Why I Broke Up with the Anarchist Community

About 5 years ago, I stopped hanging out and doing work in the anarchist community because it wasn’t meeting my needs. The community wasn’t doing the kind of work I’m most interested in, it was completely white-centric, and it tended to silence me when I got the most passionate. In short, the anarchist community in the city I was living in failed me.

But I never stopped considering myself an anarchist.

During my hardcore anarchist years, the same tiresome things kept happening. I’d attend meetings or events and realize folks were glaring at my child. There was often a palpable feeling in the air “Who is this breeder? Doesn’t she know her kid isn’t welcome?” This always made me feel like saying, “Listen, you stinky motherfucker, your impressively righteous punk patches and by-the-book taste in music notwithstanding, you don’t get to decide whose party this is, and just because you’re uncomfortable with your own parents and class privilege doesn’t mean all parents, or all kids suck. It might mean that you suck, though. Now go throw a rock at a window and call it revolution.” But I never did, probably because I didn’t feel like inviting the backlash such a comment would bring.

As time went on and I became more vocal in the community, even more tiresome things kept happening: people continued to insinuate that my mama comrades and I were expecting a handout when we suggested they offer free childcare at events, somehow white men always dominated the discussion and organizing efforts and succeeded in drowning out the voices of those they did not agree with, and in one surreal instance, I was publicly compared to Andrea Dworkin, of all people, for standing up in defense of a fellow woman organizer. Too often I felt misunderstood and marginalized. All the evidence started to add up that, as much as I loved my community, it was not the right spot for me to do my work.

Realizing that I was perpetually on the verge of a giant rant, I decided that if my anarchist community refused to grow up, it didn’t mean that I had to do the same. So I dropped out, and started many humbling years as a just-scraping-by community organizer, trying to create human-scale neighborhood solutions aimed at solving some of the problems in places I lived.

But I never stopped considering myself an anarchist, even though that affiliation would make as much sense to many of my current friends and neighbors as “card-carrying Martian”.

In fact, I am a die-hard anarchist. (This, even, from a person who refuses even to describe herself as “feminist” because she has too many disagreements with what most people consider feminism.) The one label, other than mother, that I use with comfort is “anarchist”. I fucking love the ideology of anarchism. Even if I find it hard to connect with the theory of crusty old Russians–possibly more relevant to male industrial revolution-era workers than to poor mothers of the 21st century–I will always be passionately convinced that each person deserves access to all the necessary tools to make her life what she wants it to be. That we don’t have to go knocking on some rich, educated person’s door, or tug on our congressman’s coat, to ask politely for some solutions. That everyone on earth deserves justice, and to experience the richness of human life, now, not later, and that people should be held accountable for the messes we’ve created. That is my anarchism.

I just didn’t want to spend my life arguing with the people I thought should have my back.

Let me ask a question. What percentage of anarchist events, without being asked, provides childcare? Are there any anarchist communities in the US that provide elder care? There are uncountable ways we could address these simple issues, but for some reason we’d rather read about how they did things in 1930’s Spain than develop a nuanced and sustainable plan for a truly new society in the shell of the old. Hey, I love reading about the Spanish Civil War, too, but something is off when we’d rather talk at each other about times long past until we’re blue in the face because it is so much less risky to talk than to do the hard work of making things better.

Often, we ghettoize ourselves in our comfort zones, to a point that anyone that doesn’t fit the anarchist “description” feels as out of place as a fat woman in a fashion magazine. Hell, almost every anarchist meeting or event I went to with my kid, I was given the side eye. It gets old. One guy at the infoshop refused to pass off the keys to me because he didn’t “trust” me. Well, I guess he was right, I didn’t fit into his version of anarchism: a white boys club that holds endless geekout sessions about whether the police qualify as “workers”. Count me and my kid out, thanks.

Often, our concept of what is revolutionary is not really a mature concept of true revolution. If you’ve ever thrown a rock through a window, you know what I’m talking about. It feels good, but ultimately, someone just comes and fixes that window. It would be nice to really dismantle something, or really create something lasting. We need comprehensive solutions-based thinking, because these are some big-ass problems we’re dealing with, and when the going gets tough, daddy is not going to drive up in his SUV and solve them by throwing some money around. Neither is the government, which is being eaten alive by a corporate cancer and outsourcing more and more of its most basic functions, going to be able to deal with the reality of the situation in a few years. Will we be ready the day that no water comes out of the tap, that the light switch does not make the electricity come on? Katrina was just a dry run for some of the awfulness that could happen. And not enough people see it coming.

It’s time to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

Another question: how much does a white-centric infoshop in a poor neighborhood of color really accomplish? What is the average lifespan of an anarchist infoshop anyway? I apologize for my bluntness, but please, don’t have the self-important illusion that you are really fomenting the revolution or helping anyone. Get your ass to community meetings, town hall meetings, listen, talk to people outside your comfort zone. Organize. Get yourself out of the anarchist ghetto.

Only the hard work of making things better will dismantle the current society by making it outdated and obsolete. Current “solutions” have already been obsolete for many of us: I haven’t had health insurance for 13 years. My food stamps were canceled this month. Folks, we need whole systems thinking and entire structures of mutual aid that are accessible to people who may not have social networks or anarchist caché. Where is the anarchist federation of time banks that organize community health care? Where are our anarchist restaurants with free food for poor single parents, disabled veterans and the homeless, locatable to all in the yellow pages? When the landlord raises the rent, again, where are our anarchist sanctuaries with safe, clean and cheap roomshares that are child-friendly?

We’re not doing good enough. We are too complacent.

But I never stopped considering myself an anarchist (and I can’t deny that I will always have a huge soft spot for even the most closed-minded black-flag scenesters who may not grow out of calling me a breeder). I believe, now more than ever, that anarchist principles are the answer. Every single anarchist needs to be a kick-ass community organizer–-we need to spread decentralized solutions-based thinking before it’s not too late, and fascist corporate capitalist “restructuring” solutions take over when disaster hits (like New Orleans, where I hear all of the public schools have been privatized, housing projects shuttered, and neighborhoods left to rot). We need to proactively empower our communities and brace for the coming disasters. The tidal wave will come, and we can carry on with our infoshops and punk shows, which are really comfortable, after all, or we can create accessible solutions that provide resilience for our families and our communities.

We can grow up and do more of the work that makes things better: creating community-based health care, organizing child and elder care systems of mutual support, opening intergenerational democratic free schools, turning unused properties into peoples’ art museums, planting permaculture gardens and food forests, organizing free transportation, sustainable community housing, public safety programs, anarchist conflict resolution and mediation centers, taking part in rituals that bind our community together. The possibilities are endless, and we’ve all imagined them.

Perhaps the best first step is to look for folks that have been doing this work in our communities for ages. Maybe that’s the person standing next to you at the punk show. And maybe it’s not.

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91 Comments

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91 responses to “Why I Broke Up with the Anarchist Community

  1. Melissa

    You are brilliant and awesome. Your anarchism makes me want to call myself an anarchist.

  2. kathryn

    hey amy! i’m so glad you sent me the link here, Sweet. you know, i’d like to know if you have a more detailed vision of the elder care idea. what would that look like. hmm. that definately sounds like the thing farthest out of my comfort zone. one of them anyway. as you know, here in mpls there is more effort towards including the moms around (among certain folks anyway) (move here! 🙂 ) but as always, what a vast gulf between how things could be and what they actually are.
    keep writing, stay strong x

    • 11

      The elder care idea that I think is most exciting is a time bank, where people can accrue hours for offering care, and then use those hours if at some point they need care (http://www.timebanks.org/types-of-time-banks.htm). They have a program in Japan like this (it’s actually part of the national health care system) called hurei kippu, if I’m not mistaken. People who need care consistently prefer the care offered by this system to the regular government system because the care ends up being of a high quality. The hurei kippu system also allows people to transfer their balance (hours they have accrued) to a family member in need.

      Other models I think are good to incorporate, within a community health framework: barefoot doctors, LETS.

  3. Rahula

    right on. right the fuck on.

  4. Christa

    Hello! Great piece. You commented on Farah’s piece on my blog (SDS Womyns Caucus) and she replied and mentioned reposting it on our blog…I just wanted to check in and see if that was okay.

    Obviously we would credit you and include a link back to your site…

    Let me know!
    Christa

  5. samsam

    I like that you contextualize anarchy to fit within your life and needs (and other’s). As it should be. However, you exalt it as an ideology and practice (i.e. that is different from archaic Russian male versions), possibly appropriating it, as all ideologies can be. I am by no means challenging your description of anarchy. I like it. However, I am curious why it is more fulfilling for you to do this for anarchy, and not for feminism.

    • 11

      That is a fabulous question. I think I’ve always had a high level of resentment towards the feminist movement for a couple of reasons: 1) feminism has continually thrown mothers under the bus at least since the 60s (I can provide countless examples), and 2) much of feminism doesn’t operate within an anti-capitalist framework, which I think is essential.

      There is feminist thought that I can identify with (really, feminism is so broad ideologically, it would be difficult for there not to be) but the vast majority of feminist thought, to me, is missing a large part of the point.

      I find more of what I am looking for in womanism, but as a white woman, have been reluctant to use this label.

      • Kelsey Jarboe

        We need more people like you identifying as feminists, though. I use the term “anarcha-feminist” or just “radical feminist” to distinguish myself from the mainstream baloney. Sometimes people interpret radical to mean 2nd waver, and then I’m like, “there’s this cool thing called the 3rd wave, we like moms and transfolk and people of color, give us a try!”

  6. One foot on the platform

    I used to get pretty defensive about essays like this, but then the same things happened to me. I’d like to suggest an alternative way of looking at things: I’ve broken up with the local anarchist scene, but we’re still close friends.

    When I do have interactions with the scene nowadays, I try to frame it in terms of mutual aid, rather than something that I’m “involved” with. So I do try to do volunteer childcare, hooking up anarchist projects with better resources, and providing emotional support and resources to anarchists who need help. ‘Cause yeah, if I have to go listen to another group of a dozen middle-class college kids, 2/3 of whom are men and only 1 of whom (at most) is a person of color, debate violence vs. non-violence or “insurrection” vs. “anti-oppression” (how are those two even opposed?) I shall go mad.

    So yeah, break up with the anarchist scene, let it work on its shit, but try to stay supportive and maybe someday it’ll surprise you with bread and roses too.

    • 11

      Thanks for your note. I’d say I may be in a similar boat to yours. I’ve definitely made more anarchist friends in the past one and a half years than I did for the preceding 3.5 years. I made a pretty clean break at first because, honestly, I was very disgusted with so much of what I saw over the course of a few years, in an @ scene in a very large city that was not limited to young, white 20-somethings, and should have known better, and done better, in my opinion.

      When I quit the scene, I transitioned away from a woman-led anarchist project which was really the centerpoint of my life for years. That group sort of dissolved because a lot of people geographically scattered, and it was the perfect time to move on.

      There were also a few things that happened that made me want to break ties completely with the scene. Those things involved violence, racism and suppression that I saw as semi-structural to the scene and that people were being silenced for pointing out.

      I kept a lot of friends, of course, mostly anarcha-feminists, but I stopped feeling like the anarchist community was “mine” or that it “had my back”, because it wasn’t, and it didn’t.

      Now I live in a different city, and I am comfortably associated socially and slightly through my work with different anarchist projects. I have anarchist friends, but I wouldn’t say I am in the anarchist scene. It is very scene-y in the city where I live now, and is made up of predominantly younger folks than me, and I don’t really feel as comfortable or as interested in those social gatherings. But I’m not bitter or upset about that; I’m just at a slightly different place in my life, and am more interested in other kinds of social interaction, honestly.

      So, basically, I can pick and choose very specifically how I want to interact with the @ community and I like it that way, rather than having it be “my life”.

  7. muttenchop

    I very much liked this post. I would be glad to participate in any of the suggested projects. I am responsible for many of the actions criticized. Someone else suggested you move to where they are, move here. We have three houses in southern Indiana that are open to anyone but most the people who have been here long term identify as anarchist. Many people come here and say that they want to leave because we can’t fulfill their “social needs for a scene.”, and that is a fine and understandable need. We need people who are rewarded by struggling through the everyday shit of paying bills, fighting zoning laws, feeding each other, doing house work. there are windows that need to be broke too. We will support you if you need it for that too.

  8. conatz

    Honestly, like a lot of stuff coming out of the States with the word ‘anarchism’ attached to it, it’s a reflection of a disorganized pathetic subculture that was somewhat of an entry point for me, but I quickly and thankfully left behind. Most of the terms and some of the alienating experiences I can relate to, and the critiques you lay down have been said a million times, in different times by different people in different countries.

    Your comment about ‘old Russians’ is kind of predictable, but when it comes down to it, one of the reasons you were in this situation. If anarchists suck at anything (and they suck at a lot), having a complete lack of history and being incapable of evaluating what is useful and effective are some of them.

    There’s a reason why anarchist ‘scenes’ or ‘communities’ (the fact that either exist disgusts me honestly) are made up of mostly young people. There’s a reason why many people grow out of this phase or older folks don’t stick around. The reasons go into finer organizational and tactical questions which I’m not going to get into now, but….nothing we are doing or arguing about is new….

    Anarchism is 150 years old at this point. It existed in numerous countries as large mass movements. Indeed, pre-WWI, anarchists dominated most of the world’s labor movements, and no I’m not talking just about Europe. Because of this, all these disputes and experiences of the tendency as a insular, lunatic bohemian culture versus actually sane and practical organizing and stances have existed this entire time.

    From the propaganda of the deed era of the 1870s to the rise of syndicalism at the beginning of the 20th century, you see this. Even in Spain, there were artistic individualists that would be considered ‘lifestylists’ now, who were a part of groups called ‘Sons of Whores’ or ‘The State And I’ and sniped at what I consider the sane anarchists at the time, while living an irrelevant bohemian life.

    In more recent times, if you actually are lucky enough to have older militants in your groups to tell you about the 60s, 70s, and 80s, this tension still existed between the hippies or punks who saw anarchism as a set of personal lifestyle choices to be implemented in an insular, informal grouping of individuals and people who were more serious….

    Anyway, basically what I’m saying is: Anarchism has been around for a while. It has existed as a movement on a far greater scale than currently. We are repeating past bullshit. If you don’t know your history, while unfortunate, it’s partially your own fault when you get caught up in this nonsense (although, I did too, and I sympathize). Thankfully, you seem at a point where you’ve made realizations about what passes as anarchism as being ‘bleh’.

    There are groups that do not suck though, I’m not sure where exactly you’re at but Workers Solidarity Alliance, NEFAC, Common Action, Solidarity & Defense, Miami Autonomy & Solidarity, Four Star Anarchist Organization, Buffalo Class Action are some of them here in the United States.

    • 11

      Your comment carries a lot of what makes me uncomfortable within the anarchist scene, and I am relieved that I rarely have to deal with folks that have attitudes like yours any longer.

      I have a different assessment of the groups that are interesting within the States. I’m interested in the work of APOC, the anarchist-oriented childcare collectives, SDS Womyn’s Caucus, and environmental justice groups that are doing community-based organizing coming from an anarchist perspective–to give a few examples.

      If you’ll notice, at no point in my essay do I say I’m not interested in history, or theory. Very much to the contrary (although it’s true that I become extremely impatient with people that use theory as a way to “one-up” others, and who are often completely disconnected from real struggle).

      I’m fascinated with theory, especially the writings of, about, and involving women anarchists. But certainly I don’t limit my interests to work that focuses on women.

      I’m also very informed by history. We ignore history at our peril, and much of what we are going through now has very clear antecedents that we would do well to pay attention to.

      However, all study of theory and history must be grounded in present-day struggle to maintain any relevance. Otherwise, why care? Many anarchists become caught in the past, especially when they are not involved with a community doing meaningful work.

      While anarchism, proper, under that name, originated pretty much within the past two hundred years, I feel very strongly that anarchist tendencies have existed for thousands of years, even though the specific term may have not been used. So I reject much of what you’ve just said.

      The Malagasy, the Diggers, the Dine tribe are all instances of societal modes of organization that have much in common with anarchism. Although somewhat accurate in a closed-minded way, it really makes no sense to say that the ideas of anarchism originated 150 years ago. I believe these tendencies have been present much longer than that in human societies.

      Lastly, when I reject the idea that Proudhon, Bakunin and Kropotkin have to be at the top of every anarchists’ bookshelf, so to speak, (and if not, for shame!), I am not rejecting theory at all, or history. I’m simply saying that I do not wish to venerate them, and I have difficulty reading their work. Speaking for myself, I have a much easier time connecting to, say, Women, Gender and Transnational Lives, by Donna R. Gabaccia and Franca Iacovetta, whose writing is extremely relevant to my life.

      Perhaps it’s been too long since I read good old Bakunin. Maybe I’m being too harsh on him. It can be hard to concentrate on the writings of the son of a Russian nobleman when you’re worried where your next meal is going to come from.

      • conatz

        Sorry if I came out a little strong, partially it was because I had a bad day and partially just how it is sometimes on a form of communication as inadequate as the internet and your article brought up bad memories of disorganized and painful meetings of dumbass middle class white kids.

        I do agree that the SDS Womyn’s Caucus, or what I’ve seen come out of it, is interesting. As far as the childcare stuff and the community level environmental organizing goes, I’m not aware of that too much.

        I know that APOC varies quite a bit in purpose, aims, etc., but the most visible elements of it I fail to see as differing much from the anarchist ‘scene’ that you have pretty much left behind. Perhaps the more useful elements there are quieter?

        I have rarely met any anarchists caught up in the past. Indeed, this thirst for halfassed immediate gratification amongst many of them leads to a sort of anti-historical attitude. This same thirst is a major contributor of why the demographics lack people of color, women, older folks, and those with kids.

        There have been some anarchistic tendencies, of course. Any ideology or stance grounded in human interactions is going to have some predecessors. I just think it’s a careful line to walk. All of the sudden patriarchal tribes, small Christian sects, and other things which were incompatible to anarchism are all of the sudden thrown under a large umbrella that makes the term useless when you see the undesirable and oppressive elements that are newly included.

        Also, I’m not saying reading those writers specifically is necessary. As useful as it reading about the Bakunins, Kropotkins, Goldmans, Malestestas, etc etc, it’s even more useful to read about the folks that are not as remembered as much and didn’t necessarily contribute anything in writing. What I was talking about is histories of anarchist movements and talking to militants in their 40s, 50s, and 60s. You see and learn a lot, and therefore are able to understand and react to how things are now better.

        In my experience of the ‘scenes’ and ‘communities’ you describe, this is not done. It seems political motivation is more based on opposition to ordinary people (‘squares’), rather than the system.

        Anyway, I apologize if I offended you, you seem to be a very interesting person and I look forward to any additional writing you may do.

    • Um, really? Most of those groups you mentioned are tiny and largely irrelevant, platformist relics. Did you really just post a comment on this awesome forum to make a plug for NEFAC? Ive been at those groups things; they are at least as dominated by the types of social patterns that this article is protesting as other anarchist groups and networks. Their existence is no more relevant to the world I see on a day to day basis than the punk scenes and “lifestylist” trend you identify. (Given the choice of those two false idols, I’ll choose neither!).
      What’s more, if we are to take groups like Mujeres Libres at their word, old-school syndicalist and workerist varieties (all their accomplishments not withstanding) had just as many problems, and arguably a whole lot more, with patriarchal behaviors and male dominance. I don’t see how the problem of male and white dominated space isn’t to be solved by all the the little-a anarchists out there becoming more “serious” platformists, as you say. I think these problems get solved gradually, by listening and dialoguing, and making the effort to remedy past mistakes, by being humble and vulnerable enough to admit one was wrong, being willing to make future errors as we stumble along and try to do better, being more concerned with the lived experiences of our comrades than ideology or dogma.

      • conatz

        These groups, while small, actually do and are involved in sustainable and worthwhile stuff whether its organizing tenants unions, coalition building for reproductive freedom (as opposed to ‘rights’), starting worker centers for marginal (usually immigrant) laborers, and other things. The thing is, they don’t write massive, pretentious, and impenetrable communiques describing this stuff for random internet folks nor are these projects as glorious looking or sounding as the type of spectacles that usually come to mind when we’re talking about anarchist organizing.

        As far as relevancy, maybe it’s just me, but the type of work I just described is far more useful than occasional Food Not Bombs, community gardens, poorly maintained and operated infoshops or symbolic black bloc actions and petty vandalism.

        And no, I disagree with these groups having the same problems as what the author said. Not in my experience. I can’t see any insane sentiment being expressed about ‘breeders’ or childcare looked at as too much to ask. In addition, I’ve never come across the type of ridiculous attitudes on race and class that I have in the anarcho-punk scene.

        Now, are there social patterns replicated within these groups that are undesirable? Well, sure, I’m sure there are, just like there are in every single grouping of people that exist or will ever exist. Can they be addressed and/or combated in an effective way? I think much more so than in the anarcho-punk scenes.

        I don’t think you can make a judgment call on male ‘old school syndicalists’ (as opposed to new school?) or ‘workerists’ (are you talking about the Italian autonomists or just speaking in pejoratives?) attitudes, based on what the Mujeres Libres said. At least not a literal comparison. Obviously, the class struggle folks in the United States of today are not going to be the same as those in Spain in the 1930s. With them (as well as all classical anarchist stuff), it isn’t a cookie cutter analysis or solution that can be applied to every situation, regardless of the context or time. It’s more useful as something broader to understand that informs how you see the present and the differences there are.

        As for the ideology or dogma part…..the whole ‘workin on our shit’ thing often becomes exactly that. Certainly, how oppressive attitudes, actions and communication are reproduced within groups of people that are against them should be seriously looked at (and not just paid lip service to), but it also can become an obsessively inward looking separatist thing that has no purpose to be, other than making 5 people the most perfect and pure anti-racist and anti-sexist people on the face of the anarcho-planet.

        Again, this is all based on my experience, but as a Latino working class male, I feel things such as race, class and gender are sanely addressed with the milieu I’m in favor of and if not, the dialogue is respectful and constructive towards making it so. I did not have this experience with the anarcho-punk/hipster scene. What I saw was either blatant disregard and denial of racial, class and gender issues in favor of an implicit white, middle class, 20 something male united front or a problematic obsession and tendency for self-marginalization on the issues of race and gender.

  9. RanDomino

    it seems pretty pathetic that folks are still experiencing this kind of rude treatment, even after at least several years of these complaints being made. Isn’t the everyday what’s most important in Anarchism?

  10. a

    Great article.

    I am right there on the same page with ya!

    My only problem is, that after doing the usual anarchist stuff, and subsequent years of doing the community organizing work, I have come to the conclusion that we can’t just “build the alternatives” because we are constantly struggling and scraping for the resources to make those alternatives real and sustainable. The problem is that capitalism has a logic of constant expansion, and attempts to either incorporate our projects and recuperate their revolutionary potential in exchange for funding (ex.- women’s shelter history), or destroys it through withholding resources if we are unwilling to compromise. I recently tried to explain this to someone in the context of the recent CA university occupation movement. He wanted folks to drop out and make an anarchist free school instead, but I think we both know where those projects usually go (nowhere). I tried to explain that by taking over, expropriating the university’s resources, and stopping the university’s functioning, the people involved in the university already then have both the means and the disruption necessary to create something different. We will never get excellent professors to teach at our backyard free school for free, as long a university is going to pay them. So in disrupting capitalist use of those people and resources, we open the possibility to their re-shaping in better ways…. So, your ideas, like childcare, elderly care, etc… are necessary and vital. They already exist as capitalist enterprises, and if we convince the people who work there to occupy them and run them in an anarchist way we will be able to be more successful than starting our own, with our lack of resources and capitalism’s monopoly on the time of the people who already do that work.

    Admittedly, it is not as easy as making either a service-providing recuperated institution or a badly-resourced anarchist institution, but it seems like the only way to me….

    • 11

      I love the points that you make.

      I’m all for disrupting capitalist use of the resources, but I think it has to be done strategically and in a concerted way, otherwise individual efforts will likely be crushed.

      This idea of yours: “if we convince the people who work there to occupy them and run them in an anarchist way” is a bit unwieldy to me. I’m not quite sure how I would go to the day care center down the block and convince them to disrupt their whole structure, kick out their boss, and become a worker-owned collective. I mean, I would love for that to happen, certainly! But I’m not sure that it would be a good use of my time–I don’t think there’s a good chance that that would work too well. It seems to me that people need examples so they can then decide to follow them, themselves.

      One thought: unfortunately, I don’t think many anarchists have our shit together enough to know how to run something with any longevity. As someone who has been “in charge” of organizations and large projects (and who dislikes being in that position) it becomes clear that it takes a lot of skills gained over time to know how make a project work, even collectively. If there’s anything I have learned over the years, it’s that good intentions are not enough. We need to understand–why do anarchist projects so often fail from internal problems, disorganization, etc etc? I would not really want to hand the car keys of this society over to your run-of-the-mill anarchists (not that I want this society to be in capitalist hands either) until we get that figured out in practice. I’m not really sure what the answer is–we can probably do an equal amount of expropriating resources/structures and creating our own from scratch. Most importantly, I think we should all get real, buckle down, and discipline ourselves so that each of us has a large range of skills, organizational experience, and something concrete to offer in our communities.

      The last point you make about the capitalist monopoly on time becomes less and less salient as unemployment and underemployment are rising. In the town I live in now, most skilled people are not employed in the line of work they were trained for. Most unskilled people are out of work. Even the idea of “work”, as it has been considered for 100-200 years (an occupation that you go to, a job, that provides you benefits) is becoming obsolete. This, to me, is a very promising development.

      Also in terms of redefinitions, I think we need to re-evaluate what the word “resources” actually means. We have let capitalism define what that word means for too long. In a capitalist economy, you need money, that’s the bottom line for everything. and you need to extract your resources in a way that’s both immediately and eventually harmful. As capitalism breaks apart, we are beginning to have some alternatives.

      I’m an adherent of permaculture because it is a solutions-oriented approach to the question “how the hell are we going to get through the next 15 years without way too many people suffering?”. There are definitely issues within the U.S. permaculture movement (classism , to name one) but the systems of thought are good and helpful.

  11. Tyler Durden

    There are a lot of things to critique about a lot of the anarchist communities. I also prefer to venture outside radical circles and try to agitate and listen for how we can get out of this mess.
    But let’s not fool ourselves either, we haven’t succeeded yet, but all the failure doesn’t just belong to us.
    In the context of a minority of the population trying to change the world, all the blame cannot fall on our shoulders only.

    You ask:
    “What is the average lifespan of an anarchist infoshop anyway?”
    And that question reminds me of a quote that always comes back to me:
    “Underground presses cannot survive in capitalist society… they are created only *in order to destroy* capitalist relations.” – Fredy Perlman

    You said that
    “we need whole systems thinking and entire structures of mutual aid that are accessible to people who may not have social networks or anarchist caché. Where is the anarchist federation of time banks that organize community health care? Where are our anarchist restaurants with free food for poor single parents, disabled veterans and the homeless, locatable to all in the yellow pages? When the landlord raises the rent, again, where are our anarchist sanctuaries with safe, clean and cheap roomshares that are child-friendly?”

    And I agree, we need it to. And there are some trust fund anarchist kids out there, but overall – we do not have access to that kind of support systems either, and that’s part of the problem.
    That’s why we lash out *to the extent that we can*, because we are ultimately still just as powerless in this society – but WE want more too.

    I can barely make rent most of the time, and in my spare time I read and dream of a different world, sometimes scamming copies to share these ideas with others.

    Also, alternatively, where is the public who share the same problems we face when our houses get raided pre-emptively, when we face police brutality, when we are harrassed and kept under surveillance?

    We can continually blame ourselves constantly, or realize that there is a very complex problem that leaves us all feeling powerless in the end. So I am continually asking myself, how can we let other people recognize that we all share these same problems and that we can fight together, and at the same time how can we build more power for ourselves and our communitities, how can we take more from the rich bastards to sustain ourselves, and keep it?
    There isn’t a single answer, many projects must be undertaken to rob from the rich and sustain ourselves, but perhaps me and you should also march back into those anarchist circles and speak our minds and not let our voices be silent, because hey, these days our never coming back and I don’t want to die in a capitalist society either.

    • 11

      “How can we build more power for ourselves and our communities?”

      You’ve asked the essential question I’ve been poring over for years. I’m not interested in doing work that has no longevity and can be easily undermined or co-opted. I have no desire to see something I’ve been working for, for years, fall apart. So I’ve been focusing on power-building and counter-institutional work that has a measurable, tangible effect and is done on a manageable scale. It’s important for me to feel like I’m not wasting my time, and this approach has been working well.

      • Simon Magus

        >So I’ve been focusing on power-building and counter-institutional work that has a measurable, tangible effect and is done on a manageable scale.

        Specifics? I’m interested in hearing if the reality lives up to the hype.

      • My past isn’t anarchist but my life is heading towards … something akin to what you’ve been writing about here. Excellent post. It’s important for me to feel like I’m not wasting my time, too. I’d love to read specifics of what you’re involved in.

  12. I love this post and all the respectful points made. I think it’s good when there is constructive criticism of issues with in anarchist scenes that don’t sound really jaded and spiteful. Would it be alright if I reposted this post at punk rock permaculture e-zine? I also invite the author to contribute anytime if interested! Great Job!

    ~evan (@gaiapunk)

    I write at http://www.punkrockpermaculture.com

  13. Peter

    I wish you all luck! Keep going!

    Love from Sweden!

  14. Simon Magus

    Did you try to set up your own childcare thing at the anarchist rallies and maybe set a precedent? SOMEBODY has to do it, it seems appropriately anarchic for the first person to ask to be the one to volunteer.

    • 11

      My friend, for years…and years…and years I’ve been organizing childcare, providing resources to those who need to know how its done, creating literature explaining how to set up childcare and advocating for an intergenerational radical movement (not just childcare but engaging resources and fun for youth of all ages), putting pressure on events and conferences to offer childcare, and working as a childcare volunteer. I’m happy to say that the organizing of many people in this area has paid off in *some* communities–there has really been a visible change since the 1990s with regards to this. However, it is my opinion that we are still in the dark ages with this one.

      One point: many organizing around these issues hold the view that it is not parents’ jobs to be the primary organizers of childcare, since that is what they do day in and day out. Ally-based support needs to exist in our communities and others besides parents need to know how to operate childcare and activities for youth. It takes a village and alla that.

      Can I also point out that many faith-based communities and other left movements have got anarchism SO beat when it comes to offering resources for families. Do we really want to let this happen?

      With regards to your other comment–I would be happy to email you to describe my work projects.

      • Simon Magus

        >One point: many organizing around these issues hold the view that it is not parents’ jobs to be the primary organizers of childcare, since that is what they do day in and day out. Ally-based support needs to exist in our communities and others besides parents need to know how to operate childcare and activities for youth. It takes a village and alla that.

        Sometimes, I think collectivism’s association with anarchism is incidental at best, unwelcome at worst. But you have a point.

        And yes, I’d love to hear about your projects.

      • Simon Magus

        And what DO anarchists generally do for education?

      • I am a Christian anarchist and anti-poverty with child services has been my priority. Why is it “us against them”? There is a lot of anti-patriarchal, anti-oppressive social justice going on in some churches/ denominations. Student Christian Movement is an organization that does work in this regard.

        • 11

          An excellent point. I wish all faith-based communities were concerned with liberation and social justice. Thank you for the work that you do.

          (Couldn’t post this within the discussion above, but it’s in response to Jared’s comment: “I am a Christian anarchist and anti-poverty with child services has been my priority. Why is it “us against them”? There is a lot of anti-patriarchal, anti-oppressive social justice going on in some churches/ denominations. Student Christian Movement is an organization that does work in this regard.”)

  15. Simon Magus

    >Can I also point out that many faith-based communities and other left movements have got anarchism SO beat when it comes to offering resources for families. Do we really want to let this happen?

    I’m hearing conflicting stories. On Reddit, one guy’s talking about how every event he’s gone to has had childcare of some sort or another.

    • Simon Magus

      Oh wait, he said “nowadays.” So you might have been more instrumental than you realize in bringing about change. Good for you!

    • 11

      I’m really glad to hear that. I would be so happy to be proven wrong on this point. And I’d love to know what city he’s in. From what I hear, MPLS is doing very well with this. Really because the organizers there kick ass and have been working on this for years. To give an example.

      Childcare is also the bare minimum that we need in order to be working towards a multi-generational family-friendly movement. This isn’t about parents wanting people to do shit for them, it’s about creating the infrastructure that needs to exist in a society–kids need a school or an alternative to school, and plenty of other things too.

    • Hi there.

      I just feel this text as if it was mine. Thank you for that.
      Montessori education is a pretty good answer. I truly believe that independence and autodidactism are a key.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montessori_method

      I am not a teacher, I try to do the best with my own kids and I also try to put my work on the benefit. I am an architect (I am French but living in Australia), and now working for children. I hope that one day I will work in schools with them, in specific structures. I believe that we need to offer them a real and great taste of arts and architecture.
      http://atelier-made-in-oz.blogspot.com/

      I truly believe that our job, to us anarchist mothers around the world and of course parents and so fathers is the base of the tomorrow world. We need to educate our children in this way.

      All the best to you all, and again thank you for sharing this.

      • 11

        Thanks for your comments! I’m interested to look further into what you are working on. I think the idea of school itself is an industrial era institution that is becoming obsolete. I’m very interested in looking at new models for education, specifically intergenerational education, bringing back apprenticeship models and creating schools that double as community centers, like you saw in Spain leading up to the Spanish Civil War. Also of course the ideas of Paolo Freire.

        I love working with children and I see the most important work as being with the younger generations, so I think that we agree completely. Thanks for your note; I look forward to checking out your links. Please keep in touch!

  16. (A)

    I really, really appreciate this. I don’t literally come from the same situation as you (younger, non-parent) but your words are coming from the same place I’ve felt for the last six years working (and not working) with other anarchists. It’s incredibly frustrating how little ‘anarchists’ are involved in shit that matters.
    I just read this post with my friend, and we both (anarchists) found it upsetting primarily because of how much it resonates with us.
    Thank you for this post!!

    • 11

      I’m sorry to hear that. I am hearing from many places that things have not changed in the past five years. This is upsetting to me also. If we can not do better in our own communities, we have no right to say society would be better off run according to our ideas.

  17. D

    Really love this and will share it. I feel thankful to live in a small town with an @ community that is close to 50% over 30 and where a lot of us are involved in real community organizing. It’s not up to the quality of what you are describing yet but a lot of us are into the permaculture thing and many of us are doing a lot of listening and community building in the poor rural areas around us to face off the gas and oil companies effectively – door to door and scrambled eggs at the fire hall kind of stuff. And we DO have childcare (usually). We also seem to be more influenced by work done by feminists and radicals of color than a lot of other white anarchists we encounter (incite!, critical resistance, APOC).

    I triple twinkle on that point about building skills. I encourage every anarchist to volunteer for things that give you solid training: free hunter education classes, volunteer ambulance squads, crisis hotlines, women’s shelters, master gardener and master composter programs at the local cooperative extension, rock it out! I’m sure in larger cities there’s a lot more available like this. You can learn so many awesome skills for free that will make you grow as a person, meet more people in your community, grow your capacities and capabilities, connect you to more resources and make anarchist projects more grown up.

    Also, I think it’s time we recognize that growing up isn’t the problem, it’s the bullshit that this society tells us about growing up that is the problem. Grow roots! Take on responsibility and learn to do it well. Be solid and reliable and impeccable in your relationships.

  18. Awesome post. There is something seriously wrong with an anarchist event without childcare. If “anarchists” blow you off, then that group of people isn’t worth your time. Diversity is a must for anarchist groups. We NEED mothers!

    I was just in a discussion over “breeding” (what a stupid fucking term). One of my responses relates to this topic:

    “I don’t think it is my choice whether or not to reproduce because I’m not technically the one doing the reproducing. It is the right of a woman to decide how to use her own body. Frankly she doesn’t have to give a damn about what I think.

    Secondly, the whole “breeding” language is extraordinarily racist (not you, the link) and insensitive to history. For years white people have referred to nonwhites as “breeding.” That is just semantics yes, but the racism goes much deeper. This stance against reproduction is, by and large, held by white people. How fucking selfish is for us white people to tell the rest of the world to stop reproducing. Western imperialism at its best…”We’ve fucked you over for years guys, and you have fought a good fight. Sorry to tell you though, you’ve gotta give up this human existence thing. Don’t worry, it’s in the planet’s best interests. Us whites know, we always do.”

    THAT is what I hear when someone talks about shit like this.

    Now if you have said WHITE people should not reproduce, I would agree. Then again, it’s not my choice so it doesn’t fucking matter. In general though, I would prefer not to further add to the privilege pool.”

    • 11

      I think I’m going to work on an essay about the notion of population control, who gets to have kids and who doesn’t,why people use terms like “breeding”, etc. Thanks for your comments! I agree with most of what you said, except that I’m happy to see anyone reproduce that is committed to sustainable organizing and solutions-building. I’m excited about the work youth are doing now and really appreciate how solutions so often come out of the younger generations, not us old folks!

  19. T.E. Dori

    I would like to say first and foremost, super good article. I always thought it was interesting how in practice “anarchist communities” so often functioned in some form of cultural isolation. In my experience folks who feel isolated from dominant culture try to find their own music, politics, businesses, spaces, etc. (which i don’t think is culturally isolationist by itself). But looking at anarchist communities in North America for the last 20 years, i see a lot of leadership roots in punk rock, and what we would define now as more insurrectionary parts of the movement. Both of these tendencies i feel attract a really specific group of people who feel isolated from dominant culture. And for me, like attracts like. So folks who like punk rock, having 6 hour meetings about nonsense that provide space for privileged people to talk over others, not providing space for mothers, etc. tends to attract like. And it marginalized all others, which continued the trend of cultural isolation.

    And here i feel is where the problem lies. I saw anarchists who advocated anti colonial, anti oppressive, identity power, community power, or just plain empowering anarchist community instead of advocating white male cisgendered middle class euro centric anarchist scenes, were individually or as groups going through a crisis each time they participated in spaces where they felt marginalized or silenced.
    Is this worth it? Why should i continue to put myself in this position? And i and it sounds like you, and many others said ah hell no, we can continue doing organizing in are other communities and not go through this bullshit.
    But where did that leave anarchist movement? Is it worth it to identify with anarchist movement? Whats the benefits/negatives? If we don’t identify with anarchist movement, how will we organize “the anarchist federation of time banks that organize community health care”… “anarchist restaurants with free food for poor single parents, disabled veterans and the homeless, locatable to all in the yellow pages”… ” anarchist sanctuaries with safe, clean and cheap roomshares that are child-friendly”? And if we do begin to identify in anarchist movement again, what will we need to do to create a safer more open community?

    I got involved in anarchism during middle school organizing. That was 10 years ago. Your experience about dropping out of the anarchist community, continuing to scrap as a community organizer and still politically being an anarchist is super fucking relevant. I feel that way, and i have seen so many people go down the same route, if they didn’t just say “fuck it”, feeling so burned by the whole experience, to never do organizing again.

    I really glad you bring up the importance of community organizing. A thousand FNB’s but how many anarchist community organizing 101’s? Like attracts like.

    I hope you keep writing, it resonates with me and from the responses a whole lot of other folks.

    • 11

      Your words add a lot to the discussion; thank you for reading the essay and taking the time to comment. Everything you said gives me lots to think about!

  20. mamajen

    So refreshing to see intelligent and constructive discussion instead of the usual bullshit. Great work, 11.

  21. michaelweber

    as a 23 year old straight white male anarchist who loves punk rock…holy shit. thank you. I never could have said any of that because I have no place or experience to speak from…but thanks so much. That was perfect.

  22. D

    Thank you for the great editorial

  23. PragueInSpring

    Thank you.

  24. You inspire me. Thank you.

  25. Hey,
    I found this text through infoshop.org and translated it to Finnish few days ago. The translation can be found at http://takku.net, which is a collectively run anarchist newsmedia, discussion forum and archive. I hope you don’t have anything against us passing this text to our readers. To me it feels like some troubles you’re writing about are common also here. Thank you for this inspiring and thought-provoking text!
    -Maija

    • 11

      I have absolutely no problem with that, and thank you so much for making it available to your community. Please keep in touch~

    • 11

      Maija, I just read the comments on your translation and they were all really interesting. I appreciate you sharing it and letting me know about it!

      Kiitos paljon!

      • maija

        Ole hyvä!

        I still hadn’t had the time to go through ALL the comments here, but I’ll try to read them since I think this subject and any discussions about it is very crucial for us to go through.
        I find your approach to anarchism, identity and the culture of “activism” very similar to the one that I am interested in advocating. Hence I took the time to translate another text from you, Don’t Say You Didn’t See It Coming. We’re soon about to publish a paper version of the more timeless articles published recently in takku.net, and I’d like to put one of your texts in it, too, if you’re down with that.

    • 11

      Maija, please go ahead and republish any of my writings from this blog, either in print or online, with my thanks!

  26. Don Nadie

    Despite not being a parent or female, there is so much in your writings that pop right out of the screen and massage my jaded brain.
    I do, however, feel like I don’t belong within the groups I have approached in the New England region. And, sadly, I wish it was as simple as having this uneasiness being the product of me having a respectable amount of pigmentation on my skin. It is not, for if I can handle(so far) a Neo-whatever or uneducated,biased coworkers, I sure can handle malnourished pseudo-anarchist arts majors who might sneer at my lifestyle choices. At first, I would do as I was used to do, and point out the things I disagreed with or demand that I’m not bundled into labels, or even that anarchist or not, some kind of decorum /protocol be observed when interacting with others within the community(more specifically,what is written. But I learned the hard way that the only ones around here allowed to do so and are perfectly able to get away with abusive/sexist/mean-spirited behavior are,sadly the self-labeled feminist liberationists(is that the term?)By the way, not that I wanted to act in that matter. It got so bad for me that,in a half baked moment of um, lucidity, I wrote something using the same protocols in an attempt to let them see how they come across. Needless to say, that created the biggest unity call for what’s wrong with patriarchy, and all the rest of humanity’s ills. But of course, it was unity S. Palin’s style.
    I resist to believe that this attitudes are simply an East Coast vs. West Coast thing that I’m not familiar with, for there are many other factors.
    As it has been written here before, the lack of real connections with the world at large by most of the anarchist community is appalling. Then there is the starry-eyed daydreaming about the past, Euro centrism, 99% disdain for any movement that does not have the approved kosher seal of Circle A-vegan-biker-dumpster diving, even Mac Books(subtly, but there),etc.
    It could be that it’s just me, and I just naturally suck at cultism or partisanship,and therefore don’t deserve to be part of their tribe.
    I come from a culture where the only choice that the bulk of the population for countless generations had was to live in a communal setting, since the authorities would only function as tribute collectors and to round up able-males to fill the ranks of the military and “police”. But since we don’t label it anarchism, it doesn’t apply to what’s presented in the workshops and info whatever. I have tried to pass it along, but you can’t really force this segment of the population to read anything, can you? Truth be told, sometimes the bulk of these bumping head cases fall on the lap of a selected few highly stubborn individuals that despite the fact they have their hearts inthe right place, their people skills are pretty much non-existent, and conflict ensues every time they utter a “smart” quip. I can live with it or at least point it out when I approach them later on, but most others won’t. And I used to think that it was expected, since most folks involved in this are in their early 20’s at best, and have never travel abroad to witness other realities. But then I have tried older fellows, and there I encounter an often professorial attitude, not just towards me and my accent, but to anyone who dares to ask follow up questions after events discussing topics of their interest. As a whole, there were actions taken to observe what happened in Greece, but were completely unaware of countless raids on their non-citizen neighbors. Honduras? ” I don”t know the details, but I’m not supporting a move to reinstall a President”. Chiapas and Oaxaca are worshiped, yes, but that is a window way too narrow. The big picture is so so missing. A toothache doesn’t materialize overnight out of thin air. And while on the subject, for those out there, I heard of folks going down there from the states and Europe bemoan on how they felt ignored or ostracized by the locals despite the fact that they have come from so far to help them liberate themselves. What I can say to that is that anarchist history does not encompass all history, and is often a very localized account of a few regions of the globe, written by folks that lived it out of principle and not sheer necessity.
    To ignore the baggage that comes from knowing folks that look like you have inflicted countless offenses to them should be downright stupid. Some woman from Spain told me once: “they have no idea what I had to sacrifice to get there, to the revolution in the streets, just to be frowned upon when I tell them where I’m from, such ingrates, it’s unforgivable…”
    And yet, that helps me define myself and I struggle to be stupidly oblivious to what comes out of knowing abuse to women being implemented in nearly every single human society in history , because at one point I felt that way when I tried to work with feminist groups who shooed me away for being heterosexual and not a female. Having one of them post (copy/paste, really)things like the infamous “Shut the fuck up” paper or writing things like: ” near all sexual crimes are committed by males , therefore every single male I know is a near sure potential abuser/rapist…” Don’t get me wrong, there some validity in that, but we are all unofficial ambassadors to our personal causes, so some kind of finesse or speech polishing ought to apply in order to push our agenda forward and not act like the virulent born-again trying to convert you that makes you wanna burn a bible, specially among peers from other fights, no?
    On your breeder point, I chose that term when asked what I wanted to be labeled, apparently a move created to make folks in the trans gender setting feel welcome. Why did I choose that? Because I know that when I turn my back, it applies to me according to their beliefs. Besides , it was not an opt out, and I’m way past caring what they wanna call me, maybe too old for that. I know I extrapolate a lot and I apologize for that, but there is so much that I wish I could discuss openly here in town. Sadly, there is no forum for that. So many things. Palestine, working/non-working, alcohol/dry, humanism/gaia.
    Oh, and I loved and agree with Chris Osborn’s reply, except for the whites shouldn’t breed part. It is safe here, but to an untrained eye it might come as “self-hate , and god forbid you hate your own, is unbecoming, plus you are supposed to reproduce, for it is written in the good books”. To me, his logic is valid. I feel him indeed and am sorry someone like him has to carry the burden of his ethnic peers. Lastly, I seen this local Anarcho-feminist look in disgust at every chid that come anywhere near her. I knew of this, but it left me speechless and actually hurt when I finally saw it myself. Thank you for speaking out.

    • 11

      I’m reading and re-reading your comments. Thanks so much for taking the time to write it all out. Sometimes there is a lot that needs to be said.

      Many things I have heard point to a need for a forum in which we do not have to apologize for or excuse our arguments repeatedly, which is so tiring and unnecessary. I would support the creation of such an online forum to help support a broader discussion.

  27. Don Nadie

    I would like to publish at least part of it in a local newsletter. Would that be ok?

  28. 11

    Inadvertantly found a comment that I made around the time I started to back off from the capital A anarchist community. It helps me to remember where my head was at back then:

    “one thing that i have been seeing lately is a lot of local fallout due to the actions of predatorial, abusive and clueless men. and we, as a community, seem to have no methodical way of dealing with situations and people that are problematic. it ALWAYS seems to get swept under the rug or dealt with poorly. i feel like, for whatever reason, so many people i know are totally unable to confront/discuss/address issues in the community when it gets interpersonal and relationships between people might be called into question. i know that makes little sense but hope you know what i’m talking about. like it’s just much easier for people to pretend it didn’t happen than to take steps to fix it. and also that it’s much easier for people to be focused on some social problem possibly outside of themselves and possibly outside of their community than to be tangled up in something that is too close to home for comfort.”

  29. Don Nadie

    I’m hearing about what came out of the NEAN gathering in Philly this last weekend. There is a document/statement regarding the (by far, mostly) male-praying-on-female subject. And the news trickling out of it tells me that the much mentioned male to female ratio, for this particular subject at least and those that keep tabs on it as a gauge on how things get done or conducted, was a solid 50/50. It is sooo good to hear for me cuz the person I’m hearing this from is in a boat that is nearly flawlessly identical (sic) to mine. Knowing that the tireless, skeletal crew that keeps things running for the movement in my local scene haven’t stopped trying to, not just keep things afloat, but moving it forward as well, makes my noir/scarlet little heart unbristle and begin to glowingly hum with happy vibes.
    Y’all will read/hear of it soon. It is my hope that it could be the case that orgs. not affiliated with NEAN might also take this “official” position as their own , or at the very least as a basis for their own policy on this matter. Also, the upcoming projects and working groups that were set up at the gathering promise an awesome break in the clouds, and what I’m hearing makes it seem like things aren’t just pacing along, but that a maturing process seems to be taking hold despite the constant setbacks and heartbreaks in the local/regional scene.
    Note to self: See, good things happen too!

  30. Crustin

    Hi there,
    I have a few things I would like to say. First, it’s really awesome to see people discussing issues of child care within the anarchist community. My wife works with kids occupationally, so she is really interested in creating a community which is willing to give free childcare and to be interactive with the development of children.
    I would also like to comment secondly on the point brought up about religious organizations that offer free childcare and other family resources and what the issues I see with these. Generally when I am witness to religious organizations providing services, it seems as though they try to add on the stipulation that you need to become active within their church.
    Also, someone mentioned above that it’s a woman’s choice to reproduce if she wants. I was thinking about it earlier, and it seems to me as though men looking down on women who has children is very parallel to the dominant cultures way in which it looks down on women for having abortions. While I think that population is out of control, I think the expectation that everyone is going to just stop having children is the same expectation that everyone will just begin to believe in God.
    Anyhow…

  31. privileged_but_conscious

    I really liked this article. I think it captures just how exclusive this white boys club can be at times. And yeah, even though many of you may have awesome diverse communities of your own, I live in an area where white straight men make up probably 60-70% of the movement. And let me say, I’m a white cis-male that has always identified as straight.

    I shared this blog post on my FB and was sort of surprised to read the comments some people replied to it with. I say sort of because I thought these were awesome people and I didn’t expect their privilege to show through. But raise it’s ugly head it did, indeed.

    Hyperbole, name-calling, word-twisting, and completely unfounded claims are how some of these people reacted while others just ignored relevant or even critically important parts of your post and then proceeded to spew individualistic BS I’d expect from straight white male punks without kids.

    The people who did seem to get it tried repeatedly, as did I, to emphasize how hostile the environment was to parents (but especially women) to organize and how it’s hard to organize childcare when you need childcare to have the time to organize it…

    Our attempts did not get through. “Lazy”, “whining”, “looking for a hand-out”, and “divisive” were all things the privileged didn’t mind repeating again and again…

    I want to ask you this: If you can’t talk sense into someone who is blinded by privilege, what do you do? We tried pretty hard, and these men aren’t stupid… They’re just really dismissive, defensive, and rude. And if that’s behavior that’s not divisive, I dunno what is.

    I want to keep working with these people considering the low numbers in our area but maybe I shouldn’t tolerate people like them, especially considering the things said about tolerating people being a horrible insult in Against The Logic of Submission? Maybe I SHOULD be finding ways to organize without them, since I would rather they not scare off any parents…

    Ideas?

    • 11

      My initial response is simple: sign up, even just for a little while, for the @ parenting listserv (not very high traffic). It’s about the most together group of @ people I have seen on a listserv together. I have been on it for years, the discussion is always super helpful (and I think would be very useful in terms of the questions you are asking right here). It is a great sounding board with lots of mature, reasonable people, many of whom have been working in the community for years upon years.

      The listserv is here: http://lists.mutualaid.org/mailman/listinfo/a-parenting

      I think there is always room for people to get a clue, but it depends on your capacity to deal with the bullshit in the meantime. Encouraging clueless groups of people to get a clue is hard work, to me, kinda like shit-shoveling. It can be hard on the mental health as someone who is directly affected by the bullshit. But it’s necessary for people to get a clue. Honestly, and I hope this doesn’t sound insulting given what I’ve just said, I think it’s appropriate work for a white man to be doing (raising consciousness about the need to be inclusive in all ways, among other white men). You sound like you would be good at it.

      Please keep in touch!!

      • privileged_but_conscious

        Thanks for the advice! I’ll make good use of it and you are absolutely correct: It IS appropriate work for a white man to be doing, in my opinion.

  32. Alan

    There are actually so many of us out here with such similar ideas. I remember before even knowing what anarchism meant, I would express my true feelings to people and surprisingly most if not all agreed with me. But where I live in England it`s a so called newtown we are very mixed here from all walks of life yet we share the same ideas. A motto that is used here “if you want a job doing then do it yourself” and we do. Police are rarely involved in anything here anymore as people realise that we are more liable to get the job done ourselves. Our “newtown” has been mentioned on the news in the past known as “Godless Telford” well yeah we are and we are actually happier that way. It`s not to say that we don`t have problems from time to time as with anywhere we do get trouble and the odd racist/sexisthomophobic kind of remarks but to be truthful they are usually from people who have recently arrived in our town. They quickly realise we do not tolerate childish behaviour like that and they are either attacked or shunned. If you would like to see my hometown then just Youtube “Godless Telford” you may even get it from my Youtube account (LoveAntifa). Anyways I loved the post and could not agree more, besides we do things on a trade system also such as if I do not want it I give it to somebody that does and they return the favor 🙂

  33. Alan

    There can not be faith anarchists! Why do you think we use the term “No Gods no masters”? Note the first part of that term it means ALL Gods. There is no compromise for this and true anarchists are getting quite tired of anarchist wannabes who still follow a master (God) because no matter how you look at it he is a master!

    • privileged_but_conscious

      While I’m an atheist myself and have been for years, after growing up in an evangelical Christian family, I don’t think it’s very useful for people like us to go around declaring that people aren’t true anarchists as long as their actions do not dominate, coerce, or exploit people. Whatever people believe in regards to metaphysics or magical thinking has no affect on anyone – what DOES affect others is whether or not a person thinks its ok to dominate, coerce, or exploit someone.

      I don’t care if you believe cheesecake is the body of Zaruthustra; as long as you don’t oppress me or anyone else, we don’t have a problem.

      Furthermore, it’s particularly distressing that after reading a whole article (I hope you did) on how anarchists need to make a much better effort to be more inclusive you chime in with this “true anarchists” stuff. Your comment added nothing useful to the debate on the existence of God(s) nor is it likely to make anyone think twice about whether they should believe too. Honestly, I don’t know what it could have been intended to do.

      That aside, I completely agree with the arguments made by anarchist atheists. But could we please stay respectful of others, regardless of what you think about their beliefs?

  34. Anton

    Yes and yes. I have a friend who talks about how with their rejection of any “establishment” rules, even meeting rules of order, she found many of the activist orgs of her experience ended up being run by the loudest most aggressive and often manipulative alpha males. I’ve encountered that and one promising organization I helped establish was destroyed by it. I will not work with an organization that does’t have meetings where the quiter set are regularly solicited for their thoughts and where moderators keep the alphas, male or female, from dominating because that’s totally antithetical.

    Children happen and that’s not bad but good if anything is. Yes, even if Hillary’s a sadistic capitalists pig it does take a village to raise a child so lets really do that. Elder care too is foresightful and real “real politics”. We want universal access to social organization and function and we’re going to make that hard for child or elder caregivers? An anarchist or socialist community that isn’t supportive of the continuity of life is missing an essential of the whole point of their reason for existence.

    Good Article!

    • 11

      Thanks for your comments. I’m in total agreement.

      I’ve realized something very obvious, which is that calling oneself an anarchist is really not always a good indicator of one’s politics in action.

  35. kay

    I came across your amazing mind speak while reading the Civil Disobedience page on Facebook. There are many traditions/groups that encompass some level of human & are of interest to me, but none that are practical & functional against the sheer size of the current population. Perhaps because most groups are dismantled from within as their voice begins to be heard. For what it’s worth, I am interested in the puzzle of creating a larger solution, and would welcome an online discussion of same.
    I think I was born an anarchist, and have much to say about the FEELINGS of living in a controlled, mechanized social order. I would not impose all that negative experience on another unless they signed up for it! So I will leave this reply short & say simply, thank-you for speaking your passion & authentic humanity.

  36. Pingback: Damek.» Blog Archive » Some Mildly Related Things

  37. catfish

    really nice discussions here, just wanted to chip in with my 2 cnts. I resonate with a lot of what 11 and others say, although at the moment i’m a bit fed up with trying to do anythings about anythings, so i’ve retreated into my white middle-class male privilege zone…
    Anyway, at least on a purely principal level, i do have this “anti-organizationalist” (whatever) streak, which keeps making these things complicated for me. I also have the impression that there’s a fair amount of anarchism/radicalism in the US that is something like NGO/charity groups with a circle-a label. Correct me if i’m wrong as i have zero firsthand knowledge of the US (i’m Maija’s friend, from finland – btw 11, how did you read the comments on takku.net? googletranlator? 🙂 ). I mean, for sure there’s a lot of good stuff to be done through various forms of single issue/task organisations, and there’s well enough of crap that would demand to be dealt with urgently, in any less-than-ideal way that just can be made to fucking work well enough fast enough, instead of sitting around like me waiting for the shit to wipe itself off the fan. I’m fine with (radical) organisations as a compromise, and i’d do more of that kind of work if i just had more energy (or moral rigor, or personal urgent need…). My issue is, i don’t think Organisations are a good basis for proceeding towards anarchy.

    What i mean by Organisations are structures, that are always to greater or lesser extent apart, separated from the direct life and relations of people, a separate sphere of administration of a separated activity (except for with the organisation nerds, for whom the Organisation becomes their lives’ main purpose and content…). Also, Organisations have a tendency to develop a life of their own, and own interests that outwin the ones of the people whom it’s supposed to serve.

    Now, the word ‘organizing’ can be interpreted in different ways, so it might be i’m talking to my own strawman, but my feeling from some of the comments is that people tend not to distinguish between one kind of organizing and another. I’m a bit wary of this: You can use words like ‘community-based’, ‘grassroots democracy’, ‘mutual aid’, and the thought can slide from a group of neighbors helping each other to a Traveling Permaculture Expert Circus, a Grassroots Autonomy Strategy Professional Thinktank, or a Certified Conflict Resolution Center. I suppose things stay on track as long as your resources are scarce and you need to mobilize them to the fullest in order to be able to create some basic living safety in your locality, but even then: isn’t there a wide open door for “acquiring skills for community organizing” morphing into “acquiring skills for becoming an Organizer above the community”? I don’t think people should be sitting around in guilt-induced abstinence in fear of getting into a position of Power or Leadership, just as i don’t think people should refrain from creating/working for Organisations or acquiring expert skills if that’s what works for them in a given situation. But i think people shouldn’t confuse this with real relations and bonds, real community, real anarchy. In some cases, Organisations, Leadership and Power might even lead towards anarchy, but it should’t be presumed without thought. The kind of community organizing needed, i think is above all a matter of strengthening the community’s own bonds and powers, and this can only be done so much by anyone else than the people affected themselves, or anywhere else than with the people you actually are really connected with (if only through living close by).
    eh, now i’m starting to repeat my thoughts so i stop and think. thanks,
    catfish

  38. catfish

    Eh, wanted to straighten this out b/c it turnd out a bit loose & confusing:
    “I suppose things stay on track as long as your resources are scarce and you need to mobilize them to the fullest in order to be able to create some basic living safety in your locality, but even then: isn’t there a wide open door for “acquiring skills for community organizing” morphing into “acquiring skills for becoming an Organizer above the community”?”

    This might sound a bit like this kind of puritanic/idealistic “but it might lead to some people getting into a position of Authority in The Society, so it’s not real Anarchism” stuff (you get what i’m saying?).
    My first concern is not with ideological utopy, but with the concrete risk here-and-now that people estrange themselves from the “community” they are trying to “organize”: That all these wonderful bright anarchists (and others) who want to do something about all teh shit, end up retreating into a position of Educated Specialist – Essentially just setting themselves up with a job (paid or not) of managing/mediating/representing The Community to itself (and outwards to the State&Co.)

    I mean, what IS this Community that is talked about? What persons does it include? What are their relations to each other? Or is it just an abstraction meaning “The People”?

  39. Hi Amy – this has been a great read, with all the discussion and has given me a lot to consider. Although the problems with chauvinism in the movement has always been there it has been measurably worse in the more authoritarian socialist (Marxist )movements. I recognize that things are not as bad as 30-40 years ago and thanks to spirited people like yourself, times are changing. It is power politics and chauvinism of the past which has destroyed the potential for social change. It is a sign of maturity of the anarchist movement to begin to deal with its own internal problems and then the ability to foster non-authoritarian social alternatives. I would like to reprint your story in our zine. http://ahimsazine.com
    In all solidarity
    Anarchy

  40. Norman

    Anarchism Came Before Politics
    I hope this comment findsyou ingood health and spirits!
    I have read the intial article and many comments, thank you for your article.

    As an old timer of the anarchist ilk, I must admit I have spent many years seeing anarchism as a sort of politic or political ideology.
    I now view it as an economy.
    The management of both environmental resources and community activity having one guiding principle being the health and happiness of all individuals in the community is anarchism.
    There is a very human catch to the above definition (yes, I choose my own words to define anarchism) some communities draw a line between themselves and other communities.
    In other words, some communities support the notion of full human rights and justice for all and some do not.
    Did the long extinct Cro Mangnons war among tribes?
    Through modern scientific techniques, we know they protected their weak and elderly.

    There are two basic types of anarchist personages, the violent and tolerant.
    The violent version is just like the cop who uses excessive force in his line of work.
    The tolerant type is just like the front line street worker who is constantly mopping up tears and blood.

    Human rights and justice are themes used for the above sorts of actors motivations.
    How well applied are human rights and justice in the overall script?
    The simple answer makes my question entirely rhetorical.
    A considered answer is the basis for analysis of your current anarchist milieu (if you are young check out the old ones and if you are old check out the punks), the cops in your town (believe it or not, some are an anarchist’s friend) and the front line community activists (talk to a couple of local homeless people and you’ll get all the clues you need to find out about this).

    To sum up, I want to say a couple more things.
    I truly appreciate your heartfelt comments which are clearly expressing ideals in action full of the passion for life.
    This is what the impressive anarchists have always done.
    They believe because they do, and with everything they do they see all the reasons they must do something.

    A person able to embrace the perspective of full empowerment, having confidence in the ability to institute and maintain human rights and justice, is one who leaves all ‘us and them’ concepts to the hype spinners.

    With all the good people I have known I notice that they are fulfilling or have fulfilled the nine human duties in the course of their lives.
    as I understand them, they are as follows:

    The first four Human Duties are autonomic.

    Five to eight are the higher expressions of the first four.

    The ninth is ubiquitous – and inevitable.
    ~
    1. Experience/Exist
    2. Personify/Objectify
    3. Perceive/Create
    4. Practice/Perform
    ~
    5. Reflect/Relate
    6. Reference/Refine
    7. Transform/Teach
    8. Counsel/Console
    ~
    9. Transcend
    ~~~
    Thank You for starting the conversation on this blog, it is a most worthwhile object of interest (after all, this is the internet and this sort of thing doesn’t come often enough).
    Norman

  41. “… trying to create human-scale neighborhood solutions aimed at solving some of the problems in places I lived. …each person deserves access to all the necessary tools to make her life what she wants it to be; that we don’t have to go knocking on some rich, educated person’s door, or tug on our congressman’s coat to ask politely for some solutions; that everyone on earth deserves justice, and to experience the richness of human life, now, not later”
    Having access to the earth gives us all the necessary tools for a healthy & sustainable life. We have to go knocking on some rich congressman’s door and ask politely, or basically beg, for the solutions (basic dignity and the basic necessities of life without exploitation and contamination included), because we don’t have that access to the Earth. If we were living self-sufficiently on the land we would not need to beg for living wages or universal health care, or to stop killing innocent people with weapons created using our tax dollars. The “human scale neighborhood solution” is to occupy a small portion of land needed for nuclear family subsistence and reject allegiance to a State that does nothing but do everything in its power to prevent such a way of living, which is destroying our health, society, and environment. As you also said “The only thing they seem to know how to do is to funnel more money into the pockets of the already rich.” & pointing out well the continual illusion/delusion of a benevolent State: “The important question is not, how can we get them to make things right, but: why do people continue to put their faith in authority, when those in power have squandered the people’s hope for so many years?” Derick Jensen put it this way: “”We should not fall into the illusion that the government is our friend… a Law is a rule made by rich people, and they get to pay a bunch of people to wear uniforms and carry guns to enforce the rules they set up.” If we keep waiting for freedom, justice and sustainability to come out of this system, it will always be later, and never now.

    “What percentage of anarchist events, without being asked, provide childcare? Are there any anarchist communities in the US that provide elder care? “
    Childcare and elder care are not compartmentalized in homestead communities like they are in this corporately fragmented culture. The only reason we have to have these “special services” is because we are denied a way of life in which families can remain together and support each other in a natural multi-generational way, rather than be forcibly separated by the need to acquire money and get separate homes/apartments in separated areas at a distance from the rest of our family, which also requires the use of automobiles, and therefore petroleum, further showing the interlocking nature of this destructive social system.

    “There are uncountable ways we could address these simple issues, but for some reason we’d rather read about how they did things in 1930’s Spain than develop a nuanced and sustainable plan for a truly new society in the shell of the old. Hey, I love reading about the Spanish Civil War, too, but something is off when we’d rather talk at each other about times long past until we’re blue in the face because it is so much less risky to talk than to do the hard work of making things better”
    Exactly, though it’s true there are uncountable partial remedies possible within the limitations of these socio-economics, all of them will be incomplete because all of them will still be submitting to economic exploitation and unjust land control. Therefore there is only one real remedy: untaxed land occupied by homestead communities.

    “Often, our concept of what is revolutionary is not really a mature concept of true revolution. If  you’ve ever thrown a rock through a window, you know what I’m talking about. It feels good, but ultimately, someone just comes and fixes that window. It would be nice to really dismantle something, or really create something lasting. We need comprehensive solutions-based thinking, because these are some big-ass problems we’re dealing with”
    I completely agree, and again the only truly revolutionary action that can be taken is the aforementioned one.

    “Will we be ready the day that no water comes out of the tap, that the light switch does not make the electricity come on? Katrina was just a dry run for some of the awfulness that could happen.”
    Yes, as long as we are dependent on the State for the basic necessities of life we can (and will be) victimized by the State in varying degrees of tyranny.

    “Where is the anarchist federation of time banks that organize community health care? Where are our anarchist restaurants with free food for poor single parents, disabled veterans and the homeless, locatable to all in the yellow pages? When the landlord raises the rent again, where are our anarchist sanctuaries with safe, clean and cheap roomshares that are child-friendly?”
    Again, although these would be good improvements they are still submitting to the root injustice of land control and economic exploitation/money dependency, which would be unnecessary if we had our own land that we didn’t need to pay rent/taxes for and were producing our own food that we could share amongst ourselves freely.

    “We’re not doing good enough. We are too complacent.”
    I agree, half-measures don’t address the root problem (land control/economic slavery), and therefore the status-quo marches on.
    “…we need to spread decentralized solutions-based thinking before it’s too late and fascist corporate capitalist “restructuring” solutions take over when disaster hits (like in New Orleans, where I hear all of the public schools have been privatized, housing projects shuttered, and neighborhoods left to rot). We need to proactively empower our communities and brace for the coming disasters. “
    Yes again, and again the only way we can truly “decentralize” and disconnect from the fascist corporate capitalist system is to connect with the Earth fully, She is the only solution, She is our only refuge from this Beast, that showed it’s ugly head clearly once again with post-Katrina New Orleans.

    “We can grow up and do more of the work that makes things better: creating community-based health care, organizing child and elder care systems of mutual support, opening intergenerational democratic free schools, turning unused properties into peoples’ art museums, implementing permaculture gardens and food forests, organizing free transportation, sustainable community housing, public safety programs, anarchist conflict resolution and mediation centers, and taking part in rituals that bind our community together. The possibilities are endless, and we’ve all imagined them.”
    Those are all great, but sorry for repeating myself so much, but all of the things you mentioned that “bind our community together” could happen naturally and easily when people live on the Earth without having to submit to false authority and economic exploitation.

    In comment responses you said the following:

    “Eventually I think most people want to see results, or they feel disempowered and jaded.”
    You’re right and the reason people feel disempowered is because they are, by being disconnected to the source of all our needs, the Earth. Results usually don’t last in activist projects because the underlying problem is not addressed; take the example of South Central Farm (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1252486/), that wonderful community farm was bulldozed because they didn’t have control of the land, if they did the farm would have continued to flourish and benefit the community in countless ways. The same is true with the recently evicted Kew Bridge Eco Village group in London, they were beginning to build a really beautiful community there, growing more food, and the court had them forcibly removed, pushing all thew resident back into the system of economic exploitation.

    “I’m aware of the Zeitgeist Movement, and even share some common views with it, but I see more answers in decentralized, grassroots, land-based movements for resilience and social justice. I believe the Zeitgeist movement prioritizes technology and scientific inquiry over what they call “traditional values”, and I’m more inclined to prioritize indigenous and land-based traditions over scientific inquiry (and all of the above have technologies).”
    That’s it! You hit the nail on the head there, indeed we do need a land-based movement, and that needs to be described more specifically, namely as a movement of Land Reform like that of the MST in Brazil. Technology is not only a false savior, it’s being used as a tool of the devil, so to speak. I recently read a story on new government operated tech to disable car engines at stop lights “for the environment”, right… this is the techno-tyranny that Venus Project enthusiasts are walking right into… They are actually advocating a centralized computer-based system that controls all the natural resources of the Earth! This is the exact opposite of what is needed! I heard Perter Joseph, director of the Zeitgeist films, once enthusiastically mention the possibility of satellite controlled cars, as if that would be some great improvement in our society! That is is just enabling further control and surveillance of our lives by the State. I used to be a big promoter of Zeitgeist because of it’s accurate and very important analysis of 9/11 and the Federal Reserve, but now I see that by focusing on those very real and crucial problems, it served as the activist “bait”, and was then able to offer the “switch” of the Venus Project which is really just a friendly presentation on centralized techno-tyranny world government. Whether this is intentional or not I don’t know, but I’ve definitely become more suspicious of the Zeitgeist Movement and now promote 9/11 Truth and Federal Reserve info through other sources that are not advocating a technocracy solution and instead are calling for real justice through a new 9/11 investigation/criminal prosecutions and the end of the Fed.

    “The spiritual element does sometimes seem incompatible with the political/revolutionary world. I know my life has really changed since moving from a large city to a place where it’s much more possible to have an actual connection with plants, and with the land.”
    Disconnection from the Earth definitely also disconnects us from the Divine (however you define or don’t define it), the story of Adam and Eve in a veganic garden hanging out with Divinity is actually a pretty clear road map destination out of Babylon, and for bringing “Heaven” to Earth.

    “I personally find a lot of peace in just being grounded and having a practical connection with the earth”
    You’re not the only one, that’s true for most humans and probably all, though some so assimilated and corrupted by this corporate culture may disagree.

    “My own belief is that as we become less dependent on industrial systems, we’ll become more connected with the land, by necessity, for survival, really, and that our cultures will evolve in a much healthier and sustainable way as this connection is strengthened.”
    Again you hit the bulls-eye there, the only way to end our dependency and our economic slavery and to be truly free, is to end our submission to false authority that acts as slave-master middle-man to our our birthright which is harmonious relationship with Nature and the Earth.

    Comment by Conscious Observer:
    “One thing that was not mentioned in your article is the fact that the anarchist movement has been successfully infiltrated by a variety of government agencies. There is reason to suspect that the rock throwers and window smashers are in reality undercover agents designed to further marginalize the anarchist “movement”, something that genuine anarchists themselves seem to refuse to comprehend or acknowledge. So while I still consider myself to be an anarchist in the real sense of the term, I…like yourself, no longer attend their events due to the fact that they, like the systems they purport to oppose, utterly refuse to evolve.”

    Amy’s response : “As far as provocateurs, I agree that many–not all–rock throwers may not have the best interests of the community in mind and may be professionals working for other entities. However, there are many people that are drawn to anarchism because they want to fuck shit up with a group of folks. I’m not saying that’s totally invalid; I just think if, theoretically, people really want to fuck shit up, they might think about tactics other than throwing rocks through windows, and might try to move beyond acting out of a simplistic destructive urge.”

    Conscious Observer is correct, this is something I’ve written about in the past. True anarchists directing their frustration with the system through acts of violence ends up “justifying” further repression by the State and also completely misses the root problem of land control/economic slavery. This is why the State employs people to be agent-provocateurs, so if you’re not being paid by the State to do those acts of violence you’re really just doing them a favor for free. You can throw all the rocks you want, until you strike at the root of the evil there will be no real revolution, there will be no real freedom. Land Reform is the only “tactic” that is truly effective against this system, because land control is the foundation of the system, it is the ground from which all other tyranny and oppression grows.

    Back to quoting you Amy, “If you’re not sure where to start: grow something this year. Start a simple garden or just plant a few seeds. Get to know more of your neighbors.” And I’m back to agreeing with you, but growing a simple garden isn’t so simple if you don’t have the land to do so. So yes you are hitting on the solution but digging a little deeper in analysis we can see that the only way we can have our own gardens and get to know our neighbors better is if we are free from the constraints of land control and economic slavery, and that, via the logical process of elimination, leads to sovereign veganic homestead communities, established through a land reform movement. There are groups like depave.org and growinggardens.org that are promoting the solutions of removing the concrete and growing gardens in their place, but their work is severely restrained by the lack of access of land to do their work, so unfortunately becomes not much more than a symbolic gesture in the larger picture. I think Derick Jensen put it pretty well when he said: “We’ve been so metabolized into the system that we’ve bought into this strange notion that it’s okay to have to pay to exist on the planet… and if you dont pay, then some guy with a gun is going to come and bad things are going to happen to you.”

    Thanks again for sharing your on-point thoughts, I look forward to hearing more from you on elevenoclock and and response to my thoughts here would be greatly appreciated.
    PeaceLove
    CD

    • 11

      I definitely think we’re on the same page. Land sovereignty is one essential issue, but economic sovereignty is another–as long as we have only one state-controlled, centralized means of exchange, we are tied into capitalism. Even envisioning a future of autonomous homesteads as you do, we will certainly not all be entirely self-sufficient.

      What strategies do you have for coalescing a landless movement in the US? There are a handful of secessionist groups but nothing approaching the MSt (of course).

      It’s going to be impossible for all of us to break into nuclear-family-configured homesteads–there is simply not enough land nor resources for each family to have their own parcel, and even if there were, we don’t want to settle all of the available land. I think urban living in which we heavily emphasize reclaiming the commons will have many of the same desirable end effects.

      • “I definitely think we’re on the same page.”
        Cool. 🙂

        “Land sovereignty is one essential issue, but economic sovereignty is another”
        I don’t see land sovereignty and economic sovereignty as separate issues, since economic slavery/exploitation ultimately exists because of land control, as I went into earlier.

        “…as long as we have only one state-controlled, centralized means of exchange, we are tied into capitalism.”
        Agreed, and since I’m advocating the exact opposite of that, I don’t see how it conflicts with what I was saying.

        “Even envisioning a future of autonomous homesteads as you do, we will certainly not all be entirely self-sufficient.”
        Well the idea that self-sufficiency is impossible is really a myth we are conditioned to believe so we will more easily assimilate to a system of dependency/exploitation, but the wonderful thing about homestead communities is that “gift economies” naturally arise along with them, sharing food and seed with one another without the chains of competition and bills that have to be paid holding back that natural inclination, which has been greatly corrupted by the capitalist/fascist/land control system, so complete self-sufficiency at each homestead would not be necessary. When people are free they are usually happy to help others maintain their freedom as well.

        “What strategies do you have for coalescing a landless movement in the US?”
        I think people need to start occupying land, or the home and land they already currently live in/on, and refuse to pay property taxes and start growing food and connecting with their community members for support. Declaring land as a human right needs to become commonplace in public consciousness.

        “It’s going to be impossible for all of us to break into nuclear-family-configured homesteads–there is simply not enough land”
        Why do you think there isn’t enough land? Consider the millions of acres of land that is being used for cow pasture, for an industry that shouldt even exist. Consider also the millions of acres of grass lawn in the U.S. already on people’s property, if all that alone was converted to veganic gardens there would be enough food for everyone.

        “I think urban living in which we heavily emphasize reclaiming the commons will have many of the same desirable end effects.”
        The problem with urban living, with cities, is that they are inherently unsustainable; although I dont agree with everythin D. Jensen says, I think he was on-point again when he defined civilization (what’s wrong with the world bascially) as THE GROWTH OF CITIES, and argues how, despite cultural and social advantages, cities are functionally unsustainable (requires importation of resources) and are based on violence/colonialism (needed to acquire the resources needed). Talking about the connection between cities and economic slavery he said:
        “The 1st cities that were built with walls, not around the city itself, but around the grainery, because from the beginning those in power understood that the way to control a populace, the way to control a workforce is by controlling their food supply, if they cant eat they gotta work for you… All civilizations have been based on slavery.”

        I look forward to hearing your thoughts Amy.
        Peace!

        • 11

          “I don’t see land sovereignty and economic sovereignty as separate issues, since economic slavery/exploitation ultimately exists because of land control, as I went into earlier.”

          I completely agree. We need both. The reason I bring it up is because some people are of the opinion that establishing economic sovereignty as a first step, and then land sovereignty is a good strategy.

          “…complete self-sufficiency at each homestead would not be necessary.”

          Again, agreed. I just disagree that nuclear family type homesteads are going to be the most efficient use of our limited energy.

          “I think people need to start occupying land, or the home and land they already currently live in/on, and refuse to pay property taxes and start growing food and connecting with their community members for support. Declaring land as a human right needs to become commonplace in public consciousness.”

          Sure. I think it would be in our interest to get a critical mass of people to declare this simultaneously, a la a general strike (tax strike!) so individual projects are not just picked off.

          Re: urban living–it’s my opinion that there’s a wider spectrum of sustainable in terms of living in larger settlements than in your view, but I’m content not to argue over that point. I see small cities as being within the realm of sustainability. As you say, if all the area that is lawn is converted into garden plots and farms, we’d be getting there. I’m not too knowledgeable about peak soil or peak phosphorous, so I don’t know when we’ll hit a wall with food production with regards to that. Building up the soil, composting and humanure projects seem like a good thing to put on the top of the list now, though.

          I’m interested also in talking about the most effective way of disseminating information as people are more ready to uptake it. My biggest concern is that we’re going to see some sort of corporatist control (even more than now, that is) and that people will be satisfied with that because they are completely incapable of providing for themselves. So the quick flow of information about solutions and ways of thinking that promote autonomy is essential.

          Thanks for the discussion.

          • Great points Amy. The need for mass solidarity in such an action is crucial to make individuals less vulnerable to repression as you said, though there is the catch-22 that if everybody keeps waiting for everybody else to start…

            There’s a natural desire for knowing you’re not alone in the movement for encouragement, which leads to your other great point about the need for information sharing that is not susceptible to interference (internet shut down, etc.). I think if the basic philosophy and action was synthesized into a single pamphlet that could be printed and shared person-to-person that would be best, with an online version for download, what do you think?

            So we may slightly disagree on what is the most efficient and sustainable way for humans to live upon the Earth, and I know you said you’re not really feeling discussing that aspect further right now which is cool, but just consider the fact that SOME land is needed for self/community-sufficiency, and people living in 30-story projects might have a patch of grass at it’s base good for just a few of those hundreds of families. Also the issue of overpopulation & wildlife/ecological destruction, and the major role cities play in that, is worth consideration. There are certain things I like about cities too, but if we’re really going to disconnect from this system we have to be as objective and in tune with the reality of Nature as much as possible.

            Your points about the importance of soil fertility are excellent, I totally agree. The more composting and humanure projects happening the better for sure, urban & rural; interestingly humanure is only really safe if those “depositing” have vegan diets, and even then veganic is the only really safe way to go. This to me is a clear message (one of many) from Nature as to what our proper diet is. If you’re interested in learning more on that front check the “Veganic Revolution” link on the sidebar of my wordpress page.

            So how about a first draft of a general property tax strike flier? Do you think that’s a good 1st step? If you’re on FB you can contact me on facebook.com/goveganic and I’ll give you my email.
            Peace

  42. Kate

    After a decade of anarchist organizing, I decided to become a midwife because the rewards of hands-on care for women and children are so much superior to the rewards of being the ‘nag’ all the time in anarchist communities.

    And yes, I’m still an anarchist.

  43. Lorenzo Komboa Ervin

    I like this essay, and it echoes criticisms that I have been making for the last 40 years about internal racism and the lack of community organizing strategy by the North American Anarchist movement. I wrote a small book in 1979, while I was serving a “Life”sentence in prison, called “Anarchism and the Black Revolution”, wherein I raised many of these criticisms, but also had a discussion about how it can be different. For years after my release in 1983, I had dialogue and debate with a number of Anarchist movements: love and Rage, IWW, ABC, and so many others about fighting racism and building an internal caucus to recruit poc’s and to raise issues of their concern. Predictably, most Anarchists were very defensive, even claimed that I was “racist too”, because I had raised these issues. You would think that this had changed over the years, but not really, only a few weeks ago on an Anarchist group page on FaceBook, when I criticized the fact that no one even acknowledged the oppressions of POC’s, I was accused of being “obsessed” with race, and being “racist towards white people.” This is sheer defensive nonsense, the kind you see in middle-class white America generally, but it fundamentally undermines the principles of Anarchism and discredits the movement. I have been saying this before most of the participants here were born. So, it really disturbed me to read this essay and the responses, but it is still painfully true about the experiences of a mother with an interracial child within the movement. It really bothers me that most folks here don’t even want to deal with the issues she raised about internal oppressions in the Anarchist scene which literally attacks and makes unwelcome people of color, or even those with a different social lifestyle. I don’t have the time, energy, or patience, to talk about this ad nauseum. This has to change if this movement is really going to fundamentally change society. Organizers, organize thyself.

    • 11

      “I don’t have the time, energy, or patience, to talk about this ad nauseum.”

      Truth. Thanks for stopping by.

      • Don Nadie

        it seems like it was so long ago that i stumbled upon your writings. Now I’m a parent, and my thoughts are just reaffirmed. Thanks again.

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