Hi. Welcome to the site. Please check out the About Us, and if you have a question about crime and/or punishment, perhaps look at some previous questions along those lines first.
Welcome to Anarchy101 Q&A, where you can ask questions and receive answers about anarchism, from anarchists.

Does reading comics exempt me from being an anarchist

+1 vote
My anarchist friend was telling me that I cannot be an anarchist because I like to read Batman and Judge Dredd comic books. He said Batman is bourgeoisie that beats up proletarians and that Superman just cares about enforcing the American way but I told him Superman was originally created as a criticism of wealthy slum lords like Superman's nemesis Lex Luthor is a filthy rich slum lord. He said since Judge Dredd is a cop and I enjoy reading Judge Dredd comics then I'm a cop supporter and anarchists hate cops and cop supporters. Judge Dredd is a street judge and a clone that was programmed to be ruthless and to become a street judge. I'm not a cop supporter. I like to read comic books. So what? Does anarchism really have strict rules over who can be an anarchist?
asked Apr 26 by Comic book fan
anyone can call themselves an anarchist....and anyone else can disagree.

i try to not concern myself much with other people applying (or not applying) a label to me.
Ur friend doesn't sound very fun.  anarchy does not have rules, at least as far as I'm concerned.  I enjoy fiction too, and whilst sometimes my beliefs do impact my enjoyment, I often just turn a critical eye to what narrative the media might be pushing, what the message is, and what I think of that.
also i think 'exclude' would be a better word than 'exempt', but im just a nitpicker
there are definitely some who do think they hold a monopoly on defining what is and isn't "anarchist". they are typically dogmatic ideologues. fuck em.

you can poke around this site to see what others have said about this. use the search box at the top of the page, and search for things like "define anarchism".
"He said since Judge Dredd is a cop and I enjoy reading Judge Dredd comics then I'm a cop supporter "

your friend is a moron. sorry, i had to say it.

2 Answers

+3 votes

not at all, a lot of people call themselves anarchists and do a whole lot of nothing, or have some views many others would consider contradictory to that self identification. lots of other people don't self Identify as @s but mount a whole lot of direct action type resistance to the state and capital.

that being said, this is from the 1954 comic book code, its always good to be aware of and critical of what you take in.

  • Crimes shall never be presented in such a way as to create sympathy for the criminal, to promote distrust of the forces of law and justice, or to inspire others with a desire to imitate criminals.
  • If crime is depicted it shall be as a sordid and unpleasant activity.
  • Policemen, judges, government officials, and respected institutions shall never be presented in such a way as to create disrespect for established authority.
  • Criminals shall not be presented so as to be rendered glamorous or to occupy a position which creates a desire for emulation.
  • In every instance good shall triumph over evil and the criminal punished for his misdeeds.
answered Apr 26 by DonnieDarko (870 points)
Wow, thanks for that Comics Code Authority info, unbelievable. Disgusting, really. But has it really been respected? Thinking about all the comics I've read I think there is a subtle subversive message being transmitted by the creatives, passing under the radar of the Code. The very idea of the super-powered vigilante primarily concerned with preventing supervillains from achieving world domination... goes fine with anarchy.

I am a huge comic book fan. Here in France it gets the respect it deserves as an art.
i'm guessing alan moore (probably among many others) didn't have much respect for it. though whoever made V for vendetta into that hollywood crap movie might have tried to retro-fit.
Here's one of my favourite passages: Adam Warlock is asked "will you lead us in revolt?"
He answers: "No! Please... hear me out! In the past, I have worn the mantle of leadership and have been forced to suffer the weight of others' leadership! I know power and the path on which it leads one! It is an old track! many have gone down it and always with the same result!....(after a story about a power hungry caveman)... That was the way it began and how THEY say it always will be! the strong must always lead and exploit the weak! I do not believe this! I seek an alternative, I rule no one, so no one rules me!"

The aliens mock him and say he is afraid and just masking it with "flowery words." They go have their revolt, get into trouble and Warlock has to come save their butts. They ask why he aided them after they mocked him. He says because they were in need, period. They ask why he would not lead them before, to which he replies:

"For the same reason I'll not lead you now! Each of you is a leader within himself. Fools allow others to rule them. Wise men rule themselves."

Written by the legendary Jim Starlin, Marvel Comics Strange Tales 179, 1975. Approved by the Comics Code Authority.
bear in mind this is the 1954 version. I haven't looked at others intensely, but they still basically require them to be apple pie American.

well it wasn't "enforced" as it wasn't a government thing. the CCA formed as a private group to avoid government regulation. if a comic passed inspection they would get a seal of approval. DC marvel and the other big companies all followed the code because if you didn't have the seal, many comic stores wouldn't carry it because parents wouldn't allow their kids to buy it. dc stopped in 2001 I think. but ya there were people not following it.

idk, I don't see a subversive message in the supervillain thing, just because they never do anything about the supervillains that are already in power. I feel like the "heroes" motives are to strike down one supervillain to retain the hegemony of another.

"I feel like the "heroes" motives are to strike down one supervillain to retain the hegemony of another."

Good point. I can't imagine the moral dilemmas those heroes must face sometimes. The anarchist heroes I mean.

+1 vote

Yes.

(kidding)

Whoever told you that sounds like they must have super powers of anarchist-identification. Maybe they are a comic book character? Like in the Archie & Jughead lineage.

I am not super familiar with the particulars of any of those comics, but so what if you read them? I read lots of books that are not anarchist books, and whose conclusions or assumptions I disagree with or am critical of, but I still enjoy them. I watch TV shows and movies that are definitely. not. anarchist. Guess what? I enjoy them and it doesn't affect my ability to be an anarchist one bit.

Your self-righteous friend seems to think we should live in an anarchist world where we only do anarchist things with anarchists. Or something similar. They are ignoring the fact that we live in a world that is not only populated by anarchists, and that we can't be pure. One can watch Dirty Harry and still hate cops.

answered Apr 27 by ingrate (21,720 points)
fuck purity! wash me in dirt!

ok - since everyone else is hitting the "it's all cool dude" button, i'll come in and be a hardass. lol.

it's fine to say that we all have fun in ways that are not in synch with anarchist principles (in one way or another, and that's a topic worth exploring itself of course), but it's also totally appropriate to question how that impacts our thinking and behavior, and impacts us in ways that we don't recognize and/or wouldn't like if we did recognize them. i've been known to watch way too many detective shows while i'm doing other things, and i think my imagination and level of impatience has been negatively impacted by the inherent assumption that detectives always win, and that things are wrapped up in an hour (naming only the most obvious two -- who knows what else is more insidious?)... OBVIOUSLY it's easy to go overboard and be controlling of other people's behavior, which is not what i'm talking about. but being engaged in what we ingest is already common practice here (hence funky@ and ba@ being outside a lot, etc)... so we can talk about this more interestingly than just "do what you feel..."

just sayin!

i'm sure most of us do a lot more than just have fun, in ways that are not in sync with our (anarchist) principles. hard to avoid, in this fucking world. it sucks that so often, for so many, principles and priorities are not well aligned. that has been a focus for me for a couple decades now - trying to get mine to align better. i've been mostly pretty lucky; as my principles (if i can use that word rather vaguely) have clarified for me over time, my priorities seemed to adjust pretty easily. 

here's one i am almost ashamed to admit: i recently got a little bit back into professional basketball. i have always been a bball nut, having grown up playing on the streets and playgrounds of nyc, and watching the pros every chance i got. when i left urban life, i left that behind, without even thinking about it. then, not too long ago i was at a bar that had a game on the tv - i was totally sucked in. i hate the "professional" and economic aspects of the game, as well as the size of the egos (true of any celebrity), but i found that i still absolutely love watching the game.

the fun part of the question is different because it's nominally (or more?) about choice, unlike work or religion or state.

it reminds me of conversations i used to have (lol, waay back in the day) about s/m, where i was arguing that sexuality isn't/shouldn't be part of a political equation. but now it feels like s/m is just one more way for people to be marketed to. it seems like we get a polarity (again). either we are over-controlling/controlled, or our desires get sold to us (obv both). is there a way to break out of that duality?
good points, dot.

and funky, i also like to watch sports, mostly tennis these days, and some basketball as well. i enjoy the athleticism, the creativity, the intensity, the play of sports....but also detest all the celebrity/money/commercial aspects of just about everything on television...

now to dot's point in relation to this....as i watch the games, i tend to mock and criticize any commercials i have the misfortune of seeing as i watch....i usually record and fast-forward through those commercials....i question the money aspects when i hear reference to it, and so on. i also remind myself that i like watching the sport and players, but not everything that surrounds it. and i use the watching (of tennis, mostly) as inspiration to get out and play...or to improve my physical fitness, etc. side note: this makes for not many people wanting to watch sports on tv with me. :)

so i think i can expose myself to various forms of "entertainment" and still consciously reject all the hierarchical/monetary/authoritative aspects of them....but i agree with dot that ideas can seep into my consciousness without much awareness at times....so i keep up with the mocking.....and try to get outside and away from screens as much as i can.
indeed, good points.

i said i was almost "ashamed" to admit that i like watching basketball. why?

i think one part of it is related to why the original question was asked. i have these deep, intense desires for a very different world; yet i continue to get joy from some aspects of the very world i seek to destroy. i'm not saying that my joy (in those areas) requires this shithole; that i can't know. but they ARE part and parcel of the world around me, and so my opposition to that world in general makes it somewhat conflictual to get joy from it - sometimes, anyway. why is that? i frequently point out to people how, for example, it is entirely possible to like and agree with something that trump or chomsky says/does, without being blindly supportive of that person and anything/everything else they say/do. as i've said elsewhere, "take what you like and leave the rest". but there are apparently scenarios where i still have a hard time doing that.

maybe it is a matter of priorities: sometimes my joy takes priority over other considerations; other times it doesn't. and that is ok by me. i guess my issue is with the times when i struggle (consciously or not) making that choice.
dot - you are definitely right. when I watch too much Law & Order, it definitely affects my perspective. It doesn't make me a not-anarchist, but if impacts the way I view and move through the world. I think that is true of any contact with the outside world though, innit? I woke up today to NPR, and was left feeling like the world was coming apart at the seams in a slow but definite way. I listen to Anarchy Radio and.. never mind, I am just bored. We can't help but be influenced by the not anarchist world which we inhabit. I do appreciate you pointing out that some media might be decidedly not anarchist, but prescriptive lines seem, troubling The Wire? Blue Bloods? Turner and Hooch? The Turner Diaries?)
FA - I appreciate you liking basketball. it is the one sport I really don't understand, and it is mesmerizing to me.
i haven't had tv for almost 2 decades (lucky me, i know), but about 5 years ago, i started watching a few shows on disk that were recommended to me. the wire was one of them, and i found it periodically very interesting. i liked the fact that the cops weren't always the good guys... and i fell absolutely in love with omar. :-)  my desire to be bisexual was rekindled with that motherfucker.

2 shows i found particularly interesting from my own anarchistic perspective were house (md), and the outsiders (i think that is what it was called). anyone else familiar with those shows?
dude, everyone fell in love with omar. modern day super hero. yea, the wire was some good shit, my favorite season was little amsterdam... soo dam smart. but let us not start talking about tv shows... she says, resolutely...

yeah, but did everyone fantasize about a threesome with him and jimi hendrix?

(well, neither did i, exactly, but i wanted to!)

i can't say jimi hendrix ever came up for me, no ;)

as for basketball, i am not a sports fan in any way, but then there are things like this, and one doesn't need to be a fan to be charmed...

https://i.imgur.com/CNAJmgL.gifv
that shot was like what anarchists think the next riot will achieve. Sometimes it happens, but mostly...

not Hendrix but I am a fan, I couldn't help but to notice kurt cobain is quite handsome.

MMA is my fav sport

"it seems like we get a polarity (again). either we are over-controlling/controlled, or our desires get sold to us (obv both). is there a way to break out of that duality?"

only way I can think of is find similar ways to gain the same satisfaction, be it entertainment, sex toys, or a space to interact with a large number of people, that doesn't involve buying a product. so I guess DIY, stealing, and salvaging, bonus points if you come up with something so original it doesn't require anything that necessitates industrial capitalism.

my favorite things to do for fun are biking longboarding, hiking, playing with my dog, reading forums, studying Spanish. you can actually diy a bike or a longboard if it really bothers you that they necessitate industrialism.

common denominators are that these are a one time buy in or completely free. I suppose this amounts to minimizing participation. a big part of my anti civ feelings are that while it is very comfortable to have showers and tv and such, and so interesting to have such a huge variety of music, if I never knew these things wouldn't I simply find other ways that were available to me to find the same satisfaction?

they say we have a higher standard of living but this is based almost entirely on materialistic criteria, if you judge a persons quality of life on happiness, amount of stress/fear/worry, amount of time spent on obligations(work) vs. what they would like, or even a marriage of these things ideally, then I think a lot of the modern world is entirely unnecessary.

"that shot was like what anarchists think the next riot will achieve."

LOL!!!!  literally, out loud! that should be a meme.
ingrate - two things (yeesh, both huge).

one - the outside world = non anarchist/de-anarchizing (why search for the known word, when you can just make your own!)... i feel that all the time, but i also think it's ridiculous, and the best thing about the crimethinc tendency to reclaim the Real World as anarchist was to challenge that perspective, which i think makes me more insular and impatient, etc.

two - again, the fun part is different from the "but everything is like this" because it's what we (again, arguably) have the most say over, the most choice about, which i think gives it a different kind of access to our/my soft underbelly. when i think about detective shows as being a kind of propaganda that i choose to beam at myself while i'm consciously paying more attention to other things... it makes it hard to watch them anymore, for one thing. which is easily done in that instance, but other enjoyment activities are not so easy to let go (i'm reminded of many in my life who've had one coping skill, like exercise, and when they are injured, they lose their shit, for example).

also ingrate (ha) I do appreciate you pointing out that some media might be decidedly not anarchist, but prescriptive lines seem, troubling

part of the reason that prescriptions would be counter-indicated (as well as not anarchist! lol) is that people get different things out of different things. i watch a show that has a strong female lead (fucking netflix terminology) and perhaps for me that offsets the fact that she works with a cop to figure out who did things. or i watch a show on cops and try to use the information it provides about cop protocol to prepare for if/when i get arrested. as i said explicitly before, this is not about setting rules for others, this is about being aware of and wary of the balancing act we're doing all the time, especially when we're (arguably) most vulnerable--ie taking it easy.

i mean, trying to "be" anything to me is a joke, i very strongly identify with egoism because I haven't gotten anything good out of labeling myself or having anyone else label me. To me "being an anarchist" is more about being against the coercive life, and pondering coercion and force more deeply than an-caps tend to, but whether anarcho-capitalists are "real anarchists" or not is a level of abstraction that isn't worth dealing with. Lifestyle anarchism is interesting but to me that should be about using a deeper understanding of the modern socio-political system to live a better life and avoid getting trapped in shitty social situations. Hack your bosses.

If any political or anti-political label is going to interfere with anything that I want to do in life, then I'm gonna throw it in the trash right away.
i like your comment, nihilist, especially the last sentence.

i would even go so far as to say any label applied to me - other than my name/nickname, or maybe "dickhead" - interferes with my desire to be without labels.
...