Punk bands tour the world singing anthems that promote militant direct action & activism, putting out albums with flaming Molotovs emblazoned across their covers, with militant messages; but few of us ever truly put those words into action. Walter Bond on the other hand has spent decades working tirelessly, whether leafleting at shows and in the streets, tabling at Pride events, protesting, or volunteering at animal sanctuaries before finally turning to the more militant tactics of the Animal Liberation Front.
Perhaps the biggest challenge anarchists face is combating the masses of disinformation out there about anarchism, to educate the 99% and explain ourselves, and what anarchism means rather than what government and other propaganda tells us that it means. That’s part of the reason we set up Forest of Dean Anarchists. So here is the first in what we hope to be a series of asking prominent anarchists what it’s all about!
OT: What does anarchism offer in the way of a solution to these problems?
AM: With its inherent rejection of leaders and hierarchy, anarchy is antithetical to all imposed ideas of status. Neolithic hunter-gatherer societies would mock or ostracise those members of the tribe who seemed intent on engineering a more privileged position for themselves, a practice still maintained in some existing aboriginal communities, perhaps as an acknowledgement of the tremendous social instability that seems to follow at the heels of inequality.
The Chilean student movement is divided between high-school and college. There are two organizations that tie the high-school movement. One is the ACES (Coordinating Assembly of Secondary [high-school] Students), and the other is CONES (National Coordinator of Secondary [high-school] Students). These two organizations have their own models of representation and structure. At the university level, the movement is unified by CONFECH (Confederation of Students of Chile) which gathers student federations of different universities. Usually it gathers the more traditional universities, basically the ones that existed before 1981 which is when the dictatorship generates a new law for universities, and during last year, a series of private universities (that emerged after 1981 and did not have an official organization) have been incorporated.
OT: Having previously suggested that many of the problems humanity faces flow from a tiny number of “leaders” and the current political and economic system they maintain, what do you identify as the main problems in the political and commercial makeup of our society?
AM: I think that with the inevitable erosion of those false certainties which shored up the reality of previous generations, we have seen a subsequent collapse in our sense of societal significance and, not entirely unconnected, in our sense of personal identity. We are no longer certain what the social structures we inhabit mean, and therefore cannot gauge our own value or meaning in relation to those structures. Lacking previously-existing templates such as blind patriotism or religion, it would seem that many people mistake status for significance, building their sense of self on what they earn or on how many people know of their existence.
Infoshop News interviews Eric Laursen, independent journalist, activist, anarchist, and author of the new book The People's Pension. Laursen's book examines the history of the Social Security program in the United States, attacks on the program, and recent efforts to dismantle it. Laursen also looks at the origins of the program, which are rooted in radical social movements of a century ago. He was recently a guest on Democracy Now (link below)
DGP: the first question i wanna ask you guys is related to the consequences for continuing business as usual. A lot of people are still stuck on the symbolic protest model, and also as you know, with the election coming up, we can see how many people are still, unfortunately, caught up in this idea that the political system is somehow going to change things or save us from disaster. So my question for you is, if this state of affairs is allowed to continue, and if we continue on this current trajectory, where do you both see things heading in the near future?
When word broke of Ecuador offering asylum to WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange, I checked in with my longtime friend and radical comrade, Mark Hand. As usual, our conversation covered a lot of ground. Mark Hand: Before recently taking refuge at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Julian Assange had been detained by British authorities longer than Augusto Pinochet, the former Chilean dictator who ordered the killing of thousands of dissidents in Chile. Ultimately, British authorities decided to let Pinochet go free instead of sending him to Spain to face charges of crimes against humanity.
Eric Laursen is an independent journalist who’s been covering political and financial news for more than a quarter-century. He’s been studying Social Security for the past 15 years, and just published a smart and exhaustive (800-page!) book called The People’s Pension: The War Against Social Security from Reagan to Obama (AK Press, Spring 2012).
We periodically ask our readers and supporters to support us with a financial donation. We are hoping to raise $500 this Spring for our ongoing operations. We've been busy lately fixing technical problems, planning improvements for our tech infrastructure, and talking about how we can bring more original content in the future to our readers.
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What we've been up to lately:
Server improvements and optimization: You may have noticed that the website hasn't been down very much in the past month. Dave and Chuck have been busy cleaning up the server, slaying evil spambots and otherwise optimizing the server and websites. This is necessary so we can make further tech improvements and have a stable environment to publish more original content.
Infoshop News: We recently started a project which will upgrade Infoshop News to the latest version of Drupal, a popular content management system. This will allow us to do more interesting things with Infoshop News, from multimedia to subject tagging. This new software will also help us prevent downtime problems. We expect this project to be finished by the end of Summer 2013.
Infoshop Library: This week we will resume adding content to the Infoshop Library (http://www.infoshop.org/Library), which has been relocated to new software on our site. Content from the old library will be re-added to the library in the next couple of months. We will also be planning ways for more volunteers to get involved with this project.
Infoshop OpenWiki: The wiki is currently offline, but the old wiki content will be migrated to the website in the next couple of months.
Infoshop Forums: The Infoshop Forums will be migrated to our Drupal website this summer. We haven't decided yet if old content and user accounts will be migrated.
If you'd like to help with any of this, please get in touch!