They can burn books, destroy libraries, forbid languages, ban beliefs, delete past times,
draw new present times, order future actions, torture and execute people...
But they still don´t know how to kill the intangible and bright
bodies of ideas, dreams and hopes.

Friday, June 02, 2006



By Edgardo Civallero

It happened to me recently, in a seminar I taught in Trenque Lauquen (Buenos Aires, Argentina). But it had already happened to me in other courses, in Buenos Aires, in Cordoba, in Rosario (Argentina). In each class, I always say –like a preliminary warning– that the audience may listen some opinions that may sound "scandalous" to their ears. The reason will be that I am an anarchist, and that, as a personal rule, I never hide what I think.

The commentary that has been repeated in all these seminars –usually, during the coffee-break– was the following one: "I believed that anarchism had disappeared". Or perhaps a more forceful "anarchism is dead".

The answer is always the same one: "That's because current anarchists no longer blow buildings or cars. Now we blow minds. Then we are not so notorious..."

Philosophical anarchism –born in the old ages, in the Ancient Greece of the Poleis– made honor to the etymological meaning of the word: an-arche, negation of the power. Throughout time, this expression acquired the meaning of negation of authority, negation of those structures that exerts power on human beings, that oppress them, that limit them, that force them...

I don't know if I were born anarchist or if I became one. I guess that the last option is the most acceptable one: I never accepted the authority by obligation, but I recognized it by respecting greater capacities than my own. It is the only form under which an anarchist can accept some kind of authority, which, in that case, becomes just an influence. Anarchists don't accept vertical structures of any kind, not only in politics, but also in society or in religion. This is the reason because anarchism is so frequently associated with atheism: it denies the authority of another man to establish the faith and its processes, it denies the power of superior beings to dictate norms. Anarchists think that authority resides in coercion or in respect, and deeply refuse the first option. Coercion leads to chain us, to limit us, to say us what to do, how to do it and under what conditions. And we do not understand the freedom under these circumstances. Limited freedom is not freedom: it is a liberation dream that never gets real.

To be an anarchist within a society established on the power of a human being on another one is not easy. But it is not impossible, as we demonstrate daily. Although we must accept many things because there isn't a valid alternative, some things can be chosen. And, whenever we have election, we chose the alternative that allows us to move freely, exercising our solidarity, working in teams and horizontal structures, speaking from equal to equal, using our freedom of expression and access to culture, opposing firmly to the commerce of non-commercial things (culture, nature, well-being...). This, that for some people seems madness and utopia, for many of us is a style of life that, although is not simple, makes us happy, just because it allows us to respect (ourselves/the rest) and to feel that many of the chains we carry by the fact of being born in society, are vanishing.

For a long time, the most known expression of anarchism –or the most popularized one– was armed radical violence. All terrorists and assassins who acted under the supposed flag of political anarchism were placed like a stereotyped image of this way of thinking. Thus, we were labeled and condemned as wild beasts, bloodthirsty assassins, helly jackals... Nowadays we no longer blow bridges, we no longer shot authorities, we no longer praise chaos as the only form of freedom. In fact, the true anarchists, those that almost professed a "religious" respect towards the basic ideas of that philosophy, never considered violence as a valid form of action, simply because we believe that human being is the basis of society. Today, those who continue believing and acting no longer blow buildings: we blow minds. We make people think, we open doors to the light between so much darkness, we remove bandage from eyes, we open ears, we release hands from secular shackles. We teach, we educate, we train, but never in our line of thought. We just release hands, so they can act in freedom, by themselves, making use of a natural freedom that each man and woman have since they are born. We defend the equality of all human beings, without making differences between men and women, light and dark skins, rich and poor people, adults and children. We defend the value of each language, without accepting the power of one on another. We hate the word "dominant" because it represents unjust power, power unfairly established of a group or an individual on others. And we respect the authority by capacity: those persons who can help us to organize us, who can guide us by just using their knowledge, their experience... Such people don't need to prevail on the others by showing titles off: they just need to speak or to act for obtaining the automatic respect of those who surround them. I am sure that you know this kind of people.

We blow minds, indeed, and we blow mental walls: we help to wake up, to think, to break the pavement with which our dreams are covered. We teach (and we learn everyday) how to feel, to live and to fight. We help disinterestedly, we give free classes, we invest our savings and our work in actions that help us those who surround us. We think that Good always comes back at the hands that generated it, just like Evil, and, when they do, they do return multiplied. Therefore, we always share our knowledge, and we always act respecting our rules and forgetting the social "laws" that would push us to act in a different way. Such "laws" have been limiting human beings for centuries, making them unfortunate, pushing them to walk ways that they never wanted to touch. Those "laws" and unfairly-exerted power force many to work in positions for which they do not feel prepared, while they suffer the authority of weak people who have just a "title" to feel superior and to be "somebody". Those "laws" force us to fear a vindictive Christian God, or a priest that has in his hands the forgiveness of our sins. Those "laws" make us to be discriminated as poor people, or homosexuals, or different, or whatever. There is always a reason for which the powerful one pushes and oppresses. There is always a reason for which somebody is left at the basis of the structure, supporting the great pyramid above him, supporting the vices and the stupidity of others.

Some people say that we walk a path outside the "real" world. But we anarchists, we know that this isn't true. We know that we are well inside of this world, and that we fight to obtain equality, brotherhood and freedom. We know that we fight for an impossible goal, but, at least, it is a noble cause for fighting, it's our cause, it's a cause that honors us. How many persons have fallen in battles, covered in blood? How many are wasting their lives pursuing a success and a fame that they will never reach?

In libraries, anarchy is simple. To open shelves, to open brains, to open books, to destroy walls, to send culture to its owners by all possible channels. To refuse limits, to refuse the word "impossible", to forget some rules. To work in teams, cells, organic and horizontal structures where each person plays the role that better fits him/her. To free our readers, to untie ties, to provide tools for development, to accompany in the first stages of cultural development, to support those who can't access education or reading. And to forget all the forgettable barriers imposed by authorities. We can ignore all of them, but those against which is possible to struggle must be directly eliminated. Because library has been, since a long time ago, a part of the human soul, the store of a great part of our written culture. And it must become the wings of its users, those wings that can help them to fly, to rise above their daily miseries: being educated, inquiring, dreaming...

Perhaps the anarchism is one of the most humanist existing ways of thinking. Because it is based on human freedom, and it fights for the absence of structures that limit and impose other wills on the individual will, which must always be respected and protected.

A lot of people act like anarchists without knowing it, without any concern about labels. That demonstrates the intrinsic value of such a position in life, work, faith, social relations and politics: the value of the natural things, the notable, the respectable things...

The value of the individual freedom. Something that cannot submitted by force, nor bought with death and blood. It can just be defended with the own hands, and waked up with bombs.

Bombs in the mind.