Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Writing about Anarchy

A friend and I have recently been talking about being involved in the anarchist mileu for a long time, being a "lifer" if you will. I've been an anarchist for about 10 years with my interest peaking in the subject about 4 years ago.

I first became aware of anarchist politics through punk rock. Bands like, the Sex Pistols, with their faux situationist stance, and the anarcho punk band Crass would have a huge influence on me in high school.

When I went to college I met a ton of lefties and a few anarchists, although looking back there were fewer anarchists than I thought and more leftists. With boredom being a constant state of being I would often spend my time reading. I browsed through the stacks in the college library and read most of Paul Avrich's rich historical anarchist histories. Along with a steady diet of kroptkin, berkman, goldman, etc. I also began to read the works of the Situationist Internationale. I came across the S.I. through Ken Knabb's website; bureau of public secrets. While I couldn't immediately grasp the density of the S.I's critique of society as spectacle, there was a salience that I comprehended. I felt aliennated even though I was being tracked towards a happy life. School was boring, protests were boring, nothing was really happening. Despite my multitude of efforts to stir the pot most of my peers were content to continue doing workshops on privilege or complain about their other peers sexism. Eventually I was kicked out of school for being an "enrage."

Looking back I have mixed feelings, in some ways it was good in other ways I wish I had finished school. It really made a clear break for me personally with a lot of left politics. All the organizing I had done had never really helped me, nor helped me in my own personal problems. I left school dazed and confused. A few months later and I wrecked my personal relationships with the anarchists and leftists in my college town. (self) Jettisoned I moved to Santa Cruz california. There I first became acquainted with post-left ideas. Unlike most of my peers in college many of the kids on the west coasts were informed by the situationists. If we look at anarchism as having waves (akin to feminism having three waves, first being pro voting, second being radical feminsim, and third being whatever the fuck it is now) the situationist's critique marked a point where anarchism split into two waves, an older wave and a new wave. The kids on the west coast seemed to be engaged in that critique. I became more interested in the green anarchist critique of civilization and many of the works surrounding Anarchy magazine.

I began to attend a weekly reading group in Berkeley which despite its having many a wingnut helped me develop several important ideas. After a stint in Berkeley I moved to Vegas where there was nigh an anarchist and then moved back to Berkeley. I began to do reviews for Anarchy but my interest in anarchist ideas began to wane as I've become more involved in Muay Thai.

For me the anarchist scene on the west coast (and perhaps in the US in general) seems stagnant. There are some good publishing projects, but these are thankless tasks. There are few activities worth joining.

I think for me at this point being involved in anarchist politics is about exploring. Many of the tried methods of escaping this century have failed. Activism has failed. For me looking into muay thai and traveling to thailand is a way of keeping myself intellectually engaged with the world.

I suppose this is a little meandering. I haven't written in a bit and this is a topic that I was thinking about although not with much coherence.

2 comments:

GRIME said...

had a similar experience myself, thanks for sharing :)

Anonymous said...

what does muy thai have to do with intellectual engagement?