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Are anarchists in Occupy aiding Grover Norquist?

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Headlined to H2 9/15/12

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[2012/09/16: updated and renamed. The old title was "Why are so many Occupiers attracted to anarchism?"]

Thursday evening I went to an exhibit of photos of the Seattle Occupy movement .  I chatted with several people there.  With one woman I discussed Occupy and the path forward. She said she distrusts the Democratic Party.

I said that I understand why people reject working through the Democratic Party -- it would take a huge fight to kick out the corporatists -- but I also said that both progressive Dems and Occupiers want the same things: economic justice, women's rights, gay rights, environmental stewardship, a strong social safety net, an end to militarism, an end to the police state, and an end to corruption.  We're just taking different paths to the same goal.  Progressive Dems want to reform the Democratic Party so it serves the 99%.  Occupiers think the Democratic Party is hopelessly corrupt.  (I note, though, that angry conservatives tend to take over the GOP, while angry progressives/occupiers flee the Democratic Party, leaving it to the corporatists. As a result of the division on the left, there are neither enough progressives to reform the Democratic Party nor enough occupiers and leftists to form a viable third party or alternative system.)

She disagreed with my claim that progressive Dems and Occupiers have the same  aim. She said that she's an "anarcho-socialist" and doesn't want government to be powerful.  She disagrees with liberalism.  I responded, "But don't you want government to provide Social Security and Medicare and libraries? Well, that's big government."   She nodded yes but had no response to this, or not enough time for a response anyway. Our discussion ended by her saying that she's OK with discussing things but doesn't like it when people call her ideas dumb.  (I didn't call her ideas dumb.) Her life is busy, she said, and she doesn't waste time arguing with people who see things substantially differently.

I had a bad feeling after that conversation.

Many people in the Occupy movement are more or less anarchist. (I'm not talking mainly about the violence-loving Black Block anarchists that Chris Hedges criticized in The Cancer in Occupy.  I'm talking mostly about peaceful anarchists.)

I don't understand the attraction of anarchism, and I'm writing this article to solicit dialog about why people are attracted to it and to draw attention to a troubling fact: anarchist Occupiers may be aiding the anti-government forces on the right.

Thanks to government we have seat belts, childhood immunization, civil rights laws, the Internet, gas mileage standards, pollution controls, Medicare, Social Security, laws, constitutionally guaranteed freedom of religion and press (under threat, for sure), public transportation, public schools,  disaster relief,  medical research (most life-saving drugs produced by government researchers), safety standards on toys, foods, and medicines, .....

See the article We're the government, and we built all these



We're the government and we built all these by Don Smith

Especially worth emphasizing is the need for Big Government to act as a counterweight and check on corporations, which would otherwise dominate society.  Corporations aren't going away, because it is efficient for people to organize themselves into groups, both economically and politically.  Typically, such groups are hierarchical, and members of the group cooperate to reach shared goals. For corporations, of course, the goal is to earn money; employees benefit when their company prospers.
 

Of course, too often government just serves the 1% and the corporations. But we need to fix government, not minimize it. Without government we'd be hunter gatherers.  I don't believe that a modern society can function without a centralized government.  Nor can most organizations function without hierarchy.  Give me an example where anarchism, or something based on it, worked in a modern nation.    The most successful model seems to be northern European-style Big Government nations: capitalism tempered by high taxes and a strong safety net.

Anarchist Occupiers are similar to Tea Party conservatives: both yearn for some sort of utopian, post-government society where people self-organize into cooperating, non-hierarchical communities.  I suspect such libertarian dreams will end up helping the 1%.  We need government to regulate industry and to serve the people!

In this age of cell phones and cars and jets and computers, some things can only be created by large corporations, which aren't going away any time soon. So we need government as a counterweight.

I worry that anarchists may feed into the anti-government Tea Party mentality of Grover Norquist and the Koch brothers.

Oddly, despite right wingers' professed preference for individualism, they seem more capable than leftists at cooperating and working as a community. People on the Left are always fighting among themselves. Occupy Movements fall apart due to infighting.  So much for cooperation.

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http://waliberals.org

DFA organizer, Democratic Precinct Committee Officer, writer, and programmer. My op-ed pieces have appeared in the Seattle Times, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and elsewhere. See http://WALiberals.org and http://TruthSite.org for my writing, my (more...)
 
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I really want to understand why so many people are... by Don Smith on Saturday, Sep 15, 2012 at 10:46:50 AM
To both formulate and understand a destructive pol... by BFalcon on Saturday, Sep 15, 2012 at 9:16:25 PM
...just like the Democratic Party. The Anarchis... by Joe Giambrone on Saturday, Sep 15, 2012 at 12:25:15 PM
The Greens are a fringe party for a reason. Think ... by Ronald Wilson on Saturday, Sep 15, 2012 at 1:58:59 PM
Would that reason be "Random center fetishist vote... by Hooker Jay on Sunday, Sep 16, 2012 at 2:48:28 AM
Parties are in flux depending upon the numbers of ... by Joe Giambrone on Sunday, Sep 16, 2012 at 12:18:18 PM
... they certainly can and have changed. You seem... by Mary Bell Lockhart on Sunday, Sep 16, 2012 at 2:26:22 PM
but what caused the parties to change, was the thr... by zon moy on Sunday, Sep 16, 2012 at 4:36:26 PM
@Joe Giambroni:A simplistic response. You sound li... by Steve Fischer on Saturday, Sep 15, 2012 at 2:39:22 PM
I take it you didn't read the linked articles. Yo... by Joe Giambrone on Sunday, Sep 16, 2012 at 12:21:31 PM
It is the abuse of power I'm witnessing that has b... by Siegfried Othmer on Saturday, Sep 15, 2012 at 12:34:33 PM
but I don't see evidence of a concentration and ce... by Mary Bell Lockhart on Sunday, Sep 16, 2012 at 2:41:47 PM
I guess a person has to open up his mind to see so... by Tony Orlando on Saturday, Sep 15, 2012 at 12:55:54 PM
because it endorsed the actions of the elites. In ... by Paul Repstock on Saturday, Sep 15, 2012 at 10:25:15 PM
And some humans even put these cooperative ideas i... by Mary Bell Lockhart on Sunday, Sep 16, 2012 at 2:49:25 PM
MUTUAL AID (Peter Kropotkin, 1902): http://www.c... by Joseph Mungai on Thursday, Sep 20, 2012 at 12:24:10 AM
Joseph, I like what you added as a comment for a... by Tony Orlando on Thursday, Sep 20, 2012 at 1:02:04 AM
I like a lot of what you said, but I think that th... by David Vicks on Sunday, Sep 16, 2012 at 11:54:55 PM
Buckminster Fuller noticed this in Harvard, he qui... by Tony Orlando on Saturday, Sep 15, 2012 at 1:17:06 PM
Anarchism is the last ditch political statement by... by Ronald Wilson on Saturday, Sep 15, 2012 at 1:49:32 PM
The "black block" anarchists are what you speak of... by Steve Fischer on Saturday, Sep 15, 2012 at 2:31:43 PM
You sound like a Centrist-Extremist ... Hahah, who... by Hooker Jay on Sunday, Sep 16, 2012 at 3:10:38 AM
if people are losing faith in all forms of governm... by zon moy on Monday, Sep 17, 2012 at 2:04:43 AM
Social anarchism calls for a system with public ... by Tony Orlando on Thursday, Sep 20, 2012 at 2:17:32 AM
Many people equate anarchism with chaos.  Lib... by June Genis on Saturday, Sep 15, 2012 at 2:20:58 PM
Sounds like pie in the sky. I heard similar statem... by Ronald Wilson on Sunday, Sep 16, 2012 at 5:33:39 AM
I agree, Ronald.  I am sympathetic to Occupy ... by Don Smith on Sunday, Sep 16, 2012 at 1:28:28 PM
Chaos theory states that there are an infinity num... by Burl Hall on Sunday, Sep 16, 2012 at 5:52:03 AM
When and where has that ever worked?  Let's t... by Mary Bell Lockhart on Sunday, Sep 16, 2012 at 3:06:55 PM
The most articulate voice for the application of a... by Steve Fischer on Saturday, Sep 15, 2012 at 2:23:19 PM
I read Death of the Liberal Class. It's depressin... by Don Smith on Saturday, Sep 15, 2012 at 6:41:12 PM
http://www.opednews.com/populum/linkframe.php?link... by June Genis on Saturday, Sep 15, 2012 at 2:36:59 PM
Somehow my link got clobbered before I pasted.&nbs... by June Genis on Saturday, Sep 15, 2012 at 2:39:29 PM
While Emma Goldman (amazing a... by Dale Cavanaugh on Saturday, Sep 15, 2012 at 3:13:45 PM
(and Medicare and many other programs) is pooling ... by BFalcon on Saturday, Sep 15, 2012 at 9:23:03 PM
There's a good article about Occupy in the Sept 24... by Don Smith on Saturday, Sep 15, 2012 at 7:30:16 PM
I realize that a better title for this article mig... by Don Smith on Saturday, Sep 15, 2012 at 7:38:52 PM
--- Awesome to read your essay and the threads. I ... by Elizabeth Hanson on Saturday, Sep 15, 2012 at 9:40:10 PM
I used to think that progressive Dems and Occupier... by Don Smith on Saturday, Sep 15, 2012 at 9:54:34 PM
Don, did you see what I wrote above? The differenc... by Elizabeth Hanson on Saturday, Sep 15, 2012 at 10:04:42 PM
Got it. Thanks. You make good points. Many Occup... by Don Smith on Saturday, Sep 15, 2012 at 10:31:11 PM
Occupy anarchists don't want to destroy government... by Hooker Jay on Sunday, Sep 16, 2012 at 3:36:05 AM
Mr. Smith; Surely you jest. Was that tongue in che... by Paul Repstock on Saturday, Sep 15, 2012 at 10:19:32 PM
No, 100% serious. And I agree that Dems are compr... by Don Smith on Saturday, Sep 15, 2012 at 10:35:08 PM
I too found this in talking with SOME occupiers wh... by Mary Bell Lockhart on Saturday, Sep 15, 2012 at 11:59:52 PM
Reading all of these posts, I am impressed. The ma... by Lynne Kringler on Sunday, Sep 16, 2012 at 12:48:23 AM
Some of the grievances of Occupy can be addressed ... by Mary Bell Lockhart on Sunday, Sep 16, 2012 at 4:02:08 PM
The 'government' involves applying strict mechanic... by Ned Lud on Sunday, Sep 16, 2012 at 7:18:44 AM
  When anything is winding down because i... by Theresa Paulfranz on Sunday, Sep 16, 2012 at 9:06:09 AM
Have you considered the remotest possibility that ... by Mary Bell Lockhart on Sunday, Sep 16, 2012 at 4:12:34 PM
The claim that government didn't provide those thi... by Don Smith on Sunday, Sep 16, 2012 at 9:40:33 AM
 No one who has not found an inner self can s... by Theresa Paulfranz on Sunday, Sep 16, 2012 at 9:59:49 AM
  My guru Yogananda said ... The ultimate t... by Theresa Paulfranz on Sunday, Sep 16, 2012 at 10:25:05 AM
The "anarchist" movement has a proud history, and ... by Josh Mitteldorf on Sunday, Sep 16, 2012 at 1:40:19 PM
"Socialism with local control"  Does that mea... by Don Smith on Sunday, Sep 16, 2012 at 2:07:47 PM
  The patriarchy tells you that you have... by Theresa Paulfranz on Monday, Sep 17, 2012 at 10:22:47 AM
Once there was someone on oped that every time I a... by Theresa Paulfranz on Monday, Sep 17, 2012 at 10:41:50 AM
This should clear everything up:http://dwardmac.pi... by Bungmaster Bung on Wednesday, Sep 19, 2012 at 1:54:32 PM
This should clear things up a bit.http://dwardmac.... by Bungmaster Bung on Wednesday, Sep 19, 2012 at 1:55:22 PM
MUTUAL AID (Peter Kropotkin, 1902): http://www.c... by Joseph Mungai on Thursday, Sep 20, 2012 at 12:12:56 AM
Jonas Salk - quote, I look upon ourselves as partn... by Tony Orlando on Thursday, Sep 20, 2012 at 1:10:58 AM
In 1902 Kropotkin published the book Mutual Aid: A... by Tony Orlando on Thursday, Sep 20, 2012 at 1:30:34 AM
I would write a lengthy response to this article a... by Abbey No on Wednesday, Sep 26, 2012 at 5:25:12 AM