The Brilliant podcast: Episodes 17-19

  • Posted on: 28 February 2016
  • By: aragorn

From The Brilliant

Our publishing schedule has been a bit delayed lately so if you don't use our RSS feed to keep up to the minute on the latest The Brilliant content and wait to hear what we have been up to from this site alone, we apologize. The most three current episodes pertain to the great, recent(ish) anti-civilization essay Desert, which was written as an effort toward an anarchist understanding of climate change and its consequences in terms of opportunities and hazards for anarchy and authority. We also discuss Alejandro de Acosta's Green Nihilism or Cosmic Pessimism and have some thoughts on the milieu.

The Links

Episode 17: Entering the desert

Episode 18: Desert II

Episode 19: Desert III



Desert = strugglismo
Jay Z = strugglismo
Tiqqun = strugglismo
spiritual quests = Anarchy!
millennials = Anarchy!
having babies = strugglismo
podcasts = still Anarchy!
Futilitarianism (except podcasts and bookfairs) = Anarchy!

^^ existentialist nihilist ^^ what!? Cmon, you can do better than that, mention substantial necessity in the first paragraph mkay?

Nice straw men, broski.

IGTT 1/10

Did you even listen before your shitty attempt at trolling?

The sooner this hipster nihilism phase dies out the better.

Its not actually related solely to hipster values, the loss of the unified community died with the God illusion, the vacuum since the era of the Enlightenment has been inundated with the replication of authoritarian systems of rule, as an anarchist you should be more nuanced in your analysis of the hoi polloi's recuperative tendencies.

when will these podcasts be released on cassette tape, every hipster's favorite format?

Is that your favorite swear word?

So, that i sometimes sketch guitar ideas out and back them up on tape means i'm a hipster? I love all of these labels people try to assign you when you're just minding your own business.

Are there then certain chord progressions that are hipster? Notes?

I live in a cold climate. Uh-oh! Can't cover my head with whatever the fuck i want, because certain head gear is hipster!

You know what's awesome? When you reach a point where you don't give a fuck, and do what you want. Fuck all the labels people assign you. That's on them.

People are living in wayyyyy too much fear right now, and are shackling themselves up in too many mental gated communities.

This podcast is the best of the best, the cream of the crop, the highest of all audio anarchy. Zerzan is tired, Crimethinc rudimentary and the other shows are more about news and interviews than a deeper discussion that doesn't fall into a jargon hole. Don't get me wrong, I love all the little podcasts anarchists are putting out. More means we can listen, learn and improve our abilities at audio media, which is underrated by younger people that don't have kids. If anarchy is to be something that includes more people, not just young, healthy anarchist militants needs to be appealed to. These audio shows are a great bridge towards including the isolated and those lost in a family life quagmire.

On the Desert conversation, which bounced around quite a bit, it was brought up that the great catastrophes of our times need not imply an all or nothing collapse or extinction event. Rather, life can continue to erode, a desert is not the absence of life, it is just another ecosystem. There really are so many ways to interpret how reality is and where it is going. The basis of our values, on why we want destruction, need not be founded on the threat of catastrophe, but rather based on the reality of devastation. Based on what has been done and not the threat of what could happen.

You’re making some sense in roughly half of that comment, yet you’re definitely trying to install yet another intellectual hierarchy in the non-world of anarchist podcasts. Just because you like the tone and rhetoric that this audio sausage fest uses, or maybe even their analytical sharpness, doesn’t make the well-made Ex-Worker podcast, FRR or TFSR less valuable... they’re just covering other essential aspects of anarchist struggle. So according to you, anarchist action news should be limited to text form?

What about, equally, the elitism of urbanites -as de facto promoted by Brilliant’s style and approach- made of people with easy access to the vast repositories of hard-to-find books (academic libraries)? For having lived in the countryside for a while I can tell you that this cutting-edge anthropology theory always sounds more alien to me, no matter how I’d like to know an anarchist hangout in the nearest big city where I can stay for a while, long enough to read a few books while smashing some shit around. So this ain’t just socio-cultural, but also geographic elitism.

It’s been always clear to me -that was the praxis of Aaron Swartz as well... an actual academic anarchist that Brilliant has never talked about- that anarchy in this world is a lot about spreading restricted knowledge -i.e. opening it or making it accessible to as many as possible- and promoting rational thinking through social critique. Which should not just include damned post-modern theory but also more importantly scientific reports.

To me, «insurgent bookworms» are people taking the stuff out of libraries and IP-restricted compartmented databases (through scanning, hacking or just stealing) and putting it on the «public place», and not the same old academic discussion groups that are just a slightly different color or taste than any other academic discussion group, because they pretend being about anarchism, or some even sillier ‘insurgency studies’ (...that may or may not actually be thinly-veiled counterinsurgency studies funded by Rand Corp or Stratfor). How about an anarchist podcast related to antiauthoritarian healthcare, or how is the concept of "dual power" will improve Aragorn's physical well-being?

Beyond that, I neither recall, for instance, Brilliant covering anything written by anarchist prisoners, no matter how these writings usually are edifying, thought-provoking, revolting, and promoting a radical perspective on this society at the same time.

That’s the ongoing failure of academic anarchists, at least those who attend book fairs and panels. I’d call it something worse, more intentional- than a failure, but let’s leave it at that (the potential counter-subversive, hostile nature of The Brilliant still is a relevant question to keep in mind).

I ain’t being «anti-intellectual» here. I couldn’t care less about people losing themselves into the jargon (yes, jargon) of phallosophy, or this undying fixation with anthropology by some crowd on the West Coast. But this tendency is also more largely diffused. I could point them to two or three infamous philosocrats in Montreal who’d gladly exert their domination upon them through this same old po-mo mystification for as long as they live. Or to other sophists in Spain, Greece, France or Italy, many of which will be commie beardos.

Though I’m personally always fascinated by any anthropology that predates the phallocratic (and philosophical) societies that Ancient Greece was, but it seems to me like fantasy fiction. Especially through the craft (what we’d call today the arts), language and the myths, being a closet fan of museums, even the horribly-imperialist ones. Some mysteries about mankind’s very distant past, that the old spiritual traditions still are the best testimonies of, probably may never be unveiled... and really who cares, beyond people with (often racist) hidden agendas?

Between this and TV sports or video games... at least it maintains a somewhat rich mental ecosystem that could help within further contexts of frictions with authorities, I guess.

Eh, that was a bunch of poopy. Prisoners are often boring and depressing. That and they exaggerate and lie about a lot of stuff because they want anarchists to be there friends. They are probably daily survivors of prison rape and bullying, mentally damaged, weak. Not saying I ain't for them, just saying they are crap for liberals to fawn over and throw money at.

Trying to make bookfair geeks into academics is confusing. Most academics are looking out for their middle class family values, new agers with books rather than spirit stones, *believing* in science more than a fanatic believes in a diety, these fooks can't separate their perception of reality with what the book describes as reality. Meanwhile the bookfair geeks aren't quite as intense, they usually aren't making money off the interactions, but they, like the academics, get to play pretend anarchy using the poop from each others' buttholes to make coverart for their latest zines.

Keep it up. One more comment and you too might be an anarchist.

Why the fuck would people in prison have any obligation to entertain or uplift you in any way? Holy crap kid, I hope somebody smacks you when your fool-mouth runs in public.

Like always to the religious zealots the real anarchists are elsewhere.

Relations are all there are. So, how are asking questions, and making discussions pretend play?

What other sorts of binaries does your fecal-obsessed dogmatic self make?

What's real when you take anarchy and turn it into a fixed notion that looms far above and beyond lived human experience?

Your rules cloud you, and make false expectations removed from all we have, which is the ongoing now.

Are you not aware that they both are involved in black seed, which has done many critiques of anthropology?

Your comment is very confused, and very confusing. You're slamming this podcast as anthropological, academic, post modern, yet desiring more science and rationality? Speaking of thinly veiled...

Nice coinage of words, "geographic elitism". 9/10

Swartz was a self-declared progressive; not the same as an anarchist. Exposing restricted knowledge can be cool, but the applications of that exposure are limited, especially for anarchists.

Yes, anarcho-despot... You've been given the official power, back in 2010 I think, to determine who's "anarchist" and who's not, given their level progressiveness or entry into the system.

Of course such priestly power excludes dictates hereby cast upon yourself and your always more suspicious comment section buddies/allies/comrades/buttsex partners, especially for all the shit you DON'T do as anarchy in your lives.

Seriously? … pretty far up your own ass. Grumpy hardly says anything and when he does, it's pretty concise. Are you disputing the definition of the word progressive or whether Schwartz ever called himself one? A quick google-search has his friends and himself saying he wasn't an anarchist although many of us no-doubt shared affinity with him.

What I’m disputing is Grumpy’s nefariously arrogant and authoritarian dismissal of Aaron Swartz as anarchist -or just anarchistic- on the sole basis (or maybe there’s other arguments he’d prefer not sharing with us) of him being a progressive, as if it was the biggest, unconditional, undisputable criteria of exclusion. Or go see why the fuck being a progressive excludes someone from being also anarchist... and come back to me with the documents on that. But perhaps you smuglords have forgotten that he’s been openly supported by Jason Hammond?

He was «progressive»? So where Decleyre, Kropotkin, Bonanno, Godwin,Proudhon, Malatesta, Bakunin, Goldman and other big names of anarchism. All with progressive ideas, even tho from the «ground-up» perspective.

Now consider how what Aaron did was completely illegal, dangerous, anti-establishment, liberating, and inherently subversive to the scientific corporate hierarchies and their IP dictatorship, and he asserted it without a single hint of remorse or regret, but rather with rebellious pride as his own struggle.

And it’s a safe bet that even my heroes Rambo Novatore or Fourty-four Magon would have LAUDED his actions of «IP infrigement» as well, even if they didn’t involve any macho «pow-pow, kaboom the municipal court, let’s raid the bank then the jail and kill a few cops on the way, then steal a pack of pbr ‘n’ x-large pizza and fuck all nite long yeeeehaw!»... that anyways no fucking anarchoid among YOU in some NA punk rock disneyland would be endorsing coz it’d be probably too «triggering» or «vanguardist» or «adventurists» or just way too scary, I dunno. But hey let’s talk about how maoists are both progressives and anti-anarchists, while gathering the hardcore, unmoving support from those same anarchoids, including those I might be replying to here.

Understand that my beef with this is not that it’s harmful to Aaron’s memory... but actually to the inherently-anarchist value of doing this within an academic context, which leads back to my claim about anarcho-academics underusing the resources they’ve got at their disposal for subverting the academic hierarchies. But that’s fine... I know how pretty much everything is messed up in the minds of students these days, as not only their general world view but their assessment of the direct acvademic context of oppression is alienated like shit.

That’s the context of Aaron Swartz and his few buddies... In North America and beyond, students are basically bought proles, strangely paying (usually being indebted) and working for being bought by rulers, who only pay their (tax-free) modest share by investing in the factories that produce skilled slaves (i.e. schools), while not having to care about those pesky issues of management of labor. It’s a very funny system when you think of it from a distance. And those panel radicals are even funnier. Especially for staying as far as they can from those who, like Swartz, concretely challenge these conditions of slavery (with the IT systems of management of knowledge as the central power engine), splitting hair and building invisible walls wherever they can.

Here’s some memorable ‘60s rich dude laughing it up in his palace...

So Swartz would have described himself to not be «anarchist», did he? Well that’s just Earth-shattering, man...

Morale of the story: was Swartz officially anarchist? Answer: I don’t give a flying fuck. It’s what he did that matters.

Big difference. Back then anarchists had a relationship with futurism and optimism. That's changed obviously.

please don't generalize us

Wow, well clearly this is important to you. I, who happen to self-describe as anarchist, have a bunch of admiration for aaron schwartz although his methods are very different from mine. BUT the simple, neutral statement that grumpy made is still true. I'm thinking you've made a little error there in attributing a neutral, factual statement to hostility towards Swartz. People don't have to be anarchists for us to admire them or share affinity. To be completely honest, a lot of the stuff I've read about him and his peers suggests that they were avoiding the label of anarchist deliberately because of the circles they moved in and their desire to present themselves as radical progressives based on the assumption that they'd gain more support and resources that way, which is very common.

...which made them social entryists. Which is nowhere a contradiction with being anarchists. It's just a long-term strategy among others. Compromising most surely, but still not un-archist (or shall I just say "archist"?).

okay … so let me see if I got this: these are people who SAID "we aren't anarchists" and you admit that they behaved in a way that isn't normally considered anarchist praxis because you want to propose that they were going undercover as progressive reformists … ever heard of occam's razor? I mean, I'm not one of these nihilists who turns up at my nose at all things lefty-progressive, I'm just a guy who's confused by how hard you're working at this.

Can't you like people's work without trying to make them your ideological peers?

What I'm calling into question is the involuntary induction of particular people into the realm of anarchism. The shitheads who wrote Black Flame did that, and you did it. Some anarchists want their heroes and heroines to be in the club, and that's understandable. Plenty of anarchists did that with the zapatistas, and plenty of them are doing it with the Kurds in Rojava. That's what's arrogant and authoritarian.

I actually respect people enough to allow them to define themselves however they prefer. If you want to call yourself a Martian, I have no particular objection; but if you go around making a bunch of noise about what it's like to live on Mars, then you'd better have something to back up your claims. If you go around calling yourself a progressive (perhaps because, as another anon has suggested, it's less frightening for a certain demographic than "anarchist"), then I will agree that you are indeed a progressive. In the absence of a public declaration of your attachment to anarchist theory and history, I will agree that you are indeed not an anarchist.

As the other anon pointed out, this is a neutral -- indeed, value-free -- statement. I'm not disputing Swartz' self-identification; I am acknowledging it. If you know something about his private thoughts, feel free to share them. Otherwise, you're only doing what authoritarians always do: decide you know something better than the person knows about themselves.

In the mid-1990s, when some anarchists pointed out that the zapatistas weren't anarchists, we were accused of refusing them solidarity. In fact, all we were doing was refusing to induct them involuntary into a club that they had no intention of joining. Same with the piqueteros in Argentina. Same with the MST in Brazil. Same with plenty of other movements and individuals (like the aforementioned authors of Black Flame). Pointing out that some people aren't anarchists is not the same as saying "Since they aren't anarchists, anarchists shouldn't have anything to do with them." The people who impute that perspective to others (yeah, there's that authoritarianism again) probably find it difficult to express their justifications for extending solidarity to the projects of non-anarchists. You actually didn't find it that difficult, after you were challenged and pushed: "I don’t give a flying fuck. It’s what he did that matters." This is the core of the issue. You don't actually care about labels. When it comes to support and solidarity (critical or not), the labels people choose for themselves is immaterial. If I see non-hierarchical methods of organizing and decision making/execution, I'm good. They can call themselves Martians, for all I care.

The labels I care about are the ones people choose for themselves.

Sure, it’s small piracy with limited effects compared to the UNLIMITED POWER of discussing cutting edge anthropology/philosophy concepts inside socio-cultural echo chambers, on panels and related podcasts. Which is helluva rad plan... Time to get the AK rifles. For a dual power rrrrrevolution!

...he was also a techno-optimist, and The Brilliant, as individuals at the intersection of PLA/primitivism are at the very least critics of technology. It's very strange that people would criticise a recording for what ISN'T being discussed.

The problem is not the monkey behavior. Every social circle will have drama. It's the fact that the anarchist subculture is based on post WW2 Western youth subcultures. I made the point that the Jazz/blues social circle setting would be preferable to the current punk youth subculture that exists right now.

1968 anarchism is declining now in the same way 1886 anarchism was declining after two WWs. The greater terrain that created counter cultures as we knew them is being altered as we head into the early-mid 21st century. If anything, people ahead of the curve should be conceiving of the next epoch of anarchism. Who will be the bridge builders to the greater 21st century of anarchy in a similar vein to anarchists such as Goodman and Rexroth.

You still haven't really explained your idea of a post-milieu in a way that makes sense to me yet, which is too bad because I also really hate scene politics as well and wish there was a way to somehow avoid the shitty aspects of scene-life while continuing to enjoy the things about it that make us stick around. After all... if it's so terrible then why the fuck are we all still here?

Every social circle has it's drama and bullshit, yes, even your precious blue-jazz circle. It's like you're using the word "social circle" for aggregates of people you like and "subculture/milieu/scene" for aggregates of people you /don't/ like when it really seems to me to be a lot more complicated than that.

There is no escape from drama and bullshit. The best we can hope for, I think, is to try to learn how to MANAGE our dramas as intelligently as possible. After you've been around for a few years and you mature as an individual I think you eventually learn how to weather the storms when they happen, or else drop out entirely. Maybe the secret, for anarchists, is to exist on the fringes of the "official" movement/scene/wtv, figure out who your friends are, stick with them, try to keep your head down and make a point to deliberately avoid the people in your local terrible community (we all know who they are in our own specific contexts) who just seem to always be at the center of every psychopolydrama.


Further: you seem to be suggesting that the main problem is that the anarchist scene is a YOUTH subculture. You say "youth" like it's a bad thing, while perhaps underestimating the capacity of older folks to be petty, vindictive, immature, etc. just like the anarchist scene as it currently exists in most cities and towns in NA. Like... you seem to be reducing everything to age and that's, well... ageist, you know?

IS actually pretty bad. We are talking about people fresh out of high school and into college. I don't deny at all the preferable subcultures do not have problems, but the problems of this particular youth subculture is why the current anarchist epoch needs to end.

Hey Kendrick, you nailed him early on when you were like - wait, do you just hate a lot of people and dismiss them all as "the milieu" and "leftists" or whatever? Yeah. Ziggy has nothing but pomp and front. He thinks a lot of $10 words is adequate cover for this simple truth. It is not.

The reason I use the Jazz/Blues social circle analogy is because it has a different orientational structure the packaged Western musical subcultures which I think modern anarchism is partly derivative of.

The other issue with the milieu is that when its been around long enough certain mores begin to ossify and the problems of human drama tend to amplify. The classical milieu reached an end point in the 30s and 40s where a new kind of marginal and milieu was needed for the latter half of the 20th century. The 21st century is no different at this point.

– How do we fight the market forces that currently dominate the Internet? For instance, depending on advertising, or selling user data, or exchanging shit with each other at commercial rates, or profiting off of intellectual property.

– What are some ways to subvert individuated and commercial forms of decentralized production/transportation? Are we stuck with Etsy, Craigslist, Uber, Air-BNB? Or, can these commercial-oriented systems inspire non-commercial versions of the same?

– What are some techniques to point socialization online towards localized social interactions in meat space? There’s many that can be gleamed from Maple-Ash-Farmer-Wilson.

– How can we help comrades that drop off the grid and form land projects? Who don’t have time to manage substantial communications online?

– How can we relate to the world of video media? What are the pros and cons of video as a medium, why is the anarchist YouTube so pitiful?

Responding to bullets with bullets:

- You can't fight the market forces that dominate the internet, but you can subvert occasional presences. It isn't a good medium one should be looking to win, but rather break through or past. Hacker culture is specialized and perhaps interventions here could be done to connect with these veins, but they are more of a interesting niche` only those skilled can participate with on a full level. It is just another shadow economy, in other words. One could argue how we could intervene in the underground slave trade and subvert it or free a neighborhood from mobster dominance. These fall within the same category of compartmentalized interventions that has only a limited interest.

- Stop using the internet as a medium of connection completely. Full stop. Return to the immediate level, spread street propaganda locally, talk to people face to face, build a resistance movement based on direct interaction, where our memories of what where our information is coming from is related to the humans it comes from and not merely the images created. If we use propaganda, it can't become a necessity for continued existence. If this is the case, then perhaps a different project or intervention should be considered?

- Posting images of real world propaganda, inviting people to interact without a medium between them, rather than rely on the medium to spread the message.

- Try talking to them and see what they need and how you can intersect your interests with theirs. Maybe you have a vehicle that can transport people and necessities too and fro a land project or hold skillshares in urban settings until funds are generated to go out to a land project. Make documentaries that are part of inviting people to check out the space and interact with those that make it happen, not just information for its own sake.

- Imagine film screenings in small poor towns dominated by an industry. The films deal with the industry that dominates the area in question and opens up a dialog to hold with people that show to talk about how the industry has impacted the people there. Talk about land projects and how actually (re-)shaping the area towards ensuring individual needs are taken care of while at the same time presenting reasons to challenge and undermine these industries. Reason is, if the industry were to be shut down or move, people would need to take care of themselves and not just invite another destructive industry into the area to replace the last one. In other words, the video must compliment real world interactions and not just be an info sharing or entertainment screening.

What ultimately matters is deaccelerated, non sublimated surrogate activities. You can really pin down the problems and the solutions to those things as they relate to relations of anarchy.

Non-commercial decentralized back to land communal existing are not panaceas on to themselves. You need the surrogate activities that help humans pass the time. I am not convinced that anarchists are able to stop able to stop the forces of accelerated informational entropy. It's just a fate one has to deal with. You can only do small things in time that matter to you. Ultimately just realize that(like Labadie realized) we are going to have a bad ending either way. Create specific break points of enjoyment along the way down the drain(a 21st century summer of love would be nice) but accept that short of a meteoric or volcanic non human intervention, we are feedback loop slaves to language and where it's going.

Consider good anarch orientation that which doesn't stop the aging/death process, but at least stalls it with good quality forms of forself-enjoyment.

To answer your last Q on youtube. I think it comes down to the fact that the milieu coffee house infoshop language does not make for good video presentation. The youth that you see on youtube are very much speakers as opposed to writers. Anarchists have not had good speakers since Emma Goldman.

What is a "deaccelerared, non-sublimated surrogate activity"?

Throwing a lemon party for Bob Black.

TIL about lemon parties …I've been living under a rock.

Something not directly tied to structures of production or any kind of city centered integrated totality. Think of playing in the woods or any good Zen technique.

I don't see any po-mo text generating with his ideas. In fact he rarely uses po-mo vocabulary from what I can tell. Do you get this much of a hate-on with every one who thinks on a deeper/more radical level than you? try to filter his comments through an egoist lens for instance. Or try to understand it as coming from someone who wants anarchy just much as you do, but doesn't see it coming from the intentional activity of people within scenes/milieus. heck, you are obviously spending time on the internet, why not take half an hour and go look up "Stirner", "sublimated", "post-left", "egoism", " Nietzche", or whatever. That's where he is coming from. And whats with all the sex references? :) geez. Or just try to ignore him for everyone's sake unless he actually says something you find deplorably offensive.

In terms of being a pomo salad tosser, I never did the university majoring or copied the jargon. I know how pomos write and I don't write like that. Neither does emile btw.

Please do not confuse the culinary "art" of word salads with Dada Engine-generated comments like most of Emile's and maybe Azano's.

Please stop putting people into categories.

Where is the dadaism in emile's writing? I liked them in my early teens, and eventually traded them for captain beefheart. I don't find dada in emile's writing. It's pretty straight forward.

Thanks for the interesting commentary. We will engage with it in our next episode, but note that that will not be until Episode 26 due to the gap between our recording and editing (we've already recorded 20 - 25). As always, longer-form commentary and criticism is welcome at

Milieu extinction imminent--
That goes for all milieus of whatever creed! Time to stand up as an individual in a fragmented gross world view.

thanks for beautifully linking to that documentary/treatise on psychosociology

of milieu relations and their pitfalls.

makes a lotta sense.

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