A Future for Anarchy?

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jules bonnot
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Oct 14 2004 13:41
A Future for Anarchy?

Much of what passses for debate among "anarchists" revolves around the issue of class and its place in the context of a project of revolution. Below are a few words concerning my take on the issue. and my view on a way out of the quagmire.

Why is there still such an obsession among "anarchists" with regard to class? Why do they feel the need to drone on and on about class composition?. This is so restictive, most working class people, in my personal experience and in every poll that has been done on this issue want to be middle class. this is even the case when they are living in a council flat, working in a factory etc because they see themselves above the "underclass" they consider themselves midleclass. Big deal, who cares? The point of "revolution" is surely the complete negation of classes, ie the abolition of the working class as a entity. The concept of class is only usefull to those who are aiming at having a constituancy. This society destroys everyone regardless of their economic situation. Some obviously have a harder time than others but this doesn't make them a revolutionary or even potentially radical. The revolutionary subject is anyone who is sick of this society.

People in general can't see what the point of all this talk about "revolution". capitalism is revolution, constantly changing, adapting and transforming social and economic conditions. the spirit of resistance glows in very few. And not many activists at that!. Most activists if they were honest would admit that they like their niche, their role as "outsider", "rebel" etc. The classist organisations that exist (thankfully on the decline since the fall of real socialism) are aimed at recruitment, subordination of members to rules and generally sustaining "revolt" within the cosy confines of capitlaist politics. That is, they offer no chance for meaningfull change in the individuals life never mind widespread rebellion.

Unfortunately there is something very rotten in the heart of the anarchist subculture. the problem with most anarchist activists is they unfortunately suffer from guilt complexes or issues of "martyrdom syndrome" and along wih the rest of the population suffer a general lack of purpose, many unsociable types find solace in groups of social misfit "outsideres", they find a degree of acceptance and comfort in the club of anarchism. The development of a movement will mean the eradication of the anarchist subculture of punk politics. This subculture provides a niche for those rebelling against their parents, it can't go beyond this role in its present format. Not only is the present anarchist subculture made up of people who outside this subculture would be viewed as nerds but it is increasingly reformist and "media friendly, ie washed of any adical content, in order to "appeal". Even the anarchists organising the "Dissent" against the G8 in the UK are merely promoting the idea of reformist politics. "Educate the G8" nonsense and with talk of "alternative energies" etc. Not out of place at the actual European Socail Forum, surely?

The process of rebellion is much more than the present day activities of the "activist community". Events such as the alternative social forum in london is excellent and I hope that within such gatherings the nettle will be grasped, we must recognise that while anarchism is plaqued by closet stalininsts and other stripes of leftist then it is doomed to continue to be left on the shelf of failed ideologies. Anarchists have a different dream, anarchists, unlike the lefitist demagogues are proud of promoting freedom, the abolition of all forms of hierarchy. Anarchy is larger than the prisons of capitalist politics, it can't be caged within left and right (which are meaningless concepts), anarchy is the creation of a siutation of possibiliities, a situation where the once percieved impossible is now possible. Anarchy is the journey it is not an end product, a blueprint, something that is final, an imposed solution. Anarchy is possible now, each individual can create a little bit of anarchy where they live, every town, village and city has an a anarchist or 2. The usual tactic of following the coat tails of reformist leftist groups (a dreary leafleting to stop the post office being closed) is miserable and takes us not one centimetre closer to engaging the wider population towards the project of widescale rebellion, resistance and insurrection.

Yours for the creation of anarchy and the end to all hierarchy

JB circle A

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PaulMarsh
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Oct 14 2004 13:57

If the class war is over, who won?

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cantdocartwheels
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Oct 14 2004 15:03

Is this thread going anywhere or is it another really annoying vague abstract self-affirmation piece that achieves absolutely nothing.

Talk to me in numbers, give me times, subscription lists, union dues, self help projects, group and regional organisation, federation, scientific analysis, meetings etc etc, just don't give me this hippy stuff about how ''anarchy is the creation of endless possibilities'' because i don't see the point, its not saying anything.

Secondly, why is it bad that we're talking about alternative energies.

Its not like any of us are pretending to beleive in ''green capitalism'' here, demanding a safe environemntal policy is an impossible demand under capitalism. A state will NOT get rid of its nuclear program and it will not dismantle the petroleum industry to slowly replace them both with green forms of energy. Both those are too tied into military power and profits to get rid of.

It is up to anarchists and socialists to demonstrate that environemental destruction is , to quote ted benton, ''the second contradiction of capital''.

The only way to dismantle nuclear programs and the petroleum industry and to replace them with more efficient and safer forms of energy is to overthrow the bourgeoisie.

john

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Oct 14 2004 18:31
cantdocartwheels wrote:
A state will NOT get rid of its nuclear program and it will not dismantle the petroleum industry to slowly replace them both with green forms of energy. Both those are too tied into military power and profits to get rid of.

i disagree with this, there is money to be made on "green fuels" as well.

redyred
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Oct 14 2004 18:52

Yeah but cantdocartwheels' point was that the ruling class wouldn't entirely scrap the more destructive forms of power generation. Of course, some company somewhere will always find a niche and exploit whatever profit there is in green fuels, but I doubt it would expand beyond a niche because an entirely "green" power grid isn't viable under capitalist economics. After all there's a very profitable market for fair trade goods, but the bourgeoisie is never going to get rid of sweatshops or slavery until it is forced to.

Vaneigemappreci...
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Oct 14 2004 21:30

jules bonnot: your obviously a young idealist with a head full of wonderful anarchist rhetoric and lots of hope, however it is very easy to talk the talk, much more difficult to walk the walk and truly escape the barriers of conformity. I'm guessing your a student, and middle class, thats nothing to be ashamed of, i agree with some of your analysis, the revolution should negate all classes. However i must disagree with your point about working class people aspiring to be middle class, i have met many middle class people and i find most of them to be cunts and if i ever become one of those people then suicide will become a viable option. Its true class boundaries are very blurred today, i'd consider myself and most working/unemployed/poor people as proletariat.

Also i dont consider capitalism to be in a state of constant revolution, it changes and develops but at its base it remains the same, the same class relations ( and this is where the proletariat come into it), we are at the bottom, the capital fodder, we are the commodities that make the rich richer, we are employed for the primary purpose to make capital for a few, we are given wages as a pathetic slice of that profit, we are commodities and that is the essence of capitalism. Sure its means and modes change like the ideologies of business but the structuire remains the same.

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Oct 14 2004 22:04
gav wrote:
cantdocartwheels wrote:
A state will NOT get rid of its nuclear program and it will not dismantle the petroleum industry to slowly replace them both with green forms of energy. Both those are too tied into military power and profits to get rid of.

i disagree with this, there is money to be made on "green fuels" as well.

In addition to Redyreds point

I'd say that its not just about profit per unit. I mean sure technically if you stick up 30 wind turbines to power 40,000 homes, your profit margins would be huge in comparison to a nuclear or coal plant. And his in effect is what ''green capitalist'' firms are doing at present, but you need to look at a bigger picture i think.

For example, how can you retain a monopoly over wind and solar power?, afterall a green energy grid would be decentralised depending on larger numbers of smaller power stations, security would of course be minimal, i mean its not a nuclear power plant, whose going to want to blow up a wind turbine?

When you demand the destruction of nuclear power, surely you have to admit that is at present an impossible demand for the capitalist system to meet.

Global hegemony is highly dependent on nuclear power and nuclear arms.

And the domination of fossil fuel production favours the imperial powers (or ''larger states'' if you prefer wink ) also, because of the large start up costs of such operations and the intricate inter-dependency of transnational corporations that are tied in to the structures of imperialism.

A fully green capitalist state is possible in hypothetical economic terms, but I think its highly unlikely when applied to reality. A green capitalist state would be weak, hard to legitimise, decentralised and militarily vulnerable. In short it would be unable to compete with its neighbours.

john

jules bonnot
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Oct 16 2004 11:15

I like the thrust of the discussion, and it is a discussion which is refreshing for these boards.

Firstly, capitalism to remain in control must and will develop green energy to continue the status quo, billions of pounds/euros are presently being pumped into the development of alternative enegies to sustain us, the human race where we are now and have been for centuries. Merely cogs in the service of leviathan.

A class only exists in any true sense if it is concious of itself as being a distinct class ("History of the English Working Class"). That situation does not exist now. The arguement against the purely classist approach continuing within the anarchist milieu is that it tends to be a classical marxist approach which views the working class as industrial workers (this was obviously always meaningless in the real world context, but partiularly now). I am working class, indeed according to socioligists I would come under the term underclass or in marxists phrasiology lumpenprolitariat. True enough, I had/have a lust for reading to try to understand what we are living under if that has now transformed me into some other socilogical box so be it.

The idea that we can gather forces for "the revolution" through first bringing them into reformist organisations, converting people into numbers in the party/union whatever is nonsensical. By focusing on recruitment as an end in itself, by bringing in people on the basis of capialtist/liberal rhetoric is only the continuation of killing any angry spriit, destroying the prospect of quality and wreplacing it with quantity. The class war is very much alive and well, it is between the rulers and the ruled as it has always been. Some sections of the lowest strata will side with the rulers as will some members of the rulers side with the lowest strata. The concept of revolt must change to recognise the falacy and obvious failure of the marxian approach. For The anarchist milieu to become a movement (as opposed to the club which exists now)we must reaassess our bearings and what our purpose is as a movement. Is it a revolutionary movement that wishes to spread insurrectionary fervour, or is it a socialist movement that wants to recruit all the way to the parliament? in the numbers game we go into infinity. Rebellion cannot be restricted to a mathematical game, if they have 5 million we should have 6 million etc. If our enemies embrace solidified armies we must counterpose our own army etc. The road to end hierarchal society (capitalist and otherwise are littered with these examples).

best

JB circle A

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Oct 16 2004 12:07
jules bonnot wrote:
I like the thrust of the discussion, and it is a discussion which is refreshing for these boards.

Firstly, capitalism to remain in control must and will develop green energy to continue the status quo, billions of pounds/euros are presently being pumped into the development of alternative enegies to sustain us,

What? They don't put billions of pounds into ''green energy'' what they put some money into is research into some sort of halfway house, so called less damaging fossil fuels, the equivalent of unleaded petrol that will do nothing good for the world, but allows states to meet those carbon emssion quotas more easily in order to give out the corporate greenwash message which unfortunately you seem to have swallowed. (I don't mean to be mean here, but thats just the way i see it).

The actual budget for research into environemntal fuels is mere pennies in comparison to corporate profits in fossil fuel and nuclear industries, a reform which is little but propaganda to placate us.

If the capitalist system wanted to chnage to green energy it would have done so by now, it is a bourgeois myth that alternative energies are unusable and still need developing. A combination of wind, solar and some electric power could have been put in place over the late 80's and 90's that would have replaced fossil fuel produced energy completely.

For example, 30 wind turbines can provide energy for 40,000 homes, we take each home to include 4 people. Do the maths, even with conservative estimates the number of wind turbines needed to account for domestic energy production in the UK is a couple of thousand turbines, not only can you easily put a thousand or so on land but its also much easier to palce them out to sea, such as where the (far more materially costly) north sea oil rigs are now.

Likewise solar power is already a working alternative to fossil fuels, its not a researchers dream, its reality. I suggest you read 'The Sun Betrayed' if you can find it as thats a fairly good primer on solar energy, even if i find it a bit conservative in its estimates of the effectiveness of solar power.

Solar power is proabably the furture of energy production, being far more efficient than wind power.

And yet again, i ask how any lefty in their right mind still thinks that a capitalist state is going to get rid of its Nuclear Program, surely thats sheer insanity. The british state is not going to disarm its nuclear weaoons any more than its going to completely isolate itself from global capitalism and transnational corporate imperialism. (Eg the way in which Petroleum production is tied into the profit margins of virtually every industry in the world..).

Quote:

A class only exists in any true sense if it is concious of itself as being a distinct class ("History of the English Working Class").

Sounds like you've been reading to much EP thompson.

If you haven't been I suggest getting a copy of 'The Making of the English Working Class'' by him cos you'd probably like it.

For my part i find that assumption to be vulgar marxism. Relying too much on an idealist conception of class struggle in which we are all concious of our place in society, whic is clearly farcical. If you work for a wage and do not own the means of production, you are a proletarian, whether you are conscious of it or not.

Quote:
The arguement against the purely classist approach continuing within the anarchist milieu is that it tends to be a classical marxist approach which views the working class as industrial workers (this was obviously always meaningless in the real world context, but partiularly now).

How is it meaningless, everyone involved in manufacture, transport, and production is an industrial worker, and evryone involved in service industries is employed to help the reproduction of other workers ie hospitals, schools and so on. All are esential to the functioning of industrial society. Makes sense to me.

john

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Oct 16 2004 13:17

i think the class (counter)war is bullocks, too.

Augusto_Sandino
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Oct 16 2004 13:25

I think the idea was that capitalism wants the workers to think they can be class mobile, so they keep consuming in order to get higher up the class scale.

And its accepted that classes would be abolished, the class war comes from the fact that in general the workers have something to gain whereas the capitalists (the upper middle class) have alot to lose, so there arent exactly many upper class/upper middle class anarchists running around. Its just a natural development, it could be called the "for and against" war instead of the class war.

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Oct 18 2004 11:49

Na, i think that kind of so called ''post-industrial'' analysis owes a lot to a kind of idealised view of the early 20th century class struggle in which evry worker was employed in a factory in a set job on the production line.

That is clearly nonsense, the number of factory workers involved in the most basic form of production has decreased, as capitalism has created less and less labour intensive means of production, higher levels of technology leading to higher levels of automation in factories.

Even at the begiinng of the 20th century only a certain percentage of the workforce was employed in production lines in factories or producing raw materials, its not as if everyone did that,. plenty of people were employed in retail, storage, trasport and so on.

Capitalism may shift and change, afterall capitalism is a transcient and fluid system, but the basic contradiction of capitalism that results in class struggle between the employed producing class and their employers; the ruling class, will not change. Class war and class struggle will always be with us in one form or another.

john

Augusto_Sandino
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Oct 18 2004 13:34

But theres still the people doing all the work and getting paid the least, and the people doing none of the work but getting paid the most, thats the point of capitalism. The ones working hard but not getting the same proportion out could be office workers or busdrivers or whatever, theyre the ones who are to gain from anarchism, the "fors".

And its sort of funny isnt it, those Transport workers are some of the most militant around nowerdays. You have to admit that as TUC unions go (pretty poorly, of course) the TGWU or whatever union the Underground workers have is one of the more militant ones.

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Oct 18 2004 16:07

that would be the RMT

nuclearcivvy
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Oct 19 2004 00:06
Jules, You wrote wrote:
[i]Much of what passses for debate among "anarchists" revolves around the issue of class and its place in the context of a project of revolution.

Good point.

You wrote wrote:
This society destroys everyone regardless of their economic situation. Some obviously have a harder time than others but this doesn't make them a revolutionary or even potentially radical. The revolutionary subject is anyone who is sick of this society.

True.

You and wrote wrote:
Most activists if they were honest would admit that they like their niche, their role as "outsider", "rebel" etc. The classist organisations that exist (thankfully on the decline since the fall of real socialism) are aimed at recruitment, subordination of members to rules and generally sustaining "revolt" within the cosy confines of capitlaist politics. That is, they offer no chance for meaningfull change in the individuals life never mind widespread rebellion.

Yes.

You also wrote wrote:
Unfortunately there is something very rotten in the heart of the anarchist subculture. the problem with most anarchist activists is they unfortunately suffer from guilt complexes or issues of "martyrdom syndrome" and along wih the rest of the population suffer a general lack of purpose, many unsociable types find solace in groups of social misfit "outsideres", they find a degree of acceptance and comfort in the club of anarchism. The development of a movement will mean the eradication of the anarchist subculture of punk politics. This subculture provides a niche for those rebelling against their parents

Yes. Yes. About time too.

Then You wrote wrote:
Anarchy is the journey it is not an end product, a blueprint, something that is final, an imposed solution. Anarchy is possible now, each individual can create a little bit of anarchy where they live, every town, village and city has an a anarchist or 2.

I have to disagree.

There is no such thing as 2 chaoses. Chaos is chaos. Organising is order. The true hangup here is Misuse of words like "anarchy" Anarchists call for chaos. They obsess about the need for it, and for it to be total. There are other, more positive "journeys", and they lead to more positive places than the howling road of true chaos.

Misunderstanding and disrespecting order are the result of this hangup. Look at nature, or see how you cope with chaos in your bedroom. Anarchy is a word. Worn out and cliched.

"NOOOOOOO FUUUUUTURE." (Bollocks)

We have to face the future. It will be here real soon. Not what we hope for or expect, but we surely will take the journey, and stick our oar in to some extent or other.

You guys are all trying to work out which way to paddle, for most effect, and that's great but wisdom is ordered, and most of us are not. We are mostly mouthy, emotional and introspective. Angry young men.

The problem is as old as cities and civic heirarchys themself. Don't you think wiser minds than ours (and John Lydon's) have thought these problems through? Want to know what to do about it all guys? WATCH THE GUYS ACTUALLY DOING IT. What they do IS the future. If more and more join in, then what the pentagon and wall street are ACTUALLY DOING cannot work.

Augusto_Sandino
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Oct 19 2004 06:53
George'sBush wrote:
that would be the RMT

Thanks! Im not in the UK right now, so i sort have an excuse...

lucy82
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Oct 23 2004 19:51
Quote:
The development of a movement will mean the eradication of the anarchist subculture of punk politics. This subculture provides a niche for those rebelling against their parents

yep, young people rebelling against their parents are the biggest threat we face. i call for a mobilisation of the working class to eradicate their sordid niches. i admire your courage and determination against this pervasive and poisoness threat.

just one question, eradicate the anarchist subculture of punk politics how exactly?

sensible answers with a view to the long term and some appreciation of the fact that repression often creates exactly the kind of struggle it wishes to destroy would be appreciated.

oh yeah, and possibly a recognition of the fact that anarchists aren't stalin.

ta.

lucy82
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Oct 23 2004 19:59
Quote:
many unsociable types

this is a joke, right?

captainmission
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Oct 24 2004 15:22

slap an ASBO on them, that'd learn 'um grin

3rdseason
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Oct 25 2004 09:51
jules bonnot wrote:

Why is there still such an obsession among "anarchists" with regard to class? Why do they feel the need to drone on and on about class composition?. This is so restictive, most working class people, in my personal experience and in every poll that has been done on this issue want to be middle class. this is even the case when they are living in a council flat, working in a factory etc because they see themselves above the "underclass" they consider themselves midleclass. Big deal, who cares? The point of "revolution" is surely the complete negation of classes, ie the abolition of the working class as a entity. The concept of class is only usefull to those who are aiming at having a constituancy. This society destroys everyone regardless of their economic situation. Some obviously have a harder time than others but this doesn't make them a revolutionary or even potentially radical. The revolutionary subject is anyone who is sick of this society.

YES!!! grin I totally agree with all of that and have said similar myself on many an occasion. Welcome to the boards. 8)

Quote:
The usual tactic of following the coat tails of reformist leftist groups (a dreary leafleting to stop the post office being closed) is miserable and takes us not one centimetre closer to engaging the wider population towards the project of widescale rebellion, resistance and insurrection.

YES!!! (again) Cut all links to the left!

Joe Hill
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Dec 12 2004 02:14

God, I love theoretical daftness...

Jason Cortez
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Dec 15 2004 00:10

nuclearcivvy wrote

Quote:
There is no such thing as 2 chaoses. Chaos is chaos. Organising is order. The true hangup here is Misuse of words like "anarchy" Anarchists call for chaos. They obsess about the need for it, and for it to be total. There are other, more positive "journeys", and they lead to more positive places than the howling road of true chaos.

Misunderstanding and disrespecting order are the result of this hangup. Look at nature, or see how you cope with chaos in your bedroom. Anarchy is a word. Worn out and cliched.

I can't believe that you are equating Choas and Anarchy. You have been posting here long enough to know that's not true. So is this some poor piece of humour or a pointless wind-up?

Jason Cortez
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Dec 15 2004 01:11

Jules wrote

Quote:
This is so restictive, most working class people, in my personal experience and in every poll that has been done on this issue want to be middle class. this is even the case when they are living in a council flat, working in a factory etc because they see themselves above the "underclass" they consider themselves midleclass. Big deal, who cares?

well all those people who (you claim) want to be middle class and those who 'think' they are. Around 80% of britain's population is working class in my book, hardly restrictive.

Quote:
The concept of class is only usefull to those who are aiming at having a constituancy. This society destroys everyone regardless of their economic situation. Some obviously have a harder time than others but this doesn't make them a revolutionary or even potentially radical. The revolutionary subject is anyone who is sick of this society.
Quote:

But surely those having a harder time are more likely to want change?

To paraphrase you, the concept of anyone who is sick of society is only useful to those aiming at having a constituancy.

Quote:
Most activists if they were honest would admit that they like their niche, their role as "outsider", "rebel" etc. The classist organisations that exist (thankfully on the decline since the fall of real socialism) are aimed at recruitment, subordination of members to rules and generally sustaining "revolt" within the cosy confines of capitlaist politics. That is, they offer no chance for meaningfull change in the individuals life never mind widespread rebellion.

Not sure exactly what you're saying here. Are "classist organisations " in question anarchist or this a general statement about the 'left'. These "outsider" " rebel" people, who are not real rebels join "classist" group to follow rules and ineffectually revolt?

Quote:
Unfortunately there is something very rotten in the heart of the anarchist subculture. the problem with most anarchist activists is they unfortunately suffer from guilt complexes or issues of "martyrdom syndrome" and along wih the rest of the population suffer a general lack of purpose, many unsociable types find solace in groups of social misfit "outsideres", they find a degree of acceptance and comfort in the club of anarchism. The development of a movement will mean the eradication of the anarchist subculture of punk politics. This subculture provides a niche for those rebelling against their parents, it can't go beyond this role in its present format. Not only is the present anarchist subculture made up of people who outside this subculture would be viewed as nerds but it is increasingly reformist and "media friendly, ie washed of any adical content, in order to "appeal". Even the anarchists organising the "Dissent" against the G8 in the UK are merely promoting the idea of reformist politics. "Educate the G8" nonsense and with talk of "alternative energies" etc. Not out of place at the actual European Socail Forum, surely?

Most anarchists are guilty martyrs who lack purpose and are unsocialable misfits. Have you been reading Conrad's Secret Agent again.

Now they're punks/ nerds whose sub-culture is increasing media friendly.

Like most of your post you present no arguments just assertions.

When (hey i'm in an optimistic mood) the movement grows the punk sub-culture will not probaly disappear but will be reletively smaller (in actual numbers who knows it might well grow). Most of the people i know who are in anarcho-stuff aren't punks. Maybe you should get out more.

Quote:
we must recognise that while anarchism is plaqued by closet stalininsts and other stripes of leftist then it is doomed to continue to be left on the shelf of failed ideologies.

Damn those unsocialable closet stalinist phoney rebel martyr punk nerds!

And if

Quote:
left and right (which are meaningless concepts),

are useless concepts why do you keep using them? Your sweeping generlisations of this thing called "leftist" which you don't define, except that it's got something to do with CLASS and your carictures aren't really helpful.

Quote:
Anarchy is possible now, each individual can create a little bit of anarchy where they live, every town, village and city has an a anarchist or 2.

HOW exactly? Some more detail please.

Quote:
The usual tactic of following the coat tails of reformist leftist groups (a dreary leafleting to stop the post office being closed) is miserable and takes us not one centimetre closer to engaging the wider population towards the project of widescale rebellion, resistance and insurrection.

What activity will?

BTW Jules Bonnet believed in the class war. grin

Jason Cortez
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Dec 16 2004 00:56

opps embarrassed