The Anarchists Amongst Us

September 11, 2019

Philosophically and politically, I have been an anarchist for a very long time. However, I find myself embedded within this capitalist web and I’m frankly too comfortable to do much these days except pontificate from the heights of theory. There are, however, true anarchists that live among us, living as anarchists.

They are perhaps not as obstrusive as they once were, but they are with us nonetheless. These true anarchists are the hobos. They travel where they want, do what they want when they want, and work as they need. They are burdened by no quantity of possessions and leave little or no footprint on the environment.  They are the modern equivalent of the pre-Neolithic hunter-gatherers.

Unfortunately we are forced to define by exclusion here, to overcome a long-held societal belief that hobos are bad folk. We are not talking here of tramps and bums, nor even of the urban homeless. As the late “hobo doctor” Benjamin Reitman, P.h.D, noted,

“a hobo works and wanders, a tramp dreams and wanders, and a bum drinks and wanders.”

Tramps and bums are seen as lazy, alcoholic, or dirty but authentic hobos are none of these, according to 2003 Hobo Queen Mama Jo LeCount. They are migrant workers, honest friends, and grateful stewards of the earth. A true hobo will always offer to work a chore in exchange for food and shelter. Handouts are for bums.

hobo2

In North America, Civil War soldiers seeking a way home spawned the hobos and they were propelled by further economic necessity during the Depression years. Today, to live as a hobo is generally a lifestyle choice.  I am reminded of this by a fascinating article in the Smithsonian magazine that looks at wannabe hobos and the annual Hobo Convention in Britt, Iowa.  Thousands

make the trek each year to convene with their fellow wanderers in joyful celebration and community at the convention, held in Britt since 1900. The week long event, which often includes weddings and parties, is filled with hobos and “hobos at heart” alike.

Mama Jo LeCount describes the hobo life as an “adventure” and there is certainly something in that.  The road trips many of us made around the world in the 1960s (in our hippy search for something that may or may not have been just drugs) were hobo-like in that adventurous sense.  However, most of us did those trips knowing that, at the worst, we had middle class parents and/or a full-employment economy to come home to.

For the true hobo, however, there is no backstop and their choice of lifestyle is much more serious than just “adventure”.  I am certain that the absolute freedom to choose — the essence of true anarchism — that is essential to the lifestyle is at the heart of their choice.  I’ll add it to my ToDo List to get to Britt one year and talk to them about it.


Image: 54 Stories of Old Ireland

September 11, 2019


9/11 and the Death of Democracy

September 11, 2019

Forty-six years ago, on 9/11 in 1973, the US-financed-and-organised plan to overthrow the legally elected government of Salvador Allende in Chile was put into action.

Crowds in Santiago celebrating the electoral victory of Salvador Allende

During the violent military assault, the President died (assassinated or committed suicide to avoid capture) and over the next few years of the vicious and inhuman dictatorship of US-supported Pinochet, thousands of Chileans were imprisoned, tortured, and killed.

allende

 

What happened in New York on this day 28 years later was also vicious and inhuman. However, it is about time for some reconciliation and regret for the extraordinary litany of war crimes the US has committed. If any US network or major media even mentions the Chilean anniversary during what will almost certainly be today’s spasm of Trump-like breast-beating, that would be a tiny start.