It can be safely assumed that around the year 2011, we've seen a worldwide momentum of anarchist insurgency. Perhaps we could talk about a 4-years period, or maybe even 7 or 8, that started with the Greek insurgency in December 2008, which might have opened a temporary rupture in the hardening fabric of social reality, unleashing waves of forces from Hell (in the Jungian sense of course!) upon the stagnant, grey, totalitarian liberal-democratic order of the Millenium, the Forteress Europe, and America's War on Terror.
Turmoil has spread at a time where the global capitalist establishments had reached a level of cohesion and unity unseen for about a hundred years. There was a G20 at some point... remember? Then a cop car was burned for all the world to see. The first real actual riot à la Greek happened in the streets of the biggest business urban center of over-pacified Canada. Around 2011 in some parts of Canada and the U.S., some serious anarcho insurgency was taking shape, as more globally we've seen the hey days of anarcho-insurgent ogarnizations like the CCF-FAI.
You had a revolt in Iran, the Arab Spring, wildcat strikes in the south of the African continent, factory occupations in Chinese industrial cities, MEND's Rambo war on big oil exploitation in Nigeria, Somalian piracy, radical subversion unleashed up against the Russian regime, the much derided/despised/missed Occupy movement, insurrectos going actually insurrecto in the U.S., then a huge student strike in Quebec where many "outside agitators" came over there to experiment a bit of social warfare, and yes there was a really big anarchy fest at the ZAD... like THE squat eviction party of the decade (and the last), in the middle of the countryside in France.
To me, all these uprisings have shown that, contrary to a widespread pre-2008 belief in the State's paramount inexorability, of the Police State made into a God, it was still possible to challenge, subvert or negate the power of the State, especially on the public place. That anarchy was still alive and well, somewhere outside of our reinforced bubbles. That you just had to get there. And it all looked neat and fresh. It was a time to remember, tell our grand kids maybe (though you shouldn't have kids. It's really a bad idea, and not at all needed); despite the let down that followed...
2012 did indeed happen! But instead of world-changing catastrophes, big space rock crashing, tidal waves swallowing everything, or a nukular war, we appear to have went to the wrong alternate universe; everything in society that had to go just STAYED, or crept back in, worse and more resilient than before... as the movement of revolt just gradually evaporated, leaving us with the spectacles of our past insurrections to be analyzed by West Coast anarchist outlets.
What happened was otherwise. A subjuguation, a liquidation of entire uprisings through the cheap old tricks of democratic politics and their statecraft. And NATO troops remained in Afghanistan no matter what. Fascism -may it be White or Islamic- just kept getting bigger and deadlier. Billionaires Club kept growing as proles been working overtime to pay the owners of their plaster boxes and to eat over-inflated shit. None of the insurrections "worked", save their own specific, local goals when there were. We've had a few interesting outbursts of rage in the few years that followed, like of course BLM and, to some extent, the Ukrainian and Syrian uprisings -even if those had some really problematic, fascistic aspects- and the recent Nuit Debout in France, and, well, there was another, tougher fight at the ZAD that finally revealed that the State isn't only an externality, but can also be among "Our Friends".
The Insurrection was indeed coming. And it passed. Its MOMENTUM did, at least. Without actually being, and taking hold of the new-old world, changing it down to its roots, contaminating it to a point of no return, where hierarchies of the State are finally abandoned, or their whole world was just trashed. Somewhere someplace, a bomb was watered down... Some dude got a job... Some black bloc dude said something rude to a comrade at the riot porn demo... Some people went too easy on themselves in the summer... Some usual hobo fetish kid got joined a "radical" folk band... I can't really tell, but perhaps YOU can.
But did we really had a plan, anyways? Or at best a vision?
So, instead of renewing the old generic analysis of past uprisings that tend to give them an shoddily-critical impression of success, I wanted for so long to look at what actually went wrong.
What the fuck happened, that made those insurgencies implode, collapse, run out of fuel, or water themselves down? What went on, for instance, in June 2012 in Quebec or around those puzzling Egyptian elections? What was your experience or impression, NOT on any of those fights, but their aftermath, on how they "ended"?
via contra info
In the early hours of the 8th of June we immobilized an earth mover in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania at a new development project.
This small gesture was taken in solidarity with la ZAD of Notre-Dam-des-Landes, France, where rebels have fought to maintain an autonomous zone, free from the state and it’s plans for almost a decade.
The ZAD was first occupied 9 years ago to prevent the construction of a recently abandoned airport project and has inspired eco-rebels across the world, especially it’s inspiring defense against ‘Operation Ceaser’, a massive eviction attempt in late 2012.
Once again la ZAD is facing a fresh wave of repression, in the form of intense both police violence and a recuperative negotiation process which seeks to tame and legalize the uncontrolled zone.
In Italy they talk of taking a census of Roma people and turn away a ship full of refugees.
In Bavaria they threaten to break apart the government in Germany over not taking a hard enough anti-immigration stance.
Across Fortress Europe far-right parties demonstrate openly and encourage violence against migrants and refugees.
And here in the United States we build concentration camp tent cities for children and deny them access to their parents or even allow them to hug each other.
Everywhere, xenophobia and racism grows and fascist movements gain strength. Governments crack down on migrants fleeing climate chaos, war, and unrest caused by the decay of capitalism.
This is a call for an international week of action against borders, immigration authorities, and the separation of families. Border imperialism manifests itself in many forms. Here in the so-called United States it is Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities and GEO group detention centers. Across Fortress Europe it is the police in riot gear beating migrants in Hungary, Macedonia, and Greece. It is ships turned away at ports of entry. It is the negligence of European governments allowing distressed migrant vessels to sink with hundreds of people, drowning them in the Mediterranean.
While these structures of oppression and domination seem to be invincible, they are actually incredibly fragile. It is a sign of weakness by the State when they desperately cling to legitimacy by using fear and hatred of the Other as a way to create a fictionalized national identity.
It is easy to act on our collective desires for liberation from all forms of oppression. Organize a noise demo outside an immigration detention facility. Take a note from comrades in Portland and occupy an ICE facility. Wheatpaste pro-immigration posters in your neighborhood to let your neighbors know they are not alone. Go after the companies profiting from the separation of families and imprisoning of children. Demonstrate outside a U.S. embassy or consulate. Show up en masse to your local congressmen or senator's office and make them feel the pressure in person. Or come up with your own ways of creatively fighting against the violence of border imperialism.
Remember to practice good security culture. It is best to organize autonomously in an affinity group, which is basically you and your friends. Mask up and remain anonymous. Most importantly, act. We cannot sit back and allow concentration camps to open up again. We cannot let white supremacist governments carry out ethnic cleansing on our watch.
If there is to be a war on migrants, then may it have two sides!
More on suicide, depression, drugs. What is AR mostly trying to do? Drought vs. flooding. Venezuela. Anti-civ getting some notice at last. (Un-)health news. (Google) ad of the week. Some resistance news, discussion of The Brilliant, Anews podcast. 5(!) calls.
More on suicide, depression, drugs. What is AR mostly trying to do? Drought vs. flooding. Venezuela. Anti-civ getting some notice at last. (Un-)health news. (Google) ad of the week. Some resistance news, discussion of The Brilliant, Anews podcast. 5(!) calls.
Fernando was released from jail on June 11, 2018 around 9 pm, once outside he burned the beige uniform that he had had to wear for four and a half years.
Aviso CNA Mx (Cruz Negra Anarquista de Mexico)
CNA Mx Notice (Anarchist Black Cross of Mexico)
Traveling Project (photos)
Today, June 11, 2018, anarchist comrade Fernando Barcenas Castillo left prison.
Arrested on December 13, 2013, during the protests against the increase in the price of the metro tickets, Fer was accused of setting fire to the Coca-Cola company Christmas tree, and since then had been held in the northern prison known as the ReNo, in Mexico City.
In December 2014 he was sentenced to 5 years 9 months’ prison on charges of attacking the public peace and criminal association. Shortly after his detention Fernando began developing numerous projects: music, writing, broadcasting and information workshops such as fanzines and the independent anti-prison struggle newspaper: “El Canero”, which means “whoever is in jail”. This is produced by prisoners and prisoners, behind bars in several jails in the Mexican capital and elsewhere.
For Fernando “The Canero is a project that wants to explain the reality lived in the prisons and relate it to a wider social context, of which we are all prisoners at different levels. This paper helps to spread the anti-prison struggle by weaving a link of communication between prisoners and with the outside world “. For him it is “To demonstrate that the struggle is carried on regardless of where and with the means available, without waiting for all the conditions be there”.
Thus, the first Canero was released in June 2014, so far, five numbers have been written: over time, the content has evolved. This newspaper is the product of many prisoners’ meetings, exchanges and reflections, joint actions, hunger strikes … In his path, Canero sees the birth of informal organizations prisoners in resistance, coordinated actions, press releases denouncing the prison beast, authority and confinement inside and outside the walls.
From November 2017, Fernando has launched a new idea, set up an autonomous library managed by the prisoners themselves and after several months of work and construction, the library was inaugurated on April 28, 2018 with the name of Xosé Tarrío González *, the library continues to grow and to this day it counts many documents, between books, magazines and brochures … the library continues its course.
During all these years Fer also encouraged and launched the organization of prisoners-in-resistance, first of all it encouraged the formation of the C.C.P.R (Combative Co-ordination of Prisoners in Resistance) later he participated in the coordination of the hunger strikes with other anarchist prisoners from Mexico City. Then, Fer launched and encouraged the formation of the C.I.P.RE (Informal Coordination of Prisoners in Resistance) as a form and space of organization for all those who have been harmed and tortured by the prison machinery. CIPRE being an informal organizationit has dissolved and today is fading away, not without leaving a whole organizational experience behind it. Fer has launched a new proposal giving rise to the prisoners’ collective CIMARRON, which refers to the meaning of “escaping, fleeing” escaping from the property of a master.
A strong hug to Fer, an embrace compañero! In the street at last.
Until total freedom!
The three passersby
*NOTE : Xosé Tarrío González was born in 1968 in la Coruña. At eleven years oldis locked up in a boarding school, then in a house of recovery to to return to 17 years in prison where he contracts AIDS. In prison, he puts anarchism and rebellion, leading many attempts escapes, practicing real solidarity between the prisoners, fighting resolutely against prison and prison guards; all these attitudes entail humiliations, put in isolation and he is of many times tortured. In 2004, his health deteriorated again due to his illness and finally, on January 2, 2005 he dies victim of the prison institution and the society that supports it.
Xose was a prisoner of the special FIES regime (Internal File of Special Follow-up) and author of the book “Huye, hombre, huye”
[Click on the images for pdf of zines]
Translated by Act for freedom now!
by William Gillis, via C4SS
Elon Musk is trolling on twitter. A celebrity billionaire wasting his time making inane provocations would hardly be worthy of note but in the process Musk has declared that his politics are in line with Iain Banks’ anarcho-transhumanist utopia and that he aspires to see a world of direct democracy. There’s few spectacles like a billionaire in a labor dispute essentially fronting as a proponent of fully automated luxury communism. Yet when a number of his statements wander close to left wing market anarchist takes it may be worth responding.
In particular I want to focus on the line, “Socialism vs capitalism is not even the right question. What really matters is avoiding monopolies that restrict people’s freedom.”
There’s a lot to pick apart here, and it’s not remotely clear how much historical context Musk is aware of. Free market libertarians like Bastiat sat on the left of the French assembly and many advocates of free markets that modern Libertarians see as forefathers like Lysander Spooner and Benjamin Tucker considered themselves and were seen as socialists. There is a long and storied history of those who would problematize the terms “socialist” or “libertarian” and “capitalism” or “markets”, putting forth myriad conflicting definitions and frameworks, each in hopes of illuminating something lost in partisan tribalism.
But Musk is a billionaire and in any coherent libertarian analysis a plutocrat whose success is in no small part dependent upon his collaboration with the state. Most self-identified socialists, not to mention the chattering classes of twitter, despise him.
There are basically three core claims widely made against Musk. 1) That he occupies a tyrannical position over his workers. 2) That the seed wealth that enabled him to become a billionaire in the first place was unjustly acquired. 3) That his act of holding onto his wealth in the face of far more beneficial investments is unethical.
It’s this latter charge that I want to explore, in part because the former are so clear cut. But let’s hit them briefly: Musk faces charges of unsafe conditions and terrible demands at his plants. And despite his attempts to sound open to unionization Tesla has harassed, intimidated, and fired workers for expressing pro union sentiments. He claims workers prefer to have no negotiating capacity, supposedly recognizing the benevolent benefits of his absolute dictatorship, and yet in the same breath Musk has threatened workers’ benefits should they unionize and recently initialized mass layoffs without warning. Musk has started to claim he built his fortune from pocket change, but it’s worth remembering that as a teenager, his white south african family was so rich Musk casually walked around with emeralds in his pocket. One is reminded of nothing so much as Trump’s claim that he built his fortune of a mere few million dollar loan from his dad (and countless risk assurances). I’ve known single mothers that worked longer hours and homeless heroin addicts that made smarter stock investments, but below a certain threshold of wealth the barriers are just too great. Musk has some talent and commitment, to be sure, but he has hardly made his fortune in fair competition with the billions without his privilege of birth.
But however you acquire wealth, once you have it there is a certain ethical obligation to wield it towards good ends.
Fans of Musk argue that he has done precisely this. The most common refrain is “look he may not be perfect, but he’s the only person with a shot at getting us to Mars.” There is, I will concede, a rather potent utilitarian argument that getting our species out into the stars is worth almost any price. This is an evaluation that weighs the potential lives of trillions of future people against the living today, that says we should do anything to ensure the survival and spread of the only known consciousness in the universe. But it is decidedly unclear that Elon Musk is truly our best shot at such. It is true that his wealth has enabled Space X to make serious strides, but it’s hardly like the the scientists, engineers, and general workers of Space X didn’t share such a vision before Musk. Rather, his wealth enabled them to get started. As a staunch proponent of our expansion to the stars I will happily concede that Space X is a more ethical investment than gold plated bath tubs. But these are hardly the only options.
Musk talks of supporting direct democracy, yet his projects are run tyrannically, hyper-centralized around him. One basic insight of free market economists is that there are limits to knowledge and calculation — in particular limits to what a single central planner is capable of. Musk may be talented, he may work 80 hour weeks, but he is limited, and a hierarchical centralized organizational structure is deeply inefficient, never mind the psychological damage it does. Indeed many of the early problems Tesla faced were reportedly a result of Musk suddenly showing up to make unilateral decisions while being stretched too thin to be constantly involved in every nook and cranny. In short his tyrannical position within the firm became an organizational bottleneck. They may have been insightful decisions, but Musk’s distance from the shop floor and the absoluteness of his power caused deep organizational problems. Even the most intelligent and committed Soviet planner, running himself ragged attempting to oversee everything, will cause deep inefficiencies. This is part of the reason why, when the playing field is fair, worker cooperatives do so damn well.
Musk talks of “decentralization” — of avoiding monopolies — and this is valorous, but anarchism extends deeper than the mere opposition to monopolies per se; anarchism opposes power, domination. Combating monopolies or oligopolies is necessary but not sufficient, because hugely abusive and scarring or enslaving power can exist in diffuse structures as well. Systemic racism for example, or normalized spousal abuse. But more to the point, an upstart firm may shatter an existing oligopolistic market, but itself reproduce the same structures it claims to oppose. Not just in terms of market position, but especially in terms of the firm’s internal structure — the hierarchical and abusive organizational norms that the existing oligopoly was able to establish and defend.
There is a widespread tendency in silicon valley to diagnose the problems of the world in terms of centralization alone, and thus to fall into a kind of naive support for any and all underdog competitors.
In its most pernicious variant this looks like the neoreactionary prescription to shatter existing polities down to smaller competitive governments. As if small town police can’t be more intimately oppressive and as though a single right of exit can supplant deeper issues with bargaining power or enable fluid responsiveness. Musk’s ostensible support for direct democracy is better — although anarchists still have a critique of democracy — but his comments focusing on monopoly are suggestive of a broader naivety or get-out-of-ethics card for himself, so long as he can cast himself as an underdog to a bigger monopoly.
The naive decentralist take uncritically defends any and all upstarts to the dominant powers. The taxi medallion system for instance was one of the most abusive and horrifically clear-cut instances of state created capitalism, an almost feudal order, maintained by the state to the benefit of a few capitalists. Socialist taxi organizers were clear that the root injustice was the state’s regulatory regime. Uber was able to leverage titanic investment wealth to fight and erode this unjust order, but it also utilized that capital to cement its position as a new monopoly, a rent-seeking middleman between drivers and riders. Consistent libertarians, anarchists, and socialists supported the overthrow of the medallion regime while also warning of the monopoly Uber was trying to establish. But throughout silicon valley culture Uber was presented as a noble upstart.
This story is replicated widely where new “disruptive” would be tyrants end up replacing those they set out to overthrow. What much of the self-congratulatory rhetoric in silicon valley amounts to in practice is a horde of Lenins out to overthrow Czars, but with barely concealed hunger to seize power for themselves.
Freedom, if it is to come, must come through their benevolence. Just don’t ask when.
Musk might claim that his ends are socialistic in some utopian sense, but it’s his means that give him the closest parallel to the tyrannies of “actually existing socialism.” And those libertarians that cheer him on are much like those socialists that cheer on the despotic regimes of Assad or Kim under the illusion that these geopolitical underdogs in competition with the US empire represent the only practical hope of resistance.
I want to be clear: I’m as sympathetic to Musk’s ostensible ends as you could ask for. We at the Center for a Stateless Society have studiously worked for over a decade to get past past the gridlock of socialist and libertarian rhetoric, to parse the value of markets and an egalitarian world of possibility where cancerous monopolies or oligopolies of capital don’t constrain our freedoms. We come from a long and rich history of left libertarian crossover, of left market anarchists.
But there are a world of means that do not replicate the structures we seek to replace.
I cannot know the level of sincerity to Musk’s comments, whether the obvious contradictions arise out of malicious opportunism or innocent ignorance. Yet if I had to the opportunity to turn his ear I would encourage him not just to fight monopolistic power within his own organizations by allowing and collaborating with unionization efforts, but to invest more of that wealth on projects that Iain Banks would actually recognize as anarchistic.
Hey Elon, why not donate a million dollars to something like the IWW, a scrappy, idealistic & anti-state union that organizes where no other union will go? It’s nothing to you and will affect the lives of thousands while enabling labor to help compete against giant corporate monopolies. It’ll rile the commies on twitter and maybe allow Grimes to show her face in public, but mostly it’ll help real existing people.
I ask sincerely.
If you need more examples we at C4SS have helped coordinate donations to a host of small highly efficient activist efforts before and we can point you towards myriad projects like community centers, mesh wifi projects, indigenous radio stations, etc. I’m not interested in showboating or tribal purity. I’d take a million dollars from the devil if I could redistribute it to the tens of thousands of activists working themselves to the bone around the world, using the smallest scraps of income to make a huge difference in combating power and expanding the freedom of everyday people. You want to talk about effective altruism? Small direct payments to activists across the global south who already work for free and stretch what funds they have to absurd lengths are by far the most efficient means of seeding liberty. No NGO bureaucratic oversight and a fierce anarchist resistance to corrupt state regimes that would try to steal those funds.
You want to talk about decentralizing infrastructure? Throw some of that money at the cypherpunks and hackers keeping cryptographic tools and free software afloat. I’m dead certain that your company depends upon cryptographic libraries that are maintained by on a shoestring budget by a small number of idealists. You want to talk about resisting monopolies? How about throwing money at open source hardware projects that face incredible barriers to entry in the market?
There are countless unsung heroes around the world working tirelessly to combat power, to erode the centralized systems that constrain freedom. And most of them do it without trying to accumulate yachts. What they understand is that heroism isn’t a zero sum game. We can each of us revolutionize the world, we can each find exploits to change everything. The anarchist insight is that the most potent and lasting change comes from the bottom up, rather than being imposed from the top down.
Figures like Lenin will never see this, so enraptured are they with their own status, their own profile, their own absolute rulership, their own brand-building. And so trapped are they in the same cycle of false opposition, the empty revolutions that are structured to merely replace one monopoly with another. Many of the radical science fiction authors Musk claims to love knew this, but it sadly seems to be a lesson he failed to grasp.
Source: The Wild Will Project
Ted Kaczynski (TK) repeatedly writes that a revolutionary movement needs an enemy. Variously he names the enemy as “modern technology,” “the industrial system,” “the techno-industrial system,” just “the system,” and, in addition to one of the foregoing, “the technician class.” But these terms are vague or unintuitive, they confuse the enemy of a revolutionary movement with its target, and they fail to motivate.
The Enemy is Not Civilization
First, a clarification. Ted Kaczynski never actually names “civilization” as the enemy, but his involvement with the anarcho-primitivist movement in the 90s and early 2000s has confused some outside observers on this point.
In terms of critique, it is necessary to point out that civilization as a whole is of questionable benefit, and that nearly all of the major problems of our modern world originate in the problem of civilization (see “The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race” by Jared Diamond). This, however, only makes us philosophical anti-civilizationists, not political anti-civilizationists. Kaczynski repeatedly states that while he believes civilization is a problem, he only sees a practical course of action against “the industrial system.” For more on this distinction, see “Some Comments In Response to GA,” the letters between David Skrbina and TK, “A Critique of the NHG Ideal,” etc.
What Is “The System”?
In footnote 3 of “The System’s Neatest Trick,” Kaczynski writes:
In this section I’ve said something about what the System is not, but I haven’t said what the System is. A friend of mine has pointed out that this may leave the reader nonplussed, so I’d better explain that for the purposes of this article it isn’t necessary to have a precise definition of what the System is. I couldn’t think of any way of defining the System in a single, well-rounded sentence and I didn’t want to break the continuity of the article with a long, awkward, and unnecessary digression addressing the question of what the System is, so I left that question unanswered.
Unfortunately, in neither his public writings nor his private correspondences has Kaczynski gone on to sufficiently explain what the system is, beyond general indications. Here is what I understand him to mean.
Kaczynski uses a materialist framework for analyzing the origins, development, and collapse of societies. In one version of this framework (see Cultural Materialism by Marvin Harris), societies are seen as consisting of three “levels”:
- The infrastructure is the material basis of society, and the primary determinant of the shape that society will take. It includes geography, demography, technology, and some aspects of economy. These are such strong factors in determining the shape of a society because no matter what, at base people are going to preserve their means of getting food and producing children.
- The structure is the organizational level of society, such as how resources are distributed, the means of dividing labor, institutions like banks, governments, and the church, etc. These exist to organize people in a way that is compatible with their means of subsistence and reproduction.
- The superstructure is the ideological level of society, such as its national, religious, and scientific myths. These exist to inspire people’s loyalty to society and its institutions.
For example, in the feudal phase of Western civilization, the infrastructure of society consisted of an agricultural mode of subsistence, which was organized by the structural layer of church and and the feudal system, and which was legitimated by the superstructural layer of Christian ideology. In many primitive societies, the infrastructure of society consisted of a hunting-and-gathering mode of production, was organized by various gendered divisions of labor and a small degree of specialization among warriors and leaders, and was legitimated by various religious mythologies.
Although this framework is generally deterministic, feedback between the various levels of society are taken into account. For example, sometimes the structure of society does not respond properly to a change in infrastructure, which results in social tumult. One historical instance includes the delayed reaction of U.S. social progressive programs to reorganize the structural layers of society after a shift to the Industrial Revolution. Due to the new industrial society’s inability to account for people’s health and wellbeing in structural factors like housing, economics, and waste disposal, there was widespread disatisfaction that largely drove anarchist and communist movements of the time.
“Industrial society” would include all three levels of a society based around an industrial mode of production, that is to say, based on an infrastructure that is technologically dependent on the steam engine and the production of electricity. It is harder to tell what Kaczynski means by “the industrial system,” but, taking into account his numerous rejoinders to attack “the material basis of society,” we can assume that “the system” includes mostly infrastructural and perhaps some structural factors that prop a society up.
“Techno-industrial society” is a term only used losely before Kaczynski and his associates developed it more fully, at which point it took on a more specific theoretical meaning. Último Reducto explained to me in one of our exchanges that “techno-industrial” refers to a generally more advanced form of society, based around computing technologies. This would make it largely compatible with terms popular in academia, like “late industry,” “late capitalism,” “information society,” “postmodern society,” etc. The same distinction that applies to industrial society and the industrial system applies to techno-industrial society and the techno-industrial system.
The Enemy Versus the Target
In terms of facts, I am in accordance with everything outlined above: the materialist method of analyzing society, the distinction between industrial and techno-industrial, and the emphasis on targeting the material basis of society. However, it is important to draw a distinction between a revolutionary enemy and a revolutionary target.
The communists, who had a similar materialist framework, also advocating targeting the material basis of society for their revolution (although their intention was to sieze power over it rather than destroy it). But their enemy was capitalist society. Similarly, one might make the distinction between the enemy of techno-industrial society, but the target of “the techno-industrial system.”
Still, there are obvious problems with our terminology, particularly its clarity. “System” is a vague word, and is attempting to cover concepts that our materialist framework already more accurately describes: infrastructure and structure, “the material basis of society,” or “the technological and economic basis of society.” All these terms and phrases are not only more exact, but also more intuitive.
“Techno-industrial” is also unintuitive. I agree that the technological turn around WWII to computing technologies, data, and other such things mark a major change in the infrastructural layer of society (see The Control Revolution by James Beniger; The Managerial Revolution by James Burnham). For this, perhaps “techno-industrial mode of production” is a useful concept. But in terms of naming our enemy, it is not very strong.
A stronger enemy is “world society.” This is clearly the logical consequence of a techno-industrial mode of production. Various historical trends support this contention, such as the formation of the UN and the European Union, the converging ways of life in nations that have been industrialized, the increasing connection between urban centers through transportation and communications technologies, a world identity being cemented by the existence of the internet… The terminology is also more intuitive and inspires greater motivation than a vague “system” identified only by an idiosyncratic theoretical term, “techno-industrial.”
There is already widespread opposition to world society. Observe the overwhelming numbers in support of the anti-globalization movement, the various regional conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa that explicitly oppose a global order, and the right-wing’s recent use of the concept of “globalism.” This is a much stronger motivator than an enemy of “modern technology.” For years I have attempted to frame technology itself as the enemy in people’s minds, and it simply does not work. People can agree that technology is the source of problems. But in terms of an enemy, they need something more tangible, more personal, and more involved in their day-to-day concerns. “World society” provides all of this.
Naming world society as the enemy also streamlines different elements of our analysis. If world society is the enemy, then we can demonstrate with our materialist mode of analysis why the technological and economic basis of world society is the target, and we can explain why typical targets of “globalism,” like politicians, are much less important than those belonging to the technician class, like the scientists, engineers, and businessmen who contribute significantly to technological progress. It also makes clearer the importance of the dominant ideology of the technician class, humanism (but see the final section in “A Critique of the Concept of ‘Leftism.'”)
Finally, naming world society as the enemy prevents us from giving undue focus to single issues, like biotechnology. In his essay to the anti-globalization movement, “Hit Where It Hurts,” Ted Kaczynski writes that radicals should focus on an issue that “the system” can’t afford to relax its position on. He suggests as an example the issue of biotechnology, which he argues (correctly, I believe) will be necessary to sustain order in the coming century. This is because biotechnology will be necessary to eradicate and control disease, to intensify agricultural production, to respond to ecological impacts of climate change, and perhaps even to manipulate human behavior.
However, biotechnology is not a good enemy because of what I have already stated above: people need something a little more personal, concrete, and “political.” Furthermore, a focus on biotechnology is much too narrow, limiting our ability to instigate tension in other areas that “the system” is disrupting.
Focusing on the project of world society does not have any of these problems, and is just as much an area “the system” can’t afford to compromise on. Almost every great analyst of the problems of technological society has suggested, as a solution, greater unification and cooperation between nations, more connectedness between world people, etc. Bertrand Russell, in The Prospects of Industrial Civilization, and Robert Wright in A Short History of Progress explicitly advocate a world government. So do some environmentalists who point out ecological problems with industrial technological production, such as Club of Rome in Limits to Growth, writing:
In Nature organic growth proceeds according to a Master Plan, a Blueprint. Such a ‘master plan’ is missing from the process of growth and development of the world system. Now is the time to draw up a master plan for sustainable growth and world development based on our global allocation of all resources and a new global economic system.
Various technicians, like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, also advance a globalizing project. These technicians, wholly dependent on continued technological progress, cannot afford to renege on this project. Thus, a movement against world society would be able to constantly instigate tension with the technicians who openly advocate the mission of world society, without the threat of them changing their minds for political expediency.
Finally, a focus on world society allows us to form political alliances with a huge swath of actors who, although not necessarily anti-civilization in orientation, are certainly against the world globalizing project. These include movements that have been active for decades, like fights for ethnic and national autonomy, and which are much too entrenched in the social groups of their respective political constituents to ever be annihilated completely.
The Target is Still Technology
Again, although the enemy is world society and its technician class, the target remains the technological and economic basis of that society. There is no reason to think that a focus on world society would significantly divert radicals from this focus, especially given how effectively the communist forces convinced its members that the means of overthrowing capitalist society could only ever be achieved by siezing the mode of production.
The dream is dead. There is no big-tent; no mass. The siren song of community organizing is silent.
A coin falls to the floor--one side, Populist Struggle; the other, a Struggle to identify.
There are no hyphens; no anarchism with adjectives. The rock of ideology is no match for the river.
Many have come to idolize infrastructure; infatuated with their captors. Permanence is a myth and those who peddle it are spiritual thieves. Everything is falling apart.
Agility, and autonomy, are practices that we might carry with us. They only weigh as much as we do. The breadth of our work is only confined by our creativity, and today, self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and good conversation, have the potential to free our mind so our ass might follow.
Rarely are the fruits of our efforts born fully-formed and flawless and so perfection, like permanence, is peddled quackery. Practice, a philosophy in action, makes creation look easy to the fool, but for the sage, the work is never over. That is because there is no creation, only documentation.
Serendipity will never share its secrets. It will never be predicted, or bent to the will of humans. Serendipity smiles only for the prepared.
What can you accomplish alone? If indeed "quality seeks quality" then the smoke produced from your signal fire will attract others, and together, become a out of control blaze. Without a signal fire first however, you will remain alone, in ritualistic contemplation of how great you might be if you only had an army.
What can a single unbridled anarchist accomplish?
For further discussion you are welcome to join us at irc.anarchyplanet.org and if you would prefer to enjoy this Theme of the Week in audio by clicking HERE
Distrust of central authority is an idea that’s taken many forms over the years, from the Magna Carta in the 13th century to the French and American revolutions 500 years later. Anarchy is another old idea and it pushes these notions far further: The political philosophy fully rejects the state’s centralized authority and, by extension, big businesses and financial institutions that are supported by that state.
The underlying belief is that society can be self-managed, according to Saul Newman, a political professor at Goldsmiths University of London. There are blends of this thinking on the political left (collectivist anarchism) as well as the right (libertarianism).
Newman thinks technology could make some anarchists’ dreams a reality. He’s not the only one who has noticed something is going on. “There is something about technology today, that many people are more comfortable with it than they are with the institutions of government and society that I grew up with,” said Jeffrey Sprecher, CEO of the company that owns the New York Stock Exchange, in a Bloomberg Television interview. Bitcoin is one of the obvious examples—it’s designed to be a stateless, digital cryptocurrency—but it doesn’t end there. People put a lot of trust into an Uber driver’s rating based on the experience of complete strangers.
Technology, after all, has renewed trust in things that used to seem crazy: Hitchhiking is back in Europe, except it’s called BlaBlaCar. Simon Rogerson, CEO of Octopus Investments, points out that the French ride-sharing app reportedly has more registered users than British Airways has passengers each year. For Rogerson, the internet’s radical anonymity is giving way to interconnection and transparency. Thanks to things like Twitter and customer-review website Trustpilot, Rogerson thinks we’re in an era where major companies have to care about their behavior more than before.
The 2008 financial crisis is often cited as the earthquake that definitively ruptured trust between elites, government, big corporations and the regular people who often feel powerless and disenfranchised. But people have resented central authority for a long time. Maybe technology is just helping them act on impulses to redistribute power and trust—or at least to create the appearance that this is happening.
The darker side of internet technologies and platforms is that they become tools for the very entities that the optimists hoped to marginalize. We willingly share sensitive information about our relationships, tastes, and preferences on online platforms. For Newman, this risks making us marketable and monetizable commodities, but also makes our behavior vulnerable to shaping and control (see Cambridge Analytica). He describes it as a form of “digital voluntary servitude.”
Even so, the professor expects that these anarchist-like experiments will continue—performed by people who have never affiliated themselves with the philosophy—thanks to new kinds of communication and technology. Whether or not it leads to some 21st-century revolution is unknowable, but Newman thinks something has indeed changed, in which “state and centralized political and financial institutions increasingly appear as an empty shell, without life or legitimacy.”
via Willamette Week
A corporate branding campaign is the sincerest form of flattery.
Earlier this week, Domino's Pizza announced its plans to help improve the nation's infrastructure by filling in potholes.
The company's Paving for Pizza grants are currently being doled out to various U.S. cities as a way to "save your good pizza from these bad roads."
If the DIY road-improvement scheme sounds familiar, it's because it is.
Last February, a posse of Portland anarchists began taking it upon themselves to fix the city's potholes. On its Facebook page, the group, which calls itself Portland Anarchist Road Care, claims its mission is to "take the state of the roads of Portland into the hands of the people."
"State neglect has caused the streets to fall into disrepair," it says. "We will fix the streets."
Clad in black masks and towing bags of asphalt, the group roams the city fixing streets. It's a plan they say Domino's is using as a PR stunt.
When asked by Portland author and former WW reporter Corey Pein on Twitter whether the pizza company stole their idea, the group responded: "You can't own an idea, so they didn't steal anything, but fuck Domino's, it's obviously a marketing ploy and not actually care for the community."
According to photos of potholes Domino's has filled so far, the company isn't aiming for subtlety—painting every pothole filled with a logo and the phrase "Oh yes we did."
Portland Anarchists Road Care says the company is only focused on profit margins—and making pizza of debatable quality.
"I mean," they told Pein, "they do steal the vast majority of the value of the labor of their employees."
"Indeed," Pein responded, "shitty pizza too."
Test drive a FREE 7 day trial, of one of the available monthly revolutionary subscriptions.
About Author Aaron J. Berg
Aaron J. Berg is the creator of Reality UnKnown, host of the Reality UnKnown podcast, and blogger at RealityUnKnown.com. He started blogging and speaking against the system back in 2009. Now he blogs, podcasts, and produces video content for your benefit.