I’m an anarchist; before you judge me, hear my story.
My earliest experience with anti-anarchist propaganda came in the form of an animated film I was shown in my sixth year of public elementary school. For one hour in my Social Studies class I watched the cartoonishly-drawn characters morph from political and economic system to political and economic system. Communism to socialism to anarchism. There were others. The end result was the elevation of the demagogue of democracy and the capitalist economic system America cherishes.
But every now and then history changes speed. You can tell when it slows down because it starts congratulating itself constantly. That day I knew history had slowed down and that I was going to have to work to jump-start it.
How do you jump-start history when it has slowed down? Force? Maybe.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines “anarchy” as “without a chief or head” and has listed the word since its 1611 edition. However, “anarchism” and “anarchy” are undoubtedly the most misrepresented ideas in contemporary political theory. Generally, the words are used to mean “chaos” or “without order,” and so the ill-informed masses believe, by implication, that anarchists desire social chaos or an anti-civilization.
According to John Zerazan, a leading anarchy theorist, anarchism isn’t about mass destruction and violence; it’s about understanding systematic domination and resisting it. The fundamental idea behind anarchism is the effort to understand all forms of domination and the attempt to end them. It is about trying to find an approach that is anti-authoritarian rather than one of the many heirarchical ways to deal with things. A basic anarchist position is that government is an inherently oppressive force. Even representative government is degrading to an anarchist because of the lack of personal expression. Getting away from representation, Zerazan argues, would lead to a decentralized, face-to-face way of living.
In other words, anarchism is a political theory which aims to create a society within which individuals freely co-operate together.
I practiced anarchism proudly on inauguration day. When I arrived at the permitted protest at Freedom Plaza, the cops at the checkpoint would not let protesters into the space the Justice Action Movement had secured in the D.C. courts two days earlier. In the days prior to J20, I had educated myself about the legal parameters that would be imposed in this police-state-for-a-day event. My adrenaline rose. This was the moment for me to jump-start history. This was the day.
I joined the ranks of the Revolutionary Anti-Authoritarian Bloc. Black bloc is an anarchist tactic of resistance that gets its powers from the spontaneity and solidarity of those involved. Our march was one to reclaim the streets in a police state and to provide solidarity in the face of that same repressive state. As blocers, we were also out there to convey an anarchist critique of the coronation of authority that America was lead to celebrate that afternoon.
Some people are under the mistaken impression that one can join the “Black Bloc Organization.” There is no standing black bloc organization between protests. There is however, an anarchist movement which has been around for over a century and will continue to exist for a long time.
How do you jump-start history? The force of the Revolutionary Anti-Authoritarian Bloc may just be the answer.