The Changing Face of Empire: Peter Gelderloos Reflects on 2018

  • Posted on: 9 February 2019
  • By: thecollective

From It's Going Down

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On this episode of the It’s Going Down podcast, once again we are joined by long time anarchist author, organizer, and theorist, Peter Gelderloos. In this discussion, we look back over the past year, talk about Peter’s recent essay on CrimethInc., and discuss the possible future direction of autonomous social movements.

Like CrimethInc’s idea of the State as a “hot potato,” Gelderloos contends that the current terrain of crisis, growing antagonisms, and rising populisms, is generating a potentially very disruptive and chaotic time for State power – which in turn creates danger for the rest of us, along with new contradictions and crises that revolutionaries can potentially intervene within. As Gelderloos wrote in Diagnostic of the Future:

At the level of specific nation-states, the central ground that allowed for a broad social consensus for many decades has all but eroded. There are growing movements on the right to reformulate the social contract—and, at the farthest fringes, to do away with democracy entirely—while the left is preparing a groundswell to renew democracy and smooth out its contradictions by renewing the dream of universal inclusion and equality. Both of these movements suggest that democracy as it currently exists cannot continue.

Meanwhile, the global financial crisis of 2008 has not been resolved, but simply staved off through the massive privatization of public resources and the creation of new, even larger financial bubbles to temporarily absorb excess capital. Capitalism desperately needs a new territory to which to expand. Whatever strategy capitalists adopt will need to offer an exponential growth in profitable investment opportunities and a solution to the mass unemployment that could afflict more than half the global labor force as Artificial Intelligence and robotization renders them redundant.

These two crises are intimately connected. Capitalists will support the governmental models that protect their interests, whereas only the State can open new territories for capital accumulation and quell the resistance that always arises.

Looking back at 2018, we discuss the Trump administration’s continuing policy of “economic nationalism,” trade war, and protectionism, as well as what the future holds for both Trump and Trumpism. We also touch on the continued role of far-Right in US politics, the potential for world war, as well as the growing danger of climate change. Finally, we end with a look towards the future and a discussion on some of they key tasks in front of us as a revolutionary autonomous movement, facing down everything from techno-dystopia to climate chaos.


These conversations between Sole and Gelderloos seem to get more boring and frustrating each time. It seems either Gelderloos line of inquiry is straying farther away from Sole’s typical line of questioning from his interviews. This leaves Gelderloos having to improvise on some questions, leading to uninteresting or minimally informed responses, or to judiciously abstaining from answering or touching the topic, much to Sole’s and the audience’s frustration.

It seems Gelderloos is more focused on macro global trends, than on “trending topics” these days, making him an unsuitable talking head to provide soundbites to react to this or that other headline.

It’d be more interesting if Gelderloos could set the pace and the topics for the discussion for a change. Maybe interviewing people, or brainstorming alongside the likes of Tom Nomad, or even directly debating Willy Gilly.

A recent Spanish language interview of Peter Gelderloos and A Las Barricadas from Jan. 28, 2019:

excellent! if anyone needs an english translation, i could provide, but maybe clicking “translate to english” might suffice? anyone wants to check to see if it doesn’t turn up jumbled garbage?

yes, PLEASE, machine translations suck. No nuance. If you have the skills, please do the job better and post it here. Peter is one of the only interesting anarchists who span a range of A-adjectives attention spans.

Is that Sole? I thought Sole was a different anarchist podcast about like gardening and stuff.

I concur more the the first anon. I couldnt help but walk away with the sense that these guys are operating at different levels. I know the interviewer is intelligent and well-read (if not articulate), but somehow they are deeply trapped in the dopamine-surging small spectacle of the news bites of the day, and aren't really thinking about the big complex dynamics of our times the way Peter is.

What wasnt discussed from Peter's last essay is a small sentence or two criticizing the way activist anarchist media (IGD) nearly mimic liberal news outlets talking points. This could be felt most directly when IGD (not Sole) asks about Peter's thoughts on some Stephen Miller commentary and how to respond to it, and Peter shows how there so many embedded assumptions that he questions the worth of responding at all.

IGD, I want you guys to be articulate, deeper, and much more comprehensive at what you're doing, and not simply reducing yourselves to spectacle dopamine rushes. Seriously. Please up your game!!

yeah, I wish they didnt try to be so topical. News roundup plus editorial isnt that interesting to me, even if its anarchists doing it. You can only go so deep with that format and most of it isnt relevant to anarchists anyways.

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