Category Archives: Anarchism

Gone corporate – anarchist in corporate america

Well, I actually went corporate years ago, but now I’m moving up again in the corporate world. I got hired on full-time at the agency where I’ve been working the last six months. Before this I was making more money than I felt I deserved, and now I’m making even more, plus a whole complex package of benefits.

I also get to do something I love, which is sitting in front of a computer coding fancy little user interfaces and dynamic animations for websites and banner ads.

I used to tell myself that I would never work for a major corporation, and it might seem odd that a devoted anarchist would have his own phone extension and company business card. As much as I complain about how society works I’ve found that making the best of it can build a pretty comfortable life.

I’ve realized in the last half-decade that anarchism isn’t about fighting back against the way the world works. Sometimes you need to deal with it and make the best of it. I don’t believe I’m going to change anyone’s minds by working in a kitchen the rest of my life or make any notable difference by going off the grid though I used to believe that I could.

The more corporate I become and the farther I climb up through the middle-class, the more confident I become that the whole system is skewed and unfair. I see people in the drive-through’s, working twice as hard as I do for a fraction of the pay, doing something that isn’t nearly as fun. I feel bad about that sometimes, like I’m just exploiting society and giving less back than someone who washes dishes… though I suppose you could argue that I am building things that people use and in my own tiny way, I’m pushing the bounds and expectations of technology, but the people making the WordPress plugins that do so much for this site are doing the same thing to a greater degree, and they’re not paid anything.

Most people in the corporate world are not programmers who actually build something. Instead, their jobs involve pushing money around in one form or another. In an anarchist society, all that time and energy would either be going toward making the world a better place, or toward leisure activities like spending time with family.

I still love the corporate world for my own selfish reasons. Without it I wouldn’t be able to order sushi or fancy espresso whenever I wanted. I suppose that as an anarchist that does make me a hypocrite, but I’ve decided that it’s better to be a hypocrite than to not care. As an anarchist, I would like to see a world where everyone on the planet could order sushi and fancy espresso whenever they want.

Guilty without Evidence – Modern witch hunt

The other day I heard someone talking about a time when he was on a jury. He said, “It was one of those cases where we all knew he was guilty but just couldn’t find the evidence.”

This frightened me because everyone else seemed to nod as though they know the situation… but I’m wondering how is that even possible? If you don’t have evidence, isn’t that just a modern witch hunt? During the real witch hunts, the persecutors felt every bit as strongly that they were right.

Do people just look at someone and see their cold-hearted expression and simply decide that they’re guilty?

I can think of a lot of situations growing up where a teacher or babysitter would think I did something and decide I was guilty based on my facial expressions or inability to defend myself verbally; and they were wrong every time.

The problem is that there are certain people that just look guilty, who have that guilty persona about them… quite frequently they are guilty of something, but not of what you think they are. I think I may have been one of those people growing up. I always felt as though I was doing something wrong, but I didn’t know what. I wanted to be a good person; I wanted to follow the rules, but every once in a while I would get in trouble for something I didn’t understand, or something I flat out didn’t do, and it made me bitter, angry and scared, which showed up in my face and body language, confirming for everyone that I was guilty.

Bus Tunnel Beating – Yet Another Reason to Embrace Anarchism

The other day in my post about the IRS I mentioned that sometimes it seems like every day I find another reason, piled on top of my already endless list of reasons, to be an anarchist. Today was no exception.

I noticed a couple times a headline about a Seattle bus tunnel beating. Normally when I hear the word ‘beating’ I think police brutality, but the front page didn’t mention that, so I thought, “Well, gee maybe this will be the one time where the authority figures are not the bad guys.”

Reading on, however, I discovered that the authorities had been present at the beatings, in fact three of them stood and watched as a fifteen year old girl was violently beaten. They called 911, but did little else to help her because of their policy of non-interferance. They were following the rules, the same rules that are supposedly designed to protect us.

We rely psychologically on the security guards in the bus tunnels for our safety. We wander around the tunnel without worrying about things like this because we think that security is there to protect us, and we choose not to intervene in things like this because as a society, we have placed the responsibility for that onto the authority figures. If not for the security guards and their rules and regulations, that girl could have found someone more reliable to protect her, like a random stranger.

The video reminds me of the time the police tried to convince an acquantance of mine to kill me by telling him a bunch of lies–and a few truths they promised to keep secret. He recruited a friend who attacked and beat me in a manner very similar to what you see on that video, with the multiple, full-force kicks to the head. Fortunately my beating occurred in a shady biker-bar with no authority figures. Instead, a couple drunk college students intervened and possibly saved my life.

My Definition of Anarchism

I’ve been wanting to write an outline of what anarchism means to me and why I think it’s the right choice for humanity, because I know it can be scary for people to hear that I’m an anarchist, that I think police are the bad guys, without a deeper explanation. I was fifteen when I learned there were people who wanted marijuana legalized, and it scared the crap out of me, so I totally understand the fear people may show toward this concept. The problem is that anarchism is a bit more complex than most political beliefs… or maybe it just seems that way because I never hear people talking about it. It’s always been difficult for me to find the right words.

I came up with something I thought was a decent start, and was going to post it here, but then I decided to pop the word ‘anarchism’ into Twitter and found @AnarchistNews, which led me to Are you an anarchist? by Anthropologist David Graeber, which is a definition of anarchism that almost perfectly mirrors my own.

I still wanted to post my own little explanation, though it’s not nearly as well-worded or as in-depth as the one above.

When people think of anarchism, they think of Mad Max and Timothy McVeigh, because that’s the vision that’s been drilled into them. But putting an end to people like Timothy McVeigh is exactly the reason I chose anarchism, because ultimately McVeigh was out for the same justice that our government taught us to seek, and saw the horrible things the government has done in support of its systems, and felt justified in doing something similar. He may have read some anti-government literature, but he was nothing close to an anarchist by my definition. He was still acting under the same core concepts as our government. As hopefully you will read in the article above, anarchism is about focusing our attention on solving problems as a community and not on worrying about concepts like justice, ownership, national superiority, or anything else that doesn’t support the populous.

And Mad Max… well, Mad Max was fiction. Admittedly entertaining fiction, but full of evil characters with no clear motivation for the horrible things they did, probably because the writers could not think of any. Star Trek depicts a system far closer to our vision.

When I think of anarchism, I think o f pirate radio stations and streaking. I think of the way the Native Americans used to live, thinking seven generations ahead, and caring about their environment. I think of the moonshiners during prohibition who fought for our right to drink alcohol. I think of the mob during the 70’s making and distributing porn, helping to force our government to give us the right to look at the human body. I think of the medical marijuana that helps patients deal with a wide variety of ailments. I think o f the illegal gay bars in the 70’s that sparked the modern gay-rights movement. I think of Rosa Parks. I think of The Boston Tea party and the beginnings of the American Revolution, and finally, I think of The Underground Railroad and the Germans during the second world war who risked their lives to stash fugitives in their attics, and of course, Jesus.

These are just a few examples. There are countless more that go all the way back through Roman times. So if there was any one thing I could point to that made me an anarchist, I think I’d say history class.

40 Minutes with the IRS

It seems like every day I come across a new reason to be an anarchist.

I’m trying to buy a condo and to apply for a mortgage I need records from the last couple years. In the past I’ve ignorantly assumed that a massive government financial institution like the IRS would keep better track of numbers than a “stoned slacker” like myself, so I haven’t been saving my tax information. In thirty years my credit union has only made one minor mistake. I figured the IRS would be similar.

I requested my W-2s for ’07 and ’08, and received both transcripts,  each listing one job. In reality, I worked two different jobs in 2008 and three in 2007. (I’m a freelance programmer so moving jobs is normal.) Also, one of the jobs in 2008 gave me two W-2s  because I worked for them at two separate times. Today I spent 40 minutes on the phone with the IRS, and the nice operator told me that they had no records of any of these jobs. She told me my employers never sent the forms, but I find that hard to believe when they had no problem sending the same forms to me.

The scary part is how calm the operator was, as though this was a normal occurance that we just have to put up with. She kind of sounded like she was an Indian outsourcer, which would be ironic, but that’s just speculation. She didn’t offer any avenues of resolution, and didn’t seem to think this was even a problem that needed fixing. I asked her if I was at risk of an audit now, since there’s naturally going to be discrepencies between my spending and income. She didn’t have an answer for that either.

Now, I live in an area with one of the highest crime rates in Seattle and I’ll walk around the streets after midnight with my hood on and my headphones blaring, and being afraid never crosses my mind. This kind of thing, however, scares me. It’s always been one of my greatest fears to be wrongfully convicted of a crime, and to think about how the same system that lost four of my last six jobs is used to prosecute people for tax crimes and money-laundering, sometimes destroying their lives, is just plain terrifying.

In The Name of Justice: Dream Story

Today I edited and re-posted the story of the dream I had in 2006 about a 12 year old who witnesses a suicide and acts irrationally out of fear of getting in trouble. The story does not read like a dream at all, and it did not feel like a dream when I was experiencing it. Usually dreams have something crazy inserted, something that just doesn’t make sense. Not this one. Somehow it was realistically scripted from beginning to end, and I was able to simply write an exact transcript as it had played out in my dream.

I wrote this in 2006, right in the middle of my five-year break from writing, and now it’s one of my favorite short-stories as it depicts the real human consequences of criminal justice and helps to give a feel for why I’m an anarchist.