The world has turned upside down. It is inside out and backwards. A reversal of meaning is everywhere occurring at once, and we are sent reeling into a state of atavistic regression. Is this what it feels to live in the midst of a psychic blitzkrieg? It has been a dizzying whirlwind of a year. It’s hard to know what to think these days. I find myself questioning if the political analysis that I had pre-pandemic is still relevant. Clearly, when times change, it is necessary to adapt. But how?
This publication is the result of an attempt to come to grips to with the zeitgeist. We hope that this zine will serve as a catalyst for discussion and debate as to the question of how anarchists might best engage with the fucked-up changes that have so rapidly transformed the reality we live in.
We must re-affirm our core values. Anarchism is the philosophy of freedom. It is predicated upon voluntary association, mutual aid, and the belief that there is a symbiosis between the freedom of the individual and the health of the collective.
And here we must get into a question that has been gnawing away at us for months. Why have anarchists been so silent in the face of increasing state repression? Much of the world is now under a state of arbitrary rule approaching martial law. Aren’t radical Leftists historically the defenders of civil liberties such as the freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press? Yet until recently, there seemed to be a taboo against criticizing measures justified in the name of Public Health.
Thankfully, that seems to be now changing. In Quebec, home to a fierce anarchist tradition, it took the imposition of a curfew before anarchists reached the point of mobilizing, but we are happy to report that radical Leftists in Montreal are now taking to the streets. There have now been two anti-curfew demonstrations organized by anarchists. Hopefully this momentum continues.
This is an encouraging sign, and we hope that it will lead to further dialogue about the path forward for a resistance movement in the age of COVID, for the old world is behind us.
In Quebec the lock-down this winter has just been too much for people to take. Everything is illegal and everyone’s on house arrest. The government appears to have suspended most rights that are supposed to be guaranteed under the constitution, acting with impunity, and there are no critical voices in the Mainstream Media.
In fact, freedom of the press appears to no longer exist. It seems that this has happened because business models of newspapers, cable news, magazines, etc. have failed, and now they’re receiving subsidies from the government. This past year especially, they’ve gotten much less critical of anything the government does. Basically it seems like the state is setting the editorial policy for most of the mainstream media. Dissent is rare.
It is feeling a lot like a police state, and this is after just one year. If this continues, where will we be in five years? It already feels like we’re sliding into totalitarianism… which might seem like hyperbole, but it seems to like the state just keeps tightening the screws. They just extended quarantine from 14 to 24 days in case of COVID variants, and they say that even after people are vaccinated, social distancing and mask mandates will remain in effect. We’re not seeing any light at the end of the tunnel.
Furthermore, it should be pointed out that social media platforms are scrubbing their platforms of any information deemed to be contrary to the recommendations of Public Health. This type of censorship works to create a type of groupthink by making criticism of lockdown measures seem like an extremist ideology, by placing it outside the bounds of what it is acceptable to say. The next logical step is the persecution of thoughtcrime, the imprisonment of dissidents & undesirables.
So, yes, this is a warning. We need to question authority. We need to ask ourselves: What is justifiable in the name of Public Health and what isn’t? And who gets to decide?
We should also critically examine the term “Public Health”? Often, it seems that the term is used to suggest that individual wishes, needs and desires must be subordinated in the interests of a greater good. Who determines this greater good? The state, of course.
We believe that human beings want to be free. However, there is one thing that most people value over freedom, and that is safety. When a regime wishes to gain the compliance of a population for nefarious purposes, such as war, they focus on making people afraid. This is basic. If there is one thing that people will sacrifice their freedom for, it is safety, and propagandists have known this for centuries.
As a Nazi, speaking at the Nuremberg trial, famously put it:
“The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”
Isn’t this exactly what is happening now? Everyday, we are told over and over again how dire the situation is. We are essentially being told that we are under attack. The only difference is that the enemy is not a foreign power but a force of nature, a virus, an invisible enemy.
In the place of pacifists, there are civil libertarians, those who refuse to accept the logic of Public Health. These people, often characterized as “anti-maskers” or “anti-vaxxers”, are the targets of scorn and ridicule, and their voices are silenced and ignored. They are denounced for exposing vulnerable people to danger, and the danger of their ideas is used to justify censorship. And the scorn that they are subjected to sends a message to those who might be tempted to speak up against the normalization of arbitrary measures – it’s not worth the effort.
We need to reject the logic that we need to be protected from ourselves. To accept this logic is to accept defeat. If we accept the logic that the information that we have access to must be controlled, we are accepting the logic that we must be controlled. The state would have us believe that it has our best interests at heart, and that it is manipulating us for our own good, in the name of Public Health.
Don’t believe the hype.