The Anarchists in Vancouver are not happy about the Winter Olympics being held there and recently marched through town smashing windows, covering their faces, and yelling about everything from capitalism to the seal hunt to indigenous land. Some of their beefs are valid. The Olympics is a big waste of taxpayers” money and in a city where one junkie dies every day, the local government could afford to be focusing on more serious problems. However, when reading the “manifestos” of today’s anarchists, one thing becomes abundantly clear, they hate capitalism more than they hate government.
I grew up going to anarchist conventions and don”t regret the various A’s I have tattooed up and down my arms in the slightest (in fact, I just got two more). We looked exactly like the 2010 Olympic protestors when we did things like protest outside the Chinese Embassy for China’s human rights violations in 1988. But back then, only a handful of anarchists would cover their faces. It drove us nuts because we were out there screaming about government ineptness and guys are acting like our adversary knows what he’s doing. “You realize your assumption that they are recording your face and putting you in some kind of massive database implies they know what they”re doing, right?” we”d ask them. This seemingly small detail is actually indicative of a much bigger split in the anarchist community: government aptitude.
Anarchists with covered faces smashing the windows of retail stores are in fact, communists. Sure, the wage discrepancy between CEOs and factory workers is disgusting. I also hate the way big business ships in illegals and lowers the minimum wage to zero but if anyone has dealt with government at any level in their adult life they”d realize big business is the lesser of two evils by a long shot.
Today’s anarchists want money out of entrepreneur’s hands and into government hands where it can rot. They advocate unions like it was the 1930s and guys with tweed caps needed to get compensation for black lung. Nice sentiment but today’s teacher’s union is the most powerful political lobby in the world and has more cronies on both the Democratic and the Republican side than any other group in Washington. These unions are essentially mobsters who shake down anyone who dares pay electricians less than $50 an hour plus time-and-a-half for overtime plus double time-and-a-half for holidays. That’s more than architects and doctors make when they start out. Is $700 a day the fair wage the anti-capitalists want for the workingman? It’s more money than I ever made and I”m rich.
I often visit the anarchist squat Dial House where the founders of anarcho punk, Crass set up shop in the early 70s and are still there today. I had a seven-hour argument with the patriarch of the commune, Penny Rimbaud because I had the gall to point out it was ridiculous Mugabe was still alive and said if I was a Zimbabwean, he would have been blown up long ago. The Taliban did a seamless job of assassinating Massoud and all it took was a trick camera so why can”t the MDC do something similar? Like all anarchists, Rimbaud was stunned I didn”t know this wasn”t all part of the big government plan. “Zimbabwe is needed to cart diamonds out of South Africa,” he explained. “America needs him there the same way they need Iraq to get oil out.”
I don’t get it. If government is such a powerful monster, why do anarchists want to give it The Gap’s profits? They can’t seem to decide if the government is this elaborate network James Bond reports to or a quaint group of intellectuals who want to empower the poor. The truth is. It’s neither. They are not all-knowing they are know nothings. They are not a “secret society” (as Crass once said) they can”t even keep an infidelity secret. Since the president got caught using a cigar as a dildo, we”ve learned: John Edwards was screwing his biographer, governor Mark Sanford was boning his Argentinean mistress, senator Larry Craig was fishing for blowjobs in the bathroom, and Spitzer was fucking prostitutes with his socks on. Politics is Hollywood for ugly people and the White House is just a big DMV with Greek columns out front.
Danny Schechter’s new book Plunder! Investigating Our Economic Calamity and the Subprime Scandal, makes it crystal clear: the government is everything bad you can say about big business but without the “employing people and manufacturing stuff” part. This sentiment is what attracted me to the anarchist movement in the first place”not Marx’s intellectual claptrap about his “dialectic.”
This is why, as an adult, I”m drawn to libertarians like John Stossel. Sure there’s flaws like a love of open borders which I see as a chance for big business to go on an exploitation bender (anarchists also want open borders which I never quite got), but Stossel’s show spends 90 percent of its time pointing out government incompetence and exposing the way they oppress the everyman. During each episode he holds up a tiny book that’s about half the size of the communist manifesto and explains this is the bill of rights and the constitution combined. Then he shows us the endless piles of documentation the government uses for even the most insignificant rule. “This is all we need,” he says holding up the small book. That’s the closest I”ve seen to a plausible anarchist goal in America”ever.
Then Stossel gets specific. We learn about swimming pools that have diving boards revoked because of impending danger and then cause more accidents because kids no longer know where the deep end is. We hear local governments in Texas are strangling restaurants with insanity like “No Outside Dancing” laws (a bizarre rule New York’s previous mayor used to close down clubs he didn”t like). Stossel is very vocal about big money firms like Goldman Sachs and how much they”ve benefited from Obama’s new big government plans. From daycare workers being muscled into joining unions to California being bankrupted by bureaucrats, John Stossel has done more to mobilize hatred for government than any punk kid in black sweatshirt could ever hope to.
If the fashionable punks in Vancouver really cared about personal freedom and really wanted to abolish as much of the government as possible, they would swallow their prejudice, tune into Fox, get over his moustache, and take notes from the most articulate and driven anarchist in America today. In short, it’s time for crusty punks to Get Stosselized!
(I”m trademarking that so don”t even think about stealing it.)