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David Graeber: Είσαι αναρχικός-η; Η απάντηση μπορεί να σε εκπλήξει

Το κείμενο του David Graeber  που ακολουθεί, δημοσιεύτηκε για πρώτη φορά ελεύθερα μεταφρασμένο στα Ελληνικά, από το blog Παραλληλογράφος.

Ο  Ντέιβιντ Γκράεμπερ είναι ένας από τους πλέον γνωστούς ανθρωπολόγους της γενιάς του, και για τη πρωτογενή έρευνα που έκανε στο νησί της Μαγαδασκάρης αλλά και για την πολιτική του δράση ως αναρχικός στο κίνημα κατά της Παγκοσμιοποίησης της τελευταίας δεκαετίας. Δίδασκε στο πανεπιστήμιο του Γέηλ από όπου και εκδιώχθηκε λόγω της πολιτικής του δράσης. Τώρα διδάσκει στο πανεπιστήμιο Goldsmiths του Λονδίνου. Στα ελληνικά κυκλοφορούν τα βιβλία του: “Αποσπάσματα μιας αναρχικής ανθρωπολογίας” και “Κίνημα , Βία , Τέχνη και Επανάσταση”,  από τις ελευθεριακές εκδόσεις Στάσει Εκπίπτοντες, ενώ ετοιμάζονται το “Τέλος των Πρωτοποριών” και το “Το Χρέος: Τα πρώτα 5.000 χρόνια” το οποίο είναι και το τελευταίο του βιβλίο, το οποίο είναι απλά εκπληκτικό.


Πιθανώς να έχεις ήδη ακούσει ένα-δυο πράγματα για τους αναρχικούς και τι υποτίθεται ότι πιστεύουν. Το πιθανότερο είναι πως ότι έχεις ακούσει είναι ανοησίες. Πολλοί άνθρωποι πιστεύουν ότι οι αναρχικοί είναι υποστηρικτές της βίας, του χάους και της καταστροφής ή ότι είναι τρελαμένοι μηδενιστές που απλά θέλουν να τινάξουν τα πάντα στον αέρα. Στη πραγματικότητα τίποτα δεν απέχει περισσότερο από την αλήθεια. Οι αναρχικοί είναι απλά άνθρωποι που πιστεύουν ότι τα ανθρώπινα όντα είναι ικανά να συμπεριφέρονται με εύλογο τρόπο χωρίς να τους το επιβάλουν. Είναι μια πολύ απλή σκέψη. Μα είναι μια που οι πλούσιοι και δυνατοί έβρισκαν πάντοτε πολύ επικίνδυνη.

Στην πιο απλή μορφή τους τα αναρχικά πιστεύω καταλήγουν σε δύο βασικές υποθέσεις. Η πρώτη είναι ότι τα ανθρώπινα όντα είναι, υπό κανονικές συνθήκες, όσο λογικά και αξιοπρεπή τους επιτρέπεται να είναι και μπορούν να οργανώνουν τον εαυτό τους αλλά και τις κοινότητες τους, χωρίς να χρειάζεται να τους πουν το πως. Η δεύτερη είναι ότι η εξουσία διαφθείρει. Περισσότερο απ΄όλα, ο αναρχισμός σημαίνει απλά να έχεις το κουράγιο να παίρνεις τις αρχές της κοινής ευπρέπειας, με τις οποίες όλοι ζούμε, και να τις ακολουθείς μέσα από τα λογικά συμπεράσματα τους. Όσο παράξενο και αν φαίνεται, στα πιο σημαντικά πράγματα είσαι ήδη αναρχικός-ή, απλά δεν το συνειδητοποιείς. Ας αρχίσουμε παίρνοντας μερικά παραδείγματα από την καθημερινή ζωή.

Αν υπάρχει μια γραμμή για να ανέβεις σε ένα λεωφορείο με πολύ κόσμο, περιμένεις τη σειρά σου και αποφεύγεις να ανοίξεις δρόμο με τον αγκώνα σου, ακόμα και όταν δεν υπάρχει τριγύρω αστυνομία;

Αν απάντησες “ναι”, τότε είσαι συνηθισμένος να συμπεριφέρεσαι σαν αναρχικός-η!

Η πιο βασική αναρχική ιδέα είναι η αυτο-οργάνωση: η υπόθεση ότι τα ανθρώπινα όντα δεν χρειάζονται να απειλούνται με διώξεις για να είναι ικανά να φτάσουν σε λογική κατανόηση το ένα με το άλλο ή να συμπεριφερθούν μεταξύ τους με αξιοπρέπεια και σεβασμό.

Όλοι πιστεύουν ότι είναι ικανοί να συμπεριφέρονται εύλογα από μόνοι τους. Αν σκέφτονται ότι οι νόμοι και η αστυνομία είναι απαραίτητα, είναι γιατί νομίζουν ότι όλοι οι υπόλοιποι άνθρωποι δεν είναι ικανοί να συμπεριφέρονται με τον ίδιο τρόπο.

Αλλά αν το καλοσκεφτείς, ακριβώς έτσι δεν σκέφτονται και όλοι αυτοί οι άνθρωποι για εσένα; Οι αναρχικοί υποστηρίζουν πως όλη η αντικοινωνική συμπεριφορά- που μας κάνει να νομίζουμε ότι είναι απαραίτητο να έχουμε στρατούς, αστυνομία, φυλακές και κυβερνήσεις να ελέγχουν τη ζωή μας- στη πραγματικότητα βασίζεται  στις συστημικές ανισότητες και την αδικία που οι στρατοί, η αστυνομία, οι φυλακές και οι κυβερνήσεις κάνουν δυνατές. Όλα είναι ένας φαύλος κύκλος. Αν οι άνθρωποι συνηθίζουν στο να τους συμπεριφέρονται σαν η γνώμη τους να μην έχει σημασία, πολύ πιθανώς να θυμώσουν,να γίνουν κυνικοί, ακόμα και βίαιοι – που φυσικά κάνει ευκολότερο για αυτούς που βρίσκονται στην εξουσία να λένε πως η γνώμη τους δεν μετράει. Μόλις καταλάβουν ότι οι γνώμες τους πραγματικά έχουν την ίδια σημασία σαν και όλων των υπολοίπων, έχουν την τάση να γίνονται αξιοθαύμαστα κατανοητικοί. Εν συντομία: Οι αναρχικοί πιστεύουν ότι είναι η ίδια η εξουσία και τα αποτελέσματα της, που κάνουν τους ανθρώπους ανόητους και ανεύθυνους.

Είσαι μέλος μιας λέσχης ή αθλητικής ομάδας, μιας οποιασδήποτε συλλογικότητας όπου οι αποφάσεις δεν επιβάλλονται από έναν αρχηγό αλλά παίρνονται στη βάση της γενικής συναίνεσης;

Αν η απάντηση σου είναι “ναι”, τότε ανήκεις σε έναν οργανισμό που λειτουργεί με αναρχικές αρχές! Μια άλλη αναρχική αρχή είναι η εθελοντική ένωση. Πρόκειται απλά για την εφαρμογή δημοκρατικών αρχών στη καθημερινή ζωή. Η μόνη διαφορά   είναι ότι οι αναρχικοί πιστεύουν πως θα πρέπει να είναι δυνατό να υπάρχει μια κοινωνία, στην οποία τα πάντα θα οργανώνονται σύμφωνα με αυτό το πλαίσιο -όλες οι ομάδες βασισμένες στην ελεύθερη συναίνεση των μελών τους- και για αυτό, όλες οι “από τα πάνω προς τα κάτω” δομές στρατιωτικού τύπου όπως οι στρατοί, οι γραφειοκρατίες ή οι μεγάλες εταιρίες, που βασίζονται σε ιεραρχίες, δεν θα είναι πλέον απαραίτητες. Ίσως δεν πιστεύεις ότι αυτό θα είναι δυνατό. Ίσως και να το πιστεύεις. Όμως, κάθε φορά που φτάνεις σε συμφωνία μέσω της συναίνεσης, παρά μέσω των απειλών, κάθε φορά που έρχεσαι σε μια εθελοντική ρύθμιση με ένα άλλο πρόσωπο, φτάνεις στην κατανόηση ή φτάνεις σε συμβιβασμό παίρνοντας υπόψιν την κατάσταση του άλλου προσώπου εν προκειμένω ή τις ανάγκες του, είσαι αναρχικός -ακόμα και αν δεν το καταλαβαίνεις.

Ο αναρχισμός είναι απλά ο τρόπος που οι άνθρωποι δρουν όταν είναι ελεύθεροι να πράξουν όπως επιλέξουν, και όταν έχουν να κάνουν με άλλους που είναι εξίσου ελεύθεροι -και για αυτό έχουν συνείδηση της ευθύνης ,που αυτό συνεπάγεται, απέναντι στους άλλους. Αυτό οδηγεί σε ένα άλλο κρίσιμο σημείο: Ενώ οι άνθρωποι μπορούν να είναι λογικοί και διακριτικοί όταν έχουν να κάνουν με ίσους, η ανθρώπινη φύση είναι τέτοια που δεν γίνεται να τους εμπιστευτούμε όταν τους δίνεται η εξουσία πάνω σε άλλους. Δώσε σε κάποιον τέτοια εξουσία. Αναπόφευκτα σχεδόν, θα τη καταχραστεί με τον ένα ή τον άλλο τρόπο.

Πιστεύεις ότι οι περισσότεροι πολιτικοί είναι εγωιστές, επηρμένα γουρούνια που δεν τους νοιάζει πραγματικά για το δημόσιο συμφέρον; Πιστεύεις ότι ζούμε σε ένα οικονομικό σύστημα που είναι ηλίθιο και άδικο;

Αν απάντησες “ναι”, τότε προσυπογράφεις την αναρχική κριτική στη κοινωνία του σήμερα -τουλάχιστον στο ευρύτερο πλαίσιο της. Οι αναρχικοί πιστεύουν ότι η εξουσία διαφθείρει, και ότι αυτοί που περνούν όλη τους τη ζωή αναζητώντας την εξουσία είναι οι τελευταίοι που θα πρέπει να την έχουν. Οι αναρχικοί πιστεύουν ότι το παρόν οικονομικό σύστημα, είναι ποιο πιθανό να ανταμείψει τους ανθρώπους για την εγωιστική και αδίστακτη συμπεριφορά τους, παρά για την αξιοπρέπεια και την τρυφερότητα τους ως ανθρώπινα όντα. Οι περισσότεροι άνθρωποι αισθάνονται έτσι. Η μόνη διαφορά είναι ότι οι περισσότεροι άνθρωποι δεν σκέφτονται πως μπορεί να γίνει κάτι για αυτό, ή τέλος πάντων -και αυτό είναι κάτι στο οποίο οι πιστοί υπηρέτες των δυνατών είναι σχεδόν σίγουρο ότι επιμένουν- οτιδήποτε που δεν θα καταλήξει να κάνει τα πράγματα ακόμα χειρότερα.

Αλλά τι γίνεται αν αυτό δεν είναι αλήθεια;

Και υπάρχει πραγματικά οποιοσδήποτε λόγος να το πιστεύεις αυτό; Στην πραγματικότητα, όταν τις περνάς από τέστ, οι περισσότερες προβλέψεις για το τι θα συμβεί χωρίς κυβερνήσεις ή καπιταλισμό αποδεικνύονται εξολοκλήρου αναληθείς. Για χιλιάδες χρόνια οι άνθρωποι ζούσαν χωρίς κυβερνήσεις. Σε πολλά μέρη του κόσμου οι άνθρωποι ζουν έξω από τον έλεγχο των κυβερνήσεων, σήμερα. Βέβαια, σε μια πολύπλοκη, αστική, τεχνολογική κοινωνία όλο αυτό θα ήταν πιο περίπλοκο: αλλά η τεχνολογία μπορεί επίσης να διευκολύνει την επίλυση όλων αυτών των προβλημάτων. Για την ακρίβεια, δεν έχουμε ξεκινήσει καν να σκεφτόμαστε πως θα ήταν οι ζωές μας αν η τεχνολογία ανταποκρίνονταν αληθινά στις ανθρώπινες ανάγκες. Πόσες ώρες θα έπρεπε να δουλεύουμε αλήθεια ώστε να διατηρούμε μια λειτουργική κοινωνία – αν ξεφορτωνόμασταν δηλαδή όλα τα άχρηστα ή καταστροφικά επαγγέλματα όπως διαφημιστές, δικηγόρους, ανθρωποφύλακες, οικονομικούς αναλυτές, ειδικούς δημοσίων σχέσεων, γραφειοκράτες και πολιτικούς, και στρέφαμε τα καλύτερα επιστημονικά μυαλά μακριά από τους διαστημικούς εξοπλισμούς ή τα συστήματα των χρηματαγορών, ώστε να μηχανοποιήσουν τις επικίνδυνες ή ενοχλητικές εργασίες όπως η εξόρυξη μεταλλευμάτων η ο καθαρισμός της τουαλέτας, και να διανείμουν την υπόλοιπη εργασία σε όλους ισότιμα; Πέντε ώρες την ημέρα; Τρεις; Δύο; Κανείς δεν ξέρει γιατί ποτέ κανένας δεν ρωτάει αυτού του είδους τις ερωτήσεις. Για τους αναρχικούς, αυτές είναι οι ερωτήσεις που θα έπρεπε να ρωτάμε.

Πιστεύεις πραγματικά αυτά που λες στα παιδιά σου (ή έλεγαν σε εσένα οι γονείς σου);

Δεν έχει σημασία ποιος το ξεκίνησε”. “Δύο λάθη δεν κάνουν ένα σωστό”[1]. “Κάνε στους άλλους ότι θα ήθελες να κάνουν και οι άλλοι για εσένα..” “Καθάρισε την ακαταστασία σου”. “Μην είσαι κακός στους ανθρώπους επειδή είναι διαφορετικοί”. Ίσως θα έπρεπε να αποφασίσουμε, αν λέμε ψέμματα στα παιδιά μας όταν τους μιλάμε για το κακό και το καλό ή αν είμαστε πρόθυμοι να πάρουμε στα σοβαρά τις παραινέσεις μας. Διότι, αν ακολουθήσετε αυτές τις ηθικές αρχές μέχρι τα λογικά συμπεράσματα τους, καταλήγετε στον αναρχισμό.

Πάρτε για παράδειγμα την αρχή “δύο λάθη δεν κάνουν ένα σωστό”. Αν πραγματικά το έπαιρνες στα σοβαρά, αυτό από μόνο του θα τίναζε στον αέρα ολόκληρη τη βάση για τον πόλεμο και το σύστημα ποινικού δικαίου. Το ίδιο ισχύει για το μοίρασμα: πάντα λέμε στα παιδιά ότι πρέπει να μάθουν να μοιράζονται, να αλληλοκατανοούν τις ανάγκες τους, να βοηθούν το ένα το άλλο. Μετά βγαίνουμε έξω στον πραγματικό κόσμο όπου υποθέτουμε ότι όλοι είναι εκ του φυσικού τους εγωιστές και ανταγωνιστικοί. Αλλά όπως θα σημείωνε ένα αναρχικός: στη πραγματικότητα, ότι λέμε στα παιδιά μας είναι σωστό. Σχεδόν οποιοδήποτε μεγάλο επίτευγμα που άξιζε το κόπο στην ανθρώπινη ιστορία, κάθε ανακάλυψη ή κατόρθωμα που βελτίωσε τις ζωές μας, βασίστηκε στην συνεργασία και την αλληλοβοήθεια. Ακόμα και τώρα, οι περισσότεροι από εμάς ξοδεύουμε περισσότερα για τις οικογένειες και τους φίλους μας παρά για τους εαυτούς μας. Ενώ, πιθανόν, πάντα θα υπάρχουν ανταγωνιστικοί άνθρωποι στο κόσμο, δεν υπάρχει κανένας λόγος γιατί η κοινωνία πρέπει να βασίζεται στην ενθάρρυνση τέτοιων συμπεριφορών, πόσο μάλλον κάνοντας τους ανθρώπους να ανταγωνίζονται για τις βασικές ανάγκες της ζωής. Αυτό υπηρετεί μόνο τα συμφέροντα των ανθρώπων στην εξουσία, που μας θέλουν να ζούμε μέσα στο φόβο τους ενός για τον άλλο. Γι’ αυτό οι αναρχικοί καλούν για μια κοινωνία βασισμένη όχι μόνο στην ελεύθερη ένωση αλλά και στην αλληλοβοήθεια. Είναι γεγονός ότι τα περισσότερα παιδιά μεγαλώνουν πιστεύοντας στην αναρχική ηθική και σταδιακά έχουν να κατανοήσουν ότι ο κόσμος των ενηλίκων δεν λειτουργεί με αυτό το τρόπο. Για αυτό και τόσα πολλά γίνονται επαναστατικά ή αποξενωμένα, ακόμα και αυτοκτονικά ως έφηβοι, και τελικά, παραιτημένα ως ενήλικες. Η μόνη τους παρηγοριά, συχνά, είναι η δυνατότητα να μεγαλώσουν οι ίδιοι παιδιά και να υποκρίνονται ότι ο κόσμος είναι δίκαιος. Αν όμως μπορούσαμε να ξεκινήσουμε πραγματικά να χτίζουμε ένα κόσμο που, έστω στο ελάχιστο, θα ήταν βασισμένος σε δίκαιες αρχές;

Δεν θα ήταν αυτό το μεγαλύτερο δώρο που θα μπορούσε να δώσει κανείς στα παιδιά του;

Πιστεύεις ότι τα ανθρώπινα όντα είναι θεμελιωδώς διεφθαρμένα και κακά, ή ότι συγκεκριμένα ήδη ανθρώπων (γυναίκες, άνθρωποι διαφορετικού χρώματος, λαϊκοί άνθρωποι που δεν είναι πλούσιοι ή δεν έχουν ανώτερη εκπαίδευση) είναι υποδεέστερα δείγματα, προορισμένα να κυβερνώνται από ανώτερους από αυτούς;

Αν απάντησες “ναι”, ε λοιπόν, δεν είσαι τελικά αναρχικός. Αλλά αν απάντησες “όχι”, τότε, κατά πάσα πιθανότητα προσυπογράφεις το ενενήντα τις εκατό των αναρχικών αρχών, και πιθανόν, σε μεγάλο βαθμό να ζεις τη ζωή σου σύμφωνα με αυτές.

Κάθε φορά που συμπεριφέρεσαι σε έναν άλλο άνθρωπο με κατανόηση και σεβασμό, είσαι αναρχικός. Κάθε φορά που επιλύεις τις διαφορές σου με άλλους με το να έρχεσαι σε έναν λογικό συμβιβασμό, ακούγοντας τι έχει να πει ο καθένας παρά να αφήνεις ένα άτομο να αποφασίζει για όλους τους άλλους, είσαι αναρχικός.Κάθε φορά που έχεις την ευκαιρία να επιβάλεις με τη δύναμη σε κάποιον να κάνει κάτι, αλλά αποφασίζεις να απευθύνεσαι στη λογική του, είσαι αναρχικός. Το ίδιο ισχύει κάθε φορά που μοιράζεσαι κάτι με έναν φίλο, η αποφασίζεις ποιος θα πλύνει τα πιάτα, η κάνεις οτιδήποτε και έχεις τη προσοχή σου στραμμένη στη δικαιοσύνη.

Τώρα, μπορεί να διαφωνήσεις  με όλα αυτά ότι είναι ωραία και καλά ως ένα τρόπος για μικρές ομάδες ανθρώπων να συνεννοηθούν μεταξύ τους, αλλά η διαχείριση μιας πόλης ή μιας χώρας, είναι ένα εντελώς διαφορετικό θέμα. Και φυσικά υπάρχει κάτι σε αυτό. Ακόμα και αν αποκεντροποιήσεις τη κοινωνία και βάλεις όσο περισσότερη δύναμη είναι δυνατή στα χέρια μικρών κοινοτήτων, θα υπάρχουν ακόμα πολλά πράγματα που θα χρειάζονται συντονισμό, από τη λειτουργία των σιδηροδρόμων μέχρι τις αποφάσεις για το ποια κατεύθυνση θα πρέπει να πάρει η ιατρική έρευνα. Αλλά μόνο και μόνο επειδή κάτι είναι περίπλοκο δεν σημαίνει ότι δεν υπάρχει τρόπος να το κάνεις δημοκρατικά. Απλά θα είναι περίπλοκο. Για την ακρίβεια, οι αναρχικοί έχουν ένα σωρό διαφορετικές ιδέες και οράματα για την αυτο-διεύθυνση μιας περίπλοκης κοινωνίας. Το να τα εξηγήσω θα έπαιρνε πολύ περισσότερο από το μέγεθος και τις προθέσεις ενός μικρού εισαγωγικού κειμένου σαν και αυτό. Αρκεί να πούμε, πρώτα απ’ όλα, ότι πολλοί άνθρωποι έχουν ξοδέψει πολύ χρόνο επινοώντας μοντέλα για το πως θα δούλευε μια πραγματικά δημοκρατική και υγιής κοινωνία. Βεβαίως, κανένας αναρχικός δεν ισχυρίζεται ότι έχει το τέλειο σχέδιο. Το τελευταίο πράγμα που θέλουμε είναι να επιβάλουμε προκατασκευασμένα μοντέλα στη κοινωνία ούτως ή άλλως. Η αλήθεια είναι ότι πιθανότατα δεν μπορούμε ούτε να φανταστούμε τα μισά από τα προβλήματα που θα προκύψουν στη προσπάθεια μας να δημιουργήσουμε μια δημοκρατική κοινωνία. Ακόμα και έτσι, είμαστε πεπεισμένοι ότι -με την ανθρώπινη επινοητικότητα να είναι αυτό που είναι- τέτοια προβλήματα μπορούν πάντα να λυθούν,  όσο γίνεται σύμφωνα με το πνεύμα των βασικών αρχών μας, οι οποίες σε τελική ανάλυση είναι οι αρχές της θεμελιώδους ανθρώπινης αξιοπρέπειας.

Σημειώσεις:

[1] Σ.τ.μ.: Εδώ η μετάφραση έχει γίνει αυτολεξεί. Το ποιο κοντινό στην ελληνική γλώσσα είναι το αρχαίο ρητό “το δις εξαμαρτείν ουκ ανδρός σοφού” αν και προφανώς δεν χρησιμοποιείται ως παραίνεση σε παιδιά μικρής ηλικίας.


Σύντομο URL: http://wp.me/pyR3u-bhn

David Graeber: Are You An Anarchist? The Answer May Surprise You!

Chances are you have already heard something about who anarchists are and what they are supposed to believe. Chances are almost everything you have heard is nonsense. Many people seem to think that anarchists are proponents of violence, chaos, and destruction, that they are against all forms of order and organization, or that they are crazed nihilists who just want to blow everything up. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Anarchists are simply people who believe human beings are capable of behaving in a reasonable fashion without having to be forced to. It is really a very simple notion. But it’s one that the rich and powerful have always found extremely dangerous.

At their very simplest, anarchist beliefs turn on to two elementary assumptions. The first is that human beings are, under ordinary circumstances, about as reasonable and decent as they are allowed to be, and can organize themselves and their communities without needing to be told how. The second is that power corrupts. Most of all, anarchism is just a matter of having the courage to take the simple principles of common decency that we all live by, and to follow them through to their logical conclusions. Odd though this may seem, in most important ways you are probably already an anarchist — you just don’t realize it. Let’s start by taking a few examples from everyday life.

If there’s a line to get on a crowded bus, do you wait your turn and refrain from elbowing your way past others even in the absence of police?

If you answered “yes”, then you are used to acting like an anarchist! The most basic anarchist principle is self-organization: the assumption that human beings do not need to be threatened with prosecution in order to be able to come to reasonable understandings with each other, or to treat each other with dignity and respect.

Everyone believes they are capable of behaving reasonably themselves. If they think laws and police are necessary, it is only because they don’t believe that other people are. But if you think about it, don’t those people all feel exactly the same way about you? Anarchists argue that almost all the anti-social behavior which makes us think it’s necessary to have armies, police, prisons, and governments to control our lives, is actually caused by the systematic inequalities and injustice those armies, police, prisons and governments make possible. It’s all a vicious circle. If people are used to being treated like their opinions do not matter, they are likely to become angry and cynical, even violent — which of course makes it easy for those in power to say that their opinions do not matter. Once they understand that their opinions really do matter just as much as anyone else’s, they tend to become remarkably understanding. To cut a long story short: anarchists believe that for the most part it is power itself, and the effects of power, that make people stupid and irresponsible.

Are you a member of a club or sports team or any other voluntary organization where decisions are not imposed by one leader but made on the basis of general consent?

If you answered “yes”, then you belong to an organization which works on anarchist principles! Another basic anarchist principle is voluntary association. This is simply a matter of applying democratic principles to ordinary life. The only difference is that anarchists believe it should be possible to have a society in which everything could be organized along these lines, all groups based on the free consent of their members, and therefore, that all top-down, military styles of organization like armies or bureaucracies or large corporations, based on chains of command, would no longer be necessary. Perhaps you don’t believe that would be possible. Perhaps you do. But every time you reach an agreement by consensus, rather than threats, every time you make a voluntary arrangement with another person, come to an understanding, or reach a compromise by taking due consideration of the other person’s particular situation or needs, you are being an anarchist — even if you don’t realize it.

Anarchism is just the way people act when they are free to do as they choose, and when they deal with others who are equally free — and therefore aware of the responsibility to others that entails. This leads to another crucial point: that while people can be reasonable and considerate when they are dealing with equals, human nature is such that they cannot be trusted to do so when given power over others. Give someone such power, they will almost invariably abuse it in some way or another.

Do you believe that most politicians are selfish, egotistical swine who don’t really care about the public interest? Do you think we live in an economic system which is stupid and unfair?

If you answered “yes”, then you subscribe to the anarchist critique of today’s society — at least, in its broadest outlines. Anarchists believe that power corrupts and those who spend their entire lives seeking power are the very last people who should have it. Anarchists believe that our present economic system is more likely to reward people for selfish and unscrupulous behavior than for being decent, caring human beings. Most people feel that way. The only difference is that most people don’t think there’s anything that can be done about it, or anyway — and this is what the faithful servants of the powerful are always most likely to insist — anything that won’t end up making things even worse.
But what if that weren’t true?

And is there really any reason to believe this? When you can actually test them, most of the usual predictions about what would happen without states or capitalism turn out to be entirely untrue. For thousands of years people lived without governments. In many parts of the world people live outside of the control of governments today. They do not all kill each other. Mostly they just get on about their lives the same as anyone else would. Of course, in a complex, urban, technological society all this would be more complicated: but technology can also make all these problems a lot easier to solve. In fact, we have not even begun to think about what our lives could be like if technology were really marshaled to fit human needs. How many hours would we really need to work in order to maintain a functional society — that is, if we got rid of all the useless or destructive occupations like telemarketers, lawyers, prison guards, financial analysts, public relations experts, bureaucrats and politicians, and turn our best scientific minds away from working on space weaponry or stock market systems to mechanizing away dangerous or annoying tasks like coal mining or cleaning the bathroom, and distribute the remaining work among everyone equally? Five hours a day? Four? Three? Two? Nobody knows because no one is even asking this kind of question. Anarchists think these are the very questions we should be asking.

Do you really believe those things you tell your children (or that your parents told you)?

“It doesn’t matter who started it.” “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” “Clean up your own mess.” “Do unto others…” “Don’t be mean to people just because they’re different.” Perhaps we should decide whether we’re lying to our children when we tell them about right and wrong, or whether we’re willing to take our own injunctions seriously. Because if you take these moral principles to their logical conclusions, you arrive at anarchism.

Take the principle that two wrongs don’t make a right. If you really took it seriously, that alone would knock away almost the entire basis for war and the criminal justice system. The same goes for sharing: we’re always telling children that they have to learn to share, to be considerate of each other’s needs, to help each other; then we go off into the real world where we assume that everyone is naturally selfish and competitive. But an anarchist would point out: in fact, what we say to our children is right. Pretty much every great worthwhile achievement in human history, every discovery or accomplishment that’s improved our lives, has been based on cooperation and mutual aid; even now, most of us spend more of our money on our friends and families than on ourselves; while likely as not there will always be competitive people in the world, there’s no reason why society has to be based on encouraging such behavior, let alone making people compete over the basic necessities of life. That only serves the interests of people in power, who want us to live in fear of one another. That’s why anarchists call for a society based not only on free association but mutual aid. The fact is that most children grow up believing in anarchist morality, and then gradually have to realize that the adult world doesn’t really work that way. That’s why so many become rebellious, or alienated, even suicidal as adolescents, and finally, resigned and bitter as adults; their only solace, often, being the ability to raise children of their own and pretend to them that the world is fair. But what if we really could start to build a world which really was at least founded on principles of justice? Wouldn’t that be the greatest gift to one’s children one could possibly give?

Do you believe that human beings are fundamentally corrupt and evil, or that certain sorts of people (women, people of color, ordinary folk who are not rich or highly educated) are inferior specimens, destined to be ruled by their betters?

If you answered “yes”, then, well, it looks like you aren’t an anarchist after all. But if you answered “no”, then chances are you already subscribe to 90% of anarchist principles, and, likely as not, are living your life largely in accord with them. Every time you treat another human with consideration and respect, you are being an anarchist. Every time you work out your differences with others by coming to reasonable compromise, listening to what everyone has to say rather than letting one person decide for everyone else, you are being an anarchist. Every time you have the opportunity to force someone to do something, but decide to appeal to their sense of reason or justice instead, you are being an anarchist. The same goes for every time you share something with a friend, or decide who is going to do the dishes, or do anything at all with an eye to fairness.

Now, you might object that all this is well and good as a way for small groups of people to get on with each other, but managing a city, or a country, is an entirely different matter. And of course there is something to this. Even if you decentralize society and put as much power as possible in the hands of small communities, there will still be plenty of things that need to be coordinated, from running railroads to deciding on directions for medical research. But just because something is complicated does not mean there is no way to do it democratically. It would just be complicated. In fact, anarchists have all sorts of different ideas and visions about how a complex society might manage itself. To explain them though would go far beyond the scope of a little introductory text like this. Suffice it to say, first of all, that a lot of people have spent a lot of time coming up with models for how a really democratic, healthy society might work; but second, and just as importantly, no anarchist claims to have a perfect blueprint. The last thing we want is to impose prefab models on society anyway. The truth is we probably can’t even imagine half the problems that will come up when we try to create a democratic society; still, we’re confident that, human ingenuity being what it is, such problems can always be solved, so long as it is in the spirit of our basic principles — which are, in the final analysis, simply the principles of fundamental human decency.

Via The Anarchist Library

Antonio Gramsci: Odio gli indifferenti

Odio gli indifferenti. Credo che vivere voglia dire essere partigiani. Chi vive veramente non può non essere cittadino e partigiano. L’indifferenza è abulia, è parassitismo, è vigliaccheria, non è vita. Perciò odio gli indifferenti.

L’indifferenza è il peso morto della storia. L’indifferenza opera potentemente nella storia. Opera passivamente, ma opera. È la fatalità; è ciò su cui non si può contare; è ciò che sconvolge i programmi, che rovescia i piani meglio costruiti; è la materia bruta che strozza l’intelligenza. Ciò che succede, il male che si abbatte su tutti, avviene perché la massa degli uomini abdica alla sua volontà, lascia promulgare le leggi che solo la rivolta potrà abrogare, lascia salire al potere uomini che poi solo un ammutinamento potrà rovesciare. Tra l’assenteismo e l’indifferenza poche mani, non sorvegliate da alcun controllo, tessono la tela della vita collettiva, e la massa ignora, perché non se ne preoccupa; e allora sembra sia la fatalità a travolgere tutto e tutti, sembra che la storia non sia altro che un enorme fenomeno naturale, un’eruzione, un terremoto del quale rimangono vittime tutti, chi ha voluto e chi non ha voluto, chi sapeva e chi non sapeva, chi era stato attivo e chi indifferente. Alcuni piagnucolano pietosamente, altri bestemmiano oscenamente, ma nessuno o pochi si domandano: se avessi fatto anch’io il mio dovere, se avessi cercato di far valere la mia volontà, sarebbe successo ciò che è successo?

Odio gli indifferenti anche per questo: perché mi dà fastidio il loro piagnisteo da eterni innocenti. Chiedo conto a ognuno di loro del come ha svolto il compito che la vita gli ha posto e gli pone quotidianamente, di ciò che ha fatto e specialmente di ciò che non ha fatto. E sento di poter essere inesorabile, di non dover sprecare la mia pietà, di non dover spartire con loro le mie lacrime.

Sono partigiano, vivo, sento nelle coscienze della mia parte già pulsare l’attività della città futura che la mia parte sta costruendo. E in essa la catena sociale non pesa su pochi, in essa ogni cosa che succede non è dovuta al caso, alla fatalità, ma è intelligente opera dei cittadini. Non c’è in essa nessuno che stia alla finestra a guardare mentre i pochi si sacrificano, si svenano. Vivo, sono partigiano. Perciò odio chi non parteggia, odio gli indifferenti.

Antonio Gramsci, 11 febbraio 1917

Via bluesandrea-quotations.blogspot.gr

Il testo in inglese e in greco

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Antonio Gramsci: I hate the indifferent

I hate the indifferent. I believe that living means taking sides. Those who really live cannot help being a citizen and a partisan. Indifference and apathy are parasitism, perversion, not life. That is why I hate the indifferent.

The indifference is the deadweight of history. The indifference operates with great power on history. The indifference operates passively, but it operates. It is fate, that which cannot be counted on. It twists programs and ruins the best-conceived plans. It is the raw material that ruins intelligence. That what happens, the evil that weighs upon all, happens because the human mass abdicates to their will; allows laws to be promulgated that only the revolt could nullify, and leaves men that only a mutiny will be able to overthrow to achieve the power. The mass ignores because it is careless and then it seems like it is the product of fate that runs over everything and everyone: the one who consents as well as the one who dissents; the one who knew as well as the one who didn’t know; the active as well as the indifferent. Some whimper piously, others curse obscenely, but nobody, or very few ask themselves: If I had tried to impose my will, would this have happened?

I also hate the indifferent because of that: because their whimpering of eternally innocent ones annoys me. I make each one liable: how they have tackled with the task that life has given and gives them every day, what have they done, and especially, what they have not done. And I feel I have the right to be inexorable and not squander my compassion, of not sharing my tears with them.

I am a partisan, I am alive, I feel the pulse of the activity of the future city that those on my side are building is alive in their conscience. And in it, the social chain does not rest on a few; nothing of what happens in it is a matter of luck, nor the product of fate, but the intelligent work of the citizens. Nobody in it is looking from the window of the sacrifice and the drain of a few. Alive, I am a partisan. That is why I hate the ones that don’t take sides, I hate the indifferent.

Antonio Gramsci, February 11, 1917

Via bluesandrea-quotations.blogspot.gr 

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Edgar Allan Poe: The Tell-Tale Heart

TRUE!–nervous –very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses –not destroyed –not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily –how calmly I can tell you the whole story.

It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! yes, it was this! He had the eye of a vulture –a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees –very gradually –I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.

Now this is the point. You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded –with what caution –with what foresight –with what dissimulation I went to work! I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him. And every night, about midnight, I turned the latch of his door and opened it –oh so gently! And then, when I had made an opening sufficient for my head, I put in a dark lantern, all closed, closed, that no light shone out, and then I thrust in my head. Oh, you would have laughed to see how cunningly I thrust it in! I moved it slowly –very, very slowly, so that I might not disturb the old man’s sleep. It took me an hour to place my whole head within the opening so far that I could see him as he lay upon his bed. Ha! would a madman have been so wise as this, And then, when my head was well in the room, I undid the lantern cautiously-oh, so cautiously –cautiously (for the hinges creaked) –I undid it just so much that a single thin ray fell upon the vulture eye. And this I did for seven long nights –every night just at midnight –but I found the eye always closed; and so it was impossible to do the work; for it was not the old man who vexed me, but his Evil Eye. And every morning, when the day broke, I went boldly into the chamber, and spoke courageously to him, calling him by name in a hearty tone, and inquiring how he has passed the night. So you see he would have been a very profound old man, indeed, to suspect that every night, just at twelve, I looked in upon him while he slept.

Upon the eighth night I was more than usually cautious in opening the door. A watch’s minute hand moves more quickly than did mine. Never before that night had I felt the extent of my own powers –of my sagacity. I could scarcely contain my feelings of triumph. To think that there I was, opening the door, little by little, and he not even to dream of my secret deeds or thoughts. I fairly chuckled at the idea; and perhaps he heard me; for he moved on the bed suddenly, as if startled. Now you may think that I drew back –but no. His room was as black as pitch with the thick darkness, (for the shutters were close fastened, through fear of robbers,) and so I knew that he could not see the opening of the door, and I kept pushing it on steadily, steadily.

I had my head in, and was about to open the lantern, when my thumb slipped upon the tin fastening, and the old man sprang up in bed, crying out –«Who’s there?»

I kept quite still and said nothing. For a whole hour I did not move a muscle, and in the meantime I did not hear him lie down. He was still sitting up in the bed listening; –just as I have done, night after night, hearkening to the death watches in the wall.

Presently I heard a slight groan, and I knew it was the groan of mortal terror. It was not a groan of pain or of grief –oh, no! –it was the low stifled sound that arises from the bottom of the soul when overcharged with awe. I knew the sound well. Many a night, just at midnight, when all the world slept, it has welled up from my own bosom, deepening, with its dreadful echo, the terrors that distracted me. I say I knew it well. I knew what the old man felt, and pitied him, although I chuckled at heart. I knew that he had been lying awake ever since the first slight noise, when he had turned in the bed. His fears had been ever since growing upon him. He had been trying to fancy them causeless, but could not. He had been saying to himself –«It is nothing but the wind in the chimney –it is only a mouse crossing the floor,» or «It is merely a cricket which has made a single chirp.» Yes, he had been trying to comfort himself with these suppositions: but he had found all in vain. All in vain; because Death, in approaching him had stalked with his black shadow before him, and enveloped the victim. And it was the mournful influence of the unperceived shadow that caused him to feel –although he neither saw nor heard –to feel the presence of my head within the room.

When I had waited a long time, very patiently, without hearing him lie down, I resolved to open a little –a very, very little crevice in the lantern. So I opened it –you cannot imagine how stealthily, stealthily –until, at length a simple dim ray, like the thread of the spider, shot from out the crevice and fell full upon the vulture eye.

It was open –wide, wide open –and I grew furious as I gazed upon it. I saw it with perfect distinctness –all a dull blue, with a hideous veil over it that chilled the very marrow in my bones; but I could see nothing else of the old man’s face or person: for I had directed the ray as if by instinct, precisely upon the damned spot.

And have I not told you that what you mistake for madness is but over-acuteness of the sense? –now, I say, there came to my ears a low, dull, quick sound, such as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I knew that sound well, too. It was the beating of the old man’s heart. It increased my fury, as the beating of a drum stimulates the soldier into courage.

But even yet I refrained and kept still. I scarcely breathed. I held the lantern motionless. I tried how steadily I could maintain the ray upon the eve. Meantime the hellish tattoo of the heart increased. It grew quicker and quicker, and louder and louder every instant. The old man’s terror must have been extreme! It grew louder, I say, louder every moment! –do you mark me well I have told you that I am nervous: so I am. And now at the dead hour of the night, amid the dreadful silence of that old house, so strange a noise as this excited me to uncontrollable terror. Yet, for some minutes longer I refrained and stood still. But the beating grew louder, louder! I thought the heart must burst. And now a new anxiety seized me –the sound would be heard by a neighbour! The old man’s hour had come! With a loud yell, I threw open the lantern and leaped into the room. He shrieked once –once only. In an instant I dragged him to the floor, and pulled the heavy bed over him. I then smiled gaily, to find the deed so far done. But, for many minutes, the heart beat on with a muffled sound. This, however, did not vex me; it would not be heard through the wall. At length it ceased. The old man was dead. I removed the bed and examined the corpse. Yes, he was stone, stone dead. I placed my hand upon the heart and held it there many minutes. There was no pulsation. He was stone dead. His eve would trouble me no more.

If still you think me mad, you will think so no longer when I describe the wise precautions I took for the concealment of the body. The night waned, and I worked hastily, but in silence. First of all I dismembered the corpse. I cut off the head and the arms and the legs.

I then took up three planks from the flooring of the chamber, and deposited all between the scantlings. I then replaced the boards so cleverly, so cunningly, that no human eye –not even his –could have detected any thing wrong. There was nothing to wash out –no stain of any kind –no blood-spot whatever. I had been too wary for that. A tub had caught all –ha! ha!

When I had made an end of these labors, it was four o’clock –still dark as midnight. As the bell sounded the hour, there came a knocking at the street door. I went down to open it with a light heart, –for what had I now to fear? There entered three men, who introduced themselves, with perfect suavity, as officers of the police. A shriek had been heard by a neighbour during the night; suspicion of foul play had been aroused; information had been lodged at the police office, and they (the officers) had been deputed to search the premises.

I smiled, –for what had I to fear? I bade the gentlemen welcome. The shriek, I said, was my own in a dream. The old man, I mentioned, was absent in the country. I took my visitors all over the house. I bade them search –search well. I led them, at length, to his chamber. I showed them his treasures, secure, undisturbed. In the enthusiasm of my confidence, I brought chairs into the room, and desired them here to rest from their fatigues, while I myself, in the wild audacity of my perfect triumph, placed my own seat upon the very spot beneath which reposed the corpse of the victim.

The officers were satisfied. My manner had convinced them. I was singularly at ease. They sat, and while I answered cheerily, they chatted of familiar things. But, ere long, I felt myself getting pale and wished them gone. My head ached, and I fancied a ringing in my ears: but still they sat and still chatted. The ringing became more distinct: –It continued and became more distinct: I talked more freely to get rid of the feeling: but it continued and gained definiteness –until, at length, I found that the noise was not within my ears.

No doubt I now grew very pale; –but I talked more fluently, and with a heightened voice. Yet the sound increased –and what could I do? It was a low, dull, quick sound –much such a sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I gasped for breath –and yet the officers heard it not. I talked more quickly –more vehemently; but the noise steadily increased. I arose and argued about trifles, in a high key and with violent gesticulations; but the noise steadily increased. Why would they not be gone? I paced the floor to and fro with heavy strides, as if excited to fury by the observations of the men –but the noise steadily increased. Oh God! what could I do? I foamed –I raved –I swore! I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased. It grew louder –louder –louder! And still the men chatted pleasantly, and smiled. Was it possible they heard not? Almighty God! –no, no! They heard! –they suspected! –they knew! –they were making a mockery of my horror!-this I thought, and this I think. But anything was better than this agony! Anything was more tolerable than this derision! I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer! I felt that I must scream or die! and now –again! –hark! louder! louder! louder! louder!

«Villains!» I shrieked, «dissemble no more! I admit the deed! –tear up the planks! here, here! –It is the beating of his hideous heart!»

Via xroads.virginia.edu 

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