Tuesday, December 8, 2009


I stumbled across some anarchist literature online recently, read through a great deal of it. I must confess, there's something about it that rather appeals to me, the whole notion of be free, take the red pill, throw off the trammels of society, live your life outside of the box, and so forth.

But then I am brought up short by the turgid, ponderously earnest style, the heavy leaden ideology of their anarchist writing, all too reminiscent of the campus Marxists of my youth. One expects to see rough-carved woodblock pictures of workers and peasants, portraits of Bakunin and Kropotkin and other dead bearded Russian revolutionaries... and one will not be disappointed. It's all there, as if the Sixties never left us.

Oh dear. I found those campus types dismaying enough, boring enough, back when I was young and in college. Believe me, I have no desire to experience flashbacks. And this online anarchism is Flashback City.

And it's a pity. Because, as I say, there's something to their anarchist gig that I find not unattractive. I spent my twenties and most of my thirties living an informally anarchical life myself, seldom gainfully employed, living on an ascetic shoestring, out at the margins of society by my own choice, and resisting anything that felt or smelled like The Man, Corporate Career Track, Long-Term Responsibility, or for that matter any mode of life where I would've been required to wear a suit and tie. Even once I finally settled down and took on a responsible job, I resisted anything that felt or smelled like. With the result that here I am today, in my fifties, working at a responsible and fruitful, sometimes hectic but not too onerous job, living in a big old house on a gravel road far out into deep rural America, and still sporting a beard and wearing blue jeans.

I don't doubt that, throughout most of human history, we've saddled ourselves with far more hierarchy, far more authority structures, far more Do As I Say, than is really needed. A little anarchism is good for the soul, and with the advent of chaos theory, it's perhaps no longer quite as theoretically ridiculous and unworkable as it always used to seem to me. But still... I decline to go further than that with any movement that drapes itself in turgid ideology, earnest elephantine Leftist analysis, and rudely carved woodblock artwork of people waving clenched fists in the air.

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