Tankie Cranky


By: The Nightly Crew

After posting an article ever so lightly critiquing socialist organizing, we at The Nightly were shocked and dismayed to learn that people actually read The Nightly. We got several comments basically saying we were harming Palestinian liberation by questioning the means by which we achieve our ends. It’s a pretty glaring double standard, showing just how thoroughly organizing spaces have trained people to see authoritarian socialism as the default. When people come into the Quad looking for ways to help and are handed a Community Guidelines sheet printed with the UF logo, attend a “community” meeting run by the UF, and the biggest ideological difference they’re exposed to is UF vs. PSU, that’s not pushing any ideology– but when we put forth critiques and suggest an alternative, it’s opportunistic and detracting from the movement. 

I think if people understood what anarchism was beyond wearing all black and smashing shit, it’d be easier to comprehend that we’re not out for recruitment. There are no orgs to expand in anarchism. That’s kind of the whole point. Anarchism is about offering people a perspective beyond the one they’re fed in mainstream organizing: the organizers aren’t magically always right, and if you don’t think they’re right, you don’t have to go along with what they’re doing. Anarchy is opposition to hierarchy. Why is the presence of hierarchy taken for granted while a lack is forced to justify itself? Aren’t these ruler/subject dynamics, however hard they try to appear benevolent, what we’re all claiming to be fighting against?

An argument I’ve seen a lot lately is that bringing up any concern aside from The Demands is detracting attention from Gaza. This feels like another symptom of entrenchment in org politics. Orgs, like non-profits, are typically single-issue, and they train their members to put on blinders and laser-focus on one cause. In the real world, though, no issue exists in isolation. All oppression is interconnected, which means when we’re considering methods with which to fight back, we can’t just think about it in the context of a single issue. No action ever plays out in just one arena. We’re all thinking about this Liberated Zone on a global scale, but we have to keep in mind that as we interact with each other here and now, we’re setting the precedent for what the “better world” we’re fighting for will look like. That world depends on a free Palestine, but it also depends on us learning how to treat each other as equals, which will never happen if we keep making excuses not to. I don’t know what people mean when they say, “It doesn’t matter how, it just matters that the demands are met.” Okay. What do you think is going to happen after that? Will the whole world be free once UW divests from Boeing, or are there going to be more battles we’ll have to fight together? At what point do we decide it’s worth it to prioritize our relationships with each other? 

The power structures we’re familiar with are so internalized that a lot of times, we don’t even notice they’re there. This goes for capitalism, for the authoritarian socialist monopoly over leftist spaces, for cliques within purportedly “horizontal” organizing— from birth to minoring in Labor Studies, the one consistent idea we’re fed is that you’re either a leader or a follower. If you’re part of the inner circle, you’ve earned the power to make decisions for others, and if you’re not part of the inner circle, you haven’t earned the power to make decisions for yourself. You can’t be trusted. Other people know better than you, so you should just do what they tell you. But the reality is, everyone knows better than everyone else about something. When we take for granted that people in positions of power should have more of a voice than everyone else, it limits the range of perspectives we’re exposed to. We’ll never reach the true height of our collective strength and wisdom unless everyone gets an equal voice, and that will never happen as long as organizers keep invalidating (or straight-up ignoring) all critiques.

The ends don’t justify the means; the means create the ends. Engaging in resistance is how we learn to cooperate with each other outside the capitalist system, and if we keep refusing to address our internal dynamics, this counterculture will become just another establishment willfully ignorant of its own flaws.