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celebratedrecluse wrote

I'm not going to engage with the historical revisionism, but I will take this opportunity to get some stuff off my chest.

On the micro level, IME many anarchist spaces have a tendency to form authoritarian relationships as part of political organizing. While the renaming of these roles and relationships may obscure this to the casual observer, beyond the hesitance to deviate from consensus and the pained fixation on feelings and opinions of each member of a group even when the participation and emotional/labor investment of members is totally unequal, in most anarchist projects there are a minority or even just one person who does most of the labor, and if they're at least lucky, exercises most of the social power. This leads to burnout and cynicism toward the stated ideals of the group, especially by those fueling its labor-power, but also those who participate less. These stated ideals invariably reflect a horizontal and rhizomatic ideal which is never achieved.

To the contrary, this fixation on abstract process over direct goal-achievement creates a pointless charade where the people who do most of the work have to constantly feel they should "ask permission" from people who never do anything and never respond in the group chat, hinders the inclusion of new members, makes any decision feel "empty" of gravitas to proceed upon it, and lets the material and specific goals of a project receive less attention than the abstractions and ideals which surround that goal.

Ironically, this is hardly unique to anarchist spaces-- the authoritarian communists and democratic socialists of the present in my country are even worse in this respect, their vanguard and platformist organizations always focused on the abstract success of the "party" in newspaper sales, elections, demonstrations, or other spectacles, rather than direct goals that benefit the working class and other oppressed people: creating autonomous spaces, fulfilling needs through mutual aid, resisting state oppression against marginalized groups, and building networks of trust that organically build through a community rather than being mediated by a central party.

Anarchists, thus, are hilariously and concerningly the most likely group to address these problems of micro/internal anti-egalitarianism, because anarchists' abstractions are at least situated in the general context of taking direct action, the mainstay of revolutionary praxis. The abstractions of statists, to the contrary, will generally revolve around taking indirect action, which layers an additional peril of do-nothing-ism on their efforts. So it's a bit rich to hear Maoists and Trots talk about the "inefficiencies" of anarchism, when their own organizations in the present day are basically do-nothing institutions that create an artifice around imaginary future solutions to poverty.

However, let me be clear, in the present day in my country there is no serious revolutionary movement, only disorganized and distracted LARPers who fixate on platonic ideals of one kind or another rather than actual praxis. This type of ridiculous historical argument on Raddle is a great example of what I am talking about-- people, especially but not limited to MLs, are infinitely more concerned with the actions of past anarchists and communists than with the current situation as it evolves. This is because these type of people are basically living in the past, in fiction, and would rather prove themselves right on paper than have even the smallest success in the real world. Frequently, these individuals are patriarchal or otherwise privileged, yet are simultaneously suffering from a degeneracy of a sense of their own agency, and so retreat into their imaginary worlds and fixate on micro issues of process or the creation of meaningless microauthoritarian structures like infinitely divided, tiny vanguard parties, projects, collectives, co-ops, affinity groups, etc. In a sense, this is not much different than the branding of petit bourgeois industries.

I would suggest to anarchists that the best way to address these tendencies is to recognize them as broadly characteristic of the way that capitalism has decided to handle radical movements, and to reject platonism or commitment to purity/ideals with a more ad-hoc and flexible style of organizing, one that invites participation but does not require it, or insist on eliding the differences between those levels of participation. Instead, let us embrace the imperfect reality we live in, and do whatever is most effective in those contexts, rather than being slaves to process or consensus.

Anarchists of all tendencies can learn much from nihilist theory, history, and praxis. While we might imagine future worlds, let us boldly live and fight in the murky, horrifying, and beautiful contemporaneity we actually inhabit.

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ziq wrote (edited )

Every paragraph was illuminating, but this one especially resonates with me:

To the contrary, this fixation on abstract process over direct goal-achievement creates a pointless charade where the people who do most of the work have to constantly feel they should "ask permission" from people who never do anything and never respond in the group chat, hinders the inclusion of new members, makes any decision feel "empty" of gravitas to proceed upon it, and lets the material and specific goals of a project receive less attention than the abstractions and ideals which surround that goal.

I've given up on glorifying democracy to make everyone feel like they're an equal part of something when a lot of them are really just casual observers who nontheless feel the need to assert power over the people actually doing all the thankless labor and then the casuals take credit for the end result of the labor by pretending it was an equal collective effort.

And yeah, feeling the need to create all these cumbersome bureaucratic processes to give random passerbys power to control and dillute our goals is an exercise in sadism. The obsession anarchists have with fabricating collective power structures when the labor relationships inside them are so utterly unequal has only ever led to burnout and bitterness for all involved.

We need to stop allowing ourselves to be controlled by power hierarchies, even those billing themselves as "egalitarian".

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