This is in response to a post called “On Changing Our World: Affective Activism Means Understanding the Nature of Our Many Problems” by Jeremy Weiland. I suggest you go over there and read that and then coming back, so that this makes some modicum of sense to you.
I started this off as a comment response on your blog, but your blog hates me, for one, and it obviously quickly grew too long to post there anyway. So, I’m posting it here, independently, so others can read it and so that you can read it more easily. So, here goes…
You’re casting non-violent sanctions as something aggressive and, in a certain sense, violent. A truly non-violent sanction one has against the beliefs of another is education. When you educate someone as to the flaws of a certain belief, they are more prone to no longer believing it. That, more than anything, is the left’s non-violent sanction. More than non-violent, it is good-natured. Education is an altruistic thing to do for somebody. It makes them more knowledgeable, their quality of life better, and the same for those around them.
I also disagree with your description of politics. Some left political activism may orient itself toward institutions, but mainly for the purpose of ending institutional discrimination. Notice, I didn’t say ending discrimination. I said ending institutional discrimination; making institutions more universal, as opposed to favoring and disfavoring certain groups. The same cannot be said for right-wing political activism, which most often has the goal of increasing institutional discrimination.
It’s important to be able to see what role discrimination plays in economics. For example, you’re a lowly employee; therefore you’re not an owner. That’s discrimination as it provides special privileges to entrepreneur-labor/capital and investor-capital that it doesn’t provide to worker labor/capital. In other words, worker-labor doesn’t go toward buying anything; it just goes toward the “owner’s” pockets. Ending these special privileges in government is tantamount to ending special privileges once bestowed to whites, or men, or property owners. So, one must ask why certain activists orient themselves toward institutions. It’s not always about harnessing power; sometimes it’s about dismantling power.
Also, remember, I started that last paragraph off with a correction. I said some left political activism is oriented toward institutions; not all. Some is actually directed toward individuals. That may seem counter-intuitive to some, but it’s true. What discrimination exists not on the institutional level must be combated somehow, right? This is called micro-politics. It was established long ago in the essay “The Personal is Political” by Carol Hanisch.
The culture is a kind of informal institution itself, is it not? It’s a kind of exo-institution that exists only in our collective minds and behaviors. That can be changed, too, through non-violence. Carol defines politics as “having to do with power relationships” in that essay, and that is what politics is to me.
I think our main disagreement is our differing definitions of politics. I don’t see it as being so narrow and specific as you do. I see it in the broad context of power relationships. Nazis represent a certain threat to society. They seek to use force on the general population to establish and maintain their preferred society. So is this not a political issue? Certain people want to seize power and change society in ways the populace wouldn’t of its own free accord. They feel powerless to make the populace adopt their values and opinions, but that can be seen as their values and opinions having flaws that only they cannot see. I think this is the situation Marxists are in. Maybe even anarchists. Although, sometimes it’s just a situation of having no exposure. And I think this is even something the worst fascists tell themselves; it’s just a lack of exposure, not repudiation. With hierarchy comes exposure but with exposure doesn’t always come hierarchy, if you get what I mean.
That’s not to say that minorities are never right and majorities are never wrong. It’s not about that. It’s about values and, like you said, there is more informing their values than rationality. There is subconscious conceptions of freedom, self-interest, abstract or philosophical ideas about the direction civilization, history, culture, humankind is supposed to go in, etc.
It may sound weird, but even individuals can be seen as institutions. They’re institutions on the micro-level. Their whole philosophy is an institution in their mind. But removing the discrimination from the institution of a person’s mind is not the same as removing it from the institution of an IRL government. You have to rally the left political forces in their minds to go up into their moral-legal “system” and change the rules that govern them. This is starting to sound a bit like the movie Inception, but it should be less deceptive than what they did in that movie, and of course less literal. You don’t have to go into their subconscious with a machine. You just have to appeal socially to the left political forces inside of them. Some people are right-wing dictatorships in their minds, brutalizing every internal occurrence of anti-discriminatory politics/values. That is, admittedly, a problem, but it is in the nature of hierarchy that the minority is ruling. So one can assume there is a leftist revolutionary class in their minds, waiting to overthrow the totalitarian governing them. For some, internal violent conflict is the only option and we have to spark that unrest/strife.
I agree with you that it’s a slow, hard process. But when you reject assuming hierarchy as an option, you take on this reality. You choose to affect people only so far as they choose to be affected. That is not to say that your endeavor will not be popular, though. It may indeed go viral and change the culture and individuals that way. But hierarchy is when violence is used to establish and/or maintain relevance in a culture. More than being open and honest and using a light touch, we must have the skills for it; which is why we must learn how our language sabotages us at every turn.
Filed under: revolution | Tags: abolitionism, anarchism, stereotypes, wage slavery
If we buy into how we’re portrayed, then we’ll just become stereotypes of how the people that hate us see us. We’ll become the anarchist equivalent of the n-word; offensive, prejudiced caricatures. We might embrace this image just because we hate them back and it feels good to be something so loathed by them, but what it does is allow them to dictate our image; our nature. It makes what we’re doing feel less real, less practical, less of a serious threat to their order.
We shouldn’t let them cast us as Molotov-throwing hooligan clowns. We’re not a joke. We’re not joking. We’re sober intellectuals. We’re adults. We’re the responsible, civilized contingent of society. They are the criminals. They are the troublemakers, not us. We’re the ones who care about maintaining a respectful, sane, orderly, mature society. They support slavery.
Don’t be ashamed to claim what is rightfully ours; the role of responsible adults. They are the children, we are the parents. All of the paraphernalia, the propaganda, the art, the style of dress, the anarchist “culture”, the anarchist “aesthetic theory”, the rebel persona… all of that is just tinsel. It has very little to do with actual anarchism. It’s probably all the product of marketing anyway.
Anarchism is something any responsible adult should be able to embrace. The only reason anarchist society is radicalized is because we are occupied by a hostile force. They refuse to stop exploiting us. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be, because, underneath it all, we’re not radicals. We’re not shock jocks. We just want people to be able to live their lives freely, peacefully, and equally. Fascists are the ones killing all our buzzes; unwanted; trolling humanity like an occupier, then marginalizing us when we get sick of it.
I guess my point is this: don’t embrace the image you’re portrayed as. Don’t expect others to do so and don’t feel any pressure to do so. I’m a normal-looking guy who wears normal-looking clothes. I don’t have any peircings or tattoos. My haircut is completely regular. I’m a normal person. I just happen to be an anarchist.
Filed under: America, revolution | Tags: anarchism, direct democracy, filmmaking, politics, racism, sexism, wealthism
No one can be expected to see it all. No one can be expected to see how far we’ve come in such a short amount of time, but one can be expected to see the direction we are going in. Wealthy white male privilege is being challenged. We’ve been challenging it for years, decades, centuries… and one should expect we will continue to challenge it. Now, what does this mean?
Grab your remote control and switch on your television. Most likely the news shows you see will be about wealthy white male rule. If not, then about wealthy white rule. If not, then about wealthy rule. Or maybe they’ll avoid the topic altogether, which just tells you something about the nature of the channel you’re watching. We’re challenging each and every property of that description — wealth, race, and sex — and replacing it with the idea that neither of those deserve the kind of privilege afforded it by our society today. This is a thoroughly dangerous idea, for the group of individuals which fit that description have been in the driver’s seat of our civilization for as long as any of us can remember. They’ve responded violently in order to suppress any dissent. High-power water hoses and white hoods come to mind. But those actions have only backfired. It has only served to whittle away at their legitimacy in the public mind. So they have to pretend that they’re not in control. That’s how they maintain it now.
But we’re smarter than that. They try to drug us with soma; plant seeds of escapism in our minds. It’s tantamount to a burglar waving a chew toy to distract a guard dog whose hair is standing up on his back and whose teeth and gums are showing. We’re not going to let their entertainment distract us. We’re not going to let them convince us they’re not still in charge. It’s not hard to see that they are.
So, the challenge now is to detect their chew toys, and to re-focus our eyes on the burglar in the house. What is he doing now? Waging wars for oil, natural gas pipelines and poppies? You bet. Cheering the fastest drop in “labor costs” since 1948? You bet. The veins of the poor are still open and the rich are still sucking every ounce of blood they can from them. They pit the poor against the poor for the benefit of the rich through concepts like terrorism. What did they call the Cuban or Brazilian peasants who revolted against enslavement and sugar monoculture? Terrorists or communists, I suppose. Then they commenced to hunt them down and decapitate them, or cut pregnant women’s bellies open, or skewer their children on their bayonets only to return to the wealthy white male/s who had ordered it with bags of severed ears as proof that they did what they were told. They followed the orders. No doubt that soldier had a hard time making ends meet himself.
Enough. We need to take our eyes off the things that are keeping us distracted and finally recognize the truly radical nature of the doctrine that all humans are created equal and that political legitimacy is truly dependent upon the consent of the governed. And manufactured consent is no consent at all.
To see the arch of history is to see a continual progression toward the de-centralization of illegitimate power. Whatever takes us even further in this direction should be seen as a positive development. As a writer for the upcoming political documentary Dear America: From Patriotism to Participation, I see the arch of history like never before. Illegitimate authority has taken some hard hits to the face thus far. What we have is a woozy opponent. We shouldn’t let his erratic dancing in the ring fool us into thinking he’s still the all-powerful opponent he was when we began this fight. And we must snap out of the hypnosis he has put us in and realize that we are — this generation is — still locked in a fight with this entity. Our tag team partners (the generations before us) threw punches that were hard and true. A few more blows, and he could be on the mat, down for the count, forever.
The National Initiative for Democracy represents the hardest, most accurate and true punch we can possibly throw at this point. A law-making populace — rather than a vulnerable group of his law-making buddies — neutralizes what flimsy power of his remains.
That is why I beg that you see things in the larger perspective, see the National Initiative as it relates to the rest of history, overcome the mentality that benefits them most, and contribute to the making of an explanatory documentary about the National Initiative for Democracy. Whether or not we pass it into law or not doesn’t matter so much. This documentary seeks to explain to people the arch of history — that we are still battling this illegitimate authority — and that’s something that could overflow into all other areas of life, and possibly spur the greatest mass movement in the history of humanity; the final overthrow of wealthy white male privilege.
We’re going to do this fucking thing. I want to hit him so hard, but I need you. Please, help us in this effort. Go to our website and there you can read more about this documentary and contribute. Freedom is defined as “participation in power”. So, ask yourself, are you free? Wake up, slave. Escape.
Encountering an individual with high levels of testosterone may make you slump down in your chair or slink away slowly or recoil a bit mentally or emotionally. It’s a “fight or flight” response by our bodies and minds to what we may perceive as an increasingly dangerous situation. The supposition is that testosterone is the cause of violence. While this is warranted, it’s also slightly unfair. That is, if those two conditions aren’t contradictory. Testosterone is a hormone. It’s the hormone that creates maleness. We’re all, in fact, female before it’s introduction. Often its overabundance results in irrationality and savagery, but it doesn’t have to. Nor is the existence of testosterone a bad thing. It pains me greatly that I even have to say that.
What would art be if we didn’t come at it with a fire and ferocity and an inebriated zeal? What else allows us to achieve that creative richness and intensity? Oftentimes, a wealth of testosterone manifests itself in the form of meticulousness or dedication. And this isn’t only in the arts, but in the sciences, too. Testosterone is in many ways responsible for the beauty and richness of our culture today.
OK, maybe testosterone and estrogen aren’t each one half of some universal cosmic duality. Maybe they’re just two specific Earthly hormones developed to aid in our survival, but they’re both useful and beautiful. Testosterone is all too often used incorrectly. It manifests itself destructively instead of constructively. We fail to see that one is linked to the other. After all, what is creation but destruction of non-creation? Horror vacui, right? Nature abhors a vacuum. What’s wrong with aggression toward a dearth of beauty?
Just like people have different things they consider their anti-drug (which are really just non-harmful substitute drugs/addictions), people need things they consider their anti-violence. As a male with increased levels of testosterone, art is my anti-violence. It’s really just a non-harmful substitute violence. It’s a place for me to direct my aggression. I direct my aggression toward non-creation, in consideration for the creation that exists to date.
This realization acts as an emancipation of testosterone.