So I finished Ian Bone's "Bash The Rich!" late last night and I'm trying to gather my thoughts about it. The aspects of it that jumped out the most for me were:
1) Ian's self-deprecating sense of humor and total insight into the myriad ways that Class War (and the other anarchist-y groups he was a part of) fucked up. He actually spends more time focusing on blunders than successes.
2) Class War's (perhaps fatal, but so what?) focus on humor and fun in organizing. They held all their meetings in pubs and would show up to rallies drunk. For all their failures, the movement wasn't a stoic thing, it was an encapsulating social political project.
3)Ian's analysis of why there wasn't (and isn't) a stronger radical movement:Those who believe they hold the truth are always delusional. Take the 75 members of the Anarchist Federation. they believe that, if they can explain rationally to the other 54 million of us that capitalism is an injust system, the will have their Damascene conversion.
"God Bless You Young Sirs
It had never occured to me before that 2% of the population owning 96% of the wealth was anything other than a fair and just system. But now, you have lifted the veil from my eyes and I can see it clearly. My whole life has been wasted in the erroneous belief that we lived in a fair and democratic system. Please enlist me in the next talk on the platofrm of Nestor Makhno.
Yours in solidarity,
Horny-handed Son of Toil"
The truth, of course, is that people do not respond in a rational way, so painstakingly explaining injustice in rational terms gets you nowhere.
4) the Bash The Rich events where they would go out and just riot on rich areas and tear shit up with NO DEMANDS. I've always been into that kind of thing. This quote sort of sums it up:As far as we knew this was the first time people had marched to a rich area to say, "We have no demands of you, there are no concessions you can make to get rid of us." Our banners read only, 'Behold Your Future Executioners'.
Now others of you may have heard of this kind of stuff before, but I have never and it is blowing my mind. I rarely stop to think about how it is almost taboo to resent the rich. It is so deeply ingrained to have this quiet respect. Never ask about money, how much someone makes, how they could afford all that they have. We all exonerate them, go out of our way to make things easier for them, while we can scarcely afford new shoes. It'd only take one person to call them out for thier excess and make them uncomfortable. It'd only take a mob of a couple dozen to shut down some ritzy banquet, one brick through the window of Saks (grab that coat and run) to let them know someone somewhere disapproved. From there? I dunno. I don't think I (or anyone) should have to know or make all the decisions. But I like the dea of No Concessions. I always tried to push that when I was a student activist and people would just shun me. The only way I'd ever be involved in activism again would be if it was with a group of nutty big dreamers. I used to know a few but most of them got cushy non-profit and university jobs. I can criticise them, but what do all of MY big ideas mean if I don't do a thing? Just puffs of hot air.
I'm by no means an anarchist, but the anarchist protestors at the 1999 WTO rallies did much to radicalise me. They didn't unfurl any well-developed theory or run any voter reg drives or anything dull, they just went wily-nily and broke shit and burned things and PULLED THE WHOLE DISCUSSION TO THE LEFT such that the President was FORCED to address the concerns and express some of his own. The fact that no one is out on the streets about this war, about police in this city, about poverty, about health care, about anything is shocking even to those on the furthest right. If someone could angrily dissent without demands (but with a name), that could force discussion. That'd be a start of something....thinking thinking.