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Sunday, March 2, 2014

There Was a Shooting at McDaniel Last Night

Thankfully, no one was harmed. According to the college website, the gun was fired at Whiteford Hall (one of the dorms) and the only damage done was a broken window. The campus alert also stated that a student walking alone last night was stopped by a few men not too far from campus and held at knifepoint. Luckily, the student escaped without injury.

During my time at McDaniel, I never ever once felt unsafe on campus. Walking by myself in downtown Westminster was a different story. I would get catcalled by creepy dudes more times than I could count as I would walk to Papa Joe's or some other restaurant or store on Main Street. During the spring of my first year at the school (spring 2011) a McDaniel student was raped as they were walking back to campus from a party (if I remember correctly). The entire campus was up in arms for days after that one violent act was reported.

McDaniel is probably the college least likely school to have an act of violence happen on campus. The students are very close with one another and the kind of environment isn't all that alienating. Not that long ago, one of my friends asked me if there had been any student deaths at my school when I was attending, and I told her I couldn't think of any. I compared this to my old school CSUN where student deaths - including suicides - were unfortunately common. Of course, CSUN is a campus of over 30,000 while McDaniel only has 1,600 or so students.

Stay safe everyone. Carry pepper spray if you feel unsafe in Westminster.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Reddit Conversation and Question for An-Caps

Reddit is pretty much a toilet when it comes to political or philosophical discussions, so I don't usually find it useful to record anything on there. However, there's an argument I had with a troll (I'm assuming this user is a troll, based on the language they use) the other day that highlights a question I have for "an"-caps concerning, once again, culture. Here's what I wrote on reddit:
Me (the OP):
>"Production-exploitation also 'works' thanks to the bourgeois ideology of 'work'. The workers are the first to be subjected to its effects, because it is an ideology of the capitalist class struggle. This ideology that 'makes the workers go' compromises the following basic elements, which are so many illusions and impostures, yet 'are successful' as long as the workers' class struggle does not combat them: 1) the bourgeois legal illusion according to which 'labour is paid for at its value'; 2) the corresponding legal-moral ideology which has it that one must 'respect one's labour contract' and through it, the enterprise's house rules and regulations; 3) the technicist-economistic ideology which has it that 'there must, after all, be different jobs within the division of labour' and such-and-such individuals to fill them. this ideology does a great deal more to make workers 'go' than repression does." - Louis Althusser, On The Reproduction of Capitalism, pg 42
So I'm reading through this book right now, and even though I know most of this stuff already, it's pretty insightful. A huge part of keeping any system alive is ideology, i.e. if people believe in the system and its rules, customs, and so on, it will continue. If a new system is to be created, it must also rely in part on ideology for the same reason, hence why Marxists and social anarchists look to establish counter-institutions to create a counter-hegemony (look here to understand it better), since the superstructure is relatively autonomous to the base.

Now, I get the impression that "an"-caps don't seem to understand this. For example, if you wanted to achieve and preserve your free market utopia, you'd need to ensure that a lot of things - namely, the NAP, property rights, a strong "ideology of work", etc. - are held by a large enough number of people. Often times I see "an"-caps talking about putting people in an "anti-state" mindset, thinking that this is the key to abolishing the state and setting up "anarcho"-capitalism, but beyond that they don't seem to put much into thinking how people would be kept in a pro-capitalist mindset, either before or after the revolution. You wouldn't have a very nice market if a lot of people just said "fuck work" or realized that capitalist relations of production are just as authoritarian in many ways as the government. After all, if you challenge the state on the basis that it limits human autonomy, wouldn't you also challenge other institutions that are seen as limiting human autonomy? Wouldn't securing a capitalist market require authoritarian measures, not through force but through ideology? See what I mean?

I also get the feeling that "an"-caps wouldn't need to create any kind of counter-hegemony in order to get their ideal society off the ground, since they know that these particular ideas concerning property, work, etc. are already established in the minds of most people in their societies. "An"-caps don't really seem to want any kind of revolutionary change in culture that challenges other areas of society beyond the government, either because they see it as unnecessary or threatening to their ideology (such as labor, anti-racist, or feminist movements attacking property norms). I asked how they see other institutions changing in "anarcho"-capitalism, yet most of their responses were pretty vague with little evidence from history or reality to back up their assertions.

I dunno. What do you people think?

EDIT: Here's a wiki article on the concept of reproduction in Marxism. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reproduction_%28economics%29

An-cap troll:
continue..
Also, if you're concerned about authoritarian schools why did you post an article that disparages unschooling?
Me:
>Also, if you're concerned about authoritarian schools why did you post an article that disparages unschooling?
I didn't notice the one sentence which mocked unschooling, perhaps?

Troll:
And http://www.reddit.com/r/DebateAnarchism/comments/1orkd3/ancaps_how_do_you_see_other_sources_of_authority/ccyek2h?

Me:
Let me ask you, do you consider a society where our interests and goals for ourselves are chosen by "the market" to be more liberated than a society where such constraints don't exist, or exist in a minimal state?

Troll:
Do you mean "do exist"? "where such constraints do exist"? Yes.
>If what that artist is doing isn't providing a living for them then the market is telling them that what they are doing isn't valuable to society. Doesn't mean they can't do it on the side of something else though.
Me:
And why would that society be far more liberated, in your view?

Troll:
>Since schooling would not be nationalized and subsidized, people would actually have to pay for these costs, and one would expect an increase in more practical applications (technicians, engineers, etc.) and a decrease in theoretical and abstract study (humanities, social sciences, and even some natural scientific research).
Me:
That actually makes a better case for what I'm saying. Because everything is based on "market demand", you'd see a society that's much more controlled (i.e. people not being able to pursue their own destinies because the market doesn't "allow" it) than one where such constraints don't exist.
I would actually suggest reading more about Marx's ideas on reproduction (including the Althusser book I quoted) to understand why a market system is far more fragile and requires far more mechanisms to keep itself afloat than, say, a communist system.

Troll:
>people not being able to pursue their own destinies because the market doesn't "allow" it
Who "allows" it under communism?
Me:
People have much more autonomy when they no longer have to worry about what's "useful" for the market.

Troll:
What do you mean by "have much more autonomy"?
Who allows them to no longer have to worry about what's useful for the market?
 
Me:
Do you deny that market systems (in particular, capitalism) require certain limitations on individuals' autonomy in order to preserve themselves?

For example, in "anarcho"-capitalism, would reproduction of a labor force, strict property norms, etc. be necessary?
 
Troll:
>Do you deny that market systems (in particular, capitalism) require certain limitations on individuals' autonomy in order to preserve themselves?
No.
>For example, in "anarcho"-capitalism, would reproduction of a labor force, strict property norms, etc. be necessary?
Yes.

Me:
First of all, you'll have to explain why you assume that the reproduction of a free market wouldn't entail authoritarian measures. For example, how do you get a significant number of people to adhere to the NAP without imposing the idea on them through institutions like schools, churches/mosques/temples, the media, etc.?

Troll:
In order to get schools, churches, and the media to be NAP based, people will have already had to choose to adhere to it.

Me:
Okay, so we're both in agreement that a particular ideology is needed and is inherent to the particular free market system you endorse, no?

So we can also agree that if the particular ideology needed for the free market system you support is not reproduced by the superstructure the system will have a much harder time maintaining itself, right?

My question is, wouldn't that entail some kind of institutionalized control in some form or another? Wouldn't it be problematic to allow others to promote any ideology that stresses something different from "an"-cap ideology en masse while having a system that harnesses ideological dedication of work, property, and the NAP to achieve ends in an economy? Don't you need a superstructure in order to have a system function on a base level (to use Gramsci's terms)?

After all, why is it that "an"-caps so openly support private police in order to enforce property claims or private schools that teach and promote Austrian Economics? "An"-cap run charities like Shire Sharing aren't just doing what they do in order to provide for Libertopia's needy; their charitable acts are done as much out of promoting their ideology - namely, that "free market charity" is an adequate substitute for the welfare state - as much as they're done out of the desire to help others. Don't you think an "anarcho"-capitalist system can truly be sustained on an ideological level without the implementation and reproduction of certain norms and customs?

Troll:
>Wouldn't it be problematic to allow others to promote any ideology that stresses something different from "an"-cap ideology
No, and ancap allows people to try communism.
>Don't you need a superstructure in order to have a system function on a base level (to use Gramsci's terms)?
>After all, why is it that "an"-caps so openly support private police in order to enforce property claims
>"An"-cap run charities
You need less police and charity in a more productive society. What does communism call the people who provide the "autonomy" and allow people to "no longer have to worry about what's useful for the market"?

Me:
>No, and ancap allows people to try communism.
Yes: islands of communism in a sea of capitalism. How is that any different from the system today? I could get some comrades to go out and homestead a plot of unused land or abandoned building, start a commune, and live happily. Likewise, "an"-caps can move up to Grafton, NH, live in mobile homes in a Free Stater's backyard in order to avoid property taxes, and freely trade with one another. In fact, Free Staters here find creative ways to avoid taxation all the time. By your logic, the state allows people to try "anarcho"-capitalism to some extent, since we don't live in an absolute authority.
>You need less police and charity in a more productive society.
You've completely overlooked my argument about the superstructure. A more productive economic system breeds less influence on culture, why?
>What does communism call the people who provide the "autonomy" and allow people to "no longer have to worry about what's useful for the market"?
You can't reduce this stuff to an individual level, i.e. "the individuals who allow for X in a society". You have to look at how the society functions from a holistic view. Do markets not create constraints on individual autonomy since they require certain elements to be reproduced - both at a repressive and ideological level - in order to keep functioning? Don't you need to ensure that enough people in a society hold that capitalist relations of production are legitimate in order to keep the capitalist mode of production running?

Again, why do you think it is that "an"-caps do whatever they can to promote their ideology, and why do you think it is that the economics departments of elite universities (not just George Mason and Hillsdale, but schools other state universities and left-leaning liberal arts colleges) are starting to teach Bastiat, Mises, and Hayek? Why do Free Staters here in NH engage in charities in the first place? A lot of it has to do with ideology, don't you think?

Troll:
>How is that any different from the system today?
Your commune wouldn't be taxed.
>You've completely overlooked my argument about the superstructure. A more productive economic system breeds less influence on culture, why?
I don't understand what you mean. A more ancap economic system would have a more ancap culture.
>Do markets not create constraints on individual autonomy since they require certain elements to be reproduced - both at a repressive and ideological level - in order to keep functioning?
I don't understand what you mean.
>Don't you need to ensure that enough people in a society hold that capitalist relations of production are legitimate in order to keep the capitalist mode of production running?
They choose to because it's better.
>Again, why do you think it is that "an"-caps do whatever they can to promote their ideology, and why do you think it is that the economics departments of elite universities (not just George Mason and Hillsdale, but schools other state universities and left-leaning liberal arts colleges) are starting to teach Bastiat, Mises, and Hayek? Why do Free Staters here in NH engage in charities in the first place? A lot of it has to do with ideology, don't you think?
Yes, but an ideology people are choosing.

Me:
>Your commune wouldn't be taxed.
In the example I was using, the commune already isn't taxed. Squats are not taxed. There are thousands of junkies squatting in Baltimore City right now who aren't being taxed for living in abandoned properties. In fact, the city doesn't give enough of a shit to evict them, even though Johns Hopkins does.
>A more ancap economic system would have a more ancap culture.
Ah, so now you're getting it! Base and superstructure, no?

Now, I'm going to ask you, what does a "more ancap culture" entail? What kinds of values and paradigms are emphasized and promoted in this culture? And what mechanisms and institutions are used to promote those values and paradigms?
>I don't understand what you mean.
In a market economy, people produce for the sake of monetary profit, do they not? They don't produce in order to use whatever they produce themselves, right? (Hence the contradiction between exchange-value and use-value that Marx talks about in Capital.) Therefore, the market creates constraints on what people are allowed to be. Not only that, but markets require certain customs and norms in order to function. Wouldn't a free market system require a certain set of property norms and ideas about property in order to keep the market held up?
>They choose to because it's better.
How is it better? Better in what way? Do people "naturally" organize society in a market sense?
>Yes, but an ideology people are choosing.
Choices don't happen in a vacuum. What is behind these choices? If you argue that it is merely a preference, I would ask, what is inspiring this preference?

Troll:
>In the example I was using, the commune already isn't taxed.
Yes, but would would happen to a "successful" one?
>What kinds of values and paradigms are emphasized and promoted in this culture?
Statism.
>And what mechanisms and institutions are used to promote those values and paradigms?
Schools, media, religion.
>Now, I'm going to ask you, what does a "more ancap culture" entail?
Ancap schools, media, religion.
>In a market economy, people produce for the sake of monetary profit, do they not? They don't produce in order to use whatever they produce themselves, right? (Hence the contradiction between exchange-value and use-value that Marx talks about in Capital.) Therefore, the market creates constraints on what people are allowed to be.
Does the artist in the commune produce art for use by themselves? Does the people who provide the livelihood for the artist produce that livelihood for use by themselves?
>How is it better?
For example,
>Since schooling would not be nationalized and subsidized, people would actually have to pay for these costs, and one would expect an increase in more practical applications (technicians, engineers, etc.) and a decrease in theoretical and abstract study (humanities, social sciences, and even some natural scientific research).
Me:
>Statism.
I was asking what paradigms and values are promoted in an ancap culture. You gave me an oversimplified example of the values promoted by the existing society.
>Ancap schools, media, religion.
And how do you see these institutions changing in "anarcho"-capitalism? What makes an ancap school function differently from a school in today's current mode of production?
>Does the artist in the commune produce art for use by themselves? Does the people who provide the livelihood for the artist produce that livelihood for use by themselves?
First of all, a market can't be reduced to mere "voluntary trade". A market has specific norms, laws, customs, ethics, etc. that must be brought into place, some of which have extremely authoritarian consequences.

Yes, a commune is most likely self-sufficient. It produces for need or enjoyment, not for profits. Work is a natural part of human society, but to what ends is work utilized in a market capitalist system vs. a communist system?
>Since schooling would not be nationalized and subsidized, people would actually have to pay for these costs, and one would expect an increase in more practical applications (technicians, engineers, etc.) and a decrease in theoretical and abstract study (humanities, social sciences, and even some natural scientific research).
This explanation is very broad at best. Why does subsidization and nationalization automatically lead to "useless" forms of study? And are the humanities in a market system truly "useless", especially if you have such a rigid division of labor which would entail some kind of managerial class?

Troll:
>And how do you see these institutions changing in "anarcho"-capitalism? What makes an ancap school function differently from a school in today's current mode of production?
Ancap schools teach free market economics instead of statist economics.
>Yes, a commune is most likely self-sufficient.
But in the commune, who provides for the artist? Who does the artist provide for?
>It produces for need or enjoyment, not for profits.
Profits are for need or enjoyment.
>Why does subsidization and nationalization automatically lead to "useless" forms of study? And are the humanities in a market system truly "useless", especially if you have such a rigid division of labor which would entail some kind of managerial class?
To the extent that they are useful they wouldn't need subsidized.

Me:
>Ancap schools teach free market economics instead of statist economics.
Sure, but I'm more interested in how these schools are organized, like the relationship between students and teachers, how the lessons are executed, and, most importantly, the role ancap schools play in the reproduction process of the economic system. Is it really enough to merely teach free market econ over what you call "statist" econ?
>But in the commune, who provides for the artist? Who does the artist provide for?
Workplaces self-managed by the workers usually provide for the entire community. An artist will not starve if they choose not to sell their art. Of course, I'm a mutualist actually so I feel that a communism needs to function on a reciprocal basis in order to be desirable.
>Profits are for need or enjoyment.
That's a highly oversimplified and abstract assertion. In what context are profits made, and how are they "needed"?
>To the extent that they are useful they wouldn't need subsidized.
I don't understand what you mean here.

Troll:
>Sure, but I'm more interested in how these schools are organized, like the relationship between students and teachers, how the lessons are executed, and, most importantly, the role ancap schools play in the reproduction process of the economic system. Is it really enough to merely teach free market econ over what you call "statist" econ?
Unschool. Free market econ would be optional.
>Of course, I'm a mutualist actually so I feel that a communism needs to function on a reciprocal basis in order to be desirable.
How does this differ from capitalism?
>That's a highly oversimplified and abstract assertion. In what context are profits made, and how are they "needed"?
A baker sells his bread for profit to buy something he needs, like clothes.
>I don't understand what you mean here.
>Why does subsidization and nationalization automatically lead to "useless" forms of study?
If they were useful they wouldn't need to be subsidized.
>And are the humanities in a market system truly "useless", especially if you have such a rigid division of labor which would entail some kind of managerial class?
End the subsidies and whatever humanities exist afterwards are useful.

Me:
>Unschool. Free market econ would be optional.
What incentive would people have in a highly competitive market system to unschool? If we were living in a free market, I would never unschool my kids, because my competition is putting their kids in the most elite schools that exist, and I would never want my kids' future competitors to have the upper hand.
>How does this differ from capitalism?
First of all, "mutualism" is not a set system but rather an ethical principle. Communistic systems can be mutualist.
>A baker sells his bread for profit to buy something he needs, like clothes.
This describes trade, not profit.
>If they were useful they wouldn't need to be subsidized.
Plenty of "useful" fields are subsidized. In fact, the departments of universities that are the most "useful" for the current system get the most funding by far. Philosophy departments receive hardly any funding while sociology and psychology departments receive a lot. Computer science and engineering departments get a shitload more money than physics or chemistry departments.
>End the subsidies and whatever humanities exist afterwards are useful.
Again, you're dishing out statements that are highly oversimplified.

With that said, here's my question:

Given all of this, would you say that a capitalist mode of production - even a capitalism with a completely free market that lacks any kind of state intervention like the "anarcho"-capitalists desire - will ultimately necessitate an authoritarian ideological apparatus? Is it not counter-intuitive to be promoting the idea of a more liberated culture under a stateless free market capitalism if that system's relations of production ultimately need and create authoritarian norms and institutions (schooling and its relationship to social class and the division of labor being the most obvious example)?

As with all questions I ask, write your thoughts in a comment, or make a response on your own blog.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Greek State: Golden Dawn Attack on Self-Organised Space Resalto

Reblogged from Libcom:

Fascist murders, we will crush you

Supporters of Golden Dawn took to the streets to attack the self-organised space Resalto close to the spot of the murder of antifascist musician Pavlos Fyssas.
Golden Dawn supporters returned to the streets of Athens on Saturday 25th January. Dozens of fascists once again marched through the neighbourhood of Keratsini, the same area where Golden Dawn members murdered Pavlos Fyssas in September.
Around 100 black-clad Golden Dawn supporters gathered in the neighbourhood early on Saturday morning. They marched through the streets vandalising the spot of Pavlos Fyssas' murder as they pasted. The group then pushed on to attack the anarchist/anti-authoritarian space Resalto. For several minutes the fascists gathered in front of the building hurling rocks and bricks at the people inside and breaking windows. Residential apartments around Resalto also came under attack with the inhabitants still inside.
Quote:
'The 15 comrades who were in Resalto at the time defended themselves and the space and after 5 minutes of clashes repelled them. Proving that the collective of comrades, without distinction of 'ability' or sex, are able to cope with the Nazi assault battalions when they do not have the active support of the forces of repression.'
(Resalto, source in Greek)

The comrades defended the building themselves as the police, though present in the area, did not intervene for some time as was the case during the September murder. After the fascists withdrew people gathered in solidarity with Resalto and an antifascist march passed through the neighbourhood with another demonstration planned for the end of the week. Resalto is a self-organised space which has been open and active since 2005. A video of the attack taken from inside Resalto and the following demonstration can be found below.


Golden Dawn have not engaged in such an attack on the streets now for some months. Much of the party leadership is imprisoned or awaiting trial for forming a criminal gang. This plus the reaction to the murder of Fyssas and the later assassination of two Golden Dawn members likely encouraged the party to keep a low profile. The only public action of Golden Dawn recently was a gathering of 2-3,000 in central Syntagma Square to protest the continuing detention of their leadership with similar marches to mark the anniversary of the Imia incident coming up this week. 

Despite the government crackdown the party are still the third most popular in Greece in the run up to local and European elections later this year. Saturday's attack could be read as an attempt by Golden Dawn to reassert a presence on the street and remind voters that they haven't disappeared.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Income Inequality, the Drug War, and the Removal of 'Anarchist Memes'

Latest show by the Authority Smashing Hour. I called in around the 30-minute mark to discuss the Facebook's hostility towards the Anarchist Memes page.


Popular Politics Progressive Internet Radio with Authority Smashers on BlogTalkRadio

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Ariel Sharon is Dead

Honestly, I don't have a desire to celebrate. Why? Simple: no justice was done here. The guy was in a coma for - what? - eight years before dying of natural causes. He will never, ever have to face his horrific crimes (the massacre at Sabra and Shatila, for example), the same way Reagan and Thatcher never had to face any of their crimes before their deaths (you know that Kissinger will probably die without facing any war crime charges in the multiple Latin American states where he's wanted as a war criminal).

Despite this, we should all give a sigh of relief now that such a monster no longer has a presence on this earth. I'm certain many Palestinians are already doing so.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A Brief Word to Anarchists Regarding "Convert Syndrome" and Marxists


Even though I'm still very critical of Marxism-Leninism, and still decry all of the awful things that Marxists have done - and continue to do - to anarchists, there are still a lot of Marxists that I know and care about very much. They're some of the most intelligent and compassionate people I've ever met. I'll also admit that I find more enjoyment in reading Marxist and Marxist-influenced texts than I do from reading most anarchist texts. Again, my issue isn't with Marxian economics or historical materialism - my issues are elsewhere.

This is why it frustrates me to no end whenever I see anarchists (usually those on sites like Facebook and Reddit but also in real life) trying to convert Marxists to anarchism, especially when they flat-out lying about what Marxism teaches in order to do so. It's pathetic and needs to be called out. I might not live as an authoritarian Marxist anymore, but I still strongly adhere to that quote by Mao: "No investigation, no right to speak." I'll advise my anarchist comrades to follow it too.

I'm serious: this bullshit needs to stop.

Let me give you some examples about what I mean. I've seen these missionary-types make total bogus statements as an attempt to move Marxists towards anarchism. "Marx never used dialectics," is a strangely common one (granted, Marxist dialectics are not necessarily Hegelian, but to claim that Marx had no dialectical method is complete bullshit; by the way, if you want to know about analytic "Marxism" I strongly suggest this essay). Or they'll go the other way and claim that Marxism states that communism is inevitable - um, no, Marx never said anything like that, and the people who make that claim are injecting Second Internationale stuff into Marx's original works. "Graeber's Debt debunks historial materialism!" - first of all, Marxists have critiqued several elements of Graeber's work, including the narrative he presents; second, historical/dialectical materialism is not a dogma and it's outright foolish to portray it as such.

The absolute worst is when these bold assertions come from anarchists who state that they've been Marxists in the past. To be perfectly honest, I don't think most of the anarchists on places like /r/anarchism or the various Facebook groups who claim to have been Marxists (or Marxist-Leninists) a few years ago were ever Marxists to begin with. Why do I think this? There's quite a few indicators. Some of those people will claim to have read all three volumes of Capital back-to-back-to-back, but then they'll give a critique of Marx's labor theory of value by using an issue that Marx explicitly addresses in the first chapter of the first volume. Or they'll take a passage from one of Marx's or Engels' works out-of-context and claim it means something that no Marxist would ever say it means. I'm not kidding when I say I can sniff these people out from a mile away, they're that obvious.

Now, since a lot of anarchists insist that everyone be held to the same standard regardless of who they are, I should probably ask, do you think it's okay for Marxists to lie about anarchism, or claim that anarchists believed things that they've never believed, in hopes that they'll become Marxists? When you see critiques of anarchism from Leninist groups, does it not bother you that they usually quote Proudhon or Bakunin out-of-context in order to make it look like they believed things they never believed (recall that Marx did exactly this when he was critiquing Proudhon in Poverty of Philosophy), or that they portray the least popular forms of anarchism (like post-leftist lifestylism) as their main examples of anarchist thought? All the time I see Marxists in real life and on the internet pulling this kind of stuff. They'll make remarks like: "Well, Kropotkin never defines what 'authority' is in his quotes and passages about authority, so I have no reason to take his words seriously." Certainly, there's a lot of criticisms one could make about the ways in which Marxism and Marxist theorists address the issue of human freedom, but it's still a bad argument on their part.

Now, if you get pissed at half-assed criticisms of your own ideology, maybe it's a bad idea to sink to their level by imitating those mistakes. Besides, do you really think the best way to convert others to your theories is to continually lie about their theories? After all, if those people whom you're trying to convert are well-read enough they'll easily be able to catch your misrepresentations and dismiss you. Is that really what you want?

There's one other thing I'd like to address.

A common motif I see in these poorly-done attacks on Marxism from online anarchists is this reluctance to grasp the methodology Marxists typically use. Every time someone on /r/anarchism on reddit brings up anything having to do with dialectic, for example, they're usually downvoted to hell with every other comment stating that dialectics are either too hard to understand or worthless to understand. To be perfectly honest, this mentality - while disappointing - doesn't surprise me that much, especially when it's coming from Americans who were never really taught philosophy.  Much of the philosophy taught in American universities tends to be watered-down, and excuses are made for anything that's controversial by our standards (of course, when I was at McDaniel I lucked out and had an adviser from Germany - one of the most brilliant people I know - who got her students thinking outside the paradigms we've known). You don't exactly learn dialectics unless it's in passing. When you're a philosophy major, you're required to take one or two courses on Aristotelian ("formal") logic early on and a lot of your thinking becomes set in that paradigm. Now, this goes back to what I mentioned previously about looking at dialectical materialism as a dogma: sometimes one assumes that anything which doesn't fit the paradigm of the Aristotelian logic they've been taught is akin to dogma - "Oh, how could anyone with a rational mode of thinking hold this view?" Again, philosophy isn't supposed to be thought of as a dogma, but rather a pair of glasses one puts on to help them understand the world.

My intention for writing this isn't to bash on my comrades. When I do call out stuff like this, I try to let my comrades know that I do it out of respect. My hope is that we can have a civilized, well-thought out dialogue between anarchists and Marxists, just like we can have dialogue between anarchists and an-caps, Marxists and liberal social democrats, anarchists and social democrats, or anyone of any other political persuasion. Most of all, I want these debates to be honest, free from all the bullshit I'm continually bombarded with. I'd like to see a debate between someone who knows Marx's Capital - not just someone who has read all three volumes, but someone who knows it, like Étienne Balibar or David Harvey - and someone who truly knows anarchist theories of political economy and the State, because I know that will be far more productive for all of us than our stupid Reddit back-and-forths.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Crete (Greece): Interview with a comrade from Evagelismos Squat

Reblogged from squat.net via Anarchist News:

Submitted by Anonymous on Mon, 12/30/2013 - 22:39

Greece has a long history of anti-authoritarian struggle that has provided inspiration for anarchists across the globe. Recently, I spent time in Greece to learn from comrades there about their experiences in anti-authoritarian organization and in particular establishing squats and self-organized spaces as centers of resistance, or autonomous zones. What follows is an interview with Carpe diem, from Evagelismos squat in Heraklion, Crete.

Can you give a brief overview of the squat movement in Greece?

In the 70′s, during the struggle against the dictatorship and the struggle for social justice and workers rights after it’s fall, occupied university buildings were used as a centers for coordination of the struggle. At the beginning of the ’80s, together with the early underground punk scene of Greece, the first squats were established. They can be seen as a continuation of the squat movement that was sweeping Europe at the time, in Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and elsewhere. It was a phenomenon that did not manage to become popular, but on the other hand it contributed a great deal to the creation and spread of an underground culture, which had confrontational tendencies against the establishment and social norms. The squats, a key structure of the anti-authoritarian movement (not only in Greece), functioned as liberated spaces both for political action and housing.

The practice of liberating spaces, in which people are able to self-determine their daily lives and the conditions of fighting the system, bloomed at the beginning of the 2000 and this practice continues until today. At the beginning of 2012 there were about 20 squats throughout Greece.

How do the squats contribute to the broader struggle in Greece, such as against the current austerity measures and the rise of Golden Dawn?

As we mentioned above, the squats are not just buildings where people are housed. They are mainly places in which political actions are organized, actions that do not only include the people who live there, but a wider circles of political activists. In some cases they even constitute the core of the anti-authoritarian struggle in Greece. So we must consider the establishment of squats, not as a goal in itself, but rather as a means to self-organize. From this perspective, the contribution to the broader struggle, together with the struggle against the fascists (Golden Dawn) is major. In fact, as for the second, it is a matter of creating political hegemony over a space, a neighborhood or a town. There is no room for coexistence between fascists and anti-authoritarians, so squats acts as a barrier against fascist influence. A great example is Villa Amalias squat in the center of Athens, which was evicted last winter, after 23 years, due to a lot of pressure by the far-right wing of the government. The squat was situated in a strategic point of the city and functioned as an anti-authoritarian stronghold in a neighborhood that was in an area with a strong fascist influence.

There has been a recent wave of evictions of squats in Greece. How do you think this will affect the anarchist movement?

The recent wave of evictions started in the autumn of 2012 and is part of a broader “law and order” operation by the recent right-wing government. This operation does not only affect the anarchist movement, but also immigrants and some other marginalized social groups including drug addicts and prostitutes. This operation has targeted the anti-authoritarian movement, through destroying our centres and social spaces and attempting to restrict our influence in social struggles. In the last six months, 9 squats have been evicted, 3 independent radio stations closed, and the main Web site (athens.indymedia.org) attacked and forced to move to a server abroad. There are also over 30 comrades in prison accused of taking part in armed urban guerrilla warfare.

There are many factors that will determine the movement in the long run: the fluid political and social situation makes it very difficult to predict the outcome. The insurrection of December 2008 and the greek Occupy Movement of June 2011 has changed the influence, the dynamics, the characteristics and the aims of the movement to a great extent. Right now we cannot imagine that this wave of evictions and repression will be able to dismantle the movement, but the biggest threat lies more in the general downwards spiral of psychological depression throughout the population.

When was your squat established and how is life in the squat organized? What are the main activities in which you engage in your squat?

The squat of Evagelismos (an old abandoned hospital in the centre of Heraklion, Crete) was established in 2002 by around 80 students who wanted to found a cultural space. In that group there were also some anarchists who took over maintenance and organization of the space after the most of the students left the initiative. Since then, the squat has functioned as a place where immigrants and homeless people were hosted and afterwards more politically active people started to live in it. Besides providing housing, it continues to be the centre of anti-authoritarian anarchist struggle in Heraklion. The building hosts the majority of the collective processes of the anarchists here, such as assemblies, events, a bar every Friday (the money from which goes both towards the running costs of the building and the struggle, e.g. supporting political prisoners, funding a self-run newspaper),it has a gym and hosts workshops on many different issues.

How are you organizing in the face of current evictions?

On this point we have to separate the events into time periods: before and after 2010. The year 2010 marks the handover of Greece to the control of the IMF and the European Central Bank, which has completely changed the sociopolitical landscape. Before that point, the political standard was that there was asylum in university owned buildings. This means that the police needed special authorization to enter and/or evict a university and for that reason, many of the squats were/are established in university buildings. Also, it was politically costly. This means that the decision to evict squats would bring a lot of reaction, destabilization and trouble for the ones that took that decision. These kind of balances have ceased to exist in all aspects of the sociopolitical sphere (syndicates, workers’ rights, human rights etc). The final issue is the existence of the right-wing government, which has adopted a far-right agenda because of the loss of voters to the neonazi party (Golden Dawn). The current government specifically targets the anti-authoritarian movement.

For these three reasons, including the movement’s incapacity to respond to sociopolitical changes of that scale, puts us in a difficult position to confront and be able to face this large scale attack by the State. After the first evictions, at the beginning of 2013, there was a huge wave of reaction with many tactics used (big demonstrations, attacks on state and capital infrastructure, info-campaigns, re-occupations of evicted squats, mass arrests, etc) but this was not enough to prevent the ongoing repression. Now, in autumn 2013 after all these experiences, the movement is a bit numb and still searching for answers as to how to organize resistance and struggle under the given situation.

But as we say here in Greece “Nothing is over, everything goes on”. We are in front of a sociopolitical breaking point, not only here in Greece, so the challenge for revolutionary forces globally is to determine the way in which history will develop. We send our solidarity greetings to all people in the Middle East and North Africa, who struggle to promote libertarian ideas and practices. Our struggle is common, so we should find ways to connect them. To do that, we should first start a way of intercommunication and we are willing to start this path here.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Quote of the Day (12/24/2013)

"Progress, once more, is the affirmation of universal movement, consequently the negation every immutable form and formula, of every doctrine of eternity, permanence, impeccability, etc., applied to any being whatever; it is the negation of every permanent order, even that of the universe, and of every subject or object, empirical or transcendental, which does not change.

"The Absolute, or absolutism, is, on the contrary, the affirmation of all that Progress denies, the negation of all that it affirms. It is the study, in nature, society, religion, politics, morals, etc., of the eternal, the immutable, the perfect, the definitive, the unconvertible, the undivided; it is, to use a phrase made famous in our parliamentary debates, in all and everywhere, the status quo."
-- Proudhon, Philosophie du progrès (1855)

It's actually been on my mind for a long while: ideas of absolutism have become so prevalent now. Whether it's ideas of "full communism" signifying a world where every form of social organization is akin to one big unchanging commune, or that magical agorá or the Galt's Gulch that's supposed to be a free market that remains "free" for eternity.

In political philosophy, a common motif is the "just state", which not only remains righteous in how it governs, but withstands the constant movement of history. Think about the state in Plato's Republic, Ibn Khaldun's cycle of history in The Muqaddimah and his idea that the state needs to run on pure Islamic principles in order to be immune to its downfall (tell me what kind of government is more absolutist than a theocracy), or Machiavelli's desire to create a state that lasts in The Prince. It's that same idea: a permanent system for the rest of history that denies progress.

When these absolutist ideas come about in discourse, they very often take the form of a romanticization of the past: in order to achieve a perfect society we have to look towards past societies, bring them to today, freeze them in time, and preserve them forever. Notice the arguments presented in favor of communism that to point to hunter-gatherer societies and make bold claims along the lines of: "most of human society is already communist and has been since the start of time", or the arguments in favor of free(d) markets which try to demonstrate how markets are the way in which people "naturally" organize and interact. It's as if to say that if the current system were to collapse, years of ideology would instantly undo itself and we would all move to the particular form of social organization that our fixed human nature wired us for - talk about teleological!

Though it's not even the sugar-coated anthropology that comes up as an issue, but rather this idea that our freedom relies on something so absolute. I've spoken to many free marketeers who bring up the free(d) markets that existed in the past: Medieval Iceland, which was allegedly in market anarchy because its police were divorced from the courts - would we today consider that society "free" for this reason? Or the merchants in the Medieval Caliphate who traded freely and made property contracts without the interference of the government; were people in that society "liberated" simply because they were exchanging goods and currency without the interference of the state? 

One could argue that the ideas we hold - namely, those of "freedom", etc. - are only relevant within a particular historical context (what we hold as being traditional values, for example, are not trans-historical, and I would expect these values to die out or drastically change when their existence is no longer necessary). Even if you could prove somehow that everyone on the planet desires full communism or a free market, such ideas cannot be realized until the conditions are correct.

As far as I'm concerned, freedom is not found within the extreme individualism emphasized by the "free market" or within a strict, never-changing communalism but in the balance of these two. "Freedom" isn't a fixed or static anyway.

That's all for tonight.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Santiago, Chile: Anarchist Compañero Sebastián Oversluij Murdered During Bank Expropriation

Reblogged from: Act For Freedom Now! via  contrainfo
  
On Wednesday morning, December 11, 2013, 26 year old anarchist Sebastián Oversluij Seguel was gunned down by a security guard when he and other individuals attempted to rob a branch of Chilean state-run bank Banco Estado, located on La Estrella Avenue in the Pudahuel commune of Santiago. The mercenary killer of the State/Capital fired at least 6 bullets into the comrade.
Shortly afterwards, Alfonso Alvial, 27, and Hermes González, 25, were caught by cops on the streets, while other comrades managed to escape. 
On Wednesday night several houses were raided, including the home of Sebastián’s parents.
The two apprehended comrades were charged in the case and moved to the High Security Prison (C.A.S.) in Santiago.
Respect and insurrectionary memory for anarchist Sebastián Oversluij!
Strength, love and solidarity to his comrades and beloved ones!
sources: i, ii

Sunday, December 15, 2013

I Wish This Was A Joke

I present to you: The Bitcoin Song!



Yes, there are people out there who honestly believe Bitcoin will be a step towards ending global poverty and hunger. This is right up there with the people who believe agorism will bring a massive social change to the culture, if practiced on a large scale.

Bitcoin is functioning more as a stock than a means of exchange. State and corporate elite have started to harness it now, and you know that it probably won't last that much longer as a means or symbol of rebellion.

But this song - ouch. (For the record, Tatiana Moroz blocked me from commenting on her Youtube videos, so I must resort to this medium.)