TOTW: Anarcho-Humility or Anarcho-Defeat

  • Posted on: 27 May 2019
  • By: thecollective

I am not a man of action. My brief experience with anything resembling activism ended with the whimper of realizing my flame didn’t burn quite as bright as those leading the march or drafting the petition. I didn’t discover a mystic tome of Nihilism and suddenly decide that all was lost and it was time for something new; instead I lost a fight with myself before it even began.

I would never say my experience in Anarchy is in any way typical, but I have heard others say anarchists are often the losers of activism, or perhaps just losers. The idea of a radical transformation of the world in any measure, let alone one that destroys something as foundational to modern society as Capital or Anthropocentrism, is bashed and broken upon the enormity of the world daily. This breaking is perhaps what leads people to give up Anarchy, start a family, advance in their career, or escape to the woods; in other words a bowing to inevitable defeat.

Yet beyond the label of defeatism or escape, there is a strain of something that could be called Anarchist(ic) humility. A sense that the World™ is irreducibly large and complex, that we aren’t actors on the world stage of anything resembling politics, but are in fact the small rodents running between the feet of dinosaurs. Perhaps this leads people to live smaller lives, to view the immediate relations they’ve made among Anarchists not as comrades on the path to victory, but fellow survivors on a life-raft, one with a better aesthetic than that boat over there.

When were your Anarchist ideals bashed against the rocks of reality? How did you deal with this defeat? Did it drive you down a different path, towards different types of projects? Or did it just double your resolve, make you realize you just weren’t trying hard enough? Perhaps you reject this framing altogether, and want to take this opportunity to call out the Anarcho-Defeatists who stand as a barrier along the glorious path to radical change. You decide!


When was the moment of crushing reality?

That's easy. The first time I was in a crowd of sensitive, idealistic, skinny, nerdy dreamer kids and we got baton charged by the pig pack who get paid to work out and drill every week as the praetorian guard.

I watched all the kids panic in the bloc, saw the sadistic delight in the eyes of the enemy and sobered right the fuck up, forever.

Somebody recently referred to it as "radicalization by baton". After that, I could never unsee how woefully unprepared.

And just think! That's when they're playing nice for PR purposes and not just straight up shooting you, like they want to.

Yeah, well... they're still a tiny fraction of the population and in my place nowadays there's far more people than just pigs who're cross-fitting on a daily basis to be tough as fuck. Just that due to subcultures (North Shore Counterinfo I'm looking at you atm), anarchos aren't connecting with those people too much, but rather with the same old liberal crowd of fluffies who dig Belle and Sebastian or whatev.

Heheheh So you think crossfit equals weekly drilling as a fighting formation? That's adorable. Wonder if sulking about scene kids will magically make an army of anarco badasses appear? Let's hold our breath until it does!

Formations can only be effective against formations, in symmetrical social conflicts, that protests tend to be, due to the organizers thinking in 2D. Black bloc was seen manoeuvring in 3D and 4D, yet still that wasn't liberated enough. I had a fun time passing by and laughing at those super-trained police teams gettin ready to storm protests nearby. If there'd be a sufficient cause to risk gassing or bombing them, that would have achieved wonders. It's all about good ol' thinking outside the box, that both cops and activists are equally not very good at.

Cross-fitting is important for how it develops your physical capacity at doing several feats a senile old troll wouldn't IRL... climbing over high fences, ramming out of police kettles, dodging, n other shit. Yet that's nothing compared to the art of cross-dressing and social hacking.

So ... One time you walked by some cops and imagined doing something?

Also, you imagine me "crossdressing and social hacking"?

Active imagination is good, I suppose...

pshhh, cross-dressing? rookies.

i imagine ya’ll undressing/ ; P

I dress pretty boring basic dude-bro tbh lol

Now you know what to picture :p

An army of anarchists is something the keepers of the discussion here at are against. Cause, you know, humility and shit.

For sure... we'd soooo badly would like to be under your anarchist command, Comrade Zhachev.

Harass the brass!

Did you actually read that article yet?

Also, like half the shit on north shore is either fighting or attack, and most of the rest is openly hostile to liberals

My “anarchist ideals” never came crashing with “the rocks of reality”, but it was the other way around; my naive acceptance of the hegemonic ideologies and worldview crashed against the rocks of reality and what was left was more or less anarchistic and nihilistic. An anarchist by default or by association, an anarchy or nihilism of the gaps, so to speak.

My former projects and aspirations corresponded to the mindset before the disillusionment, so it’s not a defeated anarchist, but an anarchist that emerged out of a defeated liberal. So i can’t “give up anarchism”, since in my case it’s what’s left after giving up everything else.

My current mindset is not defeatist, but skeptical and critical of the typical kind of projects that people carry out to make “social change” or “save the world”. A realist outlook in an amoral playing field, while having my own moral, aesthetic, and idiosyncratic baggage, let’s me see that though i may detest and renounce the many “big bads”, they’ll be a part of this world for as long as i live and probably for as long as there are people. The silver lining is that a lot of “good” things will also endure for a while.

As peoples illusions crash upon these rocks we can pick them up in our life-rafts, or throw them a flotation device, and watch them sink or swim if they choose to grab it or not ...and that’s how you push a metaphor to its corny limits and break it.

There are many worthwhile thing that can be done and achieved (tho nothing is guarateed, luck is a factor), just not the ones deluded people fantasize about. The insistence of trying make impossible things happen is a source of misery for many, and joy for some.


anon 05/27/2019 - 12:59

you covered it pretty solidly.

I can only add a little of my own thoughts:
once you realize how few people really want to be free from "the system" what to do but find your own way to be as far from its clutches as possible? which look different to different people, obviously.

once you let go of "changing The World", of acting out a certain way based on the many ideologies (including Anarchism), once you know yourself and are ready to refuse the constant coercion of this weird human-controlled life - maybe you are not even an anarchist - just a human figuring out how to live in the best way - least miserable.

activist anarchists, who i liked a lot, in an extended conversation about how scenes break up and how we could do things better, intervene, etc. i got into a serious conflict with one of the people in the group, and everything that this group had discussed went out the window.
my heart broke both vertically and horizontally.
years ago. still haven't recovered.

: (

fuck the scene and i wish you find more humble and down to earth people who love you for you

So far, fun topic!

Seriously tho, my sympathies :(

could be i haven't recovered because i'm a resentful bitch who holds onto things too damd long. and could be i'm pretty lucky to spend enough time around other anarchists to get my heart broken by them.
perspective isn't everything, but it's a lot.
anyway, thanks. better to have loved and lost, and all that...

Plz tell us more about how perspective is not everything and how this claim is relevant to your comment. Oh wait... I speak of relevance?

The individual determination to fight against the conditions imposed on you should probably win out over people being mean one time, no?

Like sure, our scenes fall short of our ideals, we hurt each other, but I think we need to be strong enough in our own reasons for struggle to find ways to keep going, even alone.

Like, that person above talking about the skinny nerds and the baton charge, why would that make you give up in struggle rather than ask strategic questions?

And OP, you like to make a joke about believing change is possible as being "epic" or "glorious". But scroll down on the front page of this site right now and read the France text where the kids throw down hard against this world without needing to believe in some coming rev. You can call it defeatism or humility or whatever, but their argument is that submission and resignation is toxic to us on an individual level -- what kind of person are you turning yourself into with your theorization of powerlessness?

Why did you assume "sobered up forever" (what I said) meant "give up in struggle rather than ask strategic questions?"

You got it exactly backwards friend. We completely agree except for the minor detail that you're an arrogant asshole when you talk.

Maybe work on that ;)

Tell em!

I’ll just watch while i imagine both of you naked...

... Thanks creepy anon! Dangerous spaces and all that.

*bearsprays your tent, levitates and floats away*

My anarchy is born out of my reality. I have no conceit for achieving the dream freedom of all life; merely a necessary antagonism. I perceive the rot and seek to rid myself of it in as self-satisfying a way as possible for me. I want the exhilaration of revenge. The future be damned!

I am not a man of action.

No, really? What a surprise.

"When were your Anarchist ideals bashed against the rocks of reality?"

The first time? By witnessing a large controversy about a sexual assault allegation tear apart a local anarchist scene.

"How did you deal with this defeat?"

Cynicism and hanging out with people who were not a part of the anarchist scene.

It's a well-documented fact of how intel agencies and CoIn programs have been experimenting for decades, maybe even before you were born, on rape allegations and other sexual misconduct in order to slander prominent figures and fuck up milieus. They tried that against MLK, and went on shooting him after seeing the failure of the tactic in his specific context. It's otherwise pretty efficient for how hard it is to confront these allegations without coming out as a rape sympathizer, but as well how the same accusations can be real while from the outside not being any easier to "prove". A lot of sexual misconduct allegations were also based on hearsay that quickly takes a very negative twist from one mouth to the next.

Feminism is counterinsurgency maybe because the state likes to engage in slander? If our scenes struggle to deal with issues of sexual assault in a way you find satisfying, that sounds like a reason to look at those issues for yourself, and build your own analysis and practice.

So many arguments on this thread about abandoning your own commitments because other people... Were your desires to see the people around you treated with dignity really so weak that a few bad experiences could do them in?

Me, I'm a limp noodle and a passive complainer, and this scene seemed like it was the most totally place for me. Also if I hang here long enough maybe I'll eventually get laid.

OwO ~*slurps*~

It makes me sick the amount of people getting all certificated by a system they claim to hate, then calling themselves an anarchist, promoting their 'claim' via their 'awesome' make that their 'super-awesome' podcast....oh, I mustn't forget the 'Please donate and get some real cool merch.' Give it a year or two (at the most) and these cunts, having diluted anarchism even further, will be fully integrating back with the mainstream and fighting their way up the greasy career ladder. 'Hey you guys ever read Emma Goldman..she's like so fuckin' rad, like she kicks ass, right?' 'And don't forget to Like, Rate n Review our podcast and remember, donate, every cent helps.' FFS. Yeah, am I being too cynical here?

"It makes me sick the amount of people getting all certificated by a system they claim to hate, then calling themselves an anarchist"

So avoid the bookfair for saving yourself unnecessary bowel issues. ;-)

"*from* unnnecesary..."

I'd also suggest that if you're going to do something to protest these lavish pro-academia gimmicks at some @ book fair, do it in a way that makes you hardly recognizable, as these events may be serving as effective honeypots for the pigs to tell the "bad" from the "good" seeds.

anarcho-defeatists might try more diy projects and fewer social/activist projects. why would i measure my well-being, freedom, and happiness against whether or not Becky still calls the manager? i don't need to indoctrinate Becky, maim the manager, or burn down the store to feel the effects of anarchy in my life.

'Victory is death!' And on the other hand, as Laurie Anderson observed, we walk by falling forward. I became interested in anarchism when I observed how cheaply liberals, socialists, and soi-disant communists could be bought off. Representation does not seem to work. Logically, the way to a free (anarchic) world would be for people to form anarchistic groups (communes, cooperatives, temporary autonomous zones, etc.) and as these groups (hopefully) grew, they would make contact with each other, mutually support one another, cohere. I believe contemporary liberalism offers enough political space for such a development. However, I've been reading numerous testimonials from various kinds of anarchistic groups and persons about how the flame went out, and I myself certainly lead an individualistic life. I think the question is not who or what took anarchism down, as why so few people actually want to do it. Beyond talking about it, of course. 'You were born, and so you're free. So, happy birthday!' (Laurie Anderson again.) When's the party?


What response to things like this, then:, given your positions above?

Defeatism is the incorrect term, instead a description such as enjoying a willing exclusion from culture and being aloof from political and religious belief.

If I stop dreaming of the beautiful idea but definitely want to see this world burn, am I still an anarchist?

not necessarily, but it’s still possible

but buddy, i don’t wanna burn


imma look at u from safe distance

Chill ma, nope, you become a run of the mill nihilist, that's if you have no beautiful idea, just burn burn burn!

YUP, it was rhetorical. Just wanted to simplify the question for others to grapple with. I don't see a lack of vision or drive to build a better world to be defeatist, unless you insist on calling yourself an anarchist.

Maybe i'll just repeat it 'til I'm blue in the face, anarchist means will never reach anarchist goals. Ya'll got to let go of something.

lol wut? Anarchism can almost be defined by its fusion of means and ends and a conception of permanent struggle with no ideal end state to look forward to. Anarchistic forms of struggle\life are what I'm doing this for.

There have been a ton of texts out of the defeat (victory?) of the zad that deal with this.

But outside of that I seem weak and gentle, smiling to little old ladies and opening doors for them, LIKE A SEXIST CHIVALROUS PREDATOR SEEKING FAVORS IN EXCHANGE, but not actually, just doing these acts in kindness.

it was the very failure of activism - seen first, second and third hand - that drove me toward my anarchistic perspective.

i think the mentality that separates "activism" from the actual necessary activities of daily life, is a huge barrier to any realistic "social" change. activists almost always are focused on the plight of "others" - those seen as "less fortunate", etc. it is why fucking leftist progressives want to force modernity down the throats of the few "primitive societies" that still exist in balance with their bioregion.

the "i know what is right for you" mentality needs to be burned at the stake. along with everything that leads to it. aka, "civilization".

is a binary that I don't think applies to anarchy. I never really had any expectations of victory until I started reading idealistic texts. To me anarchy is about being against things that are wrong for reasons that are rational and it does require humility because we are so powerless to change them. It doesn't matter if you lose in every way once you know things like war and poverty and oppression are wrong there's no going back. Of course if you have no praxis for your beliefs then you'll never go down in history as a great anarchist. If we really are at the end of civilization it's no time to give up because what else are you going to do, drop back in?

GO3, impossible goals, a black man walking down the street with a smile on his face!

"we are so powerless to change them." This is the mantra for a useless scene.

someone who's watched too many hollywood david-and-goliath movies.

you the mantra for the delusion scene? 'if we (set up a bunch of impossible goals like getting everyone to think alike and come together and) try hard enough properly we can change the world!'

has a praxis, they walk right into the halls of power and start telling it like it is. If you think of the world system as an organism and you're the surgeon its a matter of putting cuts and projectiles in the right places to make a difference but this would be a science of strategic insurrection which would require careful planning.

wrong number

Sorry to burst the bubble, but virulent organism comes to mind, a swarming feeding frenzy engulfing itself in an orgy of runaway social reaction which burns itself out, all to the sound of Beiber, Elton and Abba, grinning moronic sunglasses and victory.
Give me sane poverty and defeat anytimè, I refuse to do a victory dance upon a social corpse!

"we know that all the efforts we make against the Techno-Industrial System are useless, we have seen the immensity of this great mass of metal and concrete, and we realized that all we ever do at one time or another will not stop progress and less so if there are still false-radicals and leftist struggles that aim at the destruction of a target, but have not yet noticed, have not viewed beyond, that all this does not do anything; some think that this is pessimistic, think that we have fallen into defeatism (...) we say this rather because it is the reality and the reality we know that hurts."

this quote made sense to put here

Embracing our uniform deep inadequacy is actually a form or rebellion.

Ask me how.

this is just a question for thecollective. Here you say:

"This breaking is perhaps what leads people to give up Anarchy, start a family, advance in their career, or escape to the woods; in other words a bowing to inevitable defeat."

So starting a family, advancing careers, or escaping to the woods is something that real anarchists never do? What is an anarchist? Aragorn plays the career game and considers himself an anarchist, TK went to the woods and didn't specifically identify as an anarchist, but i consider some of his ideas to be anarchistic. I feel like this way of thinking is part of an ideological rule set. Would it in any way be interesting to talk about the greater specifics of lifestyles?

Defeatism is something that has more shades than political defeatism, a lot of the individualists on here are what I would deem "political nihilists". I'm unfortunately both a personal defeatist and a political defeatist, as in i gave up on activism a long time ago and i often dislike myself.

Defeatism, despair, those are two concepts i link in a Freudian manner. Let's talk about how we can apply EE despair to politics! Let's talk about Atassa again!

Humility and Humiliation are also connected ideas for anti-authoritarians. To what extent is it bad and foolish to compromise with other people? There was a topic of the week a long time ago that posed the question about "what point it was embarrassing just to keep talking about something?" I think the internet in general is embarrassing to a degree...

speaking of self-loathing, often times i don’t see suicidal tendencies as defeatism, but consider myself a failure inasmuch as i haven’t killed myself yet. dab COUNT IT!

Not that this point is entirely relevant, but Aragorn! didn't write this TOTW, I did.

any semblance of privacy: the ultimate defeat of a human necessity. The dumb-fuck mainstream, as predicted, can't wait to be under total surveillance as 'our' safety can be guaranteed and 5G will bring 'us' the Green New Deal where 'real' equality awaits 'us.' I'm now at a point where I've decided the dumb-fuck mainstream are a different species and are to be avoided. Zerzan is correct in my opinion when he says that many of his own friends are going under due to the weight of the mindlessness of the masses. My own resolve is strengthened by not engaging the dumb fucks: to me, they are a purposely bred passive producer/consumer breed of 'drone.' Anarchism has been incorporated by capitalism as was Marxism. All I see are obese sugar addicts gawping at the screen for their next dopamine hit... Pavlov's pooches.

when we zoom out and look at technological advancement, surveillance, and semi-brave new world soma control, the ability to think of it as anything else disappears. Paying any attention to what goes on here in the US kinda creates a uncomfortable gut reaction, and china has already developed a islamaphobic surveillance state, i can't even put into words what's going on here. I haven't been paying close enough attention to the implications of 5G internet to know what kind of future it's going to bring, i know that around where i live there's going to be a lot of struggles getting that kind of internet up and running, judging from how relatively crappy my internet is. Chilling out and not engaging people is something i try to do, and there's just too much information to really understand it.

Are we not paranoid enough, or are we too paranoid? A lot of people basically have a constant x-files episode running through their head, except less adventurous and intelligent. Here is some mildly GO3 style thoughts on modern dystopia,, but more cynical.

get that acc shit outta my face!

What's acc? Athletic Sports Conference? If this another jab at supposedly negan heroic bullshit, whelp, not really what I was aiming for but kk lol

Acceleration, seems like it's part of the endless growth capitalism model

Accelerating and stopping the world are two polarities we can oscillate between depending on your mood. Relaxation is the key to chaos magic but sometimes it's fun to be schizo and apprehend multiplicities. The future is assembling itself out of our losses. Our surplus value is disappearing into a technological singularity on the bionic horizon. Anything that's possible already exists in the multiverse. The world won't always let you lay down so there are some deterministic forces at work, necessity is the mother of invention. Not a popular topic around here mostly because of the siloed echo chamber atmosphere and a world of misunderstanding, alt-right bullshit etc. The right doesn't have any colors, they don't own anything, we can take it all away.

I would totally give that a listen

100% would buy that album

on any musical projects at the moment but I do make short films with my smart phone and I would encourage you to do the same. Cell phone videos are a very personalized form of cinema like a third eye view of your world which is nice to share with others.

The idea that ACTIVE disillusionment is liberatory always struck me as wise. Harm reduction makes sense to me. So does self defense. So does love. Find who/what you love, take care of them and defend them, while being true to your values and living them as best you can in this world.

is a great way to actualize the body, enhance mental states and defensive capabilities. I think its important to find things in the world to love and feel good about as well as our own selves.

degree and my own podcast (with Patreon)? I'm humiliated and defeated.

back to the money issue, that's probably the thing that has made me feel the most depressed and defeated in my anarchist thinking...i need a medium in order to live on a piece of land, to be out of the house spending time with other people, etc....

No, you don't need that. But being a resigned and sheepish dud doesn't hurt.

to look to the beatitudes (Matt.5) for the wisdom of the sheepish dud where it says that the meek shall inherit the earth. As I'm no orthodox christian or fundamentalist (Jesus was a magician or metaphysician) I'd explain this as conservation of energy and efficient motion. High energy people tend to burn out while the dud remains long after the studs fire has died. So I think there's magic in passivity and we can see this in the form of sit-ins, die-ins, human blockades, foot dragging, laying down on the job etc. There's a time for energy expenditures and a time to recharge and high energy states are unsustainable over the long haul. So I would be looking to optimize my energy expenditures judiciously.

Is that jesus was some sort of political revolutionary, but magician/meta physician sounds cooler...

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