As any anarchist will tell you, anarchism and radicalism aren’t the most popular political movements in America today. But the Dream Committee, the University’s own collective of anarchist thinkers, is out to change all that. This past September, they debuted “The Horizontal Power Hour” radio program on WESU. The program features news, interviews, and commentary, and airs on the second and fourth Tuesday of every month.
“Our goal in producing this program is to educate a broad range of listeners about anarchist principles, politics, and practices,” wrote Associate Professor of American Studies and Anthropology J. Kehaulani Kauanui in an email to the Argus.
Though “The Horizontal Power Hour” is run and hosted by Wesleyan students, the idea for its creation and the founding of the collective that manages it came from Kauanui, who hosts anther radio program called “Indigenous Politics: From Native New England and Beyond.”
“She was really the driving force behind it, because she’s the one who already had a show on the radio,” said Zak Kirwood ’12, a member of the collective. “The big goal with the program is to put out there that anarchism is a legitimate political position, because right now it’s associated with crazy kids trying to break stuff, when in fact there’s a long philosophical and political tradition behind it.”
One of the biggest obstacles the collective wants to tackle is the stigma that comes with the term “anarchist.”
“There are a lot of misconceptions out there,” said Diego Glusberg ’11, another member of the Dream Committee. “One of our goals is to demystify anarchism. In fact, we don’t always use the word anarchism because it tends to be associated with a bunch of dead white dudes from the 19th century.”
Kauanui co-founded the Dream Committee collective, a group of like-minded anarchist and radical students, with the ultimate goal of putting together a radio program. None of the members of the collective had any previous radio experience, so they had to learn to use the equipment as they went.
“We’ve had listeners consistently note how the program corrected or demystified their (mis)understandings of anarchist political thought and praxis,” Kauanui wrote. “More often than not, they are pleasantly surprised to learn about the diverse spectrum of anarchist orientations.”
Though the radio program debuted relatively recently, the collective has existed for almost a year.
“We started in January of last year,” Kirwood said. “Professor Kauanui reached out to a bunch of people she knew might be interested, and they reached out to a bunch of people they knew might be interested, and so on.”
In addition to delivering news and current events, the program also tries to introduce viewers to a more contemporary view of anarchism.
“Modern anarchism has been a lot about shifting the way we think about things,” Glusberg said. “We no longer talk about revolution, or ‘what are you going to do after the revolution.’ We’re more about living in intentional communities that are run by consensus and other activist-type activities.”
The program has featured guests from around the world, including The Beehive Collective, a group of artists in Maine who make elaborate murals related to social issues. One of their murals, “The True Cost of Oil,” is currently on display in the University Organizing Center.
“One of my favorite interviews was with this Brazilian anarchist I met in New York,” Kirwood said. “He had a lot of interesting things to say because really, Brazil is more like America than we might think, and so is their anarchist movement. It was cool to hear his take on things.”
The Dream Committee is hoping to establish a website in the near future as well as an online archive where listeners can access and hear all of their previous programs. In addition, the collective has some ideas about where specifically to take the program as it develops.
“I’d like to produce and host a future episode focused on Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, another on the newly founded North American Anarchist Studies Network and The Institute for Anarchist Studies,” Kauanui wrote. “I’d also like to do a show on Anarchist-Indigenous solidarity in relation to challenging settler colonial states such as the USA and Canada.”
Ultimately, the collective wants to stress that although anarchism may seem like an alien point of view to many, its fundamental philosophies might not be as radical as people think.
“Dominations of all sorts—be it patriarchy or homophobia—resistance to that is the same struggle as resistance to the state,” Glusberg said. “And for those things, organization is key. This can serve as a way to collect disparate people.”