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+7 votes
The feel I've gotten of anarchists as a community is surprisingly cold, as if I put up ideas and wished to communicate with others i'd get nothing but sub zero feedback. I want to exchange ideas, work on concepts and find a place where I don't feel scared to tell anyone I'm an anarchist.
by (230 points)
I love every single person on this question. I don't know how you all said exactly what I've felt for years.

5 Answers

+5 votes
I can't really answer your question for you but I think the topic is extremely relevant. I've experienced a lot of people turning away from spending time with other anarchists based on very similar things. Some are put off by the way some anarchists assert or just project their intellectuality and feel like they will be perceived as intellectually inferior if they try to converse (about anarchism and even more mundane topics). Some are put off by the "PC" atmosphere and don't feel like they can behave the way they usually do, say what they usually say, etc. - a fear of being shunned for their character, sense of humor, etc. ...I've noticed this with 'punks' that attempt to become involved with anarchist stuff. Some just feel alienated by the formality of conversation that can occur in groups that practice a lot of consensus. Some may not think they're 'hardcore' enough or are not 'committed enough' or comfortable enough with the anarchist label. Some may be turned off by the class, race, sex, sexuality demographic of a group. Some may think the way they dress will be judged: leather, make-up, the wrong shirt or shoes, etc. And, some may just think a lot of anarchists are straight up fucking jerks.

It could be anything from the expectations you have for how anarchists will treat people, including yourself to, a fear that comes from admiration, or a response to subtle norms of the group to fear of who is a snitch, who is a Manarchist, or some other person you wouldn't think of interacting with if you didn't share labels...

by (2.5k points)
+1 vote
first off, i'm sorry that that has happened to you. :(

added to the pieces that squee mentions, which are mostly about what the new person brings to the situation...

some anarchists suffer, i think, from tourist syndrome, or being used to dealing with people who may seem extremely excited about the topic (here, anarchy) in the moment, but probably won't be around in six weeks (much less six months, even less ten years).
there's a kind of social burnout that happens after a while, where it takes longer to get excited about someone new being around.

there's also a high percentage of hipster attitude in many anarchist scenes (this directly relates to my first point, in fact), and hipsters can never be excited about anything or be too friendly, since that's not cool.

and for other scenes (with some overlap, perhaps), there is the idea that friendliness is part of some fake social contract, that people are expected to be nice and friendly in a fake way--that covers up (or could cover up) complete indifference or open hostility. so then it seems better to be gradual in getting to know people...

and finally there's just the old reliable crappy social skills. not sure why anarchists would have a higher ratio of these to other groups, but i guess it's possible.

good luck.
by (53.1k points)
edited by
+1 vote
Good question.

Well I've yet to be convinced, for any time I think I'm in the company of anarchists, I find instead a group of youngsters struggling through a phase which may or may not be lasting. Doubtless there are exceptions, just not in my meager, face-to-face experiences and environment. The problem to me is that I simply should not assume that those in a community are anarchist given the general lack of any articulate expression to that effect.

There are different approaches to the idea, like a preference towards action over theory and experimentation, or the promotion of anarchist culture. Yet it's the idea that the various approaches allegedly have in common. Having a passion for the idea (as apposed to a passion for fashion) probably keeps it alive better than anything else.

I resist hear the temptation of calling out any of the possible fakers, posers, and prancers for merely dressing the part, for even these can help give life to the idea. Yet oft times it is the substance of the idea, and the afore mentioned feedback and exchange thereof, that is most lacking, even in times and places set aside for the promotion of anarchist culture. It becomes secondary to the event spectacles such as demos, book fairs, and FNB meetings etc. The problems associated with these forums (leftist organizers, market capitalism, single issue obsessions etc) are for another discussion, but without a doubt relate back to the cold atmosphere.  

I've also found that the flip side to my own past projected assumptions as to the persuasions of people (I thought to be anarchist) at one time lead me to disregard "the mainstream" as some sort of 'other'. Ironically I've since discovered that the people in my everyday life were far more receptive to the gradual introduction, and discussion, of anarchist ideas into most casual conversations. I just kinda' got tired of hiding my thoughts from all the 'mainstream' folks around me and decided to explore the principals behind all the bullshit in our lives and how they contradict those of anarchism. Everyday people complain about various things in their lives and it oft times can be related back to  inconsistencies in (or a coherent lack of) these principals.

Now the exchanges I have with friends and acquaintances has become rather more fulfilling, thanks to the opportunities I now have to introduce these ideas into social circles which previously may have lacked that input. I cannot say that I'm not scared anymore, but more people now know, and can relate to, me. This, above all, else is encouraging.

Hope this helps.
by (4.0k points)
edited by
I neglected to use the plural in my over-use of the concept of "the idea". It may be archaic now, but I vaguely recall that in my reading of history that "anarchy" was often referred to as such.
"I now have to introduce these ideas into social circles which previously may have lacked that input. I cannot say that I'm not scared anymore, but more people now know, and can relate to, me. This, above all, else is encouraging."

This is a very real thing that we don't discuss much here. I have lots of friends who are definitely not anarchists (or definitely not G@'s, or definitely not anti-civ, or sympathetic to nihilism, whatever) who as we have conversed, engaged in projects, and generally been around each other, have found more commonalities than not.

That shit both sucks, and is hella rewarding. There are like a dozen (maybe two dozen) anarchists I actually like hanging out with.
+1 vote
You just need to find better anarchists.  Remember, just because you share the same philosophy with someone doesn't make you automatic friends.  Also, remember that many many people who don't currently identify as anarchists are passionate about social justice issues.  Make friends and share your interest in anarchism with them, you'll be surprised how many new anarchists you will soon know.
by (250 points)
–1 vote
Because you have been indoctrinated into a matrix that values violence, forced associations, and herd mentality over individual excellence.

You have been born into a multi-generational mind control program designed by people that don't have your best interest in mind.

You haven't found people that can escape the paradigm they were raised in.

They still accept that it is ok to reject people that are different than them.
They still accept that anger and violence are proper responses to things not going their way.
by (320 points)