I was loving life in this progressive-Western-hipster haven city near the Left Coast, USA, and yet I always felt a strange dread, or foreboding feeling, before going to social events at known ‘Anarcho-houses.’ Whether it was a party, movie night, discussion session, or whatever, I always feared running into enemies. I also felt anxiety over seeing people that I just did not like, or spotting a male jerk that was holding his hot girlfriend like a valued possession and evil eyeing potential male rivals, or even having to endure some loud mouth, obnoxious creep that seemed to go to most parties – just to ruin the ambience for everyone else.
I usually rode my bicycle to the event. When I arrived to the destination, I first made sure to grab as much free beer as possible, or score some free drugs, or enough free swigs of liquor to make the trip worthwhile. Late at night, I always rode my bike severely wasted in order to get back home. The local, donut cop brigade never gave me a DUI on my bike. White skin privilege did have its benefits. I definitely was not the only stoned Anarcho-hipster on his bike getting the breaks.
But when I look back on those days, I felt just as nervous before attending political Anarcho-events, as attending parties represented by other urban subcultures, such as theater people, taxidermists, service industry types, punk musicians, yoga teachers, or just drug-addled hipsters. Why was this this case?
The answer was due to the ego nastiness and common rudeness plaguing the ‘Anarcho-hipster’ scene, or as I liked to call it, Middle-Class Anarchism with lots of white skin masks. Yes, there were many black clothes outfits, lots of good music, many right attitudes, different hairstyles, ripped clothes, patches, backpacks with survival stuff, ripped Converse All Stars, street swagger, denim vests, hats of all shapes and even a few overalls and bare feet – but there was no real community. Anarchists were just as close-minded, mean and egotistical as the corrupt world around them, and once in a while, even more so.
I do remember a good amount of cliques and associations in that scene. The list included Books to Prisoner people, volunteer cabals at the local radical bookstores, Indymedia people, small Anarcho-house conglomerations, Anarcho-community center leaders, IWW guys, Anarcho-zine writers, Anarcho-journalists that organized and printed radical newspapers, and a few involved with the Freeskool. A lot of radical stuff was happening at the time, but without the camaraderie and fellowship representing real freedom and actual revolution, the events were just parties, get-togethers, and simple experiences representing both the good and bad of humanity. An interested bystander does not need any Anarchist philosophy in order to learn about this part of life.
Anarchy in the USA is just another subculture fielded by numerous cliques and associations, seen mostly within a rough sea of white faces wearing dark clothes. Unfortunately, the Leftist diseases of rudeness, weirdness, pettiness and vengefulness have sprouted some deep and poisonous weeds within this radical subculture. I personally have had to verbally fend off various Anarcho-assholes that have gotten angry with me over some inconsequential offense. I have also seen Anarcho-shit clowns verbally jump on some other person for saying something a little off kilter from the supported Anarcho-dogma. This situation is not good.
Anarchists do not have to necessarily act the part of a gentleman or a gentlewoman, but they do need to understand the importance of discreetness, politeness, friendly manners and prudent communication. These common, but very important behaviors are the most crucial and cohesive actions for any political, philosophical or religious group that seeks to transcend into a strong and marvelous community. An Anarcho-gentleman or gentlewoman would not be such a bad thing either – even though it does seem contradictory.
The cult or culture of the gentleman-gentlewoman began in the European Renaissance period, and more specifically, in the geographic region of Italy. A new occupation, or even a new social class, formed itself in late the 1450s, called ‘cortigiani,’ or courtiers. These courtiers were essentially social parasites that hung around aristocratic and royal courts. Those court bums or freeloaders became servants to their aristocratic and royal patrons.
Court parasites also became notorious in Europe with such names as, ‘hanger ons,’ ‘court followers,’ ‘flatterers,’ ‘leeches,’ ‘scroungers,’ ‘freeloaders,’ and just simple ‘human fleas.’ Even though these hanger ons annoyed their patrons, the various dukes, earls, counts, barons and kings to no end, they still had to perform some meritorious service to their patron lords. Most men performed military service, if they were not in the Church, and the women often had to become breeders, spiritual advisers, (if they were nuns that had political visions), or they could attain elite prostitute status with the name of ‘courtesans.’
An Italian writer, by the name of Baldassare Castiglione, published a book in the 1520s, which soon became a best seller throughout the rest of Europe during the entire 1500s. The title was ‘The Book of the Courtier.’ The writer staged his monograph around ten roundtable conservations between both gentlemen and gentlewomen, from some anonymous Italian Renaissance court, concerning their opinions of the right actions of a courtier. Most of the talkers emphasized an Italian term called ‘sprezzatura,’ or in contemporary English, intensity of action with simultaneous light relaxation.
The courtier-gentleperson had to perform his/her special skills through an excellence of work, and at the same time, show off his/her abilities with a sense of flair and sensual finesse. The courtier had to essentially transform his/herself into a public celebrity of notoriety. With these great abilities, the gentle person could hope to enter the social class status of the lords, or aristocratic parasites.
With this new class status, they also took the titles of ‘signore,’ or lords of estates, lands and their lower class subjects. This signore-courtier title then smothered itself across the rest of Europe like Castiglione’s etiquette book. Signore became ‘señor’ in Spain, ‘seigneur’ in France, and ‘sire,’ or ‘sir’ in England. In the 1680s, this cult of the courtier and a gentleman took on connotations that were quite a bit more insidious.
Our English-American gentleman title actually comes from the French, ‘gentil homme,’ which became a renowned-infamous title-status within the aristocratic realms of gluttonous dining and parasitical living. This degenerate lifestyle included ten course meals inside of a 200 plus room palace called Versailles featuring fountains overlaid with Italianate sculptures, brilliant silverware, maze like gardens, gold inlayed mirrors and marbled spit shined floors, all of this dishonorable waste flourished under the tyrannical reign of the Sun King, Emperor Louis XIV during the late 1600s.
Within the British colonies of the Americas, or as their name was back then, the American Plantations, and especially in the cavalier state of Virginia, later called ‘Old Dominion,’ the gentleman planter class emerged with his hundreds of eternal African and white slaves, a large plantation home, and a long political, ‘distinguished’ career in the state assembly. No wonder Anarchists hated the gentle person term and the actions associated with such despicable leeches. But the modern Anarchist tripped into one of the ruling class’ traps.
The trap was pushing the revolutionary into the brute world of lower class poverty and misery. Good manners and politeness cannot survive under the reign of capitalist wage slavery and the urban hells that it creates. The Anarchist became the knight of shining armor for the weak and defenseless, but he and she also took on the traumas of poverty with nasty cravings for vengeance. The Anarchist still suffers from this malady today. But we do not need to suffer like this.
If we truly want to experience beautiful street revolutions representing the fullness of humanity, or in other words, Anarchy, then we will have to change our attitudes and actions as of Now. We must keep the good thoughts in our minds, contentment in the fact that we do know the truth, and finally, we need to have compassion for the ignorant and hurting people around us. Let us listen fully to the rants and complaints of the angry and suffering working classes, then we can give them the perspective of Anarchy.
We should not say ‘sir,’ and ma’am,’ which represent false manners and actually support hierarchy. The elites of modern Europe understood that the cult of the courtier-gentleman kept them safe from the pitchforks and knives of the common slaves. The slaves outnumbered the parasites, and the lower classes could have slaughtered all of the rich and powerful within a month’s time. But they never did – and never will. The main reason was, and is still, that the poor and hurting secretly love and yearn for the ‘sprezzatura,’ or charisma of the old aristo-bums. Some people in the lower classes pine to see them, to read about them, and to experience their pathetic lives, somewhat fantastically, within their own lamentable existences. Think on the contemporary, and noxious popularity of gossip rags and media celebrity TV programs.
If any Liberal control freak, Marxist mad dog, or Fascist weirdo tries to harass us, then we should act accordingly. Remember that gentlemen also had the rights to publicly bear arms – and to use them on their inferiors. We Anarchists can lovingly take on that role, since the rich and powerful have lost complete respect in the public sphere. However, most pedestrians we see on the urban streets are not ideological true believers, nor are they like the elites that are destroying all life on our planet. Equanimity is the way.
The public’s lives are rotting before their very eyes and they know that something is very wrong out there. With all of the common distractions, modern spectacles and media manipulations, how could they know about who and what is destroying them? It is so much better to break out into a smile when we see the absurdity everywhere. We can change things slowly, but we first must have the right attitude with right actions: tranquility within ourselves, amiability with our fellow Anarchists, politeness with our neighbors, and compassion for the misdirected.