TOTW: What do you say to non-anarchists?

  • Posted on: 21 August 2017
  • By: thecollective

How often do you talk to people who you disagree with? How do you talk to them? Are they people you've known for a long time, old friends who went in different directions from you, family members, co-workers/students, neighborhood folks? What have you noticed about how you relate to them, what you don't challenge--and what is that based on?
There's a group I've been in for some time, and people in the group sometimes say really stupid things, and I don't always confront them immediately, for a variety of reasons usually, like they're old, and I don't think they're going to act on anything dumb, and I know that they know I disagree with them already, and they're ready for people to complain about what they just said and I'd rather wait until I think they can hear me better. And I know that I will see them again, and so there's no sense of urgency.
The point is, multiple reasons are in effect for me to say something, or not to say something, and also in how I say something or not (do I laugh? Roll my eyes? Turn away and start another conversation... etc.).
What are yours?



I don't know, what do you say to non-anarchists? Am I arrested!? Bum Bum. That's all folks.

Whenever I attempt to engage in a dialogue with somebody who isn't an anarchist I usually end up just getting yelled at or spit on (a popular event at the parties of my youth). I will challenge anybody I don't agree with in hopes of actually getting people to think outside of their current school of thought and encouraging them to pursue a greater understanding of their beliefs. Every time a conversations moves from shit jokes and weather talk to something with any substance I hope that all involved peoples are exposed to new ideas and forced into a position in which they must critique themselves and rethink their understanding of "the way of things." Then I am rudely awoken from my fantasy in which people pursue "knowledge (ideas)", and my face is spattered with saliva and cheap alcohol from the mouth of the reactionary, now more closely resembling a decorative (albeit nosy) fountain.

For reals?! Maybe you need to cultivate a slightly more menacing image? My sympathies ...

Does knowledge even exist? Do I ever really "know" something or do I simply experience it?

Hey, that's great. You're here, asking the real questions! Perhaps the answers are deeper still inside your belly button?!

Maaan... been couchsurfing in that large and really clean petty bourgie house with tons of plants and books. In the morning I woke up to this skinny dude who looked like Agamben with funny hair... pronouncing the words "mirror of the Self" before rambling about the "reified ontology of space".

Dunno with what exactly these guys were paying their astronomical rents. Coke to snort on dicks, I guess? Anyways I didn't stay in that Egotrip mansion for long. Especially with those soft-talking young "artists" who already had grey hair.

I talk to non-anarchists all the time. It's terrible, but so is only talking to anarchists. So I try to identify who they are. Do they respond emotionally or intellectually to what I'm saying? Are they interested in knowing me and my thoughts or are they looking to win a battle? Once I get a sense for this, I gauge the usefulness in talking to them in general. Is there a way to challenge and/or reach them? Is it useful to try to challenge and/or reach them? If it seems useful, how do I go about it? Rather than adopting a firm attitude with which to approach everybody with, I find it interesting how people are effectively challenged in dramatically different ways (from late night amicable drunken conversations between friends to physical force against enemies) and I learn a lot from trying to locate those ways and understand who people are. It could mean reaching someone or fighting them, but either way it's more rewarding than becoming subsumed with anxiety and existential despair at the state of the world.

That's a lot of hot wind blowing backwards and forwards yet still at the same place, yet more depleted, than the peaceful stressfree existential calm,,,,,,

PS From my existentialist nihilist perspective of the clichéd cultural, religious and ideological stereotypical identity types in the human ego spectrum, I'd say exactly the same thing to anyone, whether it was Hitler during the height of the Battle of the Bulge, or a hobo under a bridge in Hollywood, or a Sambian warrior getting fellatio, or a Jewish banker in Wall Street, or a Japanese kamikaze pilot, a Catholic priest getting fellatio, President Roosevelt, a coal miner at the coal face, a deep sea diver, a peasant in the Andes collecting cocoa leaves, a fanatical Marxist unionist at a riot, a hippy at a love in, a Stalinist ship worker reeling from a vodka overdose, a,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Also, even my youthful wisdom is regarded by most as ironic or false. But is not chronological age irrelevant? I see old fools mostly, they missed the boat and stay chained to their belief system, maybe I have the Western version of Nirvana, neither negative nor positive, just that awesome realization that relationships require no doctrine to just smoothly evolve and create new possibilities out of nothing in particular, just the Now, cruising through life, laughing, crying, eating, sleeping, playing, but oh NOOOO, no preaching, omg NOOOO! that would just destroy the harmony. Happy birthday Mr President is what I would say to EVERYONE, cos we are ALL PRESIDENTS of our own lives,,,,,,,,,,,,,,thankyou, I'm leaving the building now,,,,,,,,,,.

K, thx, bye.

"becoming subsumed with anxiety and existential despair" <--- you mean the last 2 generations? Yes, anything is better than that.

What do you say to non-anarchists? I think a better line of questioning would be: what do you say to anarchists? Whenever I meet someone new and they tell me they're an anarchist, my first thoughts and feeling isn't excitement over how we're going to have this incredible, world-shattering conversation that leads to us enriching each others' existence. It's more like an deeply uncomfrotable anxiety knowing that I'm going to have to watch myself since the other person is probably scanning my every word intensely for objectionable content.

Don't get me wrong, regular people can be a drag, too. It's just a different vibe and a mixed bag. They can confirm your worst suspicions about humanity as easily as they can surprise you. However, many years of hanging out with anarchists at this point has consistently reminded me of what it's like to rub shoulders with angry neurotic catholics.

And fuck that shit.

Just got up and read this this thread and this comment...made me laugh and smile. Not a bad start to a new day (new day, same ol' shit I know, I know). 18.44, you paint just fine with them words you use. Thanks for posting. I'm still smiling. And how's that humourless bastard Aragorn! these days I'm wondering?



Funny comment, but the Catholics you'll have in Catholic or former-Catholic dominated regions are more hardcore repressive than those anarcho-puritans you're referring to. They're a different breed of insane... actually they're the perfect satanists, especially for how they set up a context for their perversions to grow be nurtured in the private.

See, like you wrote, be wary of meeting anarchists as you never know what's going on behind their eyes!

How do relate to non-anarchists including personal relationships: not those relationships based on project work? As an aside, I am vegan. Many vegans close off their life to non-vegans over time, I've closed my life off to most people regardless, preferring my solitude. Whether people are anarchist or not, vegan or not, hardly matters to me as they are typically 'noisy' and forever distracted by something.

i have many conversations with quote/unquote "non-anarchists", but i would say that most of them are 'on the fence'. conversations often start with whether they really believe that 'the new system' is going to come through working on and evolving the old (established) system, or whether there is agreement that the old system is fucked and cannot be the base of the new system.

the conversation can go in multiple directions at this point. the conversation peters out if the person is convinced that the only way to go is to support the current system and that we have to work our way through it to build the new one. i would say that that is about 5 percent of people that i meet [previously, I have been in places where that figure would be much higher]. of course there's a much larger percentage that are simply supporting the current system while they wait for what they could see as a 'viable alternative'. and then there's another group that has already 'jumped ship' and are looking around for a landing place. i'm sure that the proportions would vary wildly dependent on where one is.

among those who have already jumped ship, apart from 'conventional' anarchists, there is a goodly proportion that feel that indigenous traditions (indigenous anarchism) are not a bad way to go, and who participate in activism that relates to indigenous issues.

in one-on-one conversations, because they are safe, i find most non-anarchists to be very interested in 'anarchy' in all its aspects. also in philosophical and historical aspects, which are particularly 'safe'. nine out of ten times, it's a pleasure talking about it because almost everyone is searching for a better way.

public forums are another matter. many non-anarchists do not feel 'safe' to even have others know that they are interested in anarchy (because of workplace political pressures). this is why one-on-ones work so well; i.e. the media doesn't cover anarchy honestly and many non-anarchists are scared to go to public forums, but one-on-ones are safe, no fear of embarrassment for asking 'stupid' questions.

of course, getting out of the mainstream political pressures of the workplace so one can be open about being a free-thinker is not possible for everyone all of the time.

Aragorn! took the DMT! the DMT! the DM- the DM- the DMT!

What I talk about with people, anarchist or non-anarchist, depends on the context I find myself in. There are some subjects I feel bored by, like professional politics or professional sports or professions, and some I get excited about.

Staying in the realm of good humour is desirable for me, and I find that it's easier to make people feel something than make them think about something. That being said, the most enjoyable interactions I have are the ones that cause thinking as well as feeling for all participants.

to them, I say: fuck you!

Of course I try to be courteous to most people. We all have to survive in this world. There is no use in telling the boss, or your classmates, or clients or anyone else that you're an anarchist. It will only raise suspicion, make people think you're crazy.

responded to the wrong thing sorry

Non-anarchist person: "Are you an anarchist"
Me: "Are you?"
Non-anarchist person: "No"
Me: "Me neither"

Me: "Some people consider me a leftwing extremist and you probably don't want to know what I actually think …"

This is either piques their interest or ends the conversation in a nervous, awkward silence. Either way!

i love me a person who uses "piques" and knows how to spell it...
oh, and who gets the win/win in the scenario they set up. daily heroes!

So kind! Too many books ruined me forever.

I'm not an argumentative person as I've gotten older I've gotten out of the habit of preaching the anarchist doctrine. Most people don't want to listen to anarchists where I'm from because it means a WHOLE LOT of talking. (Anarchists aren't known for being concise, or short winded) I spend a lot of time with non anarchists and the most effective thing I've learned is listening and then finding the context of the situation and conversations; from there you can calmly and respectfully challenge there positions. Not challenge in a way that is divisive but try to spell it out easily and carefully. We're anarchists so we mostly speak in truisms, we don't have much dogma least I don't, and that preachy shit that I gave up on a long time ago isn't a viable option for creating change. Challenge hierarchy and coercion properly and most the time people agree. It's the ways in which I would rather see it dismantled where we have issues. So we start by analyzing through an anarchist lens, pointing out hypocrisy in the situation, and where all the bullshit may stem from and then we can create the space to engage thoughtfully. But I can't stress enough: don't be an asshole and people will more than likely do the same.
In my experience at least.

So I'm going to approach this from the stance of you're meeting someone new who you may be seeing a lot of in the future (coworker, organization member, classmate, friend of a friend, ect.). You want to make sure that shit ain't super awkward when you see each other in the future. With that in mind:

1. Don't say that you're an anarchist. Non-anarchists generally have an image in their head of an anarchist and it generally isn't a positive one. If you say that you're an anarchist, suddenly everything that comes out of your mouth is going to be judged as ridiculous. Anyway, we shouldn't be so concerned about labels. They are often detrimental. Many people hold some anarchist views without realizing it, work with that.

2. Listen to the other person. As long as you feel safe talking to someone with drastically different views than you, and especially if your in a 1-on-1 situation, let them talk. I don't care if they are espousing racist views, homophobic views, sexist views, or any other hateful view point, at this point you are trying to understand the person and trying to make them feel comfortable with you. If the person is comfortable and feels like you are listening to them, they will be more likely to listen to you and respect your view point. Side note: I'm coming at this as a white straight cis male, so I never personally feel under attack. This may be much more difficult for individuals who feel that hatred is directed at them. You have every right to defend yourself when you feel under threat.

3. Criticism is super important in anarchist circles. It helps us to understand and improve ourselves and to create better communities. But most people respond very poorly to direct criticism. If you start pointing out how someone is wrong, they're going to put up walls in their mind and any further attempt to engage them will be much more difficult. Ask questions, give examples from your life that show your point of view, stay away from directly countering what someone says. Once someone gets more comfortable with you, they will be more open to your ideas. If the person doesn't feel vilified, they will be more willing to look at their own beliefs and criticize themselves (of course, not everyone will, some people are stubborn and will be lost cases).

4. Theory. DON'T DO IT. Fuck that shit.

Anarchists have a reputation (often deserved) of being a bunch of loud discontents. There are times when it's super important to be loud and in-your-face (such as when shouting down a bunch of Neo-Nazis, or blocking a bank from evicting people they've foreclosed on). But, even in the worst case scenario, like you find yourself working with a Neo-Nazi, keeping your cool and being patient is far more likely to result in change than trying to shame them for their view (even if their view is truly repulsive). Gotta play the long game.

I like your Machiavellian machinations, very cunning of you I must say. Throw genuine feelings out the window heh?

I prefer sincerity mixed with not taking myself nearly this seriously? Most social interactions in your lifetime won't be explicitly political (thank gods for that?!).

Not just for self-preservation, but just the awkwardness of confrontation with dogmatic meatheads has me sourcing Machiavelli. But yeah, just outward honesty and fun attracts the like, and politics is best discussed on forums. Happy birthday Mr President ;)

Occupy Harvey! Remember Sandy! Didn't we used to talk about ruptures and mutual aid and direct democracy and stuff? Mold remediation!

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