Teen Vogue: your mainstream source for radical leftist politics

Without doing any research whatsoever, I believe Teen Vogue to be some kind of a fashion magazine targeting teenagers that is probably related to Vogue magazine. So it is not exactly the type of place one would expect to find a very cool, well written, and succinct anarchist primer.

This is something you would never see in respectable mainstream or center-left media. I get the feeling that they detest having to report on the likes of Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, both of whom are far more palatable than any anarchist (with the possible exception of David Graeber). Unfortunately for them, with the failures of centrist liberalism leading to many shifting leftward, they are increasingly forced to take notice.

Despite this increased popularity, if you consider trash political festivals or op-eds in prestige mainstream media, you’ll rarely, if ever, see prominent socialist/communist/anarchist thinkers being featured. As douchebags like Malcolm Gladwell cry about deplatforming the likes of Steve Bannon, you can rest assured that they could not care less about representation coming from the other side of the political spectrum.

But it’s easy to understand one of the reasons why the left is ignored or reluctantly tolerated when there’s enough of them making noise. While the far-right merely wants to use the institutions for their ends – emblematic of this is how cozy they are with the police – the far left is a threat to those very entities. Different strands are more likely to want to smash it all in order to build something better.

Getting back to the Teen Vogue article, the nature of its very existence highlights the truism that capitalists will absolutely sell you the ideological ropes to hang them with because they do not foresee you actually being able to do so. On the other hand, anticapitalists (which I believe the author to be) aren’t averse to using capitalism to spread their propaganda. This leads to the idea of whether or not the “master’s tools can be used to dismantle the master’s house.” For slavery in the antebellum south – sure. Take the master’s gasoline and matches and destroy his fucking house. For capitalism, such things are not so simple. But I have to say I like the idea of anarchism as a counterbalance to pervasive mainstream political culture worming its way into impressionable minds via unconventional means.

Maybe give it a read and join the preeminent blogger of FtB in raising the black flag.


  1. Chris J says

    I really wish I understood anarchism better, in a way that the article doesn’t really help with, because I have the same question probably countless other people have had.

    How could an anarchic society even function?

    Specifically, similar to my usual criticism of libertarianism, anarchism seems fragile at best and weak to people being assholes and gaining power over others despite the system’s insistence that there be no power hierarchy. Just like pure, free, no-rules speech can’t work because one person’s speech can always drown out another’s.

    I’d love for an anarchist to explain how such a system could function specifically in the presence of assholes, and if such a functioning system is even the point or if it’s really just a pendulum-swing away from rigid hierarchies that are clearly broken.

    • says

      I’ve been meaning to write about what you discuss for a while now. It’s hard not to think that anarchist visions for a better world are too utopian, and contain an optimism that is unwarranted. I definitely have reservations about what an anarchist society would actually be like, and it’s part of the reason I don’t identify as one. Overall, what I find most attractive about anarchism is in terms of its broad critique, rather than what it prescribes.

      I cannot see anything like it happening until the power of nation-states begin to wane, and thus allowing groups of people to carve out autonomous spaces. Were that to happen, it’s not inconceivable that some of those spaces could be inhabited by those devoted to egalitarian principles and ways of living. Of course, if the collapse (or series of collapses) occurs, how humans choose to live would vary wildly location to location. There’s necessarily no “one size fits all” version of anarchism that will be applicable to all peoples at all times.

      You could Google around and find a shitload of other anarchist visions for a better world, and endless arguments about the various iterations. The squabbling has been ongoing since the term was first coined, and it’s probably worse than it’s ever been with the advent of the internet. So it’s not something I get too wrapped up in. But any anarchist vision that allows us to to have the comforts of modern-day life based on mass production and fossil fuels I consider magical thinking.

      We have lived in countless different societies. Some with less hierarchy. Some with varying degrees of state formation – including none at all. Most importantly, in the interest of our continuing existence as a species, some were adept at not despoiling the biosphere. There have been many that could broadly be termed anarchic that were able to function and thrive (if you’re interested in learning more I’d recommend the writings of James C. Scott and Worshiping Power by Peter Gelderloos) This inspires me and gives me small amount of hope that there are other, better ways of living that can meet basic human needs while allowing the possibility of widespread happiness and flourishing. Perhaps most importantly, the happiness/flourishing of some is neither predicated on the misery of others nor environmentally destructive. If this sounds naive, I can’t help but agree.