Skip to main content

Full text of "The Anarchist Subculture: A Critique"

See other formats

squats, Catherines a „,r anarchist households, 

certainly docs exist Ii k« f- Perspectives most 

B«l can a S uXr C "J^rS^^^W**-" 
of making .he lives e d rc T h "^ S "^ 
IW« cer.alnfv h»J T?"''* 7 7hc !™ch»sl subcul- 

•■? certainly hasn't, hone c ' "J""* ? **# 

article. pC ,0 ^lorc why in this 

The anarchist subculture certain!* H™ 
apparently rebellious acliviS hi Zfe f encon> P a " 
social analysis fthcorv) 3 , lo,,cal "P'oration, 

•nlcgratedpra^ aimed at undcrsir "*- " ■ an 
opening possibilities f„ r y , ^ "W *" d 

ourselves, but rather »« L • i , ° Ur bvcs for 

--nJy.o. maintain *fc2^£l^J^i?" 
-'ucb creates them and which the in t, SUbcU,,Ure 
• Politically correct miliiini. i • ' ""' c/ca,e - 

in -this subcXre £ T T a,c radical acrl °" 
analysis. After U the ^^ ? ?"} f ° T S ^ iaJ 
out by left hberais— f,m- ' ifi P** **« W 

aniniaJlib.ecoIo^ SOC^T?* 8 ^ *' an,i '^<n. 
a dash ofS;^^T;° PpOS,,,on,ow - r ^««d 

Well, ain't ft? t£ ulZi ft f°* ^ ^^ 

their anarchist aeovS ,T a l m onc ^"doubt 

sure to sho.? £ IS&iT ^ m, ' ,i,ant5 •" S 

few nags and be n ena'i ^^'ations. burn a 

RCPerf wheneve' posl Ne° VVhlt $*> '^ and 

analy7.e their actiWlicToh;-. ^J" 00 " 1 do « 

»f they are reallv?„ 1 1 " !i 0,C ? mi,i,an * '°scc 

thev are merely iEfcT, ^""-"g *>cie.y or if 

i"g'it by reinKg^hei ^ W?g*» ««"* 

cle. Their refu^i . ^ I° ,C W " hin i,s s P ec, a- 

Part of a mass movent n ?j ?£3M f lhc * "« 
converted to anarchism Birf »« „ u hch m0Sl ** 
exists on this SETS? ^^■"T"* 
militants arc mainly B^Sr r aClm,,cs of ,he 
opposition that Jft ' ^ IcfT *. iil1 ° f 
nnarchist subculture C " P ' acc in fh « 

io ^r^'^Ti"^j", n ^ an ' i . m,x,ru 

lie claim Th», 7? d lha ' e K! ^yonJ ">c simplis- 
The : h3 of ^7 W ? CrU L hcd b ^ lhc •""■orfic, 

Jheu rejection of authority and connection to the 
subculture Ihrough their writings nnd friendship* 
continues their role within it. And for all the depth of 
the* intellccluaJ exploration, a certain level of wnrl 
rctusal, and minor vandalism seems to be 
ihe sura or their practice. Because thevdonot explore ways or expressing rcr^Ilion against tin 
rotality or domination revealed by their critiques 
these critiques lose their edge as radical theory and 
seem more like philosophy. No longer being a too! 
tor active rebellion, their thought instead becomes a 
means or defining the intellectual edge of anarchic 
thought, a means by which to determine whether an 
MM I is radical enough. In this way, the role or the 
intellectual is perpetuated in the anarchist subculture- 
Creative play has also been specialized within the 
• subculture. Forgetting the critique which calls for the 
supersession of art through spontaneous, creative, free 
P'ay by everyone, mail artists, pcrrormancc artists and 
ant.-arlists- claim this category as their own, destroy 
mg spontaneity and freedom, and valor izing the 
activity as art Many r the activities or these people 
j festivals, wild poetry readings, improvisation I noise 
jam sessions and interactive theater— can be a lot „f 
run and are worth participating in on that level, but 
placed within the framework or art, their subversive 
O.te is dulled. In valorizing creativity, these artists 
have made it more important to "be creative" than to 
have Tun, and have reduced their critique to Ihe level 
Ot whether something can be utilized in creating art. 
Ihe creative process is recuperated into a form of 
productive labor making works of art. Play is trans- 
formed into perform a or* a.. 

lion and encountering Ihe unknown. 

The nnnrrhiit subculture, then, cannot 
be an expression of lived anarchy and 
rebellion, but can only be society's way 
of defining, limiting and recuperating 
tlicm. i^s children of society, wc arc all 
wctl-vcrscd in distrusting ourselves, io 
fearing the unknown, in preferring 
security to freedom. It is no surprise 
that wc so easily fall into activities that 
create and maintain a subculture. But 
it's long past lime that wc admit tliat 
this is just nur way of fitting in to the 
society w C claim lo hate, of creating a 
niclic for ourselves in its structure. For 
this subculture is not a real clullcngc to 
society; it is merely a loyal opposition 
whose rules— like all rules— arc just a 
subset of the rules of society. 

So the time has come lo throw cau- 
tion lo the wind, to diverge absolutely, 
as the surrealists say, from all rules, to 
leap from the arena of the anarchist 
subculture— or to tear the arena down. 
Always there will |>c those demanding 
to know what well put in its place, but 
Uic point is precisely to put nothing in 
its place. The problem, the weakness of 
those of us who've claimed lo oppose 
authority, has been our need to have an 
authority inside our heads, an answer, a 
way to keep ourselves in line. Wc have 

not trusted ourselves, and so at those 
momenti when anarchy has »ctualh; 
broken forth, when »othorky has tem- 
porarily broie* d'arv opening atj posxi- 
J" 1 "* «C han: not dared 'lo cq»Jorc 
Ihe unknown, lo tKr our desires and 
passions. Inslcad wc have channelled 
our rebellion into systems and method- 
■ winch turn it from relation into 
the mere image of rebellion, but which 
keep us safe from ever having to con- 
front our real passions and desires. 

The refusal of authority, the refusal 
of all constraints, must include llic 
refusal or the anarchist subculture, for 
it is a form or authority. With this sup- 
port gone, wc arc left with nothing-but 
ourselves. As transient, ever-changing, 
pass.onatc individuals, wc each become 
the only basis for creating our Eves and 
opposing society as it strives lo force 
our lives into its mold. Rebellion ceases 
r to be a role and instead becomes our 
moment-by-moment refusal to lei our 
lives l>c stolen from us. Anarchy ceases 
lo be an ideal and becomes the havoc 
wc wreak on authority, which under- 
mines it and opens possibilities, new 
realms of exploration for us. To rcali7c 
Ibis, wc have to cease to think as vie- 
tuns and begin to act as creators. The 
negative paranoia that permeates the 
way wc relate lo Ihe world needs to be 

"*~1«i so that we can accurately as- 
"^tiic. strengihsaud weaknesses of 
gOCI) ' M we confront it in our dairy 
"ves and can i»rl... 1 tf 
Aj^'rve paranoU-a recognition that 
«^7 and the heJJ h puUus through 
y^ «~1 «h*t the world b 

^1 of our deepcsl ^desires and more «n 
he ensrh, realrzcd-^ceds lo be cullival- 

»nown. | relate to each other freely 
fion S5 ,0na,e, y. aiding mere tolera 
UOJ and accepting honesi conflict. Wc 

Sf'cr^th of our own desires, dreams and 

IS/ ' c -, Wc " u rcfusc cas y 3 "^«. 

qstcou and security for the prisons 
}hcy arc, preferring the freedom found 
'" ecstatically exploring || 1C unknown, 
the adventure of discovery of the world 

is. wE . cr u lh a! au,hor!,y lflcs ,0 dc "y 

us What has been denied us, w c must 
akc, and wc lake it not by conforming 
to a subculiurc, but by plunging head 
^ i ? to Ihe unknown, "by SkS g ^he 
'"* of leaving behind all that has sup- 
pressed us no matter how comfortable 
^ rebelling totally agains, sodc| 

lo be rtrtcd absolutely. One knows, a, 
least, Uwt the Uurad o»e finds in; he 
labyrinth must lead eUewhrrr.' 


Arl ..f A. 

"77ic point is precisely to stop aide, ru 
Uiverge, absolutely, frotn Uic rule; to hap - 
jrom ilic oicna with hysterical verve; to 
elude foievcr llic laps id along the 
way...Long live the Inipoaiblct' 

To leave a critique of ihc anar- 
chist subculture at examination 
of some of its more important 
roles and structures is to miss its 
most important luult-r/urr it is a 
subculture. Subcultures constitute a 
particular sort of social phenomenon 
with particular trails. If those trails 
were conducive lo rebellion, if they 
moved people lo acl for themselves, 
then it might Ik possible to reform the 
anarchist subculture^ but those trails, in 
fact, lenJ in the opposite direction. 
There have been so many icl>cl subcul- 
lurcs, so many bohcrxias, all ol them 
recuperated. This clcaily indicates tbal 
there is something inherent in subcul- 
tures that keeps them from presenting 
a ical challenge lo the sodcly of which 
1 1 icy arc a part. Let me try lo examine 

In order for a subculluic to exist, its 
parameter! must be defined in a way distinguishes it from oilier groups 
in society. Because a subculture is not 
an official or legal CDlily, these paramc- 
leis need not be in any official or readi- 
ly definable form. Most often llicy arc 
underlying, inherent in ibe nature of the 
subculture, consisting of sliaied values, 
shared ideals, shared customs and 
shared systems of 'relating. This means 
ilint participation in a subculture re- 
quites a certain level of conformity. 
This docs not rule out disagreements 
about the interpretation of those para- 
meters - such dis-agi cements can be very 
intense, since those involved will sec 
themselves as upholders of the real 
values of the gioup. Hui Ihc ical threat 
to any subculture is (lie individual who 
icfuscs parameters. Such a one is dan- 
gerous, amoral, a threat to all. What 
ihc parameters of a subculture really 
amount lo is its system of morality. It 
provides a way for ihc subculture lo sec 
itself as superior lo society in general. 
It, thus, aealcs a method for relating to 
others through guilt and self- righteous- 
ness, two of sulborily's favorite weap- 
ons. The existence and nas inlcruncc of 
a subculture thus requires an inic real- 
ized authority. to maintain itself. 

The creation ol paianiclcrs will lead 
lo an intolerance towards those per- 
ceived as irretrievably outside the para- 
inclcrs-espccially if they arc competi- 
tors ou some level (e.g. the R.C.I'., 
S.W.P., 2nd the like, lo anarchists), hut 
il also leads toward a lolcialioii of 
everyone pciccivcd as pari of one's 
subculture. Due lo diffcicnt interpreta- 
tions of Ihc parameters of the subcul- 
ture, irguir.cnls and fights, sometimes 
even vicious ones, arc possible, but 
there is still a certain unity that is rec- 
ognized and lends lo keep disagree- 
ments within a certain framework. Such 
tolerance is necessary lo maintain the 
subculture. Il also has the effect of 
reducing everything to a level of mun- 
dane mediocrity. Extremes arc permit- 
ted only lo ihc cxlcnl that they can be 
devitalised, thai llicy can be kcp( from 
presenting any real challenge lo the 
subculture. Communication is de- 
stroyed, because the passion is taken 
out of il-cxccpt for a very stylized pas- 
sion in conformity with the needs of the. 
subculluic. Tad, caution and politeness 
arc the order of the day in order to 
maintain Ihc 'unity within diveisily" of 
the subculture. Conflicts lend lo be- 
come ritualized and predictable. In the 
anarchist subculture in particular, there 
arc rarely any facc-lo-facc, honest and 
passionate conflicts. Instead facc-lo-facc 
interactions have the gloss of the polite- 
ness and subcultural ritual, of tolerance, 
and so arc, as often as not, boilng. 
Learning to relate ihiough ritual, 
through tad, through social masks, lias 
left us ignorant of how lo relate freely. 
But without these liluals of toleration, 
a subculture cannot maintain itself, 
because like society at large, a subcul- 
ture requires confoi roily, social harmo- 
ny and the suppression of individual 
passions for its continued existence. 

In relating lo people outside, subcul- 
tures tend to opt for cither a sort of 
scpajal'ism~rninimalizing contad with 
the outside world-or evangelism-seek- 
ing to win people over lo Ihc perspec- 
tive of Ihc subculture. Since the anar- 
chist subculture b decidedly evangelis- 
tic, il is this the: I'll deal with. All cvan-' 
gelislic groups, from the Baptists lo Ihc 
R.GP, torn the Moonics to Ihc anar* 
chi&f subculture, ore so because (bey 
arc convinced that they have the an- 
swers to the csscnliaJ pioblcms of Ihc 

world. Convincing others of this, be- 
comes a major motive l>c lurid the ac- 
tions of those within such subcultures. 

They acl and speak so as lo present an 
image of sclf-assuiaucc as well as a 
lind of solidarity with those whom they 
Wish lo win over. Individuals within 
such subcultures do not live for them- 
selves but for the ideal, llic answer that 
ihcy arc so certain will cure all. They 
live, or try to live, up to a certain im- 
age, and so arc confoi mists. 

The basics of the anarchist subculture 
is an idealization of anarchy. Ilascd on 
models from ihc past - ihc Spanish Rev- 
olution, Enrico Mal.ilcsla, iMakhno, 

etc— and visions of the future, anarchy is 
made into an ideal Inline society which 
will answer all the CSAI nlial questions 
about human relations. It becomes a 
gospel to which lo win people, a pod lo 
which one can sacrifice oneself. It de- 
fines the parameters of thought and 
adion for the anarchist subculture, 
creating a certain sameness in the way 
anarchists live, play and express them- 
selves. Idealized,, anarchy loses all 
conncdioo lo present lived reality and 
becomes a means of enforcing confor- 
mity, tolerance and propriety, puaran- 
lecing the maintenance ol the anarchist 

Because of the nature ol subcultures, 
the anarchist subculture can only exist 
by removing anarchy and rclKllion from 
the terrain of our present day lives and 
turning them inio ideals with corre- 
sponding social roles. Il will praise 
■spontaneity* while defining ils content 
and, thereby, suppressing il. Free ex- 
pression of passions and desires arc not 
encouraged, in fad, qirilc oltcn the 
opposite. Within ils own framework, the 
anarchist subculture is quite conserva- 
tive, ils own maintenance being ils top 
priority. Every new exploration and 
experimentation is a threat lo its exis- 
tence and must lie quickly defined, 
limited nnd recuperated by it. This 
explains both Ihc absurd, defensive 
re acl ions of certain anarchists lo mote 
daring theoretical explorations, as well 
as Ihc tendency for ihcsc explorations 
lo remain in a realm of separated theo- 
ry, of I hcory without practice. A subcul- 
ture is a .place for security, for safely, 
for finding social roles and systems of 
relationships by which one can define 
one's self, not a place for lice eiplora- 

tecQnie spectacles in mail-art shows. Subversion is 
recuperated by society as art. Ignoring ihc facl that' 
art is a social and cultural calcgory, anarchic artists 
claim that an opposes cullurc, but ihcir activities 
ciealc for them the role of cultural workers within ihc 
anarchist subculture. 

When the situationists said thai revolutionary praxis 
needed lo become lherapcutic,thcy had no idea that 
certain North American anarchists would find ways to 
wed this and a few othef half-digested siluationis! 
ideas to new age psyehotherapics — but, gee, fhose 
Yanks (and Canadians) sure are inventive, ain't Ihcy? 
New age therapies came into the anarchist subcullurc 
largely thrrugh feminist, gay lib and related move- 
ments. The reason given for practicing ihcsc therapies 
is self-discovery and self liberal ion. But all psycho- 
tlicrapics — including those of humanist and "third 
force" psychologists; — were developed to integrate 
people inlo society. When feminists, gay libcralionists 
and similar groups began using bcrapculic tech- 
niques, il helped integrate individi ils into a common 
framework from which they would view the world and 
acl on it. Anarcho-therapists have adapted such 
practices as meditation, play therapy, support groups 
and separate spaces. Meditation is really just a form 
of escape, without the physical damages of drinking 
or drugs. It eases the stresses of daily life, keeping 
them from becoming loo much to bear. It can, thus, 
be useful, but il is not self-liberating. Play as therapy, 
like play as art, loses its subversive edge. Its parame- 
ters defined, il becomes a safe release, a Idling off of 
steam, rather than a true breaking out with all the 
risks thai involves. It does not present a challenge to 
aulhority or the work ethic, because il is play safely 
ensconced in ihc framework of ptoductive usefulness 
and brings oul the chaotic energy that could otherwise 
challenge authority within a safely ordered frame- 
work. Support group therapy is a particular insidious 
form of self-deception. A gjoup of people get togeth- 
er to talk about a common problem, burden or 
oppression they supposedly share. This practice 
immediately removes the problem from the realm of 
daily life, of individual relationships and particular 
circumslances, into ihe realm of "our common op- 
pression" where it can be fit into an ideological 
framework. Support gjoups are formed with a partic- 
ular purpose (otherwise, why form them?) which will : 
shape Ihc workings of Ihd group, bias the conclusions 
drawn'and mold the participants into the framework 
of Ihc gjoup ideology. The creation of separate spaces 
(women's only, gay only, etc.) reinforce* the worst 
tendencies of support group therapy, by guaranteeing 

that no outside element can pcncliald. Anarchists 
blithely ignore the authoritarian and propcrtarian 
implications of this practice and its inherent bigotry, 
excusing them he cause it is the practice of an op- 
picssed group. All of ihcsc therapeutic forms separate- 
people from Ihcir daily life experience and place Ihem 
in a separate "therapeutic" realm where they can be 
readily integraled into a particular social and ideologi- 
cal ftamewotk. In the case of anarcbo-tberapists, il is 
the framework of the anarchist subculture and Ihe 
role they play in it. 

Most of the people I've met in the anarchist subcul- 
ture are sincere people. They truly want to rebel 
against authority and destroy it. But they arc products 
of society, trained lo distrust themselves and their 
desires and to fear the unknown. Finding a subculture 
in place with roles to which they can adapt them- 
selves, it is much easier to fail into the role or roles 
with which they feel most comfortable, secure in the 
knowledge that they are part of the rebel milieu, than 
lo truly take the leap in the dark of living for them- 
selves against society. And these "anarchist" roles plug 
into a social struct urc and a way of relating lo the 
world at large that arc equally essential to the anar- 
chist subcullurc and which also need lo be examined. 

"Would il not be an anachronism to cultivate the 
taste for harbors, certitudes, systems?" 

The structure of Ihe anarchist subculture is 
largely centered around publishing pro- 
jects, bookstores, collective living situations and 
radical activism. These projects and the methods of 
running them that reproduce the subculture create 
the methods of anarchist "outreach." What they create 
in many ways resembles an evangelical religious sect. 
Most of the projects that make up the structure ol 
the anarchist subculture are run collectively Using a 
process of consensus decision making. A few are the 
projects of single individuals occasionally helped out 
by friends. (On the fringe of the subculture are 
numerous flyer projects almost all of which are 
individual projects.) I am putting off a thorough 
critique of consensus for a later article. For now, let 
it suffice to point oul that the process of consensus 
does require the subjection of Ihe individual will to 
the .will of the group as. a whole and the subjection of 
the immediate to the mediation of meetings and 
decision-making processes. It has an inherently 
conservative bent, because il creates policies that can 
only be changed if everyone agrees to it. It is an 
invisible authority to which individuals are subject, 

which limits -the extent lo which' they question .the 
project in which ihey arc involved or Ihc anarchist 

A large number of anarchists live on their own or 
.with lovers. Eut many see a collective living arrange- 
ment as better, sometimes for as simpler a reason as 
easing everyone's financial burdens (the reason which 
involves the fewest illusions), hut more often lo create 
a living support group situation, lo participate more 
easily in a common project or lo 'put theory into 
practice." Having already dealt with support groups, 
I will only add thai living together in a support group 
will tend to exaggerate all of the insulalory and 
ideological aspects of support group therapy. A 
collective living situation can certainly ease some 
aspects of sharing a common project, from ihc 
financial to the trick of getting people together lo 
discuss the project. Il can also increase the chances of 
the project becoming insulalory, feeding on itself, 
losing necessary critical input. But it is those who 
claim to be "putting theory into practice* in Ihcsc 
living situations who are practicing the highest level of 
self-deception. Group living situations could possibly 
be a basis for exploring new ways of relating, but the 
semi-permanence of such situations lends toward the 
creation of social roles and structures, and new 
explorations rue not what the households I know of 
arc pursuing. The separation between theory and 
practice implied by the phrase "putting theory into 
practice" is evident in the relative sameness of these 
living situations. Most anarchists believe that there 
arc certain principles that should govern the way 
people interrelate. In their living collectives, land 
trusts and squats, they attempt to live by their princi- 
ples. Their living situations arc not thcoretico-pracli- 
cal explorations into new ways of relating, bul rather, 
the submission of individuals lo 3 prc-conccived social 
structure. These principles arc not put to ihc lest in 
these situations, because the anarchist household is an 
insulalory situation, a kind of alternative reality in the 
midst of the world. With the exception of anarchist 
squals-which do, at least, present a challenge to the 
authority of landlords and property— these households 
relate to the world of external authorities in the same 
way everyone else does: paying their rent (or properly 
tax) and bills, and working or collecting welfare. 

These households do little, if anything, toward under- 
mining society, but they offer a structure for people 
to live in that maintains their feeling of rebelliousness 
and the subculture which gives them a safe place lo 
express this feeling. 

The various publishing projects (including periodi- 
cals) and bookstores arc the main sources of history, 
theory and information for the anarchist subculture. 
To some cxlent, these projects have' lo plug into the 
capitalist system and so rarely pretend to be inherent- 
ly revolutionary. When I hey are group projects, they 
are usually run by consensus on the absurd assump- 
tion lhal there is something anarchistic about having 
lo sit through long, boring meetings to work out Ihc 
details of running a small business or producing a 
magazine or book. But the aspect of these projects 
lhal really bothers me is that they tend lo become 
means of defining the framework of thought in th< 
anarchist subculture rather than a provocation lo 
discuss and explore Ihc nature of alienation and 
domination and how lo go about destroying them. 1 o 
a large cxlent this lack of provocation is inherent in 
what is published. Most anarchist publications, 
whether books or periodicals, arc uncritical reprints 
of old anarchist writings, uncritical histories, rehash 
ing of leftist opinions with a bit of anli-stalism thrown 
in or uncritical moderni7Jtions of out-dated anarchist 
ideas. Such writings reinforce certain standards and 
models of what it means to be an anarchist without 
questioning those models. Even those writings which 
do present a challenge rarely seem lo evoke the s<>ri 
of intelligent, critical discussion that could be pari ol 
a stimulating radical praxis. Rather, ihey arc also 
often taken as a source of standards, models, ways nl 
defining Ihc parameters of revolt. This stems, in pari, 
from the nature of the printed word, which seems to 
have a permanence about il that is not compatible 
with the fluid, living nature of thought or discussion. 
Most readers have trouble seeing through the printed 
word lo Ihc fluidity of thought behind it. So they react 
as though dealing with something- sncrcd-cilher 
worshipping it or desecrating it. Neither .reaction 
pleases me, because both signify that the ideas have 
been reified, have become commodities in the mar- 
ketplace of ideas— an image reinforced by the fact that 
these ideas are mostly lo be found for sale in book- 
stores. Another aspect of anarchist publication is 
propaganda. This is the advertising side of anarchism 
-the proof that it is largely just a commodity in the 
marketplace of ideas. Most anarchist propaganda is 
an attempt lo create an image of anarchism that is 
attractive lo whomever the propaganda is aimed at. 
Thus, much of this literature seems to be aimed at 
easing people's minds, at proving that anarchy isn't so 
extreme, thai it doesn't challenge people; it reassures 
them, showing them thai they can continue lo have 

secure, structured lives even after the anarchist 
revolution. Since most anarchist literature, including 
this sort, is bought or stolen by anarchists, I wonder 
if it isn't really an. attempt at self- re assurance, and 
reinforcement of the- defining models of the subcul- 
ture. The structures which make anti-authoritarian 
literature available could provide a network for! 
challenging discussion aimed at creating and main- 
taining a truly rebellious praxis, but instead it creates 
a framework of models and structures for people to 
follow— ihc "anarchist principles" lo which so many 
blindly cling— which reinforce the anarchist subculture. 
Radical activism is another aspect of the public 
image of Ihc anarchist subculture, particularly the 
militant wing. It largely involves participation in leftist 
demonstrations, though occasionally anarchists will 
organize their own demonstration on a particular 
issue. One motive behind much ol ihis activism is lo 
win people over lo anarchism. To accomplish this, 
anarchists must separate themselves as a definable 
entity and make themselves attractive to those they 
arc Irving lo convert. At present, most activism seems 
to be trying to attract youth and, particularly, punk 
youth. So anarchists tend lo be especially loud and 
rowdy at demonstrations, portraying an image of 
defiance and showing that anarchists mean "serious 
business.' Since other groups, like the R.C.P.. also get 
rowdy and defiant, anarchist militants have lo make 
the distinction clear by loudly denouncing these 
groups and even getting into* fights with lhem-ya! 
kinda have to wonder about these anarchist militants, 
if their actions arc so similar lo Maoist hacks, that . 
Ihey have lo consciously pul out an effort to distin- 
guish themselves. Bul evangelism isn't the only reason 
anarchists participate in these rituals of opposition. 
Many participate because it is Ihc appropriate anar- 
chist thing to do. In ihcir minds, "anarchist" is a role 
thai involves a specific social aclivity. It is a subspe- 
cies of leftist that is rowdier and a bit more violent 
than most. This allows them lo separate anarchy and 
rebellion from their daily lives. Questions like, "Does 
this activity help destroy domination, undermine the 
spectacle and create free life?" arc irrelevant since 
anarchism is by defined participation in militant 
activities, not by rebellion against everything that 
stands in the way of our freedom to create for our- 
selves the lives wc desire. As long as one is active in 
demonstrations in the right way, one is a good anar- 
chist, upholding the image and maintaining the 
anarchist subculture. 
Though some ol these slructures-cspccially those 

dealing with publication— have potential for being part 
of a truly anarchic challenge to society, tbc anarchist 
subculture diverts their energy to maintain and 
reproduce itself. The subculture ofTcrs us 'harbors, 
certitudes, systems," tending to make us cautious, 
leading us lo embrace the known rather than face the 
adventure of challenging the unknown. So anarchists 
and anti-authoritarians, thinking themselves rebels, 
arc, in fact, the ones who define Ihc limits of revolt 
and so recuperate it. Tbc anarchist subculture has 
undermined anarchy, turned it into another commodi- 
ty on the ideological marketplace and so made it into 
another category of society.