I am, it has to be said, not enamoured of anarchists or anarchism, as they exist in this country today. It's not even an "ideological difference", per se, but rather disillusionment with what I see as a hopelessly inept, hopelessly hypocritical bunch of incredibly immature adherents of a flawed and outdated political philosophy. If useless children want to waste their energies by engaging in protracted cycles of repetitive delusions doomed to failure, well, that's their right, isn't it? Far be it for me to stop them.
That doesn't mean I have to like them, though.
One of the things I least like about anarchists is the way they see everything in black-and-white terms. This binary approach to life is ridiculous, childish, and ultimately self-destructive: the real world is not a place of absolutes, of black and white, but a place of a hundred - a thousand - a million - shades of grey. This is one of the reasons I consider anarchism doomed to failure; you cannot ever have a realistic hope of "changing the system" in any meaningful way with this sort of mindset, because you have effectively chosen to ignore even the possibility of incremental change. Anarchist philosophy has no room for advancement towards a goal in small steps; for them, it's all or nothing - and almost always the latter.
Anarchists' us-and-them, us-versus-them mindset probably does more to sabotage their movement than anything else. By demonizing without exception the government - "The State" - and everything it does, and holding all things anarchist as effectively sacrosanct, anarchists doom their "movement" to pointlessness and ineffectiveness. You cannot disagree - even the slightest - with quasi-traditional anarchist dogma without being a "sympathizer", or worse. There's no grey area, for them, no room for dissent among those who wish to foster dissent.
Anarchists love to label anyone who breaks with their ideological ranks as a "snitch" and a "traitor" - and, not infrequently, an "agent provocateur", as well. Usually, they're wrong on any and all of these three counts. Occasionally, they're right - though only ever partially.
Two "snitches" - actually, I guess, "informants" - have to date been identified among anarchists who tried to disrupt the 2008 Republican National Convention here in Saint Paul. Both informed on - or "set up", if you (unwisely) choose to believe the anarchists - people hoping to use homemade bombs or firebombs to attack people and property during the convention. One of these - who, unfortunately, happens to be - or have been - a fairly prominent local urban explorer - did this for reasons which will probably never be known. Anarchists are quick to suggest money; I suspect it may have been more along the lines of "enlightened self-interest", which anarchists are of course incapable of understanding... at least until it applies to them.
The other informant was a fairly prominent activist from Texas, who provided information on two angry young men who wanted to attack police cars - and police - with molotov cocktails. His name is Brandon Darby, and you can read more about him here. That is, to be fair, not his site, but one created by his (cowardly, anonymous) detractors. His story is an interesting one, if you strip away the anarchist propaganda:
He was by all accounts a dedicated activist, who helped promote a number of important causes in and around Texas. More than that, he seems to have actually made a concerted personal effort to work for good, rather than merely sitting around in squalid houses with friends, ranting angrily about the (perceived) injustices of the world. He believed in the cause, and the movement, but not in the same way that most activists seem to.
It's hard to say whether he was committed to "the movement" more or less than your typical armchair-anarchist. In any event, it seems he held - and holds - views about the future of the movement - views which suggest he is, though rare in anarchist circles, not afraid to think for himself. He became aware of the plot by David McKay and Bradley Crowder to use firebombs during the RNC, saw - quite correctly - that such an action would do more harm than good, and took the appropriate steps to disrupt it.
Get that? He prevented two idiots from setting a parking lot full of police cars - and police officers on fire. He disrupted a pointless criminal act which could have done nothing but hurt the public image of anarchism. In doing so, he pretty much sacrificed his involvement in contemporary activism for his moral - and undoubtedly philosophical - belief in the good of the movement.
Anarchists could have hailed him as a hero. They could have used the incident to demonstrate that they really aren't all those horrible stereotypes "perpetrated" by the "mainstream media". They could have used the incident to demonstrate how harmless and un-dangerous anarchists are: "look, ma, we're self-policing!"
Remember, though, the black-and-white anarchist mindset has no room for this kind of thing. Brandon Darby was, in the end, too revolutionary for the revolutionaries.
So, what did they do? Condemned him. Threatened him. Assassinated his character at every opportunity. Threw him under the bus. Accused him of being an "agent provocateur", of "framing" David McKay and Bradley Crowder, and "entrapping" them.
All that, because he was - when push came to shove - not afraid to stand up for what he really, truly, passionately believed in, consequences be damned.
And that, dear reader, is why anarchists are doomed to sad, pathetic lives of failure and irrelevance.