Watching the ongoing destruction of la ZAD in France, I’ve been thinking about how anarchists take up physical space. Examples include protest occupations such as la ZAD and Olympia Stand, insurrectionary infrastructure projects such as the Breakaway Social Center in Chicago, as well as longer-term land projects.
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.
Why has egoism recently emerged as an obsession in anarchist thought, and Stirner a mascot of anarchism?
Is it because the recent translation has revitalized the dusty rhetoric of The Ego and His Own into something more accessible and interesting to younger anarchists?
Is it due to the multiple colorful internet personalites that go to great lengths to popularize and fiercely defend Stirner's ideas across various social media platforms?
Are most anarchists hostile to therapy, mainstream or otherwise? In Against the Logic of Submission (under the heading Revolt Not Therapy), Wolfi Landstreicher writes: “Freedom belongs to the individual — this is a basic anarchist principle — and as such resides in individual responsibility to oneself and in free association with others. Thus, there can be no obligations, no debts, only choices of how to act. The therapeutic approach to social problems is the very opposite of this.. Basing itself in the idea that we are crippled rather than chained, inherently weak rather than held down, it imposes an obligatory interdependence, a mutuality of incapacity, rather than a sharing of strengths and capabilities.”
How do we mourn?
Many anarchists reject the conventions of faith-based rituals. No gods, no masters, no religion… seems to be the line most anarchists draw. We talk a good line of not falling in to religion, but like so many other spooks, the stink of religion lingers when we look at how we treat the dead.
For better or for worse anarchists are lauded with the responsibility for the failure and success of the Occupy movement. We can squirm at this but there is one point that is worth reflecting on. For the past decade anarchists (and friends) have argued, when asked and involved, for a "no demands" attitude towards the MSM and agents of the state. We understand, and agree, that this is aligned with an anarchist approach to politics (ie only negative).
One of the major problems that anarchists wrestle with is what James C. Scott terms “legibility” - that is, “the state's attempt..to arrange the population in ways that simplif[y] the classic state functions of taxation, conscription, and prevention of rebellion”. For Scott, this attempt at simplification includes large-scale centrally planned projects like relocating peasants and developing the streets of Paris to prevent rioting as well as standardized measurements and the encouragement of crop systems that lend themselves more easily to being taxed.
There is a tension between people who don't/would never call themselves anarchist but agree with (some) anarchist principles, and people who own the label. Projects like Crimethinc have perfected (?) the naming of things as anarchist, when some would call those things simple human behavior (like, making and eating meals with friends, etc). Obviously the main point of this sort of practice is to de-mystify anarchy and anarchists, to put the bomb-throwing in a larger, less scary context, or to negate the scary bits altogether.
The Zapatistas have a saying, “preguntando caminamos.”
We don’t need to be perfectionists. We don’t need to have all the answers before starting a project or pursuing a course of action—we can get started and work out the details along the way. Rapid prototyping, the process of ‘failing as fast as possible’ in order to gather feedback about what works and what doesn’t is an effective strategy for completing successful projects. But, to take a step back, why are we even motivated to work on projects or pursue any goals at all—why do we even walk in the first place?