Topic of the Week: Friends

  • Posted on: 18 July 2016
  • By: thecollective

Anarchists and their friends often use the words community, solidarity, and affinity to express their relationships with one another. Our personal relationships with each other among anarchists and friends is one area of our lives where we have a great ability to create and share the most beautiful ideas together.

However, this is not always the case and relationships can be messy. Why is it that sometimes we struggle to find the community, solidarity, and lifelong affinity that we imagine and work for? Is our anarchist lexicon specific enough to define the multitude of associations that we have, or wish we had? How do you create long-lasting camaraderie? What does this look like for those of us who have lived in the same place for many years? What about those of us who are constantly moving either for work, family, and friends? What advice can be offered pro- and con- that has helped create / destroy long-lasting relationships with anarchists, friends, and the world? How do you balance and negotiate between the needs, desires, and intensities of close relationships with your own? How has technology, computers, and social media impacted your friendships with anarchists and others?

[See also: "Choosing Relations" by Liana Doctrine (AJODA #63, 2006)
This totw is largely influenced by this essay.]



I have no friends.

I made a strike of anarchy in my life since I came back to Mtl, that will last as long as anarchists around are too lazy and centered on their communal bubbles to be considering me seriously as a friend. In other words, you wanna keep being idiots and assholes? Good for ya, but forget about my contribution to this struggle (which WAS, anonymously, quite big over the recent years).

I find it quite painful and depressing to end up without friends after all these adventures through the years. I know you don't care. But so do I about you. Because nobody cares anyways.

See ya later, maybe. Or in another life.

That's a bad case of ressentiment you have there. Solution? Try existentialist nihilism, its refreshing.

Whoa there, homie! I'm from mtl as well. Maybe we know each other? I'll gladly hang out wit you if you're down to play chess and smoke weed, lol. Hit me up!

Where? Local police station?

Lol! Damn, I def. deserved/walked into that one.

Well I'm always up for chess or go, and got a reserve of good, naturally grown weed. Now the tricky part for you is to find a way to invite me.

That's why anarchists are better off organizing fun and creative open meetups so we don't have to go through silly comment section taunting.

I don't use social media so normal people are out. I dress and look pretty normal so the tats/piercings/my appearance is my radical identity crowd are out too. But animals love me. I think if you don't spend a lot of time in one place you have to adjust your expectations. I understand people gravitate towards cliques and bubbles but what a turn off

Hear, hear! I'm in the same situation. I very much hate social media and i lean towards the anti-tech AP side. I don't have tats/piercings/zany appearance so the people who find value in that usually aren't receptive to me. Unfortunately a lot of the "radicals" that I live around are those types, and if you don't have the "trendy radical punk/hipster" look then you're met with stone-faced indifference. I can visually pass for "normal", but once i start to interact with normal people they realize that I'm not. I'm pretty individualistic and I don't like groups, so I stay away cliques and such. Most of the friends that I have are fellow odd ball misfits that I've met while traveling and living on the streets. Its usually in a random or serendipitous way that we meet, maybe I'm going off on some wingnut rant and they hear me and decide to join in, or the other way around. Honestly I'm fine with not having a lot of friends, having a few good ones is good enough for me.

Hi Kate. I have no friends too. I'm easy to talk to, but hard to relate to. When I do connect with someone, I am bad at staying in touch.

Is that how you are? Or is it different for you?

If i had any friends i wouldn't be on Anarchist News. Obvs

much of this totw is potentially much more interesting than most i see posted by thecollective. but this here:

" Is our anarchist lexicon specific enough to define the multitude of associations that we have, or wish we had?"

points to a certain way of constraining thought that i find completely unappealing. "our anarchist lexicon"? cliquish and insular much? and why do you need a lexicon to describe your personal relationships? what is with this need to frame everything within prefigured boxes?


Yes, "an anarchist lexicon" certainly can sound cliquish, insular and like a popularity contest of sorts, which are some of the worst aspects of relationships, @ & the world. I'm not sure framing new ways of talking about stuff is within a prefigured newspaper box, but seems to be instead trying to throw it in the street. ;) Instead of friends (too mushy), let's look at war; the idea that each war generates its own lexicon, some of it military, some of it political, and from that vocabulary we define our own views and those of others about the war.

Language has always had a power that tilts toward those who define the terms. Journalists interested in maintaining their independence - real and perceived - have to pay attention to the difference, say, between a war and a 'campaign'; between 'collateral damage' and the killing of innocent people.

and from the text linked at bottom of totw:
"Our radical lexicon doesn’t seem to have words specific enough, or well-defined enough to clearly articulate the different kinds of associations that we have, or wish we had; we must rely on context or examples to give us clues to what these words mean. Simply explaining what I mean when I use these words, or what other people have meant, would not help clarify much. People will continue to use them to refer to any of their current definitions, and will make up more meanings because they are terms that can be molded to any situation. One might argue that we need to create new, more precise or distinct words to describe different kinds of affinity, community, solidarity, or other kinds of relations."

rocinante, you got any lexicon to suggest beyond talking about cosmetics and identity politics (mostly related to cosmetics)? Just to know, because that's all what I'm witnessing from the anarchoid crowd these days.

But beyong lexicons, there's always the matter of context of use. I mean... you're not achieving much if it's using a lexicon between the same old gang on the balcony or in the dog park, no?

Some people somewhere may have forgot the issue of anarchist "outreach" sometime during the last few years.

FWENDS! How maybe ubb uss habb them -- FWENDS --- How meney ubb uss habb demm...

The great burning issue of our day: how can we find our fellow passive, sheepish subculture duds to bond with over our shared inadequacy? And maybe some intramural dirty laundry sniffing contests, too, while we're at it...

The linked essay brings up a lot of issues.

Friendship, comradship, affinity, acquaintances however we say that half of the equation, is not easy for any of us. Some of us have other deficits, syndromes, quirks, habits that make all this even harder.

For instance, I have only recently realized that I am on the autism spectrum and this accounts for a lot of my clueless behavior. Like, it is hard for me to guage facial expressions sometimes, or tone of voice, or if/when someone is joking.
And, the abuse I endured in my family of origin damaged my ability to form non-toxic relationships.

Trying to mend these breaks while also trying to be the most, best anarchist, have the ins and outs of the latest theory down pat, well I can't do it. Maybe that is my flaw, or maybe these are just so different they can't be done together. Maybe I am too damaged to be in real solidarity with others.
Either way, I am still an anarchist and at the very least that means certain things vis a vis the state, right? For now, that's where you'll find me, perhaps alone, perhaps with others.

your difficulty gauging people's bullshit doesn't indicate "autism", if you have trouble you just haven't made a habit of asking them to clarify themselves or you haven't analyzed them enough. Nobody is a perfect "person-reader" or "people-person" as many modern idiots try to play themselves off as being. The fact that they refer to people who don't get along with the hord as "autistic" is proof of this within itself

Sweetie, I am telling you how it is with me, not actually asking your permission or needing your validation for my experience.

Basically friends are people you don't have sex with. This is the existentialist-nihilist position.

hahahahaha.... so trump and hillary are your friends! better hurry up and have sex with them, wouldn't want that floating around your existentialist nihilism retreat, eh?

Listen troll scum, that was a joke, but I suppose you supercilious types lack any sense of humor!!

30. No real friends, besides a partner and acquaintance. Unless you count screens.

Would like to move away from screens, while others go farther in. Maybe it'll make me unhirable, unrelatable in the long run.

I was always too passionately interested in activities, learning. Weirds most people out. Cinephile, avid reader, guerrila musicologist into lifestyle sports. Never played video games. Play lysergic influenced loop music (favorite masks being 'hip hop' 'jazz' 'math rock')

It's hard to remain interested in humans and their anthrocentric beliefs and pursuits.

Would rather put intuition before Thought and roam on a walk with my pup, engulfed in bird song.

Mental gated communities are going up quick (including with anarchists), and activity seems to be confined to fragments of lives count the most. The conversations framed primarily as protests, or its. No one around me seems interested in anarchy. Maybe after us... How to while away the now?

Even if i were the last anarchist, i'd still shit on the dominant narrative, no matter if i were then shot against a wall by some idiot with a god complex. Because none of this current belief system provides enough openness, joy of becomings.

It seems that where people espousing anarchism could go is like weeks pushing through the pavement, undoing the illusion of human control and its implications.

Some exceptions exist, as in your situation and intelligent comprehension, sometimes ones only friends must have physical unions which transcend material considerations.
" like weeks pushing through the pavement, undoing the illusion of human control and its implications." Very poetic

I usually got solutions for shortcuts but nobody seems to be taking note, so...

40 and no friends, no lovers. Only a few cats. Humans around here in this big city appear impossible to talk to, relate to, even less rely upon.

The dominant morality is "nobody cares" here, where mainstream people are caring about things that concern nobody. They follow law and order like drones, and that even extends to the so-called anarchists, who are as socially-subversive as the usual postman.

I'm still not considering suicide even though feeling depressed and violently hopeless, because I actually turn most of it into sheer hatred against people around. I'm having mild fun insulting couples and gangs of buddies in the streets, but I know that's childish and serves only to externalize my angerr. For their privileges of having friends and lovers while I don't, for being doing nothing but hanging around and talking crap out of these privileges.

I'm talking here about the anarcho-posers, who with all their resources could sooo much be setting up gatherings, meet-ups, open games or whatever.

Those people don't remember how it is to be isolated. They probably never were, because they maintained their little pathetic tribes at all costs, even of snitching/slandering others. So they go at the dog park everyday, playing tough and being "rad", yet they don't do any shit out of their pathetic lives.

But as the world is so ironic... I always end up being alone in my corner to make practical anarchy.

I consciously forfeited from any anarchy-related activity because the gangs and networks of anarchos around do just that... they don't give a fuck. They do a supercool spectacular action once in a while, 98% without leaving the chance for anyone from outside their private circles to take part. That gets forgotten by the vast majority a few weeks later, while a tiny few will be bragging about for years, in their elite networks of über-radicals.

North American anarchists, you disappoint me badly. You have become more than just useless, you're just not THERE.

(this wasn't a reply to the "LeWay" troll but more the commenter above)

1'm relieved, 1 hate attracting whiners!!!

This is from the perspective of someone that regularly rents rooms and works in a place they've lived for a while, but I think similar assessments can apply for squatters, travelers, and etc. Probably not for richies.

For the most part, because surviving this beast is hard and tears people apart. Then again, I have rarely witnessed community, solidarity, lifelong affinities, friend... even attempt to make money together. Seen it a bit with bands, artist collectives, publishers; but those I've known that either try to live without working, or develop some sort of trade on their own become separated from 'friends' as they get older: work, monogamous relationships, children, needing to fall back on family. Part of the price we pay for our resistance to this world is that we mostly go our own way, win or lose.

For all of the emotional, intellectual, and 'political' depth that may develop between so-called friends, remaining relevant in the lives of other people often means mutual aid; and mutual aid to an extent that can be a real burden when you live paycheck-paycheck: it could be rides, cash, a spot for someone to sleep. The relationships that come out of making that burden an adventure and knowing your time is spent with people who are the real deal, will go an extra mile for you (and vice versa), and who you can actually imagine a future with are what I think of as friendships. As an individual, that means creating a lifestyle that can actually include others in it to begin with. Not fleeting drug/drinking acquaintances or dating. An actual accounting of one's own time/energy/resources that can be put towards friendships ...among other relationships.

I don't think it's a lack of a lexicon. Not really. I think it's a lost sense of what it means to live with others that yeah, the internet has helped to take from us. Some of this is gentrification, too. Even though long-distance friendships happen, I still think some sort of mutual participation in someone's life is necessary: letters, honoring important events, helping with big decisions, personally keeping one another updated and not just expecting their attention over social media.

Which means being some sort of family. Families are a good thing. They're the oldest form of mutual solidarity. What sucks is that the official families are forced and get to become a drag as poppa gets too old, but there's also the informal family of teenage buddies which always are shitty cliques/circus troops, often with abusive authoritarian relationships within. That's why open family living arrangements are perfect, even not made explicitly as such (preferably not).

If we-you can manage to built some sort of not-too dogmatic and open cult, as a decentralized fractal of interconnections, that'd be the best thing to do in the current times. For long I thought about some secret society too... but this might a a little too fancy.

i'm no anthropologist, but i don't think the difference between family and friends is such a universally shared social thing. I wouldn't be too shocked to find out that the concept of "friendship" is a late-comer to social history. And I also think that co-habitation and "living with" are two different things that get mixed up by private property to the extent that "getting away from pappa" = "moving out of the house" = "not living with". It just seems like the genesis of social life in history and individually would make the path of least resistance the path of saying "fuck this stupid authority their laws" and doing what you can with "friends" to get by, or help family get by, or whatever. I don't think it is adolescent thinking , either. I don't think mafioso were children with their play pals. Authoritarian assholes, sure. But the idea of going out alone into the (sub)urban world, finding work or not, making rent or not, having "co-workers" and turning all acquaintences into a business meeting (as in, a hour or three we meet at and do this specific thing) ...that to me is a mode of social life that comes with capitalism, and its fairy tales about friendship and family too. Cosmopolitanism and exploration is really fucking cool, but they come with the consequence of solitude ...good or bad. Even then, people do those things in teams. The reduction of our relationships to this superficial formal bullshti is sore spot for me, and I have a lot of close friends. I just know what I have said "no I won't do that because my relationships are too important) about and a lot of it has been orders to become this post-modern type of person I describe as having lost a sense of living together.

Nice observations, but in the sum of all behavioral patterns there emerges one dominating influence, having surplus wealth and time to ponder and indulge oneself. The common denominator being the family mentality, willful solitary humans have always been shamans, witches or hermits, outcasts who find a niche away from the madding crowd, like the post-modern types of today, nothing much changes, demographically its mostly only quantitative variety, technology, fashion etc etc The familial values are avoided at puberty and re-emerge only after experience and personal connection to another person friend develop, parenting, caring existing in a space of comfort is our physiological fate despite all the trimmings.

Well, friend, living together is surprisingly easy actually. You just gotta find a time and place for it to happen. But why aren't people like you not trying "socializing ventures" like ad-hoc events and meet-ups, that as many interested people as possible can hear about? What holds you back from it?

Being alone in a big city, my next project will be to make a real-life Palaver Tree. On my crown just like that, I'm almost sure it won't attract much people, and I'm a rather eerie person. But who knows, if I use crazy approaches like provoking people around with insults or arrogance. But the worst part in urban over-civilized environments is to open your mouth or do something bold towards "strangers" without being taken for yet another crazy.

And like the Joker said: "I am NOT crazy!". :-D

All in all, you people with buddies and lovers, you simply don't realize not only your privilege, but your capacity at making things happen and create openings, while being able to damage-control everything bad that might happen.

Sorry the "crown" was just a very pleasant freudian typo for "own".

Freudian slip for 'megalomaniac' ? Control all the hipsters with surplus goods and vacant minds?

Suckas. Owning them beatches.

What you are describing as socializing ventures is something I have done for a very long time and I think it is key. We are aiming at the same problem of economy, even though I don't agree with your assessment entirely. The bottom-line is that economy and friendship are very interconnected and when we pretend that economy is secondary to other factors in our relationships, we foreclose on the opportunity to recognize how we reproduce capitalism together daily: as solitary travelers, as socialites, as "friends" who define mutual aid in organizationalist terms, as comrades who will fight in the streets with you but turn a blind eye when you're homeless (not by choice) in those same streets.

If we are to agree that the workplace is an inopportune site of resistance today, then where is the authority in our lives that we can fight? I think that this authority in our lives comes in the form of housing; and, that the obvious way a lot of people in the world solve housing problems is by living together with ...friends. So if we are to use a definition of friendship that excludes one of the main ways we can fight together to make our lives better, what depth can be said of the friendship? Or is it that because of wealth, for the wealthier, friendship tends towards rituals of consuming together? This is why I do not apply this analysis to the richies.

As for the witches, the vagabonds, the troubadours, the dandies, and these solitary types the other commentator mentions, what of them? The questions of this topic want to interrogate friendships, not those who could care less for friendships. These solitary types only point towards another boundary I had already described. The boundary of this world that asks us to wager between friendships and solitary pursuits. These are not the post-modern types (I do not mean post-modernists, btw). The post-moderns engage in the consumption of media together and utilize a service economy that treats them like weak babies. They can't deal with something as stubborn as economy in this sense. They are off trying to have a pampered solitude with the social life of grade schoolers, and cry about the identities they create as their only means to communicate with something as challenging as another human being.

The Gang Become Anarchists

you all know I just owned this.

12 is about the ideal number for a family group to live and share together with the possibility of maintaining some harmony peace and order Over that it tends to get like,-- Fuck of outta this place the noise and belching and farting is intolerable, and Mary talks shit and that little brat takes after its whore of a mother and alcoholic father Bubba and that fat cunt Bob eats all the food and burnt my fuckin books to cook his steak I'm fuckin outta here or I'll stomp on the fucker!!

"Families are a good thing. They're the oldest form of mutual solidarity."

except, they're not at all, necessarily. and often, they are the very root of authoritarian relations. in the best case scenario, they may well function as good sources of solidarity and mutual aid. but my experience shows that is by far the rare exception. family is not sacred. nothing is.

trust is the basis for real solidarity and mutual aid, imo. there are many levels of trust, as there are many levels of solidarity. my trust does not come from what someone wears, what music they like, or even who their friends/comrades are. much less what label(s) they apply to themselves. trust comes from actually and directly relating, getting to know each other. like, really. not on fartbook or twatter or @news. real, live, face to face, unmediated relations. try it sometime.

Most look at words as being like tightly packed little suitcases which contain specific things; however, words are empty suitcases whose contents vary over time depending on the messages to be delivered.

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.