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emma goldman

Anarchists at Republican Convention

I am pretty sure that anarchists won’t be showing up in the numbers that Tampa Convention organizers and security fear, mainly due to obvious constraints. The rain from Isaac will wash off the chalk. Terrifying messages will be rendered into pastel smudges and quickly.

Actually the numbers being thrown around by the alphabet soup agencies are a little sketchy, anyway. They seem to fear that an enormous horde of anarchists will descend into the city for mayhem and buffet trashing. Why, they might even come by sea. But unless they consider anyone who disagrees and wishes to voice opposition an anarchist (and they probably do), I think the numbers are wildly exaggerated. Sadly, a true anarchist is about as difficult to find these days as Ann Coulter’s uterus.

Admittedly the word anarchist has been polluted to the point of nonsense. Even those who would happily agree with its basic tenets -- such as freedom from a central authority -- think the word simply means destruction and lack of hygiene. This is a tragedy. The far right knows the value in owning (or often in their case, manipulating) language. Frank Luntz has made his living working over words to squeeze exactly the emotion his masters desire from lazy minds. But that’s not to say it doesn’t work. And the beauty of much anarchist philosophy is lost because the word has been corrupted to mean violence only.

Stating that you agree with anarchist philosophy usually brings baffled and confused looks, maybe even a hasty glance around to make sure that you didn’t smash any glass in the vicinity. Just because you believe in capitalist or socialist systems doesn’t necessarily mean that you agree with violence to achieve that (though that is often the case). The nuance of that truth is gone with anarchism, and the entire thing has been distilled down to a false view that is frothy mouthed violence and nothing else.

Though other social structures have been annihilated by the European growth at any costs formula (think the US subjugation of the Native Americans)- the actual belief in egalitarian living has been the one tainted by stereotyped notions. Such is the prerogative of the winners in telling their history.

That said, I don’t really know how to impart many of the freedoms inherent to anarchist philosophy to the world that we live in now. I remember reading someplace that visitors to a small Irish village who wanted directions to the next tourist destination were met with “well, if you want to go there, you shouldn’t start from here”. There’s some sad truth in that nonsense. Sure, my ideal social structure would be that of small groups with no leaders (all beholden to each other for structure and safety). That’s my perfection, but I don’t know how to get there from here.

But even a philosophy that is patently unworkable at this stage can have influence. Look at the tremendous success found in plumbing the dark psyche of (okay I am sorry for bringing her up)...... Ayn Rand Kardashian. Well, she is mentioned so much these days, she seems like a damn Kardashian. She has a completely unworkable practical theory, but her menacing talking points have made their way into political reality. Her influence is there, even if the fullness of her nightmare can’t be realized in a functioning society. For this reason, I know the principles of freedom inherent to true anarchist thought could dribble into a nation’s trajectory. We just aren’t anywhere close to that because our politicians want justification for subjugation. And they want to keep things as they are, hence the demonization.

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The fear in the past, as it is now, is that anarchism is a slippery slope. Once basic tenets of stratification are questioned, then it’s a little bit more difficult to continue the charade. Erosion is a slow, but impressive process. The Raconteurs would say “you’ve had too much to think” and so would the Republicans (and Dems too, for that matter).

I still have to laugh that anarchist boogeymen of the past are being conjured into a large-scale fighting force. As if they could disrupt the dumpster truck loads of money being spent on security and oppression in Tampa. But I suppose Emma Goldman is still an “exceedingly dangerous woman” to these types. She was dangerous to me in a slightly unexpected manner when I read “Love, Anarchy, and Emma Goldman” by Candace Falk. Her love letters to rogue gynecologist Ben Reitman scarred me for life with their references to Emma’s treasure box as well as Mt. Blanc and Mt.Jura.

Kathleen Peine

Kathleen Peine: Click image for more articles by Kathleen.

[dc]I[dc]’m not above admitting that this sexually frightened me. I mean you’ve seen the photos of Emma! Perhaps the combination of gynecology and anarchism involved through invoking Emma Goldman’s treasure box would drive the R’s to complete and utter madness. Maybe this whole protest thing could be averted by conjuring the power of that Republican kryptonite. Then we can dance and build our society anew!

But come rain, chalk or Emma Goldman’s treasure box, I know this will be quite a show.

Kathleen Peine

Posted: Friday, 24 August 2012