When I became an anarchist, I was 18, depressed, anxious, and ready to save the world. I moved in with other anarchists and worked at a vegetarian co-op cafe. I protested against student tuition, prison privatisation, and pipeline extensions. I had lawyer’s numbers sharpied on my ankle and I assisted friends who were pepper-sprayed at demos. I tabled zines, lived with my “chosen family,” and performed slam poems about the end of the world.
In the pages of Quillette, Conor Barnes, a woke apostate, recounts his time among sad radicals:
Radical communities select for particular personality types… They attract hurt people, looking for an explanation for the pain they’ve endured… However, radical communities also attract people looking for an excuse to be violent illegalists. And the surplus of vulnerable people attracts sadists and abusers ready to exploit them. The only gate-keeping that goes on in radical communities is that of language and passion—if you can rail against capitalism in woke language, you’re in…
Abusers thrive in radical communities because radical norms are fragile and exploitable. A culture of freewheeling drug and alcohol use creates situations predators are waiting to exploit. A cultural fetishization of violence provides cover for violent and unstable people. The practice of public “call-outs” is used for power-plays far more often than for constructive feedback… Having somebody yell at me that if I didn’t admit to being a white supremacist her friends might beat me up, and that I should pay her for her emotional labour, was too much for my ideology to spin.
Update, via the comments: