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The LOLCⒶT Manifesto

15/02/2011

Introduction

Hello! This is really a bit of a personal project in some ways, but I actually want to write this to give anyone who reads stuff I write some background on my views. (I’m a real fan of anyone who reads through my 6000-or-so word blogs.) Why? Well because this is a blog for the University of Lincoln students to keep updated on education action primarily, and I can’t help but notice how out of line my views and advice probably are to a lot of students here. This should explain roughly my views of what Anarchism is about, why the cuts are important to me, where I land on the pacifism/violence lines and why, and how that interacts with my other beliefs.

I am a political Vegan and Anarchi-Feminist. I am a Socialist Lefty who believes in the importance of Class Struggle and Environmentalism, but doesn’t pay nearly enough attention to them. I remain idealist and focus largely on the personal impact I have on the world in terms of single issue intersectionality. I believe we must be the change we wish to see and so began my Veganism, queer-encapsulating feminism, anti-fascist/racist action, and interest in other social issues facing marginalised groups, where I may be an ally or part of.

Anarchism

As all great self-explaining posts, I’ll begin with a dictionary definition.

The term Anarchism comes from the Greek word anarchos, meaning “without rulers”.

Anarchism is a political philosophy which considers the state unnecessary and harmful, and instead promotes a stateless society. It seeks to abolish authority in the conduct of human relations. There is no single defining position that all anarchists hold.

So what is my Anarchism? It was a slow process for me to get where I am politically. It sprung from my feminism initially. I have a real issue with a lot of stuff increasingly on TV or what people say, not in a PC way so much as in feeling physically sick or seeing red and not being able to leave my room for hours after. My escape was The F Word blog. I learnt a lot about various other oppressions and oppressors, hierarchies, trolls and derailing commenters through it. I’d worked up enough intersectionality politics so that when I saw Socialist Students in the Freshers Fair I took an interest, possibly from a reformist angle, but also very much life-stylist. I did not find what I was looking for there, which was a “safe space”, with people that I could trust not to say things I found offensive for fun, but all the same, I made some great friends, and went on my first protests. They were A-B marches with rallies at the end for the most part. The first few times, when the things they were saying were still novel to me, I quite enjoyed them, but I knew it wasn’t for me. I became a vegetarian instantly upon moving to University the year before, with help of a friend.

I had finally found myself actually into music that year. I never had been really. I’d been loosely into metal and rock, but never really got music like other people. Now I did, and I was filling my head with Sonic Boom Six, The King Blues, Babar Luck, Kultur Shock, The Goats, Junkyard Empire, and Asian Dub Foundation, over a year filling out to everything in between. So why on Earth is that relevant? Well, because I built up a ‘political’ playlist, as sad as that is, and the One Love simple and inclusive variety of Anarchism was colouring my mind in the most surreal Black. My best friend at home was an Anarchist, and others in SSL identified partly as that, all with various ideas, but like the Socialists and Unionists, focused largely on Class Struggle and Workers’ Rights. I’ve never worked, and so maybe that’s why it has never quite appealed to me the same way. But then I heard Schemers, Scroungers, and the Rats, and I realised something. I had always been an Anarchist.

Since I was a small child I have never done the same as anyone else. In primary school I wouldn’t even participate in classes at the same time as my peers, and I certainly had a different taste in fashion. I always have resented being told off for things, despite not ever having one of those ‘rebellious phases’. I never wanted to have more; more money, or other superficial things. I wouldn’t say no. I could do with it. But I didn’t want anything enough to work for it, and certainly would never beg someone to give something to me. However, I must point out that I always had what I needed and more. I am a fairly spoilt only child on some levels.

I’ve never believed that the government we vote in makes a lot of difference, I matured around the time that 2 million marched against the war, and we still went to war. Maybe other people need someone to tell them what to do, because youthful arrogance always thinks some people are below them (just look at the Jeremy Kyle show!) but not me! I know what I want in my life, and there probably isn’t a state intervention that could improve my chances of getting it, apart from perhaps welfare if the state fails me. I got quite into conspiracy theories in college, and you know what? I believe a lot of them. I don’t think about them much any more, but I realised that for a uncorrupted state to exist, free of influence of corporations or other interests, then the World’s superpowers would have to be dissolved and start again. I don’t think anyone could convince me any amount of reforms could result in stability across the world. This put a negative spin on things, but once I started looking into anarchism, it seemed far less bleak.

So I met actual Anarchists, but I felt a little apart from them. It was the class struggle thing. And the religious thing. Now, I’m not religious, and I am against religious institutions, but I believe that people’s personal spirituality is much their own thing, so long as it isn’t influencing them to treat other people in ways that negatively affect them. Of course there is an issue with a theist actually being an ‘anarchist’ themselves, if they consider their God their master, but some of the most brilliant groundwork was laid down by Tolstoy, some of the above-mentioned music artists are spiritual, and in other countries there’s a whole other culture, where to dismiss the majority of the population would be, to me, incredibly sad. The two main streams of anarchism are class struggle based (communism, syndicalism) and environmental (green, primitivist, veganarchist) based. Neither of these fits me, but neither do they fit William Blake nor Oscar Wilde perfectly. We shouldn’t all be squeezed into boxes – anarchists least of all!

Of course the difference between me and them, is that they were mostly content as artists rather than activists; philosophical Anarchists, not political. I want to live my dreams, and the best way for me to do that, without being reminded every day that the waking world isn’t like my dreams, is to change that world. To change it to the extent of a dream world is no easy task, but I don’t expect to ever fully get there. The challenge and excitement is upon getting there in the most empowering and interactive way possible, whilst holding to your integrity. It is through the journey that we find our rage and our peace.

If you were hoping for an overtly political discussion on the pro’s of Anarchism, you won’t find it from me. I don’t like intellectualism. That is another strong factor for why I am an Anarchist in fact; because what is valued in society as intellectual is a middle class creation with its own boundaries and traditions and limitations, which I feel excludes people or makes them feel less like they have anything to offer if they don’t meet the standard. Naturally I disagree that long words and finding loopholes to ‘win’ a debate, or being the most objective, rational and detached from life makes one more intelligent. However, even if I didn’t, I believe strongly in autonomy. That is to say that I believe everyone should have a good amount of control over their lives, and so when politics begins to exclude people based on their “intellectual” capacity, I don’t like it. Politics affects everybody, and generally those moreso those who don’t fit that mold. To deny the ones affected most the tools to free themselves, but to elect to do what you think is best anyway is beyond me. If you want to engage people then don’t talk over their heads or only accept arguments backed up by some dude that’s had a few books published. Politics is personal, Anarchism is life. It doesn’t need a reference, it needs personal experiences. That’s how we really learn what is important. Don’t think I’m speaking against expanding the mind and learning from past mistakes either. People do it differently is all. Personally I have 16 books out the library right now!

Since then I’ve spent a lot of time with Sheffield Anarchists, with whom I do feel very comfortable and safe, despite differences, and I’ve been with various Anarchists on most of the national demonstrations, including during their actions, and it is quite eye-opening, and of course, Network X. This has had a profound effect in me feeling able to identify contently within the group, and given me a bit more hope in the world I would like to create, even if it isn’t quite the same as theirs. However new you are, your opinion is just as important, and I can’t talk for other marginalised groups, but I felt that women’s issues are well discussed within the groups, and there is usually encouragement for queer-identifying people, and childcare available for events, as well as vegan food options. I attended a free-school set up by my friends, and have been in a room of 300 people using consensus decision making, and whilst at some times challenging, it really proved to me the possibilities, and I’ve found it all inspiring!

Cuts

Cheap as it is, I would like to direct you to Anarchists Against the Cuts, based around my local area at home, to explain the reason why it is important to fight the cuts to welfare when we don’t believe in welfare. I’d like to add to this too, that we don’t live in an Anarchist world, so of course, like anyone else, I want to see a better world created as much as I can. If I am completely honest, I like the chance that bad times give us to come together in solidarity to attempt to change things nationally and internationally. It’s all brilliantly exciting. It alerts people to new possibilities and underlying problems; for instance, many occupation groups have found that they don’t want leaders any more, that they can take more control in a medical or legal rights kinda way, or at the very least discovered what tax evasion is! The down side is of course people getting hurt and arrested or the very real possibility of everything going back to normal as if we never realised our own power.

Violence

Ah how neatly this brings me in to this part! When you first engage with direct action and civil disobedience you really do get a sense of empowerment, not just as an individual, but as a mass. Of course if these low-level attacks on buildings aren’t enough political pressure to stop these cuts then what is to be done, assuming we cannot employ strike action so well as those in employment? I think the student movement hits a rough consensus on not hurting people. Respect for life is paramount to Anarchist beliefs, though believe me, the pacifists and the black bloc can be on the other side of the universe of thought at times. Anarchism works well in the activist community by employing ‘diversity of tactics’, but on a mass scale movement where it isn’t about activists, but about getting everybody involved… that’s a whole other matter.

I’m going to make it clear right now, though it might not always seem it, I do not glorify violence against living things. That is why I am a vegan after all. I take issue with anyone who takes pleasure in killing someone or something, or the idea of it, which is more common. How can you create a peaceful new world with that sort of pathology? But on the other hand, how can we create any kind of new world if we aren’t willing to fight for it? Can we afford to always be on defense? To only ever be the victims that only fight the police or attack buildings because the police attacked us first? It looks better on us in the media to be sure, but if the current protests are supposed to be trying to force the govt to do something then we are going to have to try a little bit harder to get real targets, and a little less of the martyrdom, which tends to lead to arrest. I don’t have the answers but I know that street presence isn’t enough for 1 day protests by students. on November 30th it was enough to run around the streets, dodging kettles, but the story has lost its novelty, and a similar thing happening on Jan 29th drew almost no media attention, and did no damage to the powers that be.

As for what I personally do? I’m a newbie. I guess I’d be up for a lot of the spikier stuff, but as for causing harm to people? Only in self defense. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t throw a paint bomb to block the vision of a riot cop, but the only time i’ve gotten physically involved on a demo was shoving an EDL member away from hurting my friend. My neighbour at home is a chief inspector. He has two young daughters I’ve watched grow from babies. I don’t mind people attacking the arm of the state, and honestly there are a lot of debates about violence in anarchism online and the role of the police, but I think apart from defense I could only think of attacking anyone when a movement is so big that the police and armies have had due time to switch sides and have made their choice to support the state over the people.

Feminism

People often see feminism as militant, and often it can be (not in the way you’re thinking. It’s just empowering and no nonsense, and can be willing to kick your ass). However, in most lines of feminism, the aim is not to imitate the apparently “masculine” destructive urges or to constantly be a fighting strong woman, but actually to reduce the violence in the world for everybody; to stop wars, and promoting violent themes in young boys toys and clothing, and to end domestic violence and rape. To create a safe space where women and men and everyone in between can be themselves without fear of violence, not just in privileged communities, but throughout all cultures and countries. It is known as feminisation. This seems at first at odds with Anarchism , and then in line with more pacifist Anarchism it seems to fit in rather well. If feminists are to look for a better system instead of trying to fit women into the current system, then a pacifist Anarchist community seems the perfect place. To paraphrase Emma Goldman, if women are truly to be free then they must liberate themselves from their liberation. She argued against women’s suffrage because as an anarchist she did not believe that voting was the answer, so why should women want to do it just because it is the done thing?

Anarchists and feminists therefore must both ponder the same question of HOW to create a less oppressive world without being oppressive. Due to the slow nature of social change, it is important for all larger struggles to be true to their beliefs on feminism, and all other liberation and rights issues, or else it may only be men on the front line or with megaphones if there are no childcare facilities provided for instance. We will not suddenly lose all our prejudices after the hypothetical revolution, which is for me why the lifestyle element is so important. As for feminism, with all its mingling with other oppressions, for women are black and disabled and gay, and sometimes biological men waiting to be women, or biological women who don’t identify in that box at all; they are working class too, and if ALL women are to be free, which would of course be beneficial to where men, and certainly boys would be freer too, then the only way forward is a wider social movement. Individual liberation is important, but if it is JUST about individual liberation, then what one woman does, particularly if she’s in a better position than most, really doesn’t mean much for other women and their rights. Feminism needs anarchism, or at least socialism as much as Anarchism needs feminism and all the other marginalised people’s input in order to really free everyone.

Freedom

For me, being free is like being in a permanent safe space. People are nice to each other and polite, and respectful, and don’t say hurtful and offensive things – not because they aren’t allowed to, but because people don’t want to hear it, and are creative and funny without really needing to indulge in that. To be free of most expectations, and all based on gender and race assumptions would be the most liberating experience for me. People would only have to work enough to keep their communities running between them, and have most of their time for their passions and interests. They could do what they do best, or they could take turns. We would look after each other and nobody would go hungry. We would be self-sufficient largely for food and medicine and power. Nobody of any species would suffer pain and violence at the hands of a human unless it was necessary for the survival of the attacker. If this were broken then people would try their best to understand hir and ensure that it did not happen again, rather than judging them. Learning would never end, because knowledge and skill sharing would be all around, rather than having a set curriculum. the sources would be there for those who want to push themselves further. People would try to better themselves without needing to be better than other people. People would love in whatever way they felt was right, and this goes for sex too so long as consensual and respectful, though this may or may not have anything to do with the love lives. This isn’t a manifesto, it’s just dreams ❤

Anarchist FAQ
Anarchist Federation
Solidarity Federation
Network X
Anarchism Wiki
Infoshop – Anarcha Feminism Article
Zapatista
Queer Mutiny

Emma Goldman
Leo Tolstoy
Piotr Kropotkin
Mikhail Bakunin
Voltairine de Cleyre
Ashanti Alston
Lucy Parsons
Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin
Práxedis Guerrero
Lucía Sánchez Saornil
Noam Chomsky
Émile Armand
Mary Woolenstonecraft
Errico Malatesta
Starhawk

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