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(en) US, Minneapolis, Daybreak* #5 - Anarchist challenge intellectuals to water balloon fight! (another daybreak editorial rant)

From daybreak@tao.ca
Date Sun, 31 Oct 2004 11:03:17 +0100 (CET)

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During a recent bake sale (a typical way for us to raise money) a man
approached wanting to argue about why we included a piece in the last
issue about Minnesotans losing access to health care and methods poor
people can use to cheat the system when they’re desperate. The way
he saw it, an anarchist shouldn’t worry about publicly provided health
care (not that he was anything more than a leftist academic but of course
he saw it as his responsibility to point out our ‘internal
contradictions’). His argument was that since anarchists don’t
like government, capitalism, and authority, we should live our lives like
these things don’t exist.

This guy had two major misconceptions about anarchists. The first was
thinking that ideological purity is our priority. Purity of ideas is a concept
made up by intellectuals and authoritarians who want to see the world in
straight clean lines it’s never had. The fact is that none of us are pure.
We’ve never pretended that an anarchist society would be perfect.
What it is, is a process toward our values. This means both that we have
an ideal that we work towards and that we apply it as best we can to the
actual world around us. It would be ridiculous to wait to act until all
conditions are aligned for a perfect revolutionary anarchist action on
health care. That is the type of thinking that paralyzes revolutionaries. We
are not politicians toeing a party line and we are not horrified that people
are suffering from a lack of medical care because we are anarchists. Poor
people are being treated like they are expendable and we are horrified as
fellow human beings. We are horrified because these ‘poor
people’ are ourselves, they are our friends, they are our lovers.

The second misconception is that anarchists think a revolution will come
along and fix everything. This whole idea of waiting until the revolution is
yet another leftist relic. Anarchist ideas can’t be minimized by saying
they’re merely a vision of possible future. In the last few years,
anarchists have gotten tired of waiting for this great future to arise.
We’ve been applying our values to our lives and creating a ton of
awesome projects that really do work. We’re learning to live more
independently and democratically, to question and confront the fucked up
values we were raised with, and for the first time in a long time we’re
looking at authoritarian society as something complex that can’t just
be imagined away or blown up, but something that we must also replace
in our heads and lives with an alternative. And instead of working out this
replacement on paper (like some academics would love us to do)
we’re creating our values and how we interact through experience
and exploration. In the process, we’ve started to question all types of
leftist orthodoxies, like for instance, revolution and ideological purity. So
now instead of being far leftists hoping for a mythical transformation,
we’ve become something unique and dangerous; our gardens, our
media projects, and even our lifestyles are beginning to reflect progress
towards that most utopian of paradises, a plausible anarchy.

But we don’t deny that what we can do right now is limited by the
conditions we are now forced to live under. While we may prefer DIY
medicine, our community rarely has the resources or experience to treat
serious medical problems. Does that mean we should be good sports and
watch people suffer or die (by the dictate of capitalism) until doctors and
nurses become more aligned with our ideals and decide to collectively
offer free treatment to anyone who needs it? We are revolutionaries and
we refuse to sacrifice people’s lives to the logic that they must wait
until this or that system is replaced. If poor people are refused health care
by this system that sees them as expendable, then it’s our opinion
that they should get treatment in any way they can, legal or illegal, and
that they shouldn’t have to wait.

It’s clear that the stereotypical revolution won’t come tomorrow
and that, in any case, people can’t afford to wait. In Minnesota
authorities have made the decision that they can afford to let poor people
die from a lack of access to medical care. As anarchists we can’t just
sit back and watch them die hoping that someone in authority takes pity
or that the revolution suddenly shows up (way too late). We will cheat this
system in order to survive if we have to. We will do all that we can to
undermine it and bring about a better world. Until then, we will do that
which most irritates liberals and conservatives alike, survive like an
* Daybreak is an anarchist collective in the Twin Cities.
Basic outreach: a webpage, a distro, and a newspaper, as
well as activism.

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