Discussion Forum


Posted by Robert Collins,
Saturday, April 19, 2003

Simon, May 1st is almost here. The day (in recent years it seems) that the Anarchists have their picnic.

Now I for one would dearly like to see them all gathered together to chew the political fat in highbrow debating circles. Unfortunately, this is an unlikely scenario. Call me banal, but I fully expect to yet again see lawlessness, destruction and disorder from that tiny minority of people who revel in their own antisocial behaviour.

Ironic isn't it how easily the most anti-capitalist and anarchic of protestors can throw their views aside when it comes to certain products of the capitalist economy? Say for instance Rizla, Old Holborn, Carlsberg Special Brew?

If we're going to set about smashing down the symbolic institutions of the state, forget MacDonalds and a few hastily drafted-in coppers. Start with the hospitals, water treatment plants, power stations. We ordinary idiots work hard to sustain these home comforts not because we are stupid but because they are fundemental to the the safety and quality of life that we have all - even the Anarchists - earned the right to expect.

Posted by Kate,
Sunday, April 20, 2003

Anarchism as a co-operative idea

Hi Guy, you get different definitions of anarchism in different dictionaries. There is a centuries old tradition of anarchism referring to the idea that people can work together to organise their lives and communities collectively, rather than handing over their power to leaders. There are many books, histories, leaflets, and web pages about this. You could find out more in lots of places if you want to.

When someone describes themselves as an anarchist, that is almost inevitably the basic idea they are referring to...

Many things in Hebden Bridge operate on quite anarchistic lines!

Posted by Simon Stewart,
Wednesday, April 23, 2003

I'm not sure quite what Senor Collins's point is and fear a misreading of what I actually wrote, which was a discourse on the shallowness of a vulgar definition taken from a rather common dictionary - though attention to the classical Greek and medieval Latin roots of the word might have prevented the original vulgarity.

Anyway, a couple of points:

a) How many of these putative 'Anarchists' are actually such? Aren't they just charged up young men out for a ruck much in the same way that boring game football attracts a hooligan element.

b) I'm not sure in which sense Collins is using anarchic in 'and anarchic of protestors' suspecting the popular use, and don't quite get his objection to these people poisoning themselves since he obviously disapproves of them.

c) Macdonald's is not a state symbol or structure but a corporate one; and what's wrong with trashing one, the French do it all the time? I've never come across Anarchists wanting to destroy a hospital or water treatment plant, etc - most of the ones I've known being non-violent and not persuaded to the 'propaganda of the deed'. In fact, rather admiring of things like the RNLI, which is a magnificent example of co-operative syndicalism (even my one nation Tory father and treasurer of his local lifeboat was taken and much amused by this one, even if he didn't repeat the joke down the yacht club).

NB. I strongly stress that I am not one but a social democrat, and wouldn't let my daughter marry one.

Posted by Robert Collins,
Saturday, May 3, 2003

Simon, my point is that we entered into this little exchange when the anonymous poster came here, calling him/herself an anarchist and someone who enjoyed a nice protest every once in a while. If what's posted on their web sites is anything to go by, Earth First! is a bunch of people who call themselves anarchists and who amuse themselves by wrecking anything they don't like.

In the above context, the popular, common, vulgar, banal usage of the word anarchist is surely the most appropriate one. Guy Beech is not alone in finding such behaviour objectionable. (The Macdonalds-trashing incident actually happened on a past May Day riot and certainly cannot be justified on the grounds that the French National Front does it all the time).

From outside the small world of the armchair philosophers' clique, your discourse really does read more like someone trying to assert their intellectual superiority. But to belittle someone else's perfectly valid and justified opinion on the grounds that you know of a more sophisticated definition of a word is neither big nor clever in my opinion.

Posted by Kate,
Wednesday, December 3, 2003

It's me, the "anonymous poster" Robert has such a cliched idea of...Robert, sounds like you believe the Daily Mail's definitions, never a good idea!

Simon, I appreciated your informed response.

I have described myself as an anarchist for about 10 years. Believe it or not, I wash (even brush my teeth), and I work one day a week to fund voluntary work the rest of the time. I have never bought Rizla, or ever even tasted Old Holborn or Carlsberg Special Brew. I have a lot of mint tea though...

Also contrary to your description, I try to use my "anti-capitalist and anarchic views" to influence my interaction with the capitalist economy, so I try and support local food growing (doing less work than I should in a squatted community garden which gives me vegetables in return) and shop in our (lucky us) local shops and markets.

Most of my clothes come from a "free table" set up by anarchists in Hulme in Manchester where people put out the things they no longer need, for others to have.

I know you meant to be sarcastic when you suggest us nasty anarchists "smash up" "hospitals, water treatment plants, power stations" if we are really against the system.

Funny you should choose those - I would love to dismantle them - while creating alternatives to the system that gives us overcrowded underfunded hospitals while splurging on weapons; continues to pump sewage into the water supply, and creates nuclear waste and potential disaster, just to provide us with power for more consumer crap, as if we and the earth are indestructible.

Sorry you couldn't read the Earth First! web pages (one of them is at www.earthfirst.org.uk/ for anyone interested) with a broader mind. I guess some of us who contribute to it feel we do actually need to destroy the weapons, chemicals, products, industries and governments that are destroying us while there is still time - and say so confrontationally.

Would you prefer to see something bright and cheerful, but dishonest, about how recycling will save us?

My next project is to learn to be a midwife, and I have just arranged a medic training course for 15 of my fellow earth-firsters. My partner studies sign language to work for better power sharing in his community. The other anarchists I know are courageous folks, who do everything from helping set up community orchards and kids projects, to working for peace in the world's conflict zones.

And to be honest, I reckon it's more likely I'm familiar with who anarchists are, the variety of things they believe, and what they get up to than you are, Robert - though if you live in Hebden you must have made a real effort to avoid us!