The first history ever grasped by humanity was propelled along by the desire for a knowledge of their Dead.
It’s elemental, primal. While the histories of peoples, nations, and tribes fill our hearts with pride or dread there will always be a visceral thirst to seek out one’s forgotten kin. Nations, peoples, these are immaterial things, temporary flags that individuals may carry in this life. But it’s the real people behind them we often wonder about the most: these people lived like us, eat, shit, and pissed like us; they were happy some days and sad the others. It’s a fascinating feeling to see historical figures merely separated from your own existence by time, yet intimately connected to it.
People make us wonder, and people after our own hearts make us wonder all the more.
For your average Anarchist the history is a tragic, yet heroic one: we see the grand paintings or grainy photographs of the Paris Commune and imagine the jokes told around barricades; we read the words of Mahkno to the Free Territory and can almost feel the rush of wind between our hair on horseback; we dream of Anarchist Spain with grim faces as all we can give our comrades under fire is a solidarity beyond life and death.
We dream of struggles and peoples long since laid to rest, their magic so powerful as to captivate us nearly 100 years later. But this magic has begun to rule us.
To the Barricades!
On The Barricade
We lived in this Necromantic world, weavers of ghosts and pleasant visions made to intoxicate ourselves, because for far too long those illusions were all we had. It’s not enough to be some angry teenager, some bitter hotel employee. We want to know others share our struggle, that we’re not an isolated being but part of a collective whole. To those who were raised up in the 90’s outside of Seattle this lack of struggle was all pervasive and strangulating. After 2001, even more so: every would-be-revolutionary was stuck choking on flags and yellow pins made to glorify the slaughter of millions while “the workers” plugged in to every reality show the collective Id could produce. It was suffocating, it was thick enough to drink, and it seemed like in those dark days of patriotism that this could seemingly go on forever. It was only natural then we play pretend, look to the past and sing old hymns to ideological gods long dead, even going so far as rejecting “civilization” outright.
May I propose a toast: to the foolishness of the revolutionaries and the hubris of our foes!
This is no longer 2002; we all know freedom isn’t free because we’ve pissed it all away. What were left with is a world literally being ripped to pieces between a fading and syphilitic empire holding bitterly to the global reins and a rising juggernaut in the East, a vision China has long considered to be part of it’s heavenly mandate:
“The signs of the emerging new world order are many. First, there is China’s astonishingly rapid rise to great-power status, both militarily and economically. In the economic realm, the International Monetary Fund forecasts that China’s share of world GDP (15 percent) will draw nearly even with the U.S. share (18 percent) by 2014. (The U.S. share at the end of World War II was nearly 50 percent.) This is particularly startling given that China’s share of world GDP was only 2 percent in 1980 and 6 percent as recently as 1995. Moreover, China is on course to overtake the United States as the world’s largest economy (measured by market exchange rate) sometime this decade. And, as argued by economists like Arvind Subramanian, measured by purchasing-power parity, China’s GDP may already be greater than that of the United States….
Now, in the wake of the 2008 financial meltdown and ensuing recession, it is clear that Kennedy and other “declinists” were right all along. The same causes of decline they pointed to are at the center of today’s debate about America’s economic prospects: too much consumption and not enough savings; persistent trade and current-account deficits; deindustrialization; sluggish economic growth; and chronic federal-budget deficits fueling an ominously rising national debt.
Indeed, looking forward a decade, the two biggest domestic threats to U.S. power are the country’s bleak fiscal outlook and deepening doubts about the dollar’s future role as the international economy’s reserve currency.”
Let me remind the novices however, nothing is set in stone. Spirits are indeed fickle things.
The new Tower of Babel is off to a rather shaky start. Global finance can’t seem to get it’s shit together either, and with Germany’s Deutsche Bank guessing at a loss of 6 Billion while global stocks remain nervous due to a possible looming currency war, the battle for dominion is far from over.
Militarily even things are far from decided, the Syrian Proxy War still a hotbed of activity though Assad is off the table. Russia is now backing Kurdish forces in the region and getting heated with Turkey, all this amid a very real possibility the house of Saud might fall.
“The fall of the House of Saud may be provoked by a reduction in the price of oil. Incapable of reforming its life-style, the kingdom is borrowing hand over fist, to the point that according to financial analysts, it will probably collapse within two years. The partial sale of Aramco may temporarily postpone its demise, but this will only be possible at the cost of a loss of autonomy.”
Remember: Mecca is under Saudi control. With the most important site in all of Islam up for grabs how much blood would others be willing to spill to take it? In the middle of the puppet war between two powers you could have a religious conflict not seen since the death of Muhammad himself.
A globe engulfed in the fires of war looms in front of us.
I pose the question: Is Anarchism up to the task of this coming instability?
I’ll gladly admit it: I’m probably not the kind of person Anarchism wants as a poster boy. I drink alot, I play with Ouija boards, and for a few dollars I’m more then happy to tell your future or take off a hex. In my heart of hearts I am a militant, a lost member of the Petwo nation whose spirit delights in fire and explosions; when I count among the Dead know that you can summon me with cannonade. For years in Anarchism I’ve heard that things will remain stable, that we need to take a lesson from the liberals and really get into activism. On the other hand I’ve read essays and journals fresh from the “Battle of Seattle,” penned by individuals torn between the love of open conflict and the nihilistic truth that no amount of window smashing would ever make them free.
But that Anarchism was a reaction to that time.
And everywhere around me, in politics and economics it seems that time has passed.
It’s frightening, isn’t? That history is crunching around itself, the wrinkle where there’s just enough instability on the timeline where all possibilities co-exist at once? It’s that moment in spell craft where the interview beings, where you buy that scratch off, where the land lord is walking up to your door. It’s that do-or-die moment that makes people skydive or join bare-knuckle boxing clubs. A rushing of reality, an opening of the gates….
But do we have the will walk through them?
On quiet and lifeless nights where cars seem to rush into oblivion I pondered these questions, tilting them in my mind like an etch and sketch I could never seem to fully erase. Certainly there was change in the air. You’d have to be crazy not to see that. But was it revolutionary, or just another failed party? Kropotkin’s words rumbled through my brain: “There are periods in the life of human society when revolution becomes an imperative necessity, when it proclaims itself as inevitable. New ideas germinate everywhere, seeking to force their way into the light, to find an application in life; everywhere they are opposed by the inertia of those whose interest it is to maintain the old order; they suffocate in the stifling atmosphere of prejudice and traditions. The need for a new life becomes apparent. The code of established morality, that which governs the greater number of people in their daily life, no longer seems sufficient.”
Instability itself couldn’t be the key, I surmised. Instability was world wide, true enough, but instability had merely turned Libya into the hunting ground of madmen and demagogues.
“Having made a complete mess out of it, and then leaving it to go to create another mess in Syria and then bringing ISIS into being either intentionally(HINT HINT) or by accident – they don’t know what do to about that. Now they see it’s spreading, so they feel some kind of pressure to do something…We don’t even know which of these groups we could possibly work with, because all these militias are even more radical then the next one.”
No, what made events not merely disastrous but revolutionary was ideas to capitalize on the instability. Like a Florida wildfire, new shoots had to be waiting to grow before the old forest retook it’s place. Perhaps what we were missing were these new shoots.