TOTW: Reading

  • Posted on: 30 October 2017
  • By: thecollective

It’s safe to say that anarchists in general put a lot of value in reading. Some groups like Crimethinc invest a high amount of effort in producing slick, accessible reading material that helps to create baby anarchists. Some even requires potential members to read a curriculum of anarchist writings as a prerequisite for membership. From publishing projects and distros to bookfairs and zine swaps, writing is everywhere.

Yet there are also approaches to anarchy which emphasize action over words. The writings they tend to produce are handbooks and reportbacks, if they’re writing at all. This was very much my experience in becoming an anarchist - I was much more inspired by seeing a Crimethinc sticker ridiculing the police than Evasion, (which I never read) or The Conquest of Bread (which I started and then quickly put down out of boredom). When I was reading, it was zines about organizing and privilege politics. While the passage of time and the shifting of my own thinking has broadened my interests in what anarchists are writing, my coming to think of myself as an anarchist was very much a social experience coming out of actions with little to do with books.

How integral was reading anarchist literature to your experience of becoming an anarchist? What kind of books/zines/articles were your reading, and what do you think about that material now?



And interesting that it is framed as what @ literature one has read to bring one to anarchism.

When it comes to reading, I'm a garbage-head. I'll read almost anything, or at least start reading almost anything.

What brought me to anarchism though?
Science fiction got me interested in out-there ideas. Buddhism & Taoism as filtered through Alan Watts brought me to Robert Anton Wilson who brought me to anarchism proper. And I also got to RAW by way of SF, if you consider Illuminatus! SF.
Somewhere along the way I picked up all 4 issues of "Anarchy" comics, which were full of short bits on all sorts of anarchists.
The first AAJODA I saw was #17 and it is safe to say it has been all downhill from there.

Now, I still read Zen literature, I read about plants, the Dark Mountain project is full of juicy material, some philosophy is intriguing to me, as well as trying to keep up with the garbage fire that is the anarchist scene.
I have found and still find reading on the widest possible number of subjects informs my attempts toward anarchy.

What do I think of what all I read in the past? Some of it was trash, some merely frivolous, other bits were foundational to me personally & even though I may not agree with all of it now, I find it hard to say it was useless to have read it.
I find it hard to separate out what is specifically anarchist, meaning what others would recognize as anarchist, because past a point I am an anarchist reading, and so it all gets put through the lens of my anarchism. In that way I am an egoist, turning what is before me into something I can use.

Matters more then anarchism which is basically just political economy or something defined by political economy. What I like to see are anarch anarchic embodiments as opposed to anything related to narrative based struggle or position/solution based contestation. As to reading, it should be more qualitative then quantitative.

which groups have required reading?

In response to the required reading:

One group in North America that has a required reading list (curriculum if you will) along with f2f discussion is the Black Rose Anarchist Federation. It's online somewhere under a slightly different name, but I can't remember where to find it at the moment for the curious.

There's a Black Rose chapter in Miami and a few Wobblies in the town north of here but in this small town I think it's better to be a crypto-anarchist and glom on to the left and make them pay for it.

I like to read it's good exercise and entertaining. I mostly read the comments on this website and some stuff from the anarchist library. The first book I read about anarchism is What is Anarchism by Alexander Berkman. I still believe that all types of Anarchism are necessary including platformism, synthesis, insurrectionary, lifestyle, even criddlers squatters and weenies.

I read Daniel Quinn's Ishmael when I was 16 (2005-ish). The plot is that a burnt-out activist answers a newspaper advertisement about learning how to save the world. He arrives ready to chew-out the teacher only to greet a talking gorilla (Ishmael).

Ishmael teaches that agriculture is the cause of all domination and that man is NOT essentially a cursed or broken animal.
Most of these lessons are taught through a biblical allegory. For example, the Cain and Abel story is that of the agriculturalists (Cain) warring against the pre-agriculturalists (Abel). Food-storage created specialization (armed guards). You get it.

The "tree of knowledge" parable teaches to stop acting in the false belief that humans have knowledge of good and evil. This false belief has caused humans to believe that they are not-animals, that humans are both the superior species and essentially cursed/broken/bad.

I remember that the book was important to me, but I behaved in an erratic, liberal-activist-lifestyle manner for years. Quotes from my teenage self: "I'm just a general leftists helper-outer," and "I must work in service to deserve the resources that my body consumes." I exchanged my ambitions to join Doctors without Boarders to fight for the working class. I guess.

Then I read bell hooks' Feminist Theory from Margin to Center, which defines feminism as against all domination and authority. I remember being the same age as bell hooks when she wrote it. This is the reading that gave me the tools to find space away from the types of men that I let use me (not only in self-sacrifice for the revolution).

I made friends who danced and booked shows and whose art wasn't left-authoritarian propaganda. I found the house-show scene, wasn't sober much, shoplifted FOR DAYS. Self-identification as anarchist followed shortly. The end.

i read the quinn trilogy back 15 years or so, and i would say it had a definite impact on me, particularly in developing my anti-civ perspective.

I haven't read "the story of B" but I've heard that it has more to offer / a friend preferred it to the other two.

"I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time."

This is a favorite quote of mine by Blaise Pascal, a French mathematician, logician, and theologian from the 1600s. It's what I think about every time I try to read anarchist prose--it's too damn long.

Part of it is personal preference. Anarchist texts often discuss history which typically contain loads of details that I find uninteresting. Anarchist writing also tends to follow the traditions and conventions of Continental / post-modernist / post-structuralist thought, the methods and styles of which I just don't like. partly because the writing tends to be long, but mostly because these disciplines revel in eluding clear and concise exposition. Many of the thinkers I see crop up over and over in anarchist writing were part of the wave of "Obscurantism" which was basically a movement to taunt logical positivists by intentionally obscuring meaning.

I'm not a logical positivist, and not all writing needs to be sparse, but dammit, I don't want to slog through 157 pages of Debord's whimsical journey into the rabbit hole of meaning to glean that people are fixated on representations of our lives instead of our lives themselves and it's bad! (157 pages!)

But as I said, the above is mostly a personal preference, and I'm sure there are clear and concise anarchist writers that I'm just unaware of (I'd be happy to take your recommendations!).

I would say my understanding of anarchism has been shaped very little by things I've read, and much more by conversations I've had with people online and in person. I think part of the reason is that in conversation you can quickly calibrate each person's understanding and shape the discussion through that understanding.

But I think another reason might be that there's something more anarchist about interactions and conversations than all of the words ever written about it.

i agree strongly with pretty much everything you said above.

obscurantism... yep, i think we all know a few folks that subscribe to that particular ism.

... "pretty much everything".. let's fist-fight about the rest!!! :p

honestly tho, I think what's happening with 'obscurantism' is that thinkers are establishing complex context for ideas, and meaning depends on context, so that anyone who isn't indoctrinated into the context can't understand the meaning. that's very human--cliquish, even--but it does little to advance 'understanding'. one thing I'd like to establish as obvious in my conversations is that human experience and judgment can be flawed, but there are ways to be less biased that are helpful...

I actually can think of some good defenses for obscurantism too, tho.

I think the culture of reading has shifted a lot in the last ten years. Anarchists of the 1920s and 1970s read, and wrote, books, articles, newspapers - traditional media. Anarchists of the 1990s-2000s read shorter books, catchier magazines, and websites (such as Indymedia). Young people coming up don't invest the time and energy to read entire books (they have precarious lives, attentive stress, depression or ADHD). But they imbibe vast quantities of memes, social media posts, headlines of cross-posted news items and other high-speed, low-density content. A lot of this content involves images and video. When it's words, it's often soundbytes and slogans (some of them meaningless buzzwords). A lot of it is very personalised and self-referential, too. People look for images and slogans which insert their existing feelings and identities into the mediatised symbolic space. #metoo.

There's advantages and disadvantages to this. Images and soundbytes are often more deceptive than words. They create false simplifications more easily. They often involve a false appearance of naturalness, which conceals the ways they've framed something. A sustained argument in a book or article can be examined and taken apart logically and empirically. There's ways of checking it. And, if it's trying to change your beliefs or emotions (like Nietzsche or Stirner or Marx), it has time to do it. Images and soundbytes either don't have enough substance to be checked. They're more like adverts. So, political exchanges become competitions for the visibility and spread of your side's memes or slogans. Most stuff appeals to existing beliefs and emotions. And what's lost is dialogue, and reality-checking (or for the more constructivist-inclined, construction-checking). And we're seeing where this leads. Polarisation, clickbait, fake news, endless media wars for validation and visibility, hate campaigns... And, a lot is being lost, because so few people now understand Marx or Foucault, or because "indigenous activists" are reading idpol clickbait instead of anthropology or dependency theory. It entrenches the Spectacle's "media trance", the entrenched nature of common sense (which idpols, for instance, have to constantly throw themselves against).

The advantage, on the other hand, is that production of these kinds of media is democratised. Most people can create a meme or reapply a slogan in 120 characters. The power of gatekeepers and intellectual elites is undermined. Small, marginal outlets have the same hitting power as multimillion-dollar media conglomerates if they can catch the public imagination and "go viral". Anarchists have been slow to take advantage of this - largely because anarchists hate social media. Idpols, alt-right, certain brands of leftists, even Putin's spies have taken advantage. Anonymous are the closest we got. On the other hand, it might be more important to get people to the point where they can read and reconsider things again, than to learn to speak the language of memes. There are also certain kinds of authority which have been corroded by the decay in reading - scientific and interpretive authority, for example.

The relationship between anarchy and reading is complex. On the one hand, anarchist culture has always been performed more in action than in words. Eco-anarchist and DIY cultures have always valued doing more than thinking. And, I suspect anarchist groups are actually integrated more by action than by ideas. When a group is integrated by common ideas, it tends to become a rigid sect, like Leninists with their own exact doctrine, or religious fundamentalists. Anarchists tend to be integrated by action in common, by working together on something (whether it's a riot or a gardening project), and this creates a different kind of intimacy and affinity, a greater degree of inclusiveness towards difference (a kind of inclusiveness now being undermined by the doctrinal rigidity of the idpols).

On the other hand, anarchists tend to be college-educated people. Abby Peterson looked at statistics on people arrested for political offences in Sweden, and he found the anarchists and leftists were generally educated, whereas the far-right were not. I think there's a reason for this. First off, if you're not educated, you just want to "get shit done", and you're reacting mainly on immediate emotional responses, then things like racism, beating up moral deviants, and stamping out corruption are going to be very appealing. These are the surface appearances, the things which are there in the media and in everyday conversation. You need a bit of awareness, a bit of knowledge, for things like climate change and global capitalism and police brutality (unless you're black), to even register as issues. Second off, if there's nothing breaking into the hegemony of common sense and the Spectacle's images, chances are these images will continue to be the fallback ones, long after you've rejected the system. People will try to take control of their own lives - but in the terms set by the dominant discourse. So, it seems there needs to be a certain level of knowledge or intelligence before a focus on action leads to anarchism. But, then, the integrative force of anarchism comes from action, not words.

I've always been political. I have my mom to thank for that, even if she didn't approve of the time I was spending online.

There were several distinct moments. One was discovering the infoshop youth section which no longer exists. Another was stumbling across crimethinc tabling at music shows which I'd later discover was a major entry point for lots of burgeoning anarchists.

I lived in NC which meant crimethinc was a sort of mainstay if you enjoyed events of a certain persuasion.

I moved around quite a bit, with NC as a sort of HQ, and the imagery and words of crimethinc seemed to move with me, but there were also bulletin boards echoing and critiquing their work. Moving beyond left anarchism was a constant theme, and one I'm glad to have experienced.

In moving frequently from location to location the written words of anarchism meant a great deal to me. While I might move to a new location there was always an understanding of anarchy that traveled with me. I didn't know any anarchists but I was very familiar with their works. I debated with Ian McKay, Bob black, and Aragorn, and it was all very inspirational.

In practice, anarchism was always a foreign concept, because it seemed rooted in activism, which to me didn't sem to be a comfortable marriage at all. However, the essays cited and discussed were always welcomed. Especially when they critiqued even themselves.

I learned about anarchism in isolation. Its written words were all I had and so reading was a huge influence on my life. Later, when it came time to put theory to action, it always seemed out of step. Growing up between the micropower radio generation and the internet generation left many questions and projects unanswered and unfulfilled.

Writing is fine, but so often it is created from the perspective of looking back. In this case, it is hard to capture innovation in the works. However, if it weren't for those lit tables, and the anarchist library, I don't know if I'd be where I am today.

One thing can be said and that's if you're isolated, physically or intellectually, there is plenty of space in anarchism to explore multiple possibilities. The larger question, in my opinion, is if any of them are actually valuable.

One might long for anarchy, perhaps even experience a glimpse, but regardless of how eloquent the letter, or how many pages are written, can one really relate? If reading is only as good as imagining a Tolkien world of hobbits, can affinity make them exist?

Reading is a shared dream. The question, really, is what does life look like when the gap between theory and action has been destroyed?

Good comments must mean a good question!

I grew up in the suburban wasteland where alienation comes naturally enough to anyone with half a brain. This drew me to a lot of conspiracy theories and anti-government writing online and it's unsettling to see so many kids like me among the ranks of the alt-right today.

What changed my trajectory was the socializing with anarchists and other lefty lunatics, everything from food-not-bombs to harassing local politicians and some other things I won't directly admit to.

But like another commenter mentioned, it was the interactions with dozens of other brave, brilliant rebels that prevented me from getting lost in the abyss. Hundreds of conversations later, I started reading all the classic theory to avoid embarrassing myself too much! Sort of, reverse engineering all the things I'd learned from others that felt right for me.

Never too late to start reading!

Curriculum doesn't temper or mature the individual, thus education by rote is a futile exercise in indoctrination because the data is irrelevant to the immediant condition of existence.

I orten feel that anarchists dosnt read nearly enough "academic" litareature that would give them, at least, an entry level understanding of w/e subject. This becomes especially clear to me when speaking of moral philosophy (philosophy in general seem to be a week spot) and seeing how many anarchists actually adhere to what they call "moral nihilism", wish if they would have had an foundational understanding, would know is an incredibly problematic, if not indefensible position.

Analytical philosophy is horsewank tbh.

What particular texts do you think rebut moral nihilism?

That's ... Not what they said.

And am one of those monsters that have come to an amoral conclusion in regards to existence. In regards to problematics, I don't see how constructing lies via moral realism or any other morality mode is any less problematic. All moral systems(even the best ones) bludgeon away specific preferences with its own prefered capital P preference. I would love to here how 22:37 can reconcile any type of morality with anarchy? Amoralism remains the most congruent mode of orientation. Ultimately all meaning leads problems.

One can of course be ethical which is near unavoidable for any preferring perceiving valuer of things. There can be affinities and associations of preference that come out of this, even virtue(without the imperative).

I agree with Sir Einzige that the Stirnerian approach is the most defensible, and I've never seen a moral philosophy which *doesn't* basically impose a preference by dressing up contingent features as spooks.

But I can see why "anarchism without morality" or "anarchism = amorality" is a problem for some people, and why anarchism might seem to fit better with Christianity (Tolstoy) or Marxisant collective organisation (Bakunin, syndicalism) or with act-utilitarianism (Godwin) or with Emile's holistic claptrap than with nihilism/amoralism:

1. If there's no moral laws, then there's no reason not to engage in authoritarian acts for one's own pleasure (e.g. Sadeian libertinism - imprisoning and torturing people for one's own enjoyment; Hakim Bey fucking kids). But, a society where a lot of people did this would tend to become an amoral statist society, not an anarchist society.

2. If there's no moral laws, then there's also nothing wrong with strategically using authoritarian structures or strategically invoking spooks and moral laws for personal advantage (Nietzsche's slaves who invoke slave morality to constrain the masters; or Bob Black calling the pigs). But in an authoritarian society, it will usually be more personally advantageous to strategically use authoritarian structures rather than to heroically defy them.

3. If there's no moral law, then what's the purpose in life? One needs something "higher than oneself" to give meaning to life. (This is the existentialist critique: Kierkegaard, Buber, etc).

They aren't easy objections to get around. I generally use a theory of desire (Nietzsche's active and reactive desire) to get around problems 1 and 2, and from this, derive a kind of general existential imperative to oppose authority and oppose others' oppression for reasons of higher self-interest... but in doing this, I get dangerously close to virtue ethics. 3 I think is answered by Bey on altered consciousness as source of values, and Guattari on assemblages of desire.

of an overall wordview; for example, whether one assumes the existence of 'independent beings with free-will' or not casts a very different light on the meaning of 'morality' and how it is used.

e.g. it is popular but not necessary to envisage humans as 'beings' with their own genetic agency that are fully and solely causally responsible for their own actions and deeds. if that were true, there would be a fairly 'clean' basis for applying moral judgement to people and their actions.

all three of your [@critic's] suggestions of what might be 'common objections to anarchism without morality' seem to assume the existence of 'independent being/s' with 'free will' who can act morally or immorally and who have to have internal motivation in order to 'give meaning to life'; i.e. the popularly arising objections to anarchism without morality that you identify are;

1. there's no reason not to engage in authoritarian acts for one's own pleasure
2. there's also nothing wrong with strategically using authoritarian structures or strategically invoking spooks and moral laws for personal advantage
3. If there's no moral law, then what's the purpose in life?

while these assume that the morality that is being discussed applies to the behaviour of 'independent beings', there may be many anarchists, like Nietzsche, who reject the concept of 'being'. this means that in their thinking, there are no independent beings with their own internal genetic agency who are fully and solely causally responsible for their own actions and deeds, to apply moral judgement to.

“How false is the supposition that an action must depend upon what has preceded it in consciousness ! And morality has been measured in the light of this supposition, as also criminality. . . The value of an action must be judged by its results, say the utilitarians: to measure it according to its origin involves the impossibility of knowing that origin. But do we know its results ? Five stages ahead, perhaps. Who can tell what an action provokes and sets in motion ? As a stimulus ? As the spark which fires a powder-magazine ? Utilitarians are simpletons —
an action in itself is quite devoid of value ; the whole question is this: who performed it? One and the same ” crime ” may, in one case, be the greatest privilege, in the other infamy. As a matter of fact, it is the selfishness of the judges which interprets an action (in regard to its author) according as to whether it was useful or harmful to themselves (or in relation to its degree of likeness or unlikeness to them).”— Nietzsche on ‘Morality’ and ‘Herd Behaviour’

'morality' means something very different for anarchists who don't assume the existence of independent beings, than for those that do. e.g. Nietzsche further says;

"morality is a hindrance to the development of new and better customs: it makes stupid"

I'm going on the premise that "ethics is a philosophy of values." (My 101 textbook related ethics to aesthetics in this way.)
Does ethics necessitate a "law" or any positive-program? Or is that what "Ethics" is - developing a program or formula for how to respond to stimuli? If "Ethics" does mean to have a formula, would that encourage spontaneous critical thinking, or more of a reactionary, mediated relationship with stimuli?

Isn't ethics supposed to be your own customized formula, as opposed to prescriptive morality? Therefore, stands to reason that a proper set of ethics should be able to bend and mould itself to dynamic situations, while still offering something consistent.

Western ethics are based on seeing people as independent things who are fully and solely responsible for their own behaviour. this assumption, which indigenous cultures do not make, is what sets up crisp and clear targets for moral judgement; i.e. an individual's behaviour. is deemed to be fully and solely sourced by his internal rational purpose.

of course, this judgement is softened for children under the age of 16 where it is assumed that they may be influenced by their own natural curiousity or by others who are older and naughty such as their parents or most of the people in the community. but after 16, you may be put in prison for horsing around like you did prior to your 16th birthday.

in the native tradition, there is no assumption that the individual is fully and solely responsible for his 'own' actions and deeds because the understanding is that relations are in a natural primacy over human-being-actions. if conflicts erupt, there is no search for the source of who is causally responsible for wrong-doing and how should we punish him, ... the question is instead; how do we transform our relations with one another and the land to restore balance and harmony, and if the build up of relational tensions in our community has erupted through an individual, how, do we rehabilitate him and heal the harmed ones in the peacemaking process.

Western morality and ethics puts 'human-being-actions' into an unnatural primacy over relations. biological science views humans as independent biological systems aka 'biological machines' animated by internal genetic agency and rational purpose. this scientific worldview, which denies inhabitant-habitat nonduality is absurd. but as absurd as it is,it serves as a religious-like belief or 'secularized theological belief' underpinning Western ethics. because ethics are 'rational' and 'logic-based', they spawns all kinds of internal contradiction.

for example, moral judgement assesses whether an 'action' [by a notional 'independent human being-in-itself' or notional 'independent state-in-itself'] is right or wrong. moral judgement affirms support for 'solidarity' or 'loyalty' in a group or brigade, assessing it as 'good', moral, and the correct ethic. moral judgement assesses rape as 'bad' and unethical behaviour. if a donald trump type discovers that a valued brother has been raping women outside of the group, he will assess the 'good' in his friend's continuing current contribution to the world as a greater good that 'trumps' the 'badness' of a few rapes, which, if affirmed by his testimony [snitching] would interrupt his friends good works for a number of years and make him a social pariah for life. logical contradictions go on at the scale of those notional 'independent things-in-themselves that rational people call 'states'; i.e. dictators are raping the masses [literally and figuratively], lyndon johnson said of those in his brigage or 'rational-strategic alliance' (as did Roosevelt before him) "they may be bastards but they're our bastards".

anybody up for anarchist solidarity? where does it stand in the unwritten 'values hierarchy'?

how about native ethics where justice orients to restoring balance and harmony rather than punishment?

rationality is a system based on logic and NOT ON EMOTIONS and rationality and morality go hand-in-hand, producing all kinds of contradictions which different people handle differently. rationally, all non-bread-winning married women are whores; i.e. their rational-logical reason for spreading their legs for their provider is to keep the supply of food shelter and clothing coming. Western civilization 'runs on rationality' and its associated morality and ethics which generate contradiction and confusion; e.g. the US admin, because they care for the people of Syria, assisted rebels attempting to bring down Al-Assad who was raping the Syrian people which became confusing because some of those rebels, like ISIS not only wanted to bring down Assad but to bring down the Euro-American colonizing device of sovereigntism and install a Caliphate. logic clearly says that the enemy of my enemy is my friend (two negatives make a positive) but logical systems and ethics and morality depend on 'norms' and different people have different norms, and then there are hierarchies of values which people differ on [loyalty versus honesty as in; 'it would be disloyal to turn in a friend for rape'.]

Western rationality, morality and ethics are making a mess out of the world. as Nietzsche said, putting reason (rationality) into an unnatural primacy over intuition is an epic error, since it has been built into the foundations of Western society and permeates all of its institutions not to mention sourcing regulatory, enforcement and punishment-administering institutions..

For a look at some irrational, intuition-based 'native ethics' that you may see signs of 'anarchy' in, click here

A few problems, Emile.

1) The desire to punish is not a rational reaction, it often comes from anger, hatred, fear, dark emotions. If you've ever argued with an anti-crime bigot, you'll know what I mean.

2) Your own "irrationalism" is not continuous with the native ethics article you posted, because the article says "show no anger" (i.e. not self-expressive) and also normative codes/manners. And if they have social roles and appropriate role-performance, they effectively have "morality", and therefore, some idea of localised genetic agency. Anger is "sinful"... therefore a person can sin, or avoid sin. Anger is not seen as epigenetically determined and therefore not a person's responsibility.

Now, looking at the ideas in this article (remembering that this is one person's "spin" on indigenous ethics, which are ethics of millions of different individuals in hundreds of different societies). I can see how this would be appealing from an anarchist point of view. But, in some ways it is an insufficiently radical perspectivism. There's a lot of inhibition and repression in there.

The education methods are close to anarchism. The "not giving orders" is close to anarchism. Sharing and low-consumption life are close to anarchism. The concept of time, the focus on tasks and "the right time" rather than clock-time, is close to anarchism. But other aspects of this ethic are basically authoritarian.

1) Psychological repression. Anger must not be shown: psychological repression, rooted in fear. Anger is not just "not to be acted on" but sinful to *feel*. It has the same place that sexuality had in earlier western societies. By the author's own admission, this leads to depression (melancholia). And this is exactly the same dynamic which is normal in Confucian culture (currently the most successful in global capitalism) and which is being imported into western culture via ideas of "harassment", idpol etiquette, criminalisation of nuisance, etc. Needless to say, the imperative to repress anger is also extremely ableist towards people with conditions like BPD, bipolar, autism, etc (because anger, and even angry "behavior", is often epigenetically caused or at least unconsciously caused).

2) Non-interference: you aren't just not allowed to give orders, you're not allowed to suggest or persuade. This seems bizarrely repressive - isolating each individual in their initial choice.

3) Expectation of very high, "good" performance without gratitude. While the elimination of the absurd constant demands for narcissist supply which happen today would be a boon for western society, the idea that someone is unworthy until their deathbed seems to put a very low value on activity - without at all eliminating the idea of personal responsibility. It's just that people don't "deserve" any recognition because duties are so unconditional.

4) Group before the individual - dictatorship of spooks. Of course, this also helps leaders who claim to speak on behalf of groups. And if the same demands are made on everyone (to do a fair share, take a fair share...) what happens if people have different capabilities, if some are disabled for instance? Homogenised social demands require homogenised individuals. Incidentally, group-before-individual is typical of western/modern mistranslations of classical virtue ethics.

5) Protocol, manners, etiquette. Idpol social-control shit with no usefulness for humans, only for spooks. Look at the structure of authoritarianism in Victorian England, or in Korea or Japan, or Prussian military culture, or the Indian caste system, and you'll see how etiquette is crucially tied-up with domination and silencing. Etiquette is all about determining what is said based on who it upsets, and therefore which social conventions it upsets - at the expense of self-expression, empirical truth, *and even* harmonisation of actual desires and projects. 2+2=5 because grandma will get upset if you don't say so. We've all seen where this leads. Korean workers can't speak up about oppression because it will upset the bosses. Real anarchism can no longer be seriously discussed in America because it's offensive to idpols, or might be construed as threatening by pigs. You know why Maoism had so much appeal among the Chinese peasants? Because it actually gave them the right to stand up and speak their anger to the bosses, to tell them what they're really feeling.

By the way, none of these five ideas are characteristic of *all* indigenous societies. The Nayaka have next to no etiquette or formality. The Ilongot and Papuan peoples place great importance on displays of gratitude, status, and performance. Ilongot and Guarani warriors are encouraged to show anger. Band societies, including Nayaka and Bushmen, have no concept of "group before individual" but rather, see groups as larger resonant clusters of individuals which also have a force in their own right. The Tlingit had elaborate status-competitions and valued accumulation of wealth - but also its dispersal and destruction. Why has this author placed so much emphasis on authoritarian features of some indigenous societies? I daresay a major part of this is that she's an upwardly mobile, western-educated intermediary who (unlike those she describes) is quite prepared to accrue fame and status to herself. What's more, she's describing colonised, part-Christianised societies which have already incorporated important aspects of western ethics.

i never intended to present that native ethics essay as some sort of exhaustive summary or official version. it was a friendly, down-home written thing that i thought might be appreciated as such, and all through it, the author was saying; "these things can't be taught, they must be experienced",

The comment that i wrote was suggesting how rationality, morality and ethics, Western society style, are screwing things up. the native ethics was an 'add on' to suggest there are other ways of cultivating harmony in community. i wasn't inviting or expecting a dissertation on the PARTICULARS of that summary, ... it was to highlight alternative sorts of ethics.

also, anyone who wants to bring their dualist mindset to the fore can interpret nondualist material through dualist lenses. you want to talk about storms as if they are separate entities rather than inhabitant-habitat nondualities, ... its there for the taking, just name those suckers and start tacking some action verbs and predicates on their asses.

Emile, the trouble is that you're a one-trick pony. You have deep knowledge of a few theories, but you aren't really broadening your reading and knowledge, engaging with things you don't already know - you're reducing them back to simple dualisms which exist in your existing perspective. And this is inconsistent with your own philosophy - of opening and fluidity, of allowing yourself to be epigenetically influenced by forces outside yourself, without reducing them back to your own genetic agency (in your case: your existing philosophical schemas). I think you'd benefit from reading and engaging with a whole load of "middle ground" stuff, theory which falls between your own position and realism - existentialism, Wittgenstein, Hegel, Deleuze and Guattari, Derrida, Foucault, Lacan, Jung, Buber, Levinas, Situationism, Insu, ethnographic theory... even if you ultimately disagree, it would be helpful to your own project for you to work out why you disagree, where exactly you think the 'realist' distortion happens in each of these projects.

So here, what you're doing is: the trunk of your approach is ontology, your ontology is based on a strict dualism (between dualism and nondualism!), and you dismiss whatever you disagree with as requiring dualism, as if this dispenses peremptorily with *any* objection to your existing views. But this doesn't dispense with the criticisms. Nietzsche's critique of law, which you cite here, is more-or-less identical to Stirner's critique of law, Foucault's critique of law, Brecht's critique of law, Pashukanis' critique of law, Hasan i-Sabah's critique of law. You're presumably well aware that Nietzsche has been claimed by fascists and ultraconservatives as well as anarchists. And it doesn't really dispense with either 1) or 2). Animals follow their desires in a Nietzschean way, and sometimes end up killing other animals, or taking advantage of hierarchies. And animals, presumably, aren't corrupted by moralism or scientific reason. Sooooo... the problem doesn't go away. I think the problem also doesn't go away, that I can see myself as an entirely epigenetically determined being with no free will or local agency, and still have to deal with the question "what will I eat for breakfast today" or "will I go to work or to a bar" or "will I join an anarchist collective or a fascist collective or a mainstream party or none of these" (on this, see especially Schopenhauer). And you really haven't addressed "what's the purpose in life", and why it's an issue for some people, at all. If you'd read Buber or Kierkegaard, you'd know that the exact reason why they see the discovery of purpose in life as a *problem* is because they have a nondualistic relational ontology - and this means that personal, individuated pleasures have no ultimate meaning, and there is no outer law guaranteeing either science or morality. Kierkegaard, for instance, believes *both* that scientific knowledge is incapable of giving meaning to life, *and* that it's an effect of perspective. Schopenhauer subscribes to strict determinism.

By the way - I think you're *absolutely right* about the problem with morality and law - it doesn't make much more sense to punish a human for murder than it does to punish a wolf or a hurricane. If we recognise people don't have free-will in a deontological sense, the case for *social* accountability quickly collapses (though, having got this far, you still have to dispense with the "compatibilist" argument - which I can't even make sense of yet - but I think it's a variant of the "if there's no moral constraints then why shouldn't I use moral constraints to my own advantage" argument).

But the problem is, I'm still faced with questions, choices, about what to do, how to use my existential freedom to be whatever I'm epigenetically pulled towards being, on the whole scope from "what will I have to breakfast" to "is anarchism, fascism, socialism, salafism, Scientology, the way I want to live my life", by way of "shall I or shall I not cut off Emile's hands so he's epigenetically determined not to shitpost any more". I also have to deal with the fact that, yes, I sometimes still want to punch (or ostracise) assholes, because of limbic system threat response more than any ideological attachment to dualism - which I think belongs to the broad group of questions 1) and 2). Knowing that I shouldn't judge myself by moral standards for any of these choices, that if someone punishes me for any of them then this is realist-inspired oppression, that I should do what I'm epigenetically determined to do (which in any case, is what I *will* do), or even the possibility that I might not have self-control in the moment and might do one of these things unthinkingly, does not in the slightest take away these kinds of choices as and when they occur. Which is why dispensing with the question of *morality* - on the basis of its ontological foundation in realism - does not also dispense with the question of *ethics* or *ethos*, in the sense I'm using it - and hence in the sense which leads to questions 1), 2) and 3).

By the way, I've been reading Jason's intro to Wolfi's translation of Stirner's Critics recently, and I think he's spot-on with two things. Firstly that Stirner (and Deleuze, and Korzybski) take a nominalist approach to language - meaning that language "names" or "points to" something outside it. If your view of language is nominalist, then various aspects of relational ontology are already assumed whenever you talk in empirical terms. Emile, you like to pounce on empirical language and say that it carries embedded realism, but this is not the case if the language is being used in a nominalist way. You're the one who's reading "the cat is on the mat" and assuming the writer thinks the cat and the mat are dualistically separated things-in-themselves endowed with genetic agency. They might just be ways other people name local bits of their perceptual experience of the relational field, while knowing this naming is in a certain sense arbitrary or pragmatic or incomplete.

The other thing Jason is right about, is that a lot of supposed (non-Stirnerian) perspectivists and holists *claim* that they're coming from immanence, working without presuppositions, but they're actually importing spooks through the backdoor. For instance, Heidegger imports "dasein" as a universal category and thus restores "being", rather than radical individualism. Marx imports an assumption that the human essence is "collective labor in common" - which again puts a particular aspect of people above their actual selves. Mystics import transcendent realities (e.g. the idea of God) into their purportedly immanent experience. The trick is that the false-perspectivist picks out elements of reality and elevates them into the one true Reality, the same way realists do - claiming access to a transcendent, "really real" reality which is not just their own perspective - but they disguise it better. Emile, I think this critique applies deeply to you. You're importing purported transcendental knowledge of the one true Reality in three ways. Firstly, by treating the *experience* of being a self as wholly an illusion (not simply partial). Secondly, by conflating the univocity of being (relational epigenetic primacy of the molecular quantum level) with subordination of self to community, i.e. with inclusion in a *particular* relational assemblage (not simply in relationality per se). Thirdly, in the way you use quantum science and indigenous reference-points as sources of discursive authority. To sustain your belief that your position is immanentist (relational/quantum/etc), you mischaracterise more radically immanentist positions - positions which challenge *your* spooks - as forms of realism (in fact you *assume* this is what they are, and then go off on long asides explaining perspectivism). Jason claims that false immanentists do this because they *can't* engage with the truly radical immanence of a Stirnerian perspective, and therefore, have to misrepresent the Stirnerian point of view. You tend to prove his point.

@critic writes a direct 1300 word critique of my investigative technique and i write a 1000 word response and my response is deleted because, as thecollective says, my comments are 'too long'. is there an editorial policy bias here?

my deleted comment can be accessed offline of the comments thread in the forums gulag (if it's still there). click here to read my response that thecollective deleted

How's your own medicine taste jerkoff?

Yeah cos mine wasn't repetitive irrelevant rehashing of stuff I'd said a hundred times before

You aught to have realized after your extensive "academic" readings that Christianity is a form of "moral nihilism", how this escaped your learned brow just shows that experience plays a penultimate part in comprehending foundational relationships and how belief structures , as deterministic bases to identity and ones fate within an eschatological linear future, amounts to a nihilism of the most banal and totalitarian form, coupled with its precepts to give it a rounded feel good appearance,,,,oh the horror, all these masses tricked into a futile pursuit of peace and eternal happiness. So sad,,,,,

Good question and for me a difficult answer. My anarchism was shaped by who I am more than anything I read. I was just different when I was a kid and it led me to ask questions. Those questions led me to basic anarchist texts which I immediately understood as the imperfect ideals that made a bit more sense than what we inherit. My days have been spent reading history and current events ever since.

That said, there's no way to talk about this subject without acknowledging the importance of critical thinking. There's a massive lack of it these days, it impacts what we read and how we digest it. So, is there less critical thinkers overall? Are more of them interacting with anarchist content? Is the USA just generally a pretty stupid place? In order to have friends or be in social groups do we have to think less critically? Is meme culture a symptom or a cause.

I don't know. But these are questions I have.

Maybe you'd enjoy:

"Breaking the Code: Rhetoric to Watch Out For"
"Critical Thinking as an Anarchist Weapon"
"Critical Self-Theory"

Three of the anarchist books I remember reading early on were TAZ, Gone to Croatan, and Bolo'bolo. I'm sure I share this with many anarchists my age. At the time everyone I knew and seemingly everyone I met within even vaguely anarchist spaces had read TAZ. All three of those books have continued to influence my anarchism and my reading all these years later. I still read everything I can get my hands on by Ron Sakolsky, P. M. and Hakim Bey / Peter Lamborn Wilson, not to mention all the various authors in Gone To Croatan.

My first exposure to anarchist ideas was through music that I listened to. Most notably, the subhumans. The lyrics expressed in the music were intriguing to me, so I would dig deeper to understand more, and then I came across some initial literature, which included things like Bonnano's Armed Joy, Green Anarchy magazine, and Emma Goldman. Then it just blew up from there.

Armed Joy was an early one for me too.

Calling myself an anarchist came before reading anarchist texts. Immediately after self-identification, I read almost nothing but permaculture and how-to manuals. Then I moved and started reading things like "Instead of an Meeting" "The Tyranny of Tyranny" "The Broken Teapot" "Creating Social Spaces as if Social Relations Matter" - - - Almost critiques and manuals for being around other anarchists.

I hadn't considered that reading to fulfill a social obligation was part of the motivation, but it certainly was. Hearing so many points referenced in terms of what books they came from, and to hear such citings even in person played a major role. To say, "jobs suck" was one thing. But, to say "jobs suck" because of xyz publication certainly deepened my experience with the few anarchists I socialized with.

These days such references seem less important. It's less about quoting the works and more about who you know, what actions you've taken part in, and how savvy you are with anarchist etiquette.

I guess you could say we're all being judged by our covers.

Realizing the Thermadorian nature of the left/right revolutionary pendulum is a prerequisite for any anarch to grasp, and Stirner is the only one of a few who describe this consciousness.

like engels and so many others interested in organizing ourselves 'naturally' without imposing over-arching management structures on ourselves, i was interested in the 'great harmony' of the iroquois aka kayanerehkowa and also in how language influenced anarchist thought and culture.

at the same time, i was working in physics on holographic imaging which is achieved by putting relations into precedence over forms. so, it was no surprise to me to read David Bohm's researches that turned up a need to upgrade our standard european languages to address field-matter nonduality wherein 'relational influences are in a natural primacy over 'things', F. David Peat's 'Blackfoot physics' on that topic, clarified Whorf's position that the architecture of the language we are doing our reading in, can influence our thinking and our culture (our cultural values and habitual practices).

this suggested to me that if we want to understand social organization, we need to understand the influence of language architecture on our thoughts and cultural habits.

the language architectures of the iroquois and indigenous aboriginals who are 'natural anarchists' put relations into a natural primacy over things, which is what Bohm was looking for in a language, so as to support the fluidity of a world given only once as a transforming relational continuum wherein 'things' or 'relational forms' were 'secondary aspects of the greater, inherently 'fluid' phenomenon. hence the forms were inductively actualized by the relational dynamics they were included in, giving an understanding of 'inhabitant-habitat nonduality' as well as Mach's principle, and answering Bohm's 'language-architecture for field-matter nonduality' needs.

English (European languages) constructs its semantic realities on the back of secondary phenomena, local forms reified as things-in-themselves with their own genetic agency, supporting a dualist, being-based worldview wherein humans are seen as nouns rather than verbs, 'independent things-in-themselves' that are construed to be fully and solely causally responsible for their own commendable or reproach-worthy actions and accomplishments. Moral judgement and retributive justice follows from this worldview as does a rewards program that rewards the monopolist landlord for HIS productive accomplishments which, in this worldview, are seen as arising not from nature, but from his own genetic agency. this is how 'things look' in 'semantically constructed scientific reality' which is very different from 'how things look' in physically experienced intuitive reality'.

reading nietzsche, who has long had appeal to many anarchy-minded people, points to exactly the same points about how our european language architecture deceives us, as in Bohm's conclusions. the noun-based (thing-based) language architecture tends to 'drop out' the following very basic understandings; --- relations are in a natural primacy over things; -- there are no fixed identity beings, and -- there is no subject-object split and thus no inhabitant-habitat split.

those differences clearly give very different views of the self-other-habitat relation and thus support differing cultural values and cultural practices, including different approaches to organizing. non-hierarchical organization or 'anarchy' comes naturally to the indigenous aboriginal culture in keeping with their language architecture's preservation of; the primacy of relations over things. for those cultures with language architectures that keep reinforcing in them that they are independently-existing things-in-themselves with their own internal genetic agency [cultures like our Western colonizer culture], relating to one another becomes a deliberate and reasoned process which tends to be built upon working towards common anthropocentric goals and objectives, rather than cultivating and sustaining balance and harmony in 'relations' that are in a natural primacy over 'things' and 'what things do'.

the popular call for 'more action, less reading' suggests that we all know what needs to happen so let's get out there and make it happen, but the learning of a language happens to us in infancy, before we are able to protect ourselves from having some very basic 'bootstrap routines' instilled in us which underlie the many different 'apps' that we acquire later in life.

you can take the child out of indian country but you can't take the indian country out of the child. if there is any 'talking' or 'directing' or 'coordinating' as we move into action, our bootstrap routines will be doing the deep interfacing between our thoughts and our operative self. for example, when the signifier for 'enemy' crops up, it could be thing-based as in "an independent being that is the jumpstart author of evil acts and needs to be neutralized/eliminated' or it could be relations-based as in "a brother strand in the all-including, interdependent web of life that has developed relational tensions as in a community that is divided against itself, this 'enemy brother' being of an opposing relational polarity. as Heraclitus opined, this tension is like the tension in the strings of the lyre which can be dissipated in harmony.

in this Whorfian view that the assumptions bundled into the architecture of our language have put bootstrap routines into us from infancy, there is no suggestion that the reading of many anarchist and political ideas across a broad spectrum, if they are all in European languages, will reach down deep enough to alter the bootstrap routines 'installed in us' in our early childhood. as we can see, most Western culture people who are highly literate remain Western culture people. on the other hand, any Western newborn, if raised by people with a relational language architecture, will manifest the values and habits of that culture [culture=language, language=culture]. so it seems that there may be truth in Heraclitus' adage that 'the learning of many things does not teach understanding'.

Right now, many Western culture people would dearly love to transform the dysfunctional Western culture that seems to be 'going to hell in a hand-basket'. There are many books out there on what we must do to change it. Every politician promises such sorely needed change, if only the people will elect him to a position of power, yet the culture makes mincemeat out of every one of them.

Many 'Western culture' people are insulted by the suggestion that the language architecture of a 'primitive people' could offer hope for their own needed cultural transformation, but David Bohm was not one of them. When he came to understand what Algonquin languages could do for conveying the relations-over-things understanding of field-matter nonduality, he did not hold back his enthusiasm;

"A few months before his death, Bohm met with a number of Algonkian speakers and was struck by the perfect bridge between their language and worldview and his own exploratory philosophy. What to Bohm had been major breakthroughs in human thought — quantum theory, relativity, his implicate order and rheomode – were part of the everyday life and speech of the Blackfoot, Mic Maq, Cree and Ojibwaj.” – F. David Peat, ‘Blackfoot Physics’

So, to answer the question posed by this TOTW;

"How integral was reading anarchist literature to your experience of becoming an anarchist? What kind of books/zines/articles were your reading, and what do you think about that material now?

i would broaden the scope from 'reading' to 'language' and say that language held me back, initially, from what i now consider is the natural mode of organizing (anarchy). reading about indigenous anarchist started to move me, reading about the role of language architecture in shaping cultural values and practices was a further influence, and pointed to my own need to 'decolonize' my own understanding which involves de-installing one's Western culture (european language architecture) bootstrap routines and substituting more competent versions which can handle the primacy of relations over things. So, i think that its not about what the material is saying, per se, but about what is NOT happening to you and your understanding as you read it [the readings are not reaching down so far as to touch and revise the bootstrap routines set by the language architecture and may well be refreshing these routines which shape cultural values and practices].

Did terrance mckenna write about language preceding imagination? Like, the imagination needs language, language will open or bind what we can think about? If memory serves, the McKenna piece was something about drugs, but that's not my point.

If one is on-board with this, it endorses something playful that I like.

Terrance McKenna was a philosopher mystic who used psychotropics as tools to enhance consciousness. He built a lot of highly speculative theories around the psychedelic experience. Way more interesting theories than Emile but equally speculative, hah!

Nope, imagination is an innate pre-lingual characteristic of the animus, sensual data is empirical feedback, there must be an experience requiring cognitive response, aka imagination to follow through, the baby having tasted the teat reaches for more,,,,,,

that makes sense. What about that experience when you might think, "I never even thought of that!" and your imagination explodes? Even if imagination is not contingent on language, what is that phenomenon called? Or what would I read to to think more about this. Is it simply "inspiration?" What IS that? lol

Zen epiphany , the Now revelation, umm, light bulb burning bright above head ;)


Le Fool, should you be in charge of labelling the primordial source of all spontaneous creativity? Are you qualified for this?!

Yes and quantified also, there must be substance first,,,

irrationality opens up all the possibilities that rationality closes down. people get locked up for breaking the constraints of rationality so one must be careful. have you noticed that people in mental hospitals are 'hyper-intelligent' after breaking out of rationality. the celts used to call it a 'trip to the otherworld'. in western society, if 'the normals' catch you during your 'break-out', they will try to put you back lickety-split into the straight-jacket of rationality. they may pump you so full of drugs that you may be unable to accomplish re-entrance, forcing you to stay drugged and incarcerated for long periods if not the rest of your life; i.e. do your breakouts in a safe place.

I just skimmed the wiki on irrationality. Interesting topic. From the wiki psychology section: "Irrationality is thus a means of freeing the mind toward purely imaginative solutions, to break out of historic patterns of dependence into new patterns that allow one to move on."

I'll reason this might have value for anarchists. ;)

OMG I so want to get drunk on legal alcohol and get waaay drunk and drive my pickup truck irrationally into places and behave irrationally in an accepted social bar environment And get into irrational brawls and irrational assumptions that hot women have to open their legs for me cos I'm an accepted privileged drunk irrational law abiding financially smug individual with a steady income to permit any irrational rape and pillage to be committed.

I'm a cliche, but when I was becoming an anarchist the media I was consuming was this: listening to Democracy Now's coverage of the Iraq War and especially the Fallujah massacre, leafing through CrimethInc's Days of War, scrolling the Anarchist FAQ on the internet, and going to my local radical library and borrowing VHS tapes of anti-globalization protests in Europe and North America and feeling inspired to see people fighting the police (and sometimes the political and business delegates themselves) in the streets.

These days, I still listen to Democracy Now sometimes on my lunch break but often swear out loud at the hosts for their obsession with Trump, I disagree with a lot in the Anarchist FAQ but it's good to remember some people still need utopianism to decide to break with this society, I feel a bit embarrassed when I pick up a copy of Days of War but also think about how CrimethInc's politics have transformed to reflect some of the ways my own have as well, and yeah, basically still like to grab some popcorn and watch some riot porn now and again, only now it's usually with a group of friends that do shit together, not alone in my room.

I like to get the torrent and download the video to my machine so I can enjoy the best quality of viewing pleasure but I do get tired of Amy sometimes especially when she has to cut people off because there's no time.

I think there’s something of value derived from coming from “cliche” readings. When you hang with your friends, you can all cringe and laugh at your old selves together (should there be cringing, of course.)

For me, stage 1: I got into Marxist and phenomenological sociology at college in the 90s (deviance amplification theory, conflict view of society...) and got into Gramsci. Always felt alienated from most people, so the collectivist aspects of Marxism never appealed much to me. Got 'radicalised' in student politics because the Third Way morons were assholes and the left were a bit better. Initially anarchism put me off because the left-anarchist literature was even more collectivist and worshipping of "the people" than the critical Marxist stuff, or even the Trotskyist stuff. Also discovered Reich and Barthes pretty early, along with poststructuralism. Was struggling to integrate the poststructuralist and Marxist insights - they both seemed right in a way, but the post-Marxist synthesis (Lacanian and reformist) didn't work for me. Tried to get into radical left activism but the authoritarianism bothered me. Moved towards anarchism after J18 (1999 carnival against capitalism, right before Seattle) because I could see anarchists were doing what Marxists were only talking about. Started reading SchNews. Encountered Deleuze and Guattari for unrelated reasons shortly afterwards, and loved their approach, which fit so well with the anti-capitalist stuff going on at the time. Later on the back of this, discovered Stirner, Hakim Bey, Do or Die (EF! UK), and AJODA - and that's pretty much where I've stuck. I'd say it was reading that 'turned' me, anarchist practice rarely lives up to the theory, but without the events happening around me and my involvement in affinity groups and networks, I might not have been able to keep believing it's possible. But, I think the reading and the practice only "stuck" because there was something already there which resonates with what I'd read in Deleuze or Vaneigem or Bey, or in Schnews or Do or Die.

To be honest, anarchist and anarchic spaces are the only spaces where I've ever felt able to relate to other human beings - authoritarian spaces implicitly exclude me, or produce effects which make me self-exclude. I already had an anti-authoritarian personality long before I got into anarchism, bad experiences of school, parental authority, and police/security goons are a big part of it, but also, I intuitively feel that people are separate beings and that nobody can understand why other people act the way they do or what's going on in their head (at least not without lots of psychoanalysis or ethnographic study, or close intimate relations over a long period). So, authority is always demanding the impossible, or the unreasonable. Levine's characterisation - "struggling with the imperatives of authenticity and survival" - and the idea of "pathological demand avoidance" both fit me pretty well. However, I've largely lost anarchist spaces in real life nowadays because of the safe spaces crap.

A lot of the best anarchist, post-left and left-libertarian stuff is not "reading" in the usual sense - there's something there which is recounting, pointing to, experiences and feelings which are beyond thought (but not in the lack-mongering way you get in Lacanian and Derridean theory or in existentialism). The writing tries to summon or remind you of the feeling, and it tends to only make sense to people who know the type of feeling it's speaking to. This is true I think of the insu stuff, the immediatist TAZ-like stuff, the primmie and deep-eco stuff ("wildness"), and also Stirner and Deleuze. I've found that anarchists with experience of TAZ's or affinity-groups or riots understand Deleuze or Stirner with minimal explanation, whereas academics can know all the big words and still not figure out what these authors are saying - and this is so much more so with Bonanno or Bey. I think actually, the people who grew up with TAZ-style anarchy need to write accessible social anthropologies of anarchist experience and culture, so that people outside it - including the younger "anarchists" drawn to authoritarian identity-politics - get a second-hand intuitive feel for how it works at the level of desire.

your account turns, in several places, to the suggestion of you knowing something from feelings and experience before you read stirner etc. so that there is a resonance there as soon as you read it, which is not there with the writings of certain others. that is how i experience 'reading' also.

you say;

"I intuitively feel that people are separate beings and that nobody can understand why other people act the way they do or what's going on in their head (at least not without lots of psychoanalysis or ethnographic study, or close intimate relations over a long period). So, authority is always demanding the impossible, or the unreasonable.

my intuition affirms that we are 'unique entities', but this popular notion of 'separate and independent beings' does not resonate at all with me. each of us is included in a unique matrix of relations, so it is not a stretch for me to go to where shroedinger and nietzsche are, where we can drop the 'included in' and acknowledge that we ARE a unique matrix of relations, as with relational forms such as storm-cells.

if, on the blank surface of a sphere, we put a dot for each unique undividual and draw connecting lines representing his relations with things important to him and which influence and inductively shape his actions, ... the division into states and nations and corporations would look very incongruous and incompatible. promoting the notion of independent beings with their own genetic agency is to promote the lesser sense of self, the ego, and the collective ego lies in patriotism and corporatism. Authoritarianism wouldn't work without the promotion of this secularized theological concept of the 'independent being' that is propped up by the individual ego and the collective ego.

for myself, anarchy derives from authenticity and honesty that emanates from one's unique matrix of sensitively experienced relational attachments, and puts those in priority over one's individual ego and collective ego driven ambitions, goals, and objectives.

intuition includes feelings/emotions that relate to personal relational attachments so when nietzsche says that Western society has screwed up by putting 'reason' into an unnatural precedence over 'intuition', that RESONATES. being a 'winner' and making a 'loser' out of someone else in competition may feed the ego, and likewise the prospect of being a hero by giving your life in a battle launched by an authoritarian political leader, putting oneself on 'centre stage attended to by society which will have all the plaudits and medals and awards and trophies ready to go, posthumously if necessary, ... but all of that is, as einstein said of nationalism, "an infantile disease", the "measles of the world". but that stuff is stoked by Western education and fuelled by peer pressure.

'anarchy', in my view, is the restoring of that natural primacy of intuition (orienting to the matrix of relational attachments that is the seat of one's authenticity) over reason (authoritarian structure that is imposed on oneself by one's self and/or by one's 'superiors').

so, reading your comment induces resonances in me, ... but the concept of 'separate beings' sticks in my craw [i am not assuming i know your intended meaning]. why do so many people MISinterpret 'der einzige' (the unique individual) as 'the ego'. a person is 'unique' not by being an 'independent thing-in-himself' that 'broke the mold' in his making, but by way of his matrix of relational entanglements which are deeply rooted in the transforming relational continuum. the 'ego' is something very different, it is the sense of self as an independent being with free will, with its own genetic agency that is the full and sole (causally responsible) author of his own actions and accomplishments. inflating the ego is how authoritarian systems work. being recognized for 'doing impressive deeds' that one is give full and sole credit for puts reason in an unnatural primacy over intuition, cutting across the grain and making a mess of the composite tapestry of so many unique personal relational attachment matrices.

is Stirner ambiguous on this question of ego? Nietzsche is clear, the ego is something that diminishes the individual and makes him 'full of himself' and is always Apollonian and intention-driven while the 'unique one' (uebermensch) is Dionysian and situation induced and always up to rising to the occasion [this is the natural Self]. Western society has put the Apollonian intention-driven ego-self into an unnatural precedence over the Dionysian situation-induced natural-Self. Putting the Dionysian into its natural precedence over the Apollonian delivers a Dionysian-Apollonian NONDUALITY, but putting Apollonian into an unnatural primacy over the Dionysian smothers and suffocates the Dionysian; i.e. the latter configuration brings on the apollonian-in-command degeneracy known as 'DUALISM' that the natural anarchist in us detests.

Can we restore our Dionysian celebration of inclusion in a world that is continually unfolding new situations with us included in them? [this is Nietzsche's uebermensch].

Or, must we continue to consider ourselves separate egotist beings whose Apollian intentions are bent on constructing our own fully controlled world to live in, a rational goal that we are progressing towards very nicely. we are engineering all kinds of new systems to support this advance and have progressed to where we can control the temperature and humidity in our houses and vehicles, and we can control the perimeter of 'our property' and our walled or fenced off perimeters of our gated communities and we are improving control over the perimeters of our national borders. so, those of us living inside of the most 'advanced' nations are well on the path of progress towards ultimate full control over the local world we live in, we have been developing more and better police and military for this purpose and we are deporting those without 'our values' who are an obstacle to the general conformance to our democratically legislated rules that will be essential to our ultimate mastery and control over our living space.

sadly, those with nostalgia for the Dionysian days of naked abandon and celebration of inclusion in the uncontrolled relational dynamics of nature inviting us to rise to never-before experienced situations, are not compatible with our Apollonian objectives and the labour we need for our science-and-technology based engineering projects. but fortunately for that dying breed [maybe neanderthals were dionysian?], our engineering of a controlled climate requires cutbacks in greenhouse gas emissions and piles of rotting bodies exude methane gas that has a twenty-times more powerful greenhouse gas effect than carbon dioxide.

You have a bit of a language fetish, Emile. I don't think Stirner means by "ego" anything like what you mean by "ego". I don't mean by "separate being" what you're hearing in "separate being" either.

Crucial point about "separate beings" in my sense:
>nobody can understand why other people act the way they do or what's going on in their head (at least not without lots of psychoanalysis or ethnographic study, or close intimate relations over a long period

And this is my worry with holism/"nondualism" - people assuming they have direct access to others' inner lives because they observe their relations, and the "inner life" doesn't really exist as a *separate* force (missing the point that a relationally-constituted nexus can also be complex, invisible, and largely unseen).

>for myself, anarchy derives from authenticity and honesty that emanates from one's unique matrix of sensitively experienced relational attachments, and puts those in priority over one's individual ego and collective ego driven ambitions, goals, and objectives


But that involves a unique localised "thing" or energy-cluster, which is what you've been denying all along!!!

Each has their own cluster of resonances and resonant relations. I'm Dionysian, not Apollonian... but, my Dionysianism does not look like Emile's Dionysianism, nor like the Dionysianism of my friends, nor like the Dionysianism of a wolf or a spider or a deer. An orb-web spider has resonances with the particular web-shape it makes over and over (a "refrain" or "ritornello" in Deleuze-speak... hence repetitive), a tiger does not have resonance with other tigers (hence "solitary" in the ecological sense) though it has plenty of other resonances (with forests, dark caves, prey...) Existence is a field of localised clusters resonating and relating - or separating through non-resonance and power - with one another.

>we have been developing more and better police and military

It's not "we". I have developed precisely zero police or military.

>Authoritarianism wouldn't work without the promotion of this secularized theological concept of the 'independent being'

I'm not so sure. There have been Buddhist states, Sufi states, "pagan" states, authoritarian mystical cults. The Japanese in World War II used Zen justifications for suicide-murder. The Nazis loved Nietzsche. (They all worked on superego; see below).

>inflating the ego is how authoritarian systems work

Not entirely - they also work by destroying the egos of the oppressed - slave seasoning, torture and so on ("pride and ego down" in US military-speak). & there doesn't seem to be a place in your theory for the superego - the ego turned against itself, or the internalised desire to suppress and frustrate one's own ego (which is also an ego-desire). The superego is absolutely crucial to authoritarian formations, which is why ego-critique can go astray (it reinforces superego, instead of id). Example: the perfect 50s conservative is someone who *doesn't* "do what they like", who "knows their place".

I don't believe the ego is an "evil" part of the self, or entirely distorted. It tends to be overgrown in western societies, and there's lots of things it can't do, and is too often expected to do (e.g. provide meaning in life). The ego is meant to be a calculative planner in the service of desires exterior to itself, which are formulated at the level of desire/kundalini (Freud's id) and thus flow from the relational field - the role it plays in indigenous cultures (nomad science, local knowledge). The overblown ego or superego is also a natural adaptation - in particular, it's meant to kick-in in rare survival situations where the wrong action means death for the organism (we see a similar shift into more egoic, anxious response-patterns in many mammals). The problem of modern civilisation is that it triggers these survival instincts routinely, and runs its entire social order off of them (even when there aren't really any immediate survival-threats). The overgrown ego is an epigenetically caused effect of a distortion of forces in the entire relational field, which *manifests as* a distortion on the personal level also (not as a causal force in its own right).

>Nietzsche is clear

Not so much, I think.

Yeah, there's self-overcoming in Nietzsche, but there's also uniqueness, separate selves.

>‘all animals… strive instinctively for an optimum combination of favourable conditions which allow them to expend all their energy and achieve their maximum feeling of power
>Wherever I found a living thing, I found there the will to power
> nothing real is ‘given’ to us apart from our world of desires and passions
>Do you want a name for this world? A solution for all its riddles? A light for you, too, you best –concealed, strongest, most intrepid, most midnightly men?––This world is the will to power––and nothing besides! And you yourselves are also this will to power––and nothing besides!
>in every act of will there is a commanding thought

So, there's some kind of push/pull of resonance within Nietzsche, in which the will to power is attracted to (and exerts power with) things it has affinity for, and separates from (exerts power against) things which repel or impede it.

It's all rather complex, because will-to-power is also transpersonal, is related to psycho-physical constitution (epigenetic causes?), thought is prior to self not an effect of it, causality does not exist... will-to-power is certainly not ego in the "manager-self" sense, but it's also not deindividuation or submersion in the collective.

>If we eliminate these additions, no things remain but only dynamic quanta, in a relation of tension to all other dynamic quanta: their essence lies in their relation to all other quanta, in their "effect" upon the same (Will to Power, 635)

Supposed "things" are really dynamic quanta defined by their relations, but the *do* have local agency ("power") in relations with other dynamic quanta.

By the way, I think Stirner's "unique one" (he never used the word "ego") and Nietzsche's ubermensch (roughly: actualised higher self) are pretty much the same.

>My idea is that every specific body strives to become master over all space and to extend its force (--its will to power:) and to thrust back all that resists its extension. But it continually encounters similar efforts on the part of other bodies and ends by coming to an arrangement ("union") with those of them that are sufficiently related to it: thus they then conspire together for power. And the process goes on (Nietzsche, Will to Power, 636)

my response, twice deleted by thecollective, can be found if you click here

On the topic of the level of desire, for the new comer yes, a use of everyday terminology and the least abstraction helps, these come later, after the foundational concepts are breached, analogy helps, like imagining that anarchy is the sweet delicious kernel within the hard shell of institutional authority,,,,

Coming up though punk and chaos politics--
I kept trying to do things against authority without understanding. Failing to gain much traction at all. I was young knew very little about how the system work and I was planning an ambitious and foolish action. I encountered Anarchy by Malatesta, I'd say it made me a true anarchist and saved me from dying in vain.

If I could do just one near perfect thing I'd be happy
They'd write it on my grave, or when they scattered my ashes
On second thoughts I'd rather hang around
And be there with my best friend
If she wants me

I'm sick of books being the center of anarchy. Same thing with theory. Fuck theory. Anarchy is a response to real conditions, both an assertion of one's values while rejecting the domination of the state and the various micro-authorities that drive anarchists to *act*. If anarchy looks like activism, that is both anarchy and anarchy is in a sorry ass condition. To replace CrimethINC with baseline hijinks, a return to traveler culture, theft, prison *break* culture and the common assault on judges, bureaucrats, lawyers, police, businessmen and so on, that is already going on. Rand Paul needed his ass kicked. Fuck the bozos!

Yeah burn all books lol, Nien Nien Nien fuck everything be a roaming thug duh pick roaming flowers on the prairie yeehaa heil get enema with hairy bison etc etc

Ham-fisted attempt at parody notwithstanding, the latest pundits of arch-individualism aren't very good at much except publishing. Simple fact.

Clear on back to the likes of Armand have generally been the best exemplars of living anarchy. Today you have the likes of seaweed and Bellamy who are living subsistently beyond the state in addition to publishing.

Mere existence has never been as interesting to me as it is to you ziggy ... Although I certainly get the appeal of setting the bar so low you can crawl over it.

I'm sure you make Renzo Novatore look boring anon;) Seriously though, for those that have achieved land and freedom in their lives(like Bellamy and Seaweed) that's more then half the battle. That's what the possessed of civilization and state tend ton lack after all.

That's funny, I thought claim to use of the land was one of the problems of civilization?

Anyway, there's plenty of ground between your online posturing and bank robbing. What would you know about it? You're not a "realist", just envying anarchists with more access to resources than you have. Isn't that what most of the poor do?

Use of the land in and of itself is hardly an issue unless you are talking about monoculture and power concentration.

In terms of in between bank robbing and a sense land freedom and belonging it tends to be the shit between the sandwich consisting of mediated constituted struggle and antagonism that ends up millstoning anarchy. The non mediated intercoursive relations and relationships are the good stuff.

In terms of acess, there's nothing stopping individual poor people from making something happen in their lives outside of constituted struggle and antagonism. It tends to be the attachments of civilized life that continues mental slavery. Submission precedes oppression.

Blah blah blah, much noise, nothing particularly insightful as per usual.

There's "nothing stopping poor people from making something happen" except of course the entire structure of capitalist society which was designed almost exclusively for that purpose, the other side of the coin to preserving the privileges of a few.

You're so far behind, you think you're first, it's hilarious.

Capitalism is a sociobehavioral linguistic psychological program not a physical barrier in itself. It can be deprogrammed by any given individual. I know a struggloser like you doesn't like to talk about things like psychic attachments and behavioral belief based submissions(as opposed to pseudo structured oppressions) but these are the root problems as opposed to the branches, something the more Stirnerian thinkers like me understand.

I didn't say it was a physical structure.. Is your literal interpretation of stuff you read a product of your condition? If so, I won't give you a hard time for how stupid that was that you thought I meant like... A metal sculpture or something?! Jeez ziggy ...

Then there is no need for any struggle. It all comes back to owness, association and relations. Struggle should only be for an immediate physical threat.

That's just your opinion and there's entire galaxies of evidence to the contrary but hey, you're impossible as always.

You're arguing on an anarchist website that capitalism is oriented around exploiting the poor for the benefit of the rich. This isn't up for debate. It's demonstrable fact and you're completely ridiculous.


It's not my fault that most anarchists look at the non root branches of a belief and behavioral status born game. Poor people exist because of the design of the game not because capitalism drives the existence of poor people. My opinion is fairly demonstrable if you don't cloud your mind with constituted non concrete struggles.

You just shifted topics. I don't even disagree with that but the fact remains that there's a whole array of very real (but not literal) barriers and handicaps for the poor when it comes to changing their situation. This is objective fact, to argue otherwise is ignorance.

If there is no literal barrier to life presented by capital then it should not be seen as a primary root problem(a branching problem certainly). There is no such thing as 'the poor' only individuals in situations deemed poor by the structure of a status game. All class comes from status and it is on individuals to refuse and not submit to the game of status. This struggle crap is just an ideological distraction.

Jfc ... I said I wasn't speaking literally twice now. Wtf is wrong with you? Serves me right for bothering but I'm just bored at work anyway. Your skull is like, 3 feet thick!

offloading responsibility to an imagined authority is the reason to be a polemicist.

yeah, fuck books when you can stare at a screen and spend time projecting personal problems onto an unreal world.

speaking of holding the bar (as if there is one anway, since anarchy is about relations beyond measure (which all relations are)).

Only a total unfamiliarity with confronting power would lead someone to delude themselves that it isn't real. What good is an anarchist or any notion of anarchy that knows so little of the physical world and the power of others, indulging in solipsistic fantasies like this?

Must be nice to live in a bubble and pretend capitalism isn't effecting everyone's lives. You have my pity ;)

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