Good Reads, Gunpowder Treason Edition

You are not your EnemyOne year ago, The Friendly Anarchist went live with a short post remembering the gunpowder plot of 1605 and a speech from V, main character of the Hollywood movie V for Vendetta, based on Alan Moore’s graphic novel of the same name.

It was a bit of a coincidence, but then, why not start a friendly anarchistic blog quoting an ambigious character – “a mixture of an actual advocate of anarchism and the traditional stereotype of the anarchist as a terrorist.” (Wikipedia)

Alan Moore comments on V: “The central question is, is this guy right? Or is he mad? What do you, the reader, think about this? Which struck me as a properly anarchist solution. I didn’t want to tell people what to think, I just wanted to tell people to think and consider some of these admittedly extreme little elements, which nevertheless do recur fairly regularly throughout human history.”

In the same spirit, I also don’t want to tell anybody what to think, I just want you to think. So far, my endeavors have led me to publish around 60 posts on this site, and there are more to come. You can check out the timeless content of the first year of friendly anarchism in the archives. I implemented this page and some other shiny details here on the site thanks to the help of Joel Runyon. Joel is not only internet-savvy, he’s also an awesome person, so be sure to check out his blog if you are interested in doing impossible things!


These days, I am taking some time off the internet, preparing new content for the second year. All I can tell you now is that we will accelerate a little, getting back to a “two posts per week” schedule. I will also move soon from Cartagena to stir things up a little, although I haven’t yet decided on a destination.

If you want to get a little bit of an inside view on how are things going and what’s coming up next, feel free to sign up for my friendly anarchistic newsletter. (It’s free, no spam, maximum 1-2 mails per month. I didn’t launch this officially yet, but you are invited to come early and get the best seats!)

Year Two will be exciting – the idea is to grow consciously in the spirit of better work, more idleness, higher creativity, and a balance between business and anti-consumerism. Thank you so much for your interest, your help, your comments and your messages. I am honored to have you as a reader.


“Most writers are conservative. By that I mean they lock their best ideas in a vault and take pleasure in the richness of their stores, like misers with their money. Maybe you have moleskins full of hastily scribbled notes. Or a corkboard next to your desk messy with images, structural blueprints, articles ripped from magazines. Or at the very least a folder on your computer labeled Stuff.” (Short and sweet. Benjamin Percy on Writing as a gambler’s trade.)


“The problem is, that paid employment rarely delivers the benefits that its promoters, who must be either naive or disingenuous, claim for it. Overwork destroys lives and wrecks families. Work kills: the TUC estimates that 20,000 people in the UK die each year as a direct result of their job. A quarter of a million are injured by their jobs, the TUC claims, and a further half million are made ill by them. The UN says that 2.2 million people worldwide are killed by work. That’s three times more than war. Yet we see no war on work being declared by governments.” (Tom Hodgkinson on delcaring the war on work.)


“No one can know with certainty what the market will embrace, so truly no one person can purport to be in possession of that knowledge. It’s completely backward, but we very often don’t know that we want something until we’ve experienced it. What if Albert Einstein, Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Rainer Maria Rilke, Miles Davis, The Beatles, Pablo Neruda, Salman Rushdie, The Ramones, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, Tim Berners-Lee, shoot, even J.K. Rowling or Lady Gaga, had refused to do their work because they didn’t think the ‘market’ wanted it?” (Jamie Berry on setting yourself on fire. I had one of the most enjoyable Twitter conversations ever with him. You should definitely follow him if you’re interested in art.)


“Museums are a great thing. Most have free or pay-what-you-want nights. But sometimes you just want to look at art in the late morning without a crowd standing around you. And maybe 24 hours later you need to look at that painting again. And 24 hours later you need to look again. And maybe you don’t really have a job and you don’t really make any money and you can’t really afford to wander around in museums everyday, though you have the time to do it.” (David Horvitz on going to museums for free.)


“The Misconception: You procrastinate because you are lazy and can’t manage your time well.
The Truth: Procrastination is fueled by weakness in the face of impulse and a failure to think about thinking.”
(You always get me with research on procrastination.)


“You are not your enemy.” (Zen at Play. Great message. So true. Worth following on Twitter, too.)


“As long as the toilets are comfortable, people are happy — even in nomadic conditions.  I first saw the Washlet (Japanese shower toilet) in the 1980s, and I immediately bought one for every restroom at the ryokan. I knew that as long as people had decent, clean toilets, they’d be happy staying in 100-year-old rooms.”


“A country needs all kinds of people with all kinds of jobs. Japan is full of jobs that nobody wants. There’s work available along rivers, such as cleaning and fishing, and at ryokan, but it seems that everyone wants to live in Tokyo and sit at a desk.”

(The best newspaper article I read this week. It was send to me by my reader Greg, and it’s the account of Tsurunoyu Onsen Kazushi Sato, the owner of a hot-spring ryokan (a traditional Japanese inn). This man knows what he’s doing, and his place is definitely on my travel list!)


  1. Congratulations on your first year! And thanks a ton for those great reads. I put several of them in Instapaper.

    I especially loved the marshmallow kids video – hilarious because it’s so representative of how we all deal with instant vs. deferred gratification. Gotta love that girl that immediately gulps down the marshmallow before the instructor even leaves the room :)

    Many thanks too for reminding me that it’s about time for me to – once again – view one of my all-time favorite movies – V for Vendetta. How unfortunately accurate that movie is proving to have been if you take it as a prediction…

    1. Thank you Tom! The girl is great… she just doesn’t care at all! :)
      As for V for Vendetta, the character is painted more positively in the movie than in the book, I think. Still, a Hollywood production I enjoyed a lot, especially seeing it in 2005 in Bogotá, when lots of ugly politics were going on here. A good occasion to step back and take a review of what’s happening in any country really, democratic or not.

  2. Happy anniversary TFA! I look forward to many more. Thank-you for the many thought-provoking and challenging (in a good way) posts. You remind us that we have to think for ourselves and use all of our senses to experience our world, our thoughts, and our feelings. A few days after the mid-term elections here in the USA, V’s speech resonates as we should look in the mirror to see who is accountable rather than expect people in a far-off city to “fix” things and make us a little less fearful.

  3. Congrats on your first birthday! Your blog had rapidly become one of my favorites. I love the spirit of it – not wanting to tell people what to think, just to encourage people to think period, is to me what it should all be about. Looking forward to your second year.

    1. Thanks James, much appreciated! I´m glad you enjoy the posts here, and I will give my very best for year two… there are some interesting things coming up, I think! :)

  4. Fabian your list, insight into your thinking is fantastic.
    They remind me of crimes that do not break any on the book laws:
    “I just want you to think”
    “They lock their best ideas in a vault”
    “2.2 million people killed” from work
    “It’s completely backward, but we very often don’t know that we want something until we’ve experienced it.”
    “Can’t really afford to wander around in museums everyday, though you have the time to do it.”
    “Procrastination is fueled by weakness in the face of impulse and a failure to think about thinking.”
    “You are not your enemy”
    “As long as the toilets are comfortable, people are happy — even in nomadic conditions”
    “Japan is full of jobs that nobody wants”

    Happy anniversary Friendly Anarchist

    1. Thanks man, glad to have you here and looking forward to your blog! The next year will be *great*!

  5. Fabian hi.

    A good point about the damage that salaried work inflicts on the employed.

    If one had the opportunity to examine the the caseload of many (most?) family doctors (general practitioners in the UK) the findings would be quite clear. Depression, heart disease, obesity and diabetes, addictions and no doubt many other forms of ill health have their origins in the nature of the working environment as well as the broader malaise rooted in the divisive inequalities of the consumer society.

    The status quo embeds these into the cultural system in which we live.

    The only way to escape is, in my view, to explore alternative forms of living, adopt those that suit one as an individual and reject the whole status orientated, consumerist and work obsessed culture that dominates western society or at least the english speaking parts of it.

    Happy anniversary and best wishes.


    1. Thank you for your comment and good wishes, Kane! The situation you describe unfortunately isn’t only true for the English-speaking parts of the western world. In Germany, family doctors will have to treat more than 100 patients a day during winter months. How will they be able to give everybody the attention they need? Here in Colombia, things are worse: If you want to have a good business, you specialize in breast enlargement surgery, but if you are really interested in helping people, it can get tough. A friend of mine is pediatrician and has three positions in renowned hospitals here in the city. He works 12 to 18 hours a day, depending on shifts, but hasn’t received pay in any of these jobs for more than three months now…
      As you say, we have to create the alternatives ourselves! Thanks for getting in touch and sharing your thoughts!

  6. Fabian –

    Woo-hoo!! Congrats on one year my friend! It was awesome starting the journey with you and I’m glad to see how far you’ve come along….and I’m looking forward to see what’s coming next!


    1. Thanks for being part of the journey, Nate! I’m grateful for all the feedback and the constant flow of ideas, and also that FE is continuing to rock! :)

  7. First-time visitor — lovely digs, Fabian. one thing. First sentence of the Japan Times article: “Kazushi Sato, 63, is the owner of Tsurunoyu Onsen”. Tsurunoyu Onsen is the name of the ryokan, not the owner’s name.

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