“All this Boundless Multitude:” Rereading Mikahail Bakunin for EcoJustice Education
Rebecca A. Martusewicz
One hundred thirty years ago or so, my great-grandfather, an employee in this country’s booming logging industry, was helping to wipe out the great pines in the northern Midwest of the United States to re-build Chicago. To accomplish this feat in Northern Michigan, the government first had to dispossess the Ojibwe tribes of their relationship to the land and rivers that they had depended upon for centuries, sending them to live on reservations, never to provide for their families in the same way again. It took a mere thirty years to completely wipe out those ancient forests. Imagine wh... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) To oppose something is to maintain it.
—Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness
I have a memory. It was 1984: a presidential election year in the United States. We had a mock election in school. To learn about the process? To start practicing early? I was eight years old. Only one person in our class voted for Walter Mondale against Ronald Reagan. When these results were read aloud, the girl in front of me turned around and pointedly asked, “It was you, wasn’t it?” It wasn’t.
After school (that day? another?) a boy from my class asked me if I was a Democrat or a Republican. When I said, “Neither,” he was perplexed. “You have to be one or the other,” he responded, with all the ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Gender is a system of categorizing ourselves and each other (including bodies, desires, and behaviors) running through every aspect of culture and society, and intertwining with other categories and hierarchies (race, class, sexuality, age, ability, and so much more). Various aspects of biology (for example, genitals, chromosomes, and body shape) are interpreted to mean that human beings naturally belong in one of two categories: male and female. But if we look more closely, we might question the nature of gender. Biology, human and otherwise, is wonderfully diverse.
Nature doesn’t give us these two options. We interpret and categorize, and then come to believe that those interpretations, those categories, are the truth. Gender doesn... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Listen to yourself,
to the subtle flows
of emotion, desire
coursing through your body.
You need not conform
to any boxes, any borders.
these simple lines
what you bring to the world.
Voices may say,
“You’re not good enough,
you’re not doing it right.”
You need not hold
in your belly.
Let them go,
when you are ready.
do what moves you.
Feel your breath, your body.
Touch your heart.
Caress your skin.
Take in the touch you need
of wind and water,
earth and sun,
food and drink,
hands and mouths.
... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Throughout my life somebody has always tried to set the boundaries of who and what I will be allowed to be [...]. What is common to these boundary lines is that their most destructive power lies in what I can be persuaded to do to myself — the walls of fear, shame, and guilt I can be encouraged to build in my own mind. [...] I am to hide myself, and hate myself, and never risk exposing what might be true about my life. I have learned through great sorrow that all systems of oppression feed on public silence and private terrorization. [...] For all of us, it is the public expression of desire that is embattled, any deviation from what we are supposed to want and be, how we are supposed to behave.
Dorothy Allison (1995:116–117)
... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Identity is the process of creating and maintaining borders, creating different kinds of people. This keeps the world packaged in tidy little boxes. These boxes, in turn, are necessary for the violence and domination of hierarchical societies. There cannot be masters or slaves, bosses or workers, men or women, whites or blacks, leaders or followers, heterosexuals or queers, without identity.
Social movement , both past and present, often attempts to use identity as a tool of liberation. Movement based on gender, sexual orientation, class, ethnic and ability identities all have some success in challenging hierarchy and oppression. By no means do I mean to diminish the impact of past and present activism. Personally, my life would have be... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) There’s a story, you may have heard it. It has many forms and goes something like this. Some people are powerful. They are the ones in charge, in control. They make things happen. If you or me or anyone else who isn’t rich, isn’t powerful wants to see things change, we have to ask them to make changes for us. The other side of this story is that we, that you and I, are powerless. Do you tell yourself this story? I do, sometimes. It’s just the way things are. There’s nothing we can do. Those are the rules.
The thing is, these are just stories. I know they are not true.
Don’t get me wrong, I love stories. One of my favorite is writers, Ursula Le Guin, once wrote ‘All of us have to l... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) One morning, not that long ago, I answered the door in my dressing gown to the sight of a man from the energy company. He came to ask me why I had chosen to switch suppliers. As I explained that I preferred one with a better environmental policy, I slowly realized that not only did this guy have gorgeous eyes, he was watching me closely. I went on to say, performing a bit for this beautiful man, “Of course all corporations and really capitalism in general is bad for the environment”. He agreed, his eyes glowing with excitement. But, what could he do? He had a mortgage to pay. I’m not quite sure why, maybe I was scared of the intensity of my attraction, but suddenly I found myself channeling some broken record of anarchist ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) I don’t know about you, but when I think of the coming summer my dreams are of soft fruit and sunlight on skin. My fantasies are of playing with friends at the beach or in the park, of reading novels and growing vegetables. If his recent press release is anything to go by, Police Superintendent David Hartshorn’s fantasies are of a different order.
In his fantasy story (press release), the police are knights in shining armor (and riot gear is shiny...) protecting vulnerable citizens from being recruited by dastardly political extremists. Together they would threaten Britain with a “summer of rage”. Even normally rational middle-class people are vulnerable to manipulation at the moment, police say, because of their an... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Dedication
To all those struggling toward a world without bosses, borders, and boredom.
Queering anarchism? What would that mean? Isn’t “anarchism” enough of a boogeyman in this country that any effort to “queer” it would only make it appear even more alien and irrelevant to mainstream culture than it already is? Why do it? And why now?
Because—as this anthology makes evident in its multifaceted exploration of the many dimensions of both anarchism and queer—we have only just begun to understand the many possibilities offered by a queered anarchism, both with respect to critiques of existing institutions and practices and with respect to imagining alternatives to th... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Dear Ursula,
This is the first love letter I’ve written to an 80-year-old woman. Most of the people I have fallen in love with, or in lust with, have been men. And so far, all of them have been at least 30 years younger than you. Nor is this love like that I feel for my grandmothers, nearer to you in age and gender. In many ways, I feel closer to you. They have not been so forthcoming with their own stories. I suppose they’ve learned not to be in a culture which often ignores old women. Nor have they had many chances to speak to me, nor I to listen. Unlike most in human history, my culture is carefully segregated by age. You have reminded me of this oddity in your own fragments of anarchist anthropology.
No, my relationship wi... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) [Note to reader: what follows is the theoretical section of the paper. The empirical aspect is still under revision. This is very much a work in progress. Please do not cite without permission.]
Identity has come to dominate the politics of sexuality. The history of lesbian and gay politics stems from resistance that developed after the birth of non-identical identities: heterosexuality and homosexuality (bisexual politics came later). According to historian Jonathan Katz (1996), the word heterosexual was first used in something like its contemporary sense in 1893. Austrian psychiatrist and sexologist Richard von Krafft-Ebing helped change the definition of sexually normal and healthy from one based on conscious efforts towards reproductio... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Colin Ward’s writing, spanning three decades and twenty-seven books, focus on recognizing the low-input alternatives which already exist and which can help inspire transitions to more resilient and sustainable cultures. His work also shares a number of key concerns and ideas about organization with Permaculture — the ethical design system which underlies the Transition movement.
Throughout his career as an architect, educationalist, planner and writer, Colin Ward expressed an enduring commitment to sustainability, freedom and equality (in permaculture terms: Earth care, people care and fair shares). He also wrote directly about key concerns of the Transition movement — the importance of allotments (The Allotment: Its Land... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)