Anarchists' Pitch Comes With a Promise to Mess Up Your Order

When politicians proudly say the future of the country is in the hands of our young people, they're not talking about Echo and Warrior.

I'm chatting with the two of them under the shade of a tree in an Anaheim park, and they are explaining why anarchy is better than the system we have now. They're the same reasons anarchists have given for centuries, although we seldom hear them expressed in the shadow of Disneyland.

"I hate to compare it to religion," Warrior says, when I ask how important her philosophy is to her. "But this is what I wake up in the morning dreaming of. Like a Christian would dream of heaven, my heaven is industrial collapse."

Warrior is 20 and works full-time as a telephone operator. She doesn't want to say where, because, like Echo, she fears oppression if her politics are known. She is one of eight friends who share a two-bedroom apartment. Echo is 19, lives with his family and isn't working now but is looking.

Both have spent their lives in Orange County and have no plans to peddle their wares elsewhere.

"This place is ripe for revolution, in many senses," Echo says. "A lot of people don't know their rights."

Echo and Warrior envision a society where class structure disappears and where governments and other power brokers don't pull rank. Warrior laughs while recalling she once was promoted to assistant manager in a department store. "I thought, how ironic--anarchist manager. But that's why I left--they got mad at me because I wouldn't tell my employees what to do."

When I suggest that a lack of order leads to chaos, Echo and Warrior say it merely takes us back to our roots. They see anarchy as valuing the individual over the system and emphasizing sharing over competition.

I want to tell them there's some anarchy in all of us, that we're all oppressed and have given some thought to a Utopian society, but they'd probably see my lack of follow-up action as a personal failing.

Warrior was among some 60 adults arrested May 1 in Long Beach in what police said was a near-riot May Day protest. She says police and prosecutors over-reacted. She has various charges pending but says the only armament she carried that day was a pen.

Daniel Lenhart, an assistant city prosecutor in Long Beach, says some in the crowd hurled rocks and other dangerous objects at police, as well as such things as bags of waste. Most of those arrested are awaiting court dates, he says.

Warrior and Echo say anarchists must account for their own actions and that believers have differing views on how to express themselves.

Yes, they know they're swimming upstream.

"It's honestly a struggle every day," Echo says of his anarchist life. "I suffer depression because of this. The only thing that makes me happy in life is having people like [Warrior] who I know care about me, not because of what I have, but she cares about me as a person."

Warrior anticipates my next question. "Are we just a bunch of depressed people?" she says. "It is depressing, but I am not depressed. I am angry. I'm very angry. But I embrace that anger, and it makes me stronger and makes me closer with other people who share my anger and it makes me feel loved. Even though I am oppressed, I feel like in my own way I am free because I embrace my instincts."

It troubles them that radical protest, once glorified as the building block of American Revolutionary War society, now is rebuked by many people. To them, their use of aliases or masks is as necessary as colonists painting their faces before dumping tea into Boston Harbor to protest British taxation.

"Martin Luther King and Malcolm X would be alive today if they'd kept their identities covered," Echo says. "You don't need to see their face to hear their voice."

The afternoon grows long, and we prepare to part company. I wish them well and offer the hope they're not unhappy.

"I'm not," Warrior says. "I'm dissatisfied, perturbed and frustrated. But I'm happy and I have love in my life. Living with eight people, one of the beautiful things is that you come home every day from work and you have eight people who are anarchists and they say, 'How was your day?' and they genuinely care.' "

Dana Parsons' column appears Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Readers may reach Parsons by calling (714) 966-7821; by writing to him at The Times' Orange County edition, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626; or by e-mail at dana.parsons@latimes.com.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
60°