It’s snowing in Baltimore. Like, a lot. This could actually fall under the Things I Love, Things I Hate category: it’s beautiful outside, and wandering around is like wandering around an abandoned city, in a lot of ways. On the other hand, the Red & Black Ball was supposed to be tonight, but it was postponed. And I was supposed to go wandering around Falls road (pictured) with a friend of mine, who got snowed in elsewhere.
It’s everyone’s favorite column, where I talk about things I love and hate, and always seem to focus on that slippery slope of hypocrisy that is talking shit on infighting!
First, things I love, two things today:
HIV infections and AIDS deaths are on the wane, worldwide. Not much more needs to be said about that. HIV prevention campaigns (education and condom dispersal, mostly, I believe) are working. So are modern AIDS drugs. Well, both are working better than before, anyhow.
Kate Kibby was found not guilty. Kate Kibby was being threatened by the State with 20 years in jail for writing an angry email to police provocateur Brandon Darby (who tricked two young activists into making molotovs before a protest, pressuring them into it). [more on bullying later!]. Anyhow, the infoshop.org article on the matter is an excellent, first-hand account of the trial, and focuses on how anarchists, when it comes down to it, are not so different than the rest of society. And how the jury of regular people was able to not be tricked into fear by the prosecution, and realized that Kate was acting in a reasonable fashion.
Things I Hate: Horizontal Hostility. So there’s this guy named Urban Scout in Portland. He’s a primitive skills guy who is young and hip and blogs about all of his foraging and rewilding and stuff like that. He’s not really an anarchist, but he doesn’t really claim to be. And few days ago or something, he got a big ole rock in the mail, anonymously (but almost certainly from a green anarchist), in a clearly threatening tone. He’s upset about it, because it’s scary when tons of people hate you. He’s not some snitch, with FBI support. He’s just a person, who spends more time focused on ecological issues and spreading useful ideas than most of the anarchists I know. Anyhow, all of the comments on the anarchist news post about it are all, well, laughing at him and telling him he’s a “pussy” and shit like that. It’s an embarrassing day to be an anarchist.
One comment points out that the commenters (or the rock-sender) are basically just a bunch of bullies, and I agree. They’re trying to intimidate him. Save this shit for our enemies. Urban Scout is not our enemy, for christ’s sake. Police infiltrators who set up anarchists to go to jail for a long time are. The state is. Corporations are.
This is like people who steal from independent stores (or worker-run ones, even), because it’s easier than stealing from the real enemy. I’m sick of this shit. I’m ready for some anarchy-for-grownups.
This one is fun.
We’re going to start with things I hate: the current trend for insurrectionists to basically say everyone who isn’t an insurrectionist sucks. The lovely little rants pop up on anarchistnews.org and infoshop.org all the time. There’s a lovely (read: annoying) one up right now, With a Kiss of Sin. The premise? Insurrectionists have always been the majority of anarchists, that everyone who isn’t an anarchist is an anarcho-liberal, that anarcho-liberals are dangerously taking over the anarchist milieu, and, here’s the kicker, anarcho-liberals are stupid, like celibate people.
Many if not most anarchists in history have been insurrectionaries—believing that it is a futile waste of an individuals’ life, or the lives of a whole group, to dedicate themselves to pondering, planning, expecting, or waiting for a revolution, much less an anarchist revolution, much less a successful one. Another trend, historically very small but seemingly prevalent in today’s anarchist milieu, balks at any suggestion of militancy or conflict, seeking to simply prod society in libertarian directions until its institutions are transformed…. a life spent planning, expecting, waiting for the revolution (or ‘social change’) is bound to be deeply dissatisfying, like a life of pent-up desire shrouded in celibacy.
First of all, anarchists have always been of different mindsets. Note that the first person to call themself an anarchist, Proudhon, was a mutualist, and not a revolutionary. Insurrectionists have always been a trend within anarchism, and note that even propaganda by the deed didn’t always just mean blowing shit up. Second of all, I’m sorry, but there are people who are quite happy being celibate and are pleased to deny themselves their desires (or who simply don’t desire the same crap you do)! Sigh. I can’t wait till this storm of nonsense goes away. “Orgies of destruction” my fucking ass. You can’t throw a rock through a social relation.
Yet I’m still not opposed to people who fight, including violently, against systems of oppression. I’m not against insurrection, I just don’t see this false divide that people are claiming.
Things I Love: people who pwn this nonsense. Most of the comments on these articles are all “yeah, right on, I would totally date you.” (For reals, that’s what they say sometimes). But there are gems:
what a boring article it sets up a completely delusional dichotomy and then writes a big dumb article based on two wrongfully represented “aspects” of the “anarchist millieu”. it criticizes “western radicalism” but boring regurgitated IA bla bla bla like this is exactly what helps make anarchism so boring and eye stabbingly annoying
but anyways i figured out how so many of them keep getting written. basically you use [madlibs website] and fill in the blanks with a bunch boring words and viola
heres one i got:
One day while I was insurrectioning in the hide-out a vast totality fell through the roof. It immediately jumped on the chair and knocked over the network of domination. Then it ran out the door into the anarchistnews.org and autonomous self organization a insurgent off the table. It then knocked a glass of gasoline off the coffee table. After 38 minutes of chasing the totality through the house I finally caught it and put it outside. It quickly climbed the nearest desires.
And then there was Abrahadabra, perhaps the wisest piece written on the current trends in anarchism. Excerpt:
When activism died, it took with it the anarchistic outgrowth that it had birthed. There are still some people holding signs on street corners. There are still some people breaking windows. Surely, both sides believe that if they do it for long enough, something will happen.
It’s time for another* edition of Things I Like / Things I Hate!
Magpie likes: Outsider Anarchism! That is to say, folks who pick up on anarchism from their own context, and not just get into it through the “movement.” Not that I don’t like the movement, and by working together we’ve come up with really important things. But I like when people get into it on their own and present radically new ideas. Like, probably, Artisanal-Retro-Futurism and Team-Scale Anarcho-Syndicalism, which basically is a modern syndicalism for computer programmers. It doesn’t take on the totality of the state or capitalism, but it’s interesting and useful nonetheless.
Magpie hates: Folks who think they own anarchism! I’m particularly frustrated right now with the slew of online (and fortunately, it’s mostly online) slander that tries to say “if you’re not an insurrectionary, then you’re a liberal” which is quantifiably false. Over on infoshop.org, someone has posted a little screed, “A Warning to Those Who Stole Our Word” that honestly seems to think that the 19th century stereotype of the anarchist-as-mad-bomber is the only legitimate form of anarchism. It also, well, says that you’re either with us or against us, that you either love rioting, in fact believe that the moment of anarchism will be an “orgy of destruction”, or you’re a liberal. Wonderful. Sigh. No, you can’t have the word anarchism all to yourself. Sorry. An anarchist believes that humanity would be better off without government. Everything from there is debatable.