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0 votes
Quoted from this link: http://contrun.libertarian-labyrinth.org/

It seems that a lot of people have a hatred for the anarchist "milieu" in general, anarchistnews.org tolerates a lot of comments that trash anarchist collectives/milieus constantly. This doesn't even always come from people who hate anarchism and just say we all need to "smell the coffee", it seems like the trash-talkers on anarchistnews.org still associate themselves with anarchism.

What are the social difficulties people run into when they try to start anarchist groups, and why is there so much vile hatred?
The folks who dismissed the critiques of "the milieu" with dismissals of the very idea of an "anarchist milieu" aren't entirely wrong. We've got a weird mix of connections, some of which are supposed to do (anti-)political work and some of which are clearly consolations for our inability to do more. None of them work quite as advertised, but we don't have a lot of other options, so we're pretty terrible when it comes to self-critique. We talk about "burn-out," when the question is really about whether we could do something differently and stop making our being-together such a mixed blessing.

2 Answers

+2 votes
in my experience there is not hatred, and certainly not vile hatred.

i would consider it like a break up. people talk smack because their feelings are hurt and they're frustrated. some people come back from that break up with more realistic expectations and stay friends, and some people go on to different milieus (and frequently get their heart broken again). still other people figure out a way to stay in love despite (because of?) the flaws...

huh, this analogy was off the top of my head and i guess i am getting tempted to take it too far... but i'm enjoying it for the moment. :D
by (53.1k points)
–3 votes
I think I can speak for all anarchists of all creeds when I offer this answer:

(1) we are by nature anti-social.  Deep down we don't really like most of the people on this planet, having found too many of them fake, superficial, manipulative, selfish. We are profoundly cynical and our experience has led us to distrust almost everyone except our closest friends. Suspicion of the motives of nearly everyone also applies to others who profess anarchist beliefs. Frankly, if we believed that love and fraternity was natural and possible we would be communists or democrats.

(2)  We actually find a sick pleasure in nasty intellectual fights. Apparently in his college days my father's friends gave him this motto: "to argue is the delight of my life." I guess I inherited that, and I reckon I have that in common with all other anarchists.  We get off on it; we actually try to be the devil's advocates, stimulating self-reflection and deep philosophy in each other. We get a rush like some people get skydiving. So of course it is going to be a very hostile milieu.

(3) We are right and we know it. Being governed is slavery and slavery is death. Proud of ourselves for having at least discovered that truth we are arrogant and indignant. Hard to get several arrogant people together in mutual respect. The slightest insult will set off a self-righteous and self-assured asshole. We have to fight this tendency, but sometimes it gets the better of us.

(4) We hate being told what to do -- and that includes being told what to think. Just try getting people like that to listen to each other. It takes a lot of effort on the part of both parties. Many people don't make the effort, since it is tiring.

(5) We are hopeless. We know our ideal society will never, ever exist. So we are all frustrated and pissed off.

(6) Like most people we feel a need to speak and interact. Otherwise we wouldn't be starting or joining groups. But given all the above we can't listen or interact very well. So, frustration is inevitable.
by (600 points)
I should add

(7) we drink too much coffee

oh syrphant. you are funny. i think there's validity in your enthusiastic answer, but starting out by saying that "we're all antisocial" gets it off on a very odd foot.

i'm not sure that i think most of your points are unique to anarchists, but perhaps that's a different thread.

i assume people are downvoting you because of the generalizations you throw about willy-nilly, which could (in a positive light) be read as enthusiasm or caffeine euphoria... but can certainly also be read negatively.

no down-vote on my part, but, right off the bat, i just don't resonate with 'we are by nature anti-social.' aside from a big turn off ( i hate the hobbesian presupps), i don't see this as accurate. for one, the generality/absolutism of it, when so many examples of human flourishing play against it. second, the subtle contradictions at work in saying 'we' and 'anti-social' in the same sentence.
a) you do NOT speak for all anarchists, and thinking you can belies a certain misunderstanding of anarchists.

b) many anarchists reject any concept of any knowable "human nature", so "by nature..." fails, imo.

c) calling all anarchists anti-social misses a huge swath (i guess depending on how you define social). though i myself do tend strongly in that direction.

d) some anarchists do not start or join groups. which would kind of contradict your first point anyway.

i decided not to downvote the answer, because i think you gave it a valiant effort, within (what i see as) the constraints of how you apparently view anarchist ideas.
i downvoted because of all the "we" statements (if changed to "i" statements, i almost certainly would not have) , and also because of the reference to "rightness", and knowledge of "truth" as objective.

i also do not generally feel suspicious of most people, nor do i think (according to me) in a profoundly cynical way.

i do hate someone telling me what to do or think. and i do drink more coffee than i'd like.

with that said, i don't know really know how to interpret the question, or specifically what the person who asked it meant by "anarchist milieu".

and i'd like to hear what people here think about the words "social", or "anti-social"....because i can interpret those words in at least a few different ways.
No, you don't speak for all anarchists. Plus 1, 2, and 6 contradict themselves, in my opinion. Anti-social is someone like a sociopath or a narcissist. Asocial is one that lacks the need to be social with other humans. Misanthropy gets confused with asocial. Misanthropes generally dislike/hate humans, while asocial folk don't exactly hate them, but see no purpose in being social with them. Personally, I would fall under being a selfish asocial person, I suppose.

If a person is anti-social (asocial), as you call it, they lack the need to interact with other other humans and don't desire it. Probably wouldn't enjoy "intellectual fights," I sure don't. Like for me, I have no interest in joining or starting a group. If "we" were all anti-social (asocial), none of us would have a desire to join/start groups or have "intellectual fights."

Your answer seems like a generalization or stereotype of anarchists. It also sounds very similar to the mumbo jumbo preached 12-step programs or other dogmatic cults.

I don't drink coffee.

edited obvs
Alright, this is no place for self-deprecating sarcasm. My bad. But really, the questioner was kind of asking for it. How do you respond to the question: "why are you such an asshole?"

Thing is, I understand why the questioner asked, because no sooner had I started saying I was an anarchist did others sneer "you don't even know what anarchy means."  I pretty much find fair all those harsh generalizations in my response, but wouldn't want to put it into third-person because I'm probably no better in the eyes of many. It can be good to laugh at yourself you know. Let's try to prove the wrongness of my answer so people like the asker don't ask that question.

Finally I stumbled onto this site and said to myself: "ah, anarchy 101. anarchy for beginners; for dummies. Here I'll find teachers and fellow truth-seekers. You guys are the instructors. Now don't give an eager student a homework assignment ("answer some questions") then just say, "I don't have any affinity with your answer that Romeo n' Juliette is about gay marriage."
If I knew the basics of anarchy already I'd have signed up for anarchy 201 or a graduate level course. ;)

(people can't tell when I'm being serious and when I'm being a smart-ass, so I'll henceforth put a ;) when I'm being a smart-ass ok?)

syrphant, you seem to be viewing this site - and those you refer to as "teachers and fellow truth-seekers" - in the exact same hierarchical, authoritarian framework that some of us want to do away with.

i am neither a teacher nor a truth-seeker. i am yet another dumb-fuck human being trying to figure out how to create and live my own life. i do not seek "truth", as that has as its goal some objective, universal "truth". no, i find that a fools game, or perhaps that of a religionist. i prefer questions to answers. i do seek clarity in my various interactions and relationships. that is the best i can hope for, and that in itself is quite difficult enough.

ps: it is exactly the smart-ass you that i would want to have a beer with. :-)