Friday, October 13, 2006

An Interview with Utah Phillips by Gabriel Ricard

You have to look at anarchy in two different ways. You look at it as a social and political movement, and you look at it as a lifestyle choice. By and large, young people treat anarchy as a lifestyle choice. Making a transition to a political movement is far more difficult. Murray Bookchin wrote a wonderful book about this, which was published by AK Press. If anyone wants to look up AK Press on the web, they'll find it. [And who knows, maybe the editor of this interview will be capable of something as simple as a hyperlink –Ed.] He felt that anarchy as a lifestyle choice and anarchy as a movement were positions that were irreconcilable. I don't believe that. I think that that lifestyle choice is an essential step toward building anarchism as a movement. The two concepts are by no means outmoded. There's still a way out in front of us. There's still a future of self-governing people. We live in a highly cohesive culture. We're entangled in all kinds of cohesive combinations. Boss, employee, student, teacher, parental, marital. And we're not the architects. We don't decide that those are the combinations we want to participate in. We inherit them. We have no control over them. And all we've ever really wanted to do is become self-governing enough, so that we can create, among others, voluntary combinations which serve our needs as we define them, and not as they're defined for us by institutions. We have become accustomed to abandoning our children to institutions and authorities over which they have no control. Kind of like empty milk bottles. They get filled up full of these cultural compulsions. And leaning how, as individuals, to resist that, to become self-governing people, reaching out and forming voluntary combinations to get the work of the world done, without the boss and without the state, is very difficult. Ammon Hannesy, my great teacher, the Catholic anarchist and pacifist, put it in very simple terms. We were working at the Joe Hill House, in Salt Lake. It's a house for transients and migrants and bums and that's what I was doing at the time. And Ammon said to me, “If you and I can agree to do our share of the work of the world, if we can agree to take only what we need and put back what we can, if we can agree not to hurt anybody, all the things you can't get from the boss and the state, if we can agree to these things, then we can, between ourselves, begin to form that voluntary combination. And begin, in our own small way, to get the work of the world done, without the boss and without the state.” more...


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