São Paulo Calling: Boycott the LA Anarchist Book Fair

  • Posted on: 23 October 2017
  • By: Anonymous (not verified)

I hate having to denounce events and collectives that at least, nominally, are associated with anarchism. In the instance of the Los Angeles Anarchist Book Fair (LAABF) and the collective that is implementing it, I have no choice. The LAABF has encouraged hatred among comrades, they have provided a platform for state socialists and marxist pseudo-economic analysis, and they have banned one of the most important North American anarchist publishing groups from tabling. Payback time.

Statements of Dis(Unity)—The LAABF website includes a “Statement of Unity” which includes under Principle 8,” We reject individualism, nihilism, and defeatism as serving the established system…” How this unites the various anarchist milieux remains to be seen. Especially as the post-left, individualist and nihilist strains of anarchy constitute a significant portion of anarchist activists and theorists in the so-called United States. The idea that anarchist individualism in any way promotes the dominate society is an incredible misread of both the theory (Stirner, Novatore, Libertad, Paraf-Javal, Zo D’Axa, McQuinn, Jarach, etc.) history and current actions (the Bonnot Gang, Horst Fantazzini, Bonnano, Exarcheia, CCF, FA(I)-IRF, etc.) of those who espouse these ideas. The inclusion of nihilism also points to either intellectual sponginess, or outright duplicity where from Voltarine DeCleyre’s glowing monograph on the women nihilists to the nihilist communism of M. Dupont, these ideas have and do animate those seeking to destroy the dominant society. Finally, the use of the term “defeatism” is telling, especially in the context of one of the LAABF’s main themes,” “Red and Black October: Revisiting the ‘Unknown’ Anarchist Revolution of 1917 A Century Later.” The word defeatism was originally used in 1917 and popularized in 1918 as an epithet by apologists for nation-state and Capital against those who supported the then apparently liberatory Russian Revolution. Some things never change.

Aid and Comfort—In what I consider to be an insult to anarchists of all stripe three of the eleven workshops are being presented by socialists and feature marxist themes and analysis. Some examples, in a workshop titled incredibly,” The Declining Rate of Profit and the Relevance of Marxism Today,” an academic marxist will tackle the 160 year-old, oft-disproven thesis that falling profits will bring about the demise of Capital. Yeah, sorry. Jacques Camatte already destroyed the falling profit canard in the 70s—seems this marxist academic has missed the best of the ultra-left communist tradition. Another workshop titled,” Beyond Resistance: Why We Need a New Kind of Coalition,” features none other than the Socialist Party’s 2016 candidate for president, Mimi Soltysik, the other presenter is out of the Marxist-Humanist groupuscule, holdouts from the Raya Dunayevskaya cult centered around the News and Letters journal. For those unaware, Dunayevskaya was Trotsky’s secretary and confidante. So here we have someone who supports the nation-state sufficiently to run for the office of POTUS and another who identifies, at least minimally, with the Butcher of Kronstadt—telling anarchists that they need to form a coalition (presumably with their respective organizations). Evidently some marxists, now doomed to irrelevance and silence, are looking to find adherents (and potential voters?) at an anarchist book fair. Disgusting. Let the marxists and socialists have their own book fair, see how many anarchists attend, or better yet see how many anarchist workshops are accepted for presentation. In NYC in the 80s we had a name for this type of scoundrel, “glommunist,” meaning a marxist trying to glomm onto the anarchist milieux in hopes of achieving some kind of following or notoriety. Does the LAABF collective hear the blood of our martyrs crying out from their anonymous graves in Russia, the Ukraine, Spain, Hungary, Prague? No? Well they should.

Exclusion--Finally, the LAABF have rejected Little Black Cart’s (LBC) application to table at the event. The reasons given--of course—are the mini-brawl at the Seattle Anarchist Book Fair and the publication and distribution of Atassa. First, the fracas in Seattle is hardly an issue. Similar things have happened in the past at other book fairs and no one was banned or stopped from tabling as a result of an ideological schism that became violent. As an example the altercation between the AJODA folks and the Qilombo miscreants at the 2015 Bay Area Anarchist Book Fair played out as an understandable collision between two belligerents. No one was banned, or censured because ultimately, no one really cared. Sometimes arguments in the anarchist milieux are settled with fists. If similar bannings were followed in say Greece or Brazil, no one would be allowed to attend or table at any book fairs, ever. Finally the publication and distribution of objectionable material as an excuse for exclusion is a dangerous precedent, especially within the milieux. The idea that simply reading a book can lead someone down the primrose to eco-extremism, or terrorism, or even marxism is ludicrous. What the fuck is next? Parental advisory warnings on Bakunin’s God and State, or Nechaev’s Catechism? Given the above discussion of the LAABF’s sowing discord among the various anarchist milieux, and providing a platform for marxists and state socialists, it’s easy to see where this mindset leads—exclusion, censorship, authority.
Conversely, it is my hope that we can maintain some semblance of unity among ourselves, a healthy and intentional distance from socialists and marxists, and a firm resolve within the milieux to reject knee-jerk exclusions based on a morality contiguous with the society of domination.
I encourage my Comrades to boycott the Los Angeles Anarchist Book Fair—there are better things to do in the City of Angels on October 28 - 29—go to the beach, fuck, have a burrito, smoke dope, nap…

Paul Z. Simons

category: 

Comments

LBC is not calling for a boycott. We appreciate Paul's comment (and support) very much, but we're intending on a different type of response to the LA bookfair.

lbc, were still gonna invite you to our book fair for what its worth. <3

thank you.

I totally agree with the thrust of this post but just wanted to add that calling the membership of Qilobo "miscreants" is racist af (it's called a dogwhistle, sweaty) and nihilist and post-left anarchists need to take anti-blackness seriously. It's really disappointing to see this kind of critical blindness in the scene I generally find the most affinity with.

you obviously don't know the meaning of "miscreant" if you think it's racist. literally it means infidel or heretic, but these days it just means someone who behaves badly.

having unfortunately witnessed that event, you should know that of the dozen or so pro-Qilombo folks who assaulted the AJODA folks, all but one were ... wait for it! White. The primary miscreant (would hooligan be less offensive to you?) was Latino. there were no Black people attached to Qilombo at that altercation. in short, your anti-oppression chicanery is showing.

for the record, I find a lot to like in the anti-blackness discourse

I don't know much about the altercation beyond that it happened. No, hooligans wouldn't be a better choice as it also has dogwhistle-y connotations, being not that far of a hop skip and jump from "thug" or the like. Regardless of who the Qilombo-affiliated group involved in this incident was made up of racially, I still think it's shitty and myopic for non-black anarchists to talk about a black liberationist organization like Qilombo (esp one that based on West Oakland and has a very specific critique colonialism and gentrification within the radical/anarchist milieu) with loaded language like that, even if they *gasp* aren't anarchists. Just my two cents, I could really care less if you see me as some kind of idpol Tumblr kid, that's so laughably far from the truth.

(By the US definition) And I can't fucking stand those black nat scumbags.The color is not the issue, their analysis is GARBAGE.

you do realize that not every word meant to refer to people who are seen as criminals is a dogwhostle right?

tho like thug def is.

Could that critique of colonialism be anymore selectively applied? Non-anarchists crashing anarchist spaces e.g. the Holdout, the anarchist study group, the CAL press table, with non-POC's using POC causes as an excuse? Clearly you're not a "idpol Tumblr kid", else you would have caught the ableism in the word "myopic".

http://allafrica.com/stories/201710230268.html
"According to the statement, 'the death of the driver resulted in an angry mob who set ablaze a security pick-up van that was seen approaching the junction. The driver of the van escaped unhurt. Some miscreants unaware of the true facts behind the incident took advantage of it and gathered up for mob action."

Interesting that a BLACK Nigerian police chief uses the word that "Yikes" thinks is anti-black.

Interesting that BLACK Nigerian police in a country with a black government and a black majority carry on just the same way as American police - murdering people, provoking rebellion and then demonising the rebels.

You wanna take anti-blackness seriously, stop policing language on the internet and start driving police out of neighborhoods, creating no-go areas, burning down prisons and ICE centers.

Oh for fuck's sake... this is the type of pure idiocy that gives those of us who are anti-idpol a bad name. Nigeria doesn't have a "black" police chief, or a "black" government. Black refers to a race, not an ethnicity or skin color. Nigeria has an African police chief, and an African government, overwhelmingly composed of dark-skinned people, but they aren't black, because dark skin is the norm, so a race around it isn't constructed.

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

When people talk about black people in the American context, they're referring to the (socially constructed) race that came out of the institution of slavery and its decedents, as ascribed to individuals based on their appearance and/or culture (so someone who immigrated from Africa can still be black, as can someone who is a decedent of slaves but passes for white). I agree that the term "miscreant" is being overly racialized by the parent poster, but the example you used makes you look like a fucking moron. So do yourself a favor, and just don't talk about this shit until you actually read some of the relevant material, instead of poking at your strawmen, okay?

Setting up some kind of alternative -- as folks did when the SF book fair was held at The Armory -- is one possibility, but it's pretty late in the game, and all of the individualists and nihilists will have already paid their tabling fees. An informational picket/flyering is easy to organize, and I hope something like that comes out of this. Some folks might be interested to know about the invitation/infusion/invasion of marxists and socialists into the gabfests. Some might be interested to know why LBC -- a regular fixture at anarchist book fairs since its inception -- has been banned. Some might be interested to know about these execrable points of "unity"; as many of us already know, as soon as some group calls for unity, what comes next is invariably divisive.

And that's not even mentioning the more social anarchists of the past and founders who shaped out ideal who straight up embraced individualism as essentially the most important part of anarchy.

Clearly whomever wrote that statement has some serious misunderstanding regarding their own supposed ideology.

I applaud your desire to reclaim "whom" and to improve your prose, but I believe you have fallen prey to the scourge of over-correction. You are referring to a subject (the person[s] doing the action the verb describes), but "whom" refers to an object. The correct phrase is "whoever wrote that statement"; a correct use of "whom" would be "to whom is the ridiculous, ahistorical, sectarian piece of shit statement directed?"

Well, if the people organizing the event are close to marxists, it's totally logical that they don't accept LBC or the ideas in their books. I find that better, less hypocrite, than pretending that marxism and anarquist individualism can co-exist. No it can't, and at least this people are honest enough to say it, and showing that anyone close to marxism goes away from anarchism.
I find that really interesting because same problems are happening in some parts of Europe (France, Belgium ...), and in Mexico ... marxists are trying (once more in their shitty history) to take advantage of anarchists, trying to sneek in their place, projects, etc. And they are really good at that, always so manipulative, pretending they are friends while they despise anarchists, and just want to steal what they have.
Anarchists have always been the useful idiots of marxists.
Can't we, anarchists, kick marxists out of our circles once and for all ?

I don't really care one way or the other about this disinvitation/boycott business, but as an aside I think what happened in Seattle shouldn't be downplayed the way it is here. I actually agree that a little fracas in the milieu is fine or even healthy, but the skirmish in Seattle ended with someone beating some half their size in the head with a bottle. He'd already taken this person, half his size, to the ground and had control before bashing a glass bottle into the person's skull three times. The person beaten wasn't the one who had started the skirmish and was intervening to defend a friend they had just witness be put in a headlock. They had to go to the hospital with a concussion. This was over a zine being ripped up and some minor physical scuffling. You're not the only one with connections to Greece, Paul, and I happen to know that this would have been a huge controversy in Athens and likely would have resulted in ostracization or even physical retaliation. At any rate, despite their well-known strengths, the Greek anarchist scene is a fucking dramatic social mess in many of the same ways the US one is and shouldn't be held up as a model in this regard, anyway. Again I'm not even weighing in on this bookfair drama, but even if you accept that conflicts can be solved conflictually and even violently, the escalation of violence in Seattle was disturbing, unnecessary, and harmful not just to the person hospitalized but to the anarchist space here. Fewer and fewer people even bother to go to the bookfair, partially because of the shit like this that has happened there now several times.

I'm not sure you can dictate the terms of a beating or anger that you purposefully provoke. I get what you are saying but, you just can't do that.

In terms of Greece, sure there's a ton of drama but there's also infinite times more people with most of them conceptualizing anarchy in a far different (better and more honest) way than someone who would rip up a zine at a book fair for the stated reasons.

I promise you (I live here) that the drama even though it may be silly in the long run, is the result of much more difficult issues than a zine someone doesn't like. Infinitely more difficult. Things like managing part of the refugee crisis etc.

And yeah maybe the proper response to zine ripper should have just been a "wow dude. You need some help." Not everyone works the same way. Ya know. That's not even to take into context the overall desire from some people to see the "we won't be silenced by your violence" types to get a bit of a painful reality check.

and you make the person who got hit sound like a victim.
their defense was to hit the person who was entirely occupied with restraining one person. they didn't try to talk to him, or pull him off, they tried to hit him. so there was "friend defense" going on on both sides.
it's easy to say overkill when you're not the one in the middle of the fight.

(this is to 8.07)

It's easy to say "overkill" if you know the people involved, the levels of fighting skill involved, the histories of violence involved (or not involved), the size of the people, if you witnessed the event, etc. The bottle hits were an absolutely unnecessary escalation. They quite literally could have been lethal. The person who delivered them had complete control, and if he wanted to make a point, he could have used his hands. I don't want to provide personally identifying details about the person in question (and I won't), but if you know them, you know this was entirely unnecessary and the person could have stopped and been effective several degrees before THREE over hand smashes to the head with a glass bottle.

perhaps it'd be a good idea to not physically attack people if they are likely to be capable of beating the shit out of you and you suck at fighting?

there are real consequences for picking fights in meatspace.

Cool bro but what you just described has nothing to do with the scene we're talking about, so butt out

It has everything to do with the scene being talked about, bro.

This commentary is embarrassing, both for Paul and LBC. To Paul's assertion that the assault in Seattle "is hardly an issue," I would refer him to the comment above detailing that one of the victims in Seattle was hit over the head three times with a glass bottle, leading to concussion (http://anarchistnews.org/comment/242583#comment-242583). That attack could have caused more serious damage yet. To play off traumatic brain injury as "hardly an issue" says quite a lot about Paul (and LBC).

Regarding the supposedly liberatory meaning of nihilism, Paul and co. would do well to read Alexander Reid Ross's exposé on the links between post-leftism and fascism: https://antifascistnews.net/2017/03/29/the-left-overs-how-fascists-court...

https://antifascistnews.net/2017/04/05/egomania-a-response-to-my-critics...

One can also consult Albert Camus and Hannah Arendt on the problems with nihilism.

True, 3/11 workshops at the ABF are being given by socialists, but Paul makes this comment by implying that anarchists aren't socialists. We are. Clearly, the post-left has abandoned history here, but it's pretty undeniable that anarchism is a type of socialism. Perhaps Paul could brush up on his history of 19th century Europe, specifically the First International. What exactly was the conflict there?

Lastly, the Marxist-Humanists are not a "cult," nor are they statists. In fact, their analysis is libertarian communist, i.e., anti-statist. Paul needs a better grasp of things before he runs his mouth.

why exactly? because of history? because of some dead white people who wrote shit? because you say so? or because someone running for political office says so? or because you live in the past? or because it's scary to admit that they are not socialists? what about bernie sanders giving a speech on reforming tax policy at every anarchist book fair? sound fun?

If you want to try defining political philosophies, referring to their historical development is a pretty basic starting point. So from a historical point of view, anarchists are socialists, but the same isn't true for post-leftists.

thanks for your opinion, i mean for the historical fact.

1) words change their meaning but,

2) anarchists are socialists because they believe that power/decision-making should be spread out socially, not centralized in a state or any other authoritarian form. Marxist governments came to be know as Socialist, historically, despite the fact that government centralizes (Nationalizes) power. So, yes, a fair number of anarchists consider themselves socialists, understanding that authoritarian "socialism" has nothing to do with it (or alternately, does have something to do with it..as it's opposite).

3) Going around calling yourself a socialist these days will confuse a lot of people and make them think you're a Marxist, so...libertarian socialist is often used (or just libertarian if you're not in the USA).

number 2 is just weird. even in a centralized state or authoritarian form, power/decision-making IS spread out socially (how could it not be?) it just seems like you think the state will disappear because of idealism...

no, fuck Alexander Reid Ross, fuck you, and fuck babies that pick fights, get their asses beat, and then cry foul. also fuck the authoritarian-leaning organizations that support them and their bookfairs.

Looks like I got a response from someone...maybe LAABF...who did 30 minutes of googling and came up with a response. Let's Play! Gee, Seattle was horrible..someone got concussed! That's what happens in fights--people get hurt. In fact, it's kind of the point. In the next few decades I hope that the NA anarchist movement becomes so robust that a comment in say, @news in 2057, on a melee at the Barstow Anarchist Book Fair includes the phrase," well at least nobody died...this time." Reid-Ross is a friend of mine and this jousting is old hat and has been answered. Suffice it to say that anarcho-syndicalism has far more affinity to fascism, both historically and theoretically than post-left ideas. It also beggars the question that there at least two dozen theorists who are called post-left who hold different ideas, study different things, and use different theoretical prisms. To critique or to call any ideology, especially fascism, even close to post-leftism is bullshit. Because post-leftism itself is not an ideology, its a theoretical cloud, a fog of critique. Camus and Arendt were addressing Russian nihilism, and Nietzschean nihilism. Anarcho-nihilist ideas have advanced far beyond the primordial soup of the 19th Century, unlike marxism. Google more, filter better. The First International (and The Paris Commune) are exactly the point. Did Bakunin ever describe himself as a socialist after 1872...did any anarchist in Western Europe? No. Because the split moved the socialists and erstwhile communists to the right and the anarchists to the left. Exactly my entire thesis for the Boycott, you nonce. Note that the semantic split took time to reach certain locations, Parsons and Spies, among others, used the term interchangeably. By 1890, however, the split both political and semantic was complete. Find a Goldman quote where she describes herself as a socialist--can't be done. The Marxists-Humanists are a cult centered on Raya Dunevskaya, Trotsky's Kelly Girl. I worked with a Marxist-Humanist in NY for 10 years, read every issue of News and Letters for the same time, I get it. The fawning articles, the reprint of letters, going over each phrase for enlightenment, touching the spirit of Dunayevskaya! I was raised a Mormon, I know cult. That's a cult.

ily, pzs.

You write: "Did Bakunin ever describe himself as a socialist after 1872...did any anarchist in Western Europe? No."

Bakunin, from Statism and Anarchy (1873): "The social theory of the anti-state socialists or anarchists leads them directly and inevitably towards a break with all forms of the State, with all varieties of bourgeois politics, and leaves no choice except a social revolution."

...oh..oops. He's not describing himself is he? Jesus you even think like a marxist, that is--not at all.

Not thinking? You're the one who literally got it wrong. Of course Bakunin is describing himself; that is the conclusion of his critique of the Marxist view of the State. See the very following sentence: "The opposite theory, state communism and the authority of the scientists, attracts and confuses its followers and, under the pretext of political tactics, makes continuous deals with the governments and various bourgeois political parties, and is directly pushed towards reaction."

https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/bakunin/works/1873/statism-an...

Bakunin sums up the basic problem here [in the Statism and Anarchy Essay you point to] as Nietzsche or Tolstoy might sum it up; i.e. putting science into an unnatural primacy over intuition is to shoot ourselves in the foot (or head). It is the same mistake that Nietzsche writes on, and Tolstoy and Ernst Mach, Shroedinger and other 'relationists' have covered.

E.g. Tolstoy's intuition informed him that peasant rebellion was inductively actualized by landlord extortion of the labours of peasants leveraged by monopoly ownership of property and thus control over the essential resources of the commons.

Then, and now, Western science continues to construct semantic scientific realities wherein, instead of rebellion being understood as a relational tensions induced phenomena, the rebelling peasants are depicted as 'independent beings' with their own internal rational purpose drives (genetic agency) who are fully and solely causally responsible for "their" actions and deeds.

This belief that theory is prior to social experience" is a bullshit belief coming from 'science' wherein 'science' puts the scientific view in an unnatural precedence over intuition, that Tolstoy exposed and that he and Bakunin would have consolidated in their time together in London.

“The theory of statism as well as that of so-called ‘revolutionary dictatorship’ is based on the idea that a ‘privileged elite,’ consisting of those scientists and ‘doctrinaire revolutionists’ who believe that ‘theory is prior to social experience,’ should impose their preconceived scheme of social organization on the people. The dictatorial power of this learned minority is concealed by the fiction of a pseudo-representative government which presumes to express the will of the people. -Bakunin, '

anyone whose intuition equips them to understand the 'inductive actualizing' of rebellious actions, contrary to the scientific view that 'rebels' are the source of rebellion, is NOT going to opt for a mechanical architecture of organization based on the scientific view that humans are 'independently-existing beings/things-in-themselves with their own internal genetic agency that are fully and solely responsible for their own actions and deeds, as science purports to be the case. such reason based organization is bullshit and it involves the constructing of a scientific pseudo-reality which depicts dynamics and organization in the false terms of the actions and deeds of notional 'human things-in-themselves'.

putting this belief in dualist, being-based science and its mechanistic thinking into an unnatural primacy over intuition was, and continues to be, the source of social dysfunction that Tolstoy and Bakunin and then again, Nietzsche, were all trying to dispel. 'anarchism' IS the dispelling of such scientific/reason-based nonsense.

unfortunately, some people who call themselves anarchists are working on constructing a reason-based theory of anarchist 'organization', something that will be making Tolstoy and Bakunin toss and turn in their graves.

If you really think this paragraph says what you think it does you may be one of these people who has a serious, serious problem understanding what you are reading. Bakunin quite literally, right in front of your face separates anarchists and anti-state socialists out for you. It's almost like he is sitting there telling you that the way he sees it is they are two separate entities. If you don't get my sarcasm what I am saying specifically is that he is telling you that. In that quote. You posted.

Pretty sure you're missing the "or" ("The social theory of the anti-state socialists or anarchists..."). In English, "or" is very often used to further define a certain noun... Just FYI.

you dun fucked up now

"Lastly, the Marxist-Humanists are not a "cult," nor are they statists."

- If it walks like a cult and it talks like a cult... Seriously, those guys are as culty as Living Marxism or the Spartacists!

"We reject individualism, nihilism, and defeatism as serving the established system". This sounds exactly like something an authoritarian socialist would say: "The anarchists of Kronstadt were counter-revolutionary, whose actions benefited the White Army and served the established system of the Tsarist Russian Empire."

...except that by the time Kronstadt happened, the Civil War was over. Tsarism was no longer "established" in 1921. See above for the links from ARR on the ties between fascism and post-leftism.

It's been awhile, but my interpretation of the ARR article is that fascist groups could, and indeed, some were/are actively trying to infiltrate/appropriate post-left anarchism, not the post-left anarchism and fascism are the same things (or that post-left anarchism is a fascist front). A rejection of political correctness (uh, PC to who? liberals? conservatives? anarchists?) could become reactionary, or used by reactionaries. That doesn't mean that all post-leftists are or will become reactionaries...

fascist groups can't infiltrate or appropriate post leftism because post leftist groups have infiltrated and appropriated fascism, wait what am i saying

I vaguely remember BANA trying to infiltrate and hijack post-left stuff for Nazism. It didn't work, so they switched to trying to infiltrate and hijack left-wing stuff under a new name. The far right always do this stuff. And it would be possible to list a lot of examples of far-right groups using leftist imagery and ideas, or left-wing groups mutating into far-right groups - Mussolini, National Bolshevism, Telos journal, Spiked/RCP... last I heard the Filipino communists are working with Duterte. And I think Perlman has a point on nationalism. A regime like Assad's, or Nasser's, or Peron's, or Milosevic, or North Korea, or even contemporary China, is really rather indeterminate as to whether it can be considered far-left or far-right. Identity politics, "my positionality-group right or wrong", is closer to ultranationalism than people like to admit. It copies anti-colonial nationalism, which in most cases led to post-colonial dictatorship by authoritarian nationalists.

This said - as a post-left type myself - it worries me how the vitalist heritage (Nietzsche, Bergson, Sorel, Jung, Futurism, neo-paganism, Buddhism) can go either way, and how it's been appropriated by fascists down the years. History's repeating itself with 4chan - which was basically anarchist in spirit, six or seven years back. I guess "do what you feel like" looks different depending what you happen to feel like.

When it comes to those names you mention in the second paragraph as well as 4chan these things can be predicted by greater sensibilities like in-group/out-group preference or whether one has a proclivity towards bohemian values or not. 4chan would have likely been anarchic if we lived in more bohemian sensual times and not times of decomposition as well as an uptick in terror management associated behavior.

That's exactly how Leninists tell the story though. I've variously heard: "there were German ships in the harbor waiting to invade and the Kronstadt mutineers were going to welcome them", "it was in the middle of the civil war and the Whites could have taken it", and "they were fighting to restore private property, look at their demands" (i.e. they were against expropriating peasants). It's also the line I've heard from Chavistas about El Libertario, i.e. they're petty-bourgeois middle-class anarchists funded from the US, who are being used to destabilise Venezuela. And Assad claimed that pretty much *all* the groups protesting against him were being puppet-mastered by America or Israel, complete with stories like, "there's a German submarine under Aleppo with marines waiting to invade". It might be absurd conspiracy theory, but it's standard authoritarian-speak.

This is all so rich coming from someone who is helping to create a colonizing Kurdish nation state in Syria.

Are Anarchists Socialists?
1) I am against excluding individualist-anarchists from an anarchist book fair--if that actually happened. I am for excluding people who get into fights with other radicals because they disagree with them--if that is what happened (I am an East Coast anarchist and don't know all the events of the West Coast). I have no objection to a couple of Marxist workshops at an anarchist book fair, discussing the nature of the current situation but I can see how others might. The groupings derived from News & Letters are libertarian Marxists but they are indeed a Dunayevskaya cult in my experience (and D. did endorse the repression of the Kronstadt rebellion). Overall, these things do not seem to me to add up to calling for a boycott of an anarchist event, but I can see that someone might not attend it.

2) Are anarchists socialists (or communists)? Well, anarchists are not state socialists or state communists. From the very beginning we have rejected the program of taking over the existing state or of overthrowing it and establish a new state, as the road to a socialist society. But we have always been anti-capitalist and for a cooperative, collectivized, self-managed society, with production for use not profit. What would you call this? What would anyone call it? In the 1910 Encyclopedia Britannica, Kropotkin wrote, "...The anarchists, in common with all socialists, of whom they constitute the left wing...consider the wage-system and capitalist production altogether as an obstacle to progress." But then Kropotkin preferred to call himself an "anarchist-communist." As Malatesta pointed out, the Leninists have made the term "communist" too obnoxious, so he recommended calling ourselves "anarchist-socialists."

Kropotkin was a State collaborator. How is he a valid reference in any way, for his "anarchism" that was heavily-charged with reformist ideology? That's bs. Anarchy is not socialism. All historical evidence on past and present attempts at socialism points to republican regimes of intense conformity to new regulations and norms. Was Charles Quint a commie as well!?

...or we could just call ourselves anarchists... some of us don’t presume to know (or care) how people will engage with each other after a definitive destruction of capitalism, or whether there will be anything that could meaningfully be called an economy at all.

1) To first anonymous: It's a semi-free country so you can define words anyway you like. And I understand not wanting to confuse anarchism with state socialism (which in practice has always been state capitalism). But almost all anarchists have advocated the overthrow of capitalism and its replacement with a cooperative, nonprofit, self-managed economy. And almost all have called themselves "socialists"--the individualist Benjamin Tucker and the mutualist Proudhon. Many have called themselves "libertarian socialists." You may chose to disregard this history but you should get off your high horse and insist that what is your personal choice is absolutely right.

2) At the end of his life, Kropotkin supported World War I and then constitutionalism in Russia, thus abandoning his life-long beliefs. But up until then he hand never been a "state collaborator" or promoted "reformist ideology." Unlike how Marxists treat Marx, anarchists do not make gods or saints out of prominent theorists. We can take what we want and reject the rest.

3) To second anonymous: "some of us don't presume to know (or care) how people will engage with each other after a definitive destruction of capitalism." However, we are more likely to be able to definitively destroy capitalism if we have at least some idea of what should replace it! People are more likely to agree with us if they do not think that anarchists have no idea what they are doing. I suggest that we say we are for a cooperative, nonprofit, self-managed economy, that is anarchist-socialism.

i see what you did there, Wayne: "almost all anarchists..."
this is a nifty rhetorical trick, because "almost all" could mean as little as 51% at any given time, which, given the differences that have separated anarchists from each other in terms of present strategies and future visions, is, at the very least, misleading. many anarchists have rejected economy as a meaningful category of analysis (just as many autonomous Marxists have been doing in the last decade or so: the anti-statist negative pole of communization theorists seek quite explicitly to abolish economy). it's also quite telling that the two sources of self-identified anarchist socialists are from the 19th century; there have been a few interesting things that have happened in the name of socialism in the meantime... as you mentioned that Malatesta was unhappy about the sullying of the term "communism" by communists, i would like to add that the term "socialism" has been sullied by socialists. from the time of the second international through the Mexican revolution, from the Russian revolution through the crushing of the German revolution, from the Popular Fronts of the 1930s through post-WWII anti-colonial struggles, all the way to Bernie Sanders...

"we are more likely to be able to definitively destroy capitalism if we have at least some idea of what should replace it!"
this is an assertion based on your preference; it is not a statement of fact. the idea that there needs to be an anarchist plan to improve things is another assertion, this time based on a humanist worldview wedded to a majoritarian assumption about social change. why do "we" need to say anything about what we are for, other than freedom from exploitation and domination? if you're looking for some lowest common denominator to attract people to anarchism, why not just keep things vague and pleasant? oh, but i see you've already done that: "cooperative, nonprofit, self-managed economy." but at least a few anarchists (and those smart autonomists) have proposed that even calling human interactions by the name "economy" is to skew those interactions into a framework where the return of exploitation, competition, and profit are virtually guaranteed, because *value* and the *value-form* have not been abolished. if there is no value-form that is imposed (since no actual value inheres in any object or service) and then enforced (since one person in any interaction could refuse to accept that value, making the economic relationship void) by people who provide and use goods and services, then it makes no sense even to call the interactions "economy."

your attachment to the term "socialism" is aberrant; it's not in the self-managed vocabulary of "almost all" anarchists in the 21st century. the idea that socialism is the only alternative to capitalism is, sorry to say, a euro(american)centric conceit. i fear that your use of strict polar binaries is a legacy of your Marxism. other analysts prefer to look at more nuanced dialectics. even Maoists were savvy enough to recognize the three-sided competition for hegemony between the First World, the Second World, and the Third World (later commentators would add a Fourth). it appears that your Marxist education only went as far as the Screws and Fetters crowd. a pity; autonomists came later, and if you're going to insist on continuing to impose Marxist intrusions into anarchist theory and practice -- which seems like your project since the days of the RSL's integration into Love and Rage -- then you might want to take a look at the stuff coming from communization's negative wing.

Wow! How quickly a political discussion can degenerate into name-calling and personal attacks! Let me see: What were we talking about? At the tail end of a discussion of whether to boycott the LA book fair, we were discussing whether anarchists should or could use the term "socialist" (as in "libertarian socialist" or "socialist anarchist"). Note that this is a terminological question. Almost everyone agrees that anarchism is for ending capitalism and replacing it with a cooperative, nonprofit, system. The question is whether to describe this as a sort of socialism or whether state socialism has so dominated the term socialism that we should not use the word. I think that reasonable people could have different opinions. But Boles accuses me of trying "to impose Marxist intrusions into anarchist theory and practice"--because I agree with Proudhon, Bakunin, Kropotkin, Tucker, Goldman, Durruti, Makhno, etc., etc. on this issue (all these "Marxists"...). And then Boles cites Mao and "communization" against me! Such an anti-Marxist. Please stick to the topic.

Add new comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.
CAPTCHA
Human?
d
e
L
U
h
g
g
Enter the code without spaces.