There's more to "anarchism" than meets the eye. It isn't just a matter of protesting and eventually not participating in an election wherein you get a choice between two different brands of control over many aspects of your life, it is also a matter of conscience and observation.
I've mentioned before about an old friend of mine in Arizona named Fred Woodworth. He's the guy who has been continuously publishing the anarchist zine The Match! since 1969, and we even got a small mention in the Spring 2012 issue (so now I'm probably on a hundred different watch lists I guess... as if the Scientologists didn't already have me there).
But Fred is off the grid, as I mentioned, meaning he had brought a good healthy dose of anarchic skepticism about the net, and I thought it might be provoking to copy him here. Maybe provide some interesting reading as opposed to my usual tripe.
Okay, before you throw this magazine out in disgust, read on for just a moment.
Try to recall life of several decades ago. The activities carried out in the course of a day involved dozens, perhaps hundreds, of disparate operations: playing a record, taking a picture, paying a bill, conferring with an associate or friend, seeing a movie, writing a letter, going to the library or bookstore, doing homework, setting up a dental appointment, reading a newspaper, writing a comment for publication in the paper...
To do all these things you went to a lot of places, moved about, functioned diversely in and all over your town and city. More and more today, though, all of that human scope is being compressed down and moved in and out of your home on a couple of small wires (or a fiberoptic cable). How much easier this is for someone who might want to, and who has the power to, watch and control.
Pay attention to the routine news reports, and a phrase will begin to stand out in many of the accounts of arrests, investigations, etc.: "Authorities seized his computer" or "have started looking at his home computer files..." The presumption, and it is probably accurate, is that this accused person's entire legal existence is stored in one small box. They don't have to hunt around, go to the bank, bookstore, library, school, trashcan - they just have to grab this one little box.
There, everything resides: political affiliations, tastes in women (or men). If a person has made a disapproved or unwise comment or thought about or discussed some illegal act, it will be easily possible to both discover and prove that fact - something that would have demanded, in most cases, a stupendous and paralyzingly daunting amount of effort just a few years ago. Thus it is no accident (italics are Woodworth's) there is such a relentless push to force all life into this digital regimentation. Here it's not the normal climate just yet, although it's approaching that condition fast, and countless misguided enthusiasts for the new controlling technology seem to work tirelessly to cajole hold outs to get with the program. They're like dopers at a party where someone declines a joint - almost personally offended.
Where this has or should have significance for anarchists is in the fact that a free society cannot possibly exist under circumstances in which so much of your life passes through a cable smaller than a pencil and resides in a box smaller than a suitcase.
As a complete outsider only observing this horror from a distance, I can nonetheless imagine how hard it probably is for anyone to break such an addiction. Still, I urge you to try to do so.
Begin by resolving to draw the line at any further incursions. SEE the pattern - the "twitters", the Facebooks, the MySpace so-called pages, the "chat rooms" ad infinitum as a series that will not stop. They are a constantly escalating takeover of your humanity.
Move back down the scale; try consciously to use the computer and internet for less and less. If you can eventually break the habit entirely, good, though I'm not saying computers are somehow mystically evil. If you can get their use down to a small reasonable level, that's good too (though the moneyed interests and misguided pushers will never be content to let you alone at that low involvement).
Even if everyone reading this dropped out of the modern obsession next week it probably wouldn't make much difference; but on the other hand a vast social healing has to start somewhere - if it isn't too late already.
And by the way, if you like good reading, that constitutes barely one page of the Spring issue, which consists of 71 pages. Well worth the time.
But I call that food for thought, Fred (not that he'd ever be reading this). I've never liked online banking, for instance. It just seems too easy to get to for anyone determined enough. I know some people for whom that would be a game just to see if they could do it.
My growing suspicion of the internet is tempered by the knowledge that at least one evil cult has been ruined by the device, and yet my involvement with that is easily traceable.