Wednesday, April 04, 2012
It is Forbidden to Forbid
I made my annual pilgrimage to the Anarchist Bookfair this past weekend (previous years here). As usual, had trouble embracing the scene. Bought The Art of Not Being Governed which I've been meaning to read for awhile, and some others.
One thing that always interests me, but it's sort of a forbidden topic, is how all these people who are vehemently anti-capitalist and anti-existing-system manage to survive. Somehow they feed themselves after all, and if it's through the underground economy that's still an economy of some sort. They don't all live on communes in the country.
This question arises on a different level when it comes to the vendors, who are running little businesses promoting an anti-business attitude. Some of these seem to be fairly large-scale and stable affairs. If I was hostile I would use this to dismiss the whole scene, but I'm not really – any revolutionary or agent of change has to simultaneously live within the world as it is while plotting to overthrow it, and thus has to live the contradictions.
Anyway, for some reason the day before my own mental barriers between anarchy and entrepeneurmanship suffered a partial collapse which led me to open up this t-shirt shop. So far it has neither enriched me very much nor done much to subvert the dominant paradigm, but it's early days.
Caught a bit of activist Scott Crow's presentation; the takeaway I got from him was that open collectives (where anybody can join) don't work very well; closed tightly focused groups with shared values work better. That makes a lot of sense, but raised a lot of unanswered questions on just what anarchist governance could mean. The same largely unspoken question hovered over a panel on anarchist parenthood.