Hello, Failure

Of all the enemies of literature, success is the most insidious

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Failure of the Frickin’ Century: Anarchy

Saturday was nice—not too warm, not too sunny, but still somehow Springy—so we journeyed into the Park to check out the Anarchist Book Fair. It may have been the most depressing afternoon of either of our lives.

Oh sure, we were charmed at first by the large and varied collection of anarchist dogs, for whom black bandanas around the neck are all the rage this season, but what immediately struck both of us was the utter and profound air of defeat that hung around the fair like a bad smell…or rather like another bad smell, one that hung on top of the smell of anarchists themselves.

It didn’t used to be this way. For a while, I lived directly across the street from the Anarchist Collective bookstore on Haight, and the people who ran the store looked like bright young idealistic college kids itchin’ for a fight. They seemed fierce to me, and armed to the teeth with righteousness and intellectual alacrity. I loved them and I loved the anarchistic utopian ideal, though I was never foolish enough to believe it was actually possible in any society involving humans. Plus I had serious questions about how I would get my mail. I love mail.

The collection of organizations that gathered yesterday to draw our attention to topics of immediate concern such as the 80+ year old Sacco-Vanzetti case, and sell a variety of books and t-shirts about causes so broad and far-reaching and lifestyle-invasive that it would be impossible for one individual to support even half of them, was nothing like the crisp anarchist warriors of yore. Today’s anarchists are dirty, rude, judgmental, fractured and horribly, fatally out-of-touch. They are a living breathing demonstration of why their idea will never, ever work.

But even that wasn’t the worst of it. The worst of it was that there wasn’t a soul in the place who wasn’t entirely aware of the fact that the rule of law was the one single thing that had prevented Terri Schiavo that very week from becoming Jeb Bush’s personal property, a ragdoll for him to pose in the stations of the cross. Nothing takes the wind out of your sails like being saved from one enemy by another enemy, I guess.

We spent the rest of the day washing our hands (literally, figuratively) of anarchists and their worse-than-impotent rage. La la la ... political doom. I'm getting closer and closer to this for real.


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