Author: Cyber Dandy

Everything Is Just Dandy!

Some Initial Thoughts on the Concept of Revolution

anarchistnews.org
thecollective
2022-05-18
https://anarchistnews.org/content/some-initial-thoughts-concept-revolution
from Staring Into the Abyss by Tom Nomad

A Review of Specters of Revolt

For the last little bit of time I have been working through some thoughts on the concept of revolution. These are still very much in formation, and will probably be the subject of at least part of a book I plan on working on starting this fall. In doing research for the text I came across a text called Specters of Revolt, by Richard Gilman-Opalsky, and had some thoughts that seemed worth sharing, even as nothing more than an opening salvo in this discussion.

Critique

Before diving into the critiques I have of the text I want to discuss the concept of critique itself. There is a tendency for intellectuals, theorists, academics, and people engaged in political theory to approach critique as a sort of eliminationism. By this I mean that critique has become a sort of competition, with critique itself being portrayed as some sort of invalidation of a certain body of thought. This is an absurd view.

On an epistemic level we have to think through what reading, and by extension critique, really is. For us to make the argument that there is a right reading of a text, a correct reading, we have to make a series of highly problematic assumptions. We would need to assume that the text always remains the same in all moments, that it is engaged ahistorically by ahistorical readers that are somehow immune to the dynamics of whatever present they occupy in any given moment. We would also need to assume that all readers are the same; if there is to be a singular right way to read a text there would need to be a common epistemic basis for that reading that would have to be rigidly the same. We would also need to assume that words have objective meanings, and that we all engage with and understand language in exactly the same way. In other words, to claim that there is a right or correct reading of a text is to also assert an entire universe grounded in sameness and determinism.

I want to take a different view, one in which the correctness of reading and concept is secondary, one in which we can dispense with the arrogant assumptions of the true and universal. This view derives from discussions of the act of writing and reading that we will find in Archive Fever, by Derrida, or The Infinite Conversation, by Blanchot. In these texts the act of writing is portrayed as an act. By this I mean that writing is viewed as an event which has contingent effects in particular moments, rather than as the production of a static object that would exist outside of history. The text itself exists in a static, archival, form, which marks the product of a particular series of interpretive moments recorded by a writer. The reader, though, does not enter the text in the same way as the writer, and the writer will not enter the text the same way when they become editor or reader themselves. We encounter text, we engage with it. The text converges with the particularity of our existences and understandings to generate some sort of conceptual outcome.

As such, the concept of critique, for it to be useful, needs to occur in a way that centers around the usefulness of ideas and the theoretical space opened by a specific discourse. As Deleuze writes in his text on Nietzsche:

“Critique is not a re-action of re-sentiment but the active expression of an active mode of existence; attack and not revenge, the natural aggression of a way of being, the divine wickedness without which perfection could not be imagined” (3).

The act of critique is an act of opening, of challenging the singlarity of an understanding to create the possibility of conceptual movement, conceptual reformation, the possibility of presenting the concept in a different light, in a different context, with different results. Therefore, the primary question of critique is not whether we destroy the text we are analyzing; this understanding relies on the assumptions outlined above. Rather, critique functions as an act of destruction and appropriation, a process of borrowing ideas, utilizing theoretical movements, and functionally taking what is useful in the process of attempting to create a series of conceptual possibilities. It is a form of thought that very much exists within life, in all of its chaotic particularity, and in the service of launching attacks to eliminate impediments to the possibilities of that existence. It is revolt.

The existence of critique as revolt, as an opening of possibilities without some prescribed moment of reconcretization (some end of revolt), becomes a core concept in the thoughts I am recording here. We see a similar dynamic play itself out through this text, where the tendencies toward definitionalism and certainty, of concretizing objects of thought and presenting them as analogous to the world, collide with the chaotic contingency of any given moment. In this instance the object of analysis is the concept of revolution, the attempt to define the concept, and the problems latent in that attempt. But, as we will see, it is the framing of the question itself that generates a certain type of problematic in the text, a problematic that points not to issues in the text, but to issues in the entire conceptualization of what revolution is, and whether the category is even useful anymore (or ever was).

Setting the Stage

Initially I had picked this text up in order to explore the discussion of the concept of revolution contained within. As I stated above, this concept, as currently understood, functions as a form of sungularizing[sic] historicism. By this I mean that the concept of revolution is in itself something that is singular, and as such, a concept that posits a spatio-temporality with very specific characteristics. We can see this singularity in construction of the very concept itself through the medium of naming a historical moment. The strings of events that we term revolutions are often the result of some deeply complex, often misunderstood, motivations and historical dynamics that construct these events with specific contours. These contours do not spread across space equally, with conflict finding points of greater, lesser, or different concentrations and expressions.

The packaging of this complex series of historical events, which will never be replicated to the degree that our actions have effects that shape the future, points to two core problems with this formulation. Firstly, this reality of revolution, that it is a complex series of historical events summarized within the confines of a singular object, gives us some insight into the process of historicism and its role in the construction of ideology. Ideological constructs function, on a practical level, by taking their epistemic claims to universal truth and then utilizing a pseudo-analysis grounded in the ideological reflection in events, the aura of ideology in the event itself. In this construct there is an implicit assertion that two moves are possible; that moments can be subsumed into historical objects and that these historical objects are somehow comparable across time, even just as an expression of ideology. Without the concept of revolution forming the foundations of this singularization of complex events then conceptual universes, such as Leninism, that rely on this universalization of historical condition, this claim that strategy, for example, exists independent of the strategic context and functions based on this comparability of historical events.

This singularization of historical events mirrors all other processes of historicism, and in this way is not unique. Nor is it unique on the level of grouping a series of historically particular dynamics, freezing them, and reducing them down to their lowest common denominator, while asserting that the common denominator is a thing to begin with. In both of these ways the concept of revolution mirrors our coding of other events. We can take World War II as an example. It was a complex series of events, with highly localized dynamics, which were subsumed within a broader global power struggle, which was in itself inscribed with the urgencies of intervening in genocide. In no two places did the war manifest in the same ways, and in no two places were these events isolated from all other dynamics occurring during that time. So, while the category of World War II may be useful in the discussion of these events, allowing us to make sense of them, in itself the concept of World War II does not express the moments that are subsumed in that concept, it only expresses the contours of the concept that is used to organize these events, defining them by something outside of themselves.

In the coding of specific events as revolution there is a dual move being made. In this first move the events that comprise what will be termed “a revolution” will need to be grouped together under this category. This is where problems like historical revisionism arise, and why there are different Stalinist and Trotskyist histories of the Russian Revolution; there was disagreement over what events counted as part of the revolution and which were not. It is at this location in which rewritings of the coding of events, the determination of what is defined by the category, allows for these events to be coded ideologically, and often in ways that eliminate ethical complications, failures, and mistakes, reducing this “history” to another tool of propaganda and ideological distortion. Secondly, in performing this act of coding a series of events, now grouped under the heading of revolution, are separated from all other events. In this grouping of specific events into the categorical heading of revolution, often with these other events being considered “counter-revolutionary”, a sort of hermetically sealed grouping is created, with boundaries marking it as separate from its outside. This framing completely divorces any notion of “revolution” from its historical conditions of possibility, and constructs it as a specific historical object that can be understood as such. The second move is to then take this categorical definition of events, and exalt it as a specific object that is able to be understood in some sort of true way. It is only from here that one can be said to be studying revolutions, or that one can say that they understand some ahistorical truth about revolutions; all tankies rely on this construct.

These conditions of possibility, historical coding and exalting the category, not only form the foundations for “bad” understandings of revolution. Rather, they form the foundations for all understandings of the concept of revolution, and is implied simply by naming the events and then placing them at the center of political discourses, making the construct of revolution a core political question. It is really from this point that this text departs, that it finds its launching point. In some ways there is a sense in which this is a text that speaks from a specific location. It is a location marked by the activist norms of the 1990s (there are lots of references to the Zapatistas and the anti-globalization movement, and a lot of the same categories), and one in which the concept of revolution still comes to form a core political category. This is a tension that marks the entire text, one in which the critique of the concept of revolution almost crests into a core analysis of the concept itself, bringing the concept itself into the realm of critique, only to get trapped in its terms, turned backwards, and collapsing into paradox at numerous points. But, to see where these moments are able to be identified, we should step through the text, which is definitely worth a read for those interested in this concept specifically.

As with any text there are any number of threads that run through the narrative. In this case there is a narrative on the concept of revolution or revolt (for Opalsky revolts grow into revolutions), but also narratives centered around concepts like culture jamming (note the 1990s reference point), concepts of notions of the future, concepts of desire, notions of struggle and conflict without struggle, as well as any of a number of small ruminations on specific thinkers or texts, all of which are interesting. As with any complex text there is always a bit of arificiality in attempting to separate one thread from the others, to break it away from its weaving into other threads, but that is exactly what we will be doing here. These other narratives, whether they focus on concepts of desire or notions of the future, are all departing from a concept of revolution, which Opalsky attempts to challenge and render more fluid without dispensing with the idea. This tension, between recognizing issues with the concept but not dispensing with it, permeates the entire text, and sets epistemic conditions that create problems as the text proceeds.

Revolution: The Formation of a Concept

A core point in the text, which emerges in the Introduction and carries through the forst couple of pieces, is that revolt exists as a subtext to history, an almost invisible force with its own ontological and epistemic structures; this is a significant claim. In embracing this claim we are directly arguing against the understanding of revolt as a formal category visible in the abstract, outside of history, as a legible force mobilized intentionally. If we think through the concept of revolution, or the notion of revolt, in relation to political activity, a clear assumption becomes clear; namely, the assumption that successful organizing is something that can be objectively managed, and that it always results in achieving some sort of mobilization of revolt. This understanding, which is core to much of the arrogance of political organizing culture, heavily relies on the idea that revolt is an object that can be understood and mobilized regardless of its relationship to events; a wholly despatialized, ahistorical understanding of revolt.

The problems that characterize this move, and this replicates throughout the text, becomes clear almost immediately however. In the very next conceptual move there is an injunction to determine or define what revolt can be, just to do so with more open categories than the deterministic lens inherited from Leninism. This conceptual-material fusionism, this claim that we can understand revolt in the conceptual, and that this will impact the material, prioritizes the categorization, making its definition imperative for the contextualization of the rest of the argument. In other words, revolt and revolution become objects of analysis in this narrative, rather than namings of events, and as such they must be set aside from history in the very act of their definition. One is not defining actual events named revolts, one is defining a category of revolt and then attemptoing to shape events based on this understanding, and as such, the revolt itself becomes removed from its particularity, and begins to exist only to the degree that events can be subsumed within the definition.

To illustrate this move we can look at the ways that the concept of desire is used in the Beyond Struggle essay. The concept of desire is mobilized in this piece to be a counter-point to the concept of struggle, with the injunction being that we should not struggle but act from desire. Let us look beyond the fact that one can desire struggle, or the ways in which this injunction ignores actual hardships, risks, and stakes. Rather, here, I want to focus on the conceptual pre-conditions for this discussion to emerge to begin with. For us to make the claim that desire should become some fundamental motivating force of revolt we need to make two claims. The first claim is that something like desire or revolt can be made into conceptual objects without fundamentally destroying the dynamism that gives these concepts meaning. In naming these concepts as concepts, as conceptual constructions that persist over time, the material particularity of their manifestation as desire or conflict is erased and replaced with a staid and static definition of the concept. Secondly, we then need to posit that the construction of a narrative of conceptual connection between these terms not only speaks directly of the world (which, again, presumes a static world) but is also something that can directly manifest in the world in the terms of its conceptual construction. That is to say, that this architecture presumes that these static categories in themselves are manifested in the world in their static and ahistorical generalism, and that the movements of these concepts then come to define the world.

In another example, this time around pages 80-89, we can begin to see the impact of this sort of thinking. In this section there is a discussion of power as an organic material possibility latent in existence itself. This would imply that the term power, in the spirit of Foucault, is being used to name an active series of dynamics that cannot be subsumed in the term power. Now, if we were to take this position that open categories, like power, or categories that name activity, like revolt, are not able to be defined, and don’t speak directly of the world, then the entire attempt here, to define a concept of revolution that does not have the same deficiencies as in the past, would completely collapse in the impossibility of defining actual acts grouped under headings of revolt or revolution. In this discussion of power the discourse itself begins with this clear discussion of the microscopic and organic manifestations of dynamics grouped under the term power, but this then immediately solidifies in the discussion of scale.. Gilman-Opalsky argues that, though capital operates in locality, it is actually “large”, to use his term, and requires revolt at the same scale.

OK, let’s investigate this claim. To make the argument that capital operates at “large” scale is to make the argument that capital itself operates across space and time, giving it a body all of its own. This is clearly the attempt of capital, to construct a universe of meaning that operates as the condition of possibility for existence, but this is not something that we can speak of singularly if we want to discuss actions as something that has effects. If actions have effects, then any following moment is going to be directly the result of the dynamics of this present, and as such, no present moment ever repeats. These moments are also not singular across space, with different dynamics functioning within the same moment in different spaces. So, to say that capital is “large” is to say that the local actions that actually comprise economic activity are, in themselves, driven by something outside of themselves in a direct way that defines the actions in actuality. This does not mean, as I would claim, that capital is a structure of meaning imposed through policing, which would involve local decisions and actions. Rather, to claim this scale of capital is to argue that there is something that exceeds the moment materially, an actual transcendental force, that directly defines these acts as capital, and as separate from other “non-capital” acts.

In making this move capital ceases to be an attempt at organizing logistics and imposing limits on the possibilities of existence through police force, in which interventions are fundamentally bound up with this microscopicness, and begins to become a category that defines some actions that are grouped together across time and space, opposing some “large” scale “system” which is also devoid of locality or temporality. In doing so both capital and revolt are abstracted from their occurrence, from the time and space of the events coded in these ways, thrown into a conceptual comparison which is, in turn, then supposed to speak directly of reality; it is a strange, but very very common, conceptual construction when viewed through this lens. The centrality of the category does not fuse the concept of revolt with some dynamic structuring of theory in the midst of conflictual events. Rather, we experience the inverse, the wholesale obliteration of possibility in the static conceptualization of a singular categorical “system” which is meant to be confronted by some generalized revolt. In this arrangement, the world itself disappears and we enter into a whollly conceptual discourse on some idea of revolution against some idea of a “system”.

It is only from this disappearance of life that concepts like revolution, thought as a singular event, can be said to be understood in their entirety by some sort of privileged revolutionary subject, such as the technician in Leninism. So, even though the text itself later returns to a sort of molecularity, this baggage of the assertion of a conceptually singular capital, unified across time and space, leads Gilman-Opalsky to speak of the “micropolitical”, conflict which occurs in the time and space of actual activity, as a politics of failure due to the inability to defeat “systems”. In this claim the concept of “large”, namely non-particular and singular across time and space, is taken as a given category for all analysis, with all other analyses departing from different categories “failing”, due to not addressing a construct, the “system”, which is seen increasingly as an un-useful artifice. The imposition of this analytic framework also imposes an entire conceptual reality in which systems actually exist, in which there are things that are singular and persist in this form across time and space, which then asserts a conceptual reality in which singular concepts of revolution make sense. But, outside of that framing, which I would argue is impossible to actually support conceptually, this assertion of the massification of activity and the removal of the act from its time and space makes no sense. The result is a conceptual tautology, where the assertion of “large” systems necessitates the existence of “large” revolutions, which in turn presumes an entire organizational and ontological model rooted in massification and modernism.

Within the text there is an attempt to address this paradox, which is not unnoticed, around page 92. In this discussion the concept of culmination is raised, as some point in which there is a convergence between the micropolitical and the “large” mass scale of revolution, in this conceptualization. On the one hand, this approach does allow us to displace the question of the act onto the plane of effect, and thus onto the material plane. By placing the culmination of actions at the pinnacle of analysis, and rendering that culmination through the effects of actions, discourses around some essence of the act, or some true act, are eliminated in favor of a discourse that should be grounded in the moment. But, on the other hand, while this is occurring there is a countervailing tendency pulling in the other direction. At the moment that the point of culmination is placed at the center of the discourse on the political all particular acts are subsumed into this culmination, and the nuanced temporality and particular material conditions of the acts grouped into the category of a revolution is condensed into this singular moment of culmination. In other words, rather than seeing acts that exist in light of their particular time and space, the act is said to exist in this form, but only to the degree that it fulfills the condition of possibility of leading to a culmination. As such, the culmination then takes the place of the ahistorical object and becomes the point of orientation in which all action is judged, preserving the singularity of the point of focus, whether we call it culmination or revolution.

There are many other places where these dynamics emerge, but I think this demonstrates the point. Core to this text is a venture that I see frequently in thinkers both of this era, and also within academia. There is a tendency within that world to want to speak of the political within the terms common to those discourses, which were heavily influenced by Leninist reductionism and the simplicity of categorical thinking, while problematizing the limitations of the original articulations of these categories. What results, however, is a discourse in which categories become more open, but also migrate into the center of all narratives, as a condition of possibility for all other thought around the subject. These dynamics typified the New Left, and informed its inability to break from authoritarianism, as well as the more activist left of the late 1990s and early 2000s, which often operated based on simplistic and absolutist categories, often collapsing into purism discourses. What is often not embraced, however, is the impossibility of these discourses, regardless of how nuanced the terms, actually speaking of life, in its temporal and spatial nuances and particularities. There is a hesitancy to speak of philosophy itself, and its impossibility, and as a result, there is often a tendency to adopt terms which imply epistemic and ontological frameworks that undermine the point that one is trying to make. In this case Gilman-Opalsky does a wonderful job of problematizing the very ontology of the concept of revolution, only to then reconstruct some concept of a politically singular moment and call it something else. We can do better than this.

Writing the Indiscernible

This is the section of an essay where I am supposed to outline some new amazing concept that is supposed to solve all of our conceptual problems. I don’t have anything like that for you all, and in some ways the very structure of that type of articulation prevents the critique that is being leveraged here; to imply some singular solution is to assert the singularity of the problem which is to assert the singularity of circumstance. On some level we need to abandon the concept of the solution in its entirety, rendering some sort of recommendation counter-productive here.

The real difficulty, and this is the element of this discussion that I am working through currently, and have been working through for a while, is how one speaks possibility, conflict, contingency, and so on. Philosophy in many ways is trapped by the contours of concepts themselves. By this I do not mean that there are deficiencies in specific concepts. Rather, that the entire construction of the concept implies a universe in which singular terms can name singular ideas which wholly and completely express singular categories of objects that are all thought to be the same. Marx discusses this in Chapter 1 of Capital, where he discusses commodities, but we can use a simpler example. When we name something, lets say capitalism for example, we are naming that thing singularly, as something that persists across time and space, and then naming things in relation to that concept. In the context of capitalism, which we discussed above, the term capitalism implies a singularity to the operations of capital. In taking this ontological lens on, one is subsequently eliminating the particular actions that are grouped under capitalism, as material moments, and replacing them with their reflection in this category, tying them to some commonality and not to the material particularity of the moment that occurs. As such, when we discuss resistance to capitalism, therefore, that discourse tends to focus on some asserted necessity of mass resistance, which then facilitates specific political categories and forms.

We have to admit that the revolutionary project, as conceived of in this singular form deriving from the American and French revolutions, has been an abject failure. There is a widely held perspective that revolutions lead to disaster and the mass death of political opponents, and there is every good reason to think that this is true. The end result of this perception is that political imagination is horrendously constrained. And, no, falling into genocide denial and apologetics, like the tankies have done, is not a way to solve this problem. Rather we have to completely rethink political action in the full light of the failures of revolution, and do so with a willingness to abandon the concept, and its notions of space and time, its asserted ontological universe, and its epistemic assertions.

What needs to be thought is a way to speak of action while undermining the singularity of the discourse at the moment of its articulation. It is a similar problem that arises when one attempts to discuss concepts of the self, or notions of social dynamics, or the movement of atoms. It is an attempt to speak that which resist being spoken, to discuss the unleashing of possibilities without defining those possibilities, to embrace a politics in which the future remains open, and in which we are not attempting to impose definitions of life.

This task is something I am very much working through. Some elements of working through this can be seen in Army of Ghosts, but there is a lot of work to do. I very likely have an upcoming book project for this summer, focused on some reflections from the uprising and what that can teach us about the deficiencies of activism. But, once that project is complete this is the next task, to take this critique, expand it, and build a narrative around attempting to map some openings, without mapping out the paths to and from those openings.

Tags: revolutiontom nomadRichard Gilman-Opalsky(not a) reviewcritiqueresponsecommentaryMarxcommunismLeninism

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After Buffalo, Great Replacement Theory Isn’t Going Anywhere

Jacobin
Ben Beckett
2022-05-18
https://jacobinmag.com/2022/05/buffalo-shooter-great-replacement-theory-carlson-gop/
On Saturday, a gunman opened fire in a supermarket in a black neighborhood in Buffalo, killing ten people. The eighteen-year-old alleged gunman, Payton S. Gendron, is said to have scrawled racial slurs onto the barrel of his gun and to have published a racist manifesto that runs into the hundreds of pages. Gendron seems to […]

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The Greek Revolution of 1821: heroism, betrayal and the birth of modern Greece

In Defence of Marxism
unknown
2022-05-18
http://www.marxist.com/the-greek-revolution-of-1821-heroism-betrayal-and-the-birth-of-modern-greece.htm

The French Revolution initiated a decades-long phase of bourgeois revolutions across Europe and beyond that raised the flags of democracy, national liberation, and civil rights against the injustices of the feudal system. These political convulsions prepared the ground for the international ascendancy of the capitalist system in the nineteenth century. Yet in most countries, the democratic promises of the bourgeois revolution remained largely unfulfilled. The Greek war of independence that began over 200 years ago was no exception.

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Felipe Corrêa and Rafael Viana da Silva – Bakunin, Malatesta and the Platform Debate

Proudhon
The Anarchist Library
2022-05-17
https://www.anarchistfederation.net/felipe-correa-and-rafael-viana-da-silva-bakunin-malatesta-and-the-platform-debate/
The present text —the core of which was taken from the introduction that we wrote for the French edition of Social Anarchism and Organization, by the Anarchist Federation of Rio de Janeiro (FARJ)— aims to discuss the question of the…

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Felipe Corrêa and Rafael Viana da Silva – Bakunin, Malatesta and the Platform Debate

The Anarchist Library
unknown
2022-05-17
https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/felipe-correa-and-rafael-viana-da-silva-bakunin-malatesta-and-the-platform-debate-the-question?v=1652840017
Author: Felipe Corrêa and Rafael Viana da Silva
Title: Bakunin, Malatesta and the Platform Debate
Subtitle: The question of anarchist political organization
Notes: Translated by Enrique Guerrero-López. Joint authorship with Rafael Viana da Silva.
Source: Original article: “Bakunin, Malatesta e o Debate da Plataforma: a questão da organização política anarquista.” First published in 2015 at the Institute for Anarchist Theory and History and, after, as a chapter of the book A Plataforma Organizacional (Dielo Trudá), by Faísca Publicações (São Paulo, Brazil, 2017).

The present text —the core of which was taken from the introduction that we wrote for the French edition of Social Anarchism and Organization, by the Anarchist Federation of Rio de Janeiro (FARJ)[1]— aims to discuss the question of the specific anarchist political organization, based on the contributions of Mikhail Bakunin, Errico Malatesta and the Organizational Platform for a General Union of Anarchists, written by militants organized around the magazine Dielo Trudá, among whom were Nestor Makhno and Piotr Archinov.

We are going to take up the contributions of Bakunin and Malatesta to establish a dialogue between them and the Platform, trace the similarities and differences between the proposals of anarchists who advocate an organizational dualism and those of the Bolsheviks, and we will see the proximity of Malatesta with the Synthesis, as well as the historical impact of the Platform, which will make it possible to elucidate the positions that have been disseminated about this debate.

Anarchism is a political-doctrinal ideology that emerged in the nineteenth century, with a hegemony of mass oriented strategies, especially syndicalism (revolutionary syndicalism and anarcho-syndicalism). Among the fundamental positions of “mass anarchism” are the defense of organization, of reforms as a possible path to revolution (provided they are properly conquered through class struggle) and of violence when associated with previously organized popular movements. Such positions are distinguished from other minority positions characterized by their anti-organizationism, their opposition to the struggle for reforms and their defense of violence as a trigger for popular mobilization (“propaganda by the deed”).

Those who have taken part in mass anarchism and defend organizational dualism—concomitant organization on two levels, one political/anarchist and the other mass/social—are not the majority, but among them there are relevant authors with significant positions and, above all, a solid historical experience, supported by the theoretical and practical construction of anarchist organizations.[2]

Contributions from Bakunin
Despite the fact that, after important attempts to compile them, Bakunin’s complete works have finally been published in French[3], his writings on the so-called “Fraternity” of 1864 and “Alliance” of 1868 —to use the terminology proposed by Max Nettlau— are very little known.

Bakunin’s mass strategy has been thoroughly discussed in relevant texts such as Bakunin: Founder of Revolutionary Syndicalism, by Gaston Leval,[4] and several others by René Berthier.[5] Not so much his theory of political organization—which he addresses extensively in different documents—which is his attempt to base the political-organizational proposals he had in terms of principles, program, strategy and organization.

There seems to be some shame around these writings, especially among French anarchists. It is as if they belonged to an authoritarian heritage, perhaps of Blanquist and Jacobin inspiration, which remains in the author and should not be brought to light.[6]

We believe that Bakunin’s positions on anarchist political organization, from 1868 onwards, are fully reconciled with his mass strategy, which he proposed to the International Workingmen’s Association (IWA), and should be recognized as a relevant part of his anarchism. Today, such positions seem to carry weight as a pillar for fruitful reflections on the most suitable organizational model for anarchist intervention.

Bakunin argued that the Alliance should have a dual objective: on the one hand, to stimulate the growth of and strengthen the IWA; on the other, to bring together all those who had political-ideological affinities with anarchism—or, as it was generically called in that period, revolutionary socialism or collectivism— around principles, a program and a common strategy.[7] In sum, create and strengthen both political organization and a mass movement, which has been called organizational dualism:

They [Alliance militants] will form the inspiring and vivifying soul of that immense body that we call the International Workers’ Association […]; then they will deal with issues that are impossible to discuss publicly; they will form the necessary bridge between the propaganda of socialist theories and revolutionary practice.[8]

For Bakunin, it was not necessary for the Alliance to have a large number of militants: “The number of these individuals should not, therefore, be immense.” The Alliance had to constitute a political organization, public and secret, with an active minority and collective responsibility among the members, to bring together “the most safe, the most committed, the smartest and the most energetic, in a word the most intimate,” with groups in various countries and the ability to decisively influence the working masses.[9] The organization had to be based on internal regulations and a strategic program to establish, respectively, its organic functioning and its political-ideological and programmatic-strategic bases, forging a common axis for anarchist action.

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Tedcore: the self-help books that have changed the way we live, speak and think

Phenomenology and Existentialism
Steven Philips-Horst
2022-05-17
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2022/may/17/self-help-books-atlas-heart-atomic-habits-body-keeps-score
Bestsellers like Atlas of the Heart and Atomic Habits use feel-good philosophy to turn our anxieties into our identity
You are a victim. A person of anxious experience, navigating a minefield of shame triggers. Research suggests that people with your attachment style are predisposed to dissociating. Some experts believe this very sentence could re-traumatize you. It’s not your fault, of course. You just need to reframe your narrative.
This is the language of a coalescing sub-genre of self-help books that combine the comforting yet impenetrable vocabulary of modern therapy with pseudoscientific grand theories on human behavior. You’ll recognize it from titles like Atlas of the Heart, Atomic Habits, The Body Keeps The Score, Attached, Mating in Captivity, even The Artist’s Way. None were bestsellers upon release, but all have slow-burned their way to the tops of bestseller lists and the bookshelves of People Who Go To Therapy. These are the new bourgeois bibles – foundational texts for a generation of yuppies adrift.
Continue reading…

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The Cost Of Living Crisis – An Anarchist Analysis

anarchistnews.org
thecollective
2022-05-17
https://anarchistnews.org/content/cost-living-crisis-%E2%80%93-anarchist-analysis
From Anarchist Federation

Intro

The cost of living has shot up recently, and looks like it will continue to rise over the next couple of years. This increase will make life harder for almost everyone besides the rich and powerful. Many who may have been comfortably surviving previously will be forced into a precarious position where one run of bad luck could throw them into poverty. Those already in poverty are facing a disaster.

The last time we faced this kind of cost of living crunch, during the 2008 recession, the British government chose to do very little to help. In fact, the government played an important role in causing that rise in costs, as it forced the cost of the recession onto everyone else while bailing out the banks that caused the recession. This historical experience gives us no reason to rely on the government to deal with the problem this time round.

As anarchists, we do not wish to simply complain about life getting harder and the corruption and inaction of the state. Our politics are about direct action to solve our own problems and to fight back against the state and the capitalists who wish to exploit us. We aim to come up with ways that people can help each other to get through this, and ways in which we can help each other to resist state and capital as they try to force the costs of their inhuman system onto those already at the bottom.

The first two sections of this piece will examine what is happening right now, what is predicted to happen, and the lead up to the current cost of living crisis from the 2008 recession. This section will involve a lot of boring statistics that, while valid as of the start of May 2022, may be out of date by the time you read this, although many readers will not need dry statistics to understand the direness of the situation. The next two sections will examine why the current situation has developed, and why nothing has been done about it by the government. The last two sections will focus on what we can do about this, and what the implications of such action are.

Plague, War, Shortages, and Taxes

The cost of living is rising. Inflation, the rate at which prices increase, was at 5.5% as of January, the highest it has been in 30 years. Inflation was predicted to hit 7.3% in April, and now there are predictions of it peaking at 8.7% by the end of the year. Compared to this, wage growth has been far below inflation, at 4.3% at the end of 2021 and expected to drop below 4% this year. Real incomes, as in what someone can buy with their wages, are expected to drop 4% this year, a loss equivalent to £1000 for a typical household, and the Bank of England predicts that real income will continue to fall or stagnate until 2024. By 2026, real income is still expected to be below the level it was as of 2021.

For many, the most shocking rise in the cost of living have been the recent hikes in the cost of energy. Typical household energy bills went up 54% in April, an annual increase of around £700. This is after a smaller price hike of £139 in October 2021. Worse than this, it is expected that energy bills will rise again this October, with a report by the Resolution Foundation predicting a further rise of £900 a year for the typical household. This would make the typical yearly bill for energy around £3000 by 2023, more than double what it was before the recent price rises.

The price rises in energy will hit the poorest hardest, with poor households spending three times the proportion of their income on energy compared to richer households. The poorest quarter of households are expected to see a 6% reduction in real income, with 1.3 million people predicted to fall into absolute poverty next year, including 500,000 children. The rise in energy prices will create knock on effects across the economy, as all industrial production requires energy. Landlords will also seek to pass on their rising cost of energy onto their tenants, with a third of renters already reporting that their rents have gone up in the last six months. This will result in a general rise in prices far beyond the consumer cost of gas and electricity.

This rise in energy prices has been driven by rises in wholesale prices of natural gas, as sold by its producers, which has quadrupled in price since the end of 2021. Many homes in the UK use gas for heating and cooking, and the around a third of the UK’s electricity is also generated by natural gas, which has contributed to a tripling of the of wholesale price of electricity since the end of 2021.

This rise in wholesale prices has been caused by a combination of factors. An unusually cold winter in 2020/2021 increased demand for gas and electricity to heat buildings, followed by an unusually warm 2021 summer in Asia increasing demand for electricity for air conditioning. The end of COVID lockdowns in many parts of the world has also resulted in a sudden expansion of economic activity, again demanding more energy.

This rise in wholesale prices has hit many UK suppliers hard, as they buy wholesale from producers before then selling gas and electricity on to consumers, and the price that they can sell energy is capped by the British government. This cap lags behind real prices and over twenty suppliers have gone out of business since the middle of 2021, unable to make money under the current price cap. In response the government is raising the cap, thus allowing suppliers to raise their prices. So far the suppliers that have gone out of business are mostly smaller companies, including those that attempted to specialise in green or ethical energy production. Their customers have defaulted to surviving energy companies, and these closures have consolidated the British energy market in the hands of its big players.

This crisis in the cost of energy is coming after damage to the economy caused by COVID, which has hit the UK hard. We have suffered more deaths than any European country besides Russia, with over 170,000 dead as of time of writing, the second worst drop in life expectancy over the pandemic compared to economic peers, and the steepest economic decline; an economic contraction of 9.7%, in 2020. This is the worst economic contraction since records began, and matches estimates of the decline caused by the great depression. While the economy has bounced back from this, our recovery has lagged behind the EU overall and America due to the depth of the recession we suffered during the pandemic, with our economy being 0.5% smaller as of October 2021 than it was pre-pandemic. Long term, COVID is estimated to reduce the size of the economy by 2% compared to what it would have been if there had been no pandemic. At time of writing the British government also seems to have abandoned any further attempts to limit the spread of COVID among the population, leaving us at risk of a potentially more deadly variant of COVID developing and inflicting yet more damage to society.

As anarchists, we are not overly concerned with rising economic growth as an indicator of human well being. As we shall see in later sections of this piece, it is very possible for the economy to grow while our quality of life stagnates or even declines. However, given the current structure of the economy, declines in the economy will almost always result in the capitalist class attempting to save its profits, and the state attempting to save its tax income, by increasing the exploitation of the working class.

The poor and ethnic minorities have already suffered disproportionality under the COVID pandemic. These groups are more likely to be essential workers who can not work from home, more likely to be forced to live in cramped, multi-generational housing that make it easy for COVID to spread, and most likely to have sub-par access to health services. In terms of standard of living, the death of a family member is not only a tragedy in and of itself, but an event that makes life permanently harder as families’ lose wage earners and care givers.

While much of the conversation about the human cost of COVID has focussed on the number of people it has killed, the effects of long COVID must also be taken into account when discussing the cost of living. According to the Office of National Statistics, nearly a million people report long COVID adversely affecting their day-to-day activities. Many of these people will be less able to work, which in the current capitalist economy means they will be less able to live. Some have also been permanently disabled, and will need ongoing care that they are less likely to receive as the cost of living goes up. Again, those households least able to afford it are most likely to be hit by long COVID; Workers, and their dependents, in low paying but physically, mentally, and/or emotionally demanding jobs that long COVID may make impossible for them to continue doing.

The cost of energy and the long term affects of COVID on the cost of living are things that are impacting the entire world, although the British state may have been unusually incompetent in its handing of the pandemic. However, we must also deal with the costs of Brexit. The details of the damage done by Brexit would be an essay in and of themselves, with businesses bankrupted, supply chains disrupted, and labour shortages, along with the social damage caused by the ending of freedom of movement and the empowering of the far right. To keep things short, according to the Office of Budget Responsibility, the long term economic impact of Brexit will be twice that of COVID, permanently shrinking the British economy by 4%. And again, as capitalists find their profits squeezed and the state finds its tax base shrink, they will attempt to pass on that damage to us in the form of higher costs, higher taxes, and lower wages

Even without the crisis in the cost of energy, we would have seen an attempt to pass on the cost of COVID and Brexit onto those least able to afford it, with the government running the highest yearly budget deficit since the Second World War in order to keep the economy afloat during the pandemic. The last time the government ran unusually high deficits, during to 2008 recession, it paid them off with a decade long campaign of austerity that slashed services for those who needed them most.

Already we are seeing rises in taxation, with the Spring 2021 budgets laying out a series of tax rises that, by 2027, are projected to push tax as a share of the economy to its highest level since 1950. At the time of the budget, the increased tax burden would have fallen more heavily on middle and high income earners, partly in order to pay for a reversal in the counterproductive gutting of public services that the British state has pursued since the 2008 recession. The latest Spring 2022 continues to follow last years plan mostly unchanged by the current crisis.

However, the current wage rises in combination with even faster inflation rises mean that more and more poor workers will pass over the threshold to pay income tax, while the actual purchasing power of their “higher” wages will be, in real terms, less than it was when their wages were below the income tax threshold. The threshold at which someone pays income tax has been frozen at £12,570 a year until 2026, with the intent of taking advantage of this effect in order to raise the real tax rate by stealth, but at the time this was predicted to only raise an additional £8bn (billion), whereas under current predictions it will result in an additional £21bn in tax revenue.

It is also important at this point to point out that all tax revenue is ultimately raised from the exploitation of the working class. Capitalist profits and the high wages of those in positions of power within corporate and state bureaucracies come from paying workers less than the value of what we produce for state and capital. Even if the increasing tax burden fell entirely on the rich, their ability to pay is ultimately built on what they can skim off of the productive labour of those below them, and increased taxation may well just result in lower wages and higher consumer prices as capitalists and managers increase the level of exploitation to make up their losses. Taxation is justified with the idea that the state will use this money to then pay for better services for everyone, but there is not reason to assume this will the case instead of, for example, paying for wars of aggression, more subsidies for big business, or more police repression.

On top of all of this, the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine will likely cause further increases in the cost of living. This is not to belittle the massive suffering of the Ukrainian people, which has been far worse than anything we in the UK will suffer from rising costs, but any discussion of our own living standards will be incomplete without a discussion of the war.

The long term impact of the invasion are still up in the air, but it is already contributing to the rise in energy prices. Russia is a major exporter of natural gas, and the war has also driven volatility in oil prices, with increases around 30% above the pre-war price, although the price has since dropped again. Various other commodities have also risen in price due to the war, but of particular interest is the effect that the war will have on food prices. Russia and Ukraine produce 30% of the world’s wheat exports between them, and Russia produces 80% of world’s vegetable oils. The war will drive further increases in food prices, which were already increasing before the war and are predicted to go up by as much as 15% this year. This is a price rise that will again disproportionality impact the poorest households that pay the highest proportion of their income for food.

This combination of soaring energy prices, economic damage due to COVID, and economic disruption caused by Ukraine could very well push the world into a full blown recession, with the UK being especially vulnerable out of western countries due to the additional problems caused by Brexit and its poor handing of COVID. However, even if the economy continues to grow, it is clear that for those of us who are not members of the ruling class that collects profit dividends or tax revenue, living standards are already in recession and likely to keep falling for several years.

The Long Crisis

In many ways, this crisis is simply an acceleration of a problem that already existed within British capitalism; the stagnation of living standards since the 2008 recession. The reaction of both the state and popular movements to this long term crisis is also important to understand what we will have to do to confront the current crisis.

While the overall size of the economy bounced back within five years of the recession, real wages stagnated or even fell for the ten years after the recession, with wage growth in that decade at its worst in the UK since the 1860’s, in what governor of the Bank of England at the time refereed to as the “lost decade”. By 2015, real wages had dropped by 10.4%, the worst in Europe, comparable only to Greece. While earnings started to recover after this low point, we face the current cost of living crisis with the working class as a whole having reaped no rewards from the boom years that normally follow a recession.

The British government also chose to pay for this recession by shifting its costs onto the working class by slashing services. These cuts to state services resulted in real damage to our quality of life beyond our falling or stagnant real wages. Local authority budgets were cut by 40% in the first five years of austerity, and within ten years this resulted in the closure of 859 children’s centres and family hubs, 940 youth centres, 835 (more than one in five) public toilets, 1224 bus routes, and a decrease in 738 council run libraries. 2010 training cuts left the NHS short of 100,000 nurses and doctors. In 2018, £37bn less was spent on welfare for the UK’s poorest compared to 2010.

We could rattle off these statistics almost endlessly, and many people will have personal horror stories about mistreatment or abandonment by government services since the recession, but one that really highlights the inhumanity and cruelty of the government’s approach to the recession is that, between December 2011 and February 2014, nearly 10,000 people died within two weeks of being deemed “potentially fit for work” by the Department of Work and Pensions. During this period, the British state was literally willing to work its most vulnerable subjects until they died in the pursuit of economic growth. Overall, between 2010 and 2020, one study estimated that the number of excess deaths caused by austerity might have been over 100,000.

Worse still, all the misery this has inflicted on the working class has probably been completely pointless, restricting the growth of the economy instead of aiding it. A 2019 analysis by the New Economic Foundation, based on figure from the Office of Budget Responsibility, estimated that in the 2018/2019 fiscal year alone austerity policies reduced the GDP (gross domestic product) of the UK by £100bn, which was a loss of £1,500 for each person in the UK.

Besides the British state’s austerity programs, another factor suppressing living standards since the 2008 recession are house prices rising far faster than wages. Since the lowered average house prices after the collapse of the housing bubble, £154,000 in March 2009, house prices have risen 75% to around £270,000 in November of 2021, far exceeding their peak price during the housing bubble of £190,000. Wages, on the other hand, have only risen 35% during the same period, from an average of £22,000 a year to £30,000.

Yet another factor suppressing wages is the stagnation of British capitalism. While part of the justifying myth of the capitalist class is that they are all innovative entrepreneurs, driving society forward in their pursuit of efficiency and profit, since the 2008 recession they have done little to increase the productivity of the economy. This time period has seen the worst stagnation of productivity since Britain became an industrial economy. It is estimated that if productivity had continued to grow in line with the pre-recession trend, the British economy would be 20% larger than it is now.

With productivity so low, the economy has only been able to grow by forcing more people into the workplace, thus the Department of Work and Pension’s insistence that dying people are “fit for work” and the general crusade against “work shy benefit cheats”. This lack of productivity growth also keeps wages down. In an economy of increasing productivity, the gains from additional productivity can be split between wages and profits without either stagnating or falling. However, when productivity per worker is stagnant, any increase in wages must come at the direct expense of profits. In line with this, most of the jobs created since the recession have been precarious and low paying, although it is hard to say if these humiliating jobs are a cause or a result of low productivity.

By February 2020, before the worst of the COVID inflicted disruption, average household debt was at £15,385 before counting mortgages. Fourteen million people, one in five of the population, lived in poverty. Among this fourteen million in poverty, eight million were working age adults, four million were children, and two million were pensioners. Among the disabled, a third lived in poverty. By the end of 2020, a quarter of a million people were homeless and living in temporary accommodation. Over 2,000 food banks have opened in a grass roots attempt to stem the tide of hunger that this poverty is inflicting upon the UK.

Lastly, we must mention climate change as a long term driver of rising costs of living. It is hard to pin down any one weather event specifically to climate change, as it is impossible to say if any particular heat wave or storm would have happened with our without the human impact on the environment. However, the climate is changing, and this will disrupt food production and drive up prices. As a recent example, the current record breaking heat wave in India will reduce the Indian wheat harvest this year, as well as being a very dangerous event for the Indian people.

Climate change will also impact the economy in less obvious ways. The recent shortages in computer chips has in part been caused by a drought in Taiwan, which produces 60% to 70% of the worlds semi-conductor chips. This production is water intensive, and has been hampered by the worst drought in the area for 56 years. Considering how many objects now incorporate some level of computerisation, this shortage has had knock on effects across the entire global economy, from laptops to cars. Likewise, the rising energy prices are linked to an unusually warm Asian summer last year increasing demand for energy for air conditioning.

The human and economic costs of climate change are massive. It not only causes famines and disrupts production, but this then leads to social instability and armed conflict. It is predicted that as many as 200 million people could be displaced by climate change by 2050 and some parts of the world could become functionally uninhabitable. Within the same time frame, climate change could reduce global GDP by up to 18%. In the face of this, the British state has shown the same disinterest it has shown in protecting its subjects from the impacts of the financial crisis and COVID.

The society that is heading into the current cost of living crisis has already been badly damaged by more than a decade of deliberate, yet probably pointless, attacks on public services along with suffering the effects of economic stagnation within a system where profits must be saved before living standards. All this within the context of a wider environmental crisis that is facing the entire world.

The Failure of Democracy and Protest

The attack on our current living standards, and the previous attack on those living standards after the 2008 recession, point to a massive failure in how our current political system is supposed to work. One of the great justifying myths of the British state is that it exists to serve the interests of its subjects, and that our democratic system ensures this. However, the British state has been almost entirely unconcerned with the fall in living standards over almost a decade and a half, and does not seem to have plans to intervene too heavily in the current crisis despite the evidence that such a hands off approach does not work.

The British state has in fact been one of the main antagonists of austerity, ensuring the costs of economic dysfunction have fallen mostly on the poor instead of the rich, while acting to suppress popular movements that might threaten the property and power of the ruling class by demanding more for everyone else. It also seems to be uninterested in doing anything to fix this economic dysfunction as long as it can impose those costs on the working class and the dispossessed.

Attempts to change the course of the government from inside have been ruthlessly crushed by the ruling class. Any opposition party that tries to challenge the idea that austerity is necessary and that economic progress requires everyone but the rich to just shut up and grind has been subject to a vicious misinformation campaign by the media. The attacks on Corbyn for advocating what amounted to the warmed over social democracy of many mainland European states, states which saw stronger wage growth after the recession than the UK, is the most egregious and recent example. A 2015 London School of Economics study found that newspapers were highly biased against Corbyn and systematically ignored or distorted his views. Even before then the previous leader of the Labour Party, Ed Milliband, was branded as a dangerous communist for simply being slightly to the left of Blair.

The Labour Party itself is now purging any element within it that might disagree with the ruling class consensus after accidentality allowing a representative of the soft left to be elected leader, a situation it is unlikely to ever allow again. Corbyn has been replaced by Keir Starmer, a politician who proudly declared he is willing to lie to his own voters to attain power, and who, from the few times he has dared to have any strong opinions on anything, is entirely on board with the ruling class consensus. The only other politically relevant party in Westminster are the Liberal Democrats, who have long been an ideological non-entity after selling out whatever principals they may have had to form a coalition government with the Tories to force through austerity measures in 2010.

The result of all this is that the UK is functionally a one party state, with all three parties and the British ruling class more broadly coalescing around the same general ideology. Any dissent from this line is viciously punished by the media. The result of this has been a string of governments that, free from any real push back against their bad ideas, has each proven to be more corrupt, incompetent, and pointlessly malicious than the last.

Attempts to push change from outside the system have also been mostly ineffective. Most of these attempts have assumed some kind of good will on the part of the ruling class; that they actually want to rule in the interests of everyone, or at least want to rule as competent bastards who do not want the entire system to one day implode in on itself, and that if made aware of their mistakes and the damage they are doing they will change their policies.

Because of this most movements against government policy and the exploitative and oppressive structure of our society in general have focused on demonstrations that amount to a mass petition for the government to act differently, with not backup plan for what to do should the government simply decide to ignore them. These movements have been at best totally ignored, and at worse subject to state violence and invasive spying by the police, and smear campaigns by the media.

When these movements have taken more direct action to try and force the government to act on any issue, they have still accepted the overall legitimacy of the current system and the idea that the British state could, with a little goading, start working for the interests of its subjects. Such movements have been met with even more brutal treatment, with the wave of repression against Extinction Rebellion (XR) endangering the right to peaceful protest itself. This is despite XR being, in the grand scheme of political movements, incredibly tame in its tactics and friendly to the establishment in its outlook. XR is also campaigning to solve a problem, climate change, that not only could harm billions of people, but also is in the long term interests of the ruling class to solve before it completely destabilises the societies they extract their profits and power from.

This points to a state that will do very little to help us in the face of the current cost of living crisis, and will do its best to crush any attempts to force them to act differently, either from within their own institutions or from popular movements acting outside of the traditional levers of power. If we are to do anything about the rising cost of living, we must keep in the mind that the British state is far more likely to be our enemy than our friend, regardless of which party is in power.

The Root of The Crisis

Before I can start talking about what we might do to survive and ultimately fight back against the rising cost of living, I need to examine why the current situation has developed. The mainstream narrative that we are all sold is that the state is the protector of its subjects and that capitalism is the driver of rising living standards, and these assumptions must be examined; if the great political and economic institutions of the world are not on the side of those trying to improve the lot of the vast majority of people, then we need to understand this fact and build our movements accordingly.

Firstly, the interests of capitalists have very little to do with the common good. Capitalists need to put profit above all else, or they will be out-competed by other capitalists more willing to put profit first. The fact that many of the energy companies that have gone bankrupt due to rising wholesale energy prices are those that where attempting to pursue a more socially conscious business model is just one example of this.

Capitalism also puts capitalists in a position of great social, political, and economic power. Most people within capitalism are not capitalists, but workers and our dependents, who need to earn a wage working for a capitalist in order to survive. An individual capitalist can often survive, or not even notice, the loss of an individual worker. On the other hand, a worker may face poverty or even starvation if they are fired by their capitalist employer. This means that not only are capitalists incentivised by the structure of the economy to seek profit above all else, but they have the power to exploit and oppress their own workforce in the pursuit of that profit.

Anyone who has worked for a living will have met their fair share of bosses who are petty, ignorant, malicious, or generally unpleasant, and can get away with this behaviour because those under them can not risk getting the sack. When we go to work we live under a dictatorship of the owner and the managers that ultimately answer to them. We must be profitable in order to be granted the wages we need to survive, creating not only enough to cover our wages and subsistence, but a surplus that our boss will take as profit. Those who can not be profitable, and those parts of ourselves that do not serve capitalist profit, are surplus to requirement and may as well be left to die from the perspective of capitalism as a system.

The problems that this can cause in society are acknowledged by most people, and traditionally we have looked to the state to counterbalance capitalism. However, those who control the state operate under their own set of incentives that restrict what they can and can do with that power. Take a supposedly absolute dictator as an example; in theory they can do whatever they want with their power, but in practice they rely on the cooperation of the army and security services to suppress dissent, the state bureaucracy to actually govern most of the country, businessmen to fund their regime, and so on. Many an “absolute” dictator has been replaced by a conspiracy of their generals, their high level functionaries, and powerful capitalists. So what this dictator must do first a foremost is keep those key supporters on side, or risk being replaced.

Just as we are exploited as workers for the profits of capitalists, political rulers must exploit us to enrich and empower their key backers, or risk being overthrown by those key backers. Any politician who is not willing to sell out those subjects they do not need in favour of those whose support they do need will lose out to competitors with less scruples. Those of us not necessary to maintain power can be freely tax farmed, used as cannon fodder in state wars, expendable labour for state allied businesspeople, or simply left to rot in poverty.

And as subjects of the state we are even more vulnerable to exploitation and oppression by our rulers than we are as workers under our capitalist employers. We are under the dictatorship of the capitalist while we work, but we have a personal life away from that control. And while unemployment is often terrible, we can at least choose to be without a capitalist for a limited time, depending on our circumstances. State rulers can, if they want to, invade every aspect of our lives, and if we wish to escape them they can even choose to close the border to us, and even if they do not we are reliant on finding another state to take us in. Those of us who have watched the British state and media collude to demonise immigration know that states often reject potential migrants. No one can effectively live “between” states as we might between jobs. This power means that the subjects of the state are even more vulnerable to being exploited and oppressed by their rulers, whose interests are aligned not with the common good but with the key supporters they need to keep power.

The tendency of state rulers to put maintaining their own power above any other practical or ethical concern is also well known to most people, and democracy is seen as the solution to this problem; if the people get to vote on the course of the government, then we can restrain it from harming us. However, even in the most perfect democracy, in which every decision was made by democratic vote, minorities can be exploited and oppressed by the majority. And even then, no politician could rule without key supporters within the state apparatus and/or support from capitalist backers. This is why all states, and all parties within a democratic state, seem to converge on similar methods of rule; all leaders are operating under roughly the same set of incentives, which encourage the same sets of behaviours if they are to be successful. What happened to Jeremy Corbyn is a good example of what happens to those who try to break out of this consensus and put the common good ahead of the ruthless pursuit of pleasing those who already hold power; betrayed by his own party officials and slandered by the press, regardless of what support he might have among the rank and file of his own party.

If the state acts as a counter balance to capitalism, it does so in its own interest and not the interests of its subjects, which state rulers must also exploit in order to maintain power. However, usually state and capital are not opposed, but form an interlocking alliance, with state rulers using capitalist money and influence to help gain and maintain power, and capitalists benefiting from the state intervening in the economy to increase their profits. After all, any politician who refuses capitalist money will be at a disadvantage in the competition for power versus an opponent who will take the money, and any capitalist who refuses to use political connections to help their business will likewise be at a disadvantage against a competitor who will exploit their political connections. State and capital are systematically encouraged to collude with each other.

They key take away from all this is that neither politicians or capitalists have a reliable incentive to serve the common good of those under them, and nor can they be relied on to keep each other’s interests in check. They represent an interlocking system of state and capital that runs on the exploitation of those who live within it. In this context, not only can we not trust the current system to support us through the cost of living crisis, but we can not trust any configuration of the state or capitalism to do so. We are on our own and must find our own solutions to these problems, which will likely involved direct confrontation with state and capital if those solutions reduce their ability to exploit us.

Mutual Aid and Militant Resistance

In the current society we are often trained to think of our problems individually, and if we have a problem we can not solve on our own we are taught to take that problem to the authority above us in a government or corporate hierarchy, buy a solution from a capitalist business, or vote for a political party that might solve that problem for us. All of these methods rely on institutions that, as I have just explained, can not be trusted to give a fuck about us. In the face of this, we will need to start building collective solutions amongst ourselves to those collective problems we can not solve on our own. We must look to our neighbours, our fellow workers, and those suffering under same system as us.

Although the common narrative is that during hard times people turn on each other unless restrained by the state, such mutual aid initiatives are common after natural and man made disasters, with common people banding together to ensure each other’s survival. After the 2017 Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, killing over 3000 people and leaving many of the survivors without drinking water or electricity, and the United States controlled administration bungled the disaster response, a network of mutual aid centres were set up in abandoned public buildings on the basis that “only the people save the people”. Many of these centres started as community kitchens, but have branched out into providing free stores, social services, advice, education, and have repaired or replaced damaged infrastructure, among other things. While the mutual aid institutions of Puerto Rico have been unusually long lived and capable, many other such bottom up responses to disaster can be found in the book A Paradise Built In Hell.

A recent UK example of this is the large network of mutual aid groups that popped up during the COVID pandemic in order to cover some of the failures of the state in supporting its subjects through the pandemic. These groups generally delivered food packages and picked up prescriptions for those who were isolating because they were especially at risk, or thought they had COVID, as well as doing other tasks for those less able to do them themselves because of COVID. As of May 2021, there were 4,300 such groups, and each group will have taken its own approach to the problems COVID caused within our society, performing different tasks as their capacity allowed and local conditions demanded.

A more specific example of bottom up attempts to protect or improve living standards is Cooperation Town, a network of food cooperatives in London. These are community led initiatives which allow their members to club together to buy food in bulk directly from suppliers, cutting out the costs of paying retailers. Such co-ops used to be a far more significant part of our society, with member run organisations going under various names (benefit societies, mutual aid associations, friendly societies) providing health care, funeral care, banking services, and many other services. The welfare state and rising living standards made many of them irrelevant, but with the cost of living skyrocketing and the welfare state gutted, such bottom up cooperative service provision is one way to attempt to scrape by.

As one last example, Dalston Solidarity Cafe is a recently started initiative in Hackney to run a regular community kitchen that provides food for anyone who attends on a pay-what-you-can basis. The Cafe also holds workshops on various topics, acts as as a distribution point for political and practical pamphlets, and acts as a point of contact for other other mutual aid projects. In many ways this project mirrors the early mutual aid centres of Puerto Rico, although as far as I am aware those centres were not a direct inspiration for many of the initial members.

However, simply helping each other survive the cost of living increase is not enough. Politicians and capitalists will try to save their tax base and their profit margins in so far as they can, and will let the full burden of a rising cost of living fall on us if we allow them to get away with it. If we become better at getting by with what we have, that will simply enable the ruling class to take even more from us without tipping society into chaos. We need movements that have the power to impose our desires and needs upon state and capital and combat their exploitation and oppression.

Unions have traditionally been one of the ways in which workers have used our collective power to impose what we want on capitalists, having previously helped win higher wages, reduced hours, and general dignity at work. But the modern union movement in the UK is often ineffective or outright corrupt. They must operate under labour laws created by state and capital to hamstring union organising as much as possible. They also often create, encouraged by these labour laws, internal hierarchies that mirror those within capitalist and government bureaucracies, empowering and encouraging those at the top to exploit the union’s own membership, often siding with their fellow bureaucrats within government and business against the workers they claim to protect.

However, organised workplace struggle can force concessions from managers and capitalists regardless of if those workers organise within a formal union, and even with a union workers will be unable to support each other and win concessions if we are disorganised and divided. This is because the power of such struggle is not from a formally recognised organisation, but from the fact that, while one worker can be fired for standing up for themselves, a capitalist will have a lot more trouble firing an entire workforce. Solidarity Federation is an anarchist syndicalist group that does this kind of workplace organising without being a formal union, building independent workers organisations both outside of and within unions so that we can fight back regardless of how useless the local union is. Another example is The Industrial Workers of The World, which attempts to ensure bottom up workers control within the structure of a formal recognised union.

Another avenue of resistance will be rent strikes. Landlords are another powerful group in society that will try to pass the rising cost of living onto their tenants. Just as collective action by workers can force concessions from capitalists where individual action would fail, collective action by tenants can force concessions from landlords. Mass refusal to pay rent is an old tactic that has worked in the past, with the latest wide spread rent strike in this country being the 2015 onwards rent struggles at University College London, where students have won multiple concessions from their university, including a decrease in rent. This strike has since spread to other universities across the country. Multiple groups in London are attempting to organise collective power among renters; London Renters Union, Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth, and again Solidarity Federation.

Squatting, as in the occupation of unused buildings, is another tactic that can be used to directly counter the rising cost of living. Unfortunately, residential squatting has been made illegal in this country, despite there being over 238,000 homes left empty as of November 2021. But squatting of non-residential buildings is still legal, either to convert them into somewhere to live or to turn them into some kind of community resource. After World War Two, Britain saw an acute housing crisis due to a lack of house construction over the course of the war, and people took to mass squatting, including the squatting of disused army bases, in order to find a place to live. Another squatter’s movement started in 1968, originally in protest of homes standing empty while people were homeless, but it soon became a general alternative to submitting to rent or a mortgage for a significant subculture. For another example of what squatters movements can achieve, see our pamphlet on contemporary projects by the Anarchist Federation of Gran Canaria (FAGC). London is also lucky to have the Advisory Service For Squatters, which does what it says on the tin.

Lastly, refusal to pay tax is another possible angle of resistance. One of the most successful grass roots movements in recent British history was the resistance to the Poll Tax in 1989-1990. This tax, which was a flat rate tax that took no account of the ability of people to pay it, lead to an organised campaign of tax resistance, with one in five people refusing to pay. At this level of non-payment it was impossible to punish everyone who refused and also directly hurt the government in one of the few places it genuinely cares about; its treasury. This widespread resistance, along with a huge riot in central London, resulted in the ousting of a prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, and the abandonment of the tax.

None of the movements or tactics mentioned should be taken as blueprints, but as inspiration. Each one contained/contains multiple different currents, differing levels of radicalism, and differing levels of effectiveness. The historical examples each had their virtues and their flaws and each could be discussed at book length. Those examples which are current to today may have strengths and weaknesses we will not know about until long into the future. However, these movements have all directly improved the material conditions of those involved in them, and given their members a method of pressuring the state outside of electoral politics, often succeeding where voting failed. All too often we look at the corruption, malice, and incompetence of state and capital and despair that nothing can be done, but the history of these movements shows that organisation and direct action from below can get the goods when we are willing to organise and to resist.

Building on Success

Whatever the nature of the movements we might build in reaction to rising cost of living, we must keep in mind the systematic tendencies of state and capital; neither capitalists or politicians can ever be reliable allies, and will most often be opposed to any project to improve the lives of those under them, as our exploitation and submission are the basis of capitalist profit and political power. Many of the failures of previous grass roots movements can be traced to a failure to take these systematic tendencies seriously; unions integrated into the system of state and capital only for the terms of that integration to undermine their grass roots power, the labour party builds off of working class self organisation only to betray and suppress that organisation, and more specific movements rise up to win “allies” with the system when they are strong, only for state and capital to then attack them again when they demobilise under the mistaken impression that their new “allies” will champion their cause within state and capital without having their arm twisted by a strong social movement.

In accepting the problems with state and capital as systematic, and not to do with the benevolence or corruption of any particular leader or businessperson, we must also accept that we can not structure our organisations along the lines of state and capital without also replicating the same systematic problems. We live and work under capitalist and state hierarchies, so it is easy for their hierarchical and authoritarian methods of organisation, and the assumptions behind them, to become our default method of organisation. But history is littered with popular movements of the people against corrupt rulers that simply created new corrupt rulers over the people because of this failure. Union and charitable bureaucracies, corrupt “socialist” parties, and countless revolutions that simply replace one oppressor with another are testament to this. We need to organise among ourselves as free equals, based on consensus and mutual agreement, without granting anyone among us special authority or building new hierarchies that will give some people the ability to oppress and exploit others.

Such a necessity also means we must be aware of, and overcome, the many different prejudices and false assumptions that are rife within our society. Racism, sexism, queer-phobia, trans-phobia, and all other bigotries are incompatible with building a movement based on free association. You can only give people shit and still demand they cooperate with you within authoritarian methods of organising that expect all their members to fall into line regardless of how badly they are treated. This is the very kind of organisation we must attempt to replace. Workers, renters, the unemployed, and those at the bottom of society in general do not have political power or great wealth to call on. Our power to effect society is based on our ability to cooperate with each other, build alliances, and make each others’ struggles and problems our own.

Likewise, those who have traditionally been most abused by society, and who it has been most socially acceptable to discriminate against, are the ones who are worst off and will be most hard hit by the cost of living increases. Any movement that wishes to fight these cost of living increases that is inhospitable to those already struggling and marginalised will go nowhere; it will drive away those who have the most material interest in fighting for its cause.

State and capital will also attempt to use societies prejudices to find scape goats to deflect our anger on to. We have already seen a decades long campaign against “work shy” benefit claimants, against “job stealing” migrants, against the “feckless” youth, and against an “unreasonable” left, and most recently “woke social justice warriors”, blaming all these groups and many others for the failures of our society. Under these propaganda campaigns benefit claimants have been made destitute, migrants have been abused and shipped back to states where they are not safe, the youth have had their future destroyed, and any politics to the left of Tony Blair has been demonised. Yet our problems have not only gotten worse, but these scape goats have been used as an excuse to worsen our standard of living and dismiss out of hand any possible alternative. Workers, renters, benefits claimants, the unemployed, and all those at the bottom of society must fight back against attempts to turn our anger on each other along lines of race, nationality, gender, sexuality, or culture, and unite to turn that anger against the political and economic ruling class who are actually responsible for how our society works.

We must also recognise that the problems we face are global. The rising cost of energy, the rising cost of food, and the knock on effects of these will impact everyone on the planet in one way or another, and the core drivers of these rising prices are systematic problems that cut across national borders. Any British movement to ensure that the cost of these rises does not result in ever increasing poverty for the British working class can only be strengthened by communication and cooperation with other movements across the world fighting the same fight. The ruling class is itself international, with big capitalists operating across borders, and states cooperating through a web of economic and military agreement, and in so far as they will oppose any attempt to push rising costs onto them, they will do so internationally if they need to. We must be willing and able to cooperate across borders in the same way.

Nationalism is poison to international cooperation between the oppressed and exploited. Just as our rulers use prejudice internally to distract from how they cause our problems, and break up or prevent the formation of movements that might effectively oppose them, nationalism is used to scapegoat foreigners, con us into believing that we share interests with our ruling class more so than than we share interests with the subjects of other countries suffering under the same international system, and to break up any effective international movement to oppose a system and ruling class that is itself international.

This internationalism will also be needed to deal with climate change, which state and capital as a global system are failing to deal with, and which will drive up the cost of living even further. Climate change is already implicated in failed harvests, disrupted industrial production, and refugee crises, but these problems will only worsen as climate change deepens. The failure of state and capital to move away from fossil fuels to renewable energy is already indirectly responsible for much of the energy crunch we are facing, and we must be very aware that attempts to solve that energy crunch without pushing for more renewable energy will just cause us more problems further down the line.

The combination of all these concerns means that a truly successful movement against the rising cost of living will be one that is anti-authoritarian, inclusive, international, and environmentally conscious. It must also not only be independent from state and capital, but also capable of being antagonistic to state and capital when our needs and desires clash with the interests of the ruling class. It must not only build capacity for us to provide for our own needs, but build the power to oppose the system that often profits from the suppression of those needs.

The end point of such a movement can only be revolutionary. The more we build capacity to flourish outside of state and capital and to prevent that system from imposing upon us, the better off we will be. But at some point that capacity will both make state and capital redundant in providing for us, and give us the capability to abolish that system. Since that capacity is also a threat to the system, we can expect the system to attempt to crush us, and its abolition will become a simple matter of self defence.

The alternative to accepting the revolutionary implications of fighting for our own well being is to never build on our victories, and to concede society back to a system the will try to roll back those victories even when the movements we build are powerful enough that they do not have to make such compromises. It is to forever limit our own bottom up power in deference to a system of state and capital that can only ever see us as disposable tools for economic profit and political power. Revolution is not a utopian ambition, but the logical and practical end result of people standing up against any system that does not care about them, and following through on that opposition to create a society built on serving the needs and desires of all its members.

Origionally posted on London Anarchist Federation

 

Notes

Groups Mentioned:

Cooperation Town – COVID Mutual Aid Groups – Dalston Solidarity Cafe – Advisory Service For Squatters – Solidarity Federation – Industrial Workers of The World – London Renters Union – Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth

Main studies:

The Living Standards Outlook 2022 – Resolution Foundation, 8th of March, 2022. The most in depth source on the cost of living crisis used in this piece.

UK Poverty 2019/20 – Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 7th of February, 2020. The most in depth source on poverty before the pandemic used in this piece.

Books on bottom up responses to crisis:

Mutual Aid: A Factor In Evolution – Peter Kropotkin, 1902. An important work by an anarchist and biologist examining mutual aid both among animals and among humans, up to the start of the 20th century.

A Paradise Built In Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise In Disaster – Rebecca Solnit, 2009. A series of examinations of how people react in disaster, focussing on grass roots mutual aid and cooperation and how the state often attempts to suppress them.

Fighting For Ourselves: Anarcho-Syndicalism and Class Struggle – Solidarity Federation, 2012. A relatively short yet cohesive theoretical and historical introduction to an anarchist approach to building workplace and community power with the aim of supplanting state and capital.

Organise – Libcom, 2009. An online collection of guides on how to organise, from workplace organising, to housing activism, to anti-fascism.

Articles/reports on the general cost of living crisis:

In Numbers: What Is Fuelling Britain’s Cost Of Living Crisis? – The Guardian, 3rd of February, 2022.

UK Households Face Second Record Energy Bill Rise – The Guardian, 21st of September, 2021.

Cost Of Living Crisis – Institute For Government, 7th of February, 2022.

Inflation Nation: Putting Spring Statement 2022 In Context – Resolution Foundation, 24th of March, 2022.

The Rising Cost Of Living And Its Impact On Individuals In Great Britain: November 2021 To March 2022 – Office For National Statistics, 25th of April, 2022.

Articles/reports on wholesale energy prices:

Why Europe’s Energy Prices Are Soaring And Could Get Much Worse – Euronews, 28th of October, 2021.

Why Do Energy Prices Have To Go Up? And Other Questions – BBC News, 4th of February, 2022.

Failing Energy Companies: Latest Updates – Which?, 3rd of February, 2022.

Energy Price Rises: Bill Shock For Million As Rises Hit – BBC News, 1st of April, 2022.

Articles/reports on the economic impact of COVID:

Coronavirus: Economic Impact – House Of Commons Library, 17th of December, 2021.

GDP – International Comparisons: Key Economic Indicators – House Of Commons Library, 18th of March 2022.

Articles/reports about the health impact of COVID

Reported Cases And Deaths By Country Or Territory – Worldometer, 18th of March, 2022.

Prevalence Of Ongoing Symptoms Following Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection In The UK – Office For National Statistics, 3rd of March, 2022.

Why Have Black And South Asian People Been Hit Hardest By COVID-19? – Office For National Statistics, 14th of December, 2020.

Drop in Life Expectancy Due To Poor Pandemic Management ‘Chilling’ – Byline Times, 26th of April 2022

Articles/reports about the economic impact of Brexit:

Now It’s Official: Brexit Will Damage The Economy Long Into The Future – The Guardian, 28th of October, 2021.

Good Luck, Jacob! PAC Concludes Brexit Has Increased Business Costs And ‘Suppressed’ Trade – The London Economic, 9th of March, 2022.

Articles/reports about the economic impact of recent tax policies:

The Boris Budget – Resolution Foundation, 28th of October, 2021.

Rishi Sunak Accused Of Imposing £21bn ‘Stealth Tax’ On UK Workers – The Guardian, 16th of March, 2022.

Happy New Tax Year? National Insurance And Income Tax Changes In 2022 – Resolution Foundation, 3rd of April, 2022.

Articles/reports about the economic impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine:

The Effect Of War On Food Prices – BBC News, 7th of March, 2022.

Invasion Of Ukraine, Rising Commodity And Oil Prices And Sanctions Likely To Have Major Impact On Economy – The Centre For Economics And Business Research, 8th of March, 2022.

Ukraine War: Fuel Prices Hit New Highs But Oil Price Slide Could Provide Relief – Sky News, 14th of March, 2022

Cost Of Living: Food Boss Says Prices Could Rise By Up To 15% – BBC News, 14th of March, 2022.

Articles/reports about the threat of recession:

Risk Of Recession Rising As Headwinds Mount – British Chambers Of Commerce, 11th of March, 2022

Recession Odds Are Rising Amid Ukraine Invasion—Here’s What Could Pose ‘Serious Risk’ To U.S. Economy – Forbes, 11th of March, 2022

Articles/reports about wage growth since the 2008 recession:

Average Year-On-Year Growth Of Weekly Earnings (3 Month Average) In The United Kingdom From March 2001 To January 2022 – Statista, 15th of March, 2022.

How Have Wages Changed Over The Past Decade? – Fullfact, 1st of November, 2018.

The 2008 Recession 10 years On – Office Of National Statistics, 30th of April, 2018.

UK Workers Experienced Sharpest Wage Fall Of Any Leading Economy – Trades Union Congress, 27th of July, 2016.

Carney: UK Faces First ‘Lost Decade’ Since 1860 – Citywire, 6th of December, 2016.

More Work, Less Pay: Is The UK’s Low-Wage Economy Working? – Deutsche Welle, 19th of October, 2017.

Articles/reports about the economic and social impact of austerity:

Austerity Is Subduing UK Economy By More Than £3,600 Per Household This Year – New Economics Foundation, 21st of February, 2019.

Government Austerity Demands That We Die Within Our Means – Open Democracy, 23rd of May, 2017.

Shocking Picture Of Austerity Cuts To Local Services Is Revealed By UNISON – UNISON, 6th of December, 2019.

Welfare Spending For UK’s Poorest Shrinks By £37bn – The Guardian, 23rd of September, 2018.

The Lost Decade: The Hidden Story Of How Austerity Broke Britain – The Guardian, 3rd of March, 2020.

Tory Policies Have Killed A Quarter Of A Million People In The Last Decade – The London Economic, 1st of August, 2020

Articles/reports about the housing crisis:

Home Price To Income Ratio (US & UK) – Longtermtrends, 20th or March, 2022.

UK Housing Crisis: How Did Owning A Home Become Unaffordable? – The Guardian, 31st of March, 2021

Homeless In A Pandemic: 253,000 People Are Trapped In Temporary Accommodation – Shelter, 17th of December, 2020.

Articles/reports on climate change:

India’s Record Shattering Heatwave Will Harm Food Production – Canada’s National Observer, 29th of April, 2022

What Does Chipageddon Have To Do With Climate Change? – ABC News, 6th of May, 2021.

The Climate Crisis Is Here: What It Looks Like In Numbers – International Rescue Committee, 2nd of November, 2021

This Is How Climate Change Could Impact The Global Economy – World Economic Forum, 28th of July, 2021.

Articles/reports on social movements:

Puerto Rico: The Road to Decolonization – Disaster Relief, Mutual Aid, And Revolt – CrimethInc, 2nd of September, 2021.

Where Next For Britain’s 4,300 Mutual Aid Groups? – London School of Economics, 29th of October, 2020.

Lessons Of The Covid Mutual Aid Projects – Freedom News, 19th of December, 2021.

Long Lost Wildcat Strikes In The UK, 1960s -1990s – Libcom, 15th of November, 2008.

Strike in Britain, A Selected Timeline – Solidarity Federation.

Five Rent Strikes Which Changed the Game – Red Pepper, 30th of January, 2018.

Rent Strike? A Strategic Appraisal of Rent Strikes Throughout History and Today – CrimethInc, 30th of March, 2020.

A History Of The FAGC – Organise!, 6th of August, 2021.

The 1946 Squatters – Squat London, 18th of July, 2017.

“Decent Housing For All!” The UK Squatters Movement 1968-1980 – Explosive Politics, 19th of December, 2016.

1989-1990: Opposition To The Poll Tax – Libcom, 20th of May, 2009.

Beating The Poll Tax – Anarchist Federation, 2nd of March, 2009.

Tags: Anarchist FederationUKmoney

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Everything Is Just Dandy!

The Age-Old Question: Is Anarcho-Capitalism Anarchism?

Proudhon
thecollective
2022-05-17
https://anarchistnews.org/content/age-old-question-anarcho-capitalism-anarchism
From Center for a Stateless Society by Eric Fleischmann

May 17th, 2022

Is anarcho-capitalism a form of anarchism? The resounding cry from anarchists of all stripes—including myself—is NO! The debate rages on, but two questions are raised by this claim: why isn’t it anarchism and if it isn’t anarchism then what is it? I believe the answers are: because it fails to meet the deeper commitments of anarchism and is actually a form of radical libertarianism. And this brings up the further question: what then is the relationship between libertarianism and anarchism? I will attempt to substantially elaborate on the former response in order to lead to an open ended exploration of the latter. First though, it bears mentioning that, for much of the world, libertarian and anarchist are used more or less interchangeably. ‘Libertarian’ was first used in a political sense by anarcho-communist Joseph Déjacque and remains in use as an inherently leftist idea in much of the world outside of the United States. However, in 1955, Dean Russell proposed that classical liberals abandon the public title of liberal and advanced that “those of us who love liberty trade-mark and reserve for our own . . . the good and honorable word ‘libertarian.’” So libertarian in its common usage in the U.S. really just means, at least at its core, liberal. And the meaning of liberalism can be found in its etymological root, with Bettina Bien Greaves writing in the preface to Ludwig von Mises’s Liberalism: In The Classical Tradition that “[t]he term ‘liberalism,’ from the Latin ‘liber’ meaning ‘free’ referred originally to the philosophy of freedom” and summing up its real-world applications as represented by “the free market economy, limited government and individual freedom.” Essentially: liberalism takes the form of a belief in the essential liberty of the individual, the real-world practice of which is the greatest possible minimization of the state and the greatest possible maximization of the market. These are therefore the basics of libertarianism.

Of course, liberalism now dominates the world in its corrupted, hegemonic form of neoliberalism, but at its inception, as Kevin Carson writes, “[t]he liberalism of Adam Smith, David Ricardo and the other classical political economists was very much a left-wing assault on the entrenched economic privilege of the great Whig landed oligarchy and the mercantilism of the moneyed classes” before primarily taking “on the character of an apologetic doctrine in defense of the entrenched interests of industrial capital” [1]. So while libertarianism has a common origin with neoliberalism, it is certainly not the status quo and can therefore be identified as this original radical essence of liberalism brought to bear in the 20th and 21st century. Admittedly, this is giving a lot more credit than is due to vulgar libertarians who, as Carson accounts, “use the term ‘free market’ in an equivocal sense,” seeming “to have trouble remembering, from one moment to the next, whether they’re defending actually existing capitalism or free market principles” and consequently become apologists for the status quo and ruling elite, but Jason Lee Byas argues that libertarianism—despite its misuses—is still fundamentally a radical form of liberalism and further that “[t]o say that libertarians are radical liberals is to say more than just that we are more extreme.” It means “taking an idea to its roots, and applying that idea consistently.” Radical liberalism leads to the conclusion that “although our interests are naturally aligned, they are wildly at odds in the world around us. This unnatural disharmony comes from the imposition of power and the way aggression feeds upon aggression” and that though “[t]here is little adrenaline behind the legislator’s vote, the bureaucrat’s checklist, or the policeman’s casual stroll, . . . they are acts of war all the same. Throughout that monotonous charge, the unknowing infantry’s supreme objective is always the protection of political authority.” In turn, radical libertarianism—radical radical liberalism—takes these observations regarding power and violence and the aforementioned aspects of individual freedom, limited government, and the free-market economy to the conclusion of absolute individual sovereignty, zero government, and everything being provided by a market. This is the vision of anarcho-capitalism as described by thinkers like Murray Rothbard and David Friedman, and it may sound like anarchism in the colloquial sense, but the abolition of the state and voluntary association of a genuinely free market is not enough to qualify as anarchism.

This may seem like an odd statement to make, as many definitions of anarchism center on free association and zero government. Emma Goldman explains anarchism from an anti-government standpoint as being “[t]he philosophy of a new social order based on liberty unrestricted by man-made law; the theory that all forms of government rest on violence, and are therefore wrong and harmful, as well as unnecessary.” David Graeber, from a ‘voluntary order’ perspective, concludes that “[t]he easiest way to explain anarchism . . . is to say that it is a political movement that aims to bring about a genuinely free society — and that defines a ‘free society’ as one where humans only enter those kinds of relations with one another that would not have to be enforced by the constant threat of violence.” And Pyotr Kropotkin combines both types of views in the definition of anarchism as “the name given to a principle or theory of life and conduct under which society is conceived without government – harmony in such a society being obtained, not by submission to law, or by obedience to any authority, but by free agreements concluded between the various groups, territorial and professional, freely constituted for the sake of production and consumption, as also for the satisfaction of the infinite variety of needs and aspirations of a civilized being.” And if one chose not to read further than these cherry-picked quotes, it would seem that these definitions would seem to point to anarcho-capitalism, being, at least in its basic principles of voluntary exchange and individual property ownership, a form of anarchism.

However, a deeper question arises: are these descriptions of what anarchism is or rather a description of an end goal reached through rigorous meeting of deeper commitments? The latter is believed by Byas, who maintains that “anarchism . . . [is not] simply synonymous with voluntary association and nothing more. Voluntary association is necessary and non-negotiable, but the anarchist’s work is not over if non-violent forms of domination persist.” As John Clark argues, the “essence of anarchism” is not simply “the theoretical opposition to the state, but the practical and theoretical struggle against domination,” which “does not stop with a criticism of political organization” but goes to the root of the thing in condemning “the authoritarian nature of economic inequality and private property, hierarchical economic structures, traditional education, the patriarchal family, class and racial discrimination, and rigid sex-and age-roles” [2]. Another, more concise explanation might be found in the famous line by Noam Chomsky that…

“[t]he core of the anarchist tradition, as I understand it, is that power is always illegitimate, unless it proves itself to be legitimate. So the burden of proof is always on those who claim that some authoritarian hierarchic relation is legitimate. If they can’t prove it, then it should be dismantled.”

And Byas explains that ancaps “often [forget] to emphasize . . . [this] centrality of non-domination in the anarchist ethos.” In advocating for an economy centered around private ownership of the means of production—a socio-economic order that not only reproduces hierarchy but came into existence through primitive accumulation and other forms of violence like settler-colonialism and imperialism—fail to meet the deeper commitments of seeking to abolish hierarchy and domination beyond just that off the state, and so, while qualifying as radical libertarianism, anarcho-capitalism is not anarchism.

This thesis is contested by Roderick Long in his contribution on libertarianism and anarchism to Brill’s Companion to Anarchism and Philosophy, where he—though not an ancap himself—holds that anarcho-capitalism does qualify as anarchism even if it considers “the forms of domination in Clark’s list as legitimate, either in the weaker sense of not being rights-violations and so not permissible targets of forcible interference, or in the stronger sense of not being problematic even in terms of private morality.” He presents—as I see it—two major arguments: 1) North American individualist anarchism like that of Benjamin Tucker, Josiah Warren, Voltraine De Cleyre, and Lysander Spooner is considered a legitimate form of anarchism, and “anarcho-capitalism is best understood [as] a subset of individualist anarchism.”And furthermore, “[m]any of the features of anarcho-capitalism to which social anarchists point as grounds for exclusion from the anarchist ranks appear to be shared by individualist anarchists”—in particular private defense agencies. 2) The system that ancaps describe as ‘capitalism’ is not the existing statist economy but rather an actually free market. And not only then does such a system allow for non-capitalist projects such as mutual aid, cooperatives, and communes but massive inequalities, parasitism, and monopolism are “largely the product of state intervention rather than free markets, and so should not be expected to feature in any realistic implementation of anarcho-capitalists’ ideals, whatever the anarcho-capitalists themselves expect.” Long only loosely addresses the issue of deeper commitments to anti-hierarchy and non-domination, writing it off as a “strategy of exclusion-by-definition.” I think this is a serious error, as it opens the door to allowing reactionary values into the anarchist movement. Is there nothing inherent in anarchism that rejects racism, misogyny, homophobia, and other forms of bigotry? Long points to Pierre-Joseph “Proudhon’s misogyny, anti-Semitism, and homophobia” but continued place in anarchist canon as essentially proof that there is not—even if such a rejection is good. But are we to view them as compatible or as errors in the early development of the ideology? I believe the latter, and Proudhon himself once said, “”I dream of a society where I will be guillotined for being a conservative” [3].

But moving on to the arguments that Long makes more substantially, I actually agree that anarcho-capitalism is in some way descendent from individualist anarchism but not because the former is a form of anarchism but because the latter is a form of proto-libertarianism. Individualist anarchism shares a “continuity with classical liberalism” just as anarcho-capitalism does and they both advocate for the complete reduction of the state and the expansion of the market into everything—including law and defense. However, the 19th century individualist anarchists went further to champion progressive social values like, as Long outlines, “feminism, free love, antimilitarism, and labor empowerment.” And their free market ideology is best understood not simply as institutions like private defense agencies being “conceived as . . . implemented” not in a “capitalistic context” but “an anti-capitalistic one,” but further that an expansion of the free market in all spheres will generate results favorable to those aforementioned values and destructive to capitalism in general. Long contests this belief, arguing that not only were some 19th century individualists (in particular Spooner) not wholly opposed to interest, rent, and wage labor per se but “just as Tucker expected and predicted that genuinely free markets would undermine capitalist institutions, but did not make his support for laissez-faire conditional on the accuracy of this prediction” and “he saw the connection between [anarchism and the undermining of capitalist exploitation] as causal rather than definitional, and acknowledged that if he had to choose between individual liberty and a more equitable distribution of wealth, he would choose liberty.” Long cites two points in particular to back up this assertion:

[Tucker’s] more succinct phrasing elsewhere: ‘Equality if we can get it, but Liberty at any rate!’ [And how,] [w]hile opposing interest, Tucker noted that he had “no other case against interest than that it cannot appear (except sporadically) under free conditions,” and that he would cease to oppose interest if he could be convinced “that interest can persist where free competition prevails.”

Setting aside what I believe to be the anomalous views of Spooner, I think using these as reasons to say Tucker (particularly as the fountainhead of free market anti-capitalism) did not see the undermining of exploitation as an essential part of his politics is a misunderstanding of both of these sentiments.

The latter of these points can be best understood as a continuation of a sentiment presented by Proudhon, who writes that he does not intend…

to forbid or suppress, by sovereign degree, ground rent and interest on capital. I think that all these manifestations of human activity should remain free and voluntary for all: I ask for them no modifications, restrictions or suppressions, other than those which result naturally and of necessity from the universalization of the principle of reciprocity which I propose.

Here Proudhon is not defending interest or rent but rather acknowledging that anarchism does not function in a prohibitory manner like statist ideologies but rather creates a situation in which interest could exist but probably would not. As Carson writes, drawing from Tucker’s own analysis of the money monopoly, it is “the state’s licensing of banks, capitalization requirements, and other market entry barriers enable banks to charge a monopoly price for loans in the form of usurious interest rates.” The admiration of liberty over equality in the former part of Long’s above quote can, in turn, be best viewed not as an endorsement of any system as long as it does not have a state but rather as a sentiment found in the context of his opposition to state socialism. Despite self-describing as a socialist, Tucker was vehemently opposed to its statist form, writing, “there is no half-way house between State Socialism and Anarchism” and describing the former as “the doctrine that all the affairs of men should be managed by the government, regardless of individual choice.” It is in this opposition that Tucker calls for liberty over equality, believing that ultimately the first would lead to the second but opposing any ideology—like state socialism—that held its priorities the other way around as it would never truly establish freedom or equality. This is how we should understand James J. Martin’s account of Tucker writing in his old age that “Capitalism is at least tolerable, which cannot be said of Socialism or Communism;” not as an endorsement of capitalism that, as Susan L. Brown rationalizes, provides “the shift further illuminated in the 1970s by anarcho-capitalists” but the bitter words of a committed anarchist who watched the rise of the authoritarian-statist USSR in the last 15 or so years of his life [4]. So while certainly the 19th century individualist anarchists were not willing to give up their entire ideology because some of the outcomes might not create as much equality and liberation as they thought, this does not mean that one can do away with these egalitarian and and liberatory end goals—a necessary process if anarcho-capitalism is to be brought into the anarchist canon.

And even admitting a libertarian (as opposed to anarchist) continuity between individualist anarchism and anarcho-capitalism, I would also like to make a strategic argument about to whom the heritage of individualist anarchism belongs. Charles Johnson accounts how the debate between ancaps and social anarchists over the ownership of this heritage can be deeply disingenuous, with ancaps obscuring and neglecting “the socialistic bite of the individualist understanding of class, privilege, and exploitation” and social anarchists cutting “a lot of corners in explaining the individualists’ positions” in order “to make them seem significantly less propertarian, and more friendly towards collectivistic and communistic socialism, than they actually were.” And furthermore, he points out that individualist anarchists “are still about and hardly need a bunch of anarcho-capitalists and social anarchists to do the talking for us.” Johnson says he doesn’t “have much of a dog in the fight, except insofar as it gets a bit tiresome watching the two bicker over the individualist tendency within the movement as if they were arguing over the contents of their dead grandmother’s will,” but I think we as contemporary individualist anarchists still fighting for both free markets and an end to capitalist exploitation need to assert that said inheritance as our birthright. Right-wingers have attempted to claim our tradition before; the French proto-fascist group Cerele Proudhon attempted to selectively draw from Proudhon’s critique of statist democracy to justify vicious nationalism. Tucker writes that…

[o]ne of the methods of propagandism practised by these agitators is the attempt to enroll among their apostles all the great dead who, if living, would look with scorn upon their ways and works. Every great writer who has criticised democracy and who, being in his grave, cannot enter protest, is listed as a royalist, a nationalist, and an anti-Dreyfusard. Chief among these helpless victims is the foremost of all Anarchists, to whom these impudent young rascals constantly refer as notre grand Proudhon. Indeed, they have formed a Cerele Proudhon, which publishes a bi-monthly review under the title, Cahiers du Cerele Proudhon.

We should take heed from this historical anti-reactionary stance by Tucker and, instead of becoming awkward apologists for anarcho-capitalism, should take on the legacy of 19th century individualist anarchism ourselves. As I said at the start, this is more of a strategic claim than a purely factual one, but I do not think that detracts from its importance when so many ancaps and other right-libertarians are falling prey to the allure of fascism, monarchism, white nationalism, and other forms of reactionary authoritarianism.

This final point is what leads me to critique the idea that ancaps should be accepted as anarchists on the basis that what they call capitalism is not the existing system but a truly free market and that consistent application of free market principles would lead to a world very dissimilar to the present day economy. Anna Morgenstern believes that if ancaps “genuinely wish to eliminate the state, they are anarchists, but they aren’t really capitalists, no matter how much they want to claim they are.” This is because in the absence of the state “the cost of protecting property rises dramatically as the amount of property owned increases;” “without a state-protected banking/financial system, accumulating endless high profits is well nigh impossible;” and “under anarchism, such a thing as ‘intellectual property’ wouldn’t exist, so any business model that relies on patents and copyrights to make money would not exist either.” This would in turn make “mass accumulation and concentration of capital . . . impossible;” “[w]ithout concentration of capital, wage slavery is impossible;” and “[w]ithout wage slavery, there’s nothing most people would recognize as ‘capitalism.’” And there are certainly ancaps that advocate for a genuinely free market—they often choose to describe themselves as voluntaryists—even as it clashes against traditional capitalist principles; in particular, Karl Hess and Rothbard during his time allied with the New Left come to mind. The former admits (and is echoed at least at one point by the latter) that…

much of that property [which now is called private] is stolen. Much is of dubious title. All of it is deeply intertwined with an immoral, coercive state system which has condoned, built on, and profited from slavery; has expanded through and exploited a brutal and aggressive imperial and colonial foreign policy, and continues to hold the people in a roughly serf-master relationship to political-economic power concentrations.

But the aforementioned vulgar libertarianism rears its ugly head again and again with many ancaps defending the existing system (minus the most obvious elements of statism) without looking into its violent framework of white supremacy, patriarchy, settler-colonialism, imperialism, etc. (that, it should be noted, do rely fundamentally on the state to be perpetuated). And because this backdrop of horrific violence is required for the existing features of capitalism—like wage labor, large-scale private property, and immense wealth inequality—to continue, said structure is assumed by vulgar ancaps to be essentially what a free market would look like; and they therefore find themselves defending these monstrous systems.

Long admits that ancaps “are likelier to endorse hierarchical features of existing economies,” but the problem is much more severe than that. This reasoning—alongside a desire to appeal to the white middle-class in the United States—led Rothbard and Lew Rockwell to conceptualize the ideology of paleoconservatism. This backward ideology follows Rockwell’s agreement with conservatives that…

political freedom is a necessary but not sufficient condition for the good society. . . . Neither is it sufficient for the free society. We also need social institutions and standards that encourage public virtue, and protect the individual from the State.

This leads to him to a number of principles like:

VII. The egalitarian ethic is morally reprehensible and destructive of private property and social authority.
VIII. Social authority, as embodied in the family, church, community, and other intermediating institutions, as helping protect the individual from the State and as necessary for a free and virtuous society.
IX. Western culture as eminently worthy of preservation and defense.
X. Objective standards of morality, especially as found in the Judeo-Christian tradition, as essential to the free and civilized social order.

And so ultimately, as Tom Bagwell explains, paleolibertarians place “heavy emphasis on nationalism and closed borders keeping their Austrian economic system contained within their nation-state. They also place heavy emphasis on racial and cultural identity particularly . . . arguing that right-libertarian economics only works among whites of European descent and that European and North American states should be kept largely or exclusively [white] (European).” And it is exactly this colonial, racialized, chauvinistic, logic that has led Hans-Herman Hoppe to argue—by taking Rockwell’s above ideas to the absolute extreme—that “contemporary libertarianism can be characterized . . . as theory and theorists without psychology and sociology, much or even most of the Alt-Right can be described, in contrast, as psychology and sociology without theory” and that therefore these two movements should unify on some level in opposition to egalitarianism, social justice, and other ‘cultural Marxist’ ideas and institutions in favor of an ultraconservative, ethnocentric society based on Eurocentric ideas of hierarchical social order. This type of thinking is a marked trend in hubs of anarcho-capitalist thought. Look at the article “Do White People Have A Future?” from lewrockwell.com that calls for white people to arm themselves against “immigrant invaders” and warns that “white societies will disappear in the emerging barbarism;” or the piece “For a New Libertarian” from the head of the Mises Institute—where Hoppe is a senior fellow—that lauds “blood and soil and God and nation” and “elite families;” or the mods of the subreddit r/anarcho_capitalism admitting to embracing “monarchism, conservatism, AuthCapism, Christian Capitalism, National Socialism” because “it’s inevitable” and they are no longer “larping as anarchists;” or Liberty Hangout publicly promoting Catholic theocracy and Holocaust denialism. And even as well meaning right-libertarians struggle to maintain the false neutrality of thinness, former ancaps like Stefan Molyneux and Christopher Cantwell have turned toward explicit white nationalism. These are all natural outcomes of defending the horrifying ‘package deal’ of capitalism and almost all other present systems of oppression—from white supremacy to patriarchy and beyond.

So what does this conclusion mean for someone (like myself) who identifies as both an anarchist and a left-libertarian? Since libertarianism has been identified as an ideology based fundamentally not on anti-hierarchy and non-domination but on the minimization of government and maximization of market and therefore distinct from anarchism, can there ever be principled overlap between the two? To answer this, one should observe that a characteristic difference between left-libertarians and right- to far-right libertarians is the latter’s commitment to a progressive and liberatory thickness. Thickness is, as defined by Nathan Goodman, “any broadening of libertarian concerns beyond overt aggression and state power to concern about what cultural and social conditions are most conducive to liberty.” While many right-libertarians like Walter Block try to avoid the problem by claiming a false neutrality or ‘thinness’ and far-right libertarians like the aforementioned Rockwell and Hoppe see this as an opening for their reactionary social order, it leads left-libertarians to being committed to not only limited-to-zero government, individual sovereignty, and absolutely free markets but also—just like the 19th century individualist anarchists—values and ideologies, as outlined by Johnson, like “feminism, anti-racism, gay liberation, counterculturalism, labor organizing, mutual aid, and environmentalism.”

And these are not just personal values tacked onto an anarcho-capitalist framework but rather necessary for and entailed by its principled application. Johnson argues, for example, that “rejecting these ideas, practices, or projects would be logically compatible with libertarianism, [but] their success might be important or even causally necessary for libertarianism to get much purchase in an existing statist society, or for a future free society to emerge from statism without widespread poverty or social conflict, or for a future free society to sustain itself against aggressive statist neighbors, the threat of civil war, or an internal collapse back into statism.” He holds in particular that wealth inequality needs to be addressed “with voluntary anti-poverty measures” because “[e]ven a totally free society in which a small class of tycoons own the overwhelming majority of the wealth, and the vast majority of the population own almost nothing is unlikely to remain free for long.” Or take Cathy Reisenwitz, who asserts that libertarians should incorporate sex-positive feminism into their thinking because it “seeks to destroy the judgment and shame which keep people from being able to fully enjoy sex, or a lack of sex, or anything in between” and “[l]ibertarianism should seek to destroy the judgment and shame which keep people from being able to fully enjoy any kind of peaceful, voluntary exchange. In this way, it will fully engage in creating a world which allows the greatest amount of peaceful, voluntary exchange possible.” And furthermore, left-libertarians, according to Carson, seek to “demonstrate the relevance and usefulness of free market thought for addressing the concerns of today’s Left” such as racism, wealth inequality, landlordism, and ultimately capitalism in its entirety. Look at the points made by Morgenstern above about the impossibility of wealth accumulation and consequently wage labor in a genuinely free market, or consider Carson’s argument that the “outcomes of free market competition in socializing progress would result in a society resembling not the anarcho-capitalist vision of a world owned by the Koch brothers and Halliburton, so much as Marx’s vision of a communist society.” Ultimately, left-libertarianism—when it is taken to the extreme of total government abolition and totalizing free(d) markets—meets the criteria for radical libertarianism but also holds the same anti-domination and anti-hierarchy commitments of anarchism. This means that left-libertarian anarchists can be properly described as anarchists (and even draw upon ancap thinkers like David Friedman, Rothbard, etc. as radical libertarians) without requiring anarcho-capitalism to be included under the ideological umbrella as well

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy accounts that “[t]hough not all scholars agree on the meaning of the term, ‘neoliberalism’ is now generally thought to label the philosophical view that a society’s political and economic institutions should be robustly liberal and capitalist, but supplemented by a constitutionally limited democracy and a modest welfare state.” However, Carson espouses that in reality a “structural model of farming out government functions to private capital, at public expense and with guaranteed private profit, and within a web of state-enforced monopolies and legal protections, is at the heart of what’s called ‘free market reform’ under neoliberalism.” Not to mention the use of the welfare state in the U.S. as a form of human regulation which, as suggested by Frances Fox Piven and Richard A. Cloward, expands during times of civil disorder and retracting when the danger to the status quo has passed; and how all of this is tied in a nice package of imposing U.S. interests on the rest of the world through imperialism and neocolonialism as well economic globalization that Carson effectively argues is also the product of state intervention.
This quote is taken from its reproduction in Roderick Long’s article on libertarianism and anarchism.
It’s unclear where this quote comes from originally but it is cited often.
See Brown’s “The Free Market as Salvation from Government: The Anarcho-Capitalist View” in Meanings of the Market in Western Culture.

Tags: anarcho-capitalismlibertarianthis conversation again

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Martin Bartenberger – John Dewey and David Graeber

The Anarchist Library
unknown
2022-05-17
https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/martin-bartenberger-john-dewey-and-david-graeber?v=1652824484
Author: Martin Bartenberger
Title: John Dewey and David Graeber
Subtitle: Elements of Radical Democracy in Pragmatist and Anarchist Thinking
Date: 2015
Source: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2408571

When thinking about the idea of radical democracy, the writings of John Dewey are probably not the first example that comes to mind. Instead his concept of democracy has often been dismissed as “liberal” (Talisse 2007) or as an early example of deliberative democracy (see Bacon 2010). Against these notions, I want to explore the radical nature of the Deweyan account of democracy in this article. My main argument is that the radical elements come to the foreground if we analyze Dewey’s concept of democracy in its historical context. This can help us to understand his concept of radical democracy for what it was: an intervention into the debate on the role of democracy for the Left. Building on these assumptions, I develop and defend the thesis that Dewey’s idea of democracy is radical insofar as it was intended against an orthodox Marxist understanding of revolution and social transformation. The article concludes by outlining how this rejection of orthodox Marxism brings Dewey close to an anarchist account of radical democracy as it was recently formulated by David Graeber (2013) and by highlighting the parallels between Dewey’s and Graeber’s concepts of radical democracy when it comes to the priority of means over ends, the role of deliberation and the need for institutional reform.

Dewey’s Radical Democracy
In January 1937 Dewey published a little-known essay with the title Democracy Is Radical in the magazine Common Sense. The mission statement of Common Sense has been described by one of its editors “to find a place independent of both old liberalism and the newly fashionable intellectual Marxism” (Strassel 2007: 4) and, as I will argue later, Dewey’s article can likewise be read as an attempt to leave this dualism behind.

In Democracy is Radical Dewey begins by explicitly referring to this context by highlighting the profound intellectual and strategic differences at the Left in the 1930s: “There is comparatively little difference among the groups at the left as to the social ends to be reached. There is a great deal of difference as to the means by which these ends should be reached and by which they can be reached” (Dewey 1987: 296). Dewey shares the widespread critique of “bourgeois” democracies and recognizes that “the rise of democratic governments has been an accompaniment of the transfer of power from agrarian interests to industrial and commercial interests” (ibid.). In this vein, he also rejects European liberalism which simply “strove for a maximum of individualistic economic action with a minimum of social control” (ibid.). He goes on to contrast this insufficient European version of liberalism with the more radical American version: “[L] iberalism has a different origin, setting and aim in the United States. It is fundamentally an attempt to realize democratic modes of life in their full meaning and far-reaching scope” (ibid.: 298). While Dewey’s argument could also be regarded as a defense of radical (i.e. American) liberalism, he prefers to speak of it in terms of democracy. Dewey goes the full distance to show how the essence of radical democracy can be identified in the primary emphasis upon democratic means: “The means to which it [democracy, M.B.] is devoted are the voluntary activities of individuals in opposition to coercion; they are assent and consent in opposition to violence; they are the force of intelligent organization versus that of organization imposed from outside and above. The fundamental principle of democracy is that the ends of freedom and individuality for all can be attained only by means that accord with those ends” (ibid.).

To suggest that this fundamental principle of democracy can be temporarily suspended, by the dictatorship of a class for example, is for Dewey an “intellectual hypocrisy and moral contradiction” (ibid.). In concluding his short essay Dewey finally offers three reasons why such an account of democracy can be considered radical. First, because it establishes a radical end “that has not been adequately realized in any country at any time” (ibid.: 299). This idea has been elaborated fully in the concluding remarks of Dewey’s much more prominent article on creative democracy: “Since it is one that can have no end till experience itself comes to an end, the task of democracy is forever that of creation of a freer and more humane experience in which all share and to which all contribute” (Dewey 1998: 343). In other words, democracy is radical for Dewey because it has no endpoint that can be “reached”. Instead, it is a never-ending process where the conditions for democracy have continuously to be exercised and refined through collective creativity and intelligence. Second, such an understanding of democracy is radical because “it requires great change in existing social institutions, economic, legal and cultural” (Dewey 1987: 299). Third, for Dewey there is “nothing more radical than insistence upon democratic methods as the means by which radical social changes be effected”. Even more since “we now have the resources for initiating a social system of security and opportunity for all” (ibid.). Taken together these reasons highlight how Dewey reached his verdict that democracy is a fundamentally radical endeavor. The next section will shed some light on the historical context of these ideas and discuss how Dewey’s understanding of democracy has been further elaborated in a debate with one of the most prominent radical political thinkers and practitioners of his time. In April 1937, only a few months after Dewey wrote his short essay Democracy Is Radical, he became chairman of the ,Commission of Inquiry into the Charges Made against Leon Trotsky in the Moscow Trials‘ (see Farrell 1950). His meetings with Trotsky in Mexico lead to a debate between the two thinkers on the role of means and ends for social transformation, which seems to be almost forgotten now. But in our context this debate is of utmost interest since it illuminates the historical context in which Dewey formulated his idea of radical democracy. In the essay Their Morals and Ours, written in February 1938, Trotsky set forth his conception of morals to fend off the notion that Stalinism and Trotskyism are essentially underpinned by the same Marxist amoralism [1]. He rejects the maxim that the end justifies all means and contrasts it with his own understanding of a dialectical interdependence of end and means: “A means can be justified only by its end. But the end in its turn needs to be justified. From the Marxist point of view, which expresses the historical interests of the proletariat, the end is justified if it leads to increasing the power of humanity over nature and to the abolition of the power of one person over another” (Trotsky 1979: 48). Under this conception a mean is only allowed if it “really leads to the liberation of humanity” (ibid.). Trotsky further states that this is an end that can only be achieved through revolution and that the liberating morality of the proletariat “deduces a rule for conduct from the laws of the development of society, thus primarily from the class struggle, this law of all laws” (ibid.). In his response Means and Ends, written in July 1938, Dewey agrees with Trotsky’s view that means and ends are interdependent. But he puts his position in the form of a stricter consequentialism: “I hold that the end in the sense of consequences provides the only basis for moral ideas and action, and therefore provides the only justification that can be found for means employed” (Dewey 1979: 68). By Dewey’s account, Trotsky has violated his own principles of interdependence and consequentialism by externally introducing class struggle as a law of society.

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The gunman killed Black people. But his screed focuses on Jews.

The Forward
LMarkoe
2022-05-17
https://forward.com/news/502708/buffalo-gunman-killed-black-screed-jews-replacement-theory-antisemitism/
When a shooter entered a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, and opened fire Saturday, killing 10 people, he was targeting Black people. In the diatribe he published to explain his motivations, though, he perplexingly focuses much more on another group: Jews. In a Q&A in which he both poses and answers the questions, the gunman…

The post The gunman killed Black people. But his screed focuses on Jews. appeared first on The Forward.

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Conner “C” McCombs – Critical Thoughts on the Erasure of Anarchist History from May Day Celebrations and How this Relates to a Critique of “Left-Unity.”

The Anarchist Library
unknown
2022-05-17
https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/conner-c-mccombs-critical-thoughts-on-the-erasure-of-anarchist-history-from-may-day-celebration?v=1652816176
Author: Conner "C" McCombs
Title: Critical Thoughts on the Erasure of Anarchist History from May Day Celebrations and How this Relates to a Critique of “Left-Unity.”
Date: May 11, 2022
Source: Retrieved on May 11, 2022 from https://itsgoingdown.org/may-day-problem-with-left-unity/

This past International Workers Day, otherwise known as May Day, I attended my local rally. The same old May Day groups were in attendance, Party for Socialist Liberation (PSL), Communist Party USA (CPUSA), Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), and a couple other single issue labor groups. The endless tedium of speeches aside, something strange stood out to me. Every group called for left unity in some way or another. “Unite as workers to crush capitalism,” was the exact quote from the young man in running shoes, jeans, and a bright red PSL shirt. I could have spoken up and made a scene, again, but I feel it is more effective to broadly address why this call for left unity is absurd especially considering the Marxist historical revisionism surrounding May Day. The success of May Day was directly because of the anarchist Haymarket Martyrs and the Marxist attempt to ignore this fact is one of the many reasons why left unity is never in the best interest of anarchists.

Before we begin, it is important to go over the events of the Haymarket uprising on May 4th, 1886. The first May Day was called for by the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions (FOTLU) as the official first day the eight-hour workday in 1886. On May 1st 1886, between 30,000 and 80,000 laborers in Chicago refused to work in support of the eight hour day, which shut down the industrial zones. August Spies, a German-born anarchist and leading contributor to the newspaper Arbeiter-Zeitung, was enthused by the unity and relative success of the eight-hour fight.[1] The McCormick Reaper Works’ solution, instead of meeting the demands of the workers, was to hire scabs. On May 3rd, 1886, striking workers from the McCormick Plant asked Spies to come down to the Southwest side of Chicago and give a speech to bolster morale. Minutes into Spies speech, the scabs began filing out of the plant and the McCormick strikers rushed to the gates of the factory. To protect the business and scabs, 200 police officers rushed in and beat the strikers with clubs and shot them with pistols. According to Spies, 6 strikers were killed including those that were shot in the back as they fled. Spies knew that the battle had been lost and returned to his newspaper office with the sound of screams and pistol fire still ringing in his ear.

That night, August Spies rushed into print several thousand leaflets urging workingmen to come to a meeting the next day, May 4th, at Haymarket Square.[2] The next day, the anarchists August Spies, Albert Parsons, and the Rev. Samuel Fielden spoke to a crowd estimated variously between 600 and 3,000. At around 10:30 PM as Fielden spoke, the police showed up despite the peaceful nature of the crowd. As they ordered the crowd to disperse, a bomb was thrown into the advancing officers, killing 6. The Police then opened fire on the anarchists killing 4 and some of the anarchists returned fire killing another police officer. The Police argued it was a conspiracy and eight influential anarchists were arrested, including Spies and Parsons, who were not present but had significant influence in the community. On November 11th 1887, 4 convicted anarchists including Spices, Parsons, Adolph Fischer, and George Engle were hanged. The state executions further enraged the broader community and would be the catalyst for the International Workers Day.

The Haymarket Uprising was internationally significant. During the funeral procession for the anarchists in Chicago, the historian Philip Foner estimates, between 150,000 and 500,000 people lined the streets in support. Both the American Federation of Labor and the Knights of Labor, although initially reluctant, supported the slain anarchists as heroes of labor. The Knights of Labor even published the autobiographies of Parsons, Spies, Fischer, Engle, and the anarchist who killed himself in prison, Oscar Neebe.[3] The London Freedom group argued “No event in the worldwide evolution of the struggle between socialism and the existing order of society has been so important, so significant, as the tragedy of Chicago.”[4] According to the historian Paul Avrich, pamphlets and articles about the case and autobiographies of the martyrs appeared in every language across the world. In Europe, over twenty-four cities boasted sizeable protests in support of the Haymarket Martyrs.[5] Famous anarchists like Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman, and Ricardo Flores Magón all attribute the Haymarket uprising to their radicalization. Moreover, it was not only Europe that celebrated the Haymarket Martyrs. The Times of London reported protests in Cuba, Peru, and Chile.[6] Mary Harris “Mother” Jones was in Mexico on May Day, 1921, and wrote that their May Day was expressly in honor of “the killing of the workers in Chicago for demanding the eight-hour day.”[7] More to this point, during a trip to Mexico in 1939, Oscar Neebe’s grandson was shown a mural by Diego Rivera in the Palace of Justice depicting the Haymarket Martyrs.[8] The international significance of the Haymarket Martyrs was undeniable in the hearts and imagination of all of the Left and is a significant element in the success of May Day.

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Homeless People in the US Are Being Murdered at a Horrific Rate

Jacobin
Thacher Schmid
2022-05-17
https://jacobinmag.com/2022/05/homeless-homicides-data-surge-victims-suspects/
The first reports just before Christmas 2021 brought scant, scary details. A “suspected serial killer” named Willy Maceo had been arrested in Miami for “hunting” sleeping homeless people. Jerome Price, fifty-six, had died after Maceo allegedly shot him five times from a car. (Price’s family learned of it on TV.) A second victim barely survived. […]

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Britain’s Reckoning With Its Imperial Legacy Is Long Overdue

Jacobin
Jamie Maxwell
2022-05-17
https://jacobinmag.com/2022/05/britain-empire-imperialism-legacy-decolonization-book-review/
In June 2020, as Black Lives Matter protests swept across the United States, campaigners in Bristol tore down a statue of the infamous British slave trader Edward Colston and dispatched it into the dark green waters of the city’s harbor. Eighteen months later, in January 2022, a Bristol court acquitted four of those activists of […]

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The Hidden Meanings of 50 Iconic Brand Logos

Daily Infographic
Lyle Opolentisima
2022-05-17
https://dailyinfographic.com/iconic-brand-logos-and-their-hidden-meanings
Iconic brand logos are more than just a logo. They’re a way to express the values of a company and its culture. But what about when that iconic brand has been around for decades or longer? How do you keep it relevant and relatable to your customers? We’ve got you covered! Here are 50 iconic […]

The post The Hidden Meanings of 50 Iconic Brand Logos first appeared on Daily Infographic.

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May Day 2022: Three Deadly Crises, One Cause – Destroy Capitalism!

libcom.org
Internationalist Communist Tendency
2022-05-16
https://libcom.org/article/may-day-2022-three-deadly-crises-one-cause-destroy-capitalism

The war in Ukraine, the Covid-19 pandemic, devastation of the environment and climate disaster, all of these things are the product of capitalism. They are not ‘natural disasters’ but the outcome of the contradictions of a crumbling social system (mode of production) which has long lost its benefit to humanity. Unless capitalism is destroyed it will destroy us all. Never has the need to go beyond capitalism to a higher system of production been more urgent.

Author

Internationalist Communist Tendency

Submitted by Internationali… on May 16, 2022

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The Ukraine War
The war in Ukraine is the beginning of a new and more dangerous phase of imperialist confrontation. The battleground is moving to the rich capitalist heartlands and the United States, with its imperialist top dog position threatened by the rise of China, is using its economic and military might to control its allies (the EU) and weaken the potential of a China/Russia alliance. As in all wars today, the working class has nothing to gain on either side. Russian oligarchs or Ukrainian oligarchs, what difference does it make to those of us whose life is constricted by the necessity to work for a wage in a global economic crisis? Talk of “peoples’ rights”, “democracy”, “the fight against Nazism”, are grotesque propaganda to justify the very high cost of the war, that will be passed on to the millions of people who take part in it. The Ukrainian proletariat, the population under the bombs, are victims; so too are the conscripts, sons of the Russian proletariat sent to kill and be killed for the sake of “their” land. In strict economic terms too, it is always the working class who pays and will pay the costs of war. Not only in Ukraine, Russia, and Europe but also in wider regions of the world, workers are already being hit by wheat speculation and bread price rises.

The imperialist issues behind the Ukraine conflict are clear. By extending NATO to Russian borders and looking to integrate Ukraine and Georgia into the alliance, US imperialism is encircling Russia to the point of being able to park its missiles on Russia’s doorstep. Further, the US has armed Ukraine and trained its army to the degree where it is able to retake the separatist Donbas region; a region which has strategic economic resources such as iron, coal and industry. The revamped Ukrainian army would also be able to threaten Crimea which contains Russia’s main naval base on the Black Sea. Ukraine has more or less become a de facto member of NATO. Biden boasts that $650 million in arms were supplied to Ukraine before the Russian invasion and now $1.35 billion more has been promised. These threats pushed Russian imperialism to strike before Ukraine was integrated into NATO. As the ruler of a former "super-power", Putin is obsessed with making Russia great again. This, therefore, is more serious than wars in the Middle East or ex-Yugoslavia and has the potential of escalating to a global conflict in which, as Putin reminds us, nuclear weapons could be used.

In the longer term both Russia and China aim to secure their own economic interests by overthrowing US global hegemony. Based on the international role of the dollar the US is able to impose savage economic sanctions against both countries. Russia’s demand that its gas and oil exports now be paid for in roubles and its link of the rouble to gold are an attempt to strike back. This is economic war. For its part the US is determined to use military means to defend its global hegemony, regardless of the cost. Such a clash of interests inevitably leads to imperialist war.

Precursors of Global War
On the one hand, the pressure of the war has forced the EU to fall in behind the US and to agree to rearm. On the other, the invasion and the economic sanctions imposed have thrown Russia into the arms of China. At the same time civilian suffering, the millions of desperate refugees and Russian atrocities are being claimed as the fruit of dictatorship. Meanwhile the atrocities being committed by the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion in the Donbas are quietly ignored in the same way as US war crimes in Iraq and elsewhere pass unmentioned. The message that western so-called democracy is worth defending against the dictatorships of Russia and China, and is worth dying for, is being trumpeted loud and clear. What we are seeing is both the beginnings of the alignment of states into blocs for a future global war and also the projection of the ideology for mobilisation of workers as cannon fodder in such a war.

However, the root cause of this war drive is capitalism’s long-running economic crisis and the continuing inability of the capitalist class to solve it. To date, the system has not recovered from the 2008 financial system implosion. This crisis was, in turn, the result of a longer, deeper crisis caused by the tendency of the rate of profit to fall fueling financial speculation. This pumped up the values of property, financial assets and commodities causing the bubble which exploded in 2008. Despite the decade of austerity which was supposed to put things right, the system was on the cusp of another crisis when the Covid-19 pandemic struck. Once again the response of the capitalist class was to use the central banks to unleash a flood of monetary credit into the financial system. Again, almost none of this has gone into productive investment. Instead it has again been used for speculation, storing up the same problems which led to the collapse of 2008. While the pandemic has made the economic crisis significantly worse, it has also been used to camouflage the underlying problems and to persuade the working class that even more sacrifices are needed to get their lives back on an even keel.

In light of all this, two things in particular need to be emphasised. The first is that the economic crisis has reached a point at which our leaders are running out of purely economic options to mitigate its effects. Instead they are prepared to openly resort to a major war in the heart of Europe to defend their economic interests – a war prepared moreover in broad daylight with no attempt to disguise it. War is thus the result of capitalism’s contradictions. It is the legitimate child of capitalism. The second is that this war is also a war against the working class. The short term aim is to get us to accept further sacrifices. If wage cuts can be justified as necessary sacrifices for war then profitability can be increased. The longer term aim is to prepare us for world war, the ultimate solution to capitalism’s problem of profitability, and to mobilise us as cannon fodder. Never since the Second World War has our response to capitalism’s war plans, “No War but the Class War”, been more vital. The struggle is class against class. We must not give our support to either side in this war. Neither Russia nor NATO!

We Pay the Price
The working class has been in retreat for decades, and has consequently been paying the costs of the crisis by having its living standards reduced while productivity rates are increased (though still not enough to offset falling profit rates due to the rising organic composition of capital). This has been the strategy of “our” rulers worldwide. Since the first phase of the crisis, which started in the early 1970s with the decoupling of the dollar to gold, our share of the value our labour produces has been dramatically reduced. In the G20 countries this share has, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), decreased from about 65% to 55%, a decrease of 15%. In the US, for example, the purchasing power of wages has been static since the early 1970s while labour productivity has increased by a factor of almost three! It’s a similar story in other countries. The Asian Development Bank calculates that for 115 countries, in the period from the mid-1970s to today, workers’ share of the value they produce has fallen from 55% to 45%. The ILO also reports that 266 million workers globally are paid below the minimum wage in their countries. This represents 15% of all labour globally. There are, of course, millions of workers who suffer even worse conditions but don’t appear in these figures because they are ignored by national statistics. Precarious working, zero-hours contracts, "fire–and–rehire", significant inflation outpacing wage increases and unemployment all amount to a vicious attack on our living standards. The effects of the Ukraine war will make all this worse. Inflation, caused by massively increasing energy and food costs, will shoot up, and this will be significantly worse for low income countries.

From Resistance to Revolution
Collectively the working class has the potential power to finish off the capitalist system itself before it destroys much of life on earth. Any effective fightback must start from the workplace. Despite the fact that capitalism has been restructured via globalisation and the exploitation of cheaper labour power wherever it can find it worldwide, there are signs that the passivity of the working class may be ending. We have seen strikes in the service industries in core capitalist countries, strikes and mass protests in South America and South Asia and strikes taking a communist direction in Iran. Also there have been reports of workers in various countries refusing to handle war materials destined for the Ukraine war. These struggles have, however, remained isolated and generally controlled by the trade unions which have a vested interest in maintaining the wages system. To be effective a fightback needs to generalise itself and be controlled by workers themselves via strike committees and mass assemblies. Above all, what is really necessary is that the working class in general takes up its own political cause, and links the struggles against the economic effects of the system to the system of capitalism itself and hence to the need to overthrow it. As Marx said,

Revolution in general — the overthrow of the existing ruling power and the dissolution of existing social relationships — is a political act. Without revolution, socialism cannot develop. (1844)

A Communist World
What we must create is a higher form of production aimed at satisfying human need, not profit. The means of production must become common property, production must be organised collectively by workers’ councils. This will allow classes to be abolished and states and money to become unnecessary. The watchword of such a system will be:

from each according to their ability, to each according to their need.

To achieve this we need to construct an international political organisation which fights for this and has a programme for achieving it. Such an organisation will serve as a guide and point a direction of march for future struggles. We stand in the tradition of the Communist Left, which early on fought nationalism and imperialism in defending revolutionary Marxism against capitalism whatever its form, even if presented in the guise of "socialism". In the middle of the Second World War, our comrades of the PCInt (Internationalist Communist Party) called on workers, on both sides, “to desert the war”, and fight for their own aims. Our aim today is to contribute to a new International, anchored in the working class of today, preparing for the struggles to come. We call on all those who can identify with this perspective to enter into contact and discussion with us.

Internationalist Communist Tendency

May Day 2022

Russia-Ukraine war
internationalism
May Day

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Medical Monopolies and Patents in the Age of Covid 19 / Alexander Zaitchik

This Is Hell!
unknown
2022-05-16
https://soundcloud.com/this-is-hell/medical-monopolies-and-patents-in-the-age-of-covid-19
Chuck is back live in studio for his first full interview in two months, welcoming back independent journalist and writer Alexander Zaitchik, who wrote the book "Owning the Sun – A People’s History of Monopoly Medicine from Aspirin to COVID-19 Vaccines." Chuck and Alexander talk about medical monopolies, the role people like Bill Gates and Joe Biden play in keeping medical patents in place, and why this makes the world sicker and poorer. It is a new week, so we have a new Question from Hell! as well as a new Hangover Cure and an all new Rotten History!
https://www.counterpointpress.com/dd-product/owning-the-sun/

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How the Brain Tells Apart Important and Unimportant Sensations

Scientific American Content
Eiman Azim, Sliman Bensmaia, Lee E. Miller, Chris Versteeg
2022-05-16
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-the-brain-tells-apart-important-and-unimportant-sensations/
Several recent studies point to a small, long-overlooked structure in the brain stem as a crucial gatekeeper for the body’s signals

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

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Cayden Mak – Building Online Power

The Anarchist Library
unknown
2022-05-15
https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/cayden-mak-building-online-power?v=1652680340
Author: Cayden Mak
Title: Building Online Power
Date: April 19, 2022
Notes: This essay appears in the current “Power” issue of Perspectives on Anarchist Theory (N.32) and is available from the Institute for Anarchist Studies here! AK Press here! and Powell’s Books here!
Source: Retrieved on 2022-05-16 from anarchiststudies.org/onlinepower

Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, likes to claim that his company’s goal is to bring all the world’s people closer together through networking. That’s a truly astounding fiction, as Facebook – and effectively all of the firms dominating the internet today – are motivated to capture all of human experience as “behavior” from which they can extract value in order to sell more advertising.

But what if the internet wasn’t just a medium for extracting the raw materials of this new means of production? What if we treated the internet seriously as a place – a location where people spend their work and leisure time, not just in transit, but in community? There is more than one way to do politics and build a community on the internet, and in spite of the current dominance of surveillance capitalism as the model for governing the web, it is not the logical conclusion of the technology itself. Rather, it’s the consequence of social, political, economic, and legal processes, as Shoshana Zuboff argues in The Age of Surveillance Capitalism.1

The internet as we experience it is a designed system that is itself the result of systems of power that are much older, and perhaps less visible, than it is. Therefore, it is possible – and necessary – to contest for power online. However, our existing models for online organizing are heavily focused on mass mobilization, utilizing the web as a communications medium connecting interested individuals to organizations and one another.

At 18 Million Rising, we’ve been at the forefront of trying to figure out how to move away from the mass mobilization/communications model of online organizing and toward models that foreground humans and, hopefully, help foster a different kind of internet. Founded as an organization specializing in mass mobilization through email and petitions, we’ve evolved to include a variety of other tactics while keeping those tools in our toolbox for strategic moments. We primarily organize young Asian Americans, a group of people more heavily online than any other race/age demographic, and for whom belonging may be particularly elusive. Our generation, often stuck between the home cultures of our parents and their homelands and the popular and political culture of the United States, frequently struggles to find belonging offline.

To make matters more complex, the term “Asian American,” in the popular imagination, spans a universe of stereotypes that young Asian Americans often feel at war with. The origins of the term, of course, are in the Third World Liberation Front, when Asian American organizers were on the hunt for a descriptor that felt new, fresh, and relevant to the political work they were undertaking. Since the 70s, the term has been defanged and turned into an almost meaninglessly general census category. Also since the 70s, who might count as Asian Americans has been shaped by U.S. imperialism, immigration policy, and globalization, making potential members more diverse, and dividable, than ever before.

18MR’s work is particularly urgent because of the ways the social and economic pressures placed on our generation are separating them from other communities. We’re more likely to have moved to cities away from our families of origin for work. We’re often burdened with heavy debt, while at the same time serving as the young professional or creative vanguard of gentrification in cities across the continent. We’ve watched our civil liberties be eroded by the expanding national security apparatus after 9/11. While young Asian Americans trend leftward, it’s by no means a given that we will be full-throated participants in social movements. And there is an expanding counterweight: the rise of right-wing movements both in our nations of origin and in the United States point to the growing possibility many of our people will be recruited away.

We found, starting very early on, that the people we were most trying to reach were tech savvy and highly skeptical. They were critical and thoughtful, often seeing through the somewhat manipulative clickbait tactics popular at the time, and which still reign in certain digital programs. They were asking earnest questions about what it means to be Asian American – and demonstrated time and time again that they wanted a political home that could host difficult conversations about our role in movements for racial, economic, gender, and environmental justice. We upped our game because we saw those early indicators, and it means our work continues to be robust, relevant, and incisive nearly eight years on.

Five Questions to Use the Internet for Power
These five questions – which I return to on a weekly basis to inform our strategy and tactics – are necessary but not sufficient for the task of treating the internet as a true place. I hope you’ll find them useful in your organizing.

Question One:
What principles guide our work online?
Developing a set of shared principles may seem straightforward, but it’s critical. There are some tensions that are worth articulating here that we’ve encountered in developing our own operating principles. While they certainly aren’t unique to the internet, the way that people use the internet often amplifies these tensions in our day-to-day work.

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The Top 6 Types of Toxic People and How To Deal With Them

Daily Infographic
Lyle Opolentisima
2022-05-15
https://dailyinfographic.com/types-of-toxic-people
There are a lot of toxic people in the world, but there’s no need to let them get you down. It’s easy to feel like you’re surrounded by them, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If you know how to spot them and deal with them properly, you can avoid letting their negativity […]

The post The Top 6 Types of Toxic People and How To Deal With Them first appeared on Daily Infographic.

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Slime isn’t just a toy: it’s the embodiment of the times we’re in

Phenomenology and Existentialism
Eva Wiseman
2022-05-15
https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2022/may/15/slime-isnt-just-a-toy-it-is-the-embodiment-of-the-times-we-are-in
Neither solid nor liquid, it’s unpleasant and yet strangely moreish, no wonder slime as a children’s toy is a topical reflection of the world we live in
It came free with a kid’s magazine, a small plastic pot containing a handful of blue mucus, into which one was advised to pour an accompanying sachet of small beads, to create “crunchy slime”. I chew the words over in my head during breakfast time as I eat a yoghurt.
The day before, I had read a piece in the London Review of Books about the recent translation of a German book by Susanne Wedlich. It was called Slime: A Natural History. Jean-Paul Sartre’s “Being and Nothingness,” wrote Liam Shaw, “concludes with the idea of the visqueux. Sliminess is horrible to Sartre because it has neither the reassuring inertia of a solid nor the yielding shapelessness of a liquid, but a clinging contamination that envelops and consumes the investigator.” The visqueux, he continued, “is the ultimate ‘revenge’ of unconscious matter (‘being-in-itself’) against conscious matter (‘being-for-itself’).” And on the kitchen table beside my mug was something worse because this, this was “crunchy”.
Continue reading…

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E. Armand, “La première impulsion / The First Impulse” (1916)

The Libertarian Labyrinth
Shawn P. Wilbur
2022-05-14
https://www.libertarian-labyrinth.org/working-translations/e-armand-la-premiere-impulsion-the-first-impulse-1916/
You reproach me for yielding too often to my first impulse — for treating as an adventure what is in reality only a banal event in my life; […]

The post E. Armand, “La première impulsion / The First Impulse” (1916) appeared first on The Libertarian Labyrinth.

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Israel Killed Al Jazeera Journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. It Must Be Held Accountable.

Jacobin
Ariel Gold
2022-05-14
https://jacobinmag.com/2022/05/shireen-abu-akleh-al-jazeera-journalist-west-bank-murder/
The world, including the United States, has rightfully been in an uproar over the callous killing of the Palestinian American fifty-one-year-old veteran journalist Shireen Abu Akleh by the Israeli military. The Al Jazeera journalist was shot while covering an Israeli military raid in the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank. As her death hit […]

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The State Organizes the Capitalist Class. The Working Class Will Have to Organize Itself.

Jacobin
Stephen Maher
2022-05-14
https://jacobinmag.com/2022/05/capitalism-neoliberalism-state-ge-business-roundtable/
It seems everyone agrees: American democracy has been corrupted by corporate lobbying. Donald Trump’s promises, however disingenuous, to take on the role of money in politics by “draining the swamp” resonated with his frustrated followers. Meanwhile, progressive liberals like Elizabeth Warren have focused on addressing “corruption” by limiting the influence of business over our elected […]

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How to create temporary random file name in bash scripting

nixCraft: Linux Tips, Hacks, Tutorials, And Ideas In Blog Format (RSS/FEED)
Vivek Gite
2022-05-14
https://www.cyberciti.biz/tips/shell-scripting-bash-how-to-create-temporary-random-file-name.html

{Updated} Sometimes you need to create a temporary file in your shell script. There are various methods exist to create a random temporary file name. If your application/shell scripting needs temporary unique, and random file names, it is helpful.
The post How to create temporary random file name in bash scripting appeared first on nixCraft.

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An Ancient Roman Cult’s Rituals Included Feasting, Fire, and Floor Cleaning

Atlas Obscura: Articles
Nathaniel Scharping
2022-05-13
https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/mithraism-mithraeum-floor
To uncover new clues about the secretive world of Mithraism, scientists considered evidence right at their feet. Inside the chamber it is dark, and the flickers of torchlight play across the features of the men gathered. The meal over, they sit relaxed on long stone benches that face each other in the narrow nave. Their god has left them for the time being, but embers of the fire that brought him to share the feast still glow red on the altar nearby. Soon, the devout will gather and burn the scraps, including chicken bones and suckling pig carcasses picked clean of meat. Then they will disperse the ashes across the floor and pace deliberately back and forth over them. The ritual completed, the men will walk out with charcoal-blackened feet—a mark of their cult that will remain unstudied for millennia.

With no written records of their rituals or beliefs, details of the cult of Mithraism have long been a mystery. Centuries of scholars have explored Mithraea, the temples they left behind adorned with carvings of gods and animals, and hypothesized about the rites that may have taken place within. Now, new approaches to studying these sites, including those highlighted in a recent paper published in Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, may finally bring Mithraism to light: Ceremonial feasts, fiery offerings, and a ritual involving the renewal of the ground all may have been central to the cult’s worship of the god Mithras.

The Greco-Roman world had many secretive cults, each devoted to a specific deity, and Mithraism is actually one of the less obscure—though much of what has been claimed about it is suspect at best. Some contemporary texts, particularly by early Christian authors, hint at fearsome rituals involving fire, live burials, and simulations of death. But researchers today are skeptical of many of these stories, most of which are hearsay.

“We have no handbook or true testimony from initiates into Mithraism,” says Attilio Mastrocinque, a University of Verona archaeologist. “I can say we understand almost nothing.”

What little we do know comes largely from carvings found inside Mithraea, though interpretations for what the images mean vary. The belief system’s roots may lie in Persia, where there was a deity with the name Mithra—though many scholars question this connection. Cult members worshiped the god Mithras, who may have been associated in some way with the Sun. The frequent motif of stars and constellations in excavated Mithraea also suggest astronomical observations may have been a component of the cult. Other carvings hint at initiation rites and allude to figures from Roman mythology.

Mithraism appears to have been restricted to men, and, secrecy notwithstanding, was widespread between the first and fourth centuries. “It was everywhere in the Roman world, even at the borders,” says Mariana Egri, an archaeologist at the Romanian Academy’s Institute of Archaeology and Art History in Cluj-Napoca.

Mithraea found in the United Kingdom, Romania, Syria, Germany, Italy, Israel, and elsewhere have a nearly identical layout: a central room, or nave, with rows of benches on either side and an altar at the far end. Most Mithraea were built sunken into the ground; some were actually inside caves or underground chambers. The effect of entering a Mithraeum was meant to be transportive, says Egri. “You are going to a different world,” she says. “You are able to touch things that are not meant to be touched, or experience things which are difficult to understand.”

Inside, cult members would have been watched over by an intricate relief or statue known as the tauroctony, which portrayed the god Mithras slaying a bull, surrounded by smaller images that included figures from mythology and the Zodiac. Many Mithraea were excavated decades ago, their carvings and other embellishments already well-studied. But the authors of the recent paper considered an aspect of these cult chambers no one had thought to look at before: the temple floors.

Digging into the floors of three Mithraea in Switzerland and France, the team found not dirt, but layer upon layer of charcoal mixed with tiny fragments of animal bones. Each layer had been deposited at a different time, and were now stacked together like sedimentary beds.

“We are talking about a massive amount of charcoal-rich layers,” says Sarah Lo Russo, a coauthor of the recent paper and a geoarchaeologist at the University of Basel and Vrije Universiteit Brussel. The layers ranged from several inches to almost two feet in depth, suggesting they had accumulated over decades.

Significant amounts of charcoal on several Mithraea floors had been noted in earlier research, and were generally assumed to be from fires set by Christians in an effort to eradicate the cult. But Lo Russo says there are too many layers of charcoal for a single event. Instead, successive layers of charcoal and ash were laid down purposefully and repeatedly over many years. Through high-powered microscopic analysis, she found indications that the animal bones were the remains of feasts, perhaps sieved to remove the larger fragments and then spread across the floor. The microscopic grains were packed down, likely by walking on them, after being spread. Something the team did not find in their analysis: the dirt, food waste, bird guano and other debris typically uncovered on ancient floors.

“They really cared about having a clean surface that was then renewed,” Lo Russo says. The evidence suggests floors had special significance in a Mithraeum—an idea supported by other recent finds. At a Romanian Mithraeum, for example, Egri and colleagues found a box of charcoal and burnt animal and plant remains buried beneath the floor, possibly as an offering to commemorate the temple’s founding. Similar boxes have turned up at other Mithraea across Europe.

Taken together, the new research suggests that feasts likely played an important ceremonial role in the cult. The rooms themselves were laid out similar to the formal Roman dining arrangement known as a triclinium. Chickens were a common source of meat at the feasts, as were young pigs, both luxuries at the time. On the altar, a portion of the meal may have been set aside for Mithras, and, believes Egri, possibly set on fire to symbolize the god’s presence, sharing in the meal.

Afterward, the research suggests remains of the feast were burnt, large fragments removed, and the rest spread evenly across the floor. The material was then walked over and tamped down to form a thin layer of charcoal. The Mithraic cult members would perform the ritual repeatedly, adding a new layer each time. At one Mithraeum they studied in Zillis, Switzerland, Lo Russo says there’s evidence that so many layers had built up after hundreds of feasts that they needed to dig the floors out and start over.

The geoarchaeologist hopes to conduct comparative studies on other Mithraea floors, to see how the practice of Mithraism varied across the Roman Empire. Gathering ancient DNA from the bone fragments, something outside the scope of the recent paper, could also reveal details about the animals and their significance in Mithraic rites.

Lo Russo is also interested in further exploring something uncovered in her recent research: Larger animal bone fragments were not burned but instead left to decompose, but why—like many other details of Mithraism—remains a mystery.

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Patriot Front Meetings Spell Out Racist Network’s Plans & Hateful Operations

UNICORN RIOT
Unicorn Riot
2022-05-13
https://unicornriot.ninja/2022/patriot-front-meetings-spell-out-racist-networks-plans-hateful-operations/
22 audio files obtained by Unicorn Riot reveal the inner workings and deeply bigoted shared mindset of members of Patriot Front, the largest fascist organization currently operating in the United States. Roughly 17 hours of regional network chapter meetings, national meetings, and informal hangouts in…

The post Patriot Front Meetings Spell Out Racist Network’s Plans & Hateful Operations appeared first on UNICORN RIOT.

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How Workers’ Revolt Ended World War One

Socialist Alternative
Tony Wilsdon
2022-05-13
https://www.socialistalternative.org/2022/05/13/how-workers-revolt-ended-wwi/
As the fighting intensifies in Ukraine, millions around the world are searching for how to help end the suffering and bloodshed. Socialists are absolutely against Putin’s brutal invasion and occupation. At the same time, we see wars as an outgrowth of the predatory nature of capitalism. The fight against war is also a fight against […]

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Workers at Dill Pickle Food Co-op Accuse Boss of Mismanagement

Industrial Worker
Dylan Andersen
2022-05-13
https://industrialworker.org/workers-at-dill-pickle-food-co-op-accuse-boss-of-mismanagement/
Recent events at the Dill Pickle Food Co-op in Chicago illustrate what workers describe as a pattern of mismanagement by general manager I’Talia McCarthy. In March, two union stewards — individuals elected by workers to deal with management — quit in response to the store’s lax COVID-19 safety policy, which allows customers to shop mask-less. … Continue reading "Workers at Dill Pickle Food Co-op Accuse Boss of Mismanagement"

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Biden’s Little-Publicized Medicare Privatization Scheme Is Starting to Raise Alarm Bells

Jacobin
Branko Marcetic
2022-05-12
https://jacobinmag.com/2022/05/biden-trump-medicare-privatization-aco-reach-insurance/
There’s good news and bad news about the Joe Biden administration’s ongoing pursuit of the Direct Contracting Entity (DCE) program, also known as ACO REACH. The bad news is that the idea remains a threat to the health of seniors, and an alarming Trojan horse that could lead to the privatization of Medicare. The good […]

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Erasing the Black Flag: Thoughts on Anarchist History, May Day and the Problem with Left Unity

Anarchism
Anonymous Contributor
2022-05-11
https://itsgoingdown.org/may-day-problem-with-left-unity/
Critical thoughts on the erasure of anarchist history from May Day celebrations and how this relates to a critique of “left-unity.” By: C. McCombs This past International Workers Day, otherwise known as May Day, I attended my local rally. The same old May Day groups were in attendance, Party for Socialist Liberation (PSL), Communist Party… Read Full Article

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Refining the “Amoralist’s Challenge”

anarchistnews.org
thecollective
2022-05-11
https://anarchistnews.org/content/refining-%E2%80%9Camoralist%E2%80%99s-challenge%E2%80%9D
From Center for a Stateless Society

Some Opening Thoughts

First, I want to express my constant admiration for how comprehensible yet deeply frustrating I find Jason Lee Byas’ approach to anarchism (something I extend to the Center’s resident radical liberals and adherents to Aristotelianism more generally, more words on that to come). To mirror his repeated praise of the “amoralist’s challenge,” I too greatly appreciate his “moralist challenge” to us on the outskirts; while this framing of our fundamental disagreement by no means captures the full scope of the divergence in our views, this hopefully makes for a more accessible introduction to these tensions for an uninitiated reader. In the interest of filling in what I see to be gaps in his overview of the opposing perspective, I’ll be diving into those less straightforward aspects of Stirner’s approach to moralism in specific, the Abrahamic God and His near-analogues, and fixed ideas more broadly — both for the benefit of future exchange and to clear up popular misconceptions to our general audience.

Though this is largely intended to stand on its own, I highly suggest reading Jason’s three pieces for full context.

Stirner, God, and Unique Causes

Before introducing specific features of the present “moralist challenge,” I want to briefly return to Stirner’s own words. I started my last piece with a quote from the first section of the Unique and Its Property, I Have Based My Affair on Nothing, and I want to focus on that passage again here with emphasis on the preceding sentence.

In full, the closing paragraph reads: “The divine is God’s affair; the human cause is ‘humanity’s.’ My affair is neither the divine nor the human; it is not the good, the true, the just, the free, etc., but only my own, and it is not general, but is unique, as I am unique. For me, there is nothing greater than me!” (Stirner 27)

This section is frequently misinterpreted, even by the most devout “Stirnerites.”1 A popular takeaway is that Stirner hates God, hates humanity, and loves himself exclusively — he does literally say “there is nothing greater than me!” after all; this shallow read of the Ego Book as the narcissistic ramblings of a proto-Reddit atheist has been used both to dismiss Egoism in defense of moralism and, in the absolute worst cases, to synthesize his rhetoric with reactionary ideology (“Identity Politics is a spook,” “consent is a fixed idea,” “anti-theism is the only valid Egoist position,” etc.). Like many common assumptions, however, this is a stretch. Though the tone of works like Critics and U&IP is unambiguously assertive and deliberately provocative, Stirner didn’t base his affair on a hatred of things “not-himself” to the exclusion of others, contrary to the implications of “there is nothing greater than me.” In entertaining the legitimacy of “God’s cause,” Stirner makes a distinction between His interest (the divine) and his own (himself) and invites us to recognize what, from his perspective, was abundantly clear: his and God’s causes are distinct, fluid, and independent of each other. To Stirner, God is not-himself, outside the domain of his affair, and His cause is none of his concern. Humanity, the state, and morality aren’t so much objects of hatred as they are subjects to Stirner’s defiant apathy. His answer to the question “what would/should [not-you] do?” isn’t “fuck them, all rules are bad and my rejection of them is good,” but rather “I’m not not-me, I’m me; the affair of not-me isn’t perceptible, nor is it a component of my own, so I really can’t speak much on the matter.”

This, to me, is where moralist criticism misses the mark most severely. Egoism is not the contrarian negation of all things we presently call “morality” solely on the grounds that it’s suboptimal or outside the individual, but is instead an embodied assertion of uniqueness and limitation, a willing recognition of the irreconcilable distance between our own unique cause and not-our-own cause that prevents either from being “general.” The “amoralist challenge,” then, is not merely a pure dismissal of morality; it is better described as a recognition of the moral, the divine, and the human followed by a refusal to grant its cause dominion over one’s own. Life, for the egoist, is an experience to be lived by the alive, not a subject to be litigated by an observer – even when the observer is you, gazing at your own reflection.

“Okay,” the charitable moralist might concede, even if only for the sake of argument, “but what if I volunteer myself to the not-me? If I want to be haunted, are you gonna stop me?”

This, once again, is a point at which many critics and staunch proponents of Stirner’s thought get stuck, tumble over themselves, and cause dear St. Max to perform coffin pirouettes at a rate that could sustain a small power grid. In the interest of brevity, I’ll spare the summary of the common vulgar follow-up and dig right into the ground upon which this question is rooted.

Um… there isn’t one -_-

Without the Ground, Only the Nothing

“Ground,” the objective, legitimate, and ontologically “real” bases for things we generally conceive of as “law,” is, at the most accessible interpretation, capital-U Untouchable. We can’t tell if it’s there or if it’s not, but even if it was it would be of no consequence to us as beings that can’t perceive it, and no expedition to bridge this gap will ever yield a tangible return on the futile investment required to carry it out. If you’re unwilling to accept Stirner’s proposal that the “ground” doesn’t exist at all (which, full disclosure, is a premise I’m thoroughly convinced of), this can serve as a near estimation of the attitudinal “nothingness” we need to embody in order to explore this aspect of the amoralist challenge.

When Egoists label something a phantasm2, they’re rejecting the legitimacy of grounding, the “futile expedition to find Ground” I mentioned earlier, instead thrusting themselves forward into the profound nothingness that remains. In this space we call The Nothing we discover something far more desirable: the moment of non-identity. The restrictive staleness of certainty and stability is now replaced by what could be described as a canvas without borders; it’s not blank nor is it crowded; it’s not comforting nor is it distressful; it does not take nor does it give time; it is not nor is it; it “is” what you, the individual, the amalgamation, the Unique, want it to be. How that gets expressed may provide us, who recognize what we see of the unique person across from us, some guess as to what inner machinations constitute their cause, but we can’t make it “general,” returning once again to Stirner’s original declaration.

Moreover, to say that one can meaningfully “give oneself up to” another cause is not only near-impossible, but, perhaps worse, a non-sequitur. What “self” can you give? There is nothing, no static “you” to sacrificially offer to any superordinate construct. If one’s prerogative is to submit, that cannot be a binding contract because we lack that specific capacity for agential attorney — we are unique, unable to be bound to any cause that attempts to reside on or acquaint us with “ground.” We can’t promise a solid foundation for a builder when we have no clue whether our available supplies are concrete, quicksand, or industrial quantities of Jell-O, now can we? Even in the event we have the right substance, (“concrete” being analogous to the capacity to promise “ourselves” to another cause), we can’t ever be sure such commitments can be fulfilled — a limitation that will only become more pronounced as selfhood, identity, and personhood are greater impacted by impending technological advancements, cultural shifts, and incomprehensible crises to come.

This particular read of Stirner, perhaps in combination with my own relative inexperience participating in formal discourses such as this, makes responding to moral realism a perplexing challenge. It’s not at all trivial to distance oneself from Ground, especially when most of your philosophical commitments rest upon it. Because of this, it’s very tough to truly condemn Jason for, in proper Aristotelian fashion, immediately looking for Ground as he confronts the notion of causes:

Perhaps the Stirnerite1 can concede that your cause imposes limits on itself… But so far, those limits have been minimal: if you want to get to Decatur from Atlanta, you need to go east. To play a song, that’s the song you have to play. This doesn’t really have the sound of morality.

However, those examples were just to establish the general point that we take actions in the service of prior projects, and the aims of those prior projects have authority over those lesser actions. If there were some grand project in service of which you took all your other actions, that project could regulate what you do in a way that would be recognizably moral.

In other words, the task here is to figure out just what your cause really is.

Ground, from what I can discern, is obstructing the following exploration of “causes.” The task laid out here is not to figure out anything, at least not in the way Jason is asking us to do so, because the Ground so important to other similar conceptions of “cause” or adjacent constructs as “self-interest” is absent for the Egoist. To attempt to figure out what a given cause “really is” is an attempt to generalize the unique, to seek out the skeletal structure of a fluid invertebrate. The “is” and “isn’t” of our cause can at best be vaguely gestured towards as a discursive charade, a fun exercise for lay-intellectual reflection and philosophical banter. If the goal is to describe and interact with a world inhabited by real active beings, however, we can’t resign ourselves to the position of the distal self-legislator. Our concern instead resides in the persistent, ongoing process of living; when we divorce ourselves even temporarily from the mission of grounding our fixed ideas in the name of “truth” seeking, we are able to enter the realm of the alive, embracing the fluid, the non-identified, and the imperceptible as we inhabit and create ourselves, our behavioral environment3, and perhaps even some inadvertent realization of what could be described by some as “virtue” (Hell, maybe we’ll even get to Decatur by going West4 — it’s not like the earth is flat, Jason). It is always possible to become distant from this space, to eschew life-as-experienced in pursuit of a “higher” purpose and the litigation of actions, but, in taking this latter path, we reduce liberty to an anhedonic and static concept, a fixed notion of the proper order to which life should adhere. Such a separation between the ongoing act of living and a superordinate project of societal construction is, to this Egoist at least, pointless, at least in the pursuit of what I view to be a necessary condition for anarchy: life being fully lived by the living, reclaimed from all things that restrict the free and ambiguous pursuit thereof.

With all of that hopefully clarified, here remains my challenge to the self-proclaimed moralist: when do we, the alive, get to actually start living, and why isn’t it right now?

 

For a multitude of reasons, I find this term inaccurate to my own approach. Stirner’s influence on me, while significant, is far from the exclusive focus of the egoism I practice — a subject I hope to expand on during future contributions to this exchange.
Assuming, of course, they understand what they’re doing by borrowing Stirner’s language here. Poor approximations abound.
Borrowing etymologically from the anthropologist Alfred Irving Hallowell’s seminal work, Culture and Experience. While by no means an Egoist, Hallowell’s phenomenological approach and general conclusions are a great accessory to all projects concerned with the concept of the self.
“Suppose you’re visiting a friend who lives in Decatur, GA. You mistakenly believe that Decatur is just west of Atlanta, but it’s actually to the east. After flying in, you board public transit to reach your friend. You go westbound, but you should have gone eastbound.” – Jason Lee Byas, The Authority of Yourself

Tags: egosimstirnermoralityamoralityresponse

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Letters from Ukraine- interview with a comrade from Kharkiv

Void Network
crystalzero72
2022-05-11
https://voidnetwork.gr/2022/03/22/letters-from-ukraine-interview-with-a-comrade-from-kharkiv/
The following interview was conducted by Tous Dehors on 18.03.2022. Translation in English by ENDNOTES Could you start by telling us about your background before the war? I originally come from Kharkiv which is in Eastern Ukraine, just a few miles from the border, but have spent the last few years studying in Lviv. All of my family and relatives are from Kharkiv as well, and before moving to Lviv…

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S. 2201: Supply Chain Security Training Act of 2021

Major Legislative Activity – Tracked Events from GovTrack.us
unknown
2022-05-11
https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/117/s2201?utm_campaign=govtrack_feed&utm_source=govtrack/feed&utm_medium=rss
Passed House & Senate (President next): Last Action: On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill Agreed to by voice vote.
Explanation: This bill was passed by Congress on May 10, 2022 and goes to the President next.

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S. 1097: Federal Rotational Cyber Workforce Program Act of 2021

Major Legislative Activity – Tracked Events from GovTrack.us
unknown
2022-05-11
https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/117/s1097?utm_campaign=govtrack_feed&utm_source=govtrack/feed&utm_medium=rss
Passed House & Senate (President next): Last Action: On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill Agreed to by voice vote.
Explanation: This bill was passed by Congress on May 10, 2022 and goes to the President next.

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The Sane Society?

Phenomenology and Existentialism
Christopher Ketcham
2022-05-11
https://www.counterpunch.org/2022/05/11/the-sane-society/
“The fact that millions of people share…so many errors does not make the errors to be truths, and the fact that millions of people share the same mental pathology does not make these people sane.” – Erich Fromm, The Sane Society, 1955. Erich Fromm, a psychoanalyst who escaped Nazi Germany to live in the U.S., More

The post The Sane Society? appeared first on CounterPunch.org.

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Coffee with Comrades Episode 165: “Toward an Anarchist Critique of Psychiatry”

anarchistnews.org
thecollective
2022-05-10
https://anarchistnews.org/content/coffee-comrades-episode-165-toward-anarchist-critique-psychiatry
From Coffee with Comrades

Chris, a psychotherapist with sixteen years in the field, joins me to critique the psych profession. We explore the history of psychology and psychiatric coercion, the violence and carceral logic implicit in locking away the "insane." We discuss the ways in which neurotypicality is constructed to serve the hegemony of the ruling class. Chris and I examine the ways that capital and the state regiment our minds, cajoling, commanding, and controling. We also touch on the emerging concept of "mad liberation." It’s a pretty wide-ranging conversation. I hope you enjoy it.

Follow Chris on Mastadon. https://kolektiva.social/web/@TomMasaniello

Support Coffee with Comrades on Patreon, follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and visit our website.

Pick up a Coffee with Comrades shirt or coffee mug at our official merch store.

Coffee with Comrades is a proud member of the Channel Zero Network.

Coffee with Comrades is an affiliate of the Firestorm Books & Café. Check out our reading recommendations!

Our logo was designed by Nathanael Whale.

Tags: Coffee with Comrades. podcastcritiqueanti-psychiatry

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Pierre Ansart – The presence of Proudhonism in contemporary sociologies

The Anarchist Library
unknown
2022-05-10
https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/pierre-ansart-the-presence-of-proudhonism-in-contemporary-sociologies?v=1652200231
Author: Pierre Ansart
Title: The presence of Proudhonism in contemporary sociologies
Date: 1992
Notes: Translated from the French by Shaun Murdock.
Source: Retrieved on 21st April 2022 from www.persee.fr

It would certainly be misleading to imagine the continuation of a direct ‘influence’ of Proudhon’s work in today’s social sciences. Such a contested theoretical system, rejected by academia, could not constitute a faithfully conveyed legacy some 130 years later.

On the contrary, social sciences, and especially sociology, have been reshaped by transformations that were also apparent rejections of the Proudhonian problematic. The transformation initiated by Durkheim, who was so important for the history of sociology throughout the first half of the 20th century, took place against social philosophies and their excessive ambitions. By implication, Durkheim’s severe criticisms of Auguste Comte and Herbert Spencer also reached the philosophies of history and the social philosophies of which Proudhon could be suspected. Furthermore, the transformation in research methods which occurred at the end of the 20th century, calling for restricted, fragmented research, discouraged intellectual bravery which was henceforth rejected in the field of political ideas. Finally, the wide spread of Marxism exerted strong pressure to fight against Proudhon’s theories.

Similarly, contemporary French sociologists have hardly been inclined to count Proudhon among their leading thinkers, despite the efforts of Célestin Bouglé and then Georges Gurvitch. Among the authors of the 19th and early 20th centuries, it was mainly the works of Marx, Weber, and Durkheim that fulfilled this role. Proudhon, like Tocqueville and Le Play, was largely absent in sociologists’ education, but for diametrically opposite reasons.

In contemporary sociologies, there is a peculiar paradox. While there are few explicit references to Proudhon’s work, it is striking to see the appearance of themes, questions, and answers that bear the hallmarks of a resurgence of themes and questions expressed in Proudhon’s writings. But these revivals are in no way identical among today’s various sociologies, as if the theories of the anarchist from Besançon were still implicitly being debated, approved and rejected.

Two questions therefore arise that we would like to deal with in turn. First, which sociologies revive questions or topics addressed by Proudhon or his theories? This question will lead us to examine four contemporary paradigms: genetic structuralism, dynamic sociology, the strategic approach, and methodological individualism.[1] We will then outline to what extent these different paradigms are opposed in the accounts that we can reconstruct with Proudhon’s work.

The answer to the second question will be much more difficult. To the extent that we will have highlighted the presence of Proudhonian themes in some contemporary work in sociology, how can we explain these continuations or ‘returns’? How can we explain the presence of the forgotten? On this matter, we can probably only suggest hypotheses.

Genetic structuralism
Without seeking to make an exhaustive list of points of reconciliation and separation between Pierre Bourdieu’s works and Proudhon’s writings, it must be emphasised that Bourdieu’s analyses lead him, like Proudhon, to highlight the division of society into social classes. This point distinguishes them from the other three schools that we will discuss. Bourdieu’s work combines investigations into cultural practices,[2] inequalities in the educational system,[3] and distinction strategies[4] to explore, in all their consequences, the effects that this class division of society and individuals’ membership of one of these classes have on behaviour and representation.

Moreover, regardless of the distance between the authors’ conceptions of class, it must be emphasised that Proudhon’s ternary scheme, which distinguishes the bourgeois class, the middle class and the working classes,[5] is reproduced at the end of Pierre Bourdieu’s investigations, which led him to distinguish the grande bourgeoisie, the petite bourgeoisie and the popular classes.[6]

This reconciliation, despite the differences and divergences, has serious consequences, and places Proudhon and P. Bourdieu in a certain sociological tradition whose originality is underlined by the lively debates surrounding it today. This tradition, which may be called ‘class-based’ in the sense that it stresses the existence of classes as social realities, assumes that a certain knowledge of the social totality is accessible and that a ‘science’ can be established based on this reality. This fundamental intuition is found across the work of Proudhon, who does not doubt that this knowledge may be accessed, and that of P. Bourdieu, who adopts this premise. And this totality can be known through its main divisions, through the ‘war’ which puts proprietors and non-proprietors in conflict[7] and through the struggles for distinction among the various social classes.[8] Broadly, it can be said that the sociology of Pierre Bourdieu and his collaborators is part of the great class-based tradition inaugurated by Saint-Simon, Proudhon and Marx, understanding society as a system of antagonistic classes and as a totality that can be known through this interpretative framework.

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Pierre Ansart – Proudhon throughout History

The Anarchist Library
unknown
2022-05-10
https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/pierre-ansart-proudhon-throughout-history?v=1652199451
Author: Pierre Ansart
Title: Proudhon throughout History
Date: 1997
Notes: Translated from the French by Shaun Murdock.
Source: Retrieved on 21st April 2022 from www.persee.fr

Abstract

Proudhon remains a strangely irritating author, as if his work were still somehow present and threatening. Before the collapse of the communist regimes, the various resurgences of Proudhonism at different times in this long history have given rise to nostalgia as much as intellectual and political rediscoveries, while official communist ideology interpreted this phenomenon more darkly. At the present time, research is being carried out that explores Proudhon’s idea that the free play of economic forces and social contradictions is not a viable long-term response and will only satisfy the governing and possessing classes.

The history of Proudhonism is oddly marked by approvals and condemnations, enthusiastic readings and indignant refutations. While so many nineteenth-century political thinkers are referenced by scholars without arousing particular passions, Proudhon remains a strangely irritating author, as if his work were still somehow present and threatening. While historians and scholars carefully try to assess his place in history, his name continues to elicit strong emotional reactions, both positive and negative. And even in scholarly research, we cannot fail to notice approving and disapproving attitudes, as if he still needed to be defended or attacked. Before the collapse of the communist regimes, the various resurgences of Proudhonism at different times in this long history have given rise to nostalgia as much as intellectual and political[1] rediscoveries, while official communist ideology interpreted this phenomenon more darkly. How can we explain the particularly emotional character of this history of Proudhonism and what does this signify?

This intensity of emotion towards Proudhon’s theories is not recent, and we may say that it was expressed throughout the writer’s life. As early as 1840, the First Memoir on property was received with keen interest among the working classes where his opening phrase (“Property is theft”) quickly became a familiar slogan. But it also provoked anger from the members of the Suard Academy, and then, when his Second Memoir was published, concern from the justice system. The System of Economic Contradictions attracted admiring and approving readers but sparked the wrath of Marx. In 1848, Proudhon was regarded as a prominent defender of the popular classes, and the results of his election to the National Assembly in June show that he was not trusted only among the artisans. But the events of June that shattered popular hopes also harmed trust in the people’s spokesman, and in 1850 the moderates, who had once participated in the February Revolution, turned against Proudhon whom they saw as a disturbing annoyance.[2] After having been followed and discussed, he quickly became known as “l’homme-terreur”. The story of enthusiasm and anger does not end there: Proudhon, welcomed without hesitation by the citizens of Brussels in 1858, had to flee the city four years later following a violent protest against him. In 1861, his book War and Peace provoked indignation and, furthermore, a complete misunderstanding. The following year, his opposition to Italian unity attracted very little approval and almost universal animosity.

Marx’s subsequent attitude exemplifies the fury of these reactions, although it may be interpreted in different ways. We know that Marx initially expressed extreme admiration for the First Memoir, and that he regarded Proudhon as an authentic representative of the revolutionary movement,[3] before pillorying him and giving him the infamous epithet “petty bourgeois”.[4] But the story of these contradictory emotions did not end in 1847: the fervent admiration expressed in The Civil War in France is also a tribute to Proudhon, since in it Marx praises precisely the communalism and federalism that Proudhon had systematically theorised nearly a decade earlier.

Among these impassioned returns to Proudhonism, we must also include the dramatic period of the Paris Commune. Whereas the twenty years of the Second Empire gave no indication that a federalist movement was possible, the insurrection of March 1871 was driven by popular enthusiasm, where a historic return to Proudhon’s federalist hopes and his pluralistic conception of a new social order could clearly be discerned.

After 1880, two great impassioned returns to Proudhon could be contrasted: one positive, that of anarcho-syndicalism; the other negative, that of communist ideology which would make Proudhonism the symbol of evil. Of course, anarcho-syndicalism’s return to Proudhon[5] is based on political explanations and supporting arguments, but it also charged with feeling and emotion. Georges Sorel, Gaétan Pirou, Célestin Bouglé, Georges Dolléans and others treat the rediscovery of Proudhonism as a “resurrection” and as the revival of someone once forgotten. A revival not made without horrified cries, as Eduard Bernstein testified in 1900 in the French edition of his work Evolutionary Socialism in which he writes in the preface: “Hence that horrified exclamation by a few Marxists to me. He is resurrecting Proudhon!”[6]

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Most Popular Locations for Book Settings In Each Stat [Infographic]

Best Infographics
cyrus
2022-05-10
https://www.best-infographics.com/where-are-the-books-set-in-every-state/
The U.S. is known for its diverse landscapes and cultures, so it is not a surprise that every state has been the setting for a novel in the past. This infographic from Crossword Solver takes a look at the most popular locations for book settings in each state:

The post Most Popular Locations for Book Settings In Each Stat [Infographic] appeared first on Best Infographics.

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Michèle Bernstein, the Situationists and May 68

Autonomies
Julius Gavroche
2022-05-10
https://autonomies.org/2022/05/michele-bernstein-the-situationists-and-may-68/
The situationists have designated as the primary terrains of creativity in the future experiments in behavior and the construction of complete settings, moments of life freely created. Since the definition of experimentation of this type is only the other side … Continue reading →

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The Battlefield is Everywhere by Jonathan Hutto

The Institute for Anarchist Studies
IAS
2022-05-10
https://anarchiststudies.org/the-battlefield-is-everywhere-by-jonathan-hutto/
“When we look back at the 60’s, one of our greatest shortcomings was, we were emulating the very people we were fighting against, our morals, values and ethics were the morals and values of the society we were struggling to change.”          … Read more

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The Two Souls of Pentecostalism

Jacobin
Ryan Zickgraf
2022-05-10
https://jacobinmag.com/2022/05/pentecostal-christianity-poverty-evangelicals-trump-left-right/
Pop quiz: Which right-wing populist heads of state identify as Pentecostals? The answer is not as many as you think. Donald Trump is a Presbyterian, at least on paper; Jair Bolsanaro claims Catholicism; and Viktor Orbán has been called “the world’s most powerful Calvinist.” The two Pentecostal international leaders are Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, […]

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Liaizon Wakest on Autonomous Social Media and the Fediverse

anarchistnews.org
thecollective
2022-05-09
https://anarchistnews.org/content/liaizon-wakest-autonomous-social-media-and-fediverse-0
from The Final Straw Radio

LISTEN HERE

This week, we spoke with Liaizon Wakest. Liaizon grew up in an anarchist commune in rural America. They can be found climbing into dumpsters from Mexico to Kazakhstan looking for trash to make art with. In recent years they have been focused on research into ethical technology and infrastructural anarchism. For the hour we speak about the interoperable, open source ensemble of federated online publishing servers and platforms known as the Fediverse and its most popular component, Mastodon. This conversation takes place in the context of media hullabaloo about Elon Musk seeking to purchase Twitter, the paradigm in which a rich egomaniac can own the addictive social media platforms over which so much social and political life is engaged and what positives we can draw from alternatives like Mastodon and the Fediverse.

You can find Liaizon’s account on Mastodon (an analog of twitter) at @liaizon@social.wake.st or on Pixelfed (an analog of Instagram) at @wakest@pixelfed.social. And you can follow us on Mastodon by finding @TheFinalStrawRadio@Chaos.Social or by visiting https://chaos.social/@TheFinalStrawRadio in a web browser.

Another interesting anarchist media project engaging the Fediverse is Kolektiva, which has a PeerTube instance at https://Kolektiva.Media (analog of youtube) and Mastodon at https://Kolektiva.Social where they’re welcoming new users. Kolektiva includes participation from projects like Sub.Media and AntiMidia

You can find a real good interview by our comrades at From Embers about Mastodon which I mention in the interview from February 3rd, 2022 entitled Social Networks, Online Life and The Fediverse: https://fromembers.libsyn.com/social-networks-online-life-and-the-fediverse

Announcement
Eric King Arrives at USP Lee: call-in continues
As a quick update on the situation of Eric King, he has been transferred this week from USP Atlanta to USP Lee where he and his supporters are concerned he’ll be placed into solitary and isolated for attack. You can find info on his situation as well as who to contact to press for his return to a medium security facility to match his current security points, visit SupportEricKing.Org and find the May 3rd, 2022 post whose title starts “Eric Transferred”

. … . ..

Featured Track

Beauty, Power, Motion, Life, Work, Chaos, Law by DJ Shadow from Our Pathetic Age

Tags: podcastaudiothe final straw radiosocial mediainfrastructure

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Towards Total Liberation Memory and Counterculture

anarchistnews.org
thecollective
2022-05-09
https://anarchistnews.org/content/towards-total-liberation-memory-and-counterculture
from Anarquia, via Dark Nights

In combative memory of comrade Mauricio Morales 13 years after his death on the way to attack the gendarmerie school, we gather again around his memorial to take off towards different horizons, always in search of total liberation, fighting all forms of authority.

The anarchic memory connects us between different generations of comrades, feeding our present and motivating new steps, new decisions.

Our dead walk with us and laugh, mocking oblivion and passivity.

Because nothing is over and everything continues…

Our memory is black, our heart too.

Punki Mauri presente!

Source: Anarquia

[Poster translation:

Towards Total Liberation Memory and KounterKulture

"Do me a favor, prokure to live anarky"- Mauricio Morales, present

Sunday May 15 / 16hrs / Voluntary Donation

Villa Francia Activity Center, Las Estepas #845

La Furia, Disturbio, Anti Todo (Eskorbuto cover band), Banda Bonnot

Poster and Photo Expo

Videos . Vegan Food

Antiauthoritarian Material

Until the last bastion of carceral society is destroyed

Punky Mauri is present]

Tags: memorychileMauricio Moralesevent

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The Hidden Histories of To-Go Container Art

Atlas Obscura: Articles
Anne Ewbank
2022-05-09
https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/takeout-food-containers
Who drew that winking chef on your pizza box? THIS ARTICLE IS ADAPTED FROM THE MAY 7, 2022, EDITION OF GASTRO OBSCURA’S FAVORITE THINGS NEWSLETTER. YOU CAN SIGN UP HERE.

In a diner last week, a waitress briskly slid me a platter of pancakes. On the blaring TV, reporters were asking shoppers what they thought about New Jersey’s new law banning single-use plastic and paper bags. “One of the strictest in the nation,” intoned a newscaster.

As I struggled to finish my pancakes, I listened to him explain how that law also extends to styrofoam takeout boxes. Just before I left, the waitress even offered me one: the classic white clamshell.

Personally, I support a ban on styrofoam boxes. Not only are they bad for the environment, but they’re also … boring.

“But Annie,” you ask, “aren’t all takeout containers boring?” No! For this job, I’ve chatted with avid collectors of elaborately printed pizza boxes and gazed at plastic sushi containers collected by the Smithsonian.

Takeout containers—especially for pizza, Chinese food, and sushi—have an iconic art and style. Granted, it’s not always the most elegant or politically correct, but some of these designs are now instantly recognizable. So, today, we investigate the origins of the smiling chef of pizza-box fame, the ubiquitous red pagoda of American-Chinese takeout, and the surprising elegance of plastic sushi trays.

The Winking Chef
Several years ago, I interviewed Scott Weiner, the owner of the world’s largest pizza-box collection. His boxes, which are brand new and grease-free, range from Domino’s boxes shaped like R2-D2 to fancy pizza places’ stern white boxes embellished only with minimalist black text.

My favorite pizza-box motif, though, is the Winking Chef. This piece of clip art has graced millions of pizza boxes over the years: a jolly-looking man in a high chef’s hat, winking, with his hand raised in an “a-ok” gesture. You’ve likely seen a similar man printed on take-out menus, or as a statuette outside restaurants holding a list of specials.

But who first set pen to paper and drew this self-satisfied cook? Weiner dove into researching his origins, noting along the way that the chef, though instantly recognizable, is often modified—sometimes winking, other times only knowingly raising an eyebrow.

One day, Weiner stumbled upon the Holy Grail: a pizza box printed with a signed illustration. The chef on this box wasn’t winking, and he held a slice of pizza rather than making any kind of gesture. It was the work of American cartoonist Gill Fox, who in his 20th-century heyday was twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.

In Fox’s 2004 obituary, the New York Times claimed that “the betoqued chef, winking and making an A-O.K” sign was his work, even though the signed illustration Weiner found featured neither winking nor the gesture. The standard clip-art chef seems much more crudely drawn than Fox’s work, though the chef’s hat, kerchief, and mustache are suspiciously similar.

Fox is said to have drawn the chef in the early 1950s, copying the style of a co-worker and selling it to a clip-art service as a joke. Perhaps the chef underwent plastic surgery by pen over the years, tweaked by other artists. Today, said chef is an implicit promise—from pizza place to customer—that good food awaits inside the box.

The Porcelain Pagoda
The Chinese takeout box is a marvel of engineering. Descended from 19th-century oyster pails, the folded, waxed-paperboard design was patented by Frederick Weeks Wilcox in 1894, and has changed very little since.

For most of the 1900s, the little box was plain and white. That changed in the 1970s.

According to The New York Times, a designer at what is now Fold-Pak decided to add a red line drawing of a pagoda onto the side. The take-out container manufacturer also added the words “Thank You” and “Enjoy,” in what is now derisively known as “wonton” font, letters used in 20th-century American marketing that mimicked the strokes of Chinese calligraphy.

The designer is unknown to this day, but it’s now rare to see a Chinese takeout box without the red pagoda and faux calligraphy.

A few years ago, Xinhua, the official state newspaper of the People’s Republic of China, published an article explaining the containers, which are a common sight in American shows and movies but non-existent in China itself.

The image, according to Xinhua, is the Porcelain Tower, a pagoda constructed in 15th-century Nanjing. The 9-story, 260-foot-tall edifice, walled with glazed porcelain bricks, was considered a marvel both in China and abroad. In the West, some writers held it as one of the seven wonders of the Middle Ages, a category that includes both the Hagia Sofia and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Sadly, the original tower fell victim to the chaos of the Taiping Rebellion in 1856, when rebels razed it to the ground. If that long-forgotten Fold-Pak designer truly did use it as a model for their shorter, simpler tower, they must have referred to old images of the building drawn by Chinese and European artists.

But the Porcelain Tower stands again today. In 2015, the Chinese government completed a full-size replica in a Nanjing park devoted to the building’s history and importance.

Sushi Spectacle
Sushi is fresh fish prepared by artists with sharp knives and sold for hundreds of dollars at chefs’ tables; it’s also trays of imitation crab rolls sitting under buzzing fluorescent lights in convenience stores.

The second style of sushi, though, still retains some elegance, largely thanks to its presentation: in a gleaming, decorated plastic tray with a clear lid.

Many plastic sushi trays, if made out of wood instead, would be quite lovely. Which is the origin of their appealing design—they’re based on traditional Japanese plates.

“The colored tray often comes with printed embellishments, replicating the types of designs commonly found on Japanese dishware, making it a critical feature in effectively marketing the product as Japanese,” reads the National Museum of American History website.

Popular motifs include mountain scenes, flowers, brocade patterns, red maple leaves, and temari balls, which represent youth, friendship, and the New Year.

Your average sushi tray is black, with deep-red and gold flourishes—an imitation of Japanese lacquered dishware, or urushi. Black, red, and gold are the most common colors in lacquerware production, which is a truly ancient art, dating back to the Neolithic era. (Real wooden lacquerware is phenomenally expensive and can even be gilded with real gold.)

The NMAH actually owns a collection of plastic sushi trays, many of which were produced by the Advanced Fresh Concepts Corporation. Founded by Ryuji Ishii, who longed for accessible sushi in the United States, the company was the first to pre-package and ship large quantities of sushi to American stores. Ishii succeeded in making sushi ubiquitous, and, as extra credit, made these plastic versions of fine dishware just as common.

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The invention of capitalism – Michael Perelman

libcom.org
Anonymous
2022-05-09
https://libcom.org/article/invention-capitalism-michael-perelman

PDF of The Invention Of Capitalism: Classical Political Economy and the Secret History of Primitive Accumulation, written by Michael Perelman and published in 2000.

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Michael Perelman

Submitted by Anonymous on May 8, 2022

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The Invention of Capitalism.pdf
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economics
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Labor Fetish and Anti-Semitism – Lothar Galow-Bergemann

libcom.org
adri
2022-05-09
https://libcom.org/article/labor-fetish-and-anti-semitism-lothar-galow-bergemann

Short text critiquing labor as something pursued for its own sake under capitalism, as well as the anti-Semitism that often crops up in response to capitalist crises.

Author

Lothar Galow-Bergemann

Submitted by adri on May 9, 2022

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„Work makes you free“ was written above the gate of the Auschwitz death camp. How did the Nazis come up with that? Isn’t work something meaningful, something good? What does it have to do with Auschwitz, of all places? A great deal. Because work and meaningful activity are, contrary to popular belief, two different things.

The work society

The highest law in our society is not written anywhere, but everyone knows it: We have to work all our lives to earn money so that we can live. This working and the positive reference to it seems to us like a law of nature. But even the origin of the word „work“ in different languages should make us wonder. The ancient Greek ponein (to work) comes from ponos (toil, burden), the French and Spanish words for work travail /trabajo derive from the vulgar Latin tripalare, which means nothing other than „to torment, to stake.“ In Russian, work is called rabota, which comes from rab, „the slave.“ And the Germanic arba simply means „the servant.

In ancient times, people thought quite differently than they do today. Social recognition was not given to work, but to those who did not have to work. Only then, according to the prevailing opinion, could one be a free and social being. Admittedly, only very few could afford to do so, and the vast majority were in a bad way. But it is simply not true that work has always been considered the ideal, as it is today.

That it came so far has a long prehistory. Christianity is one of them. Martin Luther, for example, was a real work fanatic: „Man is born to work as a bird is born to fly,“ he said, and: „Idleness is sin against God’s command.“ („To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation,“ 1520.) The work we take so much for granted today also has much to do with the military and war. The first wage laborers in the modern sense were the lansquenets of the standing armies, to whom the absolutist princes paid wages – in other words, the soldiers.

The history of labor is a history of violence. If the wage was enough for the first factory workers for more than one day, they understandably did not appear in the 16-hour hell for as long as possible. But because capitalism cannot work like that, people were forced under the regime of labor by brute methods. Wage cuts forced even the children into the factory so that the family could survive.

To make people „learn to work,“ the judiciary imposed brutal punishments for the smallest offenses. Thus, delinquents were chained in holes that filled with water. In order not to drown, they had to draw water for hours without interruption. Others had to toil in treadmills under whip lashes until they collapsed. So-called penitentiaries were „forced labor houses for stubborn beggars and mean-spirited idlers, in which they are forced to work hard“ („Meyers Konversationslexikon,“ 4th edition, 1888/90). Much shocking information from the unfortunately largely forgotten history of the enforcement of labor can be found in Robert Kurz’s „Schwarzbuch Kapitalismus. A swan song for the market economy“ (1999).

The people who created the labor movement in the 19th century, however, had abandoned opposition to labor. They even identified with it and were proud of it. Reasonable voices like those of Paul Lafargue were at a loss: „A strange addiction dominates the working class of all countries where capitalist civilization prevails, an addiction which results in the individual and mass misery prevailing in modern society. This is the love of work, the frenzied addiction to work which goes to the exhaustion of individuals and their offspring.“ (Paul Lafargue: „The Right to Laziness,“ 1880.) In the following two centuries, work was virtually canonized – throughout society and across all political camps. Nowadays, a poster with the inscription „We fight for every job“ can be from IG Metall as well as from the CDU.

And what can you expect in the coveted workplaces? Headlines reflect what very many know only too well from their own experience: „Burn-out. When work makes you sick“; „Every second person complains about time pressure at work“; „Heart attack due to overtime“; „Every fourth employee has to work on weekends, every sixth in shift work“; „Dissatisfied employees. Null Bock auf den Job“; „Raus aus der Mühle“; „Ältere Arbeitnehmer wollen möglichst schnell raus“; „Aus dem Alltag ausbrechen, weit weg reisen, etwas völlig Neues ausprobieren – viele träumen davon“. (See also Peter Samol, The Performance Dictatorship. How the pressure of competition makes our lives hell, 2021).

If it were up to people, only two percent of them would retire after the age of 65; most of them want to stop working much earlier (Die Welt, May 17, 2014). And what is the answer? Retirement at 67, at 68, at 70, at 75 – all of these are being seriously discussed. Anyone under 40 today knows: I won’t have a pension I can live on when I’m 80. That’s an open secret.

And it’s a huge scandal. Because robots and computers have been getting better and better for decades. Tomorrow, we will literally be able to produce even more goods with even less work. And yet we are expected to work longer and longer. What a madness. But this is not the fault of a German chancellor or a chairman of the Deutsche Bank, but of the absurd logic of „our economy.

Let’s do a thought experiment to understand this logic in more detail. Let’s assume that we have bought a pressure cooker and use it to prepare a delicious meal. Not only does it taste better than the old pot, it also has more vitamins and, most importantly, it’s ready in five minutes instead of 20, as it used to be. What do we reasonably do with the extra quarter of an hour? Lie down on the couch, water the flowers, call our girlfriend – whatever, we use the time gained for other things.

The logic of „our economy“ doesn’t go along with this. It commands us: „Don’t lie down on your bed, but make four delicious meals in the 20 minutes!“ – But why, I don’t need them, one is enough for me.“ – „But what you need is of no interest at all. You have to look for buyers, look for buyers, look for buyers!“

Why is that? Because the commodity is the germ form of our society. Here the everyday consciousness beats us the second snip. Because just as it confuses work and activity, it also makes no distinction between goods and commodities. But goods are simply goods. The form of the commodity, on the other hand, contains an entire social relationship. It presupposes commodity owners isolated from one another, who work not for their needs but for an anonymous power on which their weal and woe depend: the market. Most of them own only the commodity labor power and have to hope that the labor market will be interested in it.

The economy on which we depend is rightly called a market economy. Another word for it is capitalism. By the way, it would be better to speak consciously and pronouncedly of capital-ism. For one must understand the thing that gives this ism its name: capital. It has its very own inner logic, which no economic system has known before. It must grow unceasingly. If it stops doing so, it immediately falls into crisis. In the murderous elbow competition of the market, capital only prevails if it has enough investment funds to rationalize as much as possible, i.e. to save labor. Only in this way can it offer a price that beats out its competitors.

In order to generate the investment resources with which capital can be that decisive step ahead of its competitors, it must achieve the highest possible profit. But because each individual capital must do exactly the same thing under penalty of its demise, the system as a whole inevitably gives birth to an endless spiral of accumulation of capital. Limitless growth and maximum profit are the DNA of a market economy. The markets are the real rulers in capitalism.

But don’t some people always rule? It was like that before capital-ism, but then it became different. Yes, in capital-ism there are those who are swimming in money and those who are starving. There are „those up there“ and „those down there,“ the powerful and the powerless. And yet even the most powerful cannot override the logic of capital, even if they wanted to. Capital-ism is an abstract form of domination.

The former chairman of the board of BMW, Eberhard von Kuenheim, was once asked if he didn’t know that there are far too many cars and that the planet will eventually no longer be able to cope if more and more are built. His answer: „There may be too many automobiles in the world, but there are still too few BMWs.“ (Bayernkurier, March 7, 2016.) Unintentionally, he thus summed up the insane logic of capital-ism. Of course, the managers of VW, Daimler and Toyota must also say the same.

And with them also the workers of the respective concern. Even if a worker should have gotten rid of her own car in an environmentally conscious way, she must be interested in as many BMWs as possible being built and sold. Her livelihood and that of her family depend on her work. The union and the works council know this, too. Not only profits but also jobs depend on the successful accumulation of capital.

The whole society is held hostage to eternal growth and maximum profit. Without these, of course, the state would also be incapable of acting, because it can generate its lifeblood of taxes only if the mega-machine hums ceaselessly. The logic of capitalist society is absurd and suicidal: we are racing towards the wall, but we cannot get off because we live from this frenzy. At the moment, the climate protection movement is making particularly painful experiences with this as soon as jobs are at stake.

The identification with work

For all the clashes of interests between capital and labor – in the end, both are in the same boat of capital exploitation. Labor is neither „activity“ nor „antagonistic (irreconcilable) contradiction to capital“.It is rather the ruling formal principle of a society of commodity producers and sellers. The starting point and goal of this commodity society is the self-interested accumulation of capital. In another society, whose starting point and goal would not be the abstract wealth of the accumulation of capital, but the satisfaction of human needs, the material wealth that we need to live would be the sole purpose of economic activity. So we would not be working and producing commodities – we would be engaged in meaningful activity and producing goods. Work and commodity are fetishes that dominate us. This fetishism, unlike, say, an ideology, cannot be overcome by thought reflection alone. But without reflected critique of capital-ism, we are not even aware of the fetish character of this domination, and we cannot imagine that it is man-made and can also be abolished.

But whether one sees through this fetish or not, the life and social status of almost all people in capitalist society depend on their work. Without my work I am nothing. The identification with work, especially since it appears as a kind of natural law, is obvious. Even if one secretly hates it. It’s no coincidence that when asked, „What are you?“ no one answers, „I’m a father,“ or, „I’m someone who likes to hike, make music, think, or dance,“ but rather, „I’m a saleswoman, a train driver, a teacher, a car dealer.“ I am my work.

Their identitarian reference to work prevents people from thinking outside the box of capital-ism. As long as they sit in this prison of thought, by the way, it doesn’t matter how much „the people“ have to say. In Switzerland, famous for its referenda, a large majority voted against six weeks of vacation for everyone. That would not exactly have been the transition to a classless society. But the argument was, „More vacation means fewer jobs.“ Grotesque.

Identification with work makes people decide against a better life. Constantly accompanying them is the fear of becoming „worthless“ to the market and falling into the bottomless pit. And yet the conditions seem to them to be natural and without alternative. If they feel something is going wrong in society, they blame individual „culprits“ and „bad policies,“ without giving the structural constraints of the economy a second thought.

If crises occur, they seem to have nothing to do with the rule of labor, commodities, the market and capital. People’s tunnel vision can then quickly mutate into conspiracy world views. They fantasize about dark forces with evil intentions that want to get at them. How great the potential for this is in very different corners of society and that even education and intelligence do not necessarily protect against it is currently demonstrated by the „lateral thinking“ demonstrations.

The conformist rebellion

One can rebel and be conformist at the same time. Not understanding capital, but running up a storm against the consequences of capital-ism, makes that possible. It’s like sitting in a prison you don’t know about. If this is combined with the idea of „guilty bad guys and conspiracies,“ the basis for a conformist rebellion is laid. This demands authoritarian solutions to crises and the elimination of the supposedly guilty. At worst, it sinks into anti-Semitic annihilationism.

Nazi Germany demonstrated that the thought prison of the labor fetish can produce true monsters in times of crisis. Nazism was a mass movement of conformist rebels. Their unconscious and unacknowledged longing for a life without work, while at the same time identifying with their work, was discharged in hatred of those who could afford such a life – be it real or only in the imagination of the rebels. By them, at any rate, they felt deeply insulted and betrayed.

That their hatred struck „the Jews“ was no accident. The history of the Christian Occident is riddled with murderous pogroms against Jews. For almost two thousand years, Christianity branded the Jews as „God-killers.“ They were considered „well poisoners“ and „child murderers.“ Of course, they were also „guilty“ of the plague. In the 12th century, the Church forbade Christians to engage in the „money business“ and assigned it to the Jews, whom it simultaneously prohibited from practicing many professions. This inevitably led to the fact that there were more Jews among bankers than in the average of the total population. The ground was prepared for the equation of „Jew“ and „money,“ a central topos of modern anti-Semitism.

Moreover, the canonization of labor was nowhere as pronounced as in Germany. This, too, had to do with Christianity, and especially with Protestantism, which left similarly clear traces in only a few countries. Martin Luther was not only a work fanatic, but also an ardent Jew-hater. It was no coincidence that the Nazis were big Luther fans. In their minds, too, the two went together seamlessly. A pronounced affirmative reference to „honest work“ was virtually constitutive of the NSDAP’s worldview.

Because of all these historical and substantive continuities, it was obvious that the Jews became the hate objects whose elimination the Nazi Germans desired. In the delusion that had seized most Germans – whether they belonged to „those up there“ or to „those down there“ – Auschwitz was the disposal of „rapacity“ in the name of „honest and cheated labor.“ The perverse motto „work makes you free“ above the gate of Auschwitz had its corollary.

Thanks to the Allies of the Second World War, the Nazi Germans were defeated. Nowadays, most people have „nothing against Jews.“ Nevertheless, anti-Semitism has not disappeared. This also has to do with the fact that it has never really been understood and dealt with. It ferments under the surface of a crisis-ridden society and increasingly dares to come out into the open again, for example at „lateral thinking“ demonstrations.

But even those who do not equate „the guilty“ by whom they feel oppressed with „the Jews“ can find themselves dangerously close to anti-Semitism without being aware of it. Since the financial crisis of 2008, which to this day does not really want to end and continues to take new forms, many feel threatened by „greedy speculators, banksters, locusts“ (and so on), whom they „blame.“ Social criticism is confused with anger at „pack of lies“ and „lying press.“

If there is a lesson to be learned from history, it is this: anti-Semitic exterminationism can spread furiously in times of crisis. In the Reichstag election of May 1928, the NSDAP received 2.6 percent of the vote. Less than 14 years later, in January 1942, the Wannsee Conference organized the „Final Solution to the Jewish Question.“ The monsters of the past can rise again.

Nothing has to remain as it is

We are living in a dangerous time of crisis. There is no certainty about how this will turn out. But there are also things that give hope. One of these is that nowadays there is a reflected critique of capital ism that understands it much better than the common „anti-capitalism“ from the left and the right. But it is unfortunately still too little known. Its dissemination is essential for finding ways out of capital-ism. It begins with the critique of labor and can therefore take a completely different look at things.

The real scandal is not that the enormous increase in productivity we are experiencing does not provide everyone with a job, but the other way around, that despite this increase we are supposed to work more and more and longer and longer. A better, nature and human compatible life with much more space for personal development would have been possible long ago – without capital-ism. (See also Lothar Galow-Bergemann and Ernst Lohoff, Gestohlene Lebenszeit. Why Capitalism Necessitates Renunciation and We Could Work Much Less, in Ernst Lohoff, Norbert Trenkle (eds.), Shutdown. Climate, Corona, and the Necessary Exit from Capitalism, 2020) But you cannot get rid of capital-ism until you really understand it. This is proven by the various failed attempts to overcome it. But there are not only failed attempts. There are also many smart and exciting practical initiatives and projects today that are learning from the mistakes of the past and trying out new ways.

10/3/2022

Taken from, https://www.krisis.org/2022/labor-fetish-and-anti-semitism/. Edited slightly to fix typos.

Marxism
Krisis Group

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Texas Soldiers Are Unionizing After Facing Attacks by a Right-Wing Governor

Jacobin
Steve Early and Suzanne Gordon
2022-05-09
https://jacobinmag.com/2022/05/texas-soldiers-unionizing-right-wing-governor-greg-abbott-tseu-national-guard-organizing/
When a group of Texas workers started discussing job problems and what to do about them a few months ago, their list of complaints would have been familiar to Starbucks baristas, Amazon warehouse staff, or restive young journalists at new and old media outlets. With little notice, their employer changed work schedules and transferred employees […]

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Part One: The Jane Collective: Direct Action Abortion Access Works

anarchistnews.org
thecollective
2022-05-09
https://anarchistnews.org/content/part-one-jane-collective-direct-action-abortion-access-works
from Cool People Who Did Cool Stuff

Margaret talks with Samantha McVey about the more than a hundred women who provided safe, affordable abortion in pre- Roe v Wade Chicago.

https://reprolegaldefensefund.org/

The Repro Legal Defense Fund covers bail and funds strong defenses for people who are investigated, arrested, or prosecuted for self-managed abortion.

https://www.ifwhenhow.org/

If/When/How are lawyers fighting for reproductive justice

https://www.aafront.org/

http://operationsaveabortion.com/

https://digitaldefensefund.org/ddf-guides/abortion-privacy

Tags: margaret killjoypodcastaudioCool People Who Did Cool Stuffabortiondirect actionThe Jane Collective

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“Nature is the marvellous that the surrealist seeks”

anarchistnews.org
anon
2022-05-09
https://anarchistnews.org/content/%E2%80%9Cnature-marvellous-surrealist-seeks%E2%80%9D
From: https://anarchysecessionsubsistence.blogspot.com/

By Shaun Day-Woods

One of the most ubiquitous expressions in surrealist writing is the word ‘marvellous’, a term which harkens back to Andre Breton’s original declaration. In the first Surrealist Manifesto of 1924, the founder of the movement wrote ‘Let us not mince words, the marvellous is always beautiful, anything marvellous is beautiful, in fact only the marvellous is beautiful.’

With this in mind, what does the aphorism “Nature is the marvellous that the surrealist seeks”, from my book “Dancing and Digging, proverbs on freedom and nature,” mean? Most of the adages in the book were intended to be provocative and not have a single correct answer. And I must admit that my own use of the word marvellous, as a surrealist term, might be considered idiosyncratic, or even, a misuse. But let me thread a weird little web that might capture your interest and help you understand the maxim.

The surrealists have typically expressed themselves artistically – in paintings and poetry, etc. And while there are deep political, philosophical and psychoanalytic roots to their explorations, beliefs and experiments, they tend therefore to be largely situated within the art and literary milieus. This makes a lot of sense for a number of reasons. One of them being that surrealism rejects the notion that humans are uniquely and essentially rational beings in a rational cosmos. And what better spaces to look for the non-rational than within artistic ones?

But if Breton wanted to help us escape the prison camp of reason as the defining characteristic of human selfhood, then advocating for a reconnection with a landscape-as-home, for an embrace of the natural world in all its chaotic, convulsive beauty, seems like the best place to start, rather than in the universities and art galleries of cities. Because in my view, and, apparently, in the view of many surrealists, the non-civilized have the easiest and most direct access to the marvellous. Breton believed for instance that the lifeways of 19th century Caribbean peoples led to a natural contact with the extraordinary by virtue of their implicit rejection of rationalist belief systems in favour of a surrealist utopia of a constant and organic immersion of the senses in their magical landscape of occult religion, mystical beings and thriving flora and fauna.

Throughout its history there have been many observations made by surrealists that note how the non-industrialized “colonised”, “the primitive”, etc, lived lives unencumbered by the constraints of bourgeois life, by the cages of rationality and belief in a simplistic cosmology based around monotheism and causality.

Breton’s personal collection included many ethnographic artefacts he considered strange and wondrous originating from cultures outside of modernity and capitalism, for example North American indigenous masks, a small statue from New Guinea, Aboriginal markings on bark parchments and an amulet from the Solomon Islands, all indicative that being embedded in nature leads to cultures that are filled with expressions of the marvellous.

The surrealist of history was an activist wanting to overthrow the regimes of order, obedience and alienation, and the resulting boredom and miserabilism, that rule the lives of the modern citizen, regimes that have sovereignty not only over entire countries, but over cities, neighbourhoods and individual bodies. The subconscious became a source of an unfettered, raw and authentic reality. A single person could use techniques like automatic writing or drawing to access the subconscious and discover a truer, freer aspect of one’s Self and to explore suppressed or latent landscapes that were out of reach from the long repressive arms of the law and morality.

As the overthrow of capitalism, or modernity, became less and less likely, surrealism focused on artistic experimentation and convivial nights among comrades as the means to access the marvellous. Creative processes and art shows, games, experiments, drugs…I’ve personally explored all of these myself, some in excess, as part of my personal tactic of survival and resistance against the police and priests in and out of my head. But what I have rarely come across were exhortations and attempts to not simply withdraw your psyche, for limited time periods, from urban civilization, but to withdraw your body as well. As Breton and others clearly pointed out, the so called primitive, the un-modern, the one who still lives among gods and spirits, who obeys no political authority, who has no banks or landlords or police or bosses, who lives embedded in a habitat, they are the ones who experience the marvellous the easiest and, in fact, seem to be perpetually immersed in the wonderments that the surrealist seeks. Therefore it would make sense if surrealists were more vocal in advocating a withdrawal from city living and its domesticated culture and be fierce advocates of various primitivisms in order to live existences that are filled with the marvellous.

It is my view that the less domesticated we are, the more marvellous we become. Let me rephrase a now famous slogan – “beneath the pavement is the marvellous”. In other words it is in tearing up and destroying cities, with their massified, repressed lives, utterly disconnected from nature, that the marvellous – the spirits, the monsters, the unknowns and the dreamlands will have space in which to return. Cities intrinsically crush and erase the marvellous, not make space for it. In this sense, a rediscovery of our kinship with nature is the easiest path to lives filled with the singular and fantastic, not merely a passing art exhibit, evening with friends or artefacts on our wall, not that this is the surrealist practice or vision, I am speaking here to all of us who reject the precepts of modernity, who seek raw truth and more beauty.

We need to see ourselves as marvels within habitats of marvels, for this is the gift of the cosmos we have been given. Every aspect of nature is a breathtaking wonder. I seek a world in which we delight in the uniqueness of each other and of every iota of the planet we live on, not only of specific creations of human culture. We can move in this direction by withdrawing from civilization’s stunted world and forming unions of imaginative beings embedded in landscapes in which we daily interact with all of its marvels.

I’ve often noted how boring humans seem to think we are compared to other creatures, and yet we are as wondrous as any of the myriad other curious and bizarre beings that populate our landscapes.

Many surrealists have been enamoured with insects, leading one commentator to describe them as “totemic” within Surrealism. This is another example of how nature has always been viewed by surrealists as inherently marvellous and the primary place we should be seeking it. Cities are boring, civilization is boring, work is boring, school is boring…but what the earth has birthed is anything but. Who can deny the awesomeness of bear claws, of the scent of pine needles, the shriek of eaglets, the snake hissing nearby, the flavour of maple syrup…if one seeks a cabinet of curiosities, one need only walk along any shoreline or through any woodland.

Un-domesticating ourselves will lead to our renewed ability to experience what is marvellous about each separate aspect of the planet and cosmos we inhabit…its flora and fauna, its sun and towering mountains, its hurricane funnels…dreams, sexual encounters, psychedelic adventures…the clouds, the stars, the galaxies…even darkness and light and the foggy unknowns in between. Embracing the chaos, with its surprises and mysteries, of undomesticated realms, including our own inner ones, will lead us to lives populated by the marvellous at every turn. Un-domesticating ourselves helps us see the miraculous improbability and singularity of every moment.

Even the marvellous needs a habitat. I speak of nature not as a place that one would seek out in order to temporarily experience the marvellous only to return to the planetary work-machine refreshed, but to destroy the planetary work-machine so that the marvellous can expand, can find new places to take root, can once again be as much a part of daily life as drinking water is. In fact the simple act of drinking water, and the sensation of water itself, can return to us as supernatural experiences.

The marvellous is most easily found where the a-rational resides and in sensual wisdom, by having such deep connections to a habitat that we can commune with its spirits, ghosts, hidden secrets and secret languages; it is accessed by being free to self-create and explore without constraints.

We can resist the tyranny of the belief systems that crush and deny and render extinct the intangible marvels of our landscapes. Let us heed the Surrealist call to demand the impossible, and let us do so by adapting to nature rather than capitalism, and in so doing, make ourselves marvellous, for it is in the realm of the undomesticated and organic where the unfettered spirit of Surrealism flourishes the easiest.

This essay recently appeared in The Oystercatcher

Tags: Green anarchysurrealismSeaweedron sakolskyprimitivism

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Apple Mail Now Blocks Email Trackers

Schneier on Security
Bruce Schneier
2022-05-09
https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2022/05/apple-mail-now-blocks-email-trackers.html
Apple Mail now blocks email trackers by default.

Most email newsletters you get include an invisible “image,” typically a single white pixel, with a unique file name. The server keeps track of every time this “image” is opened and by which IP address. This quirk of internet history means that marketers can track exactly when you open an email and your IP address, which can be used to roughly work out your location.

So, how does Apple Mail stop this? By caching. Apple Mail downloads all images for all emails before you open them. Practically speaking, that means every message downloaded to Apple Mail is marked “read,” regardless of whether you open it. Apples also routes the download through two different proxies, meaning your precise location also can’t be tracked…

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Kevin A. Carson – The Desktop Regulatory State

The Anarchist Library
unknown
2022-05-08
https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/kevin-a-carson-the-desktop-regulatory-state?v=1652041259
Author: Kevin A. Carson
Title: The Desktop Regulatory State
Subtitle: The Countervailing Power of Individuals and Networks
Date: March 2016
Source: Retrieved on 8th April 2022 from kevinacarson.org

Preface
Like every book I’ve written since the first, this book was inspired by ideas I encountered in researching the previous one but was unable to explore and develop as much as I’d have liked within that framework. In writing the material on crisis tendencies of capitalism in Studies in Mutualist Political Economy, the writings by Paul Goodman and Ivan Illich on the hegemony of bureaucratic culture set a train of thought in motion that eventually lead to writing Organization Theory. Researching the chapter on decentralized manufacturing technology in Organization Theory led, in turn, to a stand-alone book on micro-manufacturing (Homebrew Industrial Revolution).

This book, in turn, is the development of ideas on network organization and stigmergy I touched on in Homebrew Industrial Revolution. It applies many of the same ideas in the realm of information that I developed earlier in regard to physical production in that book. It also ties in some of the ideas I discussed in the chapter on labor organization in Organization Theory, like open-mouth sabotage, but in much greater scope.

This book was a much longer time writing than any of my others, and because so much of its content involved ongoing current news I had much greater difficulty in either finding a cutoff point or setting parameters to filter out excessive detail. In the Appendix I wound up deleting a great deal of detail I’d previously incorporated on the activities of the various networked social movements starting with the Arab Spring, and shifted instead to a greater relative focus on the general principles behind the wave of networked movements since the EZLN uprising in 1994. My judgments on the level of detail to preserve were necessarily somewhat arbitrary; whether the result is satisfactory is up to the reader to decide.

This book, in keeping with the spirit of the subject matter, is far more a product of stigmergic organization and the wisdom of crowds than anything I’ve previously written. In an attempt to adhere to Eric Raymond’s principle that “many eyeballs make shallow bugs,” I first posted the roughly eight-month-old draft online at http://desktopregulatorystate.wordpress.com, warts and all, in March 2011. At the time it was four chapters (which have since fissioned into twelve), consisting mostly of placeholder notes in many places and containing some sections entirely blank except for the title. Since then I’ve automatically updated the online text whenever it was edited. I have benefited from many suggestions and tips from those following the progress of the book, including Steve Herrick’s wonderful job formatting the online word processor template for the online text, as well as all the information I get from email discussion lists (particularly the P2P Foundation, C4SS working group and Networked Labor lists), the leads from friends on Twitter, and the blogs and news sites I follow via RSS reader. And many thanks in particular to my friend Gary Chartier at La Sierra University, who has formatted this as well as two of my previous books for print!

1. The Stigmergic Revolution
Several parallel developments are driving a trend toward the growing obsolescence of large, highly capitalized, hierarchical organizations, and the ability of networked individuals with comparatively cheap capital equipment to perform the functions formerly performed by such organizations. They include the drastically reduced cost of capital goods required for informational and material production, as well as drastically reduced transaction costs of coordinating efforts between individuals.

I. Reduced Capital Outlays
For most of the past two hundred years, the trend has been toward increasing capital outlays for most forms of production. The cost of the basic capital equipment required for production—the mass-production factory, the large printing press, the radio or TV station—was the primary justification for the large organization. The economy was dominated by large, hierarchical organizations administering enormous masses of capital. And the astronomical cost of production machinery was also the main justification for the wage system: production machinery was so expensive that only the rich could afford it, and hire others to work it.

In recent decades we’ve seen a reversal of this trend: a shift back from expensive, specialized machinery to inexpensive, general-purpose tools. Although this is true of both material and immaterial production—as attested by the recent revolution in garage-scale CNC machine tools[1]—it was true first and most dramatically in the immaterial sphere.

The desktop computer is the primary item of capital equipment required for entering a growing number of industries, like music, desktop publishing and software design. The desktop computer, supplemented by assorted packages of increasingly che—ap printing or sound editing equipment, is capable of doing what previously required a minimum investment of hundreds of thousands of dollars. In the words of Yochai Benkler: “declining price of computation, communication, and storage have, as a practical matter, placed the material means of information and cultural production in the hands of a significant fraction of the world’s population—on the order of a billion people around the globe.”[2](Of course since that passage was written the proliferation of cheapening smartphones has probably expanded the latter figure to include over half the world’s population.)

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Felipe Corrêa – Organizational Issues Within Anarchism

The Anarchist Library
unknown
2022-05-08
https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/felipe-correa-organizational-issues-within-anarchism?v=1652038217
Author: Felipe Corrêa
Title: Organizational Issues Within Anarchism
Date: 2010
Notes: Original article: “Questões Organizativas do Anarquismo”. Firstly published at Espaço Livre journal, num. 15 (Goiânia, Brazil, 2010). Translated into English by Enrique Guerrero-López.
Source: Retrieved on 7th May 2022 from www.anarkismo.net

INTRODUCTION
The present text aims to discuss, from a theoretical-historical perspective, some organizational issues related to anarchism. It responds to the assertion, constantly repeated, that anarchist ideology or doctrine is essentially spontaneous and contrary to organization. Returning to the debate among anarchists about organization, this article maintains that there are three fundamental positions on the matter: those who are against organization and / or defend informal formations in small groups (anti-organizationism); supporters of organization only at the mass level (syndicalism and communitarianism), and those who point out the need for organization on two levels, the political-ideological and the mass (organizational dualism).

This text delves into the positions of the third current, bringing theoretical elements from Mikhail Bakunin and then presenting a historical case in which the anarchists held, in theory and in practice, that position: the activity of the Federation of Anarchist Communists of Bulgaria (FAKB) between the twenties and forties of the twentieth century.

ANARCHISM: SPONTANEITY AND ANTIORGANIZATIONISM?
Kolpinsky, in his epilogue to the compilation of texts by Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels and Vladimir I. Lenin on anarchism—a work financed by Moscow in the Soviet context to promote the ideas of Marxism-Leninism—claims that anarchism is a “petty-bourgeois” doctrine, “alien to the proletariat”, based on “adventurism”, on “voluntarist concepts” and in “utopian dreams about absolute freedom of the individual”.[1] Besides this, it emphasizes:

Typical of all anarchist currents are the utopian dreams of the creation of a society without a State and without exploitative classes, through a spontaneous rebellion of the masses and the immediate abolition of the power of the State and of all its institutions, and not through the political struggle of the working class, the socialist revolution and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat.[2]

Claims of this kind have been made throughout the history of anarchism, by its adversaries and enemies, and they are still being made, although various recent theoretical and/or historical studies have shown that such claims are not supported by the facts.

Spontaneism[3] and the position against organization are not political-ideological principles of anarchism and, therefore, are not common to all its currents. The organizational question constitutes one of the most relevant debates among anarchists and is at the base of the configuration of the currents of anarchism themselves.

A broad analysis of anarchism in historical and geographical terms allows us to affirm that there is a minority sector opposed to organization and a majority sector advocating it. Anarchists have different conceptions of mass organization, including community and union organization, and different positions about the specific anarchist organization.[4]

THREE ANARCHIST POSITIONS ON ORGANIZATION
Three fundamental positions are evident in the anarchist debate on the organizational question:

Anti-organizationism, which is situated, in general, against organization, at the social, or mass level, and the political-ideological level, specifically anarchist, and defends spontaneism or, at most, organization in informal networks and/or small groups of militants.

Syndicalism and communitarianism, which believe that the organization of anarchists should be created only at the social, or mass level, and that anarchist political organizations would be redundant, and in some cases even dangerous, since popular movements, endowed with revolutionary power, can carry out all the anarchist propositions.

Organizational dualism, which maintains that it is necessary to organize ourselves, at the same time, in mass movements and in political organizations, with a view toward promoting anarchist positions more consistently and effectively within broad based movements.

Anti-organizationism is based on propositions like those of Luigi Galleani, an Italian anarchist militant who believed that a political organization—or, as his countryman Errico Malatesta referred it, an “anarchist party”—necessarily leads to a government-type hierarchy that violates individual freedom:

The party, any party, has its program, which is its own constitution; has its assembly of sections or delegate groups, its parliament; in its governing body or in its sections executives have their own government. Therefore, it is a gradual superimposition of bodies by means of which a real and true hierarchy is imposed between the various levels and those groups that are linked: to discipline, infractions, to the contradictions that are treated with their corresponding punishments, which can be both censorship and expulsion.[5]

Galleani argues that anarchists should associate in loosely organized, almost informal networks, since he believes that organization, especially programmatic, leads to domination, both in the case of anarchist groups and in popular movements in general. For Galleani, “the anarchist movement and the labor movement travel along parallel paths and the geometric constitution of parallel lines is made in such a way that they can never meet or coincide”. Anarchism and the popular movement constitute, for him, different fields; the workers’ organizations are victims of a “blind and partial conservatism” responsible for “establishing an obstacle, often a danger” to anarchist objectives. Anarchists, he maintains, must act through education, propaganda, and violent direct action, without getting involved in organized mass movements.[6]

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The philosopher who warned us about loneliness and totalitarianism

Phenomenology and Existentialism
Sean Illing
2022-05-08
https://www.vox.com/vox-conversations-podcast/23048597/vox-conversations-hannah-arendt-totalitarianism-the-philosophers
Arendt was a political theorist who spent a lot of time thinking about loneliness, which seems like a subject for psychology, not political theory.
We talk about the relationship between loneliness and totalitarianism, what it means to really think, and what happens when the space for genuine political participation disappears.

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A Schematic Anarchism: Rethinking Anarchism Without Adjectives and Synthesis

Proudhon
Shawn P. Wilbur
2022-05-07
https://www.libertarian-labyrinth.org/our-lost-continent/a-schematic-anarchism-rethinking-anarchism-without-adjectives-and-synthesis/
The schematic anarchism introduced over the last few months is at once a comparatively adjectiveless anarchism and a tool for synthesis. It is, however, not an example of anarchism without adjectives or anarchist synthesis in their most familiar senses. Exploring the ways in which those ideas are transformed in the context of this new conceptual toolkit should help clarify the character and uses of the new apparatus. […]

The post A Schematic Anarchism: Rethinking Anarchism Without Adjectives and Synthesis appeared first on The Libertarian Labyrinth.

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Ideal Home: Survival Edition – Suspect

libcom.org
Fozzie
2022-05-07
https://libcom.org/article/ideal-home-survival-edition-suspect

A book about squatting and related issues published by Brixton based Hooligan Press in 1986.

Author

Suspect

Submitted by Fozzie on May 7, 2022

Copied to clipboard

NB: This book contains a lot of practical advice which is probably out of date and legal advice which definitely is.

Alongside the advice there is political commentary, press cuttings, cartoons and other illustrations.

IdealHome.pdf
(22.84 MB)

Hooligan Press
squatting
1980s
Brixton
London

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Your Phone May Soon Replace Many of Your Passwords

Krebs on Security
BrianKrebs
2022-05-07
https://krebsonsecurity.com/2022/05/your-phone-may-soon-replace-many-of-your-passwords/
Apple, Google and Microsoft announced this week they will soon support an approach to authentication that avoids passwords altogether, and instead requires users to merely unlock their smartphones to sign in to websites or online services. Experts say the changes should help defeat many types of phishing attacks and ease the overall password burden on Internet users, but caution that a true passwordless future may still be years away for most websites.

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Ancient Egyptian Gods and Goddesses

Daily Infographic
Lyle Opolentisima
2022-05-07
https://dailyinfographic.com/gods-and-goddesses-of-egypt
Ancient Egypt was a polytheistic society, meaning that people worshipped many gods. The most important of these were the major deities of ancient egypt, who were part of the official Egyptian pantheon. In addition to the major deities, there were also minor deities and lesser goddesses, as well as demigods and demons. Here is a […]

The post Ancient Egyptian Gods and Goddesses first appeared on Daily Infographic.

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Ted Kaczynski – Ted K. Responds to Kevin Tucker

The Anarchist Library
unknown
2022-05-07
https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/ted-kaczynski-ted-k-responds-to-kevin-tucker?v=1651781596
Author: Ted Kaczynski
Title: Ted K. Responds to Kevin Tucker
Date: 2007
Source: Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed #63 https://archive.org/details/anarchy_ajoda_63

Dear Editors:

Concerning Kevin Tucker’s letter to Anarchy (Fall – Winter 2006, pages 72-72): In my extensive correspondence with Kevin, he would never under any circumstances admit that he was wrong about anything. Whenever I pointed out a fact that he found inconvenient, he would manipulate words, assigning eccentric meanings to them in order to make the inconvenient fact go away. Kevin continues to use this trick in his letter to Anarchy. I pointed out examples in foraging (= hunting and gathering) societies of what clearly constitutes competition as that word is normally understood, but Kevin doesn’t want to believe that there was competition in foraging societies, so he changes the meaning of the word, implying that competition isn’t competition unless there is a “conspiracy” or a “grand scheme."

He uses the same gimmick in response to the facts that I cited showing lack of gender equality in foraging societies. Kevin claims that equality is a “legal issue” and that therefore irrelevant to foraging societies. But since when is equality exclusively, or even primarily, a legal issue? Only since Kevin decided to make it so in order to evade the inconvenient truth. Maybe Kevin should explain to John Zerzan, the patriarch of anarchoprimitivism. that the concept of equality is irrelevant to foraging societies, because Zerzan has repeatedly stated that prehistoric foragers had “gender equality"; e.g. in Future Primitive, 1994 edition, page 16, and in an article titled "Whose Future,” in Species Traitor number—published by Kevin Tucker himself.

Kevin claims that gender relations among foragers were “egalitarian." His explanation of what this means is vague enough so that it is difficult to see how it applies in concrete cases, but it seems plausible to describe some foragers, e.g. the Mbuti, as “egalitarian” in Kevin’s sense. It seems much less plausible to apply that term to certain other foragers. E.g. among the Bushmen studied by Richard Lee, girls in their early teens were forcibly married to men much older than themselves. “I cried and cried,” said one such girl, “I ran away again and again." Nancy Bonvillain, Women and Men, second edition, 1998, pp. 21-23.

In a letter to me dated 4/7/03, and in support of his claim that no patriarchy was apparent among the Australian Aborigines, Kevin referred me to A.P. Elkin, The Australian Aborigines, 1964 edition.

Kevin’s choice of authorities is astonishing because Elkin (pp. 132 – 38) reports that Australian women had no freedom to choose their own spouses, that young girls were often forced to marry old men and therefore had to work to provide their aged husbands with food and water, and that on certain ceremonial occasions women were subjected to compulsory sex, of which they sometimes lived in terror.

True, Australian Aboriginal women had means of resistance. but clearly those means were insufficient to prevent the forced marriages, compulsory sex. etc. In our society there is no forced marriage. Rape occurs, but modem women have far more effective means of resistance than Australian women did: They can call the police. If the rapist is caught, he will serve a long prison term. Wife-beaters too can be jailed. But Australian women had no such recourse.

So on what grounds does Kevin claim that Australian Aboriginal society, or any foraging society, was more egalitarian than modern society? Well, he implies that modern women are “persons without agency,” that they don’t “fight back," and that they are “subservient." But I think most modem women would find that description insulting. No such description fits most of the women I know.

Kevin now discounts the evidence from Australians and Eskimos (Inuit) on the grounds that they had dogs and (Kevin claims) “high rates of sedentism or close contact with sedentary societies." This is a technique characteristic of certain anarcho-primitivists. Whenever anyone points to counterexamples that discredit their idealized images of foragers, they say. "Oh those people don’t count because they had dogs" (or because they were in contact with agricultural or pastoral societies or because they were not sufficiently nomadic or whatever). But the Mbuti had dogs, the Bushmen had dogs, and as far as I know all recent foragers (“recent" here means recent enough so that we have eyewitness accounts of them) had dogs, with the exception only of the Tasmanians, the Andamanese. and the Indian of Tierra del Fuego. See Carleton S. Coon. The Hunting Peoples, 1971 edition, p.XVII. And, as far as I know, nearly all foraging societies outside of Australia, Tasmania and the far north of North America either were sedentary, or had been in contact with agricultural or pastoral societies for hundreds of years, or else had been thoroughly ruined by the intrusion of Europeans before anyone got around to studying them. So were are these perfectly pure, highly nomadic, dogless foragers, free of all contact with agriculturalists or pastoralists, on whom the anarcho-primitivists base their theories? I don’t know of any, and Kevin doesn’t name any. As far as I know, all foraging peoples were “impure” in one way or another by the time anyone wrote a detailed description of them, so you can always discount any evidence from recent foraging societies on the ground that they were in some way “impure.” What the anarcho-primitivists do is this: They automatically discount any evidence that conflicts with their theories on the ground that the people from whom the evidence is derived were not perfectly pure, 100% nomadic, dogless foragers, but they uncritically accept any evidence that supports their theories, regardless of how “impure" the foragers in question may have been. When you reason that way you can prove anything you want.

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Love is our mother

Phenomenology and Existentialism
AA Patawaran
2022-05-07
https://mb.com.ph/2022/05/07/love-is-our-mother/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=love-is-our-mother
And other philosophical reflections on motherhood

Aristotle and Socrates
“Mothers are fonder than fathers of their children because they are more certain they are their own.”

Have you ever heard of this Aristotle quote? If so, you might be inclined to think the philosopher had been dismissive of motherhood. You might be right.

In his meditations on friendship in his 10-book Nicomachean Ethics, in which he defined friendship as a sort of virtue, one that was necessary in life, it might appear that Aristotle’s idea of the perfect friendship was almost exclusively between men. But he did think that a mother’s self-sacrifice and unconditional love for her child made the mother-child relationship potentially the highest form of bond between people. To him, even the perfect friendship between two good men, who have so much in common, could only aspire for that kind of relationship. In fact, using that Aristotelian observation, you could argue that, with such an instinct for pure, unquestioning, untiring love, women could make better friends.

Philosophers have always sought the internal drive behind motherhood, trying to explain away such a powerful human impulse. Is it instinct? Is it the DNA? Is it a hormonal predisposition? Is it just a social construct?

To Plato, according to a study of the Phaedo made by Kathryn Rombs, a writer for Mighty Is Her Call, a Catholic mothers’ ministry, “Motherhood is a selfless self-emptying for another, not because the child has earned or deserved it, but simply by the very fact of being the mother’s child. By virtue of existing as her child, she is loved.”

My mother said to me, ‘If you are a soldier, you will become a general. If you are a monk, you will become the Pope.’ Instead, I was a painter, and became Picasso. —Pablo Picasso

Socrates’ empathy for mothers, for a man of his time, was unheard of. His mother Phaenarete, after all, was a midwife that, back in those days in Athens, was an esteemed middle-class profession.

Plato
Following a brush with his mother, the infamously hot-tempered Xanthippe, one of Socrates’ three sons, Lamprocles, became the subject of what we know now as the Socratic method of questioning, by which Socrates tried to influence Lamprocles’ feelings about his mother. In their exchange, according to a retelling by Xenophon as paraphrased by American cognitive-behavioral psychotherapist Donald Roberston, father and son agreed that “being ungrateful to anyone who does you a favor, friend or enemy, would be the height of injustice.”  

It was in this line of thinking that Socrates enumerated the sacrifices of Lamprocles’ mother, including carrying him in her womb for months and risking her own life to give birth to him even as he had yet to do her any favor.

This argument illustrates a principle of both Socratic and Stoic thinking not only toward the faults of a mother but of other people in general, which is to give the good that one does greater regard than the harm one causes, such as the hurtful effects of Xanthippe’s tongue-lashings on both her husband and her sons.

Confucius and Mencius

Incidentally, did you know that Confucianism as “an ethical guide to life and living with strong character,” as the National Geographic has put it, might have been designed by some stretch of imagination by mothers?

Its leading proponents, Confucius, whose father died when he was three, and Mencius, the best-known Confucian philosopher after Confucius himself, grew up in single-parent homes, raised by their mothers alone. Many other Confucian philosophers of later times, such as the brothers Cheng Ho and Cheng Yi, Lü Xizhe, Gu Yanwu, and Wang Tingzhen, were raised similarly, tutored mostly, if not exclusively, by their mothers. Even Chiang Kai-shek, who lost his father when he was eight, considered his widowed mother “the personification of Confucian virtues,” such as loyalty, filial piety, benevolence, affection, trustworthiness, righteousness, peace, and harmony, all of which a good mother would instil in her child.

Friedrich Nietzsche also lost his father when he was very young. He was four. Like Confucius and Mencius, he was raised by a pious mother, Franziska, who also allowed him the luxury of independent thinking. In his childhood, he was a consummate good boy, “the little pastor,” as his neighborhood called him, but he grew up difficult, turning his back on theology, as he pursued philosophy.

Friedrich Nietzsche
Nietzsche’s relationship with his mother became increasingly strained, especially as he began to denounce God, to whom, as to her son, Franziska devoted her entire life after her husband died. At age 38, he said, “I don’t like my mother,” whom he also blamed for his inability to maintain a relationship with the opposite sex. “Everyone carries within himself an image of womanliness derived from his mother,” he explained. “It is this that determines whether, on the whole, he will revere women, or despise them, or remain generally indifferent to them.”

But though their relationship was one of love and hate, there was no shortage of the former in their bond as mother and child. To Nietzsche, the milk of a mother’s love “can so easily turn into bile,” and he so lengthily reflected on such love—the one received from and given to a mother—as some kind of a shackle on the free spirit.  “Usually a mother loves herself in her son more than she loves the son himself,” he would say.

While trying to break away, Nietzsche hurt his mother more and more, despite his love, but when he descended into madness, it was his mother who stayed by his side, caring for him, instead of sending him to an asylum, feeding him, washing him, taking him for walks, and watching him day and night until she died three years before him.

Jean-Paul Sartre
It was the same story for Jean-Paul Sartre, whose father died when he was an infant. His mother Anne-Marie Schweitzer showered him with love and devotion until she married when he was 12. Still, despite what Sartre considered a betrayal, his mother, according to his bibliographer Michel Contat, remained the most important woman in his life. “It’s not Simone de Beauvoir, like people think,” Contat pointed out. “No, no, it was actually Mummy.”

No mother is perfect, but every mother carries the potential to love and to be loved in a way that no philosopher can explain away.  As Rumi said, “We are born of love. Love is our mother.”

Rumi

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What Is Ideology?

Philosophy Talk
unknown
2022-05-06
https://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/what-ideology
Political polarization seems to be deepening, both in the U.S. and around the globe. Some believe that the rise of ideology is to blame for growing polarization. But can increased polarization really be attributed to ideology? What is exactly is ideology, and how is it different from dogma? Is ideology a kind of political or philosophical thinking? And how might our understanding of ideology affect how we practice politics? Josh and Ray ideate with Marius Ostrowski from the European University Institute, author of Ideology (Key Concepts).

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Disputing delirium*

Autonomies
Julius Gavroche
2022-05-06
https://autonomies.org/2022/05/disputing-delirium/
delirium (n.): 1590s, “a disordered state, more or less temporary, of the mind, often occurring during fever or illness,” from Latin delirium “madness,” from deliriare “be crazy, rave,” literally “go off the furrow,” a plowing metaphor, from phrase de lire, from de “off, away” (see de-) + lira “furrow, earth … Continue reading →

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Walter Crane Was a Socialist Visionary Who Illustrated the Triumph of Labor

Anarchism
Madoc Cairns
2022-05-06
https://jacobinmag.com/2022/05/walter-crane-arts-crafts-victorian-britain-socialism/
Walter Crane woke up on a spring morning in 1884. He never slept again. As an artist and illustrator, Crane had drawn inspiration from pre-Raphaelite visions of universal brotherhood; as a political activist, he idolized John Stuart Mill and supported the radical, democratic left of the British Liberal Party. But by 1884, thirty-nine years since […]

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IWW Launches New Organizing Program to Train Workers

Industrial Worker
Adam F. Naughton
2022-05-06
https://industrialworker.org/iww-launches-new-organizing-program-to-train-workers/
As employers continue to use the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to amass record profits, more and more workers are reaching out to labor unions for assistance with organizing their workplaces. For the Industrial Workers of the World, a labor union that trains workers to be organizers, this has meant finding new ways to build capacity for … Continue reading "IWW Launches New Organizing Program to Train Workers"

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The Anarchist and the Egoist in Love

anarchistnews.org
thecollective
2022-05-06
https://anarchistnews.org/content/anarchist-and-egoist-love
from Center for a Stateless Society by Kelly Vee

This essay is part of a C4SS Mutual Exchange Symposium on Anarchism and Egoism

Dedicated to my husband, Cory Massimino.

How can the anarchist’s commitment to the wellbeing of all be reconciled with the egoist’s commitment to the wellbeing of oneself? I suggest reconciliation comes not from politics, nor from religion, nor from markets. The anarchist and the egoist find reconciliation in Love.

Love is a big term. It is no wonder the ancient Greeks had so many words to describe all of the ideas encompassed in just one English word: Eros, or romantic Love, Storge, or familial Love, Philia, or friendly Love, and Agape, or Love for humanity, to name just a few. While each Greek word highlights what is different between each type of Love, what they have in common is far more important. 

Real Love requires that Lovers treat each other as ends in themselves, never as mere means. Love does not and cannot require the subservience of the Lover or the Beloved. Love involves neither subordination nor domination. Egoism and anarchism properly understood are the fullest application of this principle. An anarchist, egoist Love has no gods or masters. It is a Love built on dignity, autonomy, and respect for oneself and others. In the words of Simone de Beauvoir, “Authentic [Love] must be founded on reciprocal recognition of two freedoms; each [Lover] would then experience himself as himself and as the other: neither would abdicate his transcendence, they would not mutilate themselves; together they would both reveal values and ends in the world.” By Loving, we affirm and assert our authentic selves and our most cherished values, while recognizing and upholding the dignity and autonomy of those we Love. 

Love is the fullest expression of our humanity, but it has been tainted and warped by systems of domination that sell subservience and self-negation in the name of “selflessness.” These systems promote a false version of love, which is damaging to all who engage in it. Love is not about coercion and hierarchy but freedom and equality. Love is not about self-negation, but self-actualization. In understanding, resisting, and overcoming the systems which denigrate love, we can discover, create, and uphold True Love.

One system that mangles Love is the patriarchal, often religious, system of control that teaches that marriage is the highest goal of a woman’s life (but not a man’s) and that submission and obedience are admirable “womanly” virtues. Traditional Christian wedding vows often include the bride’s promise not just to “love and cherish” but to “obey” her husband. In Christian theology, woman is taken from the rib of man; she is not her own person, an end in herself. It is no wonder that in her essay, Marriage and Love (1914), anarchist and feminist Emma Goldman contrasted marriage and Love as two polar opposites. To Goldman, Love is freedom, while marriage is dominance. Marriage, an institution controlled by religion and the state, is incompatible with Love. She writes:

Love, the strongest and deepest element in all life, the harbinger of hope, of joy, of ecstasy; [Love], the defier of all laws, of all conventions; [Love], the freest, the most powerful molder of human destiny; how can such an all-compelling force be synonymous with that poor little State and Church-begotten weed, marriage?

Goldman criticized “the idea that a healthy, grown woman, full of life and passion” must subdue her own desires until a man comes along and takes her as his wife. After marriage, the woman is relegated to being a dependent parasite, relying on her husband to meet her needs, incapable of meeting her own. The relationship between husband and wife was more akin to the relationship between master and slave than to a partnership between equals in Love. A dynamic in which one partner’s needs are subservient to the needs of the other is unhealthy for both partners.

Wedding vows that include the promise of the wife’s obedience to the husband may be far less common today than in 1914. However, now as then, “the average girl is told that marriage is her ultimate goal; therefore her training and education must be directed towards that end.” Marriage, in other words, is supposedly what makes women complete people (to the extent they can be under patriarchy). The patriarchal idea of love as a sacrifice of autonomy and individuality persists in popular culture, whether in music or romantic comedies, and even as culture becomes more “woke,” the idea of love as self-sacrifice stubbornly lives on. 

The patriarchal perversion of eros (romantic love) extends to storge (familial love) in common conceptions of motherhood. It starts by glorifying (or denying) the physical sacrifice required by pregnancy and childbirth. Google “childbirth quotes” and you will be greeted by a veritable database of faux-empowerment quotes like, “The wisdom and compassion a woman can intuitively experience in childbirth can make her a source of healing and understanding for other women,” by one Stephen Gaskin, an obvious childbirth expert. While I imagine some inspiration might be helpful when bracing for the epidural, I can’t help but wonder if childbirth would still be so painful if our society didn’t exalt self-sacrificial love. Why are C-Sections looked down upon unless deemed a “medical necessity”? Why do many self-labelled pro-choice activists still seem to think concerns about the physical toll of pregnancy and childbirth aren’t a good enough reason to consider terminating a pregnancy? “A mother’s love endures through all,” we’re told, so how dare we be so selfish? After all, pregnancy and childbirth are the first way mothers get the “opportunity” to demonstrate the great depths of their parental love. Fathers should only be so lucky.

The world’s most famous mother, the Virgin Mary, is an inimitable ideal of motherhood, praised for her obedience and subservience. Mary only matters because of her relationship to those she loves. Without Mary’s loving sacrifice, her son’s even bigger and better loving sacrifice would not be possible. Mary would not dare put her own needs above those of her son, nor even on equal ground. This is the ideal all mothers are supposed to aspire to. A mother or wife who prioritizes her own needs is being selfish and failing in the moral duties required by love. Storge (familial love), we are told, demands physical and psychological self-sacrifice to achieve its highest form.

While self-sacrificial eros and storge are so easily identifiable in patriarchal motherhood and wifedom, feminists are hardly immune to what I call the “love trap.” Care Ethics was developed by feminists such as Carol Gilligan and Nell Noddings to attempt to address some of the patriarchal shortcomings of traditional moral philosophy. In contrast to traditionally masculine models of morality that emphasize justice and abstract duties or obligations, feminist care ethics places utmost importance on caring and relationships. While care ethics properly elevates the traditionally underappreciated “feminine” virtues of compassion and empathy, it falls short by over-emphasizing the relational nature of our moral obligations. In doing so, care ethics inadvertently subjugates individual morality to the needs of others, imposed by external relationships. 

As critics like Puka,1 Card,2 and Davion3 have argued, care ethics can tend to uncritically valorize acts of caring without considering the reciprocal nature of caring and Love or the historical context of caring, such as women caring for men and children to their own detriment and alienation. Care ethics in this sense places care-giver and care-receiver in an unequal relationship where the giver is not an end in herself, but is instead bound by what she can offer the receiver. Rather than incorporating Love into the development of the Self, care ethics relegates the Self to an afterthought. A moral system that places morality outside of the Self, rather than within, is neither truly liberatory nor truly Loving. Care ethics places “feminine” love and care in contrast with “masculine” logic and justice, but when we pause to properly recognize Love as a constitutive element of self-actualization, Love and Logic become united as One.

The social degradation of Love is inextricable from the patriarchy. Love has often been relegated to the “womanly virtues” and therefore, its perversion has historically affected women in the most obvious ways. While this debauched version of love has long been a tool of the patriarchy, it’s likely that Love is trapped in a mutual feedback loop: if women are supposed to be subservient and love is associated with women, of course we will view love as subservience. Our corrupted ideals of love as subservience extend far beyond eros and storge to contaminate the way in which we conceptualize agape, our love for humankind. The greatest self-sacrificer in history was not a woman.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 ESV). As loving as Mary was, her obedient motherly love will never reach the heights of Jesus Christ’s self-sacrificial agape. Christ’s sacrifice is the end-all-be-all of the classic western conception of love, the sacrifice of all sacrifices. There can be no other love so great, so godly. Long before I can remember, I was taught in Sunday School that Christ’s sacrifice was the ultimate expression of love, one that a regular human could only dream of emulating. His sacrifice was a love so powerful that it saved all of humanity. While I could never hope to save all of humanity, I could walk in Christ’s footsteps by becoming a martyr, if not for religion then for love. “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13 ESV).

The Christ concept of universal love was destined to be corrupted. It should come as no surprise that Christianity’s history is bloody. Beyond the promise of an afterlife cheapening life on earth, if God can show his love for humanity by sacrificing his Son, it’s no great leap to think Christians can show their love for God by sacrificing others to his glory. This sentiment was made explicit in Catholic doctrines of just war and holy war. In the 12th century, Bernard of Clairvaux wrote, “When [the knight of Christ] inflicts death, it is to Christ’s profit, and when he suffers death, it is his own gain.” Eight centuries later, George Bernard Shaw articulated just what was so corrupting about this ethos: “Self-sacrifice enables us to sacrifice others without blushing.” Love for oneself is the beginning, not the end, of love for humanity.

While not always in the same way, most of the world’s religions promote some form of this ideal: the individual is worth less than society, and self-sacrifice for the “greater good” will be rewarded in the long-run, often after death. This attitude runs so deeply through our global culture that even as society becomes less religious, our presumptions about love and heroic sacrifice remain insufficiently challenged. After all, Christ is the template for heroism mimicked time and time again in fiction, such as in Harry Potter, The Matrix, Lord of the Rings, Superman, and many more stories. When it comes to real life, the war is no longer a holy crusade but a soldier’s death is still valorized as the ultimate act of heroism, whether or not their death actually benefited anyone. We should’ve long ago heeded Oscar Wilde’s wise words that, “A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it.” 

Self-sacrificial love is pervasively, even inescapably, glamorized as Love’s truest, deepest form. This sickening falsehood is as anti-egoist as can possibly be, but it’s also anti-Love when Love is properly understood. The only way for self-sacrificial love to be mutual is to be mutually destructive. Real Love does not require self-sacrifice. Self-sacrificial love is a zero-sum game at best, but real Love is not zero-sum at all. Real Love is the pinnacle, not the sacrifice, of the Self.

Egoists recognize that as humans, we are utterly incapable of experiencing Being Someone Else. Morality based exclusively on the needs of others is bankrupt, because there is no way for us to exist outside of ourselves. Social, cultural, and financial pressures often make it difficult to truly be one’s self. We often perform authenticity and selfhood for the benefit of others based on their expectations of us. Others do the same, making us all the more alienated from both each other and from our true selves. Over time, this performance becomes difficult to disentangle from reality. We doubt ourselves on a deep epistemological level. The dilemma for the egoist then is to try to parse-out and understand what it means to live authentically as one’s self. How can one affirm and assert the self if the self is lost?

The ineffable beauty of Love starts from intuition and deepens through discovery. In Loving, we become our most authentic selves. In Loving, we discover hidden truths within the ones we Love. In Loving, we find the self we thought was lost. On the selfishness of Love (and sex, which she viewed as a dear expression of Love), egoist Ayn Rand wrote:

Love is blind, they say; sex is impervious to reason and mocks the power of all philosophers. But, in fact, a person’s sexual choice is the result and sum of their fundamental convictions. Tell me what a person finds sexually attractive and I will tell you their entire philosophy of life. Show me the person they sleep with and I will tell you their valuation of themselves. No matter what corruption they’re taught about the virtue of selflessness, sex is the most profoundly selfish of all acts, an act which they cannot perform for any motive but their own enjoyment – just try to think of performing it in a spirit of selfless charity! – an act which is not possible in self-abasement, only in self-exultation, only on the confidence of being desired and being worthy of desire. It is an act that forces them to stand naked in spirit, as well as in body, and accept their real ego as their standard of value. They will always be attracted to the person who reflects their deepest vision of themselves, the person whose surrender permits them to experience – or to fake – a sense of self-esteem … Love is our response to our highest values – and can be nothing else.

In esteeming those we Love, we esteem ourselves. 

Rand’s celebration of selfishness in sex and Love seems to run contrary to the generous, giving nature we commonly attribute to Love. Goldman wrote that Love “gives itself unreservedly, abundantly, completely.” How can one value one’s self and still give unreservedly, abundantly, and completely? Aren’t selfishness and this giving kind of Love inherently incompatible?

Our language is bankrupt. Often, when we talk about “sacrifice” in our relationships, we really mean compromise. As individuals, we are each independent human beings with our own goals, needs, and preferences, so disagreements naturally arise in the context of close relationships. However, Love allows us to expand, deepen, and reconceptualize our values to be in harmony with our Loved ones. We incorporate their well-being into our own and vice versa. The types of compromises required in relationships are not sacrifices at all. Love allows us to appropriately weigh our shared values, including Love, and to consider which of our goals, needs, and preferences are the most important. Love introduces new needs and goals, satisfies others, and renders others irrelevant or unimportant. This rendering is not due to sacrifice or a loss of self, but an extension of self.

Love, compassion, and care for others are inextricable from egoism but they are almost always pitted against each other. In a speech given in 2009, the Dalai Lama stumbled upon this idea, even if he didn’t take it to its full egoist conclusion: “[Love and compassion] are the ultimate source of human happiness, and need for them lies at the very core of our being. . . the practice of compassion is not just a symptom of unrealistic idealism but the most effective way to pursue the best interest of others as well as our own. The more we – as a nation, a group or as individuals – depend upon others, the more it is in our own best interests to ensure their well-being.” While he was right that Love is the ultimate source of human happiness and the need for Love lies at the very core of our being, this need does not come from our dependence on others, which would render it instrumental. Love is a deep psychological craving within each of us and is a constitutive element of the good life. Love is inherently fulfilling and intrinsically valuable. To live authentically for one’s self requires Love. 

Love does “give itself unreservedly, abundantly, and completely,” but what we give is not what we give up. It is in Loving that we not only rediscover our true selves but also reveal our true selves to the world. In Loving, we find parts of ourselves we never knew existed and uncover other parts of ourselves that we have kept buried away for fear of being vulnerable and exposed. It is impossible to experience real authentic Love and not to discover and uncover the self. Through Loving, we re-affirm and re-assert our most authentic selves.

Experiencing this kind of real authentic Love is only possible when Lovers respect the autonomy and dignity of one another, recognizing each other as ends in themselves. In intimate relationships, controlling, manipulative or otherwise mutually-destructive behaviors rear their head when these values aren’t sufficiently prioritized. In the public sphere, these same behaviors and attitudes rear their ugly head through paternalistic policies like drug prohibition or “democracy-spreading” through so-called “just” wars. These behaviors and attitudes are barriers to the authenticity required for self-discovery and self-affirmation. As Shaw also said, “If you begin by sacrificing yourself to those you love, you will end by hating those to whom you have sacrificed yourself.”

Fortunately, Love may be the only thing that can really break these barriers down. Performing Love doesn’t work, especially in the context of close relationships. When we truly Love someone, we are forced to take a hard look at ourselves and our values and parse through the inconsistencies. Love forces us to recognize when we aren’t living up to our values or when our values aren’t what we thought they were. Intimate Love offers a window into the life and mind of another in a way that nothing else does. Intimate Love expands our capacity for understanding others; it broadens and percolates into all aspects of our lives. When we find the true meaning of Eros and Storge, we find Agape as well. When we truly Love humanity, we recognize each and every human being as an end, never a mere means. Authentic Love and Authentic Life are two sides of the same coin.

In Love, the overlap between egoism and anarchism not only becomes obvious, it becomes inevitable. Anarchist freedom, dignity, and autonomy are inseparable from egoist actualization, self-discovery, and authenticity. Real Love makes apparent that these values are not in conflict; they require one another to truly flourish. Love that is not both anarchist and egoist is hardly Love at all.

My experience of Loving and being Loved has been one of shared growth, self-discovery, and self-affirmation. We Love each other because we want to. We enrich each other’s lives and support each other’s projects selfishly, not selflessly. When one of us wins, we both win. The compromises and choices we make together are not a sacrifice at all; they are an affirmation of our shared values that we have found together and in each other and they make us stronger. Our Love is a shared authenticity, a shared opening, and a shared actualization. In experiencing this kind of Love, I have come to understand myself better than I thought possible. I have come to understand others better than I thought possible. In Loving and being Loved, I’ve been able to give more of myself than I ever have before, and I haven’t given up a thing. I believe that’s mutual. Our Love is an Egoism of Two.

 

Puka, Bill. “The Liberation of Caring: A Different Voice for Gilligan’s ‘Different Voice’.” Hypatia 55.1 (1990): 58-82.
Card, Claudia. “Caring and Evil.” Hypatia 5.1 (1990) 101-8.
Davion, Victoria. “Autonomy, Integrity, and Care” Social Theory and Practice 19.2 (1993) 161-82.
Tags: loveegoismspooks

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The origins of class society

In Defence of Marxism
unknown
2022-05-06
http://www.marxist.com/the-origins-of-class-society.htm

For hundreds of thousands of years human beings inhabited the Earth without private property, classes, states, or any of the other elements that make up class society as we know it. And yet we are taught that class division is a natural and universal condition of human existence. As Josh Holroyd and Laurie O’Connel explain in this article first published in the IMT’s theoretical journal, In Defence of Marxism, modern archaeology has produced a plethora of evidence attesting to the fact that the division of society into classes is a relatively recent development in human history. And just as it came into existence, Marxists understand it must eventually go out of existence. Click here to subscribe and get the latest issue of In Defence of Marxism magazine.

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Corporate Involvement in International Cybersecurity Treaties

Schneier on Security
Bruce Schneier
2022-05-06
https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2022/05/corporate-involvement-in-international-cybersecurity-treaties.html
The Paris Call for Trust and Stability in Cyberspace is an initiative launched by French President Emmanuel Macron during the 2018 UNESCO’s Internet Governance Forum. It’s an attempt by the world’s governments to come together and create a set of international norms and standards for a reliable, trustworthy, safe, and secure Internet. It’s not an international treaty, but it does impose obligations on the signatories. It’s a major milestone for global Internet security and safety.

Corporate interests are all over this initiative, sponsoring and managing different parts of the process. As part of the Call, the French company Cigref and the Russian company Kaspersky chaired …

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Karl Marx: Student and Teacher of Technology

Proudhon
Daniel Falcone
2022-05-06
https://www.counterpunch.org/2022/05/06/karl-marx-student-and-teacher-of-technology/
The recent victory by the Amazon Labor Union on Staten Island, NY is a hopeful and inspiring indication that workplace organization is still possible, even in an age of isolated and unorganized workers within an ever-expanding e-retail sector. Just through looking at their methods of communication, the working people that made the union possible were More

The post Karl Marx: Student and Teacher of Technology appeared first on CounterPunch.org.

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Conference: Law, Authoritarianism, Revolution

Critical Legal Thinking
Admin
2022-05-05
https://criticallegalthinking.com/2022/05/05/conference-law-authoritarianism-revolution/
  Nomos Centre Inaugural Conference, Kraków, 13-14 May 2022. Programme (with Zoom Links) available to download here. We live in troubled times: old forms, albeit waning, still hold sway over our world, but the new forms are still in the dark. The liberal hegemony is no longer able to sustain the ideology of capitalist tranquil […]

The post Conference: Law, Authoritarianism, Revolution appeared first on Critical Legal Thinking.

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Call for an arabic network of anarchists

anarchistnews.org
thecollective
2022-05-05
https://anarchistnews.org/content/call-arabic-network-anarchists
from anarab2022.noblogs.org

Dear comrades,

We are a forming group of anarchists and libertarians and would like hereby to share this call with you:

We call upon our comrades, individuals and collectives, for an arabic-speaking network of arab and/or arabic speaking anarchists and libertarians and/or living in north Africa, the arabian peninsula and surrounding regions.

We announce our will to build this network in order to strengthen solidarity, mutual aid, support, discussion and exchange criticism, news, knowledge, skills and experiences, theoretical and practical.

We ask you to contact us and share this call with whom it may concern.

Thanks, greetings and solidarity.

anarab2022Ⓐsolidaris.me

Tags: arabictranslationslanguagenorth Africaarabian peninsula

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Microbes That Cause Flesh Eating Disease [Infographic]

Best Infographics
cyrus
2022-05-05
https://www.best-infographics.com/microbes-that-cause-flesh-eating-disease/
Flesh eating microbes are quite scary to think about. They can enter your body through surgical wounds, burns, insect bites, and punctured internal organs. This infographic from  NY Requirements takes a look at the microbes that cause flesh eating disease and how deadly they are:

The post Microbes That Cause Flesh Eating Disease [Infographic] appeared first on Best Infographics.

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Jewish summer camp veterans are opening a camp for trans kids. It was filled within weeks.

The Forward
BCohen
2022-05-05
https://www.jta.org/2022/05/05/culture/these-trans-rights-activists-lifelong-jewish-summer-camp-friends-opening-lgbtq-camp
(JTA) — Shira Berkowitz was building a career in Jewish camping when a camp told them not to return. “It got around that I was that was queer, and that that wasn’t appropriate for me to be a program director for girls,” Berkowitz said. “And that was really harmful to my identity. I went back…

The post Jewish summer camp veterans are opening a camp for trans kids. It was filled within weeks. appeared first on The Forward.

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Episode 412: Is Lacan an Enemy of the Workers? (ft. Andreas W. and Stefan H.)

Diet Soap Media
Douglas Lain
2022-05-04
https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/dietsoap/episodes/2022-05-04T08_15_27-07_00
How did Lacan naturalize the failure of Marxism? What is critical about the Frankfurt School? Doug speaks with Andreas and Stefan about the Frankfurt School and about how the Left takes up psychoanalysis in its understanding of freedom and socialism.

GCAS Belfast Seminar “The Lack of Desire and the Desire of Lack: The Body, Conversion, and Art”
https://gcascollege.ie/belfast

Support Us on Patreon
https://patreon.com/dietsoap

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New Sophisticated Malware

Schneier on Security
Bruce Schneier
2022-05-04
https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2022/05/new-sophisticated-malware.html
Mandiant is reporting on a new botnet.

The group, which security firm Mandiant is calling UNC3524, has spent the past 18 months burrowing into victims’ networks with unusual stealth. In cases where the group is ejected, it wastes no time reinfecting the victim environment and picking up where things left off. There are many keys to its stealth, including:

The use of a unique backdoor Mandiant calls Quietexit, which runs on load balancers, wireless access point controllers, and other types of IoT devices that don’t support antivirus or endpoint detection. This makes detection through traditional means difficult.

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Haymarket, and the Last Address of August Spies

Anarchism
Ellen Taylor
2022-05-04
https://www.counterpunch.org/2022/05/04/haymarket-and-the-last-address-of-august-spies/
Haymarket, and the Last Address of August Spies It is October , 1887, Chicago. Through the courthouse windows August Spies, defendant, watches The great leaves slicing down, down, through the still air And ponders hanging. He is used to making speeches: knows how to drag words over the friction of truth Until it sparks, sweeps More

The post Haymarket, and the Last Address of August Spies appeared first on CounterPunch.org.

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Alfredo M. Bonanno – Beyond Workerism Beyond Syndicalism

The Anarchist Library
unknown
2022-05-03
https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/alfredo-m-bonanno-beyond-workerism-beyond-syndicalism?v=1651351653
Author: Alfredo M. Bonanno
Title: Beyond Workerism Beyond Syndicalism
Source: From the magazine Insurrection

The end of syndicalism corresponds to the end of workerism. For us it is also the end of the quantitive illusion of the party and the specific organization of synthesis. The revolt of tomorrow must look for new roads. Trade unionism is in its decline. In good as in evil with this structural form of struggle an era is disappearing, a model and a future world seen in terms of an improved and corrected reproduction of the old one. We are moving towards new and profound transformations. In the productive structure, in the social structure. Methods of struggle, perspectives, even short term projects are also transforming.

In an expanding industrial society the trade union moves from instrument of struggle to instrument supporting the productive structure itself. Revolutionary syndicalism has also played its part: pushing the most combative workers forward but, at the same time, pushing them backwards in terms of capacity to see the future society or the creative needs of the revolution. Everything remained parceled up within the factory dimension. Workerism is not just common to authoritarian communism. Singling out privileged areas of the class clash is still today one of the most deep-rooted habits that it is difficult to lose.

The end of trade-unionism therefore. We have been saying so for fifteen years now. At one time this caused criticism and amazement, especially when we included anarcho-syndicalism in our critique. We are more easily accepted today. Basically, who does not criticize the trade unions today? No one, or almost no one. But the connection is overlooked. Our criticism of trade unionism was also criticism of the “quantitive” method that has all the characteristics of the party in embryo. It was also a critique of the specific organizations of synthesis. It was also a critique of class respectability borrowed from the bourgeoisie and filtered through the cliché of so-called proletarian morals. All that cannot be ignored. If many comrades agree with us today in our now traditional critique of trade-unionism those who share a view of all the consequences that it gives rise to are but a few.

We can only intervene in the world of production using means that do not place themselves in the quantitive perspective. They cannot therefore claim to have specific anarchist organizations behind them working on the hypothesis of revolutionary synthesis. This leads us to a different method of intervention, that of building factory “nucleii” or zonal “nucleii” which limit themselves to keeping in contact with a specific anarchist structure, and are exclusively based on affinity. It is from the relationship between the base nucleus and specific anarchist structure that a new model of revolutionary struggle emerges to attack the structures of capital and the State through recourse to insurrectional methods.

This allows for a better following of the profound transformations that are taking place in the productive structures. The factory is about to disappear, new productive organizations are taking its place, based mainly on automation. The workers of yesterday will become partially integrated into a supporting situation or simply into a situation of social security in the short-term, survival in the long one. New forms of work will appear on the horizon. Already the classical workers’ front no longer exists. Like-wise the trade union as is obvious. At least it no longer exists in the form in which we have known until now. It has become a firm like any other.

A network of increasingly different relations, all under the banner of participation, pluralism, democracy, etc, will spread over society bridling almost all the forces of subversion. The extreme aspects of the revolutionary project will be systematically criminalized. But the struggle will take new roads, will filter towards a thousand new subterranean channels emerging in a hundred thousand explosions of rage and destruction with new and incomprehensible symbology.

As anarchists we must be careful, we are carriers of an often heavy mortgage from the past, not to remain distanced from a phenomenon that we end up not understanding and whose violence could one fine day even scare us, and in the first case we must be careful to develop our analysis in full.

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Ekin Erkan – Navigating Agamben’s Cinematic Paradox via Laruellean Immanence

The Anarchist Library
unknown
2022-05-03
https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/ekin-erkan-navigating-agamben-s-cinematic-paradox-via-laruellean-immanence?v=1651614692
Author: Ekin Erkan
Title: Navigating Agamben’s Cinematic Paradox via Laruellean Immanence
Subtitle: A Hacktivist Case Study
Date: 2019
Source: http://mediacommons.org/fieldguide/content/navigating-agamben’s-cinematic-paradox-laruellean-immanence-hacktivist-cast-study

Walter Benjamin’s 1936 essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility” advances the claim that, for the first time in history, the “function” of the work of art is political, as evinced by cinema. For Benjamin, film is the "first art form whose artistic character is entirely determined by its reproducibility" (1936, 109) and Giorgio Agamben, a contemporary Benjaminian philosopher, further elucidates on this “function,” positing that cinema essentially ranks with ethics and politics, not solely with aesthetics, and, consequently, is “proximate” to philosophy itself. Whereas Deleuze’s Cinema books posed cinema as enacting time in a pure state, Agamben, in his "Notes on Gesture," (1992) breaches from Deleuze’s spatial and cartographic theory of cinema (Conley 2007, 9), drawing from Guy Debord’s “détournement via montage” (2003, 29), Simone Weil’s “decreation” (1947, 32) and, perhaps most implicitly, from Benjamin. Agamben’s political theory of cinema, motivated by cinema’s “stoppage and repetition of time,” (1977) is directly informed by Benjamin’s: “optical unconscious,” (1931) appropriation of Brecht’s “social Gestus,” (1973) and the relationship between technological reproducibility and aura (1946). Agamben’s gesture fastens cinema’s aesthetics not only to ethics and politics, but to the "ontological consistency of human experience," or to a way of being. (2014, 23).

While many film theorists declare Agamben as, in equal part, a Deleuzian film theorist, I pose that, through this Benjaminian lens, we can parse distinctive cinematic questions that Agamben exclusively pursues – in particular, cinema’s potential as a repurposive counter-dispositif to combat dominant forms via critique. This is not to suggest that parallels do not exist between Agamben and Deleuze’s approaches: as Meillassoux has noted, Deleuze’s logic of representation (also known as "correlationism") develops an "image of thought that attempts to overcome the binary separation” between matter and spirit, mind and body. (2008, 5). Furthermore, Agamben is unequivocally astricted to the Bergson-bound Deleuzian tradition of "untimeliness," whereby cinema extricates "the fallacious psychological distinction between image as psychic reality and movement as physical reality." (2000, 55). Furthermore, both Agamben and Deleuze are committed to a notion of "cinema-thought," as Jean-Luc Nancy terms it (1996, 10), or haecceities of Oneness – a commitment to cinema-as-immanence, or indexing thought, rather than mediating it via hermetic historicism. However, Agamben’s concept of gesture, as a prelinguistic mode of communication, suspends the symbolic, replacing taxonomy and, therefore, offers a sublime breach: "Gesture is the communication of a potential to be communicated." (1993, 156). In other words, Agamben’s gesture is something of an “enigmatic signifier” (Leplanche 1987, 126), insofar as it is impregnated with a primitive and unconscious meaning.

Thus, drawing from gesture via Agamben and cinema’s social capacity by way of Benjamin, I implore a central question: what does cinema look like when it enacts philosophy? Benjamin’s 1936 text is in coalition with his publication on Max Weber titled "Capitalism as Religion," (1921) whereby Benjamin enjoins the logic of religion with the cultic "logic of capitalism.” Agamben, carrying the Benjaminian torch, proclaims that capitalism as a "pure cult religion" can solely be countered via “profanation.” (Agamben 2005). For Agamben, profanation is the return of objects of social praxis to “free use,” or a messianic ideal of the generic, non-exclusive community. (2007, 58). Agamben, in associating cinema with the uniquely "gestural" prowess to enact political "profanation," does not proffer cinema with destructive capability but, in his Heideggerrean reading, offers cinema-as-pharmakon: Agamben inculcates cinema with the means to both expose the emptiness of the apparatus, “capturing life,” and, simultaneously, with converting it to spectacle, thereby "hacking spectacle" by pulling the “emergency brake on the religion of late capitalism." (Baumbach 2018, 131).

With the decay of Benjaminian aura via cinema’s reproducibility, ever-exacerbated in the so-called “digital turn,” “Web 2.0,” and the era of “post-cinema,” it is critical that we conceive of Agamben’s gesture, diacritically opposes to auratic terms, as a practice that can “de-auraticize," or, in this instance, "make cinema profane" by dispelling it of its cult value. While Adorno and Horkhemier decried the culture industry for exacerbating the auratic terms of mass art (a distinct, newfound aura of detachment), Benjamin neutralized such romantic concepts associated with aura. Thus, as Baumbach notes, a conflict is born – "the weapon of the star," or spectacle, which seeks to restore aura to a means of expression (cinema) is "in some sense, contrary to it." (158). The solution to Agamben’s “cinematic paradox” that I hereby propose to proffer is that of a truly "profane" cinema, or an immanent "cinema of the anonymous," which is a political cinema both infinitely reproducible and, simultaneously, liquidated of the “star.” Thus, in order to examine this politically profane potentiality we need to look at specific gestures or operations, meaning that we must turn to a case study.

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The Sex Pistols Rage Against “Terribly Boring” England in Extended Pistol Trailer: Watch

Anarchism
Carys Anderson
2022-05-03
https://consequence.net/2022/05/the-sex-pistols-rage-against-terribly-boring-england-in-extended-pistol-trailer-watch/
The punk pioneers choose chaos over music in Danny Boyle’s FX series, which hits Hulu May 31st.

The Sex Pistols Rage Against “Terribly Boring” England in Extended Pistol Trailer: Watch

Carys Anderson

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Reddit’s antiwork pushes for general strike to protest possible Roe v. Wade ruling

Anarchism
Jacob Seitz
2022-05-03
https://www.dailydot.com/debug/reddit-antiwork-calls-for-roe-wade-strike/

The leaked Roe v. Wade draft decision has reignited a debate about striking on the popular r/antiwork subreddit. A post about a Roe general strike has garnered 8,000 upvotes and over 900 comments, with some users trying to organize a strike or protest and others arguing against the idea.

https://www.reddit.com/r/antiwork/comments/uhfipg/roe_v_wade_general_strike/

The post, from user u/Ceeweedsoop, calls for redditors to organize and schedule a general strike to protest the potential upcoming Roe v. Wade repeal. The post attracted widespread attention in the hours after it went up.

“Every man and woman who is outraged by this insulting and sickening advance in tyranny should stand up and walk out,” the post said. “Our unity is our only hope and defense. If we don’t take to the streets now we can be certain that if forced birth becomes law many more injustices and indignities will not be far behind. It will be a direct assault on the working class and have no impact on the wealthy. We have to do this together. We’re all we’ve got left.”

But a mod for the group, u/Synerco, pinned a comment to the post calling general strikes organized online “unproductive.”

“The planned overturning of Roe vs Wade is a judicial atrocity, and I’m well familiar with the impulse to do something, anything, to prevent it,” the comment said. “However, we can’t let our justified rage impede us from strategizing with a clear mind.”

Other users were mixed on the calls to protest. In a series of comments centering around local organizing versus a general strike, one user pointed out the hypocrisy in some redditors’ statements.

“Yall need to stop calling for ‘general strikes’ on reddit and actually work with local orgs. A general strike is not something that just happens,” u/DuceGiharm wrote. “Join DSA, CPUSA, PSL, a union, an anarchist mutual aid group, a jail abolition organization. Anything. Get organized.”

Other redditors are suggesting a strike that starts on Mother Day, which is Sunday, May 8. Some users disagreed, arguing the strike should start on a Monday for maximum financial effect.

“If a strike begins on a Sunday, such as has been suggested, that means it STARTS on that day,” u/wanderingmanimal wrote. “It doesn’t END on that day – it can take several days or weeks or months. It is not convenient to strike, sorry. Just have to put that out there since people are saying, ‘but that’s on Sunday, we should do it on a Monday’ – I mean, do they think that it’s one day and we win? Come on.”

Antiwork exploded over the Great Resignation, gaining 900,000 subscribers in 2021 alone. The subbreddit was originally a place for leftist anti-work ideology, but soon became a broader tent for left-wing discussions of workplace activism and labor rights. The subreddit has been involved in several strike movements, some more successful than others. Antiwork has led boycotts of Black Friday and actions against various brands. The most notable organizing from the subreddit was in December of last year, when users sent in fake applications to Kellogg’s after it laid off 1,400 striking employees.

The post Reddit’s antiwork pushes for general strike to protest possible Roe v. Wade ruling appeared first on The Daily Dot.

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PayPal Has Begun Quietly Shuttering Left-Wing Media Accounts

Jacobin
Branko Marcetic
2022-05-03
https://jacobinmag.com/2022/05/paypal-independent-media-journalism-censorship-tech/
Over the past few days, several independent news outlets and journalists have had their PayPal accounts abruptly canceled and their funds frozen by the company for unspecified offenses. These outlets also happened to have dissented in various ways from official orthodoxy on the Ukraine war. Since the Russian invasion, a series of extreme, wartime-like information-control […]

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5+ million people march on May Day in Cuba, a country of 11 million

Liberation News – The Newspaper of the Party for Socialism and Liberation
Liberation Staff
2022-05-02
https://www.liberationnews.org/5-million-people-march-on-may-day-in-cuba-a-country-of-11-million/
Led by the slogan, “Cuba Works and Lives,” Havana’s 2022 May Day parade was attended by more than 700,000 workers and students from across Havana, demonstrating both a joyful celebration and triumphant victory of the Cuban Revolution. 

The post 5+ million people march on May Day in Cuba, a country of 11 million appeared first on Liberation News.

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Value and Shine

Phenomenology and Existentialism
larvalsubjects
2022-05-02
https://larvalsubjects.wordpress.com/2022/05/01/value-and-shine/
I remain in the pre-philosophical attitude. The aim here is the resist the urge to theorize, to explain, to cite, but just take note of experience. As a result, I’m doing a poor version of phenomenology. That must be bracketed as well. This is doomed to failure as theorization and what one has read will […]

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Introducing: Cool People Who Did Cool Stuff

Behind the Bastards
unknown
2022-05-01
https://omny.fm/shows/behind-the-bastards/introducing-cool-people-who-did-cool-stuff
Hi, Behind the Bastards fans! Cool People Who Did Cool Stuff is a weekly podcast exploring all the complex stories of resistance that offer inspiration for us today–all the Cool People Who Did Cool Stuff.
About Cool People Who Did Cool Stuff: This weekly podcast dives into history to drag up the wildest rebels, the most beautiful revolts, and all the people who long to be—and fight to be—free. It explores complex stories of resistance that offer lessons and inspiration for us today, focusing on the ensemble casts that make up each act of history. That is to say, this podcast focuses on Cool People Who Did Cool Stuff.
See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

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My Anti-Cull Philosophy part 2

anarchistnews.org
thecollective
2022-05-01
https://anarchistnews.org/content/my-anti-cull-philosophy-part-2
[This is being published in an upcoming pamphlet with the first section, through Forged Books.]

Last night I woke up at 3am, full of thoughts that I am going to seek to communicate here, as a second part to my My Anti-Cull Philosophy. Part of my intention for writing this in this way goes with plans for the first part to go in a collection, with some anti-totalitarian poetry. Unlike the first part, this section has one key idea of focus – the link between cull ideology and totalitarianism. 

I consider rebellion against totalitarianism to be the key quality of ontological anarchy, as for me ontological anarchy starts with the positive affirmation that authority doesn’t exist. This in many ways differentiates ontological anarchy from the politics of anarchism, which often surmounts to the negative task of constructing totalitarian totalities, in ways that fit an “anti-authoritarian” ideology. This is not suggesting that no similar desires are shared, such as desiring voluntary association, mutual aid, resisting repression apparatus and so on. Anarchism is not the focus of this piece though – totalitarianism is – so I say this only to affirm that I am discussing totalitarianism in a way that includes anarchism, for the most part, within the totality. 

So, what do I mean by totalitarianism? My feelings regarding totalitarianism largely mirror those Quinn described in his excellent book Ishmael. With this, there are two key aspects to totalitarianism. The first of these is the assertion of knowing the right way to live and knowing that that ought to be the only way to live, justifying coercive measures to get others to live how you want them to live. The second aspect follows from the first, as it is the assumed knowledge of who should be allowed to live and who must die. Another area that I agree with Quinn on, which I feel brings together capitalism, socialism, monarchism, liberalism, fascism and anarchism, to be a description of one singular machine, which I feel is fair to simply call “this culture” (but prefer the name Moloch) is that this culture is simply totalitarian agriculture. 

So the first aspect of totalitarianism here is that the one right way to live, which all ought to live under, is totalitarian agriculture. The second aspect is that those who don’t conform to this lifestyle, who rebel or differentiate, should be annihilated – annihilation being the central activity of totalitarianism. 

That the negative/negating practice of annihilation is central to totalitarianism is obvious when considering well known death camps, such as the Nazis or communist gulags. When expanded to include non-humans, the state of ecological and specicidal annihilation to feed the relentless consumption of the agricultural civilisation I am calling Moloch is clearly an effort in totalitarianism. So, I feel that, when looking at this culture, with feral eyes and a rewilded mind, it can only be seen as a death camp. Witnessing the annihilation of wild animals, the continuing onslaught of dehabitation for the Cause of urbanisation/architecture/development, amidst this “camp”, this temporary totalitarian zone, that generally goes by the name of Britain, I am revolted. 

How this relates to the culling of badgers, or any other target of culling, is simply that culling is a mode of annihilation. All totalitarian projects of death-production are efforts in selective-slaughtering, which is what culling is. Culling actualises the second aspect of totalitarianism, the knowledge of who should be allowed to live or die. According to advocates of the cull Cause, badgers ought to die, in the same way that, according to advocates of the Nazi Cause, my Jewish family should die, as should I – disgusting moralism. According to badger cull advocates, the one right way to live is totalitarian agriculture, so badgers, who do not conform to the systems of totalitarian agriculture, ought to die, for contradicting the systems narratives – more disgusting moralism. When conservationists seek to “manage wildlife”, though culling wild animal populations, the Cause that justifies the annihilation always falls back to “preventing their population interfering with the narratives of totalitarian agriculture”, in essence – there might be reasons placed between this and the act, but it remains, as I see it, the foundational justification for conservationist culling efforts. 

Culling is the segregation and eradication of undesirables, whether they be badgers, pigeons, boars, rats, ruddy ducks, deer, or whoever else is considered undesirable for the totality – I feel to note how obviously similar this is to efforts in ethnic cleansing. I am horrified by cull ideology, as I am horrified by efforts in systemic slaughter. That any living being is designated a position of “undesirable” revolts me, as I feel inclined towards pan-erotic yes-saying to life. But it isn’t just that a specific individual is being considered undesirable and so worthy of death, which I would be less horrified by – though still feel revolted by the idea that anyone knows who ought to die. The claim within cull ideology is that all individuals who agro-industrialists, conservationists and other cull advocates stereotype as being members of undesirable groups, are justifiable targets for annihilation, as they don’t serve the Cause of totalitarian agriculture, of feeding Moloch. 

How do I feel to rebel against cull-culture, against the Moloch machine of industrial slaughter, against totalitarian efforts in annihilation? For me, it begins with affirming, celebrating and caring for that which totalitarianism seeks to feed on first; the individual, the singular, the unique, difference, the ego, the living being, the non-conformist, the endling (which all are, whence we’ve destroyed the collectivism of species being, upon which speciesism is founded upon). This is not done as some Cause, as in seeking to effect so as to produce the right way that things ought to be, but rather as will-to-power/live as striving to Affect, in the same way that an individual will seek to affect another who they see as hurt and wish to help, as they feel love for them. 

I have come to describe the activities/activism that I practice as non-localisable localism, but when attending a reading group recently, after I was asked how I feel about the idea of “dropping out” – to which I responded that I can’t claim to have “dropped out” – it was put to me that my non-localisable localism seems very much to be “dropping in”. I thoroughly enjoyed this feedback and have thought about it frequently since attending the group. I do feel as if “drop-in practice” fits my anti-cull direct-action activities, as well as other direct actions I engage in. Dropping in is different from one of the main popular leftist type activist actions, of occupy and occupying. Occupying strikes me as being a form of tiny-temporary-totalitarian-zone forming, which seeks to territorialise an area, through encampment, demonstration, marches, etc., in the service of the Cause. How dropping in differs is that the process involves no territorialisation or propertarian claims of being the rightful owner of an area. Dropping in is about being-there, being-with, caring for individuals, as seeking to Affect, not seeking to Cause. One of the qualities of this practice of caring for living beings, which I feel to mention, is that it is a form of preservationism, seeking to empower will-to-life, rather than attempt to manage or make “sustainable” abusive narratives and relationships. Examples of dropping in include doing sett checks, offering homeless individuals a drink or some food, engaging in rewilding as guerrilla-gardening and returning to care for the area (without seeking to turn the living individuals into a mode of productivity), checking in on neighbours, and other similar examples. Dropping in is not salvation and is not a fix, but it is an approach to caring for other individuals, amidst the horrors of Moloch culture! 

There’s a part of me that would love to believe in saving badgers from the cull, or any other living being experiencing abuse through cull practices. Defence and care, through rebellion, feel like all I can honestly offer. I live in a badger cull zone, not far from the boundary of another badger cull zone. I feel affirming that these temporary totalitarian zones are temporary and will eventually dissipate into nothingness. I celebrate that culling is not succeeding in annihilating badgers, as their populations are being recorded as increasing – another example of how totalitarianism is a failure. Affirmation and celebration feel absurd, given how dire the environmental situation is, as mass-extinction/Moloch culture continues its revolting projects of annihilation. But I still feel to affirm and celebrate where life is. Where culls are, I feel to rebel. 

I feel that the primal bedrock of anti-cull philosophy is life affirmation, yes-saying to life, as a form of active positivity. I feel that this positivity is actively actualised through all forms of challenge to cull practices and narratives. The phrase “respect existence or expect resistance” nicely sums this up. That this is a positivist philosophy makes sense, given how cull practice is a negative practice of annihilation – basically an effort in dialectics. This differentiation between negativity and positivity strikes me as one of the basic differences between conservationism and preservationism. Conservationism, as a mode of eco-ethic and as a practice, is often one of annihilation, through culling and other forms of “wildlife management” – conservationism also exists, basically, entirely for civilisation/Leviathan/Moloch, as a mode of conservatism regarding “natural resources”. The positivity of preservationist praxis is intensely differentiated from this, due to preservationist actions not being supportive of productivity, not being oriented towards industry, “sustainable” or otherwise, and being pursued out of a desire for wildlife/primal-anarchy. The basic point I am trying to communicate here is that the anti-cull rebellion, as a form of active positivity, is preservationist praxis. 

Something I feel to make clear at this point, given the emphasis on positivity that I have thus far brought, is this; positivity is not optimism. As I use the terms, positivity/positivism and optimism are extremely different experiences and ideas. Optimism, in my eyes, is bound to meliorism and the life-renouncing techno-progressivist ideology, which is at the core of civilisation/Leviathan/Moloch, asserting that through enlightenment, interference, management, coercion, construction, annihilation, progress, time, collective-Cause-narratives and productivity, the world can be improved – that civilisation’s optimism has succeeded only in producing global warming and mass extinction is horrifying. Positivity, as I mean it, is ecologically endarkening, politically-and-cosmically-pessimistic, a mode of destruction (in the sense of creation/life being a process of destruction/de-struction/de-construction), actualises mad and absurd affirmations, is individual/egoistical affectivity as well as egoist/individualist as a practice of active Affection, and is presentist/immediatist. Whilst optimists seek to renounce the world and transform life according to their designs and choreographies, positivity (as I mean it) affirms life, with all the horror and joy that includes, whilst caring for the living. 

Another point I wish to make clear, given how aspects of what has been written here could be misconstrued as “merely conceptual”; all of this is about activities physically enacted, to resist cull practices. This is not about “armchair activism/theorising” or constructing theories. That this is to some degree a piece of writing on ontology doesn’t mean that this is about abstract or esoteric ideas, that have no direct meaning or applicability. Ontology is about Being and Being, in my experience, is embodied/physical, with ontological-anarchy being a physically-embodied practice of anarchy. Take the practice of care as an example; care, as many possible physically embodied activities, is ontologically a form of positive affirmation.

I don’t know what this essay will do to help resist the badger cull, or challenge other culls. As I write this, it is not the badger cull season and I have not been to check setts for a while. I want for cull-culture and totalitarian agriculture to no longer abuse living beings. I want for captured, caged and repressed individuals to experience wildlife/wild-Being, primal/ontological anarchy. 

This has been written as an act of eco-revolt, as I am revolted by culls. Rebellion against the cull is resistance against totalitarian agriculture. I feel that being alive and yes-saying to life, assenting to life, is individualist/egoist, non-conformity, rebellion, refusal, resistance, involution and destruction, in this collectivist totalitarian death camp of Moloch worshippers. 

For wild revolt against the cull.

Against wildlife management. 

Preservationism as eco-anarchist praxis. 

My love to the living!

Tags: julian langeranti-civferaleco-anarchistontological anarchy

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Sara Heinämaa, Mirja Hartimo, Ilpo Hirvonen (Eds.): Contemporary Phenomenologies of Normativity, Routledge, 2022

Phenomenological Reviews
Phenomenological Reviews
2022-04-30
http://reviews.ophen.org/2022/04/30/sara-heinamaa-mirja-hartimo-ilpo-hirvonen-eds-contemporary-phenomenologies-normativity/

Сообщение Sara Heinämaa, Mirja Hartimo, Ilpo Hirvonen (Eds.): Contemporary Phenomenologies of Normativity, Routledge, 2022 появились сначала на Phenomenological Reviews.

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What Is Class-Struggle Unionism?

Jacobin
Joe Burns
2022-04-29
https://jacobinmag.com/2022/04/class-struggle-unionism-business-labor-movement/
It can’t be said enough times: to build a better world, we must rebuild the labor movement. But it’s not enough to just organize unions; we also need unions that fight the boss rather than cozy up to them. We need class-struggle unionism. Class-struggle unionism is based on a very simple concept: that workers create […]

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IndieWire, “‘The Wobblies’ Restored: Revolutionary 1979 Labor Union Doc Will Inspire a New Generation of Exploited Workers”

Agency
Lilias Adie
2022-04-29
https://www.anarchistagency.com/in-the-news/indiewire-the-wobblies-restored-revolutionary-1979-labor-union-doc-will-inspire-a-new-generation-of-exploited-workers/
Stewart Bird and Deborah Shaffer’s portrait of America’s most radical labor organization is an urgent reminder of what unions make possible. By Susannah Gruder,…

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IWOC-Milwaukee Hosts Online Discussion on Mental Illness and Imprisonment

Industrial Worker
Robert Thibault
2022-04-29
https://industrialworker.org/iwoc-milwaukee-hosts-online-discussion-on-mental-illness-and-imprisonment/
Lack of support for mental health and insufficient treatment opportunities for the incarcerated people who need them is a known problem in Wisconsin and across the United States. According to a 2019 report by Edward Lyon in Prison Legal News: “In Wisconsin, state prison officials estimated in their budget request for 2019-21 that 41 percent … Continue reading "IWOC-Milwaukee Hosts Online Discussion on Mental Illness and Imprisonment"

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Radical Left-Wing Science Fiction

Anarchism
Eve Ottenberg
2022-04-29
https://www.counterpunch.org/2022/04/29/radical-left-wing-science-fiction/
Despite its boys’ club origins, science fiction long exhibited a leftist streak. Even in the early 1950s, the heyday of white masculine conquest of space and battle with multi-legged monsters and nefarious aliens, there lurked at the margins of the genre alternate views on human forays into the future. And of course, with predecessors like More

The post Radical Left-Wing Science Fiction appeared first on CounterPunch.org.

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s2e23_L0WL1F3_by_dawn’s_early_light_mov

The L0WL1F3 Podcast
unknown
2022-04-28
https://rss.com/podcasts/l0wl1f3podcast/468946/
This ep, Hexen sticks around to talk about the 1990 made-for-HBO movie By Dawn’s Early Light. Come for the Cold War dread, stay for the most OP way to down a pair of interceptors in cinema.
Hit us up here:
patreon.com/neondystopia
https://www.neondystopia.com/
https://mixlr.com/coinops-mcgillicutty
https://discord.gg/M6fGZERb7Z
l0wl1f3crapshop.com

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Educating the Silicon Citizen: Literature, Philosophy, and the Case for Slow Tech

Phenomenology and Existentialism
Ana Ilievska
2022-04-28
https://arcade.stanford.edu/blogs/educating-silicon-citizen-literature-philosophy-and-case-slow-tech

Tags: 
technology, Comparative Literature, philosophy, ethics, Education

Presumably, it has never been a good time for the Humanities. Perhaps because it is simply in the nature of the discipline to find itself perpetually in crisis, lagging behind the times, dragging its leaden feet made out of indelible words, asking for more and more time in a civilization perpetually in a rush. It is constantly on the edge of a precipice, but we cannot deny that, while it is awkwardly balancing itself on the edge, it does enjoy magnificent views. After all, our field does not thrive on security, on solid facts, on controlled experiments with measurable outcomes. Rather, it follows the works and tribulations of that most fickle of earthly species that gives the discipline its name, the human. And like their namesake, the Humanities are subjective, slow, and terribly inconvenient. Yet without this nuisance that, at universities, usually comes in the form of compulsory survey courses, “fun” but “useless” writing assignments, and endless reading lists, higher education would become quite an uncanny affair not unlike Olimpia, one of the first humanoid automata in Western literature, who “might be called beautiful if her eyes were not so completely lifeless.”1

No doubt, an institution with little emphasis on the Humanities would still produce an excellent, reliable, intellectual workforce sprinkled with a genius or two: the hoodie-wearing Silicon Citizen who eats bottled food, exercises regularly, has a considerable Twitter following, reads book summaries on Blinkist (“big ideas in small packages,” the company’s slogan goes), creates start-ups, and is obsessed with optimization, design, high-impact entrepreneurship, and that concept “blitzscaling” that smacks of inflated globalization and fascist regimes.2 As a response to the evolution of these inconspicuous but powerful technologists and their mindset, Rob Reich, Mehran Sahami, and Jeremy M. Weinstein set out in their System Error (2021) to create a roadmap for the education of “a new generation of civic-minded technologists and policy makers."3 For years they have been teaching one of the most popular ethics courses for computer scientists and engineers at Stanford University, CS 182 “Ethics, Public Policy, and Technological Change.” In this extraordinary course that attracts about 300 undergraduates per run, students are introduced to some concepts by philosophers John Milton, Martin Heidegger (through Hubert Dreyfus), Michel Foucault, and John Rawls. They read brief excerpts alongside papers on technology and public policy, diversity, and computer science. Moreover, students read computer science papers alongside and through such concepts as “utilitarianism,” “justice,” “liberty,” and “diversity,” presented in such a way as to capture the short attention span of students who at any moment might drop out of Stanford and start their own company. A call for more government regulation of technologists emerges as key take-away from the book as well as the course by the three Stanford professors. Unsurprisingly, except for one short story by Ursula K. Le Guin on the CS 182 syllabus, literature plays no role in Reich, Sahami, and Weinstein’s mission. And while their mission is noble, it is indeed questionable what philosophy can do for a multitude of 300 students who will cursorily look thorough Foucault’s notoriously dense Discipline and Punish (1975), never to return to it again.

Another publication by a Stanford professor, Dev Patnaik’s Wired to Care (2009), similarly attempts to shape the minds of Silicon Citizens by introducing empathy as driving force behind product design and the workplace.4 “Companies, and indeed organizations of all kinds," he argues "prosper when they tap into a power that everyone already has: the ability to reach outside ourselves and connect with other people” (6). This because “having an emphatic connection to the world around you can reveal huge opportunities that everyone else was missing” (143). Patnaik teaches another very popular course at Stanford, ME 216 “Product Design: Needfinding,” that each year has a “corporate sponsor that pays for the right to have fifty of America’s best and brightest try to solve one of its pressing business needs” (152). As noble as Patnaik’s idea of empathy might sound, it smacks of monetization and, as in Reich, Sahami, and Weinstein’s project, it reduces the term to a business strategy based on keywords and the generation of wealth for companies. Such an approach is quite problematic. And although their publications and courses do make some positive difference in the education of the Silicon Citizen, a critique of their work is also necessary.

Patnaik’s project, too, does not take literature into consideration. It has an anecdotal structure where the examples to be emulated are such companies as Starbucks, Disney, Mercedes, and Harley-Davidson, and capitalist CEOs such as Lou Gerstner, Joe Rohde, and Nina Planck. The book very much reads like a tale straight out of medieval Britain and King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table. Gerstner came to save IBM and he “broke up dysfunctional fiefdoms, slashed operating costs, and streamlined decision making” (32). The Silicon Citizen clearly suffers from a chronic hero-worship illness while claiming to thrive on tradition-breaking and on shunning of authorities. Words as “faster,” “competitors,” “courage,” “risk,” “new,” “outperform,” and above all “growth,” compose Patnaik’s book but also the basic vocabulary of the Silicon Citizen. Empathy for your client will allow you to make a better product and outperform your competitors. 

Furthermore, “needfinding” sounds a lot more like need-making. Rather than finding solutions to existing problems, in Adrian Daub’s words, tech companies “end up reconfiguring your ideals in order to justify their business model."5 Problems are solved that aren’t worth solving. Or, rather than solving existing problems, new problems are created but only ones that can be solved by those who created them. As Aimé Césaire wrote in 1950, “a civilization that proves incapable of solving the problems it creates is a decadent civilization.”6 Too often, venture capitalists invest in projects that benefit the few. But Silicon Valley’s facilities are maintained by the invisible and unrecognized labor of a vast number of immigrant, Hispanic, and Black bodies.7 Isolation and loneliness prevail in a networking culture populated by some of the world’s brightest minds. Basic not-for-profit human behaviors and how to monetize them are taught to students at one of the most prestigious universities in the world—values that people should have learned in kindergarten: “how to spend time with people, learn about their lives, and then make better products and businesses as a result” (42). This might sound like a local story, but it is one that has global implications. And it is a story that has been cleverly crafted in such a way as to convince the audiences that everything they know about the world and history cannot possibly be used to understand such a story. Just look, marvel, and imitate. This, I dare say, is a form of epistemological cruelty, ultimately begging the question, in the words of Boris Pahor, Slovenian novelist and concentration camp survivor: “When will the human race be organized—and who will organize it?—so that kindness and not cruelty can be realized?”8

Yet the Silicon Citizen prevails, the founder-worship persists, companies such as Facebook, Google, and Amazon continue as prime examples in new publications on technology: it suffices to open Patnaik’s but also regrettably Reich, Sahami, and Weinstein’s monograph and there emerges already on the first page that Machiavellian technique of instructing the prince through the notable examples of past rulers. In current publications, instead of Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar, the examples are Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, and Peter Thiel. As Daub has aptly pointed out, what is painfully old is repackaged as new to “deprive the public of the analytical tools” pertaining to the critical approach to the problems created by the tech-world, and to further “disenfranchise all of the people with a long tradition of analyzing these problems—whether they’re experts, activists, academics, union organizers, journalists, or politicians” (5). Students without a doubt benefit greatly from their courses that include lectures by star computer scientists, CEOs, and policy makers. But should we stop there?

From reading these publications and from my own observations as a recent denizen of Silicon Valley and lecturer in the Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages at Stanford, it is obvious that there is an urgent need for recalibration. This is perhaps what Nicole Wong, the former deputy chief technology officer (CTO) of the United States, had in mind when she called for a “slow food” movement in technology.9 How would this “slow tech” movement look? How can we make the Humanities and literature relevant in this movement and in the education of technologists to avoid the blitzscaling of thought and human interactions? More specifically, I am interested in how we can leverage the ideas and analytical tools of literary fiction to a generation weaned in a culture of facts, summaries, catchphrases, and the optimization mindset. As Karel Čapek, the Czech playwright who popularized the word “robot” with his Rossum’s Universal Robots (1920), wrote: “it’s better to lay a single brick than to draw up plans that are too great.”10

From my neck of the academic woods, I believe that the following three ideas are key in the elaboration of a slow movement in technology: the idea of judgment, the idea of moderation, and the idea of love. There is an urgent need for the practice of judgment11 especially now that Big Tech blatantly disenfranchises humanistic thought by claiming that no previous analytical tools or traditions can possibly be used to understand its products and strategies.11 The type of ethics envisioned by Reich, Sahami, and Weinstein to counteract Big Tech’s strategies of intellectual disenfranchisement overlaps and can be trained through the practice of moderation (misura), or temperance, and limit.12 Finally, the “emphatic connection to the world” that Patnaik promotes as driving force behind product design and successful companies is a kind of training of citizens “to love” through literature and the arts.13 For our purposes, all three ideas have been respectively elaborated within a contemporary context by scholars as D. N. Rodowick, Franco Cassano, and Martha C. Nussbaum. I am greatly indebted to these thinkers who have shaped my pedagogy and research. However, given the space constraints of this piece, in what follows I will focus solely on the idea of judgment.

What is judgment? What does literature have to do with judgment? And how is judgment relevant to the education of the 21st century technocitizen?14 For one, the practice of judgment takes time and involves communal effort. Judgment ideally is the product of slow thought and reflection. As Rodowick defines it, “judgment is a quotidian practice that is reflexively exercised whenever we fail to find an overarching concept or rule to guide experience of whatever kind or quality” (vxi). Where laws—whether moral, religious, or societal—provide no definite pronouncements, we are asked to exercise our judgment. Furthermore, the practice of judgment is not so much concerned with reason, but with an “affirmation of our freedom to remake in community our experience and understanding of the world" (Ibid). Such a practice is intersubjective and “brings individuals into communities” in order to “give coherence and meaning to human experience" (xvii). In other words, the practice of judgment does not take place in isolation but insofar as we can test our opinions against those of others. Thinking is individual, judgment communal. Both must converge for the advancement of knowledge and the continuous reevaluation of humanity. For where thinking lacks, witch-hunts prevail; and where judgment is absent, dictatorships are born. The lack of both is a holocaust. Today, the practice of judgment is of utmost importance especially in the area of technology where policy and laws notoriously lag behind.

If we were living in a direct democracy, we could all gather on the city square and chat, provoke one another, and polish our concepts. Alas, in our times this is quite impossible. And it is wrong to assume that online platforms are a viable replacement for the city square. Online, there is no accountability, no nuance, nor tolerance for boredom which thought seems to require. It is one thing to critique someone’s thoughts in presence; an entirely other thing to write a nasty comment and immediately disappear into the comfort and shelter of one’s own home. It is then unsurprising that one of the few remaining sacred spots where judgment can be practiced is the classroom.15

Here is an example: In my “Literature and Technology” class that I’ve taught at the University of Chicago and at Stanford, I usually assign 19th/early 20th century novels that students either do not know or do not usually associate with technology or machines. My goal in doing so is to challenge students to think about technology in broader terms than those outlined in science fiction and fantasy, but also within academic disciplines that have nonfictional narratives as primary sources and main output. One book that I like to assign is Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchio (1883). Here are the topics that the reading and discussion of this novel prompts in the classroom: Animism and what it means to be alive or dead; consciousness; intelligence; the mind-body dualism; the Turing test; ethics; nonhuman agents; human-machine interactions; embodied intelligence; artificial intelligence; artificial life; the concept of humanity and who and what counts as partaking in it or not; speech and voice recognition; education; machine learning; evolution; robots; wireless technologies. A scientific paper on each of these topics might provide students with immediate, verifiable, and applicable answers. But nothing hones thinking, the art of conversation, and judgment as the act of sitting around in a classroom, listening to one’s peers’ interpretations, expressing one’s own, and then collectively exploring the nuances of each of the aforementioned problems. The role of the instructor in this context, as Rodowick writes, lies in “helping others bring forth whatever thoughts and opinions they are capable of bearing and communicating.”16 Thinking and judging are then political acts, i.e., acts shared and exercised in public.17

Furthermore, each time we as individuals, as scholars, or representatives of a generation or an era reread Pinocchio, the novel is renewed and becomes a source of renewable energy for the spirit. As Massimo Riva writes, “Collodi did not write his masterpiece with technology in mind. Yet [Pinocchio] can indeed be read as a response to technological change and its effects on our shifting idea of the ‘human.’”18 Like the wireless puppet and its story, the human too is a “constantly self-renewing, perpetually coming-of age” entity “which likes to play with its own ever-more sophisticated technological toys, engaged in reverse-engineering its own nature.”19 Reading is slow. It requires a certain positioning of the body, a retreat from the public, a deep focus on another person’s argument, a return to the page, and then a confrontation with a peer, a public discussion that then leads to the practice of judgment. Reading a novel is even slower because it takes one read to just have a sense of the general plot and idea of a novel; it takes two to take notice of its form and reconstruct its creative process; it takes three reads to start engaging critically with it and perhaps introduce a paper or two as aid; but it is only after the fourth reading, plenty of collective discussions, and a significant amount of thinking, that deep-judgment is formed. After the fifth reading, usually one understands that one hasn’t understood anything and then we go back and read it again. That is a form of engaging in slow technology: the laborious construction, reconstruction, and public performance of techniques of thought, argument, and understanding. Such a practice equips us with the necessary analytical tools to tackle change and to be able to evaluate proposals and new technologies for their coherence, viability, and ethical implications.

I encourage students and scholars to contribute and keep contributing to this conversation with proposals (legible to the general audience) from but not limited to Black, Ethnic, and Indigenous Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Decoloniality, Cultural Studies, and from every corner of the literary world. We need a plan, a roadmap, if we want the future to be navigable; if, as Dante wrote 800 years ago, we don’t want “to live [our] lives as brutes / but be followers of worth and knowledge.”20

 

 

 

1. E.T.A. Hoffmann, “The Sandman,” in Tales of Hoffmann, ed. and transl. by R.J. Hollingdale, pp.85-125 (London: Penguin, 2004), p.116.
2. Reid Hoffmann in an interview with Tim Sullivan: “Blitzscaling is what you do when you need to grow really, really quickly. It’s the science and art of rapidly building out a company to serve a large and usually global market, with the goal of becoming the first mover at scale. This is high-impact entrepreneurship. These kinds of companies always create a lot of the jobs and industries of the future. For example, Amazon….” In Tom Sullivan, “Blitzscaling: The chaotic, sometimes grueling path to high-growth, high-impact entrepreneurship,” Harvard Business Review (April 2016), https://hbr.org/2016/04/blitzscaling, last accessed 13 April 2022.
3. Rob Reich, Mehran Sahami, and Jeremy M. Weinstein, System Error: Where Big Tech Went Wrong and How We Can Reboot (New York: HarperCollins, 2021, p. 251).
4. Dev Patnaik, Wired to Care: How Companies Prosper When They Create Widespread Empathy (New Jersey: FT Press, 2009), with Peter Mortensen.
5. Adrian Daub, What Tech Calls Thinking: An Inquiry into the Intellectual Bedrock of Silicon Valley (New York: FSG, 2020, p. 4).
6. Aimé Césaire, 1950, Discourse on Colonialism, transl. by Joan Pinkham (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2000)
7.  Chris Benner and Kyle Neering, “Tech’s Invisible Workforce: A Closer Look at the ‘Invisible’ Subcontracting Trend in Silicon Valley,” March 29, 2016: https://www.wpusa.org/research/techs-invisible-workforce/, last accessed on 19 April 2022. I thank my student Luca Messarra for bringing this report to my attention.
8. Boris Pahor, 1967, Necropolis, transl. by Michael Biggins (Edinburgh: Canongate, 2020).
9. See for instance, Eric Johnson, “Is It Time for a ‘Slow’ Movement on the Internet?” Vox: Recode, September 12, 2018: https://www.vox.com/2018/9/12/17848368/nicole-wong-cto-google-twitter-slow-food-tech-internet-congress-regulation-kara-swisher-podcast, last accessed 19 April 2022.
10. Karel Čapek, 1920, R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots), transl. by Claudia Novack (New York: Penguin, 2004), 34.
11. a. b. For my conception of judgment as outlined in the thought of the philosopher Hannah Arendt, see David N. Rodowick, An Education in Judgment: Hannah Arendt and the Humanities (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2021), pp. xvi-xvii.
12. For the concept of moderation or (in Italian) misura I am indebted to the thought of Albert Camus and, above all, to Franco Cassano’s “southern thought.” See Cassano, 1996, Il pensiero meridiano (Bari: Laterza, 2005), transl. by Norma Bouchard and Valerio Ferme as Southern Thought and Other Essays on the Mediterranean (New York: Fordham University Press, 2012), p. l: “The idea of ‘moderation’ alludes in fact to a criterion of equilibrium that rescues thought from the mythology of progress. […] This behavior [of the West] reveals a true passion for excess, while moderation presupposes that none of the extremes be considered absolutely positive or absolutely negative.” The lesson here is of misura not as a banal “happy medium,” but as a “complex and courageous construction that seeks to save the multiplicity of life forms, giving back to each, with a single act, its value and completeness.” (Cassano, xxxii).
13. See Martha C. Nussbaum, Political Emotions: Why Love Matters for Justice (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press at Harvard UP, 2013). Nussbaum argues that “all of the core emotions that sustain a decent society have their roots in, or are forms of, love—by which I mean intense attachments to things outside the control of our will.” The political cultivation of this emotion will allow us “to see the uneven and often unlovely destiny of human beings in the world with humor, tenderness, and delight, rather than with absolutist rage for an impossible sort of perfection.” (15)
14. By “tech citizen” I mean any individual inhabiting a given community and engaging with technological devices and virtual networks on a daily basis. At the extreme point of the tech spectrum is the Silicon Citizen.
15. Ibid., xvii: “an education in judgment, whether in aesthetic, cultural, or other domains, is also a political force that is as local as the classroom where the skills practiced through conversations and disagreements about art, philosophy, and other areas of humanistic concern can be applied to many other domains of decision and action.”
16. Rodowick, 14
17.  For an excellent, more informal but expert conversation on the topic of thinking, I recommend Prof. Robert Pogue Harrison’s conversation with Prof. Markus Gabriel within the podcast Entitled Opinions, episode on “Thought and Perception” from April 1st 2022: https://entitledopinions.stanford.edu/thought-and-perception-markus-gabriel
18. Massimo Riva, “Beyond the Mechanical Body: Digital Pinocchio,” in Pinocchio, Puppets and Modernity: The Mechanical Body, edited by Katia Pizzi, 201-214 (New York: Routledge, 2012), 201f.
19.  Ibid., 208f.
20. Dante, Inferno (XXVI, 119-20): “fatti non foste a viver come bruti, / ma per seguir virtute e canoscenza.” Tr. Mandelbaum. Ibid., 208f. Dante, Inferno (XXVI, 119-20): “fatti non foste a viver come bruti, / ma per seguir virtute e canoscenza.” Tr. Mandelbaum.

Graphic by Sheena Lai; image by Daniel Friedman.

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A Life in Transit: ‘What You Can Get Is Set by How Far You Are Prepared to Go’

Tim Schermerhorn
2022-04-28
https://labornotes.org/2022/04/life-transit-what-you-can-get-set-how-far-you-are-prepared-go
Tim Schermerhorn is a Black socialist, lifelong political activist, Labor Notes board member, and retired militant New York City transit worker. An active member and reform activist in Transport Workers Local 100 for 33 years, he ran for union president in 1997 and almost won, but fraud narrowly denied him victory. In these excerpts from a forthcoming memoir, he describes what shaped his activism and lessons for a new generation. –Eds.