Being an anarchist is depressing as fuck...

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Scallywag
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May 7 2017 22:53
Being an anarchist is depressing as fuck...

I don't make it a habit of debating with people, I don't usually discuss anarchism with people either but I don't hide the fact from friends and family. Recently I've been in an argument with my friend (he's a centrist liberal) when I wasn't looking for it, but he dismissed what I was saying and responded with some pretty reactionary stuff like anarchists are just trying to spread fear and bring down democratic government. I've also been a bit of an argument with my counsellor, this time it wasn't about anarchism, just my general anti-capitalist views. We were talking about careers and she was trying to impress upon me that the system offers me so much choice, that I can be anything I want - that sort of bullshit, and she couldn't understand why I think all jobs are exploitative and why I don't feel great about working for a wage for a living. Meanwhile my family don't understand my views and my parents think I need to grow up. Also the world is going to shit and very few people understand what anarchism is. The world is insane and the one thing in it which actually isn't - anarchism - is what sounds insane to most people.

zugzwang
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May 8 2017 22:53

I think a lot of people here could relate. It's not as if people who go against the status quo or adopt the unpopular opinions have it easy. I would inquire of your friend what 'democracy' he/she is talking about; it's definitely not in the workplace, and the politicians are likewise in the pockets of the private sector (as evidenced here in the States by costs of election campaigns). Pushing some button every couple years and selecting which candidate to inevitably turn back on all their promises - it's a really sad conception of democracy, with very little participation on the actual decisions being made. My advice would be to do what you enjoy (trite) and find like-minded friends, though I'm really not one to be giving others advice. That's my two cents at least.

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Craftwork
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May 8 2017 13:03

There were some discussions on similar, bleak themes before: (https://libcom.org/forums/general/capitalism-makes-me-feel-ill-24012011, and https://libcom.org/forums/libcommunity/why-i-hate-capitalism-and-why-i-cant-fight-it).

I recommend everyone read this short article by Mark Fisher: https://libcom.org/library/good-nothing-mark-fisher

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Zanthorus
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May 17 2017 15:02

Dealing with depression while holding an anti-capitalist worldview can be a pretty difficult balancing act. A lot of accepted therapy methods involve cognitively reframing situations in a positive light, which works to alleviate negative thoughts on a personal level, but it can be difficult to square it with a more general worldview which is critical of society as a whole.

One solution is just not to focus 100% of your mental energy on anti-capitalist politics. Watch TV, films, listen to music, go for a bike ride, hang out with your friends.

Another solution is to frame your beliefs in a way which, while still critical, are positive from a personal-psychological perspective. In the process of social reproduction, capital produces a mass of enormous wealth one side and a mass of dispossessed wage-labourers on the other, who are confronted by the results of their own activity as an objective, alien power which opposes them. But in reproducing this relationship, capital also produces the forces which lead to it's own destruction, it is a transient, historically specific social formation, the possibility always exists to replace it with something different.

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Khawaga
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May 17 2017 15:11
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One solution is just not to focus 100% of your mental energy on anti-capitalist politics. Watch TV, films, listen to music, go for a bike ride, hang out with your friends.

This is really good advice, especially to people who are new and/or young to anti-capitalist organizing; they tend to devote their entire life to it. I did that for what seemed a few years and I even studied this shit in school. I became miserable after awhile, but when I started to be less one-note, life improved.

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Chilli Sauce
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May 17 2017 17:30
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One solution is just not to focus 100% of your mental energy on anti-capitalist politics. Watch TV, films, listen to music, go for a bike ride, hang out with your friends.

That's one of the core points made in this pamphlet:

https://libcom.org/library/class-struggle-mental-health-live-fight-another-day

Which might be of interest to the OP more generally, as well.

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Zanthorus
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May 17 2017 19:01
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This is really good advice, especially to people who are new and/or young to anti-capitalist organizing; they tend to devote their entire life to it. I did that for what seemed a few years and I even studied this shit in school. I became miserable after awhile, but when I started to be less one-note, life improved.

Yeah I was the same. After I discovered radical politics more and more of my free time got sucked up reading and writing about communism. Inevitably it just lead to me burning out. Pacing myself makes it easier to balance my politics with everything else in the long term.

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Khawaga
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May 17 2017 19:59
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Yeah I was the same. After I discovered radical politics more and more of my free time got sucked up reading and writing about communism. Inevitably it just lead to me burning out. Pacing myself makes it easier to balance my politics with everything else in the long term.

Yes, and it also helps you become a better organizer. There are very few people who like a full on activist that can never relax and cannot talk about anything else than working class/anarchist/communist minutiae. Indeed, being able to small talk about music, sports and whatnot makes it easier to approach people in general.

zugzwang
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May 18 2017 02:21
Khawaga wrote:
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Yeah I was the same. After I discovered radical politics more and more of my free time got sucked up reading and writing about communism. Inevitably it just lead to me burning out. Pacing myself makes it easier to balance my politics with everything else in the long term.

Yes, and it also helps you become a better organizer. There are very few people who like a full on activist that can never relax and cannot talk about anything else than working class/anarchist/communist minutiae. Indeed, being able to small talk about music, sports and whatnot makes it easier to approach people in general.

For some people it's the opposite problem. I for one would not mind being more politically active, but there are no opportunities for that (as far as my situation is concerned): no organizations, no radical scene, no Capital reading groups... etc.

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Serge Forward
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May 18 2017 08:45
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no radical scene

That's not necessarily a bad thing. While a radical scene can offer support and like-minds, it can also be a ghetto.

So talk to people who you work with or your neighbours (as long as you're not completely surrounded by cops, bosses or fash wankers), not about anarchism, communism and other political labels or ideologies but talk about any shit that's happening in your and their lives - at work, with the landlord, on the street, putting the world to rights, etc. Make connections that way, see if you can find just one potential comrade.

Then when you've done that, find one more comrade to make a group!

zugzwang
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May 18 2017 18:47
Serge Forward wrote:
So talk to people who you work with or your neighbours (as long as you're not completely surrounded by cops, bosses or fash wankers ...

And what if my neighbors happen to be cops, bosses and other bourgies (as they unfortunately are...)? I'm from the south east and I can attest that there's absolutely nothing going on here; Antarctica would be more interesting, and probably more class conscious as well. I've searched too, but there's really nothing.

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Serge Forward
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May 18 2017 19:54

Ah... that is depressing.

wojtek
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May 19 2017 05:34

Don't worry about is beyond your control.

Scallywag
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May 19 2017 20:23

I blame capitalism for my mental health problems - not entirely, but it certainly doesn't help. Capitalism doesn't provide you with any security whatsoever, basic necessities like food and shelter aren't free you'll have to work to afford them, and you will have to find work, and compete for work, then be exploited and treated like shit in your work. We are under constant assessment and evaluation from school into our working lives constantly needing to prove that we are good enough which on an individual scale results in self doubt, and on a collective scale programmes society to behave in a certain way. I find capitalism extremely anxiety provoking and do not know how I can live under this system and be happy. If you've ever read Roar Magazines article on the 'age of anxiety' you will know where I coming from:

https://roarmag.org/essays/age-of-anxiety-precarity/

As for finding something else to focus on, and not see everything through the lens of capitalism, well for me that's difficult I don't have much of a life, and I am very aware of the affect of capitalism on myself and the behaviour of others. I don't know how to turn this off just to relax for a while, capitalism is something we have to deal with everyday.

As for being involved in social action, currently I am not. It would probably do me good, but at the moment isn't really possible and would just add something else to be stressed about.

Also I'll have to admit that I am somewhat put off by social action - I know that's terrible for an anarchist to say, but it is out of my comfort zone because shouting and chanting in the street, making a scene and trying to get people to listen to my views just does not come naturally to my personality. I also find that kind of behaviour just makes anarchist and leftist groups look like a bunch of nutters to most people.

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Khawaga
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May 19 2017 20:59
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Also I'll have to admit that I am somewhat put off by social action - I know that's terrible for an anarchist to say, but it is out of my comfort zone because shouting and chanting in the street, making a scene and trying to get people to listen to my views just does not come naturally to my personality. I also find that kind of behaviour just makes anarchist and leftist groups look like a bunch of nutters to most people.

Well, fortunately, then you have a limited view of what social action is. Sure, going out on the street, shouting slogans and whatnot appears to be what the "left" does, but this is a spectacularization of the activity of the left (sadly perpetuated both by the media and the left itself who tend to take to the street as an automatic action rather than taking a moment to think through whether taking the street will actually solve anything).

Most effective organizing is deceptively simple, but for that reason also quite tough. It is about talking to people, often one-on-one, and often over a long period of time. It is about planning what is effective in terms of direct action, which doesn't need to be about the street or anything that is "typical" of left activity.

In general, people won't listed if "shout and make a scene" to get people to listen to your views. In my experience, the less shouty you are, the more people will listen to you. Rather than pushing your politics on people, you first of all need to get to know them, and get their trust (and I mean this in a genuine way, not just some instrumental thing), and then they will be more willing to listen to you. Another way of stating this is simply that you need to pick your time for when you start to "agitate" (which is not just shouty, but may be as simple as commisserating with a colleague after they've been chewed out by their boss with a "that's what bosses do, innit? they always fuck us over") or present your politics. In my experience, if you do this, people will even approach you and ask you for your opinion on shit that happens in the world.

If you study or work somewhere, heck if you just socialize, there is an opportunity to form political relationships. It just takes time.

Having said that, I do get your frustration, but

Scallywag
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May 19 2017 23:04
Khawaga wrote:
Well, fortunately, then you have a limited view of what social action is. Sure, going out on the street, shouting slogans and whatnot appears to be what the "left" does, but this is a spectacularization of the activity of the left (sadly perpetuated both by the media and the left itself who tend to take to the street as an automatic action rather than taking a moment to think through whether taking the street will actually solve anything).

Maybe I do, but its the only form of social action I've seen from groups around my part (Scotland), I am sure they do other things as well, but most visibly its being on the street with signs, shouting, making speeches that sort of thing - I admire there willingness to do that, but I think its probably mostly ineffective and as I said makes them look like nutters to most people. If anyone wants to recommend any groups to check out though feel free.

zugzwang
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May 20 2017 00:11
Scallywag wrote:
Maybe I do, but its the only form of social action I've seen from groups around my part (Scotland), I am sure they do other things as well, but most visibly its being on the street with signs, shouting, making speeches that sort of thing - I admire there willingness to do that, but I think its probably mostly ineffective and as I said makes them look like nutters to most people. If anyone wants to recommend any groups to check out though feel free.

That's kind of like a sweeping statement there, S. Sure some actions may be misguided, but to say that those methods of taking to the streets, giving speeches, holding signs, etc., are all ineffective and characteristic of 'nutters' is hard to believe. Those things might make you personally feel uncomfortable, but I don't think those are just ineffective methods. K. is right though about the media portrayals of these kind of activities (especially when it comes to organizing against Milo, and so on, where you have the liberal left defending him).

Also, unrelated to you S., finding 'comrades' at work can be a bit difficult when the workers and management are close to one another, and one should really be careful about being exposed as some radical.

Scallywag
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May 20 2017 02:17
zugzwang wrote:
That's kind of like a sweeping statement there, S. Sure some actions may be misguided, but to say that those methods of taking to the streets, giving speeches, holding signs, etc., are all ineffective and characteristic of 'nutters' is hard to believe. Those things might make you personally feel uncomfortable, but I don't think those are just ineffective methods. K. is right though about the media portrayals of these kind of activities (especially when it comes to organizing against Milo, and so on, where you have the liberal left defending him).

Yes your right, and I don't mean to offend anyone here, I mean I don't personally view people undertaking that sort of action as nutters if that's not clear and I don't particularly like to use that word either but you know what I mean by it. I feel sometimes others would though, they would simply walk by trying to keep their distance and probably wouldn't even know what was going on, if they hear that this is the kind of thing that anarchists do they would probably end up with a negative image of us. I don't know it really depends on what you are saying, how you are saying it and where you are saying it.

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jef costello
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May 20 2017 06:31
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"Hang in there, baby!" You said it, kitty.
"Copryright 1968." Hmm, determined or
not, that cat must be long dead. That's kind of a downer.

Capitalism is depressing, You fall somewhere on a spectrum of exploiter/exploited and and entire system is set up to make you feel you can't do anything about it.

Cats are cute though smile

Fleur
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May 20 2017 13:35

Cats are very cute. Dogs are awesome though, true comrades smile

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Khawaga
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May 20 2017 14:39

Jeff, I was hoping someone would quote Marge. wink

Spikymike
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May 21 2017 11:28

Take some interest in whats still thankfully around of our natural wildlife - even in overdeveloped parts of the UK there are still birds and insects to watch and study and rediscover some of that curiosity you had as a child growing up - but then domestic cats are not welcome in that area and I have serious doubts about the relationship of my fellow humans (and more so the anarchists amongst us) to their pets!

Tom Henry
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May 21 2017 20:33

Hi Khawaja,

The question for this thread is one of those really interesting ones.

You have laid out a brief programme of how to deal with doubt to a degree (see your quote below).

But there is so much not said in what you have said. How exactly, in terms of anecdotes and evidence, is what you propose, based, as you say, on your experience, contributing to effective 'social action'?

This is what you write:

Quote:
Most effective organizing is deceptively simple, but for that reason also quite tough. It is about talking to people, often one-on-one, and often over a long period of time. It is about planning what is effective in terms of direct action, which doesn't need to be about the street or anything that is "typical" of left activity.

In general, people won't listed if "shout and make a scene" to get people to listen to your views. In my experience, the less shouty you are, the more people will listen to you. Rather than pushing your politics on people, you first of all need to get to know them, and get their trust (and I mean this in a genuine way, not just some instrumental thing), and then they will be more willing to listen to you. Another way of stating this is simply that you need to pick your time for when you start to "agitate" (which is not just shouty, but may be as simple as commisserating with a colleague after they've been chewed out by their boss with a "that's what bosses do, innit? they always fuck us over") or present your politics. In my experience, if you do this, people will even approach you and ask you for your opinion on shit that happens in the world.

If you study or work somewhere, heck if you just socialize, there is an opportunity to form political relationships. It just takes time.