“WHEN LOCAL ANARCHO-PUNKS THOUGHT OPTING-OUT FROM PRIVILEGES IS HOW ANARCHISM WORKS…”
I recently ran across an online discussion about how people in organizing/activist spaces thought that they can opt-out from their privileges.
For years, I have seen so many people do this (myself included, in the past). One thing I notice is that, it’s very rampant within the local anarcho-punk community. Now before I go any further, please be minded that this isn’t a call out, rather an attempt to put in the out what I thought about why this kind of behavior is pervasive even in radical spaces.
What I’ve witnessed and experience is that, people thought that opting out from their privileges somehow makes them more ‘anarchist’ than anyone else. It is with that thinking that makes it impossible for them to examine behaviors that are actually hurtful to people because it contributes to the actual violence people had to live within a basis because of the system, (i.e hating on working class folks because it doesn’t align with their belief that being anti-capitalist is being anti-work and literally means not working at all when in fact, when you had the choice to choose not to work and not be threatened to die from it, is a privilege itself). People choose to opt-out from privileges and claim oppression they haven’t experienced because we thought that the more oppressed you are, the more anarchist you can be. We shift the focus from improving conditions of living to fulfilling and pleasing the ego. The ego that seeks approval and validation from that which alienates it, that which creates its insecurities — the system.
In an online discussion via FB that I got engage with, I was told by an anarco-punk dude that, “Seed Riot: crust punks or punks in general choose to live in the streets coz they(we) dont want to be part of the system that makes use of privilege.we are in protest against class and the consumerist way of life.the system works(for them) because you work for them.” to which I will reply here —
You didn’t get to chose which privileges you were born with nor you can choose in the future to opt-out from it. It will never disappear because you say so. You benefit from it. Later in your life, when you get to realize that your privileges are brought to you in expense of other people and it makes you guilty, the best way to work through it is to acknowledge that privilege and use it to advantage, protect and be accomplices of people who are actually oppressed. Denying your privileges doesn’t make you less shittier, accountability does. And the first step to being accountable is acknowledgement. The enemy is the system, and the system thrives because of the power it holds. Resisting the system, its structure and institutions, comes in many shapes and forms, thus the diversity of tactics. Direct action? Fucking great! As great as the people who take days or months or years to organize. We tend to forget that the theories we read or formulate are useless when we can’t put them into practice or that in the process of practicing them, we exclude and hurt the most vulnerable. Let’s stop doing that.
Challenging ourselves with our privileges will always be uncomfortable. And that is okay. It might’ve made you a bad person in the past or not necessarily. Always remember that if you live a life of comfort because of your privileges, now is the time to make someone else’s life comfortable by maximizing them.
Do not throw your privilege because you really can’t. Put them in better use. Use them to support and protect the marginalize. Use them to create safe spaces. Use them to amplify the voices of those we often don’t listen to.
Do not blame the people who can’t leave the system in order to survive, aim to destroy the system that traps them into it.