Friday, September 27, 2013

Anarchism: The Dream that Never Was

Even at the anarchist fair, capitalism happened.
Anarchism has gotten a bad rap. Say the word, and most of us think chaos, mindless violence and destruction. But, if anarchy can be those things, its theory is very different: cooperation, harmony and complete equality.

What's the reality? We may never know, since true anarchism has rarely, if ever, been tried.

Anarchism, in its idealized - if often unsettling - form is on display now in La Aldea, a cafe and cultural center on Calle 17, in La Candelaria, where the Second Anarchist Fair of Books and Fanzines is going on now.

Anarchism involves lots of pamphlets, both because that's how anarchists have traditionally spread their message, and because anarchism has so few concrete real-world examples to display.

In La Aldea the tables display pamphlets about abolishing work, sneaking into TransMilenio, the justice of robbery and technology as a system of domination. The System, then, in the form of everything that is organized, is a threat.

I didn't make the attempt, but I suspect that if I'd tried stealing those same pamphlets, the anarchists would have objected. And, as for technology, the minimally organized internet has become a tremendous platform and advocacy tool for anarchists and other anti-establishment organizations.

It seems to me that anarchism, a bit like its cousin communism, is a wonderful idea until it collides with selfish, violent and lazy human nature. Anarchism, which envisions a world without laws, capitalism or government, in which people cooperate spontaeneously and unselfishly, has rarely been tried - and perhaps there's a reason for that.

How to sneak into TransMilenio.
History's best known example of a supposedly anarchist society was the Paris Commune of 1871. But, however truly anarchist the Commune may have been, the fact is that it lasted only a few months and consisted of a small population of highly motivated people. Squats and communes may also call themselves anarchist. But decide for yourself whether a stateless, non-hierarchichal society could replace the modern state. After all, the places on Earth which most approach that stateless condition - Somalia, regions of The Congo and even remote parts of Colombia, also happen to be some of the most violent, miserable parts of the Earth.

And what about sneaking into TransMilenio without paying as a step toward overthrowing the Establishment? I guess it's too much to ask how the transit system will be paid for if passengers don't - except by that evil government which the anarchists mean to abolish.

Whatever its true nature, anarchism has become closely and probably justifiably linked to violence and the figure of a youth hurling a lighted hand grenade has come to symbolize the movement. It was an anarchist, after all, who murdered an archduke and triggered World War I, and anarchists are blamed for the violence and pillaging committed during recent protests in Bogotá.

Scenes from the Spanish Civil War, where anarchists and
communists battled fascists and each other.

An anti-authoritarian short story contest.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours


Stuart Oswald said...

Interesting take on it. All anarchists I've ever know (quite a few) wouldn't survive pass the first day of their chosen social system. They'd have raped and murdered one and another off. Not a bad thing really as it would leave the more practical and intelligent in society to live their lives in fairness and achieve to the best of the their own individual ability. It is a failed ideology by concept, just as socialism along with communism have been proven a number of times over. The suffering comes into play as the concepts are forced upon others. I really felt it heartwarming to see your true example (pictured) of capitalism taking place in even these dark ideological corners.

Joe Miller said...

"After all, the places on Earth which most approach that stateless condition - Somalia, regions of The Congo and even remote parts of Colombia, also happen to be some of the most violent, miserable parts of the Earth."

Due to the actions of those affiliated with various states, no doubt.

AACEL severino renzo said...

belos panfletos!
tem alguns para trocar?