Tag Archives: kindness

Thoughts on Spain

I will be the first to admit that I haven’t been engaged with the protests/encampment/revolution in Spain the way that I should have been. This is partly because of events going on in my personal life, and partly in an attempt to keep me grounded in the here and now instead of wishing I had been somewhere else at just the right moment, which at least for me is the danger of watching such inspiring things happen from afar.

"we don't represent any political party or labor union, we are outraged citizens"

Happily, Counter Cartographies Collective has done some nice blogging about what’s going on so I don’t have to go too far out of my way to catch up. There are also some good materials at the Edu-factory site, and the website for the Acampada Sol itself is pretty amazing.

In her autobiography, Emma Goldman often labeled as anarchist folks who themselves thought they subscribed to other forms of political thought like liberalism or socialism. For her, anarchism was a way of approaching the world, the spirit of treating everyone with respect (ok, except for those who were part of the state’s apparatus of repression) and fighting for a world where everyone could be free in every sense of the word. More than any one specific political theory or Marxist strain, this has always seemed to me a pretty reasonable way to think about anarchism, not to mention an appropriately anarchic one.

From what I have read about the Acampada Sol, it resembles very closely my idea of an anarchist space. It has assembly-based decision-making, an egalitarian ethos that constitutes a constant struggle, and at least some effort to recognize and valorize the subaltern (and maybe more than that). Is it perfectly nonhierarchical? I’m sure it isn’t. But that isn’t the point of an anarchist space. The point is to create alternatives to capitalism and liberal democracy in such a way that the possibilities for radical freedom are expanded rather than foreclosed.

In other words, if you believe, as I do, that ideally all people should be able to determine the right course for themselves, then working to create or support a system of representative democracy, even on the small scale in an encampment, is to immediately give up the possibility of ever living in a free world. Experimenting with other forms of relating and governing spaces, on the other hand, even if they are difficult, faulty, or even unsustainable, leaves open other possibilities.

Leave a comment

Filed under world events

self care

Today I was thinking about a few changes I have made that have improved my life the most in the last few years. Though it’s my understanding that many anarchists are suspicious of psychology/psychoanalysis/etc. as a whole because of its individualist tendencies, I find psychobabble both essential for coping with my life in the world that I have been given as well as incredibly helpful in allowing me to dream about what it means to be really happy. For me, this harmonizes well with an anarchist desire to be fulfilled, in this world and not the next.

(Aaron Fermer - SFWeekly)

First, I have learned to be kind to myself (or at least I have learned that I should try to be kind to myself). Being kind to oneself doesn’t need to contradict being kind to others, nor do I want to go down the slippery slope of yuppie justification for materialism. Kindness isn’t manifested through consumption. For me, being kind to myself comes in the form of asking what I need or want from a day or a given situation. If I am feeling unhappy, asking what I might need in order to feel better and then not feeling guilty if I place those needs first and foremost in my day. Anarchism is a lot about creating genuine interconnection with others, and I am a lot more capable of doing that when I feel satisfied and at peace with myself than when I feel guilty or angry.

The second is the power of an open mind (which has some nice parallels in what I think works best within anarchism itself). I only learned to meditate, for example, when I figured out that it wouldn’t work if I tried to actively shut out all my thoughts. Rather, I have to recognize and accept that how I feel is how I feel, and what pops into my mind is uncontrollable. It does no good to try to stop either. What I can control is how much time and attention I give to these thoughts, just as I can control how I act on my feelings. Once I figured out the key to meditation was opening rather than closing my mind, I was able to relax for possibly the first time in my life.

Just some thoughts I wanted to throw out there since in my experience, those who feel the most committed to radical kindness to others are often the worst at practicing this with ourselves. Recognizing privilege can make us being kind to ourselves feel indulgent and selfish, but what are we working so hard for if not a world where we can ALL feel fulfilled? And we’ll never get there if we’re all burnt out.

2 Comments

Filed under myself