Profane Existance Collective:
ANARCHY, PUNK AND UTOPIA
To many readers of Profane Existance it must seem like the only
strategy the PE collective has is to sell our records and to glorify
viloence against the state, and hell, its partly true. These
activities are important party of our diabolical attempt to overthrow
all systems of oppression and replace them with a world of free
punk gigs, unlimited supplies of homebrew and, er, oh yeah, nonhierarchical
and voluntary forms of political and economic organization. However,
theres also a bit more to the reams of newsprint with the
smudgy int, the thousands od records bought and sold, and, the endless
trips to the post office. The output of Profane Existance (the magazine,
the records, the shirts, the distribution etc) and the way P.E.
itself is organized (as an anarchist collective) reflect two key
parts of an anarchist strategy we fell is necessary to create a
free, equal, and just world.
Most people have a somewhat legitimate gripa when they say, Anarchys
a great idea but it will never work. Anarchy wont work
now because people still need to build the political and historical
conditions that make an anarchist society possible. Despite our
dreams, we wont believe an anarchist revolution will happen
overnight. Call us cynical. The Spanish Revolution didnt just
pop out the sky and into the Spanish workers and peassants hands; they built the revolution for over sixty years. Key to their
struggle was the formation of collectives. We see the formation
of revolutionary collectives as one of the best ways to create the
necessary bridges between the totalitarian society we live in today
nd the free society we are working to build tomorrow.
There are two reasons why collectives can help build the necessary
historical and political conditions that make anarchsit revolutions
possible. First, collectivess are small, efficient means of organizing
that provide practical examples of counterinstitutions that are
egalitarian, voluntary and anti-authoritarian. Collectives work
and they prove that anarchy works, and thats one of the best
weapons we have against bothcapitalism and the Marist-Lenoid version
of revolution. Collectives demonstrate that people can organise
their lives together in democratic ways that do not opress or exploit
anyone and that encourage the full and free participation of people
in things that affect their everyday lives.
To smash capitalism and turn a rebellion (like L.A.s) into
a revolutionary struggle you have to show people an alternative
to the life they live now, an alternative that makes people willing
to give up what little they have for the possibility of a new life.
you also have to show people an alternative that encourages them
to organize their lives themselves instead of by some party or cult
figure. the way we see it, any anarchist struggle will be a three-comered
fight among those who support the staus quo, authoritarian revolutionary
types (socialists, Leninists, and other statist stooges), and anti-authoritarian
revolutionaries who dont want to liberate the masses but want
the masses to liberates themselves. PE places itself firmly in the
third camp, but for this type of strategy to succed you have to
present working alternatives to capitalist and athortarian Marxist
forms of organization, alternatives that people can build themselves
instead of join or follow. We think collectives are one of the most
important alternatives anti-authoritarian revolutionaries should
However we dont want to advocate just any kind of collective.
China and the Soviet Union had collectives but they were either
created or taken over by the state. In the Soviet Union, people
were forced to collectivize and if they didnt, Stalin starved
them. Thats absolutly not the kind of collectivization were
about. Were about anarchist collectives - collectives that
are voluntary, nonhierarchical, egalitarian, directly democratic,
encourage the full participation of all collective members, and
engage in acts of mutual aid with other revolutionary collectives.
We are not vanguardist. We fully believe the punk ethic of Do-It-Youself
is a revolutionary ethic. If yo ant a free society, you have to
DIY. You have to form your own collective; dont join ours.
You have to work with other collectives while maintaining your autonomy
instead of being recruited into a party. Mass struggle must build
from the ground up in a nonhierarchical, democratic manner. Collectives
are an excellent way to build this kind of revolutionary anarchist
This brings us to our second point. As important as collective
and work within it. To be a revolutionary collectives you have to
work with other people, other networks, and other collectives. In
any anarchist strategy, working with other collectives has to be
seen as just as important as working within the collective itself.
If we all just work alone, we are isolated and weak. If we all just
join together under the banners of unity and mass
struggle we lose our individuality and become just another
head to count. However, if we work together as thight-knit autonomous
collectives that form networks, federations, and coallitions with
other collectives, communities, individuals, networks, and federations,
we are powerful on a mass level while still retaining our identity.
Working with other collectives is important not only for building
connections that strengthen the anarchist movement. Its also
important because it helps break down the internal patterns of racism,
sexism, classism, homophobia and other hidden hierarchies that can
develop within a collective without members even realizing it. Working
with other collectives and/or people of differnt backgrounds challenges
us and the way we live and organize within our collective as well
as outside of it. When you get together and work with other collectives,
federations, etc., all parties involved walk away changed. Coalitions
arent just the sum of the number of groups involved, they
alter the interests of the groups themselves because the communication
involved forces people out of the protective shell a collective
can develop if it doesnt talk with other collectives. When
something is so subtile within our collective that no one recongnizes
it, getting a perspective from the outside helps a lot.
Forming anarchist collectives are vital to revolutionary strtegy
because we dont want another China, another Russia, another
Cuba, another Vietnam. We dont want a revolution in which
everything seems possible (and is!) in the beginning yet within
just a few years life returns to the same oppressive drudgery as
it was before, only this time with a new boss. (Usually with a red
star on his cap - and its always a his). We dont
want any party guiding our revolution for us and we dont want
to guide anyone elses revolution. If you want a free society,
you gotta do-it-yourself. DIY is where punk and anarchist politics
cross, but its also how any revolution worth participating
in has to happen. From our exierence, the best way to create revolution
DIY-style is for people to create collectives.
Obviously, anothe key to anarchist strategy for Profane Existance
is propaganda. Propaganda helps spread our ideas to people who might
not even considered before. For example, one important part of the
magazone is to challenge dogmatic belief that serve to strengthen
the present power structure, beliefs such as fascists deserve
free speech and freedom to assemble, too and some cops
are good, some cops are bad and other such liberal nonsense.
We dont expect our articles, essays, and rants to change anyones
mind overnight, but we do want people to know that theses ideas
arent god-given or natural and that there is a
struggle going on about beliefs like these that most people tale
for granted. Not everyone buys into the ruling class ideology;
we just though you should know, we say.
Futher propaganda also helps the collective because the citicisms
we recieve from stuff that we publish or distribute challenges us
ti defend our views and change them where necessary. PE has become
a stronger to the feminist and anti-racist critiques that revealed
the straight white male attitude that often prevailed (and still
creeps in, despite our best efforts) the magazine. Propaganda inevitably
breeds criticism: the collective uses that criticism to grow and
A lot of people critize the magazine because they say we romanticize
violence and that we exaggerate the struggles we cover. They are
right; we do romanticize violence against the state and the ruling
class and we do sometimes exaggerate peoples struggles against
injustice however, we also have a reason for this. Romanticizing
this sort of stuff shows people - especially people who live in
places that are generally isolated from revolutionary activiy -
that people are struggling against unjust forms of power all over
the world, and that sometimes these people win. An anarchist movement
needs that. We need to know that victories against hierarchy are
possible and that they do happen, even if they dont lead us
straight into a revolutionary situation.
Romanticization also challenges in the medias claim to objective
truth in reporting. We believe that the idea of objective
truth is bullshit. History happens, but the belief that you
can describe or interpret history exactly as it happend is a lie.
Those who are in power are also those who usually get to define
what is true. By romanticizing events we not only offer
an alternative interpretation to the truth, we also
challenge the ruling class and the mass medias claim to a
monopoly on truth. We say our interpretation of politics and history
is as good as theirs and that if youre going to believe one
pack of lies you might as well believe ours!
Lastly, like collectives, propaganda shows that anarchy can be
a part of everydays life. Its not just a theory, it is a multifaceted,
thriving, practical, and just way of living your life. Propaganda
documents our culture of resistance and ligitimates it. Counterinstitutions
like collectives exist within countercultures like punk, anarchsi,
feminist, queer, etc. We cant expect the mainstream media
to cover these countercultures, nor do we want them to do. Again
we gotta do-it-ouselves. By documenting our culture of resistance
and adding a bit of spice to it here and there, our propaganda hopefully
inspires people within and without the revolutionary anarchist movement
to get active and tale control of their own lives and to realize
that we can fight the staus quo and win.
ANARCHY AND STRUGGLE
At PE we havehigh hopes for people and this world, but we also
try to be realistic. We dont expect everyone in the world
to join a collective. Some people have just to work by themselves,
and thats fine. More important in terms of anarchist strategy,
though, some people will activly oppose the formation of collectives
and our atemmps to build a free society, this is why we see the
revolutionary anarchist process as a process of struggle.
For us, an anarchist society will develop out of a long and perhaps
bitter struggle between those who would maintain the staus quo (the
ruling class, the state, cops, racists, upper and some middle class
people, etc.) and those who want to overthrow it. IT will also be
a struggle within the revolutionary movement between those who want
to lead the revolution (i.e. socialists, Leninists, Maoists, and
other powermongers) and those who want the revolution and the post-revolutionary
society to be anti-authoritarian. (We could call it the struggle
between the DIYers and the WEll-Do-It-For-You-Or-Else-ers).
This is why anarchy is about revolution to us, not about evolutioin.
Evolution toward anarchy is a crock of liberal shit.
If anything, humnity has devolved from a prehistoric state of relative
freedom and autonomy to one of serfdom and slavery. Making the word
anarchist by evolution is about as likly as humans developing a
tail, and it would propably take about as much time to evolve even if it was. To change the world you have to act on it. You have
to DIY, and that means revolution.
Viewing anarchy as a struggle involves keping collectives alive
and thriving, keeping revolutionasry ideas alive and thriving, and
not loving everyone: Some people are responsible for the way this
world is run today and they need to be held accountable as much
as any abstract (Fuck the) System should. At PE, our
anarchist strategy is organize and propagandize against the powerful
and for the creation of a new world bulit from the bottom up by
the powerless. This requires collective forms of organizations,
intense propaganda campaigns, a commitment to direct democracy and
against hierarchy, and a revolutionary demand to strip the power
from the ruling class, by force, if necessary. It also requires
that we have a lot of fun and laughs (and beers). We wouldnt
have it any other way.
Profane Existance Collective, Summer 1993.
Thanks to PF.