​Portland Anarchists Are Rebelling Against the Lazy Government by Fixing Roads

When radical left-wing politics meets civic responsibility.

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Mar 15 2017, 10:07pm

The great and terrible thing about culture in 2017 is that it's impossible to be a true rebel. Globalization and the internet have capitalized on most forms of counterculture. Anti-capitalism is always consumed by capitalism, as anyone who's ever bought a Clash T-shirt can tell you. In other words, punk's dead (sorry). But there will always be punks, and they'll always be seeking out new ways to rebel. Which is a long windup to this: In Portland, Oregon, the new hot way to resist government is through providing your neighbors with civil services.

A group of local anarchists started Portland Anarchist Road Care after the conditions on public streets became unbearable. In an email, the organizers of this project told me why:

We drive these streets every day, and are often in near accidents from people swerving to avoid them. People have contacted us, saying that they have wrecked their bikes, or that they have gotten multiple flat tires. We waited around like everyone else, for the state to come in and fix the roads... We finally realized that the state is not going to do enough, on a timeframe that is reasonable.

According to the Portland Mercury, the anarchists have already repaired five potholes on three blocks of SE Salmon Street between 37th and 39th avenues.

On the Portland Anarchist Road Care Facebook page, the organizers explain, "When faced with anarchism as a political theory," skeptics will often ask, "But who will fix the roads?" The activists are proving the haters wrong by taking a hypothetical political spat into the real world, and also pushing back on the stereotype of anarchists being lazy. (I reached out the Portland government to ask about these claims of "gross negligence" but didn't receive an immediate response.)

Portland Anarchist Road Care told me that while it's not the ultimate goal of the project, they do hope to change negative public perception of anarchism: "We want people to learn about anarchy by participating in anarchist efforts, or by those efforts effecting them in the real world, not just through some media filter."

Follow Eve Peyser on Twitter.

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