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+4 votes
I live in a big city in and I found it impossible to practice anarchism (not a theoretically defined one but the spirit of it) in it. These big cities are just the expression of the system and depend on it, with their ugliness, their advertising, their pollution, people mindlessly chasing artificial goals, etc. Of course, it is a generalisation, there are nice people and spaces but the city forever encloses upon them.
Whereas, in my experience, the country (I live in a third world country, I do not know how it would be on developed ones) offers open, untamed space, and the posibilty to shape it (this does not mean to destroy it) in a friendlier way and the much smaller number of people is a gasp of fresh air.
Myself, I dream of getting a patch of land in the country and work it for a living, I couldn't imagine living my whole life (I'm 20) in a big city. Also, I have the feeling they will collapse in a few years, maybe a couple decades.

Briefly, my question is: shouldn't anarchists abandon big cities and attempt  their communities away from them?

1 Answer

+1 vote
i think this question is a fine provocation for thoughtfulness. i agree that fewer people can be restful and encourage deeper relationships (maybe?)... and that considering all our options (and the consequences of choices already made) is a good idea.

on the other hand:
a. i don't think anarchists "should" do any single thing,

b. on the practical level, cities offer opportunities both social and economic that are different from the country,

c. on the philosophical level, the idea of the country as distinct from the city seems overly polarized. conceptually (for many) the country and the city are now part of the same thing, with excitement and work on one side, and serenity and rest and cleanliness on the other. work/vacation, if you like. (encouraging people who know the city to go to the country/on permanent vacation has a simplistic appeal that has been the downfall of many attempts to create liberated rural zones.)

since according to everyone who's responding my points are unintelligible, this edit is for clarity.

edit: there is no place to live that is a permanent vacation (except in our heads). i was attempting to make the point that the city and the country exist not only in real life, where each has benefits and drawbacks--as does every real life situation--but also in imagination, where the city is seen as "real life" (by those in the city, by movers and shakers, by media, etc), and the country is seen as restful vacation-land. to the extent that invitations to the country don't address that imaginative/philosophical construction, the people who respond to those invitations frequently don't do well in the country because their expectations are unrealistic.
tl/dr: the question as it's posed doesn't challenge a romantic view of the country.

(also clodbuster - lol)
by (52.6k points)
edited by
a fine answer dot.

(and in the interest of provocations ...)
re:  (c) - bullshit.
"conceptually ... the country and the city are now part of the same thing"
Unless by 'the same thing', you mean 'disparate manifestations of the same desperate civilisation we all wish to burn to the fecking ground', then i have issues with that.  (not that anybody, including me, really cares.)
While the plaintext part of that clause is 'iffy', the last sentence is golden - the beauty of the ZAD was that everyone had a common view- whether you wore steel toes, or clown shoes, or chore boots; they were all good for kicking the asses of the flics who stomped in uninvited.

Cities and rural are entirely different environments; both offer their own unique opportunities and challenges, but those challenges are nothing alike.  Suburbs (the in-betweens) are sited in desirable locations, but poisoned (perhaps beyond reclamation) by the social forces that drove their creation.
Shanty-towns have long fired the imaginations of those who seek to create a different world;  now the abandoned suburban tracts and half-built holiday highrises throughout america and southern europe, offer us the shantytown potential previously only seen in the 'third world', now sitting ripe and opportune in our own back yards.  (No small wonder that the governments are knocking the fucking things down as fast as they can.)
Unless by 'the same thing', you mean 'disparate manifestations of the same desperate civilisation we all wish to burn to the fecking ground',

i do, in fact, mean that.
Well, that took the fun out of it.
I think it is not only a bit condescending to call "living in the country" an equivalent to "vacation". Only because people in the city have the less meaningful jobs doesn't mean that the added quality of life of working on something meaningful makes your life a vacation.
see edit
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