without government and law, what do you have? potentially disastrous, arbitrary forms of coercion. And if you don't have, then you have a government.

Our disagreement may lie with the definition of government. I'm using Max Weber's definition of government as the organization that has a monopoly on the legitimate use of force. If an anarchist society has a way of legitmately using force, of legitimately coercing people to do things they otherwise wouldn't do, then there is a government somewhere in that society.
The Paradox of Fighting For Anarchism
02 Aug 2004
oh wait. I'm sorta going in circles here. By definition, it doesn't make sense to have a government in an anarchist society. And apparently many people define anarchism as a society free of any coercion.

So is a violent anarchist an oxymoron? Are all anarchists supposed to be nonviolent by definition?

Don't many anarchists believe in using coercion to bring about an anarchist society: mainly, coercion against the ruling-class controlled state? And say an anarchist society is achieved but someone (from inside or outside the society) decides they want to try gaining power and oppressing people. How do you stop him without coercion?

How can you have a society without coercion? Say some guy starts raping women? People (or the woman) have to coerce the guy to stop. Say someone refuses to contribute to anything the society does but takes advantage of the food, public swimming pool, public electricity? How do you stop him without coercion?

Government is simply a way of codifying all the coercion that is used in a society, by deciding it into law, preferably democratically.
Re: Revolution or Alienation?
02 Aug 2004
"To overcome the problem of collective action and provide public goods (see an intro econ text book and read Mancur Olson's The Logic of Collective Action)."

Yeah, I've read both Phil and the problem isn't there logic, it's the assumptions that their logic is based in. You're taking behaviors that are very context-specific (a hierarchical, institutionally racist, patriarchal , capitalist society); and assuming that they are natural behaviors. Check the differences between Thomas Hobbes and John Locke's state of nature and then take a look at what kind of things were going on at that point in history in their region The point is that behaviors, customs, modes are malleable, dynamic and ever-changing. Karl Polyani in The Great Transformation makes this point pretty well.

"To provide or regulate things like roads, public transportation, the internet, velcro, building codes, currencies, banking, radio/tv airwaves, space exploration, etc."

People (given your definition of government) don’t need an institution to legitimately coerce anyone to provide these things; people can cooperate and coordinate within their communities and between their communities to do so if they wish.

“so that mankind can engage in large, capital-intensive projects that benefit everyone, and to do it so that nobody cheats by not contributing their fair share.” Again cooperation not coersion and you’re making more assumptions about people’s behaviors including “the free rider problem”. That’s why anarchists are about cooperation, free association, direct action and social revolution.

“so that public goods can be invested in properly.” You don’t need to delegate power to others to have investments in public goods. The Anarchist Collectives, Sam Dolgoff has a lot of good examples.

Unequal distribution of resources can be overcome (in a libertarian socialist society…. Aka anarchist society) through coordinated, free solidarity through federations. Government’s only hinder this process with their borders, tariffs, military force, subsidization, etc. for the interests of the capitalists of their country.


“Governments can protect inequality, the inequality caused by unequal laboring, so that the fruits of those that labor harder are protected.”

To each according to their needs, from each according to their ability. Nobody wants people to not do their fair share. But in a society in which people’s needs are met and nobody has much more than anyone else, guilt, societal pressure and reluctance to fully share in the luxuries beyond needs would be enough assurance make sure people did their share. Of course there’d probably be people who shirked… but take a look at our world right now. How many people shirk now and what are their reasons? Usually they don’t feel any investment in their work, no connection, no control, lack of community, resentment that others are making a lot and they’re not, feeling their job is worthless, etc.

“Also, governments provide a grievance-remedial instrument: the courts. If someone is wronged by another, he can sue for compensation.
And, don't forget about the criminal justice system. Ya know, to lock up (and restore if possible) rapists and serial killers.”

Crime is either the result of unequal distribution of wealth in the capitalist system, a social reaction related to some form of hierarchy or oppression or it’s a biological disease. The diseased need treatment not prisons. Reactions to causes stop happening when you take away the causes (patriarchy, capitalism, state coercion, racism, homophobia, etc.)… which is what anarchism is all about: social revolution.

“So anytime coercion is used against anyone, I think you need a government to provide controlled, democratic coercion. Without government and law, what do you have? potentially disastrous, arbitrary forms of coercion. And if you don't have, then you have a government.”

The goal of anarchism isn’t to take away government and leave a dog-eat-dog free-for-all. It’s to replace a hieararchical, oppressive society and institutions with institutions and a society based on cooperation, free association, equality, solidarity, etc.

“Our disagreement may lie with the definition of government. I'm using Max Weber's definition of government as the organization that has a monopoly on the legitimate use of force. If an anarchist society has a way of legitmately using force, of legitimately coercing people to do things they otherwise wouldn't do, then there is a government somewhere in that society.”

Government is an centralized, institutional illusion. You don’t need to give all the power to these few people in this centralized institution (which just corrupts them) assuming that they’re going to follow you’re will and not the will of rich who corrupt them with more power, etc. The power corrupts and people get into power who are already powerful and seek to uphold that power.

“So is a violent anarchist an oxymoron? Are all anarchists supposed to be nonviolent by definition?”

The goal is to minimize force, not eliminate it (a.k.a. self-defense, destroying violent institutions, etc.). Perhaps you should say that anarchists all should be anti-violent, not necessarily (though some are) non-voilent.

“Don't many anarchists believe in using coercion to bring about an anarchist society: mainly, coercion against the ruling-class controlled state? “

I would consider that anti-violent and coherent with anarchist values.

“And say an anarchist society is achieved but someone (from inside or outside the society) decides they want to try gaining power and oppressing people. How do you stop him without coercion?”

Come on, let’s not be silly here. It’s not about giving up self-defense it’s about minimizing coercion. The person gaining power and oppressing people are the coercive offense; not the people trying to stop that coercion.

“How can you have a society without coercion? Say some guy starts raping women? People (or the woman) have to coerce the guy to stop. Say someone refuses to contribute to anything the society does but takes advantage of the food, public swimming pool, public electricity? How do you stop him without coercion?”

Of course the guy should have his ass kicked by the woman for trying to coerce her (let’s not confuse the coercive cause). If someone free decides not to contribute to society, which for lack of self-work, dignity, solidarity (values built in an anarchist society and values supported by anarchist institutions) many people wouldn’t want to do. Most people want to feel useful and productive. We’ve got plenty of free-riders now; the majority of which are caused by the way the system is set up and the society it breeds. It doesn’t have to be that way.

“Government is simply a way of codifying all the coercion that is used in a society, by deciding it into law, preferably democratically.”

Codifying, centralizing, institutionalizing, dehumanizing…. And who controls that? You? And you’re intellectual co-horts. Anarchism rejects that as against the concepts of self-management. People can control their own lives without intermediaries to leach off their production and fight wars between each other, waste their money on excess and force them to live how they want them to live. The fact that you used the word “preferably” before you used the word “democratically” shows your true colors. You’re an authoritarian and anarchists are anti-authoritarians. You and all the rest of the vangaurdists can preach all you want about how you know what’s right for the people; but we anarchists believe that we the people know for ourselves what we want, have the ability to manage our own lives and if we weren’t controlled so strongly in so many ways; we would have come to a better society based on real needs a long time ago. But don’t you worry; there will always be the tendency in us all to reassert our freedom and liberation. Through human solidarity, resistance, the building of counter institutions, we will all eventually gain our freedom.
Re: Revolution or Alienation?
02 Aug 2004
"To overcome the problem of collective action and provide public goods (see an intro econ text book and read Mancur Olson's The Logic of Collective Action)."

Yeah, I've read both Phil and the problem isn't there logic, it's the assumptions that their logic is based in. You're taking behaviors that are very context-specific (a hierarchical, institutionally racist, patriarchal , capitalist society); and assuming that they are natural behaviors. Check the differences between Thomas Hobbes and John Locke's state of nature and then take a look at what kind of things were going on at that point in history in their region The point is that behaviors, customs, modes are malleable, dynamic and ever-changing. Karl Polyani in The Great Transformation makes this point pretty well.

"To provide or regulate things like roads, public transportation, the internet, velcro, building codes, currencies, banking, radio/tv airwaves, space exploration, etc."

People (given your definition of government) don’t need an institution to legitimately coerce anyone to provide these things; people can cooperate and coordinate within their communities and between their communities to do so if they wish.

“so that mankind can engage in large, capital-intensive projects that benefit everyone, and to do it so that nobody cheats by not contributing their fair share.” Again cooperation not coersion and you’re making more assumptions about people’s behaviors including “the free rider problem”. That’s why anarchists are about cooperation, free association, direct action and social revolution.

“so that public goods can be invested in properly.” You don’t need to delegate power to others to have investments in public goods. The Anarchist Collectives, Sam Dolgoff has a lot of good examples.

Unequal distribution of resources can be overcome (in a libertarian socialist society…. Aka anarchist society) through coordinated, free solidarity through federations. Government’s only hinder this process with their borders, tariffs, military force, subsidization, etc. for the interests of the capitalists of their country.


“Governments can protect inequality, the inequality caused by unequal laboring, so that the fruits of those that labor harder are protected.”

To each according to their needs, from each according to their ability. Nobody wants people to not do their fair share. But in a society in which people’s needs are met and nobody has much more than anyone else, guilt, societal pressure and reluctance to fully share in the luxuries beyond needs would be enough assurance make sure people did their share. Of course there’d probably be people who shirked… but take a look at our world right now. How many people shirk now and what are their reasons? Usually they don’t feel any investment in their work, no connection, no control, lack of community, resentment that others are making a lot and they’re not, feeling their job is worthless, etc.

“Also, governments provide a grievance-remedial instrument: the courts. If someone is wronged by another, he can sue for compensation.
And, don't forget about the criminal justice system. Ya know, to lock up (and restore if possible) rapists and serial killers.”

Crime is either the result of unequal distribution of wealth in the capitalist system, a social reaction related to some form of hierarchy or oppression or it’s a biological disease. The diseased need treatment not prisons. Reactions to causes stop happening when you take away the causes (patriarchy, capitalism, state coercion, racism, homophobia, etc.)… which is what anarchism is all about: social revolution.

“So anytime coercion is used against anyone, I think you need a government to provide controlled, democratic coercion. Without government and law, what do you have? potentially disastrous, arbitrary forms of coercion. And if you don't have, then you have a government.”

The goal of anarchism isn’t to take away government and leave a dog-eat-dog free-for-all. It’s to replace a hieararchical, oppressive society and institutions with institutions and a society based on cooperation, free association, equality, solidarity, etc.

“Our disagreement may lie with the definition of government. I'm using Max Weber's definition of government as the organization that has a monopoly on the legitimate use of force. If an anarchist society has a way of legitmately using force, of legitimately coercing people to do things they otherwise wouldn't do, then there is a government somewhere in that society.”

Government is an centralized, institutional illusion. You don’t need to give all the power to these few people in this centralized institution (which just corrupts them) assuming that they’re going to follow you’re will and not the will of rich who corrupt them with more power, etc. The power corrupts and people get into power who are already powerful and seek to uphold that power.

“So is a violent anarchist an oxymoron? Are all anarchists supposed to be nonviolent by definition?”

The goal is to minimize force, not eliminate it (a.k.a. self-defense, destroying violent institutions, etc.). Perhaps you should say that anarchists all should be anti-violent, not necessarily (though some are) non-voilent.

“Don't many anarchists believe in using coercion to bring about an anarchist society: mainly, coercion against the ruling-class controlled state? “

I would consider that anti-violent and coherent with anarchist values.

“And say an anarchist society is achieved but someone (from inside or outside the society) decides they want to try gaining power and oppressing people. How do you stop him without coercion?”

Come on, let’s not be silly here. It’s not about giving up self-defense it’s about minimizing coercion. The person gaining power and oppressing people are the coercive offense; not the people trying to stop that coercion.

“How can you have a society without coercion? Say some guy starts raping women? People (or the woman) have to coerce the guy to stop. Say someone refuses to contribute to anything the society does but takes advantage of the food, public swimming pool, public electricity? How do you stop him without coercion?”

Of course the guy should have his ass kicked by the woman for trying to coerce her (let’s not confuse the coercive cause). If someone free decides not to contribute to society, which for lack of self-work, dignity, solidarity (values built in an anarchist society and values supported by anarchist institutions) many people wouldn’t want to do. Most people want to feel useful and productive. We’ve got plenty of free-riders now; the majority of which are caused by the way the system is set up and the society it breeds. It doesn’t have to be that way.

“Government is simply a way of codifying all the coercion that is used in a society, by deciding it into law, preferably democratically.”

Codifying, centralizing, institutionalizing, dehumanizing…. And who controls that? You? And you’re intellectual co-horts. Anarchism rejects that as against the concepts of self-management. People can control their own lives without intermediaries to leach off their production and fight wars between each other, waste their money on excess and force them to live how they want them to live. The fact that you used the word “preferably” before you used the word “democratically” shows your true colors. You’re an authoritarian and anarchists are anti-authoritarians. You and all the rest of the vangaurdists can preach all you want about how you know what’s right for the people; but we anarchists believe that we the people know for ourselves what we want, have the ability to manage our own lives and if we weren’t controlled so strongly in so many ways; we would have come to a better society based on real needs a long time ago. But don’t you worry; there will always be the tendency in us all to reassert our freedom and liberation. Through human solidarity, resistance, the building of counter institutions, we will all eventually gain our freedom.
Re: Revolution or Alienation?
02 Aug 2004
"To overcome the problem of collective action and provide public goods (see an intro econ text book and read Mancur Olson's The Logic of Collective Action)."

Yeah, I've read both Phil and the problem isn't there logic, it's the assumptions that their logic is based in. You're taking behaviors that are very context-specific (a hierarchical, institutionally racist, patriarchal , capitalist society); and assuming that they are natural behaviors. Check the differences between Thomas Hobbes and John Locke's state of nature and then take a look at what kind of things were going on at that point in history in their region The point is that behaviors, customs, modes are malleable, dynamic and ever-changing. Karl Polyani in The Great Transformation makes this point pretty well.

"To provide or regulate things like roads, public transportation, the internet, velcro, building codes, currencies, banking, radio/tv airwaves, space exploration, etc."

People (given your definition of government) don’t need an institution to legitimately coerce anyone to provide these things; people can cooperate and coordinate within their communities and between their communities to do so if they wish.

“so that mankind can engage in large, capital-intensive projects that benefit everyone, and to do it so that nobody cheats by not contributing their fair share.” Again cooperation not coersion and you’re making more assumptions about people’s behaviors including “the free rider problem”. That’s why anarchists are about cooperation, free association, direct action and social revolution.

“so that public goods can be invested in properly.” You don’t need to delegate power to others to have investments in public goods. The Anarchist Collectives, Sam Dolgoff has a lot of good examples.

Unequal distribution of resources can be overcome (in a libertarian socialist society…. Aka anarchist society) through coordinated, free solidarity through federations. Government’s only hinder this process with their borders, tariffs, military force, subsidization, etc. for the interests of the capitalists of their country.


“Governments can protect inequality, the inequality caused by unequal laboring, so that the fruits of those that labor harder are protected.”

To each according to their needs, from each according to their ability. Nobody wants people to not do their fair share. But in a society in which people’s needs are met and nobody has much more than anyone else, guilt, societal pressure and reluctance to fully share in the luxuries beyond needs would be enough assurance make sure people did their share. Of course there’d probably be people who shirked… but take a look at our world right now. How many people shirk now and what are their reasons? Usually they don’t feel any investment in their work, no connection, no control, lack of community, resentment that others are making a lot and they’re not, feeling their job is worthless, etc.

“Also, governments provide a grievance-remedial instrument: the courts. If someone is wronged by another, he can sue for compensation.
And, don't forget about the criminal justice system. Ya know, to lock up (and restore if possible) rapists and serial killers.”

Crime is either the result of unequal distribution of wealth in the capitalist system, a social reaction related to some form of hierarchy or oppression or it’s a biological disease. The diseased need treatment not prisons. Reactions to causes stop happening when you take away the causes (patriarchy, capitalism, state coercion, racism, homophobia, etc.)… which is what anarchism is all about: social revolution.

“So anytime coercion is used against anyone, I think you need a government to provide controlled, democratic coercion. Without government and law, what do you have? potentially disastrous, arbitrary forms of coercion. And if you don't have, then you have a government.”

The goal of anarchism isn’t to take away government and leave a dog-eat-dog free-for-all. It’s to replace a hieararchical, oppressive society and institutions with institutions and a society based on cooperation, free association, equality, solidarity, etc.

“Our disagreement may lie with the definition of government. I'm using Max Weber's definition of government as the organization that has a monopoly on the legitimate use of force. If an anarchist society has a way of legitmately using force, of legitimately coercing people to do things they otherwise wouldn't do, then there is a government somewhere in that society.”

Government is an centralized, institutional illusion. You don’t need to give all the power to these few people in this centralized institution (which just corrupts them) assuming that they’re going to follow you’re will and not the will of rich who corrupt them with more power, etc. The power corrupts and people get into power who are already powerful and seek to uphold that power.

“So is a violent anarchist an oxymoron? Are all anarchists supposed to be nonviolent by definition?”

The goal is to minimize force, not eliminate it (a.k.a. self-defense, destroying violent institutions, etc.). Perhaps you should say that anarchists all should be anti-violent, not necessarily (though some are) non-voilent.

“Don't many anarchists believe in using coercion to bring about an anarchist society: mainly, coercion against the ruling-class controlled state? “

I would consider that anti-violent and coherent with anarchist values.

“And say an anarchist society is achieved but someone (from inside or outside the society) decides they want to try gaining power and oppressing people. How do you stop him without coercion?”

Come on, let’s not be silly here. It’s not about giving up self-defense it’s about minimizing coercion. The person gaining power and oppressing people are the coercive offense; not the people trying to stop that coercion.

“How can you have a society without coercion? Say some guy starts raping women? People (or the woman) have to coerce the guy to stop. Say someone refuses to contribute to anything the society does but takes advantage of the food, public swimming pool, public electricity? How do you stop him without coercion?”

Of course the guy should have his ass kicked by the woman for trying to coerce her (let’s not confuse the coercive cause). If someone free decides not to contribute to society, which for lack of self-work, dignity, solidarity (values built in an anarchist society and values supported by anarchist institutions) many people wouldn’t want to do. Most people want to feel useful and productive. We’ve got plenty of free-riders now; the majority of which are caused by the way the system is set up and the society it breeds. It doesn’t have to be that way.

“Government is simply a way of codifying all the coercion that is used in a society, by deciding it into law, preferably democratically.”

Codifying, centralizing, institutionalizing, dehumanizing…. And who controls that? You? And you’re intellectual co-horts. Anarchism rejects that as against the concepts of self-management. People can control their own lives without intermediaries to leach off their production and fight wars between each other, waste their money on excess and force them to live how they want them to live. The fact that you used the word “preferably” before you used the word “democratically” shows your true colors. You’re an authoritarian and anarchists are anti-authoritarians. You and all the rest of the vangaurdists can preach all you want about how you know what’s right for the people; but we anarchists believe that we the people know for ourselves what we want, have the ability to manage our own lives and if we weren’t controlled so strongly in so many ways; we would have come to a better society based on real needs a long time ago. But don’t you worry; there will always be the tendency in us all to reassert our freedom and liberation. Through human solidarity, resistance, the building of counter institutions, we will all eventually gain our freedom.
The Contradictions of Anarchism
03 Aug 2004
"Come on, let’s not be silly here. It’s not about giving up self-defense it’s about minimizing coercion. The person gaining power and oppressing people are the coercive offense; not the people trying to stop that coercion."
how do you stop coercion? with coercion!
"Of course the guy should have his ass kicked by the woman for trying to coerce her"
ass kicking is a form of coercion!

in your anarchist society you admit that there are certain acceptable forms of coercion.

you're not an anarchist. you believe in coercion to maintain society's standards. that's government. democracy is a way for these standards (these laws) to be decided by everybody.

the anarchism you describe contradicts itself. i'd rather live in a society with a democratically elected government and explicitly written rule of law, instead of arbitrary coercions from random people who think they know what's good for me.

i think what you believe is similar. people use coercion in your society? can they use it for anything? of course not. that's law. that's government.

the only thing i'm preaching is democracy. something very similar to your "anarchism", which starts to contradict itself when you think about it.
Re: the contradictions of anarchism
08 Aug 2004
"how do you stop coercion? with coercion!
ass kicking is a form of coercion!
in your anarchist society you admit that there are certain acceptable forms of coercion
you're not an anarchist. you believe in coercion to maintain society's standards. that's government. democracy is a way for these standards (these laws) to be decided by everybody."

Phil, don't tell me what I am. I know what I believe and I know the history of anarchist thought. You do not understand what a anarchism is and what our views on something like coercion is. Here's a quote from Emma Goldman that does a pretty decent job in expressing the common sense difference between coercion and anti-coercion in a discussion of violence:

"I know that in the past every great political and social change,
necessitated violence....Yet it is one thing to employ violence in combat
as a means of defence. It is quiet another thing to make a principle of
terrorism, to institutionalise it to assign it the most vital place in the
social struggle. Such terrorism begets counter-revolution and in turn
itself becomes counter-revolutionary."

"the anarchism you describe contradicts itself. i'd rather live in a society with a democratically elected government and explicitly written rule of law, instead of arbitrary coercions from random people who think they know what's good for me."

Laws are dead letters, dehumanized, impersonal. They're either repressive or unecessary because they're common sense or easy to come to an agreement on. You're basing you're expectations of what people can and could behave like based upon what some do act like in a repressive, racist, patriarchal, capitalist, and disempowering society. That's like trying study animals at the zoo in cages and coming to conclusions on how they act in freely in nature based upon those observations.

We might want to elect people for administrative roles (you give them a task to do and they carry that through); but we don't need representatives to vote for us and appropriate funds for us and make decisions for us and imprison us and draft us and use our power generally. We can use our own power at the local level. Most decisions are administrative, non-value-laden decisions and can be taken care of the way many decisions are already taken are of: with particular groups of people taking on tasks. But large decisions on social projects should be made in local neighboorhood assemblies with everyone included. You might want to read the Anarchist Collectives edited by Sam Dolgoff (about the Spanish Revolution) to get a better understanding of how this could and has worked on a large regional scale. Of course Spain wasn't perfect; but nothing ever will be. Many of these ideas from Spain (and Russia and Israel and Argentina and other places where these kind of processes have taken place) should and must develop even beyond what occured in these locations; but these locations can serve as good examples.

"i think what you believe is similar. people use coercion in your society? can they use it for anything? of course not. that's law. that's government."

like I said people fighting coercion is different from coercing someone. Defense is different than offense. And coercion in general is not goverment. Though government is definitely coercive. Government, as you quoted Max Weber as saying, is the monopoly of the use of legitimate force. Anarchists don't think any entity claiming to represent the people should have a monopoly on the legitimate use of force; but instead the people themselves should each maintain the right of self-defense and solidaric defense of others (not offense). Many attacks on government or capitalism can be seen as defensive (though not necessarily tactical or effective) since government and capitalism are inherently institutional violent and coercive and intiate the offensives.

"the only thing i'm preaching is democracy. something very similar to your "anarchism", which starts to contradict itself when you think about it."

democracy is used in many different ways the way freedom is. Some could say pure direct democracy is anarchism; that's true. But democracy is such a loaded word that it's hard to make comparisons without confusing people. Anarchism doesn't contradict itself. It's pretty straight forward and common sensical. In fact, it was developed not by thought by by theorists observing the natural tendencies of working class people towards freedom, equality and solidarity. The only reason it's reacted against so strongly is because it's been completely misrepresented by the powers that fear it for a long time. Unfortunately, there are people who are attracted to the misrepresentation that these powers paint... which only adds to the misrepresentation and misunderstanding of anarchism. And in addition we're socialized to think and behave and assume things in certain ways that benefit the powerful and make anarchism seem undesirable or unachievable. This is done - to name a few mechanisms- through the school system, through media, through advertising, through the structure of workplace, through government institutions, through laws, and through the society that has similarly been socialized in this manner.

I guess what I'm saying is that if I were you, I'd check out some of readings on anarchism though before I judged it. Because it might not be what you think it is and it might seem more plausible if you knew what it was and how it has and can work. Here's a decent site, though it's not perfect and I don't like the aesthetic, on some traditional anarchist theory:
http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/Anarchist_Archives/
Alienation
16 Aug 2004
You ask whether Revolution or Alienation? I answer that you provided nothing but alienation. I watched you with an ironic bemused pity that you would take yourselves seriously. Many of you had not washed in days. Most of you wish that you could go back to the days of Haight-Ashbury even though your ranks are filled with those to young to remember. Or maybe you rented "HAIR" one time too many. But I digress. If you think that you could sway the hard working people of Boston to your side with such silly antics, you are mistaken. But as I think of it...I really don't know what your "side" was. What was your point? Let's face it people...This was nothing more than an excuse for you to party. You have no real agenda...except that you are against everything (including soap). How can people possibly take you seriously? You accomplished nothing except that you gave us a few laughs and plenty of overtime. If nothing else, it was fun to watch you.