New Movement on the Horizon

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Not so many years ago the dominant orientation of anarchism wasleftist. Anarchists have always stressed self-management of society, butwhat that society should be was pretty indistinguishable from what marxistsassume it should be. In other words, technology and mass production, rootedin division of labor and domestication, were givens to most anarchists.

In the course of the 90's there has been a fundamental shift, stillunderway, in what most anarchists see as the foundations of a free, healthysociety. Self-managed factories and other forms of productionism andspecialization are now widely understood as no advance at all. In thisincreasingly standardized, massified, anti-nature monoculture of a world,more and more anti-authoritarians realize that the answers go deeper thanself-management of existing institutions.

A primitivist outlook, which indicts technology and civilization aswell as capital, seems to be gaining ground in various parts of the world.As conditions visibly worsen at every level -- the increasingly desolateindividual psyche, ever more pathological and atrophied societies, thedevastated natural world – we are driven to delve deeper in our analysis ofa deeply toxic, future-less totality.

And there are signs that a new movement is beginning to emerge, signsof militancy in outlook that just might overtake the general cynicism andpessimism.

David Ehrenfeld wrote in the January-February 1999 Tikkun ("The ComingEnd of the Technological Age") that the days of the everywhere triumphantMegamachine are in fact numbered. Rather surprising to see a mainstreammagazine herald the fairly imminent collapse of techno-capital, and in nouncertain terms. Ehrenfeld writes of the invincibility of the system asjust an illusion compared to its real vulnerability.

Soon thereafter, the hitherto mainstream conservation quarterly Food &Water editorialized (Spring 1999) in its own surprising fashion. Aneditorial entitled "Objectifying Violence" concluded with the injunction to"Go forth and sabotage!" Decades of mild, non-militant,write-your-congressperson advocacy has led only to an accelerating assaulton nature, Food & Water's editor reasoned, and he courageously faced up tothis impotence. Needless to say, enjoining the magazine's readers to commitacts of sabotage horrified many of them.

The Yuppie Eradication Project has drawn local, national, and eveninternational media attention for its vandalist efforts to protect SanFrancisco's Inner Mission District from complete gentrification. Trendybars and expensive restaurants moved into the neighborhood, sending rentsspiraling and creating an impossible hardship for the area's low-incomeresidents.

Once suspected of being the handiwork of only a handful of people,Y.E.P. has drawn a hundred or more to recent meetings; nocturnal attackshave spread to at least one additional San Francisco neighborhood.

The 30th anniversary Woodstock rock festival in late July ended in thelooting and burning of tents, booths, and 12 semi trucks. At the end ofAugust an anti-consumerism group bombed fast food outlets at a Moscowshopping mall, declaring that "a dead consumer's unfinished hamburger is arevolutionary hamburger." Also this summer, the rising militancy of animalliberationists was publicly noted, and the implications of its advances wereunderstood by some. Richard Epstein, a University of Chicago law professor,observed that "there would be nothing left of human society if we treatedanimals not as property bu as independent holders of rights."

In Eugene, anarchists have engaged in property damage for over a year,forcing public discussion of anarchy as the only real alternative to acancerous, all-destroying global system. Breaking the rules in a sustainedway has brought anarchy out of its former marginalized, suppressed position,and has raised radical alternatives, in Eugene and quite possibly, elsewheresoon. The June 18 "Reclaim the Streets" protest involved about 300 whoindeed reclaimed the streets, breaking business windows and skirmishing withpolice for several hours in an "Anarchist Rampage," as the local front pageheadline put it.

This activism is informed by a critique of the ensemble of domination,including technologized existence and its wellspring, civilization itself.The primitivist analysis is now widely discussed in such places as London,Istanbul, and Paris, inviting the suspicion that public contestation may bejust around the corner.

What does not seem likely is a return to an anarchy dominated by theproductionist/workerist/syndicalist perspectives of, say, Murray Bookchinand Noam Chomsky. A far more radical liberatory vision is taking shape,equal to the horrors around us and aware of whence they come. This outlookvastly deepens the insights of Marx, and is entirely fed up with the endlesscompromising and half-measures of leftism.

From The Black-Clad Messenger zine

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