How do I stop being obsessively negative about politics or life in general, after learning anarchist analysis?

Submitted by grey_jedi in Anarchism

I've been into anarchist theory for a few years, now. Before I got deep into a lot of the literature and analysis of various ideas, I use to have a generally positive outlook on life and the world. I can't claim that, anymore.

I'm definitely the 'negative Nancy' of my family and friends. I can't help but point out how their elected officials aren't interested in changing anything in a meaningful way.; that their attempts to 'change the system' by participating in it are doomed to fail.

In U.S. politics I see fascism growing, liberals further embracing fascist enabling policy, climate destruction accelerating at unprecedented rates, hierarchical power structures reinforcing each-other and making further redundancies everywhere. I gave up on the idea of "revolution" years ago and I don't see any light at the end of the tunnel.

How do you find positivity after embracing an anarchist analysis of the world, while the world itself is heading toward climate collapse and your neighbors are embracing fascist politics?



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planx wrote (edited )

A few thoughts:

Unless you're a social genius capable of making light and fun of serious and terrible things in perfect balance with the flow of those family/friend social spaces, making your points with such sharpness and eloquence that everybody may grasp them (I'm not, some are), try to accept that you will be a negative nancy in some way. This is one reason we hang out with other anarchic types and not our often-disgusting families etc.

Where possible, try to spend time around people you have affinity with. Those are the people you can build with, those are the people who stand on the same ground as you. You won't always be able to do only be around your affinity people, so it's always good to try to be as sharp at expressing key concepts in ways that more regular folks would understand. I read stuff like CrimethInc to brush up on that. And I pick my battles, I'll only speak at the family table if I can be short and sharp and impactful. They already know I'm a weirdo who hates it all, but if I can shut down some bullshit with three or four well-placed sentences that end on a positive note (everything's garbage so all we have is each other, there are these other people all over the world doing things differently and you can join, etc), I will enjoy that as a kind of craft.

It's also those people you have affinity with that you can build project geared at joyfully smashing that negativity. It makes the dull sad conversations at the family table bearable when you know that later you're gonna go meet up with some people and build your mutual aid network in a space that lets you unleash your potential.

At least that's how I do it. I'm curious to hear what others have to say and if there are any responses to what I've said.


grey_jedi OP wrote

Thank you for your thoughts on the matter, I really do appreciate it.

I don't have an affinity group or anyone with which I share an affinity, which I think reinforces my negative outlook. I feel very isolated. I can't really talk at length with anyone IRL about anarchy, or at least liberatory ideas outside of electoralism, especially if those liberatory ideas imply 'illegal' actions...

I think that finding others that I have an affinity with is probably what I need to focus on.


___A wrote (edited )

I spent a lot of time with a group of people who i suppose postured a lot about being radical at one point, but when it came down to it, i found they werent really as supportive to eachother, or myself as i would have expected, i found myself reconnecting with an old friend recently who has really been supportive, but felt ostracized from that group as well. I find the so called anarchists who come frem a middle class artsy background often are more judgemental, and dont have a solid grasp on class dynamics, lots of poor people steal but feel ashemed, a lot of people eat from food banks but feel embarrased. Theres nothing to be ashamed about being poor. people who are struggling might not have time for more doom and gloom politics talk, but they might aprecciate not being looked down upon for simply living their lives. Its almost impossible to know that you are in afinity with till after i would say like all relationships it needs be alowed to grow naturally, and be based on trust. The politics doesnt have to come first, and there can be disagreements, but all actions have context so etc. Something anarchy recognizes is that personal choices and actions are inherently political. So find people you trust and find comfortable ways to carve out a niche in your enviroment for reclaiming and re interpret the things around you, this is an active democratic/anarchic process to the world around you!


kaj wrote

Dann sollten wir uns zusammenschließen


liminal_d wrote

Personally, I find positivity in no longer expecting family or friends to act in anyway meaningful towards change. No matter how much I love 'em, those fuckers are gonna be stuck until they're not.

The thing about anarchy is regardless of whether there are fascists, liberals, capitalists, tyrants, or whatever, I am constantly compelled to consider my own desires. There is plenty about this planet to enjoy and there are plenty of possibilities for forming relations in spite of all the bullshit impositions.

There is also one benefit to being an anarchist with all those whoppers around. That is, the unlimited capacity for joy in adventure, hostility and attack. I never tire in upsetting some arsehole toward firing a neuron... even those with relatively similar bloodlines.

This may all seem somewhat shallow and heartless. It's not that I am lacking empathy, only that I'll be damned if I'm gonna let them infect me with their acquiescence and pathologies.

I'm here one time only. I've got the privilege of seeing the inequities and having the ability to act upon the worlds. I'm not gonna save the world on my own, though I intend on enjoying myself in any endeavour I choose.

Oh, as a suggestion, perhaps try being smug. It won't win you popularity, but friends and relatives hate that shit in a way that's hard to ignore ;)


grey_jedi OP wrote

I'm here one time only. I've got the privilege of seeing the inequities and having the ability to act upon the worlds. I'm not gonna save the world on my own, though I intend on enjoying myself in any endeavour I choose.

I'm trying to adopt this mentality, though I find it difficult often. I suspect that my current media consumption is mostly (unintentional) outrage porn, which I'll need to filter out.

Oh, as a suggestion, perhaps try being smug. It won't win you popularity, but friends and relatives hate that shit in a way that's hard to ignore ;)

Haha, I should try that. I'm usually on the receiving end of smugness. It would be gratifying to flip that on them


ruin wrote

I’m often asked this by family and acquaintances. Being an unapologetic anarcho-pessimist-nihilist-egoist-buddhist-whateverist seems to be incongruous with being a reasonably happy partner and father of four in the estimation of most folks. Personally I don’t see the contradiction.

Anarchism in the broadest sense is a rejection of authority in both a physical (social/political) and theoretical(personal/ideological) . If you take it beyond the boring (to me at least) political implications and carry the analysis towards a nihilistic and antisocial rejection and critique of the thinking and values that created and sustain the institutions that anarchism opposes you can clear the slate. Start living and thinking for yourself.

The sooner you have a realization that contextualizing yourself in some greater social, historical, or moral sense is an utter fucking waste of time, the sooner you can start enjoying life in whatever way you choose.

The negativity isn’t a result of your engagement with anarchist analysis, but rather your trouble with reconciling it with your current conception of your position in the world itself. Let your expectations and worries of the future go (it’s an illusion anyway) and the present can be joyful.


grey_jedi OP wrote

Thank you for your analysis!

I think you're dead-on with my trouble of reconciling anarchist analysis with my own conception of my position in the world.

Do you know of any media (books, blogs, podcasts, etc) that covers letting go of expectations or anxiety of the future, whether it's from an anarchist perspective or not?


ruin wrote

Of course. I feel like some of my most lasting understandings regarding anarchism are a result of looking outside of the milieu.

Taosim and buddhism are a great starting point. Eastern thought has much more in common with nihilism than the monotheistic world view that pervades western politics.

For Taoism, I’d start with anything by Hakuin and the Tao te Ching by Lao Tzu as good primers.

For Tibetan Buddhism I’d start by checking out Kadampa. New Kadampa is a tradition specifically geared for a western audience and while some people might turn up there noses at it for its obvious cultural pandering, there are great teachings and lots of friendly people at the temples. They’re everywhere. You just have to set aside the Unitarian church vibes, but I’ve learned a lot about meditation at a local NKT temple and there’s usually good vegetarian food (they’re also atheist friendly).

As an aside, meditation has been super helpful, in general for me.

Nietzsche is worth engaging with if you haven’t already. Thus Spoke Zarathustra is a good jumping off point.

Highly recommend Stirner’s The Unique and Its Property as well. So often name dropped but not widely read.

Getting more anarchist, I really enjoy flipping through Willful Disobedience by Wolfi Landstreicher even though I’ve read it plenty. It’s positive in its destructiveness and always gets me motivated, if that makes sense?

Definitely check out the Immediatism podcast for good anarchist texts touching on good topics related what we’re discussing. Cory also has another podcast called Pointing Texts that I would be remiss not to mention that’s more Taoist and might be helpful.


lastfutures wrote

Nihilism & anti-politics. Just get so negative that you achieve escape velocity back out to a good mood. I mean, you listed a bunch of shit that I have zero control over - and if I tried to have control over it I'd become a politician or a people manager. Those things might have implications for me in my daily life that I'll have to fight with, but as abstractions people yell at each other about I don't care. I think the internet has increasingly demanded of people that they have a position, an opinion, on everything - that they fight in the arena of spectacle. I mostly just refuse it. I have projects in my life, I read & write about the niche things I'm into, and I try to maintain an affect of detached amusement.

Of course I'll still get interpreted socially as being negative sometimes, but it's not my fault if other people care about boring things that don't matter and want me on their team.


_caspar_ wrote

I wouldnt quite put it as finding positivity, but reading bits of Liezi/Lieh-Tzu here and there has helped me out lately.


Ennui wrote

I’m a fucking poser so I don’t have social advice, but I can tell you that half of anarchist philosophy is realizing there’s more to life than political analysis. Explore it.


Hopium wrote

Sure it's all just a game. The Sun's gonna blow up at some time.


celebratedrecluse wrote

There is beauty all around us. Common things have incredible complexity; from the mechanistic, extractive, tortured beauty of an LCD screen, with thousands of microscopic pixels, to the infinite fractals of plants and animals. Around us always, invisible USB drives of genetic information, even entire biological computers, cast about by the vagaries of the wind, seeding each labored breath of kings within the clouds themselves. Each human being has trillions of other life forms inside it, a coherent yet multipolar consciousness that works in chemical symphony.

Look beyond the human scale. Look beyond humanity, and witness the infinite complexity, the deepness of time. There, you may find as I have, that nothing of the current social artifice, the empire, these conditions of social contradiction, none of it can possibly withstand its own externalities.

Realize that it's not on your individual shoulders to "guide the world", regardless of your privilege. The metanarratives, metapatterns of human society, these can only be structured by social formations, not individuals. Let go of a generalized sense of guilt; it will halt your way, and obstruct the process of change itself.

Focus on living the life you have, the way you want to, and you'll find your interests coalign with those with similar desires. You'll also likely find, this is hard enough on its own, without worrying about the state of the world like it's your third job.

When you have to fight, fight hard, but don't seek out conflict out of a sense of obligation or destiny. Don't allow yourself to feel like you are held down by abstractions of your own control.

Anarchy can be a positive project of affirmatively exploring new freedoms, new agencies, new affinities, and new loves, not just a negation of the coercive and extractive world we have. The reason why so many anarchists are depressed, is not because anarchy is depressing, but rather because anarchy offers depressed people something alluring.

Anarchy offers the consistent, genuine possibility of unmediated joy, risks with rewards, friendships with meaning, at a time when all other forms of sociality only offer, at best, contentment, deferment, or distraction, along the trajectory of liberal atomization, material poverty, spiritual lack, and collective isolation.


Mache wrote

grey_jedi We live in a world of competition, competing for sunflower resources, delicious food and sweet sleep.there is no solidarity and there will not be, this is proven by history.It is impossible to keep up with something without depriving others. I support you, just to enrich myself in the future,increase your capital,you must remove monopolists .


Mache wrote

You can hate me,I'm a misanthrope to my stump.


Mache wrote

You will probably be people who at least live in affluence, corrupt people.These are my people!


432Hz wrote

To make a long story short.

The left in the western world is fucked!!!

You have every reason to be depressed!!!

How to stop it???

Tell me if you find out :D


Mache wrote

We chew in Darwen capitalism, there will always be leaders and bosses/the captain is only one person, the rest are sailors.


Mache wrote

We chew in Darwinian capitalism, there will always be leaders and bosses/the captain is only one person, the rest are sailors. remember it forever.