Friday, October 29, 2010
By Alden W.
(This is the first part of a two part response to A.T.'s last posting.)
This post is my attempt at a direct response to A.T.’s scathing critique of what he sardonically, calls the “Post-Everything Anarcho-Nihilist” – a tendency which I’m sure he lovingly locates me within. If we must be sectarian about this debate (and I, in opposition to inclusionist partisanship, think healthy sectarianism is not only fine, but it’s imperative to a more refined analysis of everything(s).) would most accurately describe my position as drawing from two distinct theoretical positions which are closely related, yet subtly different as well – Post-left anarchy and insurrectionary anarchism. I will attempt to flesh out my thoughts on these theoretical stances throughout the course of this response, and in so doing I will also hope to address flaws I see in my friend’s logic specifically around the “project of negation” and “antipolitical nihilism.” But I will not be so self-absorbed, to not give credit where credit is due, and will acknowledge those of A.T.’s criticisms of my position which I feel contain approximations of truth.
Let’s start here:
From A.T.: “I assume for the most part that AW and I do not disagree on the fact that the world now faces a rise in fascism although we have not discussed details or the idea of the Second Rise. Our differences in opinion stem from two critical sources; one dealing with theory of praxis and the other concerning the definitions of Anarchy and the question what is Anarchism?”
While A.T. is right in assuming that I do agree with his analysis of the sorry state of affairs this particular socio-historical epoch finds itself in, I don’t necessarily see the merit in attempting to conflate neoliberalism with a new, albeit more subtle, form of fascism. While A.T. does indeed go into the paradoxical nature of such an argument, specifically addressing the role of the state in each of these “social” positions – I feel the need to authoritatively locate and define the opposition, is a futile exercise in constructing alterity and at its fundamental imperative is essentially a reactionary position. What is the gain, the improvement of position, which reconciling neoliberalism with fascism affords? I think here, is a prime example of how A.T. and I differ on the nature of anarchist “roles.” I feel my role as an “anarchist” (for the time being we’ll do away with prefixes) is essentially a negative project, to exist within a state of constant critique – of both what I think A.T. would be comfortable calling the repressive forces of capital, but further, the very opposition to capital itself. I feel that A.T.’s role as an anarchist, and forgive me if I’ve misconstrued it, is essentially one which seeks to further explore and subsequently understand both nature of repressive capital AND prescriptively apply into praxis more anarchistic alternatives to such constructs of social (and perhaps even economic) organization. Thus perhaps more simply put, I don’t necessarily believe in prescription in that I find it’s historically laden with various forms of ideology which run counter to my position as an anarchist. This is perhaps best represented in the quasi-detournement of Tiqqun’s act of entitling an essay of theirs as “How is it do be done” by inverting Lenin’s “What is to be done.”
From A.T.: “New strains of Anarchists do not refer to themselves as Anarchist. Furthermore, they do not believe in Anarchism. They are rooted in the Individualist Anarchist tradition of Sterner and Proudhon and obfuscated by various combinations of Foucault, Critical Theory and Continental Philosophy. Their ardent post-modernism is accompanied, somewhat paradoxically, by a strict lifestyle, although, predictably, they reject lifestyle-ism. I call this new theoretical school Post-Everything Anarcho-Nihilism since they are generally marked by a refusal to recognize or identify with past movements (such as the Left or Labor) or engage in creating something new.”
I feel I have to address this claim, because quite frankly I don’t know what A.T. is basing these assertions on. I think perhaps to say that there are strains of anarchism today which explicitly state their desire to break from conventional leftist trappings is fair, but to claim that “new strains of anarchists do not refer to themselves as anarchist” and that, “they do not believe in anarchism” is simply hasty generalization. Conversely, I feel that most anarchists, the world over, still are clearly situated on the radical left and still indeed support labor and pro-technology argumentation, while arguing for some hazy mass movement through organizational means. Perhaps this is an ad hominem point addressed specifically at me, as I am indeed indebted to Max Stirner’s anarcho-individualism (Proudhon was an ardent mutualist, not an individualist), I enjoy my Foucault and Critical Theory (not really into Cont. Philosophy though), and believe obfuscation to be more honest than attempts at clarity. I know of only a few folks who would even remotely list Stirner as influential in their formation as anarchists. I think the critique that A.T. is aiming at is essentially what we’ll call the “insurrectionary” position – and rather than Stirner, this position is perhaps more influenced by French and Italian post-marxist theory (autonomous marxism, ultraleft communism, anti-state communism, the Italian autonomia, Tiqqun, TCI, Claire Fontaine, etc.). These strains of insurrectionary autonomism speak to the negative project, yet do not necessarily address (explicitly) antipolitical nihilism – a position I feel best articulated by the tradition of North-American post-left anarchy. I’ll go into these concepts further later, but I wish to address A.T.’s claim that these positions are rooted in an “ardent post-modernism.” I’ve devoted a few posts on The Horizontalist Papers to addressing how I feel that much of the contemporary insurrectionary autonomous marxist theory that has been coming from France, is specifically working towards an ontological position which moves away from the totalizing binary of modernism/postmodernism. Thus, the insurrectionary “strain” which A.T. devotes his critique to, is actually not postmodern at all – but rather, beyond postmodernism all together. The move towards articulating spaces of being outside of postmodernist schema is ostensibly an implicit acknowledgement that, as Frederic Jameson argues, postmodernism is the “dominant cultural logic of late capitalism.” Thus in the totality of late-capital, the socio-cultural system which typifies it (not opposes it, as many postmodernists would have us believe)is postmodernism itself – therefore, postmodernism needs to be destroyed as merely a facet of late-capitalist Empire. The insurrectionary tendency recognizes postmodernism’s complicity in reifying late-capitalist superstructures, in a myriad of ways yet perhaps the most obvious is the fact that the move towards plurality and the rejection of identifiable unity lends itself to a construction of certainty which is based on isolated relativism. That the splintering of authenticity ad infinitum, lends itself to a certain relativity in which everything becomes singular in and of itself.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
CLICK ON IMAGE FOR FULL VIEW!
Bentham’s child, raised and reared by Foucault inverts its own ontology. Where it once was a gaze which continued long after the eyes were shut – now the totalizing oneness of its being, finds itself reflected back onto the tower itself. Yet this is no longer the idle gazing of the dispossessed subject-object, now it is the plurality of gazes emitting from infinite nonbeingbeings. The dispossessed have fully become anonymous, no subject reference outside of that nothingness. This epoch of self-policing, the lines of power implied yet markedly absent, etched onto their skin – respite is now found in these moments of rupture. Thus power itself, becomes the new subject-object – and those which were formally seen…always seen…now no longer exist except in the blank refractions of this inverted gaze. They see the tower, from every conceivable angle and in so doing realize their own capabilities to define, to author, to locate – yet definitions of course only come from a position of nothing, a genuine absence of being. The circular cells go dark, the plurality of eyes in this darkness are most assuredly gazing back now, although who is to say what happens in the void? Now the tower is lit. Regardless of whether or not power inhabits it, the point is that, it has become illuminated. The rupture continues, and in its cracks the horde of nothing, notbeingbeings, are drawn from the periphery and its shadowed alterity to the center. The gaze containing the threat of power, is now turning upon itself. Spiraling inwards, like a moth to a flame.
Monday, October 11, 2010
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Donny: Are these Nazi’s Walter?
Walter: They’re Nihilists Donny, nothing to be afraid of
from The Big Lebowski
Im just going to jump right in here and map out some of the important points from an ongoing conversation/debate between AW and myself... I will not speak for him ( i’m sure he will answer soon, and answer with vigor!) I would love to hear comments or even a fuck you from anyone who cares to read this virtual dirty rag...
Clearly we have reached a critical juncture in history marked by what I see as the Second Rise of Fascism. The First Rise of Fascism, which we are all familiar with, can be traced from Mussolini through Hitler and Franco and was of a specific State centered brand of fascism. The Second Rise of Fascism is much more subtle, complicated and subversive and is of a Market based as opposed to State based nature. I will write further on the Second Rise of Fascism in the future but for now i’ll just say that it can be identified by the diminishing role of the State as a political actor, the rise of international capital and financial markets, de-industrialization, privatization of industry, natural resources and (very disturbingly) military forces, de-regulation of the financial sector of developed economies, Multi-national corporations, and the Bretton-Woods institutions. Indeed, some of these are the hallmark of Liberalism and it may seem to some that i contradict myself by including them as contributing to global fascism. It is complicated and seems contradictory, for example, how can the weakening of the state add to fascism? How does something like foreign direct investment the godsend of development reformers add to fascism? In order to understand you must take into account the effects of capital flight or note the Tea Party movement here in the US which has a libertarian agenda but is clearly a right wing fascist movement. A quote from the hip hop artist Sole illustrates the particularly diabolic brand of double speak and totalitarian results of the seemingly opposite fascism and liberalism...”if you can’t nuke ‘em, starve ‘em or drop food on em.”
I assume for the most part that AW and I do not disagree on the fact that the world now faces a rise in fascism although we have not discussed details or the idea of the Second Rise. Our differences in opinion stem from two critical sources; one dealing with theory of praxis and the other concerning the definitions of Anarchy and the question what is Anarchism?
New strains of Anarchists do not refer to themselves as Anarchist. Furthermore, they do not believe in Anarchism. They are rooted in the Individualist Anarchist tradition of Sterner and Proudhon and obfuscated by various combinations of Foucault, Critical Theory and Continental Philosophy. Their ardent post-modernism is accompanied, somewhat paradoxically, by a strict lifestyle, although, predictably, they reject lifestyle-ism. I call this new theoretical school Post-Everything Anarcho-Nihilism since they are generally marked by a refusal to recognize or identify with past movements (such as the Left or Labor) or engage in creating something new. Unfortunately, the position, or lack thereof, taken by this new school (which AW will no doubt do better in explaining than I have) stems from grave misunderstandings on several points which I will flush out here.
To begin with, it is fallacious to separate Anarchism from Anarchy. Of course we know that -archy means rule and Anarchy is a state of society without rule although it is also synonymous with democracy witch is the rule of the demos or people. This argument of course was made by opponents of democracy who argued that it led to anarchy in an effort to legitimize the throne or the republic. Clearly, we don’t live in a democratic world or anarchy. Therefore, we must develop Anarchism which is a political program or theory of praxis which will lead to anarchy or democracy. It is impossible to believe in something without believing in what allows it to exist therefore those that claim to believe in Anarchy without Anarchism are founded on a logically invalid philosophy.
Secondly, Post-Everything Anarcho-Nihilists propose negation as a revolutionary program. Negation in itself however is void of revolutionary character since the revolutionary aim is the creation of something new. Alain Badiou says that negation is not enough. The revolution or Event is only realized with the creation of a new material/social situation.
These propositions of Post-Everything Anarcho-Nihilists are predicated upon gross misunderstandings of power or perhaps bourgeois interpretations of power. Power has a very material nature to it in that it can be accumulated and distributed. Indeed as Weber stated, all rule is instituted with violence which is inflicted through power. Power, in order for Anarchy or Democracy to exist, must be distributed. Indeed, as Noam Chomsky stated “I think what we want to do is to extend the domains of popular power in as many areas as possible. In fact, a large part of human history is just that: a
struggle to extend the domains of popular power and to break down centers of concentrated power.” Post-Everything Anarcho-Nihilists ignore the political nature of the problems of power re-distribution. Politics traditionally is thought of as the relations of citizens to states or states to each other and this kind of definition is hegemonicly propagated in order to keep people from imagining scenario’s which don’t give a priori legitimacy to power and domination. However, we have to be able to understand that politics has to do with the way individuals organize themselves in order to exist in society which is a natural phenomena.
Unfortunately, these misunderstandings of the Post-Everything Anarcho-Nihilists are inherent in their Individualist roots. And, just as Bookchin points out Anarcho-Communists and Syndicalists from the early 20th century and Marx himself “considered anarcho-individualism to be petty-bourgeois exotica.” The prevalence of these views in American Anarchism has much to do with the libertarian tradition in America based on Enlightenment ideals, however it also has to do with the sharp decline in the presence of any kind of Left in America since the late 60’s. Unless the Anarchist community can organize in any way to create non-party and non-government based political solutions to political problems they will continue to be irrelevant as political actors. Sadly, the trend toward Post-Everything Ananrcho-Nihilism in the Anarchist community is rendering them more and more irrelevant. Anarchists must re-engage the political sphere if they are going to be able to enter the struggle for power re-distribution in a political environment characterised by rising fascism and ultimately the revolutionary struggle for Anarchy and Democracy in the material/social relations of society.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
This is a little different for this website, but I don't care. We mostly write here, but today I felt like doing something different. I haven't made music in a while, yet I've been taking more photos recently. I've decided that I'll post some photos every once and while. That's all.
La banalité de la représentation - Series 1
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
"Moving beyond postmodernity in the political – or, antipolitics and the project of negation."
By Alden W.
“Die fucking antwoord.
What does that mean?
Answer to what?
-Die Anwoord “Zef Side”
Within the rhetoric of Pink and Black Attack #6’s queer anarchist polemic, “Preliminary notes on Modes of Reproduction” is an earnest desire to move into a frame of becoming/realizing which aborts the multiplicitous nature of postmodern political thought – ostensibly ending the ability to create an ontology of reproduction. The rereading and subsequent discussion I engaged in, in regards to this well articulated essay, got me thinking about the ways in which postmodern (and to a lesser extent poststructuralist) discourse has become so thoroughly ingrained in the very language of the political, so much so that they in effect become totalizing conduits through which the malleability and totality of post-industrial globalized late-capitalism actually restructures itself along these very lines. The theoretical impetus of late-capitalism within the totalizing context of postmodernity is one which shows how late-capitalism itself is NOT a hegemony in the static sense of the term, and rather is the logical outcome of postmodern biopolitics. Given the ability of late-capitalism to adjust to, contend for, and recuperate any projects of alterity – it is thus itself a postmodern phenomenon, one which can and does exist within a variety of modes of representation, reproduction, and confluence. Thus it is essentially a plural force, one which is totalizing in its infinite articulations. Thus, the project of negation is one which already understands that the binarizing logic of “anticapitalism” is dependent on the outdated and erroneous reading of late-capitalism as being a some thing in and of itself – a completeness to which, an identity crafted in opposition to it becomes existent. The project of negation understands that this is false. If late-capitalism indeed is indicative of postmodernity it is because that at the level of becoming, anticapitalism is indeed within the purview of late-capitalism itself. Thus postmodernism informs the discourse of late-capitalism, just as much as late-capitalism is itself the very discourse of postmodernity. “The primary mode of reproduction in a post-dialectic world is the reproduction of the individual—that is, re-creationism. The postmodern singularity is not created by God or its parents, but constructed through a pluralistic process that is increasingly ‘artificial,’ ‘social,’ and, paradoxically, selfrealized. This process is the process of identification” (PABA6- 30). Thus, the act of identification, the realizing of the self, is one which necessitates its position as being dependent on the individual’s ability to bring to life forms of identity which are, at least theoretically, infinite in their totalizing plurality. Yet herein lies the problem of conflating plurality with becoming, as it moves (either linearly of rhizomatically, the difference here is of no consequence) along the lines of realizing, again theoretically taken to its conclusion, it approaches an event horizon in which the multiplicity becomes so multiplicitous that all frames of reference are effectively severed and as such the identification of self becomes a non-existant. The project of negation is thus post-postmodern, a confluence of nodes of both being and becoming which in essence become the paradox of a singular plurality and a plural singularity. While PABA6 uses the discourse of reproduction to chart the ontology of the realization of self, and while the notions of creationism, procreationism, re-creationism, and nihilism are a useful means to elucidate this trajectory – the fact that they point to a project aiming at undermining the convergence of postmodernism and late-capitalism within a hostis antagonistic to this articulation is indeed testimony to their claim that, “the purely negative tendency has yet to reveal itself sufficiently to destroy the world as we know it” (PABA6 – 31).