TOTW: Shifting the Posts

  • Posted on: 2 April 2018
  • By: SUDS

It's been 15 years since Jason McQuinn wrote Post-Left Anarchy: Leaving the Left behind.

In its opening paragraph he recalls the fall of the Berlin Wall 10 years earlier, and just three years after that receiving a manuscript, "Anarchy after Leftism," from Bob Black. Today, when we look back over Post-Left Anarchy, we are reviewing 25 years of critique and innovation.

"The alternative argued for by the post-left anarchist synthesis is still being created," wrote McQuinn. "It cannot be claimed by any single theorist or activist because it’s a project that was in the air long before it started becoming a concrete set of proposals, texts and interventions."

McQuinn had not yet witnessed the death knells of the American middle class and Leftism taking shape from 2009-2018. He was writing "Leaving the Left Behind" in the time shortly before George W Bush's second inauguration. The idea of the Left collapsing was still controversial in ways that today are accepted as facts of life.

Yet, I've noticed an increasing number of anarchists asking what post-post-left is.

Witnessing the collapse of the Left and being post-left are not the same thing. We can find ourselves using the same rituals, expecting similar results, and coming up with nothing.

McQuinn finishes his piece by saying, "Post-left anarchy is not something new and different. It’s neither a political program nor an ideology. It’s not meant in any way to constitute some sort of faction or sect within the more general anarchist milieu. It’s in no way an opening to the political right; the right and left have always had much more in common with each other than either has in common with anarchism. And it’s certainly not intended as a new commodity in the already crowded marketplace of pseudo-radical ideas. It is simply intended as a restatement of the most fundamental and important anarchist positions within the context of a disintegrating international political left.

If we want to avoid being taken down with the wreckage of leftism as it crumbles, we need to fully, consciously and explicitly dissociate ourselves from its manifold failures — and especially from the invalid presuppositions of leftism which led to these failures."

So, if we are ready to grapple with the question, what is post-post-left, are we ready to say how we are post-left?

In what ways do you think anarchists have divorced the left and created space of their own?



what happened to thou.

To invent, to innovate, is to seek retribution against the ideologues and the gatekeepers. Crimethinc did well, but as they moved time, time did not move with them. I toil in order to avoid saying reality got the best of them, but reality still, probably did. There is an entire world trying to hold up shiny things to the early and late majority, even if time and time again we have proven such a slice of the market to be obsolete. We now look to the innovator, or the early adopter, or if you're Zerzan, the laggard. What happened to crimethinc? What happens to every potentially valuable project: lack of serendipity. The question I have about crimethinc though, is are they returning to Leftism, or are they socially thrashing within post-leftism? Further, is such a question so post-modern it turns into a spectacular intellectual commodity?

I'm rereading this (Your politics are boring as fuck) and .. to me it's just as cringey as evasion. Thrashing within post-leftism even back then. It has the tone of the petulant teen screaming "you don't understand me!!!" while betraying a comical lack of depth.

It's the same refocusing on the self as everywhere else, trying to pass off the pursuit of desire as some kind of revelation. It then proceeds to confuse (or perhaps reduce) the entire radical political realm with (to) complacent, posing, bourgeois academics.

I guess this writer felt that some of the existing leftist politics in their personal experience was completely dominated by privileged folks "spicing things up" with the occasional symbolic arrest but it's pretty ridiculous to suggest this is anything but a boring symptom of decadence, completely beside the point.

Then we get the example of food not bombs being a good example of action ... if it makes you "happy" cause friends are cool or whatever … well guess what? Those are obviously actions easily framed by the oldest and most basic principles of what became "leftism". Also, arguably basic instincts of altruism that predate all these stupid ideological frameworks by millennia but whatever.

Wind the clocks forward 10 years and the only difference between then and now is that for every kid I see still picking up the tattered old FNB banner, there's a smug kid calling them a "christian" for their "charity".

Food Not Bombs is still a thing. Only a handful of people are interested in doing it sometimes. That's fine, help make some dumpstered vegan slop or don't. It was never something you were expected to want to do, if you didn't feel like it.

Feeling like you have some special kind of insight because you're not the type to give a damn about hungry strangers, or maybe you did for awhile and now you do other things, is still not … really … interesting.

What a bunch of boring class struggling dinosaurs, the obvious mandingo gaped hole in their critique is that the performative puritanical posturing of crimethinc(which are of course true to a degree) can also be leveled at those class struggle retards. The vast majority of the working class ARE NOT interested in class struggle or war and have never been interested in such things EVEN as far back as 1848 when something like that was tangible.

What makes the individual insurrection of crimethinc more tenable is that dropping out is a tangible concrete act that can be done by a self-aware human being. It is class war that represents the pseudo orientation of struggle outside of immediate interest and corporeality. The thinc were right to go beyond the overrated sits in that regard towards the more Stirnerian individualist anarchist position. If anything their problem was with the use of language(retaining the word revolution as well as overextending their orientation on those everyday individuals not interested) as well as harboring too much hardcore punk born puritanism which has been a recurring problem in most hardcore punk influenced anarchism(there does happen to be some truth to the body odor thing but it's also nice to smell good as well). These are problems that can be fixed towards a more congruent and performatively successful anarchic orientation.

The rest is just association fallacies which include the old Hakim Bey non issue. For the italian story if you strip the fascist thing away it is still a useful story in terms of hijacking power.

Anyway, fuck libcom and the collectivistic clASS war structural marxism that serves as its foundation.

Feel the Stirn.

That's very two-dimensional thinking you've got going on sirenizig lol

I would like to see some examples of people doing things (besides talking) which are 'post-Left' or 'post-post-Left' anarchism. If the terms are undefinable or cannot be given material form then it may be they don't mean very much. Generally speaking, the term 'Left' has been a broad category of non- and anti-authoritarian thought and practice, which would certainly include anarchism.

"Generally speaking, the term 'Left' has been a broad category of non- and anti-authoritarian thought "

seriously? ANTI-authoritarian? the left? wow, those blinders are working a bit too well

Anarchy in the age of the empty talkers...

People marching, superficially sabotaging, using reportback to make actions more important than they were...

Post post-left can be best defined starting as post-nihilist.

We are about that post-post-post-post leftism


Just go postal

The future must be without post -isms and without history, only then can the slate be clean of toxic influences.

History has already been throw at the museum. The neoliberals did it. Haven't ya got the memo? 1998 is juist last week... and the future as well.

I'm post-left in the sense that when I engage in the more familiar terrains of struggle from the 90s-00s, I do so critically. I'm inoculated against the old fallacies of the vanguard, mass organizing, faith in liberal institutions and the much newer problems of IdPol. But I still engage. I talk to people I don't agree with. I throw in with their projects if there's enough overlap.

I close the computer and get off my ass because not doing that on a regular basis is pathetic. Some of my activities are oriented by old leftist political theory, especially when there aren't a lot of other anarchists around or doing things. This doesn't weird me out that much, although sometimes I have to hold my nose. Some of those people are great, most of them suck, just like every other group of people.

I also feel smug as fuck about sitting on my ass or pursuing selfish desires for awhile, if that's what I feel like doing! Sometimes, you wake up on the I-don't-fucking-care-anymore side of the bed. Just don't live there.

Isn't this is all pretty straightforward once you kill the mccarthyist cop in your head?

Oh no, Don't kill the McCarthyism cop in your head, get him to wash the dishes and mow the lawn, that's what control freaks are meant to do.,.

You can't just go on for a few more decades negatively identifying yourself, like as post- or anti- some tendency. That is the very failure of of antifascism, or not asserting any creative vision or plan for us, outside of the neoliberal capitalism that'll just prolong thr masquerades of political fanatics.

So yer Post-Left? Good to know! But what else have you got? What are you into? What do you wanna achieve? What are you (not) doing?

Lile if you assert The Nothing, of doing stuff for nothing, just due to the realization that, indeed, that what we're doing ends up being for nothing- then at least that is asserting it. But being in relation to others? That's lame and also shallow.

-isms are spooks! Why is that so hard for people to understand? Is it because post-left has been infected by the Idpol consciousness and suddenly become post-neoliberalism, the new Facebookism?

although staying strictly negative with respect to the others seems like a waste of time. The Nothing, however, while it may eventually prove inevitable, is beyond most people's powers to think about or deal with. Don't be in a hurry with the Nothing.

Could always take the easy self-explanatory way out of commitment and call oneself an existentialist-nihilist . Then one becomes a deep thinker and edgelord ;)

This was meant to be on-topic. I don't identify exclusively as post-left. I'm not making a fucking dating profile here. Did you miss the part where I said I do things that could be described as leftist?!

Yeah, the neo-liberalism espouses purpose and freedom, but in doing so has created the burden of continuous labouring without any enjoyment, and therefore no real freedom, which needs to be redefined. The Idpol depression and anxiety is not freedom, they do not have real unique individual friends, but members of a club to complete labour without relaxation, always anxious about outcomes, always creating -isms, fascism, capitalism, Nazism, Facebookism, socialism, communism, etc etc.

I don’t understand why op keeps saying the left is collapsed and crumbling. Wishful thinking?

It doesn't have much of an existence outside of it. It has basically collapsed as a standalone ideology. It's all within the 3rd way umbrella with 3rd worldist talking points.

The Left, especially after the end of Real Existing Socialism, is a string of philosophical and practical failures. But even prior to 1989-1991, the Left had failed in any meaningful way to confront and destroy capitalism—allegedly the basis of socialism (which is supposed to be what the Left is), preferring to make accommodation after accommodation to the point of a full embrace (China). Even prior to 1989-1991, the Left had failed to confront and destroy the state—allegedly the endgame of Marxism (the anarchists have always said “why wait?”). Even prior to 1989-1991, the Left had failed in any meaningful way to confront the basis of environmental degradation and destruction (since this trajectory of Instrumentalism resulting in pollution and devastation is part of the logic of capitalism). Even prior to 1989-1991, the Left had actively suppressed any and all individual, group, and mass movement that sought to address these failures outside the approval and/or control of the establishment/official/legal Left.
The post-left anarchist discourse is merely a reminder to anarchists about these philosophical, historical, and practical failures. It is a critical discourse, not a programmatic or prescriptive discourse.
I have yet to read/hear any pro-Left anarchist (not even Wayne Price, the most prolific) express what are the supposed advantages that accrue to anarchists by continuing to be aligned with this history of failures of the Left. Anarchists have plenty of our own failures to deal with.

Good point about post-left being a critical discourse and not a prescriptive discourse.,

yeah … which is a weakness, a dead end, a bridge to nowhere. Perhaps only useful in context? Meant to be grafted on to something more substantive? Depends how generous I'm feeling.

No getting around it. Anarchs are at their best in critique as well as defacing currency(cynics). All blueprints are registered from a source of pre-interest which only serve power in the end.

It can't be grafted, it came out of the left, ran it's course, became a tumor, was severed and now stands in a glass vase. Time to start something new,.,

A little repetitive, a little preachy in the end (in ways the author critiques in the beginning), but I'm curious how this essay might effect the conversation:

Can Post-Left be defined by a move past post-modernism as well? Are we moving beyond continental philosophy and into analytical philosophy? If our words, our symbols, our representations, are not directly lived, then isn't analytical thought more relevant than continental thought? If the challenge with Post-Left is that it is very good at critique and very bad at platformism, doesn't that make sense? And, if it doesn't make sense, and should, can it not be said that anarchist epistemology simply isn't accessible enough to understand life outside both platformism/ideology and post-modernism/subjectivism?

Is Post-Left Anarchy more about the proving and less about the rhetoric? More about the reality and less about the seeming or the sale?

If we want to discuss Post-Left, in my opinion, it cannot be discussed as a collective platform. It must be discussed in terms of individual projects, individual successes, and individual failures. When it's not it fails to understand the point.

To reference a point in the art of writing, don't tell people what you can show them.

Platforms, ideologies, are easy to debate. In fact, so much capital rests on those who are best at debating it. One might call them master debaters. However, once again, it can be expected that those who have the most power in dictating thought through ideology, representing mass, banning books they disagree with and promoting those they don't, should be reviled by the idea of an action/data/evidence driven program.

So what? All this talk got us where we are today. Regardless of how well articulated one is in their rhetoric, there is still a sense that the Left had it wrong. The Left, political Preachers. The Left, activist missionaries. The Left, dogmatic ideologues. The Left, representative volunteers.

As one Leftist favorite, Beyonce once said, to the left to the left...

If one wants to know what the proving grounds for Post-Left looks like it isn't a manifesto in my opinion. It isn't a platform to be debated at book reading clubs. It isn't an ideology for thought-cops to protect with their puritanism. It's plain and simple: do or do not. If you've got a track record of successes to reference, great, some projects in your pocket where real shit is getting done, great, but if you're trying to pit one idea against another and you ain't got shit, move on. That's post-left. It's a political "bye felicia."

One thing that post-left definitely lacks though, as much as it might seek to move beyond continental into analytical (and perhaps it doesn't), is a criteria of evidence. Without a criteria of evidence, who is right? Who is wrong?

Rhetoric is fine. I enjoy a good story--especially a well told one. However, my life is something I need to organize a certain way. My time is limited. My investments are expensive. I want to know I'm going in on something solid. Dropping out of society is not solid, and even Crimethinc knew that when they "purged all traveler kids from their membership." But, I'm looking for something more. More than ideology, more than marches, more than the Left has to offer.

But, sadly, when it comes to anarchism, it takes a lot of invested time to sort through the Left overs. And, when I do, there's not really anything there but avant garde debates that the Left just isn't ready for yet, but might be in a year or two after we figure it out for them one debate after another.

criteria is plural; the singular form is criterion

"Do or do not" versus platformism <---- No. This dichotomy is poop. POOP I SAY.

Doing or not doing was always a thing. Plenty of room between total paralysis and prescriptiveness for thousands. The point is that any project you could argue is "post-left", could almost always be better described as something else … except critique.

Actually, prove me wrong. What are some examples of a post-left project that doesn't easily fit in to insurrectionary or leftist framing? Also, publishing and media projects only get half points.

Hi there!

How is "post-left anarchism" of any interest or relevance to the 99%-plus-percent of the human species who don't have a tremendous emotional engagement with calling themselves anarchists?

Take all the space you need to produce a thoughtful and persuasive answer.

Aren't all that ideological to begin with. Why would an insular esoteric critique try to go for even one percent?

likewise, how is left-anarchism, or anarchism in general, or leftism for that matter, "of any interest or relevance to the 99%-plus-percent of the human species who don't have a tremendous emotional engagement with calling themselves anarchists?"

what a meaningless question.

'We' need China if 'We' want to be Left? It seems 'We' cannot be Left via 'our' own means!!! For some one who has a degree in philosophy, the host comes out with shit. He appears to be genuine though, that's what gets me. Another thing was the inequality in China and the biodiversity meltdown: the non-human realm which has paid the biggest price for the 'rise' of 'Socialist China.' If this is the voice of the Left, fuck, what a mess. Brett, have you heard of climate change or doesn't it impact the Left? You never mentioned it on the podcast! Environmental ruin and human inequality were more or less side lined. Instead he and his guest compared 'Socialist' China to Capitalist USA! Well, most countries, come out half decent when compared to the USA, duh! Oh yes, and they have billionaires in China too. But guess what, it's OK because the Chinese State uses the billionaires for the good of the people unlike the USA billionaires using the USA State. That's why people become billionaires: so they can be used by the State for the good of the working class! AAAAAAGGGGHHHHH!!!! Oh, and how does one become a socialist billionaire who is to be used for the benefit of the people? Easy, exploit every fucker that breathes and take their sweat and pennies and amass it to er, help the people, right? Brett, you're one dumb fuck! I would take the university you attended to court because you've been duped. No wonder the Left is almost dead. China and the USA are one and the same: it is the 1% who live in both places. It weren't for people like Brett, maybe we could have change! Ted Kaczynski was spot on.

Still possible, brah. Just leave the blame game behind, maybe, and get into an actual offensive of susbtance. Just be the anarchy you want... Crush those that that get in the way.

the post left. thats why its not on the fence.

flat earth...who has shifted the posts? Apparently, the Blue Marble photo of earth is a Photoshop pic!

The left makes inane statements like "the death knells of the American middle class" in a weak attempt to gather more adherents. In theory, post-left anarchists are smarter than that, in practice...

It's always a temptation for me to engage with leftists to a degree. I must admit that I share some affinity for their ideals. Getting more money from your boss if it is possible is sweet in my book and if it means working with leftists to achieve that so be it. Dropping out is defiantly something that I considered and even experimented in before a tiny bit as well. But certainly that option isn't open to everyone and most of the time does not threaten the system. Rebelling also is tempting to me but I always cower away when I consider the very real consequence of state repression. Combating the state while cathartic can certainly get you killed, or thrown in jail for a long time. So what options am I left with, they seem to suck frankly, everyone seems so broken and defeated, or worked to the fucking bone. Shit seems bleak, so when I see classical leftist reenactors it stimulates some hope in me and I'm tempted to give it a shot again. So I dunno if there is a way out but to keep my head down and shut up or join more leftist oriented causes, maybe I'm just not creative enough. What to do what to do...

Getting money from a boss is wage slavery. It's taking money where it is not, not where it is.

As anarchist I'd favor the last option (as much as possible of course). If there is money to grab around then take it, and stop being silly with those social moral imperatives, that really are devoid of meaning.

A job would be the very last resort for me, or at least jobs that I'm okay with, that won't alienate me of peaceful mornings without stress of going to work. Life is too short to waste it in alienating jobs.

So if you want a job at least do something that pleases you, and/or makes sense out of your life.

Finding ways around work (or at least finding work that is interesting) seems like a good direction . And you're right in that regard. A few months ago I moved away from everybody I knew, It's frustrating being in a place were you barely know anybody, and rads (even leftist rads) are people who are at least willing to talk about things besides sports or video games. It's frustrating being disenchanted because I feel so damn alone in the sentiment (which hey, is one of the reasons why I'm here) with no support. But perhaps that is the challenge of this new (is it new?) phase in politics.

I've been looking into it for a long while, and our endeavor for the next years and decades should prioritize on the social tie. On developping a tenuous social tie. Doesn't have to be friendships (can be a good pretext for it tho), just regular hangouts or activities, that reach into the private bubble of everyone taking part.

Most social activities and venues these days have this same problem... they don't bind people together, or don't reach in a part of the daily lives. A true community is nothing complicated. It's not, like that text in the Black Seed (latest issue I think) that claims a community is something that needs generations to happen. It's just like what people do in rural areas in China, villagers go around the neighborhood regularly for a shot of tea. They chit-chat a little, then on to the next neighbor. This is the kind of things people do in a *healthy* small town, not Game of Thrones-like politics. Of course rivalries and disagreements exist; it's normal for about every human society I can think of....

Leave aside all the lame talk on "anarchism", and just talk about stuff that pisses you off in this world, and turns you on... whatev. Or just don't talk and play a game. Just one visit a week would solve many problems. One of the things that bother me the most is how there's so many people isolated in their cages who won't receive a visit, other than cops or bullies if they get in trouble. Where are the positive endeavors?

Some anarchos have been devleopping something of the lives in a city where I lived, not long ago. Dunno how it flied, but so it seems my "membership" was suspended, or the intercourse just didn't go on. If this initiative was for real, then it was a realyl worth and clever thing to try, tho there was something too ideological with it, lacking authenticity. Also spooky, discomforting a bit. I don't think people enjoy having everything made obvious, upfront, or be treated as an "anarchist". Tapping onto other people's sensitiviies is great, tho. Surveying, observing, adapting to others.... that's the deal. But I don't think our ideas and principles be put into bold letters in front of us. That's also not very lively. I still have yet to find a suitable crowd, I guess...

You post-left writers are way to predictable and rely too heavily caricatures of the "left." The rest is just mental masturbation to the extreme that ya'll think means innovation lol.

Please explain what advantages accrue to anarchists by continuing to identify as part of a non-caricatured Left. Perhaps you might begin with a quick definition or set of characteristics of the Left that includes a rejection of the State and Capitalism — you know, the basics of anarchism. This is bound to be difficult since I know of no part of the Left that does (except for stupid anarchists who think that government and economic exploitation are secondary or tertiary issues, which shows that they have little it no understanding about what makes anarchism a unique political philosophy). But please, do enlighten me. Take as much time as you need...

19th and 20th Century anarchism is dead as a system of community integration.

I'd like to see it's libertarian political economic platform comeback as an alternative to the dominant progressive ideology. Continuing anarchism and anarchy should be its own marginal and esoteric thing.

Well if a ' potlatch-gift-bartering ' system without currency or a gold-standard is defined as economics, and a return to a division of labour is acceptable according to talents and skills and not power strata management, as well as the abondonment of progressive utopianism and transhumanist ideologies occurs, I would agree. Of course anarchism would exist as a marginal almost archaic remnant of a previous masse collective neurosis infecting the more intelligent individuals of the previous era.,.

abolitionism, in other words The Left is for bigger cages whereas anarchists are for no cages.

3:28 here. I’m not at all confused about this; the numerous left-anarchists are the ones who are confused and promote an incoherent line. I have yet to see any cogent — let alone convincing — argument about any advantage to any anarchist by being self-identified as part of the Left...

My trailer trash pile waiting to get burned gets me thinking about the STATE, a distant but noisy pain in the ass who can fuck with me whenever. They won’t bother unless someone calls them on me for my trailer trash ways. Which gets me pondering the political proclivities of the good and moral citizens around me. Left and right.

And what do I see? A tug o’ war game. Righties versus Lefties. A stinking swill of muck lying between ‘em. Spreading and deepening, but not sos the front ones – setting the pace, keeping the balance - get too far from each other. They like glaring eye-eye. But, not so close as to smell each others wretchedness. It’s a long-ass rope. Lengths spliced on all the way down the line that curves around on each end so the anchors aren’t so far apart they can’t hear their mutually encouraging ridicules to keep them hangin on hard, diggin in good. All along the line, drivers wave signs and shout slogans:

“You won’t take my guns!” PULL! “The middle class is dying!” PULL “Baby killers!” PULL HARDER “This is what democracy looks like!” HARDER “You are all illegals!” HARDER DAMN YOU “Me too!” DIG IN “Long live the worker!” TIGHTEN IT UP “Black lives matter!” I SAID PULL FOR FUCK SAKE

Time wears on. Stinking mud-crusted feet dry off, pack on another layer, dry off, ... Stalwarts drop dead from working so hard to get nowhere. Or from drop-dead boredom. Young blood comes on, often in waves of righteous indignation when one of their precious rights gets threatened. Or a megacorp goes “too far”. Second and third waves ripple through the rank file when some genius decides to harness in the (instinctive?) resistance people do when yet another pile of shit gets dumped on top of their tired ass head. These nosy parkers cum megalomaniacs rope ‘em in, call it a movement, and hitch the new blob up to the line. Crack the whip of some “revolutionary” hero, KEEP IT TAUT, said MarxKingJeffersonSmith. Ooh, I like it to watch then, jack. Those feet go dancing like mad trying to stay outta the bloodied muck. I see what they ignore - the rope is wearing thin. I root for the final break and the chaos to follow.

My enjoyment of this proxy game rarely lasts long - too predictable, too dull. But, there are plenty of leftypol amusements when I need a fix: anti-fascist fascists, waning platformists “greening” up their cold hard steel, feminists fighting over who is a “real” feminist. And nothing gets a guffaw outta me like another -ISM battle.

Yup, lefties crack me the fuck up! But, only ‘cause I’ve got nothing to do with em. At all. Ever.
Unless they get in my way and then I figure they always got enough rope on hand to hang themself. With or without my help.

Anti-antifa is a double negative. How are you at math?

The glaring flaw of leftist and post-leftist theory is that it completely neglects to include a radical new methodology concerning the nurturing and growth of the infant through it's formative stages into adulthood. The general attitude is that children will just remain children until they are 18 and then suddenly all become devout anarchist participants miraculously marching on into a brave new future utopia. Sorry to burst your bubble, but the future looks grim, those who manage to rest some freedom from the mental shackles controlling their minds will be the very few psychonauts who have made the perilous journey through the labyrinthine gauntlet of ideological incursions.,.

That's the name and philosophical egoist analysis that is needed. When you think of things like Nietzsche's 3rd metamorphosis and the child like conception of Stirner's unique I think a word and idea like this is needed. Feminism has pretty much run its course as a means to attack hierarchy, time for something new.

I'll probably hashtag that shit on the twit.

Its about giving devolution a foundation via the conceptions of the 3rd metamorphosis.,.

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