Overcoming normative liberalism in broad-based campaigns.

The following is something I scrawled in a notebook a couple of months ago. I hope to continue this post soon with some more thoughts, and hopefully a positive conclusion, which I haven’t yet found.

There seems to be a general consensus that we need to break out of our anarchist ghettos. If we ever want to effect change on a global scale, there needs to be a radicalisation of the public.

In my eyes, there appears to be two key methodologies for achieving this. One is organising in our own geographical and labour communities – ideas like Food Not Bombs, Indymedia, food co-ops, free markets, bike workshops, (preferably syndicalist) unionism and more are appropriate here. These have the double effect of helping those members of our society who are most fucked over in their everyday lives while simultaneously exposing them to radical alternative structures and ways of living.

The second method of radicalisation is by involvement in broader based political groups and campaigns that involve people who have not previously been exposed to anarchist ideas and actions.

And it is this second method that I am struggling with here. The main problem I have encountered in these groups/campaigns is the issue of how to express my ideas, as an anarchist. Frequently, in groups with a large percentage of liberal members, anarchist and radical voices are discouraged in order to “avoid conflict”. Liberal methodologies are made normative and any questioning of them is frowned upon and seen as an unwanted distraction.

So how can we ensure that groups we are involved in don’t force us to choose silence as a prerequisite for participation? To be honest, I have no clue. I’m writing this, in fact, while sitting at a hui where I have silenced myself almost entirely. I don’t feel like my voice is welcome here, so I am instead putting my thoughts to paper.

It saddens me that we, as anarchists, frequently seem to be so ready to abandon our convictions. Surely we believe what we believe for a reason – why then is it not important enough for us to ensure our perspective is heard?

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