Toronto is an anarchist town

  • Posted on: 14 May 2018
  • By: thecollective

By Rick Salutin, via The Toronto Star

Video transcript:

I was driving up Bathurst Friday during the windstorm when all the traffic lights went out. Amazingly, traffic kept moving at about the same rate.

At major intersections, people stopped, looked each way, made eye contact, let others go, then drove when others let them, also allowing pedestrians to cross. It was impressive and co-ordinated.

I saw this once before, in the power outage of 2003, also in rush hour. It proves, I thought, that the anarchist theory of human nature is right: people can self-regulate instinctively. They don’t need rules, outside authorities, police legal systems. It makes me feel good about my species.

I mentioned this to a longtime Torontonian, who grew up in a Third World city. It’s true, she said, but only in Toronto because people are so nice and courteous no matter what. If it happened where she grew up, they’d be killing each other from the first moment, taking out their rage and frustration.

So is Toronto the natural anarchist capital of the world. It always seems so mild and unradical. But the greatest anarchist of all, Emma Goldman, the “most dangerous woman in the world,” spent loads of time here. Why did her anarchist heart feel at home? She even died here, on Vaughan Rd. — near Bathurst!

Emma Goldman (photographed in 1932) was the greatest anarchist of all, the “most dangerous woman in the world,” who spent a lot of time in Toronto.

Emma Goldman (photographed in 1932) was the greatest anarchist of all, the “most dangerous woman in the world,” who spent a lot of time in Toronto.

So raise the black flag in Nathan Phillips Square comrades. No pasaran. They shall not pass — without looking both ways first.



But like, the problem is that newcomers can take this seriously, confuse social programming and citizenism with "self-regulation". Like, I heard pedestrians just don't cross on a red traffic light, even if there's no cars passing.

I'll take the bait and actually engage with this and throw in some optimistic positive energy for anyone that wants to lap it up.

It's true that many people won't cross on a red light even with no cars coming. Many americans have commented on that type of trend in parts of northern europe as well, it being a more seemingly law-abiding part of the world. I don't think this is good. However, I do think there's something good about people able to cooperate in traffic without traffic lights. Obvious points aside about the inherent capitalistic nature of the entire environment (the traffic, the cars in it, where they're going and the reasons why), there is cooperation going on here without the same level of external authoritarian pressure. To those who scoff at this "self-regulation," what would be the truly Anarchist thing to happen in a situation like this? Should it be every person for themselves, pursuing their own individual self-interest? What does that look like in this real world example? I expect it to be unpleasant to say the least. It's easy to look at this situation and think that the reason people are being so cooperative is because they've been so beaten down by authoritarianism that they continue follow rules even in their absence. That concept is a problem, no doubt about it, but if we're to broadly speak of crowds of people going different places and intersecting with each other, don't we want people to be able to be courteous to each other without anyone telling them to? Isn't that broadly speaking what solidarity and everyone being comrades is all about (Or a portion of it)?

It's also easy to say (and I think there is some truth to this) that a traffic situation like this is inherently horrifying from an Anarchist perspective given all the different forces converging and there is nothing redeeming going on, so who gives a shit about what happens there and all the better the more chaotic and fucked up it is so that maybe it's normal functioning would be more undermined. Of course I would prefer that everyone get out of their cars, gather in the street and either start attacking the authoritarian structures around them physically or more non-physically in a way that subverts the whole space's purpose and makes it something else. And yet, here we are, and that certainly doesn't happen every day. So what kind of thoughts or opinions could we raise based on this more subtle part of human behavior in toronto that allegedly has people cooperating in a situation that most authorities would predict terrible chaos in (traffic lights not working)? I would tend to think it's a mostly positive thing. A small positive thing, but what is revolution if it is not made in many small parts, be they physical, non-physical, mental, spiritual? Don't get it twisted, I want a terrible violent reckoning that tears up nearly everything about this world as it is (there's your disclaimer, dear masked comrade). But it reminds me of the introduction of Creating Anarchy by Ron Sakolsky where he talks about his car breaking down and long before any authorities are even able to respond he has like three different cars stopping to help him. Solidarity, comrades. That bond that we're all in this together, that we sink or swim together, that an injury to one is an injury to all, and that we are not all atomized individuals but that each individual is part of a larger whole, good things. Human nature is a bit of a dubious term and humans are clearly capable of terrible unAnarchistic things in natural and unnatural settings. So don't believe in human nature, believe in Anarchy! The way it ought to be!

Yes, the folk out at Long Island have been practising laissez faire for centuries.

lol. What a hack job txt. Sadly, the first evidence provided about why Toronto is "natural anarchist [best city]" is because Emma Goldman "spent loads of time here". Unfortunately, that is largely in part because she was banned from the USA towards her death and died there, but was then buried in USA.

Originally, when Emma moved to the States, her family settled in Upstate, NY ( ). Does this make Upstate, the natural anarchist capital, as this MSM txt claims definition of? Prolly.

Add new comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Enter the code without spaces.