May Day Portland: What Do Anarchists Really Want?

This letter is a response to The Oregonian May 5, 2017 editorial board opinion “Portland Must be Done with Punk Fascists” applauding police action against Portland’s May Day parade and attempts to create a classic ‘good protester’ versus ‘bad protester’ wedge. This letter to the editor response “Here’s What Anarchists Really Want” was published in The Oregonian on May 11, 2017. 

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.

-Paul Messersmith-Glavin, Portland, Oregon

Paul Messersmith-Glavin is a member of the Institute for Anarchist Studies and wrote this in individual capacity.