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by Kevin Keating
Thursday, Mar. 24, 2016 at 8:02 PM
The San Francisco Bay Area's anarchist subculture critically examined, in the context of it's most significant public ritual...
For 21 years running what's now being called the Annual Bay Area Anarchist Book Fair has shown that anarchism in the Bay Area is a subculture of terminal disengagement and adolescent role-playing. Bay Area anarchists love to pretend that they are fiery rebels, but over the course of three decades anarchists in this part of the world have consistently failed to assert visible, credible expressions of what they claim to be about outside of their subjectively insurrectionary safe spaces. This is glaringly evident with regard to the ongoing gentrification of San Francisco and Oakland.
The current phase of a long-term market-engendered housing crisis and it's attendant ruin of working class neighborhoods has been occurring for five years. During this period our local Circle-A-scenesters have staged numerous shindigs celebrating the existence of their egocentric subculture -- but at no time have self-styled anarchists tried to get together even a single public meeting about the housing and displacement crisis, or any other form of ongoing, credible, collective resistance, among people who pay rent and work for a wage, against the tech-sector propelled demographic ruin of the region. For five years the Bay Area's anarchist subculture has played no useful role in the biggest source of potential class conflict in the Bay Area on the combative and uncompromising terms that many in the Circle-A crowd claim to be about. And these people have been useless on every other social conflict front as well.
Events like the Occupy movement and the popularity of supposed socialist Bernie Sanders show that there is deep and spreading discontent with what passes for life under U.S. capitalism -- but sheepish scenesters who like to call themselves anarchists have nothing to contribute to any larger social dynamic here. Instead, for 21 years running, they have repeatedly staged a cockroach capitalist bonding ritual where timid fantasists can imagine themselves to be grave enemies of the social order while selling each other T-shirts and 'zines. The local anarchist subculture exists solely to reproduce its existence as a subculture.
Contemporary Bay Area anarchism is no different from other subcultures spawned by consumer society, like those catering to ardent fans of Star Trek, or Dungeons and Dragons. As with these other subcultures the anarchist scene is a safe place where the easily intimidated can try to structure reality on more accommodating terms than those available in the outside world. The Circle-A-scene has shown by its long term practical inadequacy that it is not a real world phenomena and has nothing to contribute to any real world social movement against exploitation, inequality and accelerating mass impoverishment.
Kevin Keating, formerly of San Francisco's Mission Yuppie Eradication Project.
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