An Invitation to Desertion by Bellamy Fitzpatrick

From https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/bellamy-fitzpatrick-an-invitation-to-desertion By Bellamy Fitzpatrick Spring 2018 The Crisis of Modern Civilization The Politics of “The End of History” The Failure of Alternative Political Ideologies The False Liberations of Minimalist Anarchism Leviathan and the Civitas Desertion Autarky Reinhabitation Our Invitation Backwoods is an invitation to those who can hear it, those who already know that […]
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The Philosophy of Our Time by Ronald Aronson

Jean-Paul Sartre’s existential Marxism offers a radical philosophical foundation for today’s revitalized critiques of capitalism. Nearly forty years after his death in 1980, the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre is best remembered as the father of existentialism. We are most familiar with him as the theorist of freedom, authenticity, and bad faith in philosophical treatises such […]
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Jean-Paul Sartre’s Anarchist Philosophy Reviewed by Steven Hendley

William L. Remley, Jean-Paul Sartre’s Anarchist Philosophy, Bloomsbury, 2018, 277 pp., $114.00, ISBN 9791350048249. Reviewed by Steven Hendley, Birmingham-Southern College Was Sartre an anarchist? William L. Remley attempts to convince us that he was, despite the pervasive tendency in the literature to see Sartre’s political philosophy, especially in his major opus, the Critique of Dialectical […]
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Sartre’s anarchist political philosophy – a draft for a diverse society? by Alfred Betschart

This is the text of a presentation given at the 22nd Meeting of the North American Sartre Society at the University of Wilmington (N.C.)     Good morning. Are you ready for something new? I would like to thank the committee for giving me the opportunity to talk about Sartre’s anarchist political philosophy and to […]
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Editorial for 10/19

The failure of criticism

For many years I’ve had issues with criticism. My particular issue was as narrow as feeling like post-left anarchism being being “just a criticism” has made itself too rarified for the long term. I personally have found a critical eye, and more importantly a kind of rigor around criticism, to be one of the most important things I’ve learned from anarchism BUT I think that part of that perspective is also thinking clearly about what assembling options are available after a concerted dissassembly process. Post-left anarchism, IMO, hasn’t done a great deal, if any, of that and I think we are less for that.

This week in the context of discussing the last podcast someone dropped a link to a podcast I’ve never heard of before but I am aware of the type (which is more evidenced by the site design than by me taking a deep dive into their material. It isn’t that interesting). The Corbett Report is very concerned with the representation of Climate Change by politicians, the media, and the UN. The video shared was a parsing of the messaging around Climate Change and many of the points were fairly put. We agree that something as big and epic as general human made climate change is not going to get an honest reading in the media. To the extent to which the issue is huge and requires buyin from rival factions of the Power Industrial Machine an honest reading is by its very nature impossible.

But instead of discussing propaganda Corbett seemed to live in the critical space of making fun of (with citations) the recent UN report. The bigger question was basically left untouched. If we care to save humanity what would it take, in the context of climate change? Authoritarian rule? Robot armies? Bigger arms to hug each other and the species dying around us? This is where Corbett’s critical take and anarchists have similar orientations. We aren’t capable of making the change we’d like to see in the world so we are left as commentators. What needs to be done, alongside deciding what needs to be done, is so big that we tend to rely on some larger “other” be it the state, google, or the goddess to do it for us.

If our, as in anarchisms, greatest and sharpest minds have been critizing the libertarian response to our sick society for the past two decades, perhaps now is time to turn that analysis towards data collection, model building, and thinking about the consequence of what a couple hundred, maybe thousand, people could do who desire attack, love, and an end of authoritarian rule. What does a black flag anarchism project look like that isn’t prefiguration, a platform, or fighting every fight on every street that no one else in the world cares about.

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Editorial for 10/12/18

Sometimes I write little editorials for the @news podcast. Here is one from a few weeks ago.

Editorial – Anarchist Principles redux

For a number of years I’ve been thinking that the old school anarchist principles have needed updating. In the old days a lot of anarchist questions were answered by using the litmus of Solidarity, Mutual Aid, Direct Action, and Voluntary Association to do it. Anarchists may have squabbled but ultimately Solidarity informed their behavior to one another. When a task was larger then one person or group could accomplish Mutual Aid was the way in which coordination was framed. And Direct Action was how most anarchist activity was described where desire and coordination met. Finally association with each other was (and is) voluntary. We are not compelled to associate with each other.

But today most of these principles are mere shadows of what they were. The idea of anarchist solidarity outside of a demonstration or publication is nice but rare. Most anarchists are barely surviving in an economy on fire and have been mostly flung to the periphery of the periphery or to full time jobs that has little time for coordination against the Empire. Voluntary Association is more often than not about it’s dialectical twin Exclusion.

While exclusion is certainly an important part of defending oneself and ones community it has seemed to have become a perversion of self-defense. Perhaps this is a generational thing but exclusion seems to be the goto tool in many situations where one used to argue for ones positions, feel frustrated, not heard, and through a process of improving ones argumentation, thinking, and changing ones mind would come to a new plateau of positions, feelings, and relationships.

What has happened instead, and largely this is due to exclusion, is that anarchist circles no longer talk to each other and, at its worst, no longer each other. Ie this is an inter-circle issue and an intra-circle issue. The result is isolation, a shrinking of the circles (and the meta circles), and a terrible future for anarchist projectuality in the medium to long term. We have eaten our young, we have have largely eaten each other, and now we range the desolation on social media and the left looking for more protein.

I have imagined that a new set of anarchist principles would follow from the Free Software model, from contemporary anarchist thinking, and other sources but it’s hard to see that happening in the condition of isolation-exclusion we find ourselves in. While transparency is a modern principle that makes sense in a certain way for anarchist projects it is bedeviled by the urge for our projects, protests, and publications to be anonymous and untraceable. While we may desire meetings that are less bureaucratic and differently participatory, we have seen that those with the most experience and enthusiasm tend to take their energy elsewhere.

Of course the argument against principles takes us in yet another splintered direction. In the anarchist hyper-youth culture, which looks more-and-more embarrassing as we grey, our disdain for our parents prevents us from admitting we have them in the first place. We have all sprung from Zeus’s head. We have been taught nothing by nobody. We are the first people doing everything for the very first time. We refuse such a beast as anarchist principles because of course they are just trying to tie us down to stupid shit, to rules, to their order which we reject!

After this rant I guess the best I can conclude with is the potential of articulating what my anarchist principles are that drive my work, my projects, and my relationships with others. I desire freedom and think that timing, attack, and my voluntary associations are necessary to achieve it. Before I am free I think the preconditions of freedom are worth methodically going through, I do this by way of publications but I recognize there may be better ways that require a different social organization than the one I have access to. But in this space of creating preconditions I attempt to be transparent, poetic, and open with who I work with and how we do it. I strive for an environment that is both/and rather than either/or. Indifference, exclusion, and isolation are forms of hate. Attack is a form of love.

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TAPTBSI – episode one

Talking a project through before starting it

I haven’t been blogging lately for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that I’m getting pretty tired of responding to “hot takes” as if they are real engagement. They aren’t. I want anarchy to be a project we are all partaking of but I’m feeling not exactly butthurt (but maybe) but indignant at how different what I’m talking about is for other people. Which is to say that I think the anarchy unleashed at WDC, Berkeley, Portland over the past month isn’t. I think responding to right wing idiots is beneath us. I really do. And debating these points has been a straight up losing proposition so I wont do it.

This is bonus sad because of course I do have “experience on the ground” with this particular topic but that experience is what has led me to this point in the first place. Many topics aren’t worth talking about, except f2f, with friends. That’s a change for me. If you aren’t willing to truly destroy those who are your enemy (as in kill them in cold/warm blood) then you are either engaging them in a version of political discourse or you are walking away from that discourse. I advocate doing the latter.

Enough about that. I’m trying to get wound up to do a new project. It’ll probably be a weekly call in show, it’ll probably be very Internet focused, it’ll probably attempt to appeal to a wider audience that LBC + Anews + other projects. I’m kind of hoping that appeal will be because of humor but finding the right tone is a real problem. Here, and before this new project begins, I’m going to brainstorm about how to do a better @ projects based on the lessons I’ve learned from doing a lot of different projects and project types.

It’s worth mentioning that I have always used @ projects as an excuse to do things I’ve been inclined to do anyway. I was inspired by DIY Hardcore and explicitly projects like Dischord Records. But what I like about Dischord is a lot like what I like about anarchism, breadth.

This project is motivated by wanting to figure out how to speak about @ to a larger audience and wanting the experience of doing something like a call-in show (technically). But it’s hard to imagine me starting a project like this and not getting bogged down in idiocy. To keep it straight I’m going to have to do a dual thing that I’m not quite sure how to organize. One, how do I keep a show like this topical and fun. Two, how do I not get mired in the shit talking that I can easily slide into and that I have a crew of people who’d love.

One, let’s take this week and a for example, should an anarchist topical show talk about the death of a US senator. I’ve generally ignored the US government when it comes to @ projects but it’s clear there are a lot of funny things one could/should say about politicians and dying but it’s a hard call. Can one do it w/o sounding like a liberal? Without sounding heartless? Without sounding like a late night comedy show? I guess the latter wouldn’t be terrible but finding that line w/o a room of writers… not so easy.

Two, it is so tempting to talk online anarchist shit. To talk about JZ or the latest FB drama. I think it is incredibly not interesting to anyone outside the 100 or so ppl who engage in both but how can we get to the heart of what are complicated political disagreements without miring every episode in a ton of exposition that is boring, sectarian, and something-else. That something-else is the death of this project from a long-term perspective.

Anyway over the next couple months I’m going to think this project through with the goal of launching it with a full audio package of effects, organization, and back up plans by the end of the year. Any thoughts/insights on how to do this well would be appreciated. You can get at me at aragorn@littleblackcart.com or add a comment to this blog and if you want it to stay unpublished it will.

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More about this so-called thinking.

Carrying on from my last post… I might as well begin sloppy. “The United States is a country that doesn’t know itself, nor others.” – opening line to an imaginary essay Last week I began listening to the most recent episode of This Is Hell. In the episode, Anna-Lisa Cox discusses some of the themes […]
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I’ve been thinking about..

I’ve had the urge to begin writing again, but I’m pulled in many directions and haven’t landed on any solid point to begin from. One essay would begin, “The United States is a country that doesn’t know itself, nor others.” Another would tell the story of the tensions between Existentialism, Marxism (including the Situationist International), […]
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I do not want to go there

but recognize how they did
A reportback on a trip to Libertopia

This is an attempt at a friendly reportback. Of course it’ll be filled with my usual scorn and antipathy but I will attempt to point it in the direction of the larger things and not the other things, like people.

Here is the start. I am in an awkward situation for an anti-capitalist. My primary project is a publishing project that sells commodities. I usually describe myself as an anti-capitalist but my project is, by my measure, a capitalist one. It buys and sells commodities. My anti-capitalism also associates me with a couple hundred different ideologies that I hold a very slender ground with, like Maoism or social ecology. Factor in that I am looking for opportunities to grow beyond The Milieu and have just published the Billionaire’s Bible and finding an event where I could meet some other kinds of anarchists was intriguing.

Enter the Libertopia Festival. An event of “All Things Peaceful and Voluntary,” whatever in the hell that means. But let’s look closer at their ideas…

Libertopia

Join us on our mission to create a worldwide movement of individuals dedicated to the ideal of voluntary societies premised upon mutual respect for each person’s dignity and sovereignty.

and…

Libertopia 2018 will feature familiar exploration tracks, including:
Foundations of a Free Society
Entrepreneurship, Wealth Building, and Investing
How to Live Free in an Unfree World
Relationships
Culture of Liberty
Health and Happiness
Along with new exploration tracks:
Cryptopia
Let’s Build Libertopia
Raising Children
Voluntaryism
Start-up Societies and Seasteading
Bitcoin and Blockchains

and finally

We are also proud to announce that our headline event at Libertopia this year will be the Birth of a Free Nation. Witness an Apache tribe sign their new constitution marking the beginning of their journey to creating the first blockchain-based, Voluntaryist, sovereign nation.

Decoding the Rhetoric

Similar to an anarchist gathering (which I assume most readers will have attended or at least read about) the gap between what’s being said/promised and what is being delivered is jarring. We say something like “we intend to liberate desire and smash the state and capitalism” and deliver stale bagels and a queer dance party that gets suppressed in minutes after a series of lectures by dudes who dude. Whereas they claim a movement, and put on an event in which the presenters and tablers outnumber the audience at least 2:1. Libertopia featured 80 speakers and about a 20 vendors (most of whom were also speakers) and I never saw more than 100 people there the entire weekend. The math here is bleak, if your goal is a movement, or even just an audience of people interested in new ideas. Or it’s simple: while there may not be an audience for the ideas of Libertopia there is a high degree of involvement from the perspective of effort per person.

The rhetoric in the first quote (“join us in our mission…”) has just begun though. The authors also desire an “ideal of voluntary societies premised upon mutual respect for each person’s dignity and sovereignty,” code for individualist non-violent social change by way of market forces. which is adorable. Sovereignty is a particularly interesting turn of phrase here. It is an obvious nod to the Sovereign Citizen Movement and the soft claim that sovereigns aren’t answerable to the state but instead to common law (private land ownership is protected by the local sheriff, the new highest law of the land).

This is one of the few places where the distinction between these “right” anarchists and the rest of us can be exposed. Most of the rest of us understand sovereignty in the context of revolutionary theory. A sovereign is one who has the power to create a condition (or state of exception in the Schmitt formation of the term, which was in reaction to Benjamin’s concept of revolutionary violence). For the Libertopians 1. there is a law of the land, 2. it’s probably the sheriff (and the Constitution), and 3. a total transformation of our social world is unnecessary and undesired.

Their “exploration tracks” are an interesting examination into the priorities and biases of the Libertopians. While I wasn’t able to see many of the workshops, our table was planted right in front of the main stage (one out of four venues for presentations) so it’s safe to say I saw the highlights.

The primary delusion suffered by the Libertopians is their funny definition of capitalism. I want to give this a bit more room to breathe but suffice it to say that over the weekend I heard the term wealth, entrepreneurship, and even corporatism more than the term capitalism. The aesthetic of the event was at least 50% identical to a Friday night at the Marina (a famously bridge-and-tunnel, bro-centric, VC funded neighborhood in San Francisco) so there clearly is a something-so-close-to-capitalism vibe going on here that anyone who wasn’t a Libertopian wouldn’t notice it.

Fundamentally what I saw was Money, Bitcoin, Old Timers, Health, and something-like-DIY. Most of the money workshops were in the small rooms and consisted of speakers pitching their small business solutions (to about a dozen people each). The bitcoin people are the dominant species at Libertopia. They provide modern answers to a tendency that can feel out of date (ie rhetoric that feels 18th century and Constitutional). They drip VC funding (one vendor had bitcon ATM machines on site), optimism, and disruption (ie crime and black markets). The old timers were from the libertarian scene prior to the Internet. Some of these people can be found on C4SS. They resemble the ranters of the anarchist world who show up consistently to rail about workers movements, and how it used to be, to an audience of 2-3 enthusiasts and a dozen bored people who are simultaneously staring at their phones. There was a health crowd, representing an interesting direction for this audience. It tended to be the main topic for female-bodied people to speak about (and even dominated), and was clearly nothing like the tweedy economic discussions. (Note: it only cost $25 a day to attend the daily yoga sessions!) Finally, there were the DIY folks: the most natural allies between us and the anarchist right, but more on that later.

It is worth mentioning the nod that Libertopia has given natives. This is hard because it is a real engagement but not mappable for most anarchist types. Race was generally not mentioned at all during the weekend and so this strange ceremony that launched a new nation (!!!) really did come off more like a spaceship landing than something to take seriously but you should check out the link to see what you think http://www.camnnation.org/about/camn-constitution/.

Obviously I could go on about this–at length–but I’ll just say two things. I met the speaker/leader/Chief of this project and came away nervous. The constitution linked proposes as its first law that “All people live to pursue gain” which is a real head scratcher. I’m not sure I agree it’s true but perhaps I do if you define gain in an existential sense rather than material. But then the author makes this point “The Chiricahua Apache Mimbreno Nde Nation accepts these First and Second Laws as incontrovertible and as scientifically identified fundamental constants of nature.” and I’m totally lost. If I were forced to have an opinion about this it would be that it is harmless wingnuttery but maybe I’m the one who is out of step and missing something important.

Suffice it to say the themes covered at Libertopia were interesting to me as not entirely different from what I see at an anarchist gathering but more utopian (culture of liberty), practical (DIY, bitcoin, etc), and bizarre (bitcoin, Apache nation thing).

Capitalism & Representation

I don’t want to full rant on these people and this event. I met a few truly open-minded people, which I will say isn’t that common at anarchist events. I had a few great conversations and quite a few good ones. Many of the people in attendance laughed at the same things you and I would (eg All things Peaceful and Voluntary). At least fifty percent of the people weren’t capable of seeing our table, but that’s identical to the anarchist world. The difference is that in anarchyland I can see the performative non-seeing (whether related to post-left, Aragorn!, or Atassa) but here it was unclear whether it was about books, capitalism, or our more-or-less punk aesthetic (less than 10% of this crowd had this).

I do want to touch on a couple things before I wrap this up. One, I believe this was a very initial foray into this milieu. I don’t exactly understand the distinctions between the Libertarians, the market anarchists, the voluntaryests, the agorists, and the Libertopians. Perhaps it doesn’t matter but I am a sorting, grouping, conflict-friendly person and that’s how I understand and organize. It wasn’t exactly a beneficial event for LBC but perhaps it can be a worthwhile experience over time. Two, of course the event was primarily male (75%) and white representing (90%). The best conversation I had over the weekend was with an outlier but it wasn’t about race or gender (although these topics were mentioned). These people are normal in a way we criticize in the anarchist space but we don’t exactly criticize from a position of direct experience or particular enlightenment.

Three, capitalism… While I’d like to be gentle to an approach that strives to be voluntary and peaceful I don’t think describing exchange in this world (ie Capitalism) as either are fair to the words. I am not up for writing a big essay about the difference between possession and ownership, violence by consent, and what the role of police are in society but if I did you’d hear a big fuck you to all of the people described at the bottom of this page https://libertopia.org/festival/.
They are not the reason to give this event or these people a chance. Those who are, are the small, failed entrepreneurs, freaks, fellow travelers, and people who confused Ron Paul with something real. I don’t blame people for confusing the market with power (because it largely is). I blame anarchists for not having better tools for articulating why the (imaginary) market isn’t the same thing as freedom.

More another time as the topic of why the Libertopians identify so closely with the forces (and personalities) that dominate them and create the very conditions they are against…

Final note, many of the main stage speakers are very aware of video format. Much of Libertopia was played for the livestream audience. As a result there was a serious percentage that had spray tans, name brand expensive clothing, and permanent fake smiles. It was eerie.

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The Situationist International and Sartre

Situation (Sartre) From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia One of the first times in which Jean-Paul Sartre discussed the concept of situation (French: situation) was in his 1943 Being and Nothingness, where he famously said that there is freedom only in a situation, and there is a situation only through freedom… There can be a free […]
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Les Temps Modernes

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Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s Ecological Framework

[stub]
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Existentialist Anarchism

[stub] *Anarchist Essentialists and Anarchist Existentialists* – Sartre’s Self-Identification as an Anarchist – Sartre’s Critique of Dialectical Reason as an Anarchist Social Theory – Sartre’s notion of the Situation in Being and Nothingness and the Situationist International – Camus’ Endorsements of Anarcho-Syndicalism in the Rebel – Intersubjectivity in Existential Phenomenology – Intercoropreality in Maurice Merleau-Ponty […]
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Is Max Stirner’s Ego Cartesian?

[stub]
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Foucault’s Existentialist Roots

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Here is an old essay

Reproduced from the 2014 BASTARD conference on Social war. Obviously short and sweet.

Why Social War is a bad way to practice anarchy

If I were to be generous I would say that social war is a nice term in search of meaning. At best I have experienced it as a way to dress up like a soldier and act like the lines of conflict are as simple as they are for class war (but you know, social) and at worst its a way to dress up and punch bystanders to a march. Which is another way to say this is that my experience of self identified social war and social warriors is that it is a two part lie.

War

What is war good for? Absolutely nothing!

We either can accept the premise that war is always the war of the state or that we would somehow wage war differently but what is our evidence for such a claim? I don’t believe we have any, as any so-called people’s war has been just as arbitrary and capricious about who it has killed as wars of commerce and state. As a matter of fact the primary problem that I have with any definition of war itself is that it is an abstract way to describe something that is not abstract at all, the death and dismemberment of any body that happens to get in its way.

Abstraction, pro or con whatever, tends to be the way in which rational people justify to themselves how to annihilate disagreeable others. How to use algebra to subtract people, ideas, or dialogue.

Which is not to confuse war with conflict. I think that my issue with social war isn’t that I have a conflict with conflict per se or de jure, quite the opposite. My issue is that I don’t think there is any way to frame something calling itself war as anything other than war. War means the destruction of opposition as a precursor to victory (which is the goal).

Of course, In typical anarchist fashion social war has all the moral authority of being impossible. So configured as to obscure the totalizing nature of its impersonal nature by the asymmetry of our current conflict configuration. Just because we have no chance of winning today doesn’t mean there aren’t future generals among us figuring out how to divvy up the spoils, name roads and bridges after themselves, or even to weep alligator tears in the style of Smedly Butler. Every conflict began as an impossibility in the minds of its conspirators.

But to put an entirely different spin on this I want to assert that war itself isn’t merely a problem related to the excesses of industrialism and WWII thinking. Instead I would say that the aspiration of victory in win/loss terms, of monopolizing violence over a terrain or a people, of politics by the barrel of a gun is participation in statist logic. The term war is indistinguishable with this logic. It cannot be reclaimed and I ask the question of all the presenters today, why would we even want it?

It seems to me that the strongest argument FOR war, social or not, is as a palliative to the other failed approach to war thinking; class war. By all measures convincing the vast population of humans that they are being fucked over by an economic system that determines their access to resources by a fixed competition seems like it should have been a sure fire way to align them against the organizers of the game but it didn’t work. The analysis of the failures of class-based analysis by stating that it isn’t universal enough seems like pretty weak sauce. The failure is that we can’t think our way out of a geological formation and that is what the current social order is. When abstractions become fixed over time and take on what we would call in other situations “reified aspects” it isn’t an improvement to switch out marxist flavored abstractions with the mealy mouthed abstractions of pop sociology, psychology, and metaphysics.

What is social about social war?

It is often said in radical circles that humans are a social animal and that is a fair statement. Something about communication seems to be central to self awareness and language in particular is how identity formation is constructed. Isolation seems like a distinctive form of torture, whether in explicit prisons or in the work-a-day life of isolation by proximity that is the hallmark of the modern IKEA lifestyle. If isolation is hell then its opposite must be heaven?

Not even close to true. The social aspects of social war seem to follow the same mediocre direction that the mass politics associated with class oriented politics which is in the fascination with mass. Social bodies are confused with socialibility and social life confused with participation in distinct organizations.

If we accept the premise that human nature is social, which I’ll do as long as we recognize a future asterisk to develop, we should be very concerned with the next step of the conversation because it will involve defining social in an abstract way. It isn’t an evening with close friends but a meeting with butcher paper, an agenda, and rhetoric about the 99%, defending the Bay, or our self-understanding as the precariot. In other words, we are back to class-based false unity using pop terminology in an attempt to modernize our position. Social war ends up reflecting social scenes rather than the socialibility of the dinner party or a plot to kill a motherfucker.

Genocide

Just to wrap up, there is a little matter of genocide. We don’t live in an action movie where once we figure out how to win the next battle the credits will roll and we’ll all live happily ever after. Instead, war thinking will necessitate our next victory to be the first in an unending series of battles to determine the fate of the future of humanity. The new thinking, after WWII, is that we can wrap up total victory by way of annihilating the forces of state and capital but this is deeply naïve. There is no version of this story that would not require the equivalent destruction of millions if not billions of deaths in service of our better-than-what-came-before holy war. Social warriors do not desire the genocide of any particular people, and would probably be offended at the implication BUT would probably accept that the total destruction of bad ideas is worth doing and would like us to all join in the dice roll where the implications of what comes after isn’t just unclear but clearly war thinking and social in all the shallow, vapid, ways this entails today.

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Episode editorial 7 – Cooperation

On our minds this week

This week in the politics of geopolitics and interesting division was exposed. As anarchists we should think on this division as it is of concern to us too. This divide is characterized as globalism (or neo-liberalism) or nationalist (aka protectionist). Many authoritarians land on the globalist/neo-liberal side of this split arguing that diversity, climate change, and free trade are somehow friendlier to a position hostile to the State than racism, hostility to scientific consensus, and trade sanctions.

This week we reflect on the fact that the divisions between statists are not our divisions. If a revolution against big power were to occur it would be safe to say we’d have a global perpective in our heads but our locality in our daily lives. We’d be deeply ambivalent about anything that looked like trade. And our diversity argument would look entirely different than they do today.

On mind this week is a pox on the house of the Nation and the house of the neo-liberal. We can safely stand on neither side of this stupid fight, we have stupid fights of our own.

 

Editorial – Cooperation

It used to be taht the anarchist space was small. It was possible to know everyone. It was possbile for one event to host most of the anarchists at once. The Battle of Seattle grew the number of anarchists exponentially, The War in Irag, and the Internet has done it a few times more. One of the confusions about this rapid growth is the assumption that just because we are thousands instead of hundreds that we are all on the same team.

That is not how teams work. Teams work because it feels special to be on one. One feels like a privelaged few and not a faceless horde. The reasons affinity groups plus is still a primary organizational technique for anarchists is because we know each other as special individuals and not abstractions. If you subscribe to the form of anarchism that says that we should remain anonymous in most situations your social circles, the people you work with, will be necessarily small.

Like many other topics, the Internet has changed this. Many anarchists now have a far larger vaguley social circle than they ever did before. Personal intimacy is laregely gone but there is a larger sense that you have fellow travelers. This has meant that rather than anarchism in north america being mostly red, mostly friendship circles, and most intimate it has become mostly positional (red, green, insurrectional, transhumanist, etc), mostly around allying around positions, and mostly impersonal. It is far easier to insult strangers who don’t share your positions today because you don’t need them for a future action or as a friend.

There has to be something positive about this change. Perhaps one of those things is we are now bigger than cliques. We are now bigger than one big mans personal agenda or personal problems. Perhaps it means we can start trying to do more than one thing at once. Perhaps being ninjas at every highly publicized event isn’t a requirement for entry in our secret club. Perhaps you don’t need to read every book written by bearded men in the 19th century. Perhaps we can begin a set of conversations about how each of us, how each type of personality and skillset can add to a complex social environment that shares a love of the Beautiful Idea and respects others who do the same. Perhaps that respect can mean something more than the Internet is capable of demonstrating. I know that for me, the projects of this large group of people, striving for the Beautiful Idea always interest me, even if I disagree with them.

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Episode editorial 6 – Associative Crimes

on our minds

On our minds this weekend is the shadow of a new horrorshow of violence and war cast by the US Administration over the country of Syria. Six years into a Civil War that finally seemed like it was winding down there is word of another Sarin gas attack by Assad and now a military intervention by the US Military.

As anarchists we unconditionally oppose war. We do not deny that it occurs and that in its footprints lay destruction and possibility. The Syrian Civil War, in particular, has opened the very real possibility of a anti-authoritarian socialism in the form of a liberated Kurdistan. But that is a footnote to the thousands of deaths caused by this Civil War.

Our hearts go out to these people and our fury is reserved to all the heads of state, and their minions, that wage war on human life for nothing other than political gamesmanship and a sick value system that believes that the only way to defend human life is to destroy human life.

 

editorial

Editorial – Associative Crimes

The past few weeks has brought an interesting conversation to the anarchist space. There are many ways this conversation has played out, as about specific individuals behavior, as to whether or not fascist entryism is occuring, or as a sectarian attack about, or considering, a particular political tendency being susceptible to manipulation. The details herein are extremely tedious and boring. The question is not. Here is how I read this question. Is it possible that a generational shift is occuring that escapes our capacity of understanding? Moreover is this change happening so fast that we as individuals, in the flux of this transition, are incapable of seeing, knowing, or controlling it as it occurs?

One of the challenges that anarchists face, when somone outside the milieu inquires, is that we both identify power in its excesses while having a vague attitude towards eliminating power. We desire an end to power but recognize that end would involve great horrors, in the form of the destruction of the state by way of its infrastructure and of violence towards human lives dependend on that same infra. We are expressing a anti/political position that entails a thousand unforseen consequences, most of which are probably authoritarianish and possibly horrible. The tension between political reality, as in how things work in the real world, and a dreamy desire for an anti-authoritarian world is real and any anarchist that denies it is either lying or hasn’t thought about it long enough.

In the old days (prior to the word anarchism-as-a-political-position) this topic fell under the auspices of the kind of sacrifices one had to make for the securities one received from the nation state. If one wanted health care, national security, and some care for the elderly and whatnot one had to accept, as part of a faustian deal, a type of contract usually called a social contract. Today we live on shifting sands. We cannot argue that there is any contract in place. We cannot count on health care or that we will be cared for as we grow old. We can only count on change. On flux.

Anarchism can be described as a simple position. It is a desire to live in, and work for, a world without the state or capitalistic exchange relations. But anarchists are not historical artifacts. We recognize that the world is changing and want to be part of that change. This means associating with what is here and now and not just a set of static first principles. Social media and the capacity to argue about everything, all the time, has meant that it is very easy for an author or an essay to associate things, taht are not otherwise similar, easily and to spread that false association broadly.

Name calling is confusing. On the one hand it is very useful to have conceptual tools (ie names) to understand people, positions, and our place therin. On the otherhand one has to have great trust in another person to trust that the way they use language, and names, is the same as yours. As an anarchist I want to trust other anarchists but also as an anarchist I have to realize that words and the gamesmanship around them is a kind of power relationship I want to be an active actor in and not just the subject to someones superior political savvy.

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Editorial episode 5 – A Failure to Communicate

on our minds

This weekend is April First. Obviously anarchist do not have a sense of humor and anyone who would say we do is a dirty liar but it sure would be nice if we did. We could see our project, the total transformation of daily life, as a hysterical absurdity. We could see our comrades as human (all too human) beings and not revolutionary robots set to kill, kill, kill. Like most things, the Internet has coopted and killed the devilish pranks of April Fools day but let’s hope our own little silly pranks are read in the spirit they were intended and not in the spirit of indignant poops.

 

editorial

A failure to communicate

We’ll talk about our friend Shawn Wilburs blog post about this topic later but suffice it to say that I agree broadly with his description of some anarchists willful failure to communicate but I perhaps am less interested in being as fair minded as Shawn is.

Anarchism has changed in the nearly thirty years I’ve been involved in it. And obviously by the time I became part of this tradition borne of the beautiful idea it had changed several times prior. By the time I took part in it anarchism was starting to grow beyond the anarchism of Crass and punk rock politics. It was starting to federate and look towards greener pastures than subculture and youthful zeal. Murray Bookchin was still alive and, unbeknownst to me at the time, was kind of a big deal.

I share most of the post-left criticisms of Murray and, in particular, on re-reading Social Anarchism vs Lifestyle anarchism find it to be a uniquely corrosive document in terms of attempting to communicate but I do think it is useful on this topic, both as a model of how not to do it, and as a template some have used ever since to win an unwinnable fight and to say a piece about some imagined Other.

And of course I will say the same things, maybe worse about the writing of Bob Black who has always used communication as a cudgel.

The point here is that we have chosen to balkanize anarchism. We, on occassion, have pretended we are all on the same team and write wide-eyed innocent essays misunderstanding how other factions could have ever come to the positions they have and how our faction wouldn’t do anything like that at all. I’ve mostly seen those who refer to internecine conflicts put on the defensive as if they have to explain why an underemployed social anarchist professor and a traveling antisocial anarchist rewilder could possibly ever disagree.

This pretending is also the source of our failure to communicate because it is in the interest of some to own the conversation. It is in the interest of some to emphasize the qualities of civil discourse while minimizing the passions of the shout. Some people get to speak at bookfairs, even though they have nothing to say, and are going to blame the republicans for our unique moment rather than clearly build something small that could grow with people we know. We’d rather pretend we were never in subculture, for fear to not be seen as a serious adult. We’d rather fail than be seen trying. We’d rather only communicate in cliques and to crowds we know already agree with us than communicate dangerous ideas that might not be popular.

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