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  • Tuesday, October 24, 2006


    Learning Curve of Anarchism

    As I've mentioned in passing in this post, I have a certain affection and affinity for Anarchism as a social and political philosophy. I'd never really call myself an Anarchist, mostly because I'm not up for the hassle involved in explaining myself to folks who have no idea what it means. More to the point, I don't want to have to explain myself to "serious" Anarchists.

    I pick up copies of Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed at the local bookstore on a fairly regular basis. I read it with interest but, despite decades of irregular and haphazard reading of Anarchist magazines and books, I remain very alienated from the Anarchist "community." Part of my ambivalence comes from what I perceive as sectarian divisions and turf disagreements among various groups of Anarchists. From the outside, these often seem inexplicable and puzzling.

    "Anarchy Summer Tour Burns Across the Country" (by Aragorn!) in the #62/Fall-Winter 2006 issue of Anarchy contained a rather cryptic reference to "NEFAC - the Northeast Federation of Anarchist Communists, a federation of Platformists scattered throughout the North East (from Baltimore to Montreal.)" It was obvious from the context that NEFAC and its members had major conflicts with either Anarchy magazine, other branches of Anarchism, or both. After going out to lunch with NEFAC members and finding their concerns and conversation similar to other Anarchists, the author says "I survived lunch with the NEFACers unscathed!"

    Off the top of my head, I'm guessing that "Communist" Anarchism is a rather different type of Anarchism than "mainstream" Anarchism (if I may use such a phrase.) The NEFAC home page doesn't give me many clues beyond their use of the word "communist" which seems unusual when combined with "anarchy," at least to me.

    In other places in Anarchy, there are mentions of "the green menace." I remain uncertain exactly what this refers to although it seems important. And that's the rub: I often feel like I'm missing many of the subcultural references and touchstones when I read contemporary Anarchist publications. Obviously prominent crises and events remain oblique and undefined to me as a reader. I'm sure it could be argued that I'm just not paying close enough attention. Perhaps.

    But I'm not naive or completely unfamiliar with the subject. I've working in collectives. I've participated in street actions and protests, as an individual and as a member of groups. So why do I still feel puzzled by much of what I read?

    I liked the article I quoted above, despite one or two cryptic moments. I also liked "Anarchy 101: The Spanish Revolution." Perhaps I am still stuck at the 101 level because of my lack of active participation in these communities. I still feel grumpy about it.

    [Edit: It might not be clear but I do like Anarchy magazine; I wouldn't keep picking it up if that wasn't the case. I'm mostly using it here as an example.]

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