Saturday, August 12, 2006

Is there an anarchist in the house?

I am realizing that I know very little about anarchism, let alone the various sub-strains.

It'll just go on a pile of all the other things I need to (huh, huh) bone up on, and my pile of books which I mean to get to at some point but don't because all appearances to the contrary in fact apart from certain contexts I have the attention span of a tweaker gnat...but, um, anyway, what was I...

oh, yeah.

anarchists. anyone consider themselves one? what's that mean for you? what would you read?


Lady Aster said...

I consider myself an anarchist, specifically an anarcha-feminist and individualist anarchist (which is sort of half-way between classic Proudhonian voluntary collectivism and Rothbardian right-libertarian anarcho-capitalism).

To me anarchism means I oppose heirarchy and domination as necessary or proper for social existence. I don't like the state; I also oppose patriarchy, corporatism (but not a free market), racism, family tyranny, etc. I think all human relationships should be voluntary both in letter and in spirit.

I do- to address the common understanding- ultimately think a stateless society would be ideal, but for me that isn't the main point. I essentialy arrived at anarchism from a right-libertarian background and eventually decided that all forms of heirarchy and authority should be opposed along with government coercion.

My beef with libertarians is that they don't necessarily care about oppressive social relations so long as the state isn't involved; my beef with progressives is that they don't necessarily care about using coercive means in fighting social oppression. I think the means determine the end and you can't use authoritarian means to reach a just society; I also think fighting statism is impossible and pointless without fighting the oppressive social structures which sustain it.

My favourite anarchist writers are Emma Goldman, Max Stirner, Benjamin Tucker, and Roy Childs. My favourite current anarchist writer is Kevin Carson, who runs a blog titled 'free market anti-capitalism' and who has written a fascinating ebook titled _Studies in Mutualist Political Economy_, which argues against both rightlibertarians and state socialists that capitalism is an unfree, oppressive system made possible not by market forces but by support of the capitalism via the state.

I highly recommend his blog:

and his book (the second part is the best):

I hope this helps! Blessed be.

belledame222 said...


Bitch | Lab said...

{{I consider myself an anarchist, specifically an anarcha-feminist and individualist anarchist (which is sort of half-way between classic Proudhonian voluntary collectivism and Rothbardian right-libertarian anarcho-capitalism).}}

LA -- that's a mouthful!

i have huge anarchist tendencies, but every time i get around the male of the species, i'm informed that i'm not marxist enough. i have naturally moved away from them because, IME (and this may be peculiar to the states) it's always this big pissing match as to who really is an anarchist.

More time gets spent saying, "you're not an anarchist" or "I'm a bigger and better and purer anarchist than you...."

who needs it?

My experience, locally, and then on elists, is one HYOOOGE reason why I really dislike claims about the personal is political that insist every single aspect of your life is a political act 24/y and the game to play is to seek out those who fail.

Again, I suspect this is really peculiar to the US case because the anarchists on elists from Australia are not like this at all.

Bitch | Lab said...

"not marxist enough" -- shoulda been "not anarchist enough" or "not anarchist" at all

belledame222 said...

is there -any- movement where the realness BS doesn't crop up? i am thinking no.

thing is, wrt Marxism at least i have kinda sorta an idea of the basics.

anarchy, not so much.

nonwhiteperson said...

In short, anarchism means a condition or society where all men and women are free, and where all enjoy equally the benefits of an ordered and sensible life. --Alexander Berkman

I read alot about it in my 20s. Anarchism opposes any forms of domination or hierarchy. They like to say "no gods, no masters". It promotes voluntary cooperation and self-reliance. Berkman, Goldman and Kropotkin are my favorites. The ABC of Anarchism by Berkman and Goldman, and are good. Social anarchism is my favorite strain because it balances theory and personal lifestyle and doesn't get bogged down in either. It promotes community self-reliance, direct participation in political decision-making, respect for nature, and nonviolent paths to peace and justice.

Lady Aster said...

"I read alot about it in my 20s. Anarchism opposes any forms of domination or hierarchy. They like to say "no gods, no masters."

...of course, not all anarchists are atheists, tho' many are. Tolstoy was a devout Christian, and I myself am a practicing Pagan. I don't have a problem with gods. I just have a problem with dominating sky gods throwing their weightlessness around.

As for the 'masters' issue... well, some of us anarchists are kinky... ;)

Bitch | Lab said...

well, it doesn't really come up with people who see politization of consciousness as something that happens in practice.

when people think that what matters is to change consciousness through education, then you end up with the eternal arguments.

because, among marxists who argue that change coems about through political practice -- actually actifvity in the world (not just changing your mind first and then acting) -- you don't have the pissing matches over who's a better marxist.


as for anarchists, there are several important splits. e.g., there are free markets, like Lady Aster. Others oppose free markets and capitalism.

The are a group of primitivists (I think that's the name) but the idea is that we will really only ever be able to have an anarchist society if we give up a lot of the technologies we use now. so, they tend to articulate antipathy to both the state and large scale technologies.

what i've always been attracted to about anarchisms are two things:

1. the anti state aspect.

e.g., there is a letter marx wrote to someone writing about the russian situation. it was just before he died. he was asked about whether socialism could come about from a feudal society like russia.

marx had said taht socialism must caome after capitliams so that we could take advantage of the complex division of labor that produced incredible wealth, not just for a few, but lifted entire nations. (here, he is drawing on Adam Smith's arguments for capitalism in The Wealth of Nations)

but if this were so, then how could socialism come out of feudalism without going through the capitalist stage first.

marx wrote back to say that things were different for each specific situation, so in russia's case, they were better off following a more agrarian anarchism -- name of the russian custom i've now forgotten.

Of course, Lenin et al and that never happened. But what Marx feared was the use of the state and all the problems that entailed. You can see his antipathy to state power in Critique of the Gotha Programme where he mocks LaSalle and the Swiss marxists and ridicules Great Britain for, basically, being a nanny state. heh.

Point? there is also a strand of marxish anarchism which draws on that line of thought in marx and then pulls from the others.

FoolishOwl said...

There are arguments all the time about the correct understanding and application of Marxism, and what organization best carries out the Marxist tradition, and so forth. But it's usually not personal -- the point is the working class and how it can organize, not what you, personally, had for dinner, which is irrelevant.

belledame222 said...

well, she said blindly pulling some half-remembered bit of information out of her ass, anarchy went back to Bakunin, no?

belledame222 said...

the primitivists, I dunno. I was looking at a website a while back. some points and/or authors i thought were pretty interesting; others i thought were, well, just mostly crackers. on the whole, though, call me simple, but, i'm thinking: it's "primitivism." but it's ON THE INTERNETS.

i dunno.

Popess Lilith said...

I used to consider myself an anarchist--and caused a huge stir in my Political Philosophy class with that revelation, heh heh--but nowadays I've come to the conclusion that the precondistion of anarchism is community, and to the degree that community has been eroded until it's a wisp of its former self, government will be necessary until community is rebuilt. Heck, I don't know if that makes me an anarchist, a libertarian, an idealist, a realist, or what. I don't care, either. I do like Lady Aster's comments, however, and I suspect that she and I mainly differ on details.

Aside from the obvious, like Emma Goldstein as a positive example, and Robert Nozick as a negative example, the most influential anarchist in my life was Robert Shea, co-author of *The Illuminatus! Trilogy* with Robert Anton Wilson. He had a number of other novels, mostly historical fiction, but his greatest contribution to anarchist thought was a zine he published called No Governor. Sadly, I didn't correspond with him until near the end of his life, but that brief contact gave me plenty of food for thought on political philosophy. Speaking of zines, Trevor Blake's OVO zine was certainly a kick in the pants, back when I was still saying silly things like, "Don't anarchists [fill in the blank]?"

belledame222 said...

>I've come to the conclusion that the precondistion of anarchism is community, and to the degree that community has been eroded until it's a wisp of its former self, government will be necessary until community is rebuilt.>

That sounds about right to me, too.

and further, that it's important to keep a government that's at least flexible enough to allow for the flowering of community within its strictures.

i'm very much not about "raze it all to the ground and start afresh," just in general. not that anyone here was advocating any such thing, just noting.

Popess Lilith said...

I certainly didn't mean to imply that anarchism must, or should, or can be implemented through the swift death of any institution. The prime virtue of an anarchist, by necessity, is patience.

(OH! I forgot another influence: Wildcat!)

Lady Aster said...

Just to be clear re: Bitch Lab's comments, as an individualist anarchist I consider myself a supporter of free-markets, but *not* of capitalism. What I mean is that I oppose the whole corporate system of heirarchy and bosses as much as any socialist, but I don't have any trouble with the free exchange of goods and services. I think corporations are artificial persons propped up by the state; I look at capitalism as a coercively-imposed system which concentrates ownerhip or land and capital so that most people have so sell their labour to illegitimate owners of the means of production to survive. But a real free-market to me is a fine and wonderful thing. I don't look for utopian blueprints of an ideal economy, but I see a free society as one with a flourishing marketplace in some combination with voluntary cooperatives and autonomous communities.

I say this because there is a strain of political theory that really does want capitalism without the state- Murray Rothbard's anarcho-capitalism. Now I do think some anarcho-capitalists have valid ideas- I think some acaps really want liberty and just have made a mistake about the nature of capitalism and corporations.... while others really do like corporate domination and look to their 'free' market to enforce social intolerance through market power. But it is a fact that most anarchists don't consider the a-cappies to be anarchists at all, because the esssence of anarchism isn't opposition to the state but opposition to authority, domination, and heirarchy- and acaps per se don't oppose this (in justice some do as individuals).

I think anarcho-capitalism is a legitimate if wrong branch of libertarian theory, but I don't think it's anarchist. Or at least personally I've felt that in crossing from Randian right-libertarianism to left-libertarian individualist anarchism I have a different sense of what I care about and who my friends are.

...Then again, a lot of anarchists look at individualist anarchists like myself at petir bourgeois deluded poor cousins to their 'serious' anarchism. Strangely enoughm I don't agree! Personally I think Proudhonian anarchist theory doesn't recognise the danger of the tyranny of the majority enough and feel that without a clear free market option to gaurantee an economic basis for independence collectives can easily become a form of oppression themselves. Some Proudhonian anarchists (Emma Goldman, for instance) I feel very comfortable with, while others (like Kropotkin) make me kinds queasy. Like the anarcho-capitalists, I think it's a matter of the individual case. Generally I feel closer to a-commies in terms of ideals but closer to a-cappies in terms of clear definitions and rigorous (if sometimes wrongheaded) theories.

Anarcho-primitivism is an interesting case. I flat out disagree with an anti-technological agenda; I like my laptop, antibiotics, and sex reassignment surgery, thank you. But I also think anarcho-prims are onto something when they point out the humanistic values of some tribal societies; their theories dovetail very nicely with feminist goddess culture theories such as Riane Eisler's. And I do think positivism and technocracy, as opposed to science and technology, are serious spiritually and materially destructive evils.

I consider myself an anarcha-feminist because... well, I'm an anarchist and partiarchy is important, damnit! Anarcha-feminist isn't the clearest label and doesn't have so much theory behind it, but it captures my approach very well. Especially since I believe that (warning, dialectical academese coming) I think patriarchy has an asymmetrically reciprical relation of causality with other forms of oppression. In other words, all oppressions feed into each other but it is patriarchy (meaning rule of the father, not technically of *men*- this is important) which i the as the linchpin of the the system and the bi thing to take the axe to. I see statism, racism, etc. as specialisations of, devlopments from, and/or corollaries to the basic problem of father-rule. Riane Eisler (and to some fegree Ellen Willis and Shulamith Firestone) has again been an immense influence on me here. (and, to be fair, my own bad experiences with father-rule probablt have more that a bit to do with it)

Okay. Lecture by frustrated philosophy professor over. All for now.

Bitch | Lab said...

The primitivists have no truck with the Internets b/c they usually argue that this is a pretty good example of how anarchist goods production might work: open source software.

as they usually point out, their arguments do not stand or fall onwhat they personally do. being hypocrits, IOW, doesn't mean they're wrong.

Bitch | Lab said...

yeah -- there are also free market socialists, like one of my readers an die nachorgeron. written a bunch of papers about it. i musta been typing fast and not really taking care -- .e.g, i fall down on the side of the argument that says, if it involves exploitation, then it's capitalism whether it's a mom and pop or Target. In fact, having worked for sm. businesses most of my life, I'd say they abuse labor far more than walmart does. but that's on eo fhtose huge debates we also have among the lefty wankers on LBO.

Bitch | Lab said...

<< a-cappies in terms of clear definitions and rigorous (if sometimes wrongheaded) theories. >>

LOL This makes me laugh because a lot of the free market commies I know are like this. They get frustrated with the muddle of continental phil and go dashing for John Roehmer for some rigor!

Bitch | Lab said...

other big econ theory we've spent a lot of time debating and the more anarchist among us like to talk about is parecon. they have a big web site. connected with Zmag.


anarch-fem - yeah, i'd say that the saner arm of the early radfem movement went anarchist. IOW, when I've talked about the split among rads, documented by Alice Echols, the early radfems were often talking anarchism.

but then, one famous paper you might want to read BD is Jo Freeman's article about the tyranny of structuralessness, which is a criticism of an early feminist movement that tried to adhere to anarchist principles but she asks why leaders emerged anyway.

belledame222 said...

free market commies!! wow, the things you learn...

this is cool, though; i'm sure -somewhere- in all of this there's a place for me...

and the "tyranny of structurelessness" is one of my big bugaboos. i think it's a chronic problem among leftish groups.

belledame222 said...

>being hypocrits, IOW, doesn't mean they're wrong.

snerkle. no, but it does mean they're funny as hell...

belledame222 said...

anyway, I've been thinking for a while now that a genuine free market would be just fine, if that's what we actually had, but...tain't. i think a lot of people would be shocked to realize just how much corporatism resembles what they think they dread about b-c Communism, in that it all goes back to powers and principalities...including, garsh, the state, who, as you note, recognizes corps as persons; and pours quite a lot of energy and money into propping them up, and vice-versa.

otoh i don't have a terrific drastic solution in mind either. all i can think of is "trust-busting. we need a return to trust-busting."