For better or for worse anarchists are lauded with the responsibility for the failure and success of the Occupy movement. We can squirm at this but there is one point that is worth reflecting on. For the past decade anarchists (and friends) have argued, when asked and involved, for a "no demands" attitude towards the MSM and agents of the state. We understand, and agree, that this is aligned with an anarchist approach to politics (ie only negative).
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.
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.
The Zapatistas have a saying, “preguntando caminamos.”
We don’t need to be perfectionists. We don’t need to have all the answers before starting a project or pursuing a course of action—we can get started and work out the details along the way. Rapid prototyping, the process of ‘failing as fast as possible’ in order to gather feedback about what works and what doesn’t is an effective strategy for completing successful projects. But, to take a step back, why are we even motivated to work on projects or pursue any goals at all—why do we even walk in the first place?
Some years ago there was an anarchist magazine called Practical Anarchy put out by the Alternative Media project. The publication advocated for anarchy as a practice, "such as organizing housing cooperatives, environmentalism, workplaces and DIY media." In short, the idea of the magazine was about putting the ideas of anarchism into every day practice.
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?
There was a time when anarchists waxed enthusiastic about the power of video. The argument was that the video was the perfect anarchist mechanism to make our political points. Nothing says "the thing we are trying to say" better than 30 seconds of riot porn or heartfelt speechifying to the camera. But video is hard, expensive, and kind of a centralized say to say that thing.
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?