Ah, the sweet summer months are upon us again, and you, dear anarchist, are fretting as to how you will corral ten of your fellow comrades into a park for the open-air Deleuze reading group you've spent the winter dreaming of, ceaselessly spinning your desiring machines in quiet futility as the months fall away.
But though the sun shines, and grass covers the slopes of the nearest park in æstival splendour, none will heed your call! "What to do?" you worry, hands wringing nervously. "Surely we can't simply read Desert for the fifteenth time..."
But lo! like a bullet loosed from the hand cannon of Malverde himself, an answer appears. From the forges of our InDesign workspace, a contender for your nascent reading group has emerged:
Collecting together some of our favourite pieces from the publication Black Seed, Sever's three texts mobilize a critique of Community, Ritual, and Self-Sufficiency, diving deep into the heart of what it means to exist together, and widening the scope of consideration beyond the thunderous Now-Time of so much anarchist writing.
Check it out, we have the pdf's up on the site: https://underhilldistro.tumblr.comTags: zineblack seedmontrealcategory: Projects
via Freedom News
On Tuesday, two people were arrested in A Coruña in relation to the events that occurred during the eviction of A Insumisa social centre. The arrests follow the social centre eviction conducted in late May when the local police turned up at the door, and were met with locals gathered outside to defend the space. During the eviction there have been police charges that have resulted in injuries. The police also used tear gas.
One of the arrestees was released without charges while the other was remanded in custody accused of causing disorder, assault and inciting violence. The prosecution claims that she hit a cop with a flag during the charge the police made against the squatters. In that brutal police attack, carried out with extendable truncheons and pepper spray, the municipal police injured dozens of people, with one needing nine stitches on their head. After the brutal eviction, the local municipality allegedly awarded the police with a pay rise.
The person in police custody will not be released on bail until at least Monday. In the worst case scenario, she is facing up to 15 years in prison. The police is currently looking for three other individuals they allege committed crimes during the eviction.
Yesterday, the local activists held a solidarity rally in front of the court. The bigger protest is planned for tomorrow evening.
Photo and source: A las BarricadasTags: spainA Insumisaanarchists in troublecategory: International
MACHI CELESTINO CORDOVA TO HIS REWE*, PRISONERS OF THE SOCIAL WAR TO THE STREET, PUNKY MAURY PRESENT
We claim responsibility for the incendiary attack against the route 426 Transantiago bus that took place this Friday, June 1st around 21:00 at the intersection of Matucan and Romero streets in Central Station commune.
We call for expanding the constant attack against the bastard institutions and services of the State.
We are in solidarity with the conflict that is developing in the south of the territories of so-called Chile and Argentina, we embrace the dignified resistance of the Mapuche people.
LET ACTIVE SOLIDARITY MULTIPLY!!
ANARCHIST PRISONERS HELD IN THE DUNGEONS OF CAPITAL PRESENT!
NOT A MINUTE OF SILENCE, A WHOLE LIFE OF COMBAT!
*Note from Mpalothia: Celestino Cordova is an imprisoned Mapuche Machi (a Mapuche shaman / healer) who is currently on hunger strike demanding leave to visit his Rewe (sacred altar)Tags: Chilesantiagoproperty destructioncategory: Actions
It can be safely assumed that around the year 2011, we've seen a worldwide momentum of anarchist insurgency. Perhaps we could talk about a 4-years period, or maybe even 7 or 8, that started with the Greek insurgency in December 2008, which might have opened a temporary rupture in the hardening fabric of social reality, unleashing waves of forces from Hell (in the Jungian sense of course!) upon the stagnant, grey, totalitarian liberal-democratic order of the Millenium, the Forteress Europe, and America's War on Terror.
Turmoil has spread at a time where the global capitalist establishments had reached a level of cohesion and unity unseen for about a hundred years. There was a G20 at some point... remember? Then a cop car was burned for all the world to see. The first real actual riot à la Greek happened in the streets of the biggest business urban center of over-pacified Canada. Around 2011 in some parts of Canada and the U.S., some serious anarcho insurgency was taking shape, as more globally we've seen the hey days of anarcho-insurgent ogarnizations like the CCF-FAI.
You had a revolt in Iran, the Arab Spring, wildcat strikes in the south of the African continent, factory occupations in Chinese industrial cities, MEND's Rambo war on big oil exploitation in Nigeria, Somalian piracy, radical subversion unleashed up against the Russian regime, the much derided/despised/missed Occupy movement, insurrectos going actually insurrecto in the U.S., then a huge student strike in Quebec where many "outside agitators" came over there to experiment a bit of social warfare, and yes there was a really big anarchy fest at the ZAD... like THE squat eviction party of the decade (and the last), in the middle of the countryside in France.
To me, all these uprisings have shown that, contrary to a widespread pre-2008 belief in the State's paramount inexorability, of the Police State made into a God, it was still possible to challenge, subvert or negate the power of the State, especially on the public place. That anarchy was still alive and well, somewhere outside of our reinforced bubbles. That you just had to get there. And it all looked neat and fresh. It was a time to remember, tell our grand kids maybe (though you shouldn't have kids. It's really a bad idea, and not at all needed); despite the let down that followed...
2012 did indeed happen! But instead of world-changing catastrophes, big space rock crashing, tidal waves swallowing everything, or a nukular war, we appear to have went to the wrong alternate universe; everything in society that had to go just STAYED, or crept back in, worse and more resilient than before... as the movement of revolt just gradually evaporated, leaving us with the spectacles of our past insurrections to be analyzed by West Coast anarchist outlets.
What happened was otherwise. A subjuguation, a liquidation of entire uprisings through the cheap old tricks of democratic politics and their statecraft. And NATO troops remained in Afghanistan no matter what. Fascism -may it be White or Islamic- just kept getting bigger and deadlier. Billionaires Club kept growing as proles been working overtime to pay the owners of their plaster boxes and to eat over-inflated shit. None of the insurrections "worked", save their own specific, local goals when there were. We've had a few interesting outbursts of rage in the few years that followed, like of course BLM and, to some extent, the Ukrainian and Syrian uprisings -even if those had some really problematic, fascistic aspects- and the recent Nuit Debout in France, and, well, there was another, tougher fight at the ZAD that finally revealed that the State isn't only an externality, but can also be among "Our Friends".
The Insurrection was indeed coming. And it passed. Its MOMENTUM did, at least. Without actually being, and taking hold of the new-old world, changing it down to its roots, contaminating it to a point of no return, where hierarchies of the State are finally abandoned, or their whole world was just trashed. Somewhere someplace, a bomb was watered down... Some dude got a job... Some black bloc dude said something rude to a comrade at the riot porn demo... Some people went too easy on themselves in the summer... Some usual hobo fetish kid got joined a "radical" folk band... I can't really tell, but perhaps YOU can.
But did we really had a plan, anyways? Or at best a vision?
So, instead of renewing the old generic analysis of past uprisings that tend to give them an shoddily-critical impression of success, I wanted for so long to look at what actually went wrong.
What the fuck happened, that made those insurgencies implode, collapse, run out of fuel, or water themselves down? What went on, for instance, in June 2012 in Quebec or around those puzzling Egyptian elections? What was your experience or impression, NOT on any of those fights, but their aftermath, on how they "ended"?Tags: 2012insurgenciesanarchist internationalCCF/FAIEnd of Historycategory: Essays
via contra info
In the early hours of the 8th of June we immobilized an earth mover in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania at a new development project.
This small gesture was taken in solidarity with la ZAD of Notre-Dam-des-Landes, France, where rebels have fought to maintain an autonomous zone, free from the state and it’s plans for almost a decade.
The ZAD was first occupied 9 years ago to prevent the construction of a recently abandoned airport project and has inspired eco-rebels across the world, especially it’s inspiring defense against ‘Operation Ceaser’, a massive eviction attempt in late 2012.
Once again la ZAD is facing a fresh wave of repression, in the form of intense both police violence and a recuperative negotiation process which seeks to tame and legalize the uncontrolled zone.
For the defense of territory against the interests of capital For sabotage against the instruments of ecological devastation Tags: pennsylvaniaharrisburgla zadanarchist solidaritycategory: Actions
In Italy they talk of taking a census of Roma people and turn away a ship full of refugees.
In Bavaria they threaten to break apart the government in Germany over not taking a hard enough anti-immigration stance.
Across Fortress Europe far-right parties demonstrate openly and encourage violence against migrants and refugees.
And here in the United States we build concentration camp tent cities for children and deny them access to their parents or even allow them to hug each other.
Everywhere, xenophobia and racism grows and fascist movements gain strength. Governments crack down on migrants fleeing climate chaos, war, and unrest caused by the decay of capitalism.
This is a call for an international week of action against borders, immigration authorities, and the separation of families. Border imperialism manifests itself in many forms. Here in the so-called United States it is Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities and GEO group detention centers. Across Fortress Europe it is the police in riot gear beating migrants in Hungary, Macedonia, and Greece. It is ships turned away at ports of entry. It is the negligence of European governments allowing distressed migrant vessels to sink with hundreds of people, drowning them in the Mediterranean.
While these structures of oppression and domination seem to be invincible, they are actually incredibly fragile. It is a sign of weakness by the State when they desperately cling to legitimacy by using fear and hatred of the Other as a way to create a fictionalized national identity.
It is easy to act on our collective desires for liberation from all forms of oppression. Organize a noise demo outside an immigration detention facility. Take a note from comrades in Portland and occupy an ICE facility. Wheatpaste pro-immigration posters in your neighborhood to let your neighbors know they are not alone. Go after the companies profiting from the separation of families and imprisoning of children. Demonstrate outside a U.S. embassy or consulate. Show up en masse to your local congressmen or senator's office and make them feel the pressure in person. Or come up with your own ways of creatively fighting against the violence of border imperialism.
Remember to practice good security culture. It is best to organize autonomously in an affinity group, which is basically you and your friends. Mask up and remain anonymous. Most importantly, act. We cannot sit back and allow concentration camps to open up again. We cannot let white supremacist governments carry out ethnic cleansing on our watch.
If there is to be a war on migrants, then may it have two sides!Tags: ImmigrationFortress Europebordersno bordersICEabolish ICErefugees welcomecategory: Actions
More on suicide, depression, drugs. What is AR mostly trying to do? Drought vs. flooding. Venezuela. Anti-civ getting some notice at last. (Un-)health news. (Google) ad of the week. Some resistance news, discussion of The Brilliant, Anews podcast. 5(!) calls.
More on suicide, depression, drugs. What is AR mostly trying to do? Drought vs. flooding. Venezuela. Anti-civ getting some notice at last. (Un-)health news. (Google) ad of the week. Some resistance news, discussion of The Brilliant, Anews podcast. 5(!) calls.Tags: anarchy radiopodcastjzIGcategory: Projects
English edition – Spring 2018
Translations of a few texts from previous issues.
In this issue:
Down with the state, down with authorities
Against the IT-giants and their world
The place for love in the rebellious life
The price for gratitude
Considerations in regards to the capricious nature of the state
Read on the screen: English edition – Spring 2018
Fernando was released from jail on June 11, 2018 around 9 pm, once outside he burned the beige uniform that he had had to wear for four and a half years.
Aviso CNA Mx (Cruz Negra Anarquista de Mexico)
CNA Mx Notice (Anarchist Black Cross of Mexico)
Traveling Project (photos)
Today, June 11, 2018, anarchist comrade Fernando Barcenas Castillo left prison.
Arrested on December 13, 2013, during the protests against the increase in the price of the metro tickets, Fer was accused of setting fire to the Coca-Cola company Christmas tree, and since then had been held in the northern prison known as the ReNo, in Mexico City.
In December 2014 he was sentenced to 5 years 9 months’ prison on charges of attacking the public peace and criminal association. Shortly after his detention Fernando began developing numerous projects: music, writing, broadcasting and information workshops such as fanzines and the independent anti-prison struggle newspaper: “El Canero”, which means “whoever is in jail”. This is produced by prisoners and prisoners, behind bars in several jails in the Mexican capital and elsewhere.
For Fernando “The Canero is a project that wants to explain the reality lived in the prisons and relate it to a wider social context, of which we are all prisoners at different levels. This paper helps to spread the anti-prison struggle by weaving a link of communication between prisoners and with the outside world “. For him it is “To demonstrate that the struggle is carried on regardless of where and with the means available, without waiting for all the conditions be there”.
Thus, the first Canero was released in June 2014, so far, five numbers have been written: over time, the content has evolved. This newspaper is the product of many prisoners’ meetings, exchanges and reflections, joint actions, hunger strikes … In his path, Canero sees the birth of informal organizations prisoners in resistance, coordinated actions, press releases denouncing the prison beast, authority and confinement inside and outside the walls.
From November 2017, Fernando has launched a new idea, set up an autonomous library managed by the prisoners themselves and after several months of work and construction, the library was inaugurated on April 28, 2018 with the name of Xosé Tarrío González *, the library continues to grow and to this day it counts many documents, between books, magazines and brochures … the library continues its course.
During all these years Fer also encouraged and launched the organization of prisoners-in-resistance, first of all it encouraged the formation of the C.C.P.R (Combative Co-ordination of Prisoners in Resistance) later he participated in the coordination of the hunger strikes with other anarchist prisoners from Mexico City. Then, Fer launched and encouraged the formation of the C.I.P.RE (Informal Coordination of Prisoners in Resistance) as a form and space of organization for all those who have been harmed and tortured by the prison machinery. CIPRE being an informal organizationit has dissolved and today is fading away, not without leaving a whole organizational experience behind it. Fer has launched a new proposal giving rise to the prisoners’ collective CIMARRON, which refers to the meaning of “escaping, fleeing” escaping from the property of a master.
A strong hug to Fer, an embrace compañero! In the street at last.
Until total freedom!
The three passersby
*NOTE : Xosé Tarrío González was born in 1968 in la Coruña. At eleven years oldis locked up in a boarding school, then in a house of recovery to to return to 17 years in prison where he contracts AIDS. In prison, he puts anarchism and rebellion, leading many attempts escapes, practicing real solidarity between the prisoners, fighting resolutely against prison and prison guards; all these attitudes entail humiliations, put in isolation and he is of many times tortured. In 2004, his health deteriorated again due to his illness and finally, on January 2, 2005 he dies victim of the prison institution and the society that supports it.
Xose was a prisoner of the special FIES regime (Internal File of Special Follow-up) and author of the book “Huye, hombre, huye”
[Click on the images for pdf of zines]
Translated by Act for freedom now!
source: liberonsles.Tags: MexicoFernando Bárcenasgood newscategory: Prisoners
by William Gillis, via C4SS
Elon Musk is trolling on twitter. A celebrity billionaire wasting his time making inane provocations would hardly be worthy of note but in the process Musk has declared that his politics are in line with Iain Banks’ anarcho-transhumanist utopia and that he aspires to see a world of direct democracy. There’s few spectacles like a billionaire in a labor dispute essentially fronting as a proponent of fully automated luxury communism. Yet when a number of his statements wander close to left wing market anarchist takes it may be worth responding.
In particular I want to focus on the line, “Socialism vs capitalism is not even the right question. What really matters is avoiding monopolies that restrict people’s freedom.”
There’s a lot to pick apart here, and it’s not remotely clear how much historical context Musk is aware of. Free market libertarians like Bastiat sat on the left of the French assembly and many advocates of free markets that modern Libertarians see as forefathers like Lysander Spooner and Benjamin Tucker considered themselves and were seen as socialists. There is a long and storied history of those who would problematize the terms “socialist” or “libertarian” and “capitalism” or “markets”, putting forth myriad conflicting definitions and frameworks, each in hopes of illuminating something lost in partisan tribalism.
But Musk is a billionaire and in any coherent libertarian analysis a plutocrat whose success is in no small part dependent upon his collaboration with the state. Most self-identified socialists, not to mention the chattering classes of twitter, despise him.
There are basically three core claims widely made against Musk. 1) That he occupies a tyrannical position over his workers. 2) That the seed wealth that enabled him to become a billionaire in the first place was unjustly acquired. 3) That his act of holding onto his wealth in the face of far more beneficial investments is unethical.
It’s this latter charge that I want to explore, in part because the former are so clear cut. But let’s hit them briefly: Musk faces charges of unsafe conditions and terrible demands at his plants. And despite his attempts to sound open to unionization Tesla has harassed, intimidated, and fired workers for expressing pro union sentiments. He claims workers prefer to have no negotiating capacity, supposedly recognizing the benevolent benefits of his absolute dictatorship, and yet in the same breath Musk has threatened workers’ benefits should they unionize and recently initialized mass layoffs without warning. Musk has started to claim he built his fortune from pocket change, but it’s worth remembering that as a teenager, his white south african family was so rich Musk casually walked around with emeralds in his pocket. One is reminded of nothing so much as Trump’s claim that he built his fortune of a mere few million dollar loan from his dad (and countless risk assurances). I’ve known single mothers that worked longer hours and homeless heroin addicts that made smarter stock investments, but below a certain threshold of wealth the barriers are just too great. Musk has some talent and commitment, to be sure, but he has hardly made his fortune in fair competition with the billions without his privilege of birth.
But however you acquire wealth, once you have it there is a certain ethical obligation to wield it towards good ends.
Fans of Musk argue that he has done precisely this. The most common refrain is “look he may not be perfect, but he’s the only person with a shot at getting us to Mars.” There is, I will concede, a rather potent utilitarian argument that getting our species out into the stars is worth almost any price. This is an evaluation that weighs the potential lives of trillions of future people against the living today, that says we should do anything to ensure the survival and spread of the only known consciousness in the universe. But it is decidedly unclear that Elon Musk is truly our best shot at such. It is true that his wealth has enabled Space X to make serious strides, but it’s hardly like the the scientists, engineers, and general workers of Space X didn’t share such a vision before Musk. Rather, his wealth enabled them to get started. As a staunch proponent of our expansion to the stars I will happily concede that Space X is a more ethical investment than gold plated bath tubs. But these are hardly the only options.
Musk talks of supporting direct democracy, yet his projects are run tyrannically, hyper-centralized around him. One basic insight of free market economists is that there are limits to knowledge and calculation — in particular limits to what a single central planner is capable of. Musk may be talented, he may work 80 hour weeks, but he is limited, and a hierarchical centralized organizational structure is deeply inefficient, never mind the psychological damage it does. Indeed many of the early problems Tesla faced were reportedly a result of Musk suddenly showing up to make unilateral decisions while being stretched too thin to be constantly involved in every nook and cranny. In short his tyrannical position within the firm became an organizational bottleneck. They may have been insightful decisions, but Musk’s distance from the shop floor and the absoluteness of his power caused deep organizational problems. Even the most intelligent and committed Soviet planner, running himself ragged attempting to oversee everything, will cause deep inefficiencies. This is part of the reason why, when the playing field is fair, worker cooperatives do so damn well.
Musk talks of “decentralization” — of avoiding monopolies — and this is valorous, but anarchism extends deeper than the mere opposition to monopolies per se; anarchism opposes power, domination. Combating monopolies or oligopolies is necessary but not sufficient, because hugely abusive and scarring or enslaving power can exist in diffuse structures as well. Systemic racism for example, or normalized spousal abuse. But more to the point, an upstart firm may shatter an existing oligopolistic market, but itself reproduce the same structures it claims to oppose. Not just in terms of market position, but especially in terms of the firm’s internal structure — the hierarchical and abusive organizational norms that the existing oligopoly was able to establish and defend.
There is a widespread tendency in silicon valley to diagnose the problems of the world in terms of centralization alone, and thus to fall into a kind of naive support for any and all underdog competitors.
In its most pernicious variant this looks like the neoreactionary prescription to shatter existing polities down to smaller competitive governments. As if small town police can’t be more intimately oppressive and as though a single right of exit can supplant deeper issues with bargaining power or enable fluid responsiveness. Musk’s ostensible support for direct democracy is better — although anarchists still have a critique of democracy — but his comments focusing on monopoly are suggestive of a broader naivety or get-out-of-ethics card for himself, so long as he can cast himself as an underdog to a bigger monopoly.
The naive decentralist take uncritically defends any and all upstarts to the dominant powers. The taxi medallion system for instance was one of the most abusive and horrifically clear-cut instances of state created capitalism, an almost feudal order, maintained by the state to the benefit of a few capitalists. Socialist taxi organizers were clear that the root injustice was the state’s regulatory regime. Uber was able to leverage titanic investment wealth to fight and erode this unjust order, but it also utilized that capital to cement its position as a new monopoly, a rent-seeking middleman between drivers and riders. Consistent libertarians, anarchists, and socialists supported the overthrow of the medallion regime while also warning of the monopoly Uber was trying to establish. But throughout silicon valley culture Uber was presented as a noble upstart.
This story is replicated widely where new “disruptive” would be tyrants end up replacing those they set out to overthrow. What much of the self-congratulatory rhetoric in silicon valley amounts to in practice is a horde of Lenins out to overthrow Czars, but with barely concealed hunger to seize power for themselves.
Freedom, if it is to come, must come through their benevolence. Just don’t ask when.
Musk might claim that his ends are socialistic in some utopian sense, but it’s his means that give him the closest parallel to the tyrannies of “actually existing socialism.” And those libertarians that cheer him on are much like those socialists that cheer on the despotic regimes of Assad or Kim under the illusion that these geopolitical underdogs in competition with the US empire represent the only practical hope of resistance.
I want to be clear: I’m as sympathetic to Musk’s ostensible ends as you could ask for. We at the Center for a Stateless Society have studiously worked for over a decade to get past past the gridlock of socialist and libertarian rhetoric, to parse the value of markets and an egalitarian world of possibility where cancerous monopolies or oligopolies of capital don’t constrain our freedoms. We come from a long and rich history of left libertarian crossover, of left market anarchists.
But there are a world of means that do not replicate the structures we seek to replace.
I cannot know the level of sincerity to Musk’s comments, whether the obvious contradictions arise out of malicious opportunism or innocent ignorance. Yet if I had to the opportunity to turn his ear I would encourage him not just to fight monopolistic power within his own organizations by allowing and collaborating with unionization efforts, but to invest more of that wealth on projects that Iain Banks would actually recognize as anarchistic.
Hey Elon, why not donate a million dollars to something like the IWW, a scrappy, idealistic & anti-state union that organizes where no other union will go? It’s nothing to you and will affect the lives of thousands while enabling labor to help compete against giant corporate monopolies. It’ll rile the commies on twitter and maybe allow Grimes to show her face in public, but mostly it’ll help real existing people.
I ask sincerely.
If you need more examples we at C4SS have helped coordinate donations to a host of small highly efficient activist efforts before and we can point you towards myriad projects like community centers, mesh wifi projects, indigenous radio stations, etc. I’m not interested in showboating or tribal purity. I’d take a million dollars from the devil if I could redistribute it to the tens of thousands of activists working themselves to the bone around the world, using the smallest scraps of income to make a huge difference in combating power and expanding the freedom of everyday people. You want to talk about effective altruism? Small direct payments to activists across the global south who already work for free and stretch what funds they have to absurd lengths are by far the most efficient means of seeding liberty. No NGO bureaucratic oversight and a fierce anarchist resistance to corrupt state regimes that would try to steal those funds.
You want to talk about decentralizing infrastructure? Throw some of that money at the cypherpunks and hackers keeping cryptographic tools and free software afloat. I’m dead certain that your company depends upon cryptographic libraries that are maintained by on a shoestring budget by a small number of idealists. You want to talk about resisting monopolies? How about throwing money at open source hardware projects that face incredible barriers to entry in the market?
There are countless unsung heroes around the world working tirelessly to combat power, to erode the centralized systems that constrain freedom. And most of them do it without trying to accumulate yachts. What they understand is that heroism isn’t a zero sum game. We can each of us revolutionize the world, we can each find exploits to change everything. The anarchist insight is that the most potent and lasting change comes from the bottom up, rather than being imposed from the top down.
Figures like Lenin will never see this, so enraptured are they with their own status, their own profile, their own absolute rulership, their own brand-building. And so trapped are they in the same cycle of false opposition, the empty revolutions that are structured to merely replace one monopoly with another. Many of the radical science fiction authors Musk claims to love knew this, but it sadly seems to be a lesson he failed to grasp.Tags: william gilliselon muskc4sscategory: Essays
Source: The Wild Will Project
Ted Kaczynski (TK) repeatedly writes that a revolutionary movement needs an enemy. Variously he names the enemy as “modern technology,” “the industrial system,” “the techno-industrial system,” just “the system,” and, in addition to one of the foregoing, “the technician class.” But these terms are vague or unintuitive, they confuse the enemy of a revolutionary movement with its target, and they fail to motivate.
The Enemy is Not Civilization
First, a clarification. Ted Kaczynski never actually names “civilization” as the enemy, but his involvement with the anarcho-primitivist movement in the 90s and early 2000s has confused some outside observers on this point.
In terms of critique, it is necessary to point out that civilization as a whole is of questionable benefit, and that nearly all of the major problems of our modern world originate in the problem of civilization (see “The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race” by Jared Diamond). This, however, only makes us philosophical anti-civilizationists, not political anti-civilizationists. Kaczynski repeatedly states that while he believes civilization is a problem, he only sees a practical course of action against “the industrial system.” For more on this distinction, see “Some Comments In Response to GA,” the letters between David Skrbina and TK, “A Critique of the NHG Ideal,” etc.
What Is “The System”?
In footnote 3 of “The System’s Neatest Trick,” Kaczynski writes:
In this section I’ve said something about what the System is not, but I haven’t said what the System is. A friend of mine has pointed out that this may leave the reader nonplussed, so I’d better explain that for the purposes of this article it isn’t necessary to have a precise definition of what the System is. I couldn’t think of any way of defining the System in a single, well-rounded sentence and I didn’t want to break the continuity of the article with a long, awkward, and unnecessary digression addressing the question of what the System is, so I left that question unanswered.
Unfortunately, in neither his public writings nor his private correspondences has Kaczynski gone on to sufficiently explain what the system is, beyond general indications. Here is what I understand him to mean.
Kaczynski uses a materialist framework for analyzing the origins, development, and collapse of societies. In one version of this framework (see Cultural Materialism by Marvin Harris), societies are seen as consisting of three “levels”:
- The infrastructure is the material basis of society, and the primary determinant of the shape that society will take. It includes geography, demography, technology, and some aspects of economy. These are such strong factors in determining the shape of a society because no matter what, at base people are going to preserve their means of getting food and producing children.
- The structure is the organizational level of society, such as how resources are distributed, the means of dividing labor, institutions like banks, governments, and the church, etc. These exist to organize people in a way that is compatible with their means of subsistence and reproduction.
- The superstructure is the ideological level of society, such as its national, religious, and scientific myths. These exist to inspire people’s loyalty to society and its institutions.
For example, in the feudal phase of Western civilization, the infrastructure of society consisted of an agricultural mode of subsistence, which was organized by the structural layer of church and and the feudal system, and which was legitimated by the superstructural layer of Christian ideology. In many primitive societies, the infrastructure of society consisted of a hunting-and-gathering mode of production, was organized by various gendered divisions of labor and a small degree of specialization among warriors and leaders, and was legitimated by various religious mythologies.
Although this framework is generally deterministic, feedback between the various levels of society are taken into account. For example, sometimes the structure of society does not respond properly to a change in infrastructure, which results in social tumult. One historical instance includes the delayed reaction of U.S. social progressive programs to reorganize the structural layers of society after a shift to the Industrial Revolution. Due to the new industrial society’s inability to account for people’s health and wellbeing in structural factors like housing, economics, and waste disposal, there was widespread disatisfaction that largely drove anarchist and communist movements of the time.
“Industrial society” would include all three levels of a society based around an industrial mode of production, that is to say, based on an infrastructure that is technologically dependent on the steam engine and the production of electricity. It is harder to tell what Kaczynski means by “the industrial system,” but, taking into account his numerous rejoinders to attack “the material basis of society,” we can assume that “the system” includes mostly infrastructural and perhaps some structural factors that prop a society up.
“Techno-industrial society” is a term only used losely before Kaczynski and his associates developed it more fully, at which point it took on a more specific theoretical meaning. Último Reducto explained to me in one of our exchanges that “techno-industrial” refers to a generally more advanced form of society, based around computing technologies. This would make it largely compatible with terms popular in academia, like “late industry,” “late capitalism,” “information society,” “postmodern society,” etc. The same distinction that applies to industrial society and the industrial system applies to techno-industrial society and the techno-industrial system.
The Enemy Versus the Target
In terms of facts, I am in accordance with everything outlined above: the materialist method of analyzing society, the distinction between industrial and techno-industrial, and the emphasis on targeting the material basis of society. However, it is important to draw a distinction between a revolutionary enemy and a revolutionary target.
The communists, who had a similar materialist framework, also advocating targeting the material basis of society for their revolution (although their intention was to sieze power over it rather than destroy it). But their enemy was capitalist society. Similarly, one might make the distinction between the enemy of techno-industrial society, but the target of “the techno-industrial system.”
Still, there are obvious problems with our terminology, particularly its clarity. “System” is a vague word, and is attempting to cover concepts that our materialist framework already more accurately describes: infrastructure and structure, “the material basis of society,” or “the technological and economic basis of society.” All these terms and phrases are not only more exact, but also more intuitive.
“Techno-industrial” is also unintuitive. I agree that the technological turn around WWII to computing technologies, data, and other such things mark a major change in the infrastructural layer of society (see The Control Revolution by James Beniger; The Managerial Revolution by James Burnham). For this, perhaps “techno-industrial mode of production” is a useful concept. But in terms of naming our enemy, it is not very strong.
A stronger enemy is “world society.” This is clearly the logical consequence of a techno-industrial mode of production. Various historical trends support this contention, such as the formation of the UN and the European Union, the converging ways of life in nations that have been industrialized, the increasing connection between urban centers through transportation and communications technologies, a world identity being cemented by the existence of the internet… The terminology is also more intuitive and inspires greater motivation than a vague “system” identified only by an idiosyncratic theoretical term, “techno-industrial.”
There is already widespread opposition to world society. Observe the overwhelming numbers in support of the anti-globalization movement, the various regional conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa that explicitly oppose a global order, and the right-wing’s recent use of the concept of “globalism.” This is a much stronger motivator than an enemy of “modern technology.” For years I have attempted to frame technology itself as the enemy in people’s minds, and it simply does not work. People can agree that technology is the source of problems. But in terms of an enemy, they need something more tangible, more personal, and more involved in their day-to-day concerns. “World society” provides all of this.
Naming world society as the enemy also streamlines different elements of our analysis. If world society is the enemy, then we can demonstrate with our materialist mode of analysis why the technological and economic basis of world society is the target, and we can explain why typical targets of “globalism,” like politicians, are much less important than those belonging to the technician class, like the scientists, engineers, and businessmen who contribute significantly to technological progress. It also makes clearer the importance of the dominant ideology of the technician class, humanism (but see the final section in “A Critique of the Concept of ‘Leftism.'”)
Finally, naming world society as the enemy prevents us from giving undue focus to single issues, like biotechnology. In his essay to the anti-globalization movement, “Hit Where It Hurts,” Ted Kaczynski writes that radicals should focus on an issue that “the system” can’t afford to relax its position on. He suggests as an example the issue of biotechnology, which he argues (correctly, I believe) will be necessary to sustain order in the coming century. This is because biotechnology will be necessary to eradicate and control disease, to intensify agricultural production, to respond to ecological impacts of climate change, and perhaps even to manipulate human behavior.
However, biotechnology is not a good enemy because of what I have already stated above: people need something a little more personal, concrete, and “political.” Furthermore, a focus on biotechnology is much too narrow, limiting our ability to instigate tension in other areas that “the system” is disrupting.
Focusing on the project of world society does not have any of these problems, and is just as much an area “the system” can’t afford to compromise on. Almost every great analyst of the problems of technological society has suggested, as a solution, greater unification and cooperation between nations, more connectedness between world people, etc. Bertrand Russell, in The Prospects of Industrial Civilization, and Robert Wright in A Short History of Progress explicitly advocate a world government. So do some environmentalists who point out ecological problems with industrial technological production, such as Club of Rome in Limits to Growth, writing:
In Nature organic growth proceeds according to a Master Plan, a Blueprint. Such a ‘master plan’ is missing from the process of growth and development of the world system. Now is the time to draw up a master plan for sustainable growth and world development based on our global allocation of all resources and a new global economic system.
Various technicians, like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, also advance a globalizing project. These technicians, wholly dependent on continued technological progress, cannot afford to renege on this project. Thus, a movement against world society would be able to constantly instigate tension with the technicians who openly advocate the mission of world society, without the threat of them changing their minds for political expediency.
Finally, a focus on world society allows us to form political alliances with a huge swath of actors who, although not necessarily anti-civilization in orientation, are certainly against the world globalizing project. These include movements that have been active for decades, like fights for ethnic and national autonomy, and which are much too entrenched in the social groups of their respective political constituents to ever be annihilated completely.
The Target is Still Technology
Again, although the enemy is world society and its technician class, the target remains the technological and economic basis of that society. There is no reason to think that a focus on world society would significantly divert radicals from this focus, especially given how effectively the communist forces convinced its members that the means of overthrowing capitalist society could only ever be achieved by siezing the mode of production.Tags: anarcho-primitivismprimitivismted kaczynskicategory: Essays
The dream is dead. There is no big-tent; no mass. The siren song of community organizing is silent.
A coin falls to the floor--one side, Populist Struggle; the other, a Struggle to identify.
There are no hyphens; no anarchism with adjectives. The rock of ideology is no match for the river.
Many have come to idolize infrastructure; infatuated with their captors. Permanence is a myth and those who peddle it are spiritual thieves. Everything is falling apart.
Agility, and autonomy, are practices that we might carry with us. They only weigh as much as we do. The breadth of our work is only confined by our creativity, and today, self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and good conversation, have the potential to free our mind so our ass might follow.
Rarely are the fruits of our efforts born fully-formed and flawless and so perfection, like permanence, is peddled quackery. Practice, a philosophy in action, makes creation look easy to the fool, but for the sage, the work is never over. That is because there is no creation, only documentation.
Serendipity will never share its secrets. It will never be predicted, or bent to the will of humans. Serendipity smiles only for the prepared.
What can you accomplish alone? If indeed "quality seeks quality" then the smoke produced from your signal fire will attract others, and together, become a out of control blaze. Without a signal fire first however, you will remain alone, in ritualistic contemplation of how great you might be if you only had an army.
What can a single unbridled anarchist accomplish?
For further discussion you are welcome to join us at irc.anarchyplanet.org and if you would prefer to enjoy this Theme of the Week in audio [it will be coming soon]Tags: totwactionisolationcategory: Other
Distrust of central authority is an idea that’s taken many forms over the years, from the Magna Carta in the 13th century to the French and American revolutions 500 years later. Anarchy is another old idea and it pushes these notions far further: The political philosophy fully rejects the state’s centralized authority and, by extension, big businesses and financial institutions that are supported by that state.
The underlying belief is that society can be self-managed, according to Saul Newman, a political professor at Goldsmiths University of London. There are blends of this thinking on the political left (collectivist anarchism) as well as the right (libertarianism).
Newman thinks technology could make some anarchists’ dreams a reality. He’s not the only one who has noticed something is going on. “There is something about technology today, that many people are more comfortable with it than they are with the institutions of government and society that I grew up with,” said Jeffrey Sprecher, CEO of the company that owns the New York Stock Exchange, in a Bloomberg Television interview. Bitcoin is one of the obvious examples—it’s designed to be a stateless, digital cryptocurrency—but it doesn’t end there. People put a lot of trust into an Uber driver’s rating based on the experience of complete strangers.
Technology, after all, has renewed trust in things that used to seem crazy: Hitchhiking is back in Europe, except it’s called BlaBlaCar. Simon Rogerson, CEO of Octopus Investments, points out that the French ride-sharing app reportedly has more registered users than British Airways has passengers each year. For Rogerson, the internet’s radical anonymity is giving way to interconnection and transparency. Thanks to things like Twitter and customer-review website Trustpilot, Rogerson thinks we’re in an era where major companies have to care about their behavior more than before.
The 2008 financial crisis is often cited as the earthquake that definitively ruptured trust between elites, government, big corporations and the regular people who often feel powerless and disenfranchised. But people have resented central authority for a long time. Maybe technology is just helping them act on impulses to redistribute power and trust—or at least to create the appearance that this is happening.
The darker side of internet technologies and platforms is that they become tools for the very entities that the optimists hoped to marginalize. We willingly share sensitive information about our relationships, tastes, and preferences on online platforms. For Newman, this risks making us marketable and monetizable commodities, but also makes our behavior vulnerable to shaping and control (see Cambridge Analytica). He describes it as a form of “digital voluntary servitude.”
Even so, the professor expects that these anarchist-like experiments will continue—performed by people who have never affiliated themselves with the philosophy—thanks to new kinds of communication and technology. Whether or not it leads to some 21st-century revolution is unknowable, but Newman thinks something has indeed changed, in which “state and centralized political and financial institutions increasingly appear as an empty shell, without life or legitimacy.”Tags: technologyMSMsaul newmancategory: Other
via Willamette Week
A corporate branding campaign is the sincerest form of flattery.
Earlier this week, Domino's Pizza announced its plans to help improve the nation's infrastructure by filling in potholes.
Potholes ruining your carryout experience?
Since flying cars aren't a thing yet, we invite you to nominate your town for a chance to be selected to receive funds for fixing potholes near you at https://t.co/S4cNv4ZmHI pic.twitter.com/cLwq8nUUPW
— Domino's Pizza (@dominos) June 13, 2018
The company's Paving for Pizza grants are currently being doled out to various U.S. cities as a way to "save your good pizza from these bad roads."
If the DIY road-improvement scheme sounds familiar, it's because it is.
Last February, a posse of Portland anarchists began taking it upon themselves to fix the city's potholes. On its Facebook page, the group, which calls itself Portland Anarchist Road Care, claims its mission is to "take the state of the roads of Portland into the hands of the people."
"State neglect has caused the streets to fall into disrepair," it says. "We will fix the streets."
Clad in black masks and towing bags of asphalt, the group roams the city fixing streets. It's a plan they say Domino's is using as a PR stunt.
When asked by Portland author and former WW reporter Corey Pein on Twitter whether the pizza company stole their idea, the group responded: "You can't own an idea, so they didn't steal anything, but fuck Domino's, it's obviously a marketing ploy and not actually care for the community."
I asked Portland Anarchist Road Care about the Domino's pothole stunt. pic.twitter.com/FdHGlKzTb6
— Corey Pein (@coreypein) June 15, 2018
According to photos of potholes Domino's has filled so far, the company isn't aiming for subtlety—painting every pothole filled with a logo and the phrase "Oh yes we did."
— Yahoo Finance (@YahooFinance) June 11, 2018
Portland Anarchists Road Care says the company is only focused on profit margins—and making pizza of debatable quality.
"I mean," they told Pein, "they do steal the vast majority of the value of the labor of their employees."
"Indeed," Pein responded, "shitty pizza too."Tags: portlandfixing potholesMSMcategory: Other
From Zad for Ever
After the long awaited victory against the airport project, we are trying to lift ourselves out of the brutal spring, a season marked by two phases of evictions in which the government made sure to avenge the affront that the zad had represented for so many years. The massive police operations caused many injuries, the destruction of a part of the living spaces of the zad and a long military presence. But the state was forced to give up going any further and entirely eradicating our presence in this bocage. Resistance on the ground, solidarity elsewhere and the negotiation process resulted in a status quo that maintained of dozens of homes, common spaces and activities on most of the land held by the movement.
Nevertheless, what we managed to preserve today could very quickly be attacked again, administratively, politically or militarily. Whilst the zad recovers from its wounds and recomposes itself, the work in the fields and the constructions resumes and we project ourselves towards the struggles of the next months. These however go beyond us and connect with others around the world. They concern the collective and respectful use of the land, the sharing of the commons, the questioning of nation-states and borders, the reappropriation of our habitats, the possibility of producing and exchanging free from the shackles of the market, forms of self-organization on territories in resistance and the right to live there freely …
Following more than two years of regular building work and a new month of construction this summer, this week of August 27 to September 2, will also be the inauguration of the Ambazada, a space intended to welcome rebels and struggles from around the world to the zad of Notre-Dame-des-Landes. To honor and celebrate the opening of the Ambazada the obvious thing to do was to make a call for a new intergalactic week. We hope that it helps to bring back momentum and horizons before the autumn mobilizations at home and abroad.
/// Open encounters between territories in struggle and in search of autonomy
There are questions that have not ceased to inhabit us during this past season on the zad, these include : How throw down the anchor down for the long term without becoming domesticated, being community centred or more porous in our movements, the power struggles and frontal relationship with the state and possibilities for victories to last. We had to find our own partial answers in the emergency, we had to make decisive choices against the tanks and under dramatic pressure. We want to re question these issues and share them with other territories born out of battles and that have traced their own path. Part of the week will be devoted to open encounters with guests from the Wendland in Germany, Christiania in Danemak, the free district of Lentillères in France, Errekaleor in the Basque Country and perhaps Exarchia in Greece. Each of these territories will tell us the way in which they handled these issues, followed by a debate between all of us.
At another scale, there are peoples everywhere resisting cultural assimilation and liberal ideology . A moment during the week of specific meetings on this subject is also under preparation.
/// Historical junctions and revolutionary legacies
We will also propose that during some evenings you time travel across decades of significant struggles in different European countries. Revolutionary Italy in the 1970s, the German autonomous movements of the 1980s or the radical anti-capitalist ecology of the UK in the 1990s, among others, reconfigured our political language, actions and organizational practices. We dive back into these vibrant stories, in search of the legacies and imaginaries that they offer us, in order to think through the present.
/// More content, workshops and simultaneous meetings tackling other fields of struggle
– Various other contents are being programmed, including:
– an afternoon meeting with a Kurdish activist on the women’s liberation movement in Kurdistan, and her role in society and the movement.
– A presentation of the political, social and struggles situation in Mexico following the presidential elections in July and the campaign of indigenous candidate Marichuy.
– Testimonies of undocumented people in Nantes and groups who organize their support in squats and in their administrative procedures. An update on the asylum-immigration law. The feedback from a group that organized the occupation of the University of Nantes this winter with undocumented people and an overview of the current situation.
-The mornings will be devoted to building work on various sites, to strengthen the zad’s commons, as well as to running the logistics of the camp.
– Participants are welcome to offer contributions to the announced discussions. You can contact us to make additional proposals for workshops and discussions. However, we have made the overall choice to favor a few major themes and common moments in which to advance together, rather than to superimpose a multiplicity of parallel discussions.
– We are thinking of organising another gathering in parallel at another site of the zad, with groups of trade unionists and students who will dedicate certain days of the week to take stock of their mobilizations of the past year and look to the future. We envisage cross pollination between those attending this and the intergalactic week .
/// Let us know that your coming and organize it
Tell us if you want to come !! We need to plan the logistics in advance, and therefore to know the number of participants ( we have provided infrastructure for about 300 people during the week). We hope that the participants will stay the entire week to take time for develop a sense of collective. Please let us know by July the 31st, how many of you will be present and on what dates. Canteen facilities will be organized on site, but do not forget to take a tent and a sleeping bag. Also tell us what language you speak to organize the translation.
For all contacts, registrations, questions: email@example.com
DOWNLOAD A3 colour poster here. intergalactic-eng
Timber frames of the Ambazada being raised during intergalactic camp 2017. Zad.Share this:
Source: The Wild Will Project
Note: Here I will not completely explain the concept of "leftism" as Ted Kaczynski uses it. Readers of this essay should instead refer to "Industrial Society and Its Future" (especially paragraphs 6-32, 83, 213-232) and "Izquierdismo" by Último Reducto. These pieces should provide the requisite knowledge for following this critique.
Two Meanings of Leftism
Theorists following Kaczynski's line of anti-civilization critique generally utilize two definitions of "leftism": leftism-as-psychological-type and leftism-as-ideology.
The definition of leftism Kaczynski uses in "Industrial Society and Its Future" is mostly leftism-as-psychological-type. In his view, leftism is kind of pathology produced by industrial conditions, specifically industrial society's inability to fulfill basic human needs. Symptoms of this pathology include a sense of purposelessness, helplessness, and depression, which leftist individuals will try to ameliorate by attacking anything they view as powerful or attaching themselves to a large social group that can exercise more power than they can as individuals.
Kaczynski's analysis here is insightful, but it is bogged down by (I) his characterization of leftist symptoms as a unified pathology; (II) his tendency to associate leftism-as-a-psychological-type with leftist political ideologies and movements; and (III) his incendiary tone towards leftist behavior.
Leftism is not a single psychological type. In reality, the symptoms Kaczynski identifies as "leftism" can stand separately or together, and they are almost all widespread problems in industrial society. People everywhere feel powerless; people everywhere lack purpose.
In some individuals (but not all) these psychological problems create emotional attachments to mass movements or various social causes, which these individuals view as a means to cure their powerlessness or purposelessness. This is Kaczynski's primary problem with leftism, and the reasons he sees it necessary to distance himself from it (see "The System's Neatest Trick"). But even he recognizes that "leftism" is an extremely general concept that does not seem to account for nuances sufficiently (see especially the final paragraphs of ISAIF). For example, some people who experience all leftist symptoms do not, in fact, attach themselves to causes. Other people do not experience leftist symptoms much at all, yet dedicate their lives to social causes.
If leftism were a discernible, unified psychological type, it would be able to more fully account for these differences. Instead, "leftism," for Kaczynski, is simply a term for nearly all the psychological ills produced by modern society. What Kaczynski is actually concerned about, though, is a certain expression of those ills. For this we must refer to another one of Kaczynski's concepts, which is defined enough to be useful: "oversocialization."
According to "Industrial Society and Its Future," "oversocialization" is a phenomenon whereby a society excessively ingrains its moral code into an individual. This oversocialized individual then feels a profound sense of guilt at even minor deviant behaviors, or behaviors the individual interprets as deviant. To ameliorate this guilt, the individual embarks on a crusade to enforce society's moral rules, sometimes strongly rebuking society itself on the grounds that it does not sufficiently live up to its own moral code. However, in the latter case, the oversocialized individual does not always recognize his moral code as the same as society's. He often sees himself as a radical who is against society. This is because, Kaczynski writes, he is on such a tight psychological leash that he has an extremely repressed need for rebellion and autonomy.
According to ISAIF, the oversocialized underpin many social movements today. These movements claim that society is racist, sexist, homophobic, etc., even though the dominant values of industrial nations are multicultural, egalitarian, and humanist, as demonstrated by, e.g., the perspectives advocated by NGOs, universities, major news organizations, federal governments, and international governmental bodies like the UN.
If we dispose of Kaczynski's concept of leftism as a psychological type, and instead we recognize that the symptoms of leftism are widespread, our critique of industrial society and its instruments of power become much clearer. Put simply: (1) Industrial society produces symptoms like helplessness, despair, and purposelessness; (2) It provides "medicines" for these symptoms, like mass movements, large organizations, and social causes; (3) The oversocialized preach on behalf of these institutions, or, when professing to be radical, provide other institutional "medicines" that advance society's values while claiming to be against society.
If we accept this account, then we can dispose of the concept of "leftism." We can simply point out various, sometimes unrelated, psychological problems instigated by industrial conditions.
Kaczynski tends to associate the psychological type of leftism with political leftism. But if the symptoms of leftism are widespread and not indicative of any unified psychological type, then large conservative organizations like the NRA or nation-states provide a means of ameliorating symptoms as much as leftist organizations do. They are as much of a problem, because they instigate just as strong an emotional attachment to the institutions of mass society.
"Oversocialization" is not confined to the political left either. Although world society is propped up by individuals oversocialized with a generally left-wing ideology (but see below on this meaning of "leftist"), right wing institutions also oversocialize its members. Consider some brands of populist conservative Christianity, which, although advocating basically the same values as mainstream Christianity, teach that mainstream Christianity is sinful and that true, rebel Christians have a duty to correct its problems. Oversocialization, then, is not a left-wing phenomenon, but a general psychological phenomenon.
If the symptoms of leftism are as widespread as I have suggested, then Kaczynski's incendiary attitude toward these symptoms and behaviors is not just unhelpful, but harmful. When I read "Industrial Society and Its Future," I certainly had a sense of purposelessness and helplessness, and I was attracted to many of the things Kaczynski identifies as indicative of these problems. I was also firmly planted on the political left. So the first several paragraphs of the manifesto, dedicated to an analysis of "leftism," definitely hit me hard, and certainly enraged me. Most readers in my same position are turned off by this effect and never finish the rest of the manifesto. But I happened to be reading it with a friend who coaxed me to keep reading, and with whom I discussed some of its logical points. Eventually I could not deny the logic in the piece, especially in regards to its incisive critique of the technology problem, and I was convinced.
If Kaczynski had realized how widespread the symptoms of leftism truly are, and if he made the distinctions I outlined above, his critique could have produced a lot more individuals like me. Instead of turning people off immediately, he could have brought their attention to the source of their unease and pointed out how insufficient the system's "medicines" for that unease truly are. This would have just as effectively countered the phenomenon he is most concerned about in regards to leftism, namely, the system's ability to convince people that they are being radical by actually correcting errors in that system, or by advancing the system's own values.
Because of the way Kaczynski's concept of "leftism" lumps in several distinct elements of critique, some theories he has helped birth further obscure the concept of leftism. For example, Último Reducto (UR), in his essay "Izquierdismo," defines leftism by its values. He argues that the three main values of leftism are equality, expanded or indiscriminate solidarity, and sympathy for victims. These, he says, form the dominant ideology of techno-industrial society.
UR was on to something, but I do not think that the best term to describe this is "leftism." For one thing, some on the political left do not associate themselves with these values exactly. And as even he points out in the essay, some on the right can be included in this definition. In any case, whatever we call UR's concept of leftism-as-ideology, it is yet another distinct element of the "leftism" concept, and must be clearly separated from the other, psychological elements. To address all these problems, I have been using the term "humanism" instead.
The concept of "humanism" needs to be fleshed out more, and may be altogether useless. For example, talking of a dominant ideology may suggest a cohesiveness to the values of techno-industrial society that simply does not exist. And "humanism" still may not be the best term. Still, this term allows us to seperate the ideological element from other elements in the original concept of "leftism", and therefore to examine it on its own merits as we develop a more nuanced critique of technological civilization.Tags: anti-civilizationGreen Anarchismted kaczynskiprimitivismanarcho-primitivismcategory: Essays
We are excited to announce that we finally published the 9th edition of Words of Fire, our semi-regular ‘zine of writings, drawings, and poetry by people in prison!!
It was actually completed in May 2017 and we’ve been sending it into prisons for the past year. We’ve just been slow to post it on our website. It includes some great poems and essays, along with beautiful drawings!! Although many of the submissions are from North Carolina and nearby states, our cover images was drawn by someone from a prison in Oregon!
We are incredibly grateful to all the authors for sharing their work with us. We also owe a huge thank you to the dedicated students from Criminal Justice Awareness and Action at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. They spent the 2016-2017 school year typing up, proofreading and then laying out Words of Fire 9. Check CJAA out on Facebook as well.
Check out past issues of Words of Fire, along with a print-ready version of WOF 9 on our projects page.
Tags: anarchists in troubleprisonlong term prisoner supportcategory: Projects
With the sub-title “The Seattle WTO Protests: A memoir and analysis, with an eye to the future,” N30 is an excellent overview by Crimethinc of the 1999 protests against the World Trade Organization (WTO). For better or worst, the Seattle WTO was one of the pivotal moments in recent anarchist history in the U.S. The zine combines an exciting personal account of the protests with a somewhat more academic—but nevertheless interesting—analysis of the protest from the RAND Corporation. It ends with a afterward written 7 years later by crimethInc. Very long and very detailed!
We also used protest sounds from the movie Breaking the Spell, an excellent documentary about the WTO protests in Seattle also made by CrimethInc.
Tags: resonanceaudiopodcastcategory: Projects
From Anews Podcast
Welcome to the anews podcast. This is episode 68 for June 15, 2018. This podcast covers anarchist activity, ideas, and conversations from the previous week.
Download here: https://podcast.anarchistnews.org/episodes/anewse68.mp3
This podcast is the effort of many people. This episode was
* sound edited by Rocinante
* “The Praxis of Pragmatics, Part 2” by SUDS
* Guest editorial “Why Anarchists are not Architects” by Julian Langer
* Thanks to Aragorn! and rfa for topic of the week discussion
* and this week we added a short poem at the end by Triviabot
* The music is 1. The Spectacle, “Sleepwalking” 2. Screaming Females, “Wild” 3. Los Rakas, “Magia” 4. Wolves and the Radio, “Waves”
* Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
This article is based on a talk given by the London group of the ACG at the Radical Bookfair on June 2, 2018.
The slogan ‘Land and Liberty’ has long been an anarchist slogan. It was the name of the Russian revolutionary organisation ‘Zemlya i Volya’ in 1878 and was used by the peasants in the Russian Revolution. When women marched in St Petersburg on the 8th of March, 1917, helping to kick off the revolution, the slogan was Bread, Land and Peace. ‘Tierra y Libertad’ was prominent in the Mexican and Spanish Revolutions and is still used today as the name of the Iberian Anarchist Federation paper.
It is not surprising that land is a key demand. Rural land workers represented the majority of the working population well into the 20th century in much of the world. Land ownership was concentrated in the hands of a few large landowners and people struggled to survive under this semi-feudal system. And it is still an important demand for many peasants and agricultural labourers around the world.
The anarchist Flores Magon explains why land is crucial to anarchism:
“We want bread for all. We consider it absurd that a few people should possess the earth, and the many not have a place to lay down their heads for rest. We want, then, that the land be accessible to all, just the same as the air, the light, the warm sun rays are there for all creatures on earth. We consider it absurd that those who neither toil nor produce should enjoy all at the expense ‘of those who till and toil and have a life of misery…”
However, Magon made it clear that land was directly linked to liberty:
“We think that political liberty is a beautiful lie so long as it has not for its basis economic liberty and towards the conquest of that liberty our steps are directed… We demand that the proletariat of Mexico organize and by doing so enable itself to take part in the tremendous struggle that alone will liberate the proletariat of this world, the struggle which someday — maybe in the near future-will place all the goods of this earth within the reach and power of all human beings.”
Kropotkin also explained why a demand for land is so important. Land is basically part of the means of production. If workers do not have access to land they are unable to support themselves and must sell their labour to the capitalist/landowner. The revolution is therefore about expropriation of land and other means of production.
“We do not want to rob any one of his coat, but we wish to give to the workers all those things the lack of which makes them fall an easy prey to the exploiter, and we will do our utmost that none shall lack aught, that not a single man shall be forced to sell the strength of his right arm to obtain a bare subsistence for himself and his babes. This is what we mean when we talk of Expropriation; this will be our duty during the Revolution, for whose coming we look, not two hundred years hence, but soon, very soon.”
Expropriation is essential if the workers are to be free. Magon:
“In short, I see a society of workers economically free; owning themselves, because, at every step, they own the material on which they work; the land where the potatoes grow; the trees they fell and strip; the timber they fashion into limber; the houses into which the lumber goes, and so “ad infinitum.” A society purged of tribute to the parasite.”
The Spanish Revolution: Expropriation and Collectivisation
The 1936-39 revolution in Spain provides one of the best examples of what can be achieved by workers when they take over the land. The revolution on the land was more extensive and more radical than that in the urban areas. Not only were Spain’s landowners rich and powerful but they were also notoriously conservative and authoritarian. They had opposed reform in every way, and had over the decades had financed violent suppression of both the CNT and the UGT. Collectivisation of the land was extensive covering almost two thirds of all the land in the Republican zone. In all, between five and seven million peasants were involved, the major areas being Aragon where there were 450 collectives, the Levant (the area around Valencia) with 900 collectives and Castile (the area surrounding Madrid) with 300 collectives. In the villages workshops were set up where the local trades-people could produce tools, furniture, etc. Bakers, butchers, barbers and so on also decided to collectivise. (Source: Kevin Doyle www.struggle.ws/talks/spain_feb99.html)
The essential features of collectivisation were:
Large landowners expropriated.
Voluntary participation in the collective.
Different from Popular Front: land managed as a collective rather than dividing land up into many plots.
Run on libertarian communist principles, from each according to their ability and to each according to their needs.
Individuals and families still independent in the collective with own personal possessions.
Land still matters
The demand for land is a vital part of today’s revolutionary movement, and not only in societies with large rural populations. Land is the basis of all wealth. It is the source of food and provides the materials to build shelters, make clothes and everything else we need. It is a physical space where we meet and socialise with others and an inspiration for music, poetry and culture. If we do not have access and control of this land, we are not free. We are completely dependent on someone else for all aspects of our lives. It is both a rural and urban issue. Factories and offices are built on land. Property developers acquire land in order to build homes and offices for huge profits. Access to land is controlled in the cities, with more and more privatised space. Land in public ownership is not an answer. Land owned and controlled by the State is still not under our control thanks to a political system in which politicians are unaccountable and largely pursue the interests of capital.
The following facts show the continued inequality in land ownership. Source: https://www.landjustice.uk/why-land-matters/
- 69% of land in the UK is owned by 0.6% of the population.
- 70% of land is agricultural land and 150,000 people own all of it.
- UK housing is concentrated on 5% of the country’s land mass so people owning their own home represents a small amount of total land ownership.
- 1/3 of British land is still owned by aristocrats.
- 432 people own half the land in Scotland.
- The property wealth of the top 10% of households is nearly 5 times greater than the wealth of the bottom half of all households combined.
Though the aristocracy, the Queen and the public sector are still important in terms of land owners, it is increasingly corporations and institutional investors that own and control land in London.
1. Canary Wharf Group (Qatar and Canadian investment company)
2. City of London
3. Transport for London
4. Aviva (Insurance and pensions)
5. BNP/Paribas (Bank)
6. The Queen
7. Legal and General (Insurance and pensions)
8. Segro (real estate investment company)
9. British Land Company (Property developer)
10. Network Rail
20. Duke of Westminster
Most struggles are related to who owns, controls and makes decisions about land.
Housing costs have become a serious burden for most people, especially in cities such as London. People either have to struggle under the yoke of a mortgage or pay exorbitant rents to property investors or buy to let landlords. The housing crisis is a land crisis. Housing is built on land. The value of ‘dwellings’ (homes and the land underneath them) has increased by four times (or 400%) between 1995 and 2015, from £1.2 trillion to £5.5 trillion. The value of dwellings depends on the value of the land. In central London 80% of the value of property is the value of the land. 74% of house price increases between 1950 and 2012 in the UK can be explained by rising land prices with the remainder attributable to increases in construction costs. Rather than a need, housing is now a source of profit for many- an investment opportunity, a pension supplement or a money-laundering opportunity. There is some land in public hands. However, as land prices increase and different branches of government struggle to maintain spending, land is being increasingly sold off to developers. This includes land which has homes on it or land that could be used for homes. It is the value of land that determines the cost of housing.
Britain imports more food than it exports and the cost of food has always been higher than many other counties. There is also a problem with access to good quality, organic food which is also cheap. Together with housing, food costs contribute significantly to poverty in Britain. Food grows on land which is all privately-owned. All the chain of distribution, from source to the supermarket if determined by market forces.
In addition to food, the earth provides all the resources that make are lives possible, eg material to build our homes, timber for our paper and furniture, minerals that go into our technology, metals for our cars and transport, and all the sources of energy, eg oil, water, natural gas. As with agriculture, other resources are also largely privately owned, with some exceptions such as forests in Britain. If these resources are subject to market forces and the demand for profit from private companies then these resources will not be used for the benefit of all, nor will there be sufficient controls on development in order to halt climate change.
Work and livelihood
There is great inequality with regards to people’s income and their working conditions. Any definition of a better society must incorporate a reduction in economic inequality, the end of poverty and a drastic improvement in people’s working conditions. Land, as the source of wealth, has a direct impact on people’s overall economic and work situation. If you own land and the resources on it you are less likely to have to engage in poorly paid labour but can reap the benefits of your assets. People go to work on land, whether on farms, in mines, on oil rigs or offices, which is owned by someone else. The ownership of the physical land, not just the business, is an important part of the wealth and power of the employer.
Social and Community Spaces
Most social and community groups do not have the money to buy a premise. They are either dependent on a council premise (increasingly difficult to get and not free) or renting a premise from a private landlord. As rents have gone up, it is a constant struggle to keep social and community spaces going, especially in London.
Similar to housing, the cost of other assets are dependent on the price of land. As land is at a premium in the cities, those who can afford to buy or rent will get access to land and the buildings on it. This means hotels, nightclubs, restaurants, shopping malls, not community, cultural and social spaces for the working class.
Leisure and recreation
Though places such as National Parks and other areas for quiet recreation exist, there are still not enough for such large population. In the cities, parks are in high demand. With cuts in government spending, there is not enough money to care for both countryside and urban parks and open spaces. In addition, there is pressure to use these areas as sources of profit, eg house building, grouse moors, golf courses or admission-charging entertainment in public parks. In addition, there has been increased privatisation of space. The view is now that if you are not spending money then you don’t have the right to be there.
Land that is used for quiet recreation does not make a profit in itself. Therefore, like all other issues, the use of land that is privately owned, and often publically owned, is determined by what will make a profit for the owner.
The intensification of development in Britain has led to many environmental problems. The extraction of mineral resources- coal, natural gas, fracking etc, the massive road building programme, the decimation of peat bogs, modern farming practices, the spread of urbanisation and the car culture have all led to an increase in the emission of greenhouse gases and a general rise in air and water pollution. Waste has also caused problems both on land and in the oceans.
Climate change and other environmental problems are not factored in to balance sheets. There will be a price to pay in the future but for now money is to be made out of environmental destruction. The way land is used is determined by the profit needs of both private landowners and government.
The intensification of land use means that other species are squeezed out. Countless species are becoming endangered. Other species do not own land or control land. The only ones which are of importance are the ones that either make money for the landowner or are part of the culture of those who have wealth. Therefore we have levels of sheep, deer, grouse and horses that take up large amounts of land, whereas countless other species are being squeezed out by the general trend to urbanisation, industrial agriculture and energy.
Land and Liberty: a slogan for today
Campaigning on land should be a priority for anarchists and all those who would like to overthrow the current society. Land issues underlie so many issues (see above). A focus on land can bring all these struggles together and therefore make us more effective. By demanding land reform we are challenging the very basis of capitalism: private property. The solution, however, should not be State ownership but expropriation and libertarian collectivisation, including co-operatives with direct control of land and resources and non-hierarchical self-organisation. We must also link the struggle for land with struggles for control of the workplaces and our communities. According to Kropotkin:
“All is interdependent in a civilized society; it is impossible to reform any one thing without altering the whole. Therefore, on the day we strike at private property, under any one of its forms, territorial or industrial, we shall be obliged to attack them all. The very success of the Revolution will demand it.”
The Land Justice Network was set up in June 2017- a network of organisations, groups and individuals who aim to build an inclusive movement for land reform. For more information see: www.landjustice.uk.
Sources and further reading
Fight for the City (Pamphlet produced by London Anarchist Communist Group)