TOTW: (il)legibility

In the episodes of Anarchy Bang I’ve participated in, the concepts of legibility and illegibility have popped up quite often. The version of these ideas I know of comes from anthropologist (sad face) James C. Scott:

The more I examined these efforts at sedentarization, the more I came to see them as a state’s attempt to make a society legible, to arrange the population in ways that simplified the classic state functions of taxation, conscription, and prevention of rebellion. Having begun to think in these terms, I began to see legibility as a central problem in statecraft. The pre-modern state was, in many crucial respects, particularly blind; it knew precious little about its subjects...It lacked anything like a detailed “map” of its terrain and its people.

The name on everyone’s lips this past week has been Willem Van Spronsen and for good reason, they took a stand, put their body on the line and didn’t come out the other side alive. Yet looking past whether this particular, or generally any, action is good/bad, effective/ineffective, it ends up being supremely legible to radicals and institutions alike in terms of the reason for targeting ICE and the image of radicality the attack leaves behind.

My question(s) to the anon horde is what would less legible efforts look like in the Anarchist space? In what ways can we obfuscate our goals and carry out actions that defy a quotidian image of rebellion? Do you see any actions or projects that take Anarchy beyond reacting to the big bad, and instead move the conversation so far outside the state’s frame of reasonable demands that they successfully avoid the Gorgon’s gaze?

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This topic is my JAM!

Here’s some relevant reading material that i’ll post up ahead in the meantime until a have time to write a proper more thought out response.

From the outset i can say it goes beyond “[ing] the conversation so far outside the state’s frame of reasonable demands...” and beyond the realm of the “anon horde” in cyberspace.

It’s about taking seriously the implications of a real material (as opposed to just rhetoric or posturing) antagonism (against the state, racists, fascists, homophobes, bigots, companies, whichever apply to you etc) and not expecting concessions or “fair play” from the enemy.

Out of those implications, there’s the fact the more correct and accurate information your opponents have about your goals, intents, motives, methods, resources, plans, agendas, networks, etc, the better they can try to counteract them or out maneuver them or defend against them. So selective degree of visibility/exposure, shaping appearances, misinformation and obfuscation, encryption and secrecy, have their use.

The truth is in many cases, and for many people, the antagonism is mostly if not solely on the level of rhetoric and symbolic imagery, “freedom of expression”. On this level they compete for the most visibility, recognition, representation, and media coverage they can get. “Good optics” are a concern, and so on. For them and their aspirations, in their mind illegibility is mostly counterproductive and self-defeating, except in key instances that have to do with timing and planning etc.

"So selective degree of visibility/exposure, shaping appearances, misinformation and obfuscation, encryption and secrecy, have their use."

A nice plan to make randos and potential accomplices take you for an undercover, or at least some of the usual sassy pedant from the local hipsterhood. Or what else can bring playing word games and mind tricks with people you're supposed to be building a relation of trust with?

the operative word here is "selective", to be prudent and judicious as to with whom you become vulnerable, since obviously you cannot build real trust with someone without being honest and straightforward, even open and vulnerable. you shouldn't trust randos, though some circumstances may leave you no choice.

funny how you say "james bond" in jest. spies are not work of fiction, in fact ian fleming's (writer of james bond) life is very illustrating to this regard. the state does not have the monopoly on anything, not force, nor secrecy, though they're certainly above the competition.

illegibility also pertains not just to your person, but to the terrain you traverse and shape with your daily life.
are you a sitting duck in an open plain or a chameleon amidst the fog of war?

jc scott speaks of crops that grow underground and can't be counted or taxed by the taxed collector, unlike grain.
cities with easy to read and navigate grids, vs winding tight coupled roads of antique sectors, dense woods, remote narrow roads traversing hilly terrain, people living between walls, moving across rooftops and sewers.

fantasy, but also real. read about big bank heists and burglaries (A Burglar's Guide to the City), etc etc.

i could go on, but i get no instant gratification or reward from effort or rigorousness applied to these comments

In addition... Up against the art of trickery I oppose the other valuable human quality of adaptability. Tricks can be somewhat part of it, but it induces a far more healthy and "natural" paradigm of taking the stage in social theater plays. As in, we are what we become, but that's not all of what we are... our characters we play are just aspects of ourselves, not mere lies and maybe not even deceptions. Actor-esses and comedians will all admit to you that the roles they play are "authentic", for how they're connecting, positively or negatively, to one or another aspect of their deeper sensibilities, pathos or philosophy of living, no matter how the business itself tends to be a rigged game for the more privileged castes.

That's what I see in the above link. The attempt to take old inbred 1968 radical discourse into further contrived antagonism. There are some ok post-left associated ideas linked above but it suffers from the usual binary warfare specter of thought that infects pretty well all marxist communist based discourse.

Ultimately the more Stirnerian thing to do is simply dissociate, not generate elective antagonism. Negative IDPol is no better then IDPol.

Hostis’ thing for the joy of cruelty was fucked up then and it’s fucked up now

lol it's not inciting people to indiscriminately torture randos, but to take those who abuse you and subjugate you and "hit em where it hurts" and to relish that while you're at it, while you can, cuz you can

Right because I’m sure no one will get that twisted and people will remain clear headed when wallowing in all that righteous vengeful cruelty. What the actual fuck

wallow in sanctimoniousness then.
and if you ever fight back, do so with self-disgust while retching.

If you are salivating to torture your enemies, isn’t it possible that like them, you are encased in leviathanic armor? Or maybe just a complete prick who’s soaked to the bone in this disgusting world and its ways?

Being legible is the default, you should not have to pay with your life in order to become legible, or to express yourself.

"My question(s) to the anon horde is what would less legible efforts look like in the Anarchist space?"

To conceive of anarchist space as parallel to (meaning both alternative to, and not intersecting with) the visible terrain. The moment your field of operations is synonymous with the actual built environment and its residual ("the map", their map), then you are completely legible, predictable, and in disadvantage. The same goes with trying to oppose the state using its own logics, trying to "subvert" them by using simple inversions, or even worse, by trying to compete with them in their own game.

Draw a random scribble or a blob over the grid. Not only does the built environment (architecture and its programming, tech devices their programming) limit your movement, it actually limits your imagination even more. Routine is not only ingrained in your mind, it's encoded and reinforced by the built environment. Your framing should color your vision and make you hallucinate the world you want to inhabit, and to inhabit it in turn; to hallucinate the path you want to take, and to take it. To go down the rabbit hole and live in the wonderland.

"In what ways can we obfuscate our goals and carry out actions that defy a quotidian image of rebellion?"

To avoid producing and sharing images in general (stay offline). To disregard and be unconcerned with appearances. Don't claim actions, no communiqués. Avoid everything overdone and cliche.

Some people have the habit of not sharing their goals with anyone uninvolved until they are achieved so as not to "jinx" them. That can be a good idea for some goals.

Most projects currently try to project an image of being larger than they are, of having achieved more than they have.
They do it either looking for praise and recognition, or for more people to join them or imitate them.
Instead, try to downplay or outright hide your real achievements and your real goals.

These opinions are wrong and limited, but fuck it

"The pre-modern state was, in many crucial respects, particularly blind; it knew precious little about its subjects...It lacked anything like a detailed “map” of its terrain and its people." This is inaccurate.
Even Julius Caesar knew about bling, public relations, and the POD.

Yeah nothings new, Sparticus was radical and the rebels of Masada did what this guy did, fanatical martyr complex. He wasn't by chance a believer of any of the Abrahamic religions was he, seems to be a common act, these wierd redemption rites to a phantom idol of some personal belief system?
It would be refreshing to just stop this 2000 year old ideological praxis, and do something creative and humorous instead, to win over support and popularity.

"just stop this 2000 year old ideological praxis, and do something creative and humorous instead, to win over support and popularity."

Oh yyeeaaa... Like just be Pewdiepie, and shut the fuck up with that insurrection "complex" that makes FAR too much sense for your alienated mind to cope with. And if you can't get at least as many subscribers as Pewdiepie that makes u a loooooser, boi.

"Personality cult fanatics" where?

Narcissistic martyrdom as "Weird redemption rites to a phantom idpol idol".
Poetry boi, poetry, remember aesthetics, keep it beautiful to look at, NO GORE ALLOWED IN PROTEST!

Yet another convulted attempt at triple entendre sarcasm that doesn't make enough sense to even be a reply at all. Take your pills, dude.


Discernment is key and individual.
If we are using the idea of legible here where our own actions make us legible to archist, and thus pawns and puppets for their propaganda then becoming illegible is desirable; or in the words of "The Art of War," unfathomable.
The sad news, despite our activism, the archists with their power and resources will use those actions to cement the beliefs in the minds of the herd that this is exactly why they need them and without them there would be dangerous and fatal chaos.
We anarchists have many philosophical and practical co-ops, collectives, tribes, families, solitaries and hermits. This is diversity at its most free, I think. It is truly beautiful and pregnant with such potential, when gestaltly viewed. If we have stopped being slaves to our emotions, instead, being partners and confederates with them, and have also found rational objectivity, then I believe, we can act, or not act, with integrity and "effectiveness" despite the opinions of others and the world, even our own ilk. This is individual liberation IMO.
The state(s) have already labeled and defined us, that is how they have legiblized us. What should that matter to us? We do as our conscious advises us, that is why we are free.
Being liberated has always existed, is always potential. It isn't going anywhere. Empires do go.
I do believe at some point emancipation will achieve critical mass, and while those who actively work to bring it about as protesters, soldiers and martyrs are important and effective, equally are the unfathomable whose "praxis" is more private and hidden.

Even within your beautiful diversity, the negation belonging to the hermit is tortured by the children.

This anarchist hermit would be self-absorbed in negation and would be taunted by the children of the region. Better that he leaves if he cannot mix with the locals.

A beautiful and "illegible" option for anarchists and their society, worthy of that society's support and respect; even when the children stop taunting them.

I've been grinding this axe for years Jef.

Mostly because of thecollective's decisions regarding anon commenting, which I fully support, there's a weird little group of regulars here who don't even come close to meeting my most basic criteria for anarchy/anarchism. I'm pretty generous too!

But yeah, they're just hermits who like to read until they actually DO something. Keyboard warriors disqualify themselves, I don't even need to gatekeep. But the hermit life is where it's at, don't get me wrong! Obscurity and illegibility FTW!!!

I've practiced a solitary life for quite sometime, on and off. Even such, and I am sure there are those who will cry you aren't a solitary, just like anarchism, there is communication between solitaries, especially now with the web. Those dialogues were for religious, I am completely and profoundly atheist now, so I'm not engaged with them anymore. But I can share this, great ideas, books and pamphlets that supported and contributed to their cause and not only that, a wide-read monthly newsletter, issued from their solitude..

Solitude and separateness, in whatever manner or depth, can add some objective and profound perspectives on a communities cause and goals that otherwise wouldn't be earthed.

“The laboring man has not leisure for a true integrity day by day; he cannot afford to sustain the manliest relations to men; his labor would be depreciated in the market. He has no time to be anything but a machine.”― Henry David Thoreau, Walden

The obligations of life within a state doesn't allow everyone to such freedom. Those of us who do have such freedom can choose to use that freedom in the best way they are capable, to bring liberation about, as they see fit and are capable themselves. Defending, writing, speaking, engaging as the believe best...even using negation :).

I think Le Way, unless I'm still not groking you, you are identifying as an anarchist hermit? Am I to understand negation in this sense is both a praxis and pedagogical? Children are the unwoke?

I'm enjoying this engagement.

Jef and Senileoldtroll, let the children mock you both by waving the empty Viagra packets they have found in your hermitage's solitary waste disposal bin, on a Saturday morning, after the annual Reunion of Hermits, whilst the community walk past and look on, whilst they generously go about their empathizing business.

Well, used condoms would have had more shock value than empty Viagra packets. I really do enjoy how you express things.

You are a poet; your nuance of imagery is impressive, and your are more of a shock jock than you think.

Uhuh thanks, and since you are new around here, I may as well tell you, it annoys the hell out of the cantankerous old school anarchists around here. Its good to have a fresh new contributor to the comments.

Door knobs are good friends. They turn compliantly; sometimes they can lock things out or in for you; but mostly, they are good for yanking out rotting teeth.

those are not the only kind of friendly knobs that are good for yanking ; )

We've come a full circle back to Viagra! in YOUR CASE ANON 16:55, YOU'VE BE CUM A FULL CIRCLE JERK!

So to be an anarchist you have to be an activist?(or whatever other way to put that is cool rn)
I wonder about this. I’m pretty asocial (I have my reasons!) but still try to minimize the oppression and destruction my existence causes and spread the word when I can (not often).
I’m not an egoist by any means but I think a lot of people on here would say that an anarchist individual is possible. I’m looking for a less narcissistic sense of what that means, maybe.

Anarchism makes more sense as a propagandist exercise not an activist exercise. Propaganda(unlike activism) can be done much more generally with varying intensities of message or deed. It's regrettable that propaganda took on such a bad meaning in the 20th century as it is actually activism which is the more spectacular discourse.

Propagate the message of anarchy don't be a political continuum activist. Give up activism as Andrew X said.

That is so completely correct SirE, its like activism went obsolete with the barricade in the era of the iron tank, its just so useless, its sooo democratically servile!

Claiming egoism for the self is difficult for many as our modern tamed and oppressed minds have been brainwash and we tend interpret it as "f everyone else."
In terms of many egoistic forms of anarchism, it is practiced in the sense that for society to fully flourish and thrive everyone must be free to flourish and thrive as they see fit. This may seem potentially destructive to a society, but if the egoist truly wants to become all they can, and they are truly of an nrkst mind, they will know their freedom is dependent upon the freedom of others. And the circle jerk , to use another posters words (I think they meant it to be derogatory, but it really is freedom and mutual gratification, which nrksts are in favor of), is that we all become totally free and this will create a society that will flourish and thrive fully to its max by fully being egotistical.
Put simpler for the contemporary mind, egoist nrksts believe that radical individual liberty is essential to a non-oppressive free society (and vice versa).
Guilt about selfishness is then useless if you have an nrkst mind (and may take eons to eliminate even as we embrace the irrationality of it). If someone is selfish and pathologically doesn't care about others, an nkst society would allow them to go do their own thing on their own as long as they don't bring harm to others.
Many historical nrkst claim that the person first needs to be a socialist, in terms of caring about the greater good of all beings, for nrky to work. If it is just a bunch of uncaring selfish egoist and factions, then anarchy, is probably just a bunch of old coots passing gas.
So, claiming your asocial-ness is brave in this forum, so you are strong. You clearly care about others and try to do what you can despite certain limitations. And, you have a praxis that seems to help the cause in the ways you see fit and are capable. Other peoples opinions don't matter. Don't let shit hold you back. The more you become, the more you will make the rest of us strong and free, the stronger and freer society will become.
This, for me, is egoist nrky :)

U'r nrky is mk. Also, beware of the traditionalists who preach the activiagraist methodology. Its their only way of raising the appearance of having freedom by performance :)

I know it sounds kumbaya of me, I really am a nihilist at the core, but the activiagraist :) have there place and purpose as well. Live and let live, don't tread on me, etc. And I love that they hate that I accept them :)


if "do something" means "activist" to you, you have too many things yet to try

the 7 most recent comments on anews, counting from this one i’m replying to onwards (05:21), are malicious diversion and detract from any discussion that’s in the spirit of what’s intended for this site.

is this single person committed to the task of derailing conversation and discussion, or does a gaggle of imbeciles flock to the comments at a certain time of day?

ok, maybe not seven. it’s hard to tell the fodder from the legit comments of comparable poor quality

Looking chronologically it looks like anon 16:55 entered the thread or the @news site at that point, so maybe that time of the day, umm, after school or work on the West Coast may narrow down the search for the troll, if that's what you are about?

Let people see by how we live and how we share land freely and use our power to share our land and other resources with each other to give each other an anarchist alternative to practice in living. Medusa and her capitalist gorgons want any attention from us whether positive or negative, ex. trump, as long as we are passively watching their spectacles like stone statues. Let us look at each other, at our neighbors, at our sisters and brothers, and try understanding the communication from each other and make our communication create community, sustainable, cooperative communities living in anarchy.
The Garden Intentional Community

"Let us look at each other, at our neighbors, at our sisters and brothers, and try understanding the communication from each other and make our communication create community, sustainable, cooperative communities living in anarchy."

Yes! All of thisé.. through Fedbook.

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