TOTW: Sickness unto death

“Can you imagine what would happen if even a fifth of the uncompromising suicides of each country associated their last breath with that of an infamous, powerful man? ...they would think twice before casting other human beings into the despair which is yours.”

We live in a time of resignation. It’s heartening to see so many people leaving their jobs, though sadness comes at the realization that, despite the fretting of so many business owners, they won’t be staying away forever. We love acts of finality - the fraught text message exchanges we see circulating on social media with pleading managers, “we’ll talk about this tomorrow” “no we won’t” - but hate to imagine the next job application, the “millions of people going to their graves as failures, forever denied the experience of a full human experience.”

Deprived of a big happy ending, life goes on for us, and the whole death march into an endless capitalist present can be, well, kind of a drag. Quitting the hopium and giving up on the future is supposed to bring us joy, but can just as easily lead to despair. Add on all the mundane stresses that come with living in the world and we’re in quite the pickle.

“The ibu’s external world is a continuing nightmare, too. Enervating dangers keep it caught between fear and heroism. All the while, it could end this ghastly theatre by killing itself and disappearing forever”

So, to put it bluntly, why not throw in the towel? Resign forever and escape the nightmare?

Many anarchist responses to suicide voice some form of what Huey Newton posed in Revolutionary Suicide - instead of being overwhelmed by the world, we should live dangerous lives in line with our politics. The system will likely kill us for it, but we’ll go down fighting in the process. If we’re going to die, why not die happy instead of sad? Even in, especially in its hostility to the "living death" of the world anarchism can be life-affirming. But is that enough? There's no shortage of us throughout history that have gone down fighting and we're still here in this death march. Isn't this just more hopium, another kind of futurism? Is living even that good to begin with?

What’s a good anarchist approach to hopelessness? Are your politics part of the reason you’re still here, or a reason you’ve considered leaving? What made you step back from that ledge, or pull someone back from it?

(note - if you’re considering suicide, please consider talking to someone such as the suicide hotline at

There are 36 Comments

Lots to chew on here, and as usual, a lot of assumptions to unpack.

Why deride people for having "hopium" but then ask "what's an anarchist approach to hopelessness" ?
Hope or hopelessness are not the issue. Both imply giving up acting in the world (however one sees acting) now.

Thing is, we are in the midst of ongoing mass suicide, or rather, mass murder is ongoing which will eventually be suicide to those who see transcendence as real, while those of us who see the planet as real are dead whether we want it or not.
Many find ourselves dependent upon this system even as we know it is killing everything. How to untangle this is the "problem" we have before us. This is so complex, working it out for ourselves, as good anarchists do, can distract from overwhelming despair.

"Both imply giving up acting in the world (however one sees acting) now"

strongly disagree. one can have hope and still act, one can be hopeless and still act. why the binary?


I said "imply", which I see as accurate. Of course, people do what they will regardless of tropes.

it'd be no surprise for an anarchist to experience despair with a head buzzing from all these non-anarchists quoted and referenced here... Dupont, PM, Huey Newton... and the specter of Kierkegaard... all of them delusional faith-based leapers.

failed optimists, all.

certainly 'an anarchist approach' is baked into the core of the Idea... in the negation at the core of the Idea: no gods, no masters, no future.

ultimately it doesn't matter... and that's the Beautiful part. right?

yeah, i agree!

the interesting part for me is how motivation functions for people after they've processed this. any recent social ruptures that i've been around, these "delusional faith based leapers" were the vast majority of the participants. you end up getting into conflicts with them just pointing out some really obvious and unnecessary harm they're inflicting on themselves and each other in the process.

I suppose i've never cared for the "no future" portion, what with it being interpreted far too literally most of the time. There's still going to be a future until you're literally dead, meanwhile, it can always get worse! "Living dangerously" doesn't have to mean turning off your brain and disappearing up your own ass.

What does it look like to live “no future” in a non-literal way?

different for everyone? usually hedonism? hopefully more mindfulness and presence in the moment? the seeking of icy cold revenge on society? not just optimizing for comfort and ease all the time?

obviously the rejection of the middle class carrot on the stick, social mobility pipe dreams, which lure you in to debt traps, etc.

a whole fundamentally different value system (or many systems) if you drill down on it.

One day at a time and don't worry about the future. If you want to be negative go ahead there's plenty of people doing it, you are not alone. If you want to be positive and work through it you can do that too. I always thought the literary sense of no future means that we don't sacrifice ourselves for families and careers which is the traditional model of success. I've never been married or had children and I'm ready to face the end of the world, or whatever.

indeed. there's a myriad of different responses and ways to process this encounter. the rub is that most think that any one of them is more important than any other and this leads to continued faith-based awfulness which perpetuates and creates more awfulness, as your experience is describing.

no future is most Beautiful, i think, when it's approached as an "as if" and not an "it is". unfortunately, the optimist's interpretation (generally the loudest in the room) suffers the same problem as all other faith-based delusion and the result is always more, worse, or simply new awfulness.

the anarchist approach to the question of despair gives no future.
no future gives the anarchist an approach to despair.

xoxo ;)

real anarchists don't get depressed bro, real anarchists get even

not surprisingly, you've missed the point entirely, bro.

please feel free to elaborate, unless the flowery prose and italics were supposed to do the heavy lifting

is "flowery prose and italics" what you call ideas that your bro-brain can't process? is "heavy lifting" what you call having to think for yourself?

perhaps if you're less of an entitled ass and engage with what's written instead of via throwaway stupidity like "real anarchists don't get depressed bro, real anarchists get even," then an actual dialog could occur?

real anarchists also realize the deceitful social gimmicks required for getting even and are depressed about it, since they represent patterns of servitude and domination. Same goes for the language barriers. So they're very well likely to end up alone.

Thank you, and have a nice one!

there are many types of death and many kinds of suicides, both literal and metaphorical, and not enough time in a lifetime to discuss them all.

in solitude, thoughts are companions, and thinking of one’s own death, as something distant or imminent, or imagining how it will be long after it, or even considering suicide can serve as a comforting pastime, whether employed or not, anarchist or not, hopeful or not.

amidst uncertainty and worries, it’s calming to think of a sure thing you can count on, a point beyond which you won’t be able to worry.

at any given point, considering the pros and cons, suicide figures at into the top 10 best things you could do right now. careful prioritizing will knock it down a few places down the list. if you’re feeling unimaginative it may figure into your top 5 or top 3. as long as you can successfully iterate the process, you’ll always find something to do that is more immediately accessible, requires less effort, is more rewarding, is less harmful, less offensive, less inconvenient, less messy, and less permanent. even if it ends up on the 1st spot, you can always procrastinate and re-evaluate your list next time you feel up to doing something.

of course this an absurd way of looking at it. as i mentioned in the beginning, there are many kinds of suicides. many are not coldly and carefully considered somewhat indifferently. some happen in the heat of the moment, impulsively, in a fit of mania, or psychosis, or some altered state. many happen not as a carefully considered choice, affirming one’s will, but result from a mindset of having no other choice, of feeling cornered and pressured by other greater forces, external and internal. these pressures could be a demoralizing illness, or torture by the state or some other abuser, for example. these cases are unequivocal tragedies.

but the fact that a particular suicide was enacted with a level head and a clear mind rarely comforts the bereaved, if there are any. but unavoidable accidents happen. the bereaved would still be distraught if the cause of death were a car crash, a stray bullet, or lightning. why should they take exception if the cause were a stray thought, carefully considered? life itself is a sort of accident you can’t recover from.

The negation implies the (thing) negated, and we are left still holding a duality. Being forcefully against gods brings gods into existence. No future can mean being wholly in the present moment or it can mean 'let's dig up the ancestors and burn their remains.'
A problem with wanting to only hear from avowed anarchists is that all you end up hearing is the echoes of impotent rage.
As to suicide – we all die. Now or later doesn't matter, but the sheer mystery of this is enough.

i'm not sure if you're responding to me or to another anon or in general but either way i'm not sure what you're actually saying or if you're in agreement or disagreement...

> "The negation implies the (thing) negated..."

obviously. any interaction or collision as in this case, implies another "thing." what are you saying?

> ", and we are left still holding a duality."

how does one hold a duality? is holding a duality a pleasant thing? not so pleasant?

> "Being forcefully against gods brings gods into existence."

being against (not sure where "forcefully" came from) technology (or airplanes, or computers) does not bring technology (or airplanes, or computers) into existence. there exists technology (airplanes, computers, etc).

> "No future can mean being wholly in the present moment"


> "or it can mean 'let's dig up the ancestors and burn their remains.'"

okay sure. it can also mean nothing at all. right?

> "A problem with wanting to only hear from avowed anarchists is that all you end up hearing is the echoes of impotent rage."

who only wants to hear from "avowed anarchists"? this topic on this anarchist site is a discussion on anarchist approaches to the topic... anarchists are implied ;) if that's what you mean? how does one hear "the echoes of impotent rage?" what does that mean and how can you be so certain of the impotence or rage? what is a more satisfactory thing to hear? what are you saying?

> "As to suicide – we all die. Now or later doesn't matter, but the sheer mystery of this is enough."

suicide is a way to die. not sure what this is saying.
nothing matters, right?
does mystery matter? does sheer mystery matter? would a less sheer mystery matter?

i've been defeated by a single closing emphasis tag. this was not italicized impotent rage, only a mistake. as was human consciousness.....

"it'd be no surprise for an anarchist to experience despair with a head buzzing from all these non-anarchists quoted and referenced here... Dupont, PM, Huey Newton... and the specter of Kierkegaard... all of them delusional faith-based leapers."

this you??

I am certain of the rage and the impotence because I, too, am an anarchist.

> "this you??"


> "I am certain of the rage and the impotence because I, too, am an anarchist."

i'm sorry this is your experience. adequate sleep, exercise, nutrition, and reduced stress can help.

Haha, are you not sure of yourself? Who else is posting as moo?

But, yes, sadly my experience of much of anarchist writing is that it is full of rage with no where to go, ie impotent. I get this is an anarchist site but why then should it be limited to bad prose? A lot of good writing is not explicitly @ but still says @ things, or close enough to be useful to anarchist discourse.

apparently our conversation is being moderated for some reason, Blockhead. i'm not sure why but i did respond and it was joyful with all the answers you required.

to briefly and directly answer your question in a way that the moderators might approve of: yes, i am sure of myself. i wrote that sentence but was not referring to myself as the subject of it... there was more wisdom in the original reply but now it's gone like tears in rain.

I believe you. The mods are sticklers tho, perhaps a misplaced comma or a dangling modifier. One never knows.

not all of the rage is always impotent, ya know? or else anarchists would not be so aggressively maligned ;)

We are too consumed by the attack to feel hopeless. When those thoughts try to arise the burning fire in our hearts fuels us to fight more intensity!

Anarchy lives forever in this moments.

We are also too consumed to despair. Our attack is the intense tabling at bookfairs and publishing of firey books and pamphlets to sell at the bookfairs.

Someone throws a bomb, kills a king or assembles a black army or even feeds some homeless people. In lieu of that we can correct each other's spelling and grammar. Start today.

Insurrectionary bookfair anarchist sales and marketing zoom teach-ins when?

"If we’re going to die, why not die happy instead of sad?"
WTF seriously, is this the motto of all kamikaze-esque going out in a blaze of glory suicides or a depressing sulky threat directed at a cruel world? A word of advice, there is no such thing as eternal happiness, daily nor in one whole lifespan. Instead, embrace the challenges of suffering fools and the conditions they impose upon you, and rise above their false dichotomy of happy/sad.

I dont get why anarchists bring up hope and hopelessness so much, i guess it's just one of those buzzwords? Hope for what? The best we can do is our best, but with anything related to social change or trying to find at least an alternative to our current way of living, we're diving into uncharted depths. We're pioneers and scientists, we should have curiosity, tenacity, and some optimism about our current situation but no hope is needed. Shit might end in failure, and for sure nothing gives any strong meaning, but as i'm playing at finding tolerable ways to live, the only thing happening in my head is the process of it, not reference to the outcome.

and we all know the outcome anyways.
The only question that matters to me in determining death now or later is "but is there still some fun and challenge and intrigue in life?"

you can play the game cause you enjoy it, or exit because you don't.

Is one of the fruits of the spirit so if you want to have hope you need to cultivate your spirit.

There are four basic types in this world:
1. zoomers
2. boomers
3. doomers
4. gloomers
We all fall ruffly into one of these categories. They aren't permanent classifications, you can always jump tracks and reinvent yourself.

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