by Daycaf Magazine
“Anarchism’s taboo in Swedish media
Why is it taboo to discuss anarchism in Swedish media? For an anarchist, perhaps it is obvious – why would those who uphold the status quo in society be interested to note an ideology that questions the very foundations of our modern society is based on? But the reason I ask myself this question, is that at least in the public service, it is after all okay to drive quite so radical criticism of contemporary society. I often listen to interesting socially critical element in Swedish radio or watching documentaries on svt, even the science world have criticized capitalism as a system. But what strikes me about this is that they never take a step further. They stop at the criticism. They stay in the questions. They never discuss the answers, they never discuss solutions. Recently, I listened to the program “If the crisis, consumption and morality” from the Philosophical room, a very ambitious program in terms of discussing the challenges of a growth-driven economy where profit is the only driving force, there was room for questioning poverty, class differences, and environmental problems, etc. But when the only liberal participant in the panel, Sofia Nerbrand down the (very legitimate) question of what they’re looking for options, then groping panel in the dark. So as most seem to do. They have certainly examples of things that could be solutions, and Göran Greider mentions some democratic planned economy, this got me of course immediately think “Parecon”, as it is the idea myself most inside right now, but of course mentioned there. Now, I blame not really svt and sr for not discussing Parecon, as it still seems to be a so marginal that it barely even seems to be known in activist circles. (Curious? Read more about it here .) But the thing that bothers me, however, is to never, ever, have I heard anarchism discussed, or even mentioned as an option, let alone anyone been invited to a panel discussion as “anarchist “to discuss a social phenomenon. (Not that it is not very common for someone who calls himself a socialist or communist nor may come up on stage.)
When I googled the sr + anarchism, I get only four results from Sveriges Radio. The first, a radio drama called “anarchist” has one after element called “How to cure a fanatic” and is about the September 11 attacks. The other search results about a demonstration in London where anarchists climb in through the window. The fourth Twins anarchists and extremists in the title. All results mentioned anarchism briefly, without explanation, and in most cases it is linked together with violent and “extremism.” Perhaps the public service ever discussed anarchism in a serious way, but it is in any case an exception. If anyone finds such a feature, and you’ll love to send it to me.
Yes, anarchists have often used violence of various kinds to achieve their goals, often through so-called “property destruction” – the destruction of objects, buildings and objects. In some cases, violence against people used. But violence has also occurred in the name of religion, in the name of socialism, and there is violence in the name of capitalism every day. So this would justify never discuss an ideology, that argument does not hold. So why can not the public service seriously discuss anarchism?
I ask myself these questions, because I only recently found to anarchism, and now that it almost feels as natural to me, so I start to think about why I did not take to me before. Why I never checked it out? Why I read never about anarchism? And I realize that I have fallen into the trap that the social climate have set so cunningly at us, the media had succeeded with their tactics to intimately connect extremism – terrorism – violence – “left sects”, “extreme left” etc with anarchism. Additionally, I was never particularly drawn to punk or punk aesthetics, and so I managed to anyone left (ha!) to dismiss the whole punk culture as anti-intellectual, and through that anarchism for some reason strongly associated with punk culture, so I saw it simply does not as an alternative. Or rather, it existed anarchism in a blind spot in my vision, I really knew almost nothing about it, yet it was something that was ridiculed, extreme and simply not worth to even look up.
When I later well started reading a little more, when I examined the Occupy movement in New York to my c-essay and read a lot about social movements, I was surprised at how universal principles of Anarchism and anarchist ethic stood out for me. That it always appeared as the problem of communism to me – the authoritarian regime – was actually anarchism advantage, that it is an anti-authoritarian socialism. Why should we have class differences? Why should we hierarchies? Why, if not to the rulers want it that way?
When I realized that anarchism is really about direct democracy, autonomy and equal worth of all (for real, not just rhetorically), so I was surprised and disappointed in myself, and to my former prejudices had kept me from discovering anarchism earlier . I remember when I was young and naive liberal, was a member of Liberal Youth, stood at one stall and ended up in a discussion with an anarchist – he never managed to convince me, I continued to ask the same question that Sofia Nerbrand asked – But what the advocates you options? And he had no answer. I thought he was just criticizing, just relative to that which he disliked, but he offered me no alternative. Therefore, he lost my interest.
And frankly, so have probably even most anarchists a true diffuse vision for the future. They know they do not want any government, no prisons, no capitalism. They know they want to be autonomous, but how it will work in practice is a bit sketchy. And that’s probably why I think Parecon, participatory, may be the answer to the question that many people, not just the already convinced anarchists. For it is an established system of how we can have a relatively large-sized economy (to be honest, it would not be as effective if each local community had to be 100% self-sufficient in everything), yet avoid hierarchies and abuses of power, how we can get rid of class inequalities, and how everyone can be eligible for a rewarding life, not just one where one is doomed to stupid drudgery of wage slavery treadmill.
This is not extremism. Is it extreme to require equal value must be more than just fine words on paper? Is it “fanatical” to think that people should have the right to express their opinion in the decisions that affect their lives, advocating direct democracy? Well, if that is how it is seen, then it’s probably our present society that is extremely, and not the anarchist ideas. It is up to the evidence, the Public Service. Are you so politically independent as you say you are then you should also be able to take up ideas that are outside the scope of our representative democratic system.”
From a Swedish bloggr, Cia Paulsson