fragments of an attempted writing.

on the intellectual basis of OWS; cont'd, again.....

here David Graeber explains his take on anarchism at some length, describing himself as a small "a" anarchist.

An interesting read.

4 comments:

  1. I reckon I'm in the same camp as Graeber in terms of small 'a' anarchism (which, come to think of it, fits well with Lacan's objet petit a given that anarchism appears to be something like an unobtainable object of desire...).

    Gotta say that I've been enjoying your blog since our exchange at AUFS. I just got back from spending time with the Occupy Toronto folks and many of my thoughts are similar to the ones you have on your time with the crew in Memphis. I actually left the camp because I couldn't handle all the BS -- spending hours and hours talking about how they are actually oppressing each other -- too many white males are present in comparison to others... this mean that others are scared to come and be present... this means that others are being oppressed... plus white straight males can be oppressed too, man, as one stated: "I'm oppressed because of my personality". Wow. Add to that daily workshops on everything from meditation to body painting, a whole lot of internal squabbling (the guy running the kitchen said he was going on strike until the marshals dealt with one fellow running around the park in psychosis -- which they did by calling the cops and having the fellow arrested; another couple of fellows exchanging curse words in a meeting and needing to be separated before they came to blows; a bunch of kids talking about themselves) and, blah, forget about it. Who has time for that?

    The sad thing is that there are some really rad, experienced, intelligent folks helping out there but their are mostly being worked into the ground simply running the details of the "occupation" -- getting garbage cleaned up, making sure shifts are covered, etc., etc. -- and they aren't having much of a voice at the GAs because they are working. I don't know... maybe Occupy TO will turn into something decent but it's got a long way to go, winter is coming, and I find myself with less and less patience for spectacular resistance. Vanguards sure do look tempting right about now...

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  2. Thanks for the comment Dan.

    too many white males are present in comparison to others

    Sometimes I wonder about a Maoist influence upon anarchism.

    That's telling that they called the cops on psychotic guy. It also struck me that in the Graeber link here he at one point refers to some police actions as "probably illegal." We want to create Occupied space with social structures competing with the authoritarian and repressive structures around us, but in a pinch we subject ourselves to those authoritarian structures. Hmm.

    But I read several accounts from "lifer" anarchists yesterday saying that some of the banal extremes in anarchist organization and proceduralism seen at Occupy locations are not really anarchist. It seems all of the folks saying this were syndicalists. The syndicalists I have met and worked with were not the spend-forever-in-meetings-debating-whether-or-not-having-morning-breath-when-going-to-a-9am-working-group-is-oppressive types. I used to think of myself as moderately (in an amateurish way) informed about anarchism, but reading all this analysis of anarchism coming out of OWS and Occupty Everything has led me to believe I have a lot more reading to do to get some grasp on contemporary anarchism.

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  3. Vanguards sure do look tempting right about now...

    Ha! I had the same thought at a recent GA. Somebody else make these damn decisions and let me make signs, or, better yet, throw some shit or light a car on fire. Well, except that my wife would kill me if I got arrested for that. Damn oppressive matriarchy!

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  4. Yes, I found the whole attitude toward the police there to be pretty revealing. Mostly, the folks in Toronto strike me as inexperienced and uninformed (on the first day I was there, they spent three hours discussing "What is oppression?" and it was obvious that most of them had no background in any sort of analysis of this (apart from the handful of people who had taken "Feminist Literary Theory 101" or something like that).

    Thus, when conflicts arose and when homeless folks who were either dealing with mental health issues or who willing presenting in more aggressive ways (and these were folks who lived in the park before the "occupiers" moved in!) they very quickly defaulted to (a) not permitting those people to speak in assemblies (despite their commitments to being leaderless and enacting "radical democracy" those people were shouted down) and (b) calling in the cops. I listened in on a marshal's meeting about this (I was invited to join that team since I have twelve years experience journeying alongside of folks with mental illnesses or histories of violence) and they were talking about how the marshals are working in solidarity with the cops, not against the cops and that is why the cops agreed to stay out of the camp. Needless to say, I decided to take a pass on being a part of that team. All this from people who claim to be "the revolution"...

    (BTW, the next day two undercover officers were discovered and kicked out of the park and the marshals again met to discuss the incident. The lead marshal -- who had been given the authority to lead by the collective... in a leaderless movement -- tried to placate some of the concerns raised by arguing that those officers were being reprimanded by their superior for breaking the agreement made with the camp... and I just thought: "you poor naive suckers, they are probably being congratulated".)

    The other amazing example of nonsense was one guy who said he was going to throw a block every time somebody tried to propose we refer to ourselves as "the 99%" because it was exclusionary and oppressive. According to this guy, we should call ourselves "the 100%" because we want to include everybody and love everybody. I thought he was going to be laughed off the stage or called out as a cop, but everybody started applauding and throwing the signal for agreement. Around then I started hitting my face into a pole (a signal for strong disagreement?).

    So, yeah, lots of talk about anarchism and democracy and resistance and revolution... and very little understanding of what that might mean or require of us.

    (Again, I should reiterate that there are some people there who are very informed and experienced... but these aren't the one's having much to do with the meetings.)

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