The Brilliant Podcast Episode 77: Nathan Jun

  • Posted on: 30 August 2018
  • By: aragorn

From The Brilliant

Many of you will have heard of NAASN, the North American attempt at creating an academic anarchist event. It has has nine events around North America. I've attended about 4-5 of them and our guest this week is somehow involved in the event/project. Nathan Jun is not just an academic though, he is also a social media commentator and the editor of a new collection of Hipolyte Havel essays by AK Press. What is old is new again!

This discussion doesn't sell any books or ideologies. We attempt to talk through our fundamental disagreements and perspectives to what feels like a productive end. I'm not so sure that is what my takeaway from the conversation should be though as just yesterday NJ threw out another bag of flaming shit about one of the projects I'm involved in. I guess no good deed goes unpunished and public anarchist projects are a cesspool compared to...

Anyway, I really enjoyed this conversation with NJ and hope it begins a productive series of conversations with people who I don't really agree with, but who are also interested in anarchist theory.



watching paint dry and blister and peel. Academia has turned this human into a stuttering, gibbering, waffling jargon-laden spewing academic. Aragorn! why do you punish your listeners? Suggestion, SirEinzige likes to publish their thoughts, why not extend an invitation to be interviewed for The Brilliant?

"you're not performing well enough" "dance faster monkey"

fucking save people from their "fans".
how about if you say something smart, anon? i know you can...

That was literally the first time I have ever been on a podcast. The fact that I was talking to someone who (until recently) I thought hated my guts--coupled with my crippling anxiety--may have contributed to whatever stuttering and gibbering this person finds so objectionable.

but I'm not really all that interview primed at this moment for various reasons, nice that someone's interested though.

Ironically, the "flaming bag of shit" A! is referring to was directed at Anarchist News--or rather, at the incredibly toxic culture that has grown up around it. The comment above is pretty representative on that score.

*rolls eyes* go work on your combover bruh. Also, that's not how irony works. But you've got a Ph.D so you knew that already, right?

Thank you for proving my point. I suspect you will not be the last to do so.

literally dude I'm not even primed to dislike you--- just a quick glance at your CV shows we have shared interests like Deleuze-- but coming here to call the comment culture toxic is /yawn /yawn /yawn boring. do you find yourself more comfortable in the waiting room at Jacobin? Or mingling with the some super-rad DSA peepz? loll.....

I was just clarifying the point Aragorn! was referring to in his post. It's fine if you disagree with that point or find it boring or whatever, but why do you have to come out with guns blazing and immediately ad hom the shit out of me?

same anon here. to answer your question, i went ad hom for no real reason. Maybe out of reactivity, because I feel a lot of prominent anarchists don't show this site any love. I think calling Anews toxic perpetuates a negative reputation for it, instead of engaging with what makes the project worthwhile (maybe? this is my theory?). I should probably listen to this podcast and criticize something you say instead of going after hair/your degree

Have a good day

I just wanted to reiterate how grateful I am to Aragorn! for inviting me on "The Brilliant." Even if no one else gets anything out of, I enjoyed the conversation and benefited from it a great deal. A! is to be applauded for trying to get people talking to each other in a productive and non-adversarial way.

If A! Is to be applauded for doing that, then the folks who created BASTARD should be applauded first. That was the project that initiated an explicitly non-sectarian format for discussion and dialog. History; how does it work?

It did get a bit academic, but overall I liked the interview. It's important to neither set aside criticisms in the name of some vague unity, or to dig into our trenches so far that we can't hear other perspectives, and I think this interview was a good example of some tentative steps at bridging chasms.

just what is needed... more fucking academics. as if "the brilliant" wasn't red flag enough.

and complaining that the conversation isn't good enough, instead of starting something that you'd like to talk about, is absolutely one of the things that i, as one of the moderators, finds infuriating.
it's nice that you appreciate a! giving you a chance to talk, but that's (just this morning) only one post of yours out of four. surely you can do a higher ratio of content to complaining? (not to create a false dichotomy of complaint/content, of course, however usually-accurate that might be).

thecollective member .4

edit: since i'm arguably doing the same thing, here's a question for you nathan. besides the opportunity to break a sad barrier with someone who you disagree with, what else did you get out of having this conversation? do you feel like you have a different perspective now than you did before? what do you hope that a! got out of it? or that other listeners will get out of it?

Collective member: it is not the *content* of this site that I find objectionable so much as the way that content tends to be discussed. That said, you're right--a person who feels as I do really has no business posting here in the first place unless s/he has something at stake, which I don't. I have never been a part of this "community" and do not aspire to be a part of it now, so it is a matter of indifference to me whether its discursive culture changes or not. It seems axiomatic that no matter what you say around here someone is going to abuse you--often in a gratuitous and senseless and arbitrary manner--which is why I am disinclined to use it as a staging ground for conversations that I consider valuable. This has nothing to do with having thin skin and everything to do with not having enough time and energy to waste on such things.

If you're really interested in my answers to your questions, you are welcome to contact me. I have a lot to say in response--just not here.

Nathan, if you can write up something along those lines, might you consider posting it as content rather than fighting an uphill battle in the comments section?

Boles: If I did write something in response to collectivemember's questions, I would be more inclined to hand it off to them (or Aragorn!, or whomever) and let them do with it what they will. I just don't think I myself would benefit from discussing (or trying to discuss) it in this particular venue. I know there are people of good-will around here who are genuinely interested in having a conversation, but I just don't see that happening in an especially productive way on Anarchist News.

Anyway, I feel like I've made my point sufficiently clear. No point in belaboring it any further. Take care, all.

i am both interested in your response, and interested in having good conversations on anews.
i see no need to separate those two.
perhaps next time you'll be up for it.

thecollective member .4

Okay. Perhaps I will write something up and send it to A! once things calm down a bit in my neck of the woods. It’s a crazy busy time of year!

Academics are evil !!! They are the man ! #punchaprofessor
I mean, what do people who study a subject in-depth for years, present their thesis to a high standard of publication, and have to defend their ideas against the ruthless scrutiny of their colleagues, know about anything? And can't you tell they are all government agent spooks?

Stop trying to reach out beyond our own insular, filter bubbled micro-ghetto! We should only be talking to illiterate, unemployed, basement-dwelling, incel masked anarchists who throw newspaper boxes in the street, because only they speak truth to power, and only they are the true source of wisdom!

Fuck intelligence! Destroy all knowledge! Fuck science! No platform for smart people!

dear cliff/anon, because a) they own topics (by definition--because they get to spend years focusing on things)
b) they get social cred for their knowledge, frequently more than people who are actually more passionate and informed who have taught themselves outside of the academy (i love me some autodidacts, although that word is terrible)
c) many academics believe that their work is anarchist-friendly
d) the information gathered by professors is thoroughly integrated into the system (who pays for schools, who pays for scientific studies, etc).
thank you for motivating me to slow down and be specific, dear cliff/anon.

anon 08:33 .

a) WTF does "owning a topic" mean? And I'm glad you admitted they get to spend years focusing on things. Which means they might then actually know a thing or two about a topic.
b) Yes, they get social cred for their knowledge. Like plumbers, farmers, computer repair techs, or anyone else I might consult for their knowledge. So? You make the claim that people studying a subject outside the academy are "often more passionate" than those in academia. This is laughable. Who would spend so many years, and inordinate amounts of money on academic pursuits in a field of their choice if they weren't passionate about it? How do you know those outside academia are "more passionate"? Just because you say so? Why the fuck should anyone believe you?
c). Which academics believe their work is anarchist friendly? And what does this have to do with anything?
d). The information gathered by professors is also thoroughly integrated by anyone who wants to use it, not just 'the system'. That's the thing about knowledge, it isn't locked down. Don't tell me all your knowledge about the world and its history comes solely from your own person experience.

I just don't understand the hostility towards knowledge, facts, science, academics, etc on here. It's like being on a Trump support forum. Let me guess...Make Anarchy Great Again?

That's the problem with academics, it's not that they aren't passionate, it's that their thinking is constrained by an institutional knowledge body that comes before the willed personal learning of the individuals within it. These are all things Stirner covered in his classic essay on education.

The problem is knowledge before will and personal interest.

Everyone's thinking is constrained buy something, including personal bias, narrow focus, ignorance of alternative views, etc. That's not an argument for problematizing academically produced knowledge.

To add another few points, academia is stale and the dinosaur marxists who took over the liberal arts wing years ago still fester around regurgitating what they have been since day one. Young people who call themselves maoists don't just come from the void.

Academia is a profession which is paid, if you are a leftist academic you are gonna make sure other leftists don't push your ideas to an uncomfortable place. Which, is why anarchist academics almost always end up saying stupid shit to appease their liberal friends.

Students pay thousands of dollars and are told over and over that they now have the special knowledge. We all know what Berkeley students act like out in the real world.

i am an autodidact. i am self-educated/self-taught.
academics tend to be sesquipedalian. academics tend to over-use long, intellect-stroking words.

i wonder which of those phrases would be more easily and clearly understood by non-academics.

Seriously?! In typical anti-intellectual fashion, you’re presuming that a large vocabulary is the exclusive realm of academics. A further presumption is that non-academics resist adding words to their vocabularies. Lack of exposure to big words is not the same thing as not looking them up or not understanding them.

and over relieance on figures before them more than big words.

There is something inherently aristocratic with using a sophisticated vocabulary to express matters which can be otherwise expressed in more simple, accessible terms. Something wrong with being aristocratic? Not so much, as long as it is accepted as specific sensitivy/culture. My hate is on the revolutionary aristocrats who're so hard-convinced knowing what's best for the "masses" they ambition to be guiding. But I feel it ain't much an issue today as this privileged caste of the Left have lost their edge and aren't liked too much.

I've personally befriended two anarcho girls from the actual French noblesse, including the daughter of a noble family running the military's top brass. Of course they were at odds with their families. And I felt way more affinity with them than with the fucking petty bourgie who are the worst in my opinion. Competle aliens to the wild in humanity. At least Euro aristocrats have a long tradition of warfare and preserving higher intellectual and ethical values than the shallow and weak bourgeoisie, so easily bought by society.

I consider this a Tolkienian tower of importance to break down and disassociate from. The anarchist academic is an incongruent subject in this regard. The answer to academicism is autodidacticism(look up someone like Ralph Dumain). If anarchists want to do knowledge on their terms they need to create an autodidactic standard of being and becoming towards learning that is driven primarily by will. If you are going to do the academic thing at least look into the models put forth by Thaddeus Russell and others like him who are building alternative institutions and maybe contribute to them and not the legacy academic industry. I have my issue with it but Russell and other models like him are at least preferable to the Feudal Catholic rooted institutions of contemporary academia.

I've talked about the idea of neotenous knowledge which is a radical anarchic take on Sugata Mitras experiments in regards to self-organized learning exhibited by children. Neotenous knowledge is the Stirnerian for-itself answer to in-itself knowledge. Child and adolescent juvenile knowledge as the default could be an inhibiter to the ossified adult models which are driven by accumulation and power holding filtration.

Anarchists in the academy are wasting their time. Education itself must be rejected for purely personal unmediated learning.

I'm not an Aragorn fan, but I have to say that he was the much clearer speaker here than Nathan and I generally think that Aragorn isn't very clear. Nathan sounded nervous and Aragorn didn't edit out any of his typing and clicking while Nathan was speaking which certainly seemed like a "fuck you" move to anything Nathan was saying.

To be honest, there wasn't much disagreeing going on here. Aragorn wanted to lay out (yet again) why he supports engaging with ideas critical of "anarchy as usual" and he used Nathan as a vehicle to do that. That all centered around publishing ITS related material. The interesting thing is that I found Aragorn's interpretation of ITS much better than the original ITS or EE material he was referring to (yes, I've read most of it). I think Nathan's disagreement with Aragorn was over the use of ITS/EE material to make these points... not so much the points themselves.

However, Nathan did make it pretty clear that there is a difference between moralizing and valuating. So much of the ITS/EE stuff is braindead "you're a moralist" outrage at anybody who disagrees with their brand of a righteous/destructive nature and the idea that humanity (not just moralizing anarchists) needs to be purged. The "we are wild nature" shtick is laughable. As if nature is one thing and they are its chosen representatives. So Aragorn/LBC/A-News hitching their trailer to ITS/EE in an attempt to criticize the anarchists they don't like certainly stirred the pot, but it does seem like it was a case of "poor valuation" to do so. The content of ITS/EE is weighed down too much in their nature ideology to be taken seriously, not to mention the Wild Serial Killer silliness they predictably degenerated into.

Yes, criticize anarchists, please. But if that's your primary motivator, to the point that you overlook all the ridiculousness coupled with those few points you're focused on, then maybe you need to "re-evaluate your values".

oh fuck off. no one is "hitching" their trailor, you jackass. those bodies you name have published some of the most (perhaps the) most coherent criticisms of ITS/EE. and NO ONE is saying that they're publishing ITS/EE as a way to criticise anarchists they "don't like." that's exactly the opposite of what is goign on, afaict.
the biggest difference to me is that some people are willing to use things that they then go beyond (or try to), while others are willing to be fully constrained by the initial framework of a controversy/conversation.
as for the lack of disagreement, maybe you couldn't tell because there was civil conversation on both sides, but there was plenty of disagreement. i feel bad that you didn't catch that.

Is this typical of when an academic is lulled from their privileged position and speak to the 'average person' and they show how distant they are from what they purport to support. Good on you Aragorn! for holding this academic to account by asking him for examples which he found challenging.

it's not easy to do podcasts live.

I wish I were as “privileged” as you seem to think I am.

Add new comment

Filtered HTML

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

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Enter the code without spaces.