Need as Power and Social Code

This is a stub, a reminder to articulate the thought …a way to mind fuck myself into feeling a pressure to finish it:   - Empathy as Social Good - The Grey Area of “Need” – Social responses to addiction and addicts (an example to use which inspired the train of thought): the substance as […]
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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.


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


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.


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.


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 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.


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.


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.

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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.


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 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.

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RE: The Politics of Denunciation

RE: The Politics of Denunciation The following are two statements in the piece that I can relate to: “Support for the survivor is equated with, and then replaced by, castigation of the perpetrator.” and “It is unsurprising, then, that our tendency is to push people out, rather than draw them in; but when we do […]
Posted in Anarchy, Ramblings, Social Analysis | Comments closed

Two Guys Meet At A Bar

[this is a short dialogue about socalled confidence and personality types]   Rick and James both hear about a hip local spot where they meet. James is sitting at the bar on his second drink about to order some food. Rick walks up to the bar to order his first. Rick is a large, strong […]
Posted in personal, Ramblings, Social Analysis | Comments closed

Winners of the 2013 Anarchist News Awards


A lovely event space, or as lovely as a cold theater/warehouse space can be. Bright graffiti on the walls, people dressed up in a mixture of thrift store fabulous and job interview/funeral attire. An emcee who directed over a dozen different anarchist luminaries to present and present awards for the variety of “big awards” which received a statue and the “honorable mentions” who received or are going to receive a certificate of recognition.



Food was served. It only had a few vegan options. There were no beverages (what’s up with that?!).

By the end of the evening the attitude of querulous hesitation was replaced by a strangely positive feeling of gezelligheid. Given that what had just transpired was the Anarchist News awards the expectation was probably of pure hostility to the anarchist project. Instead there was something else. Something complicated and positive. We then staggered into the night.


Anarchist News is a few months shy of 10 years old and in Internet and anarchist (and Internet) years that is an eternity. The point of Anarchist News was to correct the excesses of moderation of the then dominant source of Anarchist News and discussion. What wasn’t known at that time was how, given enough time and popularity a site like anarchist news, or infoshop, or anarkismo reflects and refracts the audience that uses the site.

In the case of Anarchist News there is no doubt that posting anonymous communiques, theoretical essays, and activism-only-when-it-uses-the-word-anarchist have influenced North American anarchism over the past decade. During the peak of interest in anarchism the site was receiving between six and ten thousand unique visitors a day and MSM portrayals of anarchists, including a cameo in the movie The East, often included screen-shots of @news as a high bar.

Even at today’s low point of interest there continues to be a hard core of visitors and users who fill the site with their commentary and energy. The site percolates even when the world as a whole seems exhausted by the implications of what anarchism entails (or maybe that’s just me).

But this exhaustion does seem to be a fair term to describe our time. As anarchists are partisans of doing the unpopular even in the face of sure defeat, especially when success can’t even be contemplated, we come together tonight to celebrate anarchism and the anarchists who practice it. We are partisans of an impossible dream, which is that people can and will choose freedom. This freedom-choosing makes us do strange things, block google buses, excoriate others for our shared fate of not winning or having a winning strategy, and argue with each other online. This arguing doesn’t make us unique either on the Internet or in politics but, at least in the past few years, it has seemed to make us particularly demoralized…

This evening is going to be an attempt to use the positive aspect of being a meeting place for North American anarchism to highlight inspiring, funny, and true anarchist stories in 2013. We will be offering posters to people, places, and projects we have found interesting and exciting in 2013. We will offer statues to the six winners of the Anarchist News awards later this evening. These awards include:

  1. Most indomitable prisoner
  2. Best smashy event of 2013
  3. Best non-smashy event of 2013
  4. Best communiqué of 2013
  5. Best @news commentator

Finally will be the 2013 award for the best Anarchist News troll. This is not an individual who spends hours every day spraying thousands of words at all interlocutors, but one who, through spirit and action, has represented what anarchists do best. Troll the system, troll the world, and refuse to be broken by it!

Best Ally to Anarchists: non-anarchist

It’s hard to say what makes a good ally to anarchist. Perhaps for most of us it is someone who helps with bail, serves us a warm meal, or makes us laugh. But in general our allies are more contingent, like an academic who only acknowledges us as a history lesson, but at least accepts our analysis as within the scope of the possible, or a politician who uses our actions to present the extreme wing of their positions and then speaks as the “reasonable dealmakers” that they are, or a bureaucrat who condescends to us (which sometimes works to our benefit but at the cost of being managed by them).

These contingent allies are frequently journalists whose relationships to us, while never selfless, can be positive for us in a way that isn’t necessarily cloying and/or toxic. To highlight one journalist in particular is not difficult; The Stranger’s Brendan Kiley did consistently decent-to-good reporting on both anarchist motivation and thinking around actions in the Seattle area, and they did a fantastic job of activist journalism around grand juries in general and grand jury resistance in the Pacific Northwest in particular (around May Day 2012 specifically).
Here is an example of the low bar that mainstream media has to achieve in its reporting to be seen as our ally:

Either way, those few chaotic moments on May Day 2012 in Seattle probably achieved more than the window-smashers could’ve hoped for. The demonstrations kicked open a yearlong, citywide debate about protest and targeted property damage, anarchism, and the Occupy movement. They also instigated a series of early-morning raids on “known” anarchists (as described in sealed search warrants later obtained by The Stranger), some of whom were already under surveillance by the FBI. A few people who weren’t even in Seattle on May Day were jailed for months—including stints in solitary confinement—for refusing, Bartleby-like, to answer questions about other people’s political beliefs. (In Herman Melville’s story, Bartleby’s quiet refusal to comply—his infamous “I would prefer not to”—also lands him in prison.)
-From You Know a May Day Protest Was Successful When… The FBI Is Still Following People Around a Year Later

Katherine Olejnik and Matt Duran are the direct beneficiaries of Kiley’s reporting. His sympathetic story of their time in prison humanized them as individuals and accurately connected anarchists to the broader conversation about the role of grand juries.

Anarchists: RIP

Two prominent anarchists passed in 2013. Audrey Goodfriend who lived in Berkeley California and George Sossenko lived in Atlanta and was a veteran of the Spanish Civil War. Here is a little bit about Audrey from the obituary in the slingshot paper.

George Sossenko was a Russian-born American lecturer and activist. At age 17, he left his parent’s home in Paris, France, to join those fighting against Francisco Franco’s nationalist forces in the Spanish Civil War. He initially went to the offices of the French Communist Party, but was turned away, and then denied by the Socialists as well. They suggested he contact the anarchists, who sent him across the Spanish border in a caravan. He was sent to Barcelona, then received one week’s worth of military training before being sent to the front. During the Civil War, Sossenko changed his name to Georges Jorat to avoid being found by his parents, and fought as part of the Sébastien Faure Century, the French-speaking contingent of the Durruti Column. After the Civil War, Sossenko later fought in World War II with the Free French.

Audrey Goodfriend was an anarchist her entire life. Born to anarchist immigrants in New York, Audrey grew up speaking Yiddish at home and lived in the Sholem Aleichem House; a radical cooperative housing project in the Bronx. She was a girl when Sacco and Vanzetti were executed in Boston in 1927 and their letters were instrumental in shaping her anarchism, continuing to move her throughout her life.
As an adolescent and young adult, Audrey sent care packages to anarchist comrades fighting in Spain, read Living My Life against the express wishes of her parents who felt it was too sexually explicit, and traveled to Toronto with a friend to have tea with Emma Goldman. During World War II, she was part of the Why? Group, a publishing collective that printed an anti-war anarchist periodical at a time when many radicals were choosing to support the state in what they saw as a just war against fascism. Anti-zionist since before there ever was a state of Israel, Audrey and her comrades believed strongly that no state violence was ever justified.

In 1946, after the war, she went on a speaking tour with her partner David Koven and some friends from their circle to raise money for the anti-draft movement. They ended up in San Francisco and decided to stay. They knew Paul Goodman and Kenneth Rexroth and were part of a generation of anarchists who laid the groundwork for the cultural movements that defined San Francisco in the fifties and sixties. Audrey told me once that she was too busy raising children to pay much attention to the beat generation, but followed this by saying she had attended the event where Ginsberg read Howl for the first time. Raising her two daughters directed Audrey’s interests toward anarchist education and the Modern School movement, leading her to help found the Walden School in Berkeley in 1958.

Audrey always said she did not celebrate holidays; they were too tied up with god and the state for her taste. She did, however, love to celebrate birthdays and New Year’s Day because they were about people and life and making it through another year. I biked over to Audrey’s house a few weeks ago. She showed me some of her books and we talked about her life a lot. She did not seem to romanticize or regret any of it; she spoke of her own death without fear and was able to laugh, listen and be present with me as I spoke about myself. A week and a half later she went to the theater, came home raving about it, went to sleep, and passed away. She never stopped being an active part of our lives until she stopped altogether.

And she never voted and she never married and she never believed in the authority of god or country; and she was happy and present, well loved and a joy to know.

Best Anarchist Audio

Anarchists have a long way to go before we have what can truly be considered a multimedia approach to information transmission. Actually, we do well to write an essay, a zine, or maybe a booklet about our perspectives. And for those who do not consume information by reading it is very difficult to learn much about anarchists because, by and large, anarchists’ chosen format for communication is writing.
One of the few exceptions to this is John Zerzan, who has produced a radio show out of Eugene, Oregon consistently for over a decade. (Of course, his show emphasizes his own perspective and is necessarily constrained.)

But recently, out of Asheville, North Carolina has come the Final Straw radio show and podcast, which has done a fantastic, and consistent, job of transmitting to a broader audience, information about a wider variety of anarchist ideas.

Some of their shows emphasized people like Sean Swain, Luke O’Donovan, CC McDonald, Oscar Wilde, and issues like nihilism, radical parenting, anti-civilization, modern slavery, the ZAD, and groups like anarchists against the wall from Israel, and anarchists in Spain.

This certificate is to honor the work of Bursts o’ Goodness, the named person behind this project, and their work on the Final Straw radio show.

Best Anarchist News meme 2013

2013 was not a fantastic year for anarchist memes. In years past anarchistnews memes wove themselves through stories and around the comment section with cleverness. In 2013 many of our memes (including liberal, keating!, and google buses) were more or less one-word declarations of a complex set of more or less exhausted issues.

That said, Anarchist News would not be successful at its triple threat of topicality, discussion, and humor if not for the memes. During the past five years memes have been a demonstration of visual comedy in that it shows an intersection between mainstream culture (or least mainstream Internet culture), and how anarchists conceive of our own activity. We accept the humdrum activity that we often do, serving food or demonstrations, because we frame it within compelling mythology.

Emile is most prolific commenter. His multi-thousand word comments are testaments to either a machine-like typing capacity, a master copy and paste-er, or a victim of a serious obsessive-compulsive disorder. Probably all three.

The memetastic response to emile in the form of the multicharacter play emilebot, EMILE9000, Dr Pedersen and company is worth note because of how seriously it takes a subject matter and the commitment it brings to the joke. To put it differently, emile is nearly impossible to respond to because his wall-of-text commenting style is the opposite of dialogue. To engage in dialogue requires an escalation, in form and content, which is exactly what the emile9000 crew accomplish.

Best Anarchist Drama of 2013

We would like to honor and mention bookfair drama in 2013 (or perhaps we wouldn’t but here we are…)
It is a sad fact that the most exciting things that happened in the anarchist space in 2013 were also destructive to the anarchist space. There is perhaps a story to be told about the cycle of social movements. When the aging SF anarchist book fair moved locations last year, it was clear there would be unforeseen consequences to that move. When people discovered that the move was to the large warehouse space owned by in the heart of the gentrifying mission district, it was obvious where the lines of conflict were going to be drawn.

Feminist, author, and fellow traveler Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz drew the first line in the sand declaring that, at least for radical feminists, the 2013 SF anarchist book fair was anathema. The Internet caught fire, names were called, and people acted like they cared about something that in fact nobody really cared about it all. Sidebar drama included an alternative book fair to the SF one, a strange plea to authority by Book Fair organizers against homes not jails, and the high-level of jocular security agents patrolling the typically tame SF bookfair.

The San Francisco drama is a notable for foreshadowing a similar one in NYC. Unlike in SF, where there was at least a veneer of political relevance, the New York drama was entirely about personalities. Perhaps that is not quite true. There were real live members of the self-identified NATA group who did show up at the event (and received a knuckle sandwich or two for their effort) but mostly the sound and fury was about the cluelessness of the book fair organizers on how to deal with the rhetorical hyperbole of the time. Especially with the amplification of the Internet (and Anarchist News is of course implicated here) disliked members of our community can quickly become pariahs and pariahs are often punished merely for not disappearing quickly enough.

There are of course problems with bookfair drama, but it is also undeniably a demonstration of life. The fact that people actually care enough about the political context of a commercial event says something interesting about the anarchist space. Perhaps it is that we had an abundance of caring and too few circumstances in which to apply it. Possibly our smooth political environment of failure requires striation and will get it one way or another. Or that the book fair form is no longer serving our need as anarchists for a place to meet with no possibility of getting arrested.

In honor of opening these discussions we celebrate the organizers of the San Francisco and New York city book fair.

Best Communique – honorable mention

The power in the communique is in the fact that it states a subterranean desire with a punctuation mark. It may not be the exclamation mark, or even a period, but even a comma writ large is more of a mark than we make as we wait for the morning train, during lunch waiting for packaged crap, or at night as are entertained and lulled back to sleep. Comma’s are not weapons but pauses. Perhaps a general way to reset our feet for the next attack. This communique stands out as a cry to generalize what seems impossible.

Now Is Always The Time: A Communique To All Youth With Rebellion In Their Hearts – by SFI
We are a group based in Porltand, Oregon. We are an inssurrectionary post-leftist group who believe that now is the time, we are writing this to inspire rebellion. We are a new group, and, given our name, we are also young. Unions are not the way to go for youth, nor is liberalism. We will talk about what we have done, and about what you can do. Don’t buy into false leadership of the left, and don’t let them tell you that now is not the time to attack. Now is always the time to attack! We have waged several attacks. From aramark the prison profiteers who provide our school lunches, to gentrifying apartment blocks that were set ablaze.
We refuse to buy into false unity. We only have affinity with those who want to destroy rather than control. If you are young and reading this hurry! Attack before the left tells you not to, attack before your parents ship you away to college. Use your youthful spirit of rebellion and leave flames behind you! “Hurry to play. Hurry to arm yourself.” -Alfredo M. Bonanno Take his words to heart as we have. Trust in yourself and your comrades. Let everyone know that you cannot be controlled. Let the left know that you are not a revolutionary, but a destroyer. Let the police know that you are their enemy. Let the politicians know that they are not our leaders, but our enemies. Most importantly, have faith within yourself.
Go now and grab some comrades, don the infamous black clothing and attack like we have. There are soooo many targets in portland. Be it aramark located at 777 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd Portland. Or even the Portland Public School Districts main building located at Ne Dixon street and N larrabee ave. Hold night time smashy smashy events and pass by these places! Hold illegal dance parties and have fun. Start a paper and agitate within schools. Don’t start a union, start a rebellion! The schools will not care about what you want, you must take what you want! Go go go!
Sincerely- SFI (students for insurection)

Best New City

Over the past decade, one of the more interesting phenomena has included watching the growth of small, sometimes ferocious anarchist spaces in towns where one would never expect them. This has been surprising enough when it’s in Midwest college towns, but it’s downright shocking when in towns deep in the South. Atlanta does have the advantage of being fairly close to North Carolina (and other towns with larger populations of anarchists) but what is great about watching Atlanta come into its own is the way that it has created its own mythology.

In their essay “DON’T DIE WONDERING: Atlanta against the police,” the introduction ends by speaking to this synthetic intentionality [what synthetic intentionality? Introduce what you mean by this] with all the beauty that is impossible in the established coastal US cities.

It’s important to avoid escalating too quickly to avoid marginalizing ourselves in a growing movement. But once things begin stagnating, much less shrinking, it can prove to be more strategic to just go all out, pushing the struggle to its absolute limit, rather than trying to preserve it forever, which is just a slow way of dying. This may end whatever momentum still exists and piss people off at the time, but if things are ending anyway, why not risk it all to set off a potential chain reaction that will either spin things in a new direction, or at least set the bar high for next time.

This was in reference to a series of anarchist-involved anti-police events that happened in parallel to the Occupy Movement events of the 2011/2012 period but other events worth mentioning from Atlanta over the past few years include the occupation of a University building at Emory, noise demos (Egypt, against rape, antifa, etc), and a vigorous and distinctive publishing project.

2013 started with a bang in Atlanta with the attack and self-defense of local partisan Luke O’Donovan. Against at least a half a dozen apparent homophobic fools, Luke defended himself by knife while also being stabbed, arrested, and eventually charged with the crime of defending himself.

In recognition of its fantastic spirit, of Luke O’Donovan, of participation in camover, demos, and for continuing to stoke the flames of anarchist passion in a time where many towns have barely embers… we honor Atlanta GA!

The main awards

These are the winners of the first annual Anarchist News awards as decided by the readers (and survey filler-outers) of Anarchist News. If you are unhappy with the results you only have yourselves to blame.

Best Communique of 2013

We live in a time when freedom of speech has become irrelevant. There are so many words, such an avalanche, that words themselves have to be called into question. We have to consider it possible that words are not enough. It is perhaps the highest sign of liberal democracy that words with no consequence have been raised to the level of a holy sacrament.

For anarchists a communiqué is a demonstration of the opposite. It says that our words have consequence, they may be mere, but they are not nothing. They cannot be entirely ignored.

On November 8th of 2011, biotechnologist Ernesto Méndez Salinas, who works in the Biotechnology Institute at UNAM in the city of Cuernavaca in Morelos, was assassinated by a shot to the head.
The Individualities Tending toward the Wild (ITW) have taken responsibility for this action along with an explosive attack on the Institute of Biotechnology of UNAM. As portions of this communiqué lay clear the ITS is not protesting, it is attacking the techno-industrial system and the scientists who build it.

All the texts that ITS has made public are not for society to “wake up and decide to attack the system,” they are not to forcibly change what the others think, nothing like this is intended; the lines we write are for the intelligent, strong individuals who decide to see reality in all its rawness, for those few who form, think and carry out the sensible critique of the highest expression of domination–the Techno-industrial System (a).
And so that our words, critiques, clarifications and statements are made known as they have been spread up to now, we have decided (until now) to take the next step, which has been to attack and try to kill the key persons who make the system improve itself.
This is the only viable way for radical critiques to emerge in the public light, making pressure so this discourse comes to the surface. We are extremists and we act as such, without compassion, without remorse, taking any means to reach our objectives
What’s said is said.

Complex technology is the problem that has afflicted us as a species since the expansion of Civilization. Here it is necessary to say that there are two kinds of technology–complex and simple technology; an example of the latter were (or are) the utensils and tools employed by primitive man during the paleolithic and part of the neolithic, which helped him survive and which some cultures undoubtedly still use to hunter, gather, shelter and defend themselves.
ITS have always positioned ourselves against modern Technology, complex technology, which drives the destruction of Wild (human) Nature.

Because if Technology does not stop, neither will ITS!

Many anarchists also position themselves against law and order. But, (again) are order and law always bad? ITS (again) thinks not.

In Wild Nature everything has an order, everything is self-regulated, there is a circle that repeats infinite times so that the natural equilibrium keeps its course and is not lost.

An example: The tree grows, the rain gives it strength, the moon makes it so there is humidity in the environment and new plants may germinate; the tree drops fruits that in turn are eaten by the herbivorous animals and their young so they grow in a future, these herbivorous animals are hunted by carnivorous and omnivorous (human) animals, the meat is for them and their young, the surplus is devoured by scavenging animals and brought to their young, the earth is nourished with what is finally left. A bird comes to the aforementioned tree and brings what it needs for its nest, while the bird flies, a seed falls where the earth is fertile and everything begins again.

From the beginning of time everything has been ruled by the natural order, until Civilization came and changed everything. Everything turned into disorder, chaos.
From this idea that everything in Wild Nature has an order, and because we say that we obey this order and these natural laws, those who disobey these natural statutes are confined to obeying the system (n) and denying their human nature (ñ).
ITS categorically rejects the chaos of Civilization and ferociously defends the order of Wild Nature.
We will not send out “greetings of support and solidarity” with people who are or are not related with our immediate circle of afines, whether they are incarcerated or have died, we do not see it as strategic in any way.
On the other hand, anarchists of the nihilist-insurrectionalist stripe have for some time called through the internet, written propaganda, etc, that they give “direct support” to their compañeros who have fallen into prison, wounded or even dead. This is how these anarchists’ network has become stronger year after year. Although this has repercussions for some anarchists who have prison records or who only disseminate their communiques on blogs (as happened in Italy), it seems they will not stop for anything. ITS thinks that in these anarchist cells there are sincere people who do not feel the need to construct a new society, but rather to destroy the existent, a mission that for us is not leftist. States really are worried by the rise of anarchist sabotages, which show that they have become a threat for the economic-political system of some countries, something that is worthy of recognition.
- To end with this topic and all the subtopics, we hope that it has been made clear that although ITS has a few agreements with the anarchists, we are different things.
We have said it before, we act without any compassion in the feral defense of Wild Nature. Did those who modify and destroy the Earth think their actions wouldn’t have repercussions? That they wouldn’t pay a price? If they thought so, they are mistaken.
For the moment we only claim these actions, the Mexican government along with the scientific community know very well what attacks we have not made public, and although they hide the information, there is always space to again read something about the people who oppose in action the progress of the Techno-industrial System (y).
For now, that is all there is to say…
Individualists Tending toward the Wild

Best Commentator on Anarchist News

The winner of the best commenter award is going to surprise many of you, or perhaps none of you.
By the percentages there is no doubt that the winner of the best commenter on Anarchist News is anonymous.

To put it differently, the aspect of Anarchist Newsthat is some say is universally reviled is also, at least for the 113 people who voted on this question, a favorite aspect of the site too.

In second place is a commenter who does would deserve mention regardless. This is someone who does not participate in every conversation but when they do they almost always increase the quality of it, usually at the expense of fools–which is perhaps why they chose their user name. They are, like anon, as reviled as they are respected.

If Anarchist News has taught us anything it is that our lack of homogeneity can cause us to squabble about everything. Anarchism is more like kudzu that it is an Amber field of grain or rows of majestic corn. The comments of Anarchist News offend, annoy, inspire, inform, and are the best worst things about anarchists.

The best named commenter of Anarchist Newsin 2013 is Mr. Grumpy.

Mr Grumpy Acceptance Speech

Thank you, Anarchist News community (and while some of you might hear some sarcasm in the term, I assure you that there are no ironic quotation marks there) for presenting me with this most prestigious award. I thought for sure Emile or maybe Emile9000 would have received more positive responses. And actually a little bird informed me that anon did in fact get more votes, but since she, he, they, whoever, suffers from multiple personality disorder, she, he, they, whoever, couldn’t show up without a psychiatric entourage, and we know how much those kind of people are welcome at an anarchist gathering. I also would have thought that the interminable attempts by our old friend Kevin Keating would have edged me out, if only for the fact of his consistent hostility – who can compete with that? Maybe his different pseudonyms just confuse people. Whatever the reason I was surprised that apparently he was overlooked, since his posts are a model of clarity and precision based on principled political discourse. No gratuitous insults, no ad hominems, ever.

I couldn’t have achieved this exalted status without worker and all the other folks who created and maintain and update Anarchist Newsdot org as a much-needed alternative to the other anarchist sites that allow comments. And without other commentators, what would I have to object to? I’m even glad that anon, with all her, his, their, whoever, quirks gets the opportunity to show off her, his, their, whoever’s skill at elevating internet anarchist discourse to new heights of coherence, grammatical precision, and intelligence. I could go on for almost as long as Emile…

Well anyway, it’s an honor for me to receive the first Anarchist News Award for Best Commenter. I look forward to more and more opportunities to post caustic, snarky, educational, ironic, sarcastic, clarifying, and insulting posts in the coming weeks and months. I’m sure my rival anon will do the same, but I’ll do my best to keep up with her, him, them, whoever, so I can stay in the running for next year’s award.

Thank you again, and enjoy the rest of the ceremony.

Best Non-smashy Event of 2013

For 15 years the Berkeley anarchist students theory and research & development have hosted a conference on anarchist theory. This conference has ranged the field from economics, spirituality, crime, space, identity, principles, and this year, social war. While being clearly a voice for a post-left perspective, it has been open to and encouraging of the participation of a wide array of anarchist tendencies.
As the most consistent and rigorous conference of its kind the BASTARD conference, which in 2013 was themed ethics and aesthetics, deserves the award the best non-smashy event of 2013.

Most Stalwart Anarchist Prisoner 2013

We are increasingly doing a good job at supporting self identified anarchist prisoners. Action in the street means bodies and jails and part of the reason why our energy is low after Occupy in 2011 is because of how many of our people either suffered at the tender mercies of the state or had to bail out others who were. But all of these were short timers.

A stalwart anarchist prisoner is one who continues the fight on the inside. This may not look Berkman’s prison journals or Daniel McGowan taking heat for having an opinion but it will probably look like being a big inconvenience to the bureaucracy of the establishment that you inhabit and looking good while doing it.

While we have an increasing number of long-term anarchist prisoners entering the system including the depressing a terrifying case in Cleveland Four who will probably remain inside for the rest of their natural lives there stay is just beginning. Sean Swain on the other hand, was the winner of our award for most stalwart prisoner and already been inside for 20 years. He is associated with the prison group the Army of the 12 monkeys and is running for governor of Ohio in 2014 as an anarchist.

Here is his platform

What is an anarchist engagement? I ask because I’m running for Ohio Governor in 2014 as a write in candidate from Ohio’s super-duper-uber-mega ultramax facility.

Yeah, I know.Your thinking, ‘Running for office is not anarchist-it’s reformist at best’ and thinking ‘A prisoner getting elected?’ And you likely conclude, this is all just further evidence-as if we need more-that Sean Swain is a wing nut. I would say that this is further proof that I’m brilliant and completely misunderstood- thats my story and I’m sticking to it.

I’ve been told that by running for Governor, I’m promoting the idea that reformist ballots are the answer-registering to vote, voting and all the hierarchical implications that that entails. I’ve been told that we need revolution, not diversions into electoral wheel-spinning,and that I’m doing a disservice promoting the idea that elections can be a solution.

Okay, now consider:

It’s not my goal to become Ohio Governor so that I can maintain the state. I’m openly and admittedly an anarchist and I’M running as an anarchist. I’m promising that, if elected I would tear down the state and establish the Ohio Autonomous Zone.

In fact, I have a program already planned out. It’s on my website. My first day in office, I would empty Ohio’s prisons. I would de-commission the National Guard and I would give the weapons to the Native American tribes I would be inviting back.

According to the Treaty of Greenville, they still own this territory. So it’s not exactly reparations for the genocide they experienced, but I’D give them the land back and a bunch of rifles and tanks and Apache attack helicopters in order to defend it.

With no budget signed-ever- no cops would get paid so there woulds be nobody standing between us chasing the banksters and crapitalists out of here with torches and pitchforks-like they have deserved for centuries.We could then export revolution from the Ohio Autonomous Zone.

Thats my plan. And to get elected, I propose that Anarchists and malcontents from all over the country converge on Ohio, squat here, establish residency, register to vote, and get me elected. By my math, if just a million people migrate to Ohio and vote for me, I’d win the election and implement my plan.
To me, that’s clearly an anarchist outcome-destruction of the State, elimination of the system of crapital self-rule. But fellow anarchists tell me this is not an anarchist engagement because the means of achieving the end (voting) are “reformist.”

So…it’s only revolutionary if you wear a ski mask while you do it? In other words, the revolutionary outcome is irrelevant; what matters is if you can look cool while doing it …and if you have to impersonate reformists in order to accomplish your goal, in order to infiltrate and topple the hierarchy, then it is better to instead sit around watching riot porn while the system grinds on and on? Does that sound right?

With what I propose, I’m not asking you to embrace electoral politics or recognize the legitimacy of the state. Elections and the State are bullshit. I’m asking you to recognize a glitch permanent joyride. I’m not asking you to install me in office. I’m asking you to load me into the chamber and fire me into the brain pan of the state.

Question: do the “ends” justify the “means,”does an engagement that leads to an anarchist outcome makes that engagement anarchist even if it would otherwise be seen as reformist? I say, Fuck,yes. And it’s a stupid question! If toppling the State required me to stand in toilet water firing Roman candles out of my ass and playing the Star Spangled Banner through a Kazoo, I would happily do it. If it means posing as a deluded hierarch and pulling a lever on an election machine I would do that too.

It’s not the tactics that make it anarchist. It’s the end result. I’m Sean Swain, anarchist prisoner and candidate for Ohio Governor in 2014 from Ohio supermax facility and I approve this message.

Best Smashy Event of 2013

There are two events that stand out in 2013 as note worthy. The first was a Seattle demonstration that would not be suppressed by the grand jury investigation into the events of May of the previous year. On May 2013 people turned out and took the streets without remorse and there was even a little bit of smashy.

However, the award for the best smashy event of 2013 goes to the Chuey Huerta event of November 2013 in Durham, North Carolina, an event in response to the death of Chuey at the hands of the police (or, if you believe what they say, at his own hands) in the back of a cop car.

The resulting demonstration included social antagonists, Chuey’s friends and family, and strangers who saw their own story in Huerta’s.

From time to time, social antagonists, insurgents, radicals, anarchists – or whoever else – open ourselves up to the struggles of others. We do this for a lot of reasons – to push toward insurrection, to beat back liberalism, to exploit openings, to show solidarity, because we feel guilt, whatever. We participate, we intervene, we mix.
Freed of the guidelines that direct the currents of existence into the routine of daily life, the streets can become the space of possibility for a new sort of encounter. Each time, we meet this possibility with dispositions that persist separately from our conscious intentions or articulated discourses: We are either more or less open, or more or less closed, to the affects — the unexplainable bodily stirrings that are felt, not thought — of others.

A more closed disposition leaves us relatively disempowered. We may feel ambivalent to the success or failure of a moment. when we step away from the uninhabitable discourses that proliferate among the different activist or militant sects, we become sensitive to the new ethical ties that link us to others: the bonds across time and space that connect the Kurdish militant occupying Northeastern Syria to the chapullers of Istanbul, the squatters of the ZAD to the drop-outs of the Albany Bulb; that connect the Brazilian favelas to the Warsaw ghettos, the Roma of Paris with the Underground Railroad.

Some endeavor to explain away these links. Others, more pathetically, have chosen to ignore these things completely. Instead, we might choose to follow this sensibility without backing down – to follow the line along which power grows. To build materially what already exists spiritually – the ties that link across our struggles to the struggles of others – could be the most important task ahead of us.

The First Annual Anarchist News Trollie Award

We set aside the final award for an unappreciated kind of anarchist. The idea that our awards are called trollies speaks to the split personality of anarchists. On the one hand we annoy (mostly each other but also power), and on the other hand we defend (bridges, each other, and probably the future for everyone).

For our final and most important award we honor someone who was so aggravating to power that they kicked the guy out of jail (although it was after eight months).

In his words:

I am holding strong. I do not know how much longer the State plans to keep me separated from my family and friends, but I will not bend.

Compared to the vast majority in this prison, I’m lucky. I’m not facing the very real possibility of spending the rest of my life in this place, as so many of the men in my unit are. I am really fortunate to have such strong support on the outside. The solidarity everyone has shown is helping me through this and constantly reaffirms my resolve.

The Federal Grand Jury that put me here is only the most recent facet of an assault on those who wish to be free of state surveillance and intimidation. This legal onslaught has already targeted and claimed the freedom of many anarchists, but we will keep fighting. I will keep fighting. My politics, principles, and ethics stand in direct opposition with this legal tool that is used to further enable the government in its assault on anarchists, and I will not lend it any legitimacy, nor will I comply in any way.

Thank you again to everyone for your truly beautiful acts of support. Your letters especially are helping me get through this, and I look forward to talking with many of you soon, on this side of the bars and beyond.

Last, please take the next few minutes to write someone who is locked up—believe me, it will make their day.

With love, with dignity, in solidarity, for anarchy, Jerry Koch

With much respect we give the Anarchist News trollie award to Grand Jury Resister Jerry Koch. May we all be as stalwart under the heel of the state and bear up as valiantly when it matters.


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The notion of intellectuals is something that I’ve struggled with a long time. The concept grounds itself in a world peopled mostly by idiots and to whatever extent this is true, too often this implies that others’ stupidity is so severe that they’re fundamentally incapable of living a decent social life or even surviving without […]
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Political Naïveté

or what are we to do about Maoism

One of the reasons that anarchism has become a popular political perspective is because in many contexts (for instance mass mobilizations or broad direct action campaigns) we seem open, friendly, and nonsectarian. This is in great contrast to visible (and visibly) Marxist or Leftist organizations, which either seem like newspaper-selling robots or ancient thorny creatures entirely out of touch with the ambivalence of the modern political atmosphere. Anarchists seem to get that ambivalence and contest it with hope and enthusiasm rather than finger-wagging.


The public face of anarchism tends towards approachability and youth: kids being pepper sprayed, the general assemblies of the occupy movement, and drum circles. These are the images of the past five years that stand in contrast to the image of anarchists as athletic black clad window breakers. Both are true (or as true as an image can be) and both demonstrate why a criticism of anarchists continues to be that (even at our best) we are politically naïve.


Of course very few window breakers believe that breaking windows means much beyond the scope of an insurance form or a janitorial task, but that is beside the point. What matters is that the politics of no demands makes the impossible task of intelligent political discourse in America even more complicated (by assuming that discourse is a Pyhrric act). To put the issue differently, the dialectical binary of both engaging in the social, dialogic, compromising act of public politics while asserting that there is no request of those-in-power worth stating or compromising on isn’t possible. It is cake-and-eat-it thinking that is exactly why Anarchists must do what Anarchist must do1.


This rejection of how the game is played while participating in it hasn’t shown itself to be a long term strategy– impossible never is. For lessons on playing the game we have to turn to the winners of politics and revolution: neoliberalists, sure, but also statist Marxists, reactionaries (from racist populists to nationalist Know Nothings or their descendants in the Tea Party), and what remnants exist of the old and new Left. Just to make the point crystal clear I’ll restate it. On the one hand you have the ridiculous non- or even anti-strategy of anarchist political theater that cannot achieve the impossible goal of everything for everybody forever. On the other hand you have realpolitik: the pragmatic application of power in the political sphere. This simplistic dualism is why most intelligent people abandon politics altogether and retreat to NIMBYism (at best) or the quiet solitude of screaming at a television screen as the only expression of engagement with the outside world.


In this light, a discussion about maoism might seem outrageous and it is! Maoism isn’t a relevant political tendency or movement in America. It isn’t leading guerrilla forces in the hills, it has no leaders-in-waiting just outside the border (unless you count Avakian which you should in no way do), but it isn’t further from the mainstream of American political thought than Anarchism is (anarchist big tent populists to the contrary) and is arguably much closer (in an often cited example, the mayor of Oakland, Jean Quan, is a former Maoist). More pointedly, Maoism and Anarchism have been cross-pollinating for decades. Our task here is to shine a light on that history and challenge what benefits anarchists have garnered from this little-discussed pollination.

 A defense of anarchism

One may pause here to consider the goal of defending anarchism against Maoism (or any other ideology of the left). Why bother? Isn’t anarchism exactly as irrelevant as these other 19th century ideas? Yes and no. If you are talking about the fights within the First International about what form the revolutionary party will take (secret or public), or the composition of the most advanced working class groups (craftsmen or factory), than yes, absolutely. Even if you are talking about the integrated partisans of the Spanish Civil War, then the term has declined into the merely historical. Of interest perhaps, primarily because of the optimism and ferocity of it’s partisans, but really a demonstration of a good liberal university education and not much else.


If, on the other hand, anarchism is the term used to describe an open-ended theory that will not, cannot, be set in stone until the day of days, because it isn’t named after a man, because it is named after negation, because it is impossible, then no. In its hostile negative anarchism is a well suited expression of our time.


As anarchism is the theory that we are the ones who directly engage with life, not representatives (whether politicians, NGOs, or community leaders), not systems of control (statistical, bureaucratic, or functional), and not specialists in freedom (authors, etc), then we embrace it. We doubly embrace it if somehow this engagement with life also means the absolute destruction of the system-as-it-is but we know that this destruction–whether called revolution, evolution, or communization–is not guaranteed or even likely in our lifetime. This means that our theory interfaces with the reality of politics and other people every day but without the burden of the correct revolutionary ideology that has in no way been more successful than anarchism, just more bloody.


A little history


I’ll leave it to others to do an accurate and deep review of the history of Maoism in the US since the end of the Vietnam War and how it has melted into the firmament of Cultural Studies programs and the counter-cultural left (by way of Refuse and Resist, No Business As Usual, the October 22 Coalition Against Police Brutality, Not In Our Name, the World Can’t Wait, etc). My task is to show that there is a weave of relationships rather than to make something functional out of that weave. In the Bay Area the vigor of Maoism as a viable political ideology is entirely due to two factors: the Black Panther Party and the RCP.


While the depth of Maoist politics in the BPP is largely locked up in unreported meetings and allegations that the BPP did a bang up business selling Little Red Books in the late 60s, the Maoist trappings of the BPP aren’t in question. We have to contend with the BPP (a relatively small and historical group) currently almost entirely because of their representation in movies and visual media. The BPP continue to be among the most cited predecessors of modern political movements. We all have an image seared into our mind of ourselves, as radicals, engaging with the straight world (whether in the halls of the Legislature or the streets of our towns) wearing visually striking attire, with weapons over our shoulders. Obviously the direct action work (from neighborhood armed defense to feeding and schooling the kids) of the BPP is beyond reproach (if the history of such is to be believed) but this is an entirely different topic than the ideas of The Party per se or the stories of the heroes of the BPP. This is the story of grassroots organizing by any other name; this name just has a solid mythology surrounding it.


It is worth mentioning that I don’t in fact have strong feelings about the BPP. The social and political atmosphere that they derive from are so entirely different than ours that I am in no way qualified to make categorical statements about them. They are a historical artifact that can be, and is, debated as such, but by-and-large this debate isn’t an anarchist one (either in name, sentiment, or aesthetic). For many people, recognizing the significance of the BPP (as in the differences between the perceived work of the BPP and the work of radical politics today) is a necessary part of political development. Recognizing the differences between the work of the BPP in the 60s and our work today is how we determine our own project, and that has nothing to do with political ideologies.


The RCP can be more cleanly dealt with. No caveats need apply to this hack organization that should be utterly reviled by any anarchist. Moreover the concept that building up the theory or personality of Bob Avakian (,_USA#Activities) as important, revolutionary, or even notable is entirely preposterous .


That said, the practice of rebranding oneself, of spinning up front groups as quickly as new single issues come to the fore, is obviously a smart and pernicious idea. It allows a political organization to control its messaging, gating new members through specific interests rather than through an entire, decades-long political program. It provides a way to show rather than to talk (which is a significant anarchist weakness). It builds relationships through “common struggle” rather than through debate, coercion, or brow-beating. While the result is still the same, this multi-form and layered approach to inculcating new members is persuasive and confusing, exactly the goal of groups that do it.


Mentioning these two groups isn’t intended to say that the influence of Maoist ideas, or those of other historical political traditions, can be constrained by these two data points. Modern Maoist thought has become much more diffuse than either of these historic reference points would lead one to believe. We’ll get into examples later but when people used to use terms like Imperialism, Revolution, and the Party, they now use terms like gentrification, insurrection, and organization: softer, less disagreeable terms that reflect our time. The point is that political approaches have evolved from specific times and places, and that to understand that genealogy is necessary to defend ourselves from taking these approaches at face value.


A little about ideas


The reason that anarchists should study and reflect on Maoism, in particular, is because (in the words of MIM, an RCP split that dissolved a few years ago) “Maoism and real anarchism have the same long-run goals.” (Avakian has said similar things in his critiques of anarchism). MIM (and other explicit Maoists) believe that the only fundamental difference between their perspective and that of anarchists is that Maoists have a plan to implement this shared goal, so their revolutionary program is authentic rather than anarchists’ expression of bourgeois ideology. Right ideas + leadership = revolutionary moral authority?


We live in a post-party era, where the traditional left–whether of unions or alphabet groups–has largely disappeared, and the terrain of anarchistic political discourse cannot be dismissed with the typical anarchist wave of the hand and a decry against “authoritarianism.” By and large, everyone (activists, Occupy, organizers) is willing to say they are anti-authoritarian. The rub is to describe exactly what that means.


The most common place where this discussion is happening couldn’t be older, or more historical. It surrounds the concept of the National Question and how one or another perspective has a solution to it. This concept has its origin in Stalin’s working definition of a nation: “a historically constituted, stable community of people, formed on the basis of a common language, territory, economic life, and psychological make-up, manifested in a common culture.” The Maoist revision includes an addendum that “internal colonies” of nations, exist within the belly of countries like the US (or in the rings of French cities). In either case the National Question is a way to frame the issue of how to organize the shock troops of the next social unrest and how to articulate the program of what the fight is about.


In a useful recent exchange about this between two Maoist groups (the Fire Next Time Committee and Signalfire), here is a summary from Signalfire:

 To sum up our stance…it is sufficient to say one step forward, two steps back. In attempting to deal with the real problematic of the ‘people of color’ discourse and identity politics, it seeks to establish an analysis of race coupled with an analysis of class. In doing so, rather than producing an adequate critique and substantive class analysis, the author simply gives us generalities which interrogated at a basic level are superficial and useless in satisfying the need for a real class analysis of the United States.

Rather than seeking truth from facts, it telescopes the particularity of experiences into universalities,and simply doesn’t have an analysis of class that actually corresponds with the existing class structure. It has rather engaged in another sort of “identity politics” of a Brown/Yellow guilt type in relationship to Black oppression, centering it as a fulcrum for the articulation of white supremacist ideology and class structure.


Obviously the National Question still looms large for Maoists and this terminology should be familiar to anyone who is active in big city radical politics. Understanding these two paragraphs is sufficient to function well in the Bay Area political scene.


To draw the linkage between Mao-eque approaches and anarchist thinking we should talk a little bit about Imperialism, Colonialism, and Gentrification. Obviously, according to a dictionary definition, these three things occur. Colonialism leads to Imperialism (or is it the other way around) and from within Empire the shifting of the economic landscape takes on a similar character that is described as Gentrification. These are descriptive terms to the economic, political, and social character of where we live and how we got here.


What they are not are vectors. They don’t trace a line from some historical moment (for example, of primitive purity) on through our current horrorshow into a dystopia/utopia. Descriptors are often confused for causes and this is nowhere more clear than from political perspectives that Have Answers, answers that can be argued for, that are believed to be only capable of winning if others are convinced, and finally, ones that create a logical whole, something coherent (as if this world is coherent).


While many anarchists are convinced by this logical procedural thinking, anyone who is opposed to authoritarianism should break with this trajectory when it comes to a history of Imperialism or Colonialism (or even gentrification) that doesn’t see the state as a necessary part of the genealogy. A monopoly on violence is entirely necessary to invade, control, and genocide a people. It is only to the extent to which capitalism has taken on this monopoly (if it has) that it has taken center stage as the villain for communists and anti-authoritarians.


For anarchists these questions are much simpler. As soon as monopolistic impulses are discovered the hackles of most anarchists are raised. This means that party discipline or even toeing an ideological line tends to be impossible in most anarchist circles. If you accept the Leninist/Blanquist (vanguard/small cadre) model of revolution then anarchists make poor cadre (but so does everyone else!).


Where does this leave us in terms of the most American of all questions: what about race? How is it separable and inseparable from the National Question as framed by Communists in general, and Maoists in particular? Simply put, it leaves us nowhere. The history of racism generally, and slavery, Jim Crow, segregation, etc in particular, is an integrated part of the story of Imperial America. As residents, and as victims, of that place we should feel obligated to understand that story but we have no power to change it. Revolutionary aspirations to the contrary we cannot manage, dictate, or smash our way out of it, but we also don’t have to own it.


Privilege theory places agency on those who have privilege. If one is determined to hold together a pluralist democratic society this kind of thinking is absolutely necessary but what if you don’t? What if you are hostile to the conceptual framework that holds together a society of 300 million people (which you can do even while recognizing that this framework is the structure that society itself is built on)?


Respecting the self-determination of a group of people, from an anarchist perspective, should look a lot less like listening to the leaders or elders of a group you aren’t a part of, than like finding common cause against those that constrain self-determination in the first place. Primarily this is the state but it’s also the economic relationships that subjugate all of us. Respect doesn’t mean friendship or agreeing. It means recognition, boundaries, and qualified solidarity.


One common hostility I have towards many anarchists is the general attitude I find that anarchists tend to be for good things and against bad things. It is a kind of modified kindergarten attitude that makes sure everyone sees each other for the good-intentioned beautiful snowflakes that they are, rather than doing much with all that intention and beauty. At its worst, this attitude makes discussions about personal, emotional issues intolerable, because everybody has to demonstrate to everybody else that they, in fact, are paragons of multi-racial purity. But in fact, everybody, without exception, are bigoted, prejudiced, close-minded idiots. Getting this essential truth out early allows the eventual name-calling of racist, sexist, transphobe, kyriarchiest to be framed appropriately.

We are against bad things, therefore we are also against ourselves.


The Wisdom of Fools

As long as anarchists do not inform ourselves about the myriad of forces that seek to intentionally confuse their project for an anarchist one, we will continue to be fooled by them. More problematically, and over a long enough timeline, this confusion becomes reality. “Anti-authoritarian” becomes a soft way to obscure that you are a Maoist whose “revolutionary program” is what makes you a true anti-antiauthoritarian. “Anti-Imperialist” becomes a way to describe hostility to American foreign policy and not an adherent of the three worlds theory of Maoism. “Decolonization” becomes code for an urban aspiration for an impossible culture instead of a problematic term relating to everything from native resistance to resource extraction, the dismantling of older Empires, or a project of the United Nations.


Perhaps it is too late, at least in the US, at least for my lifetime. We are a culture that has abandoned not just reading but critical thinking on the whole. Watching language morph into its opposite used to be something associated with the totalitarianism of the USSR or Newspeak of Orwell’s fictional universe. Debord’s spectacle updated this dialectical perversion by demonstrating how capitalism has buttressed the monopoly of violence that used to be a prerequisite for this violence to language. Our meme-tastic, utterly superficial engagement with even political questions like how to live, how to do it together, and who am I in relationship to others, seems to show that pointing to Maoists as a political problem is about as useful as talking about aliens and pyramid power. Anarchy as conflict with the existing order, both state and capital and also the its conceptual framework, is an infinite endeavor.


Hesitations aside I know that someone out there will hear me. They will recognize a political pedigree in the rhetoric of some local blowhard and will be tempted to stand alone in a room, point a finger, and shout J’accuse! I would warn you against this line of thinking. If the post-left has anything to teach us it is that being right, and informing others of it, isn’t nearly enough. It may be preferable to maintain the affect of the happy fool, the politically naïve, while tilling the soil for the seeds to feed those who will engage in the challenges of how to engage (as anarchists) with politicians. Decrying their badness polarizes the point too early in the relationship. Timing means recognizing that the first moment one understands a situation isn’t the moment to act. Anarchy means attack and attack means patience.


Links related to text

  1. MD On What Anarchists Can Say
  2. Tyranny of Structureless & Anarchist Response
  3. Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement (STORM)
  4. Van Jones
  5. More about VJ
  6. Reflections on STORM
  7. Context
  8. More Context
  9. Finance
  10. Roger White’s essay
  11. 10 Theses
  12. Response to 10 Theses
  13. National Question
  14. Recent commentary on NQ
  15. Unpacking the Knapsack
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Another story about how we are doomed – this time with computers!

By and large I tend to keep my vocation (what I do to make money) entirely separate from the things that I write about. Even when that writing is the impoverished form of the blog entry, I try to keep it distinct from my life as a technologist. However I am making some career shifts that will entail, at the very least, working (in my vocation) with more of my anarchist friends, so here I ponder some things that connect the two worlds.


This is a report back from a “trust” conference I went to last Thursday called Trusty Con ( I stayed for the first two of three sessions (loosely: legal, technology, and activism). You can see what I saw here – I strongly recommend you watch this if you are interested in current discussions on security and trust in computer communication.

On one level this was a protest event in relation to the RSA Conference (held a block away at the Moscone Center). On another level it was an event needed in its own right. It included a variety of the usual suspects on the topic (EFF, Free Speech Foundation, etc).

Adorably, Trusty Con was held in a movie theater. What was less adorable was the punchline to the event, which is that state agents are incredibly powerful. To give just one example, the presentation by Steve Weiss on “Trusted Computing Tech and Government Implants” was authentically and deeply terrifying. It detailed less than 10% of the known list of active NSA programs designed to compromise server technology, and while there were gaping holes in what could be determined from the slides (it was unclear what the compromise in security would mean for intelligence), what was clear is that current and future attacks on privacy and dissent are coming in directions previously impossible.

Two examples from the slides: a program (DIETYBOUNCE) that attacks the firmware (the software layer that is active after the machine turns on and before the operating system starts) on Dell servers, using a simple USB key insert. This results in a payload delivery into an operating system at boot time. Another program (Cottonmouth) is the production of USB dongles that include a radio for a secondary mechanism to either keylog, root, or attack an air gapped machine. The important point here is that LEO can currently do things that we only suspected it to be capable of up till now and we know some of the specifics.

Sidebar: Say what you will about free speech and shield laws but Edward Snowden may be seen as the Paul Revere of a future revolution… but probably not.

To put it another way, and this was nicely demonstrated by some slides, compared to us, state agents are in fact operating on the level of James Bond, and our ability to defend ourselves against them, especially when they are focused on us specifically, is nil (or might as well be). Things are far scarier, in this regard, than I imagined.

For the participants of the event this was in contrast to the more recent and perhaps actionable category of problems called SBC (surreptitious bulk collection). In the pre-history of law enforcement (aka before 9/11) the idea was that LEO (law enforcement officers) would start with a crime (or at the very least a suspect) and then use forensic and investigative tools to determine guilt or innocence, or the very least prosecutability. In the past decade infrastructure has been put into place to harvest enough metadata from the entire world to work from the other direction.

The activist privacy advocate would argue that better, or different, laws would protect us from the consequences of this state of affairs. The technologist privacy advocate has to argue that the capacity to harvest is the real risk and that technologies to hide metadata are urgently necessary. The anarchist has to shiver in terror at either solution. For the 96% of the world that isn’t the US, but whose data passes through our pipes, the anarchist isn’t being dramatic enough.

Obviously trust in governmental agencies is out of the question, not only for anarchists but for any intelligent person. (One might trust that the evaluative capacity of LEO is limited as far as what they can grok, but the consumptive capacity can now safely be assumed to be infinite.)

This doesn’t mean that everything we do is being watched. Modern paranoia should be tempered with some understanding of the context in which we live. Many things (especially meta data to services like email, searching, our browser fingerprint, etc) are stored and “big data” type calculations are connecting our usage of Internet communication to Real LifeTM but LEO is still a slow, lumbering beast that thinks in terms of Occam’s Razor and prefers cops-and-robbers (ie the Shield) to Pattern Recognition.

Prosecutorial instincts aside, this does mean that the Internet has become enclosed. It is not a place where freedom happens by default, and whatever libre does occur here does so because of the intentional and consistent labor of someone. Probably someone who is paying for and implementing the infrastructure and technologies for others to perform freedom. In this world, someone is always paying, either directly or in exchange for psychological manipulation (riffing off of Schneier for this one). Most of us have become accustomed to being manipulated, so it seems like the lesser cost. But is it?

Blah. I’m getting too wrapped up in this entire way of looking at the problem. I am a service provider to radicals. I’ve always been ambivalent about it and I’ve done it anyway. I’ve done it less over the years but I think that was the wrong instinct. The right approach was, and is, finding a crew of politically like-minded @ (ie hopeless ones) to do this work with. I have spent too much time doing it alone and now it just feels like an impossibly huge task, especially to do it right.

To put it another way, Riseup does a great job of delivering email but they do little else. Even less that they are “held accountable” for (crabgrass being a case in point). They do not do web hosting because web hosting is a support nightmare! As a matter of fact it’s been 10 years or so since any radical group (tao, mutual aid, etc) has done public web hosting. AFAICT this is because it’s difficult to do and exhausting (no reward if you aren’t doing it for $). Even the providers of free blogging (like noblogs) don’t seem particularly proactive when it comes to user requests. Helping people, day in day out, is hard. Not like rocket science hard but hard enough to be damn near impossible for radicals (and, obviously this is also true for services like those offered by paypal or gmail).

I used to make fun of anarchists who would decry other anarchists with the claim that we needed to “get organized.” Of course they were right if we shared a goal of social revolution or whatever, but they were also deeply wrong, because we don’t share that common of a goal at all. We live in a highly attenuated age where articulation of shared (especially mass) goals is rather naive. Perhaps the end of revolutionary aspirations has entirely negative consequences for the bulk of human, or radical, endeavors but it can’t be said to be innocent… Innocence, today, seems to live in the “in between places” where someone communicates with others, can seem articulate and bright, but has knowledge that is entirely “wikipedia deep” and is more-or-less not available without access to a cell phone. Innocence is the fatal response to leftism, not by becoming the Right (or Conservative) but by becoming useless.

In non-anarchist green thought the topic of enclosure, especially in the intellectual and cultural sense of the term, has been topical for decades. Whether the critique was about using plastic or television sets, the answer was to do less of it (aka the liberal response) or to shy away from destroying our capacity to do it all (the radical response). The anti-civilization turn was to begin with the radical response and go further… but to what end? To become the meanest, greenest boy scouts ever (rewilding)? To become indistinguishable from the street corner preachers declaring apocalypse is nigh? Technology marches on, as a force of doing (rather than convincing), and has overshadowed all critiques of it as a universalizing, totalizing, apocalypse-in-waiting by demonstrating that that isn’t all bad.

When I am feeling hopeless (which is often) I intersect these two lines. On the one hand radicals have valorized uselessness (ie being triggered, idle, anti-work, Critical, etc) and on the other the march of technology has generated meaningful, life-altering, subjectively positive consequences in the vast majority of people’s lives.

My paid work has made me a more successful anarchist not because I’ve become entranced by technology. Quite the opposite. I find technology to be increasingly annoying, cloying, and asphyxiating. But I also recognize that prior to experiencing the constraints of the real world (exemplified by but not limited to paid work) I was not able to set my mind to a task and see it through to completion. Success, as an anarchist, is not about winning (duh). It is about having the capacity to play in increasingly interesting and complex terrains with equally compelling people.

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What’s New from LBC – Winter 2014

As this year begins–our third of publishing at least a book a month–we think we have found an answer to the pernicious question: what is the task for committed rabble-rousers when nothing else is going on? The answer is to recuperate, review, and prepare. Our way of approaching each of these is to Publish Books.

The innovation for this year is the publication of a series of journals that we believe will hit all of these themes, including a literary journal, a review of the past year, poetics, a strategic rapprochement, and a theoretical journal or two. We will be generating new ways to deeply investigate and interrogate what has come before and to plan for a more compelling practice, one that doesn’t look like leftist activism, wishful adventurism, or hipster don’t-careism.

Additionally we have another dozen or so books planned this year on themes like living a life in hostility to the world that is, communization theory, a history or two, an anthology or six, and collaborations with other editorial groups like the Institute for Experimental Freedom, Cal Press, Black Seed, The Institute For The Study of Insurgent Warfare, Cruel Hospice, and more. We continue to do what we do and look forward to something else going on too.

We are Little Black Cart: Distribution, Editorial, and printshop.

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Recent LBC Titles


As a publishing project we are interested in smashing into dust the stupid discussions about (and distinctions between) the individual vs the community (and perhaps sprinkling this dust into our coffee to fuel us for other fights). This smashing must begin with a major corrective: ninety percent of all discussions about this set of topics begins with unclear jargonistic assumptions. Egoism can be forgiven its excesses if it can correct the sloppy thinking and ideological bullying of the communitarians. This short anthology makes this case.

From the back cover:

The project of self-realisation is born of the passion for creation, in the moment when subjectivity wells up and aspires to reign universally. The project of communication is born of the passion of love, whenever people discover that they share the same desire for amorous conquest. The project of participation is born of the passion for playing, whenever group activity facilitates the self-realisation of each individual.

Isolated, the three passions are perverted. Dissociated, the three projects are falsified. The will to self-realisation is turned into the will to power; sacrificed to status and role-playing, it reigns in a world of restrictions and illusions. The will to communication becomes objective dishonesty; based on relationships between objects, it provides the semiologists with signs to dress up in human guise. The will to participation serves to organise the loneliness of everyone in the crowd; it creates the tyranny of the illusion of community.


2013 LBC Books Review

In this, our inaugural issue, we present an editorial exploration into the themes and contexts of some of our 2013 publications. This pretty little book obscures the terrible fangs and claws of the LBC vision.

From the introduction:

Anarchists have had to make do with the fact that even as we succeed we rarely get credit for it, while we always get the blame for our failures and lack of success. As a publisher in this family of ideas we measure our own success partly by our own continued interest in our broad project, and on whether these ideas merit discussion and further research.

If the goal was to produce engaged, interesting, anarchist material than it’s conservative to say that we have succeeded. If our goal was to shape the minds of a new generation of antiauthoritarians, then our project hasn’t succeeded. This is the work we have ahead of us.

This book is also available as a free download. Help us by talking about this publication and our project.

2013 LBC Review

Demotivational Training

This book is the most clear and concise articulation of the situationist project published in English. This jargon-free text isn’t written for youth culture or relics of the 70s but for an audience raised on a diet of protestant work ethic and american utopianism. Hard work didn’t get the results it was supposed to in our parents’ generation, and it does even less now. This book talks about why more hard work isn’t the answer either.

Today the managers want nothing less than to make every employee a situationist, enjoining them to be spontaneous, creative, autonomous, freewheeling, unattached, and greeting the precariousness of their lives with open arms. Trying to outdo this would be absurd.

Demotivational Training

Queer Ultraviolence: Abridged

This new slimmer version of QUV brings you all the punch of the first edition at half the price. With a new introduction, this prisoner friendly version is a must have.

Let’s be explicit: We are criminal queer anarchists and this world is not and can never be enough for us. We want to annihilate bourgeois morality and make ruins of this world. We’re here to destroy what is destroying us.

Let’s be speaking of revolt. We are tracing the lineage of our queer criminality and charting the demise of the social order. And oh the nectar from which we drink: lesbian pirates raging the seas, queer rioters setting cop cars ablaze, sex parties amidst the decay of industrialism, bank robbers wearing pink triangles, mutual aid networks among sex workers and thieves, gangs of trannyfags bashing-the-fuck-back. We’ve been assured that each day could be our last. As such we’ve chosen to live as if every day is. In turn, we promise that the existent’s days are numbered.

Queer Ultraviolence

Cultural Logic of Insurrection

These essays are a dialogue with Tiqqun’s logic and their successes (and failures) as a project. As such, this collection provides the start to a body of secondary material on Tiqqun that contextualizes them.

The failure of the radical left to seriously contest post-Fordist late-capitalism, has stultified its position and has frozen all anti-capitalist rhetoric and discourse, pushing the left into a self-reflexive circle that cannot escape its own irrelevance. The anarchist slogans of yesteryear to “smash the state” and the communist insistence on viewing labor as the revolutionary subject all fail to see such revolutionary posturings for what they are: mere anachronisms.

Cultural Logic of Insurrection

LBC Journals

In 2014 we are expanding our publishing beyond books. With old and new friends we are announcing the publication of six journal projects that, alongside our books, we believe will demonstrate that the world of anarchist ideas is more vibrant, vital, and fierce than ever.

  1. The LBC Review – We already published our Review for 2013 (which you can download here) and will publish another at the end of 2014.
  2. Hostis: A Journal of Incivility
  3. Insurgencies – From the Institute For The Study of Insurgent Warfare
  4. Dangerous Constellations – a vaguely anarchist literary journal
  5. Reprobus: A Journal of Anti-Language
  6. The BASTARD Chronicles – a reportback on a decade and a half of anarchist theory and connection

LBC Launch Party!

On March 20th we are ecstatic to be hosted by our friends at Station 40 in San Francisco for our 2014 LBC Book Launch party. Come, meet with us and celebrate another year of publishing books like Demotivational Training, The Cultural Logic of Insurrection, Egoism, Canenero, Disruptive Elements, I Saw Fire, and many more. We will also have readings, snacks, drinks, mellow discussions, and scheming.

LBC Office

Little Black Cart now has an office, which means open office hours! LBC has outgrown its home base and has joined the larger East Bay radical space at the Long Haul Infoshop at 3124 Shattuck Ave. Berkeley CA. 94705. We will keep office hours from 10 AM to 2 PM most every day of the week. Feel free to stop by for conversation, to take a look at our books, or to talk about shared collaborative projects. We’re happy to become a part of the Long Haul and look forward to participating in it as a hub of radical activity.

Distro Items

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

  • Endnotes 3: Gender, Race, Class and Other Misfortunes - In light of these struggles, it seems clear that now is not the time for pronouncements, but rather careful analysis. Now is the time to put those tools to work, to try to understand the new sequence of struggles in its unfolding. We must be open to the present — its tendency to surprise us, to force us to reconsider every supposedly fixed truth — while remaining intransigent about the revolution as communisation: there will be no theoretical compromises.
  • Datacide – a magazine of noise and politics – A thoughtful magazine discussing some of our favorite topics: music and politics.
  • My Own #11 – My Own is a publication of anarchist, egoist, individualist ideas, literature, and analysis coming from an explicitly anti-capitalist, non-market egoist perspective aimed at encouraging the interweaving of individual insurrections against all forms of authority, domination and enforcement of conformity.

Upcoming Titles

  • Canenero – This book collects the most relevant articles from this weekly anarchist publication from Italy, which was produced between 1994 and 1997. One of the ideas behind Canenero was to provide a means for ongoing communication and discussion in the face of this repressive operation of the state [around the Marini Trials]. A substantial portion of the material in the paper dealt with the situation and the various anarchist responses to it.
  • I Saw Fire: Reflections on Riots, Revolt, and the Black Bloc – Discussing violence, social change, and organization at length I Saw Fire examines why many young people are turning away from the organizations which have historically sold-out the working class – and starting a riot of their own.
  • Disruptive Elements: Exploring the Extremes of French Anarchism – Disruptive Elements is a collection of previously hard to find or untranslated writings of French anarchists from the mid-19th to the early 20th century. Much of the material presented here was translated specifically for this book, and offers up a lost thread from the fabric of history, one we find particularly vibrant.
  • Huye Hombre Huye – Xosé Tarrio Gonzalez spent 16 years imprisoned in Spain, most of these years in isolation under the FIES regime. He responded to the brutal circumstances of prison with dignity and courage. He writes of escape plans, struggle inside prison, suffering, and strength. His words expose painful details of a life behind bars.
  • The Most Dangerous Idea – by Alfredo Bonanno (selected insurrectionary writings from Elephant Editions)

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Endnotes 3: Gender, Race, Class and Other Misfortunes

Endnotes 3: Gender, Race, Class and Other Misfortunes

This issue of Endnotes has been a long time coming. Its publication was delayed due to experiences and conversations that compelled us to clarify our analyses, and at times to wholly rework them. Many of the articles in this issue are the products of years of discussion. Some articles spilled over into such lengthy pieces that we had to split the issue in two. Endnotes 4 will therefore be forthcoming, not in another three years, but rather, in the next six months. Here, by way of explanation for the delay, we describe some of the questions and quandaries that gave birth to this issue and the next.

The first two issues of Endnotes called for a renewed focus on the struggles of our times, unencumbered by the dead weight of outmoded theories. However, we ourselves provided little analysis of struggles. Partly, that was because class conflict was at a low ebb at the time we were writing, and that made flights of abstraction more attractive. But it was also because we didn’t know what we wanted to say about the struggles that were ongoing, and we thought it best not to pretend otherwise. We began this journal as a place for the careful working out of ideas. We didn’t want to rush to conclusions for the sake of being topical.

That said, the milieu of which we form a part — the so-called communising current — did offer an analysis of struggles, which we found attractive…

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Seven Years Buried Alive & Other Writings

Seven Years Buried Alive & Other Writings by Bifilo Panclasta

Based on sources from 1910 to 1940, this Seattle publication of the writings of Biófilo Panclasta is beautifully produced and nicely sized. Panclasta was an anarchist who told Kropotkin that he wasn’t one, because he had no cause but his own.

Influenced by Nietzsche and egoist ideas, his writings are similar in tone to Novatore and Arrigoni, but more tragic than either. He was an adventurer, a traveler, a Bohemian, distinct from any tendency; his politics was his life, and both were as contradictory as his name, which means lover of life, destroyer of everything.

This book includes almost all of his writings, translated from the Spanish. He traveled over many parts of the world; spread his ideas; staged dramatic interruptions of church services; made a formal proposal to an international anarchist conference for the simultaneous assassination of various heads of state and church; joined in strikes, struggles, and uprisings; was jailed hundreds of times, and tried to stop the hands of time from moving. There’s a lot over the span of years and places, but the important thing is he lived in a time of liberal national liberation uprisings and of fights against US imperialism in Latin America, as well as under the dictatorship of Juan Vicente Gomez in Venezuela, which is when he was imprisoned (buried alive) for seven years.

Panclasta is not well known, certainly among English-speaking audiences. There are a couple of weird accounts of him in English (the tiny Wikipedia entry, or the pseudo-history of him in Politics is Not a Banana #2). Aside from having the coolest anarchist name ever, Panclasta is worth reading because he does not fit in with what anarchism is supposed to be, what its history is supposed to be like, and whatever limited notions we have of Latin American anarchism specifically. He’s a real odd ball. He makes an effective counterpoint to both ideological leftist anarchism and to ideological egoist anarchism. But really he just lived a very interesting life, and this is a story (or collection of stories) about that life.

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Posted in arrigoni, biofilo panclasta, egoist, nietzsche, novatore, s&v press, Things | Comments closed

Fra Contadini

Fra Contadini by Errico Malatesta

These words mark the maximum point of Malatesta’s analyses contained in the present pamphlet. The individual arguments faced, the various theoretical questions take on a different meaning and perspective in the light of this phrase. Taken individually, problems such as production, machinery, work, planning, price mechanisms, Government, the State, the revolution considered in abstract terms, can each be treated with that detached perspective which so many comrades have substituted for the true meaning of anarchism. Here these problems take on a different hue.

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Posted in elephant editions, Errico Malatesta, Things | Comments closed

Endnotes 3: Gender, Race, Class and Other Misfortunes

Endnotes 3: Gender, Race, Class and Other Misfortunes

This issue of Endnotes has been a long time coming. Its publication was delayed due to experiences and conversations that compelled us to clarify our analyses, and at times to wholly rework them. Many of the articles in this issue are the products of years of discussion. Some articles spilled over into such lengthy pieces that we had to split the issue in two. Endnotes 4 will therefore be forthcoming, not in another three years, but rather, in the next six months. Here, by way of explanation for the delay, we describe some of the questions and quandaries that gave birth to this issue and the next.

The first two issues of Endnotes called for a renewed focus on the struggles of our times, unencumbered by the dead weight of outmoded theories. However, we ourselves provided little analysis of struggles. Partly, that was because class conflict was at a low ebb at the time we were writing, and that made flights of abstraction more attractive. But it was also because we didn’t know what we wanted to say about the struggles that were ongoing, and we thought it best not to pretend otherwise. We began this journal as a place for the careful working out of ideas. We didn’t want to rush to conclusions for the sake of being topical.

That said, the milieu of which we form a part — the so-called communising current — did offer an analysis of struggles, which we found attractive…

LBC product page

Posted in anti-state communism, chris chen, Communization, endnotes, jasper bernes, Things | Comments closed


The project of self-realisation is born of the passion for creation, in the moment when subjectivity wells up and aspires to reign universally. The project of communication is born of the passion of love, whenever people discover that they share the same desire for amorous conquest. The project of participation is born of the passion for playing, whenever group activity facilitates the self-realisation of each individual.

Isolated, the three passions are perverted. Dissociated, the three projects are falsified. The will to self-realisation is turned into the will to power; sacrificed to status and role-playing, it reigns in a world of restrictions and illusions. The will to communication becomes objective dishonesty; based on relationships between objects, it provides the semiologists with signs to dress up in human guise. The will to participation serves to organise the loneliness of everyone in the crowd; it creates the tyranny of the illusion of community.

Part I
Entries on egoism from the Anarchist Encyclopedia (1934) by Wastiaux, Marestan, Odin, translated by de Acosta Philosophy of Egoism (1905) by James L. Walker
Anarchist Individualism in the Social Revolution by Renzo Novatore
Unbridled Freedom by Enzo Martucci
Egoism (1924) by John Beverley Robinson

From Enemies of Society
Stirner, Marx and Fascism by S.E. Parker
Freedom and Solitude by Marilisa Fiorina

Part II
The Unitary Triad: self-realisation, communication, participation by Raoul Vaneigem
Preface to The Right to be Greedy by Bob Black
The Union of Egoists by Svein Olav Nyberg

From Sovereign Self:

A Letter to Lovers (#1)
Indigenous Egoism (#5)

From My Own:
An Egoist Method (#3)
What is an Individual (#1)
Nameless: An Egoist Critique of Identity (#6)

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Posted in ardent press, bob black, Egoism, Enemies of Society, My Own, Sovereign Self, Stirner, Things, vaneigem | Comments closed

2013 LBC Books Review

Anarchists have had to make do with the fact that even as we succeed we rarely get credit for it, while we always get the blame for our failures and lack of success. As a publisher in this family of ideas we measure our own success partly by our own continued interest in our broad project, and on whether these ideas merit discussion and further research.

If the goal was to produce engaged, interesting, anarchist material than it’s conservative to say that we have succeeded. If our goal was to shape the minds of a new generation of antiauthoritarians then our project hasn’t succeeded. This is the work we have ahead of us.


Its Core is the Negation, Alejandro de Acosta, Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed:

A Critique of Critique, anonymous, Attentat, #1:

XIV, Institute of Experimental Freedom, Between Predicates, War:

My Life in the Gulag, Ron Sakolsky, Creating Anarchy:

Deserting Empire, Deserting Humanism, Alden Wood, The Cultural Logic of Insurrection:

Noam on the Nod, Bob Black, Defacing the Currency:

Why Do Something Rather than Nothing?, Guillaume Paoli, Demotivational Training:

Conscious Domination, Unconscious Ideology: Knowledge as Power, Enrico Manicardi, Free from Civilization:

Influencing Machines, Intuition Pumps, Paranoia & The Poisonous Cobra of Surrealism, Penelope Rosemont, Fifth Estate (#390):

Polyamory and Power, Andrew Williams Smith née Sunfrog Bonobo:

A Response on Polyamory, David Watson, Fifth Estate (#389):

Excerpts, Sherif Xenoph Ibn El, I Want to be a Suicide Bomber:

Forbidden Defense Speech, Ravachol, Illegalist Trial Statements:

Beyond Property Destruction, Tom Nomad, The Master’s Tools:

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To the Indomitable Hearts

To the Indomitable Hearts by Luciano “Tortuga” Pitronella

Luciano “Tortuga” Pitronella sits in prison (house arrest) convicted of the attempted bombing of a bank in Santiago, Chile in 2011. After being slandered and disrespected by the press and disowned by many of his own comrades, six years later he is still fighting for his freedom. This book collects letters to and from him in a passionate and heart-felt collection that is inspiring and touching. A benefit for anarchists imprisoned by the Chilean State. Translated by War On Society.

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Posted in plain words, Things, tortuga, war on society | Comments closed