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Anarchists being politic?

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Watching TV late at night, as my family slept in a small motel room in Truro, Mass., proved to be the ideological peak of a relatively tame two-week family vacation. We started out in a hotel room in NYC, stayed with my parents on Cape Cod for a few days, and visited my sister's family in their home outside Boston. Friends of ours were building a house in Truro. Construction was behind schedule (rare for any construction project), so it was barely visitable, with workmen laying down the floors. Our friends had to stay in a pet-friendly motel down the road, with no air conditioning and no television. My wife joked that in the evening, they turn down the covers and leave a dog biscuit. In the morning, their dog barked at the other dogs; our family, down the road at an air-conditioned motel that didn't allow pets, found this situation hilarious. On TV that night was a repeat broadcast of a pre-Democratic Convention press conference held in L.A. with members of an anarchist collective. That's right, an anarchists convention. (A day spent by the ocean combined with the soft breathing in the room made the whole event stranger.) The press conference was smooth, too. The members of the collective took turns answering the questions, always looking at each other to see who should answer what. They were skilled in the modern sound bite. They carefully dodged all questions about window smashing or police battling, labeling those as political actions and only talking about the convention, which was ideological. Anarchists being politic.

At one point, one of the members of the collective -- Panda, I believe -- stepped forward to define anarchism. They defined the term in the broadest possible way as an effort to minimize hierarchical control and maximize personal freedom. Throughout the conference, one of the anarchists, wearing a tie, kept yelling at the reporters to not shout their questions out of order but to raise their hands and wait to be called upon. Another pointed out that the reporters needed to identify themselves and which media they represented before they asked their questions. The maximizing of hierarchical structure at the cost of personal freedom -- there at the Anarchist Convention press conference.

I love television, but it is always horrifying to realize how well we've all ingested its stylistic language when even some twentysomething anarchists can manipulate a press conference as effectively as any old Democratic or Republican political operative. I have big trouble with the anarchists because too often their confrontations are more about their own self-righteous entertainment and less about any kind of moral or ethical message. Besides, anarchists are against big business and big government, but if you get rid of the latter, what's going to control the former (as little as it is controlled)?

Most of the vacation was a lot less ideological, despite the presidential conventions. Mostly it was about friends, family, and relatives, about sun and ocean and about a lot of seafood.

Lee Nichols, who has ably handled the Chronicle's press coverage in "Media Clips" for a while now, is stepping down from that job. Lee is still staying in the Chronicle family, only with shifting responsibility. New Politics editor Louis Dubose will face the immediate question of the future of our media coverage. Welcome aboard, Lou!

This is issue No. 51 of volume 19. Next issue will be our last official issue of Vol. 19. Vol. 20 will begin with the issue dated Sept. 1, 2000. end story

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

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