Sunday, March 29, 2009

An Anarchist Academy

What would an Anarchist Academy look like? How would it operate? What would the benefits be of having one?These are allquestions that I will explore in this blog. I see this as a necessary follow-up to my short critique on education. Anyone can critique, few can offer viable alternatives. I feel as though simply pointing out society's problems is far too easy for the Anarchist Theoretician--we need alternative methods as well!

An Anarchist Academy would consist of open campuses that one could come and go freely from. No restrictive bell schedules or bus-route planning are needed. A student would receive a schedule of all classes and workshops offered, and what times the professors were going to be around to teach them. No lengthy scheduling process or credit amount is needed to 'graduate,' because the simple fact that you want to cultivate yourself through learning is graduating from ignorance!! Teachers would set their own schedules, work their own hours, and offer a variety of classes, diversified in not having to adhere to a code of what must be taught (imposed by the government and college boards).

An Anarchist Academy would demonstrate Free Association in action, and to its fullest extent. You don't need to stay and you don't need to go, but if you do stay, you'll be a better, more cultivated and learned person. An Anarchist Academy would be filled with affinity groups and collectives that could offer various services to the vagabond student passing through in their demonstration of Direct Action. In this way, goods and services would be offered to everyone, creating other reasons and attractions for would-be students to get involved and learn.

This community created among and around the Academy would be very fruitful for the entire society. Students could fully realize their creative potential while making the world a better place. That's what Anarchy is about for me, and these Academies would promote Anarchist Ideals to their fullest extent, getting the message out there. Subjects you ask?

Philosophy (East, West and More)
Political Science
English and Creative Writing
Gardening and Home Agriculture
Culinary Arts
Communications (Radio, Television and Internet Media)
Self Defense
Personal Fitness


An Anarchist Academy seems to me an integral first step towards achieving a better society. As I said, the communities that would almost necessarily spring up around these students and their affinity would be ideal, as well as enabling the traveling student to take what he/she has learned elsewhere and implement it again, to spread the word. The possibilities and benefits of an Anarchist Academy are astounding, and hopefully one will turn out where squatting is the norm. I guarantee you that I would be the first to sign up.

Education and Knowledge are the keys to freedom!!


Friday, March 20, 2009

The State of Education

Education. I can literally and realistically think of nothing more valuable to survival and life itself. To truly live, you must be educated and you must understand your surroundings. Now, I will not say how you need to be educated, to what extent, or through whom, but I stand by my assertion. You can be educated on the street, through friends and people, through the classroom or anywhere really, though it would make sense to have a designated place specified for learning. Enter: The School.

I'm drifting here--let's talk about public schools. In short, they suck, and they are at the same time refreshingly progressive. In this day and age, children in the US are pretty much guaranteed some sort of education, to some sort of extent. It's not as good as it could be (few things are...) but it's ok, and better than many.

We get a basic grounding in school, we learn life skills, but often the wrong ones. Schools today are indoctrination camps for future CEO's and soldiers, future oppressors. Schools are the hunting grounds of military recruiters, especially the urban public schools, which are populated by the demographic that they covet most (poor black and Latino kids). Schools are where Authority is first imposed on the young mind, and if we are not strong enough, the 'student' falls into the tired and dangerous traditions of the Capitalist. For those who are strong, for the number of children who question authority and wonder, "Why?", the schools can be conquered, and individual free-thought can come. I mean, look at me!!! I wasn't hopelessly indoctrinated into Capitalism, and I went through 12 years of public education! What I'm saying is that even though the odds are against you, there are children who can come through the school system unscathed and still 'free' in the sense that they think outside of the box and for themselves.

Still, this is not the case for the majority, and that is a sad fact. Until we are graced with the presence of a new generation of educators in the public school system, we won't ever break the cycle of re-indoctrinating our children into an economic and political system of violence and domination (Capitalism). We need to get new people in there, we need to sweep out all the conservative educators who are closing the minds of the youth and making them statues, static and regressive rather than progressive. That, I do believe, is the main problem with education, especially in the US.

We could easily change the state of the urban schools if we fixed the economic problems inherent with Capitalism. Urban schools don't have to be hunting grounds for the JROTC and Marines. These schools could just as easily function if the economic side of things was fixed. That school in Philadelphia needs computers and books?--They get them. End of fucking story! By not providing quality resources AND educators for the destitute urban youth, WE ARE CONDEMNING THEM TO THE SAME PATHS THAT THEY HAVE SEEN IN ACTION ALL THEIR LIVES! CRIME, POVERTY, HOPELESSNESS!

It's easy for me to see this. It's also easy for me to provide an oversimplified solution, like any pundit or critic. Still, I think that this problem is very fixable, it's just not economical. It's not in the Congressman's best interest to fix the schools, to make them better than they are. "Hey!," they say, starting the guilt trip, "our schools are better than many. Shouldn't you at least have some respect for what we've tried to do and what we're trying to do?" I answer this statement with the FACT that wanting more, wanting progress is not greedy, and it should not make us feel guilty. The schools are ok, and yes, better than some. Why not make them better? Why not strive for more?

In closing, I stand by my statement that Education is the greatest and most valuable thing able to be given to anyone. You will benefit so greatly from an education, the correct type of education where the educators do their best to remain extremely impartial, but at the same time critical. The synthesis of these two principles will allow our educators to benefit the prospective students much more than they do now.

The first in a jerked series of essays on Education,


Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Industrial Medicine Conspiracy

If there is something that shouldn't be Industrialized, it's medicine. Sadly, this is not the case. The Drug Industry is just that, an industry, and it makes me sick (no pun intended). Profit Margins are looked at with more reverence and concern than people's health every day, and it is a crime, a travesty. This is particularly relevant to me now, while I sit here with my foot wrapped up due to a fucking EXCRUCIATING ankle roll I suffered at the concert that I mentioned in my last post. Medicine, especially private medicine, is a problem that is quite truly a detriment to you and me.

When you extend the Capitalist ideas of ruthless competition, self-centered greed and downright negligence in pursuit of the next paycheck into something like medicine, the results will not be good. Socialized Medicine (Especially in Canada as I will relate later) works very well in many countries because the people have come to realize that everyone is entitled to at least a baseline of medical care, regardless of their financial situation. Why haven't we done the same thing over here in the good old US? The same reason a lot of other things aren't socialized too--an adherence and devotion to Capitalism, and the ingraining of Capitalist ideas into our psyche by the media and authority figures from day one.

My father had nothing bad to say about Canada's Socialized Medicine system. In fact, he praised it for its efficiency, affordability, and the skill that the doctors had there. One of the biggest arguments against Socialized Medicine is that the lack of competition would decrease the skill that surgeons, specialists and doctors would have to be able to effectively treat people with. Canada, Australia and France all have working Socialized Medicinal Systems, and the life expectancy in those countries is well above ours in the US (check the wikipedia link for some great info, ).

On two occasions, while working up North, my father had to receive care from the Canadian system, once to have a tooth pulled, and again to have grinding dust removed from deep under the tissue of his eyelid. Obviously, the second time was of a more pressing nature and required more extensive care than the first. Still, on both occasions he was treated by doctors and nurses with a mastery of their craft, and he had absolutely nothing bad to say about his care. The cost? $10 for the tooth and $35 for his eye treatment. Yes this was back in 1978, but still, he had no insurance up there and he was not a citizen, so the price was very, very small.

The wait is another argument against Socialized Medicine. The Capitalists will have you believe that in a Socialized system, you'll be waiting in line forever to get treated, and that even people with life-threatening conditions are on an impossibly long wait-list. While this is true to an extent, one could not generalize and say that this is the case for every Socialized system, or indeed for everyone getting care from such a system. I gaurantee you that not everyone waits for treatment, and those who do are often seeking a specialist or surgeon with an obscure condition or problem. Also, bear in mind--How long do we have to wait for treatment over here in America?? It can amount to a lengthy wait as well.

Another plus to the Socialized side of medicine is the availability and affordability of RX drugs. Painkillers, insulin, blood-pressure controllers and anti-biotics, things that are frequently needed by the public, are all very, very cheap in Canada. When my Grandmother has to pay out the nose to get the medicine she needs to live (she's a diabetic among other numerous ailments), I just get frustrated. A lot of people in America actually buy their drugs from Canada, simply because of the reduced cost and quality.

In conclusion, moving to Socialized medicine is key, and not just because I want to see the Capitalist's hold on medicine broken, but moreso because it would better everyone in America who has needed health-care and couldn't afford it, for whatever reason. Hopefully Obama will take a few steps in moving us there. For how skeptical I am of him, some of the things he has been doing of late I really do approve of. His blowup on he CEO's and their bonuses was amusing, and it's nice to see a silver-tongued politician actually doing something, rather than spitballing and politicking away behind a desk.


Monday, March 9, 2009

An Anarchist's Plans for Summer

Summer's going to be fun this year. This is a little list of some things I want to do. They won't all happen, but I'm going to work very very hard to try to do as many of them as I can. Anyway, here's a list!!

  • See as many ska shows as possible!!-- I try to see as many punk/ska shows as I can. It is my music, it is my life. The frantic upbeat, the 2-tone rhythm that can always make me happy no matter what the world throws at me, I just love it. The bands I will be seeing for sure this are: 1. Less than Jake with the Flatliners (March 14, this Saturday!), 2. Big D and the Kids Table, 3. Streetlight Manifesto, 4. Reel Big Fish, 5. Leftover Crack/Choking Victim, 6. Mustard Plug. These guys are gonna make for a summer full of skankin' and fun!! Punk rock shows, and in particular ska shows, are the BEST!
  • I will also try to start a squat with this kid from Penn State University, who wants to develop something like C-Squat in New York here in PA. It will be an arduous task, though. We have to first clean the place up (the building is a hole right now, it needs roofing, wall repair and some kind of heating), then populate it for as long as possible without alerting police or neighbors. It'll be cool just to get some free housing up though, so definitely listen in for more on this. It's one of my more lofty goals, but we'll see.
  • I want my band to get moving, practiced up, and then do some local touring. We're pretty good, doing completely original stuff with a few covers sprinkled in for variety and practice purposes. That will be fun when we get it off the ground. I'll post a link when we get our shit together.
  • Of course I'm going to be blogging my heart out, as I have become so used to doing now. Finding blogging like a year or so ago was one of the best things that has ever happened to me. It provides a place for me to journal personal thoughts, as well as giving me a sort of forum to express alternative political ideas. Know this--no matter how far I travel this summer, I will continue to blog. I love it!
  • To wrap it up, I'm just going to bum around, hang out, meet new people, relax and wait for college to start.

So, yeah, that's it! If anybody knows any get-together's I don't know about, just drop me an address here (that includes punk concerts, squat-meets, rallies, etc.).
Also, if you're meandering into PA, well, I might have a place to crash and hangout if you want. Talk to me!!

To a happy summer, fast approaching,


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Just What is an Anarchist Anyway?

Anarchy is very hard to explain, because we have been conditioned by our Capitalist system to disbelieve that we could survive without a government. Even Anarchists find it difficult to explain all of their motives and wants. For decades Anarchists defined themselves by what they were not instead of what they were! I will do what I can to try to explain the main theories and principles that most Anarchists have in common. This blog is by no means the gospel of what Anarchy is, it is my interpretation. The beautiful thing about Anarchy is that my interpretation can be one-hundred percent correct!

Above all these main principles, remember these wants--Survival Necessities for Everyone (Food, Housing, Education, Clothing), and a peaceful environment, free from encroachments on our liberty, to grow into a people that we want to be.

Main Principles:

  1. Anti-Authoritarianism-- Anarchists are obvious anti-authoritarians. We reject and ignore anyone who would impose their will on us through force (violence) or coercion (the threat of violence). We uphold the belief that people are not inherently bad, and that we don't need authorities to tell us how to live. Instead, our lifestyle is a decision made individually, all paths differing and unique. As Bakunin would have us remember, we don't reject all authority. On the subject of shoes, we gain the insight of the boot-maker, who obviously has a mastery over his trade. The thing is, we do this of our own volition. No one can force us to defer to authority. Think about it--We were born free, without any constraining laws on us. We grew into these laws, they were not always there. The State imposes these laws on us, they are not tangible outside of it. I believe that no one is more able to understand my wants, needs and passions than myself.
  2. Anti-Racist, Anti-Sexist, Anti-Homophobic--anarchy has always been about equality. No one, regardless of their race, creed (or lack of creed), "class," gender or orientation, we are all humans, and we are all capable of achieving amazing things. Stereo-typing is criminal, bias and bigotry is sickening and infantile. Anarchists are fiercely opposed to bias, racism, etc. Militant Anarchist groups have been and are being formed regularly to combat racists and fascists wherever they rear their heads. Check out the anti-Racist-Action website, and more.
  3. Solidarity and Self-Reliance--I literally just did a blog about this, so check it out, it should be relatively close to this one and it's way more in depth. These topics are important to making Anarchal society work. Anarchists are connected to their friends and allies very very tightly, and the ideas of solidarity and self-reliance keep us tight and unified, even in our individuality.
  4. Autonomy--Anarchy stresses Autonomy, or, the ability to operate working communities, with infrastructure, education, and all the other trappings of what we say we want, WITHOUT government help. Autonomy is hard to pin down, because it means this, as well as Autonomy in you yourself. The DIY (Do It Yourself!) ethic is stressed here. Over-specialization in the work-force is seen as claustrophobic and unnecessary. Learn how to do some of the stuff you see done all the time yourself! Be Autonomous, operate outside of the system. Grow some of your own food in a garden, learn some basic mechanics for your car or bike, cut your own hair! Basically, Autonomy can mean a lot of things, but it mostly means not being helpless, and being able to achieve your goals through a variety of means, none of them relying on authority.
  5. Direct Action--This is one of the keystones of Anarchism. Direct Action isn't waving picket signs, petitioning the governor, or whining to the Senate about injustices. Direct Action means getting out there and doing what needs to be done, regardless of whether it is deemed completely "legal" or not. For example, it's illegal to serve food on private property (and on most "public" property because of legal mumbo-jumbo). But, free food collectives have been doing this all the time, doling out tons of chili, stew, vegan friendly food and meals to the homeless and anyone else that wants to fill their stomachs without paying. Direct Action can mean numerous things, from this to flipping police cars at a rally. Direct Action is how anarchists get things done.
  6. Mutual Aid-- I could go on for pages and pages on any of these topics, but this one is particularly important. Mutual Aid is professing the idea that people should help other people, regardless of who they are or for what reason. If a neighbor needs a new roof, we go help, just because it needs done, not for payment or reparations. This can be applied to an infinite number of situations. We practice Mutual Aid when we do thing for principle, not profit. It is also very very reassuring to know that you are a member of a community where you can ask for help and get it. Mutual Aid is a very easy concept--help those who need help, and ask for help when you need it. No one can be completely autonomous, and to assume so would be absurd.

These principles should scratch the surface on what Anarchists stand for, at least a little bit. It is most important to remember that Anarchy is a deep and passionate love and respect for yourself, others, and freedom in general. Anarchy is built on love. It might sound corny, but it's true. We love liberty, our fellow humans, and ourselves.

Other defining principles are Decentralization, Anti-Wage Labor, Free Expression, Squatting (Re-Appropriation of living space for those who need it), Feminism, Stateless Socialism, Egalitarianism, Veganism, and more. for further reading refer to:

Mikhail Bakunin
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon
Lucy Parsons
Peter Kropotkin
Emma Goldman

Wikipedia searches should get you started. I hope that I have at least cleared up some of the fog surrounding what Anarchists stand for. If you still don't understand, it's ok, because we are talking about very abstract topics. Most Anarchists don't even have a full, to-the-letter definition of what Anarchy means, because it means something different to everyone!

Peace and Love,


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Self-Reliance and Solidarity

What does it take for one person to stand in defiance to swarming enemies? What does it take for a woman to realize just how beautiful and powerful she really is in a male-centric world? What does it take for the Wal-Mart cashier to break off a piece of metal in the stock-door and then glue it shut? It takes courage, it takes inner-strength and a resolve in your cause. It takes Self-Reliance and Solidarity with a community of others who are at the very least willing to listen to you and talk with you about your views and opinions.

Self-Reliance is necessary for everyone. In my opinion, it is a very sad world we live in today, where everyone is willing to play the victim, and no one is willing to play the motivator, the catalyst, the match against the powder. Most people would sooner just let things continue happening how they are now, without regard or even empathy for the people oppressed by others. Apathy is a disease. We cannot just "not care either way" about the fate of those around us. As an Anarchist, and really, simply as a human being, I have what some might consider an extremely developed sense of empathy and care. I refuse this is a single case, too. I think that to some extent, all humans have a sense of empathy. Of course some people will be more humane than others, but still, I refuse to believe that people are inherently bad or evil.

This sense of empathy and caring is all well and good, but what good is it if I fail to use it? This system I live under would ostracize me for my empathy towards the modern proletariat, the homeless, the addicts, the poor and the disadvantaged. I would be labeled a (gasp!) 'Communist' or 'Socialist' for wanting people to share in their material goods. These two words have been demonized by Capitalists who want to censor out viewpoints that oppose the means by which they amass their fortunes. What good is being an Anarchist if you are too intimidated by our system to act how you feel? And how can you get out from under this massive rock?

The first way is through Self-Reliance. Like I said, I think we could all use a good dose right now. Americans in particular play the blame-game far too much. Yeah, ok, it probably was his fault or her fault for this or that petty thing, but these trivial things are just that--trivial. Self-Reliance enables you to have the courage, the pure will to do that most people sleepwalking through life lack. Self-Reliance to me means not being afraid of the people we are supposed to fear--cops, judges, teachers, parents, soldiers, and the government. Self-Reliance means a lot to me, and I think it is inextricably linked with Anarchists and what we do. We face down odds that at times seem like madness (examine figure one above....), but we do it for ourselves, for causes rectified with ourselves through theory, examination and practice. We do not blindly follow in our self-reliance, it is not a cult of single-file lines. Instead we constantly and fearlessly challenge what we think we know, like the Greeks of old who took Socrates to heart and questioned everything. Through our constant Socratic questioning of our principles, Anarchical theory has come to be recognized as the most wholesome, and yes that's including Communism and Capitalism. Self-Reliance lets us exceed and build, without fear of change, but with faith in our human ability to create and prosper.

Solidarity is another attribute that lets Anarchists laugh in the face of imposing authority. To me, Solidarity simply means knowing, knowing, that your friends and allies will have your back in whatever trouble you get yourself into. You won't lose your friends, you won't be seperated from your brothers and sisters. Solidarity is a union of people so devoted to each other that an infringement on the freedom of one is a blow that wounds all. How beautiful the world would be if we could establish global solidarity, a Solidarity not devoted to a political ideology but instead to humans, and to life... It is an Anarchist's goal, one among many. Solidarity is finding affinity and friendship with others, it is treasuring those personal relationships that you find with other people. Solidarity is beautiful.

Solidarity and Self-Reliance is something I want everyone to have.

Peace and Love,