Done In From Within: An Intemperate Review by John Zerzan

  • Posted on: 27 May 2019
  • By: anon (not verified)

by John Zerzan
All the leftist parties in the West took sides in the four-year industrial slaughterhouse of World War I. Leading anarchist Peter Kropotkin also supported it.

Emma Goldman was deported to Russia in 1919 and remained there until 1921. She was a partisan of the Bolsheviks' take-over of the revolution even after Lenin told her he had no intention of altering his policy of murdering and imprisoning anarchists. It was not until Lenin and Trotsky massacred the insurgent sailors and anarchists of the Kronstadt naval base in 1921 that she finally broke with the red fascist Bolsheviks.

Writers sympathetic to Goldman refer to her disillusionment with Soviet rule, but tend to gloss over her outright complicity.

In 1936, popular front governments came to power in France and Spain. These leftists regimes reinforced industrial work discipline just as much as their predecessors. An indispensable book on the subject is Michael Seidman's Workers Against Work: Labor in Paris and Barcelona During the Popular Fronts (1991). The nationally supervised efforts of output and productivity were fully endorsed by the anarcho-syndicalists, who were all about mass production, like the other left-wing elements. This partnership was further cemented in Spain when the anarcho-syndicalist union, CNT, joined the government.

Skipping forward to 1999-2001, we come to the so-called Anti-Globalization movement. So-called because few of its participants questioned globalization itself, or indicted the globally integrated web of civilization. The movement was kicked off in 1999 with an anarchist riot in Eugene, Oregon and then, more significantly, in Seattle near the end of the year. A World Trade Organization summit was prevented from happening, and some of downtown Seattle was trashed. Globalization summits in Quebec City, Prague, and Genoa in 2000 and 2001 attracted large and vigorous protests. 300,000 took to the streets of Genoa in July 2001, and a young anarchist was killed by police. A major clash, and very revealing.

At one point the police forces attacked the large Black Bloc contingent, dividing it into two parts and driving much of it down toward the beach area, which was a home base for many of the protestors. World Social Forum people, Chomsky-type leftists, did their best to bar the gate to the beach, so that the radicals were trapped by the police assault. The WSF organization later slandered the courageous Black Bloc fighters as agents provocateurs.

The Zapatista movement in Chiapas, Mexico drew much-deserved interest and support. Its famous Sub-Commandante Marcos declared that he had been a leftist urban intellectual but had come to see indigeneity as the heart of liberatory politics: respect for the land, for community. But the EZLN's Sixth Declaration of the Lacondon Jungle changed all that in 2005. It called for a new political party and launched the "Other Campaign" in 2006. The new policy was for "good governance councils," a new national constitution, citizenship, and the EZLN was soon running a candidate for president of Mexico. So much for indigeneity! And a strange (not so strange, sadly) silence then descended with this turn to the Left on the part of anarchists and others.

The 2011-2012 Occupy movement was a reformist social justice phenomenon, led by progressives like David Graeber. Lacking any radical orientation, it was largely ignored by anarchists. Its most militant expression was Occupy Oakland, which managed a one-day closure of the Port of Oakland.

De-occupy or de-colonize would have been at least the first step in a radical direction, but this was explicitly refused in favor of a vote celebrating "the legacy of the Left." Pathetic, and characteristic of the liberal-left nature of Occupy.

2016-2017 saw massive resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota. Thousands joined the Sioux and had supporters world-wide, as skirmishes and standoffs took place for several months, even through a bitter high prairie winter. Undefeated by military force, the effort to prevent the pipeline was rather suddenly ended by order of the Sioux chiefdom. This critical, fatal development was largely ignored.

So often, the failure comes from within, a more or less "fifth column" phenomenon. Often the undermining comes from the Left, and the lesson has yet to be fully learned, it seems.

May 2019

695 words

Comments

This fails to mention the wave 2009/10 university occupations, which, as I recall, was later more or less recuperated by the more mainstream Occupy Wall street movement.

Furthermore, the irony of favoring the "de-colonize" distraction as something somehow less leftist, when in fact anarchist were originally behind the afore mentioned wave of rebellion preceding OWS smacks of something vaguely disingenuous.

I was not aware that the DAPL struggle was somehow "[u]ndefeated by military force". How much force would Zerzan have them be subjected to, and wherefore would such wisdom be that pitted bodies against bullets?

Also what's with this "fifth column" reference, wasn't that a Stalinist pretext for purging the Spanish republican front lines?

John Zerzan had an opportunity to seriously discuss the many failings of the statist left as well as of anarchists. Instead he goes on a rant with little content to it. Just factually: "all the leftist parties" did not support their imperialist governments in WWI; aside from the Bolsheviks there were the Spanish, the Italian, and especially the U.S. Socialist Party (Debs going to jail for a speech opposing the war). Most anarchists and anarcho-syndicalists opposed the war (disagreeing with Kropotkin and Tucker).

Yes, when the Bolshevik revolution broke out, Goldman and almost all anarchists took a favorable view of the (apparently) first socialist revolution ever. This was all new and they did not want to attack the first revolution despite possible misgivings. Over time, the true nature of the regime came clear and anarchists turned against Soviet Russia, as did Goldman, an unpopular position on the left, of course.

His other sneers at popular movements are out of the same barrel. He denies the major anarchist influence on the Occupy movement (obvious to everyone else). While criticizing the Occupy activities, he does not discuss what an alternate strategy might have entailed. Apparently he slanders David Graeber as a "progressive" but not an "anarchist" (which I leave to David to respond to, if he wants).

There is much to criticize and reject in today's left, including anarchism, but this sort of "holier-than-thou" approach is useless.

As usual, JZ AND Wayne excluded the nihilists, who also did not support the imperialist state governments during WWI.

i also not support the imperialist state governments during WWI, but i was not alive back then, and do not appear in books

"Emma Goldman was deported to Russia in 1919 and remained there until 1921. She was a partisan of the Bolsheviks' take-over of the revolution even after Lenin told her he had no intention of altering his policy of murdering and imprisoning anarchists. It was not until Lenin and Trotsky massacred the insurgent sailors and anarchists of the Kronstadt naval base in 1921 that she finally broke with the red fascist Bolsheviks.
Writers sympathetic to Goldman refer to her disillusionment with Soviet rule, but tend to gloss over her outright complicity."

Emma Goldman wrote and lectured in favor of the Russian Revolution while in America. She did so knowing only scant information about what was really happening there. Very few people in America actually knew what was going on. So one could hardly blame her for "complicity". She thought the Bolsheviks were at least opening up revolutionary possibilities. She never thought it was an anarchist utopia. When she was deported to Russia she was cautiously optimistic about how the revolution was going there. When Emma went to see Lenin, it was to offer to do more organizing and activism as part of a Russian Society for American Freedom. She was obviously planning to be able to go back to America at some point. Goldman brought up the subject of anarchist prisoners and freedom of speech, to which Lenin responded by saying that releasing prisoners and granting freedom of speech would have to wait until the revolutionary period was over. This did not sit well with her, and was the beginning of Emma's disillusionment.

After traveling around the Russia visiting people (including Kropotkin), taking notes, and making observations for 15 months, the massacre at Kronstadt was the last, final straw, not the initial wake up call. Goldman had been losing faith in the Soviet Government with every passing month. Each week brought news of fresh disasters, starvations, shootings, and incarcerations. No longer having the luxury of distance living in America provided, she could now see first hand and up close what was really happening. At least in the end, she admitted she was wrong, and completely owned her mistake and naivety, unlike many leftists who kept defending the Soviet Union well into the 1980s. Again, this takes intellectual honesty and courage, and is a sign of her integrity as an anarchist, not evidence of her complicity.

I just don't understand the hostility towards Goldman here.

Goldman personally drafted and commissioned all the atrocities of the USSR and the USA, and had no redeemable qualities.

Emma was a man-hater, unless she could keep her syndicalist gangboys on a leash, she expelled them from her inner circle of hate!

Emma spoke with her mouth full and didn’t cover her mouth when she coughed or sneezed. She also snored loudly.

"Writers sympathetic to Goldman refer to her disillusionment with Soviet rule, but tend to gloss over her outright complicity."

A lot of people sympathetic to John Zerzan refer to his disillusionment with unions, but tend to gloss over his outright complicity with them as an activist in the 1970s.

Bazinga!

i love this as a copypasta meme format.
i’d like to see more versions.

At what point in history did revolutions cease to be something beneficial for people in Europe, and why? Was it modern weaponry and technology which changed all that? Should Emma have known better? Maybe not, for I recall reading of previous, smaller rebellions which improved the material and social conditions of serfs, vassals, and thralls. Yet I'm not sure if there were any successful rebellion's between those and 1919. Perhaps the nihilist are right in that revolution is a don deal, for now anyway. Thoughts?

That will help to stop the inward rot.

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