[PEN-L:14243] Re: anarchism

Craven, Jim jcraven at SPAMclark.edu
Mon Dec 6 14:24:22 MST 1999

-----Original Message-----
From: Macdonald Stainsby [mailto:mstainsby at dojo.tao.ca]
Sent: Monday, December 06, 1999 12:45 PM
To: marxism at lists.panix.com
Subject: Re: [PEN-L:14243] Re: anarchism

Doug Henwood <dhenwood at panix.com> said:

> Louis Proyect wrote:
> >There is no anarchist movement today.

Doug wrote:

> Lots of the people in Seattle were anarchists, or sympathetic to
> anarchism. Lots of squatters on the Lower East Side are anarchists.
> Lots of young American radicals are anarchists of some sort or other.
> There's nothing abstract about it. I think they're worth talking to.
> The last thing they'll listen to is patronizing lectures from
> "Marxists."
> Doug

Response (Jim Craven): I spoke with many self-described "anarchists" in
Seattle and didn't give any patronizing lectures to them but I got a bunch
of patronizing lectures from them--unless one considers asking questions a
form of patronizing lecturing. When I asked them about the roots of
anarchism, or to give some examples of well-known anarchists that they would
consider examples that they respect, there was a dead silence--followed by
some anger at their ignorance being exposed (they approached me I didn't
approach them). When I asked what key contradictions of capitalism they
thought were most associated with WTO and most worth focusing on, again
there was a dead silence. When I asked for the origins of the word
anarchism, again dead silence. When I asked for three key differences
between anarchists and marxists not much was given.

The anarchists--the one's that self-described themselves as such--that I
observed in Seattle fit the profile of most of the anarchists that I have
known in my life: narcissistic, anti-intellectual, focus on action as the
message rather than calculated action as a medium or instrument to deliver a
given message, undisciplined and unfocused, prima donnas in love with
themselves and their own self-crafted rhetoric and theatrical actions,
unable to change their minds and unwilling to change the subject, pompous,
unwilling to forge alliances except on their own narrow terms and under
their own self-asserted hegemony, extremely hierarchical and regimented
while nominally posturing against hierarchies and regimentation, infatuated
with "in-jargon" and obsessed with public notice of their utterances and
crafted personnas. Yes that also describes some self-professed Marxists,
liberals etc as well; but I note the anarchists because some of the other
groups do not make such a big deal out of being anti-hierarchical and
anti-regimented while acting so hierarchical, regimented and I might say,
extremely anal-retentive and narcissistic. The anarchists in history have
produced and will never produce much of anything of real value in my
opinion. They should just join up--as they often have historically--outright
with the fascists that they so often objectively support with their
self-indulgence, insulated narcissism
and unfocused ineffective theatrics--all visceral and no content in my

Jim Craven

Mac Stainsby wrote:

The idea that there is no Anarchist movement is a bit of a joke- the
entire DAN was indeed anarchist. They spoke several times at
headquarters about how they were "in the tradition of Spain". Whether
or not this is true is a different matter entirely.

The funny thing I analysed out of all I saw in Seattle regarding the
Anarchists was the exact opposite of what LP states. Gary Macl. on the
Marxism list reffered to the need to solidarise with the Australian DSP
despite having gulfs of disagreement with them over Kosovo and East
Timor, because, in his words, they are organised Marxism in Australia.
Conversely, we have to find ways of working with these Anarchists in
Seattle, nay, the entire USA because they are "organised anti-
capitalism. I have yet to be involved in any actions, Vancouver or
elsewhere, that were of any significance that did not have principled
but flawed anarchism strewn through them. It is the game, and I think
it is a hangover from two things: McCarthyism and the death of the USSR.

I'm fairly used to working with these people, and it can be both
invigorating and infuriating. LP's point about the lack of concern the
Anarchist places on the decisions of other groups is both true, and the
very height of Anarchist irony. Some of these folks will pull your
teeth out if they feel the organisation is getting "Leninist", but will
say to hell with it and pull their own stunt if it doesn't go their
way... But others just hate capitalism, and do not want to get bogged
down in electoral politics and also hate Marx.

Two of the main reasons for this are the scant attention that Marxists
play to Green and feminist issues, and that they often would rather be
organising than selling newspapers.

Macdonald Stainsby

check the "ten point platform" of Tao at: http://new.tao.ca

"To give food aid to a country just because they are starving is a
pretty weak reason."
   Henry Kissinger, 1974
(former American Secretary of State)

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