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What follows is a text to be distributed by Anarchists at the #occupyvancouver event on October 15th
What About Anarchy?
We certainly are the 99%, aren't we? In fact even higher!
There is the ruling class and there is the rest of us. Though perhaps it could be helpful understanding this conflict in some more detail.
There are the working classes: Migrant workers who cross borders risking their lives to feed themselves and their families, right to the sweatshop workers who make the shirts on ours and their backs, on a worldwide scale; there is you and me working our menial construction, restaurant, or office position, or unemployed people selling drugs to survive, and feed their habits, on a local scale.
There is the middle class: Usually referring to those that own property(such as a landlord or many small business owners), but they can also be thought of as the class that manages the working classes, and acts as a buffer between them and their rulers. Lawyers, stock brokers and many social workers are examples of being from the middle class.
There are also government functionaries who's role it is to administer various forms and levels of violence, to maintain the social order or serve the interests of the ruling class at home and abroad, the police and the military, they are made up of members from the working and middle classes.
In recognizing these distinctions we begin to see it as a class war, and we have a better understanding of just how the "1%" remains above the "99%". We also begin to see what kinds of tactics are necessary to employ in order to make it a world controlled "by the people, and for the people".
The "#occupy" movement makes a pretty huge (but perhaps expected) blunder in assuming a strictly "non-violent" position. This is not just to say that a change in power is impossible without some form of force, but that they could be shooting themselves in the foot from the beginning by creating a category of "good" protester and "bad" protester. This not only makes it more difficult to physically defend oneself, but it also creates a kind of morality around violence that the media (serving the interests of the "1%") can, will, and does use to control you.
Another problem with the "#occupy" movement, is it's lack of an occupation. No I'm not saying "get a job". Homeless people have been known to occupy land or a building in order to have a place to stay. Social movements have been known to occupy the headquarters of powerful institutions in order to disrupt and draw attention to injustices. #occupywallstreet on another hand has "occupied" a public space that does not serve much more of a tactical or practical purpose than a protest pen or "safe assembly area". The #occupyvancouver action seems to be following suit. Now this is not to say that meeting on the lawn of the Vancouver Art Gallery can not be worthwhile, just that it can take away meaning from the word "occupy". Let's not forget that this is all, in fact, occupied Coast Salish Territory, and for us to ever break from the legacy of colonization and genocide here, then our occupations should serve a tactical purpose, and work towards ending the system that needs colonization in the first place..
Democracy: The current system of control by which the "1%" maintains their interests. It has become common for people in countries who have switched from a dictatorship to a democracy to lament that power is still essentially in the same peoples' hands (chile after Pinochet, and West Germany after WW2 are two examples of this). In the most literal sense democracy can be thought of as a decision being made by more than 50% of the participants in decision making. The "#occupy" movement demands "real democracy" echoing the tired old slogan from the anti-globalization movement "this is what democracy looks like." The purest democracy in history was the democracy of ancient Greece, where slave owners were each given a vote on governance, and women and children were totally excluded. Is this what people are "occupying" for? Is this what you desire? Or do you want real freedom and self-determination for all? Something more like Anarchy?
One of the most promising aspects of the "#occupy" movement is it's claims to leaderlessness, or self-organization. This is promising from an anarchist perspective as this is the key to the type of world we envision. A world where all decisions in society are made by the people that those decisions effect, in a way that serves the needs of everyone affected, never democracy.
We are Anarchists!
We often find ourselves in conflict with other anarchists as to how we can make our ideas relevant to larger numbers of people, and yet here we are. Though the strict adherence to non-violence, and the corruption of the self-organized aspects of the movement in other cities (usually by right wing conspiracy theorists, and authoritarian socialists) would suggest that we are a far cry from the elimination of exploitation and domination that us anarchists desire. We see a possibility. We see mass numbers of people rallying against the "1%", against "corporate greed" that has caused so much misery and death throughout the globe. We see them with a desire to take a leaderless form. And we are compelled to ask: What about Anarchy?
If you would care to learn about it here are six basic points that most anarchists would agree on:
1) Autonomy and Horizontality: All people deserve the freedom to define and organize themselves on their own terms. Decision-making structures should be horizontal rather than vertical, so no one dominates anyone else; they should foster power to act freely rather than power over others. Anarchism opposes all coercive hierarchies, including capitalism, the state, white supremacy, and patriarchy.
2) Mutual Aid: People should help one another voluntarily; bonds of solidarity and generosity form a stronger social glue than the fear inspired by laws, borders, prisons, and armies. Mutual aid is neither a form of charity nor of zero-sum exchange; both giver and receiver are equal and interchangeable. Since neither holds power over the other, they increase their collective power by creating opportunities to work together.
3) Voluntary Association: People should be free to cooperate with whomever they want, however they see fit; likewise, they should be free to refuse any relationship or arrangement they do not judge to be in their interest. Everyone should be able to move freely, both physically and socially. Anarchists oppose borders of all kinds and involuntary categorization by citizenship, gender, or race.
4) Direct Action: It is more empowering and effective to accomplish goals directly than to rely on authorities or representatives. Free people do not request the changes they want to see in the world; they make those changes.
5) Revolution: Today's entrenched systems of repression cannot be reformed away. Those who hold power in a hierarchical system are the ones who institute reforms, and they generally do so in ways that preserve or even amplify their power. Systems like capitalism and white supremacy are forms of warfare waged by elites; anarchist revolution means fighting to overthrow these elites in order to create a free society.
6) Self-Liberation: “The liberation of the workers is the duty of the workers themselves;” as the old slogan goes. This applies to other groups as well: people must be at the forefront of their own liberation. Freedom cannot be given; it must be taken.
Fuck the Police, and Fuck the Corporate Media!
All Power to the People!
- An Anarchist Hooligan, Vancouver, Coast Salish Territory, October 2011
To learn about recent anarchist history in Vancouver check out these links:
To learn about the anarchist movement generally here are some good places:
Anarchist events in the city are sometimes advertised here:
Don't Forget to create your own!