Pure Black: An Emerging Consensus Among Some Comrades?

  • Posted on: 23 April 2017
  • By: Anonymous (not verified)
black flag

The term “black” anarchist has been thrown around recently in a number of international milieux and journals. Indeed during the last few years of my travels throughout North and South America and Europe I have noted repeated attempts to define, through action and theory, the ideas associated with black anarchy. Following is a brief, incomplete outline of some of the more common aspects of what black anarchists think and do. These tendencies are numbered for convenience, and not to show priority or importance.

Red Excursus: I will not discuss “red” anarchy as it seems well defined by the collectivist, syndicalist, communist variants of anarchist ideas that were developed more than a hundred years ago and still enjoy a great deal of popularity and adherents. I emphasize that I don’t see the two various strains as being mutually exclusive, opposed, or even necessarily very different at the macro level. The old sectarianism and exclusion, a gnawing symptom of Marxism and the Social Democracy, plays no role in this essay. I am attempting to describe and provide some topography to a growing, relatively new agreement among a particular group of my comrades, in doing so I support and encourage those who follow different anarchist ideas and paths. No one is wrong, no one is right. The best we can hope for is clarity, not hegemony.

1) Violence
In this context violence is defined as a tactic, whether applied to insurrection, riot, attentat, or simple refusal. There is an almost overwhelming consensus among the black anarchists that the use of violence is necessary, indeed desirable, perhaps essential. The international growth of the various FA(I)-IRF cells, the example of the Greek CCF and Revolutionary Struggle, the concomitant growth of the non-anarchist but equally engaging actions of the eco-extremists in Mexico, Chile and Brazil, and the myriad anonymous burnings, ATM destruction, and attacks that populate the current global anarchist media echo this resonance. Whether it is the Molotov arching gracefully through the night air, the flaming barricade, or the flagpole--turned truncheon--crashing into fascist bone, the black anarchist greets all with approval.

2) Individualist
There is a strong individualist strain in black anarchism, mostly as a function of activity and less due to long nights breathlessly reading Stirner. In essence when engages in actions it’s easier to work in small groups, and sometimes alone rather than attempt to build large or even medium sized organizations. These small groups which I’ll call teams, a word taken from our Athenian comrades, bring into clear relief the importance of individual initiative, they decentralize decision and action, they emphasize clearly that while there is no I in team, there is an “m” and an “e.”

3) Nihilist
In this instance nihilism I’ll interpret as the realpolitik of anarchism in 2017--all the various ideas, concepts and conceits of an anarchist victory via revolution or insurrection in the current context are nothing more than political heroin. Once this simple, obvious fact is accepted there are two courses, resignation and lassitude or savage attack without any real hope of success. The black anarchist chooses the latter, always.

4) Illegalist
A part of the black anarchist consensus is the desire to completely reject any compromise or cooperation with nation-state, Capital, and markets. Leading many in the milieu to undertake consciously political illegal activity. This varies from place to place but includes the positive activities of squatting, occupations, shoplifting, out-right store robbery, burglary and more. In terms of negative activities this new variant of illegalism includes refusal of all taxes, tolls, welfare, NGO handouts, and state-run free clinics.

5) Informal Organization
There is a real and healthy fear among the black anarchists of formal organization. The anti-organizational tendency is not new in the historical anarchist milieu, nor in the various anarchisms that saw first light since the 1970’s in the USA, Canada, and parts of Western Europe. The open espousal of informal, temporary, limited adherence to organizational tenets is very new. This loosening of the organizational form, the inclusionary laissez-faire stance adopted by black anarchists and their organizations may be one of the tendencies most lasting contributions. In most historical cases anarchists have constructed organizations that virtually ooze the ideas and characteristics of the dominant society. In a few short years the black anarchists have done a great deal of theoretical violence to such organizational nonsense, in the future I hope they do more.

This outline of black anarchism is brief, incomplete, and a piece of journalism, not conjecture. This is what I saw, what I experienced in the past several years visiting and working with anarchists on three continents. It is both memoriam and prospectus.

Paul Z. Simons



Nihilism is a White Manarchist phenomenon, don't confuse it with actual revolutionary thought. Thanks!

Way to erase all the nihilist PoC that are doing more in their attack against Power than you ever will from the comfort of your armchair, idiot.

Long live the Black International of Anarchists of Praxis!

Nihilism may not be all white, but it's all stupid

for real, fuck race as a social construct, fuck identity politicians and all their liberalism. collapse the entire fuckin establishment- inside and out.

-from a non-"white" nihilist.

The profound strive for clarity, the simple strive for obscurity

and the clear strive for profound simplicity

rly thats the moniker ur going to swing this constellation of traits under in 2017?

I always wondered who that anarchist PR firm was there for, but maybe you should call em up Paul

"Once this simple, obvious fact is accepted there are two courses, resignation and lassitude or savage attack without any real hope of success."

Can we stop with this shitty passive/active binary nihilist bullshit?
This a garbage schema, pls try harder

nihilist attack isn't confined to passive-active binary.
the unwavering praxis is pure success!

Tag yourself im long nights breathlessly reading Stirner

me prefer Fantasy and Speculative fiction

This piece is very confusing. I know many people who fall into most of what you're describing but with one or several differences: Separately or jointly, they might come from a more stirnerian background, choose resignation or other projects for themselves while supporting (or engaging with or just not caring about savage attack), not caring about welfare as it can allow more unproductive time... how is black anarchism different than a specific moral grouping of arbitrary behaviors meant to distinguish oneself from others with otherwise extremely similar ideas and behavors?

Legibility and identity is the enemy. Do not do the states work for them.

Illegibility is the enemy. Elitist divisions are part of statecraft as well, serving cadres of "experts" and aristocrats.

I like my anarchy as my coffee: black. there's only one thin missing on this essay, which i think it is the solidarity black anarchists have with squats or self organised refugee camps as a way of cooperation; at the same time you black anarchist can help on the struggle with your will of action, the liberated space you are helping to build can offer you safety and autonomy. This is a win-win relation. Solidarity is our weapon.

While I've been trying to get the neo-Marxists ( like Wayne Price) out of anarchism for years, I also want that all anarchists respect the pacifist majority & diversity-of-tactics. Black contains all colors. Why make the obvious Nechaev error again? There's simply no need.
Then there's a poorly defined nihilism. Why don't we leave this to red and brown fascists ( and Nazbols) and " God and the State"?
They are much better at cynical nihilism than we could ever be.
The logic of nihilism even removes you from anarchism and places you with misanthropy. Take John Zerzan...please.
One more effort if we want to be post-left anarchists!
We have the net now - it should be a snap

"While I've been trying to get the neo-Marxists ( like Wayne Price) out of anarchism for years, I also want that all anarchists respect the pacifist majority & diversity-of-tactics. "

wow, how completely anti-authoritarian of you. exactly what is this "anarchism" that you have been trying to remove wayne from? a building? a cave? a movement? do tell. and then GTFO!

Anyone going to point out that the term Black Anarchism is already taken?


I clicked this because i thought Paul was gonna talk about Kawasi

Just as 90s Nirvana is different from 60s Nirvana.

For me grey best defines the creative nothing that creates everything. Red is in continuum with orange and gold production based society, black is binary to white and represents destructive negation for its own sake. Grey is the colour of the creative orientational ether, the dao, the creative nothing.

black is binary to white and negation for its own sake"

Which is probably why I was having a boner on German anarcho-hippie girls when I was Pure Black. But yeah, more seriously, Stirnerian anarchy is very grey, or a tone that can't be ascertained. Or maybe the impossible pinkish violet described in "Valis"?

Entirely different. This is Vantablack Anarchism.

Looks like Wikipedia editors need to set up a disambiguation page. The definition is only 325 words and the page was created in 2005. Perhaps someone could beef it up?

And so we should assume that PZS has found the nexus of Pure Black anarchism... somewhere in Exarkhia? Looking forward to welcome the Ascended Master at our next bookfair!

For now, I'm intrigued on how this purist paradigm fits within Rojava's or Zapatista's "anarchism"...

Thx Simons, I liked this a lot and I wish it were true. I agree with everyone else that, in America, black anarchism has already been taken and it would be smarter to go with black flag anarchism, if anything, even tho that makes you seem like you like flags. Anyways, I know you are making pretend and it is fun, but how is this post left? It is a call for team play. I like your team Simons, it is better than the idpol assholes, but I think the moral urgency you reflect in your writing is a threat to intelligent praxis, that doesn't use the tools of urgency to drive activity.

Please put the cork back in, cabron. There is no moral urgency in PZS's writing. Set aside your anarcho-intellectualism and act for freedom now.

Too much misreading of Stirner means you see "morality" everywhere, in any argument for actually doing anything because christianity or whatever.

There are no revolutionary nihilists in the states. Just sayinging...

There are plenty, cabron. You could be one too.

No way jose. Nihilists in the states occasionally show up to protests to "disrupt" and then disappear to their dwellings. No solidarity, no informal networks, zero teeth in the game.

Your passive aggressive racism is showing, pendejo. And so sorry we don't follow the rules to your pinche street theater. Don't forget that solidarity means attack.

Racist! Racist! You used the word cabron!. You're the racist.

"Don't forget that solidarity means attack."

sounds like the left, constantly redefining words to fit their ideology.

I would think that would be obvious. Revolution is alien power insurrection is corporeal will to power.

It's neither, cabron.

Does communism always have to be part of the "red" in anarchy? I don't see why communism is always associated with workerist positions. Anarchism is impossible without some form of communist thinking.

Anarchists like to think they are different from communists now. It is a ploy by anarchist scene leadership to appropriate communist ideas and push it through an anarchist rose colored lens and call it their own, while acting like communism has nothing to offer them. However, I'd say anarchists will always come back, once they get beat up by the state for trying to be impossible and then they'll be like "we need to be more hard and militant. Direct action comrades!" all over again. That is what failure looks like. Cucking on everyone else's shit more than Trots, thinking they are all so radical, when to everyone else, anarchists look like lost posers. This article is a story of lost posers, little dogs wishing they were big dogs. The powerful words of black anarchism, what a little dog says before they go for the ankles.

Your dictatorship is showing, cabron. I think you've wandered into the wrong neighborhood. You authoritarians play touch butt elsewhere.

Again with the racist use of "cabron."

exsqueeze me!?!?! racist use of cabron? you do know that is a spanish word (spanish being a language, not a race), and it just means, basically, "asshole". if you can demonstrate any part of that which is racist, please do. fucking IP police need to eat goat shit.

(hmmm... maybe you were being completely sarcastic?)

i think cabron, it means more "badass" like the big buck goat .and usually "asshole" is culero

Anyways... Why is it you aren't swearing in Italian, Cantonese or Nigerian? What's with all the perpetuating of good ol' Lertist latinophilia?

Well if you're hispanic I get it. Hispanic is also one of the three main Euro-colonial languages found on the American continent.

Next people I'll be shooting after the fascist crackers will be the square-headed commie robots like YOU. This time around you'll be executed before your regime has a chance to happen... hisorical reversal, brah!

Community which is the ends of communism is but a means to anarchy.

Paul Z. Simmons here eschews non-electoral permanent forms of political organization among anarchists, as well as mass organization among workers ("collectivist, syndicalist, communist", which he disparages as "red anarchism.") but on the other hand, in his dispatches on the "Rojava Revolution," Simmons enthusiastically embraces permanent political organization in the form of the PYD (Kurdish Union Party), a Kurdish led political organization which is affiliated to the PKK (Kurdish Workers Party) through the KCK (Kurdistan Communities Union), as well as the TEV-DEM (Movement For A Democratic Society) and it's collectives and communes in Rojava. Taken as a whole Simmons attitude in this article, as compared to his attitude towards the collective political movement that is the "'Rojava Revolution," appears quite contradictory. What gives?

Did you miss the part where this was a piece of journalism from a journalist, cabron?

Rojava is currently impossible in the United States and Greece.

PZS appears to be quote shifty, if not dodgy. While on the West Coast he's into the bookfair nihilist crowd. When in Rojava he suddenly becomes that zapatista anarcho-Left populist, borderline council communist. When he appears at a squat in Exarkhia -POOF!- here we have a pure black anarchist of the blackest kind.

What next... Ancap or socio-democrat? Maybe zen buddhist anarcho-hippie?

Well I guess the guy is young and still trying stuff there and there...

He's actually hitting 50! Yeeaaaaah, a rennaisance culture chameleon man, haha, The next phase could be as a messianic social commentary rapper filling stadiums with pubescent college girls, the guys a born entertainer, the glitter and spotlights are in his veins,,,,,,

Wait... do I want a Jimmy Savile of Western anarchism?

No. Hakim Bey was quite enough!

A Liberace-esque persona but in camo-glitter and stacked molotovs rather than candelabra on his gun-metal blue colored piano.

Hmm... looks like the birth of a new anarchy men. Glitter sure is a proficient way to balance with the black.

Summer 2012 fashion started. Punk rock hipsters man the cat-sidewalks!

He's hitting 60! He is shifty; you nailed it.

My definition of Nihilism is 19th century Nihilism: Pure unrelenting materialist terrorism. Burn baby burn!

Towards a dead end as opposed to the creative nothing.

Novatore hates you. His :creative nothing" was materialist.

He hardly described his philosophy as materialist. Corporeal yes but that's not synonymous with materialism. He would see materialism as a modern decadent ideology representing the descending of the human mind into the intestines.

They didn't end up doing much burning actually, rather, they all got burned and raped by the cossacks. Sorry to deflate that historical icon you had put so much faith in,,,,

6) State sanctioned Anarchism This is my choice of activity, a comfortable ideological compromise which doesn't hinder my global lecturing itinery and relationships with photogenic you know what wannabe hero worshippers.

Lol yeah... State anarchism anywhere but in places like Exarkhia where you're likely to be exposed for it. But as long as it gives you a VIP card to stay at Zaimi (?) in the in-crowd, that's all good. There, you're allowed to be the Purest Black you can pretend, before going back to your gay yuppie milieus in NA.

anarchists already have the black flag. It's all of ours

you guys are saying you own it

fuck off

No flags, no colors, no symbols. End tribalism.

No Gods, No Masters.

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