Saturday, October 09, 2004

Intentional Communities

Speaking of intentional communities I think that the whole "lifestyle vs. non-lifestyle" debate in anarchist and libertarian, of various stripes, communities, is a little misplaced.

Prime evidence Rudolph Rocker. Rudolph Rocker wrote the book, or a book, on Anarcho-Syndicalism in the English language. His book Anarcho-Syndicalism has just been re-issued by AK Press. Rocker was extraordinarily active in the Jewish labor movement, mostly of garment workers, and was extraordinarily active in the leftist yiddish press of New York city.

So, Anarcho-Syndicalist labor bona fides established.

What's less known about Rocker is that he spent the last decade or so of his life in an intentional community.

He was a core member of a commune in upstate New York run by anarchists.

So here you have a person who can't be challenged as being anti-labor in any sense who nonetheless participated in and saw nothing wrong with engaging in alternative living.

So much for the argument that labor anarchists don't give a damn about making a different world in the here and now through collective action.

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I think that both parts of the argument are valid...there's nothing in either sort of tendency which is mutually exclusive.

There's another form of leftism which has the same boundary breaking characteristics and that is Italian anarchism as it existed particularly in the immigrant communities of the United States and Canada.

Individualism or collective solidarity? They saw no reason why you couldn't have both, and they were really, really serious about it.

The best example of this tendency in print are Vanzetti's letters...as in Sacco and Vanzetti.

Paul Avrich's "Anarchist Voices" is great for primary information, both about the Italians and about Rocker.

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Another great example of this tendency of truly combining individualism and communism, or collectivism, if you will, is Albert Parsons, the Hay Market Martyr.

His wife Lucy is extraordinary as well and her writings have just been reissused by Charles H. Kerr publishing.

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What else exemplifies this trend?

Probably the more individualistic elements of the IWW.

They definitely had the sort of combination of anti-capitalism with both collective action and promotion of the individual which I'm talking about.

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I identify with all of this most strongly, although I have other theoretical ideas as well...

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