Local anarchists gathered Thursday night to discuss the need for hope in their community. The event, which took place at Bar Populaire on St. Laurent, was held to promote the launch of the zine Anarchism and Hope written by local anarchist, journalist, and activist Aaron Lakoff.
Lakoff’s zine is the second zine to be published by the two-year-old Montreal-based Howl! Arts Collective, which describes itself on its website as a collective of artists and activists working for social justice issues through artistic expression.
Over 50 people from the anarchist community attended the event. The engaged and supportive group was quick to dispel the myth of anarchism as a force of violence.
“Anarchism has often been perceived as violent [and] inherently chaotic,” said Lakoff in an interview with The Daily. “My response to that is nothing can be actually more chaotic than the current state of the world. There is nothing sane about living under capitalism, about people having to sell their labour for shitty wages, for people to have to breathe in all the toxins that are in our environment, for oil pipelines to be built across the country. That, to me, is insanity, and I think what anarchists are actually proposing is a world based on sentiments of mutual aid and on love and passion.”
This sentiment was the basis of Lakoff’s zine, which he first conceived of three years ago. “Amongst anarchists, there is this really unfortunate sense of cynicism,” said Lakoff. “I started writing the zine after the G20 protests in Toronto a few years ago where some of my really good friends were in jail […] and people just kind of lost hope.”
Migrant justice activist Mostafa Henaway explained the concept of hope in an anarchist community at the event. “When we talk about hope, it’s that people [are] able to regain a sense of agency over their lives.”
“You see anarchism every day,” remarked Henaway. “You see people making decisions collectively through consensus, you see people reject unjust authority […] it’s not a very radical idea. What may seem radical is the way in which people perceive anarchism is trying to get there.”
While to some, anarchism and hope may not seem connected, to Henaway, “They’re intertwined. […] Especially working with people who are precarious workers […] it’s either they have hope, or capitalism breaks them down.”
“Bureaucracies are this way to keep us oppressed,” Lakoff stated. “They’re cold, they’re faceless, they’re hard to navigate, and they’re essentially made to disorient people. The beautiful thing about anarchists and what anarchism is trying to do is break through those bureaucracies by trying to put forth a more human way of interacting with each other.”
Howl! Arts Collective member Stefan Christoff highlighted the need to spread ideas and create discussion on the subject of social activism. “We wanted to publish Aaron’s text on anarchism […] because we felt it was important to create a publication that could be shared with others [and] that’s rooted in reflection,” he told The Daily.
“Hope is like bread,” Lakoff said at the event. “It’s something that we need to nourish us.”