I recently posted Research & Destroy’s Communiqué from an Absent Future on this blog. The manifesto, circulated during the recent University of California walkout, has been generating a lot of online discussion.
I thought it might be useful to try to continue that discussion in a more, uh, “organized” manner…one that would free it from the sort of tit-for-tat exchanges that happen in listserv debates and within the confines of blog/Facebook comment boxes (though, of course, I encourage comments to this post).
I talked to one of the Communiqué’s authors, and to Brian Holmes (who wrote, I thought, a very interesting response to the manifesto), and to folks involved with the New School occupation. Together, we came up with three questions, based on reservations about and critiques of the Communiqué we’d seen circulated online.
Capitalism has pixelated the definition of anarchy, anarchism and anarchists. Each pixel has been singled out, rendered into a commodity, and then discarded. Like the schizophrenic, who cannot prevent the onslaught of random stimuli from influencing their reality, the capitalist mind is trained to long for the pixelated idea, to ingest it, to let its meaning irrelevantly diffuse through its I-pod headphones, and then forget it. The capitalist mind travels through each commodity like a worm through and apple. Every playlist gets tired. The next song must be downloaded. All of the anarchist songs are old. It is time for the next commodity. If we can see and accept that anarchy has become a commodity, we must accept several other conclusions.
Desperate times may call for desperate measures, but are some radicals losing sight of long term organizing goals, in favor of short term impact? In his essay "Are We Addicted to Rioting?", in which he critiques recent actions against the G20 in Pittsburgh, anarchist organizer Ryan Harvey talks about his concern that militancy has become an end in itself. Harvey spoke with host Sasha Lilley.
A Sharpening of the Anarchist Struggle in Barcelona - (con un texto en castellano al final de todo)
Background: After the death of Franco and the transition from fascism to democracy, the anarchist movement in Catalunya swelled up again to proportions unseen since the Civil War. It was clear that the anarchists, centered around the CNT, enjoyed a great popular legitimacy, and hundreds of thousands of people came to their first rallies. But this was quickly stamped out by police repression and squandered by the position of social irrelevance chosen by the organization itself. The interests of organizational survival had made the CNT even more conservative in the long and delicate years of exile, so when they were able to operate openly again in Spain they missed the importance of the moment and set out on a path of legal syndicalism (which in the days of Franco constituted a direct challenge to the system but now was just a recuperation of the struggle). Lacking the ability to speak to the depth of the problems of work and government but also lacking the institutional backing the more moderate unions had, the Organization and its followers quickly declined, even within workplace struggles, although not before they fought some important battles in that terrain. Because of the type of fight they had chosen, their essential weapon was not social presence, effective attack, or contagious ideas, but numbers, and as they lost those numbers they could not sustain the fight and their workplace victories were quickly forgotten as they lost their relevance to workers, and as Capital became less concentrated and jobs more precarious with the closing down of factories and the boom of the tourism-fueled economy.
From Anarkismo by Deric Shannon (WSA/NEFAC) and J. Rogue (WSA/Common Action)
"Without justice there can be no love."--bell hooks
Anarchism can learn a lot from the feminist movement. In many respects it already has. Anarcha-feminists have developed analyses of patriarchy that link it to the state form. We have learned from the slogan that "the personal is political" (e.g. men who espouse equality between all genders should treat the women in their lives with dignity and respect). We have learned that no revolutionary project can be complete while men systematically dominate and exploit women; that socialism is a rather empty goal--even if it is "stateless"--if men's domination of women is left in tact.
This essay argues that anarchists can likewise learn from the theory of "intersectionality" that emerged from the feminist movement. Indeed, anarchist conceptions of class struggle have widened as a result of the rise of feminist movements, civil rights movements, gay and lesbian liberation movements (and, perhaps more contemporarily, the queer movements), disability rights movements, etc. But how do we position ourselves regarding those struggles? What is their relationship to the class struggle that undergirds the fight for socialism? Do we dismiss them as "mere identity politics" that obscure rather than clarify the historic task of the working class? If not, how might anarchists include their concerns in our political theory and work?
[and then, we want to party]
A talk given at Bluestockings Books in New York, New York on Sunday, October 18, 2009 by members of the Institute for Anarchist Studies with Josh MacPhee, Maia Ramnath, and Joshua Stephens. Anarchism has become a widely espoused organizational practice in radical American communities, but many anarchists seem to revel in the margins and are prone to dismissing their own potential. Join our panelists for a discussion of the long haul of social transformation as we work toward an egalitarian, directly democratic society.
From Anarchy Alive! - a new article, based on Anarchy Alive! and published in WorkingUSA: The Journal of Labor and Society.
Contemporary anarchists’ practical attitudes toward technology seem highly ambivalent, even contradictory. Our proverbial antiauthoritarian could pull up genetically modified crops before dawn, report on the action through e-mail lists and websites in the morning, fix her or his community’s wind-powered generator in the afternoon, and work part-time as a programmer after supper. Thus, on the one hand, we find anarchists involved in numerous campaigns and direct actions where the introduction of new technologies is explicitly resisted, from bio- and nanotechnology to technologies of surveillance and warfare. On the other hand, anarchists have been actively using and developing information and communication technologies (ICTs), as well as engaging in practical sustainability initiatives that involve their own forms of technological innovation.
During his American tour of 1882, Oscar Wilde visited Lincoln, Nebraska, and lectured there propounding the doctrines of the aestheticist movement with which he was associated. Afterward, his hosts took him for a tour of their city's most impressive public building -- the local jail. The warden showed him photographs of habitual offenders and recounted vivid tales of their crimes. Wilde later wrote a friend about the prisoners: "Poor sad types of humanity in hideous striped dresses making bricks in the sun, and all mean-looking, which consoled me, for I should hate to see a criminal with a noble face."
Wilde visited the "Little whitewashed cells, so tragically tidy, but with books in them. In one I found a translation of Dante, and a Shelley. Strange and beautiful it seemed to me that the sorrow of a single Florentine in exile should, hundreds of years afterwards, lighten the sorrow of some common prisoner in a modern gaol. . . ."
Without realizing it, Wilde had glimpsed his own future.