Episode 16 – Anarchist responses to the mainstream nightmare
This editorial is the result of an anarchist perspective that would not have been possible if it were not for those who were critical of left anarchism. I don’t find the question itself to be particularly interesting because I don’t think anarchism, even in the local highpoint of the SCW, was powerful enough to respond to the mainstream nightmare. The problem that Franco solved ended at the national border. The problem of responding to the modern, industrial, western, planet-destroying (for human life at the very least), enviornment altering, dehumanizing, objectifying, frontier-expanding to own, owning-of-place, owning-of-land-and-the-context-defining-it, reifying is larger than our Spanish friends were capable of. We probably need as long to roll back to logic of capitalism and the state as it took to develop these technologies in the first place. We at least need the seven generations it’ll be neceesary to bring back the buffalo, bison, eastern cougar, the mexican grizzly bear, etc, etc. Anarchism has no responses to these questions but it can think about what the mainstream nightmare, it can dissect and quantify where it begins and end and begin the naming of how we participate and abstains from participating in it.
That said this question is usually answered by left anarchism as an excuse to get into causes de jure (today it would be antifa, corruption in the executive brach, and of course climate change) and blanketing the rest of the conversation with imagination stiffling rhetoric about incrementalism, the mental state and corruption of the personalities in power, and impossible optimist statement about how technology can and will be bent to mans will. Other anarchists keep it simple and restate principles. Humans are better equiped to deal with their own problems than the institutianal powers of the state and capital and should be freed to do just that.
The question is put pointedly by a listener to the podcast “The question is really to ascertain as to whether post left anarchy offers anything by way of ANY challenge to current state of affairs. Yes, leftist tactics have proved fruitless by and large: demonstrations don’t work. direct action doesn’t get us anywhere, I understand all that. However, where does post left anarchy get us?”
By your own words I think not leftist anarchism does us a lot of good if it gets us to avoid the tactics the left confuse with a strategy. Not only has it saved you as an individual from the toxicity of the lefts lowest common denominator thinking, it has pointed to a way out. This is also the place where I part ways from traditional post-left anarchism but it is worth reflecting on individual thinking vs crowd thinking and point out that post-left, for many people, is a modernizing of individual anarchism and state that for many ppl that distinction and difference is meaningful. I would point to the reader critical thinking as an anarchist weapon as the personally more meaningful approach for anarchism https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/wolfi-landstreicher-critical-thinking-as-an-anarchist-weapon
Here are four techniques that I draw from that reader and use every day as anarchist practice
We notice that the world is not as we desire, and so we ask the question, “Why not?” We look at the mechanisms, institutions, and social dynamics that create and perpetuate the world as it is, and analyze them thoroughly, down to their root causes — hence the term radical. For example, there is exploitation in the world. We need to examine what we mean when we use the term and what other people mean when they use it; an anarchist definition will probably be different than that of a statist. We need to figure out why that is. Next we need to try to discover the main causes of exploitation, and who benefits from its continued existence.
We try to understand how this society is created and perpetuated, and why it differs from what we desire. We study, discuss, and interpret the relevant facts and history of the problem, and begin to formulate a reasonable solution based on those facts. Using the example of exploitation, we develop our analysis by tracing its widespread practice by the various institutions that exist in the US, and what they have in common with other formal and informal institutions around the world. We will probably discover that, as the world has become more dominated by industrial capitalism, it has become increasingly more exploitative. A possible solution to the continued existence of exploitation, therefore, might begin with the idea of abolishing industrial capitalism.
We devise a set of goals for how we want to change the situation into one that fits our principles and analyses. This is where our overall vision is based. We try to figure out how to implement our ideas practically. A major goal of an anarchist strategy is to undermine people’s belief in the legitimacy of the State, to make it possible for all people to gain confidence in taking back control of all aspects of our lives.
We come up with actions that are compatible with our strategy. The main question to ask is “What methods/tools can be used to achieve the goal?” The answer is whatever helps to make the goal(s) a reality; whatever is expedient at the moment depending on who’s involved and what exactly we are trying to accomplish. Of course our tactics must be in keeping with our principles. But it is important to remember that tactics are not the same thing as principles. Non-violence is not an anarchist principle; it is a tactic. Depending on the situation, we decide when it’s convenient — or not — to adhere to non-violent guidelines. At times we may decide that it makes more sense to fight back with force. Morality plays no part in deciding upon which tactics to use in a given situation — it only matters what is compatible with our strategy and principles.
Of course I am specifically oriented towards publishing having been raised on the written word and believing in it with all my heart but I accept that Strategy has become antiquated and out of date for many people. It is also worth reflecting that my heart is still in print and I reflect on anarchist practice as a critique of action. I’ll read a bit of what I wrote on this topic in attentat. Finally it is worth it for me to reflect a bit on scale. In what scale are we capable of responding to MSM nightmare and what scale are we not. I think one of the great successes of right-left logic is putting personal responsibility for enormous systematic problems on individuals. The way the question we are dealing with now is an example of that.
When problem solving the first question has to be… can this problem be solved given the resources we have access to. The second question has to be, in todays terrible age of transparency as a weapon. Should this be shared? While it is easy to imagine that my particular issue here is unique this week that was proven to not be the case. Let me explain. A vaguely anarchist FB meme factory was no-platofrmed, doxxed, and out on 325. They were declared bad and glee was spread throughout the land as yet another giant of discource and asociality was dismantled. Until it was found that they might have nabbed the wrong person. Ooops. The point of doxxing tho is that it usually doesn’t exist if there is any human slip up. If you never give access to human attributes that can be turned around on you.
While I consistenly use my legal last name, I use it without the rest of my deadname and it also is the unique name of a fantasy figure that was the star of a major motion picture star and for the first 20 years of the Internet basically dominated search engines and whatnot. But I have been too generous with my home and as a result enough people, roommates, etc have seen my full legal name that it has become a weapon to use against me. Likewise my vehicles are seen both at public events and at my home and have been vandalized by so-called anarchists who have their say against objects that don’t talk or fight back. My primary mode of transportation was just attacked again last month. My full legal name was used/attacked/publicized again this week.
I mention this because it pertains to this question of the mainstream nightmare. Where it begins and ends and how useful it is to talk about “doing soemthing” about to strangers. Here is a safer example also from this week.
“Why oh why does Aragorn! continually state that the UK is about class when it’s about power, just like it is in the USA. What, doesn’t class exist in the USA? Of course it does only the citizens of the USA like to believe in social mobility and real choice whereas the UK calls it out for what it is: class: we are better than you; more worthy. So please, Aragorn! will you stop wittering on about how hung up on class we are in the UK! And, personally speaking, I am tired and bored of the increasing levels of snark the Aragorn! clique dole out to people who make the effort to contribute by sending in articles etc. By all means, critique material but let’s have some respect. You’re 40 + years old and snarking and giggling like a pubescent school boy is not endearing: it is truly cringing. Why do you feel so compelled to continue in such manner?”
One Reply to “Episode 16 – Anarchist responses to the mainstream nightmare”
When you mentioned your name, I wanted to see how easy it was to look up m the Internet. Interesting experience.
This was much more free-formed with some good calls. The Snarkiness part was amusing. The editorial was very good and I want to read though it carefully. I liked the analysis on race vs class in the US and UK.