anarchism as nationalism reborn

Dennis dperrin13 at
Tue Oct 16 07:17:30 PDT 2001

> The simple point that Chuck0 made, however, is basically that, even
> if wrapped up in the Stars & Stripes, folks won't be fooled into
> thinking that anarchists are really "American patriots." In fact, if
> anarchists resorted to the waving of the American flag, they might
> consider it to be offensive, because it would be insincere &
> opportunistic. Isn't that true?
> --
> Yoshie

Not necessarily. As I said yesterday, the anarchists of the WWI era, when the IWW lived large and workers were conversant with anarcho-syndicalism, frequently spoke on platforms where the Stars & Stripes was prominently displayed. Emma Goldman, no anarchist slouch, was photographed making her case next to the flag. Many of the anarchists were European immigrants, and saw the flag as a symbol of the political freedom that made their agitation possible (even in the face of police and state militia violence). They took the Bill of Rights seriously, perhaps more seriously than did average "patriotic" Americans. H.L. Mencken, the Tory elitist, once housed Goldman while she was being chased by the feds, and he spoke of her intelligence and devotion to the American ideals that he often found childish and mob-oriented.

The flag can mean many things, and this is overlooked by one-dimensionalists like Chuck0. Yes, it stands for mass murder and repression, the bombing and starvation of innocents, genocide against the natives, etc. But it also stands for the Bill of Rights, a document (in concert with the Constitution) that came out of the 18th century Enlightenment, which, as any learned anarchist knows, contained many of the values that make up anarchism (at least my understanding of it). The flag also stands for jazz, rock n' roll, the beauty of baseball and basketball (my two favs), Warner Bros. cartoons, silent comedies, film noir, and, apart from the glories of pop culture, it also represents an effort at multi-ethnic and multi-cultural coexistence. Whenever he is asked what kind of society he'd like to see, Chomsky says that what we have is a pretty good start to something better. But it's up to us to expand and build on the framework that, perhaps inadvertently, the Founders created (elitists to a Dead White Man).


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