Absurdist Anarchy

The below is just the combination of 3 earlier pieces that all build on top of each other, but will eventually be the basis for a longer piece that works it all out more coherently and stylishly.   Absurdism: In philosophy, “the Absurd” refers to the conflict between (a) the human tendency to seek inherent […]
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An Individual’s Interests

Existence for a self-conscious individual may not offer any sort of rational basis for meaning and values, but it at least offers a biochemistry to help get the process going. Good and bad may not transcend the somewhat haphazard associations brains form which tie into emotional responses, but there are at least those immediate and […]
Posted in Ramblings, Social Analysis | Comments closed

Camus’ the Rebel: Quotes (some Notes)

The Rebel – Notes Metaphysical, Historical, and Aesthetic I The Rebel – 13 II Metaphysical Rebellion – 23 THE SONS OF CAIN – 26 ABSOLUTE NEGATION – 36 THE REJECTION OF SALVATION ABSOLUTE AFFIRMATION *THE POETS’ REBELLION NIHILISM AND HISTORY III Historical Rebellion THE REGICIDES THE DEICIDES INDIVIDUAL TERRORISM ATIONAL TERROR STATE TERRORISM AND RATIONAL […]
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A Grotesque Laugh from the Undead (RE: Why I Am Not Anarchist)

A Dorky Response to anarchistnews.org/content/why-i-am-not-anarchist In the year 2053, Hiroshi Ishiguro developed an industrial technology which could manufacture an infinite supply of humanoid devices. This technology was immediately protected by the NWLOL as an international resource and regulated according to theorized use risks. While spinning the management of this technology as both potentially messianic and […]
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Media Buzz Topic: Depression

Depression has a lot of media buzz right now, which is a great excuse to write about it. There isn’t anything exceptional about it, it’s a typical phenomena that usually works well enough for getting us to relax. No one would bat an eye if you told them you were experiencing anhedonia (loss of pleasure […]
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Black Seed #2

blackseed2

Black Seed is an anarchist paper in the tradition of Green Anarchy magazine (RIP) that presents through essays, images, stories, and poetry, green anarchist perspectives. Black Seed is a 32 page newspaper format biannual publication. This is the second issue.

Black Seed is a collectively-produced, print-only newspaper that is concerned with the larger questions of what green anarchy means as an idea, a conversation, and lived reality. We’re not interested in presenting a green anarchist ideology, but rather in creating a space to ask larger questions. This issue will expand the conversations begun in our first issue, while moving into new territory.

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Anarchist Survival Guide for Understanding Gestapo Swine Interrogation Mind Games

anarchist_survival_guide2

Required reading for any anarchist who may have to deal with police. Real life experiences from Harold Thompson, long may he be remembered.

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Uncivilised: the Dark Mountain Manifesto

uncivilised.dark mountain

Dark Mountain is a not-anarchist English (mostly literature) project that is remarkably in synch with current green anarchist thinking on the environment and the options of humans (see Black Seed and Desert).

This is their manifesto.

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Writings of Anarchist and Bank Robber Gabriel Pombo da Silva

gabriel_pombo_da_silva

From the age of 15 Gabriel began to expropriate banks with his closest companions. For these illegal acts he was imprisoned in Spain where he became an anarchist. Gabriel has served more than 25 years in prison, 14 of which have been in isolation. He does not identify as a prisoner let alone as a social prisoner. He has spent so much time inside because of his general attitude of insubordination and his escape attempt with Xose Tarrio Gonzalez, who was his very close friend. In 2004 and after Gabriel had served 3/4 of his sentence, he managed to get permitted day leave. On one of these, he fled to Germany along with another prisoner (Jose Fernandez Delgado), looking for other rebels to organize an escape plot to free another comrade in Spain. At a typical border control in Germany, they, along with a Belgian anarchist and Gabriel’s sister, are stopped. A shoot-out eventually ensues and hostages are taken–which ultimately leads to their arrest. Although no one was injured, Gabriel was convicted of attempted murder and kidnapping.

 

Another of the texts that should be required reading for anyone who might end up in prison (aka anyone), along with Harold Thompson’s “Anarchist Survival Guide for Understanding Gestapo Swine Interrogation Techniques” for the lessons it teaches about the realities of prison, and for the example of people who are not broken or bowed in the institutions created to keep us all in line, whether outside or in.

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Posted in FIES, gabriel pomba de silva, huye hombre huye, illegalist, spain, Things | Comments closed

Here… at the Center of the World in Revolt

here_at_the_center_of_the_world

 

Here is the story of the composition of revolt broken into theory and practice. It is anarchist theory for the 21st century.
The opposition of individual and community is a false one, for every model of individual implies a community, and every community an individual. The Western individual is the building block of a community of commodities. The community of the homogeneous, disciplined revolutionists breaks down into well trained militants who will follow their leaders through any number of defeats. By abandoning blueprints as an artifact and rediscovering visions as an activity, we can reclaim the pancentric society that has room for all of us. Every single one of us is the center of society and therefore the master of our own activity, but because we understand ourselves not as separate individuals but as nodes of unending flows that only exist through our relationships, solidarity and mutual aid will be the most obvious organizing principles. Finally, the individualist and the communist can end their bitter war. The community will be regained through the complicity of all our individual alienations. We will destroy everything, but only so we can mend this fracture.
Pick up your weapons: it is time to heal!

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Huye Hombre Huye: Diary of a maximum security prisoner

huye hombre huye-01

 

Huye, Hombre, Huye (Run, Man, Run) is the autobiography of Xosé Tarrío González. His story travels from the boarding school to the reformatory and then to prison. Due to additional punishments, Xosé was never released from prison, and instead spent the rest of his life fighting desperately to escape by any means necessary. This is the first-hand account of one man’s refusal to accept the legitimacy of the privileged’s judgement of the less privileged, a story of collective struggle against an inhumane system, and of the limitless depths that those in power will sink to when challenged. It is the powerful story of an unbreakable spirit.

(This) is the life of a man who survives in subhuman conditions not far from us and who, in these circumstances, has been able to compose an honest and stark testimony about the reality of imprisonment today… I do not foresee a more human horizon, or a more respectful criminal or prison policy, simply because prison is  the  ultimate  container  for  a  quite  specific  political-economic project. In the context of a State that is abandoning many of its former tasks, of the privatization of important public services, the precarization of the labor market, and economic globalization, etc., I don’t think that there are many spaces left where we could discuss overcoming or even restricting the use of incarceration. This does not  mean  paralysis  or  doing  nothing,  but  the  other  way  around: from the highest skepticism a “culture of resistance” can begin, one that keeps critical thinking alive.

-From the Prologue by Iñaki Rivera Beiras

 

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Posted in AIDS, autobiography, FIES prison, gabriel pomba de silva, spain, Things, unbreakable spirit | Comments closed

Women of Plogoff

women_of_plogoff

In the 1970s and 80s France built a nuclear power infrastructure that would come to supply 80% of its electricity needs. During the years of planning and construction, people in France gradually became aware of the dangers and impacts of nuclear energy, and some fought development projects related to it.

The Women of Plogoff is the story of a direct action campaign waged in France against the building of a nuclear power plant in the town of Plogoff and the area of Point du Raz in Brittany in 1980. It is a story told mostly by way of interviews immediately after the six weeks of occupation by the French State (riot police and gendarmerie) when passions were still running high.

From the spreading of garbage and manure, to placing fake (though not exactly inert!) bombs, to holding rock-throwing Masses and building barricades… the people of this quiet town show their ability to get quite nasty.

– from the translator’s introduction

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Posted in anti-nuke, direct action, Things | Comments closed

Insurgencies: A Journal of Insurgent Strategy

Insurgencies

 

We are speaking of the need to avoid the tragedy of the Red Army Faction just as much as the tragedy of Occupy, the need to abandon symbolic terrains of engagement, in which we struggle against unspecific enemies on abstract political terrain through the elaboration of our passions.  We are speaking of the necessity of grounding our understanding of what we are doing, separate from that of why we aredoing it, in the space in which things actually occur, in the here and now, and to make the effort to base this engagement on concerns of strategy, of hostility toward the enemy in some specific sense, rather than some effort to make a point, “speak truth to power” or whatever might pass for action otherwise.

We are speaking of a posture toward the enemy in which we strike when we have the advantage, wait when we do not, and use the means that will accomplish our objectives, rather than the ones which will leave us unburdened by a bad  conscience.

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Posted in activism, attack, deep green resistance, insurgencies, isiw, Nihilism, security culture, strategy, tao, Things | Comments closed

What’s New with LBC – Fall 2014

Summer has come to a close. This summer was delayed for us as our Spring books took a little longer than we would have liked to be completed (here is looking at you Dictionary of Unhappiness) but otherwise was surprisingly busy. Usually summers are very slow for LBC but not this year. Is this a sign of interesting times ahead?

The fall book fair season is nearly upon us. The first bookfair of the Fall (for us) is Seattle. Seattle had an amazing number of workshops and presentations about the kind of material we publish including a presentation from Baeden, another from translators who worked on Disruptive Elements, Black Seed and the Green Anarchist Roundtable (the clumsiest band name ever), and even a presentation on nihilism by a stranger-to-us! Upcoming trips for us include a 10 day journey to the South East of the country (where we will present at the Carborro bookfair but also in Atlanta and Asheville) and the third annual East Bay Anarchist Book Fair in December.

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Recent LBC Titles

Huye Hombre Huye: diary of a maximum security prisoner

Huye, Hombre, Huye (Run, Man, Run) is the autobiography of Xosé Tarrío González. His story travels from the boarding school to the reformatory and then to prison. Due to additional punishments, Xosé was never released from prison, and instead spent the rest of his life fighting desperately to escape by any means necessary. This is the first-hand account of one man’s refusal to accept the legitimacy of the privileged’s judgement of the less privileged, a story of collective struggle against an inhumane system, and of the limitless depths that those in power will sink to when challenged. It is the powerful story of an unbreakable spirit.

(This) is the life of a man who survives in subhuman conditions not far from us and who, in these circumstances, has been able to compose an honest and stark testimony about the reality of imprisonment today… I do not foresee a more human horizon, or a more respectful criminal or prison policy, simply because prison is the ultimate container for a quite specific political-economic project. In the context of a State that is abandoning many of its former tasks, of the privatization of important public services, the precarization of the labor market, and economic globalization, etc., I don’t think that there are many spaces left where we could discuss overcoming or even restricting the use of incarceration. This does not mean paralysis or doing nothing, but the other way around: from the highest skepticism a “culture of resistance” can begin, one that keeps critical thinking alive.

-From the Prologue by Iñaki Rivera Beiras

Huye Hombre Huye

Here… at the Center of the World in Revolt

Here is the story of the composition of revolt broken into theory and practice. It is anarchist theory for the 21st century.

The opposition of individual and community is a false one, for every model of individual implies a community, and every community an individual. The Western individual is the building block of a community of commodities. The community of the homogeneous, disciplined revolutionists breaks down into well trained militants who will follow their leaders through any number of defeats. By abandoning blueprints as an artifact and rediscovering visions as an activity, we can reclaim the pancentric society that has room for all of us. Every single one of us is the center of society and therefore the master of our own activity, but because we understand ourselves not as separate individuals but as nodes of unending flows that only exist through our relationships, solidarity and mutual aid will be the most obvious organizing principles. Finally, the individualist and the communist can end their bitter war. The community will be regained through the complicity of all our individual alienations. We will destroy everything, but only so we can mend this fracture.

Pick up your weapons: it is time to heal!

Here… At the Center of the World in Revolt

Women of Plogoff

In the 1970s and 80s France built a nuclear power infrastructure that would come to supply 80% of its electricity needs. During the years of planning and construction, people in France gradually became aware of the dangers and impacts of nuclear energy, and some fought development projects related to it.

The Women of Plogoff is the story of a direct action campaign waged in France against the building of a nuclear power plant in the town of Plogoff and the area of Point du Raz in Brittany in 1980. It is a story told mostly by way of interviews immediately after the six weeks of occupation by the French State (riot police and gendarmerie) when passions were still running high.

Women of Plogoff

Dangerous Constellations

Part of the LBC Books series of journals for 2014, this is fiction for our times, sweet and horrible, funny and tragic. A journal to keep an eye on…

Welcome to the first edition of Dangerous Constellations, a vaguely anarchist literary journal of possibilities and the impossible, DC is submission-based and focuses on fiction and poetry in order to create constellations of work relevant to the lives we lead and wars we fight. DC is interested in lies, human connections, subculture, fantasy, and the critique of these and other related topics through creative writing. After all, half of what anarchists write is really fiction anyway…

–from the introduction

Dangerous Constellations

Insurgencies #1

We are speaking of the need to avoid the tragedy of the Red Army Faction just as much as the tragedy of Occupy, the need to abandon symbolic terrains of engagement, in which we struggle against unspecific enemies on abstract political terrain through the elaboration of our passions. We are speaking of the necessity of grounding our understanding of what we are doing, separate from that of why we are doing it, in the space in which things actually occur, in the here and now, and to make the effort to base this engagement on concerns of strategy, of hostility toward the enemy in some specific sense, rather than some effort to make a point, “speak truth to power” or whatever might pass for action otherwise. We are speaking of a posture toward the enemy in which we strike when we have the advantage, wait when we do not, and use the means that will accomplish our objectives, rather than the ones which will leave us unburdened by a bad conscience.

Insurgencies #1

Here are new items we are carrying that are worth taking a look at…

  • Letters of InsurgentsThis is the brand new reprint of the Red and Black title of fame and infamy, and includes a new foreward by Aragorn!, one of the book’s many fans.
  • Liminal – New from Black and Green, here is a novella that grabs you by the heart and brings you down into that uncomfortable space between love, rewilding, and the suffocating despair of a civilization in decline.
  • Uncivilised, The Dark Mountain Manifesto – Dark Mountain is a not-anarchist English (mostly literature) project that is remarkably in synch with current green anarchist thinking on the environment and the options of humans (see Black Seed and Desert).This is their manifesto.
  • Modern Slavery #3 – The Stockholm Syndrome; Landstreicher on Graeber’s Debt (21 pages worth!); Simons respectful history of illegalism; Goaman on the Sits and May ’68…
  • Fifth Estate 392 – The Fall/Winter 2014 issue, of this almost 50-year-old magazine features pieces on art and anarchy as well as a review of the newly reprinted Letters of Insurgents, get your copy now for gawd’s sake!
  • Anarchist Survival Guide for Understanding Gestapo Swine Interrogation Mind Games – Required reading for any anarchist who may have to deal with police. Real life experiences from Harold Thompson, long may he be remembered.
  • Upcoming Titles

    • Black Seed 2 – Six months later issue #2 is ready. Green anarchist paper published by LBC
    • Anarcho-Pessimism – The Collected works of Laurance Labadie
    • How To Live Now or Never – The anxiously anticipated second book from Alejandro de Acosta
    • Hostis #1 – A Journal of Incivility. The first issue is on the theme of Political Cruelty
    • The 30th Anniversary Edition of the Aboltion of Work
    • Anarchist Spirituality and Spiritual Destinations Two new titles from Peter Lamborn Wilson
    • and so much more…

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    How to Support LBC – Become an Accomplice

    If you like what we do, you can help out by becoming an Accomplice! We invite you to join us in this adventure in publishing and grappling with ideas of anarchy!

    The Accomplices of LBC Books is the easiest way to participate in this project, and share in teh awesome.

    For $20 / month you get every new title we publish (over 50 since 2012), 20% off of every Little Black Cart distribution item, and we will start you out with a free book or t-shirt of your choosing.

Posted in huye hombre huye, Insurrection, journal, literary, Monthly updates, nuclear, strugglismo | Comments closed

Fifth Estate #392 Falll/Winter 2014

fifth_estate_fall-winter-2014

This issue of the almost 50-year-old magazine features pieces on art and anarchy, including one by David Solnit of Art and Revolution (they’re the big puppets) fame, Ron Sakolsky on Surrealism (forever!), Tom Nys on anarchist art in the gallery (“chic ornamentation, spectacularization of resistance, or a way to spread the ideas of anarchy?”), and an appreciation of the Yiddish play The Golem, and its anarchist author…

as well as a review of the newly reprinted Letters of Insurgents (get your copy now for gawd’s sake!), an update on Marius Mason (previously Marie), and a call for submissions for the next issue of FE, the theme of which will be contra-Marx. Wheee!

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More about the Conversation

The problem is Others’ minds…   Everything changes with your ideas. You give to time an arbitrary deadline. You give to places a historical meaning. You give to me the impossible task of communicating the meaning of my actions to you.  Without your ideas I have to myself the wind, the trees, the fog, the pain, […]
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Meaningless, Absurdity, Other People, Conversation

    (Albert Camus) Absurdism: In philosophy, “the Absurd” refers to the conflict between (a) the human tendency to seek inherent value and meaning in life and (b) the human inability to find any. In this context absurd does not mean “logically impossible”, but rather “humanly impossible”.[1] The universe and the human mind do not […]
Posted in Explorations of the Eternal Wretch, personal, Ramblings | Comments closed

The Firewall

This has been a harder piece to write than I expected it to be, since the point I want to discuss is relatively simple. What isn’t simple is the supporting material: the bits around the central bit. There is this larger piece I’m in the middle of thinking about the next issue of Black Seed: What is Anarchist thinking? (Others may ask what is anarchist scholarship or epistomology or whatever.) This somehow merges in my mind into a question about how each of us embodies a story of ideas in motion. If we aren’t robots or ideologues we change our minds on central questions or, at the very least, approach them from different perspectives as we age. Our politics and the way we express them changes over time. Anarchist thinking should reflect that.

Rand1

Since I was a tike of 15 I’ve been obsessed with the question of how to live the ideas I was immersing myself in. What seems simple when you are a weirdo punk rebel youth becomes complicated as you try to keep a job or have a conversation with anyone who isn’t punk, a rebel, youth, or weird. We, or at least I, get confused about the signs that people put out there and what exactly they signify and eventually I figured out that it is in that gap (sign-signified) that lay all the interesting bits; about new friends, about ourselves, and that the simple logical people who A + B = C their entire lives aren’t the people for me. Figuring everything out turns out to be a great way to generate boring people.

To put this in a more argumentative way I want to make an initial presupposition that anarchist thinking should be destructive thinking: it should embody attack. It should never assume its context within existing models but recognize its hostility to those systems, especially in this world, and move from there into one of a knowing absence. I’ll try to develop this elsewhere but the point it brings up here is the positive inclination it maps onto things like confusion, inexperience, and not knowing exactly what is going on and acting anyway. Anarchist thinking may improve when there is more connective tissue but flexibility and pliability are core values. I would set this kind of mental flexibility next to imagination, hatred of authority, and a desire for collaboration and mutuality and call the list the anarchist value system, but obviously that’s getting way ahead of ourselves…

The challenge I’m concerned with today is the idea that anarchist practice should be seen as indistinguishable from anarchist ideas or, to put it another way, that means and ends should be indistinguishable. That, in lieu of a revolution and perhaps instead of a revolution, we should exhibit and inhabit the way we want to be in the world, full stop. Insofar as we desire a world free from coercion and authority we should not be coercive or authoritarian. It doesn’t take a great deal of imagination to see that this position has wide implications, not the least of which is an obsession with calling out behavior as coercive or authoritarian and by extension declaring individuals, by their incongruous actions, not-anarchists.

As an initial effort to nibble around the edges of this ethical position I’d like to introduce a counterexample to this inseparability of ends and means. I’ll go even further and use this case as a testament to a broader set of counterexamples. I am referring to what it is that we do for money. How do we live in this world?

I want to be as precise as possible here because while I may have an aesthetic preference for sloth, or at the very least for work avoidance, I am compelled to work for others for money. This compulsion is real and rather distinct from the projectual focus of my life generally. While I respect the fact that many people avoid this compulsion by hiding from the world of rent and responsibility (-to-others) I have found that by and large this is only a temporary or privileged position. Most people experience their lives as broken into at least two pieces, one being the set of things you are forced to do to live in this world, the other being the set of things you do because of desire, joy, or preference.

What seems to be the common ethical anarchist practice of reconciliation between these two spheres of life is to find work (ie compulsory labor) in a field resembling the social services. This could be directly as a social worker, or commonly as a nurse or health practitioner or teacher, or perhaps work in an NGO where policy changes can be interpreted as effort towards a common good.

My theory is that this reconciliation is impossible. Moreover, the attempt exemplifies the idea that politics can (and should) be practiced by participating in institutions that either by form or function reflect (although usually only partially and by an amount that degrades over time) your personal values. If your institution is healthy then the particular political position it represents is seen as waxing. In anarchist jargon this is the critique of representation: (here is a nice overview).

The other piece of this (function) is the question of whether good works can lead to the salvation of man we make the change we’d like to see in the world. This is most blatant in the context of, for example, health care, where you are in fact making life and quality of life decisions for and with other human beings. It’s hard to differentiate the human side of health care from the entirely disembodied aspects of doing care work for pay and in increasingly rational and rationalized ways. When you are in it your perspective changes… and that is exactly the (or a) problem!

This is not a declaration to stop doing things, or even to stop working jobs that improve yourselves (singular and plural) but a small declaration that thinking anarchisticaly should not reconcile this contradiction. For some this means that they want to live in the grief of doing care work while under the discipline of wage, rational systems, and assholes (both those being cared for and the bureaucracy above) but for others, for me, it means I keep the life I live in this world unreconciled with the life I live in our world.

I maintain a firewall between work (a jargon term that means obligatory labor in the marketplace) and the things I do (for pleasure). This has made me a shitty employee from the perspective of promotions and career advancement since I don’t appear to be willing to give myself up for my employer but a better anarchist, albeit by a new definition. An anarchist is not one whose means and ends are inseperable. An anarchist is one who devotes a great deal of energy understanding the difference between the world–of power, authority, and domination–and a world of our creation. An anarchist in this world has to understand boundaries and all the ways that power, care, and the violence of exchange conspire to turn us into our opposite.

Posted in hate, personal, society, work | Comments closed

10 years of Anarchist News

This is the date that is more-or-less 10 years after the first entry of a very early (think php-nuke) version of anarchistnews on the Wayback Machine. The original mission of anarchistnews was to improve on deficiencies of the active news wires of that time These deficiencies were

  1. being too broad (as to not be particularly anarchist)
  2. having a comment section dominated by the admin
  3. having a comment section onerously and arbitrarily moderated
  4. being one-dimensional

anews_awards

No good deed goes unpunished so as the years have ticked away the success of resolving these deficiencies has also exposed new, complicated problems. I’ll say that if the goal of anarchistnews was to #attack what had come before, to spurn #society, and create an atmosphere that reflected (although this was unbeknownst to me at the time) a younger and contemporary anarchist perspective… then I feel the past ten years has been an incredible success. If the goal was to create a community, demonstrate how digital life can bridge chasms, and defeat the new corporate technocracy at the communication game… not so much.

What we have done

We have created a place for in-depth conversation on topical stories, a safe space for trolls (of at least four different varieties), the go-to one-stop location for scene drama, and a place to advertise black-clad banner drops, window smashings, and glue lockings. As we are interested in each of these things in some weighted order each day (and that order changes) we consider it a success that most days anarchistnews delivers a different emphasis too.

To the extent that the Internet has a singular watercooler, not controlled by a corporation, for anarchist discussion in North America, anarchistnews has grown to fill that role. (Note that this singularity breeds contempt and that is to be expected, especially from a movement of malcontents and freaks.)

What I have learned

The list of lessons from a project like anarchistnews is long. I’ll start with a personal list and then a categorical one. I have learned that every time you compete with or act with hostility towards someone else you also allow them to enter your life. You think about, whether you realize it or not, the same problems that they do and in some substantial way reconcile yourself to why their approach to problem domain was appropriate. After doing anarchistnews for years I am far less judgmental about decisions that infoshop, libcom, or crimethinc have made with their web boards. Similarly I can understand their frustrations with decisions around anarchistnews. None of us have got it right (#society still stands) or have had anything beyond limited success. This empathy for other people’s projects might seem at odds with the playfully hostile tone that is a hallmark of anarchistnews but it’s where I’m at.

Here is the tl;dr on categories of lessons. Internationalization is very difficult to do while sitting in the US. Technology problems are a pain in the ass.

Anarchistnews obviously reflects a North American bias. It is in English, reports on actions, analysis, etc from NA first, but also attempts to highlight activity and thought in other parts of the world. It is impossible to fairly editorialize and distill all the different language (even if translated) action blogs and context for a NA audience, at least without more participation from other places. Context is a particular challenge in NA because we live in a place where nearly 350 million people speak the same language (compare this to 500 million people in the EU speaking 23 official languages); grow up watching the same television programs; know the same dozen or so politicians’ names; and enter anarchism through the same, very limited, entry points. If anarchistnews did better original reporting of international perspectives I believe it would go a long way towards building more international bridges, which would benefit both sides of each new connection. Even more than with Europe, the scarcity of translation and cross-cultural traffic between the US and Mexico is a dramatic failure for NA anarchism and anarchistnews in particular.

Software

Anarchistnews runs on the open source software Drupal. It has used Drupal (for better and for worse) for at least 8 years and the software has developed from something that a single person could hack into place into a large, sprawling, system that several years ago I lost the capacity to fully grok. The biggest consequence of this is that during the last major upgrade (I believe from 6 to 7) I got outside help… who committed to more than they were willing to do. As a result we are now missing about five years of anarchistnews backups. Realistically this will not be resolved until someone who both gives a fuck about the missing archives and has experience backloading data from drupal6 to drupal7 reaches out to me. This hasn’t happened but I want to extend the invitation. Additional tech drama has included (just in the past year) a very virulent and consistent mixture of federal probing (mostly by IP address in the Arlington VA zone) and international spammers hitting the anarchistnews server pool all the fucking time. I’ve tried many different solutions but haven’t hit the golden ratio (although I’ve had a bit more success lately) of banning IPs, memcache, mysql settings, and tolerance for the proficiency trolls have with TOR. Final note on technology, over the years I’ve tried to get technical help but the issue continues to be that finding people who are competent technologists (of whatever stripe) AND politically on board with anarchistnews (meaning not sectarian) may be possible but would require more time (in meetings, meeting new people, going outside) than it usually takes for me to hack a solution together myself. I have a slow-moving/appropriate mechanism in place that may resolve this issue but… slow.

Goals

Sectarian is another way to say clique-with-a-program. Anarchistnews has had limited success in its attempt to be non-sectarian in news coverage . Sectarian politics doesn’t, in fact, look like the war of all tendencies against each other. Mostly sectarian anarchist politics looks like different perspectives looking right past each other. In the context of social scenes this means you end up only hanging out with/being friends with people who share a general orientation but from the perspective of anarchistnews this means that perspectives that feel like they get mocked or a short shrift from the commentators on anarchistnews stop posting their news there. This is incredibly frustrating. For starters this means that for there to be balanced coverage on the site I have to go out and find perspectives that are under-represented (yuck) which always means they end up serving as chum to the trolls rather than balance, it also means that anarchistnews is often seen as a hive-mind where, as the only person that reads every comment, the opposite is true. We strongly believe that any time you rely on one person/perspective to provide balance you are doomed to failure.

Another content note. Uncontroversial (or generally approved of) actions and stories get far fewer comments than controversial things do. This doesn’t seem surprising once it’s stated out loud. But the inverse (which is as obvious) is remarked on all the time as a condemnation of not just anarchistnews, but the Internet in general, society, etc. This just seems myopic. Controversy is controversial. The Internet has created a culture of adrenaline-fueled controversy chasing. The fault of this is… anarchistnews moderation!?

What will change and not

Now that you are familiar with what we’ve learned you can probably guess what is going to change… not much! We were very close to pulling the trigger on some big changes (including removing/displacing comments) but have changed our minds. Over the past 2-3 years I’ve minimized the amount per day that it takes to run the site, I’ve grown inured to the slings and arrows of worker-obsessed trolls, and, upon reflection, feel that removing this venue for discussion wouldn’t have a clearly positive effect (just an arguable removal of negative effect). The momentum of anarchistnews is considerable.

Wishes for other projects

That said I believe there is a lot of room for other projects that fill the holes that anarchistnews leaves untouched. The most obvious would be an exciting, moderated, non-sectarian discussion forum. Somewhere between anarchistnews and the 101 level stuff of http://anarchy101.org and corporate anarchist discussions but with a crew of intelligent and patient moderators. A lot of work but it could be worth doing. Another gap could be a curated RSS feed that accomplishes a lot of what people claim they want in anarchistnews but with no comments. This isn’t so dissimilar to the Indymedia model that anarchistnews is a type of response to (and probably why it hasn’t happened yet) but all that it would require is the work of 2-3 motivated people to make something very usable and useful.

Criticisms

Among the general and vague criticisms that the site gets is the idea that I (the psuedonymous character known as worker) have designs on controlling anarchy which I accomplish by my choice of story and my haikus of hostility (aka the rollers). While I (in my not-worker mode) don’t claim to have no stake in certain arguments that happen on anarchistnews I am sincere when I say that I don’t participate in them. I do not make comments on the site unless as worker and usually then only in response to direct questions. Of course anarchistnews is a frame on topical anarchism but in the context of corporate-hosted conversations about the same topics it is arguable how tight the frame is. Additionally there are very few stories that get submitted to the site (by someone other than me) that do not get posted. Once people caught on that anarchist means uses the term anarchist or demonstrates explicit connection to anarchist ideas there are have been far fewer posts (and even fewer complaints) about what gets submitted. That said, I do not devote a great deal of time hunting down stories to post so if you feel as though your particular tendency isn’t being well represented on the site please use this link and add it.

Conclusion

I want to end this reflection on ten years of anarchistnews by pointing out a specific criticism. I don’t want to take this comment entirely in good faith but it is worth mentioning that comments like this still touch me. They don’t exactly hurt my feelings but they represent exactly the disconnect between critics (like 90% of the commentors on the site) and the people who write the reportbacks, analysis, call outs, and actual content of the site. The implication that anonymity has created a shitshow is a criticism that cuts to the bone and for that I appreciate it but the ahistoricalness of the comment gives me pause. Serious pause. If you have not moderated a site or run a project that people interact with anonymously (which is nearly every project nowadays) its hard to describe how complicated the issues around this are. It is simple to say is that no matter what one chooses around these kinds of issues you are going to be making the wrong choices for a subset of your audience, of your peers, your enemies, and your friends. Anarchistnews has always worked on the premise that anarchy, in its raw, unmediated form is worth the trouble. Trolls, cops, and frenemies haven’t convinced me that this isn’t true, but they are trying.

Posted in Anarchist News, criticism, report back, self-criticism | Comments closed

A Reportback from the Black Seed tour

This reportback will include some thoughts about the different locations I visited in my trip around the US, highlights from my presentation, and some thoughts about where current conversations are at regarding Green & anarchist ideas. The broad project of Black Seed is to grow the audience and definition of green anarchism beyond the constrains of windmills, wolves, and wildness into a broad category of non-instrumental approaches to living, struggling, and thinking. This means fighting the allure of jargon, counter-cultural shortcuts, and sectarianism. A green anarchism can (and should) be one that is pluralist with bruises rather than righteously exclusionary.

Ki8lsiq

Timing is Everything

The Black Seed tour was somewhat motivated by the desire to go to the Cleveland and NYC Anarchist bookfairs (for LBC) and wanting to make sure people who wouldn’t otherwise ask for a copy of Black Seed would still get one as easily as possible. With that in mind the tour was setup just a few weeks before it began and ended up including events in Milwaukee, Cleveland OH, Pittsburgh PA, Rochester NY, Buffalo NY, Philadelphia PA, Columbus OH, Bloomington IN, and Salt Lake City UT.

Given that (sadly) anarchism tends to be of interest to a primarily college-aged crowd if you want to speak to a larger-than-small crowd you should orient your trip around student participation. Traveling to a town a week or two after finals is therefore not recommended. Mostly, towns where there was not a standing anarchist population had nearly zero turnout.

Couple that with the perceived (or not-so-perceived) hostility between old-time red anarchists and anything not-red and I felt a little bummed in a couple towns. But turnouts that are really just become conversations rather than presentations and while I think I’m better at the latter (with strangers) than the former… context matters and acting like you are talking to an audience when three people are in the room is kind of silly.

The Presentation

Initially I was going to prepare a new presentation regarding some of my current thinking about the problem of indigeneity but the Black Seed editors reminded me of an important thing. I am not an editor of Black Seed, I am the publisher. This point, while subtle in an anarchist project where lines are often muddied and disrespected, is an important one as I am not nearly as equipped to represent the content of the paper as I am to present my own thoughts. If the stated goal was to bring Black Seed to towns… then doing that, describing the context that Black Seed came out of, reading the editorial, and calling for questions seemed to be the appropriate level of engagement. This is an especially important point given that the very small GA milieu seems particularly guilty of personalizing projects/ideas which is absolutely not the goal of Black Seed. Green Anarchism will whither on the vine again if it is about personalities (or singular projects).

Since I know this will be asked, I’ll answer it ahead of time. The difference between a publisher and editor of a project (or at least this one) is basically one of experience and money. A publisher pays for the printing and deals with the distribution. An editor collaborates with authors to make their writing as strong as possible, which can mean political, content, or copy editing work.

Here are a few bullets points from the presentation.

What is green anarchism

In one view of anarchism it is part of the divided revolutionary project in a dialectical relationship with Marxism and its branches. In that view Green Anarchism is a branch that only began to thrive as the ecological movement came into general consciousness after WWII (although it did have an earlier origin story). This isn’t my definition of GA.

For me there is one great story, one bible, of radical engagement to the world and that is Hegelianism. Those who reject this specific story, the idea that reality can be expressed by rational categories and that the goal is to reduce reality to a unity, may be green anarchists. This means that my orientation is more cautious & circumspect than declarative and valiant. It also means I don’t tend to buy “the end is nigh therefore…” arguments as I don’t think that human consciousness/will/capacity is all it’s cracked up to be. Put another way, not only am I not a humanist (by design), I don’t think humans are either. But that’s just me.

The context of Black Seed

We miss the magazine Green Anarchy. It died, to a greater or lesser extent, as a consequence of the Green Scare (aka the persecution of anarchist, earth, and animal liberations types on the West Coast). It wasn’t as simple as that, of course, but the feds set the fire and only lunatics and fools don’t run from fire.

Black Seed is the serotinous result of this fire.

The critique of anthropology

This is obviously the topic of a larger “meta” conversation but here are the stated concerns/issues/critiques of anthropology as stated in Black Seed. One, anthropology is an academic discipline that begs for a deeper analysis of why anti-authoritarians would engage in a field that uses knowledge to grow the power of the existent and not something that thrives outside of the academy. Two, anthropology traditionally “others” people in ways that can only be described as problematic (or genocidal depending on your perspective). Three, anthropology is a discipline of truth (with a capital T). If it were a form of story telling (where the aspects of truth are malleable and subjective) there would be little concern with it. Disciplines of truth are some of the arcane magicks that have summoned Leviathan.

The locations

Here are some brief notes on some of the stops on the tour.

NYC

NYC believes it is the center of the universe. It absolutely is not. Especially when it comes to anarchy. Even moreso when it comes to vibrant, exciting, searching for new ideas. NYC is where ideas and dreamers go to die.

I did get to see Jerry Koch and Daniel McGowan back from prison and back in the mix. That made my heart soar (no joke).

The Midwest

The First Annual Cleveland Anarchist Bookfair was a great first time effort by a very young crew. Bloomington always turns out an inquisitive crowd. Columbus was a really positive and engaged group of people at the new Sporeprint Infoshop. These three towns were the best attended events and most interested attendees on the tour.

The Between

The area between the West Coast and the Great Lakes is a huge wasteland of anarchist emptiness. The only exception (this trip) was Salt Lake City which was a strange mix (and included an event with me and scott crow…) that included a great group house, an utterly hostile town, and a group of people who seemed to have been passed by by time…

The conversation

Finally I’ll speak a bit to the condition of anarchy (especially green) based on my fractional view of NA@ on the Black Seed tour. First, I got the strong impression that there is an eager audience for a new/refreshed view of a green anarchist perspective that is not EF! style activism or ideological. People seem to feel that -something- green reflects their values but are really looking for an active conversation about it (rather than a fait accompli). Second, the history of even recent North American radical activity is woefully incomplete and under told. This is probably a direct result of the turn-26-and-youre-out nature of 21st century anarchism but I’ll also go ahead and blame wikipedia, the @ FAQ, and the vicious little scene that eats everyone alive who participates in it. Third, many anti-left positions no longer have to be defended. Everyone agrees on the basics and (in an all-too-american way) want to get down to brass tacks.

For future trips I would recommend an editor and an author or two to travel together with a wider variety of approaches (like skill + content, intro + experiential, etc) than my “one person show” was capable of. Plus, I’m getting to old to haul books, drive thousands of miles, and give a compelling presentation to a small crowd without getting demoralized. Which isn’t to say that I feel demoralized after the trip but that some days felt like I was only capable of reaching one or two people (rather than dozens, hundreds, or the millions necessary to shift our conversations beyond the arcane and irrelevant).

Final note. The last event I did on this tour was a public conversation with Scott Crow who, perhaps, would seem like someone from a different corner of the big tent of anarchy. The conversation was productive but only because we came into it already knowing each others jargon (ie the very different words we used to say the same things) and liking each other. I’ll say tentatively that our capacity to find common cause may indicate a possibility for many of the different clans to find ways to work together. Scott is a great contrast to the color coded sectarianism of the rest of the anarchist world and I think we can agree that a black flag is good enough.

Posted in black seed, lbc, reportback, scott crow, Tour | Comments closed