anarchist pamphlets: no 1

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alegria
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Sep 30 2006 11:51
anarchist pamphlets: no 1

after the writing meeting last night where we decided to continue with the pamphlets, ive started on the anarchism and violence one. i think its gonna be long, but could later do a shorter version. gonna write it in 3 parts leading on from one another. will post the beginning of it up here. (not finished, or edited yet.)

alegria
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Joined: 9-01-06
Sep 30 2006 11:53

Anarchism and Violence

1.The violence of everyday life
2.The violence of the oppressors
3.The violence of our love

1.

(When you walk past an overworked young mother shouting at her kid in the shopping street, how do you feel? Or when you see a ragged drunk, cursing and slurring to themselves, with nowhere to go? Or when some race-hatred politician talks in the press about the need for immigration quotas to keep out refugees? Or when someone starts abusing a gay couple in public? How do you feel?)

The predominant system of global capitalism demands of us that we become consummate murderers, and suicides. Every day that you live, the trauma and alienation you experience grows. Maybe you never address this, because to do so would bring into question everything you have founded your life upon. Or maybe you recognise this in a small period of time each day, or each month, and give some relieving gift of money or time to a charity, which, you hope, then helps someone in a way that you can't- even though the people who need you and who you need are your neighbours, your friends, and live in the segregated housing blocks around your own. This period of time, this gift, becomes your only thread back to yourself, and back to the reality that you wish was yours.

Perhaps the most profound human experience is that of empathy. (You know, that thing that M.Ps feign when visiting starvation-fields, to get their photo-opportunity.) Empathy, or compassion, which Nietzsche conflated with pity so fatally that eventually the mistake killed him, is the ability to feel with other people, to feel their pain and their joy, their needs, and to feel it as your own. Why is there such an obsession with romantic love, which continues into the present? One reason is certainly that the image presented of romantic love allows two people to share in a mutual empathy, trust and care for one another, which is denied to us in the mundanity of our everyday lives.

Empathy is killed out of you every day. You, as a functioning member of capitalist society, are required to destroy your empathy, and to assist in the destruction of others' empathy. It might as well be broadcast into your home over an announce system every morning. The time for feelings is gone, get up and go; go back NUMB into the world which should have been yours. Hope that the traffic smog which turns the grass black, the cold which kills the vagrants beneath the bridge, the newest political scandal happening in a higher sphere above you, the bomb-blasts ripping through tube stations, the privatisation of pensions which assails those ahead of you in years, the depression which seems to drag down your family or workmates; just hope that today it doesn't reach out and touch you. You live your life in this precarity, this terror of the absurd which you have no power over.

When you watch the news, you do so with only part of yourself. If we were to genuinely feel something about all that we saw, how would we last one day? Our emotional reactions are crushed and stunted, are reversed and twisted. You kill your feelings in order to continue functioning in the ways that you have been assigned; a worker, a carer, a national citizen, someone who puts a mark on a piece of paper every four years and calls that playing their part in society. If you watched the news with an open heart, how would you survive the images of millions suffering from AIDS, poverty, war, governmental repression? Doubtless it upsets you at times, even now. We can't even imagine what our reactions would be in a society where we had been taught to really feel things instead of burying our reactions.

If your reaction to something horrible happening is a negative emotion, should we call this madness? Actually, I think it is quite reasonable.

How about if every day you are confronted by the most blatant violations of your own and others freedom; by the isolation and frustration of your life where you are too ashamed to reach out, by a world where trust is something that only extremely naïve people and small animals do, by the anchormen on your television reporting in a monotone that torture is being considered as a valid method for police investigations, by people having to beg and steal food and clothes because they have no legal entitlement to it, by corporations being allowed to ignore the safety of 'their' workers, by the tearing down of the ancient woods to make way for another airport runway/another lane on the motorway/ another shopping centre.... You do not feel these things happening because if you did, you could not survive and continue to play your part. Your reactions are blunted and cut out, because nobody could react to so much horrifying stimuli and still walk around their life functionally.

This is the violence of your life. Maybe you don't allow yourself violence generally. Maybe you hate violence, and would never hit another person, maybe you consider yourself a pacifist. But the violence of your existence shows through. The violence inflicted on you, and the violence that you pass on. Each day, your freedom and your empathy is denied, and you die more. You accept your emotions being destroyed and your reactions being concealed and crushed. You accept the authority that your bosses have over you, that the courts have over you, that the cops and the army have over you, that your supervisor has over you, that your parents have or had over you, that parliament has over you, that the headmaster has over you . And you accept the violence that backs up this authority and that gives it reality. You are required to consent to this in order to remain in capitalist society and in order to be acknowledged as its subject. Increasingly, there is nowhere outside of its boundaries.

If authority had no violence behind it, if there was nothing to threaten you with, what would you do? What would your life be? If nobody else could set the rules for you, and nobody could arrest you and imprison you for opposing your own situation, what would you choose to do? These are your considerations. Nobody else can decide for you. If there were no authority, nothing protecting the inequality and inefficiency that is a system of profit, would you accept the continuation of starvation and deaths from treatable diseases, would you accept sweatshops and industrial disasters; would you continue to accept the mutilation of your everyday life? The responsibility and the freedom are yours only, each inextricable from one another and totally yours.

The violence of your life, and the mutilation of your emotions, don't only affect you; in each encounter you have with another person, these things make you into a caricature of a robot, and a model of paranoia. Some days in my life, most of the interactions I have are with shop assistants who have been forced to smile for a bonus, forced to repeat the same spiel to every customer, and forced to curtail their personality to present themselves as willing servants of commerce. I would like to think that their attentions are genuine. But I have suspicions that they might rather be lying in the sun, talking to their friends, enjoying a bonfire, making a painting, or climbing a mountain; rather that than passing endless packets through a bleeper for a fiver an hour. Incidentally I would also rather that they were doing that.

When was the last time you had a conversation with someone where you really felt they understood you, felt that you were communicating fully, that you had each others best interests at heart, that there were no lies or inequalities in your relationship, that you were both together voluntarily because you wanted to be, and that you were both excited to be knowing each other? And that they felt the same way ? These experiences can happen only a few times in a lifetime for some; for some people, not at all. So many of our interactions are ruined because of money and because of basic hierarchy. When you meet shopkeepers, bank staff, tutors, and everyone selling you something, these people are there because they need money to live on. None of us has a desire to work 40 hour weeks for someone else to profit off our work. Not you, not the waiter, not the bank clerk, not the person who weighs your vegetables and asks your to pay. These are not relationships of free communication or mutuality; and your embarrassment makes this apparent to you both.