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Below is the introduction for the Anarchist and Hybrid Strategies article by Terry Leahy.
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Anarchist and Hybrid Strategies
An incident took place at a conference I attended, on “Students and Sustainability”. Towards the end of the conference there was a large plenary forum and people rose to talk about directions for the environmental movement. I spoke as an anarchist along with another academic. Then there was the usual democratic socialist (read Trotskyist), someone from the Green Party and an annoying Christian. After that the floor was taken by a middle-aged woman who was an activist in the forest blockades. She said the problem with all these visions was that they were about doing things now to achieve some future utopian condition. We should be oriented to the now. She invited participants to stand and stretch, then close their eyes and meditate on the now. She finished to strong applause.
So what is the connection between anarchist utopian thinking and action in the now? Within some versions of New Age spirituality, what we should attend to always is the present moment. To uncover our mental blockages, the unconscious barriers to happiness and peace, we can be mindful, ever mindful, of the way that our thoughts get dragged away from the now, what comes between us and this blissful state. If we believe this we should avoid utopian thinking if it means judging present actions in terms of some desired state in the future. A utopian dream stands between us and full participation in the now.
Mmmm. I like this as therapy but I am still hooked on utopias. So how do they figure in a New Age context? Maybe as affirmations. They take the form – I am making this utopia now. Affirmations help to remove unconscious barriers to realising our deep desires. We use positive affirmations to fend off despair and apathy. Or maybe a utopian dream is like a guided meditation. I am in the middle of a beautiful garden. It is sunny and an orchard butterfly wings its way past the cauliflowers. A guided meditation always takes you to a utopia of some kind and why not the gift economy or some small part of that fantasy? Or perhaps being present to your fantasies and daydreams could be a spiritual goal too. Does living in the now mean living in the material reality of the present moment and nothing else? Is that really possible or even desirable?
But maybe there is no getting away from attempts to make current action work to future goals. Can we avoid this completely? We get up, to go upstairs, to make a sandwich and then eat it. Ideally strategies to bring about an anarchist utopia would be just that simple and equally sure of success. Yet endless disasters have often been the fate of people striving for wonderful visions. A New Age emphasis on the pleasures of the now is hopefully some protection against crazy self-sacrifice and wasted delusions.
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