I am going to start writing a new series here focused on Urban Anarchy. I hope to address issues of sprawl, street harassment, agorism, migration, community organizing and other issues that are relevant to our modern urban environments. I live in Northeast Kansas City. It is an area that is much lower on crime than some larger cities I have lived in, in the past. The first thing I am addressing is one that is cliche but still present. This is an issue that impacts women caught in prostitution as well as those who sell and buy illegal products such as drugs. Ideally we are working for anarchy, so these issues will not be issues, but in our path to anarchism I feel we can begin to address these issues in an anarchist manner.
One thing I am a fan of is community organizing. On our path to anarchism it will be beneficial if anarchists began to take up the mantle of community organizers. In being involved in our communities we can begin to implement anarchist solutions. Our impact can become one that embraces solutions with anarcho-ethics. In this process our ethics and solutions can be proven to work. A great womanist community organizer told me her view on solutions that embrace her community organizing roots that I see as highly compatable with anarchism. She stated ‘those closest to the problem have the answer’. We who live with the problems on a daily basis can provide the answers. It is not the rich ruling class who live removed from urban issues that can solve our issues in the urban core. I want to be clear I am not addressing issues of charities and shelters. Many automatically go to this idea when I bring up such topics. I am not addressing the issue of poverty, homelessness and other issues that may intersect here at times. So, do not respond with how you ‘give to charity’ or how ‘there are charities out there’ or ‘there are government programs out there.’ If that is your reaction then you might want to re-read the article until you understand the article.
Arbitration and community organization are what I am addressing. This is something that will function in a stateless society, but it is something we must work at building outside of the state in our current society. The state has failed in meeting many needs that we can address outside of the state. Much of the crime people point to in the area I live in are prohibition related crimes. There is prohibition of drugs and prostitution that criminalizes the actions of people. Violence and victimization often rises out of this. If alternative forms of arbitration and protection are available many of the violent issues that arise may be avoided.
I point to women and other people stuck in prostitution as a group the state has provided little to no protection for. I am using the gender specific women through this article but I also realize there are other genders that will face the issue also. I see mostly women in Northeast Kansas City. These women are often already victims of patriarchal hierarchy and abuse before they are stuck in prostitution. It is important to realize these are women, human beings and should not be defined by the prostitution they are stuck in, therefore terminology such as hooker or prostitute are terms I would like you to realize I am avoiding as well as other more dehumanizing titles they are often called.
One dynamic that is seen is that women stuck in prostitution are not likely to seek help from local ‘law enforcement’ their situation is ‘illegal’. Many women are not likely to seek help through the current state monopolized options. When they do they will often be the ones facing the label ‘criminal’ and face the retribution of the state. By creating local alternatives of arbitration and protection we provide a safe place for those who would face persecution under the state. Women are often brutalized, raped, robbed and more while in prostitution. These grievances are often never addressed. It’s the age old concept if the woman in prostitution is not given payment for services provided, who does she go for help? Under the state we see the prohibitions of state and the criminalization of people.
This is not limited to people in prostitution but other walks of life as well. Looking at what people groups are demonized and under served by the state can help us to realize where we can offer alternatives and create an impact.
What we see here is a disparity that we can address. Urban environments have needs the state has ignored and some they have even been guilty of creating. The time is now for anarchism. We must be the ones to meet the needs. By going into the communities and organizing forms of protection and dispute resolution we can begin to address issues of populations that are ignored by the state. This can become a strong force in the evolution of society towards anarchism.
By allying with non-state organizations that currently exist to resolve some issues we can show a working model of stateless solutions that have potential to prove themselves as succeeding in areas that the state has failed. Stateless solutions are abundant in the urban core, to attach ourselves to these and to begin to work with them and draw together a stronger structure outside of the state we can move towards eliminating state solutions for issues.
Perhaps it is time more anarchists began to look into studying and going into community organizing as a profession. We have an agenda. Our is also one to better the lives of all. By creating a more stable society with those who have been marginalized, criminalized or labeled ‘illegal’ we will be more enabled to grow strength we need in throwing off the iron grasp of the unjust “legal system”. Of the state.
We say there are alternatives. We should implement them where a demand exists. This builds our strength while lending credibility to our movement in the eyes of the skeptics who reject our theories as legitimate or workable.
Writing on this is still in it’s infancy. I hope this will start some dialogue in these areas though. It is a matter of looking into what fields will impact changes, and looking at strategies in creating organizations. Can anarchism work within the confines of an occupied territory to make efforts to move forward and better our lives as we work to end the state through building up more effective practical solutions?
The distrust of police and state is no doubt present in an urban core. What I propose is no small task, it is not proselytizing on an internet or holding protests, it is putting into actions what we know will work. It is taking the steps to create the society we speak of while gaining support in the process.