I’ve been an anarchist for more than half of my life. While I am often charged with being an “armchair anarchist,” the truth is that I spent the greater part of my life on the front lines tossing bricks, building autonomous spaces, and experimenting with different anarchist practices. I’ve been arrested, I’ve hiked the country, I’ve grown gardens, I’ve had dinner parties, I’ve worn black masks, I’ve fought with police officers, I’ve disrupted the meetings of members of the power elite, and I’ve participated in conspiracies against the government, and so on. I write this knowing very well that it marks me as a target.
It’s extremely rarely that we anarchists would agree with the Pope but this recent pronouncement is accurate enough: "We are discarding an entire generation to maintain an economic system that can't hold up any more, a system that to survive, must make war, as all great empires have done. But as a third world war can't be waged, they make regional wars...they produce and sell weapons, and with this, the balance sheets of the idolatrous economies, the great world economies that sacrifice man at the feet of the idol of money, are resolved..."
Wednesday night, before the San Francisco Giants had even won their third World Series in five years, people were already chanting, “Fuck the Police!” This sentiment would carry itself through the entire night. As the evening wore on, massive crowds spilled into the streets, clashing with police, vandalizing their vehicles, and throwing fireworks inside the windows of broken cruisers. Vanguard Properties, the target of numerous anti-gentrification protests, was hit with massive vandalism and a brick was thrown through its windows, knocking down a poster calling for people to vote against a recent anti-gentrification initiative.
The past week has seen two attacks in Canada against Canadian soldiers by Muslim men. In response, thousands of people filled the streets to wave flags and call for heightened surveillance, preventive arrests, and war in the middle east. The crowds are calling for a police state. It feels heavy, and we're stuck watching with dread as the crowds seem intent on re-enacting propaganda scenes from the 1936 olympics in Berlin. Except in Canada in 2014, instead of a torch the crowds are cheering on the progress of a dead soldier whose corpse was driven from Ottawa to Hamilton.
The Ebola catastrophe that threatens to be the next deadly pandemic is entirely unleashed by capitalism and will be a holocaust against the poor. It is a product of environmental destruction, overcrowding, hunger and the absence of public health infrastructure - exacerbated by years of war.
Liberals and progressive forces support the Democratic Party in elections, even though humanity is facing a number of interconnected threats and nightmarish catastrophes: economic, ecological/climate, and others. Democratic liberals, while perhaps the "lesser evil" to the Republican reactionaries, have no solutions to the objective dangers which threaten society with great suffering and destruction. The only real alternative is popular mass struggle or defeat--socialist-anarchism or catastrophes.
Unfortunately, when talking about Ferguson, few people are really talking about gentrification. And if we can't say gentrification and Ferguson in the same breath, we can't look at the bigger problems. The murder of an unarmed black teenager? How about the racialized murder of civil society by the police state and the ongoing destruction of the world that it is bringing about?
It was also a pleasant surprise because Ward and Kropotkin are two of among several anarchist thinkers I’m writing a series of appreciations on for C4SS. Both Kropotkin and Ward were libertarian communists of sorts, but there was so much sheer muchness to their thought it’s impossible to encapsulate with any such ideological label. Compared to their love for the irreducible particularity of all the near-infinity of local examples of human-scale self-organization and cooperation, labels like “communist,” “individualist” or “syndicalist” are like stale bread crusts.
A culture of security is one which enhances an organization's capacity to determine its interests and act on them in spite of another organization's opposed interests. Corporate workforces and law enforcement agencies both cultivate cultures of security, as do management teams, investment rings, smugglers, unions, militia men, and academic researchers. All of these cultures are supposed to control flows of information (trade secrets, exclusive suppliers, price indexes, strategic plans, etc.) and restrict communication in furtherance of an organization's interests.
What would it be like if everyone loved everyone else? 10 out of 10 people agree, it’d be pretty fucking great. Unfortunately we are all, at this point, human. Our capacities to embrace each and every individual as a truly beautiful and unique creature are far beyond us. We also exist within social structures which embrace the potent power of hate, separation and collectivism. In these shackles, individuals are not particular or meaningful entities. We exist only for the ends of some institution, some vague and old superstition about the horrible others. While we might never have good reason to love everyone, society ensures we will hate The Other, whoever it decrees qualifies.