Saying extreme crap in the bay area
I'm writing this to contribute to the discussion surrounding Lawrence's comments at an anarchist assembly in Oakland, and in order to put to the rest a particular trajectory of this debate about race. I'm deploying my so-called authoritative voice, my performance of authorship and patriarchy, as “Liam Sionnach,” the fact that I was “there,” and sided with my friend (because I am taken by friendship), in order to speak with more weight than others, and—like many of the anarchists playing at being writers—for the excuse to practice writing, and essentially hear my own voice. In reality, none of us have anymore sense in our language than others regarding the real questions of racial power and its organization in the US. We can argue about the difference of our real experiences and positionalities. However the fact is that since the '70s, no movement has emerged—especially from the radical political milieus—that is in-tune with the contemporary and complex racial nightmare that is the hell we live in the US. If there was such a movement, we would concern ourselves with far more interesting challenges than a squabble within a tiny part of an equally tiny scene. We all inhabit the same catastrophe.
The anarchists—even we in our later ages—still suffer from a certain infantilism of political imagination and thought. Lawrence's comment “...even the black churches” reveal this. Like the nihilists and egoists of times past, in searching for an ethical position, principles or values by which to align our practices and lives, anarchists assume an even stricter morality of anti-authoritarian principles than those ladies in their Sunday bests. In such comments, we hear the a rebellious child's “fuck you dad,” or the liberal gesture of free speech. However, saying extreme crap—affirming and welcoming this freedom—has no bearing on the arrival of anarchy, much less the development of the thought and practices of a sad, isolated, and weak milieu. “...Even the black churches” is hyperbole at best, and, as revealed by our southern friend with a cool 5 panel hat, ignorance at worst. Transgressive hyperbole is the language of the avant garde. Sure it looks cool as art objects, their noise shows can be a moment of ecstasy, and can it shock normal people or whatever, but we all know the way that ends: in a very sad and lonely basement. If Lawrence, and those charming internet commenters were to slow down, think, and for once breathe from their noses, they would realize this is not a meaningful fight to defend anti-authoritarian principles. We are not in Spain, this is not 1936; the Church doesn't wield the same power it once did. And, we live in world where “No Gods! No Masters!” has actually already been realized.
For the construct of the time and space called the West, hierarchy as a paradigm of governance is an epoch that has past—quite a long time ago, actually. And, “god,” as a transcendental authority is arguably absent from the world, and clearly from the real work of government. Even for the anarchists obsessed with making the police its enemy, it must be clear that there is no divinity hiding in the policeman's bullet, the application of the law, or the judgement of a jury of our peers. God is a remnant in law, and sovereign power has its origins in god, sure, but there is no redemption in the contemporary techniques of government. Ask anyone who's been in the system since they've been 17, its the management of hell.
Someone said “One of the most important components of the revolutionary movement must be its tactfulness.” While I'm not sure what is gained by Lawrence and CAL Press's continued contributions, much less what is gained by the reproduction of an anarchist milieu, I think if Lawrence wished to be a decent person, and to be done with his infantile allegiance to “critique,” he too would stop, think, and realize that a world is not constructed out of critical value systems competing for the space of the most enlightened principle. Which is to say, he would realize his comments were foolish, and possible only from an existential distance from this thing called the South where the image of burned black churches is irreducibly linked to a history of racial power and terror. He would also realize that his comments aren't really worth defending because they have no bearing on the arrival of anarchy, and perhaps given such an intelligence, he would apologize and help bring to a close this theater of anarchist morality and critique. Either that, or the theater may bring to a close the anarchist milieu. Given our stupid negationist penchant, I know it's difficult for anarchists to understand, but actually, humility and serenity go hand in hand.
To those who are looking for a way out of this hell, let's use this as an opportunity to be done with critique, negation, and all the remnants of the political history of the west in our thought.
We cannot pursue this thought any further here.