Thursday, 30 October 2008

983 - Suburban Anarchy

There are some great anarchist projects in Newcastle. I'm not pushing the anarchist programme in a heavily politicised way, but I do find the resonances between anarchy and the hunter-gatherer worldview exciting and stimulating. I'd describe myself as a soft anarchist: institutions work, but there are other ways of doing things.

The Star and Shadow cinema is the bees knees. Entirely run by volunteers, it demonstrates that for imagination and spirit, leaderless organisations can knock the horsebrass off their corporate stable-mates.

It's not just a cinema, it's also used for gigs and art exhibitions, discussion forums and the burgeoning Newcastle green movement. E and I attend the monthly Storytelling, offered by A Bit Crack, whenever we can. E pulls the beers, fulfilling a lifetime's ambition to work in a pub. If you find a place that fulfills your lifetime ambitions, you stick with it, don't you?

So the Star and Shadow is brilliant, brilliant, and it blazes a light. But it is urban, and has surely been given a chance to thrive, in part, because its core resources, people, are plentiful. My other favourite project (I've lots of 'other favourite projects'), a community called The Simple Way, throbs at the heart of downtown Philly.

My question is, what happens when soft anarchy goes suburban? Does it require a critical mass of people to succeed? In small towns, dormitory towns, where identity dissolves, and architecture does not aspire to any form of greatness, towns which point elsewhere to see their values defined, and do not make room for revolution, is 'leaderlessness' disarmed of its power to change?

I say, in hope, no. It has the added strength of unexpectedness. Soft anarchy is powerful in suburbia. A post in a day or so to explain more.

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