Friday, November 20, 2015

Why Don't Maoist-Third Worldists Just Become Post-Left Anarchists?

(Note: I will post much longer and more detailed essays on Third Worldism later in the month.)

The growing trend of Third Worldism on the internet is funny. On one hand, its adherents come off as deeply nihilistic and militant, but on the other, they resort right back to moralism and reluctance to engage in actions of any kind.

This appears whenever a critique of their much-underdeveloped ideology poses the question on all of our minds: "If Third Worldism is correct, and it's impossible for a successful and legitimate socialist revolution to occur in the First World, what do we, as First Worlders, do?" The overarching idea is, the West (or "First World") has lost its chances for revolution, or was never revolutionary to begin with. Revolution in the so-called "First World" is impossible, or, if it were to occur, would only shine as a beacon of social imperialism and Western chauvinism to nations that are much more in need of one.

The Third Worldist sees zero space for any kind of resistance in the "First World". When workers in the "First World" go on strike for higher wages, the workers in the "Third World" pay via higher rates of exploitation. But this isn't limited to the workplace. The "First Worlder" lives in a state of perpetual colonization through immersion in bourgeois ideology.

Everything a Westerner does furthers the colonial relationship between "First" and "Third" Worlds. We go to the store to buy mangoes grown in the Philippines and toothpaste made from minerals stolen from Mali - imperialism. We get prescribed modern medicine that comes from plants found in the Amazon - imperialism. We go to university and proceed to be indoctrinated with imperialist paradigms - imperialism. We go to work in retail where we sell cheap clothing made by Indonesian and Salvadoran sweatshop labor - more imperialism. We drive a car with oil stolen from Who-Knows-Where - imperialism. Even when we shop at hippie grocers ("good capitalists") and take the bus we are still reproducing the cycle of exploitation either physically or mentally by wallowing in imperialist culture.

The Third Worldist says this is exactly why organic radicalism can never come from the West. On the other side, the post-leftist would contend that within the consumer culture small kernels of resistance can form. They realize in this atmosphere of meaningless they search for new forms of existence. In both cases, the solution is to divorce yourself from capital as much as possible. Squat your next home, dumpster dive, and refuse to work or study. Throw off the rationalist paradigms that keep us glued to the social order.

The Maoist obsession with maintaining strict self-discipline would see the act of "dropping out" as a means of achieving a more radical and less degenerate mindset. Today, Western Maoists emphasize the much-needed escape from identities that condition one into maintaining an oppressor status. If you are white, you must rid your mind of "whiteness" as a vital act. If you were born into any other kind of privilege, you must proverbially self-flagellate until the reminiscence of your privilege is gone. Can one be expected to do so when they're actively participating in a culture that does nothing but reproduce imperialism?

The post-leftist willingly makes their life an expression of anarchy. They see the old anarchist strategies as useless in today's world. Much like Diogenes of old, they construct their lives outside the mainstream as much as they can. Bourgeois culture in total is something that ought to be rejected, as it is not only oppressive, but creates the aura of meaninglessness. Little acts of rebellion create a mental shield against the dominant culture. It is the outright refusal to be assimilated into capital that has the means of breaking the social law.

Post-leftists genuinely take up the paradigms and rituals of the outsider cultures. For them, it is not so much a fetish, but a learning experience. Third Worldists state the moral need to do so, as "Third Worlders" are, in their view, in possession of a metaphysical essence which propels them spiritually over their "First World" exploiters. Rather than insisting their (bastardized form of) Marxism ought to learn from them, Third Worldists insist on shoehorning the "paradigms of the oppressed" into a Marxist framework, where they naively insist that they're already on the same page.

From a Marxist perspective, it makes sense to reject the (non-)strategies of post-leftism. They are idealist, Utopian, romantic. But if one does accept the new narratives put forth by internet Third Worldists, would taking up a "lifestyle anarchism" be the only means left for "First Worlders" to weaken imperialism? Complete rejection of bourgeois culture means you eventually have nothing left to lose. Your dependence on the system for your experiences of life is gone, as is the state of mind which keeps you attached to it.

Perhaps the LLCO should collaborate with CrimethInc.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Reblogged - Statement from Revolutionary Anarchist Action about the Paris Massacre (Turkey)

Taken from 325:

On 13th of November, more than 150 people have lost their lives and tens injured in 7 different neighborhoods of Paris as a result of coordinated ISIS attacks with bombs and guns. The murderer ISIS continues its murders outside of the Middle East and Anatolia regions. The massacre which took place in Paris shows clearly that ISIS terror knows no bounds. —- We feel the massacre in Paris deeply and share your sorrow. We have lived and still living through ISIS attacks supported by the state. From Şengal to Kobane, from Pirsus (Suruç) to Ankara, we have lost many comrades and friends. We are aware of the fact that the massacres aim to create fear, distrust and loneliness on us. Our pain is great and increases every day. In these periods, We have to grow the solidarity against the murderers that want to bury us into fear, loneliness and isolation.

We see the simultaneous moves of the french state and other states aiming to direct the process. We know that these same strategies are realized in our region under the name of “Fight against Terror”. In this environment of distrust, people have a psychology of panic which is directed by the ideological devices of the state; the state oppression of revolutionaries and state politics restricting the freedom of the oppressed will be politically legitimized; and the racist discourse and politics will increase. The states use these extraordinary periods for their political, economic and social interests.

We understand the situation that the peoples living in France are and will be in. We know the difficulty of carrying on one side the sorrow of the lost ones and on the side, struggling against the fascist mobilisations in the society created by the state. We stress that, even with this hardship, the struggle should be against the fear, the state and fascism.

The sorrow you live is our sorrow, The rage you feel is our rage, your fight is our fight!

Devrimci Anarşist Faaliyet – DAF (Revolutionary Anarchist Action)

From a-infos via insurrectionnews.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Re: Re: The West embraces infantilism, through fear of hardship

+Jennifer Armstrong I'd also say that both the contemporary Left and Right are fully saturated in narcissistic abuse tactics (more precisely, their use of fear, obligation, and guilt in order to manipulate their political rivals into taking up their positions). For example, look at the response to the recent attacks in Paris. The right-wing demands collective punishment; they won't say it, but it's pretty obvious that they're going to start demanding all French Muslims be deported and the EU seal their borders to Syrian refugees and new migrants from North Africa. They insist that Muslims reform themselves to be more in-line with Western culture or else (something from which grows resentment - why is the burden on Syrians/Algerians to become more Western rather than on the West to stop interfering in the Arab World? Not that the Arab World doesn't have its own dirt, but one can definitely smell the hypocrisy). On the other hand, the Left responds in a way that's just childish by all means. "Well, if France wasn't so islamophobic, then the attacks wouldn't have happened," - as if ISIS truly cares about Algerian/Syrian immigrants living in French ghettos and these attacks were nothing but retaliation for the grievances of those families. In both cases, the Right and Left put the burden on the other guy to deal with the issues at hand, and for the exact same reasons you're describing. The Right has no ability to deal with existing material conditions, so they demand that the people causing the "problems" (immigrants, racial/ethnic minorities, the working poor, etc.) reform themselves to meet the Right's criteria of what people ought to be. The Left, even if their understanding of the material conditions is (mostly) correct, refuse to deal. They will not break a few eggs to make an omelette, because doing so inevitably requires getting your hands dirty. That's why their "plans of attack" are nothing more than using emotional blackmail tactics to get the people on top to treat those on the bottom nicer; they refuse to organize or form any kind of coherent politic that works at dismantling those social hierarchies to begin with. It's a giant mess.
+Julia Riber Pitt Yes, I have found that too, with the left and right -- but more precisely the left plays into the hand of the right almost every time. I mean every time that their narrow guilt tactics do not work and people think more broadly, they play directly into the hands of the right. I have certainly experienced this in my own life, where constant abuse drove me, at one point sharply rightward looking for a solution. In the end, I followed a much more dialectical path and balanced myself out, but my deeper understanding of the left and its fundamentally cowardly nature, as it now seems to me, has given me a certain amount of sympathy for some of those on the right that I would not have had before. As for the attacks on Paris, I sense a new discourse coming into play. I think it is interesting that modern people, of the left or right, would be prepared to fight for anything at all, rather than dissolving themselves into petty guilt-mongering and intellectual apathy.
+Jennifer Armstrong In particular, one trend that appears to be very common on the Left these days is the idea that good intention overrides everything. The Left feels as though it doesn't need to be intelligent or tactical or even militant so as long as their intentions are to "end oppression X". This is why you often see college liberals spewing out things that are completely absurd, but justify them on the basis that their hearts are in the right place. The Left tends to strive for temporary gratification rather than working long-term towards putting a permanent stop to the ongoing disasters. At least ANTIFA in France is there to kick the shit out of neo-Nazis who try to attack innocent Muslims in response to the recent attacks. Leftists in the US are basically just talking heads.
+Julia Riber Pitt If they can't think but only emote about the situation, they are not good for anything.   Also, if they do not have mental discipline, they are likely to devolve into narcissism and self-pitying when the going gets tough.  Temporary gratification is just another word for narcissistic supply.

Paris and Beirut

I'm horrified at the recent attacks in Paris, and also in Beirut. Thankfully, no one I know, whether personally or online, was killed. That doesn't diminish the effects. All of France is under a state of emergency right now. I've been back in the US for exactly one month, so all of the reports I'm receiving are from others. It's very likely that the situation in Paris will resemble the aftermath of the 2013 Boston bombing, whereby the city is shut down for days and everyone is at the orders of the police, military, or both.

The aftermath of these attacks are what the far-Right wants to happen. The amount of backlash towards the Arab communities in France are going to be high, and more and more French will undoubtedly embrace the FN and its agenda. Syrian refugees are already being blamed for causing the attacks, despite the fact that the ISIS scumfucks who committed the attacks in both cities are the very people from whom the refugees were escaping.

I haven't spoken to anyone in Beirut, but I assume their situation is very similar.

Defend yourselves.


Saturday, November 7, 2015

Re: The West embraces infantilism, through fear of hardship

There tends to be a sentiment on the modern Left that the only way we can "win" is by out-moralizing our enemies (the Right). What the Left seeks today is sympathy from those above, as if the people in power will willingly give it up if they're preached to enough or feel sorry for those on the bottom. Feelings of resentment towards current power structures are not channeled into any kind of praxis, since that would entail a moment where the marginalized are put in a position of potential violence and destruction (even if the act is strictly for the ending the ongoing state of disaster and bringing forth the redemption of humankind). What you do see, on the other hand, is an utterly confused Left that wants to maintain its innocence despite the ongoing disaster. Call-out culture, trigger warnings on classical literature, safe spaces, and so on are shields that substitute the need to deal with evil.

I'd say it goes along with the idea of "simulated" activism. The image is considered more vital to movements than the actions taken. I saw this quite a bit when I was attending Occupy back in 2011-2012. There were those of us who wanted to steer our protests in a more militant direction - join with the local unions and start occupying buildings and all that. We were told by others that we were privileged, and that because we held some privilege relative to others, it would not be our place to direct these potential acts of defiance. Were we doing something wrong? We didn't know, but we certainly felt that way. We obviously weren't liberals, nor were we Ron Paul fans who were desperately trying to weasel their ways into our movement as good entryists often do, nor did we understand our plans as acts of exclusion of the more disenfranchised. The basic premise was: if you are marked with an "oppressor identity" - and we were, as college students from white, middle-class backgrounds - you are not allowed to contribute in any significant way to any kind of social struggle. It extends far beyond this; not only are you not allowed to contribute and be given credit for your contribution, but anything you do will ultimately be toxic for the others involved. The way to ensure your saintly image is to apologize for whatever privileges you may hold and to step back from going over the top.

I haven't been to an American college campus since I finished at McDaniel at the end of 2012. However, my perception is that things on college campuses have only gotten tighter and more binded since then. During my undergrad at both McDaniel and Cal State, I would always wear a keffiyeh to show solidarity with the Palestinians. Today, I'm told that wearing a keffiyeh if you're not Arab is a sign of a "white savoir" complex and those who do so need to be shamed. Again, the need to maintain your image as a good person now outweighs the desire to show solidarity with the oppressed.

As it is, in the US, we're seeing a huge rebirth of the Right-wing (which suffers from its own infantilism). I had the wonderful luck of having been a teenager during the Bush II years, when the Right was at its strongest. My region was saturated with Religious Right ideology at the time. Then, soon after Obama took office, my home region began flooding with free marketeers. My suspicion is that a reemergence of the Right in American culture would be the start of a giant backlash against the liberal Left (i.e. college campus social justice), something that most people on the Left wouldn't be able to handle. Why settle for being a mere martyr when you can win?

Of course, it's obvious that the Right are far more guilty of this mindset. The Right takes on a childish attitude because they can't deal with the existing reality. They can't handle the fact that the white male is no longer the default in American society, or that inequalities of wealth and climate change are serious issues that need to be addressed. I don't know what the Right are like in Australian politics, but in the US the Republican Party is completely out-of-touch. They refuse to acknowledge the contradictions that have arisen with neoliberalism and the massive shift in culture since the 1960s. This is also where conspiracy theories about Planned Parenthood, the Frankfurt School, George Soros, and other Left intellectuals secretly plotting to destroy the West come into play. Everything is the fault of the "aliens" for them, because addressing the existing material conditions would be too much.

I don't see things getting too much better, unfortunately.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Response to a Friend on Anti-Progress/Romantic Anarchism

Thanks for the article.

It's ironic how contemporary anarchism (namely, what's seen in the Anglo World) tends to put quite a bit of faith in progress and the idea that the course of human history is inevitably moving towards a freer and more harmonious future. Perhaps "irony" isn't the right word to describe it. If we look at the typical mindset that's present throughout our culture we see a compulsion to establish a strict norm followed by a means to righteously justify what has been determined to be the standard behavior in which everyone ought to conduct themselves. It's not surprising that the anarchist trends produced by our culture would fall directly in-line with this perception. Among the anarchists I've known, a common trope is this overarching notion that anarchism is essentially virtue ethics. The major purpose of creating "anarchism" is to gradually move society towards an existence that more rigidly follows the established morality; this has already been determined to be the τέλος because, according to them, the belief in justice and freedom is something innate to all human beings, and is guaranteed to be brought out through the slow transition to a horizontally-organized society. More technology, more unions, more co-ops, more marginalized peoples on television, and more social democratic policies from the bourgeois state are signs that we are inevitably moving there.

When we talk about the ways in which anarchism has tried to divorce itself from anarchy, we show the reluctance of most modern anarchist trends to embrace that full-blown overturning of the social order. The importance of a gradual revolution and its foundation in a blind faith in progress demonstrates the underlying demand to stick with safety. We don't see much of a call for a paradigm shift away from the same old tired Enlightenment dialectics. But it goes further. In this view, time must still be understood as infinitely-linear, hence the insistence that the revolution has to be gradual with a clearly seen past, present, and future. The idea of progress sugar-coats this assertion. It could be argued that this is a major reason as to why the anarchist trends of today express a fear of the big spontaneous revolutionary uprising. The future must be known and controlled so that the convention will remain.

I also think that the whole demand for convention is one reason why a lot of anarchists today would be disgusted by a figure like Blanqui, or even the insurrectionist heroes like Nechayev (I'm even in agreement that most modern-day Marxist-Leninists would be unsettled by Lenin). What scares them isn't so much the violence or destruction, but the ignorance of the future and the sudden break that comes with the interruption. The idea of the Moment or Event which "stops history" is horrifying to them, not just because of its destructive connotations but because it implies that there's an unknown horizon. And it's in that mist of chaos when the established values and norms of the old society are challenged. One only has to look at someone like Blanqui or Nechayev to understand that their main objective as revolutionaries wasn't to be the perfect moral agents, but to institute that sudden break in the historical continuum which takes things as far as they can go. The whole idea of the revolutionary moment is to push everything past its limitations. Every element of the modern society is shredded. It embodies sacrifice. Those who rise up in a spontaneous act of revolution do not fear the future; their main concern is fulfilling the past.

I think it would be interesting to see anarchism return to romanticism and semi-utopianism. Not in the fantasies of the early utopian socialistst, of course, but in a way that realizes the necessity to break with the standard ways of doing things and that seeks for a revolution that goes above and beyond.

Löwy's essay.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Tomb of Blanqui

Taken Sept. 22, 2015, Cimetière Père-Lachaise, Paris

"Blanqui’s last work, written during his last imprisonment, has remained entirely unnoticed up to now, so far as I can see. It is a cosmological speculation. Granted, it appears, in its opening pages, tasteless and banal… In fact, the cosmic vision of the world which Blanqui lays out… is an infernal vision… What is so unsettling is that the presentation is entirely lacking in irony. It is an unconditional surrender, but it is simultaneously the most terrible indictment of a society that projects this image of the cosmos – understood as an image of itself – across the heavens. With its trenchant style, this work displays the most remarkable similarities both to Baudelaire and to Nietzsche."
— Walter Benjamin

A very interesting man, indeed.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Re: Bataille's 'BASE MATERIALISM' (as a modern gnosticism)

Bataille does sound very Gnostic in the sense where he's turning convention on its head. One major element of old school Gnosticism was its understanding of Christianity and the Bible in the opposite, whereby God became evil, Biblical heroes became villains, and prohibitions became holy. This was also the case with Gnostic sects of other religions such as the Bektashi (Islam) and the Sabbateans (Judaism) which "walked a fine line between nihilism and religion" with holy orgies and intoxications (so it has been said). Heretical religions interest me for the same reason archaic societies intrigued Bataille: they enable us to see elements of human existence that would have otherwise been clouded by our conventional modes of thinking.

During my undergraduate years I was taught continental philosophy by a professor who is very much into Nietzsche and his geneological method, as well as mystical traditions (such as the ones I mentioned). The most significant thing I took from her classes was that many of our paradigms which we think are "rational" are, in fact, rooted in paradigms we would see as being very "irrational". What's very much the case is, society can't be entirely shoehorned into a formalized model, and it takes a lot of looking below the surface to gain knowledge of how things really are. The demand for a very inflexible framework becomes agonizing, not to mention blinding.

I find that a lot of the demand for convention does come from that fear of the unknown. The world looks a lot calmer when it's understood through a strictly rational lens. This becomes very much the case when it comes to the ways power relations are understood: everything has to be modeled in a particular fashion, and what doesn't fit is either disregarded or belittled. But that's due to reluctance to deviate from what we already know. Even today we see anarchists who fear the chaos and uncertainty that comes with the rebellion against hierarchy (in other words, anarchists who seek to divorce "anarchy" from "anarchism") choosing instead to retreat back to safer Enlightenment mythologies which barely challenge existing modes of thinking at all.

Thanks for the video.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Why Intersectionality Leaves a Bad Taste in my Mouth

The real problem with the way intersectionality is currently understood is how obsessed with mental purity it becomes. Revolutionary subjects are indeed made, not born, but the way to create them has always been through the theory and practice of class struggle (which is not something economic reductionist or essentialist either; people of color, women, and so on are also classes). Postmodern intersectionality becomes about the creation of potential revolutionary subjects solely through ensuring that individuals’ minds are “pure”- they must be mentally in-line with the demands of a deeply rigid identity politic. If someone's idea or theory is deemed to lack intersectional perfection, that person is quickly marked as a problematic individual whose ideas need to be entirely tossed or obscured by scrutiny for their ignorance; the holy sinner is denounced as an impossibility. Ideology and its reproduction absolutely matter; you don’t need to be a militant Italian communist or French intellectual in order to understand why. Though, the real issue is how ideology in the mind is utilized to form a corresponding action. The ideologically perfect subject matters little if they aren't contributing to any kind of struggle on the ground or in the ivory tower. Intersectionality today fails to form a coherent form of direct action because it lacks any means of transforming what is in the mind to what is “out there” in the material world (and vice-versa). We’re told we have to take multiple oppressions into account whenever we speak of oppression, but we’re never given any kind of method or action to tackle multiple oppressions beyond the usual “education and awareness”. This “education and awareness” only deals with one's perception, it doesn’t form the basis of any kind of radical action that could be undertaken to ensure goals are met on a large scale (hence why it's so often labeled as idealist). In a sense, most of this obsession for mental purity becomes another simulated form of activism - it satisfies the craving for progress and change by ensuring that everyone from day-to-day life plays by a non-oppressive set of rules, without having to transcend beyond the rules of the established order.

I am not arguing and I do not want to come off as someone who thinks that the people pushing this way of thinking are doing it deliberately. From my own experience, most of it comes from the current state of the far-Left. It's similar to what Slavoj Zizek says about the Left demanding revolution despite not really believing revolution works: there's a push for a rigidly righteous society by people who know deep down that a rigidly righteous society is not really possible.