How does anarchy look in a world in the midst of collapse and mass extinction?

Submitted by ziq in Anarchism (edited )

Is there any hope for anarchy to thrive somewhere in the midst of this last collective panic-attack humanity unleashes before disappearing into nothingness?

If we accept that we were a colossally destructive evolutionary dead-end, make peace with it even, do we have one last chance to live our final days in beautiful anarchy before it all shuts down?

Will the parasite class capitalize on the collapse and use global misery to wring every last penny out of our labor and consumption as we all go down in flames? Can we live anarchy even as they do this?

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Notice: I might use ideas in this thread as inspiration for a piece I'm writing about the collapse.

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Tequila_Wolf wrote

Paraphrasing Mbembe speaking to something else, everything depends on the locations in which we find ourselves, the historical contexts in which we live, and the objective conditions we face.

We see this in Seaweed's writing and repeated in quite a few anarchist texts after: “Any bioregion can be liberated through a succession of events and strategies based on the conditions unique to it.”

I think that bioregion-based liberation makes sense, and that decentralised desertion-style creation of autarkic communities is a real alternative. "Autarkic" here meaning not dependent on civilisation beyond it for resources.
As much as I desire the death of infrastructure in the spaces that I live, I don't feel I can justify doing the bombings etc myself if it means direct harm to those who will suffer without that infrastructure, as well as further criminalisation and witch-hunts of our people. And, as Bellamy's noted, a large range of what anarchists have considered 'attack' does nothing at this stage.

To anticipate the anarchist critic: desertion does not necessarily imply that all forms of attentat are to be rejected outright; but it does mean a profound reevaluation of what some anarchists have vaguely taken to calling “attack,” which I feel has been greatly exaggerated in importance, often very misguidedly conducted, commonly easily recuperated by the parasitic social classes, and woefully overshadowing what ought to be the primary goals of desertion, autarky, and reinhabitation. It is only an empty bluff, or a suicidal and mass homicidal impulse, to prioritize attacking civilization when oneself and one’s kin totally depend on its infrastructure and social relations for their survival.

It may very well be necessary and appropriate to resist more confrontationally at certain junctures, but much of anarchist activity these days is a repetitive exercise in self-righteous victimhood, a perpetual motion machine animated by a ressentiment-fueled martyr complex: rioting, aggressively confronting police, destroying public and private property — all of which accomplish next to nothing when civic and economic activity returns to normalcy one or several days later, but which often result in arrests, fines, incarceration, and injury for the activists involved. One attempts to assault directly an enemy who is best equipped and enormously accustomed to absorb and/or crush direct assaults, knowing that they will likely only inflict superficial scratches on their enemy while risking the total destruction of their lives — only a virulently self-sacrificial morality that places catharsis over wisdom could motivate such behavior. One loses, but feels vindicated, justified, and redeemed in their loss, and the oppression they receive only proves their dedication to righteousness and the turpitude of their enemies — and so the cycle continues.

At best, rioting may pressure politicians to pass certain reforms, which means one has fallen perfectly back into the trap of reformism. Again, there may be a time and place for certain very specific forms of sabotage and attack, but the greatest destabilization to the dominant paradigm will likely be caused by civilization’s own selfundermining productive processes. In any case, desertion does harm the ruling order by depriving it of the resource on which it totally depends: the daily submission of slaves.

Being someone who wants as anarchic a world possible, I have a twofold focus. The first is on finding and building affinity with others, and the second is on changing the social imaginary so that it is as open to our ideas as possible. I'm not seeking mass, or to dilute my ideas; I think that as the collapse unfolds people will seek alternatives and that for some of us they will be lucky enough to chose ours. I think also them just having a real sense of our ideas rather than misinformation will bring us some basic safety and support.

That said, models I prefer as an individual almost always fail me, along with ideas for long-term positive projects that aren't conceived with the people involved. Everything we build must be built with others, and at least in my case the people I build with have vastly different backgrounds and ideas and beliefs to me, even as we have some important affinities politically.
So my preference is simply to find those I have affinity with, to scrutinise our resources and our capacities and the context that we live in, and make our best move towards the greatest autonomy/autarky we can find, always in such a way that in passing through space we free others in our wake just by opening up and enabling their sense of what is possible.

Realistically, even the fullest deserter communities will be looking to make connections with other deserter communities, and will to some degree still be connected to the leviathan, even if it is just because we hear the news from there, or our friends are there. Which is to say that not everybody needs to be a deserter. If anarchists are city-lovers they can help the deserters while remaining what they are. Anarchists are useful anywhere.

I'd love to hear comments and critiques on this.

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celebratedrecluse wrote

it is strategically necessary to liberate our collective projects from as many connections to "the grid", leviathan as you call it. Being attached to "the grid" is a huge tactical and strategic liability: for example, relying on industrially-sold food rather than having access to a comrade-run collective farm is going to drain labor-time (and thus resources) from radical communities, when the food needs could be at least supplemented for free/lower cost.

In order to liberate ourselves from the grid, we are going to need to 1. think logistically, what are our community needs (as opposed to consumerist desires, like what is actually necessary) & how can we realistically fulfill them, and 2. confederate existing projects into rhizomatic networks. Right now, there are a lot of projects (in certain areas of the world), but they do not communicate or coordinate nearly well enough to achieve their goals as best as possible.

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neverinNJ wrote (edited )

Well written Tequila_Wolf. Good response to get us all thinking.

Everything we build must be built with others, and at least in my case the people I build with have vastly different backgrounds and ideas and beliefs to me, even as we have some important affinities politically. A portfolio of self-organizing affinity-minded projects . With a loose horizontal overseeing organization.

So my simplistic takeaways are

  • Use Direct Action when it can best be effective. But may have only short-term impact depending on the circumstances.
  • Building a mesh network of affinity-minded communal groups is an important step going forward.
  • Anarchy is always an answer :-)

Are we becoming the change that we seek today?

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Tequila_Wolf wrote

simplistic takeaways

There are probably a few more to be drawn from there.

Separately, they also come on a backdrop of a decolonial queer anarchism with a Deleuzian metaphysics/ethics.

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ziq OP wrote

Have you deserted? How many people here have? Is anyone able to full desert without remaining plugged in to some extent to survive?

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Tequila_Wolf wrote

Have you deserted?

No. Right now I'm trying to build enough of an affinity group to make some version of this workable. But again, saying this only makes sense insofar as I'm projecting my own vision into the future. The world I make with others will look different.

How many people here have?

Haha, probably just you.

Is anyone able to full desert without remaining plugged in to some extent to survive?

With a few handfuls of people, and in the right places, I imagine it would be mostly possible. Getting your hands on some land, setting up some kind of resilient forest garden type of situation, a reliable water-source, and a renewable energy situation if you like.
I'd still want to access the rest of the world in order to share ideas and make ourselves known, so that'd involve some interaction with leviathan, but I'd be aiming for autarky at least insofar as, if you wanted, you could survive on just what you had there.

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1_6_1_manc wrote

Getting your hands on some land, setting up some kind of resilient forest garden type of situation, a reliable water-source, and a renewable energy situation if you like.

Wouldn't a setup like this just be seized by what was left of the state?

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Tequila_Wolf wrote

Deserter spaces are usually picked for being spaces that capital is largely uninterested in. More can be read about this is the two short sections of Desert starting here.

Not far from where I live, there are already places largely abandoned by capital and authority. Places with little to no functional water system, no real industry, nothing to mine. The land is a arable but nothing special and since there's not much water it's not a good investment to get involved in farming there. Interesting things could be done.

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1_6_1_manc wrote

The land is arable

If it stays that way, I'd expect capital to move in before long. I don't have the references at hand, but there's a chapter in Desert where they talk about previously forgotten land (in the far north mostly) becoming more and more desirable over time, with disastrous consequences for the people currently living there (Inuit, deserters, etc)

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Tequila_Wolf wrote

I doubt that it will in my lifetime; it's an increasingly abandoned space.

I think the tougher thing will be finding stuff to grow there as the heat increases.

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ziq OP wrote

My land is north facing and shaded by mountain, worthless to farmers who are still operating from an obsolete rulebook. They take one look at it and scoff. But north facing land is the only land where everything doesnt need to be planted in huge shadehouses to survive the summer.

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Tequila_Wolf wrote

What makes me uncomfortable with a politics of desertion is the sense of responsibility I have to everything, including other people, and especially those who are presently suffering the most. I don't think I would want to merely move into an autarkic zone and focus on that primarily is because there are individuals I care about in particular and also a sense of caring about everything generally that makes me want my actions to be more broadly helpful.

Whether it's possible to be broadly helpful is not very clear to me. Helping someone today may just prolong the strangulation that civilisation and capitalism brings. And so to "make our best move towards the greatest autonomy/autarky we can find, always in such a way that in passing through space we free others in our wake just by opening up and enabling their sense of what is possible" is often the space I end up balancing on.

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celebratedrecluse wrote (edited )

  1. Every mass extinction has resulted in new, frankly more beautiful forms of life. For example, the Creataceous extinction resulted in the ascension of mammals, many of whom have developed much larger brain-to-body ratios, the development of more complex forms of social communication, allowing for an incredible array of diversity. Now that the era of mammals may be coming to an end, it is better to celebrate the coming of a new world, than to despair in our era's decline.

1a. In doing so, we will be able to sustain much greater levels of political activity, relishing joy and positive vision, in the face of mass death, which is exactly what must happen if we are to exert our collective and individual wills in this critical historical moment. Which leads me to my next point:

  1. The ongoing collapse of agro-industrial society will offer unprecedented opportunities for restructuring social relationships. While we are facing the multiplication of terrible tragedies, both to human and non-human forms of life, the institutions which are responsible for those tragedies are at least as precariously positioned as those it renders disposable. It is irresponsible to engage in pessimism, in the same way that trans-pessimism or afro-pessimism is often utilized by liberals of marginalized identities (respectively) to justify inaction, a retreat inwards to the domain of philosophy. What we need now, to the contrary, is an advance outwards toward each other, and the pessimist discourse (as understandable as it is) does nothing to achieve that. For a more in-depth, engaging critique of this, here is a podcast which I found instructive.

  2. The current mode of production (which is, essentially, a mode of destruction when externalities are factored in) is already passing away. What I mean by this is twofold. First, that the current modes for extracting energy & resources, as well as the patterns of consumption for, are destroying themselves as part of this collapse process. Certainly not fast enough, which is the problem...however, the Second meaning is that there are alternative modes of being which are replacing the current oligopolistic options for sustaining ourselves and meeting our basic needs. Increasingly we have the technologies (solar, wind, bioengineering, tiny homes, etc) within our grasp politically (due to falling costs, reproducibility, etc) to enact different cultural ontologies (permaculture, post-consumerist sociality, back-to-the-land ethics, etc). In parallel with the historic rise in popularity of radical politics, with proportionate exceptionality being characteristic of anarchist philosophies, this historical moment offers incredible potential for building what I think of as parallel-figurative societies: in a phrase used often in our milieu, "dual power".

  3. Falling into the cliche of "natural vs. artificial" which many interested in the collapse reify (out of an understandable desire for narrative convenience & clarity), lets humanity off the hook for actually engaging in action to shift the ecological terrain. "Natural" does not mean good, and humans can, will, and I argue should transform the earth to account for the destruction which we have inherited. Whether that means changing the composition of the atmosphere to counteract greenhouse effects, engineering bacteria & archaea to consume the horribly toxic plastic waste we have created, or editing our genomes of ourselves and other life forms to better tolerate changing climatic conditions, we should consider all these options open to us.

4a. As a trans person who finds great potential praxis in deep green positionalities, I find the biological essentialism of "Nature" that is pretty prominent in many primitivist/deep green/etc spaces & discourses to be deeply off the mark. Life has always changed itself, and now humans have the unprecedented opportunity to engage in that process self-consciously. We should not retreat into reactionary essentialism, certainly not now the planet happens to be going through a major crisis. But hey, don't take it from me. If you reject what my arguments are, that's fine, you're entitled to it. However, if you start to notice that your movements are filling up, or have been filled, with reactionary fascist types, you may want to re-examine your own discourse for why you have been attracting these thanatic cult members.

  1. In thinking about the collapse, we should imagine ourselves not as a "dead end", nor imagine the collapse as a single or unprecedented event. In fact, there have been 20 mass extinctions in the history of multicellular life, and there will certainly be more. While rarely before have extinctions progressed so rapidly, never before has there been a form of life as culturally intelligent and technologically self-aware as humanity. It would be premature to judge our species as unable to engineer or hack its way into a new social niche of our own innovation-- one of anarchist/communist, rather than capitalist, bases. Insofar as I am able, I would rather not focus on the death of everything as an overwhelming determination of reality. Instead, I would like to help shoulder the collective burden of transforming our social relationships in a way that offers actual opportunities for praxis.

Others can criticize the "denizens of technology", the foolish leftists who continue to struggle for social change...but I prefer to focus on the ways we can actually engage with this historical moment, and form new beautiful connections with each other & the animals/plants/rhizomes that surround us.

It's not easy, but it is what revolution is. And frankly, I'll die saying it's a better way to live.

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Tequila_Wolf wrote

Interesting points! I've got some questions for elucidation.

Now that the era of mammals may be coming to an end, it is better to celebrate the coming of a new world, than to despair in our era's decline.

Would you celebrate a genocide if the future people would be prettier or smarter? It seems like you're setting up a dichotomy between celebration and despair/pessimism, but I don't understand why this is necessary or desirable.

I find the biological essentialism of "Nature" that is pretty prominent in many primitivist/deep green/etc spaces

Have you found that to be the case here?

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celebratedrecluse wrote (edited )

Would you celebrate a genocide if the future people would be prettier or smarter?

well, no. I am also not using "beautiful" in an anthropocentric aesthetic sense, I am speaking more metaphorically; the beauty of time & change, of nature's ability to reconstruct itself even in the face of unbelievable damage/destruction. As we humans are part of that process, i find that beautiful, in a way that transcends what i as an individual acculturated human find attractive.

Don't get me wrong. shit is fucked. everyone is miserable, and the planet is dying lol. but if we give into our depressive tendencies, we have subsumed our better nature to a socialized affect, an emotional state which is designed to keep people docile, or at least redirect any revolutionary energy into useless side affairs. So I prefer us to be able to experience this collapse in a self-conscious way, and not get trapped underneath our own hearts & minds.

It seems like you're setting up a dichotomy between celebration and despair/pessimism, but I don't understand why this is necessary or desirable.

Actually, I think I am responding to the cult of despair which is well known on /r/Collapse & /f/Collapse, which does not really elicit a political force from the people who consume the content. If anything, it appears to neutralize many people from taking actions which are sustainable & positive. Instead, I feel that people are turning inwards, "prepping" in a very narrow sense, and cultivating this totally wack sense of misanthropy. Radical politics requires collective socialization, and this stuff (while not wrong per se in many respects) doesn't get us where I personally want us to go.

It is clear to me, at least, that I am not advocating for passively celebrating the dire future that awaits us. I am trying to engage in a dialectic, to push towards the kind of synthesis you refer to. Because right now, if you take my post in its social context, I think it is fair to acknowledge it is attempting to be a counterbalancing perspective.

I find the biological essentialism of "Nature" that is pretty prominent in many primitivist/deep green/etc spaces

well, this is not a space, not to get too pedantic. It's a forum. IRL, the primitivist scene utterly imploded due to prominent men coming out as transphobic, racist...not to mention, the FBI raids on the most successful direct actionists affiliated. It was a both internal reactionary split, and an external repressive force. divide-and-conquer. the scene has not recovered in over a decade, so the "spaces" we are talking about are just online forums.

But to address what you say, rather than get caught up in definitions: Here, there is something very interesting happening, in that there is a really large queer & trans presence on the site (wooo) but also a very large gathering of ecologically concerned anarchist thought/discourse. There are limitations in what a forum can do (and any anti-civs here surely would agree), but I for one am optimistic about what sort of dank memes and propaganda we can export, as well as the digital networks we can co-create. Perhaps some of us could even take some of these connections offline and do something real with them, but that's definitely quite uncertain, and even laden with some operational danger. But overall, I feel very positively about what raddle may do, and at the least what it can represent for the anarchist deep green discourse moving forward.

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