An urgent appeal to the anarchist movement to stop acting like such dickheads and learn how to be more friendly to other members of the working class.
I have seen some of the nicest people I have ever met act like some of the stupidest, most stuck-up, unfriendly judgemental bastards possible when they have been faced with people outside of their own little ‘scene’ of likeminded people.
It has got to stop, not only for the sake of people new to the ‘scene’ or of people who just might happen to come into contact with people in the ‘scene’ while going about their daily business, but also for anarchist scene wankers like myself as well.
If we remain isolated, depressed, feeling excluded and shat upon by all of society, we are gonna probably all develop drug-addiction problems, suicidal tendencies and other mental health problems. Whoops! Too late!
But no, it’s not too late.
You can save yourself from being an irrelevant waste of space in the eyes of society and yourself by simply going back to the basic fundamental principles of the philosophy that our ‘scene’ is supposedly based on.
Now, it has often seemed to me that the actual day-to-day practice of people in the anarchist scene has about as much to do with the philosophy of anarchism as the relentless slaughter of the Tamil population of Sri Lanka by the Buddhist Singhalese government has to do with the Buddha’s teachings of compassion.
In fact Anarchism, as espoused by Proudhon, Kropotkin, Emma Goldman etc, is similar Buddhism in that it is a philosophy of seeking individual fulfilment through social action, recognising that there is in fact no separation between the individual and society, and that for an individual to be free they must fight for the liberation of all.
When the first Anarchists were writing the main way that people were oppressed was by capitalism and the state, and this has not changed in the past 200 years. Society is still split up into a great majority of people who have no control over the land or the means to produce things they need for themselves, and a small minority who are seen as having the right to control all the land and all the means of production, simply because they have ‘capital’ or money to invest to make more money from.
Anarchism is a philosophy of struggle, saying that this capitalist class, who oppress and exploit the majority, must be fought against until they are ultimately destroyed, so that the land and means of production might be controlled democratically by everyone in society, in decentralised fashion.
This calls for promoting unity among the working class, as well as ‘class consciousness’ – meaning getting out there and explaining to people how they all have a lot in common with each other regardless of nationality, religion, gender or whatever other divides might exist within the global working class, and that they should all work together and support one anothers’ struggles for liberation.
So you would think that anarchists would be really outgoing types, always ready to jump into a discussion on the nature of society with anyone they might come into contact with, having a whole load of well-thought-out comebacks to any racist or nationalist challenge to their basic message of working-class unity.
Most anarchists I know are simply terrified of talking about politics with anyone who doesn’t already agree with them, or even to engage in any form of confrontation with the State or capitalism unless there is some form of temporary thrill involved.
In some peoples minds being a ‘good anarchist’ means shouting at all your housemates for not being politically correct enough, or for not being prepared to engage in acts of anti-social violence for no particularly good reason, or even for declaring oneself part of the working class at all. Some people seem to think that working a job for a wage makes you a bad anarchist in itself.
So how did this happen? The parallels with Islam are striking. A belief system that started out with a universal message of equality ends up being perceived by most people as a community of people who totally refuse to engage with the rest of society unless it is to moralise or throw bombs.
Of course our masters in the Christian-white-supremacist ruling class are pleased as punch about this. They are free to drop bombs on little children whose skin-colour they don’t like almost every other day in a variety of exotic locations while the general public are busy being afraid of other people who are operating on a shoe-string budget and are actually on the whole completely non-violent.
So here’s some advice for scaredy-cat little anarchists for what to do if you find yourself trapped with one of these terrifying non anarchist people who flood the streets. (I would call you pussies except that one of you, a particularly deranged dickhead, once accused me of being sexist for using the word pussy. Since the word ‘pussy’ meant ‘coward’ long before it was ever used to mean ‘vagina’ – from the latin pusillanimous meaning lacking in courage- I can only assume this was another example of ignorance on that individuals part. I do not think vaginas are cowardly and that’s why I don’t call them pussies. Cats though, they really are cowardly. And nihilists of course)
Top ten pieces of advice for talking to non anarchists:
1: Smile at people!
No matter what occurs or how awkward the conversation might get, smiling helps. If nothing else it helps you to remain calm and in a positive mood, which usually helps any situation.
2: Say hello and introduce yourself!
Don’t, for example, awkwardly hover at the back of the room with a glum expression occasionally glancing over at them as if you hate them. Most people really don’t react well to this.
3: Ask them about themselves!
Most people love talking about themselves. Most people are also oppressed and exploited by capitalism and the state. With the magic trick of asking simple polite questions you may be able to discover exactly what way the person you are speaking to is oppressed and how they feel about it. This can open up all kinds of conversations about ways they could take action and make links of solidarity with other people also oppressed in the same way.
4: Mention that you’re an anarchist and explain what it means!
Often when anarchists actually do manage to make friends with other people and even inspire them to struggle for liberation or practice mutual aid, they forget to mention that they are an anarchist. Why? Are you so patronising that you think they won’t be able to understand a philosophy that can be summed up in a sentence? Do you not think they could benefit from this philosophy as much as you have? Do you not want to spread the ideas that you believe in? Do you even really believe in them at all?
5: Don’t use jargon!
My god. If it’s not pretentious pseudo-academic bullshit then it’s some kind of squatter/traveller exclusionary lingo aimed at making people feel like they just aren’t cool enough to be in your little clique. Just stop it. If you have really been away from ‘mainstream’ society for so long you can’t talk properly anymore then you can re-learn standard English through reading newspapers, watching TV, listening to music or just chatting to strangers on the street. Just try it out, set your self little challenges. Can you go a day without mentioning ‘gak’? Or ‘polyamory’? Or ‘tatting’? Or ‘intersectionality’?
6: Use the normal working-class slang for whatever community you’re in!
You may be surprised to find that people speak differently in different places. Often they think that the way that working-class people speak in their area is the way that all working class people speak. This is bullshit. Most working class people speak Chinese, and different dialects of it in different places. So, don’t be stupid. Make a fucking effort. Learn how to talk to people in the place you are from.
7: Don’t lose your temper if they disagree!
Probably someone you haven’t met before and who is not part of the anarchist scene already is going to have some opinions about some things that different from the opinions of yourself and your friends. Everyone, included yourself, is prejudiced in some way or another. If someone has a prejudiced view about a certain type of person, they are probably simply mistaken in some way and just need to be calmly and politely corrected about the factual error they have made, not shouted at or beaten up. Also, most people do not accept the idea that the whole structure of society needs to be fundamentally changed, because it’s a scary thought. So just introduce ideas to people piece by piece, always emphasising the positive, not invoking apocalyptic images of ultra-violence.
8: Don’t say anything to imply that your judge them for their lifestyle choices or opinions!
The vast, vast majority of people in the world believe in God or in some higher spiritual reality. People who believe in things generally don’t appreciate people snorting in disgust when they express something that to them is a profound spiritual truth that enriches their life. Also, many anarchists, as well as many non anarchists, are not vegan and do not practice ‘open relationships’ and so don’t like people who try to make them feel like they are evil for eating certain types of food or being faithful to their partner.
9: If they say anything you remotely agree with, tell them so!
Most people will not agree with anarchism they first time they hear about it, and if they do they probably should think about it a bit more. So of course people are going to have a lot of questions, counterarguments and concerns about such a radical philosophy with so many far-reaching implications over all aspects of life. If you make it out as if their little doubts mean that their ideas are fundamentally incompatible with ours, they will be put off and will never want to come back. On the other hand, if they express some trite opinion such as ‘I think everyone should have the same rights’ or ‘politicians are corrupt’ then if you say ‘yes! Exactly, that’s what we think to’ then they are likely to want to find out more.
10: Use positive reinforcement to encourage them to take direct action against the state and capitalism!
If you don’t encourage someone to take direct action to liberate them as well as work towards to liberation of everyone else, then perhaps no-one ever will and this idea will never occur to them. It’s worth a shot, and what have you really go to lose? You may gain a new friend and comrade for life.
OK? Now get out there and start agitating!