Sound-bite vandalism

Collectively written by Emma Chandler, Evan Edwards, Scott Evans, Meg Hen, Daniel Lee, Sara Lynch-Thomason, Joe Rinehart, Eli Scott and Rebbecca Soup.
Note: We speak only for ourselves and not on behalf of those accused, who may or may not identify as anarchists.

As anarchists working in the Asheville area, we feel compelled to respond to the coverage of the vandalism committed May 1 and the subsequent, ill-informed portrayal of anarchism by the media.

Throughout the media coverage, no serious definition of anarchism has been offered, making it unclear if reporters are familiar with the long, rich history of the anarchist movement. Instead, anarchists have been mischaracterized as wanting "no rules, no organization, no government, no niceties of modern society" ("A Few Questions for the Anarchists in Asheville," May 4 Asheville Citizen-Times). Green anarchism, meanwhile, is "associated often with eco-terrorism" ("Asheville Now Part of Widespread May Day Violence," May 4 Asheville Citizen-Times). These media sound bites portray anarchists as alien and dangerous, shutting down any possibility of constructive dialogue by creating a culture of fear around the anarchist movement.

As anarchists, we're used to being misunderstood. It is important to remember that "democracy" once conjured up images of mob rule, just as the word "anarchy" today is used as a synonym for chaos. This is convenient for those who would have us believe that a society without centralized control would degenerate into a Darwinian nightmare. Such portrayals necessarily marginalize the complex history of anarchism, which was articulated as a philosophy in the 1860s based on observations of peasant self-organization and cooperation in nature. Lost, too, are the contributions of contemporary anarchists, among them such noteworthy individuals as linguist Noam Chomsky, novelist Ursula K. Le Guin and recently deceased historian Howard Zinn.

Anarchism advocates the liberation of the human spirit through the abolition of all forms of coercion. We believe in self-ownership, voluntary association and cooperativism, placing a high value on forms of organization that are organic and consensual. Throughout history, this has led anarchists to reject state capitalism and other authoritarian ideologies, such as fascism and state communism. We do not offer a one-size-fits-all approach to social and economic organization, recognizing the need for a diverse set of solutions in a complex world.

We are members of Firestorm Cafe & Books, a community-event space in downtown that operates along the cooperative, libertarian principles of anarchism. As a worker-owned cooperative, we strive to create a workplace that provides valuable services to the community and fulfilling work to ourselves, while treating the earth in a dignified and respectful manner.

Our organizational model avoids unnecessary and involuntary hierarchies, relying instead on team structures that maximize input from all our workers while giving everyone opportunities for creativity and entrepreneurship. As an anti-capitalist business, we oppose the creation of profit, and when we are able to compensate our labor with a livable wage, we intend to invest 100 percent of our would-be profits back into the community. We provide a space for a diverse range of events and ideas, computer and Internet access, a variety of valuable, hard-to-find titles, and a visible economic alternative to business as usual. Firestorm is an example of the creative power of anarchism in action.

Although seemingly on the fringe, anarchism plays an important role in the culture of Asheville.

Even if you don't think you know any anarchists, it is certain that you are interacting with us on a regular basis. Our kids play together at school; we make lattes at your favorite cafés; we swap gardening tips with you at the grocery store. Local anarchists are deeply engaged with the community, working to improve the lives of their neighbors. Besides Firestorm, anarchists run a community-exchange network (Asheville LETS), started an adult-education program (Freeskool Asheville), serve food to the homeless (Food Not Bombs) and maintain multiple programs assisting the incarcerated. Beyond explicitly anarchist projects, we volunteer widely in our community, involving ourselves in community gardens, The Global Report, the Asheville ReCyclery, Our VOICE and the Asheville Currency Project, to name only a few.

All of these positive contributions stand in stark contrast to local media's recent portrayal of anarchists and anarchism. Most egregious in the media hysteria has been the tabloidesque reporting of the Citizen-Times, whose May 4 edition sported the sensationalist front-page headline "Suspects' Tie? Anarchy." John Boyle's open letter, "A Few Questions for the Anarchists in Asheville," leads us to believe that he either has no knowledge of anarchism's existence outside of anti-social, criminal activity or that he embraces a philosophy of collective guilt, holding all anarchists responsible for the actions of a small group. This same impoverished reasoning could be used to blame all Christians for the recent spate of gay bashing in Asheville. Journalism of this sort is unprofessional and, when directed at more mainstream social groups, it is rightly condemned.

In the midst of crumbling mega-institutions, political and economic solutions are in short supply. Anarchism offers viable, community-based alternatives to these failing institutions, and if we're willing to look beyond the media hype, it can provide tools for building a more sustainable, just and free world.

For more information on anarchism, please consider the following sources: Anarchism: A Very Short Introduction by Colin Ward, The Voltairine de Cleyre Reader by Voltairine de Cleyre, A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn, the Alternative Media Project (http://Infoshop.org), the Center for a Stateless Society (http://C4SS.org) and Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anarchism).

[The authors are all members of Firestorm Cafe & Books in downtown Asheville, a worker-owned cooperative.]

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65 thoughts on “Sound-bite vandalism

  1. arecibo

    One thing I appreciate is that anarchism offers real, grown-up solutions to the problems that we are facing–the breakdown of the systems that we have all grown to depend on. We all need a big dose of reality if we think we can count on our government or our economic system to address the root causes that are causing things to fall apart at the seams, or to offer solutions that will really fit our changing circumstances.

    Although anarchism is not one size fits all (there are a lot of various tendencies) the main gist is pretty reasonable–we tend to think things would be better if we used more decentralized, cooperative and democratic methods to organize our societies. We don’t like unquestioned authority (who does?) or needlessly centralized control.

    My personal response to the recent window-smashing and so on is that it was completely misguided, stupid and regrettable. However, I am capable of separating an incident from an entire school of thought–and local community–that has so much of value to offer. Take some time to look into the reality behind the hype before you write off anarchists.

  2. arecibo

    One thing I appreciate is that anarchism offers real, grown-up solutions to the problems that we are facing–the breakdown of the systems that we have all grown to depend on. We all need a big dose of reality if we think we can count on our government or our economic system to address the root causes that are causing things to fall apart at the seams, or to offer solutions that will really fit our changing circumstances.

    Although anarchism is not one size fits all (there are a lot of various tendencies) the main gist is pretty reasonable–we tend to think things would be better if we used more decentralized, cooperative and democratic methods to organize our societies. We don’t like unquestioned authority (who does?) or needlessly centralized control.

    My personal response to the recent window-smashing and so on is that it was completely misguided, stupid and regrettable. However, I am capable of separating an incident from an entire school of thought–and local community–that has so much of value to offer. Take some time to look into the reality behind the hype before you write off anarchists.

  3. UNaffiliated Voter

    hmm, never heard of ‘libertarian principles of anarchy’ … a bit of a stretch there kids.

    the world is VERY sustainable if so many people tried to avoid learning and working with their human minds and bodies.

    you kids also need to understand that the USA was NEVER meant to be a democracy, which why the word does not appear in the US Constitution nor the Bill of Rights. Thomas Jefferson knew that, historically, democracies only lasted about 200 years. sure, your lieberal teachers always taught about our ‘democracy’ …they LIED to you.

  4. Dionysis

    Interesting points. The first two definitions of anarchy found in most dictionaries are: (1) “a state of society without government or law” and (2) “political and social disorder due to the absence of governmental control.” The definition used by the writers is the least commonly known and accepted (“a theory that regards the absence of all direct or coercive government as a political ideal and that proposes the cooperative and voluntary association of individuals and groups as the principal mode of organized society.”

    Perhaps the writers can clarify a point in the article. It is written that “As an anti-capitalist business, we oppose the creation of profit, and when we are able to compensate our labor with a livable wage, we intend to invest 100 percent of our would-be profits back into the community.”

    If not profit, then what will be the source of this future “living wage?” And if investment back into the community is a goal (certainly commendable), surely these “would-be profits” (are they different than real profits?) are necessary.

    One point that is inarguable is that it is unfair to portray the behavior of some as the behavior of all; no reasonable person can disagree.

  5. Johnny

    Thanks for your fine letter. So how do you feel about the vandalism that occurred in Asheville on May 1st?

  6. Piffy!

    John Boyl is an idiot. He speaks the language of local idiots everywhere, which is why he ‘writes’ at a paper FOR idiots, the AC-T.

  7. Viking

    Anarchy (not an ‘ism’, to be sure!) is too complex for average citizens in that it’s simplicity is too powerful for one dimension folk to grasp. Thus, it is under-appreciated.

    Part of what’s going on is that some out-of-towners raised hell as a group (riot, some might say failed insurrection) and called it anarchy. It is, in one definition.

    There’s no doubt peaceful anarchists and thinkers like Herbert Marcuse (not necessarily the same philosophical pot) have added to socioeconomic innovations and counterpoints to conventional wisdom, globally. However smart and ethical our local anarchists sound, they are missing something if they are trying to ameliorate recent events; or somehow recruit neophytes.

    The local anarchists did nothing to explain how they are different from other libertarians, like Tea Partiers, vis a vis a pronounced inability to condemn negative community behavior. Is it that to condemn the behavior of others is the start of government?

    Is that why anarchism can only exist at an extreme micro level consisting of like minded people… thus cells of conforming individuals?

    I like Johnny’s question: individuals of the intelligence behind this commentary would omit the obvious, ethical answer for only one reason: they in fact (or default) condone the right to violence against those they do not embrace; indirectly through property damage, or we can assume otherwise. Even I can understand that.

  8. arecibo

    Dionysus, non-profit organizations and businesses use revenue to pay employees (in this case worker-owners) and operating expenses.

    The difference from regular business, in this case, is that surplus funds beyond operating expenses–profits–are funneled into the community. The reason they are referred to as “would-be” profits here is because Firestorm has not yet reached the goal of compensating worker-owners with what it considers to be a living wage.

    So, in a non-profit business, the owner/owners/shareholders, do not pocket the profits.

    (I’m not a worker-owner at Firestorm, this is just my hopefully accurate understanding of their structure.)

  9. entopticon

    Dionysis, unfortunately, the dictionary definitions do seem to represent the intended meanings as commonly used by non-anarchists, but ironically, the most influential schools of anarchist thought, such as anarcho-syndicalism, anarcho-communism, and social ecology, and the most prominent anarchist thinkers of modern times, such as Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, and Murray Bookchin, all fit squarely within the third definition offered. It’s actually been an ongoing problem for anarchists, and that is why all three of the above mentioned thinkers went to great efforts to distance themselves from the common perception represented by the first two definitions that you cited above. In many ways, the stigmatization of the term is identical to that of the oft used right wing technique of stigmatizing terms such as “liberal” as if they were pejorative in order to weaken and invalidate the opposing view. Many individual schools of anarchism have intense disagreements, but there is a school of thought called anarquismo sin adjetivos (anarchism without adjectives) which attempts to bring together all of the various schools under one umbrella.

  10. Dionysis

    Well entop, sounds like a semantic civil war going on here. No wonder there is such confusion. With such internecine squabling the norm, it’s not too hard to see why non-anarchists see them as a somewhat homogenious group of rule-less miscreants.

  11. “As an anti-capitalist business, we oppose the creation of profit, and when we are able to compensate our labor with a livable wage, we intend to invest 100 percent of our would-be profits back into the community.”

    This seems to go totally against human nature. Why work if not for “profit”? I’m sorry, in my opinion, this is an unreachable ideal….might as well try to stop the Mississippi from flowing downhill to the Gulf. Because that is the battle of momentium you’re up against.

    Better to strive to find your own little niche in a capitalist world. One that doesn’t exploit yourself or anyone else. It can be done.

  12. Scott

    Dionysis, profit is the difference between revenue and cost. While workers receive only wages (a “cost”), entrepreneurs may receive both wages and profits. It is the later form of compensation, divorced from labor, that we seek to avoid.

    Anti-capitalists correctly identify profit as the result of exploitation, essentially arguing that government intervention in the market allows capitalists to artificially depress wages, transferring value from workers to themselves (“surplus value”). To quote Bill Haywood, “For every man who gets a dollar he didn’t sweat for, someone else sweated to produce a dollar he never received.”

    For a more in depth treatment, you might want to read mutualist author Kevin Carson’s excellent “The Iron Fist Behind the Invisible Hand: Corporate Capitalism As a State-Guaranteed System of Privilege.” (Available at http://mutualist.org/id4.html or in print at Firestorm).

  13. Daniel Withrow

    D-Dial, I believe the writers used the word “profit” in a technical sense–that is, the money earned by a business after paying all expenses, including paying labor costs. People don’t work for profit, they work for various rewards both tangible and in-. In this case, the living wage that Firestorm folks are working for isn’t profit; rather, it cuts into the possibility of profit.

    Thanks for the fine editorial, folks! While I understand your desire not to give the vandals extra attention, however, I do think you’d be well served by explaining your position in regards to them, in the same way that decent conservatives take pains to distance themselves from David Duke.

  14. Joe

    Hey, in response to Dionysis’s question I would differentiate between “return to labor” and “profit”. Profit is money left over after a business has paid all of it’s costs, including labor. It represents a return to those providing the capital for a business and is unlimited in nature (the limited form of this being interest on loans). In a worker owned business when there is money left over after paying all costs (including a fixed return to labor, a living wage) it is in fact “return to labor”.

    The “squabbling” you refer to over the definition of Anarchy is not in fact inside of the Anarchist movement (a movement for Anarchism) but is instead created by outside forces (your definition relies not on an anarchist source, but on a dictionary). A quick look the Wikipedia article on anarchism will reveal many internal debates, but not that one.

  15. arecibo

    D.Dial, there is an entire sector of our economy that is devoted to non-profit work (about 1.6 million organizations). Of course non-profit does not mean that individuals should not be compensated for their labor, just that profits after operating expenses are paid do not go into owners/investors pockets.

  16. Joe

    D. Dial, while I respect your opinion, I would make two points:

    1) We all want to make a living, to be rewarded for our work. To do so isn’t to make a Profit, it is simply to be rewarded for our labor. One can easily differentiate between the investor, who receives large returns for very little actual labor (this is profit) and the individual who is paid for his labor (be it mental or physical).

    These two different ways of making money (controlling the flow of capital and providing real labor to your community) are often lumped together in a single statement “Everyone has to make a living” which uses the real work of the second group of folks to justify the wealth extraction of the first.

    2)If it’s not exploitative (meant to centralize wealth), it’s not capitalism. There are some businesses inside of capitalism that are not capitalist (mainly those that don’t employ wage labor, like the Grove Arcade Copy Shop and worker owned cooperatives). These businesses tend to be the pioneers in a economic niche, who are then often forced out by exploitative businesses (think Staples to the Grove Arcade Copy Shop).

    I fully support market based systems of exchange that aren’t capitalism (markets have existed long before capitalism), and think that businesses that engage in them would do well to band together and stand firmly against the for profit businesses that band together to take their place.

    p.s. also, in the American economy pretty much every transaction exploits someone, they often are just too far away for us to see the relationships, making calls for “finding non-exploitative niches inside of capitalism” “an unreachable ideal”

  17. Piffy!

    Dennis, such ‘squabbles’ exist within any ideology, and can hardly act as evidence of a logical failing of said ideology. As a ‘liberal’ i would think you would sympathize with the writer’s reference to the mis-use of political terms as an under handed way to attack instead of critique.

  18. Dionysis

    “Dennis, such ‘squabbles’ exist within any ideology, and can hardly act as evidence of a logical failing of said ideology. As a ‘liberal’ i would think you would sympathize with the writer’s reference to the mis-use of political terms as an under handed way to attack instead of critique.”

    I don’t believe I was suggesting that it was any evidence of “logical failing,” only that it was understandable why many would the kind of view they seem to have. In point of fact, that third (and evidently operative) definition has a lot of appeal. As someone who doesn’t keep up with the dynamics of the anarchist movement with its various sub-categories and such, I find it interesting that such squabbles (yes, I did omit that second ‘b’ earlier in my mis-spelling) are going on and have been for a while. No value judgment meant or implied.

  19. dancer

    A couple of years ago I attended a meeting at Firestorm Cafe to learn about the Asheville LETS group (because I like the idea of bartering, community, independence, etc.). While waiting for the meeting to start I was milling around the cafe, having never been there before, and I noticed pamphlets with instructions on how (and why) to steal from stores. Many of the “libertarian” ideas presented by the writers of this letter appeal to me, but I lose all interest in, and respect for, a political philosophy which rationalizes stealing. (Not to mention destruction of other people’s property…)

  20. “D.Dial, there is an entire sector of our economy that is devoted to non-profit work (about 1.6 million organizations). Of course non-profit does not mean that individuals should not be compensated for their labor, just that profits after operating expenses are paid do not go into owners/investors pockets. “ -Arecebo

    I have become acutely aware of the lack of any oversight regarding non -profits. Having been in the center of a public scandal involving a local non profit, I’ve been told that there are many non profits around that are not answering to anyone. The only way I’ve found to gain access to records that are required to be open, is to shell out big bucks to an attorney. So your example of the entire non profit sector has little credability.

    http://www.mountainx.com/news/2007/031710the_power_of_the_paper_trail/

  21. Ashevillejoe

    Dancer,

    How do you feel about the Boston Tea Party? Or the “re-appropriation” of land by the early American Governments from indigenous folks, or the removal of English peasants from their land at the beginnings of Capitalism? Or the current removal of indigenous from their land in Brazil for soy or palm plantations (for Biodiesel)? Or Chinese peasant being pushed off their land for new chemical plants to make products for the United States?

    I don’t necessarily support stealing (nor do would I condemn it in all circumstances), but it’s worth noting that our current system is based upon a lot of actions that would fit any conventional definition of “stealing” but that is is often out of sight (overseas) or in the past.

    It would be a shame to reject a whole belief system based on the opinions or actions of a few inside of it (that’s a bit like not being christian because of a few priests, or believing in democracy because of republicans).

  22. Piffy!

    dio-thanks for the clarification. I’m just sometimes quite astounded that intelligent people continue to think of “anarchy” as nothing more than smashy smashy, even though there is a vast body of work supporting the so-called 3rd definition. I apologize for thinking you were falling in this category.

  23. Piffy!

    [b]Many of the “libertarian” ideas presented by the writers of this letter appeal to me, but I lose all interest in, and respect for, a political philosophy which rationalizes stealing.[/b]

    What makes you think these ideas are part of the same philosophy/ideology? Because you saw some pamphlets at Firestorm? That seems like quite a stretch to immediately connect the two and therefore discredit it all by association.

    IF you are intrigued by some of these ideas, do yourself a favor and read up on the subject, instead of lumping ‘everybody’ in the same group.

  24. Piffy!

    [b]hmm, never heard of ‘libertarian principles of anarchy’ … a bit of a stretch there kids.[/b]

    Well, that’s because you clearly dont know much, and have never read up on anything resembling ‘politics’ beyond right-wing/tea party talking points.

    Seriously, man, do a little research for once. Try Murray Rothbard as just ONE of many examples of a ‘libertarian/anarchist’. Of course, that would require you to turn glenn beck off for a while.

  25. Ashevillejoe

    Dancer, upon rereading my post was ummm, a bit to harsh, I appologize for the tone.

  26. Dionysis

    “I apologize for thinking you were falling in this category.”

    I appreciate that, pff. I probably could have worded it clearer, and upon re-reading the post, I can see how it could have been misinterpreted. I’m actually interested in educating myself more about this on-going dynamic within the movement. Thanks.

  27. Johnny

    The letter writers have made no effort (that I’ve read) to condemn the vandalism or comment otherwise about how they feel about it. There’s no doubt they have read these comments in my opinion.

    Correcting misinterpretations of media reports and such is good, and I appreciate your letter.

    So again, how do you feel about the activities by the so-called anarchists in Asheville on May 1st?

  28. JWTJr

    Johnny – how do we feel? I think that their cause has zero to do with the punishment they should receive … which should be hefty.

    pffy feels that these guys’ cause is weak and that they should be punished. If they had a cause he supported, he may speak differently. What say you pff?

  29. Piffy!

    [b]What say you pff?[/b]

    I’d say you are obsessed with me.

    [b]I’m actually interested in educating myself more about this on-going dynamic within the movement[/b]

    Dio- I may get flack for posting this link, but if you have time, there is a wealth of competing theories and debates here:

    http://crimethinc.com/

    You may not agree with everything being said, but if you are interested in learning more about some of the dialogue within the many-faceted anarchist community, it s a great resource.

  30. UNaffilated Voter

    Poofie, um, as a former member of the Libertarian Party, I can tell you that anarchy is not in THEIR platform whasoever…that does not account for misguided idiots who blaspheme the party ideals…strive to be smarter.

  31. “Interesting commentary in today’s NYT by Friedman, who sees one anarchist ideal as the only hope for our world. (Not that he calls it anarchist – he calls it taking responsibility for our actions, both personal and collective.)”

    Personal & collective responsibility is an anarchist ideal???? I thought that was the role of a maturity and adulthood? Stand on your own two feet, and don’t expect others to do for you what you should be doing for yourself….was how I understood it.

  32. Betty Cloer Wallace

    Most identifiable socio-political groups can articulate what they stand for. They have scripts. They make lists. They adopt slogans. They write manifestos. They make points about which others can agree or disagree from practical perspectives. And, they devise means by which to carry out their platforms and to further their agendas.

    Anarchists, on the other hand, seem to talk endlessly about what and who they are against, but as a movement they have yet, even after more than a century, to articulate how their idealistic yearnings can be translated into pragmatic action in a real world—how they can go about achieving their desired result, how the world would actually look with anarchism successfully in place and operational over the long haul, or even short term.

    A successful group enterprise is dependent upon the group offering something appealing, and cooperative enterprises work only as long as everyone sings out of the same songbook. Shattered glass and burning banks bring attention, but not a lot of understanding, cooperation, or increased allegiance, and vague philosophy is no better.

    Historically, anarchism seems to have amassed a litany of esoteric idealistic utopian theoretical musings from ivory tower academic elitist thinkers—but as a movement, it is short on practical solutions for the great masses of workers.

    One good clear pragmatic manifesto (who, what, where, why, when, and how) would surely bring some understanding, if not actually advance the cause, even in Asheville.

  33. Piffy!

    [b]Poofie, um, as a former member of the Libertarian Party, I can tell you that anarchy is not in THEIR platform whasoever…that does not account for misguided idiots who blaspheme the party ideals…strive to be smarter. [/b]

    Murray Rothbard would disagree with you. So would anyone who actually studies politics. You FAIL, as always, even when offered an education.

  34. Piffy!

    [b]Personal & collective responsibility is an anarchist ideal???? I thought that was the role of a maturity and adulthood?[/b]

    Really? Most “Adults” I know have no sense of personal responsibility. They want “others” to do everything. Conversely, many folks i know who consider themselves “Anarchists” are very self-determined, helpful, community-oriented people. As far as we know, these juvinile delinquits who perpetrated this idiocy werent even anarchists, since they didnt even take the time to release any sort of communique.

    Stop getting hung up on the idea of the twisty-mustache anarchist bomber and read up on the theory of political theories of anarchy.

  35. killarue

    “Most identifiable socio-political groups can articulate what they stand for. They have scripts. They make lists. They adopt slogans. They write manifestos. They make points about which others can agree or disagree from practical perspectives. And, they devise means by which to carry out their platforms and to further their agendas”.
    Well, just because an idealogy has made it to the mainstream doesn’t exactly purport to it’s level of good that it offers to the population. It just happened to be popular. The world is still sorting out democracy, and even two hundred plus years into it, there is still a great divide in how Americans view it. I think that the ideals set forth in the letter are noble and worthy, certainly, and shouldn’t just be dismissed because it conflicts with the popular, already accepted ideals, or liberals are just as guilty as conservatives to not be open to all thoughts and ideas. However, I would say that it is a movement that may only find traction in chaotic times and sure it would be hard to turn this ship around at this point. Plus, it seems to be fueled by the idealism of youth(not derogatory);but with a top heavy population, it’s time is not now. Integration of the entire population works for me, unless we are afraid to look in the mirror.

  36. “Really? Most “Adults” I know have no sense of personal responsibility. They want “others” to do everything. Conversely, many folks i know who consider themselves “Anarchists” are very self-determined, helpful, community-oriented people.”

    Perhaps we’re residing in parallel universes. In my world, a mature individual is acutely aware of personal, financial, moral and collective responsibility. And is proud that they stand on their own two feet, without anyone else shouldering their responsibilities for them.

    I suppose you could bring all sorts of semantics into the discussion as subsititutes of “responsibility” …”pioneer spirit, rugged individuality fierce independence”…etc. Bottom line, being a mature adult means being responsible…period.

    I’m not getting into your definition of anarchists quest. I’m just stating my own experience with responsibility.

  37. JWTJr

    “Really? Most “Adults” I know have no sense of personal responsibility. They want “others” to do everything.”

    You can easily solve this problem by not hanging out with Big Gov’t liberals so much.

  38. Dionysis

    “You can easily solve this problem by not hanging out with Big Gov’t liberals so much.”

    Oh, is that all it takes? What about those that like to hang around phoney-baloney ‘small guv’ment’ types like George W. Bush?

    “Bush—the advance man for the “ownership society,” smaller and more trustworthy government, and a humble foreign policy—increased the size and scope of the federal government to unprecedented levels.”

    http://reason.com/archives/2009/01/26/bush-was-a-big-government-disa

    Or Ronald Reagan? He spent more of the ‘national income’ than did Jimmy Carter (27.9% his last year in office vs. 28.7% by March of 1988 under Reagan).

    “…in nominal terms, there has been a 60% increase in government spending, thanks mainly to Reagan’s requested budgets, which were only marginally smaller than the spending Congress voted.”

    http://mises.org/freemarket_detail.aspx?control=488#ixzz0oDoMUc1F

    Facts can be sooooo pesky.

  39. JWTJr

    I never mentioned those those guys. Their Big Gov’t ideas were wrong too.

  40. pff

    Dio, JayDub has not the capability to debate issues honestly and with facts.

  41. Dionysis

    “I never mentioned those those guys. Their Big Gov’t ideas were wrong too.”

    I understand they were’nt mentioned, but it negates the notion that ‘big government’ is the sole purview of ‘liberals’.

  42. JWTJr

    Not everyone fits into your perfect partisan molds. Many have ideas on both sides of the isle. Some good, some bad.

  43. Dionysis

    “Not everyone fits into your perfect partisan molds. Many have ideas on both sides of the isle. Some good, some bad.”

    I don’t have any “partisan molds” (I’m an unaffiliated voter myself). It does seem to me, however, that using trite and untrue stereotypical verbiage like “Big Gov’t liberals” is precisely engaging in an attempt to “fit” a group into a partisan mold.

  44. arecibo

    In response to Betty Cloer Wallace:

    I respectfully disagree with your assertion that anarchists are not engaged in pragmatic action towards solutions. One of the first things that attracted me to anarchism was the fact that I saw anarchists not only speaking truth to power, but taking concrete actions towards a better world. Many anarchists take pride in doing very practical actions, day to day work, to make change here and now, instead of petitioning those in authority to fix things.

    Some great examples are: our Local Exchange Trading System in Ashevile (facilitates cashless trading for these tough economic times), More Gardens in New York City (an organization to create more community gardens), Mountain Justice (youth working to end mountaintop removal), Regeneracion (a group that offers childcare to support women of color organizing), Common Grounds Clinic (a free clinic that were some of the first responders in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina).

    There is certainly an anarchist contingent that is more interested in tearing apart the system that exists now. Honestly, though I’m not a fan of destruction, I can’t blame youth for feeling that way–just look at the mess the status quo is making of our world. I can see that it might make sense to destroy anything that contributes towards capitalism, which seems to be killing life on earth not so slowly.

  45. Betty Cloer Wallace

    Arecibo, I did not make an “assertion that anarchists are not engaged in pragmatic action towards solutions.”

    My assertion was that, as a movement, anarchists have not yet, even after more than a century, articulated how their idealistic yearnings can be translated into pragmatic action in a real world in a manner that the general populace knows what the movement is all about and in a manner appealing to great masses of workers.

    Yes, the examples of good works you listed are quite worthy, but engaging in such good works does not an anarchist make. Thousands of non-anarchists are engaged in such good works. (Even Michelle Obama initiated a community garden, but I doubt that many of the participants call themselves anarchists.)

    If an anarchism movement is ever to congeal and to be understood in this country, it will have to produce a clear definition of itself, a clear articulation of itself (who, what, where, why, when, and how).

    A good clear sunshiny pragmatic written manifesto directed toward the general public would be a beginning, something akin to Molton’s “Anarchism for Dummies” last week. I really don’t understand why someone has not already written such a document. It’s a real opportunity going begging.

  46. As a unemployable corporate misfit….when it became necessary to make my way in the professional world I chose to make my living from my own gift of creativity. I sold to the wholesale apparel markets in Atlanta and New York. I would lightly rub elbows and kiss the corporate world by fulfilling orders placed by large corporations in the fashion industry …but I simply supplied the corporation. So I avoided the deadening dehumanizing aspect of our culture. But not everyone can go this route. But hope is on the horizon.

    From a professor at the prestigious MBA program at HEC Paris ( ranked #2 worldwide by the Financial Times for its Executive Education programs) comes hope of a new way that businesses must begin practicing. Seems the big thinkers are realizing that a hierarchical system isn’t working any more. Here’s an excerpt and link to more.

    Why is it necessary to use intuitive intelligence?

    Because we will not be able to solve current problems with the outdated way of analytical thinking that created these exact problems.

    We face a sustainability imperative. We have to develop and use an intelligence that can think in sync with our ecosystems – in other words an intelligence that understands and respects the creative process of life.

    All great scientists recognize that the history of our universe is the consequence of a number of fundamentals laws explained by science as well as a long series of unexplained accidents. Logic alone cannot explain everything. The same goes for business.

    In order to help you engage the creativity of your teams, in order to inspire long lasting respectful relationship with consumers, in order to design innovative, sustainable and profitable business models, in order to lead organizations into a successful and sustainable future we developed an original model: The Intuitive Compass™.

    How does the Intuitive Compass™ help companies achieve breakthroughs in sustainable innovation?

    http://francischolle.com/intuitivecompass.gif
    We use the The Intuitive Compass™ as a tool to assess and chart progress as companies (and executives) learn to harness intuitive intelligence in four key areas:

    Strategy: how to employ intuitive intelligence to create sustainable, innovative business models which deliver real value to customers in their local environment.

    Leadership: the transformative power of intuitive intelligence energizes and builds movements – with clarity of vision and purpose.

    Work Culture: the ecosystem health of your business culture is reflected in your bottom line results. The Intuitive Compass™ helps create the open culture you need to succeed in the intelligent economy.

    Consumer Needs: map your customers needs and wants using The Intuitive Compass™ – creating a value innovation agenda for your customers.

    We help companies and leaders get a “southwest” perspective, and focus on creating sustainable value. Our mantra: sustainable business is a the core of future business success.

    http://www.francischolle.com/

  47. Ashevillejoe

    Hey Betty, I’m glad you bolded your statement about the “Great Masses of Workers” as I think it is revealing about what I would guess is your politics, and how it differentiates from the Anarchist perspective.

    To an anarchist there is no “Great Mass”, but rather millions and billions of indivuduals, all of whome should be as free as possible to seek out their own solutions to their and their communities problems. Does this mean that anarchism fails to articulate a single vision that appeals to “the workers”? Perhaps, but it also means that there is room for “the workers” to become individuals, not just conceptualized in the workplace, but also in their homes and in their communities. There is no one anarchist way to produce, or to live, as there often is in more authoritarian socialist philosophies. Our way of life, the ways of life follows more of a “many worlds within one world” philosophy.

    There are thousands of good projects to point out, and thousand more yet to created based on the beliefs in the pursuit of maximising freedom and equality of opurtunity, and many of these have been collected in books, zines and on webpages. Not all outwardly identify as Anarchist, it’s true, but then again many folks you would never think of as Anarchists are open, even supportive of the ideas espoused, and many fields have been hugely influenced by anarchism and their practitioners rarely know it (for example city planning and green economics). Michelle Obama surely isn’t an anarchist, but when she reads modern Micheal Pollen she is being influence by Kirkpatrick Sale, Ghandi, E.F. Schumacker and Kropotikin, all of whom either were Anarchist or are greatly influenced by Anarchists.

  48. arecibo

    Dear Betty,

    The reason you do not see one manifesto that unites all anarchists on a single program or platform towards improving our world, is that anarchist thought is way too varied and diverse to be able to narrow it down to one doctrine. Anarchists don’t advocate one particular form of organization as the answer for everyone. For this reason, you’ll find plenty of anarchist theory, but should not expect to have one anarchist summing it all up in a manifesto that says, “hey, this is how I think all of society should organize itself”.

    Since anarchism (to me) is about each community’s right to self-determine what it should look like, it makes sense that various communities organized along anarchist lines would manifest differently. What is most important is that unnecessary hierarchy is avoided and that central authority is not necessary to organize society.

    Though it is impossible to locate one single manifesto-type document that sums up an anarchist plan of action, if you have the time to look at a few different sources, there are some great articulations of practical ideas. Some places to look are Francisco Ferrer’s ideas about education (which have led to the unschooling philosophy and the free school movement), Micheal Albert’s ideas about participatory economics, the organizing of Free Women of Spain (whose ideas were widespread to thousands of women).

    These are just the ideas off the top of my head.

    Cheers!

  49. arecibo

    Also, forgot to add, in response to your statement, Betty:

    “Anarchists have not yet, even after more than a century, articulated how their idealistic yearnings can be translated into pragmatic action in a real world in a manner that the general populace knows what the movement is all about and in a manner appealing to great masses of workers.”

    For ideas about pragmatic action appealing to great masses for workers, look to the history of Industrial Workers of the World.

    One reason anarchist thought is not more widely understood and discussed in the “general populace” is because anarchist ideas are widely repressed, misrepresented, or dismissed in the media and in educational institutions (how many people in school learn about re-organization of society along anarchist lines in the Spanish Civil War? Or the Paris Commune?). The reason for this is that anarchism represents a direct threat to the status quo, who would much rather have the general population subscribe to the popular notion that humans are inherently evil and in need of a supreme authority to keep them in line.

  50. Betty Cloer Wallace

    Arecibo and Ashevillejoe, why do you think so many anarchist groups espousing workers solidarity and workers alliance are so much more common in European and Asian countries than in the U.S.? And so much more open with their protests?

    Is there more oppression to fight against there? More for workers to win or lose? More of a common purpose or focus?

    Is there a fear factor in the U.S. that prevents anarchists/workers from carrying signs in highly visible open street marches and from producing widely distributed publications to show worker solidarity as they do in other countries?

    Or, is there a lack of articulation of purpose(s) and vision(s) and focus here? Too few people involved? Lack of interest? Less incentive for change? Less actual oppression?

    Is there a fundamental disconnect between worker solidarity and individual activism here? Does American individualism actually counteract the notion of worker solidarity for the masses as espoused by anarchist groups elsewhere?

    Is there more of an expectation here that change should come from within the existing governmental structures rather than from outside?

    Even in our own Asheville/ Buncombe “community,” anarchism is still the best kept secret in town as to who, what, how many, why, and how. After the recent violence in Asheville, one would think local proponents and activists would be scrambling to explain who they really are and what they stand for, but in the eyes of our local general public, anarchism is still a mystery, still an unknown, still without names and faces, still without definition.

    No one is asking for a one-size-fits-all manifesto or doctrine “that unites all anarchists” everywhere. A simple explanation and description of anarchism written for non-anarchists is what’s needed, an explanation that informs the generally clueless public about what anarchism is, what it does, and what it means–here and elsewhere.

    I’m still hoping someone will write a concise, pragmatic treatise such as The What, Who, How Many, Why, and Wherefore of Anarchism in Asheville, NC. It would certainly contribute to better understanding and might even win some converts.

  51. Scott and Joe: I think the title of your next Ways & Means pamphlet should be titled “The What, Who, How Many, Why, and Wherefore of Anarchism in Asheville, NC.”

  52. Ashevillejoe

    Well, this seems discussion seems to have petered out, but before I go:

    1) Yawn to the constant trotting out of tired old pro-socialist/anti-anarchist arguments. We like to think of people as people, and not solely as workers.

    2) Anyone who wants a clearly written, concise explination about some of the things that anarchist wants can 1) read the articles referenced in the above article 2)stop in to Firestorm and pick up a copy either “Anarchism: A very short introduction” by Collin Ward or Cindy Milstiens “Anarchism and it’s Aspirations”.

    Since you seem to be not aware of these well known titles and seem not to have read the suggested reading above, I’ll assume your questions are meant more to discredit Anarchism then as an attempt at a serious dialog, and so my stuck in 19th century socialist friend, I bid you a fond farewell.

  53. Betty Cloer Wallace

    I’m still hoping someone will be able to provide insight into the mysterious Asheville anarchism movement, including how it differs from well-publicized and well-defined anarchist movements in the rest of the world. In the absence of any other local description of how anarchism functions in Asheville, I’m thinking I might attempt a manuscript myself, sort of an unauthorized version.

    Specifically, I’m interested in how the idealism of youth does or does not translate into productive action. So much theory is often espoused that does not translate into anything practical or transportable or long-lasting, however meaningful it might seem at the time, but some of it does make a lasting historical mark, and time does tell.

    Yes, Ashevillejoe, I have read all the treatises espoused by Firestorm, et al.,as well as volumes more about anarchist history and activism under assorted governmental structures in Europe and Asia, but the only commentary I can glean from local AVL residents who call themselves anarchists (five so far) is a mention of the recent vandalism in AVL and references to professors at Harvard and Oxford.

    Actually, the most common response locally sounds like a collective mantra (Noammm… Noammm… Noammm…), and I’m beginning to think Asheville anarchism might be a non-story beyond paying homage to Noam Chomsky and serving as framework for a business plan, since banks and other lending institutions require one.

    I do miss the good old days when activism had a clear purpose and when charismatic activist heroes of intelligence and passion inspired civil rights and anti-war activism on a revolutionary scale: Che Guevara, Cesar Chavez, JFK, MLK, Russell Means, Betty Friedan and Bella Abzug—even Joan Baez and Woody Guthrie.

    We’re all so comfy now, reaping the fruits of civil rights advances made by those 1960s activists, but we still have a long way to go, and promises to keep, and miles to go before we sleep.

  54. J. Lee Nunn

    Excuse me , BUT , While your all here beatin’ yo GUMS , your ADHD ” Brats ” are tearin’ up our town. GET A GRIP , FOLKS !!!

  55. Ashevillejoe

    Hmmmm, can’t say folks have been tearing up the town since we’ve been “beatin” our gums, that seems to be factually inaccurate, and to say that a few thousand dollars worth of damage constitutes “tearin’ up our town” well, seems to me that there have been bus wrecks recently that caused more damage. But hyperbole does tend to damp down the intelligent conversation and debate.

  56. missemmalee

    A whole lotta gabbing going on, and a whole lotta nothing happening.

    Good Lord, you people can waste a lot of time.

  57. Mannie Dalton

    Firestorm, 48 Commerce St., hosts a monthly discussion group that meets to explore anarchist vision and the application of libertarian principles. The next meeting of the “Stateless Society Discussion Group” will be Sunday, June 20, 7 p.m.
    — Mannie Dalton, Xpress Calendar Editor

  58. Betty Cloer Wallace

    “Firestorm, 48 Commerce St., hosts a monthly discussion group that meets to explore anarchist vision and the application of libertarian principles. The next meeting of the “Stateless Society Discussion Group” will be Sunday, June 20, 7 p.m. —Mannie Dalton, Xpress Calendar Editor”

    In addition to trying to construct a sanitized Asheville version of “anarchism” (an anti-capitalist, anti-statist version that promotes the gentle libertarian values of worker collaboration, cooperation, collegiality, and collectivism without relinquishing one’s individuality or disintegrating into baser human tendencies)—and in addition to trying to remove or ignore “worker solidarity” as the historical underpinning of European, Asian, and American anarchism—perhaps the group’s discussion could also include the well-documented violent history of anarchism/anarchy (not for the faint of heart) in West African countries such as Sierra Leone and Liberia, including atrocities against humankind that continue to this day.

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