One of the major problems that anarchists wrestle with is what James C. Scott terms “legibility” - that is, “the state's attempt..to arrange the population in ways that simplif[y] the classic state functions of taxation, conscription, and prevention of rebellion”. For Scott, this attempt at simplification includes large-scale centrally planned projects like relocating peasants and developing the streets of Paris to prevent rioting as well as standardized measurements and the encouragement of crop systems that lend themselves more easily to being taxed.
topic of the week
There is a tension between people who don't/would never call themselves anarchist but agree with (some) anarchist principles, and people who own the label. Projects like Crimethinc have perfected (?) the naming of things as anarchist, when some would call those things simple human behavior (like, making and eating meals with friends, etc). Obviously the main point of this sort of practice is to de-mystify anarchy and anarchists, to put the bomb-throwing in a larger, less scary context, or to negate the scary bits altogether.
Everybody's doing it, so let's do it too: let's talk about Donald Trump. As anarchists, what are we to make of this guy?
Is this guy the new Hitler of the 21st Century? Or is he just a total idiot and ultimately inconsequential? Or is Trump himself a non-issue, but the pandora's box that he opened of blatant racism, xenophobia and the "Alt Right" the real threat that we need to take seriously?
The closing of one year and the opening of another provides an opportunity to reflect on the year past and the year ahead. This TOTW is a space for those reflections, both personal and general.
- What did you do this year that you’re proud of? What did you start, what did you finish? What are you looking forward to doing in the new year?
- What were some of your favorite comments on @news? What we some of your favorite stories? Did you have a favorite topic of the week?
Some of us don't do Christmas. Some of us have rejected holidays as obligatory time with Loved Ones(tm), etc, and just hide in our homes avoiding commercials and sappy music (or only listen to detourned sappy music, which can be awesome). Some of us just bare knuckle it every year, avoiding calls from our families as the year draws to a close, while others have clearly and decisively said “NO” and don't get harassed any more.
What is your most creative way to deal with this (and other) seasons of obligatory merrymaking and family time and saccharine eggnog, etc?
In past TOTWs we've talked about the left/right split as a way of framing the world with strengths and (plenty of) weaknesses: sharing versus competitiveness, equality versus hierarchy, collective versus individuated. Technology also frames our lives in ways that limit our thinking--at the very least by creating an expert class that determines our access to tools and processes.
Anarchism has a bad PR problem. For those who are not familiar with anarchism, the image that it has in the mainstream media is that of a bunch of violent crazy people who are up to no good. The way that anarchists often present themselves does not help matters either, with them often giving people the impression that anarchists are all self-righteous arrogant jerks. If the goal is to recruit people to anarchism, i.e., to have there be more anarchists in the world, these are some significant barriers to having new people becoming interested in anarchism.
It’s safe to say that anarchists in general put a lot of value in reading. Some groups like Crimethinc invest a high amount of effort in producing slick, accessible reading material that helps to create baby anarchists. Some even requires potential members to read a curriculum of anarchist writings as a prerequisite for membership. From publishing projects and distros to bookfairs and zine swaps, writing is everywhere.
What kind of project do you most wish were happening in your area?
I find myself missing free skools (or schools, whatever). I am not going to try to do it by myself, but if there were two or three other people who were into it, I would definitely participate.
I like free skools because one of them had long term consequences that are important to me; they deconstruct a significant cultural paradigm (mainstream education)--or at least, they can, and they can be so flexible and variable.
What project would make you happiest if it started in your area, and why?