Anarchism and freeloaders

Tim Barton is an anarchist and environmental activist and the administrator of BlueGreenEarth. He also produces excellent DJ mixes and writes reviews on new books and literary works as well as his own, unapologetic political thinking, which is something Sensitize are always keen to promote. Catch up with anarchist and environmental campaigns and thinking + all that BlueGreenEarth are working on through here. This forum is moderated by Tim Barton with assistance from Louis P. Burns aka Lugh.

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Tim Barton, BlueGreenEart
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Anarchism and freeloaders

Postby Tim Barton, BlueGreenEart » Fri Jun 13, 2008 6:06 pm

Well, I have been in a debate on the Mark Thomas Digest - typically, after riling me up, no follow-up on my points has been made, though some petty back-and-forth has continued between others there. The blather I put up is repeated below, but the context was a Thatcherite statement that freeloaders suck and would spell the end of anarchistic ideas viability. As I say, I posted this wee rant, hoping to get a more fair-minded debate going:

Tim

I think there is a very fine line between balancing rights and responsibilities
and being a Blairite / communitarian right-winger who [whether intentionally
or not] pushes a philosophy that slowly but surely raises the fulfilment
of responsibilities over the accrual of rights. With a social compact based
on the false premise that we 'sign' a 'social contract' by virtue of our being
born into a given society.

Nevertheless, any social and political philosophy has to be able to discuss
this nexus without being shot down in flames - real issues reside there,
festering, otherwise.

European anarchism is usually more social than the US model (which is
overly individualist). The latter is the dangerous one - the only way even ONE
person can be truly free is if that person has ALL power: total freedom for that
ONE person requires the absolute domination of ALL others (though if the
one with 'true' freedom is enlightened then perhaps some liberties might be
'allowed'). Political philosophies that treat the state apparatus as a
'personification'
have this dilemma hardwired in as well. Fact is, even then your AmeriKKKan
ubermensch [singular] will STILL not be sufficiently free - unless he can also
reisist gravity, needs no external fuel source, etc - ie, makes Marvel super
heroes look woosy.

The European anarchist tradition doesn't have this extremity build in (I am
talking about averages here, if you like, as obviously some self-styled
anarchists here are as me-me-me as the Yank libertarians, in fact all of
our weakminded consumers are this type of 'natural anarchist' - ie, lazy
egoist selfish pricks - but that reflects a deep anti-intellectualism in combo
with a toxic capital dominated society: anarchists in general are, I think,
more inclined to cogitation').

However, a real issue is to be discussed here. Free-loaders. Are they a
problem? Easy answer is yes. But why? Who are these free-loaders?
Are they inevitable (as my caricature of modern chav youth above implies,
in our current politico-cultural climate, though that leads to the question of
other politico-cultural climates), or just social constructs? Perhaps a
mixture, but where is the balance?

And this question leads us inexorably back to the old nature-nurture,
selfish-selfless, social conditioning, etc arguments, of which we never
really tire, do we? Or at least can never escape.

I think that culture is a major determining factor in the number and
character of free-loaders in a society at any given time. I think our
consumerist culture (politically, both left and right, in their current
condition, mired as they are in Victorian mindsets) creates a far greater
pool of dangerous free-loaders than is 'inevitable'. I think that the nature
and number of free-loaders can be different in a society that is taught
to value a balance between rights and responsibilities - if that society
also has an equitable, egalitarian structure that seeks to minimise
harmful patterns of dominance and hierarchy. Then, I think, we would
still have a few free-loaders, but they'd be a few eccentrics, we would
bear their weight with a slightly condescending attitude as if they were
just children who never grew up, unfortunates that we pat on the head
and pity a bit, but do not seek to oppress.

This is science-fictional in a way. Surely, we cannot get there from
here? Grow up!, I hear some of you rumble.

On the other hand, social ideas and popular awareness of alternative
possibilities are exactly the target of the corporate consumerist
globalisation agenda, certainly in the post-Vance Packard, post-
Thatcherite and Reaganomic assault on socialistic ideals, and the
left's assault on anarchist ideals. This is not a reflection of our
powerlessness,
but of the degree to which our ideals are a real threat to their power-
oriented hierarchies. THEY think we can put a spanner in the works,
even if they also manage to convince most of us that we can't.

Nonetheless, as the ecological mass-murder humans are preparing,
with eyes pretty much wide open too, is all too quickly bearing
fruit all around us, the methods by which positive change can occur
become imperilled - peicemeal social reform takes time, memetic
infection takes time (unless, reduced to lies, a la the NS article on
how to persuade people, from the other week), etc. Change is more
likely to come through intense short-lived economic paroxysm, with
collapse, mass graves, and martial law. That means whoever ends
up 'on top', left right or extreme right, will shit on us all and the
free-loaders you loathe so much will be mulch, haha, serves 'em
right, you'll say to yourself, but a week down the line... a kicking
at your door. What work squad will you be on? Agricultural? Burying
the bodies? Militia? Overseas military resource stealing squad? Or
will you too join the mulch?

I for one deplore the possibility of collapse, but frankly see little
alternative 'realistically' under present conditions. I deplore this
reality, as it is a contingent one we have chosen, by choosing to
sideline and ignore voices of discontent (except within that narrow
band of structurally insignificant media controversy as identified
by Chomsky, et al). Environmental problems today are all too
often not ones we didn't more of less forsee - the mechanism and
the possibilities were apparent decades ago, and no-one listened.
Socio-politically this is also true. Spain in 1936, and any number of
less prominent social break-outs before and since, set the tone.
Another World IS Possible, but the buggers just kick down and
hijack any vehicle we construct to get there.

We can get there from here, I think, but as ecological and energy crises
mount up it gets harder and harder. The point at which it becomes
impossible? Well, we will only know with hindsight. Most people
are not ready to face up to this and just go around muttering under
their breathe 'we are not there yet, we are not there yet, in fact we are
not even heading that way, oh no, not on my watch' [and because of
an inability to face up to facts, not because of action that could help
avert a crisis - ie, their behaviour is guarantee of the system failure that
they deny the possibility of]. Every day that passes, 'pessimists' look
more like realists; realists optimists; optimists a dangerous waste
of oxygen... until soon pessimists will look like foolhardy optimists,
and the lime pits will fill up.

We may of course we past the point of no return already, but assume
that and you will be as unlikely to act as those that assume that such
a point is a Grim[m] fairy story.

I have thought of technology as outstripping our ethical advance. But
technology had opened a window to human stewardship of earth-systems
as well. We had to catch up as a moral and social entity, but no, we
used new tech to consume and breed and consume and breed. These
are, of course, natural animal responses. We are animals, of course. But,
we also have the potential to act differently, 'against our [genetic]
programming' if you will. But the window of opportunity we opened, that
widened out through the 50s and on, began to slow, reverse, and is now slamming
shut - it was based on a resource platform we have wasted, on political
hopes that we had tried to nourish throughout the last century. When the
window is shut, any such potentialities are gone, and if a new carboniferous
era is required to get the next animal to evolve to the point where a phase
change in the bio- and noosphere's is possible, then that means another
few million years will have passed. Cosmically, who cares, but I am not
a cosmic being, I am here and now, and I will rail against this fate until
my body is in that hole in the ground - not doing so is what makes the
negative changes inevitable, fast, and harsh. An 'ourselves alone' attitude
won't wash, so individual action seems in itself pointless... but in a society
that is riven such that we do not know our neighbours, where if we
ever get around to talking to them we often find them more aware than
we assumed of issues that are building to head, a critical mass can build
without the individual appreciating that it is doing so. And that is where
the idiot democracy can work in our favour - we don't need a real majority
to effect change: just enough to lobby fickle power-hungry politicians into
action - this is also a worry, of course: it is why the petro-lobby and the
godhead-lobby has been so powerful, and will be why the far right will
also clean up when the poo gets more tangled into the fan than it is
today... [run it in slo-mo - the poo hit the fan weeks ago, but our timescale
for experiencing events makes it seem stately and almost indiscernable:
until it exits the fan on the other side in a fine spray that'll catch us like
bullets from an AK-47].

All power to the Imagination!

In Case of Fire -
Let it Burn!

;-)
Last edited by Tim Barton, BlueGreenEart on Sat Jun 14, 2008 10:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Louis P. Burns aka Lugh
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Lugh on; Anarchism and freeloaders by Tim Barton

Postby Louis P. Burns aka Lugh » Fri Jun 13, 2008 11:05 pm

Excellent read Tim. The nit-picky editor in me has a few niggly-nagglies with grammar mistakes I'd like to correct and that I know happened simply because of your need to get this written down. This piece however held my attention all the way through, superbly. It also worked to unblock a few negativities I've picked up over the last year or so interacting with some of the buffoons infesting the Mark Thomas Info forum and mailing list (or; The List). So, I thank you 8) ...

I know I read this in an email from you the other night and that I gave you brief feedback then, but with your permission; I would like to break down elements of this post and discuss them on an individual, point-by-point basis with you if that's cool. Are you cool with that?

What I will say for the time being is that I consider myself an anarchist too. I feel the right thing for me to do as an activist actor is to incorporate the roles of my fellow humanity into my own life for a while - 'walk in their shoes' if you will. Then I take this all further and blend it into my role as an activist, adding it to any rallying cries or campaigns going on or pertaining to whatever role I have adopted. A professional actor would do something similar for payment and call it method acting, where they merge themselves into the entire lifestyle of the character they are employed to play and - become them for a while...

That probably sounds a bit daft but, we all do it. All of us play roles from our earliest years seeking to test the boundaries around us. Indeed, it is part of how we psychologically adapt and prepare for interaction with the wider world. Unfortunately, many learn at a young age to become quiet and to stop asking 'why?' I choose to see that this is because of dismissive parents, teachers, institutions, gender/sexual stereotyping, peer pressure, racism, sectarianism or that old chestnut I love to loathe - religion. I believe people become silent and caught in a sad loop of frustration, parroting all that the generation directly before them laid down or said. It goes without saying that they too have done the same and the generations before them. They live in a dilluted reality. Anything refined by experience and vearing at them quickly from off-centre must seem like a house brick splashing from a great height into their calm, falsely serene, pond-like, formless existences.

So, anarchist activist types like your goodself and me must terrify the poor sods. Part of me sees why they might choose to lambast us with insults like 'freeloaders' or 'parasites.' That choral voice of panic bordering on rage has been awakened in them and they bandy together for comfort and the solidarity of ignorance.

It's always a very healthy option for us to remember that their ignorance and our desire to roar;
          WAKEN UP YOU FECKERS..!
at their ignorance is where we work and that we are actually 'in control' :wink: ...
Louis P. Burns aka Lugh
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