Let’s Keep Working For the New World We Hold in Our Hearts

By Paul Messersmith-Glavin (March 11, 2020)

I understand the appeal of the Bernie Sanders campaign for President and hold nothing against his champions.

It would have been a positive development if he got the Democratic nomination, and for a couple of weeks there it looked like a possibility. I’ve also seen leftists and well meaning people for years try and advance a Left agenda in the Democratic Party and fail. Again and again. The US national electoral system protects vested interests which are not ours, the majority of working people. Our interests lie in creating a fundamentally different society. Our Interests are not represented within the confines of the dominant system.

So I want to welcome Sanders supporters back to reality, and hopefully, to a recognition that the type of fundamental social change humanity and other species desperately need today won’t come through the very system that helped deliver the mess we are currently in. Trump vs. Biden tells you much of what you need to know about the US system.

Our task is now harder, our time shorter, and the consequences of our failure more dire. Let’s keep working for the new world we hold in our hearts. Future generations depend on us.


Extinction Rebellion Should Target the System, Not the People Caught in It

By Paul Messersmith-Glavin (October 8, 2019)

Extinction Rebellion is a necessary and vital response to the climate crisis. They are forcing the issue and helping us focus on what’s important. But they are mistaken in targeting people caught up in a larger system by blocking traffic and disrupting everyday life, rather than aiming for instance at the 100 corporations and governments changing the climate: it’s the system, not the people caught up in it.

Through this disruption they seem to hope to pressure governments to act to stop climate change, but this assumes that the very system responsible for changing the climate can somehow stop it.

In this sense they are militant reformists who hopefully will take the next step and locate the climate crisis specifically in the drive to accumulate wealth by a minority of the population, and all its manifestations in racial and gender domination, colonialism, and class society.

To solve the climate crisis we need a new society, one that doesn’t by its very nature change the climate and destroy the natural world. The sooner we set that as our aim the better.


The Ultimate Lesson of Game of Thrones: “Hoping Our Rulers to Do the Right Thing is Madness”

By Paul Messersmith-Glavin (May 13, 2019)

We watched Game of Thrones last night, along with 17 million others. If you saw it, you know how devastating and demoralizing it was.

I immediately thought of the US role in Vietnam and Southeast Asia, or the US war on Iraq, or countless others. Lara made the point that the rubble dust and total destruction evoked the mass murder by Assad in Syria. We talked afterwards about how the episode illustrates the perception that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, and how people play out the roles assigned by institutional power despite, or because, of who they are before they inherit them. I think that’s important when looking at how those in power kill as banal routine: mass murder is par-for-the-course. It’s built into the fabric of the nation-state. Bush did it, Obama did it, Trump does it, Putin does it, and whoever follows Trump will do it too.

I have’t looked at the chatter today – and feel uninterested in it – but my friend and comrade Kieran Frazier Knutson summed up one of the most important insights to take from last’s night’s genocidal display. It’s this:

“Hoping our rulers will do the right thing is madness.”


Thank the Chicago Anarchists for Creating a Better World for Everyone

By Paul Messersmith-Glavin (May 1, 2019)

If you like the idea of only working an eight-hour day, as opposed to say, twelve, thank an anarchist.

This first of May – May Day – represents the day people around the world, for over a hundred years, celebrate and renew the commitment of anarchist organizers in Chicago in the 1800s to making the lives of poor and working people, many of them immigrants, better.

Those anarchists did this through militant agitation, workplace organizing, and confronting those who try to keep us all down and in line. They got in the faces of capitalists, bosses, cops, and politicians. They were not afraid to organize popular power – working people’s power – for a different world.

Learn about the Chicago anarchists – the Haymarket Martyrs – who were hung by the state for trying to create a better world for everyone. Feel the power of rising together with those around you.

Fight back, resist, dream and create a new world in their honor, and with their inspiration. Happy May Day!


Bookchin Helped Us Understand the Roots of the Ecological Crisis Today

By Paul Messersmith-Glavin (January 14, 2019)

Murray Bookchin would be 98 today.

Calling himself at times both a “Pleistocene Bear” and a “relic from a different age,” Murray was in many ways ahead of his time. He introduced ecology to the Left in the early sixties–before even Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring he would tireless point out–even raising climate change as an issue in “Ecology and Revolutionary Thought” in 1964. He welcomed the development of feminism, and was supportive and involved in developing what would come to be known as eco-feminism in the ’70s, while also heavily involved in the direct action movement against nuclear power in New England that decade.

There are plenty of critiques and problems with Murray one can point to but hey, today’s the old man’s birthday, so let’s save that for another day.

Murray’s most significant and lasting contribution, in my mind, is his observation that the ecological crisis is rooted in the crisis in society, that it is in fact a social crisis; that the attempt to dominate nature is based in humans dominating other humans, and that to solve the ecological crisis we must confront and overthrow things like racism, sexism, capitalism and the nation-state.

Cheers Murray, you’re missed.


Antifa Can Nurture the Dreams for a Better World

By Paul Messersmith-Glavin (August 31, 2017)

The antifascist movement has matured into a broad based popular movement, with 40,000 marching in Boston against 100 Nazis and, this past Sunday, a reported 8,000 turning out against a fascist organized anti-Marxist event in a park. In Boston, Black Lives Matter organizers played a leading role. The establishment and fascists both fear this movement, but for different reasons.

In Berkeley, there were thousands of people in the streets with several hundred blocked up. All the reports from comrades I’ve seen say everyone was working together through a diversity of tactics. The police in fact retreated and ceded the park to the antifascists because there was so many. All this comes after the widespread love expressed for antifa block tactics since Charlottesville, with clergy, pacifists, and others praising antifa and the role they played.

This type of popular, widespread movement that embraces a diversity of approaches to fighting fascism is exactly what we need. In Europe, it is very common for thousands of people to show up for a demonstration with a sizable percentage organized as a black bloc. That block can then defend against fascist or police attack, and drive Nazis away.

Establishment figures and institutions are trying to crush this new movement ideologically. They are telling lies and distorting reality. Listen to people that are actually in the streets standing up for all of us, not the people who want you to stay at home and let them continue to run the world.

Come out and see what’s actually happening for yourselves. Understand who shares your interests, and will nurture your dreams of a different, better world. We can resign ourselves to the inevitability of all the shit in the world. Or we can fight, and create something different.

What Our Leaving the Paris Accord Means for Our Future

By Paul Messersmith-Glavin (June 1, 2017)

We’d be fooling ourselves to think that the Paris Climate Accords are going to avert the looming disaster that is rapidly unfolding climate disruption. They are not binding agreements, they don’t confront the root causes, and they don’t go far enough.

At the same time, the Trump administration pulling out of these modest agreements signals to the world that one of the leading climate destabilizers, the US, just doesn’t give a shit. This will shift global momentum in a decidedly dystopian direction.

And all along, this development simply demonstrates that the best way to stop climate change is to create a society that has a just, ecological, economic system that doesn’t inherently change the climate, the way the capitalist economy we all suffer from does. That requires all of us to remake the world, or it will be remade for us.


Anarchists Want Fundamental Social Change

By Paul Messersmith-Glavin (May 12, 2017)

This is in response to the “City Must be Done with Punk Fascists” Oregonian editorial of Friday, May 5th, and their call for responses to the police action at Portland’s May Day parade.

The Oregonian asks: what do anarchists want? From my own perspective, anarchists want a society free of racism, class exploitation, misogyny, and ecological ruin. Anarchists want everyone to have access to free health care. Anarchists want to live in a way that doesn’t necessitate imperialist wars. Anarchists want a society that doesn’t change the climate. Clearly, this society does none of those things, and therefore, anarchists want fundamental social change. We can debate about tactics and strategy, but we need to be consistent in our uses of terms.  Fascists believe in white supremacy, genocide, and an authoritarian state.  Anarchists are, in fact, the opposite of fascists.  All those anarchists who died fighting fascists–in Spain in the 1930s and elsewhere–could attest to this. They gave their lives for their ideals.

The black bloc anarchists on May Day confronted a violent police attack on working families when the police cancelled the parade permit and attacked innocent people using tear gas, concussion grenades, and baton charges. It is fortunate that a section of the march, those in the black bloc, was prepared for this heavy-handed over-reaction to some thrown Pepsi cans. Our focus should be on the police’s violence. The Oregonian’s attempt to deflect attention from the true brutality exhibited on May Day – that of the police – is apparent.





To the liberals complaining about anarchist violence: Please Stop

By Paul Messersmith-Glavin (January 24, 2017)

To the well-meaning liberals complaining about “anarchist violence” and broken windows: please stop. Instead, come out to the next protest and look around and see what’s actually going on.

For instance, if you had come out to the streets of Portland on January 20th, you would have seen literally thousands of people, most of them wearing masks to guard against state surveillance and chemical attacks, many with goggles, extra water and food, many trained as medics to care for anyone who is injured, but all willing to put their bodies on the line to resist Trump’s authoritarianism and the emergent fascism he emboldens. 

You would have seen people of many races and ethnicities, people of all genders, and people of all ages. If you would talk to any of the thousands of folks in masks yes, you would have found a lot of anarchists, but you would also have found several other political philosophies represented, or no philosophy at all, but rather a simple anger at what is going on. You would have seen these people repeatedly attacked by the police, using chemical weapons dispensed by fire-extinguisher size sprayers, concussion grenades, and tear gas. That’s real violence against real people. That’s what you should be focused on.

Your outrage over a few (insured) broken windows, whether in D.C. or wherever, emboldens the further escalation of police violence and puts you implicitly on the side of the oppressor because you help justify and rationalize violence against people standing up. If you had come out on J20, you would have seen love, and laughter, and fierce defiance. You would have seen the best of humanity.

The New Normal


By Paul Messersmith-Glavin (August 23, 2015)

Waking up this morning, I read in the paper about hundreds of thousands more dead fish in Oregon rivers cause the water’s too damn warm and of widespread bug infestations in California due to drought and high temperatures, only to look out the front window at the leaves falling from the trees like it’s late September against a backdrop of smokey, hazy, red tinted skies from all the forest fires. Continue reading “The New Normal”