Ursula K Le Guin and Anarchism (and me) In The Oregonian

The Oregonian wrote a rather nice piece about Ursula K LeGuin, including a bit about her anarchist politics and the event we did together at Powell’s. I’m pretty wary of corporate media, of course, but the only problem I’ve got with this article is that they claim I was wearing a kilt. It was clearly a skirt. I don’t wear kilts.

Killjoy, who wears a kilt and has dreadlocks, calls himself Magpie when he plays the accordion. He helps edit SteamPunk Magazine and maintains a blog of erotica called Steamypunk. He gives a loose, knowledgeable overview of anarchist literature and tells a story about Kurt Vonnegut Jr. being asked, “Why are you ruining the youth of America?” and walking away in disgust.

A few minutes later, after Killjoy talks about Tolstoy and writers who explicitly identify as anarchists, he pauses and takes a drink of water.

“Why are you ruining the youth of America?” Le Guin calls out, laughing.

Questions come thick and fast from the audience. Killjoy makes the point that anarchy and organization are not contradictory and that anarchists are productive people who get things done without a government structure. Someone asks about the role of anarchism in the 1999 World Trade Organization protests in Seattle and in a 1993 incident with police in Portland. Le Guin responds:

“As an inveterate peace marcher … I’ve marched around Portland more times than anyone in this room except my husband. I did get cross with the self-styled anarchists, the noisy ‘look at me’ people, whereas just as Margaret said, a lot of the organizers and people who were keeping it so it worked were also anarchists.”

A long question is summed up as, “What do you see role as?”

“What’s our cellular purpose?” Killjoy asks.

“To try to maybe show that there are alternatives to the way we presently do things and that people think is the only way to do things,” Le Guin says. “Democracy is good but it isn’t the only way to achieve justice and a fair share.

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