Submitted by subrosa in Anarchism (edited )

Politics is the art of detachment. Purportedly, it is at once separate from every other sphere of activity and yet qualified to govern all of them. Politics begins where daily experience, individual interests, passion and poetry and camaraderie—in short, everything that makes human life meaningful, everything that can inform people as to how to make decisions in their best interest—leave off. Nothing that truly matters—neither the waitress’s ennui nor the bureaucrat’s insomnia—can be addressed in the political arena, though decisions made in that arena have repercussions in every other.

Rolling Thunder #1, CrimethInc.

I have always considered my inclination to anarchy to be irreducible to a politics. Anarchist commitments run deeper. They are more intimate, concerning supposedly personal or private matters; but they also overflow the instrumental realm of getting things done. Over time, I have shifted from thinking that anarchist commitments are more than a politics to thinking that they are something other than a politics. I continue to return to this latter formulation. It requires thinking things through, not just picking a team; it is more difficult to articulate and it is more troubling to our inherited common sense. I do not think I am alone in this. It has occurred to some of us to register this feeling of otherness by calling our anarchist commitments an ethics. It has also occurred to some of us to call these commitments anti-political. I think these formulations are, for many of us, implicitly interlinked, though hardly interchangeable.

Its core is the negation, Alejandro de Acosta

Where life has lost its fullness, where the thoughts and actions of individuals have been dissected, catalogued and enclosed in detached spheres – there politics begins. Having distanced some of the activities of individuals (discussion, conflict, common decision, agreement) into a zone by itself that claims to govern everything else, sure of its independence, politics is at the same time separation between the separations and the hierarchical management of separateness. Thus, it reveals itself as specialization, forced to transform the unresolved problem of its function into the necessary presupposition for resolving all problems. For this reason, the role of professionals in politics is indisputable – and all that can be done is to replace them from time to time. Every time subversives accept separating the various moments of life and changing specific conditions starting from that separation, they become the best allies of the world order. In fact, while it aspires to be a sort of precondition of life itself, politics blows its deadly breath everywhere.

Ten Blows Against Politics, Il Pugnale in Green Anarchy #21

I think that one of the lessons of applying ourselves to the details of potential anarchist economies has been to show, in quite a variety of ways, that what will make or break systems of exploitation is not the value theory we espouse or the forms of circulating media that we do or do not make use of, but instead whether we leave in place any of the apparatus that makes capital accumulation such an integral part of the present system. And if I am anywhere near correct that it is various forms of something like escheat that connects the various kinds of exploitation that we currently experience, then I am probably not too far wrong in thinking that the entire abandonment of the polity-form is the key to shifting from archic to anarchic forms of social organization.

That, it seems to me, is the one fundamentally anarchistic task we face and, if we manage to accomplish it, many of the challenges to follow are really just technical questions, to be answered experimentally as we try to best match our available resources with our needs and desires.

Note on Mutualism and the Market-Form

Archic social organization seems to quite consistently depend on a particular conception of social collectivities as bodies—specifically rather anthropomorphic bodies with the organs of direction placed in some “head.” This model of social collectivity seems to inform our understandings of the patriarchal family, the governmental state, the capitalist firm, the democratic People and, sometimes, even the anarchistic commune, community or federation.

Archy vs. Anarchy, Shawn P. Wilbur

The very existence of politics, as a specialized activity separated from life, is itself a manifestation of the crisis: it is the willed abdication of the many from responsibility over their own lives and shared world; it is the modern secular theology, in which one begs for deliverance by a vast and invisible being known as the State through the prayer of voting; and it is, of course, the province of one of the parasitic classes we call politicians, the professionalized caretakers of the dysfunctional social order.

An Invitation to Desertion, Bellamy Fitzpatrick

The call of the polis

From at least the time of Macchiavelli on, politics has meant the science of the exercise of power, along with the techniques by which authority is constituted and defended. In the attempt to re-create non-state public space, some have tried to revive another notion of politics, understood as community management, self-government of the polis. This definition, proceeding through patterns, dates back to Aristotle. It is well-known that for him the human being is a political animal (zoón politikón, to be precise). Since human beings are social by nature, the sphere of the polis is identified with the realm of freedom. But for Aristotle, society is not solely the extension of natural needs and desires. The political realm doesn’t just situate the spontaneous cooperation between human beings, it is also where the goal of the human being is realized. Or rather, we could say the Great Goal, the Telos. In this conception, politics is already a task, a mission and, in the final analysis, a separated activity. If the cult of the Common Good, as an aim to which to subordinate individual desires, is later added, we see politics (which is not the act of associating) already taking shape as domination. Wherever there is sacred duty, there is always sacrifice. Without taking anything away from the importance of rethinking the conceptual categories that are used, it may be worthwhile to recall that any subjection of the individual to the social machine — in the form of obedience to a state institution or to a hypothetical community assembly — is the worst of tyrannies, even when it is exercised by the absolute majority. Without being mistaken, some have glimpsed in the Aristotelian doctrine the christian-liberal religions to come, the dire shadow of civilization’s claws.

Freedom’s Disorder, and other writings, Massimo Passamani

The case for action in the now can be summed up in the phrase “there is no need to know what is happening tomorrow to destroy a today that makes you bleed”. Herein lies the conflict between political positions and fighting against the system of civilization, politics as a whole is a positive project, building and planning for a future within some anthropocentric structure that exists or one hopes to exist. A more negative project accepts the uncontrallability of the future, throwing this notion by the wayside. In the insurrection, the only time that exists is the liberatory space of the now. The question becomes how does one act to liberate oneself in the immediacy?

Acrid Black Smoke — Revisiting Blessed is the Flame in Insurrection and Anti-politics, Anonymous

A working class political party is a contradiction in terms—not because the membership of a particular party can’t be largely working class, but because the most it can do is give the working class a voice in politics. It lets our representatives put forward ideas on how our bosses should run this society--how they can make money and keep us under control. Whether they are advocating nationalization or privatization, more welfare or more police (or both), the programs of political parties are different strategies for managing capitalism.

Unfortunately, politics also exists outside of government. Community leaders, professional activists and unions want to place themselves between workers and bosses and be the mediators, the negotiators, the means of communication, the representatives, and ultimately the peacemakers. They fight to keep this position. In order to do that, they need to mobilize the working class in controlled ways to put pressure on more business-oriented politicians, at the same time offering business a workforce that is ready to work. This means that they have to disperse us when we start to fight back. Sometimes they do this by negotiating concessions, other times by selling us out. Politicians always call on us to vote, to sit back and let the organizer negotiate, to fall in line behind the leaders and the specialists in a kind of passive participation. These non-governmental politicians offer the government a way to maintain the status quo peacefully, and in return they get jobs managing our misery.

Political groups are bureaucratic. They tend to mirror the structures of work where activity is controlled from the outside. They create specialists in politics. They are built on a division between leaders and led, between representatives and represented, between organizers and organized. This is not a bad choice of how to set up organizations, to be remedied with a large dose of participatory democracy. It is a direct result of what political groups and activities are trying to do--to manage a part of capitalism.

The only thing that interests us about politics is its destruction.

Work Community Politics War, prole-info

The dogma of society is fundamentally that the normal answer is the good and right answer. As such, we all should be normal if we wish to be good. This keeps everything the same – or at least within the image of sameness – and keeps the machine running smoothly.

I find this continually within all politics. To the Nazi/fascist the desiring-machine of normalisation is enforced under the images of unity through flags and races. To the Communist, the desiring-machine of normalisation is enforced under the image of the proletariat worker under the image of unity in class. To the liberal, the desiring-machine of normalisation is enforced under the image of unity in rights and under the law.

All normal. All the same. Unity in identity. Identity in unity.

Becoming Animal, Julian Langer



You must log in or register to comment.

subrosa OP wrote

I've been bothering anarchist subreddits about apolitical and anti-political approaches for a while now. I feel it's an under-explored approach to anarchy; it should complement all that talk about authority and statism, but I don't see a whole lot of that. Not sure why I made this post, I guess it's just pointing at something.


bloodrose wrote

Kind of like being an ungovernable wild human? I can embrace this concept.


subrosa OP wrote

Yeah, I guess so. It's about abandoning arche, the ship of state, any dictatorship really. Whether the captain is the patriarch of the nuclear family-boat, or the embodied or symbolic "will of the people" of the unsinkable and truly titanic state.

Just for fun, to spin this metaphor a little further: politics is about who gets to have their hands on the steering wheel, about how the ship is directed. Some crew-members want to go left, others want to go right, some call for mutiny or "having a say", and they all believe in conserving the vessel, its economic order, and in moving the whole thing for progress.

Close to the breaking point of the metaphor, we might have a look at piracy, or at those who pride themselves in organizing the construction of massive counter-ships that they hope can compete one day. Those of us in the lower compartments know too well what it's like to drop below surface, to be pushed down, to be drowning. The anarchists dream of having a good swim in the horizontal, unbordered and everchanging "waters". It can be liberating to help each other stay afloat, we don't need to be contained.

A bilge-rat, I prepare their shipwreck; that shipwreck alone can put an end to my troubles and to those of my fellows.


Gwen_Isilith wrote

I forget the specific text but I believe it's from John Moore where he discusses anarchic mysticism in terms of the authoritarian God, the revolutionary authority Satan, That to be consumed Nature, and the primordial extra of anarchy (different language is used I believe). Pretty much anarchy is the thing that exists both outside of those who currently run the ship and those pirates who would seek to make the ship their own as you've stated.


Gwen_Isilith wrote

I don't have much to offer in terms of actually starting a conversation on this topic but did want to express my interest. I have only recently started to understand anti-politics exposed first through Baedan and then extrapolating those ideas through my previous thoughts. (It's core is the negation was another influence as well as A!'s work on Nihlism). It is definitely something I have not fully come to grips with, which has led to quite a few contradictions in my thoughts (and there are also still contradictions left from the influence of post-left thought on my leftist influence).

To go back on my previous statement perhaps one area I think there is possibly an interesting conversation to be had is between Aragorn's conception of Indigenous (which is to my knowledge the same as Geral Vizenor's conception of the lower case i indian) and Baedan's conception of Queer negativity. (Also i would speculate their is a connection then too to Afro-Pessimism but my only real exposure to this school of thought has been through the band clipping).

I don't know if anyone else has thoughts on this connection they'd like to share or if not I will extrapolate on what I mean some time tomorrow perhaps.


subrosa OP wrote

Might need to revisit A! and Baedan for that. I'm curious about how you would go about connecting the threads. No pressure tho.


Gwen_Isilith wrote

I see it in a few ways, the first would be a historical and function connection. For A! (And Vizenor) being Indigenous is being post-genocidal both physically after mass killings but also culturally. And so being Indigenous is not a birth right; blood quantum is a purely legal structure and what instead matters is the ties to place or culture.

Perhaps this is a controversial connection but similarly queer identity has faced a similar killing in the forms of the aids crisis and cultural destruction (which I would point to the text Anal Terror from Baedan 3 for the history of this) in terms of anal castration which is both a function of schooling and homo-nationalism (though perhaps nationalism is simply an outcome of the castration).

Queer identity's connection to blood is much different from that of Indigenous identity however but both in the formation and continuance of culture rely on elders or mentors (the aids crisis has especially left such a generational gap for queer folk that a lot of queer identity is ahistorical). And so for both in terms of post-genocide find oneself in a hostile world with little to no guidance.

My other connection is that the formation of queerness in Baedan is not a sexual identity, but instead is an attempt to negate sexuality and gender. And so too it would seem to me that A!'s conception of Indigeneity has nothing to do with race (A! Has stated that even white people can be Indigenous anarchists) but is instead a position that aims to negate this racial category. A good example of this I think is especially the rejection of the past, or at least the understanding that one can not simply return to old ways, but one must find their own way (this is especially prevelant in Nihlist Animism). And it seems to me that a similar question is posed to queers of "what does a post-aids queerness look like?" For those who reject the homonationalist movement, while there are lessons one can take from the past and ones predecessors (I would point to the text "The Faggots and Their Friends") ultimately it is about living with a future. And so if Indigeneity is about living in relation to the land without a land, queerness is living in relation to a time without a temporality (without a past and without a future (both I'm terms of its erasure and in terms of genetics)).

Finally I might posit a third part of this relationality as a hypothesis; hopefully others more familiar with the topic could contribute their thoughts to it. That Blackness then may be about living culturally without a culture. (I posit this mainly in relation to the slave trade which largely has erased black culture which has been replaced by a slave/post-slavery culture (to my knowledge the mixing of white culture such as Christianity has affected both black and Indigenous culture to a large extent).


Kinshavo wrote

I think I was drawn to anarchism bc of apolitical/anti-political position... This negation now drives me further to the relationship between nihilism and anarchism, post left understanding and what I perceive as an Anarchism "outside" politics in some sense.

I got shut down so many times in my youth bc of my position, even if I didn't understand it in that time. People would retreat me as a crypto-fascist (because of this fallacious idea of third position and "negation" of politics in a way that lead people to abdicating their own their lives to some leader).