(Graeber 2011) Occupy Wall Street’s anarchist roots


Graeber, David. Occupy Wall Street’s anarchist roots. Al Jazeera. 2011 Nov 30. Available from: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2011/11/2011112872835904508.html. Accessed 2011 Nov 30. Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/63aiysYLM.

Graeber expounds the basic principles of anarchist philosophy, and shows how they are manifested in the Occupy Wall Street movement. (He also corrects some misconceptions about anarchism, especially the idea that it is closely associated with the use of violent tactics.) The central idea of anarchism is that it is possible for human beings to create stable modes of social interaction that do not need to be enforced by the constant threat of violence, as manifested in armies, prisons, and police forces. Anarchists also refuse to accept the legitimacy of current political institutions, because they do require enforcement by threat of violence. And anarchists embrace “prefigurative politics”, insisting that even interim social interaction designed to challenge the existing system must also be free from enforcement by threat of violence. (This insistence is a major point of difference between anarchism and Marxism, which aims at seizing the power of the state for its own ends, and has often accepted authoritarian party discipline.) Graeber asserts that deep dissatisfaction with the performance of the existing system is leading Americans to be receptive to the anarchist message:

Radical critics usually assume the “corporate media”, as they call it, mainly exists to convince the public that existing institutions are healthy, legitimate and just. It is becoming increasingly apparent that they do not really see this is possible; rather, their role is simply to convince members of an increasingly angry public that no one else has come to the same conclusions they have. The result is an ideology that no one really believes, but most people at least suspect that everybody else does.

 

 

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