The first Decade of Anarchy magazine. The rebirth of North American anarchism
Throughout the 1950s and early ‘60s most of the historical anarchist movements around the world looked like just that, historical movements — withering and dying out where they hadn’t already done so. In fact, one former-anarchist writer, George Woodcock, announced in his well-known 1962 anthology, Anarchism: A History of Libertarian Ideas and Movements, that anarchism as a social-political movement had had its day.
By chance I happened across one of the more lively remaining embers of the North American anarchist milieu in the late 1960s as a crippled teen attending a Midwestern high school in a thoroughly white, working-class suburb of St. Louis. Like many others of my generation, I followed with great interest the emergence and radicalization of the civil rights movement, the anti-Vietnam war movement, the growing hints of the oncoming second wave of feminism, the slow ecological awakening, and the many student struggles around the continent. Unable to participate directly in any substantial way due to my relative isolation, lack of mobility and consequently limited range of opportunities, I spent much of my time during my high school years reading about the then-current crises and researching the histories of radical theories and movements. One of the radical threads that interested me greatly happened to be the criticism of schooling. And this led eventually to some of the writings of Paul Goodman, one of the more notable and controversial educational critics of the time. While reading one of his books, probably in 1967 or 1968, I happened across a line in Notes of a Neolithic Conservative, in which he mentioned his perspective in a off -hand way by saying something like: “I, of course, am an anarchist.”
From that first indication that the word “anarchist” could qualify as more than a swearword for reactionaries and anxious liberals, I began following up on Goodman’s hint and discovered, bit by bit, that there were more than a few isolated individuals who opposed capitalism and the state and who happened to call themselves “anarchists.” There was a whole historical movement whose activities at one time or another embraced and encompassed all the continents of the world. It didn’t take me long to realize that if such a movement had existed, my deepest sympathies lay with both its previous developments and with the obvious need to revive, publicize and rekindle its remaining embers as much as possible. From that time on my eyes and ears were sensitized. I sought out all the occasional fl ashes of activity, slogans, music and other expressions of anarchy amidst the tumult of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s milieus of rebellion. Though these were increasingly submerged by a tidal wave of Marxist dogmatism, sectarianism and authoritarianism that has been sometimes slowly, sometimes more quickly, receding for the last couple decades, ever since it contributed so much to suffocating the radical impulses of that time.
The Rigged System holds no Future for the 99% but a Revolution does.