The Golden Barley School

an anarchist, a communist & a feminist walk into a bar…


On ‘community’

Thank you to friends and fellow keepers of this blog Princess Mob and Sourdough for edits, ideas and support.

I’ve recently been accused of being part of the ‘Sydney anarchist community’. Fair enough, this is a shorter way of saying ‘she’s one of the Sydney people who call themselves anarchists, collaborate on political projects, dress the same and drink in the pub together.’ But this accusation has caused me to reflect on what a radical or anarchist ‘community’ is, what it might do and look like. Reflecting on this idea of a radical ‘community’, one of the most overused and meaningless words in the radical lexicon, I am talking about the way in which people such as myself and my friends and comrades who I work on political projects with should organise our lives to support each other and continue to engage in struggles for the rest of our days. I’ll use the term ‘community’ to describe this even though I don’t think its quite right.

To me this means offering a level of emotional and material support to each other which is prefigurative in terms of the way we would like to see society operate. While modelling this on a small scale, we facilitate and support each other to take part in the kind of collective action that actually takes us closer to a better society. We should be able to respond to problems in our community as they arise in order to maintain a level of diversity and functionality amongst those of us who are working together, taking part in these struggles. What this way of organising our lives would mean would be broader and deeper than dressing the same and drinking in the pub. It would entice people to join with us, and enable those who were already around to stick around for longer.

What I’m talking about are the ways we can organise our lives with each other to both make our lives better in the immediate moment and to enable us to take part in collective actions of a type that take us closer to a time in which more of our lives are better than is currently the case.

We need to take the community building and sustaining practices that already happen now, and celebrate and make them explicit as part of a revolutionary project. We need to develop new, more radical community building and sustaining practices that might help us get where we’re going quicker. Doing these things is not some work-like chore or obligation, as its simultaneous aim is to make our lives in the here and now easier and better.

There is a danger of seeing talking about the organisation of our lives as a ‘lifestylist’ practice. The type of organisation I’m interested in is that which is closely tied to struggle on a collective level. The way we organise our lives and the relationships we have with each other both enable us to take part in struggle, and are deeply influenced by our involvement in them. Therefore, talking about ways to support and live with each other does not have to be ‘lifestylist’ but can be a very real and important part of revolutionary practice.

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