Wednesday, December 23, 2009

How I Became An Anarchist

I stumbled upon this blog meme 'How I Became An Anarchist'. Not only is it fun to read about how other people came to identify as anarchists, I also think it helps develop a narrative to better understand our unseen peers. My story won’t be too lengthy. That would be boring. Feel more than free to ask me questions and I encourage you all to write your own story, post it elsewhere online, or post it in the comments section.

As far back as I can remember, my parents instilled in me the belief that it is correct to stand up to authority if necessary. When I got in trouble in 5th grade, my Dad came to the school and stood by my story and told the administration they were lying. In Junior High, I would violate my school’s dress code and then ask for reasons why such dress was not permitted- telling the administration that just ‘because they said so’ was, in fact, not a reason. In high school, the administration was shocked when my parents and I refused to accept their authority 'just because'.

I don’t know if all of the standing up to school officials had any correlation to my attraction to rebel subcultures but I did find myself engulfed in punk as early as 13yrs old. I think I am lucky to have discovered punk when I did. It was impossible to ignore the anti-authoritarian left wing ideas within the scene. My close punk friend quickly came to identify as a (godless) communist. It was the first time in my life that I came face to face with the two tenets I had been taught were evil since birth. That did a lot to question what I had always accepted and move me from fitting politics into my life to fitting my life into my politics.

By age 19, I fully identified as an orthodox Marxist. For the next maybe 5+ years, I studied Marx and socialism and dedicated myself to social struggle. While most of this time was still spent within punk circles, a great deal of my time was also spent among hip hop heads and people of color. After a while, I struggled with my political ineffectiveness amongst my friends of color. I also took to heart the lessons of SDS/WUO. This was a major breaking point with traditional (authoritarian) Leftism. I wanted to be correct and effective. To do that, I began to raise consciousness among my White punk peers. At this point in time, I identified as a post-modern Marxist or maybe even an anarcho-syndicalist but I was still rooted firmly in Leftist thought.

After graduating college and entering the (semi) adult world, my conflicts with likeminded Left groups continued. I desperately wanted to plug into a group where I could use my resources to further our struggle. To be completely honest, I was straight up rejected by some of these groups. I understood their reasoning but it was extremely frustrating. It was then that I made the outright conscious decision to abandon the label of socialist and become an anarchist to work with my punk peers.

It has been a long long time since I adopted the label of anarchist. I realize how little I knew of anarchist principles when I first took on the label. Ironically, I still find myself at odds with most popular contemporary American anarchy.

How I ended up calling myself an Anarchist by A Division By Zero

How I Became an Anarchist by BroadSnark


Blogger Divided By Zer0 said...

In what way are you at odds with Contemporary American Anarchy?

1:35 AM  
Anonymous BroadSnark said...

"That did a lot to question what I had always accepted and move me from fitting politics into my life to fitting my life into my politics."

I love that.

5:35 AM  
Blogger shane said...

I mainly find myself at odds with the popular primitivist/anti-civ thread of anarchy that seems rather dominant in North America right now.
While I do think industrial society as it exists now must be destroyed and/or re-imagined, I find most ideas of post collapse anarchy EXTREMELY naive.

Plus, most tendencies of this follow a do-nothing / individualist / lifestylist approach which I abhor.

9:57 AM  
Blogger Divided By Zer0 said...

Hmm, don't think that Primitivism and co ideas are as popular as you think. Lifestylism yes though, and it's a bit sad.

11:20 AM  

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