Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Graffiti and Anarchy


Some people consider it an art form, but I’m not one of them. To me it’s a canary-in-the-coal-mine thing, an indication of an unraveling civilization. It was appropriate that one of the symbols was an upper-case A with a circle around it - a symbol of anarchy. Last week, someone spray-painted graffiti representing whatever crude impulses entered his head around the Lovell Dump, or what is probably referred to as the Lovell Solid Waste Recycling Center now. If there ever were a proper venue for graffiti I suppose it would be a dump, but it was offensive even there.

Why do I say “his” head you may ask? Because the perpetrator was likely an adolescent male who knows very little but thinks he knows much. That two giant phalluses were among the symbols is also a clue. It’s possible he’s former student since I’ve taught nearly every fourteen-year-old who came through eighth grade around here for more than a generation. It’s also possible that he’s already been charged by the time this goes to print, but I’m out of town and out of touch, where there’s neither cellphone nor internet service and that’s nice. There’s no graffiti around here either. If he was caught and he’s under eighteen, his name won’t be published. People in town will know who he was though. They always do, and you can find out if you listen to the talk at one of the local lunch counters.

Graffiti “artists” who render crude phalluses probably wear their pants low on their rear ends - because they desperately want to belong to other groups of boys like themselves who don’t pull their pants up. Graffiti is part of their lifestyle. When they get old enough to drive, they’ll have sub-woofers installed in their cars to vibrate everything within a wide radius, blaring their angry “music” which they impose on us along with their graffiti. Sound and symbol go together, and those of us who pull our pants up consider both obnoxious.

Adolescent males who run in packs are anarchist by nature. The only limits they recognize are the impulses of the alpha male and change hour to hour. Anarchy is as old as the human race, but during the past two centuries, anarchists have adopted a loose philosophy. They believe there should be no government and they behave as if there weren’t any. They don’t respect private property, and that squares nicely with communists over on the extreme left of the political spectrum. Anarchists and communists have historically worked together to bring down governments. Once they’re successful in that, however, they part company. To fill the power vacuum, communists create huge government bureaucracies to control everything everybody does, and that’s the opposite of what anarchists profess.

Several anarchist groups like “Unconventional Action” and “Recreate 68” are planning to disrupt the Democrat Convention in Denver next month. According to the Denver Post: “A draft law proposed by the Denver Police Department would ban the possession by protesters of materials such as weighted pipes and chains and items that can make urine and feces bombs.” Hmm. Urine and feces bombs, huh? The excremental equivalent of rap “music” and graffiti, I guess. Would these be aimed at police or at Obama delegates?

Few adolescent boys understand anarchist history, but they’re attracted to symbols like the A with a circle around it because it’s associated with other angry young males who become sub-cultural heroes. Our media magnifies them as they make “music” and destroy things and treat young women like whores. Big media like Time Warner feed this subculture and profit mightily in the process.

The majority culture either accepts this adolescent anarchy, or even celebrates it because it’s associated with protected minorities. It is therefore an element of Multiculturalism - which purports that all cultures are equal. No culture, or subculture for that matter, is any better or any worse than any other. Cultural relativity has become a sacred principle and it’s not politically correct to question it. It’s even a hate crime in Canada where provincial Human Rights Commissions can bring charges against you and impose huge fines if you should publicly criticize a culture to the point where its adherents’ feelings get hurt. They don’t have a First Amendment up there.

Our society seems to have swallowed all this even when it means many of our adolescent boys behave like characters from “Lord of the Flies” and many of our adolescent girls look like prostitutes. Many grumble about it privately, but few speak out publicly lest they be called intolerant or even racist.

Such were my thoughts while I was photographing the graffiti before the dump attendant painted over it last week. That’s what we have to do with graffiti - kill it before it spreads, disinfect before it reproduces. Some claim this prevents “the broken-window effect” - if a broken window isn’t fixed right away, others around it will soon be broken too. Let’s hope we caught it in time.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thom,

Your Graffiti and Anarchy commentary is hard to argue with. Sadly it fits with so much of the degradation of society that we have witnessed as this country continues to gravitate to. With the constant in your face on slot of negative publicized media streaming from Holly Wood, News Media, TV commercials, the internet, liberal left wing misguided judicial activism, the mis guided homosexual agenda, mis guided pro-choice abortion on demand...all forcing their intolerant agenda on the rest of the majority of society who clearly see it as amoral and fatal to our culture if it does not change. As best I can say it and with all my heart I don't hate these people but would suggest to them to take a hard look at the facts and evidence when a society says God is dead and now we ourselves have all become our own little gods with each of us determining what is right and wrong as we see relevant to us. When you take our moral compass out of society you now have a society of chaos and anarchy. We were all created with a conscious so we are without excuse of knowing what is right and wrong.
Because our country's absolute moral truths have come from our creator and with virtue it is printed on our currency “IN GOD WE TRUST" and it is where our country's laws and our liberties originated from but a minority of our society are in rebellion against this because it convicts their own conscious of there misguided behaviors and so they have hardened their hearts and have now forced their amoral values on to the rest of society. The real tragedy when that happens are there are no limits as to what is right or wrong any more. You now see this in our educational system of good teachers being forced to adhere to the politically correct and the socialist agendas. Teaching little Johnny that it is ok for him to choose what sex he wants to be and survey questioners soliciting personal information about their family home life and how they feel on social issues instead of teaching, English, Math, Science and American History. It is time for the majority to rally back for our youth. Give me a break...and don't think that it won't or is not happening in your town because as California goes so goes the rest of the nations...God Help Us....

Greg Johns, Moultonboro NH

Mark in Fryeburg said...

Graffiti? Bfd, as the young people would say (or text). I imagine they're attracted to the anarchist symbol because it's such a striking graphic. They think it looks cool, and, well, it does, kinda. They probably haven't read much Kropotkin, not even "The Watch." Have you, by the way? He was a nice man, by and large, and of considerable parts.

Anonymous said...

so i enjoy graffiti and am an adolescent from maine. the reason i am posting to your page is to let you know that i consider graffitti the most real form of art, for the artist doesnt want credit for making his art yet wants every one to be his critic. about the anarchy symbol, whats wong with that, im not gunna say anything in depth about anarchy but leave you with this small fact, anarchists have helped out more people effected by hurricane katrina than anyother group including the U.S. government.

that being said i do not necessarily enjoy all graffiti but it allows feelings to be portrayed and is not that hard to rid of!

Tom McLaughlin said...

Anonymous:
I'd be highly annoyed if a graffiti "artist" defaced my property. Not only do they not take credit for their "art," they don't take responsibility either. I can see why you want to be anonymous.

As for your comment on Katrina? I'm speechless.

Anonymous said...

Not all graffiti is art. Some is garbage, however is it the tool of the unheard. And they should remain unheard because the government has a strong hold on property and would otherwise persecute them. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of property is what John Locke wrote. Jefferson doctored it so the average American citizen could not argue that he has a right to property... because in America the private citizen never really owns property. The government can come scoop it away whenever it pleases.
Graffiti gives the frustrated individual a chance at revenge. Whether to spread their own political views and propaganda or simply to vandalize and destroy the system that has alienated them, graffiti accomplishes its goal every time. Who gave the right to all these corporations and companies to advertise to me? I did not give them my permission... and yes I too will remain anonymous because otherwise I may be punished/ostracized for my views... America has already done away with Habaes Corpus, so why should I feel safe?

Long live Noam Chomsky.

Sincerely,
A non-violent anarchist.

Peace.

Anonymous said...

Very well put "non-violent anarchist". I vigorously agree.