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TOTW: Anarchist Aesthetics



How do Anarchists recognize one another outside the bookfair, outside the demo, outside the show? In days past, and perhaps still, it was through wearing certain clothes, carrying certain books, presenting a certain attitude, styling one’s hair just so; in other words through an aesthetic. As capitalism moves ever onward these symbols become less and less distinct as more and more people have ready access to all the band t-shirts, obscure books and identities that were once locked away in something like subculture, but anarchists continue using similar aesthetic tools and references to signal where they’re coming from and where they’re going.

In the world of anarchist news, the aesthetic reference I see most is that of punk. Whether that is the use of detourned, rough-cut, collage style images and graphics or just actually playing punk music during your podcast, anarchists are still reaching back into that same cultural font, connecting themselves to a specific sub-cultural lineage. But what is communicated to others through this aesthetic? An aesthetic of rage, of youth, of certain cultural products, of destruction and no future. This aesthetic clearly brings in a certain crowd when something like an anarchist publication uses it, but who does it push away?

And so these are my questions to you, what other aesthetics have you seen in anarchyland? Did this aesthetic attract you? Repel you? Why? Who do you see playing with anarchist aesthetics, symbols and lineage? And, most importantly, how could anarchists be doing aesthetics better?

Other Aesthetics I have noticed:

  • Gnarly Black Metal Font
  • What if it was orange?!?!
  • Slick web 2.0 professionalism