A Letter Of Encouragement To All Anarchists
“Rage-Goddess, sing the rage…”
-Homer, The Iliad
The wheel has come full circle once again. We are back where we started. Some of us have learned what we needed to learn, but now we are older, standing in a world that has changed. Many of us have hammered away at projects, watching them slowly become sustainable, only to watch others take what we have created for granted. New people arrive every single day, feeling desperate, wanting action, wanting it now, now, now.
Why is it that when we see someone who reminds us of who were when were ignorant, our first reaction is to scowl and denigrate them for being too this, too that? Why is it that everyone who is not an anarchist is treated as an inferior, lucky to be given any attention at all? Why is that, knowing what we know, we keep it all to ourselves and remain in our isolated ghettoes and oasis? Why is contemporary anarchism rarely more than a collection of snobbish white kids doing everything in their power to always be around each other?
The population of this country only knows two methods of dissent: sanctioned marches and direct attacks. The first method had proven useless and no one cares. People’s first instinct, when they don’t like something, is to make a sign and walk around in front of a building or down some street. It’s their first instinct if they have the option to do so, that is. The second method of dissent is the method used by all those who don’t have that option and it is rarely for political reasons. A bank robbery, an arson, looting; these things happen all the time, and the perpetrators are not anarchists. People lash out every single day, often times against each other. The police do not consider these political crimes, and thus ‘political’ people don’t care about them. Nevertheless, a bank robber, if they don’t get caught, has money at the end of the day. An arsonist, if they don’t get caught, sees their fire burning from a distance. Direct attacks give immediate gratification.
We live in a country of duality and contradiction. The murderers in the police cars claim to be on the side of the peaceful protesters. The liberals, basking in their blood drenched wares, condemn the ‘violent’ anarchists. Everything is upside down, the double speak growing increasingly complex and dangerous. This double speak is what pushes people to the edges. Surrounded by hypocrites, some people shrug off the world they have known and go underground. Like the clandestine groups of the early 70s, the ELF and ALF left the playing board of the enemy and began to do what they felt needed to be done. But just like 30 years before, the government played its word games and were able to clearly point at the violent ones, so unlike all the other well behaved sheep.
The government allows only a passive, ineffective method of dissent. Seeing that, some people quickly jump to the opposite end of the spectrum and simply hope that people on the outside will support them. This support has not appeared in the United States. I in know way mean to denigrate the brave fighters who gave their all for what they believed in. But it is no secret that there was not enough support to generalize the revolt against this system and that the majority of the US population looked at all clandestine action as terrorism. This does not make it terrorism; it just makes it what most people believed.
So where is the support? How do you get a million people to fully support those who defend the planet? What does that support mean? Where is the middle ground between passivity and unfettered rebellion? There must be one. But I have no clue as to what it is. The purpose of this essay is to encourage all of you to try and find this middle ground. I do not mean a watered down, mediocre fence for liberals to sit on. I mean a counter-culture which does not aim at simply preserving itself, but one that strives to bring as many people into the fold as possible.
I don’t see this ever happening with the way things are now. More and more people are becoming anarchists. And that’s the problem. They are becoming clones. To not conform means expulsion and exclusion. None of the people who are the most receptive and eager to act are being allowed into the ‘anarchist scene’ because it has become a scene.
The people who we would least expect are waiting to be our best allies. The last thing we should do is scorn everyone who is not like us. We excel at criticism. We are especially violent in our criticism towards ourselves. We tear each other apart constantly. In the meantime, the planet continues to be ravaged. And those outside our circles scarcely know of our existence aside from what the media tells them.
Perhaps I am simply bitter, but the majority of anarchists I seem to meet these days, upon closer examination, do nothing but act like anarchists. Unfortunately, this set of anarchist things to do does not include constantly attacking infrastructure or constantly interacting with the outside world. Recently I have seen this changing, a little bit. But as long as there is an anarchist scene, we will be nothing more than a scene. Our rebellion will not become generalized. We will look at the actions of others and feel connected to them by proxy. But we will never do what they did. We will never hike up a mountain to burn something down. In actuality, we will not even be able to throw a rock through glass.
Here are your options: 1) You seriously hunker down and put all of your energy into a community project, provide something for someone, maybe a lot of people, only to have people who are not doing anything say you are not doing enough. 2) You wander off into the shadows and begin lighting fires. 3) You participate in the ‘anarchist scene’ and do stuff for yourself like sail in a boat or make nifty bikes that are really light and learn things which you will share only with other anarchists.
The scene has a purpose, don’t get me wrong. As I said, I’m just bitter. The scene gives us a center and without it we would be in worse shape than we are right now. But the scene is not the end all of our efforts. Many people treat is as the end all and I think this must change as soon as possible.
The scene is burgeoning, though. There are hordes of anarchists out there, more than there were during the last go round. The conventions are swiftly approaching. Perhaps the energy that is released during the riots that will undoubtedly occur will travel back with people to their cities, just as it did in 1999. Some of us will get a second chance, others will get a first chance. And maybe, maybe, maybe, we will realize that history will only repeat itself if we believe in that history.
The anarchist creation myth is as follows:
Once, something amazing happened. People discovered they were not slaves, they were strong, and they began fighting. They were warriors, fighting on the side of the planet. They were warriors, fighting on fronts all over the world. The battles were epic and everyone thought this would be it, the war to end all wars. And then the planes crashed into the buildings. And then everyone was scared. They tried and tried to keep it going, but the dark forces were strong. They sent their wolves to catch people. And then there was the long darkness.
It is time for a new myth, a myth that is not written. Our stories can become our shackles if we are not careful. We are not as doomed as we think we are, nor is everything fated to repeat itself. Let us be dogmatic (if we must be) only with ourselves. Other people needn’t do what we do in order to revolt. Most anarchists don’t even know how to revolt these days. I think it is time to jump out of our cages and break our chains. The planet is being raped below our feet. There has never been more urgency. It is always the right time to revolt. So please, if you have read to the bottom of this essay, hold off on your anger for one moment and take a look at those around you. Are you all doing everything in your power to stop this out of control machine? Can there not be some change, some new direction to head in? Is this the best that it gets? Because if it is, dear reader, we really are doomed.
Your Loving Friend,