Archive for June, 2008

Anarchism and Elections

June 17, 2008

Two very timely topics, presented by anarchist writer and organizer Cindy Milstein at the 2008 NYC Anarchist bookfair (reposted here on my very untimely blog). Not very visual presentation, but the audio is great. Listen now before the historical moment passes and this talk becomes dated.

Nearly as early as Hillary or Obama, anarchists were hot on the campaign trail. Plans to resist the 2008 U.S. presidential elections and especially the conventions were afoot in 2006. The German Jewish anarchist Gustav Landauer once observed in relation to “anarchist assasination politics” that they “proceed from the intentions of a small group…following the example of the big political parties..What they are trying to say is: “We are also political.”…[Yet] these anarchists are not anarchic enough.” His comments apply to electoralism too: being political is the right impulse, but the tactics and indeed the focus are wrong. Certainly, in the United States, presidential elections represent rare instances when many people “participate.” But why the anarchist fascination with something that’s far from anything we’d recognize as politics? And why, if and when we choose to engage, do anarchists frequently use strategies that mirror statist and/or liberal forms, or are simply unimaginative? Perhaps, in zeroing in on presidential elections, we aren’t anarchic enough either. Or conversely, perhaps this electoral moment does indeed offer us a way to spotlight the best of anarchism as a replacement for statecraft.

Cindy is a co-organizer of the Renewing the Anarchist Tradition confrence, a board member of the institute for Anarchist Studies, and a collective member of both Free Society and Black Sheep Books in Monpelier, Vermont. She also taught at the “anarchist summer school” called the Institute for Social Ecology. Her essays appear in several anthologies, including “realizing the Impossible: Art Against Authority” and “Globalize Liberation,” and she does community organizing at home and public speaking/popular education anywhere else. This was filmed by David Buccola on April 13 at the Anarchist Bookfair in New York City.