Retiring the poor old A-word

  • Posted on: 7 May 2017
  • By: thecollective

From The Match!, Issue No. 116, Summer 2017

From the Editor

About 68% of my life span has gone into the publication of this journal, up to now. That's not an easy figure to achieve, believe me. It means that The Match has been coming out for about 20% of the entire time that the USA has existed and about 1.6% of the time that the pyramids have stood. I hope it lasts a lot longer and I'm going to do my best to see that it does.

It's been an Anarchist journal all this time and that's how it's going to stay. But after this present issue, I'm dropping the word "Anarchist". It pains me to do it, but it's time. I'd hoped that prefacing the A-word with "ethical" would rehabilitate it enough, or distance this magazine enough from the unethical or nonethical version, but it hasn't, and considering how the milieu has changed, I'm embarrassed to use it anymore.

I've never believed in majority rule in general, but in usages there's no alternative. If you're reading a manuscript written in Paris in the year 1100 it's no use frowning at how bad the fellow's Latin is if he wasn't writing Latin at all, but perfectly good Old French. Spanish, Portuguese, and Roumanian aren't ungrammatical or ignorant Latin either; they're whole new languages.

I don't know where they stopped being Latin, and I don't know where Anarchism stopped being what it was, but I do know that continuing to label this journal as Anarchist is the same as speaking an obsolete language that few understand anymore.

This isn't the first time this has happened either; 45 years ago we Anarchists were also known as "libertarians", but we had to abandon that one when the right-wing profit-and-contract-worshippers took it over, which illuminates the unavoidable fact that it's dangerous to use any label. Even if it doesn't change meaning naturally in the course of years, it can be made deliberately to do so - and if both processes operate all you can do eventually is bow and move out of the way.

In physics of course it's a principle that motion is relative, so some meteorite may for all we know be stopped in space when our planet runs into it, but from our frame of reference it is more convenient to ascribe to it the high velocity with which it shows up and plows into the ground. I'm pretty sure that the Match still stands for what it always has, and that it's other Anarchists that have moved, but I'd bet money that it will be no time at all before I hear them yelling that it's the other way around.

Basically, what I conceive this magazine as standing for is the basic desire of human beings and other sentient animals to be let alone, to be free of interference or infliction of pain or oppression or control. I regard the principle of government - authoritarianism - as an outrage. I don't want to be pushed around or censored or silenced, and I don't want to do these things to someone else. Defensive violence is justifiable, but it should never be more than a regrettable necessity. If people want to say something we object to, let them say it. Blast them with criticism and ridicule later, but don't try to shut them up; otherwise why shouldn't the same oppression be carried out against US with just as much justification?


This, however, is not what I'm seeing in many other Anarchists anymore. There's a routine attitude now that if "we" (that is, some mob, of which I am not a part and will never be a part) decide that someone is objectionable, it's okay to keep him from speaking or being heard. It's okay to smash other people's property just because we feel contempt for them or their values.

I'm starting to see a large amount of this stuff. Here's a picture in the New York Times of Anarchists in action: faces masked, legs braced at extreme angles as they hurl big rocks at someone or something. Here's a slick magazine calling itself Anarchist (as well as a regular laundry-list of other politically-correct things) that carries an article gloatingly recommending a plan to shut down major highways by dropping off large containers in traffic lanes. People could be killed by that! They brag and snigger about macho escapades to sabotage braking systems on huge vehicles - again without apparent or perceptible concern for lives.

Humane decency, which ought to be the heart of Anarchism, has largely gotten replaced by these recitations of ideological "stances": against racism, sexism, classism, "transphobia", and so on. At the same time there's no rejection of random theft, shop-lifting or even arson if some kind of rationale about "the environment" or some other sanctimoniously defined entity can be invoked. As an example of this, here's some language from a recent publication that as far as I'm concerned could just as well be a manifesto from the Hitler Youth:

"They can't stop us; why break windows? The attack is the most beautiful moments (sic) an anarchist can undertake. Feeling the adrenaline of rushing to a window with a rock in hand, or the moments before striking a cop with your fist... The attack is an experience unlike any other, one many of us desire to experience, and many of us have experienced. We get tingles and a rush of adrenaline just thinking about it...

"At this point in history we have reached an interesting rock and hard place with lines blurred between right and wrong, where the liberal fog of non-violent 'resistance' is but a facade fewer and fewer individuals are upholding. A time when Molotov cocktails have been thrown in America. A time where it feels as if nihilist anarchism is growing in popularity. A time where Murray Bookchin's ideas have actually inspired a revolution...

"The anarchist tension is not defined by the destructive and tyrannical relationship between the worker and the boss, rather it is defined by the bullet lodged in the boss's head as the worker runs in gleeful hurry to the nearest safehouse...

"The smashing of a window, like all acts of resistance, is as exciting as it is risky. The adrenaline of running up to a window and smacking it with a flag is an experience unlike those which we commonly experience... Tagging 'fuck gentrification' on the wall of that new coffee shop is nothing in comparison to smashing its windows out during a riot or a small and simple attach with friends! Smashing a window is the most intense form of attack and tension building you can do without facing too much legal repercussions. Smashing a window is also ridiculously easy... also a very popular, and very effective actualization of propaganda by the deed. I would not be writing this if it wasn't for an anarchist smashing a window in front of me. How exciting and fun that looked! I kept hearing chants of "Anarchy now!" as well, so of course I went to google...

"...Feel what it is like to resist and fight back as an individual, take power for yourself and throw the brick!"


Sure, sure, I KNOW that that is the authentic voice of the police provocateur and probably actually IS one. But here's my point: It's either what it purports to be (an "Anarchist" who doesn't even realize that he's a thug that Mussolini would have been proud to have in the phalanx), OR it's a laughing undercover police bastard who gets coached and paid - and both possibilities show that Anarchism has failed.

Our movement either has actually gone in this rotten and criminal direction, or it is so appallingly ineffectual that it cannot prevent even the most transparent deliberate discreditations. There's no other way of putting a spin on this reality: Anarchism as a political or anti-political entity with a name, has failed, and the name itself now signals, more often than not, something that no thoughtful or ethical person should want to be associated with.

The publication I just quoted is financed by a state university and it has had, for years, a fair-sized budget - certainly larger than our own or that of any other real Anarchist publication that I've ever known about. The magazine is called The Student Insurgent, and a statement in it says that it's published by "a horizontal editorial collective" (whatever that is) at Oregon State University, in Eugene. A guess would be that "horizontal" means there is no "hierarchy", or vertical structure, so no one person at any time can bring sober knowledge to bear, and the result is that tyranny of structurelessness which I would call a mob. Financing - from a state body, needless to reiterate - has varied from $17,645 to $22,222 per year in past years, according to public records. The publication is supposed to do some of its own fundraising, but in a recent year it reportedly generated on its own, either from readers or from someone else, less than $100.

Yet with this ridiculously slight, horrendously flawed financial base there can spring vicious propaganda capable of undoing others' work of lifetimes - and this is by no means the only such project systematically undercutting and smashing identifiable Anarchism. Aside from the outright libels against Anarchism (or Atheism, we might add) made openly by interested authorities or the religious, purported Anarchist works themselves have included mysteriously financed periodicals repeatedly advocating the bludgeoning to death of utterly harmless animals, the engaging of adults in sexual acts with small children, the lauding of racist criminal gangs like the Black Panthers, bank robbery, vandalism, censorship, intimidation, and routine theft.

Proclamations ABOUT Anarchism radiate from giant media outlets, and actual Anarchists cannot contest them. Thus a powerful New York magazine can claim that a baffling newcomer whose salary is paid by yet another university is now the "spokesman" for this philosophy. A marx-esque linguistic jargonizer paid by a different one draws huge crowds as our unelected representative as he blasts "capitalism" while whole shelves of his tortuous books keep lengthening - courtesy of big publishers.

The Anarchist milieu is itself dominated by exclusive inherited-money outfits like AK Press who practice systematic exclusion; and weird European entities such as the International Center for Research on Anarchism dedicatedly exclude publications like The Match from their library or listings while the Alternative Press Index makes sure that U.S. libraries are efficiently barred for decades on end from hearing about our own existence. This then results in further exclusion like the University of California's recent book on U.S. Anarchism in the 20th Century that omits even the slightest reference to our 48 years of work in this area; and of course THAT will then metasize into other articles and books that are similarly made to see Anarchism in a bluntly maneuvered way.

ALL Anarchism isn't this censored, slyly managed, or gutterized version, but for every responsible and scholarly project like the Anarchosyndicalist Review there's always some number of Open Roads or Green Anarchists with the graphics of machine-guns and fists in the air and circled A's.

It has become so irresponsible and arrogant that book-fairs are dying or cancelling because no one wants to host them or provide a venue. In England a recent one concluded with a mass of people emerging at the end of the day, and as someone suddenly "became offended" at some matter, a small riot ensued. In San Francisco the usual Spring book-fair has been cancelled indefinitely due to, we believe, inability to find a venue, which is not surprising. No public event for or of Anarchists anymore can proceed without the probability of identically-clad (in black), masked "black bloc" street thugs who are invariably identified either by themselves or the press or both, as Anarchists, mobbing in and "fucking shit up" for no discernible or justifiable reason.

So I'm retiring the poor old A-word, and I intend for The Match to go on for a good long time more without it, though not without regrets and a certain nostalgia for it, and the inescapable feeling of having, in some sense, partially misspent a non-refundable 68 percent.


The Match! has no internet presence. To contact them write to:

The Match! Post Office Box 3012, Tuscon, Arizona 85702.



Like the energizer bunny.

Old heads, please don't embarrass anarchism with your liberalism. "Anarchists are the real fascists." Where have I heard that tired platitude before? Glad to have you gone, don't let the door hit you on the way out!

It is not outside the realm of possibility for both people who call themselves "anarchists" to be stupid and authoritarian in addition to right-wingers being stupid and authoritarian. One does not preclude the other.

Yes, but if Fred Woodworth had called them "stupid authoritarian anarchists", I bet you would have simply dismissed him as a liberal.

This editorial came off as someone who wanted to take his marbles and go home, or as a senior citizen yelling at kids to get off his lawn. It's cynical, but not without at least some merit.

I am doing a necromantic spell to revive Stirner just so he can shit all over The Match and take your "responsible and scholarly project like the Anarchosyndicalist Review" and shove them up their asses.

You publish a newsletter your personally produce all the content for, on antiquated machinery, writing just about your own persona views on whatever feels right to you at the moment, have no personal name recognition or apparent expertise on any subject area at all, and pointedly decline internet presence, and cry that no one knows who you are. Motherfucker, your zine is a blog I can't see online but you'll print out and mail to me if I pay you, and in the end is just ramblings by an unrecognizable nobody with no apparent expertise in any area. Lots of people work hard on their own personal tumblr of deep, personal thoughts--why would anyone give a fuck about your own intentionally and deliberately obscure pissings? Oh no, AK press is censoring me!

The Match is free to anybody who requests it. Just write to that PO Box if you want to read it. The Match is an offline publication because the editor believes that computer technology makes people dependent and stupid, so he is taking the principled position of avoiding using computers. The entire publication is produced without the use of computer technology.

The Match has also been continuously published since 1969, making it perhaps the longest-running explicitly anarchist publication up until now. Presumably the editor, Fred Woodworth, has "expertise" in anarchism, since he has been around for so long. But you will have to write to him and ask him yourself if you want to have a more accurate assessment on what his "expertise" may be in.

Well his polemic reads like a law-and-order liberal talking about broken-window theory.

Almost every single subject he raises shows terrible analysis. His expertise certainly isn't contemporary anarchism.

"The Match has also been continuously published since 1969, making it perhaps the longest-running explicitly anarchist publication up until now. Presumably the editor, Fred Woodworth, has "expertise" in anarchism, since he has been around for so long."

The Fifth Estate has been pusblished since 1965, and the fact that I first read it a few years back, and have jut discovered this piece of demagogue platformist garbage above, is quite telling.

Equating individualist anarchy with fascists? lol. So thankful that little social anarchist despots like this guy aren't more influential.. even if they sadly have a sizeable influence on some milieus.

Be sure I'll be stealing The Match at my local infoshop and bookfair! Could be good toilet seat literature...

'Truth in advertising' is a slippery ground where products become diluted and inferior ingredients substituted for superior ingredients, all without modification to the packaging label.

How about labels like 'the US', 'Poland', and 'Russia'? The Czarists and the Bolsheviks are rising up together in protest over the new types that have moved into the same shell with the label 'Russia' still on it. How deceptive! and how disrespectful of the former proud bearers of this label. Surely such labels should be 'retired' like the numbers on hockey star jerseys rather than being hijacked by new and very different occupants.

Or is this labelling all just a 'shell game'?

indigenous anarchists employ relational languages which have no concept of 'category'. a 'category' is a semantic device that allows the defining of a member of a set on the basis of its 'common properties' [a 'subject and attribute' based thing-in-itself]. This avoids having to understand things in the more realistic terms of their situation within a web of relations. indigenous anarchists hold out for understanding a thing on the basis of its situation within the relational web aka the world as understood as a transforming relational continuum.

to abandon the label 'Anarchist' is to share that one's use of definitions is category-based [subject-and-attribute (thing-in-itself) based] rather than relations based. being known by one's direct action mutual support ethic is a relational definition. relational definitions put situational influence [epigenetic influence] in a natural primacy over pre-ordained intention, in the genesis of one's behaviour. As a direct action mutual support oriented (relationally defined) Anarchist, one is prepared, always, to 'rise to the occasion' of the unfolding situation and relegate pre-ordained 'destination' to secondary status; i.e. one is like a sailboater in turbulence who orients to the sustaining of balance and harmony in his journey, unlike the powerboater who holds hard to his destination, letting the quality of his voyage go to shit.

relational entities are those that sustain harmony with the situations they are included in as the situations transform, so transforms the behaviour of the relational entity, as with inhabitant-habitat non-duality.

on the other hand, those who define themselves as 'things-in-themselves' based on their 'common things-in-themselves properties may soon find their labelled shell 'hijacked' by others with very different common things-in-themselves properties.

The way out of having one's label hijacked by others is to avoid 'things-in-themselves' based labelling and to instead employ a relational definition, as is amenable to 'Anarchist', as one who is known for his ethic of situation-induced direct action mutual support rather than for his 'things-in-themselves' properties such as his intention-driven goals and objectives as in 'Green Anarchist' etc. As Nietzsche says; "Is this belief in the concept of subject and attribute not a great stupidity?”

The real anarchists are teetotalling hobos.

I'm retired myself, and almost of Fred's vintage so I'll throw in my 2 satoshi

The Match. Que? I thought that might have been retired after 99 years of the Leninist CHEKA. What about ' Firesticks" or " Flint'?
Doncha know you can't burn down the masters house with the masters tools!? ( Bad joke, sorry )
There are clear shades of Murray Bookchin in his " Lifestyle anarchist' rant-mode and Wayne Price just this week ( " What's wrong with you people!?") here. But Fred seems to be taking his snapshots of us from the corpse-media. If he was following anarchist current events he would know that the sort of firebreathing anarchist he demonizes was safely corralled, pigeon-holed and stereotyped as ' inserrecto' or Insurrection-Anarchist years ago.
Clearly he's not keeping up as his conflation of the 80's " Open Road" with 90's era ' Green Anarchy' indicates.
Also his list of our alleged crimes doesn't include assassination politics. So he's ignoring the last 16 years. This divorce has been a long time coming.
One very good thing could come out of this if the Anarkismo crowd follow Fred's example. If they can't leverage the web to ramp up neo-Marxist anarchism by now they probably never will. Retirement is painless - it brings on many changes. Don't be afraid of the dark.

What angers me about The Match is that it offered no homage to Kerouac, the founder of Anarcho-Hoboism, and to the many stoic existentialist lawless drifters who made up the intellectual vanguard of the growing homeless milieu.

Kerouac was not a founder of anything, but being a pathetic alcoholic mama's boy who just believed everything that his mommy believed, so when the rest of the beats were on some level being critical of the norm, he was too busy being mommy's little reactionary.

Thankyou thankyou thankyou! It is these very same traditionalist alcoholic Anarcho- Hoboists of the old-school who I have motioned to be excluded from further participation in the new 21st Century faction of Anarcho-Nihilo-Hoboism which is taking the urban wastelands of the West by storm. A pitch battle last week under the Jersey turn-pike raged on until daybreak, my forces, severely shaken and bruised by the numerous impacts of wine and bourbon bottles, finally pushed forward soberly, using baseball bats and ruse, by filling vodka bottles with water and cunningly placing them at strategic places on their flanks, we formed a wedge and scattered them, rejoicing in their wailing retreat and the gnashing of their decayed and rotten teeth. We later found evidence amongst their odorous lice-infested belongings certain catholic icons and soiled religious texts including personal correspondence from doting mothers pleading for their return to the matriarchal fold.

We need these kind of anarchists/anarchs for the coming post 2025 world. Adjustments will have to be made for the new emerging 21st century media ecology. The current niche zine culture might as well be going the way of type writers. I'm not a futurist by any means but until history withers and dies this is how it is and adjustments will have to be made. How will anarchism respond to a potential proto cybernetic world. Whether it's back to the woods and primitive or horticultural ludic tech, or responding to the new virtual rome, anarchism will have to change.

That the Match is not going to use the term anarchist anymore but what can you do? I've read issues over the years and recently got a bunch of issues from someone else's archive going back to the 80s. All the commenters above who want to pigeonhole Fred are missing the mark. He is his own special ideosyncratic brand of weirdness and I've always liked that even when I disagree with almost everything he says. He does really really really hate the police though. I have always enjoyed his attacks against against the weird authoritarian atheist cult of Madalyn Murray O'Hair. Sometimes his flair for language when dissing other anarchists approaches Bob Black's, although I'm sure neither would appreciate the observation. When I was getting into anarchism in the early 90s through punk The Match was one of the easiest publications to get (because it was more or less free). Luckily I also found AJODA on a news stand (and many other zines).
I haven't picked up an issue in a few years but take a look at the Match's letter column and realize that there is a whole world of anarchist who do not read anarchist news or use social media.

"there is a whole world of anarchist who do not read anarchist news or use social media."

Which may be an encouraging thought... yet for what alternatives? Anti-anarchist niche publication that is all about some trend of hoboism, while carefully dividing what he perceives as the anarcho-hobo from anarchist insurgency?

Hey... that last part is the State's job, not his! Plus, in France he'd be beaten down to a pulp for bitching on insurrecto hobos like this, as many of the insurrectos ARE hobos!

I feel the time has come to announce the recent schism which has left many of the old-school alcoholic Anarcho-Hoboists expelled from gatherings under most of the cities highway overpasses and bridges. I have attempted to explain that the exclusion has nothing to do with any flaw in their philosophical knowledge and anarchic practice, but more to do with their arm-waving incoherent and abusive conversation and lack of toilet training which has driven away many of the new unemployed youth who are starting to outnumber the old guard. I wish to modernize the theoretical side of Anarcho-Hoboism in much the same way that the post-modern nihilists brought the post-Marxists up to the latter 20th century as far as the global ethos and mindset was concerned.

I could swear Fred stopped using "anarchist" in favor of "anti-authoritarian" after he got all pissy about broken windows during WTO. Maybe I'm misremembering?

lol if he was mad about windows at the WTO then this we've owed this bad rubbish a "good riddance" for nearly 18 years...if anyone had ever actually encountered his zine during those 18 years, I'm sure the division would have arisen sooner

You are misremembering. He asked his readers for feedback on whether or not to drop the word, ultimately opting to add the word "Ethical" before "Anarchism".

What's good, Fred. Other than posting about yourself in the third person.

that's good and funny of you to say! u could have better and funnier things to say tho i bet

This doesn't make me sad, because I respect both Fred's work and the modern anarchist milieu he despises so much. I want Fred's anti-authoritarian voice to remain, but I want him to spend less time condemning other anarchists. He's a good writer when he's hating on cops, but it's pretty embarrassing to read him hating on basically every anarchist who isn't him.

fred woodworth's view of the shift in anarchist actions to euphoric violence seems to tie to camille paglia's observation that civilizational collapse is marked by gender ambiguity and the put-down of male gender identity, which associates with a marginalized male fringe thirsting for acts of 'heroic masculinity';

" Paglia says that androgyny becomes prevalent “as a civilization is starting to unravel. You find it again and again and again in history.” ... “People who live in such times feel that they’re very sophisticated, they’re very cosmopolitan,” she says. But in truth, they are evidence of a civilization that no longer believes in itself. On the edges of that civilization are “people who still believe in heroic masculinity”

While anarchism seems pre-occupied with gazing at its own navel, there are transformations underway in the relational suprasystem it is included in that appear to be redefining 'anarchism', or, at least redefining the 'thing-in-itself' [non-relational] definition of 'anarchist'.

The collapse of 'truth' and the 'rise of populism are also symptoms of a major transformation underway in which some long-standing features of Western society are collapsing; e.g. society's practice of putting science and rationality into an unnatural primacy over intuition [the collapse of this practice was predicted by Nietzsche]

Populism liberates people from having to make decisions on the basis of well-founded rational arguments [as with the political parties of the right and left], allowing them to buy into emotionally fuelled, unrealistic proposals;

"Political parties and politicians often use the terms populist and populism as pejoratives against their opponents. Such a view sees populism as demagogy, merely appearing to empathize with the public through rhetoric or unrealistic proposals in order to increase appeal across the political spectrum." -- Wikipedia

Taken together, all of these collapses and their flipside upwellings of novel (non-traditional) practices on the social-political front, suggest that a meta-shift in global consciousness is underway.

Fred's perception of a shift/division within anarchy might be better understood in this larger context.


I'm not sure that I buy it even though I actually like her on a certain level. She only looks at Western hero based societal trends. India and other South Asian cultures on the other hand have a long history of integrating androgynous elements of humanity into their culture. I think it's far more likely that something like that is going to happen. Basically India without the hangups and an emerging proto cybernetic economy(if the energy issues can be solved by the likes of Elon and the Musketeers). Not something I am optimistic over(more meh then anything) but it could have some positive-albeit diminishing return-trade offs in the same way that modernity had positive trade offs compared to the feudal epoch.

On Paglia again though I do like her and even though I have some major epistemic disagreements with her(she is pretty pro western you know that right emile) she's a good tonic to the leftist excesses of continental feminism. She's right that women would do well to behave more like gay men and roll with the punches as they do as opposed to seeking out state based societal protection as is currently the case among the worst of SJW feminist ideologues.

One thing all ethical anarchists could do is reject primitivist terror ala the unabomber and those execrable communiques from Mexico.

That would be progress.

"That would be progress."

seriously, rat, you are a progressive. just like the commies you claim to hate so much. i'm not sure why i find you so god damn annoying, but i do.

Yeah, rat's old-man rants are misdirected and annoying, much like this Fred character here but both of their poorly-aimed polemics (at Marxism and relatively minor street militancy respectively) could safely apply to the worst excesses of trendy, anti-civ nihilist, cheerleading bullshit.

I don't say that as an "ethical anarchist" either. I'm just someone with a clear sense of my own affinities.

^ Professor Rat. He a dirty bird. In case this jumps, I'm replying to Anonymous 08:21

i'm glad others are finally seeing the trap of labels, even (especially) the big @. the only things i take issue with in the article above is the ideological/moralistic dismissal of tactics fred disagrees with (property damage... shoplifting... come on fred, get a fucking grip). he comes off as a property-loving an-cap with that stupid shit. which i happen to know he is not, but whatevs.

Is that I actually would like to see it become an emergent trend of 21st century liberalism. It no longer cuts the mustard for post modern anarchism but it could do a fine job in making liberalism more interesting and as well as creating a more preferable society.

I'd say that Fries and Spotiswoode had a much more congruent precognition of non-verbal forms within the synapses of diamentric arragements for a communality, but that's just me!

Just reading through the comments here, there is no way that I can contrast Fred's decades of selfless service to this cause - and his boundless contributions - (how else would I know who Emma Goldman even was!) to the seemingly endless intellectual vacuity and puerility that we have here in response!

If any of this is a measure of what "anarchism" has come to intellectually, then I think Fred is right, and we can just hang up the tired old moniker now!

Count me out!

Fred is great, and is one of the great iconoclasts of our time, and somebody who not only can "talk the talk" but also "walks the walk".

Which is a lot more than any of these other people ever did! And the 67% percent wasn't wasted on me Fred. As I still remember you, and was looking for you tonight.

Also always had a soft-spot for Cheryl so give her my regards if she is still in the picture!

And please please keep going!


- m

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