Anarchist Praxis 1

How do you see this utopian [anarchical] society coming about?
I've only caught a few of the posts -they seem to evaporate quickly in this
newsgroup, but I gather you are waiting for the oppressive state and other
structures to disappear. How will that happen? Some sort of shift in human
consciousness? And if so how and why, will that occur?

Under present conditions (liberal bourgeois capitalism),
in the West, at least, it is possible for anarchists to
form communes and "temporary autonomous zones" based on
anarchistic ideas and practices. Presumably the communes
could become larger and more numerous, and the temporary
autonomous zones less temporary, at least while they are
not suppressed by State or private criminals. This is
one route for the development of anarchy.

Another area or front of effort is direct political
action. Most of such action is resistance rather than
construction. However, I believe some forms of
constructive direct action are possible.

Lately I have been distributing free oatmeal cookies as a
kind of political experiment. I have been interested in
the idea of moving towards freedom by means of freedom, in
this case free food. The oatmeal cookie is a sort of
entering tendril looking for what it can find, especially
modes of communication and routes of passage. Along with
the cookie I have offered a page with a recipe, some
general thoughts, and some contact information. I've been
giving the cookies away through NYC Food Not Bombs and
Blackout Books, a local anarchist bookstore.

Where are we today? In the societies of the ancient
world, organized, institutionalized coercion -- the State
-- worked through overt violence and terror to produce
classical slavery and empire. In the modern liberal
capitalist State, violence and terror have mostly been set
aside (except on the borders), replaced by coercion through
fraud and economic pressure. Much of this coercion is based
on a fiction of scarcity, which is promoted in spite of the
fact that humanity's powers of production have long since
made the provision of basic needs an objectively trivial

The fiction of scarcity is necessary as a justification for
the elites to retain and expand their power. From this
position they defraud and exploit working people, squeeze
the life out of the poor, spread death and destruction
abroad, propertize our common cultural heritage and even
our genes, pollute public discourse with propaganda, poison
the earth, and in general turn everything into money and
power for themselves. They do this not because they are
necessarily evil or sadistic, but because it is the nature
of the culture that they, as well as we, are caught in.
They are doing what they think they have to do.

One of the ways we can untie the knots of aggression and
aggrandizement, of money and power, and can advance freedom
and equality, is by subverting the fictions of scarcity and
elitism in both word and deed. In terms of the word, this
work has already begun: the organized frauds of the
corporate media are being undercut more and more by new
means of publication and communication. However, in
physical and social fact, most people are still coerced or
tricked into subordination through economic roles, such as
employment, Welfare, and consumerism. People interested in
freedom and equality need to find ways to break down or
subvert this kind of coercion.

In order to prevent people from being coerced through
employment and Welfare, it is necessary to establish a
situation where they can obtain what they need to live
without having to buy it with wage money or engage in some
other kind of performance, such as displaying poverty or
disability. Employment and its shadow, Welfare, are based
on the money system, and the money system belongs to the
State: to corporations, the government, and other bourgeois
institutions and elite personnel.

The alternative arrangement, where the needs of life are
available to all without question, was the general practice
of humanity in its tribal stage -- a communism of basic
goods. We could call this communism convivium, a
Latin word meaning a banquet -- literally, "alive
together." It is an image of the world we desire.

One possible beginning of a convivium would be the
establishment of free food stores. These stores would
carry basic foodstuffs like rice, beans, flour, oil, salt,
dry milk, and oatmeal and other cereals, and also some
prepared foods for those who had no cooking facilities
available. The goods would be available to all comers
(although it would probably be necessary to limit the
amounts taken per person in the initial stages of the
project at the outset). Food is relatively cheap, and a
considerable number of people can be fed by a few.
Therefore, I believe such stores are well within the reach
of even a small anarchist movement, and that they might
have a profound affect on people's consciousness as well as
teaching those involved how to carry on such projects.

Other kinds of free stores are immediately possible. For
instance, a lot of clothing is given away or discarded; if
it were collected, cleaned, and sorted, it could be made
available in free dry goods stores. It would probably also
be possible to collect and distribute some kinds of books,
tapes, and records, and other common items like tools and
kitchen utensils.

Other kinds of goods and services, like housing, education,
and medical care, would have to await the development of a
stronger, larger anarchist community than presently
exists. Hopefully, the experience of working with free
food and clothing stores would increase both the expertise
and numbers of those involved in the movement, and they
could work up to the strength needed for the more difficult

It should be understood that nothing proposed above is
in the nature of charity. No one is expected to be poor
or desperate as a condition of getting food or other
goods -- the idea is to make them freely available to

I believe that the work of liberating ourselves and our
communities needs to be carried forward in a practical and
dialectical manner on as many fronts as possible using our
ideas to inform our actions and our actions and their
outcomes to form our ideas. Therefore, I have started out
at a very simple and pragmatic level and with general,
although concrete, ideas. It is my hope that people will
want to engage them.