September 2009

Thu Sep 03 19:44:04 PDT 2009

Hyperventilating over The Coming Insurrection

As an anarchist myself, I’ll have to confess Glenn Blecch Beck’s tirade got my hopes up a little. If only there was some work of revolutionary propaganda half as powerful and inspiring as he claims The Coming Insurrection is.

But it’s not. It (the book, not Beck’s spittle-spewing) has its moments of lucidity but is mostly yet another victim of the tragedy of contemporary anarchism: that anarchism is mostly a small subculture, and the propaganda output of anarchists tends to be more written for other anarchists (or at the least other radicals) than it is for the population at large, who typically end up misunderstanding and being put off by the rhetoric such tracts typically employ.

To that one can add how it’s written from a French perspective, which furthers hinders its chances of being perceived as relevant by the average American, who is blissfully ignorant of the internal politics of any other country save his or her own. The general hilarity of Beck’s rant is proved by his mentioning that he’s going to have to read the book during his upcoming vacation: that’s right, he’s admitting by implication that he’s reviewing a book he hasn’t even read!

And so far as Beck’s outlandish claims about violence, a Boston anarchist has already admirably demolished them on page 7 of this newsletter.

No, forget this mostly-forgettable tract: What’s most significant about the Tarnac 9 is what they did, not what they wrote. When it comes right down to it, “anarchism” and “revolution” are just words; what matters is what is done, not what labels get slapped onto it. And any group of radicals, of whom a self-identified moderate can say:

They were my neighbours, helping me on the farm and selling my meat at the shop. They were kind, intelligent and spoke several languages. They were politicised, on the left and clearly anti-capitalist like lots of people here, but they were people active in community life who wanted to change society at a local level first. To say that they were the descendants of Baader-Meinhof or the Red Brigades with no proof, I’m completely against that.
… obviously is doing something right.

And that’s probably what frightens the Establishment the most about the group. Not that they are radicals, not that they might have been vandalizing electric lines, but that they were radicals doing things that their neighbors supported. That’s the most frightening thing of all to any Establishment: that when people see an alternative, they will support and embrace it, even though they probably don’t self-identify as radicals themselves.

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Last updated: Tue Sep 13 16:14:10 PDT 2011