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(en) US, PHILADELPHIA (AP) MEDIA, They really start to take us seriously - Prosperity or not, anarchism back in vogue (popular).

From Chuck0 <chuck@dojo.tao.ca>
Date Fri, 25 Aug 2000 01:51:40 -0400


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Prosperity or not, anarchism back in vogue

> http://netscape.digitalcity.com/philadelphia/news/article.dci?article=563273

 --
The small band of masked activists incited angry brawls with police, set off 
a smoke bomb in a crowd, damaged dozens of city vehicles and spraypainted 
their symbol - the letter “A” - on City Hall.

Those scenes at this month’s Republican National Convention came and went, 
but not the burgeoning protest movement that sparked them.

Anarchism, say the experts, is alive and in vogue in the United States.

“I think it shows a lot of frustration with changing the system,” said 
Michigan State University history professor Henry Silverman. “When people 
feel the ordinary ways of changing the system don’t work too well or are 
nonproductive, then they resort to more unconventional forms of protest.”

Despite the strongest peacetime economy the nation has known, thousands of 
people have attended mass demonstrations over the past year. And at each one, 
a small band of rebels wearing rags and sporting dreadlocks have led 
disruptions in the name of anarchy: from isolated reports of throwing bottles 
in Washington, D.C., to millions of dollars in property damage last fall in 
Seattle.

In June 1999, anarchists in Eugene, Ore., staged a rally to “reclaim the 
streets” and went on a window-breaking rampage. In June of this year, 
protesters spray-painted vulgar slogans on a bus and threw bottles and debris 
at police during demonstrations against the Organization of American States 
in Windsor, Ontario, and Detroit, Mich.

“This resistance is not going to die out,” said a masked woman who identified 
herself as Dandelion during the Democratic National Convention this month in 
Los Angeles. Anarchists there pulled a handicapped parking sign from the 
ground and used its concrete base to break up chunks of asphalt and hurl them 
over a fence at police.

“This may be the last day of the Democratic convention, but the revolution 
has just begun,” the woman said.

Anarchism, the political philosophy that government should be dismantled to 
allow people to rule themselves, has been around for centuries, peaking as an 
American political movement with Chicago’s Haymarket riot in 1886.

European immigrants revived the philosophy in the 1920s, and it enjoyed 
another surge in the 1960s and ‘70s in hippie-enclaves, especially on the 
West Coast.

Now there are signs of a new anarchist resurrection.

Food Not Bombs, an anarchist group that serves free vegetarian food to the 
homeless, was started by a handful of anti-nuclear activists in Boston in 
1980 and has grown to more than 175 chapters around the world. AK Press, a 
6-year-old San Francisco publisher, has more than 80 anarchist books in 
print.

An Internet search turned up more than 300 English-language Web sites 
dedicated to anarchists; hundreds more are in other languages. A Web site 
about turn-of-the-century anarchist Emma Goldman run by the University of 
California at Berkeley gets more than 10,000 hits a month.

“It’s a frustration with the American arrogance around the world both 
culturally and militarily. The arrogance of capitalism.  Frustration with the 
environmental crisis,” said anarchist and librarian Chuck Munson of College 
Park, Md. “Anarchistic methods have been around for a while, but some people 
are applying them creatively and saying this is how we’re going to protest 
now.”

During the World Trade Organization meetings last November in Seattle, 
black-clad anarchists smashed a Starbucks coffee shop window and climbed 
through it, with newspaper reporters and television cameras recording the 
moment.

“Activists can picket all they want in front of a Starbucks because of one 
reason or another, but the trashing of Starbucks in Seattle was more 
effective in getting them to change their policies than years of traditional 
actions would have done,” Munson wrote on an Internet discussion list.

Silverman, who has studied anarchy and political protest for nearly 40 years, 
said anarchism has always waxed and waned in popularity. What’s striking now 
is the “overt expression” in contrast to anarchists of much of the 1900s who 
“simply withdraw from society ... and attempt to live isolated from the 
corporate world,” Silverman said.

“There’s a theory that out of economic frustration comes protest. That’s not 
the case now and it wasn’t the case in the ‘60s,” Silverman said. “That was 
what we marveled at in the ‘60s, protests in the face of prosperity. ... 
Maybe good times lead to calls for better times. Maybe because a lot of 
people are doing well, it draws attention to the smaller groups who are not 
doing so well.”

Among those who applaud the damage and destruction is 57-year-old John 
Zerzan, an author and mentor for the so-called green anarchists, who want not 
just to disband government but break up civilization. Based in Eugene, Ore., 
Zerzan’s followers have been blamed - or credited, depending on who you ask - 
with some of the most extreme violence at demonstrations in the Northwest.

“It is a matter of frustration and it works. If prayer circles would work in 
changing things, I’m all for that. Candlelight vigils or whatever else, they 
don’t do nothing,” Zerzan said.

“We could go up in the hills, I guess,” Zerzan explained. “We don’t because 
partly there isn’t any place to hide anymore. Partly, we feel a 
responsibility to try to contribute to truly changing things.”

Copyright 2000 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This
material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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