TOTW: How Did You Become An Anarchist?

  • Posted on: 6 March 2017
  • By: thecollective

Story time everyone! In this case, the story is: how did you become an anarchist?

What was your path to becoming an anarchist? Was it because of the influence of a subculture, like punk, hippie or activism? Was it the influence (positive or negative) of a particular relative or teacher? Was it through long hours reading books in the library? Was it through the influence of a friend or group of friends? Was it through a series of troubles with the law? Or was it through spending excessive amounts of time on the internet?

And was the process of becoming an anarchist a gradual thing for you, slowly drifting left-ward (or right-ward) until you fell off of the political map into the weird and wonderful world of anarchy-land? Or was it an instant transformation, an epiphany of sorts? Or do you feel as is you were always an anarchist, and the process of becoming one was really just finding the name for what you already were?

How much of this transformation do you think was a result of personal intellectual pursuits? How much of it was a result of some kind of social interaction, be it conversation or argument with others, or going along with your friends? What do you think motivated this change, a desire to meet some emotional needs, a desire for logical consistency, or something else?

Everyone has their story. Some stories can be quite different from each other, while other stories can share a lot in common. Let's hear what they are!



Read a bit of Chompsky, then went to a feelgood panel at the anarchist bookfair, then met a bunch of punks, got laid, then went into graphic design business, and... I skipped a step somewhere.

Oh yeah, that anarchism thing, right. Still got a few @ patches, if that's what you're referring to...

One does become an anarchist, one is born an anarchist.

Okay, so how did you come to realize that you were born an anarchist?

i was clinically diagnosed with "oppositional defiant disorder" at age 9 which was fine with me considering the surrounding wars and slavery etcetera, then they tell me to put my dog on a leash and have a drivers license and become a lawyer or a horticulturist or some shit and not allowed to grow marijuana and hardly anybody grows anything, anyway there is always some forest or beach and rock n roll and so many a kind brave soul along the way, artists and poets and dreamers, lovers-all of a certain freedom

My mother used to spank me a lot when I was kid because I was such a little shit. I embraced the pain because I knew that I was a revolutionary. Truly the Catechism of the Revolutionary!

I grew up as a "School hater" in the 1970's and '80s, expelled from 3ed grade, maxing out in two private disciplinary schools, and barely graduating from high school at 17. When I was 14 Carter brought back draft registration and in school they showed "making of the President 1986" with draft card burning footage and street battles.

Two years later I effectively became an anarchist in reponse to efforts by Ronald Reagan to bring back the draft for his dirty war in El Salvador. Two years after that I publicly refused to register for the draft and dared them to come and fight me. I warned that if I fought in El Salvador it would not be on Ronald Reagan's side. They chumped out of messing with me or with others who refused to register in or near major cities. An intercepted communication from Selective Service to the Dept of Injustice in 1985 asked that there be no prosecutions in cities for fear of "the antinuclear movement." While I soon realized my sexuality disqualified me from the draft, I also saw that Reagan was essentially engaged in an extension of the Indian Wars against mostly Indigenous communities in Central America.

The more I investigated what has going on, the worst it looked-like a trip through a sewer in a glass bottomed boat. I have never stopped fighting the ugliness I first saw then from Big Business and the governments they run as wholly-owned subsidiaries.

Went to food not bombs to satisfy some school required community service, ended up liking the people and steadily volunteering. At some point someone loaned me the Evasion zine (I know, I know) and that led to more crimethinc stuff and classical anarchist stuff and to calling myself an anarchist. Relapsed for years into some vague socialism--watching democracy now and reading Chomsky and mostly not being very political. Went to art school where a teacher reignited a more radical flame, turning me on to the SI, Hakim Bey and Tiqqun. Since those early food it bombs experiences(10+ years ago) I have considered myself an anarchist but what that entails and what my vision of anachy/ism is has changed.

You mean you became a yuppie and moved to an upscale art loft?

leave the guilt for religious zealots please!

i'm saying this as a dandy that looks like a yuppie, and anarchists in my city thought i made over twice as much as an annual $15k.

i've always looked like a bmx riding mr rogers. carey grant and bogart were dapper lads, as were many of our homies in the past. novatore, severino di giovanni were good dressers. an old dude before my time. never into hippie, crusty, or punk rock.

leave your judgements and morality behind. they help nothing in terms of anarchic relations, and are another hierarchical imposition! a spook!

anarchy endures such shallow shackles. i want real, UN-measured relations

I realized I was an anarchist in Latin class in 9th grade. I know the word "anarchy" comes from the Greek, but those Romans stole everything. Anyway, we were tasked with putting prefixes and suffixes together with roots, showing how so many words in English are actually from Latin.
To wit: monarchy, oligarchy, democracy, patriarchy etc, etc. I was doing this thinking how stupid it was that there seemed to always be someone or a few someones in control, how annoying!
Then anarchy! And a light went on in my head.

It's been all downhill from there.

Wow, that's really cool!

Started collecting anarchist books in 76 aged 21- Anarchy in the UK year! - didn't really get a chance to read them till the 90's though. So my conscious anarchism is about 20 years young.

I am slowly being convinced... I think if I could read a few more comments by Emile I'll get there.

I am in need of downtime. I am in need of M'REEEE BLIP BLIP. Please to not ask so many questions processing previous M'REEEEE BLIP BLIP.

After witnessing the successful shut down of the WTO in Seattle. That pretty much sealed the deal.

Bought a T-shirt at Hot Topic

"HOT TOPIC"....capitalism's insatiable desire to turn rebellion and counter culture into a hot commodity. Next they'll be selling Dump the Trump T Shirts and Kill Trump baseball hats. That would be pretty hilarious actually.

see, couldn't we be honest with ourselves and do something like this. milk the system, use the money for bail funds, prisoners, finance projects, etc?

that would be hilarious.

read Derrick Jensen then JZ then LBC stuff

Somewhat in order: Being a loner during adolescence (not belonging, existing outside), development of critical thinking skills by an influential teacher, mushrooms, exposure to quasi radical literature (Chomsky, Zinn), first hand ass kicking by the cops.

It's hard to pin down when I became an anarchist. I used to use vague terms like anti-authoritarian to describe my ideology, but realized how broad that was in creating not so great bedfellows (Trotskyists etc.) I flirted with the term anti-state communist, but I'm not a big fan of value-theory and I realized those who used that term were simply "libertarian" Marxists (snooze). Anarchism seemed more open to me. I know many Anarchists with a variety of beliefs that I disagree with but that doesn't stop us from working together on various projects. So to answer the question: when did I become an Anarchist....

I was born into anarchist tradition, yes, genetically I am a blue-blood anarchist, you see, my great great great grandmother's third cousin's husband's brother-in-law (who was ironically a God fearing monarchist)had a second cousin who was the illegitimate son of Max Stirner (finally some amorality enters the lineage). So I have a lot to live up to,,,,I didn't need any anarchist theory or influences to sway me, Stirner's unique genetic inheritance is with me, and luckily I'm not allergic to bee sting which I discovered last summer whilst dining at Lake Tahoe with leading intellectuals from Oxford, a bee had landed on the silverware and,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
Actually it was when I was thrown into jail for drunkenness on my 18th birthday.

I grew up, relatively poor, in a redneck shit-hole where most people thought reading about philosophy and politics was "gay". Also consumed a lot of conspiracy theory crap online along with mainstream Chomsky-type critiques of the state, instinctively despised authority, government and the media.

Moved to the city looking for work, became actually poor, 10 years of welfare and poverty wage-slavery, periods of semi-homelessness and living back with my mom. Housing "activism", clashes with the pigs, me and my friends getting attacked/arrested and other direct experiences with the more obvious aspects of the class war, until it's almost the only thing I can see.

Somewhere along the way, I grasped the idea that anyone who isn't a millionaire or a complete idiot should have a heart filled with ruthless, black rage directed at capitalist society. I'll never forgive or forget and the only strength and "safety" I know of in this world is in the relationships I build with others, resulting in a collective ability to realize desires, usually by force or guile. Call that anarchism, if you like.

growing up as a graffiti writer on the subways in nyc in the early/mid 70s brought me into frequent proximity of the cops, specifically the undercover transit detectives that rode the trains almost as much as i did, looking for me and my fellow delinquents. my instinctual mistrust of authority was proven out. i was only actually busted once, and i lied my way out of that (along with my older sister, who willingly played the role of my moms on the phone). though a few years later i did get shot at running away from a transit dick in the times square station - turns out they weren't even after me, but someone else who had snatched a bag and ran right past me.

then when i was 16 my best friend turned me onto "marx for beginners", and my worldview was expanded to better understand capitalism. only some years later did i come across critiques that adequately explained the role of government, and the inseparable codependency between capital and the state. then, some years later, i was exposed to some stirner-influenced critiques that resonated deeply, especially after being completely disillusioned with the whole activist scene so enamored by social anarchists.

when i realized that "changing the world" was a pipe dream, i went to work changing MY world, MY life, MY relationships.

Ah stirner … when the obvious shit about your personal life gets mistaken for a political position.

is what results from bad self-care, not the apolitical converse which entails healthy individuated owness based detachment.

Or maybe the internet is full of pseudo-intellectuals who claim to be running when they never even learned to crawl.

but.... but.... but.... isn't the personal really the political???

fuck off, asswipe. it's ALL personal, fuck your political positions.

Oh course it is ... Some of us don't need to keep rehashing the obvious over and over.

'The personal is political' is one of those 60s born sayings that does not age very well in practice as it is a big part of what modern identity politics and the overall proliferation of identity. The saying should be reversed, 'the political is personal' but not very often and for very specific reasons that do not feed and proliferate the realm of elective positions and proposed solutions, especially sublimated identity structures.

I fought in the Gulf War then was shot in the spine. After that I was paralyzed and came to hate the world. My wife left me years ago, due to the drinking and nights of rage, screaming at the void to take me. My children, now adults, want almost nothing to do with me. They never visit. They off and on get a nurse for me, to help me out, but most of the time those whores steal my pain medication. I became an anarchist because I have an outlet of hate to spew my rage at, who might listen and care.

You win the my-life-sucked-so-anarchy contest, how'd you get shot?

Friendly fire. Didn't even get the dignity of a real war wound.

If you can somehow manage direct to you supply and self-administer pain medication yourself it would change the whole dynamic. I've known pain and it dominates and it calls the shots, all negativity flows out of unrelenting pain. Surely you can get that happening?

Well, it's kind of a long story, but it all started back when I was growing up in Philadelphia in the early 90s. I was from a working class family, and I hadn't really been exposed to wealth too much, so I didn't know I was poor. But in high school I lived with an uncle in California for a while and he was super rich. Butler and everything. It was crazy to see how the upper class live. It was disgusting. He was a judge and he must have ruined so many people's lives to afford all of that fancy shit he had. He son was a preppy dressing little smart ass. Couldn't dance for shit. Anyway, seeing those 2 different environments really opened my eyes to class, and next thing you know I took a cab down to the bookstore and I started reading Kropotkin, the fresh Prince of anarchism.

"Couldn't dance for shit. "

the single most important element in any anarchist critique!!!!

I was baby-sitting El Errante's kids with Hakim Bey at a Kids Liberation commune in Berlin in the early 70s. This commune was very red and although I really dug the whole Kids Lib thing and all the perks that came with that (lots of groovy kid love) I was looking for something different. Some cat who was passing through on his way to deliver some C4 to the Red Brigades in Italy got me hip to Stirner as well as Novatore and a few other old school thinkers. I haven't looked back since, it's been an incredible journey and it's pretty much how I ended up here in Mexico collecting the scalps of the hyper-civilized (after a brief sojourn in Rojava of course).

when i was a child in catholic school, i started reading about indigenous people and their cosmology, societies, etc. since i grew up in a small town in the texas panhandle, i decided to read up on the dominant indigenous people there, the comanches.

the comanches had one of the most anarchic social structures ever encountered. to this day, there are few really comprehensive studies about the comanches, because there was no central authority, no single band organization that was representative of the whole. settlers in texas could make a treaty with one band and find out that it had nothing to do with the other bands. makes it difficult to sort out who was where, and what was what, back in the day.

several authors used the words "anarchic" and "anarchist" to describe comanche society. to this day, i think of the social structure of the comanches as an example of how an anarchist society could function, what that would look like. i've never doubted that anarchist societies could function and prosper.

fyi - the comanches prevented the encroachment of western civilization in their territories for over 200 years, until the 1880s. as i like to say, that whole north-vs-south thing that happened during the civil war era? didn't happen where i grew up. that was comanche land, and both the union and confederacy lost entire columns trying to cross comanche territory.

That's mostly correct rob, however a little research reveals that, for instance, certain groups practiced endogamy, such as Orthodox Jews in Judaism, who have practiced endogamy as an inherent part of their religious beliefs and traditions, and often results in a xenophobic backlash from outsiders, much as is the case of the Jewish experience. Not all groups though, the clan diversity and novelty of their variations are spontaneous creative and imaginative results of the forever evolving nature of the hunter-gatherer social dynamic within a specific regional sustainability and is sorely lacking in the modern Western paradigm, and could be labelled as " anarchistic ", but is actually a process of, as another commenter described it, a continuous process of becoming, and nothing which ever actually becomes static or ideological.

Wow just reading through all this I'm really touched by alot of people's stories. So many I can relate to. Me I was always just... different. Never found a "place" or a group, hung out with some rejects and reject-acceptors.... Diagnosed with an IQ of 148 I guess I'm supposed to be real smart... but I quit school left home at 15 and became an alcoholic from then on. Had a family, by accident, tried to be the full time father of 3 but blew it. Ended up getting in touch with an old friend who had explored the depths of anarchist theory ad nauseum and laid it all out for me. It just made so much sense to me, and coincided with so much with what I was already thinking about. Positive parenting, political freedom,environmental destruction, basic logic.... among other things. This line of thinking has changed my life... Made me incredibly lonely because no one else seems to get it, but I feel like I am who I really want to be. Gives me something to believe in. Gives me a code to live by. Gives me a reason to do the things I do. I have something more than I had before, and for that I am grateful.

Actually, in hindsight I should say I have less than I had before, which is really the liberating part.

I was sitting in my bathtub one evening and two guys dressed in all black break into my house. They make their way to the bathroom, fling open the door, and throw their pet ferret into the tub with me. I became hysterical. They told me they were nihilists and proceeded to read 6 or 7 books aloud to me that they had bought from a bookfair until I agreed to believe that life had no meaning.

Is an anarchist someone who wears a badge of a particular ideology and wears that badge, assuming any deviation from that "form" is blasphemous? That seems to be the logic of the notion of "I've become an anarcho-blah-blah-blah because I read Chomsky and Rothbard" the question you pose.

An anarchist to my mind is someone who embraces the anarchy of a becoming that never arrives but is meaningful/beautiful through active process of seeking that becoming. So an anarchist never becomes anything, but is someone actively engaged with becoming.

In other words, a failure who never accomplishes anything but who totally embraces failure. Got it.

"i believe in binaries as absolutes. got it."

you got your own confirmation bias via circular logic. well done. that must be winning, right?

instead of either/or thinking (abstraction), why not more inclusive and/both?

you assume all action originates in the center/central intelligence---called in this case 'individual.' in order for that to happen, we'd have to have a fixed time and spade reference frame. instead, there's negative causality, continally shifting conditions, and the interrelation of all things.

so, winner/loser is a semantic construct, a model of reality that is not reality.

for instance, i'm eating a sandwhich. am i winning at sandwhiches? who thinks this shit when they eat a sandwhich? am i winning at sandwhiches but losing at something else? at the same time? how is this determined? can someone be a winner at losing?

oh fuck bro!!! how are we gonna not fail at all moments all life?

Whatever philosopher you pretended to read (i.e. watched a youtube video about) would be really, really embarrassed of you. But sure, it's not "you" who "does" the losing, that's a moralistic reside speaking. The losing moves through you.

Youve got to know what it's all about to make any use of it.

Seems like I always had a strong disdain for society, anarchy found me at an early age but I definitely searched for it and latched onto it. It just fit with how I already looked at the world. Maybe around age 11 was the first time I identified with the term. Grade school though was hard, had a very difficult time understanding why the whole thing functioned the way it did.

I was the kid making fart sounds in the back of the church during the sermon by some fucking pedophile about how we should all be obedient sheep. And now look at me!

It was the lady of the lake. She bestowed unto me the sword of Excalibur and sent me forth to liberate the chalice of anarchy.

Seriously I kinda like the idea of anarchist struggle as the eternal quest for the Unreachable Star. Would at least get us a space program, maybe...

At the tender age of 16 a shady character from the bay area seduced me into drinking a mysterious and rather questionable cocktail. Later I found out it was a vodka infusion of Bob Black's semen, the extra spit from JZ cleaning his glasses, some of Chomsky's snot from his eternally runny nose, and some anal leakage dumpstered from Dean Bookchin's adult diapers.

I don't really want to be an anarchist, but frankly, after you consume something like that, there is no going back.

I had been in anarchist circles for a good two years. But after realizing that even if Ralph Nader really meant to do all the good he claimed to wanted to do, the state apparatus itself wouldn't allow it. Not to mention my desires not being fulfilled by a green party (or any party) platform.

But I must say that my interest in politics was first aroused by those folks trashing Starbucks and other places in Seattle during the '99 WTO protests,

It wasn't politics as usual and it intrigued me.

Trashing Starbucks intrigued me too. Does it still intrigue you?

If your anarchism ever develops past the adolescent stage you realize that looting is looting and although Starbucks isn't the best choice for cash-value goods, fuck it, all the free coffee you can carry. It tastes better too!

Coffee basically being the war fuel of active anarchists... I think it's pretty sustainable to be looting Starbucks. Also plenty of tablets/laptops to leet from yuppies!

But it doesn't mean you should avoid bougie supermarkets...

While working with the Dennis Kucinich for President campaign 2004. I saw a lot of behind the scenes shenanigans from "the best" the 2 party system can offer and I was disgusted by the same ole back stabbin, lieing and manipulation that people can expect from the status quo coming from the so called alternative to the status quo. During this period I meet a bunch of anarchists in the streets and turned my back on being a liberal/progressive system lovin' democrat.

Back stabbing is the norm in capitalist politics, consistent to functioning into hierarchies. If I'd get back to this crap I'd see no issue with it, and perhaps would even go full machiavellian.

The big problem is when you see this stuff happening in supposedly anarchist milieus. Still utilizing externalization logic ("dem capitalists/right-wingeeers!") to cast a dead angle on the petty capitalist politics occurring at grassroots level. This is the shit that makes me truly upset.

Some folks might call me a Japanophile or even a LARPer but that just because they can't handle the level I've achieved. I am, as you know, a second generation anarchist. You just have to accept my presence as more advanced.

Look, I'm pro culture warfare, there's important cultural developments to be won. I'm just against armies. I'm a social justice rōnin.

The C4SS is a monastery providing sanctuary to samurai in the culture war whose idealism made them outlaws. Both sides seek our destruction.

Our advanced technology and cleverness will see is prevail.

I'm a natural 20.

You stand no chance,


Samurai were upper caste cops. Your anime-based LARP revisionism is garbage as is anarcho-transhumanism!

Never mind the troll. He'll root for anything that's fascist, or proto-fascist, in any culture especially those related to the former Axis (for some reason). That also makes him feel important and less lonely when people react.

are making me ask questions about your current mental condition. In blunt terms, are you doing alright?

Like the other poster said, the samurai class were total cops, and more than just that... feudal assassins. The ronin were maybe more autonomous, yet they were still professional killers. It's kinda like comparing the popo with Academi mercs. Dirty business altogether... from people who enjoy repressive murder. The Japanese have seen no problem romanticizing these mass-murderers, because basically Japan is a fascist society and has been such for quite a while.

I'm an anartist, for me ideology is a non-existing spook, I only absorb and analyse the aesthetics of a culture, not its politics.

You should stick to making up words because when you use ones that are already in circulation you reveal that you have no idea what they actually mean.

Okaaaaay, how about this made up word of mine to describe a disease. You sound like you've come down with a very virulent form of ' headupyourassitis '

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