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comment by Brady
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, November 20 2002 @ 04:25 PM CST
Yeah, I read this in Barricada.

I think that you are largely critical of how you organized, but, then also put blame on \"punk kids\". That doesn\'t seem holistic to me.

Also, you refer to having \"latin presence\" at your events. What the fuck does \"latin\" mean? That is from an imperialist/white supremacist construct, please use language that is more accurate. I would also disagree with you on how you went about organizing with organizations/people of color, considering Barricada/NEFAC is dominantly white (I am assuming, but could be wrong, sure sounds like it).

I thought it was a great attempt at organizing though on the whole, and, thought you had bigger aspirations than were attainable. This kind of \"big project\" organizing model (meaning, work your ass off for awhile, then assume that will bring the revolution) isn\'t sustainable. It has happened in youth organizing for decades. If students/youth (me included) are serious about radicalizing people, and starting a fucking revolution, we need more than marches planned to \"fuck shit up\".

Overall nice work though!
comment by Reverend Chuck0
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, November 20 2002 @ 04:29 PM CST
First of all, Nicolas, thanks for posting this interesting analysis here. You deserve lots of thanks for writing what must have been a difficult analysis of an event that didn\'t go as you had planned. In most circles of the left, something like this would never see the light of day, because the operating paradigm is \"positive spin at every cost.\"

If you are an activist or organizer for long enough, you will have your share of failures and disappointments. I know I\'ve had my share over the years. The challenge is to learn from our mistakes and distasters and move on to new projects and campaigns. It\'s also important to understand that you aren\'t alone in having experiences like this. The issues you bring up here are not new ones.

I didn\'t make it to your event, as my plans fell through that week, but I was surprised when I saw photos of your march and heard stories about the week. My impression was that you guys were very community-oriented and were likely to get some community involvement. But after reading your analysis above, I think I understand where you guys messed up.

There isn\'t any easy way to build up relationships between radicals/anarchists and community groups. Contacting them and asking them to be involved in your event is not enough. If you want to get community support for your event, your group needs to have a track record of working with local activists and community residents. This is something you can\'t just throw together before a big protest, like some of the groups here in Washington have discovered. Local groups, activists, and residents have to know you from the work you\'ve done with them. You goal here should be to build ally relationships with community groups, which aren\'t like the opportunist relationships that Left groups typically have with community groups.

This isn\'t an easy thing to do. It takes time and lots of energy. Many anarchists never figure this out--I only figured it out last year and I\'ve been an activist for over 15 years. Don\'t get totally discouraged if the groups are cold to you initially, but you have to show them some long-term commitment in working with them.

You also claim that you didn\'t have the time and resources to do more outreach. I don\'t buy this. I think part of the problem is that your outreach worked extremely well in attracting the \"problem\" anarchists from out of town to your event. I have one of your posters hanging on the wall above my computer. If you folks were organizing a *community* event, then why did you do outreach around the country? In fact, I think I may have picked up my copy of your poster in San Francisco.

I can understand the desire to attract out-of-town publishers to your book fair, but there are ways to do that without advertising to the travelling anarchists that you were having a \"hang out anarchy convention.\"

Don\'t take this personally, because the problems you describe happen at many anarchist events, in fact, these types of problems have happened at almost every anarchist event I\'ve been to in the past 15 years. I think some of your criticisms are on target, but I think you need to cut some of these people some slack. People are people. They get rowdy and do shit. Now if you managed to attract a shitload of these people, to the point where they dominated the events, then perhaps your outreach efforts are to blame.

You are on target in your criticism of some of the attitudes and behaviors. There is simply no reason for any anarchist to be saying shit like \"I don\'t follow any rules\" or doing crap like spitting on pictures in the building that was nice enough to let you use it. But the problem here is not with these people, or the anarchist movement, but with all of us. We need to do a better job of explaining what anarchism means to those within our ranks, some of whom are here for the wrong reasons. To some extent we are victims of our own recent success. I think about this problem constantly and try to do what I can to dispel these misconceptions.

I also think that you criticism of the North American anarchist movement is off base and misdirected. The N.A. anarchist movement is not represented by a bunch of drunk punk kids. None of the anarchists I know around the continent are like that. And many N.A. anarchists ARE involved in community activism of some kind. Obviously, these folks didn\'t show up. Did you want them there? Was there a good reason for them to be in attendace? Perhaps one of the problems was some confusion about what your goals were. Were you trying to organize a continental anarchist gathering? Or a Boston-focused community festival with an anarchist flavor?

I understand your desire to break out of the DIY punk ghetto. I have nothing wrong with that subculture, but going beyond that takes some work. One thing you could have done was to make sure that no flyers were handed out at punk shows and that no punk shows were scheduled at your event. I think the only way to get beyond this problem is a divorce from the problem. And that means that the folks in your collective can\'t go as punks to community meetings (I have no idea what you all dress like).

Nicolas, your group should give themselves a small pat on the back. You are trying and you\'ve done some good things. It is admirable that you all had some ambitious plans. Take what you can from this experience and move forward to your next project.

Good luck.

comment by jk
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, November 20 2002 @ 04:45 PM CST
wow! it was great to read this. I often get down on Barricada for various reasons, but this was an honest and well written critique. The truth is though I may disagree with Barricada\'s politics, organizational structure whatever... they work harder than any other @ collective that I have first hand (ok second hand) experience with.

I enjoyed the FDP, even though it was very much a punk party. I don\'t think I have ever seen as many drunk punx in my life. My friends even had to drive some drunk kid to the hospital at one of the shows. But the wake up the earth festival was great a real shining example of a fun event with a heavy touch of radical politics. I\'ll never forget seeing local kids lining up to smash a \"prison industrial complex\" pinata.Or seeing them tossing \"molotovs\" (plastic bottles filled with colored water) at cardboard \"prisons\"

Anyway, keep up the good work Barricada!
We are all learning as we go, revolution is not an exact science.
cheers!-jk
comment by
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, November 20 2002 @ 04:53 PM CST
I assume they were referring to the strong Latin American presense (Argentine, Colombian, Peruvian, and Mexican) who showed up for various events and concerts, and Latin Americans (Argentine, Venezuelan and Chilean) who were involved in the organizing.

Also, most of Barricada is South American, and the person who wrote the article is from Argentina.
comment by post-coherence anarchy
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, November 20 2002 @ 05:30 PM CST
You still don\'t clearly define what the \"latin\" presence means.

Additionally, your description of the author as a person \"from Argentina\" is from a imperialist/white supremacist construct. Can\'t we all just exist as autonomous individuals?
comment by Adam from SJ
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, November 20 2002 @ 05:35 PM CST
Major props to Barricada for the very honest and open criticism of their own work. If only more folks did this as honestly and openly (publishing in mag and internet), it would really help the whole movement.

I too have gone through periods where I seriously question my anarchism, but I always come back to the ideas and princibles even stronger than before. What I have given up on is most of the folks (about 1/2 - 2/3) who call themselves anarchists, the so called \"anarchist movement.\"

I have made far better political relationships with people who wouldn\'t even use the word \'anarchist\', or maybe don\'t even know what the word is. By working together closely and learning what each of us is really about, we learn and influence each other. There is usually a \'hiden anarchist waiting to emerge\' in these folks, they just need exposure to the ideas and readings from someone they respect, instead of the continual bad example set by those who call themselves anarchists.

Leave the unserious punks in the dust to do their own thing. Build relationships with the folks doing the real work in the trenches.

comment by
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, November 20 2002 @ 05:45 PM CST
Combatting the imperialist/white supremacist construct begins with white anarchists from the US telling Latin American anarchists how exactly they should refer to other Latin Americans. Thank you for the insight Brady.
comment by toto
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, November 20 2002 @ 06:06 PM CST
chuck and nicolas-
excellent series of thoughts. i really appreciated the organizer\'s perspective on FDP. for chuck: how would you reconcile what you say above and street level action? I have thought along lines similar to what you write above, but it seems to me that we have benefitted from a distinct \"style\" of protest on the streets, and that this style could be just as \"off-putting\" as our clothes/music/etc.
comment by viva
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, November 20 2002 @ 07:44 PM CST
This reports paints a fairly bleak picture. While appreciate self-criticism, it really doesn\'t capture what I many participants and myself personally experienced. So rather than slag the \'punks\', here\'s a brief write up of what I saw.

While I only attended the last two days of FdP, I did have a chance to attend the \"Wake Up the Earth\" part of the festival. I\'d like to share what I saw there:

Tremendous amounts of people, probably a few thousand throughout the day. Of those, maybe two or three hundred had anarchist paraphenilia or
dressed the part. Of the Bostonians, they were diverse, many ages, races and class backgrounds. I saw anarchists everywhere, and everyone seemed to be having a good time.

All day, Food Not Bombs served excellent, healthy food for free of charge. This was a great sight, compared to the other stands which were selling their products. The healthy, free vegetarian food that FNB served is a good example of \"dual power\": offering a viable, radical alternative to the mainstream that \"competes\" with the capitalists (among them many of the community groups which were so visibly absent from the rest of the festival).

Right across from FNB, the Crimethinc Distro gave away hundreds and hundreds of newspapers, pamphlets, zines, stickers and posters, all for free. I saw many homeless people, working class folks and people of color get a plate of FNB food and then pick up a bit of anarchist literature. Between these two groups, FNB and Crimethink, many of the much-maligned anarcho-punks\' (presumably from around the country) sat down together and had intelligent and meaningful conversations with native Bostonians. I wasn\'t suprised by these interactions. The younger generation of anarchists, who I guess are the ones being attacked for having \"The DIY Dogma\", are some of the most open, non-judgemental and friendly people at the Wake Up the Earth event. If people were afraid of anarchists, they certainly weren\'t showing it.

Several great rounds of anarchist pinata, set up by out of town anarchists. Small children and elementary aged kids (mostly of color, if that matters to you) from Boston participated and it was pretty fun for everyone involved to see a police officer, a prison and a bank get smashed to bits and all the kids scramble to pick up the candy. No, it wasn\'t storming the gates of the Winter Palace, but it was real and it was fun.

Just conversations. For all of the criticisms of the participants, most of them travelled hundreds of miles to participate in the FdP. They cared. They took part in the events and brought their energy and ideas with them. I certainly met several non-anarchists from Boston and learned about their local community struggles. I suppose I should thank them, instead of berating ourselves.

viva
comment by jorge
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, November 20 2002 @ 11:56 PM CST
well, there is actually an article that speaks solely about the community carnival... coming soon to infoshop... but you should also get a copy of the magazine itself (hint hint... buy buy)

-jorge, barricada collective
comment by Din
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 21 2002 @ 12:13 AM CST
Was there a point to smashing a \"prison industrial complex\" pinata or tossing fake molotovs at cardboards?

Just asking.
comment by Reverend Chuck0
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 21 2002 @ 12:24 AM CST
Ummm...fun?
comment by not in mourning
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 21 2002 @ 12:32 AM CST
Frustrations with the self-centered \"I do as I please\" crusty travellers (often maligned as \"Crimethinc kids\") is extremely common among event organizers.

I was one of many people who helped organize the PAZ Conference in Louisville KY. While I was really pleased with the overall success of the event, I was disgusted by the behavior of a small percentage of participants. In addition to cutting into the food line to demand seconds when half of the attendees had not been served their first portions, these people also whined about the optional sliding scale admission (cuz everything should be free, dude!), vandalized neighborhood buildings, urinated and consumer alcohol in public directly in front of our building ... I could cite a dozen other examples.

I\'ve often wondered how we could have done things differently -- how we could have organized the conference in such a way that it would not have attracted the crusty drunken travellers, who may as well be following the fucking Grateful Dead around. Instead they are mooching their way from conference to conference and from gathering to gathering, disrespecting organizers and disrupting safe spaces, and making the most idiotic arguments in support of their own unbridled stupidity (did you know that it was authoritarian and fascist to create safe spaces or to ask people not to bring illegal drugs into a community center/public campground?).

I like to have a good time when I go to these events in addition to doing \'serious\' stuff. But as a friend of mine recently wrote, \"if all you do is dance, then it\'s not my revolution.\"

Anyway, thanks for the insightful self-critique. We should all be thinking of creative, non-authoritarian ways to solve these problems. No one wants to form a fucking security group or something in order to boot out annoying leeches, so what can we do? We can\'t just let them wreck our events, trash our spaces, and sever the tenuous ties we have with local groups.
comment by erratum
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 21 2002 @ 12:37 AM CST
that should be \"consumed\" not \"consumer\" at the end of the second paragraph.
comment by Malegria
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 21 2002 @ 12:51 AM CST
You still don\'t clearly define what the \"latin\" presence means.
Additionally, your description of the author as a person \"from Argentina\" is from a imperialist/white supremacist construct. Can\'t we all just exist as autonomous individuals?

To me the word \"Latin(latina/o)\" is a pretty lame-ass term to describe us folks from south of the U.S. border....mainly because we don\'t speak Latin(we speak either Spanish, Portugeuse, or French). The person probably meant to say Latina/o, but it\'s the same word only in Spanish this time. But this is nit-picking.

Second, saying something like \"Can\'t we all just exist as autonomous individuals? \" is a very white-privileged statement. It resounds the same as saying you\'re \"color-blind.\" Only a person with white-privilege has the ability to disregard color, because it does not readily affect him/her by the nature of their \"color,\" as it would a person of color. Yes, we CAN all exist as \"autonomous individuals\" but to think we can do that NOW is just plain stupid.

Think about it.

-Agent Malegria
comment by rise [above], resist control
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 21 2002 @ 01:51 AM CST
That\'s bullshit, the article doesn\'t blame \"punk kids\" in the least. It implies they wished the turnout wasn\'t so heavily orientated in that direction, but never openly places blame upon them.

As for your charge of ethnocentrism against Barricada for using the word \"latin\" to describe an ethnography, I think you\'re really reaching. latin is a perfectly acceptable description, so drop the PC crap and step into the real world.
comment by Circuit
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 21 2002 @ 02:33 AM CST
One option is to make our events much more focused. Instead of just having a vague anarchist gathering, maybe we should try and focus on specific issues?

For instance, having an anarchist anti-war conference. Or an anarchist labor organizing conference (that does outreach outside of the IWW membership).

Some of us in the Chicago suburbs are thinking of having a conference for anti-authoritarians and radicals in non-traditional places. For instance, anyone who is in a suburb, rural towns, cities with no visible organized left, community colleges, etc. The idea would be to get people who have organized in places like this to coordinate with people who want to, so those people feel empowered to do so (because others have done it before, and they can learn from their mistakes and accomplishments).

Circuit
comment by Nightwalker
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 21 2002 @ 03:39 AM CST
Damn lifestylists. (Well, SOMEBODY was going to say it...)
comment by pinata maker
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 21 2002 @ 03:31 PM CST
Was there a point? You goof--let me recap for you. The scene: a hundred+ parents and children, mostly of color, definitely not of anarcho-punk backgrounds, screaming and cheering as kids and their mothers smash pinatas (for example: a pig with \"police\" big on its side, a capitalist businessman, etc.). In the background, an impromptu anarchist marching band (yes, of largely anarcho-punk background) plays to drum up atmosphere. Scores of others of all walks of life look on in interest. All this in the middle of a neighborhood festival that would otherwise have little or no political content, let alone anarchist content.

Let\'s say everyone there was already militantly opposed to the police state. It\'s still a good example of people from different demographics of the struggle coming together and enjoying each others\' presence--that\'s important, by itself. Those who weren\'t already openly radicalized were exposed to a public display of unabashed anti-authoritarian sentiments by a broadly ranging group of people--and these things are important, because what people see on the streets in terms of political positions has a lot to do with their ideas of which ones are sensible and which ones marginal.

I agree that symbolic actions like this one are, in themselves, meaningless. But between the streetfighting, the food-serving, the antiwar-marching, and the worker-contract-negotiating (um, for you syndicalists), we also have to maintain a culture of resistance (as opposed to a subculture!), to make the possibilities of wholesale revolt accessible to others and to encourage those who are already tempted in that direction so they won\'t feel alone and desperate. And--if we want people to be outraged when we anarchists are beaten, arrested, killed, it sure helps if they know us personally from face-to-face community interactions. We were the ones at that festival providing their kids with fun free in the midst of stalls selling things--that\'s a good example of how anarchism works (outside the theoretical dog-eat-dog of forums like this...).

There\'s the outreach aspect of everything, too--nearby there was a literature table, which was ransacked, and the fake dollars with anticapitalist humor we\'d used to pack the businessman were all as popular with people as the candy.

OK, that\'s all from this \"lifestylist\" for the day! And yes, it was great fun--as this stuff (community outreach, etc.) should be whenever it can be, since heaven knows there\'s enough grim stuff to slog through, too. \"Din,\" my comrade, it sounds like you could use a little chippering up yourself!

P.S. pardon the lack of accents in this post--can\'t get the computer to make them.
comment by Reverend Chuck0
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 21 2002 @ 11:20 AM CST
Well, I\'ve thought alot about these problems over the years. I\'ve been to my share of national anarchist events and I\'ve put on a few myself. I attended the excellent PAZ conference in Louisville and spent some of my time complaining about stinky crusty kids. Some of my friends from New York did point out (correctly) that I was making a big deal out of nothing. But I\'m still concerned that certain behaviors at gatherings need to be dealt with if the whole event is going to be valuable to all who attend.

I have two suggestions about dealing with problems like this:

1) Enforce a strict registration fee. If people have enough money to travel across country, they can afford to pay a modest registration fee. Saying that you have a \"sliding scale\" encourages people who can pay the fee to be cheapskates and not pay anything. Since you don\'t want to keep out low income people, have a form that low income folks can fill out, either before the event or at the door. The form indicates that the conference is a serious event and not something that you can just waltz in the door.
2) Don\'t allow people to sleep in the conference space.
3) Extremely bad behavior needs to be confronted. If some assholes are cutting in line, spitting at paintings, or breaking somebody\'s arm during anarchist soccer (this happened in Chicago), then that person or persons should be asked to leave immediately. We often try to be nice and tolerant with people, but there are simply some behaviors which have no place at our events.
comment by Ali la Pointe
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 21 2002 @ 11:49 AM CST
Does anyone know if

\"Beggar
comment by Flint
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 21 2002 @ 11:56 AM CST
It is.

http://nefac.northernhacking.org/newswire/display_any/91
comment by
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 21 2002 @ 01:50 PM CST
\"I\'ve been to my share of national anarchist events\"

Fascist!!
comment by Christopher Day
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 21 2002 @ 02:01 PM CST
I found this piece of uncharacteristic self-criticism very refreshing. It certainly coincides with my experiences of the anarchist movement in the U.S. and it touches on many of the issues that led me to stop being an anarchist. ChuckO made a number of insightful comments as well, before undercutting them with his insistence that the anarchist movement isn\'t really like its described in the article.

I think its important to draw a distinction here between cultural and political questions. The anarchist movement in the U.S. is mainly a subset of a larger predominantly white and middle class radical counter culture. This overlap creates a lot of confusion when attempts are made to critically analyze the practice of the anarchist movement. I have a few thoughts on these questions.

First, the existence of this larger counter-culture is a good thing. It is a space in which people who are relatively privileged can begin to rebel against the many things that are fucked up about this society. That rebellion takes many forms, and not surprisingly, can be very contradictory. Anti-social individualism of the sort described in this article is pretty common. But that shouldn\'t distract us from the basic value of spaces in which people can begin to challenge things. There is nothing wrong with doing political organizing within this context. The important thing is to be conscious that it is a particular context and that it isn\'t the whole of or most radical expression of social struggle in this society.

The actions of radical white youth are important in large part because they open up social and political space for everybody else. Privilege makes it easier to take certain risks and challenge forces that others really can\'t yet afford to get in the face of. Seattle was a largely white event, but its importance was felt in all sectors. The danger is in exagerrating the importance of this role and imagining that the willingness of rowdy white kids to risk going to jail in order to fuck shit up makes them some sort of vanguard that has the right to inflict its tactical preferences on broader social movements whenever it wants.

Anarchism is both an advanced political expression of this counter-culture and an expression of its limitations. Within the broader white radical counter-culture, the anarchists are generally the most conscious of issues of racism, sexism and class and the most oriented towards revolutionary change. At the same time they are very much a product of their social context. The biggest problem in this regard is the anarchist belief that they are in possession of a political doctrine that transcends their own social base -- that has potential universal appeal.

This is a major obstacle to building meaningful alliances with other social sectors. Sooner or later all serious anarchists come to see the need to \"break out of the anarchist ghetto\" but often fail to realize how much their anarchism is an expression of that \"ghetto.\"

For most purposes it is useful to regard anarchism in the U.S. as a sort of identity politics for alienated white youth. I know that description will elicit howls of protest, but I think its still an honest description.

The point of saying this is not to denounce anybody, but rather to undertake a more honest assessment of the phenomena than is possible as long as we are burdened with an illusory self-image.

Breaking out of the anarchist ghetto can not be accomplished simply by \"improved outreach\" to working class communities and communities of color or even by more patient methods. It requires a thorough-going reassessment of ones politics and a willingness to realize that you may have much more to learn than to teach from the people you want to work with.

Key to any such reassessment though must be a consistent practice of summing up experiences and being ruthless in making self-criticisms. That is what is so positive about this article. If it reflects a commitment to a continuous practice of self-criticism, and not just a single article, it holds out great promise.
comment by viva
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 21 2002 @ 02:24 PM CST
Just ask the seven year old kids who were doing the smashing.
comment by viva
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 21 2002 @ 02:24 PM CST
Just ask the seven year old kids who were doing the smashing.
comment by James
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 21 2002 @ 02:47 PM CST
No matter what you\'re opinion of NEFAC or Barricada, you gotta admit that Chris Day openly agreeing with them is about the worst insult possible and, honestly, not really fair, either.

What the fuck are trying to do here, Chris Day, snitch-jacket (or in this case \"Mao-jacket\")Barricada? If you actually agree with, you\'d be best served by keeping your mouth shut or denouncing them, because your support will only hurt them.
comment by Flint
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 21 2002 @ 03:19 PM CST
I was just saying, wow... a constructive thread on infoshop. Chris Day hasn\'t even used the article as an excuse to argue against anarchism. I should be more cynical.

Actually, there are numerous places where Chris is expressing disagreement with NEFAC and Barricada. Most ideology, whether it is anarchism, or Marxism expresses a political doctrine that transcends their own social base -- that has potential universal appeal. Anarchism, atleast, seems more flexible in regards to different social bases (see specifismo), while Marxism (while it can adapt) is imposed from the top down.

I think one of Chris\'s problems is that he had the misfortune of being active in the U.S. anarchist scene in a synthesist network that tried to become something more and failed miserably. Chris\'s analysis falls pretty flat when compared to the anarchist movement in Spain or Nigeria.

Alot of what Chris says is fine. The need for self-criciticism and reassessement, a willingness to learn from people you want to work with, the utility of counter-culture. All tings that I agree with. Some of his analysis are even partially accurate, like the demographic composition of the anarchist milieu in the U.S. and the radical opportunities available to alienated white youth by their privilege.

However, is wrong in that in that hierarchy and authoritarianism are needed to social revolutionary struggle. Alot of his arguments are just crap when compared to a organized anarchism.

I\'m sure it would make Chris quite happy if the membership of NEFAC re-evaluated anarchism and decided that an opposition against all hierarchy and oppression was wrong, and became some kinds of \"third world marxists\" (nevermind his zipcode) or some kind of authoritarian \"revolutionary socialists\" (nevermind that the end result want actually be communism) with a lot of lip service given to democratic process and accountability. However, many folks in NEFAC are critical of authoritarian movements because of their own expierence with them and explicitly chose to be ANARCHO-communists.

Chris is often suggesting things anarchist should read. I\'ll give him a suggestion, it\'s not even written by an anarchist, The Radical Tradition, by Richard Gombin. Enjoy.
comment by pinata maker
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 21 2002 @ 03:32 PM CST
Was there a point? You goof--let me recap for you. The scene: a hundred+ parents and children, mostly of color, definitely not of anarcho-punk backgrounds, screaming and cheering as kids and their mothers smash pinatas (for example: a pig with \"police\" big on its side, a capitalist businessman, etc.). In the background, an impromptu anarchist marching band (yes, of largely anarcho-punk background) plays to drum up atmosphere. Scores of others of all walks of life look on in interest. All this in the middle of a neighborhood festival that would otherwise have little or no political content, let alone anarchist content.

Let\'s say everyone there was already militantly opposed to the police state. It\'s still a good example of people from different demographics of the struggle coming together and enjoying each others\' presence--that\'s important, by itself. Those who weren\'t already openly radicalized were exposed to a public display of unabashed anti-authoritarian sentiments by a broadly ranging group of people--and these things are important, because what people see on the streets in terms of political positions has a lot to do with their ideas of which ones are sensible and which ones marginal.

I agree that symbolic actions like this one are, in themselves, meaningless. But between the streetfighting, the food-serving, the antiwar-marching, and the worker-contract-negotiating (um, for you syndicalists), we also have to maintain a culture of resistance (as opposed to a subculture!), to make the possibilities of wholesale revolt accessible to others and to encourage those who are already tempted in that direction so they won\'t feel alone and desperate. And--if we want people to be outraged when we anarchists are beaten, arrested, killed, it sure helps if they know us personally from face-to-face community interactions. We were the ones at that festival providing their kids with fun free in the midst of stalls selling things--that\'s a good example of how anarchism works (outside the theoretical dog-eat-dog of forums like this...).

There\'s the outreach aspect of everything, too--nearby there was a literature table, which was ransacked, and the fake dollars with anticapitalist humor we\'d used to pack the businessman were all as popular with people as the candy.

OK, that\'s all from this \"lifestylist\" for the day! And yes, it was great fun--as this stuff (community outreach, etc.) should be whenever it can be, since heaven knows there\'s enough grim stuff to slog through, too. \"Din,\" my comrade, it sounds like you could use a little chippering up yourself!

P.S. pardon the lack of accents in this post--can\'t get the computer to make them.
comment by pinata maker
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 21 2002 @ 03:34 PM CST
Was there a point? You goof--let me recap for you. The scene: a hundred+ parents and children, mostly of color, definitely not of anarcho-punk backgrounds, screaming and cheering as kids and their mothers smash pinatas (for example: a pig with \"police\" big on its side, a capitalist businessman, etc.). In the background, an impromptu anarchist marching band (yes, of largely anarcho-punk background) plays to drum up atmosphere. Scores of others of all walks of life look on in interest. All this in the middle of a neighborhood festival that would otherwise have little or no political content, let alone anarchist content.

Let\'s say everyone there was already militantly opposed to the police state. It\'s still a good example of people from different demographics of the struggle coming together and enjoying each others\' presence--that\'s important, by itself. Those who weren\'t already openly radicalized were exposed to a public display of unabashed anti-authoritarian sentiments by a broadly ranging group of people--and these things are important, because what people see on the streets in terms of political positions has a lot to do with their ideas of which ones are sensible and which ones marginal.

I agree that symbolic actions like this one are, in themselves, meaningless. But between the streetfighting, the food-serving, the antiwar-marching, and the worker-contract-negotiating (um, for you syndicalists), we also have to maintain a culture of resistance (as opposed to a subculture!), to make the possibilities of wholesale revolt accessible to others and to encourage those who are already tempted in that direction so they won\'t feel alone and desperate. And--if we want people to be outraged when we anarchists are beaten, arrested, killed, it sure helps if they know us personally from face-to-face community interactions. We were the ones at that festival providing their kids with fun free in the midst of stalls selling things--that\'s a good example of how anarchism works (outside the theoretical dog-eat-dog of forums like this...).

There\'s the outreach aspect of everything, too--nearby there was a literature table, which was ransacked, and the fake dollars with anticapitalist humor we\'d used to pack the businessman were all as popular with people as the candy.

OK, that\'s all from this \"lifestylist\" for the day! And yes, it was great fun--as this stuff (community outreach, etc.) should be whenever it can be, since heaven knows there\'s enough grim stuff to slog through, too. \"Din,\" my comrade, it sounds like you could use a little chippering up yourself!

P.S. pardon the lack of accents in this post--can\'t get the computer to make them.
comment by pinata maker
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 21 2002 @ 03:36 PM CST
Was there a point? You goof--let me recap for you. The scene: a hundred+ parents and children, mostly of color, definitely not of anarcho-punk backgrounds, screaming and cheering as kids and their mothers smash pinatas (for example: a pig with \"police\" big on its side, a capitalist businessman, etc.). In the background, an impromptu anarchist marching band (yes, of largely anarcho-punk background) plays to drum up atmosphere. Scores of others of all walks of life look on in interest. All this in the middle of a neighborhood festival that would otherwise have little or no political content, let alone anarchist content.

Let\'s say everyone there was already militantly opposed to the police state. It\'s still a good example of people from different demographics of the struggle coming together and enjoying each others\' presence--that\'s important, by itself. Those who weren\'t already openly radicalized were exposed to a public display of unabashed anti-authoritarian sentiments by a broadly ranging group of people--and these things are important, because what people see on the streets in terms of political positions has a lot to do with their ideas of which ones are sensible and which ones marginal.

I agree that symbolic actions like this one are, in themselves, meaningless. But between the streetfighting, the food-serving, the antiwar-marching, and the worker-contract-negotiating (um, for you syndicalists), we also have to maintain a culture of resistance (as opposed to a subculture!), to make the possibilities of wholesale revolt accessible to others and to encourage those who are already tempted in that direction so they won\'t feel alone and desperate. And--if we want people to be outraged when we anarchists are beaten, arrested, killed, it sure helps if they know us personally from face-to-face community interactions. We were the ones at that festival providing their kids with fun free in the midst of stalls selling things--that\'s a good example of how anarchism works (outside the theoretical dog-eat-dog of forums like this...).

There\'s the outreach aspect of everything, too--nearby there was a literature table, which was ransacked, and the fake dollars with anticapitalist humor we\'d used to pack the businessman were all as popular with people as the candy.

OK, that\'s all from this \"lifestylist\" for the day! And yes, it was great fun--as this stuff (community outreach, etc.) should be whenever it can be, since heaven knows there\'s enough grim stuff to slog through, too. \"Din,\" my comrade, it sounds like you could use a little chippering up yourself!

P.S. pardon the lack of accents in this post--can\'t get the computer to make them.
comment by anon
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 21 2002 @ 04:04 PM CST
wow, it\'s like were back to that NEFAC vs. BTR discussion that chucko deleted.
comment by Christopher Day
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 21 2002 @ 04:07 PM CST
Were you raised by wolves?

Seriously, you shouldn\'t toss around accusations of snitch-jacketing, even in jest. If my approval of a Barricada article hurts their standing in the eyes of the anarchist movement, so much the worse for the anarchist movement. Whatever weird purpose it serves you to make a pariah out of me isn\'t healthy. Get over it and start talking about the ideas.
comment by To Malegria
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 21 2002 @ 04:29 PM CST
PC alert PC alert! Stop whining...
comment by
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 21 2002 @ 04:31 PM CST
Will someone in DC break his fucking delete-finger?
comment by James Wilson
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 21 2002 @ 04:48 PM CST
Barricada,

Welcome to America. It\'s no accident that punk rock was born here and modern left-anarchism traces its roots to a different continent. One holds dear an extreme individualistic philosophy that justifies anti-social behavior on grounds that its the individuals freedom to do so. Anything else is fascist... The other is about seeking some level of unity with others around them for mutual benefit.

So when the two come together in \"anarcho-punk\" we have an oxymoron. When the oxymorons come together we see something on a mass scale that resembles the American capitalist class and underclass- both live by feeding on others work, never their own.

This is not to single out American punks. As I\'ve said they are the logical conclusion of a distinctly American philosophy.

So what do we do different next time? I\'m tempted to say go for only local advertizing that explicitly states that there wont be any free food or punk bands. Those drinking will be forced to leave if necessary to excercise the principle of \"freedom of association\" which implies the freedom to not associate. Still you would have the same problem of America on your hands. Perhaps a better approach would be to invite musicians and groups that are doing little things to foster a culture of mutual aid and respect, solidarity, direct democracy, and to use a European word, all those with a \"social\" agenda. Fuck all those punk groups and non-punk groups that showed hostility. They are the problem, not the solution. When doing your flyers avoid words like \"anarchism\", \"punk show\", \"FNB\", \"black bloc\".

for a new American culture,

-James





comment by Christopher Day
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 21 2002 @ 05:16 PM CST
What does it mean to say in this context -- i n terms of its relation to a social base -- that \"Marxism is imposed from the top down.\" Nobody imposed Marxism on me. And no matter how obnoxious you find me, I couldn\'t possibly hope to impose it on you. In this society people are Marxists or Anarchists because they choose to be often in the face of considerable pressure not to be. The facts are clear: there are a hell of a lot more Black, Latino, and Asian Marxists than Anarchists. This is the case pretty much around the globe. All sorts of ideologies have universalist pretensions. But most in fact reflect very particular social bases. These may change over time and from place to place.

I know you think anarchists are the only people in the world who give a shit about democracy and accountability. But it isn\'t true. I don\'t argue either FOR or AGAINST \"hierarchy\" or \"authoritarianism\" because I don\'t think they are particularly useful descriptive categories. But I do think democracy and accountability are important and its not just \"lip service.\" I\'ve long since learned that whether someone calls themselves a Marxist or an anarchist is not particularly useful in figuring out how sincere their commitment to movement democracy is. You might want to think about that before you toss accusations around. I\'m not particularly concerened whether or not NEFAC all become commies or pentecostals, so long as they relate to other forces in a principled and non-sectarian manner.

BTW, I read the Gombin book many years ago. I liked it at the time, but even then couldn\'t help but note its Eurocentrism. Its a well written and carefully argued exposition of the European left communist position. Anarchist critiques of Leninism like this tend to focus on Lenins views on the role of the party and the state. But of at least equal importance in his thought and more important in understanding his influence on revolutionary movements in Asia, Africa and Latin America is his analysis of imperialism and the significance of anti-colonial movements. It was on this question that the Bolsheviks most sharply departed from European radicalism (Marxist or Anarchist) and charted a new course that was taken up around the world.

Gombin\'s \"Radical Tradition\" more or less peters out before WW2 when the revolutionary center of gravity shifts to the colonies. Its an interesting treatment of trend that ultimately proved largely irrelevant to the main struggles of the past century.
comment by A NYC Friend of Chucko
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 21 2002 @ 05:35 PM CST
Chucko wrote:
\"Enforce a strict registration fee. If people have enough money to travel across country, they can afford to pay a modest registration fee.\"
There are a number of people traveling the country with little to no money (ala the old Wobblies). I do not agree that if you travel across the country you necessarily have money.

\"Saying that you have a \"sliding scale\" encourages people who can pay the fee to be cheapskates and not pay anything.\"

maybe New York is different. I have held participated in a number of benefits from the very small raising about $40.00 for BBI to some that have netted thousands. They have all been sliding scale or pay what you can. I have had similiar experiences in the Midwest. It is simply a matter of being honest about costs and making the event valueable to those attending.

\"Since you don\'t want to keep out low income people, have a form that low income folks can fill out, either before the event or at the door.\"

So now we are going to make forms! It seems there is an easier and less bureacratic way to approach this.

\"The form indicates that the conference is a serious event and not something that you can just waltz in the door.\"

I thought the idea often was to get people in the door, even those just curious. If we shove a form in their face I think this will actually hinder what we are trying to do...make a more open culture.


\" 2) Don\'t allow people to sleep in the conference space. \"

Again this has not been a big problem in NYC. It seems to make some sense.

\"3) Extremely bad behavior needs to be confronted.\"

Of course and it does happen. It happens all of the time. This idea should be (and is) also in practice in our projects, collectives and non-conference spaces.

I think we should understand that when you have 100 or more folks for a few days some of them are going to act in ways we find offensive. This happens at conferences where there are security guards, forms, mandatory fees and when no one crashes at the conference site. This is not unique to anarchist gatherings, in fact if anything it seems to be less so. I have always found more drunken and rude behavior at \"professional\" and \"academic\" conferences I have gone to than any anarchist gathering.

Lets all keep some perspective.

smokey
comment by not in mourning
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 21 2002 @ 06:58 PM CST
\"This is not to single out American punks. As I\'ve said they are the logical conclusion of a distinctly American philosophy.\"

Although I\'m sympathetic to your sentiment, I have to disagree. What about the autonomen (AA)?
comment by Reverend Chuck0
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 21 2002 @ 08:31 PM CST
>>ChuckO made a number of insightful comments as well, before undercutting them with his insistence that the anarchist movement isn\'t really like its described in the article.

Shit, as if you know anything about the contemporary anarchist movement in North America. You\'ve admitted before that you\'ve been out of touch with the movement for 5 years. As most of us know, the anarchist movement has undergone alot of changes.

It\'s too bad that Chairman Day didn\'t attend the Bay Area Anarchist Conference earlier this year. After looking around at the people there, Day would have scurried out the door, realizing how out of touch his rants are when he describes the movement as \"a subset of a larger predominantly white and middle class radical counter culture.\"

Get out of the classrooms at Hunter College more often, Chairman Day! You don\'t know what you are talking about.

comment by Reverend Chuck0
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 21 2002 @ 08:33 PM CST
I haven\'t deleted much of anything other than neo-nazi posts recently.
comment by P
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 21 2002 @ 09:28 PM CST
The term Latino/a comes from speaking a language of latin derivative, which spanish italian, portueguese, and italian are, therefore all these people are latin@s too.
Sounds like a case of someone knitpicking for no reason the usual liberal academic arguemnt that nothing is acceptable or will ever be changed for the better. It\'s sill semantics that we waste time argueing about rather than about behavior
comment by
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 22 2002 @ 06:20 AM CST
Since it seems that any coherent argument leads to discord and ad hominem, I just want to share a couple possibly-relevant anecdotes that various posts made me remember.

First: One of my \"holy shit, am I on the right side?\" moments was right before all you had the FDP. I went to Chicago\'s Carnival Against Capitalism this year-it was a decently put-together event for what it was. Well anyway, we hear the sweet straining of a high-quality drum corps/infernal noise brigade and then realize that it\'s the RCP contingent. In a march of 150-200 people, I\'d say that 20-40 were youth in the drum corps from the Cabrini Green Projects. Its because their cadre do have discipline and they do a good job of dealing with the sort of activist racism that constructs artificial boundaries.

Secondly, I volunteer at an infoshop that has one of the strictest anti-sales policies of any infoshop I\'ve been to personally. Everything is by donation, period. My non-political friends joke with me that its a scam to make more money-since we always get bigger donations than what the listed price is. It\'s been my experience that once people realize that \"sliding scale\" is not a one-time offer that they need to take advantage of, things even out . Plus, it\'s kinda creepy to charge for things, so that people respect it. That\'s what the SWP does.
comment by Christopher Day
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 22 2002 @ 11:55 AM CST
I haven\'t been a part of the anarchist movement for four years. But I haven\'t been on Mars either. I\'ve gone to plenty of events and meetings and seen anarchists at demonstrations. I\'ve maintained friendships with a number of anarchists. And you are the only person I know who makes this claim. I\'m sure there are others, but I think most people find these laughable assertions embarassing.

I know the anarchist movement is bigger than it was five years ago and I\'m sure there are a few more darker faces in mix. You may be able to fool yourself into thinking some sort of breakthrough has taken place. But you can\'t fool me. I trust the description of the Barricada article and I stand by my characterization of the movement. What do other people have to say? What IS the composition (race, class, gender, age) of the anarchist movement in the U.S.?
comment by Christopher Day
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 22 2002 @ 11:59 AM CST
I think he meant \"Welcome to the United States.\"
comment by Christopher Day
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 22 2002 @ 12:11 PM CST
After a while those kinds of moments add up and you begin to ask if there is a deeper connection between the politics of the anarchist movement and its composition. You wonder if its more than a freak accident that can be corrected with \"better outreach\" -- that maybe people aren\'t buying because they don\'t dig what you are selling.

I don\'t think there is anything wrong with charging for things if they cost you. You are under no obligation to subsidize the consumption of what is often difficult enough to produce. If you\'ve got those kinds of resources, great. But don\'t raise it to a point of principle. Workers World and the CP give away their newspapers and it doesn\'t make me think any better of them (actually it suggests that nobody would pay for what they have to offer). Charging for some sort of moral reason IS weird, but its true that many people will take giveaways they have no intention of actually reading. In those cases not charging can be downright wasteful.
comment by Christopher Day
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 22 2002 @ 12:17 PM CST
And enough with the \"Chairman Day\" crap already. Its petty and childish.
comment by Chairman Mick
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 22 2002 @ 12:35 PM CST
I don\'t agree with everything Chris Day has to say but I think his posts on infoshop are some of the most well-reasoned on the site. In short, unlike 90% of the pap posted here Chris\' posts are at least worth reading. I also agree with Chris that throwing around accusations of \"snitch jacketing\" people is really irresponsible. Chris, I hope you continue to post on infoshop.

comment by James Wilson
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 22 2002 @ 03:16 PM CST
Not in Mourning

As for the Autonomen, from what I know they barricaded streets to defend themselves from cops, not cause they were passed out drunks or cause they \"felt like it\", \"no rules\", etcetera.
Additionally they were not as ghettoized. From what little I\'ve seen punks are only 1 faction among many in the euro squat movement. In Florence Italy immigrants and low income workers made up the bulk of it in the mid-90s. In fact, at a squatters meeting I attended , the closest thing I saw to a punk rocker was a kid with a Rage Against the Machine shirt out of 3 or 4 dozen people. Some were children, others were elderly. A few were students. A dozen or so were men in their 30s. At one social center I went to I saw kids dancing together arm on shoulder, no mosh, to punk rock cover bands. not really anything individualistic to mention. What are you referring to when speak of the AA?


When I used the term \"America\" it was to also remind people of how self-centered we are. Chileans and Argentinean people are also \"American\" since they live in this hemisphere as well. But Americans think of only people in the US as American. I suppose you could say the word has been taken out of context because its awkward to say \"USAian\" but I tend to think that we are generally a geographically ignorant people. Point in case: According to a recent National Geographic survey of young adults in the US only 89% can locate where the US is on a global map. 13% can find Iraq. wawawa :^(



comment by nefacer
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 22 2002 @ 03:25 PM CST
some of our quebecois members refer to us as \"united-statesians\"
comment by Chairman Day
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 22 2002 @ 03:26 PM CST
neener neener neener
comment by
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 22 2002 @ 03:52 PM CST
reason is authoritarian!
comment by insurrect
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 22 2002 @ 04:08 PM CST
Someone from Nefac defending Chris Day? It is good to know that the authoritarians have each others backs.
comment by Flint
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 22 2002 @ 04:40 PM CST
*sigh* Now were authoritarians are we? Whatever. Have fun playing insurrection.
comment by
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 22 2002 @ 05:30 PM CST
Open letter to Chris Day,

First i was wondering if you could point to one Marxist revolution that actually \"worked\"? It seems that you are really into that stuff and i was wondering if you could point me in the right direction. And i would appreciate if you would be honest and critical. I am not convinced that China, Russia, Cuba, etc. were victories. Any economic system that can kill off, imprison, enslave huge sections of its populace can make the living standard of the rest that are \"free\" lives better. there is no magic in that. the Germans did it, the Japanese did it, and we all know the US sure as fuck did it.

also i don\'t want to hear about anti-colonial wars that removed the europeans but then replaced them with dark faces in high places but who were just as tyrantical. i guess i want to know where marxism has fended this off successfully. So please advise.

Secondly, i have to indeed admit that you are a pretty smart guy. someone who can toss out a 20 page position paper on the re-proletization of america- geez. you are honestly a lot smarter than i am. most of the time on infoshop i think i am only grasping 80% of what the fuck you are talking about. this isnt a slam for you to stop writing, i enjoy the challenge of deciphering hyroglichics. but here is my point. i don\'t think i am a dummy, so i think it is safe to admit that a lot of people out there in the real world will have no idea what marxists, let alone anarchists, are really talking about when shit goes down, and may never get what is in the pages of Capital. heck, i know the difference between a delta and a wye transformer but i am not too good at economics. so how does a real marxist society work if that is the case? do we just get all the smart people together and have them figure stuff out. where does workers control come in? democracy?

and here is my problem with it being for smart people to figure shit out. they have by in far fucked up the world more than dumb people. look at what the most brilliant minds of the 1940s produced, the A-bomb, germ warfare on a mass scale (japanese against chinese), smart bombs, etc. and look at what they are producing today war, famine, global capitalism. i am not impressed. just because you are smart doesnt mean that you have a love of people. so i would rather have people on the ground, whether we are the smartest or not, make the decisions that will affect our lives. if we fuck up then it is on us and hopefully we will live to learn from our mistakes.

you got to realize that most people dont start moving against stuff cuz of something they read in some book. well marx said, \"blah, blah, blah\" so we should act. rather they look at the conditions around them and they are generally left no choice (whether that is reality or not is besides the point, they feel that way). why do fight back? because i live in detroit. everything that could go wrong with capitalism has gone wrong here and by in far much worse than anywhere else (except for Gary, IN -let\'s give Gary some love). but when i look at the marxists here with their scientific knowledge of society i feel they got less of a clue of what is going on in this society than the guy slinging smack down the street, staying night to night at the hotel yorba. why is that? why if marxism is so scientific why can\'t anyone pick it up and find their way out of this mess. why do so many marxists sound like they just dont have a clue? again please advise.
comment by Duke
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 22 2002 @ 07:13 PM CST
How is agreeing that we shouldn\'t use loaded terms like \"snith-jacketing\" supportive of Chris Day\'s political agenda? The real authoritarian tendency in North American anarchism is the knee-jerk reaction some anarchists have towards anyone that organizes differently than the cuddly consensus method. Labeling anarchists as authoritarian and attempting to link them politically and ideologically to a Maoist is some fucked up shit. Insurrect that asshole.
comment by Reverend Chuck0
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 22 2002 @ 11:17 PM CST
Chairman Day: I\'m going to confront you on your words, because you have a history of using race in activist groups to get your way. And anybody who follows these discussions on this website can see that you *continually* use race-baiting against the anarchist movement. It\'s pretty clear that you do this because you have nothing original to say, at least nothing new that you didn\'t say 15 years ago.

I never said that a miraculous breakthrough on race has been achieved in the anarchist movement. The North American anarchist movement is very white, just like the sectarian Left. However, a great deal of progress has been made since you left anarchism (officially, many people always saw you as a closet authoritarian), and you baseless generalizations doesn\'t recognize this fact.

Frankly, I don\'t see why anybody should take your bait on this issue, because whatever anybody says, you will continue to play this anti-anarchist game. If you are so concerned with race, why don\'t you go address it in your little white socialist organization. If you want to address this issue in th anarchist movement, then become an anarchist and join those who are working on it.

Otherwise, we\'ll have to keep calling you on your authoritarian, sectarian babbling.
comment by Malegria
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, November 23 2002 @ 02:57 AM CST
I love when me( a person of color) speaks up I become the P.C. police.

It\'s like \"yeah, i have friends of color\"....but when we speak the fuck up we\'re either \"too brown, or too down.\"

aahhh.........C\'est la ViE!
comment by Christopher Day
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, November 26 2002 @ 10:35 AM CST
There are two distinct points here.

The first regards how we characterize a revolution as a success. There are those who would have anything short of the creation of the classless stateless society defined as a failure. I take their point, but don\'t really think this is a useful way of looking at revolutions of the 20th century.

All revolutions to date have been decidely mixed in their outcomes. Take China. I\'m sure we can agree on many if not all of the features of the regime brought to power by the revolution there that we object to. What I can\'t agree on is the blithe dismissal of the accomplishments. Before the revolution, China was a basketcase of a country plagued by almost annual famines, carved up between warlords and foreign imperialists. The most brutal feudal practices prevailed in the countryside. Women were chattel and the vast majority had exactly no voice in the affairs of their village and were cruelly exploited by a tiny landlord class. At least 85% of the people were illiterate and lacked access to basic healthcare. The revolution changed ALL of these things. We can and should be critical of what replaced them. But we should not engage in wordplay to suggest that the revolution did not result is sweeping positive changes in the lives of the Chinese people.

Did people die in the process? Yes they did. Some were executed in the suppression of counter-revolutionaries in the years after 1949. Millions starved to death as a result of the folly of the Great Leap Forward. But those who make glib comparisons between those tragic events and the deliberate extermination of millions by the Nazis need to study their history a little closer. I\'m sure the vast majority of the Chinese people still regard the Chinese Revolution as a success even if they hate the current regime.

The second question, once you cut away the personal stuff, has to do with the role of intellectuals and expertise in the revolutionary process. It is certainly true that important parts of revolutionary theory would sail over the heads of a lot of people today, just as I have no idea what the difference between a delta and a wye transformer is. There are a few points to be made on this.

First, I think people are capable of understanding a lot more than might seem the case at first appearances. This society devotes considerable energy to discouraging most people from thinking about these issues. I think questions of political and economic theory are widely regarded as boring or incomprehensible mainly because most people don\'t think their views on these questions are likely to matter. Interest rises as people are drawn into the struggle.

Second, the question of education and access to education is very important. Whether you can read, whether you are familiar with history, whether you understand basic economic issues -- all these things will affect your ability to participate in political processes. Formal democratic structures can be rendered meaningless if only a minority of the people have access to an educational level that enables them to really understand the issues facing society. This will have to be a big part of the process of transition to communism.

Third, just because there are inequalities in knowledge doesn\'t mean that people are powerless. You don\'t need to have an analysis of theories of surplus value in order to participate in the expropriation of your landlord. But expropriating your landlord may contribute to a society in which your kids really do understand not just surplus value, but the workings of international debt.

The point here is that real democracy is not a set of formal conditions like multi-party elections (important as those might be) but rather the expression of the emergent power of the people, of which command of knowledge is an important aspect.

One of the big insights to come out of the Chinese Revolution was that the period of socialist transition was still one of class struggle. The struggle for access to and control over knowledge is particularly important in the outcome of this struggle. In China this issue often got framed as a struggle betwen what was \"red\" and what was \"expert.\" One of the big issues in the Cultural Revolution was whether or not educational opportunities were to be extended further to the children of peasants and worker.

Some theoretical issues are just hard to grasp. It takes work to wrap your head around them and its gonna be a while before the vast majority of people are willing or able to do that work. But there is no reason to make it harder by writing or talking in an unneccsarily inaccessible manner. I strive to speak and write clearly without dumbing down what I want to say. I know that I don\'t always succeed. But I think its important to understand that even if they are hard to understand these questions really matter in peoples lives. We don\'t do anybody any favors by pretending that they don\'t or that there are shortcuts to understanding when there aren\'t.

I think its very important not to fall into the trap of anti-intellectual populism, of imagining that we can advance the struggle for human liberation by pandering to disdain for reading and thinking. Campesinos in Chiapas and mineworkers in South Africa are able to study and understand Marx. There is no reason we shouldn\'t be able to create a culture of resistance that values serious study and debate in the richest country on earth. Indeed if we want to win we have to.
comment by
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 29 2002 @ 06:10 AM CST
Ha!Well-reasoned?He just repeats the same slander and cartoon view of anarchism over and over.
comment by
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 29 2002 @ 06:09 AM CST
Ha!The nazis made some \"good reforms\" too,that doesnt mean it was a good thing or a \"success\".