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Not All Occupy Protestors Are Anarchists; Just the Cool Ones

Max Hoiland |
January 17, 2012 | 6:52 p.m. PST

Staff Writer

(Simon Oosterman, Creative Commons)
(Simon Oosterman, Creative Commons)
Whenever a social movement pops up that's vaguely egalitarian and participatory, anarchists everywhere jump up and down screaming that they started it. In a piece in the Nation entitled “Thank You, Anarchists,” Nathan Schneider, who not-so-slyly pretends not to be an anarchist himself, engages in the most repulsive attitude of self-congratulation possible: “They’ve reminded us that politics is not a matter of choosing among what we’re offered but of fighting for what we and others actually need, not to mention what we hope for. For this, in large part, we have the anarchists to thank.” David Graeber has spewed all over the internet how great anarchists are: “Anarchism envisions a society based on equality and solidarity, which could exist solely on the free consent of participants” and basically claimed that anarchists single-handedly started the Occupy movement: “Fuck this shit. They advertised a general assembly. Let’s hold one.”

…Let's just say these wannabes keep my gag reflex well exercised.

I'm sorry to disappoint you, Davo: it wasn't just anarchists, but an anarchist, ME, that actually started the Occupy movement! I presume y'all have heard of the butterfly effect – you know, that really profound theory about how all the hurricanes in the Atlantic are caused by the flapping of butterflies' wings in Japan (if y'all really cared about human beings, one of you would buy some raid and kill the butterflies)? All that complaining I've been doing to my cat about those moronic Leninists had the strange effect of starting a massive global, anti-authoritarian social movement. I've got a couple chaos theorist friends who could show you the statistical models to prove it. So when this movement finally overthrows the state and capitalism, it had better put some pictures of me on huge banners and plaster the city with them and give me a tank with a huge machinegun to straddle at the front of an enormous parade.

Ok, well, enough playing around. I actually didn't start the Occupy movement (though in 2nd grade I'm pretty sure I inadvertently sparked the Zapatista uprising in Mexico playing kickball at recess), but y'all should be anarchists anyway.

My friends always ask me what anarchism means, and, when I have the restraint not to reflexively call them fascists and threaten to firebomb their living rooms, I'll mumble some nonsense about how it's about not letting people shit on each other: “You know, coercive power, the ability to dominate others, we anarchists thinks that's kind of stupid.”

“But wouldn't people just do whatever they wanted?”

“Well, yeah, that's kind of the point.”

“There'd be chaos and murder everywhere!”

At this point I have to bite my shirtsleeve to keep my molars from cracking and use my left hand to wrestle my right hand away from the 5-inch switchblade in my pocket.

“I guess if your ideal society's got a lot of murderers in it, anarchism's probably not the model to emulate.”

Blank stares…Yeah, I'm generally better understood in writing than in person.

There are tons of famous people who are anarchists. Basically, if you're famous and your last name doesn't start with “O” and end with “bomb a village of innocent Pakistani civilians using flying death robots,” then you're probably an anarchist, and there's no better way to convert people to anarchism than by pointing to a bunch of old dead famous white guys. Check this out:

- George Orwell: “As far as my purely personal preferences went I would have liked to join the Anarchists.” – Homage to Catalonia

- J.R.R. Tolkein: “My political opinions lean more and more to Anarchy (philosophically understood, meaning the abolition of control not whiskered men with bombs)” – The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkein

- Leo Tolstoy: “The Anarchists are right in everything; in the negation of the existing order, and in the assertion that, without Authority, there could not be worse violence than that of Authority under existing conditions.” – "On Anarchy", in Pamphlets: Translated from the Russian

Boo-ya! You spent the better part of high school reading anarchist propaganda and you didn't even know it! If you're not hoisting the black flag now and running to the barricades, there's really not that much more I can do for you…except my cat's still sleeping and Buffy isn't on ‘til 7:00, so I'll allow your minds to be even further blown and graced by a peek inside the thoughts of a true revolutionary.

Sometimes I hear that anarchism is for white people. It's true, I make albino polar bears feel out of place waiting in line at “Whites Only” water fountains. And all those arrogant whites that Occupy Wall St. has attracted don't add bonus points to making anarchists' paternal claims over the movement seem welcoming to people of color. And the first self-proclaimed “anarchist,” Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, hoped the American South would win the Civil War. Well I'd say I have black friends too but that would make me look even more like an arrogant racist…Of course, there's magnificent Lucy Parsons and fierce Ashanti Alston, but all those fucking racist anarchists keep these treasures hidden behind the swastika flags hanging in their closets.

I knew it! You were going to say that anarchism is only for dudes, but I've got the perfect comeback: Emma Goldman. That's right, the fiercest feminist of the 1920s and 30s was a patriarchy-smashing, state-hating anarchist! She was so badass, she was like, “women don't need the right to vote, they need to get out of the dungeon of prostitution called marriage and out into the streets.” Proven that anarchism has feminist street cred: check.

Since it would take a sizable lump of cow poop (or a Trotskyist) not to be moved by my irresistible reason and wit, I can only assume that you've already committed your life and soul to my anarchist minion squad. It's not a bad life, if you're not the type to buckle under the intensity of 24-hours a day, 365.256363004 days a year of total liberation-making mayhem. And when y'all are planning the post-revolution parade, don't forget a victory float for my cat.


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