On Saturday the cultural critics went live to discuss this latest article:
Toward the end of the discussion we mention the movie “Compliance.” View the trailer here: https://youtu.be/WdONydDX44I
The movie is based on the strip search phone scam: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strip_search_phone_call_scam
JP References this essay:
Forming free communities is one of the most common methods people from the West use to break with capitalism and create a new world. The Anabaptists took this path to escape religious domination and break the stranglehold of feudalism and a nascent capitalism. The early socialists did it with their utopian communes. Jewish anticapitalists did it with the kibbutzim. The hippies did it with the Back- to-the-Land movement. A variety of groups, from MOVE to the Autonomen, did it with urban communes. Anticapitalists are doing it today in manifestations as diverse as squatted villages in the Pyrenees and the Alps, or Tarnac in France. And there is also the steady stream of radical retirement to the countryside.
Such a longstanding, multifaceted tradition of struggle cannot be lightly dismissed, whatever criticisms we might have. The failure, so far, of all these many attempts—to “leave capitalism behind” or to serve as a springboard for attacks on the infrastructure of domination or to plant a seed for a new world or whatever their specific pretensions were—is mirrored by nothing less than the failure of all the other methods we have tried out to liberate ourselves. Failure is our common heritage, so ubiquitous that it hardly constitutes a big deal or a mark against us. Understanding the relationship between what we do and our failures: therein lies the gem.
The varied attempts to create liberated communities cannot all be measured with the same ruler, but one failing that crops up pervasively in our present context is worth mentioning. Nowadays, most people who have grown up with Western cultural values don’t even know what a community is. For example, it is not a subculture or a scene (see: “activist community” or “community accountability process”), nor is it a real estate zone or municipal power structure (see: “gated community” or “community leaders”).
If you will not starve to death without the other people who make up the group, it is not a community. If you don’t know even a tenth of them since the day either you or they were born, it is not a community. If you can pack up and join another such group as easily as changing jobs or transferring to a different university, if the move does not change all the terms with which you might understand who you are in this world, it is not a community.
A community cannot be created in a single generation, and it cannot be created by an affinity group. In fact, you are not supposed to have affinity with most of the other people in your community. If you do not have neighbors who you despise, it is not a healthy community. In fact, it is the very existence of human bonds stronger than affinity or personal preference that make a community. And such bonds will mean there will always be people who prefer to live at the margins. Whether the community allows this distinguishes the anti-authoritarian one from the authoritarian one.
A group of anarchists or socialists or hippies who go off into the mountains to live together will end up hating one another. It is the very presence of disagreeable neighbors that teaches us to appreciate the people we have affinity with. An “anarchist community” is an odious proposition.
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