Submitted by ziq in Anarchism (edited )

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The Dangerous Failings of Community

As long as I've been around other anarchists, I've witnessed an unremitting reverence for the sanctity of community.

The idea of community is held in such high regard by anarchists that it's eerily reminiscent of USA liberals paying fealty to the "sacred ground" of their nation's capitol. Community is something consecrated and unassailable to anarchists. It's the bond that binds us to our fellow true believers. It gives us belonging, direction, purpose, safety, all those good things.

But does it really?

The more time I spend amongst anarchists, the more I find the "anarchist community" ideal to be inherently unattainable and isolating. It seems every attempt at building an organized egalitarian community ends up enabling gross misconduct by certain members and the end result is always demoralizing burn-out for everyone involved.

The attempt to group disparate strangers who barely get along, based on an imagined affinity (typically ideology, but painted in such broad strokes so as to be rendered inconsequential) inevitably manages to crash and burn every time.

A gentle, alienated soul's deep pining to build community will often get exploited by abusive people so they can insert themselves into their target's life. By attaching themselves to a community, virtually anyone can gain instant access to the minds and hearts of people that would never have associated with them otherwise. Anarchists are so dedicated to maintaining the ideals of egalitarianism, openness, inclusivity, mutuality and fraternity, that they'll put up with a whole lot of shit from people that demonstrate over and over again that they don't share the same values as them. Abusive people are tolerated and even accepted by us so long as they identify as belonging to the anarchist movement, because of course anarchists aren't fond of gatekeeping or erecting barriers to entry.

When a person announces they're a member of the anarchist community, we immediately hand them a black cat badge to pin to their shirt (usually metaphorically, sometimes literally) and welcome them with open arms, no questions asked. Predictably, parasitic abusers are able to swagger into our spaces flashing that official membership badge, and they get to work preying on vulnerable, empathetic people who are looking for fellow travelers who share their ideals.

Again and again I've witnessed these entitled parasites take advantage of the compassionate anarchist spirit and they'll often spend years tearing people's lives apart until the community becomes so toxic and unbearable that everyone abandons ship to try and preserve their mental health and physical safety. In the end, everyone seems to end up more exploited and traumatized by the anarchist community experience than they would have been without it.

Due to my experiences both managing and participating in various anarchist spaces, I'd really like to throw out the entire idea of anarchist community and re-imagine how anarchistic interactions can be manifested going forward.

Much like the related ideologically sacred institution of democracy, the whole concept of community is insidious and underhanded, an ideal seemingly designed to manipulate people into associating with bullies and dickheads by whittling away at basic human needs like autonomy, self-determination and consent.

Too many times, our dedication to building unfettered communities open to all people lowers our guard and lets cops, rapists and assorted authoritarians infiltrate our movements and inflict lasting damage to both our collective and individual psyches.

A community in its current form almost requires everyone involved be socialized in extreme docility, forced to exist in a perpetual state of submission to everyone around them. Otherwise, the community would almost certainly implode.

Without that docile meekness being forced on all the community members, the billions of people living boxed up and piled on top of neighbors they're barely able to tolerate would inevitably sharpen their fangs and rip each other apart to reclaim the personal space every living being needs in order to exercise their autonomy and individuality.

If our sharp claws weren't meticulously and regularly yanked out of our fingertips by the upholders of community, to forge us into obedient and pliable little shits, the entire concept of community would be rendered unworkable.

Both the metaphorical and literal concrete walls that contain us and our egos would quickly crumble into rubble without the authority of the community to hold them up.

There’s a word that describes how we feel when we need time to ourselves but can’t get it because we live in these vast interconnected global communities, surrounded wall-to-wall, block-to-block, nation-to-nation in every direction by other people and have no way to tune out their vociferous voices and energies. It’s the mirror image to loneliness - 'aloneliness'. This innate state of being was surprisingly only coined recently, in 2019, by Robert Coplan, a Canadian psychologist.

If loneliness is the yearning to connect to others, being aloney is the deep-seeded need to disconnect from others and retreat into the self. This is something that becomes harder and harder as the communal collective is centered and the individual is increasingly diminished and cast as a villainous foil to the precious community ideal.

Also in 2019, a study of nearly 20,000 people (Scientific Reports volume 9, Article number: 7730) established that we need to spend regular time immersed in nature to maintain our well-being. Too often, our proven need to embrace these solitary experiences is discounted because so much reverence is placed on the building and expansion of society and community by the authorities who shape our world.

Re-imagining Our Social Bonds

Someone posed this question to me recently about my frequent critiquing of democracy:

"If you're against democracy, how would you propose consensus be reached among an anarchist community?"

Before I can answer the question, I should point out that most definitions of 'commune' wildly conflict with anarchy. Take this common definition, for example:

"organized for the protection and promotion of local interests, and subordinate to the state; the government or governing body of such a community."

So like a lot of the authority-based concepts certain anarchists feel the need to appropriate, a community is assumed by polite society to come with a certain expectation of authority.

To avoid the inevitable confusion that comes with the strange urge some people have to redefine preexisting concepts, I'd really like to bypass this loaded word completely and instead try to instill a more anarchist bent to the concept of community as anarchists presumably mean it...

So let's just call it 'friendship', since that's essentially all we desire from what we term an 'anarchist community': Trusted friends we can live with, play with, learn with. It's a simple and effective word that only has positive connotations, and isn't going to make anyone think of all the glaringly authoritarian communities held together by a state's threat of violence and built and maintained by exploited workers who most often can't even afford to live in said communities.

I think it's important we use clear and concise language to describe our objectives as anarchists, and too many of the words we lean on when outlining our desires for a domination-free world have hierarchical baggage permanently weighing them down.

Okay, now let's rephrase the question in a way that leaves no room for misinterpretation...

"How would I suggest you make decisions when you have disagreements with your friends over which course of action to take?"

Well, I wouldn't suggest anything.

People really don't need me or anyone to direct their interactions with their friends or dictate to them how they should define and fulfill their relationships.

If you and your friends need me to prescribe you a program to adhere to in order for your friendship to function, you're clearly not interested in practicing anarchy.

Why even put the effort into maintaining the friendship if you need to involve an external body to create systems, laws and processes to ensure the friendship remains equitable and fulfilling? If your friend isn't being fair to you, why are you still their friend?

Anyone who would exploit you, diminish you, neglect you or deny you your autonomy isn't acting as a friend and doesn't deserve to be considered one. A friend cherishes and respects you. A friend encourages you to fulfill your desires and does everything they can to help achieve your needs.

And if you're not friends with the people you're in disagreement with, why do you care to reach consensus with them? Why share experiences with them and tie your fate to their desires if you don't even like them?

Is your idea of 'community' (friendship) a suffocating debate club where people who don't even get along have to endlessly negotiate with each other and reach some arbitrary consensus in order to continue to co-exist?

Wouldn't it be a lot easier to just not enter into formalized relationships with people whose values so conflict with your own as to provoke such intractable conflict?

If you truly desire anarchy, it's important to make your own decisions unhindered by the decrees of lionized authority figures and their taped-together social systems. Only you and your friends can decide how to best maintain your friendships and how to commune with each other in a way that benefits all parties.

Unless you're disabled in a way that affects your sociability, it's unlikely you need formal rules of association to be directed to you before you can form bonds with other humans you wish to commune with. That's all social systems are really, a set of rules someone decided everyone should have to follow, regardless of whether or not they share the same values. It's fundamentally defeating to anarchy when self determination, freedom of association and autonomy are overwritten by someone else's values. Upstanding citizens of the nation might prize free speech, democracy, morality, free markets, peaceful protest and community, but that doesn't mean you have to.

No authoritative body should presume to possess the power to tell others how to solve disputes they have with their friends. If you can't get along with a friend without ordinances from above then you should probably question why you remain friends with them and if the relationship is worth the emotional toll it exerts on you, your friend and those around you.

This all of course assumes you're adept at socialization, which admittedly a lot of us aren't, due to a diverse array of disabilities and emotional traumas, but that's just more proof that no one can or should prescribe exact instruction to people for creating social relations amongst themselves. Every relationship is different, and the only real prerequisite should be a desire to share experiences and support and nurture each other.

Discarding Bad Relationships

Like I've mentioned, there are a lot of abusive, exploitative people who enter our spaces, create a world of hurt, sap everyone of their energy, sabotage our projects by creating constant conflict and division without actually contributing anything, and then when someone finally objects to their behavior, they assert their supposed democratic right to continue to force themselves on everyone because "you have to reach an understanding / consensus / agreement with your fellow community member".

Fuck that.

If someone is abusing or exploiting you, just eject them from your orbit. You're not under any obligation to kowtow to the desires of a person who has demonstrated they have little respect for you or your values. Once they've shown you they're not your friend with a pattern of selfish and harmful actions, it's not your responsibility to protect their ego and keep shining their black cat badge.

You have to live your own life and can't pour all your energy into making some random bully feel included in your social circle because they've announced they're some stripe of anarchist. Anarchy isn't a numbers game, it won't matter if there's one less member in your anarchy club, especially when that person has demonstrated they don't actually give two shits about doing anarchy.

We need to know our limitations. We need to stand up for each other when we see abuse and not allow the abuse to be tolerated and normalized under the guise of community, democracy and inclusivity. It's important to set clear boundaries with people and cut ties with them when they cross those boundaries and begin to damage your mental health and sense of safety.

As for what those boundaries should be? There are so many disparate personalities and unique circumstances that can occur in a relationship, so as always it's not realistic to set universal metrics. There's really no fail-proof program for human association, which is why it's so important for each able individual to be aware of their own boundaries and be ready to enforce them. But generally, if you no longer feel safe in a space because of a certain person's presence, feel you're exerting too much energy to satisfy their unreasonable demands and getting little back in return, or frequently feel anxiety due to their words and / or actions... It's likely time to cut ties.

When you're in an organized community with someone, you're denied direct control over the relationship. Instead, your interactions are dictated by whatever social norms and rules have been developed by those who formed the community, often long before you were born. If you don't want to be around someone any more, you have to wrestle with the system's checks and balances, essentially pleading for permission from the community and its decision-making mechanisms to disassociate from the person.

In any community, a communal divorcing is a time, money and energy consuming social affair involving the proclamations of multiple people both familiar and unfamiliar, public hearings, and an exhaustive bureaucracy.

On the other hand, ending a simple friendship is much simpler because you directly control who you choose to spend your time with, without an entire community body inserting itself into your private life. No one can force you to be their friend and devote your time and energy to them everyday, but communities constantly force you to negotiate with unkind neighbors, relatives, coworkers, landlords, bosses, teachers and others who you'd never spend time with if you had the autonomy to choose.

Freedom of association is an anarchist principle that always manages to get undermined and maligned by the fiercely un-anarchist principles the assorted anarcho-democrats, Chomskyists and Bookchinites insist on bringing to the table. I'd argue there's no anarchist principle more important than being able to choose who to spend your time with. I'd much rather choose a few friends than amass community members.

Systems Don't Protect People

People protect people.

We tend to put a lot of faith in the systems that govern us, and assume they'll protect us from harm when more often than not the systems fail us at every turn with tepid half-measures and bureaucratic meandering.

Building our own systems to live by can be a worthwhile pursuit, but if we try to extend those systems to a wider sphere of people, they'll inevitably break down as an increasing number of those people find the system doesn't serve their diverging needs and begin to rebel.

The bigger a community and its bureaucracy grow, the more disconnected from people and their needs the community gets, until the point where a community becomes devastatingly isolating and dehumanizing to everyone forced to exist within its towering walls.

A lot of anarchists have reacted to me speaking ill of community with fear and anger because they've internalized the idea that "community support" is something necessary for their survival. But if they're being honest with themselves, by community support, they really just mean welfare from the state. This fear of losing access to healthcare, unemployment / disability insurance, and a pension doesn't really have anything to do with their concept of community, and is really just a form of cognitive dissonance.

As an anarchist, I know the state doesn't work for me and never will. If a community is a collective bureaucratic body that assigns duties and resources to people depending on prefigured factors, it's acting as a state, regardless of whatever fancy new tag is affixed to it, and it will no doubt grow increasingly isolating and destructive as the years wear on and the power of its architects and benefactors is cemented.

We already have authorities that decide who gets how much and when, and it's brought us nothing but suffering. We already have community and it treats us like trash every day of our lives. Pretending this disconnected forced grouping of disparate peoples with wildly diverging values, needs and desires is somehow capable of serving us equitably and with care and respect is mournful.

Community always seems to be the spark that ignites an inferno of hierarchy and domination. So much horrific oppression and death has been justified in the age of Leviathan by attaching it to "the good of the community". I've seen so many people, including anarchists, sweep all manner of abuses under the rug in a desperate attempt to "protect the integrity of the community". Somehow the community is always put before the people who inhabit it, as if a precarious eidolon drawn from thin air and held together by nothing but collective resolve is more sacred than life itself.

Arranging people into societies and communities and nations and cities and suburbs and civilizations that have wildly varying resources only serves to separate us and creates permanent warfare among us, with those lucky enough to belong to the more resource-rich communities getting every advantage over those in more barren, parched lands.

Community is an ever-expanding wave that washes over the land, leaving its salt in the soil and forever amassing momentum until it morphs into its final form: an impregnable global civilization with no chink in the armor, no weakness we can assail in the hopes of containing its immense authority... Until finally the wave collapses under its own weight, adding a thick layer of blood to the salted land.

Friendship can't scale up to swallow the planet. Friendship remains forever small, personal, intimate, deliberate, voluntary, decentralized. This is a feature, not a bug. Friendship allows you to associate and disassociate with others at will, while always maintaining your individuality, the sanctuary of your headspace and the clarity of knowing who you are and what you need. The dictates of anonymous wider society and the supposed common good needn't cloud your mind when you form friendships rather than build communities.

Community is division. It's nationality, it's borders, it's imperialism, it's haves and have nots, it's cruel, brutal, unending warfare against the sacrificial out-groups to benefit the blessed in-groups.

Your friends don't exploit you. If they do, they're not your friends.

Communities exploit everyone, both within and outside their very clearly defined borders, every minute of every day of every year and they have for centuries. Draining the most underprivileged community members of their blood, sweat and tears to chiefly benefit the most privileged in the community: the bosses, the academics, the desk jockeys, the landlords.

The potholes in the neighborhoods of the working poor are always as deep as canyons, while the privileged classes who work and sweat far less can commute in the comfort of their air-conditioned Teslas bump-free on the smoothest of asphalt.

European welfare states and other 'progressive' communities exist on the backs of the poor of the colonized global South. Resources and intensive lifelong labor are stripped from billions of people who receive only basic sustenance in return, so the residents of those hallowed Western communities can lounge in comfort with their wide assortment of state-granted privileges.

I've heard some wannabe world-builders say friendship is a weak bond to base a life on, that friends are as unreliable as the anonymous community members they so revere. But those same people will always extol law, order and democracy no matter how many times those houses of straw blow up in their faces. And honestly, is anything more insufferable than utopian communists critiquing someone else’s supposed idealism?

Bureaucrats and their communal systems won't give us anarchy. Maybe a little social democracy as a treat, at least until the system collapses back into fascism when enough wealth accrues at the top.

So what is the purpose of building an anarchist community? If the difference between a community and a group of friends is that the community is bigger, more impersonal, more bureaucratic, more policed, with highly diverging values and a centralized concentration of power... Then what use is community to a group of people who seek to decentralize everything in their path, dismantle systems, negate authority and become as ungovernable as possible? What use is community to anarchy?

I really feel we should be making friends rather than building communities.

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celebratedrecluse wrote

Great essay, thought-provoke.

If your friend isn't being fair to you, why are you still their friend?

Well, I am not. And this is something that bothers me! Why is it that, when the time comes for difficult labor, for risks, for uncharted territory, that "anarchists" I know retreat from each other and from the affinities I had worked with them to build over years? Why did these men, after all the time and energy I spent into our bonds of friendship, decide to behave like such entitled fuckups?

There actually is a need for us to examine the "science of friendship", because many people have difficulty with it. Myself, I will speak for alone.


celebratedrecluse wrote

This all of course assumes you're adept at socialization, which admittedly a lot of us aren't, due to a diverse array of disabilities and emotional traumas, but that's just more proof that no one can or should prescribe exact instruction to people for creating social relations amongst themselves. Every relationship is different, and the only real prerequisite should be a desire to share experiences and support and nurture each other.

I agree with this, but I yearn as I say above, for something more specific too. Perhaps this is my own divergence from "normality".

There is also a separate question of, how do anarchists (and people in general) get along with people different than us, enough to survive in this alonely world? Freedom can, in many cases, mean cutting off the bastards in our "communities". However, it can also mean finding ways to coexist, and even build friendships with people we are forcibly segregated from. This society of oppression, cannot really exist without segregating people into categories and unassailable walls of loneliness. It appears to be the entire purpose of the suburbs.


celebratedrecluse wrote

I've heard some wannabe world-builders say friendship is a weak bond to base a life on, that friends are as unreliable as the anonymous community members they so revere. But those same people will always extol law, order and democracy no matter how many times those houses of straw blow up in their faces. And honestly, is anything more insufferable than utopian communists critiquing someone else’s supposed idealism?

A very good point.

critiques I can make, of the implications of friendship as a building-block/praxis for anarchists, are: that affinity groups are liable to continually split off during times of stress, divide into fractious conflictual groups based on respectability politics/old disagreements, distract anarchists from their other goals of life into petty feuds with bookchin fucks and other fringe groups, and fail to provide a supportive or nurturing structure that can supplant something like a state. Additionally, inequalities between people who are attempting this affinity-based praxis are likely to exacerbate and worsen any underlying problems in the interaction, and re-create hierarchies as people with less means are attached to people with more means, while the whole thing is papered over with "friendship" just like the bookchin fuckers paper over similar problems in "community". so, relabeling the attempt in a brighter label, can still neglect to address the fundamental problems of such a dynamic of anarchists trying to find safe/effective ways to socialize and interact in a lattice, although I still think this is striking closer to the vein than "community".

As bad as being stuck in a toxic community is, continually shaving people off from affinity groups is also a problem when there is no anarchist steel framing to connect the gaps in such a lattice. Many young people have few or no friends at all; especially young men, in many places. While aloneliness is certainly a problem for many people in various parts of their lives, it is paradoxically indivisible from the problem of fundamental loneliness which drives people to such toxic communities in the first place. And such loneliness, affects anarchists more than others, for we are people who often yearn for each other more than archists and apathetics who are content enough to dissolve themselves in asocial, mechanistic "society", employment, media, consumption, whatever other diversions and systematizations that suit their predilections. Anarchists have always been one group of people that wants more than that, and strive to create more than that at great personal and collective risk. This is not irrational, or wronghearted, it is something deeply rooted and inextricable from the problems you identify, it is all part of the same systemization of alienation.


ziq OP wrote

Credit to /u/Ennui for that observation.. It was so astute I had to shamelessly lift it.


ziq OP wrote

And also to octox on anarchyplanet's IRC for the 'weak bond' observation and the suggestion for the fangs/claws/docility part.


ziq OP wrote (edited )

While finishing this essay, I also took some time out to poke that big old red beehive.


celebratedrecluse wrote

it is good to poke them from time to time. it disturbs their entrenched normality


ziq OP wrote

everything i accomplish in life is driven by spite


celebratedrecluse wrote

whatever gets the job done...friend? internet friend? What are we???


ziq OP wrote (edited )

Pokemon rivals?


celebratedrecluse wrote

:( you are correct lol


Brick wrote

Dontchya know Marx was Kropotkin's inspiration when he invented anarchism? /ancom


zoom_zip wrote

posts criticism of marx; gets compared to tankies...

question mark?


wantoknow wrote

Marx isn't tankie, you must mean Stalin?


zoom_zip wrote

nah i don’t mean anything other than it’s weird that ziq got compared to a tankie on reddit for posting his criticism


celebratedrecluse wrote

Tankies are revisionists, and deviate from Marx thought, is the point the previous poster made

I am not a Marx thought champion or anything, but there is a difference.


bloodrose wrote

I'm in love with this essay.

That's all social systems are really, a set of rules someone decided everyone should have to follow, regardless of whether or not they share the same values.

Even more insidious are our unspoken "rules" of socialization. For example, Deborah Cameron discussed that everyone has this inherent idea of how long a pause between sentences is. And a lot of "interruptions" are people misinterpreting each others' pause spacing. Just one of those weird "rules" in our head that messes up socialization.

I would also add our defined relationships within a society absolutely trap us and cage us, too. Marriage is a huge jailer of women the world over. Parental-child relationships delve into authoritative behavior because it can. Any formalized relationship has the potential for abuse.


moonlune wrote (edited )

I agree with the critique of the red anarchist's "community", but friend is too strong of a word for me.

In my mind community is interchangeable with Circles: the people I chooses to associate with but who I am not close enough to be friends: Classmates, family, neighbors, friends of friends for example. They aren't my friends and they aren't my enemies, just multiple groups moving around and inside each other.

Circles changes at different times of days, and people jump from one to another, they flow. And no 2 person have the same circle.


bloodrose wrote

friend is too strong of a word for me

I find this interesting. People have very different ideas of how close one need be to be called "friend". I remember working at a civil engineering firm and a customer was disputing a charge and called my boss "friend" and my boss lost his shit over that. The customer clearly meant a kindness but the boss was so enraged over the lack of formality. We didn't get paid and that guy didn't get his engineering done.


moonlune wrote

Yeah I think it's also due to language and geography. Were I come from it takes 10 years to make friends, but they "last a lifetime". My mom, who's a stranger, took a long time to adapt. She believes this culture was created because of the many wars our region has been through, particularly WWII, which made people suspicious of each other.


zoom_zip wrote

it took me a few minutes to come around to this

firstly because i felt like this was a semantics argument.

secondly because i think it had a very binary view on the idea of community as this authoritative thing. if i am in a community of friends and they say "hey, we're going to go and cook some popcorn on a fire and watch the sunset, you wanna come?" and i say "nah, i'm good", it's not like they can say "well, there's three of us and we all voted for you to come, so you have to come." shit just doesn't work that way. i can imagine a community of individuals where everyone maintains their autonomy and does their own thing but still associates with each other as a community.

but then, i've never entered into a community where i've had to deal with this idea of "consensus" as mandate for the very reason that i wouldn't want to give up my autonomy to the whims of a group decision. but i am in some mutual aid/direct action groups where people do their own things, supporting each other where they agree with each other, and where they can, of their own accord. i call that my community. you might call that "friends".

so idk.

anyway, it was a good read. thanks for sharing.


ziq OP wrote

It's a thought exercise asking you to think smaller.


lastfutures wrote (edited )

Well written essay, I enjoyed it. Some ramblings about the two words.

I agree with your critique of the word community as it's usually used, when it refers to (allegedly) actually existing communities, but I'm still defensive about the word as used by Perlman. For him real human communities are what existed before civ & is what anarchists are trying to create - but he was clear about communities not existing within Leviathan. Aragorn! also used the word following Perlman's thought (with the caveat acknowledging the objections you've made here), and I think for him it required multi-generational social bodies, with a land base, and so on. So, as this sort of aspirational thing that doesn't exist I still like it. Unfortunately people using it that way are few & far between.

Friendship seems to have taken the place of community in recent years, with the Tiqqunist's and insurrectionists use of it. But I think that too is facing similar criticisms as community now, as it's also seemingly aspirational and impossible in this world (Hello is a good example, but celebratedrecluse gave some of the critique).

So, the question is, why has the aspiration gotten so much smaller? Is it what we want or is it a result of our impoverished atomized condition? I mean, if what's possible is what we're talking about, why not Against Community, Against Friendship, Towards the Individual?

I think in this world, people using friendship or community in the more political sense have a corpse in their mouth. The friends of the Invisible Committee, like the community of Perlman, don't exist. The use of those words in our world have political implications and the problems that come with that, whether it's defending patriarchy & abusive people, keeping projects going longer than they should, and so on. But throwing those words around in some anarchist poetry doesn't bother me, the problem starts when people start trying to tell you these things actually exist.

edit: Read this recently in The Broken Teapot:

The typical proposal for responding to rape, the community accountability process, is based on a transparent lie. There are no activist communities, only the desire for communities, or the convenient fiction of communities. A community is a material web that binds people together, for better and for worse, in interdependence. If its members move away every couple years because the next pace seems cooler, it is not a community. If it is easier to kick someone out than to go through a difficult series of conversations with them, it is not a community. Among the societies that had real communities, exile was the most extreme sanction possible, tantamount to killing them. On many levels, losing the community and all the relationships it involved was the same as dying. Let’s not kid ourselves: we don’t have communities.


_caspar_ wrote

this outlook echos something I recently came across reading past Black Seed essays:

"The varied attempts to create liberated communities cannot all be measured with the same ruler, but one repeated failing that crops up pervasively in our present context is worth mentioning. Nowadays, most people who have grown up with Western cultural values don't even know what a community is. It is not a subculture or a scene (see: “activist community” or “community accountability process”). Nor is it a real estate zone or municipal power structure (see: “gated community” or “community leaders”).

If you will not starve to death without the other people that make up the group, it is not a community. If you don't know even a tenth of them since the day either you or they were born, it is not a community. If you can pack up and join another such group as easily as changing jobs or transferring to a different university, if the move does not change all the terms with which you might understand who you are in this world, it is not a community.

A community cannot be created in a single generation, and it cannot be created by an affinity group. In fact, you are not supposed to have affinity with most of the other people in your community. If you do not have neighbors that you despise, it is not a healthy community. In fact, it is the very existence of human bonds stronger than affinity or personal preference that make a community. And such bonds will mean there will always be people who prefer to live at the margins of the community. Whether the community allows this is what distinguishes the anti-authoritarian one from the authoritarian one.

A group of anarchists or socialists or hippies who go off into the mountains to live together will end up hating one another. It is the very presence of disagreeable neighbors that teach us to appreciate the people we have affinity with. An “anarchist community” is an odious proposition."

Against Self-Sufficiency by Sever


Ennui wrote

Imagine some liberal asks you how society will be organized under anarchism and you say “We’ll all be good friends.”

I don’t disagree with the essay. I just think it’d be hilarious in conversation. F is for friendship, U is for you and me, N is for new things that friends do together—you get it...


CoryImmediatism wrote

Ziq, this is great. I'd like to read it on Immediatism in the next few weeks, if that would be appropriate. I gather it's new, so maybe let me know. I've been looking at the theme lately of how to make our affinity groups and milieus more supportive of the individuals in them. Also, I mentioned it in the intro to episode 360.


ziq OP wrote

Sure, I already submitted it to the anarchist library, so it's finished.

It got mass downvoted without comment on reddit and mocked on anarchistnews, so idk that it'll be received well, just a warning.

Will listen to 360 now.


CoryImmediatism wrote

Sorry to hear about the Reddit situation. I've got it printed and queued but it'll be about two weeks out. :)


ziq OP wrote

hope you printed the final version


CoryImmediatism wrote

I printed the one posted two days ago and just now see that you updated one day ago. So, I'll print that yesterday one, now.


ziq OP wrote

cool thanks

someone posted it to anarchistnews while I was still revising it


CoryImmediatism wrote

If that happens again, anything like that, I can pm for it to be taken down. Let me know if you want that.


ziq OP wrote

that's ok, i'm on their irc. just didn't want to put them out


ziq OP wrote

Updated. Including new paragraph:

Community always seems to be the spark that ignites an inferno of hierarchy and domination. So much horrific oppression and death has been justified in the age of Leviathan by attaching it to "the good of the community". I've seen so many people, including anarchists, sweep all manner of abuses under the rug in a desperate attempt to "protect the integrity of the community". Somehow the community is always put before the people who inhabit it, as if a precarious eidolon drawn from thin air and held together by nothing but collective resolve is more sacred than life itself.


loukanikos wrote

I dig this philosophy. I had to sleep on this concept to really synthesize my thoughts but after thinking about it some, I have two things to say:

  1. As someone pointed out this can largely become a semantics argument. Its going to be impossible to get people to agree on definitions of what is a community. A lot of bad-faith/wasteful discussion can be had just by disagreeing on singular definition of community
  2. While I agree with the underlying concept, I am left a little at a loss as to how this applies to my quotidian life. The message is important for those who seek to enter small, distributed, commune-type-thing™ settings but it doesn't apply to my attempts at building a community day-in-day-out. For example, I cannot just disassociate from my next-door neighbor if they are an ass who doesn't believe in COVID. I still have to address the problem, as their actions bring immediate harm to me and my own. And this second point could most probably just be a permutation of point #1 above

That said, I think asking the questions you pose in the last paragraph is very important, especially for those of us who might want to create a community of our own apart from society at large.