Home / General / Anarchism: Illegal in Oklahoma

Anarchism: Illegal in Oklahoma

Comments
/
/
/
1011 Views

Discovered by @megmantis, this Oklahoma law, enacted in 1919 and amended as late as 1999:

Any person in this state, who shall carry or cause to be carried, or publicly display any red flag or other emblem or banner, indicating disloyalty to the Government of the United States or a belief in anarchy or other political doctrines or beliefs, whose objects are either the disruption or destruction of organized government, or the defiance of the laws of the United States or of the State of Oklahoma, shall be deemed guilty of a felony, and upon conviction shall be punished by imprisonment in the Penitentiary of the State of Oklahoma for a term not exceeding ten (10) years, or by a fine not exceeding One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) or by both such imprisonment and fine.

I mean, my disdain for anarchists has no floor, but making carrying a pro-anarchist flag a state offense? Wow. I know this is a Red Scare law, not atypical for the country. And I don’t know how many other states might still have something like this on the books. But updated in 1999? Again, wow. Moreover, who doubts many lawmakers in the state of Oklahoma would happily use a statute like this against, say, Occupy Wall Street protestors who might make vague statements about anarchy?

Crazy.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+Share
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Linkedin
  • Pinterest
  • Jo

    Great find! And it wasn’t just automatically amended with a bunch of other stuff like I thought might be what was going on at first. At least some of the other sections in Chapter 9 (Offenses Related to Flags) weren’t amended. I can’t see the difference between the current law and the superseded version, but at least they didn’t up the fine. Section 375 is good, too. The Boy Scout flag is A-OK in OK!

    • Dave

      For god’s sake, nobody read any lower. The parade of simplistic, smart-arse, wise-cracking defamation of an honourable political tradition will NOT make your day, I guarantee it.

  • my disdain for anarchists has no depth

    Rhetoric better!

    • Vance Maverick

      No bottom?

      In any case, the stars-and-bars suggestion below is a test we can be quite confident those administering this law would fail.

      • Some pedant or other

        I believe Major Kong’s reference is to the Confederate battle flag.

        • Vance Maverick

          Yup. I was wrong in using “stars and bars” for that one.

  • Anonymous

    It’s fairly clear that they are only referring to the offense of carrying a flag promoting anarchy. Although the punishment seems a bit excessive.

  • Anonymous

    The amendment added the jail term.

    • Jo

      How so? This isn’t the superseded version?

      Any person in this state, who shall carry or cause to be carried, or publicly display any red flag or other emblem or banner, indicating disloyalty to the Government of the United States or a belief in anarchy or other political doctrines or beliefs, whose objects are either the disruption or destruction of organized government, or the defiance of the laws of the United States or of the State of Oklahoma, shall be deemed guilty of a felony, and upon conviction shall be punished by imprisonment in the Penitentiary of the State of Oklahoma for a term not exceeding ten (10) years, or by a fine not exceeding One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) or by both such imprisonment and fine.

      • Jo

        I see. The jail term was removed for about a year and then readded in 1999. Even crazier!

        • The anarchists in Lawton and Stillwater must have risen up in a black flag revolt sometime in 1998.

          • Incontinentia Buttocks

            A professor at USAO in Chickasha, Oklahoma, actually started a Young Communist League cell there in 1999. The Chickasha YCLers used to show up for events in Norman. Kinda bizarre seeing small-town Okies who self-identified as communists. The group seems to have quickly disintegrated….or maybe they just went underground ;-)

          • DrDick

            It is Norman they are worried about. It has always been Norman where all the Commies hide behind the bushes. Stillwater is all redneck Aggies and Lawton, well the less said about the redneck asshole of the universe, the better.

            • rea

              I well remember hiding in the bushes in Norman back in the day

              • rea

                Although to be fair, my hiding in the bushes in Norman was more about not wanting to get busted for smoking dope in the dorms than communism.

                • DrDick

                  Me, too. I did not become an actual socialist until long after I graduated.

                • Linnaeus

                  Me, too. I did not become an actual socialist until long after I graduated.

                  The older I get, the more socialist I lean, it seems.

  • Hmmmm.

    A red flag that indicates disloyalty to the Government of the United States? I think I recall seeing one of those somewhere.

    It had a couple of blue diagonal stripes on it, but it was mostly red.

    • max

      I think I recall seeing one of those somewhere.

      Yeah, I was wondering if the graycoat banner (ok, white hood banner) would get the rubber hose for the disloyalty thing.

      But then I seem to remember something about Tulsa and a massacre.

      max
      [‘Oh, hey, maybe they just did the white hoods then, so now they don’t worry about it. That’s the ticket!’]

      • Uncle Ebeneezer

        or other emblem or banner, indicating disloyalty to the Government of the United States

        Wouldn’t this make anyone carrying a “don’t tread on me” flag a felon. Pretty please!!

        • BigHank53

          That flag dates back to the American Revolution, so it’d be hard to argue treasonous intent. Unless you were in a British court…

      • DrDick

        There were also some prominent politicians and other public figures with hoods in their closets.

    • Anonymous

      Dang, sometimes wish this blog had a ‘like’ button!

  • Bruce Vail

    Crazy? I thought you were a historian of class struggle.

    The Green Corn Rebellion is still treasured by the Wobblies as an example that their ideas can thrive even in the thinnest soil.

    • I would not define myself as “a historian of class struggle.”

      • Bruce Vail

        I didn’t mean to offend. It just seemed odd to me that you didn’t connect the 1919 OK law to to the events that apparently inspired it.

        Green Corn Rebellion might make a good subject for one of your ‘Today in Labor History’ lessons.

        • Mentioning the Red Scare wasn’t connecting it to the past?

  • Caroline Abbott

    Our little state is a seemingly endless source of stunning wonders. Truly, we are invulnerable to enlightenment and vulnerable only to blue kryptonite.

  • How the EFF is this not a first amendment issue?

  • Incontinentia Buttocks

    In fact, Oklahoma’s first state flag was red-baited out of existence.

  • Incontinentia Buttocks

    Oddly, they’ve never arrested this guy.

    • efgoldman

      Hah. Great minds…

    • Cody

      You can clearly see in the picture he is running from someone…

      I’ll just assume it’s the police.

  • Barry Freed

    I mean, my disdain for anarchists has no floor,

    Why? Any links to past posts here or elsewhere where you explain your attitudes toward anarchism?

    • efgoldman

      I can’t speak for Erik, but as a philosophy anarchism is just as nonsensical as libertarianism. Neither has any utility in any real world.

      • wengler

        There are many different strains of anarchism. Don’t tar it by comparing it to the Propertarian Party.

        • Random

          It’s a pretty silly political philosophy, you have to admit. “Hey, let’s just…not have government. At all. What could possibly go wrong?”

          • Random

            Of course the minute I say that twenty different sub-species of anarchists show up to tell me how that’s not really anarchism, with each one of them giving me a totally different version….

            • DocAmazing

              Yeah, exactly. Read up a bit, then snark.

              • Random

                Already did, years ago, read a little of all those guys and they are second-rate thinkers, all of them. They’re grand-pappy Hegel is the only one actually worth the time it takes to read.

                I’m pretty sure anything accomplished by people subscribing to those notions would have been accomplished without them as well.

                • DocAmazing

                  Yeah, no. I’ve been involved in labor organizing in healthcare and trying to keep hospitals open for a decade or so now. The organizers and volunteers who actually show up and get work done have been Greens, Communists, and anarchists. The ones who make a big noise for about a week and than fade entirely out are Democrats. (That’s not entirely true; if they can get resume items or contacts and advancement through organizing, they might just hang around, but it’s pretty rare.)

                  I have a whole lot more respect for the ones that show up, do the shitwork, and move the projsect forward than I do for the ones who make the scene at City Hall soirees. Anarchists have, in my exprience, accomplished a pile more than most other group members.

                • Random

                  Greens and Communists and self-described anarchists certainly have had a very powerful influence on our healthcare laws, what with their 0 members of Congress and massive membership rolls. Only a mere 37% of the country self-describe as Democrats, which probably explains why labor unions never support them in any election.

                  And why would you need to organize anarchists to run a hospital? Shouldn’t dialectical reintegration at this point in history have the hospital running itself now that the workers have seized the means of production and government has ceased to exist?

                • DocAmazing

                  You ignorance of what anarchism is should embarrass you. You’re trying to stick Marx For Dummies in as anarchy. Anarchy is about voluntary association, first and foremost, which you’d know having read Kropotkin.

                  As pointed out, I don’t organize anarchists to run a hospital; anarchists (and Greens and Communists) actually turn out to do the shitwork of orgnanizing (for affinity groups supporting the CNA and the NUHW and doctors who are prohibited from forming unions). Going back to Marx, if you seriously think that the means of production in healthcare are controlled by anyone besides hospital corporations and insurers, “naive” doesn’t begin to describe your grasp of the situation.

                • JL

                  Anarchists have, in my exprience, accomplished a pile more than most other group members.

                  DocAmazing: This is also my experience in activism, and observing it was what made me take anarchists seriously, even though I am not an anarchist (I’m a social dem and registered Dem) and don’t think any of the schools of anarchism that I am familiar with would work particularly well for structuring society.

                  I agree that anarchists are really good about just getting out and doing the gruntwork that needs to be done. This has not been my experience with socialists, even though their politics are probably closer to mine. It has certainly not been my experience with people whose politics actually ARE similar to mine. I dearly wish it were. It’s a longstanding source of frustration for me.

                  Probably half of the street medics in the US (i.e. my colleagues) are anarchists.

                  I sometimes think Erik’s experience of anarchists has oversampled morons on the Internet.

              • Random

                Also I was referring to a real phenomena when I said the thing about 20 different ‘anarchists’ all showing up to tell me that I’ve given the wrong definition, and then getting 20 completely different alternate definitions.

                As far as practical debate is concerned, in my experience anarchism can best be defined as ‘always the thing that is not whatever my debate opponent is criticizing.”

                • DocAmazing

                  read a little of all those guys

                  If the depth of your experience is equivalent to the depth of your reading, well, we can all enjoy your definition for its true worth.

                • Random

                  “No government” for practical purposes actually is a more accurate definition than positing that the inherently rational progression of history will inevitably end the existence of the state and give everyone a pony.

                  Seriously, Hegel’s really the only person on these lines even worth reading. All of the anarchist thinkers are just giving their personal flavor to his basic cosmology, which is predictive except that the predictions never came true.

                  Pretty much all of the great thinkers after Hegel are either anti or non-Hegelians.

                • DocAmazing

                  I think you’re still thinking of Marx.

                  “No government” describes any organization that comes together voluntarily and arranges itself according to the wishes of its members. There are a number of anarchist businesses, for example, both in the US and abroad. Doesn’t usually scale up well, in part because anarchists who make too much noise tend to attract the attention of people who like non-voluntary organizing. Just ask the Wobblies.

            • LeeEsq

              Ironically, a very large set of libertarians refer to themselves as anarcho-capitalists. Which is kind of stupid because private property can’t exist without a state.

          • wengler

            C’mon really? You can do better than that can’t you?

            Anarchism is at its core an anti-authoritarian ideology. It eschews hierarchical organization and instead emphasizes horizontal or flat organization. Just one of many reasons why liberals hate it.

            ‘Let’s just not have government’ isn’t a component of the ideology. More of ‘let’s have a core set of values and principles by which we can create a democratic decision-making process’. Collective government, not rule from above against those below.

            • LeeEsq

              How does anarchism deal with problems of scale? I’m serious. Having a core set of values and principles is all well and good but when you get into numerically large, heterogenous communities than you quickly find that you either don’t have a core sert of values and principles or even if there is an agreement you get wildly different interpretations. Nearly every American always said he or she believes in free speech but there have been lots of different opinions on what constitutes free speech.

              Anarchism only works if everybody is an anarchist or at least the vast majority of people, I’d say around 98% are anarchists. If you get more dissent from the core principles than the system falls apart. Its the same problem that libertarianism has, it requires all participants to believe in it. The beauty of the democratic republic is that you can get a variety of wildly different and contradictory beliefs and the system still works.

              I also haven’t heard a convicing explanation on how you can run complex metropolitan cities like New York or Tokyo on anarchist principles. These cities require a lot of expert knowledge to run in a way that a small, rural commune, which is the default anarchist utopia doesn’t. You need transit experts, people to run the traffic lights, the sewers etc. This requires a lot of top-down management.

              • fledermaus

                If you’re really curious I recommend The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin. It’s science fiction but she goes into the questions above as well as if socal pressures in a collective are just another form of involuntary rule making.

                But there aren’t any good answers so you may be disappointed.

                • LeeEsq

                  I know there aren’t any good answers but liberal democracy seems to have dealt with the differences between individual needs and group needs a bit better. The results might be sloppy but I’m not sure that collectivism is a better choice. The best system seems to be basically to favor the individual over the group with occasional pressure to the individual to favor the group.

              • JL

                Anarchism doesn’t preclude role specialization AFAIK. The many anarchists that I know from Occupy didn’t object to the camps having dedicated medics, safety personnel, public relations personnel, cooks, legal observers, garbage collectors, treasurers, and the like. Some of these roles required expert knowledge, some didn’t. They were largely performed by largely-autonomous “working groups” that operated by consensus (and were mostly small enough to do so effectively). The working groups dealt with their own day-to-day operations, reported to the General Assembly (which was anyone who showed up) and were bound by anything the General Assembly passed.

              • JL

                That said, I agree with your first two paragraphs. Even though I’ve spent a lot of time in this thread defending anarchists, like I’ve said, I am not one.

                • LeeEsq

                  My problem is that I do not think that any intensively ideological system of government is going to work because there are billions of humans and there are always going to be major differenes of opinion on core values. Not everybody is going to hold the same values or want the same life. There are always going to be people yearning for bling and glamour even if they can’t obtain it. There are always going to be people who want the hippie commune because thats how they see the good life.

                  Anarchism, libertarianism, state socialism, theocracy of any religion, fascism do not work as practical means of organizing society because they involve imposing one definition of the good life on everybody. Either you need to apply a lot of authoritarian or coercive force to get people to go along or the system falls apart. Any working system has to deal with the fact that there is always going to be widely different core values and definitions of the good life among humans and allow that.

              • wengler

                There are many large organizations run through syndicalist principles, the largest probably being Mondragon in Spain. As enterprises get larger they are inevitably harder to run, but there is no reason the workgroups that compose them should be burdened with a top-down approach, nor that specialization requires it.

                I think you are mistaken that democratic republics contain a variety of wildly different and contradictory beliefs. In the end you get the same monied interests with an outsized role in the decision-making process. And when talking about the US, the acceptable political spectrum is very narrow, as evidenced by this post itself.

            • LeeEsq

              Also, do see every form of delegated authority as rule of above against those from bellow? People can not and do not want to do everything. The theory behind elected officials is that people elect other people to run the tasks like traffic lights so they could live their lives and focus on whats important to them.

      • DrDick

        Have to agree. Anarchistic-style consensus governance works fine for small (<50 people total) hunter-gatherer bands, but simply does not scale up effectively. When you more than about 25-30 decision makers, it becomes too difficult and inefficient.

        • What about in Catalonia during the Spanish Civil War?

          • DrDick

            I know nothing about it, but cross-culturally true consensus decision-making disappears in favor of some forms of delegated authority when the group gets over that size. I would also point out that the leftists lost the Spanish Civil War.

            • DocAmazing

              That had less to do with the efficacy of their organizational structure and more with the fact that the Phalangists, the international Fascists, and the Stalinists all stomped on them simultaneously.

              • DrDick

                None of which contradicts the fact that there are (and so far as we can tell, ever have been) approximately zero societies which organize groups larger than about 50-60 (only half of whom are adults and have a say) on the basis of consensus decision-making of the sort espoused by anarchists.

            • Yes, they lost but that had a lot more to do with fighting Franco’s forces backed by Hitler’s Luftwaffe, Italian soldiers, Portuguese “volunteers”, and a lack of any sincere support from anybody except Mexico. Under those circumstances almost all movements would lose. The question, however, is could they organize the basic needs of society on a scale larger than 50 people and it appears they did. Whether it was sustainable or not is another question. But, it looked very different from the type of “anarchy” in Somalia.

    • danah gaz

      I mean, my disdain for anarchists has no floor,

      Why?

      The meetings are terrible, and nobody can decide who brings the coffee and cake.

      • firefall

        ha! everyone can decide that, its just no 2 of them agree on who

    • danah gaz

      Pretty much what efgoldman said.

      After you become an adult it’s time to do away with childish things. Once you are no longer a teenager, I think it counts more as an indicator of arrested development than it does as a cogent political philosophy.

      Cue the flames.

      • DocAmazing

        Tell me, have you actually read any Kropotkin or Bob Black?

        • Barry Freed

          Or Proudhon or Bakunin?

          • Random

            Yes, yes, yes and no (on Bob Black).

            Bakunin, Kropotkin, and Proudhon aren’t original, insightful, or even that interesting. All three are more or less interchangeable anyway…skip the middle man and just read Hegel instead.

            Just as with Libertarianism, almost all anarchist ideas are bad ideas, and the few good ideas that they have can already be found elsewhere in more evidence-based political philosophies.

        • danah gaz

          No, and I don’t plan to. Hegel is quite enough for me thanks, and provides plenty of fodder for making overly glib and unapologetically snarky comments about absolute idealism as a political philosophy.

          If I need more material, and I don’t mind boring myself to sleep for a week, I’ll be sure to give them a look.

          • Slocum

            Yes, Hegel, the pinnacle of anarchist theory.

            • Thomas Friedman

              I don’t care a whit about the debate about anarchism here, but when did Hegel–who, to put the matter as mildly as possible, was hardly opposed to the modern state–suddenly become understood as an anarchist?

              • gmack

                Damned joke handles. The above was me.

                • Slocum

                  That’s what I thought was being implied above, and I responded sarcastically.

                • gmack

                  Yeah, I know; I was intending to amplify your point.

      • wengler

        There is nothing more adult than authoritarianism.

        Maybe this is just a semantics game and anarchism should be replaced with ‘democratism’.

        • Random

          Authoritarianism isn’t really an antonym for anarchism. And anarchism can’t be replaced with the term democratism because democracy is already a successful system of government that is not anarchist.

          • wengler

            I assume when you say democracy you mean democratic republics, which run the gamut in terms of what can be considered a ‘successful system of government’. Many of these governments are very non-participatory and have very corrupted decision-making processes from top to bottom.

            Of course regardless of how you feel about government, the non-government sector of US society is very authoritarian, and effects very heavily what job and status you are able to achieve, and also how secure you are in basic needs and safety.

      • Kal

        after you become an adult it’s time to do away with childish things

        I am not an anarchist by any means, but I’ll take anarchism any day over this kind of mindlessly smug pablum.

        • Random

          It’s not mindlessly smug, anarchism really is almost exclusively the domain of the young, or at least the hopelessly theoretical.

          • danah gaz

            Thank you so much, Random.

            Honestly, I don’t really have the time for debating the mechanics of pixie dust and unicorn tears as a political framework. I outgrew it as a teen, and have no intention of regressing. =)

          • wengler

            If you ever talk politics, let’s hope you at least have some concept of theory.

            But beyond that there are many organizations that operate just fine along anarchist principles. And some of them are even old people.

            • wengler

              And some of them are even have old people in them.

              Sorry, it is very late here.

          • Kal

            Suggesting that people will grow out of politics which disagree with yours is pretty much the definition of smug. When that suggestion is the entirety of your argument, as in the OP, I think mindless is fair.

            As for you, you seem to be aware that your claim isn’t really true, since you aren’t satisfied with an “almost” and have to tack on a no-true-Scotsman “or at least” too.

  • parsimon

    I second Barry Freed’s question. Your disdain for anarchism has no floor? Why?

    • Essentially, I see anarchism as capitalism’s best friend. The lack of structure effectively means that nothing will ever get done. It siphons off legitimate and potentially successful means of organizing into an individualistic ethos that allows people to act independently, often without thought to the consequences, whether Alexander Berkman in 1892 or some jerk at an Occupy protest.

      Historically, anarchism has accomplished exactly nothing.

      • Ronan

        What about Gavrilo Princip?

        • Warren Terra

          1) would you prefer “absolutely none of its stated goals” to “absolutely nothing”? Because while you can certainly count WWI as being something , as opposed to nothing, it wasn’t really what they wanted, was it?
          2) I thought he was primarily a Serbian Nationalist. I have no idea whether he was also an Anarchist, but if he was, that’s not the primary way his political identity is remembered.

          • DocAmazing

            I think Ronan was thinking of Leon Czolgosz.

            • Ronan

              Na I was pretty sure Princip was an anarchist/nationalist, although I accept that might not have been a coherent position and that the nationalist probably came first..some places online say he was..others say nought..I was just trying to take an extreme example really as there’s no reading of European (I don’t know about the US) history that would write anarchists off as irrelevant (also I thought it was relatively funny)..I’m also not sure that you can measure what effect (positive or negative) anarchists have had on broader leftist politics, it’s probably neglible either way..I think the Occupy movement helped highlight the problems associated with inequality though, even if it’s not going to have any long term successes..I’m not an anarchist either fwiw, or an occupier

        • Random

          And with that comment, I hereby declare Ronin the winner of the thread.

      • parsimon

        Okay, thanks for the explanation.

      • Manju

        Well, I just figured it was a Sex Pistols v Clash thing.

      • wengler

        So you are angry that a self-described anarchist tried to kill an industrialist in the Gilded Age and it backfired?

        As a labor historian you must know how critical anarchist philosophy was to one of the seminal events of workers’ rights. The Haymarket Riot and the 8 hour workday.

        Accomplished absolutely nothing, what a joke.

        • Random

          The 8 hour workday was also endorsed by a number of different factions who weren’t really anarchist in nature (for any good idea the anarchists had, you can find that same idea elsewhere in a more useful form). And everywhere it exists as a hard rule it exists because of state imposition, not because of a collapse of social hierarchy.

          • DocAmazing

            “Collapse of social hierachy” =/= anarchy.

          • wengler

            States can create as many regulations as they want, but unless they are enforced they are completely useless. And let me tell you, right now in this country your employer has all of the power, especially as you get closer to minimum wage.

            Also, May Day is the most important labor holiday because the state of Illinois decided to murder anarchist leaders rather than deal with the problems of a capitalist society.

          • DrDick

            It was central to the platform of every socialist and communist group of the time and the actual history shows that they were the ones who influenced the eventual adoption.

        • The Haymarket Riot was not a good thing. It was a terrible thing. The 8-hour day had nothing to do with anarchism. In fact, the vast majority of people involved in the Knights had no interest in anarchism at all. Even the rally where the bomb went off was relatively small and far from the center of action.

          • wengler

            Really, you can’t even give the people who were wrongly executed any credit at all? Or concede that May Day had an impact on labor history?

      • DocAmazing

        I’m pretty impressed with the syndicalism–and the accomplishments–of the IWW.

        • The problem is that the IWW actually accomplished virtually nothing.

          The IWW could do a few things really well. It could provide hope for workers. It could raise enough hell that eventually someone else would step in and fix the problems. It could occasionally organize a workplace and even win a struggle, such as Lawrence in 1912.

          There was a lot the IWW did poorly. Such as everything needed to keep up a long-term struggle. After Lawrence, all the IWW’s just left. Walked away, moved onto the next struggle. Within a year, the union in Lawrence had collapsed, the leaders blacklisted. The IWW opposed contracts as sell-outs with capitalists so doing what was necessary to maintain victories had absolutely no interest for them, outside of revolution.

          There’s also the question of whether the IWW was really anarchist, but that’s another issue.

      • Jo

        Anarchists don’t even care that your disdain has no floor. Anarchists don’t even like floors. Floors are like walls but worse because they’re horizontal and so trick the working classes into visualizing a level playing field. Floors are artificial limitations imposed on people by bosses to prevent them from exercising their natural freedom to dig themselves even deeper holes than they’re already in. A bas les chefs. A bas étages.

        • Jewish Steel

          Sous les pavés, la plage!

      • Slocum

        People need leaders who tell them how to organize so that they can accomplish the goals that are obviously the goals they would want to accomplish. Otherwise, its just people acting independently, sometimes even disregarding CONSEQUENCES.

        • Cut the snark and tell me how anarchists have successfully organized. Please provide examples.

          • Slocum

            Is that some kind of order? I won’t stand for this oppression!

          • JL

            Occupy Sandy/People’s Relief, which has been and continues to be tremendously effective at providing services that Bloomberg’s government failed to provide (yes, a good government would provide these but we’re talking about Bloomberg here) was primarily organized by anarchists, though people of a variety of ideologies have been involved. It has also started organizing residents in some of the worst-hit areas to engage in political action (around climate change and around the city’s continuing failure to be useful in their recovery efforts).

            Long before Occupy Sandy, there was Common Ground Relief in New Orleans post-Katrina. Again, not entirely anarchists, but primarily. Common Ground Clinic started by a handful of street medics who were also anarchists (I know one of them) still stands today as a free clinic in an underserved area, though it’s now staffed by volunteer mainstream medical providers, not street medics. And Common Ground Relief is still doing rebuilding work today.

            Anarchists are also just good at the grunt work even if they aren’t the only or primary organizers. My Occupy camp (which was the first outside NYC and helped provide a model for the others) would have collapsed in days without anarchists. They were out there in the dead of night protecting the camp from attackers. They were washing the damn dishes (something a lot of people thought was beneath them) and organizing the camp clean-up and fix-up-the-infrastructure efforts. They were half the medics. They were most of the people planning the actual marches, making contacts with other groups like unions for coalition work. They were training other protesters in civil disobedience.

            Like I said, I’m not an anarchist. Not even close. I don’t think anarchism would work very well for structuring society – among other things, it has problems scaling up. But anarchists have earned my respect. Not all of them, of course. I’ve also met the sort that I suspect are causing you to hate anarchists. But I’ve watched enough doing enough good work, and worked closely with enough, that my default reaction is to greet them as valued coalition partners rather than look at them with disdain (any given group of anarchists or individual anarchist can, of course, change my friendly default position toward them by being a bunch of jackasses, and this occasionally happens).

            • This is all fine, but it’s also impossible to scale up, as Occupy found when the meetings got too big.

              I also think there’s a lot of good organizers out there who may identify as anarchists because they reject capitalism and there’s no real other alternative. Essentially, communism has ceded the field. And that’s a huge problem.

              • JL

                Nah, these people know that state socialism and Communism exist, because those folks show up too, albeit in smaller numbers. They are mostly not just anarchists because it’s the only anti-capitalism available, though I’m sure there are some people for whom that’s true.

                At least at my Occupy camp, the state socialists showed up and tried to get everybody to be a socialist and complained about how oppressed they were by the rest of us and did very little useful gruntwork, while the anarchists showed up and did much of the gruntwork and didn’t try to force everybody else to be anarchists. There were only a few Communists. Though I met a badass black woman Communist street medic from New York at Occupy Congress.

                • Well, just because people claim to be state socialists or communists doesn’t mean they are anything but posers.

              • Kal

                Eric, most communists I know would feel more in common with anarchists than with somebody who calls opposition to imperialist assassinations a marker of white privilege while defending prison guard unions. I don’t mean to divert the thread, I’m just saying, your picking of sides here is a bit confusing. FYI.

              • JL

                Oh, and weren’t a lot of the original founders and staffers of the Center for Biological Diversity anarchists who had been active in groups like Earth First? Or am I misremembering something here? I don’t think the CBD is still dominated by that demographic, but they’ve been pretty useful in the modern environmental movement.

                Relatedly, dear God, searching on Google for more or less anything plus the word “anarchism” takes me to a lot of right-wing fearmongering tripe. Including vicious fearmongering tripe about things I attended. I was trying to verify the political ideologies of the original CBD people, but I am going to stop trying before I vomit or have a panic attack.

              • DocAmazing

                Don’t count Communists out among organizers. I work with plenty of ’em. They’re scrappy and committed. They just can’t say “Communist” too loudly because the mainstream types will get all het up and Red-scary.

            • To expand a bit–I realize that there are a lot of good people who self-identify as anarchists today. And on the small scale, they are doing good things when no one else is–whether the Sandy stuff or Occupy Homes in Minneapolis. Obviously those are good and positive things. I am just extremely skeptical of any ability to build off of anarchistic ideas to create real, long-lasting change and the organizations and long-term commitments needed to make that happen.

              • Bill Murray

                but that really doesn’t mesh with your disdain for anarchism having no floor

              • gmack

                Then I guess I’m not sure what to make of your “disdain.” You acknowledge that, for instance, hell-raising can be really important, and you now acknowledge that the folks continuing the Occupy protests (including the Occupy Homes folks) are also valuable. So it seems that your real objection is to “anarchist ideas,” not to their actual activism, which as many people in this thread argue, seems to be very much in line with the kind of organizing you call for.

                But I also think I straightforwardly disagree with your concept of “real, long lasting change” (whatever that might be) and your apparent idea that the construction of organizations is the sine qua non of progressive organization. So far as I can tell, there is a tendency to equate long lasting change with the creation of new laws and regulations. I’m not sure if this is what you mean, but here’s the thing: No doubt that achieving new laws and regulations can be great victories. But then again, they are not sufficient and shouldn’t be the only goal of progressive activism, if only because the actual meaning of these laws and regulations depend a great deal on how they are lived and used. The kind of ongoing hell-raising that, say, anarchists or others engage in can sometimes (if perhaps not often and certainly not always) play a valuable role in seeing to it that these laws and regulations get pushed in better directions.

                I also see no good reason why progressive political activism should be equated with the construction of long standing organizations. In the first place, there are several potential cases where the effort to construct long lasting organizations actually saps progressive energies. One case is arguably the welfare rights movement of the 1960s and early 1970s. Piven and Cloward, in their book Poor People’s Movements, make a pretty good case that the efforts to create a national dues-paying organization of poor people ended up being a bad strategy. The successes the movement had came not through the creation of “long standing organizations” but through short term forms of militancy: they found forms of protest that brought the normal functioning of the bureaucracy to a halt and did so in a context where there was the possibility of national involvement in their concerns. So the question of whether there should be an effort to create standing organizations is, in my view, mostly tactical; sometimes they are useful and sometimes they aren’t.

                In short, I guess I see lots of different purposes and goals of political activism–from the identification/creation of phenomena as political problems (which, arguably, was one central purpose of OWS–to bring inequality up as an actual political problem), to the formation of lobby-groups to pressure lawmakers toward this or that legal regulation, to the quasi-legal enforcement of different ways of life or definitions of things like property rights (a la the Occupy Homes movement). Given this diversity, I don’t really see why it’s necessary to hold anarchists in a kind of contemptuous disdain (which isn’t to say that they ought not to be subject to critique).

              • Slocum

                This is a much more reasonable thing to say, don’t you think?

          • One rather well organized movements of anarchists were in Ukraine during the Civil War in which Nestor Makhno’s followers were a credible force. Although like the Bolsheviks and the Whites they also engaged in terror. In particular Makhno’s forces targeted the pacifist Mennonite community for rape and murder leading a number of them to form protection squads in violation of their tradition of non-violence. I do not in anyway endorse Makhno, but he was organized enough to carry out military actions and form political alliances with various other factions in the Civil War. Ultimately, like all non-Bolshevik factions he was defeated, but nobody claims that monarchists and nationalists can not organize.

      • LeeEsq

        This. The other problem is that I don’t see anarchism as being able to provide the life that most people want. The default anarchist ideal community is small and usually very rural and agrarian. Most of humanity rejected this lifestyle in favor of medium to very large cities and I can’t quite see a city of millions or even a city of 50,000 run on anarchist lines. Cities are complex things and they require complex organizations and lots of expertise to run well. Somebody has to know about sewers, public health, traffic lights, and refuse collection very well. I can’t quite see the incentive to becoming an expert in sewage in an anarchist system that exists in either a capitalist or socialist system.

        • You should read “…….And Then There Were None”:

          The final planet, K22g, has developed an unusual social system. The population call themselves Gands (after Gandhi) and practise a form of classless, philosophically anarchic libertarianism, based on passive resistance (“Freedom – I won’t!” and “Myob!”); and a moneyless gift economy based on barter and favor-exchange, using “obs” (obligations). To perform a service for somebody “lays an ob” on them; they can then “kill the ob” by returning the favor.[1]

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Explosion

          It was a separate novella under the ATTWN title.

          • rea

            The best novel about anarchism, of course, is LeGuin’s Dispossessed

      • JL

        It siphons off legitimate and potentially successful means of organizing into an individualistic ethos that allows people to act independently, often without thought to the consequences, whether Alexander Berkman in 1892 or some jerk at an Occupy protest.

        From what I have seen and heard, this problem is a subject of a lot of discussion and debate among anarchists. Lots of people trying to make the point that while autonomy is valuable, so is solidarity, and one’s exercise of autonomy should be guided by the principle of solidarity, and solidarity in part means not singlehandedly escalating a peaceful protest and leaving the other protesters who didn’t consent to your escalation to deal with the consequences.

        The endless variations on the “separation of time and space” principle (that anyone wishing to use “divergent” tactics should do it in a different time and place than everyone else’s actions) are a solution that I still find problematic and insufficient, but they are also an attempt to address this problem.

  • danah gaz

    Okay, so when I was 15 and into punk music, I went to a two day party with a bunch of friends (big shite for a bunch of kids), and at some point during the debauchery, wanton destruction, and bad music, a friend gave me an anarchy sign tattoo on my arm with some india ink and needles she had brought with her. I guess I could say that mistakes were made. My parents weren’t pleased, and I was nearly committed that year. In fact, I’m surprised I wasn’t.

    Decades later (or nearly so), I’ve resisted covering up that little tattoo, not because I’m some sort of naive anarchist – I’m not, but because of a strange sense of nostalgia for a very chaotic period of my overall miserable youth – where the high points usually involved self mutilation and various forms of law breaking…

    But, I digress. So would I get arrested in Oklahoma if I bared my arms?

    • Snarki, child of Loki

      So would I get arrested in Oklahoma if I bared my arms?

      No worries, the 2nd amendment will protect you.

    • No, they believe in the right to bare arms in Oklahoma.

      • Manju

        Man, this whole time I thought it was “bear arms”.

        • DocAmazing

          Those poor, mutilated bears…

          • Manju

            Well, we already have an amendment that protects beers. Big Sugary drinks, not so much.

            • Hogan

              Didn’t you hear the news? Liberty!

              • Manju

                Whoa! I can almost see Erik sucking sucking down 32oz Cosmos duiring Applebees’s Happy Hour. What’s in those things? Gin or….

        • NonyNony

          It’s actually the right to arm bears.

          • Manju

            Ahhhh…no wonder Chicago is so strict. Jim McMahon.

          • DrDick

            Which is why you need to be careful walking in the woods here in western Montana. A grizzly with an AR-15 is not someone you want to mess with.

  • Larry Goldsmith

    Eugene V. Debs, who had a thing or two to say about “organized government,” got 16.6% of the vote in Oklahoma in 1912.

  • Pingback: Late Night Monday | Gerry Canavan()

  • Random

    I like to point things like this out when conservatives talk about how this ‘used to be a free country, omg what’s happened to us?’

    • cpinva

      “I like to point things like this out when conservatives talk about how this ‘used to be a free country, omg what’s happened to us?’”

      see: Alien and Sedition Act

      it didn’t take long.

  • post_toasties

    I initially misread the post title as:

    “Anachronism: Illegal in Oklahomoa”

    and thought, iNo Way!

    • Jewish Steel

      In that case I will take my steampunkery elsewhere.

      ostentatiously checks pocket watch like a jerk

  • wengler

    Living in Oklahoma(I grew up there) will either turn you into some crazy rightwing bigot or an anarchist, so in a sense the crazy rightwing bigots in control know what they are doing.

  • wengler

    I mean, my disdain for anarchists has no floor…

    If you mean Black Bloc or diversity of tactics, then say so.

    If you mean anarchist philosophy as a whole, a wider discussion is necessary.

    After all smashing shop windows is not a core tenet of anarchism.

    • All.

      • wengler

        If this thread has proven anything it’s that liberals hate anarchists more than almost everything else.

        • LeeEsq

          Well, liberalism and anarchism have some pretty big disagreements on how government and society should be organized.

    • JL

      If you mean Black Bloc or diversity of tactics, then say so.

      Gotta say it…if you mean using black bloc or diversity of tactics as cover to smash shop windows, then say so. I’ve witnessed (and medicked for) black blocs that did nothing for the sort (and yet were still attacked and endangered by peace marshals on the march for…FIIK, they were explicitly there to be a human shield against police brutality for other protesters, and said so on the Internet well before the march).

      • DocAmazing

        Not much has changed since Catalonia, huh?

      • wengler

        I was more talking about street protests by young people and anarchist theory.

        In the corporate media, the Black Bloc is pretty much blamed for all property destruction and turned into the villain.

  • ajay

    Hmm. So let’s break this down:

    Any person in this state, who shall carry or cause to be carried, or publicly display

    — any red flag or other emblem or banner, indicating
    ——disloyalty to the Government of the United States
    ——-or a belief in anarchy
    ——-or other political doctrines or beliefs, whose objects are either the disruption or destruction of organized government, or the defiance of the laws of the United States or of the State of Oklahoma,

    shall be deemed guilty of a felony.

    So if I carry an emblem or banner indicating disloyalty to the Government of the United States, it’s a felony.

    Time to round up some Canadian tourists, clearly…

    • rea

      or other political doctrines or beliefs, whose objects are either the disruption or destruction of organized government

      . . . would seem to allow prosecution for displaying a flag or emblem of the Republican Party.

      • chris

        Good luck with that. A conservative judge (which in Oklahoma is almost all of them) would be too sympathetic to the defendant and find some pretext to stop the prosecution, and a liberal judge would be an activist and strike down the law on First Amendment grounds. Actually, even the conservative might strike down the law on First Amendment grounds, since in that case, doing so would aid a conservative cause.

  • Lacking Moral Fiber aka Useless Muthfucka frmly Nemesis

    The Oklahoma University Sooners wear red. Can sports fans possess red flags with a big O in the middle or is that too much for the sensitive types?

  • rea

    Not to defend the Oklahoma law, exactly, but there was a reason that anarchists had a very bad reputation in 1919, involving a 40-year campaign of high-profile terrorism, including the death of a great many innocent bystanders. The stereotype of the bomb-throwing anarchist is still with us, and has a basis in reality.

    • chris

      For that matter, you could say the same about the update — wasn’t that shortly after a high-profile act of anti-government terrorism committed in Oklahoma?

      As a liberal, I still think that carrying the flag of anarchy should remain legal and killing for it should remain illegal, because the important difference is between the acts taken in furtherance of your beliefs rather than the content of the beliefs themselves, but liberals aren’t exactly common in Oklahoma, so it’s not that surprising they would come to a different conclusion.

      • JL

        For that matter, you could say the same about the update — wasn’t that shortly after a high-profile act of anti-government terrorism committed in Oklahoma?

        Because registered Republicans who voted for the Libertarian presidential candidate in 1996 are exactly like the left-anarchists who populate left-wing protests and wave red and black banners?

    • DocAmazing

      And so we should be outlawing the display of crosses, due to Operation Rescue and the Army of God and Eric Rudolph, and we should be outlawing the display of pictures of Thomas Jefferson, due to Tim McVeigh.

      Out-groups will always be out-groups, and apparently, that is meet and just.

    • wengler

      The US flag symbolizes a country that has killed on the order of hundreds of thousands more innocent bystanders than all anarchist attacks combined. And ups that count yearly.

      It’s still legal.

  • JL

    I spent a while trying to figure out who I should reply to with this comment, but it could go multiple places so I’ll just put it here.

    I agree that anarchism is not a practical way of organizing society, and that it has scale problems.

    In terms of forming large organizations or coalitions, though, Occupy Sandy convinced me that’s not entirely out of the question for highly-anarchist-organized groups. If you haven’t watched it in action, you might not realize how big and extensive it is, without having any appointed or elected hierarchy (but having some role specialization, and naturally having some people who were much more involved than others). When I was there during its first couple of weeks, they were orienting at least a hundred new volunteers every day, operating two main hubs and a dozen or more satellite relief centers (and opening new ones), operating a phone hotline and information-exchange websites for three different neighborhoods. They had a network of drivers transporting dozens of volunteers a day from the hub in Sunset Park to neighborhoods that at the time didn’t have public transit access back up yet. And this was in the first two weeks! And that’s just in NYC, I haven’t seen what they’ve been doing in New Jersey.

    Most Occupy Sandy volunteers aren’t anarchists, but at least a plurality if not a majority of the initial organizers were, and more importantly for my point, it was organized in an anarchist-friendly way. I will also note that it has affected city policy…the city was finally shamed into starting desperately-needed medical canvassing in the projects after Occupy Sandy/People’s Medical Relief medics had been doing it for almost two weeks.

    So yeah, I don’t think it would be possible to structure the US according to anarchist principles, but apparently it is possible to structure an organization that is a lot more than a few dozen people.

    This is also making me think of distributed networks of autonomous organizations working on the same cause. Abortion funds aren’t anarchist, but they’re a distributed network of autonomous organizations. Different states and cities have their own self-governing funds, which don’t all have the same philosophy but are all dedicated to providing funds for abortions, and there is a tiny national organization that serves as a coordinator rather than a leader. The funds operate in a spirit of mutual aid, helping each other fund particularly difficult cases, and come together at jointly-organized summits. Those that are inclined to do so make noise about state and national public policy around abortion and form coalitions with other local progressive groups around local issues. That’s a pretty anarchism-compatible structure that is pretty effective at what it does.

    • wengler

      Good comment and it highlights a lot of the misperception about anarchism upthread. Fundamentally, it is an anti-authoritarian ideology concerned with people relating to each other on an equal level. People envision endless collective consensus-building meetings where nothing happens like at Zucotti Park, but when something needs to be done, it is a very capable, redundant, and independent system of organization.

      • JL

        The General Assemblies, at least the ones I was at (mostly at my own Occupy, but a couple of others) were atrocities. Seriously. And it wasn’t because there was something wrong with Occupy itself…these were the same groups that were getting shit done outside the GAs. The structure just sucked.

        However, I have been in other groups where consensus worked fine. The issue wasn’t really size, though size does make things more difficult. It was mostly barrier to citizenship. Literally anyone could show up and be part of the decision-making. People who had never been to Occupy before and never came again showed up because there was some particular proposal they wanted to block. People whose sole involvement in Occupy was that they came to GAs to blather (usually more privileged people) showed up and steamrolled over the people who lived and/or worked in the camp and went on the marches and to the rallies. Paid police infiltrators showed up and disrupted things and the structure was too incompetent to successfully kick them out. It was a great illustration of how not to do consensus-based decision-making, and I hope that at least some people learned from it (I certainly did).

        Consensus-based decision-making work[s/ed] fine in my mixed-gender community service fraternity in college, my local abortion fund, and my street medic collective (which was formed within Occupy). I think the main differences were good faith and decision-makers being only people who had a stake in the outcome of the decision-making, rather than size. I also think people should remember that there is more to anarchism than consensus-based decision-making.

        I came to think the “leaderless” aspect of Occupy was brilliant. The lack of someone “in charge” in either the camp or my working groups gave me a real sense of ownership. And as anyone who does swarm robotics (part of my subfield) knows, systems with distributed intelligence and functionality, made up of lots of low-cost individuals, are resilient (as long as there are enough individuals)…you can’t kill them by targeting and damaging an all-important individual or few individuals.

It is main inner container footer text