Archive for August, 2008

Anarchism as Faith

Posted: August 22, 2008 in Uncategorized

"We are talking less about a body of theory, 

then, than about an attitude, or perhaps one might 

even say a faith: the rejection of certain types of social 

relations, the confidence that certain others would be 

much better ones on which to build a livable society, 

the belief that such a society could actually exist. "

-David Graeber

I like this quote out of David's Fragments of An Anarchist Anthropology. It speaks of anarchist thought as relatively idealistic, yet a kind of idealism that is not easily pushed aside- a faith that society can be organized in an egalitarian way and a refusal, based on moral consciousness, to except anything less. 

check out his book for free here


Christian Anarchism Plugs

Posted: August 20, 2008 in Uncategorized

At the recent Christianity and Anarchism Conference put on by, I met Mark VanSteenwyk, editor of Now I understand that these websites have sort of a "radical Jesus-freak" sound to them. The coupling of Jesus with anything radical these days is always looked at with suspicion because of the rampant fundamentalism of our time. But these two sites have quite a different feel. They both (not the sites necessarily, but the people behind them) have helped me see that there is "positive" Christianity out there still, Christianity trying to move past the Constantinian ideals that have plagued, corrupted, and diluted the otherwise radical faith system. 

So, this is a plug for both of the sights. A plug by me, an anarchist who is just as skeptical of Christianity as most. Check 'em out!

Voting Out of Fear

Posted: August 19, 2008 in Uncategorized

"Even in these circumstances, however, I would still refuse to vote against Hitler. Why? Because the essential problem is not Hitler, but the institutional framework that allows a Hitler to grasp a monopoly on power. Without the state to back him up and an election to give him legitimized power, Hitler would have been–at most–the leader of some ragged thugs who mugged people in back alleys. Voting for or against Hitler would only strengthen the institutional framework that produced him–a framework that would produce another of his ilk in two seconds."  

– Wendy McElroy.

I was at a conference this weekend put on by The purpose of the annual conference is to explore the connections between anarchism and christianity. The theme of this years event was, Another World is Necessary: Christianity, Anarchism and the Race From the White House.  A big conversation topic at this years event was, quite obviously, the issue of voting. One night after the sessions, a few of us went to the corner bar for some beers. We got to talking about voting and I said that though I am probably not voting for president, I am definitely going to vote against some of the amendments that are going to be on the Florida ballot, particularly amendment 2, which has been drafted by the religious right and is intended to take benefits and rights away from domestic partners. The purpose of the amendment is to protect the "sanctity of marriage", but it is written so broadly that it takes rights away from all domestic partners, 80% of which are straight. After my rant about how terrible, sneaky and cold-hearty this amendment is, my friend Andy said something that blew my mind because of it's sheer simplicity and utter truth. "You know Rusty, there are some things that just shouldn't be voted on! Listen to what you are saying. I mean, if an amendment got on the ballot that was trying to make it legal to rape women, you wouldn't vote against it, you would stare at the ballot in disbelief and go screaming to the officials about the absurdity." (I paraphrased, of course).  Andy is right. A system that allows us to vote on things such as whether or not to take rights away from people is absurd. The only reason I would be voting is because I don't want this tragic amendment to pass. In other words, I would be voting out of fear.  Voting out of fear is violence and coercion, and absolutely unacceptable. 

Chew on that, and comment to if you'd like.

Border activist Daniel Millis may face prison time for leaving water in the desert for migrants. He is a worker with No More Deaths, an Arizona group committed to lowering the criminally high death rate of migrants who make the dangerous trek into the States to find work. He was fined $125 by the U.S Fish and Wildlife Services for littering. Yet he refuses to equate life-saving humanitarian work with littering, and thus has refused to pay his fine. He could face up to six months in prison. The ironic part of this is that as he was placing the water in the desert, he was also picking up migrant trash, attempting to lower the amount of littered goods in the desert. I did the same thing when I did border work in Arizona. The migrants leave their belongings scattered across the desert because as they loose their strength in the scorching heat, they have to drop off some weight from their bags to lighten their load. Generally the trash is the desert consists of pictures of loved ones, baby toys, clothes and empty bottles of water- certainly not full ones. It's a travesty that Daniel may be sent to prison for "littering". Immigration is a life and death issue. It's not just a political issue, it's a something real that effects the lives and causes the death of hundreds of South Americans each year.

Read the whole story on the Presbyterian News Wire.

We are the ones we have been waiting for… to change things. Not to make them perfect but to make them better, putting forth all our efforts and passions to be the change we want to see in the world. Unfortunately, for one to admit that we are the ones we have been waiting for, implies that we don’t rely on others, on messianic hopes of a savior to accomplish that which we cannot. We are the ones… Obama is not the one. It’s disturbing to be an anarchist right now, being that it is election season. The issue of casting a “yes” for empire in the ballot box is the hot topic that hijacks all our conversations. And it’s especially difficult to be an anarchist this season as Obama is the democratic candidate. He is the Kennedy figure, whose young, passionate nature appeals to a new generation of discontented beings. We are in a terrible state in this country. The problems are systematic and they have always been around to some extent, but it seems as though the last emperor of this regime took us to new levels of fascism and intolerance. We are ignoring environmental signs all around us in order to feed our addictions to consumption. We (still) feel like we can go to war with anyone we want to and reap no consequences. We grow terrorists by our intolerant ways and then lock them up and torture them. So naturally, as Obama has stepped up to the plate to take his shot at reversing all of these bulging problems, Americans (and the rest of the world) are stoked. I am too. But we have to realize that though Obama will help turn things around, he will not solve America’s lasting problems- the problems inherent in empires, in nation-states of all shapes and sizes. The problems are systematic and stem from the hierarchical and self-centered organization of our society. We need radical change. The word radical can literally be traced back to the word “roots.” We need real change that attacks the roots in order to stop the problems from existing, not just “change” that trims the problems back to stop them from growing. I think Jesus said something about this. We don’t need to fight a war on drugs, put more cops on the streets, and fill up our prisons. We need to legalize marijuana (which will cut down the prison population by nearly 80%), get the cops off the streets, and get rid of prisons. See Instead of Prisons. 

We don’t need to get our economy rolling again, we need to challenge our spending habits, our addiction to oil, and the severe class inequality that comes along with our current economic system. We don’t need to put tons of our money into social services and agencies, we need to understand that poverty is caused by inequality, namely racism (and all kinds of discrimination), unaffordable health care, a discriminatory school system, the war on drugs (that criminalizes reefer and lets crack remain a leading cause of homelessness). Our problems are systematic because they are based on hierarchy and the self-centered American ideals of manifest-destiny capitalism. The people of the streets need to be empowered and not feared or left to sink in the rising inequality of our day. These types of changes will not come through a new emperor, they will only come once we realize that we live in an empire and decide that we want real change- systematic change that puts it’s efforts into abolishing empire tendencies and empowering individuals and communities. We are the ones we have been waiting for… Obama is not. He’s so much more real, more likable, and more hopeful than any emperor we have had of recent. But he is an emperor, though possibly ruling the empire with a soft and caring hand, and emperor still- ruling a dated system that needs to be replaced. It won’t happen tomorrow. But change begins with the realization that we are it’s authors. We are the ones we have been waiting for. 

Here’s a funny link to a banner drop aimed at Obama: Obama is Hot; Empire is Not.