HIC NIHIL, HIC SALTA! (a critique of Bartlebyism)

  • Posted on: 29 July 2015
  • By: worker

From Search and Destroy

[We offer up to our comrades the following critique of the nihilist turn in communist and anarchist thought, in part because we find some of its appeal mystifying and some of its appeal understandable. We hope that at very least it will provoke some conversation among friends and comrades sympathetic to this line of thought.]

After the jailings and beatings and trials; after the last-ditch efforts you knew wouldn’t work, the surprising turn-of-events you thought just might, the labored attempts to force the situation; after the too-many meetings, the too-little sleep, the what-the-fuck-is-going-on-here; after the list of former friends has grown longer, after deciding there must be a snitch, after all the terrible things have been said and regretted and then said again and not regretted; after afraid, sad, tired, and after admitting, finally, sooner than some and later than others, that you failed, that it was over, that they won and that you can’t just call it a day, give up, go home, because when they win, they don’t just go home and feel happy and count their money and their votes and their weapons, they fuck your life up bad, they fuck up the people you love, they put them in jail or on probation, they take your money, they raise your rent, they wreck the place where you live, they kill and kill and keep on killing—after all this, it’s natural to feel pretty depressed; it’s natural to feel that everything you did was just stupid, that you were a fool, that you must have done something wrong or, better, that someone else must have done something wrong, even though you’re up against an enemy who is stronger than you, and even though the history of every struggle ever is a concordance of failures, and even though no one has ever figured out how to succeed against such an enemy in any kind of consistent and repeatable manner. It’s easier if there’s someone to blame. It’s easier if there was some mistake. If there was a mistake, then there was hope; if there was a mistake, then one can remain melancholically attached to the grim specter of what might have been…

The world is depressing enough as it is, of course. For many of us, it’s the return to normality, the prospect of another year of the grinding everyday, that makes the end of a political sequence unbearable. Through the experience of defeat we realize that the quotidian is constituted by defeat; the normal functioning of capitalism is continuous counter-revolution. Depression and anxiety are forms through which this victory is secured, through which people are rendered compliant, isolated, but only when these moods are modulated by brief moments of hopefulness, relief, imagination, ambition. What capitalism wants is a continuous, low-level unhappiness. They want people engaged in a continuous process of emotional management – with images, with work, with sex, with commodities. Anything more extreme makes people unpredictable, and it’s no surprise that communities that define themselves in opposition to the status quo are filled with the most wounded and miserable types. Once such feelings get politicized, once their political origins are disclosed, all sorts of problems result. Because these affects are the one thing that people in such communities are guaranteed to share, they tend to be valorized as a mark of authenticity; they become markers of an identity, something to hold onto, burnish, aestheticize, worship. Our feelings become not the motivation for our politics, not their energy source, but their object. The result is miserabilism, a community formed by a shared unhappiness, whose reproduction secretly depends upon the continuous provision of more sources of unhappiness.

Most of the theoretical expressions that emerge from this confused condition share a fundamental misidentification of effects as causes. Identifying the source of their unhappiness in their own naïve optimism and commitment, their investment in some political project or process, they reason that, in order to spare themselves future suffering, they must cease to hope, to commit, to desire, they must treat each new event as dead from the start. They conclude not only that disaffection and pessimism will cause us to suffer less in the face of the failure of struggles, but that optimism, earnest commitment, investment, are the source of these failures. In other words, they reason that the reason we lose is because we keep trying, despite the fact that it is obviously the other way around. There are now dozens of accounts of how struggle against capitalist domination requires some form of withdrawal, subtraction, de-subjectivization, removal, impassivity, patience, slowness. In some cases, there may be real practical and psychological insights in these accounts, but each one makes, in our view, a fundamental mistake – it turns a political process into a psychological operation; it substitutes an ethics for a politics. Though it’s true that capitalism uses our investments and passions against us all the time, the better to render us compliant, exploitable; the better to set us against each other; the better to keep us scrambling after illusory goals, capitalism has no problem mobilizing various forms of disaffection, indifference, and unfeeling. These moods quite obviously render one just as pliable as the excited, enthused worker; the passionate consumer; the overly sentimental parent; the enraged activist. Depression is not a weapon, it’s a wound in the shape of a weapon.

These expressions go under various names – anti-political, nihilist, post-left. We call this phenomenon Bartlebyism because we think the best introduction to its misprisions can be had through an examination of the nearly identical claims made about the main character in Melville’s duly famous story of clerical work, “Bartleby the Scrivener,” by a whole generation of soi-disant left philosophers, from Badiou to Hardt and Negri, from Zizek to Agamben. Bartleby is a law-copyist, encharged with duplicating the various contracts and affidavits upon which 19th-century Wall Street depended, and so the story allegorizes not only the violence of the labor-capital relationship but the legal superstructure it requires, the intimate acquaintance of cop and boss. Bartleby is famous for defying his employer in a manner that stymies all response; rather than refusing outright the work he is asked to perform, he instead utters the famous reply, “I would prefer not to,” when called by his employer. Readers of the story have been quick to note the peculiarly unanswerable quality of this answer, with its mixture of politeness and refusal. As his employer, the narrator of Melville’s story, notes, “Had there been the least uneasiness, anger, impatience of impertinence in his manner; in other words, had there been any thing ordinarily human about him, doubtless I should have violently dismissed him from the premises.” But the conditional character of Bartleby’s utterance gives it a strange power that a more steadfast, indicative or future simple declaration would not have. In the contemporary political imagination, the passive aggressive power of Bartleby’s utterance circumvents the reactive, reflexive character of the destructive impulse, which as we so often know, often ends up sustaining the object of attack. Bartlebyism sees in this kind of phraseology a way of divesting the object of attack – here the work process – from any kind of cathexis. Bartebly is simply indifferent to work, and thereby work has no power over him. This is the core of the nihilist vision of struggle.

But in reality, this weak power is truly weak, rather than secretly strong. The law-copyist Bartleby ends his days, as a result of his curious workplace action, in a New York city jail, victim of the legal apparatus his refused scrivening would have sustained. Though Bartleby manages to occupy the office in a prefiguration of the sitdown strikes of the 20th century, defeating his employer’s entreaties to either work or depart, and eventually forces the employer to vacate the premises and set up office elsewhere, the new tenant is not so obliging, nor is he flummoxed by Bartleby’s bizarre actions. He calls the cops and Bartleby is sent to jail where, refusing all food, he dies.

This is not a promising model for a resistance movement. As Nikil Saval shows in his book on the history of the office, Melville may have been inspired here by an 1841 movement among New York dry-goods clerks to get the stores where they sold goods to close earlier. But rather than imitating the forms of struggle of manual laborers, who were at that time exploring the powers of direct action, these clerks remained entirely identified with the employers (whose seat they hoped some day to fill). Instead of making demands, “they sought a ‘solicitation’ of merchants good will and argued that a few hours of rest would make more “willingly devoted servants” in the store. The tone of Bartleby then is the tone of the refined, genteel clerk who prefers to struggle through diplomacy rather than confrontation. It may also be possible that Melville had in mind Henry David Thoreau’s contemporaneous essay on “Resistance to Civil Government,” which was published in 1849 and which he might have seen while writing those stories. Portions of Walden were published in Putnam’s Monthly, where “Bartleby, the Scrivener” also appeared, and Melville caricatured Thoreau’s friend and colleague Emerson, transforming him into the philosophical huckster Plinlimmon, in his weirdest of novels, Pierre, the book published right before “Bartleby.” Intentional or not, the resemblances between the Bartlebyan and Thoreauvian mode of resistance are striking. In his outrage at the Mexican-American war, and the continuing horrors of slavery, Thoreau decides in his famous essay that the only admirable path for a person of conscience is to withdraw all support for the US government, chiefly by refusing to pay tax. The important political distinction which Thoreau articulates, and which was relatively novel, is that this is a form of resistance that concerns itself only with one’s own participation in the detestable action: “It is not a man’s duty, as a matter of course, to devote himself to the eradication of any, even the most enormous wrong; he may still properly have other concerns to engage him; but it is his duty, at least, to wash his hands of it, and, if he gives it no thought longer, not to give it practically his support.” This is a doctrine of withdrawal rather than active contestation. Thoreau imagines it as a method of peaceable social transformation; if such tax refusal were to spread it would mean a bloodless revolution:

I know this well, that if one thousand, if one hundred, if ten men whom I could name — if ten honest men only — ay, if one HONEST man, in this State of Massachusetts, ceasing to hold slaves, were actually to withdraw from this copartnership, and be locked up in the county jail therefor, it would be the abolition of slavery in America.

Bartleby himself might have been withdrawing from such a dreadful copartnership; as a Wall Street law-scrivener, the “rich men’s bonds, and mortgages, and title deeds” which he reproduced would certainly have involved the deeds to slaves, given that almost all Southern planters were reliant on financing from Northern Banks. Like Bartleby, Thoreau’s story natural ends in jail. It is jail where a man demonstrates his spiritual superiority to the law not to mention his solidarity with the humans in bondage under slavery: “Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison. The proper place to-day, the only place which Massachusetts has provided for her freer and less desponding spirits, is in her prisons, to be put out and locked out of the State by her own act, as they have already put themselves out by their principle… the only house in a slave State in which a free man can abide with honor.” Thoreau even mentions that it may be preferable to give one’s life than to participate in an unconscionable system.

As we know, Thoreau’s essay and the Bartlebyan principles it systematizes has been enormously influential if not enormously effective. Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. are only two of the most famous names who have sought to convince would-be rebels that the path of withdrawal, noncompliance, and aggressive passivity is the way to success. Today, there is an entire industry built around systematic and technicized noncompliance as protest. Its ineffectiveness is legendary. Such routinize, scripted forms of nonviolent protest – instrumental non-compliance of various sorts, whether by locking one’s neck to a tractor or locking arms and refusing to move – join a panoply of “violent” tactics to form the tactical repertoire of contemporary activism. These techniques are perfect for what is the usual social situation of activism – that is, protest by dedicated radicals in the absence of any kind of mass rebellion. These techniques carry very low risks; the consequence for being prosecuted for such forms of noncompliance are usually very low. And therefore despite their demonstrated ineffectiveness in most social contexts, people keep turning them again and again in situations where people want to do something, anything, to demonstrate their serious unhappiness with the world as it is. This is of course to say nothing about their use in situations like the Jim Crow South or India, where they were one set of tactics among many, in the context of mass rebellions that involved riots, bombings, the taking-up of arms, and constant exposure to deadly force from state and non-state actors. These situations simply can’t be compared to the context in which the same tactics of noncompliance are used today.

There is an important difference between systematized noncompliance of the sort we see today and Thoreauvian civil disobedience: Thoreau concerned himself only with refusal of activities that were part of his daily routine, and which gave indirect support to the oppression of others. The activist, on the other hand, ignores Thoreau’s proviso about interfering directly in the affairs of others. The activist is always rushing to the rescue of some oppressed entity somewhere else: the trees, the whales, the children, the workers. This is not to deride solidarity struggles and actions; actions undertaken on a moral basis. They are an important part of the way that political sequences unfold, and we engage in them routinely, but it is easily verifiable that the most powerful and successful struggles involve self-interested antagonists, fighting against the conditions that face them directly. Seen in light of this distinction, we immediately see what Thoreau’s protests share with the activism of our day– they are still conducted on a moral basis, they are still undertaken on behalf of others, even if they refuse direct support, and only concern themselves with indirect complicity.

*

In the last 20 years, powerful critiques of the logic of activism have emerged from within the antagonist milieu, critiques we borrow from above. But as is so often the case, these critiques share more with their object than they are willing to admit. Both the activist tendency and its “passivist” critics share a common origin in Bartlebyan thinking. The best critiques, such as the one offered by the famous article “Give Up Activism” emphasize the importance of strategic context, pointing out that a series of tactics developed in order to affect the behavior of specific institutions, corporations, or state-actors, lose all effectivity when there is no longer a clear, well-defined opponent, as was the case in the so-called anti-globalization movement. The worst critiques, however, misconstrue the implications of their entirely accurate critiques of spectacularized and routinized activism. Rather than treating activism as a failed strategy against a formidable enemy, it becomes the enemy itself, as if protest itself were what sustained capitalism and as if enervated activism were itself one of the prime weapons in the arsenals of our enemy. In some sense, what we note here is a target of opportunity. Lacking any effect beyond the microscopic demimonde of their would-be comrades, they look for opponents they might actually vanquish. In reality, those preaching the gospel of St. Bartleby lack the courage of their convictions; if they didn’t hang around the edges of the radical milieu and instead took their own advice, they wouldn’t be able to enjoy the effects of their critique; instead they keep the necrotizing body alive in order to savor the truth of their diagnosis. Few are fooled, of course, since investment in preaching hopelessness to the true believers of activism is its own opiate and its own distraction. If they didn’t doubt the wisdom of their own advice, they’d depart for good. But like Bartleby, they remain stubbornly encamped in the antilaw-offices of the radical milieu, weakly re-enacting their passive aggressions at each new turn of events, each new failure-to-come. This is a fundamentally therapeutic politics; a politics of feeling, that takes our own investments in things to be the problem; it proposes the dogma of certain failure as response to the pain of hope.

The most coherent of these contemporary nihilisms – the so-called Nihilist Communism of Monsieur Dupont – makes all of the above very clear. The authors (who use the collective pseudonym Monsieur Dupont) are to be commended for their comparative honesty and lucidity. What makes the authors interesting is that, unlike others who proudly claim the term nihilist, Monsieur Dupont believes that proletarian revolution is possible. However, such a revolution emerges as a fundamental discontinuity with all which precedes it; nothing we do or say today will hasten its arrival. The frantic to and fro of the active minority serves no purpose except to assuage our own anxieties and so the only meaningful response to activism’s “desperate injunction to press every button to save the world” is the Bartlebyan “I would prefer not to.” Once said, Monsieur Dupont confronts an immediate problem. If what they say makes no difference, why do they write at all? Some attempt to solve this apparent contradiction with reference to personal expression, enjoyment, the usefulness of the useless in an instrumentalized world, etc. But Dupont have a more sophisticated answer. The authors draw from the historical ultraleft a deep belief in political narratives of betrayal; they offer a cartoonish version of this story, in which proletarian self-activity was continually diverted, subverted, managed, contained and betrayed by the egoism, self-aggrandizement and incompetence of its would-be leaders. As such, while every attempt to hasten the arrival of such a revolution is useless today, tomorrow those selfsame activists will be an active hindrance. Therefore, the only meaningful activity that a group of communist writers can undertake in non-revolutionary times is to try to actively destroy the left, to neutralize their capacity to manage, contain or otherwise fuck-up revolutionary possibilities in the future (never mind the fact that “the left” committed suicide a few decades ago). All of this raises a deeper question: if the revolutionary proletariat that arises from some definitive future crisis can, in the view of Dupont, produce communism entirely on its own, without the meddling of intellectuals, professional revolutionaries, and other parasites, why can’t it also resist the usurpation of its would-be friends, evaluate and reject the bad theory and strategy it receives from the past, and otherwise think for itself? It is a curious political theory that treats a revolutionary class as both profoundly gullible, on the one hand, and possessed of a unique, essential genius, on the other. There is therefore no reason whatsoever for Monsieur Dupont to continue writing, on the terms they’ve set for themselves, a fact they seem to have realized, retreating into spasmodic and convoluted orations on modernist art.

Other approaches fare much worse in trying to confront the contradictions of this approach, though they present deeper ambitions. A popular recent tract, Desert, attempts to marry the Bartlebyan perspective to Green Anarchism. They offer a “simple realization – the world will not be ‘saved.’” As counter to a straw-man optimist, they bring the Bad News: “Global anarchist revolution is not going to happen. Global climate change is now unstoppable. We are not going to see the worldwide end to civilization/capitalism/patriarchy/authority.” They are right, of course, to stress that climate change is unstoppable. Any future revolution will have to contend with this, though it remains to be seen just how catastrophic its effects will be; it is of course true that different social structures will entail different mediations of its effects. Climate change is a social-natural phenomenon. But this seems as likely to be the cause of revolution – leaving aside for the moment the curious adjective “global” – as its foreclosure. The authors of Desert direct our attention to the psychic wounds that revolutionary hope produces, and propose, in its place, “active disillusionment.” But true disillusionment, the removal of all illusions, would not mean supplanting one false certainty with another, supplanting the certainty of triumph with the certainty of failure. This is an avoidance rather than acceptance of the uncertain. What the authors offer, then, is not disillusionment, but therapy. And it is a therapy likely to fail, inasmuch as the authors want to remain actively opposed to the world as it exists, a stance that will cause pain as long as the world remains a world of pain. The only true therapy would be the one that could somehow effect a readjustment of person to the world, an acceptance of the status-quo, a return to normal and an abandonment of all talk of struggle. The authors attempt to split the difference, however, by suggesting that we look for the kinds of tactics that might lead to modest, meager success. What results is a kind of “nihilist reformism,” an endorsement of partial, limited conservation struggles undertaken on an ethical basis, the creation of temporary zones of autonomy in unsettled places and frontiers where a few people might make a difference. They are therefore, despite their critique of activism, brought back to a fundamentally activist position.

The authors have no choice, of course, given their conclusions and assumptions. The most important of these assumptions is their commitment to the curiously ahistorical figure of the “anarchist” as the essential and determinative ingredient in meaningful revolution. Only anarchists – dedicated, self-conscious revolutionaries, opposed to capital and the state – can make an “anarchist” (that is, real) revolution. And because, as the authors conclude, anarchists will always be a minority, meaningful revolution is impossible. They devote one sentence to the obvious counter-argument here, the idea that anarchist (or antistate communist, as we think is largely synonymous) revolution can be made by people simply acting in response to the oppressions and miseries they encounter. Their argument: capitalism has indoctrinated people to prefer authoritarian and hierarchical structures. All “social movements” will always be thus. Never mind the obvious question of how “anarchists” become “anarchists.” Never mind the possibility that experience of struggle might provide the impetus for an education in anarchism, might cause people to draw anarchists conclusions, to look for answers in anarchists texts. Never mind the fact that anarchism was itself born from historical experience, and not the unbroken transmission of a line of elite humanity, passing their enlightened ideas from person to person. The argument is foolish, obviously, but it is also indicative of the fundamental voluntarism of so many anarchists, who for the most part remain incapable of thinking revolution or insurrection or anarchy as anything but the action of the right people with the right ideas. This can lead to the most aristocratic contempt for the common people, as with the nihilists of the “Conspiracy of Cells of Fire,” who lambast the “resignation of the exploited, their herd mentality, their collaboration with the system.” Drawing curiously from the language of Marxism, they describe capitalism “as a social relation in which all have their responsibility – and make or don’t make the choice to fight against it.” Once politics is submitted to the egodicy of choice, of the sovereign decision, it’s impossible to retain any sense of strategy. The spectacular bombings of the CCF and its associated groupings are simply personal expressions, declarations of “I exist” detached from any sense of purpose. Occasionally, these groups commit solidarity attacks in the name of other like-minded groups, but if these have a social meaning, they don’t have a political one. They have zero instrumental effect, and do nothing to help the imprisoned in Chile, Mexico, Indonesia, or wherever. They might as well send an email.

It’s worth noting that this view, the one that stresses consciousness and the meaningfulness of decision in the here and now, is diametrically opposed to the position of Dupont, the would-be colleauges in nihilism of groups like the CCF and the authors of Desert. Dupont, of course, who insists that conscious decision is entirely meaningless at present. And yet, beneath this apparent opposition, there is a shared structure of feeling. Whether one thinks that consciousness is all that matters, or it doesn’t matter at all, the result is the same, as one has failed to think consciousness and activity together. One has made one’s feelings, one’s attitudes, the object of politics. This kind of politics is therefore fundamentally moralizing, even when its emphasizes in a Nietzschean manner the transvaluation of all values. The questioning of value, the reduction of action to value, is not itself questioned. Hic nihil, hic salta.

*

Bartlebyan politics emerge, as often as not, from a recognition that resistance is a motive force within capitalism, that capitalism benefits from its loyal and disloyal antagonists by using them to induce the sort of meaningful systematic restructuring that it needs in order to respond to ever changing historical conditions, new forms of crisis. After such a recognition, withdrawal seems promising. “Bartleby, the Scrivener” is Melville’s reflection on this problematic, but it’s not his only reflection, and is best read, in our view, as an example of a failed response to such a dilemma. “Benito Cereno,” the story published after “Bartleby” in Piazza Tales, offers a very different strategic outlook. It is also a story of rebellion, based upon an actual slave uprising on a Spanish ship in 1805. The putative leader of this uprising, Babo, shares with Bartleby more than a similar-sounding name (both names might be transforms of the word “baby”). Like Bartleby, Babo exerts power from a position of presumed weakness. The story begins when the American captain of another ship, the Bachelor’s Delight, comes across the captured ship, San Dominick (the name of which suggests the colony of Santo Domingo, and the Haitian slave revolution which was broadly contemporaneous with the time of the story). Thinking the ship in distress, the captain of the Bachelor’s Delight, Amasa Delano, who narrates the story, boards the ship to offer his services. There the mutinous ex-slaves, under the direction of Babo, perform servitude and enslavement for Delano, pretending to follow the directions of the Captain Benito Cereno. Like Bartleby, the power of Babo and the other slaves is exerted from a feigned servility, and Babo, playing the part of Cereno’s personal servant controls him as a puppeteer might a marionette. Much of the drama of the story involves the narrator’s inability to read the scene, to interpret what he observes through the racial codes and logics of power of the US. Like the narrator of Bartleby, also American, and also characterized by a naïve trust in other humans, he fails to parse the ambiguities of what he sees according to established rubrics, just as Bartleby’s employer fails to parse the ambiguous utterance, “I would prefer not to.” Both Melville and Babo have a great deal of fun with the carnivalesque reversals and manipulations taking place on the page of “Benito Cereno” and on the deck of the San Dominick, presenting one of the ex-slaves, a former king, Atufal, in chains, where he is periodically brought before Benito Cereno, who asks if Atufal will apologize. Atufal refuses, proudly, of course, and so we have not only the performance of servility but the indication that servility can be no more than performance, that Atufal is possessed of a dignity and integrity indifferent to chains symbolic or otherwise. Then there is of course the scene in which Babo carefully shaves Cereno, performing a servile task that is, at every turn, a domination through threat of violence. On the bow of the ship, next to the figurehead on the bowsprit, cloaked in a sheet at the beginning of the story, are written the words “Seguid vuestro jefe” or “Follow your leader.” Later we learn that the slaves have hung the skeleton of their former owner on the bow, and put the phrase up as warning to the crew, lest they think of resisting.

The brilliance of the phrase is that it suspends the question of leadership – the “leader” might be Babo, Benito Cereno, or the dead slavetrader Aranda. The resistance on the San Dominick is illegible through the established protocols and hierarchies that Delano expects. There are no longer leaders and followers as we might come to expect; Babo and the other former slaves take power without occupying the place of power, and thus they avoid the risk of becoming their own owners, of becoming liberal subjects. In the place of the legal, self-possessing subject, some other identity and organization of identities emerges, at least for a while, and it is this that allows them to successfully fool the Europeans. It ends poorly, of course (Melville is a man of the 19th-century, after all, and one can at the same time read this story as the exposition and subtle enforcement of all sorts of white supremacist logics); the ex-slaves are defeated and Babo brought before a tribunal and hanged. Like Bartleby, Babo ends his days in stubborn refusal, in this case refusing all speech when questioned by the judges. As Captain Delano recounts, “His aspect seemed to say, since I cannot do deeds, I will not speak words.” This is many regards the exact opposite of Bartleby, who speaks words because he can do deeds but won’t. In Babo, we see a promising synthesis of passive refusal and active contestation, one that requires collective solidarity, cunning, active judgment, and discrimination. But there is no magic, here. This position risks failure as much as it risks success. There is more to come. Let’s keep our wits about us.

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Comments

The authors make the mistake of taking the nihilists seriously. Don't expect a serious response.

even nihilists can become disillusioned with "Bartlebyism", without hankering for activism or desiring to "go quietly into that good night".

heh! Fair enough but what I do take seriously is the mis-use of nihilism to rationalize a semi-conscious choice to curl up in your own little corner of the peanut gallery and masturbate while you wait for death.

I always viewed nihilist/egoist thought as very useful early on in development. It's essential for reflecting on your own autonomy, power, etc and then you have to rebuild your own reasons for doing things from scratch. It's a healthy developmental stage only.

After that, if you get stuck, it turns on you and I see evidence of "bartlebyism" in many of my friends/comrades. If you decide to retreat and just live your life as much on your terms as possible, all power to you but don't confuse that for meaningful activity. Don't pretend you're doing anything but quitting the field to lick your wounds, if you ever actually took any.

Many of the "egoists" here can't even claim the dignity of being the people this critique is aimed at because their idea of politics was always just about having some meaningless opinions in some irrelevant little backwater of the internet.

"If you decide to retreat and just live your life as much on your terms as possible, all power to you but don't confuse that for meaningful activity."

Why should the two be separate?

Exactly my point about you ziggy. I responded to you below. ;)

I'm not the one putting myself on some ideological battlefield here. Living your life on your own terms should be ALL that matters. This has been what anarchism has been a means to after all. If the wounds in battle turn out to make no sense and make the problems of authority and civilization worse then you stop going to war, unless it's YOUR war.

Yeah, that's the fundamental difference between everyone here that interests me … and your sad little self. You presume to lecture everybody on the obvious a lot too.

At its best, nihilist/egoist thinking asks significant, provoking questions. One does well to take a hammer to idols. The obvious danger, however, is that one easily winds up idolizing the hammer itself. Then comes the miserable spectacle of sanctimonious nihilists, egoists, anarchs, whom I like no better than sanctimonious organizers or so-called "unconscious" apologists for the ruling order.

"The obvious danger, however, is that one easily winds up idolizing the hammer itself."

Is largely empty rhetoric. The above tendencies you mention have plenty of orientation beyond the hammer. If you look at the historical practices of individualist (Stirnerian)anarchism(anarchy), they have arguably left behind a better, more inspiring trail of anarchic practices in regards to life and activity.

The anarchists that contort themselves toward affection beyond the interests of anarchy and affinity are the ones that tend to recreate the modern form of relations.

Maybe you've got it backwards... it seems to me that the hammer is the empty rhetoric, and the one wielding it is you. At the risk of going back to the game where people try to get you to give a concrete example of concrete activity that you think is worthwhile, I'm curious what the historical practices you're referring to are. If you can spell them out, it would be much easier to feel that you are talking about real-world activity.

Go look up any historical individualist anarchist practice(the classics for one) and the attempt to create parallel counter societal structures as opposed to contorting themselves to movement and organization.

Some of the bioregional ideas come to mind(like what seaweed is doing). I've mentioned these things countless times. What I am against is any anarchic orientation based on elective positions and proposed solutions.

But you're doing it again, where somebody asks you for an example of what you're in favor of, and you refuse to give even a single example of any activity--at best, your ideas are vaguely in favor of somebody else's ideas, but the rubber never meets the road. isn't that pure gaseous ideology? It's not complicated--you could be like, one time somebody put on a benefit show for an ELF arrestee, and I thought that was cool. Just something, anything, to show you're not a bot but a living breathing person who does things three dimensional space. It would bring conversation with you down to earth in a way that could be nice, I think.

You're actually the one that's doing it again. When you bring up this silly question about 'favor of' or 'endorsing' I assume it to be a general set of practices.

But OK anon if this will put your stupid question to rest...remember that human community bioregional project announcement that spawned the rich benefactor cow milking meme???

There, you have your answer.

Too easy to say it's "idolizing the hammer" at the point that it's your idols the ones that are busted.

Doesn't it bother you that the hammer has everywhere left the ruling idols in tact?

Devouring Nietzsche in my early twenties whetted my appetite for anarchy. A decade later, I still admire the Novatores, Filippis, and Bonnots of "the tradition". Nevertheless I no longer envy their tragic heroism or desire to follow in their lofty steps. I'm not eager for prison or death. Dim to non-existent as the prospects of insurrection are in the atomized USA, that's still my desire. Is it another busted idol? Sure. I don't anticipate it and don't bother to worship it. All the same, I take little pleasure in the available prospects: their wretchedness is clear.

I don't think there should be performative expectations to live to their unique temperaments. Also, those men came from more precarious pre new deal(s)/restoration periods. Bad times can help to create such men/women. Perhaps with precarious existence returning we will see a return of those archetypes.

Also, language and belief structure is why the ruling idols are still intact. No matter how unique an individual, he/she cannot move that, only manuever around it in subversive or confrontational ways or remove themselves altogether.

It has left them completly destroyed.

Few have held the hammer, you see..

Well I, for one, enjoyed your wordplay. And I do in fact remember thinking - and saying - very similar stuff about the budding CA i@ scene in 2009. Man, did they hate that.

There is an anarchic orientation to be pursued beyond Bartleby, unfortunately the above writing does not offer it.

For one thing, I see Bartleby and Babo as complimentary and the orientation one chooses to take between the two is ultimately down to temperament, and temperament cannot be conditioned by politics of any kind.

Bartleby for me is a proto-insurgent of sorts. A potential silent insurgent and insurrection as a whole-in the Stirnerian sense-can house both perspectives and temperaments. Insurrection is something that should be pleomorphically situational as far as tactics and temperament go.

The thing about Babo is that what he was a part of essentially amounted to a TAZ. Nothing wrong with that at all, but not something something that is likely to be generalized(outside of a major change in sociobehavioral language) or weighted with performative expectations. Resistance like that should be placed on the qualitative margins and certainly celebrated when and where possible.

On Dupont, I actually agree to a point. There is a similar critique leveled by Bob Black in Anarchy 70/71 which I by and large agree with though I think there is a bit more to the ideas beyond that book. I've read some of the main guys writings outside of nihicom which are interesting in their pessimism of revolutionary antics. What he sees as problematic for revolution I see as pertaining more to insurrection and general existing anarchy which I see as a problem largely of language and behavioral feedback loops. The point he tends to make is that humans will always fall back on their habits, and our behavioral habits as of right now are not anarchic in the least on any general level.

As to Desert, the problem with the above critique is that while the orientation in Desert may indirectly feed into an activist orientation, what the above offers would likely lead to more of it not less. Where I would disagree with them-in a similar vein to my disagreement with Dupont-is that insurrection should be the focal point not revolution which is simply just power players. Anarchists/Anarchs are made for insurrection not revolution. Also, the becoming of anarchists is not rooted to historical processes. It is a timeless expression beyond history. Anarchism maybe historical, but anarchy certainly isn't. When you try to marry anarchic expression in a quantitative direction you essentially dilute the idea of it. It's not so much a question of the 'right' people as much as it is about quality and scale. Anarchy does not do well in the realm of attempted general affection and propaganda.

"One has made one’s feelings, one’s attitudes, the object of politics. This kind of politics is therefore fundamentally moralizing,..."

I don't want to make anything the object of politics.

And yet you still do. Many times, you've suggested how typing shit here is your "activity". Nothing but one more fetal-position in the peanut gallery with delusions of grandeur. Perhaps that's why this article resonates?

I don't see how I can have any delusions of grandeur when it comes to being realistic about anarchic affection anon. I don't see how typing things here constitutes politics in anyway.

It doesn't. Again, that's my point.

That's not how I read "and yet you still do" but no posting here doesn't constitute politicss

No, it's just self-evidently a huge chunk of how you spend your time, therefore, a significant portion of what passes for your "political activity". Or are you secretly running a volunteer day-care for egoist war-orphans while you troll? Feel free to surprise me.

this article is fucking excellent.

"...the removal of all illusions would not mean supplanting one false certainty with another, supplanting the certainty of triumph with the certainty of failure."

Thank god someone finally said this--Im sick of listening to the pessimistic defeatism of most of my comrades, as if the only alternative to activism and the Left was an isolated high ground of critique and solitary action.

i dont get it, is this nigga saying nihilists are christian

millenarian jews

Excellent critique, thank you. This is basically a materialist critique of the subjectivism/voluntarism/ahistoricism inherent in anarchism but only exaggerated in its 'Bartlebyist' forms. Whatever its other weaknesses, I do not see such bartlebyist tendencies within anti-state/libertarian communist currents.

The connection of Barltebyism with Thoreau is interesting and persuasive. Though the author is silent on primitivist and anti-civ thought, I would argue these also strongly exhibit this trend, though without necessarily disavowing the aspiration towards (ahistorically concieved) communism -- unlike the egoist/nihilist/post-left groups which reject a communist or any other form of society/organization as inherently alienating (thus idealistically equating objectivity and alienation). Unfortunately all exhibit a distasteful elitism and misanthropy, stemming from mistaken theoretical assumptions identified in the article.

I would only add that 'Bartlebyism' within radical mileus mirrors the wider cultural shift towards ethics following upon the defeated political movements of the late 60s. The Stirnerian celebration of subjectivity isolated from history and society is merely the poor anarchist's version of pomo nietzschism. Bartlebyism is the anarchist interpretation of this ideologization of a certain period of defeat.

Has been with anarchism since Novatore, it's not recent, just differently formulated.

Wow, this is a great critique.I especially enjoyed the section on NiCom (which I used to find very convincing). The CCF critique is exactly how I've always felt about them, though not necessarily about their supposed "meaningless" actions. While "sending an email" might do just as much as some form of violent direct action, the latter is much more fun don't you think? Nonetheless, I very much agree with the critique of how the CCF express themselves as some sort of "revolutionary aristocracy" with only disdain for the supposed common herd of passive sheep. All in all, I've enjoyed reading this, thanks.

The article only says that CCF actions are politically and socially (superficially, i would add) meaningless, not personally meaningless and as such possibly "fun", which is obviously a pathetic criterion for radical action.

not my rev if it isnt fun.

Yes I agree, but the author says that CCF could simply have "sent an email" to get their message across and it would have the same effect as some of their radical actions (hence, politically and socially meaningless). The point being, if two different actions are equally ludicrous , why not pick the more exciting one over the banal? I'm not in anyway trying to justify CCF's actions (I personally agree with the author), but we are talking about a self-described nihilist group here. They probably don't even give a shit if people understand their "message" anyway.

i guess it depends on your definition of "exciting" and "fun", ascetic underground life and prison martyrdom isn't my bag though.

Uhh..you both don't know CCF and therefore don't know what you are talking about. CCF has plenty of communiques so you can read them and figure this out. If this conversation was to go in a better direction, it would be to link to CCF communiques that are an example of what you are saying and compare to how these particular actions amount to what this academic wannabe had to say. I'm sick of these professional leeches sucking the life out of social movements.

y'know, the part that says "The putative leader of this uprising, Babo, shares with Bartleby more than a similar-sounding name (both names might be transforms of the word “baby”)" -- well, sir, that was when I started laughing out loud. O those academics and their hijinks!

Can it be argued, and please correct me if I'm wrong, that "Nihilist" anarchists, at least the defeatist variety, are simply philosophical anarchists? In other words, does not taking action (i.e. participating in material forms of struggle, both collectively and individually) allow anyone to claim the moniker "anarchist?" For example, can a Hedge Fund manager be an anarchist philosophically, therefore identifying as an anarchist, even though their daily actions seem quite the contrary?

Don't talk shit about me like I don't read a-news anymore now that I'm a hedge fund manager. You piece of shit. None of us knows any better than any other how to bring the system down. Anarchists don't create the insurrection, we just wait for it. Why should I be banging my head against a jail cell when I could be living comfortably in the meantime?

Ha! It's like there was 2 ziggys or emiles for a second. Good one!

I think Dupont actually *did* stop writing, at least for the political milieus? Wasn't "Nih Com" their "mic drop" after a long time involved in @/ultra left stuff in England?

The better half of Dupont who went on to write Species Being and Other Stories. You can find him elsewhere as well. Here's his twitter and blog(s)

twitter.com/A_Certain_Plume?lang=en

http://insipidities.blogspot.ca/

whoa thanks for the links ziggy, I disagree a lot of shit you say, but I'm still finding you desirable.

Feelings, attitudes, and personal evaluations don't a morality make. Morality may be something that targets the fears, anxieties, and sensed indignities of individuals; but, it functions by offering something transcendent (something beyond subjectivity) to elevate its conclusions. Personal values can lead to an ethics: a logic of decision-making. That ethics can also lead to a politics: a shared logic of social decision-making. Although a discussion of defeat often opens up a broader discussion of doubts, defeatism doesn't need to be the result of broadly doubting the assertions of revolutionary activists.

The resigned, aloof, associating-through-doubt, ego-centric mentality is prevalent enough amongst anarchists. Burnout exists and it manifests with the moods, orientations, and dismissals outlined in this piece; however, I think it's a mistake to solely credit the post-left, nihilist, and egoist individuals for the contemporary malaise. I think it's more likely that they stand out as individuals who make it more difficult to let go of a sense of defeat/etc. that a lot of us face. That they're more memorable interlocutors for a much more inclusive experience of hopelessness.

It would be helpful if "activism" was defined more explicitly for this piece. If the notion of a "social movement" was supported with examples. I'm not sure if those terms are being used so loosely as to include or exclude (social) activity that comes from the supposed Bartlebys. I'm also not sure if this piece is outlining a correlation between Bartlebyism and post-Left/nihilist/egoist theory; or, if there are particular causal connections that I didn't address already.

What thoughts do you have considering this Bartlebyism next to something just as much about personal value and personal ethic, as the Revolution of Everyday Life? For example, this quote:

“People who talk about revolution and class struggle without referring explicitly to everyday life, without understanding what is subversive about love and what is positive in the refusal of constraints, such people have a corpse in their mouth”

― Raoul Vaneigem

Your posts are generally quite good by the way. This is better articulated than my own post above, basically that "bartlebyism" is only interesting in the sense that we lose people to it who have more potential which will presumably go to waste if they become resigned to wallowing in pointless egoism. The worst tendencies of nihilism pull in previously active anarchists and neutralize them, so effectively so that one wonders at least a little about conspiracies. As for the nihilists who never were active in the first place, they're just another brick in the wall of meaningless noise that is the internet.

There aren't many authors who can communicate as clearly as this. Thank you whoever you are.

Dupont undoubtedly appear sophisticated and clever, but their base ideas are outdated; soft on industrialism and technology ( therefore soft on work), soft on mass society (urban living), soft on direct democracy as seen through their implied acceptance of various councils, soft on elitism, soft on Marxism and isms generally. Dupont basically advocates waiting -(for proletarian revolution) because no activity can create revolution (it requires specific objective conditions) and revolution is all we want, therefore everything else is sort of pointless. In fact wasn't it Dupont who popularized the expression "pro-revolutionaries" as an accurate descriptive term for true radicals/anarchists/communists etc.? But anarchs want insurrections, upheavals, festivals of destruction that celebrate new possibilities, not a Marxist conception of a final revolution based in some all encompassing philosophical pseudo-scientific theory. Are there really many contemporary anarchists who are yearning for revolution as the utopian end of history that Dupont seems to still believe in?

One thing I disagree with is the binary between withdrawal and resistance that the authors seem to hold, although I might be wrong about their take on this. Since Seaweed was mentioned here is from his book:

On Withdrawal- withdraw to organize withdraw to attack withdraw to experience communal subsistence insurgency and withdrawal can coexist withdraw to train (in martial skills) withdraw to heal withdraw now to attack later

...and there are few commenters that can communicate this well. Thanks for your comments on what anarchists want. Oh wait, you said "anarch", so you are talking about your right wing ideas which don't actually exist and don't actually do anything. Are you conceding to Sir Einzige too? Is "anarch" described anywhere that isn't some archaic mystified rubbish that needs a priest to interpret?

As I've imagined it, is really just a more concise way of saying, Stirnerian based individualist anarchist as well as being a congruent conjoining word to anarchy. I'm glad to see the term has a bit of traction, even if other people might have different idea of the term then I do.

Also, it ain't right wing.

Well, what is it then? I've talked with Stirner anarchists for quite some time and this term is more something you are going on about. Has anyone since Stirner elaborated the term?

I agree that he puts too much currency in revolution. For one thing the authenticating event that he imagines would need a lot more then a revolution. He has talked about a tragic event that would have to level away this existing order combined with an unprecedented level of forgetting that would have to take place for his idea of communism to become a reality. I actually agree that a tragic meteoric event like that would have to happen to have a general effect of ushering out leviathan, history, and civilization however, that is a whole lot bigger then a revolution.

I do think he has moved on from Nihcom if you have read his other writings. As far as prorevolutionaries go, he did seem to popularize it. I actually think one of the first people who had an idea like that was Novatore. If you read TTCN he talks about revolution being something that base needs to do to free themselves. He conceives it in an aristocratic/slave sort of a way. The revolution is what those below do, but the men of higher minds inject insurrection into revolution.

As to resistance, I prefer the idea of resilience. Resistance is fine at the margins but you don't want to make it your prime mode of taking on this reality. Resilience to me is more congruent to what Seaweed(who I quite like) is proposing.

What is resilience and how is that different that what people do anyway?

the point of nihilism is to a) acknowledge that nothing that has been tried has worked. b) that we don't know (therefore) what would/will work. c) that it's entirely possible then that nothing (or at *least* nothing that we're capable of--which surely amounts to the same thing) *will* work. d) and that whatever action we take is in the face of that knowledge.
some people think of that as a defeatist attitude (frequently the people like zerzan or apparently the authors of this piece who are still rallying for "revolution").
i consider it a call to bravery and beauty.
ymmv.

In addition to dot's bravery and beauty, I'd add the real risk of unforeseen possibility. I think this is part of what scandalizes/terrorizes the anti-pessimists -- that there could be consequences of pessimisms and refusals taking place outside programs and prescriptions (ie, that their role as leaders/vanguards/guides/influential militants can also be refused).

Also, I find it rather annoying when otherwise intelligent people invoke fiction (no matter how good it might be) as illustrative and/or paradigmatic of actual people and tendencies.

^^And agreed

… and as someone completely on the other side of this issue, I was never opposed to anyone's pessimism. It's the arrogance of taking your own "therapy" as the article calls it, where you process your own failings and mortal limitations, and then confuse that for some sort of polemic against all the efforts of everyone else, past, present and future.

Any argument that we can't know what is or isn't possible (as dot mentions) cuts both ways. Therefore, if you're resigned to just trying to get by in the world, THAT'S FINE, I'M NOT JUDGING YOU so you can stop being defensive about it. I just don't see any point in trumpeting arguments about the futility of it all, except to make yourself feel better.

The "therapy" in the essay and your conflation of that with some kind of polemical attack against earnest struggle is a straw person; not everyone -- indeed, I'd say hardly anyone -- who refuses optimism fits into the self-serving Search and Destroy caricature.

I'm not conflating at all, I'm watching those tendencies make that point over and over again on this site. I don't have to do the conflating, they do it for me. Either these folks tried to "effect change" and it didn't work, or they never even really tried and then they spend countless hours here arguing that everyone else should be just as unwilling to do any work. They "caricature" themselves to the point where you can't even tell who's trolling and who's sincere.

I'm a pessimist who's still willing to do a bit of work if it's worth doing, that's all.

no one knows what people do here when they're not on here. the assumption that those who post here don't do anything else is lazy thinking and presumptuous.
and who is saying we shouldn't do any "work"?
you're a pessimist who logical-fallacies.
"what's worth doing" is open to interpretation, which is THE ENTIRE POINT.

Your formulation makes it sound like your opinion is a historical fact. It would be more accurate to say : nihilists believe that nothing that has been tried..etc.

Actually, I guess it depends on what you are trying to make work-is it the complete destruction of all authoritarian and impersonal institutions no matter their scale everywhere on the planet? Or not only their destruction but it must be followed by an infinity of anarchic festivals? Or just enough successes to stop the leviathan from spreading and then beating it back until it only remains as a relatively powerless set of beliefs and weak institutions that it might hopefully never again establish itself over the entire planet? or..?

By my reading of history there have been countless examples of success. And it always seems to come down to a combination of resisting and withdrawing.

The Sentinilese embedded themselves on an island and then succeeded by killing everyone who came to visit/invade. Others withdrew deep into forests and deserts and frozen archipelagos. Some planned for years and then attacked (zapatistas) others (all over north america, europe, africa)immediately fought back against their invaders and as a result remained free for generations. Others took advantage of a generalized social upheaval ( ukrainian anarchs) or even had a hand in instigating it ( spanish anarchs, Zapata).

maybe i am missing something, but people desiring to be free individuals banding together with others to fight against whatever institutions/ideologies prevent them from being free seems to be what has worked and will work again. That is if by 'work' we mean taking control of our lives for some period of time, making our lives causes sufficient unto themselves, experiencing degrees of anarchy, etc. Sure we need to heal and analyze and propagandize, but it will be by trying to re-appropriate and fight for our lives in small scale collectivities (temporary or permanent based on whatever affinity) that real possibilities will emerge as these little fighting bands/villages/neighborhoods/reservations (groups that withdraw and attack) coalesce.

Just because the freedom that the various indigenous tribes and clans or anarchist experimenters won didn't last forever doesn't mean that they failed.

Yes, and yes. It's possible to say that "everyone always failed" only by defining the terms thus. Nietzsche et al. would ask what it means about a person to define failure as that which they (and all) always do, or vice versa. Definitely not the article of faith I'd like to begin from, myself.

without saying.
we could all be wrong.
all i have to go on is my own life and the lives of people i know and hear about (who have tried multiple instances of "small scale collectivities based on whatever affinity").
as an ANARCHIST i am only interested in the complete destruction of the system. it's become crystal clear that anything less than complete destruction allows the vast machine, the leviathan, to become stronger.
they learn from us better than we learn from them.
bravery and beauty is what i would say was/is being demonstrated by the people you refer to, and my aim for my life as well, but it has little to do with the success of anarchy or anarchist goals.
but this will probably be my last point here. i have no interest in convincing anyone that my perspective is correct, especially when people feel a need to hold on to positive things in order to keep getting up in the morning. (or at night. ;) )

But you are still using old phrases that don't give any picture of what you are talking about/aiming for-i.e. - " the complete destruction of the system". That's a rather meaningless expression to anyone but yourself, isn't it? The capitalist system or all economics? This social order or all social orders? western/capitalist civilization or civilization as such? Every single instance of political hierarchy or just instances where it has the scale and expressed interest to engage in imperial conquests? Will anarchs have to go deep into every nook and cranny of human settlements looking for coercion/domestication/domination and eradicate them until there isn't an iota left, is that what you mean? The devil is in the details. I guess your expression could mean just too many things to even debate or consider. i wish you would flesh it out. For myself I am aiming to liberate the place where I live to whatever extent possible, by various strategies and tactics. That way I get to enjoy whatever embers or glimpses of anarchy i might be lucky enough to experience while at the same time hoping that others are doing the same where they live so that one day, at least theoretically, all these efforts might coalesce.

"bravery and beauty" have "little to do with the success of anarchy or anarchist goals"...I would say the opposite-we are after all talking about the "beautiful idea" and it will certainly take extraordinary acts of bravery to realize it to any degree.

we're both using jargon, and our jargon is sufficient (at least mine is, i assume yours is too) for the points we're trying to make--which in my case is one about a necessary scale.

as for your last paragraph, perhaps i was unclear. i'm not saying that courage and beauty are irrelevant to the success of some significant change in an anarchist direction, i'm saying that they have not been *enough* for the change i want to see.

Why is it that "bartlebyism" even warrants critique? "Bartlebyists" put forward various theoretical interventions (e.g. M. Dupont's NiCom "mic drop") and created discussion within a milieu. Let it be. I'm scared that this piece suggests the construction of a program aimed at something that never was. Anarchists do not need a rallying cry. Anarchists have not been misguided, or co-opted by tainted theory. Anarchists engage in political forms only when political forms serve anarchists. Anarchist critique should active, not retrospective.

Adding on to these last few comments, I think this article does set up a bit of a straw-man. Nihilist Communism is an interesting book, and Desert is a nice read too, but I don't think you can strictly correlate nihilist tendencies with these texts- in the Bay or elsewhere.

Its also fascinating that the Bay Area authors don't seek to examine any sort of connection between the unrest and riots that have happened in the Bay and the nihilists in the area. I'm not saying there IS a connection, and I'm certainly not asking for specifics, but couldn't it be seen as bad-faith to ignore certain nihilistic features to what's flared up in the Bay over the past few years? You could raise the same question in Baltimore and Ferguson, and we should raise those questions.

I'm not buying the whole "miserableism" thing- it seems more like a slur directed at political rivals. What are the underlying tensions here- is it a social perspective on anarchy versus an individualist one?

Also, I think saying that CCF actions in solidarity with other nihilists/rebel peeps are "meaningless" is condescending. I'm not being a sycophant, I'm just saying "hey- why are you belittling these actions? Why strip them of context?"

I think there should be some sort of fuller, broader response to this text from the nihilist/individualist milieu but I don't know if I'm up for it. These are just some of my initial thoughts.

The quote-unquote "unrest" in the SF Bay Area is teeny-weenie little outbreaks that go ignored by a high ninety percent of every last exploited/dispossessed person in the Bay Area.

Oh, yeah, yawn, Vaneigem:

"People who talk about revolution and class struggle without referring explicitly to everyday life, without understanding what is subversive about love and what is positive in the refusal of constraints, such people have a corpse in their mouth”

― Raoul Vaneigem

The old feller was crashing in the same apartment as I was in Barcelona's Poblenou neighborhood last spring. He's completely abandoned all concern with class struggle and society-wide revolution, so his hippie-shit quote above can be clearly understood as a step -- maybe a stumble -- on the road to Hippie'd out disengagement.

So are you classifying that also as Bartlebyism? The point of the quote and the mention is that it's a different approach to theory than nihilism, egoism, and post-left.

Was the fact that they did not come from that class war materialist nonsense, their foundations were aesthetic not political-economic.

I say it's time to reformulate these things for the 21st century.

"He's completely abandoned all concern with class struggle and society-wide revolution,"

Good for Raoul, old age brings experience and common sense evaluation to 160 plus years of failure which Kevin wants to continue indulging in

I posted the above comment and not the situationist quote.

I think it's really dimissive to say that 90% of people were affected by unrest in the Bay. you're taking it out of the context... Riots in Ferguson, big protests in NYC... more recently the stuff in Baltimore.

why look at these things in isolation?

not meant as a reply for you SE, but whoever it was that dismissed the unrest mentioned in original comment

So my guess is this is a call to form the One Big Union. Join the IWW comrades. Let's organize the industrial proletariat!

but active nihilism you dumb shits!?

Although I think a pretty good argument for a(n anti-)politics of ennui could be made.

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