Anarchist propositions

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Slumberjack

Silence and Beyond

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The fact that our tyrannical enemy no longer draws its power from its ability to shut people up, but from its aptitude to make them talk - i.e., from the fact that it has moved its center of gravity from its mastery of the world itself to its seizure of the world's mode of disclosure - requires that a few tactical adjustments be made. Because, indeed, that's precisely how, little by little, it has deprived the opposition forces of their sense of direction.

Let all those who thought they could change the world without even going so far as to interpret it - all those who have refused to see that they are operating in radically new conditions - deign to see things for a moment from our perspective: they'll realize that in the final analysis they are merely serving what they think they're challenging. Look at the few hysterical groupuscles working to maintain the low-intensity social guerrilla war that buzzes stubbornly around the various issues, like the "illegal immigration" issue or the "anti-National Front" struggle. That shows well enough how the negation of the Spectacle, inverted into the spectacle of negation, can act as the basis for a collective catharsis procedure without which the present state of things could not survive itself. By triggering within and against itself its Scourge of denomination, domination has made even its pseudo-contestation into the spearhead of its ideal self-improvement. To such an extent that there's no real difference anymore between these two camps that, at bottom, want the same world; it's just that one of them has the means to make it and the other just dreams of doing so.

There's no place for moralizing in this matter, just lessons to be drawn, the first of which is perhaps that the Spectacle only recognizes as a truly existent opposition the opposition that is willing to speak; that is, to speak its language, and hence to subscribe to the alienation of the Common. In all discussions, the listener imposes the terms, not the talker. Thus the real hostility, the metaphysical hostility, which allows neither the language nor the moment it will express itself to be controlled, and which moreover prefers silence to any speech, has been pushed back into the shadows of what does not appear and hence does not exist. By means of this offensive in the form of a retreat, organized capitalism has derailed all the forces of effective critique, drowning it out in its resounding chatter and adapting to it with the language of flattery, not without first having deprived it of any real point at which it could apply itself.

Slumberjack

Slumberjack

Get Rid of Yourself

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Get Rid of Yourself, an hourlong cine-tract-cum-documentary centering on the experiences and reflections of the so-called Black Bloc. Originating in Germany in the 1980s, the Black Bloc have become a bogeyman of globalization protest culture--an umbrella name for the black-clad anarchists who temporarily, and anonymously, convene in places like Genoa. With their symbolic targets and superfluous actions--looting supermarkets, ransacking banks--the group's "zones offensives d'opacite," as members characterize their tactical goal, have sought to disrupt the deliberations of the more mainstream demonstrators as much as they have the summit meetings themselves. Get Rid of Yourself uses the Black Bloc's words and images to portray the fight over globalization as a fiction, a space for losing oneself on purpose. Much of its footage is what might be expected: scenes at the barricades, hooded youths surging and scattering, swarms of cops and tear gas. Other parts of the film are set in the days and weeks just after the protests, when Bernadette Corporation and friends repaired to a quiet Calabrian beach house to take stock of the violence. These scenes of country landscapes and low-level leisure provide a melancholy countereffect to Genoa's harsh compression of events. Still other scenes layer fiction on fiction, as when footage from an undisclosed fashion shoot is merged with that of the protestors and their capitalist targets.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Noam Chomsky wrote:

LF. In the media, there was a lot of confusion in the coverage of Occupy. Is there a contradiction between anarchism and organization? Can you clarify? 

NC: Anarchism means all sort of things to different people but the traditional anarchists’ movements assumed that there’d be a highly organized society, just one organized from below with direct participation and so on.  Actually, one piece of the media confusion has a basis because there really are two different strands in the occupy movement, both important, but different.

One is policy oriented: what policy goals [do we want.] Regulate the banks, get money out of elections; raise the minimum wage, environmental issues. They’re all very important and the Occupy movement made a difference. It shifted not only the discourse but to some extent, action on these issues.

The other part is just creating communities — something extremely important in a country like this, which is very atomized. People don’t talk to each other. You’re alone with your television set or internet. But you can’t have a functioning democracy without what sociologists call “secondary organizations,” places where people can get together, plan, talk and develop ideas. You don’t do it alone. The Occupy movement did create spontaneously communities that taught people something: you can be in a supportive community of mutual aid and cooperation and develop your own health system and library and have open space for democratic discussion and participation.  Communities like that are really important. And maybe that’s what’s causing the media confusion…because it’s both.

This is a great interview.  IMO the clearest political thinker of our age.

http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/04/30/talking-with-chomsky/

Slumberjack

Metropolis - Giorgio Agamben

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I would like to start from a banal consideration on the etymology of the word metropolis. As you know, in Greek metropolis means Mother City and refers to the relationship between cities and colonies.The citizens of a polis who left to found a colony were curiously called en apoikia: distancing/drifting away from home and from the city, which then took on, in relation to the colony, the character of Mother City, Metropolis. As you know this meaning of the word is still current and today used to express the relationship of the metropolitan territory of the home to the colonies.

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I think that a confrontation with metropolitan dispositifs will only be possible when we penetrate the processes of subjectivation that the metropolis entails in a more articulated way, deeper. Because I think that the outcome of conflicts depends on this: on the power to act and intervene on processes of subjectivation, in order to reach that stage that I would call a point of ungovernability. The ungovernable where power can shipwreck in its figure of government, the ungovernable that I think is always the beginning and the line of flight of all politics.

Slumberjack

Criminalizing Anonymity

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...proposing penalties of up to five years in prison or a fine of up to $5,000 for protesters who wear a mask or disguise.

The opposition of course doesn't have a problem with the concept of the bill.  Justice Minister Rob Nicholson went on to say the bill will likely enjoy majority support, and thus is assured to become law, and that furthermore, "Destructive and reckless behaviour damages communities and should not be tolerated."  Indeed it shouldn't.

Slumberjack

Sonogram of a Potential

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The monologue of patriarchy has been interrupted many times. Many blows have been struck against the classical subject - closed, neutral, objective, cosmic. Its image has crumbled under the weight of the carnage of total wars that took all the ancient aura away from heroism; its solo speech has been drowned out by the brouhaha of the commodity Esperanto. New, improbable family relationships formed then: the old fool who's been dispossessed of his world and the plebeian excluded from everything are now supposed to find themselves on the same side of the barricades, now that there aren't any more barricades left at all.

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This text is a sonogram to the extent that it gives itself the right to obscenity, but not as an insult to some presumed "public modesty"- in the context of commodity pornocracy, that would be pitifully ingenuous. Obscene, in the etymological sense, is what should not appear in the open, what must remain hidden because the relationship it has with official visibility is a relationship of negation and exorcism, complicity and repulsion. What can be said and what can be done depends on the relationship such saying and doing have with the ethical assumptions that comprise us: the possible is the margin where our mental balance can oscillate without failing us, where desubjectivation can be exercised without turning into delirium.

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There is a kind of discourse about love and insurrection that make all love and insurrection impossible. There's also a kind of discourse about women's freedom that simultaneously disqualifies both the term "woman" and the term "freedom." What allows practices of freedom to surface is not whatever isn't recuperable by domination, but what dearticulates the mechanisms producing our own emotional and psychosomatic disorder. The aim is not to abolish the malaise that pushes us to revolt so as to better adapt us to an obviously toxic system for managing bodies, nor is it to learn how to better struggle within the hindrances of the present contingency in the name of some "strategy" that would lead us to victory. Because victory does not mean readapting the world through struggle, but adapting the world to struggle itself. That's why all logic of differentiation serves a time with no present: the only really urgent thing for us now is to render the disturbance offensive, to become its accomplices, because "better death than the health they offer us." (G. Deleuze)

One indeed must be obscene, because everything visible within biopolitical democracies is already colonized with a melancholic kind of obscenity that safely packages what should be scandalous.

What's possible among men and women has unquestionably to do with the obscenity of our times, but it happens that the space of this connivance is neither immutable nor indecent, merely the result of a particular culture that is growing old and not doing it gracefully, forgetting patriarchy but remaining misogynist.

Slumberjack

Being and Power: Heidegger and Foucault 

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For Foucault, power, like Heidegger's being, is no fixed entity or institution, but is incarnated in historical social practices. "One needs to be nominalistic," he tells us, "power is not an institution, and not a structure; neither is it a certain strength we are endowed with; it is the name that one attributes to a complex strategical situation in a particular society." This strategical situation arises from specific individuals and groups opposing one another. These actions, taken together, open a social space in which people, things, and the real are defined. Like the clearing, power is productive. Foucault tells us: "Power produces; it produces reality," that is, it determines what it makes sense to believe and to do.

Slumberjack

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Thx Slumberjack a great resource. I got me reading this analysis that the real Kropotkins did just before WWI.  His writing is so very on point to the current world situation except of course that Britian has been demoted to second in command in the imperial scheming.

We are facing the same forces as ruled the world in 1913. Then as now the 1% were nasty racist imperialists.

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Notes: Translated from “La Science Moderne et l’Anarchie,” published by P.-V. Stock, Paris (February, 1913).

Pëtr Kropotkin
Wars and Capitalism

I. Industrial Competition

II. The Great Financial Houses.

III. War and Industry

IV. Industrial Crises Due to Anticipation of War.

I. Industrial Competition

In 1883, when England, Germany, Austria, and Roumania, taking advantage of the isolation of France, leagued themselves against Russia, and a terrible European war was about to blaze forth, we pointed out in the Révolté what were the real motives for rivalry among States and the wars resulting therefrom.

The reason for modern war is always the competition for markets and the right to exploit nations backward in industry. In Europe we no longer fight for the honour of kings. Armies are pitted against each other that the revenues of Messrs. Almighty Rothschild, of Schneider, of the Most Worshipful Company of Anzin, or of the most Holy Catholic Bank of Rome may remain unimpaired. Kings are no longer of any account.

In fact, all wars in Europe during the last hundred and fifty years were wars fought for industrial advantage and the rights of exploitation. Towards the end of the eighteenth century the great industries and world commerce of France, backed by her navy and her colonies in America (Canada) and Asia (in India), began to develop. Thereupon England, who had already crushed her competitors in Spain and Holland, anxious to keep her herself alone the monopoly of maritime commerce, of sea-power, and of a Colonial Empire, took advantage of the Revolution in France to begin a whole series of wars against her. From that moment England understood what riches a monopolised outlet for her growing industry would bring in. Finding herself rich enough to pay for the armies of Prussia, Austria, and Russia, she waged during a quarter of a century a succession of terrible and disastrous wars against France. That country was compelled to drain herself in order to withstand these wars, and only at this price was she able to uphold her right to remain a “Great Power.” That is to say, she retained her right of refusing to submit to all the conditions that English monopolists endeavoured to impose upon her to the advantage of their own commerce. She upheld her right to a navy and to military ports. Frustrated in her plans for expansion in North America, where she lost Canada, and in India, where she was compelled to abandon her colonies, she received in return permission to create a Colonial Empire in Africa on condition that she did not touch Egypt; she was permitted to enrich her monopolists by pillaging the Arabs of Algeria.

Later on, in the second half of the nineteenth century, it was Germany’s turn. When serfdom was abolished as a consequence of the uprisings in 1848, and the abolition of communal property compelled young peasants in a body to leave the country for the town, where they offered themselves as “out-of-works” at starvation wages to the Masters of Industry, Industry on a large scale began to flourish in several German States. German manufacturers soon got to understand that if the working classes were given a good technical education they would rapidly overtake great industrial countries like France and England — on condition, be it well understood, of obtaining for Germany advantageous outlets beyond her frontiers. They knew what Proudhon had so well demonstrated: that a trader can only succeed in substantially enriching himself if a large portion of his produce is exported to other countries, where it can be sold at a price not obtainable in the country where it was manufactured.

Since that time, in all the social strata of Germany — those of the exploited as well as those of the exploiters — there was a passionate desire to unify Germany at all costs: to build up a powerful Empire capable of supporting an immense army and a strong navy, which would be able to conquer ports in the North Sea and the Adriatic, and some day ports in Africa and the East — an Empire which would be the dictator of economic law in Europe.

For this plan to succeed, it was evidently necessary to break the strength of France, who would have resisted, and who at that time had, or seemed to have, the power of preventing its execution.

From these circumstances resulted the terrible war of 1870, with all its sad consequences as regards universal progress, which we suffer from even to-day.

By this war and this victory over France, a Germanic Empire — the dream of Radicals, State Socialists, and partly of German Conservatives since 1848 — was at last constituted. And this Empire made itself felt and its political power recognised, as well as its right to lay down the law in Europe.

Germany, on entering a striking period of juvenile activity, quickly succeeded in doubling and trebling her industrial productivity, and soon increasing it tenfold; and now the German middle classes covet new sources of enrichment in the plains of Poland, in the prairies of Hungary, on the plateaus of Africa, and especially around the railway line to Bagdad in the rich valleys of Asia Minor, which can provide German capitalists one of the most beautiful skies in the world. It may be so with Egypt also some day.

Therefore, it is ports for export, and especially military ports in the Mediterranean Adriatic and in the Adriatic of the Indian Ocean — the Persian Gulf — as well as on the African coast in Beira, and also in the Pacific, that these schemers of German colonial trade wish to conquer. Their faithful servant, the German Empire, with its armies and ironclads, is at their service for this purpose.

But at every step these new conquerors meet with a formidable rival — England bars the way.

Jealous of keeping her supremacy on the sea, jealous above all of keeping her colonies for exploitation by her own monopolists, scared by the success of Germany’s colonial policy and the rapid development of her navy, England is redoubling her efforts in order to have a fleet capable of infallibly crushing her German rival. England looks everywhere for allies to weaken the military power of Germany on land. And when the English press sow alarm and terror, pretending to fear a German invasion, they well know that danger does not lie in that quarter. What England needs is the power to despatch her regular army to where Germany, in accord with Turkey, might attack a colony of the British Empire (Egypt, for instance). And for this purpose she must be in a position to retain at home a strong Territorial army read to drown in blood, if necessary, any working-class rebellion. For this reason principally military arts are taught to young bourgeois, grouped in squads of “scouts.”

The English bourgeoisie of to-day wants to act towards Germany as it twice acted towards Russia in order to arrest, for fifty years or more, the development of that country’s sea-power, — once in 1855, with the help of Turkey, France, and Piedmont; and again in 1904, when she hurled Japan against the Russian fleet and against Russia’s military port in the Pacific.

That is why for the past two years we have been living on the alert, expecting a colossal European war to break out from one day to another.

Besides, we must not forget that the industrial wave, in rolling from West to East, has also invaded Italy, Austria, and Russia. These States are in their turn asserting their “right” — the right of their monopolists to booty in Africa and in Asia.

Russian brigandage in Persia, Italian plunder of the desert Arabs around Tripoli, and French brigandage in Morocco are the consequences.

The Concert of brigands, acting in the service of the monopolists who govern Europe, has “allowed” France to seize Morocco, as it has “allowed” England to seize Egypt; it has “allowed” Italy to lay hold of a part of the Ottoman Empire, in order to prevent its being seized by Germany and it has “allowed” Russia to take Northern Persia, in order that England might secure a substantial strip of land on the borders of the Persian Gulf before the German railway can reach it.

And for this Italians massacre inoffensive Arabs, French massacre Moors, and the hired assassins of the Tsar hand Persian patriots who endeavour to regenerate their country by a little political liberty.

Zola had a good reason for saying: “What scoundrels respectable people are!”

II. The Great Financial Houses.

All States — we saw in our previous article — as soon as the great industries and the huge trading concerns develop among their people, become unavoidable involved in wars. They are driven to them by their own manufacturers, and even by their own working classes, in order to conquer new markets — that is, new sources of easily obtained riches. Moreover, in every State there exists nowadays a class — a clique, I should say — infinitely more powerful than the manufacturing class, and which also incites to war. It is composed of great financiers and rich bankers, who intervene in international relations, and who foment wars.

It happens nowadays in a very simple way.

Towards the end of the Middle Ages most of the large Republican cities of Italy ended by running up huge debts. When the period of decay of these cities had begun, owing to their continued endeavours to conquer rich Oriental markets, and the conquest of such markets had caused endless wars between the Republican cities themselves, they began to contract immense debts to their own rich Merchant Guilds. A like phenomenon of bankers are willing to lend against a mortgage on their borrowers’ future income.

Of course, it is principally the small States which are preyed upon. Bankers lend them money at 7, 8, and 10 per cent., and as a rule the loans are “realised” in such cases at no more than 80 per cent. Of the borrowed sum. So that, after deducting commissions to banks and middlemen, the State very often does not receive even as much as three-quarters of the amount inscribed in its ledger.

On these swollen or “watered” sums the State that has contracted debts must in future provide both for interest and sinking fund. And when it does not do so at the appointed term, the bankers are quite willing to add the arrears of interest and sinking fund to the principal of the debt. The worse the finances of the indebted State grow, the more reckless the expenditure of its rulers, the more willingly are new loans offered to it. Whereupon the bankers, after setting themselves up as a “Concert,” combine to lay hands on certain taxes, certain duties, certain railway lines.

In this way the financiers ruined Egypt, and later on caused it to be practically annexed by England. The more foolish the expenditure of the Khedive, the more he was encouraged. It was annexation by small doses.[1] In the same way Turkey was ruined, in order to take her provinces little by little. The same means, we are told, were employed towards Greece, when a group of financiers egged her on to war with Turkey, in order to seize part of her revenues. And in the same way Japan was exploited by the great financial houses of the United States before and during her wars with China and Russia.

As to China, for several years she has been partitioned by a syndicate representing the great banks of England, France, Germany, and the United States. And since the Revolution in China, Russia, and Japan demand to be allowed to take part in this syndicate. They want to profit by it in order to extend not only their spheres of exploitation, but also their territories. The partitioning of China, prepared by bankers, is thus on the order of the day.

In short, there is in the lending States a complete organisation, in which rulers, bankers, company promoters, concocters of business schemes, and other interlopers, whom Zola has so well described in “L’Argent,” joined hands in order to exploit whole States. Thus, where simple folk believe they have discovered deep political reasons, there are only plots hatched by the filibusters of finance, who exploit everything: political and economical rivalry, national enmities, diplomatic traditions, and religious conflicts.

In all the wars of the last quarter of a century we can trace the work of the great financial houses. The conquest of Egypt and the Transvaal, the annexation of Tripoli, the occupation of Morocco, the partition of Persia, the massacres in Manchuria, the massacres and international looting in China during the Boxer riots, the wars of Japan — everywhere we find great banks at work. Everywhere financiers have had the casting vote. And if up till now a great European war has not burst out, it is simply because the great financiers hesitate. They do not quite know to which side the millions involved will cause the scales to turn; they do not know which horse to back with their millions.

As to the hundreds of thousands of human lives which the war would cost — what have the financiers to do with them? The mind of a financier works with columns of figures which balance each other. The consequences do not come within his province; he does not even possess the necessary imagination to bring human lives into his calculations.

http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/petr-kropotkin-wars-and-capitalism

Slumberjack

We can't really fault the media because they were never designed in the first instance to provide us with useful clarifications. It's like blaming a blood sucking parasite for sustaining itself according to its nature. We may swat at it as a nuisance, but it makes no sense to expect that the species will modify its behaviour as a result. Chomsky highlights some of the delimiting effects that can easily be located within the overall consistency of the Occupy movement itself, with his descriptions of what is considered important. Applying for regulatory relief, which implies the sending forth of certain individuals who can speak to power in a language it can register, decipher and act upon, and on the other hand the building of a community. The one approach constitutes a debate between power and a representative body, which essentially and inevitably results in a maintenance operation, while the other might conceivably take place just about anywhere, without anyone's permission.

NDPP

The Coming Insurrection

http://tarnac9.wordpress.com/texts/the-coming-insurrection/

"From whatever angle you approach it, the present offers no way out. This is not the least of its virtues.."

this has been discussed elsewhere some years ago, but probably belongs here as well.

Slumberjack

Against Negation Or, Positively Revolting

Has anarchy trapped itself in a vortex of negativity, or can a call for love rescue it from itself?

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Anarchism attempts to politicize this abstract negativity through a radical assault on social institutions, but the total negation of established reality is not a course of action that can be rationally undertaken.  The members of society cannot gather together and decide to do away with the totality, no matter how anarchist their ideology.  Such a decision simply is not available within the order of conscious agency, let alone the order of existing democracy.

What this condition reveals is the true nature of the modern, revolutionary subject - its true desire and raison d'etre.  This subjectivity, incessantly repeating its empty gesture of total negation, is not moved by an instinct for freedom, or a will to transform relations of power.  Rather, its nauseating logic of self-negation satisfies only the modern impulse towards death and destruction - the impulse of final surrender that underlies the entire Death-Machine that is modern civilization.

Then again, what other options do we have left?  Those who have been following the latest stages of the human death-march will undoubtedly want an answer to this question.  Near as we are to the apocalyptic endgame of mass society, what choice is there but to confront the global order on its own turf?  This would mean conjuring a voice as universal, as anonymous, as devoid of substance as the voice of the global spectacle itself.

But it is my key contention that this voice, which we identify as the voice of an oppressive totality, is already our own creation.  We hear this voice only because we are constantly listening for it, constantly tuned in for its latest News Reports, fixed in rapt attention to receive the "present order's uninterrupted discourse about itself."

But this discourse is a lie, and so is the myth of its total negation - a lie that makes the true believers among us accomplices in our own imprisonment.  Perhaps it is time that we unplug from this thought-vacuum and scatter our attentions and curiosities elsewhere. We are free to do so - perhaps even, as we may find, once we have learned to transmit new voices, and communicate through new channels of energy, freer than we think.

To put the point in slightly more metaphysical terms, the totality exists only as the abstract object of the thought that wishes for its negation.  By adopting this standpoint of abstraction, anarchism confines itself to the level of ideology.

Ideology, by its very nature, is rooted in hatred.  It binds itself to an abstract other, enslaves itself to its own self-constitution, simply in order to have something to be against.  Love, by contrast, is an attractive force; it opens up new fields of rebirth where once there was only barren desert.  If ever there was a time when we needed to find our way out of the desert, my friends, we have reached that crossroads.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

When people ask me what a anarchist society will look like exactly I have no response. Since participatory democracy is at the centre of my beliefs how am I to know what the people will decide.  An anarchist society will become what the people want and need it to become, after they have hashed it out in open forums and decided on what actions should be pursued.  Anybody arriving with a game plan that requires everyone to follow their plan is missing the point.

Slumberjack

I strongly suspect the best that might be hoped for is somewhere along the lines of what Cueball talked about here in 2010, as much as some anarchist cells might prefer otherwise. Anarchism carries the potential of becoming a much more populated and irreconcilable bargaining unit of sorts, that asks for nothing on its own behalf or anyone elses, because doing so would render it pathetic, but which is sustained in the shadows of society, always kept busy with cultivating the potential to grow into an ever larger unmanageable force in order to remind power without necessarily being always explicit about it, but which simply says 'we're watching.' But yes, I do think that when groups tolerate the imposition of a game plan as opposed to what can be arrived at through an open assembly, they're being led back into the fold. This is where our parliamentary political representation resides at the moment, within a herd where their safety and comfort level is assured by rendering themselves practically indistinguishable, but where their stench is magnified by the company they keep.

Slumberjack

Claire Fontaine (Artist):  Instructions for the Sharing of Private Property

  Instructions for the Sharing of Private Property

and

"Je n'ai pas de mots pour vous dire comme je hais la police." 

Slumberjack

Grève humaine

Human strike attacks the economic, affective, sexual and emotional positions within which subjects are imprisoned. It provides an answer to the question “how do we become something other than what we are?” It isn’t a social movement although within the uprising and agitations it can find a fertile ground upon which to develop and grow, sometimes even against these.

For example, it has been said that the feminist movement in Italy during the 1970s demolished the leftist political organizations, but it hasn’t been said what the leftist political organisations were doing to the women who were part of them. Human strike can be a revolt within a revolt, an unarticulated refusal, an excess of work or the total refusal of any labour, depending on the situation.

Slumberjack

I actually haven't read much from P. Kropotkin, but plan on changing that.  Yes, it's a remarkable collection that I happened across the other day while searching for some other reference.  It even contains quite the scathing critique of the tiqqun related material I've attempted to come to terms with, as well as a mechanism for readers to contribute to the collection.  I think we'll have ourselves somewhat of a tour-de-force for Anarchist related reference material by the time we're done with this thread, and we're just a little over half-way there with the project.

ETA:  And now with pagination we can spread Anarchy without interruption.

Slumberjack

NDPP wrote:
The Coming Insurrection

They branched off into movies as well:

Et la guerre est à peine commencée..... by partiimaginaire

Slumberjack

The Philosophy of Anonymous - Ontological Politics without Identity 

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Anonymous, it will be argued here, is an ontological shift on the terrain of identity at the very moment that identity has become the highest form of selection and exploitation in cognitive capitalism, the first glimpse of a form of life without identity on the Internet. Heidegger was wrong: the coming of the gods after cybernetics is possible: they do not forgive and they do not forget.

Slumberjack

Escape: A Talk

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Today, I will do three things:

1) Sketch a model of the State

2) Outline our terrain of struggle, and

3) Fill your arsenal with a few political weapons

Slumberjack

On Repurposing (Repurpose:  to give a new purpose or use to)

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To return to our example of the internet (which is ultimately reducible to an electronic means for the transmission of cultural goods) there are manifold ways in which internet users can be seen to be appropriating new perceptual structures through the very form of the internet. The sharing of data files illegally requires solidarity, good-will and respect for the (online) community. While the mass-cultural content is, of course, thoroughly compromised, it is precisely the form of the transmission and exchange of the content which holds a moment of redemptive utopian promise.

NDPP

Some truly amazing postings Slumberjack....

 

Slumberjack

There are so many strains of anarchism and contemporary politics alike, that it becomes a little bewildering to try and formulate the proper inquiries.  Questions such as 'what status do contemporary, oppositional, and even radically oppositional politics in general seek to lead us toward?' What do they set out to accomplish within their respective lanes?  If one were in the market for a political product, how does one begin to separate sense from nonsense?  How to tell the difference between politics and political theatre, and how do the respective strategies mark this differentiation so that people don't fall headlong into the dead-end traps that lay about everywhere, which many fail to notice even after they've become hopelessly entangled and immobilized.

Slumberjack

Communization and its Discontents

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Can we find alternatives to the failed radical projects of the twentieth century? What are the possible forms of struggle today? How do we fight back against the misery of our crisis-ridden present?

‘Communization’ is the spectre of the immediate struggle to abolish capitalism and the state, which haunts Europe, Northern California and wherever the real abstractions of value that shape our lives are contested. Evolving on the terrain of capitalism new practices of the ‘human strike’, autonomous communes, occupation and insurrection have attacked the alienations of our times. These signs of resistance are scattered and have yet to coalesce, and their future is deliberately precarious and insecure.

Bringing together voices from inside and outside of these currents Communization and Its Discontents treats communization as a problem to be explored rather than a solution. Taking in the new theorizations of communization proposed by Tiqqun and The Invisible Committee, Théorie Communiste, post-autonomists, and others, it offers critical reflections on the possibilities and the limits of these contemporary forms, strategies, and tactics of struggle.

Slumberjack

The Problem of the Head

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Anyone who was ever seduced by one of the avant-gardes, anyone who’s let themselves be filled with their self-sustaining legend, has felt a certain vertigo upon encountering those who are laymen when it comes to such avant-gardes: the degree of indifference to their place among the mass of people, the impenetrable character of that indifference, and above all the insolent happiness in their ignorance that the non-initiated have the gall to show in spite of all.  The vertigo I’m talking about here isn’t what separates two diverging consciousnesses of reality, but two distinct structures of presence – the one rests upon itself alone, and the other is as if suspended in an infinite projection beyond itself.

From this we can see that the avant-garde is in fact a system of subjectivation, and is in no way a substantial reality. 

It would be useless to clarify that to in order to properly characterize this system of subjectivation one has to remove oneself from it first; and that those who consent to that discrepancy expose themselves to losing a great number of illusions and enchantments, and rarely is it long before they are overtaken by a melancholy beyond repair. Seen from this perspective, in effect, the shimmering, masterful world of the avant-gardes starts to look more like some kind of spectral ideality, a pile of foul-smelling, wrinkled anteforms.

To find any kind of gentleness in this vision one would first have to fall back on a kind of calculated naïveté, well equipped to dissipate so compact a fog of nothingness.  And from this sensitive grasp on the avant-gardes there arises a sudden feeling of our common terrestrial nature.

Slumberjack

Contingency, Necessity and the Narrative Function of Ideology

Quote:
At its zero-level, ideology could thus be understood as a system of beliefs which enable us to sustain our position within liberal-democratic capitalism. Let us take an elementary example: Hegel’s notion of the ‘beautiful soul’ as interpreted by Žižek: “the beautiful soul refuses to accept in the corrupted reality over which they lament, the ultimate consequences of their own act."

Slumberjack

In 'Theory and Event' Agamben wrote:
The Western political system results from the knotting together of two heterogeneous elements, which legitimate one another and which give one another mutual consistency: a politico-juridical rationality and an economico-governmental rationality, a "form of constitution" and a "form of government."  Why is the politeia caught in this ambiguity? What grants the sovereign (the kyrion) the power to ensure and to guarantee their legitimate union?  Is it not a question of a fiction designed to conceal the fact that the centre of the machine is empty, that between the two elements and the two rationalities there is no possible articulation?  And that it is from their disarticulation that it is a question of making that ungovernable emerge, which is at once the source and the vanishing point of every politics?  It is probable that as long as thought does not resolve to confront this knot and its amphibology, every discussion about democracy - as a form of constitution and as a technique of government - risks lapsing into chatter.

Slumberjack

Here we can see Anarcho-syndicalism mired in its own subject, itself, along with the incoherence of whatever form of governance it is capable of. This approach appears to make sense only if one introduces the concept of gradual and generalized improvements to morality within society into the discussion, improvements it has arrived at independently and in isolation from external influence, while avoiding a too deep interrogation of the influence of power upon human nature projected through institutions and the cultures created by and informed by these institutions. Chomsky's criticism of Foucault begins at 11:23, with his view that Foucault wildly exaggerated the effect of power and its ability to project relationships of power through the institutions in its charge. With this view, improvements to our moral code and nature are gradually revealed over time despite the influence of the surrounding systems, which in certain instances such as scientific oversight and research, it is allowed that there is no question but that power heavily regulates and permits what is given to society in this regard, while in other instances the effect of power upon institutions with a role in shaping human behaviour is considered negligible. In the example of the US, we can inquire as to why one of the two parties of capitalism wants to shed its traditional stupidity with respect to social issues. Is this sea change the result of determined activism that can no longer be ignored so successfully as it has been all along until recently, or do we consider the political fortunes of this party and its controlling interests as the impetus for adjustments to its behaviour that are now being considered within and publicized? If gradual societal pressure were to be accepted as the rationale, it remains curious as to why many generations of activism against the excesses of Capitalism that takes into account a broad range of concerns is scarcely permitted to convene in the streets these days without being subjected to repression.

Slumberjack

Let's consider Socialism for a moment, or Social Democracy, entirely contained within the Capitalist bubble, in a similar light except in reverse to the payment of protection money from ordinary people to the connected neighborhood thug.  Except that we're the thugs in this particular scenario, and the business operators are broadly dispensing protection money around so as to avoid disruption to life, or life as the Capitalists know of it.  All the while, Capitalists have been developing and piling on, both in plain and hidden view, various levels of security and surveillance to the point where they can now act with impunity.  This is why we're now bearing witness to the dismantling of union power and social institutions, which has corresponded to the rise and revolution in the techniques and administration of police repression.  In consideration of the sad fortunes across the board in terms of social politics and associated institutions, from this vantage point at least, willful obliviousness seems a far better option and use of time than staring into this pit of circumstances for too long.

Slumberjack

AC&RC By what criteria does CF look at the aesthetics of violence? Exciting, frightening, destructive, creative? What sorts of affects and desires does she hope to generate by showing these videos that capture a declaration of conflict precisely in a country that is not in a state of war?

CF What exactly do we mean by ‘aesthetics of violence’? For us some adverts, some faces, some expressions, some proximities between products and bodies are unbearably violent. Maybe the true violence is this: the violence of photoshopped bodies, the words associated with certain gestures… These things have created a world, and this is the world we all live in. This coexists with police brutality, merciless bureaucracy, tax tyranny, continuous controls and solitude. Open conflict exists in our pacified countries, in the work place, in hospitals, in prison. In these places people who have a minor problem get sick and die all the time, because nobody looks after them until it’s too late: there is no time, not enough personnel and so on. As long as there will be wars, where a nation sends soldiers to fight another nation’s soldiers, all countries will be in a state of latent war, which shows itself explicitly through the monopoly of violence of the police. Maybe this is something that we all know without knowing it, and seeing it on a screen can awaken this thought.

ETA:  Updated the link, as the original one to the article published in Radical Philosophy found itself behind a pay wall.

NDPP

US Government Orders Removal of Defcad 3D-Gun Design (and vid)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-22478310

"3-D print gun hits 100,000 download. Mr Wilson who describes himself as a crypto-anarchist, said the project to create a printed gun and make it available was all 'about liberty'."

perhaps there is/was/should be discussion on this from an anarchist perspective in anarchist media?

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

I had to look up the term. Apparently it is an oxymoron.It should be called crypto-capitalism.

Quote:

Described by Vernor Vinge, crypto-anarchy is more specifically anarcho-capitalist, employing cryptography to enable individuals to make consensual economic arrangements and to transcend national boundaries.[1]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crypto-anarchism

anarchistwithou...

Some of you may be familiar with Hakim Bey's Temporary Autonomous Zones (TAZ), which explores the pure-process of opening a temporary space of becoming held separate from the rest of the world. It is no secret that Bey has been involved in Rainbow Family, an outgrowth of 60s hippy counterculture, who throw gatherings that encourage experimentation – chemically-induce and otherwise. The TAZ has not remained tied to Bey's 'ontological anarchism' of subjective exploiration, but has been depoyed in many contexts: art, protest, music, and many more.

Canadian scholar Richard Day wrote about TAZ in his book Gramsci is Dead, suggesting that the current demands of protest politics require something more permanent, to which he proposes the use of Semi-Permanent Autonomous Zones (SPAZs).

Yet it seems that recent French thought around Tiqqun suggests something even more provocative, the Zone of Offensive Opacity (ZOO). ZOOs do not emphasize the temporary burst of ecstatic energy characteristic of TAZs but instead focuses on building a slow-burn. This is because:

the ZOO isn’t meant to pack maximum intensity into a single moment but establish the conditions for future becomings.  The ZOO mostly follows the logical extension of building up lines of flight, as per Deleuze and Guattari.  There are two specific developments, however.  First, the ZOO seeks to avoid all macropolitical articulation.  Drawing from the long tradition of autonomist and anarchists whose most militant factions would refuse all engagement with parliamentary politics, labor and unions, and news media, the ZOO looks to generate movement in ways that are absolutely unintelligible to any form of capture.  Using a variety of tactics, the ZOO emphasizes creating an ever-expanding network of opacity through invisibility. Secondly, the ZOO operates by turning invisibility into an offensive position. This is how ungovernable spaces turn into ZOOs – by weaponizing the elements of a space that are either invisible or unintelligible to the perspective of governance.  

To read an extended comparison, check out my piece "Ungovernable Spaces."

What do you all think about these attempts to create autonomous spaces? Are they useful? Effective? Provocative at least?

anarchistwithou...

Also, for more on the ZOO, check out The Cybernetic Hypothesis, esp Chapter 11.

Slumberjack

Thanks AWC for posting the info and the question.  It seems to me that informal spaces already exist, and have for some time, of which many are weaponized.  This is partly the result of the impracticalities often associated with imagining a line of flight from within governed existences.  One task is to try and define the term 'offensive' in the context of future becoming or movement, because movement created for a specific type of offense risks marshalling, or conscripting as it were, all of its inclusive elements toward offensive undertakings in the traditional sense, irrespective of whether those elements share in the offensive proposition and spirit or not, for it would seem a miraculous proposition that all who ‘apply’ to a zone of opacity will arrive after having been successfully treated for subjectification and its many afflictions.  Several questions arise as well when people talk about 'ungovernable spaces.'  For instance, do they represent pockets of intensity where anything goes, externally against enemies and internally against itself for instance?  How does it avoid becoming a mafia that mirrors the current economical construct, with its own patriarchal structure and codes of behaviour?

anarchistwithou...

Sj, your comments remind me the Tiqqun discussion Autonomia in This Is Not A Program, which is one of the few descriptions of Italy's Years of Lead that emphasizes the strength of informality, which should be understood in all of its anarchist resonances. Yet this is not the dumb spontaneity that Leninists smear anarchists with nor is it the "insurrectionism" that has recently grown in popularity in NA, but rather, it is the constitution of a force appropriate to the molecular fragmentation of society. In a later passage, it proposes a form of struggle that does not harden into an army, and instead adopts

the other strategy; not of war but of diffuse guerilla warfare, is the defining characteristic of Autonomia. It alone is capable of bringing down Empire. This doesn’t mean curling up into a compact subject in order to confront the state, but disseminating oneself in a multiplicity of foci, like so many rifts in the capitalist whole. Automonia was less a collection of radio stations, bands, weapons, celebrations, riots, and squats, than a certain intensity in the circulation of bodies between all these points. Thus Autonomia didn’t exclude the existence of other organizations within it, even if they held ridiculous neo-Leninist pretensions: each organization found a place within [85] the empty architecture through which – as circumstances evolved  – the flows of the Movement passed. As soon as the Imaginary Party becomes a secessionist ethical fabric the very possibility of instrumentalizing the Movement by way of its organizations, and a fortiori the very possibility of its infiltration, vanishes: rather, the organizations themselves will inevitably be subsumed by the Movement as simple points on its plane of consistency. Unlike combatant organizations, Autonomia was based on indistinction, informality, a semi-secrecy appropriate to conspiratorial practice. War acts were anonymous, that is, signed with fake names, a different one each time, in any case, unattributable, soluble in the sea of Autonomia. They were like so many marks etched in the half-light, and as such forming a denser and more formidable offensive than the armed propaganda campaigns of combatant organizations. Every act signed itself, claimed responsibility for itself through its particular how, through its specific meaning in situation, allowing one instantly to discern the extreme-right attack, the state massacre of subversive activities. This strategy, although never articulated by Autonomia, is based on the sense that not only is there no longer a revolutionary subject, but that it is the non-subject itself that has become revolutionary, that is to say, effective against Empire. By instilling in the cybernetic machine this sort of permanent, daily, endemic conflict, Autonomia succeeded in making the machine [86] ungovernable. Significantly, Empire’s response to this any enemy [ennemi quelconque]will always be to represent it as a structured, unitary organization, as a subject and, if possible, to turn it into one. “I was speaking with a leader of the Movement; first of all, he rejects the term ‘leader’: they have no leaders. […] The Movement, he says, is an elusive mobility, a ferment of tendencies, of groups and sub-groups, an assemblage of autonomous molecules. […] To me, there is indeed a ruling group to the Movement; it is an ‘internal’ group, insubstantial in appearance but in reality perfectly structured. Rome, Bologna, Turin, Naples: there is indeed a concerted strategy. The ruling group remains invisible and public opinion, however well informed, is in no position to judge.” (“The Autonomists’ Paleo-Revolution,” Corriere della Sera, May 21, 1977) . No one will be surprised to learn that Empire recently tried the same thing to counter the return of the anti-capitalist offensive, this time targeting the mysterious “Black Blocs.” Although the Black Bloc has never been anything but a protest technique invented by German Autonomists in the 1980s, then improved on by American anarchists in the early 1990s – a technique, that is, something reappropriable, infectious – Empire has for some time spared no effort dressing it up as a subject in order to turn it into a closed, compact, foreign entity. “According to Genovese magistrates, Black Blocs make up ’an armed gang’ whose horizontal, [87] nonhierarchical structure is composed of independent groups with no single high command, and therefore able to save itself ‘the burden of centralized control,’ but so dynamic that it is capable of ‘developing its own strategies’ and making ‘rapid, collective decisions on a large scale’ while maintaining the autonomy of single movements. This is why it has achieved ‘a political maturity that makes Black Blocs a real force’” (“Black Blocs Are an Armed Gang,” Corriere della Sera, August 11 , 2001). Desperately compensating for its inability to achieve any kind of ethical depth, Empire constructs for itself the fantasy of an enemy it is capable of destroying. [Tiqqun, This Is Not a Program, 84-87]

Yet I can help but feel that any comparison between Italy in the 70s and NA today would be vulgar. The forms of revolt that exist here are far less diffuse and is split by incredibly deep lines of racial oppression. But from what I heard from INM and in rumblings from other places, it's not totally inconceivable that something could arise here as well.

Slumberjack

Nothing appears to have weakened Empire thus far, on the contrary.  Peaceful activism and violence alike are inserted into Empire as fresh batteries with which to power the oppressive machinery.  I'm beginning to suspect the frequency of solitary acts of revenge against society itself in this light, as the result of certain apprehensions that occur of there being no imaginable alternative to the problems at hand, except for an assortment of wanton, destructive impulses that Empire itself provides so many ways and means examples of as part of its daily routine.

anarchistwithou...

That age-old problem of "spontaneity" in new packaging. I mostly agree with you, which of course means siding with the "infantile" anarchists against Lenin – as an interesting sidenote, even Latin American guerrillas like Che wrote about Marxism providing a science for transforming the revolts that have regularly occurred throughout history into a revolutionary force.

But there are two major problems to spontaneity:

1) There's little that can be done to ensure it swings to the left instead of the right – a problem that people in North America should be quite afraid of.

2) The role for the theorist & activist are both unclear. This is not to say I care for either too much, but they at least dream of influencing the outcome of the struggle.

So let me suggest that the question should not be posed "will there be a spontaneous revolt?" because there is, has, and will be such insurrectionists, but they usually fail. The question is, rather, "what role does spontaneity play in regards to our own politics?" The successful idiot Lenin won a string of opportunistic battles for the hearts and guns of the masses until he eventually controlled enough force to put down his opponents. Subcommandante Marcos, an intellectual, left the city to find a group of self-sufficient peasants and lived among them until his heart was more theirs than his. Neither of these situations are like our own...

Of course it is becoming harder and harder to breath, so people fight in their own particular circumstances. But will such a generalized revolt ever be successful, and by what measure would we judge its success?

Slumberjack

It's true that spontaneity in many instances risks lapsing into subjectivity, initially and at every turn. In Spain the Communists and Anarchists waged pitched battles against one another while at the same time fighting the Nationalists. Stalinist fighters under Ernst Thalmann confronted SPD and SA thugs alike during the Weimar republic, and in Russia there appeared to be few guarantees against treachery whenever Trotskyists and Ukrainian Anarchists sat across from one another to parlay. There's no telling what might occur in any given spontaneous moment as you imply because its really anyone's guess as to what else might be conceived within a general revolt. At best, spontaneity in today's circumstances works as a barometer reading, or a symptom to monitor in determining the source of a complaint, where once located, it becomes a question of how many more readings are necessary before we're convinced.  If there's a particular delight in endlessly monitoring the latest contestations forced upon people in places like Greece, Spain, Oakland, and factories in China, it's likely the result of a preference for rote mechanics. In this vein, political spontaneity appears to lend even more impetus to a wide assortment of concerns that are entirely apolitical under the current definition.  In any event, Empire considers both what it perceives and what it cannot perceive as intolerable, even as it often employs the perceptible for its own use, while the other is of no use to it whatsoever.

Slumberjack

Quote:
  ...ot of war but of diffuse guerilla warfare, is the defining characteristic of Autonomia. It alone is capable of bringing down Empire. This doesn’t mean curling up into a compact subject in order to confront the state, but disseminating oneself in a multiplicity of foci, like so many rifts in the capitalist whole. Automonia was less a collection of radio stations, bands, weapons, celebrations, riots, and squats, than a certain intensity in the circulation of bodies between all these points.

I had in mind this extract from the example you provided, in relation to post-globalization and the levelling out of productive misery; legal and illegal migration; and the State's latest 'at variance' with itself in its continuing reliance on racial and national boundaries, being managed in conjunction with the urgency of layering a fresh coat of paint over such long standing practices.  This is a result of the deployment of a universal mode of production requiring increasing levels of co-location to an extent previously not considered.  Ultimately I can't see anything favourable for Empire in this, because the new environments and relationships being formed contain incidental effects.

NDPP

Anarchist's Progress

http://powerofnarrative.blogspot.ca/2013/05/anarchists-progress.html

"To brighten your week, here are three brief passages from [Albert Jay] Nock's essay 'Anarchist's Progress'."

anarchistwithou...

i don't think that a primitive communist hides in every human soul, but i do think that Nock's observation is astute: the State is not a container for collective aspirations or the codification of general agreement, it is a conquering power whose diplomatic wing negotiates the ongoing conditions of surrender to extract wealth from occupied peoples and dimimish their spirit for rebellion.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

I think that a fundamental part of human behaviour is the capacity for and primacy of mutual aid.  People who do not demonstrate that behaviour are called sociopaths.

NDPP

kropotkin1951 wrote:

I think that a fundamental part of human behaviour is the capacity for and primacy of mutual aid.  People who do not demonstrate that behaviour are called sociopaths.

If true, Canada, at present, is truly a sociopathic 'dominion'...

(as a settler-state how could it be anything else..?)

Slumberjack

Beyond Capitalism - An Interview With Cynthia Kaufman

Quote:
How would you characterize the struggle against capitalism? You point out there is no “command center” to target. How should we think about this struggle?

CK: The main argument of the book is that capitalism is constituted by a varied of different practices, and so challenging capitalism needs to be about a variety of struggles. I draw on the important work of J.K. Gibson-Graham, who argues that we should model anti-capitalist struggle on feminist struggles. Second-wave feminists didn’t look for an overthrow of patriarchy. Instead, they analyzed what they were up against and fought it in all of its varied manifestations.

One of the problems with traditional anti-capitalist thought is that it defines capitalism as a totality, which encourages us to imagine another totality, socialism, which we can try to replace it with. This totalizing perspective has colonized the imagination of anti-capitalism and left us waiting for a revolution we can never have.

Or should never have in the traditional sense of what constitutes revolution, because they've been seen already.

Slumberjack

Work and the Politics of Refusal

Quote:
At the heart of recent discussioon work lies an enduring tension. We can sense that modern work isn’t working anymore, but we don’t know how to let go of it. The disintegration and degradation of wage labor through technological “progress,” increasing commodification and devaluation of reproductive work, steadily rising unemployment and precarious employment, and sustained attacks on the last bastion of permanent employment (the public sector) together with our desperate attempts to resurrect a corporatist corpse that won’t return, all point to the fact that modern employment “exists less and less to provide a living, let alone a life.”

Slumberjack

From here:

lagatta wrote:
I don't want to take this thread off topic, but I am glad that some people are referring to the intellectual and political tradition of anarchism, without caricaturing it as individuals doing what they want without regard to society. I'm not an anarchist, but I think anarchist influences are important in many respects, including what we in a more Marxist tradition would refer to as ecosocialism: the latter has many anarchist forebears and refer to them with pride and solidarityWe.  We should discuss this in another thread.

lagatta

Although I'm not an anarchist, I think everyone on the modern left owes the anarchist (including mutualist, syndicalist, anarchofeminist and anarchoecologist movements, among others) a great deal, in terms of mutual aid, prefiguration (that is, trying to live according to our ideals, though we realize that it is not possible to achieve this entirely in capitalist society, and a refusal of top-down authoritarianism - not restricted to Stalinism; also found among social democrats with a top-down statist approach, and even many farther left who refused Stalinism.

Anarchism is not at all the same thing as what is known in English as libertarianism, a right-wing but anti Statist movement that revolves around the individual, and supports capitalism and inequality. (In French, libertaires or communistes libertaires are facets of forms of anarchism). It has nothing to do with "refusing seatbelts" but can have a great deal to do with refusing cars and carcentric development, and a lot of the other crap capital stuffs down our throats every day.

Edited to add: I remember this very good historical account of immigrants of different Latin backgrounds (Italians, Spaniards (from Spain), Cubans, working in the cigar industry in Ybor City (Tampa). http://upf.com/book.asp?id=MORMIF98 These workers developed a wide variety of mutualist societies, and were seen as a menace to capitalist medicine due to their health mutual - even though the workers subscribed to it themselves.

The Immigrant World of Ybor City: Italians and Their Latin Neighbors in Tampa, 1885-1985

Tampa was one of the hot spots of anarchism in North America...

Slumberjack

Mutualism is an operative term that glaringly distinguishes the various 'schools' of Anarchism from US style tea party libertarianism, the latter being as confused as it is selfish and authoritarian.

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