Being an Anarcho Socialist at SIPA
It’s tough being a revolutionary anarchist at SIPA. Inspired by Jeenho Ham, Amir Khouzam shares his thoughts. This is satire.
By Amir Khouzam
As far as I know, I might be the only person at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) who attended the Annual Symposium for Anarcho Socialists in an industrial park just outside of Jersey City in December, 2017. It was my first time in the presence of the new Brother Comrade, celebrating the inaugural evening of the People’s Revolutionary Epoch. It was surreal to see all the figures, whose images and sound bites had flooded reddit for the last two years, finally emerging into physical form right before my eyes.
Most of my education has been in the so-called ‘moderate and nice’ setting. I attended public school and public university in Canada, so, you get it. I am sure that some political mainstreamers would perceive me as a liberal, or even a leftist. But within SIPA, I would be considered more an apolitical revolutionary intent on disestablishing the rule of law.
The labels get confusing because many of what I consider to be Core Principles of the Revolution such as individual freedom, respect for the autonomy of others, and robust public debate are, in fact, the tenets of classical “liberalism and also of “contemporary conservatism” and also “European democratic socialism” and “moderate salafism.” The latter terms don’t actually mean anything anymore, anyway, so I will focus less on criticizing others and more on what it is like to see things a little differently.
Above all, political documents such as the Constitution of the United States are flawed human constructs that are not divine and don't require constant pledges of fealty. Take Canada, my ancestral homeland of two generations at least, where we didn’t have a written constitution until 1982. Witnessing how it is possible for political leaders there to trade boring policy ideas has had a lasting impact on me. The contrast with its oligarchic and deeply divided neighbour in the south, where political ideology lets 60 million people support a man who says stuff like this cannot be starker.
Western political discourse has changed, ironically, due to the unintended consequences of policies that essentially every single mainstream political party has championed, including free trade. As the west has become more demographically diverse, key structural issues such as the legacy of racism and the capitalist fallacy of equating freedom with profit maximization have not been resolved.
Anarcho-socialism seeks to burn the whole thing down. And I love that, even though it will certainly result in violence and chaos, and is unlikely to produce a better system even in the medium to long term. Because anarcho socialists agree with some of the same things I like, I support them anyway.
Despite our militant opposition to the free market and liberal institutions, anarcho socialists are in fact trailblazers for innovation and international cooperation, because we have cellphones and passports. Using these tools even while we try to undermine them is genius.
The question now is whether we can succeed with a political experiment that has never been attempted and poses obvious and fatal risks. If we fail, we will face the consequences, but in our first few years, our policies will probably not be that different than Trump or Obama, because we will be busy trying to find people who will work for us.
We have now reached a chaotic point in history that almost nobody anticipated, including 18th century lawyer Alexander Hamilton. Now is the time to start promoting the foundational pieces of a radical anarcho socialist teleology and to prepare for the revolution. I’m excited to see how the Trump Administration responds to that, but regardless, there is no better time to be a policy student.
I hope that SIPA, the world’s most global public policy school, is the place where everyone can overcome identity politics and embrace my universal program of anarchical socialist revolution. To paraphrase Gil Scott-Heron, it will not be televised. It will be tweeted.