I am quitting all my political activities with immediate effect.
Having traversed the full range of leftwing activities in 1960s England — from Labour Party and Trades Unionism, through the CPGB, various Trotskyite groups, and Maoist cadres — and found all of them unsatisfactory and generally elitist (yes, the vanguard is by definition elitist, my socialist brothers) — I decided that I was most comfortable as an anarchist.
A lot of people think of anarchists as comic-book folks wearing black and carrying bombs in their pockets ready to launch them at any passing Prince. There are some of those for sure (or at least wannabe bomb throwers). But anarchism is not a monolithic belief system and I have always been a non-revolutionary anarchist believing, as I do, that revolution — forcing someone by violence to do what they don’t want to do — is inherently non-anarchist (good ends do not provide approval for despicable means).
My anarchism is essentially a personal belief system rather than a directed programme of political change across society. Much as I would be happy, nay delirious, to see a fully anarchistic society arise around me, I am predisposed to do nothing to forward that programme other than by example and education.
That being said, over the last many years I have often fallen into the temptation of trying to work through “the system” to achieve specific goals, usually local. I have founded and led movements, I have engaged in local politics, and I have encouraged others to follow that path, I even became deeply involved in electoral politics in 2014 even though I don’t vote (or rather, I vote for everyone running, just to be disrespectful to that “democratic” scam). But no matter how engaged I became there was always the nagging feeling in the back of my mind that this was not what I should be doing.
For example — and with some successes to the contrary — I do not work well with groups: I am happy to make up my own mind and then proceed on my own rather than spend the time persuading others to follow. It’s great if they do, but not necessary.
So, I am quitting all organized politics. I am removing myself from all email and similar lists, and I will end my own newsletter. I will still write about stuff that concerns me, of course, but that will be the extent of my involvement.
My decision has been prompted by a bunch of discouraging events (not in any particular order):
- As a non-American anarchist I have two good reasons not be involved in the US presidential campaign. But even at a distance it is hard to be happy about a state of affairs wherein a racist bigotted liar is running against a pro-military Blairite neo-liberal corporate-enabling liar. I see no value in either;
- I see the British Columbia government bathing in the fruits of its own corruption, and I see no genuine opposition capable of kicking them out;
- I see the domineering Vancouver regime refusing to face up to the city’s major problems and allowing the Billionaire Boys Club and cronies to run our affairs to the destitution of ordinary people; I see them essentially laugh at community opinion; again with no reasonable alternative presenting itself;
- I see a local NGO (made popular via expensive PR though with a less savoury reputation on the street) throwing itself into the arms of a for-profit corporation in a way that will damage the community, too lazy to engage with the community-friendly alternatives for its needs; extolling its so-called contacts with the poorest and neediest of our population, while having a party to celebrate itself this week with an entry fee of $125 per head. [By the way, a challenge to a journalist or journo-student: interview Grandview’s core homeless population and find out why not one of them will ever use a Kettle facility and/or why the Kettle has banned them; there are ex-employees also willing to tell their stories];
- I have wasted what seems like years of my life on Twitter arguing for causes only to find small-minded opponents sniggering and, just as bad, people who generally agree with my causes using the platform simply to bad mouth their opponents — as if that were something adult and compelling; I will be quitting twitter until I can refine my “following” sites to those that reduce the noise;
- Street-level politics is a young person’s game and I am getting too old for it, or perhaps too old to be bothered with it.
I am going back to my true loves — history and literature.