To everyone who thinks anarchists only want to be able to get away with illegal activities, fuck you
I have friends who are anarchists. I also have friends who are everywhere else on the political spectrum. There’s not a single political view I can think of that is represented by someone I immediately know and openly communicate with on a first name basis. And the anarchists are by far the nicest group I know.
Anarchism is about having the freedom to do whatever you want to make you happy. That means not everyone will agree with it, but dammit, it’s your life, and if it makes you happy, you can do it. The lines get blurred when other people’s happiness is on the line. But for most things that are illegal, it should be a personal freedom. Want to smoke? Feel free. Want to drink? Feel free. Want to shoot up heroin? Feel free. That’s your choice, not anyone else’s. And as long as it only affects you, or affects others in ways they wish to be, then you can do it. And it doesn’t matter if I don’t agree with it. From my experience, anarchists will help you do whatever it is that makes you happy, regardless of their own thoughts on the subject. They may talk to you about it, but they won’t stop you.
I have a friend who has a strained relationship with his father. It was as far away from nurturing as you could get without being abusive. And his mother rarely does anything to support him. He was treated pretty much as slave labor until the day he turned 18. That being said, he did whatever he could to get out of that house and distract himself from the immediate problems in front of him. And naturally, like any teenager, he ranted on Facebook. You could point out which political ideals people held by their comments. Instead of helping, they’d only say he needed to work through his problems, and that it could be worse. Nothing about the specific situations, only that saying the most generic thing would make them feel like they fulfilled their quota of helping people that week. As if they could then sleep at night knowing they helped someone, and be blissfully ignorant of how little it helped, and even hurt in some circumstances. Then enter the anarchists. We gave him what we could. Numerous of my anarchist friends let him sleep on either their floor, couch, or even in their bed. We also helped feed him every now and then. While he wanted to remain independent, sometimes it was necessary to spot him a few bucks or throw him a bone. We gave him somewhere safe. We gave him somewhere his problems couldn’t reach him. And we let him do what he wanted. Different people have different mechanisms of coping. His was turning to drugs. Not to the point that it dominated his life, or even that he was working only to pay for them, but that it helped take the edge off. I think there are much better alternatives to turn to. Did I stop him? No. Every now and then I’d even watch over him to make sure he was safe while doing so. Every now and then I would mention perhaps finding a different coping mechanism, but didn’t force my beliefs on him. I talked to him rationally about his habits, and different methods he could turn to. When he didn’t take my advice, I still helped him. I still watched out for him, and still gave him a place to sleep every now and then.
The people who said problems should be talked about and worked through weren’t completely wrong. Problems can sometimes be fixed by talking. And yes, his life could be much worse. But he doesn’t want to hear that. When we knew something was wrong, we’d talk about the specific problems, suggesting ways to improve the situation. Every now and then, we’d even help him with some of the things his father tasked him. Many of my friends helped with yard work, and just other things he needed help with. We would talk to him, and we did help in any way we could, but we made an effort to see the problem through, and make sure when we left, he was in a better situation.
That doesn’t apply to only friends. Someone down the street from me was physically beat by his grandfather last week. I don’t talk to him much, but I told him if he ever needed anything, he was free to call or even drop by my house at any hour of the day. That I’d help give him rides places, help with food, or even give him a place to sleep. So far, he hasn’t needed help. He’s being strong and pushing through it. But the offer will stand for as long as he needs it.
That’s an offer that will stand to anyone I meet. If I see someone who needs help, I will help in whatever way I can.
I have another friend who goes to school in New York. He started going to Occupy Wall Street on a regular basis. The next part of this story may not be entirely accurate, but from stories I’ve heard, this seems to be what happened. The police came and were arresting someone even though they weren’t disturbing the peace. He stood up for that person. He ended up being arrested. He may only have stood up for that person because they had similar political ideals. But I’d like to believe he’d do that for anyone. I certainly would.
People have different shit they have to put up with in life. And as an anarchist, I make it a habit to try and help everyone get where ever they want to be in life. If that’s just getting through each day, or some long-term goal, I will help whenever possible. Not everyone has a life that provides the opportunities to get them where they want to be. This may be the land of opportunity, but it’s greatly segregated. And it’s our duty to spread opportunity to everyone. And that’s every opportunity. If they want to go to Harvard, raise a family of 10, or even deal drugs, they should have every opportunity to do that.
So to everyone who thinks anarchists only want to do drugs, steal, rape, and murder: fuck you. To everyone who thinks anarchists are people who aren’t content with living by rules: fuck you. To everyone who thinks anarchists are simply immature, rebellious teenagers: fuck you. To everyone who wants to oppress others’ rights simply because it doesn’t agree with their own views: fuck you.
I can say I’ve made an immediate impact on those around me. I’ve helped people with goals that directly contrasted my own because dammit, it’s their right to do that. I’ve sacrificed nights, my bed, my money, and even risked being arrested for the sake of others who had view points I may not have agreed with, but because I believed they had every right to pursue those goals.
Can you say you’ve done that?