Re: “Anarchism is never the answer”

In response to Anarchism is never the answer, published January, 15, 2009.

Will Dumont is correct in stating that “capitalist society has led to unjust…dooming the majority of the human race to squalor…” and his comparison of society to a complicated machine is apt, but I would use the term civilization where he uses society (“Anarchism is never the answer,” Jan. 15 edition). Civilization means “organization of a high order,” (Webster’s) and implies hierarchical structures whereas society is about “community of related interdependent individuals,” (Webster’s). We have anarchist societies here in Winnipeg and a vibrant anarchist community.

Dumont’s question of how to deal with a system “faulty due to its complicated nature.” I’m all for smashing it and replacing it with something simpler that is not prone to so many faults! But smashing something does not automatically result in chaos, anarchism is not chaos, and Dumont is wrong in implying anarchists wouldn’t bother to do anything after rejecting civilization. Anarchists already have demonstrated time and again that they can organize effectively through consensus and without authoritarian figures. There have been many many learned anarchists who’ve written books of philosophy and history and there are many fine anarchist activists who have been written about. The public library has a wealth of material, so does the anarchist-run Junto Library in the Autonomous Zone Building at 91 Albert St.

Dumont gets it wrong when he says anarchism does not allow for leadership. There have been many fine anarchist leaders in terms of inspiration and organizing but these men and women don’t exercise authority in the way that business leaders, government officials, or even union bosses do.

Dumont’s point that humanity pooling its efforts for a common goal as foundation for civilization makes me laugh and cry. Ask the indigenous peoples of Turtle Island if they were pooling their efforts to bring on Confederation; ask the African slaves is they were pooling their efforts to help rich white bosses found the USA; ask the slaves of Egypt building pyramids for the pharaohs… it’s always been greed, power and oppression that led some to dominate others in order to build up the structures of civilizations.

Dumont ends by claiming anarchists get their message out through established media - not usually and rarely accurately! Mainstream media chooses to distort anarchism and equate all anarchists with chaos and violence. Meanwhile anarchists themselves have built up DIY networks of ‘zine distribution (Junto Library again), G-7 Welcoming Committee was an excellent local distributor of anarchist materials, Propaghandi spreads the message in song, Mondragon, War on Music, and Organic Planet are some anarchist businesses in Winnipeg, Montreal’s Black Rose Books is a longstanding anarchist press, and AK Press out of Oakland is known globally as an anarchist publisher and distributor.

—Tim Brandt

– Tim Brandt

Published in Volume 63, Number 17 of The Uniter (January 22, 2009)