Reportback on a trip to the South East

Ideally I would be updating this thing at least once a month. At least that often I have some poignant thing that I’m working through that I’d love to share in this context as at least a bookmark for further thinking but I find I’m rarely getting around to it. Why? Because between websites I run (and that self destruct), publishing a book a month, helping run a distro, trying to get & keep some paying work, publishing and writing for a newspaper, and just keeping up with the daily grind of keeping all of this in order… writing is a hard sell.

Oh yeah, and there is traveling. At least 2 major and 3-4 minor times a year I leave the Bay and go to some other part of anarchyland to discover what riches and dramas live there. It makes sense as a way to break my own head out of the drama of the Bay and to submerge myself in “somewhere else” which is a favored place to visit for sure. This November I traveled to the southeast part of the US and visited Atlanta, Asheville, and Chapel Hill/Carrboro. Here are my thoughts about this trip.

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Age

In the Bay we are starting to have a serious problem with the age gap between new residents to anarchyland and the old timers. I saw a shadow play version of the same issue in the SE where the young people seem to have generationally different concerns and interests than the late 20-something people who have distinctly different priorities than those in the next older age group. This could be talked about as a Gen X, Gen Y, and Millennials distinction but also breaks down as a pre-Seattle ‘99, post-Seattle 99, and post-RNC (or even post-Occupy) split in anarchyland.

Sure there isn’t really a disagreement between the three around a general orientation about how to live ones life (aka the lifestyle questions are in the range of more free time and less working for others, diet leaning towards veganism, affect towards stylish REI suburban america gear) but the projectuality was distinct. I was excited there was so much Gen X energy on this trip as most of the US doesn’t seem to have it at all or there just isn’t a large enough center of gravity to keep older people around and productive.

I guess this experience can be summed up by the conclusion that North American anarchyland is finally starting to have a generation gap. Enough people in enough age categories to reflect a changing and different anarchy for each. This portends something exciting as, arguably, a culture of resistance (or whatever) may only be truly possible when there is enough of a range of people to actually demonstrate anarchy-as-a-form-of-life from cradle to grave.

The cult

I’m not going to call out a specific group or set of ideas but I want to put the warning into peoples heads that, much like the RCP and other recruiting organizations of the past, there may be a group of dedicated and intelligent individuals using anarchyland to recruit for a cult. Again, I don’t want to overstate the case but somewhere in the combination of self-appointed charismatic spokespeople, a value system that seems innovative and exclusive, and a double set of ethics is something-like-a-cult.

Beware the wolf by first recognizing it.

Culture

There is a significant way in which I belong in the SE. It still hangs on to hardcore scene roots, which I grew up with, as a source of pride (or at least self-recognition) rather than “aw shucks I was never in to that” which I experience in most other places. This is a generational questions too as the Gen Y (aka post-Seattle) generation and younger is more likely to not have a background in the punk/hardcore scene… but in the SE it still feels on the tip of everyone’s tongue.

Proof? The first night of the Carrboro bookfair weekend there was an ad-hoc, put-together-in-four-hours, jump on each others sweaty bodies, use a megaphone as a microphone, break a window, put a foot into my nose, cover band of Minor Threat. It was awesome, trust me.

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That said, I’m not into Hardcore like I used to be. The iconography is still meaningful to me but when I was booted from the mainline of HC I realized important things about myself that I count as the lessons of adulthood. HC was great for my adolescence but things changed. HC didn’t. (not to give any credit to Uppercut, I’m not talking about selling out but about what a music scene’s limitations are)

Ethics

At some point during my time in CH/C I said something about how ethical the place was… What I meant, what I experienced, was an approach to disagreement that is qualitatively different from how I experience it. If I disagree with someone or something disagreeable is referred to in a room I am in I will often make a joke at the disagreeable objects expense. Usually the joke is funny/not-funny and has, if I do it right, the multiple levels of agreement, disagreement, and ambivalence I feel towards the disagreeable subject are all implied by the joke. I’d like to say that I only don’t talk/joke about the things I absolutely despise, otherwise, games on.

What I realize, now that I’m gone, is that the South really has a thing about politeness that is more-or-less the opposite of my approach. Disagreeable subjects are almost never talked about as disagreeable or in a cruel or sloppy way. Instead the universe slows down and a series of precise statements that clarifies the exact terrain of the disagreement between the speaker and the subject are made. I confused this with ethics because I tend not to treat my (political) rivals with a great deal of respect (preferring to roll about in the mud with them, thank you very much) but it’s something else.

Another example that kind of muddies the water. There were many guests passing through CH/C while I was there including an American ex-pat who currently lives in Berlin. In a rare moment of joviality the kitchen table was making jokes around the challenges of call out culture. The specific example that was being cited was a very complicated situation that was only discussed obliquely but concerned trans identity and the line between trans-misogyny and something else lie. The ex-pat put an absolute chill into the room by saying (more-or-less) “where I am from we don’t make jokes about trans issues because they are very serious” which put the room into a shame spiral that lasted the next 20 minutes.

This attitude and the response is what confused me about the difference between ethical social behavior and a sort of cultural norm around hospitality and the like. Obviously I am ideological when it comes to my ideas around the value of humor, especially if it is painful and disrespectful, but I’m not going to defend this here. I’ll say instead that it’s nice to see that there are still local characteristics in different parts of the country.

Poverty (aesthetic)

In my imagination anarchyland could be a healthy, multi-generational, cauldron of persons, ideas, and projects. Among the limitations to this ever happening is the moralism around broke culture. I share a condemnation of work(ing for a living). I recognize how American culture pulls us towards a shallow materialism and crazy ideas like freedom = property ownership et al. I choose as one of my least desirable abstractions the one called Capitalism (I especially like this critique of it). I also see a hard contradiction between the ways that anarchyland forces people to choose a side around having money and being a true & real anarchist.

I lived in the Mission district prior to the first dot com bubble in the late 90s (I believe I moved to the East Bay around 97). During the 90s most of the people I knew worked no more than 20 hours a week and spent the rest of their energy doing creative interesting things. There was a balance between living (the things one enjoyed doing) and working (the things violently forced on us by this world). It was great and I was surrounded by sparks and fire.

I despise the violence of this world but scurrying about as if it doesn’t constrain our imagination and possibilities adds a second level of abstraction to a condition that is already difficult. Forcing our people to see themselves as good or bad depending on how much of their working life is criminal or black/gray market is… sad. It’s also IMO one of the sub-cultural aspects of anarchyland that I hate the most. It seems to drive people to doing Jobs They Believe in (TM) or leaving anarchyland altogether.

I believe we could be more creative about how we work rather than create ultimatums around it. Sure figuring out coops and collectives may be part of that but so too could shared jobs and other types of resource sharing. Most of us live in cities where the cost of living is outrageously high and our lack of trust in each other means we each face these obstacles alone.

Thanks to my hosts in ATL, Asheville, and Chapel Hill/Carrboro. Thanks for letting me into your home and lives.

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Escape?

God is dead… he wrote. The fundamental conundrum of contemporary man’s condition: nihilism. Nihilism becomes the inescapable spirit of the times. The Modern Man could merely respond to it, manage it, and perhaps with an active approach, create for himself a way of being in the world that could bid nihilism good riddance. The foundations […]
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Absurdist Anarchy

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

Existence for a self-conscious individual may not offer any sort of rational basis for meaning and values, but it at least offers a biochemistry to help get the process going. Good and bad may not transcend the somewhat haphazard associations brains form which tie into emotional responses, but there are at least those immediate and […]
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Camus’ the Rebel: Quotes (some Notes)

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

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

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

blackseed2

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

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

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Anarchist Survival Guide for Understanding Gestapo Swine Interrogation Mind Games

anarchist_survival_guide2

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

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Uncivilised: the Dark Mountain Manifesto

uncivilised.dark mountain

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

This is their manifesto.

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Writings of Anarchist and Bank Robber Gabriel Pombo da Silva

gabriel_pombo_da_silva

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

 

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

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

Here… at the Center of the World in Revolt

here_at_the_center_of_the_world

 

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

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Huye Hombre Huye: Diary of a maximum security prisoner

huye hombre huye-01

 

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

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

-From the Prologue by Iñaki Rivera Beiras

 

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

Women of Plogoff

women_of_plogoff

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

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

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

– from the translator’s introduction

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Insurgencies: A Journal of Insurgent Strategy

Insurgencies

 

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

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

LBC Product Page

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

What’s New with LBC – Fall 2014

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

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

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Recent LBC Titles

Huye Hombre Huye: diary of a maximum security prisoner

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

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

-From the Prologue by Iñaki Rivera Beiras

Huye Hombre Huye

Here… at the Center of the World in Revolt

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

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

Pick up your weapons: it is time to heal!

Here… At the Center of the World in Revolt

Women of Plogoff

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

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

Women of Plogoff

Dangerous Constellations

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

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

–from the introduction

Dangerous Constellations

Insurgencies #1

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

Insurgencies #1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fifth Estate #392 Falll/Winter 2014

fifth_estate_fall-winter-2014

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

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

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More about the Conversation

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

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

The Firewall

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

Rand1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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