WTO - Eugene Anarchists Shun Corporate & Government Hierarchy FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Sun, 12 Dec 1999 23:35:56 -0800 (PST)


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Does the AP news story below accurately portray "anarchy"?  Why or why not?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/aponline/19991212/aponline184139_000.htm
FWD  Washington Post - Sunday, Dec. 12, 1999; 6:41 p.m. EST

Seattle Protesters Shun Consumption

By Jeff Barnard
Associated Press Writer

EUGENE, Ore. -- On a quiet street in Eugene's oldest and funkiest
neighborhood, a mural on the side of an art gallery expresses the idyllic
world vision of many of the anarchists who took part in the Seattle
protests against the World Trade Organization.

It is a far cry from the scenes of confrontation and violence that included
black-clad youths jumping through the broken windows of a Seattle Starbucks.

Instead, the mural reflects a longing for a world where people live in
small villages and grow their own food without global corporations running
their lives, where the sun rises on a village of small huts and terraced
gardens while sunset falls on an abandoned sawmill and a hillside covered
with stumps.

In the foreground, a nude woman reclining in a forest uses a quill pen to
mark a map of radioactive hazard sites. Another woman, one breast lost to
cancer, strings webbing on a snowshoe.

"The goal is a sustainable planet," said Tim Ream, a veteran of a 75-day
hunger strike to protest logging. "We have species dying off at the
greatest rate since mammals came on Earth, and it's happening because of
Western consumption.

"What we need is to spread power back to small communities and individuals."

The mural shows "the civilized world being eaten up in a natural way," says
anarchist Tim Lewis.

Lewis was in the middle of the Seattle melee, which occurred the week after
Thanksgiving. He videotaped clashes between demonstrators and police as
part of his CopWatch project.

Eugene's anarchists acknowledge that they were in Seattle in force, but
point out that only a few of the hundreds arrested actually had Eugene
addresses and that anarchists from lots of other places took part.

In fact, the city of 150,000 seems more concerned with the success of the
University of Oregon football team and with being politically correct.

Still, while anarchism by its nature is not organized, it has enough of a
presence in Eugene to spawn its own institutions in the city's old
Whiteaker neighborhood. The Free School offers classes on subjects from
anarchy to vegetarian cooking. Cafe Anarchista hands out free coffee and
books from a handcart. Food Not Bombs cooks vegan meals for the homeless.

Eugene's anarchists have been branded rabble-rousers since a June 18
protest march in Eugene turned into a riot.

And even before that, local anarchist John Zerzan's books and pamphlets
calling for a return to the primitive were being compared to the
anti-technology manifesto of Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, whom Zerzan visited
in jail.

A quiet unassuming man, Zerzan, 56, lives in a low-income housing co-op
just a short walk from the mural on the side of the Jawbreaker art gallery.
He gets around on an old bicycle rather a car.

Despite a master's degree in history, he makes his living baby-sitting, so
he can have more time to write &#150; with pen on paper at a desk made from
an old door.

"Classical anarchism, 19th century anarchism, concentrated on the state
&#150; abolish the state, smash the state," said Zerzan "I think there are
much more pervasive and deep-seated forms of domination than just
government. We are looking at not only capital and how deep that
relationship is, but technology and even civilization.

"Look at what is going on. Everybody is on antidepressants. The teen-age
suicide rate has tripled in the last 35 years. If things were going along
OK, this wouldn't make any sense to start thinking there were some
deep-seated stuff that needs to be re-examined. Sadly enough, that isn't
it."

James Johnston, co-director of the Cascadia Wildlands Project, an
environmental group and an organizer for the International Workers of the
World, sees a lot of similarities between the Eugene anarchists and the
Wobblies who rode the rails trying to unionize Northwest logging camps in
the early 1900s.

"People feel angry and alienated, unable to achieve change through
conventional means," Johnston said. "Peaceful protest just doesn't seem to
work. So people are taking the Wild West approach, which is breaking
windows, throwing rocks and sabotage.

"The root cause and solution to it is everything is too big and everything
needs to be smaller."

At a coffee house called Out of the Fog, an anarchist hangout where passing
trains periodically drown out conversation, Shelley Cater acknowledges that
the world anarchists want is a distant hope.

"I don't know if we can go back to the hunter-gatherer awareness with the
global awareness we have," she said. "It's really hard to conceive of a
world without governments, without corporations."

END FORWARD

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