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Postmodernism in Literature and Politics: Experimental Fiction and Post-Left Anarchy

category north america / mexico | culture | feature author Saturday February 03, 2007 19:42author by Randy Lowens - Capital Terminus Collective supporter, Atl., GA, USA (personal capacity) Report this post to the editors

Most progressives agree that traditional institutions, cultural or political, deserve a good shaking up. So we approve of discourse that challenges the boundaries set by staid literary journals or moribund political organizations. In letters as in politics, we speak on the one hand of the traditional, mainstream elements deserving of comeuppance, and on the other of the avant-garde, the rebels.

But inevitably, some wish to be more radical than the radicals, the newest new wave. This latter tendency is typically irrelevant at best, but often does real harm by posing as the "true" avant-garde and attacking more productive rebellious movements.

In the following article we will examine two cases of extremism for its own sake, consciously postmodern experimental literature, and also a school of thought called Post-Left Anarchy. We will situate each in its cultural context, and make distinctions or draw parallels as appropriate.

Most progressives agree that traditional institutions, cultural or political, deserve a good shaking up. So we approve of discourse that challenges the boundaries set by staid literary journals or moribund political organizations. In letters as in politics, we speak on the one hand of the traditional, mainstream elements deserving of comeuppance, and on the other of the avant-garde, the rebels.

But inevitably, some wish to be more radical than the radicals, the newest new wave. This latter tendency is typically irrelevant at best, but often does real harm by posing as the "true" avant-garde and attacking more productive rebellious movements.

In the following article we will examine two cases of extremism for its own sake, consciously postmodern experimental literature, and also a school of thought called Post-Left Anarchy. We will situate each in its cultural context, and make distinctions or draw parallels as appropriate.

What is postmodernism?

A broad critique of postmodernism would be beyond the scope of this article. However, since we will be considering to what extent, if any, Post-Leftism is a product of postmodernism (consciously or otherwise), and also since experimental literature is so very much a conscious product of postmodernism, a summary introduction cannot be avoided.

Briefly, postmodernism holds that the modern era- on the heels of the prehistoric, ancient, and medieval eras, beginning with the Renaissance and continuing through the Enlightenment and beyond- has ended. Humanity is said to have entered a new era, the postmodern (more modern than modernity itself, touché!) Furthermore, this new era constitutes the "end of history", the march of human progress having halted, indeed, having reached an apex. Humanity is thought to be henceforth forever moving, but aimlessly: there is nowhere of consequence left to go. Constant change is now the status quo, but it is change with no real substance, a mere shifting of the order of preexisting thoughts, and reflections of thoughts. The production of new ideas is a thing of the past: henceforth all ideas are recycled commodities, mere shadows, representations of representations. [1]

The resultant attitude is typified by irony, a rejection of the search for meaning [2] in favor of glib, self referential asides. In visual mediums, Pop Art (such as Andy Warhol's celebrations of the visages of celebrities like Marilyn Monroe) are held to be postmodern. In the musical sphere, hip hop's random samplings of previous recordings are considered "pomo".

The state of letters in the USA

Let us now, briefly, examine the state of literature in the USA, before considering postmodernism's contribution within literary circles.

For lovers of good books, popular novels are a never-ending source of dismay: periodically the shelves of Wal-mart are cleared to make room for the latest John Grisham novel, shoddily written [3], stressing plot over character development, and presenting nothing whatsoever new in the way of personal revelation or social perspective.

The discriminating reader might hope to fare better while perusing the pricey publications of the colleges and universities, the so-called literary journals. Well, journals they are, and literate, too. What they are not, is in touch with life beyond the ivory towers of academia. One searches in vain for a working class character who is not demented, violently antisocial, or just plain stupid. Mostly, though, working class characters are simply absent: in their stead we are treated to a succession of male college professors who grapple with their consciences before wrestling with female students. How novel, how risqué.

As a result of this sparsity of worthwhile content, periodically new tendencies in literature appear that consciously seek to blaze new trails, and in the process rattle the cages of the old guard. Beat literature, which championed black jazz music, working class experience, Eastern religion, and drug use, was one such example. The Beat movement produced many offshoots, among them the Transgressive school of literature. Transgressive fiction is "a genre of literature that focuses on characters who feel confined by the norms and expectations of society and who use unusual and/or illicit ways to break free of those confines... Protagonists often pursue means to better themselves and their surroundings—albeit unusual and extreme ones." [4]

This is all well and good: such rebel writers have ever made significant contributions to the literary canon. Accordingly one might hope to find on the internet, squatting in the alleyways of cyberspace, all manner of daring, original literature, transgressive and otherwise. But unfortunately, under the sway of a smug postmodern sensibility that posits change and upheaval as a normal, ongoing state of affairs, the literature of rebellion itself has become institutionalized, giving rise to a pervasive, supposedly avant-garde genre termed "experimental".

Being postmodernists, proponents of experimental literature insist that modern conventions of narrative no longer hold. Accordingly, "stories" are no longer required to begin, introduce a conflict that is resolved for good or ill, and end. The traditional (commonsensical) structure of the narrative is routinely abandoned, with little apparent concern for the reader's cognizance. In the place of structured narration we find aimless digressions coupled with abrupt changes in chronology and point of view.

In moderation, such techniques can actually be used to good effect. Ken Kesey played fast and loose with structural conventions in Sometimes a Great Notion, and the result was admirable. But to the uninitiated reader- and particularly when employed in excess- the effect of unstructured narration can be disconcerting, akin to watching a video that flashes unrelated scenes in unpredictable sequence. Film, of course, can more easily and successfully convey abrupt shifts of time and locale, than can verbiage. The puzzled reader might be forgiven a suspicion that experimental fiction is simply an unsuccessful literary attempt to mimic the effects of video.

However, once the reader is familiarized with the tenets of postmodernism (and recalls that experimental fiction consciously claims postmodernism) the underlying logic becomes all too plain: the reader's disconcertion is not the unhappy result of poor technique, but is intentional. Look at me, crows the author, I have written the anti-story. This posturing, reeking as it does of authorial self absorption, bears only contempt for the reader. As an art form, most experimental literature resembles the fare of a channel-surfing couch potato who seeks only escape, who wishes to stare at a series of images passing across a television screen, and so distract himself from his (presumably miserable) surroundings. This it resembles, more than the engrossing, challenging novels of a Kesey.

Writers of experimental literature might be forgiven such excesses, if their cut-and-paste techniques were employed as a means to convey the spiritually crippling nature of life under consumerist, industrial capitalism. That is, if the bewildering absence of narrative were intended to mimic an alienated mode of life. But if such were the case, we would expect the authors to eventually encourage the reader to sympathize, or at least identify with the protagonists. Instead, far from encouraging emotional engagement, experimental literature seems to present alienated existences, overt hostility, lives devoid of affectionate relations, and casual brutality, as ends in themselves. In other words, experimental literature is too cool to care. It is literature for an effete elite, divorced from the world of job, family, and community, where the great mass of humanity has yet to be informed that giving a damn is passé. [5]

The state of (revolutionary) politics in the USA

Mainstream politics, like popular fiction, is a deplorable mess. Advocates of the impotent vote deplore those who ineffectually march in the streets. The tradition of mass direct action in the form of strikes, boycotts, workplace occupations and sabotage, hibernates, if it is not dead. Environmentalism features the lobbyists of the Sierra Club on one futile pole, and the ritualized direct action of tiny affinity groups on the other. [6] Meanwhile, in the halls of academia, politicized professors parallel the literary journals by churning out volumes of theory divorced from the reality of modern life- for example, proposing naïve strategies that suppose capitalism can be overthrown without a fight, if all would but drop out of consumer society. [7]

Paralleling the hopeful buoyancy of Beat and Transgressive literature, within the realm of politics stands the anarchists. This idealistic movement offers the novel vision of a stateless, decentralized, self managed society. Anarchists seek to resurrect the best of past revolutionary experience and apply it to current situations, to employ mass direct action in the context of struggles between workers and communities on the one hand, and the corporate masters on the other. The anarchist movement offers a forum for dissent, a battleground even, that is not bounded by the dead ends of voting, marching, and collegiate navel gazing. The anarchist movement, whatever its flaws, offers a practical, yet simultaneously immensely idealistic, terrain of rebellion in the political sphere.

But for some, this is not good enough. Enter the Post-Left Anarchy school of thought.

The Post-Left defines itself, not by what it champions, but rather by what it opposes: The Left. [8] At this point, it is worth recalling the origins of the anarchist movement: it grew from criticisms that certain libertarian factions had with the Marxian dominated international workers movement (that's right, The Historical Left). Anarchism has always been a part of The Left. Yet Post-Leftists declare themselves anarchists, while disassociating themselves from the Left. The thoughtful observer can only conclude that Post-Leftism is a secessionist movement, seeking to lead anarchists out of the clutches of the leftist enemy, and on to more fruitful terrain.

What terrain is that, you may well ask? What program do Post-Leftists propose? Well, none, actually. Post-Leftism is "not a movement", nor seemingly even a tendency within anarchism. It is, rather, a critique. Nothing more. It is "a tool of critical thinking". [9]

There is nothing inherently bad in criticism. Marxism originated as a critique of capitalism, and anarchism, as a critique of Marxism. However, political movements throughout history- or throughout "modern" history, at any rate- have consisted of more than mere critiques, they have also identified a social base and proposed a program of action. Both Marxism and anarchism target social bases, the proposed agent of revolutionary change: for orthodox Marxists, the industrial proletariat, for latter day anarchists, workers, and the otherwise oppressed. Furthermore, these political movements (like their sundry splinters and offshoots) have programs of action: various, complex, often confusing and sometimes seemingly contradictory, but programs they have. But not the Post-Leftists, for whom criticism is an end in itself.

With Post-Leftism naught but a critical tool, rather than a movement, there remains but one anarchist movement (with myriad tendencies within, the anarcho-syndicalists, anarchist communists, and so on.). And yet Post-Leftists accuse the anarchist movement… of being insufficiently "anarchist". Too "Leftist". So we see that Post-Leftism is an ethereal, self referential critique of a critique, a supposed political movement but with no social base, no program, nothing in fact of any concrete substance whatsoever. When critics query, "We know what you are against, but what are you for?", Post-Leftists vaguely reply, "Anarchy". "Anarchy" is said to be anarchism… minus the ideology! [10] (Ideology is an example of what postmodernists call a metanarrative. Postmodernists reject metanarratives.)

As we say down South, if Post-Leftism ain't postmodernist, it sure missed a good chance to be.

Most tellingly, in Leftism 101 the author damns socialism (i.e., leftism) as having Renaissance ideals for philosophical antecedents. Renaissance and Enlightenment ideals are the philosophical foundations of modernism, which postmodernists- and, apparently, Post Leftists- reject. [11]

Why such emphasis on Post-Leftism's postmodernist foundation or connections? Because if we are truly at the end of history (as postmodernists claim), if we have achieved the apex of human development, then future revolution is either unnecessary, or else impossible. [12] The end-of-history thesis is not only egotistical, but worse, it is pro-capitalist. The notion that one can be simultaneously postmodern and an anarchist revolutionary, is oxymoronic.

At the risk of belaboring a point, Post-Leftism reduces to a shell, devoid of content. The only positive content Post-Leftism appears to offer is "the liberation of individual desire", a tired idea if ever there were one, having been rejected by the greater part of the anarchist movement almost a century ago. [13] We can hope, at least, that the Post-Leftists reject the most noxious aspects of individualist anarchism's legacy, its support for lone acts of terrorism known as propaganda of the deed. [14]

What, finally, is Post-Leftism?

Over the course of this article we have briefly surveyed postmodernism, considered how it manifests itself in U.S. letters as experimental literature, and finally examined Post-Left Anarchy for similarities or differences to postmodern ideology and practice. Unfortunately, as we have seen, Post-Left rhetoric raises more questions about itself than it answers. Post-Left is nearly always suffixed by Anarchy, so we know Post-Leftists consider themselves anarchists; they employ the circle A. But are they social revolutionaries, or merely lonely, postmodern rebels? Are they anarchists who espouse a program for social revolution whereby a subjugated sector (or sectors) of society seeks to overthrow the ruling class, or is "the liberation" of one's "individual desire" as far as their rebellion extends: the isolated worker giving the boss the finger, the wife telling off the husband, the child standing up to the parent? Are Post-Leftists but angry postmodernists, content to devote the rest of history-less time to recycling images of rebellion in a thousand varying incarnations, each with no more social significance than a Warhol rendering of a Campbell's soup can? What, in the final analysis, is Post-Left Anarchy? A shadow on the wall? Or less?

Written for anarkismo.net

[1] "…(postmodernism) implies… that the modern historical period has passed… Modernism places a great deal of importance on ideals such as ... progress… Postmodernism questions whether these ideals can actually exist at all… The pro-postmodernism argument runs that… ideas are… only inter-referential representations and copies of each other, with no real original, stable or objective source… Postmodern scholars argue that… society inevitably creates… the breaking of traditional frames of genre, structure and stylistic unity… Postmodernism's anti-ideological ideas appear to have been… strongly associated with… most forms of late 20th century anarchism…" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postmodernism

[2] - "Postmodernism, in contrast, doesn't lament the idea of fragmentation, provisionality, or incoherence, but rather celebrates that. The world is meaningless? Let's not pretend that art can make meaning then, let's just play with nonsense." http://www.colorado.edu/English/courses/ENGL2012Klages/pomo.html

[3] - - " …John Grisham uses the adjectives pretty and nice almost exclusively in lieu of description in his novel Runaway Jury, as in He had a nice smile, She had pretty eyes, She had a nice, pretty ponytail. This tells you that the author seems to admire certain smiles, eyes, and ponytails, but is too lazy or too unskilled to describe them…" Jim Chaffee, editor of The Big Stupid Review, http://www.thedrillpress.com/manifesto/manifesto-05.shtml

[4] - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transgressional_fiction (For a short example of some good Transgressive fiction, read American Loser at http://www.undergroundvoices.com/UVamericanloserI.htm )

[5] - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postmodern_literature "… the sprawling canvas and fragmented narrative… has generated controversy on the 'purpose' of a novel… (many) attack the maximalist novel as being disorganized, sterile and filled with language play for its own sake, empty of emotional commitment—and therefore empty of value as a novel." (As with any sweeping generalization, my dismissal of experimental literature runs the risk of damning some fine works. If Nabakov's Lolita is experimental or postmodern, as many contend, then the genre can count a magnificent work among its legion of failures. But- whatever Nabakov's philosophical leanings- I would characterize Lolita as Transgressive, more than experimental, noting the tale's structural integrity.)

[6] - "…Resistance to (Mountaintop Removal) generally take one of two forms, that may be categorized according to…tactics…: the liberal community groups who prioritize fundraising and government lobbying, and the champions of direct action within Earth First!..." http://www.anarkismo.net/newswire.php?story_id=4564&condense_comments=false#comment4006

[7] - "… The theory of exodus proposes that the most effective way of opposing capitalism and the liberal state is not through direct confrontation but by means of what Paolo Virno has called `engaged withdrawal,’ mass defection by those wishing to create new forms of community…" David Graber http://www.anarkismo.net/newswire.php?story_id=869&search_text=exodus

[8] - A search of the term "post left" on a prominent web site (www.infoshop.org) produces the following articles: Anarchy after Leftism, Leftism 101, Post-Left Anarchy: Leaving the Left Behind http://infoshop.org/afterleftism.html

[9] - ibid, "Post-leftism is not a movement, network or organization. It doesn't need more members or recruits because it is more a tool of critical thinking about politics…"

[10] ibid, "Leftism, as the reification and mediation of social rebellion, is always ideological… For leftists history is never made by individuals…" Jason McQuinn

[11] - http://www.infoshop.org/inews/article.php?story=04/01/27/9056501

[12]- "…By discarding 'grand narratives' (like the liberation of the entire working class) and focusing on specific local goals (such as improved day care centers for working mothers in your own community), postmodernist politics offers a way to theorize local situations as fluid and unpredictable, though influenced by global trends. Hence the motto for postmodern politics might well be 'think globally, act locally'--and don't worry about any grand scheme or master plan." Dr. Mary Klages, Associate Professor, English Department, University of Colorado, Boulder. http://www.colorado.edu/English/courses/ENGL2012Klages/pomo.html

[13] - "Both Goldman and Berkman, like almost all anarchists, firmly rejected such individual acts by that time in favour of mass resistance and collective action…" http://www.anarkismo.net/newswire.php?story_id=2135&search_text=individualist%20anarchism

[14] - "… historically been willing to engage in adventuristic practices which do not necessarily exclude the possibility of terrorism, and to link itself to the propagandists of individual action who do not have to answer to any type of mass organization. Neither does their action, unlike that of the anarchist communists, have to form part of the process of political growth of the working class and its allies…" http://www.anarkismo.net/newswire.php?story_id=38&search_text=the%20deed

author by HPWombat - Arawak Citypublication date Fri Feb 02, 2007 09:15author email hpwombat at yahoo dot comReport this post to the editors

Your strawman is on fire. It might help to read and confront the post-left critique rather than build a box around it. The post-left critique and post-modernism are not tied other than through conflict and synthesis. The critique starts in proto form with the situationists who targetted Foucault as well as other French post-modernists with their critique. Throughout the 70s and 80s, "second wave" anarchy developed with the current tendencies of the post-anarchist, the green anarchist, the anarchist primitivist and the general anarchist attempting to overcome the analysis and critique of the situationists. The post-left critique developed from this second wave of anarchy because it was becoming increasingly recognized that anarchists and the left have little in common. This was acknowledged by the socialists over a century ago when anarchists were on the wane and socialism was ascending (see Anarchism and Socialism: Antagonistic Opposites as an example of socialism after anarchy).

The critique of the left is an attempt by anarchists in general to overcome the left. A critique of postmodernism and an attempt to associate pomo with post-left anarchy is an error in logic. In fact, the status quo of the poststructuralists would agree more with the left than the post-left. Hardt and Negri are an influence on Hugo Chavez and the Zapatistas afterall.

This isn't to discount postmodernism as a philosophy, some can find a radical interpretation of pomo and not consider themselves a post-anarchist. I know at least one NEFACer that was into Pomo.

Related Link: http://midwest.azone.org
author by Randy - CTC supporter (personal capacity)publication date Fri Feb 02, 2007 20:50Report this post to the editors

Aside from asserting on the one hand that Post Leftism and postmodernism are "tied through conflict and synthesis", yet "to associate them is an error in logic" (?), Wombat does not address the thesis of this article- that for all its outsized presence in magazines and on the internet, Post Leftism is a postmodern intellectual exercise, rather than a political movement. In lieu of refutation, a reading list is offered to counter the (seemingly ample) footnoted documentation. Wombat does appear to agree with my depiction of Post Leftism as an ethereal non-substance, asserting it "can't be boxed in". (Like grasping after smoke, no doubt.)

Wombat further states that individuals might be pomo, but not Post-Left; or both; or neither; and so on. But "some can find a radical interpretation of pomo and not consider themselves a post-anarchist". The implication seems to be that the reverse is more common: typically, politicized postmodernists are Post-Left, or even "post anarchist"! I'm sure exceptions and apparent contradictions occur within this labyrinth of labels (post-anarchist, green anarchist, supposed "anarchist primitivist", etc.) This does not seem to discount the connection between (1) postmodernism and (2) Post-Leftism. Finally, as to the existence of a pomo member of Nefac: this article was written in personal capacity. Perhaps I will encounter criticism from platformists sympathetic to a postmodernist philosophy/historical perspective. We will see.

author by HPWombat - Arawak Citypublication date Sat Feb 03, 2007 03:08author email hpwombat at yahoo dot comReport this post to the editors

I didn't address your strawman because it is a logical fallacy, its an attempt to place the post-left critique into a safe little box to file away as just intellectual masturbation and does nothing to confront its ideas. The post-left critique is utilized by all anarchists that desire to overcome the conundrums of the left and is not unique to a single tendency. The offering of solutions is unique to each individual, to each tendency and practice that shares this critique from insurrectionary anarchists, to anarchist primitivists, to nihilist anarchists; from Crimethinc, to RAAN, to Wildroots and so on.

This is not an intellectual discourse, relevant to only discussion, but it has a very real impact on how we are developing our understandings of praxis and how to implement our ideas in the world.

Typically, postmodernists reinforce the dominant system or only offer leftist solutions to its presence. It is not typical for a radical interpretation to be taken by postmodernists. I've already given examples of postmodernism in relation to its often leftist interpretation. More examples of specific tendencies that draw from postmodernism would be based around autonomist communism or post-anarchism.

Lawerence Jarach, Jason McQuinn, Wolfi Landstreicher and myself are egoists in this larger scheme. Like yourself, we confront postmodernism, but we don't attempt to box a general, disambiguous critique of the left inside a single philosophic tendency, especially when our philosophy runs contrary to a postmodern interpretation. Many postmodernists avoid placing themselves in the role of agency and only discuss the possibilities of agency. Egoism is always suggestive of their subjective agency and egoist solutions only come from themselves, as it is recognized that an individual can do anything possible. I can't explain the backdrop of anarchist primitivism and its relation to postmodernism, but its more of an analysis based on anthropology than an academic discourse. And so on. My point is that postmodern philosophy is not post-left critique and post-left critique is not postmodernism. Postmodernists can be post-left and the post-left can be postmodern. Postmodernism is a philosophy and an interpretation on life, post left critique is a critique of the entire project of the left and all that it encompasses and is not limited to a single (or any) philosophic interpretation as well as any single (anti-)political tendency.

Related Link: http://midwest.azone.org
author by HPWombat - Arawak Citypublication date Sat Feb 03, 2007 03:56author email hpwombat at yahoo dot comReport this post to the editors

I am aware that you do want to critique those that offer a post-left critique. How you do this is by addressing specific writings, specific authors and/or specific tendencies and critique their interpretation of the left. This critique could be very similar to the "post left" critique in that syndicalists, those that agree with Chomsky and platformists could easily take it up as a cudgel. The platform offers a good tool for this as it is based on a critique of anarchist tendencies that shy from institutions and formal struggle.

An example of how to approach this is by attempting to refute the critique of a specific author, like the debate between Staudenmeijer and Jarach. However, this debate is a failure because Staudenmeijer did what you did, he utilized the weapons of dogma, logical fallacies, and he expected to walk through the debate with his strawmen and his "guilt by associations" intact. This is one of the reasons I stopped supporting left anarchist tendencies and it is a weakness that must be overcome should you want your tendency to be relevant within the anarchist mileau.

author by Randy - CTC supporter (personal capacity)publication date Sat Feb 03, 2007 09:35Report this post to the editors

Again Wombat reminds us that postmodernists and Post Leftists mix-and-match political labels like so many fashion accessories. Doubtlessly true, and quite to the point. Statements that stand uncontested can come to appear as self-evident truths. Post Leftists have evaded criticism, or even dispute of their arguments, for too long by employing just the semantics that Wombat offers above: "Ours is not a tendency but a critique, therefore any supposed observation of Post Leftism only applies to the individual author's tendency, but is not indicative of Post Leftism as a whole." I do not accept these evasions, so I wrote a broad overview of Post Leftism.

Far from ending, history approaches some crucial junctures, and class struggle remains central to humanity's efforts to advance (despite Post Leftists by-whatever-name claiming otherwise).

author by HPWombat - Arawak Citypublication date Sat Feb 03, 2007 11:23author email hpwombat at yahoo dot comReport this post to the editors

Randy, seriously, where is this mix and match of political labels that you are talking about? I've explained myself rather clearly about the differences in pomo and the post-left critique. Where is this mix and match? Where is this mix and match? Explain yourself. Explain yourself. Explain yourself.

Another point, what is uncontested that you'd like me to contest? Your list of questions at the end. Here is my answer (and I'm not speaking for others that are critical of the left): I am a social revolutionary, I seek to overthrow the ruling class, I am not a postmodernist, post left anarchy is a critique shared by the anarchist movement which is often avoided by the dogmatic who'd rather use logical fallacies.

Who are you quoting? Not me. Class struggle remains central to the negation of class society. Punch a bureaucrat in the mouth. For the liberation of all who want more than reform. For class war.

Related Link: http://midwest.azone.org
author by pat murtaghpublication date Sat Feb 03, 2007 13:45Report this post to the editors

Let me start off by saying that I don't just dislike "the left". I HATE the left as only a lifelong leftist can. If you want to see an historical example of what I mean just go to the collected works of George Orwell and his opinions of "the left" of his day. Unlike a lot of younger anarchists I've had lots of experience with "the left" and its various infighting and magical thinking.
All that being said I still consider myself a "leftist" no matter how much I may give the middle finger to a lot of the temporary fads of the left. On my more high blood pressure days I'd prefer to call myself a "libertarian socialist" rather than an anarchist because of the nonsense propogated under the term "anarchism" which can be much crazier than "leftism".
Such high blood pressure days are inspired by the sort of nonsense espoused by people such as the Wombat. NO...I don't suffer fools gladly. My MAIN problem with so-called "post-leftism" is that it preserves EVERYTHING that is BAD about the left while trying to eliminate EVERYTHING that is good.What follows is item # ONE of many where "post leftism" is nothing more than the WORST of leftism.
I have copied out one paragraph from the posts from Wombat above, and I will go through this piece by piece in the future. to show what I mean in what follows as POINT ONE.
For now...one of the vices of "the left" that post leftism has preserved and even exaggerated !!!!(NO FUCKING SHIT) is the desire to seem all the much smarter than you really are. Sometimes this vice takes the form of using "big words" that you have no idea of the meaning of to impress the reader. SOMETIMES you can be caught in your "display behavior" (a legitimate biological term). The word "disambiguous" does NOT appear in ANY published English dictionary, nor in any internet source that I can find. It was used in the following sentence:
"Like yourself, we confront postmodernism, but we don't attempt to box a general disambiguous critique inside a single philosophical tendency...".
Whee and whirl. There are some hints on the internet that this is a buzzword in managerial "newspeak" in computer science that has yet to reach the level of ordinary English usage, but in this context it more than smacks of one of three things:
1)An author who wants to repeat a buzzword that he has heard to appear "smart" even though he is NOT educated enough to realize that it has not entered general English. He would rather use "disambiguous" than the accepted English word "unambiguous" or
2)Somebody who REALLY wants to impress !!! his listeners with aTOTAL disregard to communication as the purpose of speaking at all. Very close to simply yelling with no regard to saying anything at all ,or
3)Somebody who is really and totally ignorant and perhaps the word is "deliberately ignorant" because they confine themselves within a tiny circle of mutual admiration that will NEVER give rise to attack such as THIS ONE.Someone who will say anything such for ther sake of talking,unaware of how this plays out outside of "the cult". Welcome to the real world Bubba !!!
So...to sum up. There is a person here who uses words that are not accepted common English in an attempt to "prove something". Words that have no accepted definition but "sound intellectual" In such a situation one has to question NOT the logic of such a poster but his morality and purpose. One thing that makes me truly sick to my stomach is the claim of such purveyors of philosophical babble to Stirner's mantle of "egoist". If there is ONE thing that people can learn from that precursor of existentialism called Stirner it is that you don't take your abstractions (ghosts/spooks) for reality. The "post-leftists" whole raison d'etre is to construct more convoluted spooks and abstractions, just as primitivists do in a more restricted view.
Well, I'll go on to pick apart the ONE paragraph that I bothered to reproduce item by item, BUT it will ONLY be ONE paragraph. I don't have the time or interest to argue with fools any further. See later posts. What I would suggest to the more rational anarchists on this board is to realize the ACTUAL place that disputes like this have in the real world. The post-leftists and the primmies have about the same influence on the real world as over 1000 of the TINIEST Christian sects in the USA have. They have far less than the NEXT 1000 MORE IMPORTANT have,let alone the 1000 more important churches above them. Leave the attack to people such as me who will repond to aggression in kind. You're free now, just as I am if I decide that argueing against American cultists is not worth my time.
So...one paragraph will be done later. So far I've only done one sentence. Yes... what I have said is "cruel", but I ask you to consider if "anarchism", that tiny movement, would perhaps be better off without cultists.I'll be "cruel to be kind" in hopes of influencing others.
Pat Murtagh
aka Mollymew

author by Randy - CTC supporter (personal capacity)publication date Sat Feb 03, 2007 18:05Report this post to the editors

Pat calls attention to the style of language used by (in this case) Wombat- not unusual in Post Left circles. This is similar to the fractured narration in much experimental fiction- a technique used to restrict access, to keep mere plebeians at bay.

According to Wombat, one can be postmodern or modern; be Post Left, or not; and furthermore, select a tendency (primitivist, green anarchist, post anarchist, etc.) And yet the Wombat is taken aback, when I refer to "mix and match" labels!

Finally, Wombat declares that he or she is a social revolutionary… after previously championing egoism, and stating that he or she does not support left anarchist tendencies (?). Rather than contest this seeming contradiction, I will point out that the article really isn't about Wombat. As documented above, the liberation of individual desire, rather than social revolution, is featured prominently on infoshop.org's summary page of Post Leftism. Meanwhile, platformists/especifistas strive for a unified anarchist program for social revolution.

author by Aragorn!publication date Sat Feb 03, 2007 18:10Report this post to the editors

The first false binary that Randy works off of is the idea that anarchism is either an intellectual exercise or a political movement. I'm quite sure you would have a hard time finding anyone that sees themselves in that analysis and you did not demonstrate this binary outside of repeating it. Anarchism for most every anarchist I have ever met, leftist or not, has been the complicated interaction of how to live an idea, how the create a world where that idea is prevalent, and not of purity.

The only place where I see this purity, either/or line spelled out is on the Internet.

I've said this before on Anarkismo but I'll repeat it because I think that the other false binary the Randy repeats (and seems to be a common one) is that there are leftists and post-leftists. The reason why the post-left critique can shown to be so limited in scope (only a critique, not a practice or identity) is because it only the work of a very few people. Most everyone who has taken that work (or that critique) seriously has moved on past the language of "post-left". The critique of the left may be the mission of the post-left thinkers (JM, LJ, WL, BB, etc) but isn't the project of anarchists who do not see the left as providing a serious answer to the problem of how to make the idea (of a stateless classless society) real.

I wish that leftist anarchists would spend more time actually building the movement that they are for than wasting their time on these shallow efforts at criticism of other anarchists.

Aragorn!

Related Link: http://anarchymag.org/aragorn
author by HPWombat - Arawak Citypublication date Sat Feb 03, 2007 21:36author email hpwombat at yahoo dot comReport this post to the editors

Disambiguation: From many possible translations picking the one with minimum semantic distance.

I was using this definition, but I wanted an adjective. Did it exist before I used it? Nope.

Related Link: http://midwest.azone.org
author by Randy - CTC supporter (personal capacity)publication date Sat Feb 03, 2007 23:17Report this post to the editors

Aragorn complains of a "false binary" between intellectual exercise and political movement. If one takes a political movement, removes the social base and program of action, what is left but empty intellectualizing (as demonstrated by Post Leftism)? Lifestyle choices? (Is this what is meant by "living ideas" and "creating worlds"?)

Aragon further wishes that social anarchists spent more time on movement building, and less on debate. I have no quarrel with an emphasis on movement building- I only took the time to write this article, because I think the volume of Post Left rhetoric on the internet (indeed the work of "a very few", very vocal individuals) presents a skewed view of the anarchist movement and its potential, and so hinders those efforts.

author by HPWombat - Arawak Citypublication date Sun Feb 04, 2007 01:18author email hpwombat at yahoo dot comReport this post to the editors

Randy, I'm having bad faith in your attempt to distort everything I say. Your example of "mix and match" is absurd. I guess anti-capitalism is mix and match as well, you can pick pomo or mo, you can pick a variety of communist and anarchist tendencies and so on.

Your critique of "post-leftism" is an attempt to turn it into an ideological strawman and I just don't fit your strawman enough for it to be valid...because your strawman isn't valid. Too bad.

Randy, post-left critique does not exist in a vacuum. I've explained that. If you want solutions, each individual and tendency that takes on the critique of the left has their own solutions.

Related Link: http://midwest.azone.org
author by Randy - ctc supporter (personal capacity)publication date Sun Feb 04, 2007 06:05Report this post to the editors

HPW says that by my reasoning, "anti-capitalism" must also be a case of mix and match. Well, social anarchism clearly isn't. True, there are different traditions (hyphenations) within social anarchism, but the similarity stops there. Postmodernism and social anarchism are (I think) fundamentally incompatible (end of history vs. prospect of revolutionary change, as already explained. A social anarchist may yet challenge this contention, but has not so far.) Nor, to my knowledge, does social anarchism feature any "critical tools" akin to Post Leftism that revolutionaries may don or not, as they see fit.

I do not think it coincidental that individualist anarchism spins off into this dizzying array of possible combinations, even as one of the foremost tendencies in social anarchism labors in the direction of theoretical and tactical unity. Individual as opposed to social, collective action as opposed to egotism, etc.

So HPW does not like my article: my premises are deemed fallacious, my arguments illogical, my perspective, dogmatic. Fine, then, I accept this as WHP's final verdict. I agree we have little in common politically. But the charges of "distortion" and "bad faith" are groundless.

author by HPWombat - Arawak Citypublication date Sun Feb 04, 2007 09:16author email hpwombat at yahoo dot comReport this post to the editors

I don't know what you are talking about again. I am a social anarchist, as are almost every single anarchist worth the name anarchist. I'm definately not an individualist, Ben Tucker and his boys are that, I'm with Most on this dichotomy. But I'm done with this, as you stated, I've said my final remarks, but it is necessary to point this out.

Related Link: http://midwest.azone.org
author by Chuck0 - Infoshoppublication date Sun Feb 04, 2007 10:44author email chuck at mutualaid dot orgReport this post to the editors

I think that it's important to underline that post-leftism has always been a *critique*, not a movement or some kind of membership affiliation. I've identified as a post-leftist, but only to the extent that I'm a supporter of this critique and think I have something to add to discussions. It's not the most important thing to my anarchism, but I see it as important.

I know that some post-leftists aren't the movement-building types, but I see nothing wrong with seeing the post-left critique as being valuable while at the same time organizing people into movements. Movement-building is pretty important to my daily anarchism--my work can be seen mostly at Infoshop where I spend lots of time posting stuff for various campaigns, movements, organization and people involved in struggles.

I also agree that there is a false binary involved between post-leftism and its critics. I think some anarchists are just being overly defensive, thinking that post-leftism is a rejection of their politics. It may be critical of aspects of their politics, but the point of post-leftism is not to determine what is the "true" anarchism.

Aragorn writes:
"I wish that leftist anarchists would spend more time actually building the movement that they are for than wasting their time on these shallow efforts at criticism of other anarchists."

I agree. There is way too much effort being spent on defensive criticism of other anarchists. This has even reached a dysfunctional stage where a variety of anarchists and organizations are being lumped together as some kind of "problem." I've been attacked by people who don't understand that I'm an anarchist who is into organizing and movement-building. If I really didn't support anarchist organizations and federations, I wouldn't spend any effort promoting the work of these groups. Please don't conflate negative criticism with a rejection of, or opposition to, certain anarchists and/or groups.

author by Randy - ctc supporter (personal capacity)publication date Sun Feb 04, 2007 21:16Report this post to the editors

HPW self identifies as Post Left, but not postmodern. But on another (simultaneous) thread, HPW includes in a definition of "anti-left anarchism… rejecting the methods of past anarchists, such as… the teleological belief in progress..."

According to wikipedia, postmodernism is defined as, among other things, "incredulity towards…the march of progress." HPW is either seriously confused, or is playing games.

Chuck echoes the criticism that I construct a false binary between post-leftism and its critics. Perhaps if one could figure what post leftists advocate (aside from criticism of anarchist/leftists) we might know if this binary is false or not.

A more relevant "false binary" (inappropriate division) is between theory and practice. I have consistently contended that theory should inform practice, and vice versa. My criticism of post leftism, rather than being personally defensive, is that it consists of a stand alone intellectual exercise, absent a " movement, membership affiliation", or other political/social structure. How does one test a hypothesis, absent a laboratory? By observation alone. How to test a political idea, absent a political practice? Armchair analysis. Who needs it?

author by HPWombat - Arawak Citypublication date Sun Feb 04, 2007 23:19author email hpwombat at yahoo dot comReport this post to the editors

Randy,

I really don't think I can have a conversation with you because you'd rather attempt to apply a strawman than actually understand people's positions. I'd like to inform you more, but I do have bad faith in how you'd take anything I say as you are searching for ways to distort my position. If you'd like to have a further conversation about this, anarchist news has published this article. Because you can't directly engage me here, being that this site promotes auditorium speak, I don't feel this site can be a venue for this discussion if you want to honestly understand my position. Post or repost something to start conversation there and I'll attempt to honestly engage you, hopefully I can have better faith in your desires to understand myself or what post-left critique is about.

Related Link: http://midwest.azone.org
author by randy - ctc supporter (personal capacity)publication date Mon Feb 05, 2007 00:55Report this post to the editors

The editorial collective that administers anarkismo.net seeks to "create an atmosphere where serious discussion flourishes." Hence the less chatty manner than one might find elsewhere ("auditorium speak").

But Wombat, whether I address you or the wider readership, my arguments (and my differences with you and post leftism) remain.

author by st_halloweenpublication date Mon Feb 05, 2007 01:13Report this post to the editors

"Accordingly, "stories" are no longer required to begin, introduce a conflict that is resolved for good or ill, and end. The traditional (commonsensical) structure of the narrative is routinely abandoned, with little apparent concern for the reader's cognizance. In the place of structured narration we find aimless digressions coupled with abrupt changes in chronology and point of view. "

Ah, yes: william faulkner is, of course, the first post-modernist. Thankfully "As I lay dying" was much to complex for a 'working man' to take notice of.

Radicalize the oppresed muddled workers, from your e-towers?

author by Randypublication date Mon Feb 05, 2007 06:24Report this post to the editors

st_halloween wrote: "...william faulkner is, of course, the first post-modernist."

I wouldn't think so (in spite of the fact that Wikipedia terms his writing style "experimental", and Faulkner did tend to write in stream of consciousness.) However, while As I Lay Dying employs numerous changes in point of view, I would not call them abrupt; the chronology was pretty straightforward, as I recall; and the tale ended quite conclusively. (Been a while since I read it, but I had no difficulty following the plot.) More importantly, there was no evidence of an abandonment of the search for meaning, and several characters were emotionally engaging- the jacket blurb crows that the tale offers "the deepest pathos".

As regards st_halloween's flippant reference to "muddled workers" and "e-towers", I will decline to whip out my class credentials. Instead, I will be content to note that the most knowledge folks I know are self educated members of the working class (particularly in the areas of literature and history). The self educated are likely more motivated to learn, seeking knowledge rather than a grade. Self education has the additional benefit of being less polluted by bourgeois assumptions and prejudices, than is the typical college course. (The challenge being, of course, finding time for research outside of work.)

Interestingly- again according to the jacket blurb- Faulkner wrote As I Lay Dying over the course of six weeks while working at a power plant. I can't say in what capacity, though it seems unlikely he was a high level manager, given that the primary focus of his attention was obviously elsewhere.

author by Wolverinepublication date Tue Feb 06, 2007 01:41Report this post to the editors

I would say there is definitely overlap between the two discourses. I myself incorporate both views into my own everyday theory. Ultimately I don't think post-leftism is about being more anarchist then the other, but simply being consistent and honest with anti-authoritarian principles. I don't think you need the post-leftists to remind you what leftists have done to anarchists in the last century. I think the antagonisms between the two are pretty easy to see. The fact is the left was born through modern instrumentality and there will always be an adherence to this in some form or another, anarchists be damned. When it comes to the anarchist praxis of how revolution works it has always been more akin to slamming the break peddle on what has traditionally been referred to as a revolution(to use Walt Benjamin’s language). This sticks in the craw of many leftists who continue to believe in such spooks as before and after, cause and effect, equality, justice, peace. I don't think anyone who thinks on a more existential level can really take those things seriously anymore.

Also one part of the essay that deserves to be critiqued

"The Post-Left defines itself, not by what it champions, but rather by what it opposes: The Left. [8] At this point, it is worth recalling the origins of the anarchist movement: it grew from criticisms that certain libertarian factions had with the Marxian dominated international workers movement (that's right, The Historical Left). Anarchism has always been a part of The Left. Yet Post-Leftists declare themselves anarchists, while disassociating themselves from the Left. The thoughtful observer can only conclude that Post-Leftism is a secessionist movement, seeking to lead anarchists out of the clutches of the leftist enemy, and on to more fruitful terrain."

On one level this is Eurocentric reductionism to tie and tether anarchist tendencies to the past 200 years. You need only read Graebers fragments of an anarchist anthropology to see the timeless tendencies that are inherent in an anti-authoritarian world view. Even Kropotkin had the good sense to look at things this way by drawing on Zeno the stoic as well as the things he wrote in mutual aid. Besides that if you want to talk about the enlightenment, look at someone like William Godwin who formed an anarchist worldview before the leftwing was really formalized. He saw to mix and match what he saw as the best of liberalism and conservativism. So on a whole tying anarchist epistemology to the ideas going back to the 3rd estate just does not work. Certainly I have a great deal of respect for those anarchists who were born of the 19th and 20th century, however I see that as one particular set of tendencies that happen in what is a timeless organic tendency. The leftwing is nowhere near being this.

And lastly to pat, it would be the people who seek to win people over to that tiny world view that are the real cultists.

author by Randypublication date Tue Feb 06, 2007 08:00Report this post to the editors

Wolverine seems to agree that:

1- post leftism is a "discourse"- a monologue or conversation- rather than a program or practice. This doesn't seem to be in dispute.

(To be fair, capital pumping surplus value out of labor is but a model, an abstraction shared by multiple tendencies within social anarchism. But within each tendency there is agreement regarding the model, and so strategy is developed accordingly. A common analysis is shared, that produces a plan of action whose ultimate goal is revolution and a classless society. Whereas among post leftists we are apt to hear of an "everyday theory" rooted in "existentialism", freed from the bogeyman of "cause and effect". Now I like intellectual musing as much as anyone, but I fail utterly to see where such theorizing is headed as regards revolution. So I must conclude that the two, post leftism and revolution, are unrelated.)

Wolverine also agrees that:

2- post leftism and postmodernism/post-structuralism overlap. But we part company in estimating the value of each.

I don't know enough to comment on anthropology, except to say I'm not against borrowing from any legitimate (i.e. rational, non postmodern) field of learning.

author by Wolverinepublication date Tue Feb 06, 2007 08:43Report this post to the editors

You are right that me and you have different conceptions of what a revolotion are randy. I certainly fight think destroying capital and state is important, but I don't see it as a primary goal for any radical praxis as I don't think that is where power and domination is primarily located. Just look at the fucked up results that have resulted from revolutions past. Also there are differences on how modes of production should work. Most people like me think things have to be as local and dispersed as possible. This is completely the opposite of what most leftists want.

author by ianpublication date Tue Feb 06, 2007 09:17author email dancethehempenjig at riseup dot netReport this post to the editors

The bland renunciation of any critical discourse is a ridiculous act of anti-intellectual masturbation. Without critical analysis, your so-called movement perpetuates the hegemonic values enculturated through generations of capitalistic upbringing.

So, how does one explain denouncing critical analyses of gender, race, privilege, and the myriad other power relationships that any self-respecting anti-authoritarian should be identifying and deconstructing (and not in the postmodern sense)?

Essentializing power to state and class relations is exactly why a post-left critique is necessary, for those who seem to think hierarchy manifests only through conscious oppression also seem to have the stranglehold on being the "voice of the movement" at the same time they attempt to create sectarian infighting with anyone who disagrees with their ideological platform.
-ian

PS. Wikipedia, unfortunately, does not have all the answers.

author by Arab Comrade - Attac Lubnanpublication date Tue Feb 06, 2007 09:21Report this post to the editors

My comrades here--from both sides-- offer an intellectually impressive debate and one that shows that one can be highly theoretical (dare one say even poststructuralist) and a committed radical.

Might I remind Comrade Randy in a spirit of solidarity that the critique that he offers is frighteningly close to orthodox Communists who find "avant gardist" intellectualism reactionary.
It is TROTSKY not Stalin that killed Constructivism in Russia--a school of political art that could have been the most radical and briliant of the 20th century.

We ALL agree here with Randy that apolitical academic professionalist theorizing is reactionary and indeed counter revolutionary. IT is the cowardly venue of so many academics who talk a great theoretical game about theorists from Marx to Foucault to Deleuze in one breath and vote Democrat in another.

However, we also must beware not to reinscribe the authority of the Canon! The idea of GREAT works which are written (generally by white, bourgeois men) to "trencend" and represent "the human condition" (which is invariably the condition only of white male bourgeois angst and alienation).

Postmodernity is NOT a philosophy or a trend. It is a HISTORICAL and MATERIAL CONDITION. When we understand this our critiques here (from randy to wombat) as radical anti-authoritarian anarchists can converge into a radical critique of POWER and CAPITAL without reinscribing the authority of bourgeois humanism.

Power to the people.

author by Ilan S. - AATWpublication date Tue Feb 06, 2007 16:31Report this post to the editors

"Postmodernism in Literature and Politics: Experimental Fiction and Post-Left Anarchy" is a big waste of efforts.
It is like a lot of talk about the tailors of the "king's new clothes...". It is mainly discussion with people who are more not honest than any thing else. It is the equivalent of discussion about the dimensions of honesty with a conman.
Some people who are wise with the use of words and public relations pretend that their fine construct of words is more important than science and facts.
It remind me a scientific research about the effect of cannabis on the spiders. They found in it that the influenced spiders made wonderful webs... but they all died soon as the webs could not catch any insects....

Attac comrade:
...."offer an intellectually impressive debate and one that shows that one can be highly theoretical (dare one say even poststructuralist) and a committed radical".

It seems some people do not discern so much between the committed radicals and the "committed radical Ltd."

Most modern-day "intellectuals" are just word mongers who cover with nice verbiage their ignorance of modern knowledge accomulated by systematic research, or just their disregard for facts as fiction seems to be more exiting.

Most of the said "intellectuals" are just "experimental Fiction mongers."
Ilan S. (Ph.D. in psychology.....)

Related Link: http://awals.org
author by Randy - CTC supporter, Atlanta, GA (personal capacity)publication date Tue Feb 06, 2007 19:13Report this post to the editors

My curmudgeonly comrade Ilan considers my efforts wasted time. Well, this is not our first disagreement. If I understand, he thinks my goal is to promote a fruitful "discussion" with the post left. Rather, my intent is to delineate our differences- perhaps my manner is not brusque enough?- to criticize, and so demonstrate for those new to anarchism that post leftism is not universally praised, or only criticized in passing by disgruntled anti-anarchists. Ensconced through the years in organizing and struggles, we can forget how bewildering and intimidating the whole matter of "anarchism" appears at first peek. Does Ilan think the articles skewering primitivism and drop out culture (Crimethinc) were also wastes of time? I don't recall his saying so.

Wolverine says that power does not reside in capital and the state- does power lie in culture and personal relations instead, necessitating the creation of "zones" that are "temporarily autonomous"? Move to a commune, that oppression no longer be "existential" (directly experienced)? How self indulgent, while the bulk of humanity remains under the heel of the bosses. Considerably more self centered than the supposedly Eurocentric outlook of social anarchism, that actually limits itself to the practical task of organizing in the modern era, rather than limiting geographically or culturally: see platformist efforts to link with especifistas, or for that matter, this increasingly international website! Finally, Wolverine might be surprised to learn that some (not all) social anarchists look to an eventually decentralized, crafts oriented mode of production.

Ian accuses platformists of class reductionism, of "denouncing critical analyses of gender, race, privilege", simply because we reject post leftism. Incorrect. See http://nefac.net/node/167 http://nefac.net/node/14 and http://www.anarkismo.net/newswire.php?story_id=434&search_text=class%20reductionism (None of the above articles are on Wikipedia, btw.)

Attac thinks I am attacking avant-garde intellectualism. Not at all, I just think postmodern post leftism is hopelessly flawed. Criticism of the literary canon as reflecting "the angst and alienation of the white male bourgeois" is likely valid. As noted before, the Beats made an effort to break out, by exploring Eastern thought and Black jazz culture. (See The Horn by John Clellon Holmes, a personal favorite that features among other things an awe inspiring use of the language.)

author by Wolverinepublication date Wed Feb 07, 2007 12:16Report this post to the editors

Well to answer the first question, for me power is a ubiquitous phenomonena so for me it resides in both things mentioned and operates on a reciporical level domination wise. As for the TAZ tactic, I certainly endorce such thing. For me struggles most organic when they are local reflecting both the means and ends of a more localized existence. Just look at the west papuan struggle for example. I have no problem with struggles linking up, but when they start talking about resesitating another global infrastructure that is when you lose me. Also in regards to the rest of humanity, to a great extent, people follow their own desires, the reason why various forms of leftist ideology have been continously rejected is because people don't want it. Its not my role to act as a missionary to save "humanity" that silly fixation. People will organize on their own time without any vanguard saving them. In regards to eventually going for a decentralized framework, how is this any different than the idea of the dictatorship of the proletariat which talks about eventually getting to communism. You live and die by your means utimately, and for those who

author by Randypublication date Thu Feb 08, 2007 07:47Report this post to the editors

Wolverine asks how intending to convert to a crafts mode of production eventually, differs from a dictatorship of the proletariat that eventually (supposedly) becomes communism? This question equates continuing mass production techniques after a revolution, with continuing the authoritarian state- a bizarre formulation to my (rational, non postmodern) way of thinking.

In a post revolutionary society, communities and federations would have many decisions to make regarding what to continue making, what to produce that was not in the past, and what to discontinue. (There is an excellent pamphlet from the anarcho-syndicalist tradition, pointing out that luxuries for the wealthy comprise the bulk of what is now produced. So in a classless society, production could be drastically curtailed- the title and author of the pamphlet escapes me.) Decisions would also have to be made, regarding how to make these things. These matters would be determined democratically- some would probably argue for a measure of continued mass production on efficiency grounds, and some (such as myself) for a preponderance of crafts. Inertia would likely favor mass production in the beginning, but less so over time ("eventually"). A Leninist vanguard would be unlikely to leave such questions to the wisdom of the people, but that is what I propose.

Social anarchism rejects the Leninist conception of a vanguard party. Platformists participate in mass movements (unions, community groups, antiwar movement, ecological struggles) as members of the movement, rather than as authoritarian leaders. We do think our ideas worthwhile, so we organize and argue for them. But we argue as equals to our neighbors and fellow workers, not as authorities or would be authorities. We do seek to lead, but by example and persuasion, rather than coercion.

author by Bakerpublication date Thu Feb 08, 2007 07:54Report this post to the editors

Thanks Randy for trying to point out the flaws in post-modernism and post-leftism.

I agree with randy that Ian's argument about platformists being class reductionists is bullshit. And it's a waste of time to go and cite example after example of how organizations and groups such as NEFAC, WSM, the FdCA, ACL, Capital Terminus or ZACF in South Africa ( to name some of the most well know) not only are theoretically confronting patriarchy, homophobia, racism, imperialism, xenophobia, etc.; but are ACTUALLY confronting the causes and manifestations of these oppressions in their program of struggle.

But Ian's also not being honest about the argument. He's arguing that based on the fact that Randy, A platformIST, disagrees with the POST-LEFTIST critique that platformISM some how denouces ALL critique (in which he includes critique of other forms of oppression outside class and state oppression). And then he characterizes platformists as class reductionists based on unresearched stereo-types of platformists.

First of all, platformism is strategy and method of organization in struggle in which anarchist communists come together to form an organization based on tactical unity, theoretical unity and collective responsibility. There is nothing inherent about platformism as a strategy or as a method of organization that distinguishes it from other forms of anarchism besides this and their historical identification with organized anarchist commumism. Anarchist communism is historically based on the left which by definition and tradition is a set of ideologies calling for the liberation of the human oppressed in their fight against human oppressors. State Communists and Liberals are either not to the left or they use left rhetoric and sloganeering to actually not serve the interest of the oppressed in their struggle against the oppressors. Some people prefer to just say that anarchism is far left.

So, attempting to say that leftism as a theory, doesn't include race, gender, sexual orientation is bullshit. To critique self-identifying leftists who don't support the liberation of folks who are racially or gender oppressed on the basis that they're being contradictory or reductionists with their ideology is valid. But the left is inherently about fighting oppression and has historically always been at the forefront of fighting oppression and advancing in the development of anti-oppression analysis (just look at early anarchists rudimentary attempts at anti-sexism through proclamations of gender equality and anti-racism through internationalism and proclamations of equality regardless of national origin) even if certain so-called leftists haven't kept pace or even been up against other folks on the left. This is opening up a can of worms, but if you're going to argue, don't do what's always done and cite particular self-identifying "leftists" as examples of how ALL leftists and the underlying IDEA of leftism that connects leftist ideology of varying degrees. Personally, I think anarchism to be the most leftist and most consistent ideology of the left. Like I mentioned before, leftists not on the side of the oppressed like liberals and state communists often claim the leftism, but their theory is inconsitent with itself.

As far as Wolverines argument that power: "operates on a reciporical level domination wise".

What are you claiming here? That the oppressed and the oppressor are similarily dominated by the relationship? Or maybe hopefully you're just talking about the interconnections of various forms of power and oppression? Hopefully you're not doing more of what Pat talks about and using vague language to try to look smart, but doesn't say anything...

Wolverine also state: "For me struggles most organic when they are local reflecting both the means and ends of a more localized existence"

And what do you mean by this? That differences regionally in the form of oppression should be counteracted in ways and with goals based on the local circumstances? If so, have you heard of federalism from the bottom up? Platformism is consistent with pluralism. Platformism brings together like-minded folks to struggle and contribute to a movement but assumes that the mass movements (which are pluaristic) will enact the revolution. And surely the (ends) outcome will look different and the (means) tactic in fighting oppression will look differently based on the location.

And this: " I have no problem with struggles linking up, but when they start talking about resesitating another global infrastructure that is when you lose me."

So what's your response to global infrastructural oppression? The oppressing forces can have their solidarity on a larger and larger level, but once they reach a certain level of solidarity then we should just pretend they don't exist or only focus on the local. That's just bad power analysis. Look at the history of why movements lost... or in your view why individual desire and freedom of a bunch of people was taken away and repressed. And it's usually in large part due to strong divisions amongst the oppressed sectors and liberating forces (usually fighting each other or refusing to support a struggle that isn't local) with strong unity amongst oppressing forces. That's the whole idea of "divide and rule" and your ideology fits right in: you focus on your shit and don't try to coordinate with other folks focusing on their shit

And then wolverine says: "people follow their own desires, the reason why various forms of leftist ideology have been continously rejected is because people don't want it."

That's a weak argument. It completely throws out any systems of power suppressing leftist ideology, suppressing lefists, destorting the ideology and a whole host of other factors. How many people actually know what anarchist communism is? Not that many as a percent in the world? So how can people reject something based upon it not fitting their own desire if they don't know what it is or have no experience with it? And even if folks did know about it and rejected it, does that mean it's not something others should follow or struggle for? That would have justified a whole host of problems in the world and argued that various responses that have come true since were a waste of time because they weren't currently widely-accepted.


And about this part: "Its not my role to act as a missionary to save "humanity" that silly fixation. People will organize on their own time without any vanguard saving them."

It's not abot acting a missionary. Fuck missionaries. It's about realizing that if any of us actually want to be liberated from our oppressions then we're only going to be able to do it together. "people will organize" is a bullshit statement. Who are these people who you don't include yourself with? We too are "people" and we too have have the ability to try to organize with others to save ourselves. It's not about saving "them" whoever "them" is. It's about seeing our own liberation as being caught up in others liberation. Or maybe as you prefer: as my desire being fulfilled linked up with other people's desire being fulfilled and the more people that work together to change it, the more likely things will change.

And this: "In regards to eventually going for a decentralized framework, how is this any different than the idea of the dictatorship of the proletariat which talks about eventually getting to communism"

What are you talking about? Platformism isn't centralized and then eventually going for a decentralized frame work. A platformist organization sets forth common tactics, aims and principles, and relationships of solidarity and cooperation based on accountability to each other. And on the local level each regional union or collective within that union carries out their own form of struggle with others in a manner consistent with the aims and prinples. The organization itself only seeks to be an influencial minority among pluralistic movements. It never seeks a position of authority within these movements, so the only power the organation should have is the power of influence based on how many people are persuaded by and adopted the ideas and methods of struggle of the organization. The goal isn't to take over movements or unions or infrastructure, but to influcence and change but maintain autonomy between the two. So there's never a subsumption of power and control at the hands of the platformist organization like the "dictatorship of the proletariat" does, instead there's a push by the platformist organization for liberation and the control of people of their own lives (including folks in the platformist organization... but our liberation both individually and as part of our workplace, or community, or society, etc.) which, in our ideals, seeks horizontal, egalitarian and liberatory relationships among these things.

author by ianpublication date Fri Feb 09, 2007 07:25Report this post to the editors

i'm not exactly sure, although not surprised, how you managed to miss my point completely and latch solely onto the last two words of my response.

"Post-leftism" (regardless of how you define it) is a critical discourse on tendencies within anarchist theory that are outdated or irrelevant to certain people. My point, and i'll see if i can state this simply enough, was that dismissing critical discourse outright is irresponsible, tired, anti-intellectual masterbation. And this is because critical discourses identify and explain relationships of power that are not necessarily overt or even conscious, and thus the praxis they inform is absolutely necessary.

What is ironic is that these comments have shown how "social" anarchists fall exactly into the mold that this sort of critical discourse identifies.

Now, continue your ignorant mud-slinging and strawman building.

author by ianpublication date Fri Feb 09, 2007 07:27Report this post to the editors

Notice the lack of an "ist" or "ism" at the end of my first response, just as an aside to the phenomenal missing of the point.

author by Randypublication date Fri Feb 09, 2007 09:05Report this post to the editors

Ian claims that social anarchists "dismiss critical discourse outright". (Translated, "critical discourse" is the discussion of various critiques.) Clearly this is not the position I have taken, having referenced the role criticisms of capitalism and Marxism play in anarchist theory.

However, political discussion of any sort that is not grounded in a political practice- this is just so much pointless hot air, dressed up in the fancy language of "essentialized enculturation". A pig decked out in a ribbon.

author by Bakerpublication date Fri Feb 09, 2007 09:09Report this post to the editors

Who dismissed critical discourse outright? I think the article is just dismissing the argumets made by your critical discourse.

"And this is because critical discourses identify and explain relationships of power that are not necessarily overt or even conscious, and thus the praxis they inform is absolutely necessary."

You want to give an example of this to back it up. Especially the "not necessarily overt or even conscious" part.

What is ironic is that these comments have shown how "social" anarchists fall exactly into the mold that this sort of critical discourse identifies."

And what mold is that? Or do you just want to put out a vague self-referencing critique?

"Now, continue your ignorant mud-slinging and strawman building."

So your arguments are "critical discourse", but our arguments are "mud-slinging" and "strawman building". Are you in the habit of setting up double standards? And how about evidence for your arguments? Or do you just like to make claims without evidence to back it up? If I'm making an ignorant argument and setting up strawmen then why don't you explain yourself and clarify what your arguments are and what is the point that I'm missing.

"Notice the lack of an "ist" or "ism" at the end of my first response, just as an aside to the phenomenal missing of the point."

Well let's see. You clearly denounce our "so-called movement". If that's not organized anarchist communism or platformism, then what are you denouncing. It would make sense to assume that you'd be criticizing the movement that the author is a part of since you said "your" in the statement. And from my understand, the author is a platformist anarchist communist. Here's what you said specifically: "your so-called movement perpetuates the hegemonic values enculturated through generations of capitalistic upbringing.

And then immediately following that, you follow with this:
"So, how does one explain denouncing critical analyses of gender, race, privilege, and the myriad other power relationships that any self-respecting anti-authoritarian should be identifying and deconstructing (and not in the postmodern sense)?"
It would make sense that you were referring to the last thing that you mentioned and denounced: "your so-called movement" (which in this case would be platformist anarchist communism). If you didn't mean that, then it's your fault for not being more clear.

"Essentializing power to state and class relations is exactly why a post-left critique is necessary, for those who seem to think hierarchy manifests only through conscious oppression also seem to have the stranglehold on being the "voice of the movement" at the same time they attempt to create sectarian infighting with anyone who disagrees with their ideological platform."

If this isn't referring to the author or platformist anarchist communism- which would be the only logical way to follow your argument without clarifying a change in your object of criticism- , then you were unclear. If it does, then we responded to it by pointing out that it's an inaccurate charcterization of platformism, leftism, anarchist communism and those who you see as the "voice of the movement" such as the folks we mentioned and rejected your argument based on how what we know about the groups contradicting your stereotypes and assumptions.

And so you don't create sectarian infighting in the creation of post-leftist critique, but we do by responding to that critique? O.k..

So what point am I missing of yours that's so obviously clear from your response? If I'm responding out of ignorance of what you're saying then it's your fault for not being clear enough.

author by Wolverinepublication date Fri Feb 09, 2007 13:00Report this post to the editors

"What are you claiming here? That the oppressed and the oppressor are similarily dominated by the relationship? Or maybe hopefully you're just talking about the interconnections of various forms of power and oppression? Hopefully you're not doing more of what Pat talks about and using vague language to try to look smart, but doesn't say anything..."

You might say that I'm saying both things bakes, if you go to work and take a good honest look at everyday social relationships you can see the everyday dynamics that recreate hierarchical relationships. One has to look a bit beyond the overly generic boss/worker.

"And what do you mean by this? That differences regionally in the form of oppression should be counteracted in ways and with goals based on the local circumstances? If so, have you heard of federalism from the bottom up? Platformism is consistent with pluralism. Platformism brings together like-minded folks to struggle and contribute to a movement but assumes that the mass movements (which are pluaristic) will enact the revolution. And surely the (ends) outcome will look different and the (means) tactic in fighting oppression will look differently based on the location."

Everything you say is ok untill you bring the idea of mass into this. While I certainly believe a revolution can be a big event, it should be an even built on the backs of various affinities such as the anti-globalization movement showed. And we are certainly at odds about splitting means and ends.
If that is what platformists have in mind than they are no different then the vanguardists the people that inflluenced an intellectually decedent Makhno to write the Platform, a document probably born of French booze.


"So what's your response to global infrastructural oppression? The oppressing forces can have their solidarity on a larger and larger level, but once they reach a certain level of solidarity then we should just pretend they don't exist or only focus on the local. That's just bad power analysis. Look at the history of why movements lost... or in your view why individual desire and freedom of a bunch of people was taken away and repressed. And it's usually in large part due to strong divisions amongst the oppressed sectors and liberating forces (usually fighting each other or refusing to support a struggle that isn't local) with strong unity amongst oppressing forces. That's the whole idea of "divide and rule" and your ideology fits right in: you focus on your shit and don't try to coordinate with other folks focusing on their shit"

You attack global infrastructure by your own local preferably luddic activities. The opressing forces that you speak of are 1st and formost a social relationship and the way you end it is to change your own behavior on the most local and immediate level. You can't ultimately control what other groups outside of you and your affinity do. Look at those who struggle in West Papua, their main message is leave us the fuck alone. We should all be so frank. Also you can't seriously be blaming localities for not supporting the "larger" struggle. This is the type of excuse that impelled Lenin and company to crush the Kronstadt and makhnovista revolt. These were groups who were not hostile to the soviets either. These are examples that show the fallacies on thinking about the "big picture". Contextual struggles are ultimately forced into the grand revolutution.


"That's a weak argument. It completely throws out any systems of power suppressing leftist ideology, suppressing lefists, destorting the ideology and a whole host of other factors. How many people actually know what anarchist communism is? Not that many as a percent in the world? So how can people reject something based upon it not fitting their own desire if they don't know what it is or have no experience with it? And even if folks did know about it and rejected it, does that mean it's not something others should follow or struggle for? That would have justified a whole host of problems in the world and argued that various responses that have come true since were a waste of time because they weren't currently widely-accepted."

I think leftist ideology has done an excellent job supressing itself. The amount of people that know about anarcho-communism is irrelevent. If you are honest about what conteporary everyday desires are(at least in advanced capitalist societies) you have to accept the fact that people just have different desires then you folks do. What keeps any society together is the concurrent role of conditioning and psychological attachment, these are not easy things to break on a big spatial level. Your energy would best be spent focussing on your own more immediate affinity based relationships.


"It's not abot acting a missionary. Fuck missionaries. It's about realizing that if any of us actually want to be liberated from our oppressions then we're only going to be able to do it together. "people will organize" is a bullshit statement. Who are these people who you don't include yourself with? We too are "people" and we too have have the ability to try to organize with others to save ourselves. It's not about saving "them" whoever "them" is. It's about seeing our own liberation as being caught up in others liberation. Or maybe as you prefer: as my desire being fulfilled linked up with other people's desire being fulfilled and the more people that work together to change it, the more likely things will change."

How do you know that many people want to be liberated? Have you actually heard it from them? The fact is that people are different and those people that organize are those that dare to change their social relationships on an everyday level regardless of what the "people" do. The people is not exactly a homogenized entity. As for my liberation, it is predicated on MY desires, when it becomes about others it becomes impersonal, there have been many a mass of people who changed things, but the only thing that changed were power players. Peoples desires are a heterogenious affair, and in many ways that is as much our blessing and curse.


"What are you talking about? Platformism isn't centralized and then eventually going for a decentralized frame work. A platformist organization sets forth common tactics, aims and principles, and relationships of solidarity and cooperation based on accountability to each other. And on the local level each regional union or collective within that union carries out their own form of struggle with others in a manner consistent with the aims and prinples. The organization itself only seeks to be an influencial minority among pluralistic movements. It never seeks a position of authority within these movements, so the only power the organation should have is the power of influence based on how many people are persuaded by and adopted the ideas and methods of struggle of the organization. The goal isn't to take over movements or unions or infrastructure, but to influcence and change but maintain autonomy between the two. So there's never a subsumption of power and control at the hands of the platformist organization like the "dictatorship of the proletariat" does, instead there's a push by the platformist organization for liberation and the control of people of their own lives (including folks in the platformist organization... but our liberation both individually and as part of our workplace, or community, or society, etc.) which, in our ideals, seeks horizontal, egalitarian and liberatory relationships among these things."

Let me highlight this quote

" A platformist organization sets forth common tactics, aims and principles, and relationships of solidarity and cooperation based on accountability to each other."

This type of thinking is really not far divorced from Lenin's democratic centralism" These bacically become a set of catechisms that the various members must follow. Platformists might say they are not centralized, but what results from "common tactics" and being accountable to them is certainly begging that direction. Afterall the founder of the platform was in awe of what he saw as a leninist "victory". Add that awe with depression and drinks and you have an anarchist who wants to paint vanguardism in anarchist colors.

author by Joepublication date Fri Feb 09, 2007 19:15Report this post to the editors

Wow Wolverine that is quite a package of misconceptions you've put together here.

Lets start with Makhno - you repeat this gossip of him as an alcoholic in France as fact yet the most authoriative biographer to date (Skirda) pretty much rules this out as a fiction created by his political opponents. In fact for most of that period Makhno was very productive producing a large volume of articles and working on his biography as well as being involved in a nuumber of projects. His output would be impressive if someone was doing it today - few anarchists writer now produce this much work in a year.

You tie this into the old fiction that Makhno wasn't central to the platform but was somehow drawn along by bad elements. This might have been belivable to the lazy 20 years ago but now that an increasing number of Makhnos articles written in the same period are available in English it is very clear this is fiction, these articles of which he is the sole author carry the same politics that is found in the platform. See http://www.spunk.org/texts/writers/makhno/sp001781/index.html for some of them

I'd guess that the reason for the misconceptions above is that like a certain trend in N. American anarchism you want to be able to claim the achivements of the Revolutionary Insurgent Army of the Ukraine in the Ukraine but deny the organisational lessons key figures drew from that experience. Again this makes little sense in the context of any detailed examination of the history of those years as it becomes clear is that large chunks of the platform are simply a description of the practise of 1918-21. In fact I think its a weakness of the document as it perhaps assumes that experience was typical of all revolutionary experiences.

Makhno was not in awe of Lenin - he saw him as a counter revolutionary who had headed a regime that had militarily wiped out workers self management and indeed had killed and imprisoned tens of thousands of Makhnos comrades in the Revolutionary Insurgent Army of the Ukraine. What he did however do was to move from the normal anarchist moralising to asking 'well how come we let ourselves be defeated by this guy'.

Finally if you think democratic centralism is similar to theroetical and tactical unity you clearly do not understand what democratic centralism is and how it functions All methods for reaching and agreeing a strategy are not the same thing. I would expect an anarchist at least to understand the vast gulf between an elected centre defining such agreement and an assembly of all those involved doing so. This is pretty ABC stuff or at least it should be.

author by Randypublication date Fri Feb 09, 2007 19:16Report this post to the editors

I agree with Wolverine (and W.E.B. Du Bois) that both oppressor and oppressed are mutually degraded (though not in equal measure). But as a practical matter, the way to end the degradation is not by the dropout strategy of refusing to participate- hardly an alternative for most laboring under capitalism!- but by breaking the power of the oppressor.

Social anarchists don't neglect hierarchies of a personal sort (though we do give priority to class, race, gender, and sexual orientation). We practice rotation of chores within our organizations, that seats of power rooted in the monopolization of certain skilled tasks- or simple charisma- be avoided. Again, the practice coupled with the theory.

Wolverine repeats the baseless charge that platformism equals Leninism. But Wolverine fails to address the previously noted distinction between Leninist authority and coercion, and the libertarian ideals of the platformist tradition. Too involved to give an adequate treatment here, see the article "Anarchist Organisation not Leninist Vanguardism" at http://www.anarkismo.net/newswire.php?story_id=2212&language=en&text_where_mode=AND&author_name=Wayne%20Price Or for that matter, see any number of other articles on anarkismo.net that make this critical distinction.

Finally and frankly, I can hardly think of anything more irrelevant to a discussion of libertarian theory and practice, than Makhno's drinking habits. "The Platform is a beginning for our politics, not an end." We do not have some silly reverence for the deity of Makhno or anyone else. Though many do respect his legacy, myself included.

author by Mollymew - selfpublication date Sat Feb 10, 2007 13:37Report this post to the editors

It's indeed nice to see that somebody can admit that they have invented a word such as "disambiguous" by a very playful corruption of some buzz word they have learned in a semantics class at University. The verb "disambigufy" is a technical term in the philosophy of language which means to assign an EXACT semantic or grammatical description to the subject of study. It is also invading computer science as a fashion word. The adjective doesn't exist, and it should have been placed in quotation marks to signify same. Which proves my point beyond measure. The ordinary English word "unamibguous" is available to ANYONE who wants to communicate rather than try and "prove" their intellectual superiority by plainly and simply "lying". Or maybe not. The dilemma is as follows. If the Wombat knew that the word didn't exist before he used it he is a liar. If he looked it up afterwards he was ignorant and pretentious-though he could also have been pretentious as a liar.
This may seem petty, but so is EVERYTHING the "post-left" puts out in their polemics against the left of anarchism. So.........in the interests of the brave soul from outside of the large community of leftism and the tiny sect of post-leftism who may stumble on this site here are a few translations from rhetoric to English, all of them chosen from the pseudo-intellectual babble of the post-leftists in comments above:
"critical discourse"= disagreement at best, insult at worst
"praxis"=the things we do
"reciprocal domination wise"= NO translation to any known language
"hegemonic values"=what the writer "thinks" the majority of other people think, mostly used to look down on said other people, often with a complete incompreshension of what they really do think.
"critical analysis"= denunciation and insults
"bad faith"= lying
Well, it is not up to me to reform a religion I don't agree with. I merely point out these FEW examples as further proof of my central contention...that post-leftism is founded on an attempt at division and status seeking that has little to do with the goals of anarchism, individualist, collectivist or otherwise. The attempt at a private language looks rather pitiful from outside the cult. But I must admit that people who take this nonsense seriously actually say that they "don't want to convert anybody" ie have a real effect in the real world. It's too bad that they can't take this minor step of honesty and apply it totally to see what it is they are doing. Or maybe they do in their emotions if not in their words.
Oh yes, by the way, I HOPE to foster "division" here myself because I want to speak to ordinary people who have NO interest in joining a cult, and I hope to mock certain nonsense into oblivion-or at least prevent it's adoption by anarchists who have the same goals as I do. I can choose the people I meet everyday or I can choose some self referential cult. The alternatives are very plain to me. I DON'T share the emotions of the post-left, and that is the bottom line. Moral rather than intellectual (or pseudo-intellectual)
Mollymew

author by Ilan Shalif - AATW; ainfos; Maspen;publication date Sun Feb 11, 2007 00:10author address Tel AvivReport this post to the editors

Hi people
Rodny responded to my comment about the futility of polemics with the "tailors of the king's new clothes" by name calling "curmudgeonly" that do not appear in my dictionary.... It seems my Asiatic English is worse than I thought. I do not blame honest comrade with the stupidity of promoting a fruitful "discussion" with the post left and the other kinds of "post-".

I just claim that delineate our differences with such scumbags is not only waste of efforts but also give them some legitimacy. There is value in criticism or even polemics with enemies when it is intended to the onlookers around who still have not got wise to the true dishonest nature of such enemies.
In these polemics the best thing is not to get into highly sophisticated arguments but to focus again and again on their dishonesty - intellectual and personal.

Randy:
Ensconced (?) through the years in organizing and struggles, we can forget how bewildering and intimidating the whole matter of "anarchism" appears at first peek.

Ilan
I do not think the whole matter of anarchism is so bewildering if you clearly define what you really mean with your kind of anarchism, and not trying to be allied with the various more or less weird trends of "anarchism". Most people can easily grasp the meaning of libertarian communist relations and multi tier direct democracy of delegates, even when they do not find it desirable or possible.

Rodny
Does Ilan think the articles skewering primitivism and drop out culture (Crimethinc) were also wastes of time? I don't recall his saying so.

Ilan
I think that "skewering" is an interesting word, but I think the more appropriate act would be just to prick pins in a a voodoo dole of theirs.

Though the dishonesty of the primitivists and the various drop out is on a different level, but like the few honest abstract postmodernist, they are just people who are running so fast from reality that you never can catch them.

I think that any reference to people who oppose the organized mode of collectives and federations that include in it direct democracy - meaning working on theoretical and tactical unity and responsibility to the collective process, that do not focus on the individualistic psychological root of theirs is a big mistake.

We were all born in capitalist system and our emotional system was molded to skew towards the individualist pole. Even those of us who overcome most of it still have it in us, but it is not good reason to go around it.

People may have many aware and unaware reasons to not join the platformist/specifist trend organizations, but it is a unique case that a person do not try to "rationalize" his not joining with concocted ideological pseudo reasons instead of the real reasons (he may or may not be aware of).

Just an exercise: try to have an honest discussion with a pro "consensus" person about the management of a big city after the abolishing of capitalism.

Related Link: http://awalls.org
author by Randypublication date Sun Feb 11, 2007 02:08Report this post to the editors

Curmudgeon- An ill-tempered person full of resentment and stubborn notions.

My comment was intended as a good natured jibe, rather than an insult. But to be safe, Ilan, I withdraw the characterization, and apologize for having said it.

As for how best to contest post left ideas- I don't consider myself a skilled debater. But I saw the need for the article, so I wrote it, and I have defended it to the best of my ability. You have not convinced me to regret this decision. But I would not be in the least offended if someone else improved upon my efforts. (It is not uncommon for someone to write an article, that is prompted by a previous article).

author by Wolverinepublication date Sun Feb 11, 2007 15:18Report this post to the editors

Let me just say that I'm being somewhat tounge and cheek with Makhno and booze(many are at their best when intoxicated), though I certainly believe that he was past his prime in France.

As for the sucess of the makhnovistas from what I've heard the majority of the peasants probably did not know who he was throughout that revolt. He was clearly the most charismatic but saying it was all him is like saying chavez is the reason there is revolution in venezuala. At the end of the day, the peasants revolt with or without nestor. As for being in awe, its not so much awe but despair at the time that led makhno to some of those conclusions. There were many people who saw the bolshevic revolution as a sucess for the simple fact that it overturned the previous system. Makhno being a slave to his times fell for that idea of "victory"(even if he hated the results). In retrospect, can anarchists really be said to have lost for simply staying consistant and prefigurative in their politics?Will we ever know what a "victory" looks like? Should we fetishize the finish line or instead look to the process itself in an everyday sense? When you fall back into to those antiquated ideas of revolutionary failure and sucess is when you start hearing about "nessary" centralization such as that link posted by randy talks about. Why is some centralism seen as "nessesary"? Just because you do not fetishize centrality does not mean that you will not end up with the same results when you start splitting your means and ends. As for the difference between DC and theoretical and tactical unity, forgive me for not falling for semantical differences. Leadership and leadership of ideas mean the same thing as far as I'm concerned.

I'll finish by posting these wise warnings from Malatesta

"But, when I see that in the Union that you support there is an Executive Committee to give ideological and organisational direction to the association I am assailed by the doubt that you would also like to see, within the general movement, a central body that would, in an authoritarian manner, dictate the theoretical and practical programme of the revolution.

If this is so we are poles apart.

Your organisation, or your managerial organs, may be composed of anarchists but they would only become nothing other than a government. Believing, in completely good faith, that they are necessary to the triumph of the revolution, they would, as a priority, make sure that they were well placed enough and strong enough to impose their will. They would therefore create armed corps for material defence and a bureaucracy for carrying out their commands and in the process they would paralyse the popular movement and kill the revolution.

That is what, I believe, has happened to the Bolsheviks.

There it is. I believe that the important thing is not the victory of our plans, our projects, our utopias, which in any case need the confirmation of experience and can be modified by experience, developed and adapted to the real moral and material conditions of the age and place. What matters most is that the people. men and women lose the sheeplike instincts and habits which thousands of years of slavery have instilled in them, and learn to think and act freely. And it is to this great work of moral liberation that the anarchists must specially dedicate themselves."

http://flag.blackened.net/revolt/platform/malatesta_reply.html

author by Ilan Shalif - AATWpublication date Sun Feb 11, 2007 20:42author address Tel AvivReport this post to the editors

You cannot expect an old and active anarchist to be less than
full of stubborn ideas that keep hir involved so long in the struggle.

WordNet (r) 2.0 [wn]
curmudgeon
n : a crusty irascible cantankerous old person full of stubborn
ideas
An avaricious, grasping fellow; a miser; a niggard; a churl.
[1913 Webster]

Crusty - Having a hard exterior, or a short, rough
manner, though kind at heart; snappish; peevish; surly.

May be (;=)

irascible -
cantankerous
adj 1: stubbornly obstructive and unwilling to cooperate;
"unions...have never been as bloody-minded about
demarcation as the shipbuilders"- Spectator [syn: bloody-minded]

Well, it seems you either not choosing the correct words or just careless... I am already cooperating in collectives with others for the last 55 years....

('=) any way we are together in it as long as you will persist....

author by Randy (personal capacity)publication date Sun Feb 11, 2007 21:07Report this post to the editors

Ilan,

Again, I apoligize for my ill considered comment.

Randy

author by Randypublication date Sun Feb 11, 2007 21:18Report this post to the editors

Platformists do not deify Makhno. Nor is the historical document, the Organizational Platform of the General Union of Anarchists, treated as a sacred text. In fact, on a list-serve that predated the creation of anarkismo.net, Malatesta's criticisms were featured prominently on a list of readings that folks were asked to become familiar with, before subscribing.

As has already been stated, what may separate platformists from other social anarchists is the emphasis on theoretical and tactical unity, collective responsibility, and federalism (considerably more decentralized than any Leninist proposals I know of). These general points were raised initially in the Platform document, so we take that name. But many platformists may well agree with Malatesta's criticisms of the particular forms that Makhno recommends, without disavowing the four principles above, the platformist tradition itself, or even the entire Platform document.

author by bakerpublication date Mon Feb 12, 2007 03:01Report this post to the editors

Wolverine: your writings are so full of misperceptions, slanders and misrepresentations, that I don't think it's worth much responding to you.

But just one clarification on your last quote:
it's funny that someone like you who seems anti-technological (you proposed "luddic" activities), anti-organizational on a wide scale, and very individualistic would quote, Malatesta, a pro-organizational class struggle anarchist communist. Like Randy said, Platformists don't deify Makhno or uphold the Platform as a sacred text or something; but simily identify with the tendency and principles that randy mentioned. But even in the original argument, you're leaving out the final response, and are selectively quoting the part that you did read. Malatesta's and Makhno had one more exchange of letters after this that confirmed that it was a problem of wording (probably in translation... since it was translated by an anti-organizationalist who was against any kind of organization in principle) and that Malatesta agreed with the Platformists' vision of anarchist organization after he saw it in action:

On Collective Responsibility:
http://www.nestormakhno.info/english/mal_rep3.htm

And just to be sure, every Platformist organization that has been created- that I know of- has confirmed in their organizational structure and operation that Malatesta had just read a mistranslated version (or at the very least didn't conform to Malatesta's original misperception of the platform).

And on top of that, the source you quoted from was quoted dishonestly. You're selective quoting of him leaves out the part just before the part that you quoted where Malatesta makes it clear that from what he knows of Makhno and his work, Malatesta feels that he and Makhno are probably actually in accordance and that it's probably a misunderstanding based on words:

"You will understand that I am far from thinking that the anarchists should be satisfied with being the simple auxiliaries of other revolutionaries who, not being anarchists, naturally aspire to become the government."

"On the contrary, I believe that we, anarchists, convinced of the validity of our programme, must strive to acquire overwhelming influence in order to draw the movement towards the realisation of our ideals. But such influence must be won by doing more and better than others, and will only be useful if won in that way."

"Today we must deepen, develop and propagate our ideas and coordinate our forces in a common action. We must act within the labour movement to prevent it being limited to and corrupted by the exclusive pursuit of small improvements compatible with the capitalist system; and we must act in such a way that it contributes to preparing for a complete social transformation. We must work with the unorganised, and perhaps unorganisable, masses to awaken the spirit of revolt and the desire and hope for a free and happy life. We must initiate and support all movements that tend to weaken the forces of the State and of capitalism and to raise the mental level and material conditions of the workers. We must, in short, prepare, and prepare ourselves, morally and materially, for the revolutionary act which will open the way to the future.

And then, in the revolution, we must take an energetic part (if possible before and more effectively than the others) in the essential material struggle and drive it to the utmost limit in destroying all the repressive forces of the State. We must encourage the workers to take possession of the means of production (land, mines, factories and workshops, means of transport, etc.) and of stocks of manufactured goods; to organise immediately, on their own, an equitable distribution of consumer goods, and at the same time supply products for trade between communes and regions and for the continuation and intensification of production and all services useful to the public. We must, in all ways possible and according to local circumstances and opportunities, promote action by the workers' associations, the cooperatives, the voluntary groups - to prevent the emergence of new authoritarian powers, new governments, opposing them with violence if necessary, but above all rendering them useless. And where we do not find sufficient consensus among the people and cannot prevent the re-establishment of the State with its authoritarian institutions and its coercive bodies, we must refuse to take part or to recognise it, rebelling against its impositions and demanding full autonomy for ourselves and for all the dissident minorities. In other words, we must remain in an actual or potential state of rebellion and, unable to win in the present, must at least prepare for the future."

"Is this what you too mean by the part the anarchists should take in the preparation and carrying out of the revolution?"

"From what I know of you and your work I am inclined to believe that you do."

But it doesn't really matter if you're selectively quoting things, you don't agree with much of anything that Malatesta or Makhno believed either way.

And one more thing, I'm pretty shocked about how you state that if the russian anarchists thought that they lost (most were murdered, exiled or sent to work camps of some sort), then they just weren't thinking about victory and loss in the right way. Are you fucking serious? You go on and deconstruct victory in your quest for personal "liberation" of your everyday life in the irrelevant dream world of your mind.

author by Mollymewpublication date Mon Feb 12, 2007 10:58Report this post to the editors

First of all I want to congratulate Comrade Ilan on posing the question in all its stark reality.I have to sat here that I disagree with Ilan almost totally, but AT LEAST he is clear. Most "post-leftism" depends on ambiguity (it is not the non existent word "disamiguous" nor the English word "unamiguous"). Horseshit thrives where people are unequipped to recognize horseshit by smell or sight. What does the term "post-leftism" mean in terms of a)the sort of society that we want, b) the most effective way to get there or c)what we want in terms of the organization towards that goal. The obviuos answer is "sweet bugger all", except that the "post-leftist" view leaves a considerable emotional option open to terrorist tactics.
This "option" is something quite different from the "individualist" anarchism that has "grown up" and developed since its primitive expression in France in the late 1800s. Behind all of its half-baked academic buzzwords "post leftism" wishes to return anarchism to that stark choice between terrorism and collective effort that has already been decided by history. The choice is stark and plain. we either opt for a movement of the majority, no matter how long it may take, to realize same or we opt for the "post-leftist" scheme of individual rebellion- something that REAL individualists have usually rejected for obvious reasons.
Here is the challenge plain and simple. Abandon the Unibomber who has been described in previous issues of 'Anarchy Magazine' as merely as "misguided hero". Call him what he IS- A psychotic murderer whose acts and theories have nothing whatsoever to do with anarchism. In other words he is an insane thug who deserves everything he gets- an example of the type of "moral idiot" that any anarchist society conceivable has to be set up to handle. If you refuse to give an answer it may say one thing ie 1)your version of "anarchy" is unrealistic or it may say a second thing that I think is more likely 2) that you have NO interest in advancing towards an anarchist society and that your goals are something else entirely-PERHAPS status struggles in a restricted world. Happy empire building. I'm glad that my financial well-being is disconnected from 'selling anarchism" ala Crimethink.
So...to return to Ilan. He has posed the question very plainly. It depends on who we want to speak to. Do we want to "try" and speak to the majority of people or do we want to create a quasi-religious cult. The alternatives are clear in my mind. There should be a more rational critique of "leftism" than that offered by the "post-leftists.
I hope to contribute to same. I am slllllowly and ponderously laying out my own views on Molly's blog under the heading of 'Molly's Anarchism'. To date this has been nothing more than 'Why I Am Not A Revolutionist', but an alternative strategy will be eventually produced. No doubt I am wrong in many details, but I believe that the overall perspective is true and I see NOTHING in everyday life to contradict it

author by Wolverinepublication date Tue Feb 13, 2007 13:50Report this post to the editors

Baker I'm hardly selectively quoting, the rest of the document is not really an ringing endorsement of the formal organization that you advocate. Malatesta was certainly not overtly negative toward it, however he would certainly resent the reductionist ways that people such as yourself use the word organization. For him what people did on an informal level was just as important as what contemorary platformists would advocate. While he did not have an overt critique of the organizational fetish as say Bob Black or Jacques Cammette, the quotes that I suplied are very much relevent to pointing out the flaws of platformism in general.

Molly

Your connecting of post-leftist tendencies to "terrorist" activities makes no sense. It was the leftist ideologues that wrote the book on that type of thing. And the ones who are cults are those who try to win people over to their cause. I accept people as they are and try to carve out my own anarchy in time with those who I find affinity with. T

author by W.B. Reevespublication date Wed Feb 14, 2007 06:31Report this post to the editors

Randy 's article is admirable in that it opens a necessary discussion of the whole notion of "Post Leftism." Necessary because, while "Post Leftism" cannot be said to represent a majority tendency in Anarchism, its exponents are in a position to dominate public perceptions of Anarchism due to their access to forums that possess the highest public profiles in the US. Any uninformed person who picks up a copy of Anarchy Magazine could be forgiven for concluding that the various critiques cobbled together under the heading "Post Leftism" are the essence of Anarchism.

From my perspective, the resulting discussion here has been useful in that it has revealed the factual truth behind the insistance that "Post Leftism" isn't a movement or even a coherent body of thought. As the responses here indicate, it is really nothing more than grab bag of critical postulates available for use against whatever the boogeyman de jour happens to be.

By itself this is nothing new. History is littered with similar examples of unprincipled debate spanning the spectrum of ideological and philosophical discourse. What is remarkable is that the exponents of these critiques feel no need to obscure the fundamental incoherence of their position. Indeed, they seem to think that this a feature rather than a bug in their non-system.

Nothing throws this peculiarity in their thinking into bolder relief than their reactions to criticism of their own position as exhibited here. Wombat is a prime example. He doesn't reject the label "Post Leftist" but he objects strenuously to any effort to identify unifying themes among the various critiques so identified. For him any attempt to summarize "Post Leftism" is a "strawman" indicative of "bad faith".

This raises an obvious question: If these critiques are all independent of one another requiring, as Wombat insists, individual refutation, if they , in fact, share no common themes, what sense does it make to describe them collectively as "Post Left?" The short answer is: None at all.

Yet, as we've seen, among the complaints advanced by Wombat rejection of the "Post Leftist" label is conspicuous by its absence. Evidently Wombat wants to embrace this collective identity while simultaneously denying its analytical validity in the hands of its critics.

The advantage of this posture is fairly clear. It allows those who espouse "Post Leftism" to call upon the full panopoly its critiques while simultaneously "liberating" themselves from the responsibility of defending any specific criticism.
If, as in this case, one's opponents refuse to accept this pose and insist on asking substantive if inconvenient questions, one need only denounce them for "bad faith" and "ignorance" before beating a hasty retreat.

We are all indebted to Wombat for giving us a splendid example of this principle in action.

Wolverine's contribution is worthy of note in that it illustrates the consequences of this mode of argument. Personally, I think Wolverine has been subject to harsher criticism than he deserves. Rather than take refuge in rhetorical sleight of hand, he has shown far more integrity by stating his positions plainly. Unfortunately, his views reflect the sort confusion one might expect when discourse is perverted by the sort of intellectual cowardice described above.

To begin with, Woverine seems to have a very tenuous grasp of fundamentals.

"Baker I'm hardly selectively quoting, the rest of the document is not really an ringing endorsement of the formal organization that you advocate. Malatesta was certainly not overtly negative toward it, however he would certainly resent the reductionist ways that people such as yourself use the word organization. For him what people did on an informal level was just as important as what contemorary platformists would advocate. While he did not have an overt critique of the organizational fetish as say Bob Black or Jacques Cammette, the quotes that I suplied are very much relevent to pointing out the flaws of platformism in general."

Here, Wolverine admits that Malatesta did not, in fact, condemn "platformism" or the platform. An admission that was missing from his earlier citation which was clearly presented in an effort to enlist Malatesta in support of Wolverine's own bias. Amazingly, Wolverine then revives this effort by insisting that Malatesta would have "resented" the supposed "reductionism" of present day platformists. How he knows this isn't at all clear unless he is engaged in political analysis via seance. He follows this utterly groundless assertion by claiming that, all admitted evidence to the contrary not withstanding, his misuse of Malatesta was legitimate.

Wolverine is not unintelligent. Neither do I think that he is consciously dishonest. Sad to say, I think it would be better for him if he were. Rather, I believe he is giving us a grim illustration of what we can expect of otherwise admirable individuals when they have been schooled in the "Post Left" mode of inquiry and discourse. In the course of one paragraph he denies quoting selectively , then admits it, then claims to read the mind of a dead man and finally claims that there is nothing wrong with any of this.

His comments here are studded with similarly breathtaking leaps in logic. He claims that there is no difference between "leadership" and "leadership in ideas." Really? So we are to understand that reading a book and agreeing with its author, or hearing an argument and agreeing with the person who makes it is "no different" than being subject to the dictates of an individual or individuals in a position of formal authority with the institutional power to enforce their will?

Doesn't this mean that the act of writing an article or book or making an argument or otherwise attempting to promote a particular set of ideas is no different than deploying the censors, propagandists, the political police or the brownshirts for the same purpose? Wouldn't all of these be considered instrumentalities of "hegemonic power?" In which case, shouldn't Anarchy Magazine cease publication forthwith? Shouldn't John Zerzan cease writing? Shouldn't Wolverine cease commenting in public forums?

"On one level this is Eurocentric reductionism to tie and tether anarchist tendencies to the past 200 years. You need only read Graebers fragments of an anarchist anthropology to see the timeless tendencies that are inherent in an anti-authoritarian world view."

Of course anyone with a general working knowlege of cultural anthropology and political history would have no argument with the idea that Anarchism's roots extend back in time far beyond the 200 years cited by Wolverine. The trouble is that Wolverine seems unaware that this could be said with equal accuracy about every other aspect of contemporary political and philosophic thought. Indeed, he seems to think that the longer the roots of an idea, the greater its legitimacy. This is a peculiar view for anyone calling themself an Anarchist to hold, considering that it is the very same principle that undergirds every defense of traditional privilege and power.

This curious consanguinity between Wolverines's viewpoint and that of Conservatives, Clerical fascists, Monarchists and Reactionaries of all stripes goes a long way towards explaining his desire to dismiss the last 200 years of Anarchist experience and thought. That stream of Anarchism, whatever else may be said of it , was not consumed with looking back towards a mythical edenic paradigm. It was always looking towards the future in the optimistic belief that Modernity was not at odds with human happiness.

Judging from his comments, I think it fair to say that Wolverine isn't interested in that sort of Anarchism. To give credit where credit is due, I think he is right in rejecting Molly's equating of "Post Left" with terrorism. That strikes me as quite a reach.

Frankly, the only comment here that I would described as both "Post Left" postive and coherent is Chuck O's. It's apparent that when Chuck says he considers "Post Left" to be a collection of disparate critiques he means it. Would that others were as principled and consistent.

Related Link: http://wbreevesrite.blogspot.com
author by Wolverinepublication date Wed Feb 14, 2007 16:51Report this post to the editors

Let me first clear the air on Malatesta, my quoting him done in no way to make the point that he is on my side. The reason why I quoted it is that the quote in itself makes sense in the context of debating the flaws of platformism. Some quotes have extra meanings and power even after their originators have passed on. In that sense there are many people who "selectively" quote to make a point. In regards to Malatestas politics, there is a fair bit of nuance to it. Many insurrectionists such as Bonnano have been very influenced by him without explicitly stating that he is of that contemporary tendency. You can take what you see as strong points of any past anarchist and incorporate it into your theory.

Now on the issue of "leadership of ideas" I would simply say what the Situs said; 'do you have the idea or does the idea have you'. In regards to Platformism their whole formal modus operendia would suggest that it is the latter. It is one thing to be influenced by a particular writer, another thing to revolve you agency around one. If I make use of any writer, I do say in a sense that he or she helps develope and raise my own radical subjectivity. It's one thing to incorporate a thinker on your own terms, another thing to see yourself as a postulate of a particular grand message. The fact that platformism takes its point of departure primarily from Makhnos last days in France shows that it does the latter. Any thinker that influences me is one that I can throw away at any given time. Publications like Anarchy are for those who want to develope their own personal theory as apposed to promoting a grand umbrella movement for the masses to gravitate towards.

Anyway you are completely incorect to say that I want to reject the last 200 years of anarchy, the opposite is true, I wish to redeem it by 1)not reducing those great tendencies to that period alone, and 2)strengthening those tendencies by not making the mistake that got so much anarchists killed in the past. The history of working with leftists has either been one of indifference or death. We honor those anarchists past to not make the theoretical and practice based mistakes of yesteryear. If you want me to be more epistomologically correct, anarchist discourse should make a break with that tendency that hugs the middle between anarchy and the pyramid. Leftism is a part of that as far as I'm concerned. And I hardly see the past as one of edens just as I don't see the future as one of progress. I'm all about the future, I just want the most immediate relations imaginable to concieve of this. Modernity is no help in that.

author by HPWombat - Arawak Citypublication date Wed Feb 14, 2007 19:14author email hpwombat at yahoo dot comReport this post to the editors

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strawman

A straw man argument is a logical fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position. To "set up a straw man" or "set up a straw-man argument" is to create a position that is easy to refute, then attribute that position to the opponent. A straw-man argument can be a successful rhetorical technique (that is, it may succeed in persuading people) but it is in fact a misleading fallacy, because the opponent's actual argument has not been refuted.

---
Anarchy magazine doesn't make a strawman true. Anarchy doesn't have essential qualities. Reeves claims a factual truth was revealed. What is that? That post-left critique isn't a movement? Randy didn't prove that, it has been stated by even its proponents that it isn't. Grab bag of critical postulates? Like post-left critique is just floating around waiting for an enemy to be taken on? That is just stupid. It is a critique of the left offered by anarchists from varying individuals and tendencies. There is no bogeyman, post-left critique isn't a critique of a phantom, but rather it is a critique of the theories and practices of the left. Unprincipled debate? What, like one where a strawman is promoted as "amirable" when it is clearly written poorly and proves nothing? More nonsense. Incoherence in post-left critique? What position of post-left critique has been discussed? Nothing? This discussion has dodged post-left critique in an attempt to pigeon-hole its position rather than confront it with any critical point. But this is nothing new, history is littered with similar examples of poor thinkers dodging a position while dogging it at the same time. I deny unifying themes? What, the strawman parallels that Randy tried to draw? Of course, this article is wack, its parallels are empty of substance and real sourcing. I didn't say "any" attempt, I very much am stating that this attempt to summarize post-left critique is a strawman and I have bad faith in Randy's ability to confront me honestly without misrepresenting my position. Reeves answers his own question on "what sense does it make to describe them collectively as "Post Left?"" I'll tell you what sense it makes, they are all critiques of the left from social anarchists. This is obvious, I don't see why Reeves can't see the forest for the trees. There is no advantage gained, I call upon my own critiques of society, not some ideology and people can critique me just fine. If they want to critique a strawman, they will lose because they are critiquing a phantom. Lumping people together and demanding they agree is all this strawman argument has done and Reeves wants this lumping to be true, when it isn't. Randy and Reeves deny my individual positions for the sake of blanket statements intending on disregarding a large variety of tendencies and their various nuances. Randy didn't ask any inconvenient questions and neither did Reeves. They assert other people's positions and expect it to stick. When the strawman doesn't stick, suddenly the individual being stuck with the strawman is dodgy. Reeves, I left this discussion for a reason. My position was being misrepresented by the author. Had it been my own article and I was being misrepresented in a similar manner I would ask the administrators to remove the troll bait. Reeves, if you want to critique me, then critique me and my actual positions. Don't continue this pattern of misrepresentation to suit your own ends. Just because you don't understand post-left critique doesn't mean you can hate it, that is worse than ignorance.

If you don't understand post-left critique, then study it and if you still disagree, then refute actual positions claimed. Are you critique Jason McQuinn or Lawrence Jarach? Wolfi Landstreicher or Bob Black? Curious George Brigade or Wildroots? What exactly are you critiquing? The critique of progress, the enlightenment, science, essentialism, mass strategy, workerism or institutionalism? Other critique of the left you'd like to critique? None of these positions are challenged in any way. A critique of the post-left critique of workerism could target Bob Black and his critique of work. A critique of the post-left critique of essentialism could target Lawrence Jarach's anti-essentialist positions. A critique of the post-left critique of institutions in strategy could target Jason McQuinn. This article doesn't even come close to doing this, nor does the follow up discussion. Admirable what?

Related Link: http://midwest.azone.org
author by Randy - CTC supporter (personal capacity)publication date Wed Feb 14, 2007 19:18Report this post to the editors

Saying that we should have ideas rather than vice versa is a nice play on words, but does not address the central point, that uniting to argue for a form of social organization (platformism) is a far cry from jailing and executing (the authoritarian state)- in spite of Wolverine's repeated attempts to paint platformists with a Bolshevik brush.

Apparently choosing words carefully, Wolverine now says platformists use "Makhno's last days in France as a point of departure", i.e. a beginning rather than an end- in contradiction to the early description of platformist principles as a "catechism". There is a world of difference between the two. Wolverine's conclusion that platformism is inherently authoritarian, follows from the former description, but not the latter. One's political practice does, in fact, matter.

This discussion has illustrated a fundamental point: for social anarchists (including platformists), the goal of anarchist revolution is a drastic dismantling of social structures, and their rearrangement on a more egalitarian, democratic, and ultimately humane basis. For those of the post left (if I may be allowed to say something, anything, categorical about that school of thought) "revolution" is a personal affair, or perhaps the business of a handful of individuals.

The contrast is stark: combine efforts to contest the rule of capital and the state, or be part of a personally libratory scene.

author by HPWombat - Arawak Citypublication date Wed Feb 14, 2007 21:35author email hpwombat at yahoo dot comReport this post to the editors

My main problem with Jason McQuinn, Lawrence Jarach and Bob Black is that they avoid detailing any sort of strategy that anarchists could apply to their daily life. While Wolif Landstreicher does do so, these former voices define much of what people take as post-left critique outside the mileau than Landstreicher. Some of the former noted have spoken of challenging people on morality or have had personal conflicts that made one question the very ethics of an anarchist, but to my knowledge their writings and a level of activism is as much as these writers have contributed to anarchist praxis. As they are some of the biggest names within the anarchist mileau, they shadow the development of anarchists such as Wolfi and others that take on a similiar direction on finding solutions in an era of leftist rot. Wolfi may also at this point be primarily a writer, but he has done an excellent job researching the writings of the Italian insurrectionary anarchists and presenting a contemporary voice for anarchist theory that speaks from a radical praxis. Left anarchists are often left confused on how to handle a critique of the left because they are poor researchers and want to hate, so post-left anarchy must be overcome, as many are doing now, in order for voices that have ideas on how anarchists should approach reality can shine and so anarchists can have an example to emulate.

Related Link: http://midwest.azone.org
author by Joepublication date Wed Feb 14, 2007 22:22Report this post to the editors

Wombat this is a global rather than US site, I think most of the writers you list would be pretty unknown outside of the US and completly unknown outside of the Anglo world. Black would be a minor exception as he has been translated by some euro punks but really the only place these guys seem to have any relevence is the one place where what you call left anarchism is almost non existent, North America (excluding Mexico and Quebec).

This whole post left thing seems to be no more than a reflection of a stagnant movement doing the traditional stagnant movement thing of looking inwards for someone to blame. The fact that you seem to think it is a good thing that it exists only as a critique (and a critique of next to nothing - there isn't even a left in any meaningful sense in the areas of North America we are talking of) speaks volumes.

author by Andrew - Anarkismopublication date Thu Feb 15, 2007 00:09Report this post to the editors

Two comments in breach of the Anarkismo.net Commmenting Guidelines have been moved to http://www.anarkismo.net/newswire.php?story_id=1700

Wombat if you want to discuss this action you may do so at that thread

author by HPWombat - Arawak Citypublication date Thu Feb 15, 2007 00:44author email hpwombat at yahoo dot comReport this post to the editors

Joe, you don't explain your point about this being a global site, it doesn't make any sense. Why should a libelous critique of the post-left be forgiven?

Related Link: http://midwest.azone.org
author by Randypublication date Thu Feb 15, 2007 19:22Report this post to the editors

I think Joe explained his point well in simple language, Wombat. Which part did you find confusing?

Libel is defined as "a false publication… that damages a person's reputation." To begin with, false means "contrary to fact", or "intentionally deceptive." It does not mean, "something one disagrees with." I think the article's documentation is more than adequate. If you dislike infoshop.org's summary page of the post left or another source, take it up with that source.

Second, you have complained repeatedly that my article addresses post leftism as a whole, rather than consisting of a serious of articles (onerous for the fatigued revolutionary) that challenges each post left writer, individually. I will not be taking this course of action, because I don't think the post left school of thought merits that measure of my time and attention. But, since libel damages a reputation and you concede that no individual writer is addressed above, his/her reputation could hardly be damaged. So the article is not even remotely libelous, being neither false nor defamatory.

At least once, post left folks have responded to my criticism of theory divorced from practice, with a defense of a given writer's level of activism (as in Wombat's comments titled "here's some help", above.) I am speaking of a school of thought with no connection to any organized or at least collective presence, rather than some individual's writing compared to his/her personal degree of involvement. (While perhaps to an individualist the latter assessment might be important, it is less so to me.)

Finally, in spite of the fact that 1- the "liberation of individual desire" features prominently on infoshop.org's summary of post left thought, as documented in the article's footnotes, and 2- Wolverine does not quarrel with the characterization of social anarchism as a social ideology, vs. the post left's individual or localist perspective, nevertheless Wombat insists- I'm not mind reading, I'm paraphrasing- that he/she both identifies with the post left, and is a social revolutionary (an identification exemplified not by supporting mass action, but by the desire to "punch a bureaucrat in the mouth").

Well, sometimes it is hot in the morning and snows in the afternoon, but that does not prevent us from saying that ordinarily mornings are cooler than midday. And it appears that, for the most part, post leftists are individualists (the apparent exception of Wombat notwithstanding. Wombat, who also disavows postmodernism while simultaneously denigrating "belief in the march of progress". Modernists typically look to improvement of the human condition over time, while postmodernists despair of such.) Bizarre exceptions duly noted on both counts.

author by HPWombat - Arawak Citypublication date Fri Feb 16, 2007 07:29author email hpwombat at yahoo dot comReport this post to the editors

Randy, your sourcing is inadequate to make any proofs and you are doing so for not other reason than diliberate misrepresentation for the purposes of defaming the post-left and myself.

Quote your actual sourcing, make your parallels with actual post modernists. I am a nihilist anarchist, Russian nihilism has been around longer than post modernism, which is influenced by nihilism. Teleological thinking is also older than pomo, which is the basis of these ideas. The burden of proof is on your shoulders, if you want to know why I have a position, just ask. If you are saying a parallel exists here, then yes, if you are trying to imply more than this, then no, you are attempting to misrepresent me. Talk about yourself and your ideas and I'd avoid paraphrasing when a direct quote would do. Your method encourages logical fallacies. If you are saying that the webpage on post-left anarchy actually didn't have anything on practice or whatever...what is your point? Its a webpage, its only exposing a few articles. Your beef is with Chuck0 as a webmaster on not providing more or with the ideas of creative commons for not spreading to enough articles on the internet. I think the blame is on you because you aren't doing proper research to assume something about a bunch of tendencies that desire to overcome the left.

Related Link: http://midwest.azone.org
author by Randypublication date Fri Feb 16, 2007 10:25Report this post to the editors

I did not say that infoshop.org's web site made no allusion to post left practice. I said that the page specifically stated that post left was not connected to a political practice. What is more, I documented the relevant statement in the footnotes. But once again, for HPW's benefit: "Post-leftism is not a movement, network or organization… it is more a tool of critical thinking."

Wombat claims the research of the above article is inadequate, but offers no evidence or argument to support this charge. Instead Wombat's claims to have divined the evil nature of Randy's black heart, whose motive is to "deliberately misrepresent (and) defame the post-left" and Wombat.

I do indeed wish to make clear the differences between social anarchism, (and platformism in particular) and the post left. But I do not find it necessary to defame Wombat in the process. Nothing I might fabricate could possibly cast the Wombat's politics in a worse light, than simply quoting and paraphrasing his or her comments.

author by HPWombat - Arawak Citypublication date Fri Feb 16, 2007 12:21author email hpwombat at yahoo dot comReport this post to the editors

My discussion with this Randy fellow over at Anarkismo was really bad. Randy couldn't help but assume my position over and over again. It was very disappointing, but I guess that's what happens when you confront an author that writes a strawman essay. I don't know if Randy actually read any of the articles, or just skimmed them, as they fail to challenge any of the points of post-left critique, instead he opts to "draw parallels". One a philosophy and an interpretation on life while the other is a political critique, often accepted as a tool for understanding anarchists position in the greater scheme of the left. So many different tendencies have learned and attempted to overcome post-left critique in a variety of ways and they way this critique has shaped the anarchist movement is still continuing to develop. Critiques of activism have not pulled the anarchists out of activism on a large scale, but those that have accepted this critique are attempting to find ways to overcome activism and not in ways proscribed by the tendencies of the left.

Anarchists experiment with many different ways to find themselves and ways to express their pro-revolutionary spirit and continue to develop a praxis based on their genuine desire for rebellion in this present society.

It is very difficult to engage Randy's essay because it is founded on so many incorrect assumptions and attempts to explain this have been fruitlessly dismissed. Randy's dogma addresses only a few articles on Post-left anarchy in a vacuum removed from the anarchist movement and those that agree with it or have their own interpretations based on many of the same assumptions. If Randy were only seeking to prove that pomo and post-left anarchy share some parallels, it would be easy to do, just as it is easy to draw parallels with the platform and Leninism, or NEFAC and the Democratic party. But he also seeks to dismiss post-left anarchist critique as empty of action or value. "Irrelevant at best", Randy states and he attempts to make post-left anarchy irrelevant by only focusing on a critique and not any tendency that happens to agree with it.

Randy points out the conflict within the first international between social revolutionaries and social democrats. The social revolutionaries started with a critique of parlimentarianism and with their dominance of the international after Marx, they found direct action and propaganda by deed as their answer to the threat that the state exposed with their suppression of the Paris Commune. Social revolutionaries always are overcoming their times and their solutions never stay fixed, experimentation is a hallmark of the revolutionary tradition, one forgotten in a post Cold War era where rebellion has been institutionalized for much of the previous Century. Randy accuses anarchists that agree with the critique as a secessionist movement, as if the Left were a sovereign territory. What a poor use of words, clearly ment to continue this pattern of hyperbole, mischaracterization, guilt-by-association and other dishonest uses of language. Such a language has contempt for the intelligence of the reader or it exposes the rooted dogma that Randy is stuck with and can't seem to shake free of no matter how I attempted to approach him in discussion.

Randy's use of "post-leftism" and his drive throughout his brief part on the post-left critique clearly shows he thinks post-left critique to be a whole system and not simply what it says it is. Randy wants to impose ideology on this critique, he wants it to be ideology very badly and he targets post-left critique as if he expects it to magically become more. When anarchists of varying tendencies should be examined, Randy opts to call post-left critique absent of practice, implying it as irrelevant as the green direct action movement and David Graeber.

Randy's biggest guilt by association is using pomo and anarchists that don't have a critique of the left as examples of the post-left, doing more than drawing parallels by using them to damn post-left critique:

"Why such emphasis on Post-Leftism's postmodernist foundation or connections? Because if we are truly at the end of history (as postmodernists claim), if we have achieved the apex of human development, then future revolution is either unnecessary, or else impossible. [12] The end-of-history thesis is not only egotistical, but worse, it is pro-capitalist. The notion that one can be simultaneously postmodern and an anarchist revolutionary, is oxymoronic."

His source for this statement isn't an anarchist, but some academic and he uses this person's perspective to assume what anyone accepting of post-left critique agrees to. This paragraph being the worst example of logical fallacy I've read since Peter Staudenmeier's attempt to dismiss post-left anarchy

What's even more laughable is Randy's attempt to avoid belaboring a point he hasn't explained, only stated in a short essay. He has nothing, yet he bodly claims as if he does. The liberation of desire, taken so out of context can mean anything and Randy is so willing to do this for that very purpose. The liberation of desire for an anarchist can mean many things, to Crimethinc "Whatever represses desire shall be destroyed by it" and so pro-revolutionary context can be found despite Randy's attempts at to find something contrary.

Randy wrongly accuses individualist anarchists of propaganda by deed. This was done by social anarchists, not individualists, this is a diliberate attempt at dismissal of the propagandists and the social anarchists that attempted to do such campaigns. Propaganda by deed was claimed by the very international Randy makes reference to, yet individualist anarchists are separate from this tradition and in fact Ben Tucker opposed the international in America, the biggest proponent of propaganda by deed in the nation. In this attempted dismissal, he wants so badly to accuse post-left critique of wanting a bombing and assassin campaign and implies that he "hopes" post-left critique isn't suggesting such things.

Overall, Randy should take my suggestions I'm leaving at Anarkismo and actually take on individual author or a group of individual authors within a particular tendency that is accepting of the post-left critique with hard sourcing and without the weight of dishonesty he has shown with this essay and the way he presents himself online. Logical fallacies are for weak and shallow ideologues, not anarchists seeking to liberate desire by rebellion.

---
I'm done with this site, the level of dishonesty on this site stretches all the way up to the editorial board. I guess Wayne is one of the few that has any decency from the platformist left. Though I disagree with Wayne and many of his points, he at least has the decency to source properly. If you want to reply to me, come to http://www.anarchistnews.org I will not be replying to this site anymore. I'd rather discuss things with statists than with the hacks from this site.

Related Link: http://midwest.azone.org
author by Randy (personal capacity)publication date Fri Feb 16, 2007 19:26Report this post to the editors

Above, in what is promised to be the final Wombat post, Wombat correctly notes that postmodernism is a philosophy or historical interpretation, while post left thought is a political perspective. The observation seems to be offered by way of criticism, but the point is not developed. In other words, so what? I never said pomo and post left were synonymous, only that the parallels were striking. Historical and political perspectives are not synonymous, but they are hardly unrelated, either.

Along the way, I am bombastically (Wombastically?) called a dishonest, dogmatic hack on the hand, then castigated for quoting a source (on the topic of postmodernism's reformist implications) who does not identify as an anarchist! Who is dogmatic?

In the fourth paragraph above, Wombat again demonstrates confusion regarding the article's content. The word "secession" was not used as a smear- I would be delighted to be led towards a more fruitful terrain of struggle. I am the first to agree that the anarchist tradition has been mired in a puddle of disorganization and futile attempts at synthesizing contradictory views (like individualism and social revolution, or social revolution and primitivism). Again, my criticism of the post left was not that it dared challenge current theory and practice, but rather that it hurls stones while failing to offer productive alternatives (beyond the tired ideas of individualism or dropping out.)

Wombat's offering of a Crimethinc quote to relate "the liberation of individual desire" to social revolution, is simply funny.

Finally I am glad to learn that Wombat disavows terrorism. (At least, I think that is the case.) So do all the social anarchists I have discussed the topic with. I also agree that Wayne Price does an excellent job of sourcing, writing articles, and debating.

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COME TO THE 5TH EVER PROVIDENCE ANARCHIST BOOKFAIR! FUN! BOOKS! MUSIC! DANCING! REVOLUTION IN THE STREETS!

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We hope in the future you too can contribute to the content of the shows by listening, calling in, and telling us what is going on in your community, events, struggles, celebrations, calls for solidarity, etc. Claro, our show is multilingual whenever possible =)
We are working on podcasting and/or setting a permanent file elsewhere for wider access.
Tune in!

Amor y Acracia!

text9th Annual Chicago Anarchist Film Fest seeks submissions 10:38 Sun 04 Jan by esperanza 0 comments

submit! between now and April 1st, 2009

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text5th Providence Anarchist Bookfair Jul 31 NEFAC 0 comments

COME TO THE 5TH EVER PROVIDENCE ANARCHIST BOOKFAIR! FUN! BOOKS! MUSIC! DANCING! REVOLUTION IN THE STREETS!

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submit! between now and April 1st, 2009

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