Why anarchists might be best prepared for a zombie apocalypse

  • Posted on: 7 September 2016
  • By: Anonymous (not verified)

From Oregon Live

Twenty years of organized anarchism sounds like an oxymoron, but the Institute for Anarchist Studies is celebrating its 20th anniversary this Friday with a party and fundraiser in Southeast Portland.

I needed to know more.

Local anarchists Paul and Lara Messersmith-Glavin helped relocate the Institute for Anarchist Studies from New York to the Rose City earlier this year.

The Institute doesn't have a physical presence beyond a local post office box, but it made sense to move it to Portland. Of the 11 board members located across the U.S. and Canada, three, including the Messersmith-Glavins, live here.

Lara teaches at Portland Community College and Paul is an acupuncturist at Seven Star Acupuncture. They invited me to their home to talk about social revolution while their 4-year-old son watched "Go, Diego, Go" cartoons in the living room.

The Institute is an anarchist think-tank that provides grants and publishing opportunities for anarchist writers around the globe. It publishes an annual journal called "Perspectives on Anarchist Theory" and a nonfiction book series about anarchism.

When you think of anarchy, you think chaos and a total absence of social structure, but adherents say there's a difference between that definition and the principles of anarchism.

Anarchism is the theory that self-governing, cooperative communities can exist without capitalism, centralized government or national borders.

That's pretty radical — and I remain skeptical of the idea — but it's not as nonsensical as a total absence of governance and authority.

"The idea of non-governance is so funny if you've ever been in an anarchist space because we're some of the most rule-bound people you've ever met," Lara said. "We're so careful about the language we use and the way in which we pay attention to each other. It's the exact opposite of hooliganism."

In fact, she said, the movement takes inspiration from a notable non-hooligan source — the Quakers. Decisions are made in a directly democratic way. Consensus, Lara said, doesn't mean everyone must agree but everyone must feel heard.

This was not what I envisioned. Wouldn't it be better, I suggested, to rename the Institute?

Lara thinks not.

"There are times when the word anarchist can be exciting for people, and we'll use it intentionally because immediately people get electrified," she said. "And then there are times where people already think they know what it means, and it makes them stop listening, so instead of using the word we'll talk about the principles instead."

She has a point. If she'd asked me to write about the 20th anniversary of a left-leaning, anti-capitalist, direct-democracy organization, I would have passed.

But anarchism? Tell me more.

And specifically, tell me how the zombie apocalypse will work.

I read a lot of dystopian fiction. There are plenty of visions of the world after governments collapse, and none of them are good. Why do anarchists think their social experiment wouldn't end like the sixth season of "The Walking Dead"?

Paul, who's also a fan of the show, says "The Walking Dead" is what happens when people influenced by capitalism are set adrift in a cruel world. Because capitalism is cruel and dominant, he says, humans become cruel and dominant.

"Sometimes people make the logical leap to, that's just human nature," Lara said. "And that's the part that anarchists resist. No, it's not human nature, it's the nature of this system. This is what it has created."

The anarchist argument is that people in cooperative societies are more able to resist chaos in catastrophe. Lara cites examples from the book "A Paradise Built in Hell" that looks at how communities came together after earthquakes and hurricanes. Human nature, the anarchists argue, is malleable.

To be clear, I think there are plenty of holes in anarchist theory — the lack of a viable economic model, the idea that we need no police and socialism can work without corruption — but I enjoyed my conversation with Paul and Lara because they got me thinking about human nature and social structures in a way I hadn't before.

Take the practical application of anarchism to every-day life. When Lara is asked to run meetings at work, she applies anarchist principles: collaborative agenda setting, clear time keeping, asking people who don't usually speak to say something, asking those who dominate a meeting to step back.

Coworkers think she's a meeting genius.

"I go into an anarchist meeting and we all do this without thinking," Lara said. "And that means that we've learned something. That means that we have a culture... It means in some other circumstance, we would already have the skills to be able to talk to each other and make decisions in a much less frantic and power hungry fashion."

Which brings us back to "The Walking Dead."

"I think the zombie apocalypse hits an anarchist convention, we would immediately circle up and there'd be facilitators and people would be making sure there was water and somebody would be finding bathrooms and I think it would be different," Lara said.

Anarchists believe if you change social conditions, "you change the nature of what it means to be human," Paul said. If you create social conditions of empathy, solidarity and altruism, it becomes human nature.

Man, I said, you anarchists are really optimistic.

"I'm a Chicago Cubs fan," he said, smiling. "I have to be an optimist."

-- Samantha Swindler

@editorswindler / 503-294-4031

sswindler@oregonian.com

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Comments

Last "gem" of mainstream media introduction to anarchists since "The East". Couldn't barely read.

"Anarchists are nonviolent people."

"Anarchists are more civilized than ____."

"Anarchists are full of rules and rectify their language all the time."

"Anarchist pay their rent with more enthusiasm, while rejecting the rest of external regulations (except bills, municipal laws, etc)."

"Anarchists are baseball fans too!"

"Anarchists probably also buy lottery tickets, we just forgot about that detail."

"Anarchists are better citizens!"

Sounds like the particular anarchists that the author of the above article chose to interview were hypersensitive PC nazis with a closeted fetish for hierarchical authority.

The "zombie holocaust" fetish just further reveals the abhorrent liberalism of at least the authors.

Western leaders promote the notion that 'they are the source of social organization' and that if they were not there, everything would fall into chaos.

If you ask Western leaders whether "the earth rotates", they will say 'yes' because that is what their 'little sagacity ego-self' [Nietzsche] informs them. The corporate CEO and the President of the newly-declared-'independent' nation, see themselves as the jumpstart authors of their respective corporate and state organizations [highly respected and highly compensated organization-authoring jobs].

Of course, we can imagine how the earth is included in the spiraling milky way; i.e. it is included in a relational dynamic far bigger than itself which keeps on going even as suns and planets are gathering and regathering within a relational dynamic in the manner that storm-cells are gathering and regathering in the atmospheric field-flow.

So maybe people 'jump the gun' in saying 'the earth rotates', as if it is the local author of its own organizational dynamic. in the ongoing global relational social dynamic, we see corporations and nation-states gathering and regathering within a relational dynamic greater than themselves, making their changing hierarchies of leaders look more like 'opportunists' who claim to be causing the whorl in the flow, when they are instead jumping on and getting a free ride whirling around on it for a while.

Part of staying employed as a political leader is convincing one's 'supporters' of how things would fall into chaos and despair, without one's brilliant over-arching organizational leadership.

the notion of local over-arching organizational authorship, as in 'the earth rotates' is, as Nietzsche says, an artefact of noun-and-verb language architecture [an 'error of grammar'], wherein the ego-self infuses the notion of 'being' into an activity, re-casting the relational activity as the combination of a 'being' plus an activity, making it appear (in our mind's eye) as if there is a 'being' in the centre of a purely relational dynamic that is the author of the organized activity.

"“In its origin language belongs in the age of the most rudimentary form of psychology. We enter a realm of crude fetishism when we summon before consciousness the basic presuppositions of the metaphysics of language, in plain talk, the presuppositions of reason. Everywhere it sees a doer and doing; it believes in will as the cause; it believes in the ego, in the ego as being, in the ego as substance, and it projects this faith in the ego-substance upon all things — only thereby does it first create the concept of “thing.” Everywhere “being” is projected by thought, pushed underneath, as the cause; the concept of being follows, and is a derivative of, the concept of ego. In the beginning there is that great calamity of an error that the will is something which is effective, that will is a faculty. Today we know that it is only a word.” – Nietzsche, ‘Twilight of the Idols’

is the earth-system more like a 'cell' stirred up in the relational flow of the milky way, or does the word 'earth' or the word 'CEO' or the word 'President' jumpstart author the organized behaviour of the cell as in the construct 'the earth rotates'?

according to Poincaré;

"cette affirmation : « la terre tourne » , n'a aucun sens"

Western authoritarian leaders believe that organization starts from leadership [they are blind to the physical reality wherein organization is inductively actualized within a transforming relational continuum].

Western authoritarian leaders believe in science's causal models which are inherently subjective and incomplete; e.g. 'DDT kills mosquitoes', and 'US military science and technology eliminates evil rebels in the colonized lands'. That is, they fail to see that proving the truth of logical propositions has little to do with the physical reality of our actual experience. our interventions that are being orchestrated and shaped by the pursuit of proving out logical propositions are the source of 'externalities', unanticipated physical effects that were not comprehended/addressed in scientific causal logic such as "US military science and technology can eliminate the rebellion of colonized peoples such as constituted by the Saddam Hussein regime".

Interventions that prove the truth of such logical propositions engender unanticipated 'externalities' which expose the subjectivity and incompleteness of 'science' and its 'logical-causal propositions'. Science can predict the result of detonating a nuclear bomb in terms of energy release, but because science makes its calculations by using an absolute space and absolute time measurement/reference frame, it does not, and cannot deal with the physical reality of our actual experience wherein;

"The dynamics of the inhabitants (in detonating bombs etc.) are conditioning the dynamics of the habitat at the same time as the dynamics of the habitat are conditioning the dynamics of the inhabitants (the physical experiencing of those who are detonating bombs and others sharing inclusion in the common living space)" -- Mach's principle

authoritarian leaders and their logical-cause driven interventions are continuously engendering unanticipated 'externalities', unaddressed in their scientific logical-causal models, that are corrupting the common living space, making living conditions unbearable for many people [at the bottom] and thus inductively actualizing rebellion or 'pushback' that the colonizers label 'terrorism' and attribute to the 'evil' that purportedly resides inside of the 'terrorists', thus failing to acknowledge their own role in inductively actualizing rebel action.

Western science [logical causal models] and Western moral judgement based justice are non-sensical systems that are used as tools by authoritarian leaders, to interpose control based organization on the global social collective, getting in the way of natural organizing influences, which Western science is blind to [Western science depicts the common living space 'operating theatre' as an absolute space and absolute time measurement/reference frame/container, rather than acknowledging it as a relational dynamic with organizing powers intrinsically greater than the systems that operate within it. authoritarian leaders see 'organization' as something that is local as in the organization in the solar system, however, the solar system is included in the milky way galaxy, the relational dynamics of which are continually gathering and regathering; i.e. 'actualizing' organization within systems within the galaxy, as in 'solar system organization' etc. etc.) ].

authoritarian leaders 'cut off access' to natural relational sources of organizational actualization by imposing their own which they believe to be necessary for the 'good' of all people. as Barack Obama said on the way to his election as President;

"So I reject the notion that the American moment has passed. I dismiss the cynics who say that this new century cannot be another when, in the words of President Franklin Roosevelt, we lead the world in battling immediate evils and promoting the ultimate good.
.
I still believe that America is the last, best hope of Earth. We just have to show the world why this is so." --- Remarks of Senator Barack Obama to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, April 23, 2007

Because of this Western habit of putting 'scientific logic' into an unnatural precedence over experience-based intuition, Western authoritarian leaders have been pushing science-and-technology based organization on the global populace, and in the process engendering 'externalities' that are making life hell for many people, thus inductively actualizing 'rebellion' which is then, in keeping with Western moral judgement based justice, blamed on 'evil' that resides inside of those who 'push back', mobilizing punitive strikes aimed at exterminating evil, that tend to exacerbate relational tensions and excite further rebellious responses.

As BBC documentary producer Adam Curtis points out in 'Bitter Lake', Western leaders are framing the rebellion that they are inductively actualizing, with a 'good' versus 'evil' narrative, such that their modern mission as leaders is no longer rallying the people to the achieving of utopian living conditions, but has become one of protecting their people from annihilation by rising hordes of evil assassins.

The denial, on the part of Western authoritarian leaders, of their own role as the inductive source of the rise of terrorism, and the associated promotion of a 'war between good and evil' scenario, is becoming somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy as Barack Obama (and Holland and Cameron etc) use espionage and military science and technologies to mount predatory drone campaigns against rebellious colonized peoples, aiming to exterminate them [no point in trying to negotiate peace with people possessed by evil], as befits the good-versus-evil narrative, further degenerating living conditions for many, exacerbating relational tensions and inductively actualizing further rebellious 'pushback'; i.e. creating a 'vicious circle' pivoting from the denial of Western authoritarian [colonizing power] leaders as to their own role in inductively actualizing the 'pushback'.

as drone predator technology spreads in the manner that AK47s have, so long as the 'good' versus 'evil' mindset continues to flourish, the colonizer-colonized death struggle is likely to continue to progress in a 'shock and awe' fashion.

all of this comes from an insistence that authoritarian leadership is an imperative since, if it is not in place, everything will collapse into chaos.

thankfully, our Western authoritarian leaders are saving us from having to deal with this dreaded 'anarchy' that would arise from a vacuum 'at the top' since our leaders, in their wisdom, are having us take the bull by the horns and putting us into a highly organized and vigilant state as is imperative for our engaging in a global battle to the death between the forces of good and forces of evil aka 'the war on terrorism'.

after hundreds of 'successful' drone-predator attacks, we can fairly claim that;

"we lead the world in battling immediate evils and promoting the ultimate good" [the 'ultimate good' now becoming ever more clearly defined as 'the elimination of evil']

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