Submitted by kore in AskRaddle (edited )

Hello,

Most of you may not know me, but I have been a member of raddle for a while even though I rarely post. I've been really anxious lately and I hope that even though I'm not around much raddlers can help me.

The title of this post is just a short way to say what I'm about to say now.

First, a background. I've read a lot of works that have celebrity status on raddle, stuff like Desert, Baedan, Tiqqun (not all of it lol), Feral Faun, the anti-post-civ-left-green-nihilistic-gender line, the leftist line. So I know the lines. I know how exciting these sorts of ideas can be. I've also read several reactions (edit: wrong word, should have said different views or something) to such works, both direct ones and indirect (like say Bookchin).

One thing that I continually fail to understand is how it can ever be possible for large scale societies (and by "large" I mean >50-100 people) to be completely free of any authority. Furthermore, I don't understand how any technology (used in it's most basic sense, control of fire is technology) is inherently compatible with anti-authoritarianism.

It's pretty clear to me that any "collapse" scenario will still involve millions and probably billions of people and animals. How is it possible to eradicate any sort of authority in these situations? If the people I live with are anarchist, that's great. But when food and water are scarce and there's 1 million other people around, authority seems inevitable in some way.

Since I'm not a familiar face this may come across as trolling or reactionary or whatever, but the truth is that I am severely disillusioned with this, my head is swimming with all sorts of thoughts, and I have no idea what to do with myself or my life. Like for example, I find computers and electronics to be fascinating. I would love to use my knowledge, skills, and time to create electronic and computer technologies that are decentralized by nature and are useful to people. But there's so much discussion around the evils of technology (not just computers) in anarchist circles that it feels almost wrong to want to learn about these things and create with them for the benefit of people. I can honestly say that I have stayed away from it because of the things I've read despite it being a huge passion of mine.

Sorry this is a winding post. I just feel like shit. Ive been staying away from raddle because I'm scared, so I've just had my head in the sand. I hope no one takes this the wrong way. Thank you for your time.

22

Comments

You must log in or register to comment.

An_Old_Big_Tree wrote

Hi! No need to worry about your questions at all. Pretty sure most of us are familiar with you :) I really hope you feel better soon.

So, I already gave my best short answer to the technology question here. I'm happy to try to expand on it if you want further questions. Personally I think that because there will be no global revolution we will need technologies against technology. Simple stereotypical examples here are signal jammers, and EMP, and guns, but I'm sure there can be many more. But we should insofar as possible make them from scratch aware of how they function, how they endow power, who becomes excluded from the commons in their use, and so on.

Regarding mass. I think that some forms of mass are fine. A mass insurrection could be fine because it's really just a lot of decentralisation at once. A mass society, not so much. More importantly, the desire for mass is a problem, I think. One reading I can think of is the few-page section on Mass in Mass, The Left, And Other Dinosaurs (PDF), which is an excerpt from one of the first books I read in my baby anarchist days. I think there are a small handful of post-left texts that address mass directly aside from this that you might be able to find.
But yeah, why would we want mass? I want permanent decentralisation.

8

kore OP wrote

Thank you. All these replies make me feel better already.

Re: Technology, I think you're right about specialization tending to accrue power, and this is why I ask the question in the first place. As far as tools you interact w/ vs. control, this is why I'm so interested in democratizing digital technologies.

I don't want "mass" in the sense you mean. I'm more talking about a situation where there are 10000 communes that are all very egalitarian internally, I just cannot understand how there would be absolutely no competition for resources, especially considering the reproduction/time dimension. It's still a "mass" society in that sense, because all the communes interact.

4

L0rdEMPRESS_GaLaXyBrAiN wrote (edited )

The truth is there is no perfect way to make everyone happy all the time. It really boils down to protecting yourself and those you love and trust and the things that mean the most to you.

The entirety of our history will continue to reproduce itself as long as we are physical beings stuck in a very material world with finite time and finite resources (entropy ensures all permanence will one day be no more). The only way you could stop this... is with centralized authority and power to control the very way biological life functions... and anything with that much power must be destroyed.

4

kore OP wrote

I'm just disillusioned with the fact that protecting myself and the ones I love and trust could mean some sort of power over others.

Weird way to put it, but I like it.

3

L0rdEMPRESS_GaLaXyBrAiN wrote (edited )

some sort of power over others

The good thing about personal power is the ability to critically think about what you're doing and plan on doing. With a centralized authority there is little room for critical thought, and instead doctrine becomes go-to and that's when atrocities happen.

When you drop the doctrine and approach it critically (this means logically and emotionally) you'll have a much more informed response as to what needs to be done. It places personal responsibility and accountability as most important... and a lot of people don't want or can't handle that kind of stress, but it's either that or we trust the 'mass,' to decide for each and every single one of us.

4

celebratedrecluse wrote

I would love to use my knowledge, skills, and time to create electronic and computer technologies that are decentralized by nature and are useful to people. But there's so much discussion around the evils of technology (not just computers) in anarchist circles that it feels almost wrong to want to learn about these things and create with them for the benefit of people. I can honestly say that I have stayed away from it because of the things I've read despite it being a huge passion of mine.

This is the tragedy of anarchism, even among self-proclaimed individualists you will get substantial groupthink which infects the social interactions and private lives of everyone connected to the collective nexus.

Fuck that, do what you want!

Many anarchists are foolish ideologues, more concerned with individual purity than anything else, bearing resemblance to the Calvinists of a few centuries ago-- and their ideology isn't really going anywhere, either. If the world is going to collapse within our lifetimes, shouldn't you make the most of what you are able to do in the time you have left? Why listen to disagreeable fuckwads of any political bent about what to do with your life, and what matters to you?

Moreover, the most prominent anti-Technology voices on the board acknowledge the need for technology that combats the overall trajectory of capital-T Technology.

The best thing you can do is take the critiques of Technology, and those of any other hierarchical or oppressive system, and use that to inform the decisions you're going to have to make regardless. At least, that's my opinion.

7

L0rdEMPRESS_GaLaXyBrAiN wrote

Agreed. I take anti-technology critiques seriously... But it doesn't stop me from having a bunch of advanced certifications dealing with said technology.

5

[deleted] wrote (edited )

5

L0rdEMPRESS_GaLaXyBrAiN wrote (edited )

Unironically hear this all the time. Hypocrite is my favorite meaninglessness word!

2

[deleted] wrote

4

L0rdEMPRESS_GaLaXyBrAiN wrote

Also I think anyone who really works with technology knows not just the evils that can be committed with it... But the fragility of the modern techo-industrial world becomes obvious; should we really be putting this much faith in something that often creates more problems in it's use?

4

kore OP wrote

This is very helpful, thank you. I think critiques of technology do inform how I want to approach it. Like running programs on old computers (or even calculators), really understanding how things work at a basic level. I think just the act of acquiring knowledge about how computers and advanced technology work is self-defense. I honestly think about it in terms of magic and wizards sometimes. Like Wizards seem impossibly powerful to a random person, but if you understand magic it just makes sense.

3

An_Old_Big_Tree wrote

Why listen to disagreeable fuckwads of any political bent about what to do with your life, and what matters to you?

I'm not a fan of the do whatever you want approach. For many people, racism, sexism, and capital accumulation matter to them, is what they want. A racist rejecting critique just because the critics are disagreeable fuckwads just means the racist is pretending to be beyond critique, so far as I can tell, and effectively saying fuck your oppression I'll do what suits me.

Rather I'd ask each person to make their best ethical decisions based on their best information all the time. This would take into account their desires but would not allow for desires the reproduced this shitworld, wherever possible.
It's also important for me that people understand how their deepest desires are largely not their own, that they come from structures that have been growing together with them throughout their lives.

Everyone should live the fullest possible life, but fullness is not found in the reproduction of structures that squeeze life into tiny ever-shrinking trajectories.

1

celebratedrecluse wrote

A racist rejecting critique

You mean, a disagreeable fuckwad doubling down on being a disagreeable fuckwad?

I wasn't speaking to a racist who wants to add more racism to their podcast, I was speaking to someone interested in computers who feels shame about pursuing their interest due to the absolutist discourse they hear around them.

Ironically, you are the person in the conversation yearning for a universalism that can be applied to all situations-- not me. Which is part of what I was criticizing anarchist discourse for.

2

An_Old_Big_Tree wrote

I wasn't speaking to a racist who wants to add more racism to their podcast, I was speaking to someone interested in computers who feels shame about pursuing their interest due to the absolutist discourse they hear around them.

I know. I was taking issue with the framing. I'd rather you'd said what you say here than 'do what you want', because doing what you want will always circularly depend on whether a person considers an action to be oppressive or not. OP was trying to figure out whether the action was oppressive or not so that they could find out what they want so that they could do it.

Ironically, you are the person in the conversation yearning for a universalism that can be applied to all situations-- not me. Which is part of what I was criticizing anarchist discourse for.

I think there are ways of doing ethics that involve applying meta-critiques of fixed transcendent universals. I would prescribe that to someone interested in anarchic practice. I don't think that this is the same as vulgar universalism at all.

2

celebratedrecluse wrote

framing

OP provided the framing, i did not try to add anything besides that they are experiencing shame that is clearly social in nature

universalism

You assumed i meant something transcendently universal, so you critiqued it with that in mind. I'm pushing back on that because this is an inference on the reader's part, not the speaker's.

4

[deleted] wrote (edited )

1

Nuktuk wrote

A big part of all this nihilisty stuff to me is the idea of hopelessness as emancipatory, rather than a hinderance. Because positive projects appear to always go on to reproduce authoritative relations, I can instead dedicate my efforts to engaging directly with authority where I encounter it. Rather than waste my time begging others to go vegan or marching in protest in the streets, I can use what power I have left and steal directly for those who need food, or directly find ways to vandalise the belongings of those who use others. If One is looking for reassurance that collapse will end authority, I don’t think reading something like baedan can help someone. Leviathan can recouperate anything. As for dealing with the angst associated with this inevitability, actually getting my nails dirty is the closest to therapeutic I get.

As for technology I think what I do is use tech where it helps me to fight these structures is too valuable. And a critique of technology while incredibly useful shouldn’t deter you from finding ways to use technology full stop.

Also just wanna say I’ve always enjoyed reading your contributions, and I hope you still feel comfortable to make interesting posts like this one in the future.

6

kore OP wrote

Yeah i have to remember that about the emancipatory hopelessness. It is strangely liberating.

I'm just saying that living with other people and trying to support a community through food production, health care, etc. Is a positive project in the sense that you have to plant seeds, build buildings. I'm not trying to say "checkmate nihilist," but I really just wonder how all of these things can really be freed of any authority.

3

CaptainACAB wrote (edited )

I really just wonder how all of these things can really be freed of any authority.

I'm not sure myself, I doubt anyone else is either; anything written by anarchists is just about escaping our current conditions under an authority, it's not like there's a framework to work with, every anarchist has had to deal with authority. Were all forms of authority to somehow be abolished, there's no guarantee that a few people won't try to bring at least a few back; it's too ingrained into our experience to do so. The closest thing to an answer I or anyone else can come up with is to adopt a position of rejection; an absolute, constant struggle against authority whenever it rears its head.

4

L0rdEMPRESS_GaLaXyBrAiN wrote (edited )

We're all forms of authority to somehow be abolished

Kill the cop in your head/If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill them!

4

Nuktuk wrote

I disagree that planting seeds or building shelter are inherently positive projects. A positive project strives to replicate, reproduce, constantly grow in scope. Planting a sweet potato to feed yourself (or to give to others) does no such thing.

2

DarkArmillary2 wrote (edited )

Have you heard of Solarpunk?

I think it's one of the few bright spots (pun intended) associated with the current anarchist movement. It is hopeful and optimistic, offering a positive vision of the future in terms of social and technological harmony. It is not explicitly anti-capitalist, though there are specific anti-capitalist and anarchist Solarpunk groups, on Facebook for example if you use that.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solarpunk

At the end of the day, do what you love and what genuinely interests you, as long as that doesn't mean dominating others. You shouldn't have to sacrifice core parts of who you are to fit into a predetermined ideological mold, especially when that ideology is supposed to be liberatory. We do need decentralized tech, go for it!

5

kore OP wrote

Thank you very much. Solar punk seems preeettttyyy chill. I've been reading some william gibson and samuel delany.

1

anextremelyonlineG wrote

Yeah, authority exists everywhere and always, because power is everywhere. Not equally in all situations or places, but it's always there.

The problem you may be running into, is that you expect success to look like an abstract standard. The world is messy, and no place for ideology. I would suggest instead that you consider adopting a descriptor of your positionality, rather than a descriptor of an ideology I must embody. It will help you keep your marbles together, you know?

4

kore OP wrote

can you give me an example of positionality please i don't really understand

2

anextremelyonlineG wrote

An ideology usually has a metanarrative, which is a story of how the world one inhabits came to be, where it's going, and what creates purpose and value within the world according to the story. For example, communism is a (very broad) ideology.

A positionality is more limited, and grounded in specific context. It is how you relate to the world, and is harder to boil down into a word.

Perhaps you are a teacher, who wants to create a free school by unionizing with other workers at the school you work at, liberating the students from impediments on their ability to self-organize, and ultimately challenging the managerial class that extracts value from, and implements authority on, the school you work at. You might come up with terms for where you are (high school teacher), what you are fighting (neoliberalism), and what you want (a free school, free association, post-pedagogy). While your words might sound great to a self-described a communist, instead of calling yourself this immutable identity which is divorced from most context, you have specified a sense of self for yourself that exists where you actually are.

This is a significant difference, and can be very helpful for clarifying and enabling your politics, and your agency in general, to be as effective and least-recuperable by the system as possible.

2

ItsBad wrote

Technology can be used for good if people understand how it works, how to make it, and how to use it.

Right now people don't understand any of that, so they end up serving machines instead of machines serving them. When people try to fix problems with machines they feel like are placating them instead actually fixing them

It doesn't have to be this way - machines are not magical black boxes; they use underlying physical principles to make them work. It's possible to gain understanding of them and modify them.

Learning anything is difficult though, there's so much bad advice out there and it's hard to discern what's important and what's not when you're just starting out.

3

kore OP wrote

It doesn't have to be this way - machines are not magical black boxes; they use underlying physical principles to make them work. It's possible to gain understanding of them and modify them.

You put this perfectly, I totally agree.

2

zoochotic wrote

I dropped out of the tech field for that reason. Not moral purity, but because I don't think there's really any interesting uses of it for anarchists at this point. If you find it inherently fascinating or have a cool project though then keep at it, I've just always been more interested in the application than the nuts & bolts - and didn't see any future in that at the time.

I don't believe it is reconcilable with mass society, and that's okay!

1

rot wrote

no. industrialized society is tied to capitalism and the state. Industrialization was born from capitalism and state government and is inherently authoritarian.

50-100 is probably the perfect size for a community. I remember hearing somewhere that the maximum tribal size is around 150.

Idk how we'd make ethically computers but seeing as they already exist it's just a matter of replicating the components.

1

ramone wrote

I think this is a fair assessment, and I for one appreciate your honesty and realism. Too many people are far to willing to label themselves as ancap, ancom, anarcho-syndicalist, and so on. All I can say is "we live in a society" without a hint of irony. The solution from most libertarians is to spread out very thin and protect what is yours. All I want from government is an actual social contract, one that I have actually agreed to. Something that can punish greed effectively, and that is why I think government is a failure, for not responding to actions we can all see are wrong. If there must be an authoritarian oversight in society, I want to believe they can see what's wrong and have no fear to act against it. Capitalism and all of its folly is unavoidable when leaders are weak and slow to act, but that's what you get in a democracy, endless debate, while those who benefit from weak authority throw monkey wrenches into the gears of change. By this point in the history of the world, people should have gotten wise to all of the lobbying that ruins democracy, and put a stop to government that is designed to keep things stagnant, but sadly this is the world we have inherited and obstructionist government is the reality in some of the most affluent parts of the world.

All I can say is don't hold back from learning new technologies because of fear. All industry and especially tech could use more honest and realistic voices like yours.

−1