Submitted by An_Old_Big_Tree in CritiqueThis (edited )

”Anarchists are people who want to immediately abolish the state after the revolution and do not want a replacement state. That's the simplest terms. I was definitely an anarchist. A lot of MLs used to be anarchists.” (source)

I think that for most people, the introductory grip on anarchism once they begin to get it (not including Chomskyan justified authority stuff) is a position like this - Anarchists want to abolish the state and capital and all hierarchies and move to a stateless moneyless society, without an intermediary state that comes into power in order to conscientise the people and wither away.

This position is highly limited but true, and it is useful to use to explain to noobs what anarchism is to get them on board enough to dig deeper. I think that this truth is several removes away from what anarchism is.

People who dig a bit deeper often come to a position like this: Anarchism is against political mediation. We are ok with affecting the political world, but no politicians. Ok with spirituality, but no priests. No specialists structuring our immediate relation to the world we affect - where every mediation is an alienation. This extends pretty far, with people like Zerzan critiquing symbolic thought and language in terms of the alienation that mediation brings.

Deeper still is what I consider the core anti-authoritarian principle that is the seed of anarchist everything. The overthrow of external impositions, (rejection of impositions from Outside, transcendent things). The consequences of the are very far-reaching, for how we understand being subjects, for how we apprehend being, it literally changes the structure of our thought, or in Deleuze’s terms, it is the abolishing of the 'dogmatic image of thought', which is in simple terms how the form of our thought itself is authoritarian and justifies authority (Deleuze calls it State Thought). I wish I had more energy for this, and it’s at this part that this post will be inadequate. I have a friend who’s writing about it right now and I’m going to publish that thing on the anarchist library first chance I get. But it’s supposed to be like a book-length thing lol.
What we find is that in simple form, theoretically anarchism is the permanent calculated revolt against transcendent forms, an orientation in the present that opens up unforeseen possibilities and un-forecloses the future. That time element, the orientation in the present that un-forecloses the future - the orientation itself is an instantiation of a set of anti-authoritarian relations - that is what anarchists call prefiguration. And that is what anarchism is.

Years of doing unmaking external impositions completely reorients you, bodily. It’s a huge bodily change for most people, I think. It’s a deep attunement to flows of power, a sensitivity to impositions from outside, one that literally affects your perception. And the orientation brings you to hunt transcendence to destroy it, everywhere always, it brings you to live in good faith because it’s what you want for yourself, you can be as selfish as you want, because when we destroy transcendence we destroy simplistic ideas of the individual and we recognise how what is preferable for us is bound up in what is liberating and joyous for others.

So yeah, anarchism is about getting to a decentralised moneyless society without the help of an intermediary state. But that’s not what anarchism is. Anarchism is prefiguration, and it is in your body.

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An_Old_Big_Tree OP wrote

I'm not discounting people who have not gone this deep. I think they can be called anarchists if they are continuing that journey. But whenever you hear about people who say that they "used to be anarchist" it is invariably only in the shallow sense.

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nbdy wrote (edited )

I think this is a key point, at least when talking about ex-anarchists and the difficulty of perceiving anarchism from the outside. Since people tend to attune new ideas to the way they already see things, this concept of ours that is a relentless deconstruction of your every preconception is hard to swallow. So if one rejects that deconstruction(in my experience these are often people who do not want to live their politics or who don't know how) they wind up with some form of anarchy that resembles/fits into what they already understand i.e anarcho-communists who stick to theorizing about pseudo-states, or syndicalists who can't abandon the idea work. Or because they couldn't even part with their comfortable nationalism, they go towards state-communism.

I say, good riddance! If they figure it out some day, welcome home!

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An_Old_Big_Tree OP wrote

Yes, I generally agree with this.

People start the path to anarchy from wherever they are - I think we'd be wise, insofar as we want more of us (and I do, just because I like anarchists and how I feel with anarchists more than any other people), to find ways to speak to each type of person we engage and bring them on a journey to anarchy.

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celebratedrecluse wrote

very true, but for uncomfortable reasons as well. Because the thing is, anarchism as an embodied position, is associated with a particularity, with a subcultural presence. And it is very easy, if not reasonable as fuck, to get annoyed and rage quite that subcultural presence, filled with abusers and trauma as it is, and frequently then to discard the embodied positionality along with it, if and only if your goals are mapped onto something as abstract as "a moneyless stateless society" or something similar to that. Because, if that's what your thinking of, why the fuck would you stay around a group of people and their way of thinking, which seems so ill-prepared and undesiring to even consider creating such a thing?

So, I think there is more merit to the anti-political position of historical anarchists, than many anarchists today would admit (especially the US ones, many if not most of whom seem to be #BidenGang). Because, we should be more specific and less universalizing/abstract in our desires and our arguments, if you ask me. They should be on the level of real people, rather than broader sociologics which invariably seem to erase real people and real social relationships.

Even while we square with the problems of scale, which i still do not think it wise to discard, the real persons of our world should not be rendered outside of our discourse. In fact, I think we should err on the side of real persons, rather than erring on the side of abstractions, given what symbolic thought has done to humanity and the non-human...

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_caspar_ wrote

"So, I think there is more merit to the anti-political position of historical anarchists, than many anarchists today would admit (especially the US ones, many if not most of whom seem to be #BidenGang). Because, we should be more specific and less universalizing/abstract in our desires and our arguments, if you ask me. They should be on the level of real people, rather than broader sociologics which invariably seem to erase real people and real social relationships.

Even while we square with the problems of scale, which i still do not think it wise to discard, the real persons of our world should not be rendered outside of our discourse. In fact, I think we should err on the side of real persons, rather than erring on the side of abstractions, given what symbolic thought has done to humanity and the non-human..."

I second this, as the person-sized scale (or put in other words, not being measured as human units) seems terribly overlooked, outright rejected, or ignored by political actors mesmerized by the grand stage of history,,, if only through the screen.

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An_Old_Big_Tree OP wrote

Because the thing is, anarchism as an embodied position, is associated with a particularity, with a subcultural presence

I didn't understand this, and a lot of your post, for some reason. I think if I understood the first paragraph better the rest would be manageable. If you're up for it, please can you try explain again?

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celebratedrecluse wrote (edited )

Sure no problem, let me experiment with a different format that might help

  1. Since anarchism, in real life/offline, is just groups of anarchists
  2. Since these groups are characterized by a commodified subculture, which itself is partially a colonial/neoliberal recuperation of anarchism
  3. Since "desiring a moneyless/stateless society" is different than "removing the state and capital from lived life", we can consider these to be different goals.
  4. I argue that certain anarchists come into contact with anarchism and frame things in the former way, while other anarchists frame it as the latter. This leads to the the former frequently being a transitory step on the way to other destinations like liberalism, academia, and the broader left ,while the latter group tends to stick around more and be attracted to anarchist cultural spaces/networks.
  5. Since the former is an abstract universalist ontology, and the latter is a concretized and explicitly non-universal ontology, these are positions whose values/priorities are at odds.
  6. As a result, people who want to implement or co-create an abstract vision of society will invariably be attracted to real-world social groups which are amenable to such abstract framings, and be repulsed from many typical anarchist social spaces, anarchist groups and anarchist networks, because of the completely different ontological outlook anarchists tend to have which distinguishes them from many "left", academic, and liberal counterparts.
  7. The presence of abuse, abusers, and trauma/triggers, will drive people away from communities of people who are trying to confront systemic oppression. Anarchism is no exception, as we continue as anarchists to wrestle with these problems in our spaces.
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An_Old_Big_Tree OP wrote

I finally read these two comments and got the chance to figure out what was going on between the two of them. I was hoping to have more to say but basically I think we are in agreement.

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An_Old_Big_Tree OP wrote

Thanks. I've read this once. Gonna keep it in my notifications and hope to give it a re-read and a response at some time later :)

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celebratedrecluse wrote

I look forward to it! Great conversation, thanks for the OP & thread you started in general.

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Kinshavo wrote

I agree with you, and it is a beautiful post.

I always have seek this more profund understanding of Anarchism, and thats one of the reason I struggle with the anarchist label. Because some people try to oversimplify the meaning of being anarchist and even equating it to communism.

I liked the "bodily" reorganization bit. I need to catch up with some stuff to fully appreciate your considerations.

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An_Old_Big_Tree OP wrote

I think that the best of what communism is is just a failed attempt to do anarchism, so I understand your troubles.

I liked the "bodily" reorganization bit. I need to catch up with some stuff to fully appreciate your considerations.

Cool! You could take your time with it. You'll probably get more and more just hanging out around here.

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existential1 wrote (edited )

This thought is why I feel such and affinity for both anarchism and Taoism. Especially the concepts of wu wei (actionless action) in Chinese and mu (nothingness) in Japanese and oblivion in English.

The emphasis is to practice the phrase, and actions that come with it, "what happens if I don't do this?" I wrote a thing the other day that I will paraphrase here: To cleanse for the carnivore is to be an omnivore To cleanse for the omnivore is to be a vegetarian To cleanse for the vegetarian is to be vegan To cleanse for the vegan is to consume only life's vapor. This what the sages do in the mountains.

The point being, the more dependencies you remove, the more you subsist on just life itself. Taoism, and anarchism, are practices meant to aid one in their quest to subsist only on the natural, necessary, elements of life.

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_caspar_ wrote

I see your point, but I would be wary of emphasizing the goal as purely subtractive, as in your dietary metaphor. along with mu, you could add pu: the uncarved block of wood example. which would seem to emphasize not only subtraction (the unlearning process), but also addition (the capacity to take on new forms), to be cycled over and again: lose in order to gain in order to lose. not resulting in a fixed state.

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An_Old_Big_Tree OP wrote

It's a shame I will likely never have an opportunity to learn as much as I'd like about daoism!

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subrosa wrote

Great post. Can you elaborate a little on what you mean by 'bodily change'; in what way is it in my body?

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An_Old_Big_Tree OP wrote

This is the hardest question to answer here! I don't think I have the energy to articulate it right now, sorry - I don't think i ever have. It's hard to articulate something bodily. It's also hard because it is embodied, to even think about how my body was was before I was like this.

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willow wrote

i like the idea that anarchism is the prefiguration of the self. this is the first positive definition of anarchism i've seen that actually makes sense.

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celebratedrecluse wrote

prefacing this with the fact that this is in /f/critiquethis, so i'm being direct rather than ascribing to the deference associated with politeness, and discarding the notion that intellectual engagement is inherently ad hominem

you can be as selfish as you want, because when we destroy transcendence we destroy simplistic ideas of the individual and we recognise how what is preferable for us is bound up in what is liberating and joyous for others.

I think that, ironically, this is a transcendent ideological statement. So, how are we destroying transcendence, exactly? Perhaps in some instances, to be sure, we can have aligned interests. The interests of a mob of joyful, angry protestors might occasionally coalesce into a shared interest of keeping each other out of cages, but not for long-- the state is a master of manipulating incentives, it's how it has survived for so long and maintained its power over multiple different modes of production.

So I think it is very incorrect to state that interests merge into a whole. This rarely happens, and while it is great when it does, a worldview which relies on this and denies the reality that it is a rarity, is one which is permanently doomed to repeated and pointless failure.

In reality, our interests are wildly divergent, frequently so, and i think it is good to embody this divergence and accept its existence rather than deny it.

It is concerning, because some anarchists, frankly from my view disproportionately represented on this website, in fact seem to me to fetishize this ongoing defeat. This is what might be to others a "philosophical anarchism", but to me is just annoying and extremely counter to my goals.

Gnosticism has had a lasting impact on the european colonial-intellegentsia diaspora, and all its descendants including and especially anarchism. I think an understanding of the legacy of this hellenistic philosophy behooves anyone who is seeking to root out the ghosts of this self-replicating defeat.

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_caspar_ wrote

"So I think it is very incorrect to state that interests merge into a whole. This rarely happens, and while it is great when it does, a worldview which relies on this and denies the reality that it is a rarity, is one which is permanently doomed to repeated and pointless failure.

In reality, our interests are wildly divergent, frequently so, and i think it is good to embody this divergence and accept its existence rather than deny it."

I think youre spot on. a world of diffusion, difference, and endless possibilities of divergence seems much more exciting and conducive to anarchy to me than a collective homogenized whole. and less hospitable to authoritative drives. perhaps a world where everyone is a radical other?

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An_Old_Big_Tree OP wrote (edited )

I agree that people's goals an interests are widely divergent.

When I said "what is preferable for us is bound up in what is liberating and joyous for others", I meant first those we have affinity with and who are within our reach.

I do think that there is a kind of ripple effect in anti-authoritarian action, that a strong affinity group liberates others almost by accident in their wake. Of course there are those who react in the opposite way as well. But my main interest is to build resilient and joyous relationships with people who seek to unmake this world.

I'm curious to see where further this chat might go!

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isvarahparamahkrsnah wrote

I'm an anarchist that doesn't want a philosophical lecture on anarchism.
I like to keep things simple.

I've noticed a lot of anarchists dive into deep philosophical theories by so and so as if that's supposed to define what anarchy really is.
Why can't we just hate the government and call it a day?
It's not like some anarchist geniuses are about to abolish all governments and establish free countries everywhere.
Fact of the matter is, as much as we all hate the government, we're all still living in the system, and our lives are wholly controlled and dictated by the system,

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An_Old_Big_Tree OP wrote

I'm an anarchist that doesn't want a philosophical lecture on anarchism.

I like that kind of anarchist, when they are anarchists.

Why can't we just hate the government and call it a day?

Plenty people hate government, it doesn't make them anarchists. And there are others who presumably don't necessarily hate government but are anarchists (like taoists).

It's not like some anarchist geniuses are about to abolish all governments and establish free countries everywhere.

I am not sure how this and the following part of your response relates to my overall points. If you could explain I'll happily engage them further.

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thelegendarybirdmonster wrote (edited )

I'm sorry , I didn't understand your third interpretation of anarchism, there's probably some philosophical baggage that I don't have lol.

I agree with the fact that anarchism is a gut reaction thought. Even a personality trait maybe.

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An_Old_Big_Tree OP wrote

That's ok! I'm pretty peculiar and I do have an unusual amount of philosophy in my head.

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An_Old_Big_Tree OP wrote

(don't have time to respond to these today I think, hopefully tomorrow, but I will definitely respond to each person, thank you all for your comments)

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tequila_puppy_cannibal wrote

Anarchism is not a club.

We will continue to birth extremely ignorant people, like me, who will sometimes become violently mentally ill when we are not happy. Will you let me run off into the woods after I eat one of our babies whom I think is a fascist? I suppose it may take a little more time to manifest. All fascist teenagers get ate maybe? We could hire the anarcho-cannibals for this task. They are real, like hungry, little, self-centered gods establishing their anarchy clique.

Vegan anarchists don't have that meaty taste, sigh, which I prefer. Sorry for my diet of meat eaters, being a meat eater. You know? Right? All the vegans are cheering!!!

Life is absurd, don't discount anything.

I used to make fun of John Zerzan; especially after seeing a video from the primitivists of a man examining floating dust motes. Not anymore. I really dig primitive tribal anarchy. I actually “joined” one. It took a lot of work, lots. They're out there. They pretty much ignore you when you're not there. They hate computers, they are not here. Again, sorry, I have no idea what's wrong with me. It's a vice which I keep to myself in the tribe now. They mock me when I do this and let it be known to them.

Anarchists wouldn't be anarchists without this ridiculous, worldwide, societal problem. We like the edge. We like the spit & the blood and we want to kick some ass, usually. Real anarchists live in the shadows in an illegal world unknown to many. It's dangerous and we move a lot. There are redoubts but they are few and far between.

Pull the Plug. No invitation needed.

Anarchy will ensue 10 days thereafter.

You have my personal guarantee, and you'll definitely be an anarchist if you survive.

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An_Old_Big_Tree OP wrote

One thing I can say though is that I'd much rather be an anarchist without this ridiculous worldwide societal problem. I enjoy freedom, and that's what attracts me to things people consider edgy, but I'd much rather be doing what I'm doing now (a permanent labour of enriching reparation) in an environment that was conducive to that, and would even more happily be doing it if it just meant being a teacher for some kids and spending my time enriching the forest.

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catachresis wrote (edited )

I like this post a lot :) thanks

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An_Old_Big_Tree OP wrote

Hey! I didn't understand what you were trying to say with your post, so if you or anybody else wants to clarify, that'd be good.

Also, there's an ableist term in your username which is outside of our w/terms_of_service, so could you please change your username in your user settings?

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[deleted] wrote

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An_Old_Big_Tree OP wrote

So far as I know, outside of talking about the term there's basically no way to use the term without being ableist. Maybe check out some of the resources over at f/Ability that will help you think about this further.

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_caspar_ wrote

"the permanent calculated revolt against transcendent forms, an orientation in the present that opens up unforeseen possibilities and un-forecloses the future. "

agreed. which is why I think Stirner was invaluable to anarchists for emphasizing this disassociation from abstract externalities or ideals. I also agree with your emphasis on the body, not from a strictly materialist sense, but something closer to an immanent one in the Deleuzian sense: bodies being both mind and matter.

Im not attached to prefiguration, in that it seems to imply a determinacy that conflicts with mutability, and predicated upon a progression of linear or causal view of time (but I could be wrong). and especially since those who seem to use that term often in their jargon are so embedded in the spectacle of politics, that I want nothing to do with their programmatic strategies, performances, and outcomes.

the way you describe prefiguration seems close to what Nietzsche would call self-mastery through resisting drives, or becoming a sovereign individual (chapter 5 of Nietzsche and Anarchy). I still dont fully understand the role of determinacy in their concept, but maybe you know more about it than I.

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An_Old_Big_Tree OP wrote

prefiguration, in that it seems to imply a determinacy that conflicts with mutability,

I'm surprised that this was how I came across. Prefiguration is movement, it is becoming, and multiplicity, by all of my understandings.
(It's even transversal relations to times, where unexpected combinations of usually closed-out times are set into creative becoming with another)

I don't think I've read that chapter in Nietzsche and Anarchy, and sadly won't be able to any time soon - I'm curious about it though!

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_caspar_ wrote

I'm surprised that this was how I came across.

no, its not how your definition came across, as I think you use the term much differently than "what anarchists call prefiguration. And that is what anarchism is," which has always been prefigurative politics in my experience.

"It's even transversal relations to times, where unexpected combinations of usually closed-out times are set into creative becoming with another"

which writings/perspectives use the term prefiguration defined in this way? Id like to read into it more.

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An_Old_Big_Tree OP wrote

no, its not how your definition came across, as I think you use the term much differently than "what anarchists call prefiguration. And that is what anarchism is," which has always been prefigurative politics in my experience.

Did you ever read my other f/CritiqueThis post around prefiguration? (all of my posts kinda are because like I said I think anarchism is prefiguration, but this post and my follow-up comment are just about rejecting what I understand to be the other major conception of prefiguration, a rejection that is super easy if you think about it for a sec). Here.

which writings/perspectives use the term prefiguration defined in this way?

Just me and my friends, so far as I know, drawing from transversals and transversal relations to time that are large part of Deleuze's praxis (probably the main text from Deleuze with transversals of time is the Proust book), Mbembe's ideas of divination, Ronald Bogue's stuff re Deleuze, Guattari's psychoanalysis stuff on transversals, and other people who deal with transversals from an anti-authoritarian framework.

For me so far as positive praxis rather than negation, transversals are one of the best tools in the anti-authoritarian toolbox.

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_caspar_ wrote

ooo,, super interesting,, thank you!! been meaning to read Mbembe's necropolitics essay, and divination sounds intriguing. their book will have to wait..

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An_Old_Big_Tree OP wrote (edited )

I haven't read necropolitics in a while, the tldr of it is basically that foucault's biopolitics are first-world / coloniser problems. It's worth a read for sure I think, but the next step is to destroy the dichotomy of bio and necro.

I was talking about Critique Of Black Reason.
(linked in w/decolonial)

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ukuleleclass wrote

would love to read your friends book! i’ve also been thinking about writing a book on radical vulnerability and talk about how post-humanist, queer and feminist ontologies tie into anarchism (or post-anarchist) modes of subjectivity or being. i’ve got a lot more reading and learning to do first though!

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