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This clearly rhetorical question is a favourite weapon of anarchists of all sorts.

It’s not posed because anarchists are masters of rhetoric or argument, it’s actually a veiled ad hominem attack to the receiver of a question.

“Oh my gosh, I can’t believe you’d even think about doing that, are you sure you’re an anarchist?”

It’s clear that the questioner doesn’t expect to unearth a secret Trotskyist or capitalist who infiltrated an anarchist group in hopes of subverting their cause. They just want to illustrate they are more-anarchist-than-thou.

This is also a tool used when you’re the person who’s being the only person blocking consensus. When the other 15 anarchists in the room disagree with you, it can only mean one thing: you’re the only other anarchist in the room.

When an anarchist starts accusing other anarchists of being middle class as well, you can count on them leaving their group soon.

It’s an anarchist death dance to accuse everyone of being un-anarchistic, tell everyone else they’re middle class and they’re not, then leave.

A similar phenomenon is also prevalent among anarchists, and that’s the trick of accusing someone who describes themselves as an anarchist as not being one at all.

“Oh, John from the IWA? He’s not an anarchist.”

“Noam Chomsky? Yeah, he’s really not an anarchist, you should stop calling him that.”

“Yeah that asshole that writes Things Anarchists Like? He’s so not an anarchist.”

It’s an easy way of dismissing an opponent or controversial figure. They are fanatical enough to believe that someone not being an anarchist somehow discredits every single word that’s come out of their mouth. They don’t have to open up a heated debate, and they also make themselves feel more secure in their anarchism because so-and-so isn’t an anarchist and they are.

There’s something to be said about anarchist’s affinity for the working class.

Anarcho-Syndicalism declares class warfare and organised struggle to be central to their cause. Look to any other idea on the libertarian left and you’ll see an adoration for the working class.

Never mind the fact that many anarchists today seem to be creeping into the lower-middle class. Then there’s the fact that many (not all) anarchists will never make their career in the blue collar workplace. Never the less their love for the working class remains.

The first thing anarchists worry about when the latest cuts come from government bodies is how the working class will fare. Most anything is an “assault on the working class” when it comes to cuts (unless their defence related).

This gives the average person another good conversation starter if conversation slows between you and an anarchist. You only need to know what EU country is currently facing austerity measures, and drop that into conversation. They’ll list off all the “assaults on the working class.” Don’t overdo this though, you could get them too excited.

#19 Greece

Greece is another country that anarchists have a soft-spot for. But instead of loving Greece for the food and the island scenery like most normal North American and European tourists do, they like Greece for it’s anarchist activity.

In the last three years specifically, Greece embodies everything that anarchists dream of. Counter-violence against the police, mass protests, wildcat strikes, riots filled with property destruction, and occupations.

If anarchists dream of anything almost as much as being in the Durruti Column, it’s being in Greece clashing with police.

There’s also another aspect of Greece that’s very exciting to anarchists, the all important riot-porn. If anarchists catch wind of new austerity measures enacted by the government, they all eagerly await when Libcom.org will get a new gallery of exciting imagery of tear gas, broken windows, destroyed businesses, and things on fire. After they get this out of their system, they can all flock to message boards to talk in disgust about the capitalist folly that brought those austerity measures into place.

It may seem contradictory that anarchists are such hugs fans of the reading group, given that mostly what they’ve amounted to are upper-middle class housewives meeting over the newest Oprah book.

However the anarchist reading group is anything but. It usually amounts to the combing over of classical and contemporary texts, or talking about the latest revolution or social unrest in any corner of the world.

To the anarchist (a mostly non-religious individual), this is the equivalent of going to church.

But it’s not just about reading over passages of The ABC’s of Anarchism for the fourth time and discussing them in depth. It’s also a game of show-and-tell for anarchists to talk about their personal libraries of anarchist literature. The library of any anarchist is a prized possession. In an age where books are being read less often, the opposite tendency is true for the anarchist. They just can’t have enough books.

Some anarchists take everything quite seriously. Seeing themselves as the hero of the proletariat, they will fight vehemently to defend anarchism from any lighthearted teasing, even if it’s internal.

The thought might never have occurred to them that the author might have thought this would be a fun break away from reading Paul Avrich books, worrying about peak oil production, or watching the latest disaster that was formed by neo-liberal capitalism.

They may feel the need to point out every single detail left out by the blog Things Anarchists Like. For instance there’s a very popular FAQ arguing against anarcho-capitalism, but it didn’t occur to them that by mentioning “there’s a comprehensive argument against anarcho-capitalism from an anarchist perspective on the internet” that might have detracted from the post.

They may also feel the need to point out every single use of hyperbole in the blog. Their Food Not Bombs group may get a whopping ten anarchists almost every week, this makes them feel as though they must point when the author makes up a fictional five person protest. This may be due to being too dense to realise that the fictional protest was merely an illustration that sometimes anarchist events aren’t very well attended.

An anarchist may feel the need to accuse the blog of being “reactionary.” Anarchists aren’t very creative when it comes to insults. If an anarchist friend ever accuses you of being reactionary, reformist, or bourgeois, you know you are in trouble. It’s best to de-escalate the situation immediately, or leave them alone so they can cool off with their zine collection.

If there’s one thing that anarchists will go to length to avoid, it’s behaving like a middle class suburbanite.

The pinnacle of this lifestyle is of course, home ownership, the ultimate goal of any suburbanite, and key piece of the “American dream.” Anarchists see past this as simply a move to get banks more loans, and pay property taxes. There’s also the fact that city real estate is vastly more expensive than suburban real estate. Anarchists need to be close to the city so that they can be by their own kind (if a city has a population of 5 million people, there’s inevitably enough anarchists to start an infoshop). Then, there’s also the fact that living in the suburbs is dangerous to their mental health. If they pass by too many Wal Marts, SUV’s, and strip malls, they may just have a “bourgeois overload.”

If anarchists see any virtues in home ownership, it’s that their relationship with their “asshole landlord” would cease to exist.

If you for whatever reason want to buy a home, keep it to yourself. If your anarchist friends catch wind of this, it could end in a rant on how home ownership is a manufactured desire by the banking industry and public figures. They might add on with a history of organised labour and how home ownership was a move to make workers stationary and less apt to strike.

It’s to no surprise anarchists are seen as eager harbingers of a dystopic future. The only time the news will ever give them coverage is when they’re participating in a black bloc and have a Molotov in hand.

Hopefully by now you know that anarchism is not a synonym for chaos. Don’t ever mistake the two in front of an anarchist. They’ll more than likely go on a tangent beginning with the sham court hearing at the Haymarket Massacre and the vilification of the anarchist martyrs. Then, they’ll probably go on about Bolshevik propaganda and persecution of anarchists, only to wind up talking about the evils of the Catholic church in Spain and the Franco regime. They’ll probably finish off the discussion in detail with the first Red Scare in the United States, and then conclude with propaganda theory and how anarchism is misconstrued in the media because it’s not convenient for capitalism.

Needless to say, this is a topic worth avoiding. Anarchists have the speech well rehearsed because they perform it to many unknowing poor souls who had the misfortune of not reading about Emma Goldman or Mikhail Bakunin in history class.

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