Saturday, January 31, 2009

Response On Nihilistic Anarchy

Not long ago, I posted about Nihilistic Anarchism/Communism and strongly criticized it as articulated by Pistols Drawn.
I got comments from friends/comrades asking questions and posing their own ideas. I greatly appreciated the feedback and instead of posting a reply comment on a post no one probably will see, I decided to post a new entry.


One of the beautiful luxuries of anarchism but also one of the biggest hurdles for anarchists is that there is no 'one path' or 'party program.' This is also one of anarchy's greatest strengths.

If nihilistic anarchism is a position/ideology that is still in the developmental stages, I can accept that. However, it is in no way beneficial to present a position that is purposefully vague. I am also well aware that most anarchists- at least posties, would not subscribe to the term 'ideology.' It is more a matter of semantics here than anything else. I understand and support the effort to redefine language on our own terms. I also usually see the anarchist rejection of terms such as 'politics' and 'ideology' as an attempt to draw a distinction between anarchy and Leftist politics which I don't necessarily see as crucial. We would have to define ideology because any definition I can think of would encompass anarchist positions.

I do not know what the world will look like after this undesirable and murderous social order. We don't seem to need a roadmap of how to get there or a blueprint of what it will look like (unlike our Communist brothers and sisters). I see this as inclusive rather than exclusive. The urgency that we might feel to destroy this system and anything that represents it is not unfounded. Violence against the state as a sort of cathartic release is not revolutionary… it is not even necessarily rebellious. I don't mind banks, cops, or government offices being attacked and I think the more those actions become part of the accepted lexicon of struggle, the closer we get to systemic change(s) we desire. It is childish/bourgeois for any 'movement' or struggle to engage in actions solely for individualistic fulfillment. That is ineffectual! I firmly believe that if we want to transform this social order or destroy it and build anew, our actions must take into account the sustainability of our resistance and that of others. This doesn't mean sustaining resistance for the next 5 years either. I am talking about being able to build upon it for generations.

Another insanely illogical premise put forth by a lot of nihilistic anarchists and post-Leftists is that it is somehow authoritarian to do any outreach or try to influence others. (How are we going to destroy this system and/or build a new one without more allies? Oh ya, I forgot. They don't believe we are going to "make" change. How did they become radical anti-authoritarians? I suppose they were born in an anarchist hatchery.) That premise is so illogical and laughable that it hardly needs me to argue against it and its doomed-to-lose proponents.


Anonymous Bryan G said...

Somewhere between "nihilistic anarchism" and Italian insurrectionary anarchism (think 70s) is the over arching Anarchist philosophy that is strong here in Santa Cruz.

Most kids see inevitable collapse and monolithic individual discontent as being so pervasive and real that the Crimethinc path towards this anarchist approach is almost a given.

One of the problems I see with this method of analysis is it's supreme anti-intellectualism. Most of the anarchist kids here in SC are pretty anti-education/anti-scholastic discourse. They would argue squatting in the woods is a necessary component of being "revolutionary".

11:17 PM  
Blogger Harjit said...

I would reference two pieces here I am sure you're aware of. The firs being the Bookchin classic, Social Anarchism or Lifestyle Anarchism: An Unbridgeable Chasm.
The other is an article that talks about this "collapse" logic, by anarchist writer Ian Boale.

Check it out here,

. I'll actually be down your way today, get in touch if you'd like.

And I agree, the level of discourse is highly degraded, which allows living in the woods to be considered revolutionary practice. I'm not opposed to whatever lifestyle decisions people make (living in woods, not wearing wool, etc) but it should be seriously realized to not be a revolutionary (IE challenging the systems of oppression).
take care,

9:50 AM  
Anonymous Bryan G said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am surprised you have never touched me on this topic since you know me well and I am involved in staking out the terms of this position. Perhaps you just like shadow boxing?

The position has been presented in the form of two pamphlets (which are on the PD site) and is summarized in the introduction you cut-and-paste. The one thing that the position is not about is convincing -you- to become a N@. I am not even sure I would describe myself as one!

The point I am interested here is not in politics-as-social-change which feels more and more like role-playing and make believe the more that I see people do it BUT about the complexities of relationship lived politically. This shit is not easy and just about every commentator to PD (who is not sympathetic) acts like it is. You are no exception and I think that is a shame.

BTW very few people who aren't at a certain (youthful) stage in their life actually argue that their single activity is 'revolutionary'. That is a straw man of the worst possible faith drawing a casual argument based on your own aesthetic tastes. Sad.

Glad to see you are posting on topics I care about though. ;-)


12:00 PM  
Blogger shanedanger said...

I actually did reach out to a common acquaintance of ours to help me better understand what I perceive as the/a "post-left" anarchist position. He basically just told me to read Nihilistic Communism.
Another common friend lent me his copy of the book and I do intend to read it soon.

I have long stayed away from creating a dialogue (on this blog) about posti-sm (if you will) because I have little to no interest in the tired counter-productive sport of splitting hairs and creating distinctions for the elixir of pure anarchy. (I am not insisting that distinction don't exist or that they will not come to light. Preemptively armchairing it at this point just seems pointless.)

The very point I am interested in here is politics-as-social change as you called it.
An important factor integral to what I consider anarchist thought is HOW we get 'there.' A rejection of building/destroying towards a society we desire fosters do-nothing-ism and is not representative of a society I want. A rejection of this fight is an abandoning of the people whose very lives are at stake (in a much more urgent sense that my own).

The idea that crisis alone produces revolutionary sentiment is historically shortsighted and naively optimistic.

Role-playing might be what it is or what it looks like from your/our vantage point. It probably looks and feels like something quite different to those fighting for survival.

In any case, I will read Nihilistic Communism. I will continue to keep up with Post-Left anarchy. And this dialogue will continue. I appreciate your comment and apologize for this lengthy rant.

10:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

shane danger, you make the worst kinds of arguments, classically simplistic and tired. nihilist anarchy isn't arguing to do nothing, it's arguing against a simplistic linear cause-effect relationship. it is saying that you have no idea what the results of your "revolutionary activity" might be... or that we have the power (or will ever have the power) to create the change that you want. what does it look like to face depressing truths and still continue on? how does that change what you do?

your arguments sound to me like you have watched way too many afternoon specials, in which the hero wins because he Doesn't Give Up Hope. that kind of thinking might sometimes work to get you the kind of job you want, but it doesn't work to fundamentally change society.

and this - "probably looks quite different to those who are fighting for survival"?! - classic liberal-guilt thinking. so you're representing those poor down-trodden masses now? 'cause you can speak for them when they don't speak for themselves?

i agree with your unnamed friend, nihilist communism might be very helpful for you - if you're even open enough to get it.

6:10 PM  
Blogger Bay Area National Anarchist said...

"Somewhere between "nihilistic anarchism" and Italian insurrectionary anarchism (think 70s) is the over arching Anarchist philosophy that is strong here in Santa Cruz."

What a joke, don't trivialize the Italian anarchists of the 1970s with Santa Cruz anarchists.

For revolution,

11:37 PM  
Blogger shanedanger said...

Dear White Power BANA,
Don't pretend like you are legit or have anything to do with anti-authoritarian struggle.

This blog will in no way serve to give you any sense of legitimacy or be allowed as any sort of platform for your white power cloaked in hip anarchist terms.

Get lost!

7:27 AM  

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