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+3 votes
And also, what do other social movements do to ensure that they last longer than one generation? Is there any way we could or should emulate this?
by (8.0k points)

1 Answer

0 votes
i am finding myself in more and more inter-generational anarchist milieus and organizations. there is a whole generation of anarchists who came up through the 70s, 80s, 90s that are still around...also many from the last 10-15 years or so post-99 are seeming to stick around though not all.

i think a big thing is that when you are in your teens, 20s and 30s it can be easier to be a super activist or stay an organizer, but generally it starts to become harder and creating space for different types of contributions to the movement is one way of addressing that. so if people are not directly organizing in struggles, maybe they are helping do educational work or propaganda.

bonano drove the get away car! :D
by (670 points)
thank you for your answer sabotage. I am really pleased (and also really envious) to hear that this has been your experience!
"20s and 30s it can be easier to be a super activist or stay an organizer, but generally it starts to become harder"
so you're saying that old folks can't do things that are hard, rather than old folks have learned other ways to do things? or confronted problems in the ways that activists/organizers think?

asker, i am also in a scene with some old anarchists (a regular reading group attendee is in her 90s). but your question could use some clarifying.

aside from those caveats, in my experience people leave a) because scenes don't have the capacity to address (or stop) scene drama, b) because people want to have children, c) because people get work (including grad school) that they start taking more seriously than other things. children don't necessarily have to mean leaving the scene, but usually they do, because they're exhausting and also frequently require more paid work.
there are of course parents who have stayed engaged, but even when they are very dedicated, their priorities are different (as they should be).
dot, your answer is good and you're right that my question could use some clarifying...

I guess the assumption my question makes is that whatever it is we have right now (the contemporary anarchist movement, if you want to call it that) is not really intergenerational, even if there are some scenes where old people are still active. That's why I said "truly" intergenerational, although I admit that's completely vague.

What I was getting at is that, notwithstanding the presence of some older anarchists,I think there is a major disjuncture between the current generation of anarchists and the previous ones, and this is not only a question of how many older anarchists drop out of the movement. It is also a question of geography, what theory gets read, historical memory, the longevity of anarchist spaces and communities, and probably a bunch of other things.  In many of these respects it feels like we've had to more or less start over every generation (or even oftener).  I'm not trying to whine or exaggerate how big of a phenomenon this is (although in light of your answers I guess I might be) but to look for other people's perspectives on what causes this, whether it is unique to anarchists, and if there are ways it might actually be helping us.
no, not exaggerating, i think. i agree that there are big disjunctures.
in our reading group we have talked about the difference between when our oldest member was growing up and now... and the impact that immigrant neighborhoods had on politics (at least eastern european immigrants), and how assimilation is at least one issue (as far as she knows, none of her anarchist people had children who were anarchists, although many of her friends remained anarchists their whole lives...)
it's a really interesting question, and has big social implications (are there really any small groups that are self-perpetuating in this culture?)...