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Ancaps for Trump and the Hope Bloc: The Curious Appeal of Electoral Politics August 25, 2016

Posted by Summerspeaker in Anarchism, Uncategorized.
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At a protest against military and CIA recruitment the other day, I had the the fortune of running into a self-identified capitalist anarchist who eventually revealed that ey supports Donald Trump for president of the United States. I recounted this encounter on social media, including Reddit.

Many at r/Anarchism and r/Anarcho_Capitalist alike downvoted and raged. Those in the former subreddit disparaged my interest in potentially collaborating with an outgroup, ancaps and market anarchists. Those in the latter threatened to oven me and to throw me out of a helicopter for being part of an outgroup, anticapitalist anarchists.

Screenshot (104)As you might expect, this experience viscerally pushes me to recant and return to my people, to declare they’re right that ancaps are just a bunch fascists. Simultaneously I remember that community is an oppressive myth or at best a presently unfulfilled dream, that I don’t have and probably shouldn’t want a people. It’s too glib to dismiss everybody who identifies as ancap or thereabouts based on these examples.

I’m filled with righteous indignation that anybody who identifies as an anarchist could support Trump, but I wonder if this outrage is overblown and/or if I should react similarly to left anarchists who counsel voting for Hillary Clinton (and perhaps for Bernie Sanders or Jill Stein too).

The differences between these candidates and social meaning supporting them do matter. Left anarchists and anarchist sympathizers who argue for Clinton as the lesser evil typically do so at least in part from a place of good intentions, from a desire to strike a symbolic blow against white supremacy and to minimize the harm caused to oppressed groups. To me there’s no question that Clinton’s stated policies are less awful than Trump’s stated policies. On the other hand, there’s a lot of question about whether a Clinton presidency would cause less harm than a Trump presidency.

Do these supposed good intentions sufficiently explain why I’m less hostile toward Clinton supporters? I’m not sure. I suspect it’s got just as much to do with my cultural affinity for Clinton supporters as with any rational assessment of harm. I mean, Clinton supporters infuriate me, sure, but not to the degree Trump supporters do. I’m compelled by circumstances to interact with Clinton (and Sanders/Stein) supporters far more than with Trump supporters. (Unlike like William Gillis, I don’t live in an anarchist bubble.)

The Hope Bloc for  Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration highlights how close left anarchists can get to the Democratic Party. Despite that laughable episode, which I didn’t support but sympathized with more at the time than I do now, rather few anticapitalist anarchists consider Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Cindy Milstein, and company to be enemies of the revolution. Instead we blush, feel bad about ourselves, and say they were just confused, caught up in the moment.

I don’t dispute that pragmatically supporting Trump in 2016 is worse than pragmatically supporting Obama in 2008, but exactly how much worse is it?