In the first part of this piece I described how in response to an anarchist-initiated effort called Muni Social Strike, which aimed at fomenting joint action between MUNI riders and operators against fare hikes and service cuts, a Leninist-led effort with a comically similar name, called Muni Fare Strike, emerged and positioned itself to the immediate political right of the anarchist effort. It was like Muni Social Strike with all the anti-capitalist aspirations shaved off.

The first part of this article can be found here:

 http://www.indybay.org/news/2005/11/1785004_comment.php#1785478

Followed by scintilating, effervescent feedback from militants of The Party for Moderate Reform Within the Bounds of the Law...


WE'RE NOT 'THE PEOPLE'S JUDEAN FRONT' -- WE'RE 'THE FRONT FOR PEOPLE'S JUDEA!'

The comically derivative name of the Muni Fare Strike group alone should have been a clue to anyone capable of finding their ass with both hands that something fishy was up. But on top of that, a guy named Tom Wetzel said that he overheard Marc Norton, who subsequently became the leader of the Muni Fare Strike group, saying at the second town hall meeting that he "didn't think much of what those young anarchist kids and Kevin Keating were getting together." That's not a direct quote, but it was words to that effect.

Then, if putting two and two together exceeded the political sophistication and analytical skills of some of the Bay Area Anarchist Council and Muni Social Strike (MSS) people, there's three out of three.

When Muni Fare Strike came into being I got an e-mail from my former comrade Aaron Hackett ordering people in MSS to give out the content-poor Muni Fare Strike (MFS) leaflet. Although Aaron used a fake name I could tell it was Aaron, because after a decade of friendship and various efforts to do stuff politically together I had broken things off with Aaron in a series of acrimonious e-mails, and the language in the e-mail with the fake name was identical to the language he'd used in our recent exchanges. He made it completely fucking clear in his e-mail that Muni Fare Strike had come together in antagonism to Muni Social Strike.

So, one of the people in the doppelganger group openly said their effort was antagonistic to MSS -- did this need to be made any clearer for the politically unsophisticated? People who think that the class war means trudging around at peace rallies with a baner that says, 'CLASS WAR!' with a circle spray-painted around the letter "A" in the words 'class' and 'war?'

This is where my ability to communicate with several of the BAAC people broke down in a big way. I repeatedly attempted to discuss this on the e-mail list. I got repeatedly blown off on this. A certain anarchist ideologue in particular was adament that no substantive political discussion should take place on the list. There's never been any substantial political discussion in any meeting of BAAC that I've attended, and that group has been meeting for a number of years, so I guess this principle was supposed to extend to the socialstrike list as well.

The fact that Marc Norton and his underlings were out to play Muni Social Strike like a kazoo sailed over the tops of various individuals' anarchist level of consciousness. I'm not claiming that I'm psychic, but I saw what happened coming regarding the effort as a whole in the long run from this, and I saw it from the beginning -- anybody could, other than most of the anarchists in this effort.

I started posting stuff on the socialstirke list demanding that Marc and his buddies say, one, what there politics were; an honest response from Marc Norton should have given everybody fair warning. I also demanded -- not politely requested, demanded, that two, they explain why they were in a seperate group, three, what their differences with Social Strike were, and four, that if they were in a group with political differences with us but still got to be on the e-mail list and got to show up and spout off at social strike meetings that they had to pony up a commitment of time and labor to the stuff we in social strike had already agreed to do.

What was the response from my valiant anarchist comrades? In the subsequent MSS meetings several of the anarchists basically folded like napkins in regard to Marc and company. These anarchists didn't have enough backbone or political smarts to demand anything of those guys from the other group -- no explanations, no time and labor, no nothing.

Marc Norton made it difficult for the anarchists in Muni Social Strike to collectively assert their uncompromising anarchist principles, since he didn't show up at meetings with a stack of unreadable Leniniod newspapers hanging over his arm; he didn't wear a Mao cap or a Che Guevara T-shirt, and his facial hair doesn't directly mimic that of Lenin or Trotsky. Unlike the anarchists who I repeatedly attempt to function with, for a quarter of a century now, this Leninist is a sufficiently serious and politically skillful individual to refrain from wearing his particular flavor of dogma on his sleeve, and as a result he was capable of macking on a posse of callow and naive anarchos in the recent social strike effort. The Leninist ended up playing the anarchists for chumps from the beginning -- because the anarchists let it happen.

My effective political connection to several anarchists who I've tried to do things with for about two and a half years evaporated under the first, extremely slight, external pressure. This is consistent with my past experiences in dealing with anarchists; we are "comrades" as long as it doesn't imply anything real and there is no substance to it, then, as soon as there is any difficulty or trouble, all the anarchists immediately morph into anarchists of the individualist stripe.

This grows out of a flaw that every anarchist group I have ever been involved in since the spring of 1981 in DC has shared. No anarchist group that I have ever been in has ever had any process of political clarification as part of its development as a group, where we devote part of our collective activity to reading and discussing revolutionary history and theory. This is neccessary in order for anyone who is serious about a collective effort for radical social change:

1. To figure out if we can function together,

2. To give us some collectively-worked out ideas of where our actions against this society can be most effective, and,

3. Perhaps most importantly, to give a group of people the cohesion to become a for-real-revolutionary-political group, a group that will stick together in the face of opposition and adversity.

I despise Maoism and Trotskyism, but unlike anarchists, Maoists and Trots are serious enough about what they believe in to devote a central part of their activity to "reproducing their ideology" internally. Their politics are no good, but their very-un-anarchist political seriousness in this and many, many other things cannot be faulted.

In all the anarcho groups I've been in, everybody just calls themselves an anarchist, or something close to it. We get together a lowest-common denominator "Statement of Principles" to avoid the difficulty of dealing with differences, and as long as we don't venture outside of the anarchist subcultural scenester-scene or simpleminded stuff like being the black bloc at peace demos everything goes smoothly. But when groups built on this kind of flimsy basis attempt anything more ambitious, in the complex larger society we live in, they are either totally ineffective, or they collapse altogether, or they end up ceeding all the initiative to whichever leftist outfit has a clearer idea of what it wants, and is aggressive enough to go for it. All three of these things happened at various points with the anarchists of Muni Social Strike. This unfortunately confirms my impression, formed over 25 exasperating years, that anarchists are against leaders because anarchists are more comfortable being followers.

I think that the anarchists in MSS becoming the dupes of the first Leninist who put any real time and effort into playing them didn't happened because the anarchists in question are born chumps, but because none of the BAAC/MSS anarchos that I know of have any prior experience in any kind of real life struggles of working people in the real world; their practical political experience is limited to maybe being in some harmless student group at Cal, or running around a anti-war demo wearing dirty laundry and a bandana on their face. Consequently they were over-awed by what we were trying to pull off and were frantically grasping for a life-preserver. But I also think this kind of will-to-fail or willingness to get hustled is hard-wired into anarchism; it is clearly integral to what anarchism is all about.

Anti-authoritarianism is a useful concept -- when limited solely to individual personality development. In any kind of collective social struggle it becomes a gun that only fires backwards. Anti-authoritarianism comes down to anarchists always having a lame excuse to never take the lead in anything, and always tag along behind anyone who isn't as indecisive as them. It happened with anarchism's great moment of catastrophic failure in the Spanish Civil War, and it's happened countless times in smaller struggles since, like the recent one...

To be continued...