September 15, 2020:
The organizer of the first Anarchism study group I attend is Jorj, a pompously affected and frequently stoned loudmouth I come to view as helpless. His lack of strategic sophistication is summed up in a garbled misquote from Hegel he insisted on once, in a bedroom at a party, passing joints: "Since everything is its opposite there's really no such thing as defeat: therefore we won." Actually we got our ass kicked, and acknowledging that is the first step toward learning how not to repeat that experience in future. He is profoundly not serious. His left-hand guy is Sven, an intellectual poseur who carries a copy of Nadja and is really more interested in Situationist goofing than organizing revolt. He is also unserious, albeit in a far more charming way. They belong to the IWW, write for The New Indicator, and I outgrow them in a few weeks.
The women who teach Feminism are cut from different cloth. There's steel and muscle in them. If they say they'll march they bring placards, if they say they'll picket they bring friends, if they say they'll stuff envelopes they sit on the floor with you contributing until it's done. And they don't misquote Hegel. I note very early that the boys tend to want to drive decisions and evade work, the girls make better decisions and get things done. I'll gravitate toward them, thank you. Besides, girls are bitchin'.
The dominant Feminism is Socialist. There are Radicals and a smaller number of Liberals, but the majority tendency orients toward the working class as the driver of social change. They discuss Marx and Freud but there are no requirements to take sides. It's a collective attempt to find ways forward, because girls are bitchin'. This is still Second Wave, there's Sisterhood is Powerful but there's not yet Judith Butler or Derrida or Gender Studies or "gender performativity", for which we're almost a whole generation too early. At this time this is still somewhat over my head but I'm an eager listener and I love the books, especially Kate Chopin, who becomes a lifelong favorite. I see her today as the writer of the most beautiful American prose.
For the first two years of my radicalization — I'm woke, we'd say nowadays — Anarchism fills my soul, already overflowing with the spirit of revolt. Little by little though I become disquieted. I see no strategic vision there. General strike, one big union: I get that. Spontaneous revolution: to me that perspective seems increasingly like abdication of responsibility. It's up to everyone to revolt, meanwhile we'll wait for it. I go looking for historical examples of "spontaneous" revolution. Well — they all are. 1905: revolt follows military defeat. In the absence of alternative structures the revolt is repressed. Much later a model for the Arab Spring: if you sit in that square you're not going to win, and when you hold elections the Brotherhood will be the majority because they're the only organized opposition force. Thus 1905: without organization there is no victory. Although the workers' councils were bitchin'.
This is all swirling, being digested, then layered-over with new reading. Primarily reading, secondarily discussion. In this period I live mostly in my head, mostly in my little bedroom with my little single bed, mostly long into the night.