Saturday, April 11, 2009

The protests in Iceland have subsided as people there seem willing to wait patiently to see if their present social democratic government can do any better than the previous conservative one. Yet something new has entered into the awareness of Icelanders, the idea of "anarchism". This has come about because of the sterling efforts of Icelandic anarchists during the protests that led to the fall of the government. As the story below, from the Icelandic website Aftaka, details the idea of anarchism has virtually entered the Icelandic language because of these recent events. True to form the representatives of the state attempt to control what this word means, to give their own version of the anarchists. No matter that their version bears little resemblance to what the anarchist movement actually is. Here's the article.
Denial and Ignorance:
A new word in the Icelandic vocabulary: Anarchism. An article by Aftaka appeared in the newest issue of Reykjavík Grapevine.

Not long ago, the word anarchism was almost meaningless in Icelandic. It hardly existed. But now it seems that it has received a seat in the language and better yet—it is getting more and wider understanding. The reason must be the growing movement of anarchists and their visibility during protests and actions concerning the economic collapse.

Many people’s first reactions to new words and ideas are ignorance and denial, especially when the ideas challenge and defy the society’s standards and traditions—when the “truth” is doubted. Anarchists state and argue that something is wrong with the current social structure. This causes disturbance that constantly expands when people realise that the anarchists are right… it is inconvenient having to change the “truth”. One way to ignore this disturbance, not updating one’s mind and adapting to new and changed ideas, is to pretend that these ideas don’t exist. Another way is to run them down, remove all ideals and ideologies.

The February issue of Grapevine included an interview with police officers who took part in the police actions during the January revolt. Talking about the more radical part of the protesters, a police officer titled ‘Senior Policeman’ says: “It all starts with a group that connects itself with anarchism, although I don’t believe there is much behind that.” He continues and says that by looking at the group of anarchists he can’t imagine that they are badly situated financially and adds that he would have liked to see more people in his age at the protests, indebted people who have families to support.

Wait a moment; there is something wrong here: (1.) How can he, by looking over a crowd, see if people have financial problems or not? (2.) How does he know that anarchists don’t have families to support? (3.) Not being indebted is a sign of rationalism and lack of participation in the consumerism that characterised a majority of the Icelandic nation during last years and which sucked out critical thinking and people’s desire of autonomy. (4.) Not being indebted doesn’t take away one’s freedom to resists against a corrupt and incompetent government (not meaning people’s constitutional “right” to protest but every living being’s unwritten right to defend itself). (5.) Not nearly everybody is protesting against the crisis and asking for new period of prosperity. No! Some people always saw (and still see) through the so-called prosperity and still see the class divisions, injustice and corruption that the prosperity period created and sustained. These people protest and fight against capitalism, not the crisis!

The police officer’s words mark the narrow mindsets and lack of ideals that last years’ social situation lead to. The sentence here above – “although I don’t believe there is much behind that” – is a schoolbook example of denial and ignorance.

But these words are not only the police officers’. Anarchism is constantly dismissed like this—ignored before properly considered. That’s a childish behaviour that shows the lack of will to learn and get to know things’ from a variety of perspectives; a lack of will to always have an open mind, challenge the “truth” and consider nothing as holy; a lack of will to improve the society. It shows the success of authorities’ silencing campaigns; how well they have managed to create a society of ideological stagnation, with the help of corporations, PR managers and advertisement offices.

We could turn this around and state that in the society there is “a group that connects itself with capitalism, but there is not much behind that!” But this statement is wrong. Capitalism builds on the idea that an individual’s freedom is to do business, buy and sell without authorities’ interventions. It is based on greed, acceptance of class divisions, injustice, individuals’ different values inside the society and the unequal distribution of resources. It builds on oppression, exploitation, deprivation of freedom (yes, people’s freedom is constantly deprived in the name of other’s business freedom) violence and imprisonment.

Therefore it is impossible to deal with capitalism in this manner, as well as anarchism. No ideology, philosophy and form of organisation can be dealt with in this manner. But since anarchist ideas are new for many people and these ideas challenge the society’s fundamental values, people repeatedly try to ignore them, hoping they will get lost and forgotten forever.

In the end, it wouldn’t matter at all if ‘Senior Policeman’ would study anarchism and agree with some of its ideas. His statement would stay unchanged because it’s a part of his job to state this to protect authorities and break down everything that threatens their position. A police officer would never accept the legitimacy of anarchist ideas. However, that does not change the fact that his words and the way he dismisses challenging ideas is exactly how authorities want the whole society to behave. That is something that we anarchists fight against!


Anonymous said...

Wow, anon 1 is a kook. The wall of text hits for 632 hitpoints damage! You die.

Anyway, I'd disagree with the closing notion in that article, that a police officer could never accept the ideas of anarchism. Hell, kropotkin was a prince, which is further up the ladder than a cop, and he saw what was wrong with the situation.
Most cops get involved because they want to protect their friends and neighbors, and stop bad people from hurting others. The fact that the job has this ancient underlying duty to maintain the status quo is something that they get as sort of a package deal. The best thing you can do with a cop is talk to him and show him how the two duties came to be, how they conflict, and why.
Never get caught in an "us vs them" mindset, because it may prevent the gaining of new and useful allies. It may not work out 9 times out of 10, but every 10th time you grow stronger.

mollymew said...

Thank you anonymous 2. Yes, I agree that one shouldn't demonize the police, if for no other reason than it leads to some utterly bizarre estimates about one's own forces and what can actually be done realistically. The state of a certain portion of the American movement is ample evidence of what this leads to.
I was also amazed by anon 1's long windedness. So far I have ONLY deleted commercial spam from this blog, never anything else, even when the sender was quite abusive. I must admit that I was tempted in this case as I went down the screed, hitting the "page down" button time after time. What I was looking for was the "international Jewish conspiracy" or its euphemism, the "international bankers conspiracy" to pop up. I couldn't find it so I was spared the dilemma of being Hamlet and asking, "to delete or not to delete, that is the question".
I do admit, however, that I could have easily missed it. NOBODY, myself included, is ever going to read such a thing in any detail. I merely skimmed looking for key words. Mostly what I found was the writer repeating himself, repeating himself, repeating himself over and over and over. It's sad, but I don't find it offensive.
I know it is futile to try and talk sense to any obscessed person, but I would suggest that if anon 1 finds it difficult to "think in paragraphs" that he take whatever he writes and try to speak in in 3 or 4 breathes. If it takes more breathes then he should try and put a paragraph break in there somewhere. I would also suggest that, if any phrase is repeated more than 5 times, that it either be deleted or said in a different way.
The screed above is probably of greater length than the five longest posts I have put up at this blog all summed together. I would suggest that there is an alternate explanation for why is gets deleted other than a conspiracy of the powers that be. Perhaps writing something that is readable might possibly be an option.