William Gillis

Revolt Library People William Gillis

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About William Gillis

Anarchist, lapsed physicist, transhumanist. Really into exploring the roots of things and expanding degrees of freedom. Cryptoparty trainer. “Radically uncool.”

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This person has authored 105 documents, with 342,571 words or 2,173,263 characters.

Yesterday arguably one of the biggest general/sympathy strikes in modern history kicked off. I refer, of course, to reddit and the shuttering of hundreds of subreddits in protest of a woman’s firing and, more broadly, the lack of democratic accountability on reddit. Millions of people right now are excitedly joining a general strike with billions of dollars at stake. Now the leftist subreddits have expectedly sneered at the strike because they despise the broader culture in reddit and see themselves as adversaries to anything popular in the site’s notoriously problematic userbase. But it’s an interesting situation because, you know, I was raised to never cross a picket line. And one would be hardpressed if one stepp... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Introduction Twenty years ago a group of Detroit anarchists began work on a new synthesis of environmental and anti-authoritarian thought. Distinguishing themselves from other burgeoning ecological movements in the eighties anarchopunk scene they sought to draw inspiration directly from our primitive roots. Anarchy, they declared, should not be considered in terms of an abstract state to be politically won, but rather a living experience and extensive historical reality. Reevaluating the ideologies and dogma of the classic anarchist movement they turned attention to the archaeological record and existing indigenous societies. By building on post-left critiques they passionately worked to bring attention to a much wider context and hi... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
While presidents almost always expand the power of their office and of the government, Donald Trump is likely to enact a degree of barefisted authoritarianism the modern United States is totally unprepared for. Even if the corrupt and limp political elites that have so far utterly failed to stand against him unexpectedly rally a steadfast resistance in Congress Trump will still enter office with the overwhelming backing of rank and file law enforcement. A strongman unburdened by any conditioning of social norms or sufficient intelligence to understand game theoretic constraints. A man who the NYTimes reported “privately muses about all the ways he will punish his enemies after Election Day.” Never mind the wild geo... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Fighting over the definitions of words can sometimes seem like a futile and irrelevant undertaking. However it’s important to note that whatever language gets standardized in our communities shapes what we can talk and think about. So much of radical politics often boils down to acrimonious dictionary-pounding over words like “capitalism,” “markets,” “socialism,” “communism,” “nihilism,” etc. Each side is usually engaged in bravado rather than substance. Radical debates turn into preemptive declarations of “everyone knows X” or “surely Y,” backed by nothing more than the social pressure we can bring to bear against one another. And yet — to some ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Is it possible for our enemies to discover actual insights? The impulse to deny this is universal. The third reich dismissed special relativity as “Jewish physics” and lost significant advantage. The USSR worried that accepting Darwin’s insights in evolution would open the floodgates to capitalist social darwinism and so they hurt themselves by sticking with Lamarckism. Most people can admit their enemy invented a useful mousetrap, but it’s much harder when one’s ideological enemies make a claim that has rhetorical power for their position. The calculation/knowledge problem — a family of critiques discovered by bourgeois economists — has traditionally been used by capitalists to sugges... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Despite the right’s stereotype of antifascist activists as close-minded thugs or paid protesters, in reality the majority have long been quite geeky, prone to lining their bookshelves with obscure fascist screeds and abstruse historical tomes. This comes with its own problems. Fascism is a multifaceted phenomenon to say the least and different threads can easily preoccupy a researcher their whole life. This has made fascist studies a kaleidoscope of particulars that can be forbidding for newcomers and resists general summary. We are all lucky then that in a moment when suddenly everyone is interested, Alexander Reid Ross has undertaken the herculean task of mapping an overview of fascist historical and ideological currents across a my... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Anarchists face the question: Without nations and states wouldn’t a free society be especially ravaged by pandemics? Who would enforce quarantines without rebuilding a centralized institution of violence? It’s a fair question. Anarchism isn’t about a finite goal, but an unending vector pointed towards increasing liberation. We’re not in the habit of “good enough” compromises, we want everything. However it’s always worth talking about prescriptive or aspirational visions to shake out what is and isn’t possible with freedom. “How might we solve this without depending upon the state or relationships of domination?” is always a useful question. And ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
There’s a few images going around simplifying the adversaries in each season of The Legend of Korra as political or philosophical ideologies: Communism, Theocracy, Anarchism, and Fascism. Sometimes recurring irritants on the show get comparable billing and the roster expands to include capitalism and monarchy. But the first world audience is relatively comfortable with these two and so, as a consequence, is Korra. The implicit, although at this point near-explicit, moral in the show is the danger of perspectives that deviate too far from our present prejudices and norms. If these are extremist positions the average viewer starting point is taken as moderation–near some golden balance–that, if it can be narrowed down, will ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
There’s a particular narrative–surprisingly common in certain corners of the anarchist scene–that no one has really bothered to call out and so has grown rather fat and comfortable over the last few decades. It goes something like this: Thinking or acting from a big-picture perspective is–if not The Problem–then at least a major root cause of everything miserable about our world. Any claims, theories, ideals, or motivations that extend our frame of reference beyond our immediate lives are predicated in the same mistaken arrogance, a mistake responsible for the seemingly intractable poison within the left and activist struggles, as well as so much more. In response we must ward ourselves from the ideologi... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Another week, another misogynist and/or white nationalist terrorist attack. They’re urging each other on, they’re forming broad movements, ecosystems, networks of cells. The Base. Atomwaffen. The Rise Above Movement. American Identity Movement. Hammerskin Nation. Wolves of Vinland. European Kindred. Proud Boys. The names and factions proliferate. Hordes congregate online to cheer the latest atrocity and urge further. One is left unsure if the shootings will speed up in their regularity or if they are moving towards some dramatic escalation. Perhaps they will shoot up a nursery. Spread gas in a major city. Finally make good on their “Right Wing Death Squad” promises and try to march door-to-door exterminating enemies.... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Anarchists have always paid a lot of attention to feedback loops. Seemingly small actions, small arrangements, small evils tolerated, can rapidly or inexorably build up to systematic and seemingly omnipotent power relations. Things that, in isolation don’t seem that bad, can lead to the formation of states or make those states even more authoritarian. Certain economic arrangements can lead to wealth progressively concentrating power into the hands of a few. As anarchists we are always laser focused on the the dangers of letting anyone get a monopoly in anything. On the dangers of even the tiniest interpersonal acts of domination. And as radicals we never settle for established conventions, we’re always questioning where what is ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Why do so many authoritarians on Twitter have anime girl avatars? The rapid emergence of authoritarian ideologies online — both right wing and left-wing — is perhaps the biggest story of the last five years and one that has caught existing activist communities off foot. For decades radical politics was almost exclusively the domain of anarchists and other explicit anti-authoritarians. Sure there were neonazi gangs on the streets of many cities and the occasional Trotskyist or Maoist on the edges of the activist scene, but anti-authoritarianism was for all intents and purposes hegemonic. The internet eventually helped shatter this hegemony, it gave authoritarians the spaces to recruit that they weren’t capable... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
James C. Scott’s latest book, Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States, is sure to become a classic and a brick in the wall of core anarchist theory. It covers somewhat different but complementary ground to Peter Gelderloo’s Worshiping Power: An Anarchist History Of Early State Formation. I have some significant critiques of the narratives it pushes, particularly around the character and downfall of early stateless sedentary agricultural societies, but on the whole I loved this book. Scott is admirably nuanced and attentive to more complex contemporary discoveries and insights. This is not a book pushing the simplistic primitivist line. It notes in detail the kind of exceptions that I’ve been pointin... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Contrary to the assertions of some leftists there are in fact thoroughly monstrous people who are not just victims of their social conditions. Humans vary. We each follow somewhat random paths in the development of our values and instincts, buffeted by a million tiny butterfly wings of context that can never be managed or predicted. A hundred cloned children with identical genes, given identical love and education, will nevertheless face moments of uncertainty where one must randomly pick a hypothesis or strategy from among those possible and run with it, to test out different models and values. Tendencies of course emerge in the aggregate, but they have exceptions. Sometimes these exceptions are themselves an aggregate phenomenon. A... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
For decades taxi regulations have served as the textbook example of government regulations creating artificial enclosures, rents, and wage labor. In addition to a host of prohibitous regulations that even extend to the color of a driver’s socks, the “medallion” system dramatically limits the number of taxi in major cities while at the same time allowing licenses to be rented and sold (prices range between hundreds of thousands of dollars and over a million in New York). Naturally this imposed scarcity has led to monopolistic situations with medallions tightly controlled by middlemen, forcing drivers to operate under capricious bosses in dire working conditions. Today, finally, this remarkably sharp and long lasting ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Gelderloos complains at length about perceived small misreadings and misrepresentations in my piece warning about skews to “Diagnostic of the Future” but then he engages in a number of such himself. “They say I claim that fascism should only be critiqued at the institutional level, and never at the ideological level.” But note that I made no extrapolations that Gelderloos thinks we should “never” talk about the ideology of fascism. What I wrote is that in his piece he casts fascism “in terms of dictatorship — a structure of institutions — rather than as an ideology.” This focus is what I take exception with. Gelderloos writes, What I actually say is that fa... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
One of the best things about The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy is that David Graeber finally tackles issues directly relevant to anarchists. While his prior work has had value, it’s also largely been about rather obvious topics and punctuated with a need to apologize for or defend anarchism. Graeber has rarely written to us. His usual intended audience is much broader, much more liberal, and this has led to a kind of ever-present defensiveness and basics-covering that bogs everything down and taxes one’s patience. You can only read about the liberatory power of direct democracy so many times before your eyes roll away permanently. And yet, suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere comes a... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Let’s talk about Brandon Darby. Brandon Darby was an activist rockstar who took over one of the most visible projects in the anarchist milieu. Brandon Darby was flipped by the cops. And, as of Monday, it’s safe to say that Brandon Darby ended up putting two people behind bars. No sense in dressing it up. Beyond even the jail time, in the realm of perception–both public and internal–this was a great loss for us. For a million reasons we shouldn’t be in the condition where we have activist rockstars, and we shouldn’t be in the condition where our rank and file are ignorant and shallow enough to crack. But we are. Brandon Darby’s inclusion within the Anarchist milieu was always ext... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
When asking the question of whether [party ] was successful in the 2008 RNC protests, it’s worth noting that protests are not outright confrontations and cannot be judged by the same standards. Because protesters, no matter how militant, are still on some level inherently self-restrained. The cops fire concussion grenades; we spray silly string. Thus in a conventional sense, protests are always, inevitably, lost battles. What makes protests useful to protesters are the strategic changes they can effect in the process of losing. Most people forget but Seattle was actually a failure. We got extremely lucky and succeeded somewhat in one tactical goal (impeding delegates), but made no ground whatsoever in the larger struggle. De... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
So last Sunday in the midst of a second wave of blockades of tech company busses in San Francisco and Oakland, a bus window was broken by some anarchist activists and the action immediately sailed to the top of countless news sites. Activists had been trying to draw attention to how the busses (collectively termed “Google Busses”) are subsidized by public infrastructure for free, but the real issue here is the starkly heightening class conflict between techies and those less wealthy in the Bay Area. This crisis is primarily a housing issue, but it has been amplified by the extreme insularity of the upper class tech community, and the private, tinted busses are naturally ground zero for symbolic actions. Vandalism is a venerable ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Two weeks ago we all learned that Brad Spangler, a professed libertarian and anarchist once of some prominence, is a child molester. There have always been hidden monsters and no movement, community or culture is entirely immune. But while we’ve spent the last two weeks recoiling in horror and crushed under the sadness of these revelations, one of the most striking dynamics to come out of this has been how many women in the liberty movement are only now being listened to. To be sure, it’s easy to see creepy behavior in a far more sinister light with hindsight, but many of Spangler’s semipublic actions were still clearly objectionable in their own respect, of the kind that alienates community members and poisons move... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
So we’ve survived another election cycle and the inevitable surge of libertarian socialists like Chomsky lecturing anarchists about our abstention from voting. I want to be clear: it is certainly true that the results of elections can matter. Unless you’re gonna roll the very long odds on a type of accelerationism, a bumbling centrist would be better than literal Hitler. Today, as the republican party lurches to the furthest white nationalist extremes, the “eh the parties are the same” rhetoric no longer cuts it for many. However. Just because the results of an election matter, doesn’t remotely mean that your individual vote matters. The odds of your single vote swinging an important election are ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
In their call for nuance on the issue of indigenous nationalism, Emmi ends up writing[1] in ways I find quite dangerous, The nationalism that we oppose is Westphalian. It is neoliberal. It is authoritarian communist. It is anti-cosmopolitan. Its roots are in the sociopathic protection of geographic kin at the expense of those deemed “other” as a means of justifying colonial exploitation and expansionism. The nationalism we oppose is predominantly settler and colonial even if its ideological roots and practices are much older than the modern nation-state. Sure we oppose those things, but that is hardly the full breadth of what we should oppose about nationalism. In fact the limited condemnation of nationalis... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
If we can urge you to do one thing in this spiraling crisis, please note the way the “checks and balances” of the liberal state are rapidly dissolving in the face of a demagogue president with near universal police support. Many cops are just outright ignoring the court orders against Trump’s draconian ban. Cops at Dulles are reportedly detaining and shipping people off to unknown offsite detention centers (ie black sites) to avoid a ruling saying those detained at Dulles should be granted access to legal counsel. Cops have refused to talk directly with a sitting US senator and have in many places responded to legal/etc. requests with sneers of “ask Mr Trump.” While jou... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
It’s no secret that economists and libertarians have developed a bad habit of assuming things about history and other societies on first principle without actually checking archaeological or anthropological findings. On occasion the divide can be quite stark. David Graeber’s Debt: The First 5000 Years gets a lot of momentum by attacking a widely circulated economic fable purporting to explain the origin of currency wherein coinage precedes credit. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the “I need a blanket and all I have to barter with are five chickens but everyone in my village likes cowry shells” dilemma at the start of elementary economics textbooks has no clear historical basis; there’s little evidence sma... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
There’s a number of folk celebrating the collapse of the legitimacy of US civil institutions in this election, but regrettably it’s not so simple as de-legitimize the state and presto anarchism. Liberal democracy is an incoherent, ultimately unstable and unsustainable system, but there are many more stable configurations of society and a lot of them are far more dystopian. Our strongest critique against liberalism is not that its founded upon horrific, unnecessary and intolerable violence — although it is — but that it is insecure against slow rolls or sudden descents towards greater authoritarianism and fractious civil war. When the civic religion of a country withers and the treaty of liberal democrac... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
You know what I love most about the milieu? The level of our discourse. Magpie Killjoy’s lobbed a short trollish broadside at Markets Not Capitalism calling it “racist” and “disgusting.” Of course he’s couched his hodgepodge assembly of emotionally-charged misreads with a few notes about how he has no fundamental objection to market anarchism per se and that many of the views inside Markets Not Capitalism are legitimately anarchist, but nuance doesn’t bring the pageviews and rallying the troops against teh ancap scourge–tendrils to be found in your very collective!–does. There’s not much to work with here but I’ll throw down for the heck of it, if only because t... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
When evaluations of reality become seen entirely in terms of their utility as rhetorical weapons it ruins a group’s capacity to get an accurate lay of the land and efficiently strategize. Everything becomes about winning debates, not about ultimately winning ground. One of the main things the social media age has done is collapse divides between private and public conversations. This leaves everyone constantly on edge for how they posture and maneuver rhetorically contra the outgroup — to the point of overwhelming honest internal discussions. Most productive conversations require a limited or specific audience. This is necessary to discuss any specialized topic or claim that not everyone on the planet agrees with or has c... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Anarchists tend to pose our core differences with marxists in terms of degrees of radicalism or rootedness. One of the classic ways this gets stated is that marxism deals with the political whereas we deal with the ethical. These terms to the disagreement, once posed, are almost always immediately acknowledged and indeed embraced by both marxists and anarchists. The marxists tend to be delighted by the framing because it smoothly follows their narrative of being the pragmatists. And additionally by and large most marxists are explicit moral nihilists — they don’t believe there’s a point to the investigations of ethical philosophy. They’re not interested in interrogating what values or desires they shoul... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Personally, I don’t think “the left” ultimately represents much of anything coherent, but rather constitutes a historically contingent coalition of ideological positions. Bastiat and other free market folks sat on the left of the french assembly, and while we might try to claim that as part of a consistent leftist market tradition, we should be honest that one’s position in that particular revolution — much less revolution in general — is hardly indicative of very much. There are always revolutionaries who desire systems far worse than our own, and similarly there have been many broadly recognized “leftists” whose desires were utterly anathema to liberation. It’s popular these day... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Again and again over the last month’s political turmoil folks from all political comers—and many that should damn well know better—have gone absolutely apoplectic to discover anarchists still consistently denouncing and opposing authoritarianism, from Castro to Trump, maoists to alt-righters. In short they’re seemingly wildly surprised that anarchists are anarchists. In one absurd instance I was personally called a “dogmatic hack” who “only cares about anti-authoritarianism.” Well yes. What did you think anarchism was about? Such hilarious expressions of shock have been widespread across social media. Among the left there’s been a unending feed of: “Wait, you even oppose left-wing ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
The first time I encountered the claim that an anarchistic society would impede scientific[1] progress I was too shocked — and later busy chortling — to sketch out a thorough response. It’s a surprising sentiment to me for a lot of reasons, not the least for the well known correspondence between scientific progress and social and material freedom in mass societies. I suppose liberals might be inclined to write this relation off as a low value-correspondence – like solely whether free speech is allowed or if folks even have time for anything besides the struggle to stay alive – but to me the connection seems quite obviously fundamental. Power relations of any kind are ultimately more constrictive of inq... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
When the USSR fell one of the “privatization” schemes was to just hand workers stock certificates in the companies they worked at. The problem of course was that the economy was seized up and everyone was starving. So gangsters and the children of the soviet upper-class with actual money bought up all the certificates. They had folks literally go around with wheelbarrows full of vodka trading one bottle for a stock cert. Thus were state enterprises promptly handed over to the existing rich. This is an important historical example because it demonstrated with devastating clarity how “entrepreneurs” with a small amount of unfair seed money can rapidly take over an entire economy and turn it into an oligarchy. Th... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
There are numerous points in Shane Burley’s Fascism Today: What It Is And How To End It where I stopped, reread a passage, and with a little bit of shocked relief went “that is entirely accurate!” I don’t mean to damn with faint praise. In this last year’s stampede of everyone suddenly writing about fascism let’s just say that accuracy has broadly diminished. So many people have next to no familiarity with the subjects they try to write about, either missing critical details and context or just going in half-cocked. So it must be said that in this context I found Burley’s book studiously and refreshingly boring — in the way that sanity is boring. Fascism Today, for the most part, operat... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
There is no reviewing Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury: Inside The Trump White House without commenting on its questionable cannonicity. But there’s also no mistaking its appeal as a supplemental to the last season of electoral politics in America. Like any good expanded universe offering it tries to enrich and deepen everything that entertained us on the screen, offering retcons, fleshed in backstory, and world-building. There’s a certain kind of minor catharsis to such works, making sense of the sometimes rushed, contradictory and half-assed storyline we were initially presented, but it is also undermined by a sense that anything within could be casually discarded back on the television show. Wolff, like all goo... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
I will always remember the first time I paused while flicking through channels and heard “boy, this planet really smells!” I was immediately hooked. And I spent the following long dark years before Serenity a fervent evangelist. That we even got our Big Damn Movie shocks me to this day and I want to make clear that I am more than content to sit back, wrap up my fandom with a little bow, put it on a shelf, and only ever trot it out when someone makes the mistake of asking the wrong question at a party. We got our ending–such as it is–and I have no illusions that our wildly successful cast will ever disentangle themselves from their various contracts in time to film anything other than Firefly: The Geriatrics. H... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Adult supremacy claims its legitimacy from the notion that age grants critical experience and wisdom. We all know exceptions to this, adults we would classify as unwise, but the ideology persists because it is true that choice in the absence of knowledge is not real choice. Someone has to understand the context of their actions, they have to have an accurate map of the world in order to be able to trace the consequences. This much is true. And so defenders of adult supremacy always want to get into a fine grained fight over how informed a child is or can be. But picture yourself today ripped from your modern adult body back into that of a child – all of your knowledge, experience, and wisdom transmitted intact. Try to imagine h... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Radicals! Are you sick of being spontaneously overcome by blistering rage and horrified vertigo on a daily basis? Do you find yourself foolishly opening comment threads on gender issues thinking yourself desensitized to the mind-warping misogyny that invariably pops into existence like a quantum foam of entitlement underpinning the internet? Are you sick of wasting precious minutes standing slackjawed in front of some new twisting complex of deep psychological issues couched as grandiose social analysis? Do you find yourself humbled into quiet bitter despair while pondering just how long it would take to fight their misrepresentation of reality? Are you sick, in short, of time-burglaring gender-essentialists? Then Anarcho-Tran... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Many market theorists take property titles as axiomatic and then develop coercive apparatuses to enforce them — justifying such coercion by appealing to notions like implicit consent and/or the justness of contracts that sell off part of one’s agency in the future. This rightfully bugs the crap out of many anarcho-communists. Left market theorists in turn tend to write off these apprehensions as a contention over differing ideal systems of property — ie differences over what constitutes abandonment and the general viability of collective property. But this, as I’ve argued time and time again, is a profoundly limited understanding of the criticisms being lobbed against them. First off, not every system o... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
There’s an increasing sense of crisis in the far left today. Having lashed itself to an implicit primitivism over the course of the twentieth century now that that ship is sinking much of the left is desperately looking for a way off. The Manifesto for an Accelerationist Politics by Alex Williams and Nick Srnicek is one of a number of recent attempts by those resisting capital to free themselves from this deadweight and chart a course forward that is actually — in its words — “at ease with a modernity of abstraction, complexity, globality, and technology.” While largely failing to draw attention from on-the-streets radicals, the MAP has still emerged as a significant document for a certain set of ‘... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
One of the more annoying things about our norms of discourse is that we tend to collapse our talk of the future into singular predictions rather than arrays of different possibilities each with different probabilities. It’s easier to pretend like we each have one singular future that we’re betting on. We more or less commit to that single possibility and others assume we’re fully committed to that future. Such simplification makes casual discussion more tractable. But it creates distorted incentives. Some try to focus on some kind of median among the possibilities, some vague central cluster. Yet this in turn suppresses the variance and the dangers on the edge. So then you get a second tendency of people who focus on the e... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
As the Haymarket Martyrs went to their deaths they were resolute, in no small part because they knew future generations of anarchists would remember them. This sentiment extended from August Spies, “The day will come when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you are throttling today,” to Louis Lingg, “I die happy on the gallows, so confident am I that the hundreds and thousands to whom I have spoken will remember my words; and when you shall have hanged us, then—mark my words—they will do the bombthrowing! In this hope do I say to you: I despise you. I despise your order, your laws, your force-propped authority. Hang me for it!” Try as the forces of power have, they have not suc... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
I’m feeling profoundly under the weather so it’s as good a time as any to indulge in that most venerable of radical pastimes, ranting about Star Wars. I discovered Star Wars the same way any poor eight-year-old did in the early 90s, through the comics section at my local library. Dark Empire and Tales of the Jedi were richly watercolored and stunning in their scope. And eventually I got bored enough to follow up on their source films. It didn’t take long for me to realize that Star Wars was an acceptable geekdom in the otherwise harsh projects. Star Wars was gangsta. And the root of this I suspect lies in its dramatically different character from Star Trek, Lord of the Rings or the myriad superheroes and chain-mail ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
I think I’ve figured out how to salvage The Force Awakens. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good movie, a damn fun and refreshing movie, but it’s widely acknowledge to still have deep problems, especially in the second half. Surprisingly there’s basically one change that I think could have turned it into a great movie. And no, I’m not talking about R2-D2’s random map bit. Yes the whole map-to-Luke mcguffin was kinda forced, but JJ could have easily focused in on some part of R2 after BB-8 leaves him and let a small light start blinking to remove the perceived arbitrariness of his later awakening. That’s trivial to solve and will probably be done in a special edition. No, I’m talk... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
(this was delivered as a speech on October 18, 2015, in Oakland, California, at the “Future of Politics” conference co-sponsored by IEET) The more means by which people can act the easier attack becomes and the harder defense becomes. It’s a simple matter of complexity. The attacker only needs to choose one line of attack, the defender needs to secure against all of them. This isn’t just true of small thermal exhaust ports, it’s true in our software ecosystems today and any other system with many dimensions of movement. Complexity, more degrees of freedom within a system, allow for greater attack surface. When they can come not just from all points on the compass but from above and belo... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
In Ursula K Le Guin’s classic short “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” she considers a prosperous and happy society whose success is somehow purchased through a dark bargain — the torture and abject immiseration of a single child. Despite the positive good won for the many, a few starry-eyed children of Omelas refuse to temper their hunger for a better deal, and reject this otherwise utopian society, albeit with no alternative blueprint in hand. Simply insisting that there must be something better, or that their lives should be devoted to at least searching for it. To opponents of markets they pose an equivalent faustian bargain; no measure of background wealth and technological advancement is worth the pric... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
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 freed... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Over-35s seem to love nothing more than being told that the Internet — and the rapid cultural developments that have paralleled it — have been a terrible mistake with huge downsides that will surely doom us. And there’s no end to the opportunistic hacks lining up to dress this generational reactionary spasm as the contrarian voice of reason. We’re told that we need elites, that people talking about injustice in their own online communities has gone on long enough, that decentralized systems are surely too complicated to figure out, that Chelsea Manning and activists who care about a free Internet are a false front for the Koch brothers, et cetera. The arguments are inevitably as preposterous as they are haught... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
I was watching Redbeard‘s presentation from 28c3 summarizing the current context of corporate datatrawling and not for the first time it struck me just how wrongheaded and wasteful the standard radical/hacker kvetching about public sharing is. I mean, I get it. It would be great if people thought more about all the knickknacks of personal information they put in essentially public spaces and it would be fucking wonderful if they avoided putting it all directly in the hands of centralized servers run by big corporations like Google and Facebook. And there’s some serious late-game efforts to try and provide users with alternatives that encourage and facilitate more consciousness about privacy. But by and large that ship has sailed... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Anarchist bookfairs are one of the most interesting features of anarchist life. A bookfair is immediately recognizable as hierarchical. There are the booksellers and there are the consumers. What separates the two is not merely the physicality of a table, but the capital investment it represents. Those distroing have usually been required to purchase space in the bookfair. But moreover they have had to invest in the things they are now trying to sell. And these investments are often well beyond the means of a good percentage of the anarchists they attempt to sell to. A table for a day can cost between 50 and 200 dollars, and while it used to be the case that anarchist bookfairs would usually provide extensive outdoor space for... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
One of the most disappointing things about the anarchist community is that while we’ve widely recognized that our critique of power relations extends to interpersonal dynamics we’ve — so far — largely shied away from addressing such in concrete terms. One-on-one we often repeat accusations and condemnations of manipulation, but we’ve never sorted out precisely what manipulation is. Even in the tumblr renaissance there’s a marked tendency for the heroic young folk decrying power structures within various scenes or milieus to suddenly shy away when it comes to identifying and arguing against manipulation itself. Instead we generally mutter about how such and such example of manipulation rhymes with aspects ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
I think it’s a shame that anarchists don’t write more on either geopolitics or analyzes of the future; over the last two centuries our greatest successes have come from our imagination and foresight. For this reason I applaud Peter Gelderloos’ recent attempted forecast, published in a variety of forms by Crimethinc. There’s much to agree with in Gelderloos’ analysis and I applaud his effort, but there’s nevertheless much in his analysis I find askew. We could do with more predictive evaluation of geopolitical or institutional forces, and I hope this opens the door to more writing in these arenas by anarchists, but there’s an ever-present danger to such lenses: you start seeing the worl... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
The next President of the United States will be one of the worst. If September 11th was a gunshot that allowed the Bush Administration to take off sprinting, the Obama administration grabbed the baton and charged forward even faster. No one spends years pursuing political power only to walk into the Oval Office and suddenly decide to surrender and abolish their power. The exchange of the executive office between Republicans and Democrats is just the steady ratchet of authoritarianism — each side stamping out pockets of freedom that their predecessor’s didn’t. And yet this election poses a situation even more dire than usual. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have the most extreme unfavorability ratings of any ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
I think it’s insufficiently analyzed how the banner of “negative liberty” often replicates the “hardness” of masculinity and gets wrapped in it. Interdependence & contingency of feelings is often ridiculed alongside means of interdependence & contingency in social & economic relations. I’ve long been skeptical of the ways “autonomy” – instead of “freedom” – gets thrown around in the left because of how often it is used as something like “sovereignty” and how quickly I’ve seen said negative approach to freedom collapse to nativism, isolationism, and self-reliance as the true goal. And it always tends to be coded masculine or appeal to... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
It’s fun to reimagine the same damn fights among anarchists over “markets” with “network” substituted in its place. After all, “market” just stands for “trade network.” And while opposition to the act of trade is a distinct and important component of most rejections of markets — see my prior parable about the benefits of trade — those hostile to markets rarely stop there. One might well imagine the same abstract structure of arguments being brought to bear against networks as a whole rather than just trade networks… “We’ve all seen how miserable we are under The Network, forced into social interaction with one another at all times, all to ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Talking about nihilism, much less attempting to define and critique it, is an exhausting sort of task, akin to talking to a mischievous toddler who has learned some empty single-word responses that make an adult go in circles. And one risks serious strain from all the eyerolling necessary to get through any such discussion. Most of us recognize that to bother to debate or critique nihilism is to lose from the outset. In the same way that feeding the trolls is a game utterly disconnected from sincere comparison and collaboration on ideas. And yet total disengagement is unsustainable. What are we to do when former friends or lovers start falling for such inane tripe and then are somehow shocked by our revulsion? One doesn’t have ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
The Hackers On Planet Earth (HOPE) conference has long been one of the more explicitly leftist and politically conscious hacker conferences. Unlike hacker conferences like Defcon and BlackHat, where the atmosphere has been relatively permissive of sexual harassment, state collaborators, and reactionary politics, HOPE has a reputation for being better. A little outpost of European hacker radicalism in America, HOPE has slowly improved; this year anarchists and anarchist propaganda were everywhere, talks featured reports from antifascists on their efforts to dox nazis, and heroes like Chelsea Manning were headline speakers. And yet at this year’s HOPE some shitbag got up during a Q&A and bragged about having marched in UniteT... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Obvious trigger warnings. Further this is gonna be an abstract conversation on concepts. If you’re one of those rare folks who feels the war against patriarchy can’t ever afford side conversations for the sake of curiosity/clarity that aren’t rhetorically perfected weapons pointed towards teh enemy or if you figure there’s nothing new under the sun to be heard from cis-ish male-bodied people I totes understand and sympathize and I hope you will take my disagreement for what it is. I abhor speaking to a choir and try not to write until I’m assured I can at least contribute something at least moderately original and challenging, but c’est la vie. No one would disagree that porn is a major site of imp... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Should publishing neonazi material be tolerated among anarchists? To almost every anarchist the answer is and has always been no. This is not a matter of censoring or hiding from ideas, it’s a matter of not giving shitty people with shitty values and goals the legitimacy of a platform and connection with us. Social association matters, it maps networks of trust and collaboration, it declares degrees of affinity, and provides points of entry. When you hang with nazis, when you allow them into your spaces, or when you promote their propaganda you’re quite reasonably gonna get treated like a nazi collaborator. The world is not a formless and consequenceless forum for the airing and interplay of ideas. It’s parti... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
For centuries radicals have debated alternative property systems, and I’m glad we’re having these conversations. But what has been consistently disappointing about them is how little they generally seek to explore the underlying roots of “property” itself. To be sure, all sides provide ethical arguments for why their system is superior that make moves in this direction, but the debate happens largely as though each of these systems were politicians or platforms. Rather than illuminate why we are having our disagreements and whether they can be bypassed, the various positions slide into mere competition by presenting their own positive qualities and the downsides of their competitors. The approach I encourage a... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Organizations have a lot of downsides. Anyone who’s ever attended a meeting recognizes this on some level. And yet most folks persist in an either instinctive or confused idealization of forming and participating in organizations. Part of this is semantic. The term “organization” is so loose as to be either universally trivial or—more often—a substantive but hazy jumble of associations. Often such bundling acts to disingenuously assert a premise from the get-go and it’s worth picking apart exactly what is meant by an “organization.” “Anarchy,” for instance, directly means “without rulership” but the broader associations of violence, chaos and dog-eat-dog famously... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
In talking about AI over the last few years Nick Bostrom and Stuart Armstrong have very successfully popularized a more formal and nerdy re-statement of the Humean claim that values and rationality are orthogonal. I generally like to refer to their Orthogonality Thesis as the most rigorous reformulation and baseline argument for the value-nihilist claim: Thinking about things more will not incline minds to certain values or cause them to inevitably converge to them (but rather leave values more indistinguishable and arbitrary). In its defense, the space of possible minds is indeed very very big. And just about everyone could do to cultivate a much deeper appreciation for this. But I think the degree to which the Orthogonality ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Infamously anarchists, marxists and conservatives all use the word “liberal” as a slur — probably the most frequent one that rolls off our tongues — and yet we each mean wildly different things by it. To an anarchist the foremost characteristic of liberalism is shortsightedness. Liberals embrace state power and other problematic means to achieve some ameliorations in the short term at the cost of future victories. The watchword of liberals might as well be “good enough” and their slogan John Maynard Keynes’ famous line “in the long run we’re all dead.” Liberals are uninterested in the fundamental dynamics or historic consequences, they’ll do what they need to do to get... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Last Friday, The Oregonian published a staff editorial that responded to the police brutality unleashed on May Day protesters by labeling all anarchists as “punk fascists.” This editorial — published by the conservative newspaper that used to be a daily powerhouse in the Northwest — has been roundly denounced in many circles for its political ignorance, opportunism, and misrepresentation of the facts. While some participants in the black bloc chucked Pepsi cans at alt-right provocateurs and the cops, the Portland police — infamous for rehiring officers exposed as neonazis — were the clear aggressors, as is the inherent nature of police. They responded to the minor actions of a few by brutally attac... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Introduction When I was six-years-old my anarchist dad smuggled me a copy of Jurassic Park against my mom’s prohibitions. “When you can read it, you can read it,” he said, and within a year I had not only learned every last word, I’d read my fraying copy cover to cover dozens of times in the boring waits at homeless shelters, soup kitchens and welfare offices. Surrounded by a filthy concrete dystopia I read again and again with wide eyes as the Cassandra character inveighed against rigid systems of control as prone to diminishing returns and inevitable catastrophe, spoke about how hunter gatherers worked far less and played far more. I was hooked. Between survivalist day camps and Zerzan tracts at the used boo... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Introduction When I was six-years-old my anarchist dad smuggled me a copy of Jurassic Park against my mom’s prohibitions. “When you can read it, you can read it,” he said, and within a year I had not only learned every last word, I’d read my fraying copy cover to cover dozens of times in the boring waits at homeless shelters, soup kitchens and welfare offices. Surrounded by a filthy concrete dystopia I read again and again with wide eyes as the Cassandra character inveighed against rigid systems of control as prone to diminishing returns and inevitable catastrophe, spoke about how hunter gatherers worked far less and played far more. I was hooked. Between survivalist day camps and Zerzan tracts at the used boo... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
With such a nice response from Kevin it’s probably incumbent upon me to emphasize some disagreements — or perhaps just nuances — I was hoping to draw out. Along the way there are a few quibbles I’d make in response to Kevin’s commentary, because I don’t think things are as clean-cut as he’d like them: I actually don’t think the case for occupancy-and-use extends merely to land. Factories are the classical example and one could easily imagine a factory that’s effectively a portable commodity. A factory that is highly specialized and costly to replicate, but that’s the sort of thing you could place on your desk. I’m sure Kevin can think of a few modern inventions ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
The great economist and early anti-statist thinker Bastiat famously pointed out the way our attention is often drawn to the most immediate, losing sight of the wider array of consequences and causations. Such myopia is how modern statism flourishes, obscuring the threat of the policeman’s pistol and the swing of his truncheon, so that a proposed tax for instance is sliced away from all context and rendered into a seemingly inert, docile thing. Through centuries of hard fought progress the public has increasingly grown adverse to violence and explicit acts of domination. It is impossible to understate the accomplishment this represents. And yet our rulers have compensated not by lessening their brutality but by obscuring it. Eve... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Anarchists who intend to act as though we didn’t live in a dystopic world must find themselves perplexed at every moment. With the ecosystems of civil society so atrophied and virtually every surviving institution of value captured and beaten into participating in the bloody circus of statism, who do you call? What do you do when you see a thug with a gun (and a badge) looming over someone, much less kidnapping or shooting people? Hell, how do you deal with the existence of sitcoms? Ethically navigating the horrors of our world is a challenging task for anyone with a shred of humanity, but it’s unfathomable once you abandon the notion of strategy – the pursuit of wider context. And yet the appeal of immediati... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Three close friends collectively inherit a house in the country from a departed mutual friend who built it. It’s a dream come true for these young friends, sick as they are of city life and longing to grow their own food. The house is big, gorgeous, and well-maintained. It has a large multifaceted kitchen, which is great because the friends prefer to cook separately. There’s a large stash of supplies, much equipment, a overrunning well, and acres for growing crops. To make matters better there’s a small orchard of genesliced trees that provide a variation of fruit and nuts throughout the year. Avocados, walnuts, peaches, figs, etc. Not enough to get by on exclusively, but — divided three ways — enough to provid... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Let us be clear that ecocide is happening. While we may yet avoid the severest possibilities of global ecological collapse the situation has long been grim. And it’s not just a matter of capitalism or the state making uniquely bad decisions, the tensions at play are deep — at the core of homo sapiens itself. Human cognition and social collaboration have created an explosion of evolution temporally detached from meaningful feedback from our surrounding ecology. Biological evolution proceeds at the pace of generations and incremental gene changes, but our thoughts leap far ahead, able to generate incredibly complex constructions in a minute. This provides our surrounding environs little time to adapt or react. Techno... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
No, no, no. What if we’re not doomed that way? Nick Bostrom is one of my favorite academic philosophers; beyond pairing rigor with audacity, he’s one of the few to grasp and explore the philosophical avenues opened up by modern scientific understanding. But in the last decade Bostrom has shot to some prominence not for his explorations of multiverse theory and the anthropic principle but for his far more practical work on existential risks to our species. The moment it was published Superintelligence became the seminal text for those seriously concerned with the threat of artificial intelligence. It must be said that, although it is often framed as a book on AI, Superintelligence casts a far broader net. Bostrom is... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
There are few figures the alt-right hate more than Jeffrey Tucker — which may be something of a plot twist, given his alleged hand in the racist Ron Paul newsletters of the 80s. Yet Tucker has evolved into a passionate critic of racism, the alt-right and Trump. An affable and optimistic proponent of cosmopolitanism and classical liberalism, his tone has taken a more desperate and furious tilt in the last two years, becoming the most prominent outspoken figure against fascism within libertarian circles. Right-Wing Collectivism is a compilation of Tucker’s writings between 2015 and 2017 as he sought to emphasize and explain the menace of fascism to his audience. Taken together they form a volume that isn’t bad, but al... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
The situation is fluid, we may all be dead tomorrow. But it is interesting to examine the splits going on right now within the establishment. It’s clear that no matter what the MAGA chuds will continue whacking off to fantasies of slaughtering everyone to show How Real Power Works. But the establishment has come to a consensus on strategy: They know a slaughter would mean unwinnable war, so they’re desperately trying to split liberal POC from leftists. There’s basically two variants of this strategy: 1) the liberal one where a few thousand get selectively raided and put away for vandalism 2) the conservative one where they round up anarchists for ideology crime and use us as show trials for elec... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
The allure, to me, of polyamory has always been its promise of addressing reality head on. Of communicating and grappling with the complexities in our lives and relationships in an honest and audacious manner. But I am not so on board with those who define it as in terms of “casual love.” The comparison to casual sex is entirely misguided in my opinion. …Of course I freely admit I may not have the highest credentials in this area. Casual sex will probably always seem like a crazy scifi concept to me, completely detached from far more realistic and tangible notions like space elevators and time travel devices the size of galaxies. In some sense it’s silly to pay such an outlandish notion too much attention whe... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
It’s no secret that a good portion of the left today considers science profoundly uncool. A slight affinity with it persists among a majority, but few asides of scorn by the continental philosophers influential in the contemporary leftist canon see spirited response and science’s most prominent champions remain dated historical figures like Peter Kropotkin and Élisée Reclus. Indeed there’s a lingering whiff of technocratic stodginess and death that the word “science” has never quite shaken. Those leftists most associated with it have a tendency to either be authoritarians looking to legitimize near-fascist narratives, or doe-eyed activists enchanted by saccharine visions of self-managed bureaucrac... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Scientists are driven to inquire, to engage with the world around them and reshape their own minds in doing so. Regardless of whether they recognize it this places them fundamentally and diametrically at odds with power relations. Consequently those power dynamics that have survived have found ways to hold back and rigorously control science, but this control rarely takes the form of direct oppression. Yes scientists do occasionally get shot, threatened, censored, fired and shipped off to gulags to starve, but as these things go they’re not a particularly oppressed class. Indeed if we accept for a moment the perception of “scientist” as a mere job description rather than intellectual orientation, then scientists hav... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Let’s say you hunger for liberation, you want to increase freedom. What is freedom but choice? One might quickly think to equate this with the raw number of immediate options you have. But consider these options as a branching tree. What other options are opened up by choosing a specific option? It has long been pointed out that if you have a choice between a hundred flavors of toothpaste that’s a very limited set of choices because once you make the choice there’s not much left to do. There’s very little different between the experience of brushing your teeth with one flavor of toothpaste versus another, nothing hangs on it, the impact upon the wider universe is very limited, and no further choices get... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Let’s say you hunger for liberation, you want to increase freedom. What is freedom but choice? One might quickly think to equate this with the raw number of immediate options you have. But consider these options as a branching tree. What other options are opened up by choosing a specific option? It has long been pointed out that if you have a choice between a hundred flavors of toothpaste that’s a very limited set of choices because once you make the choice there’s not much left to do. There’s very little different between the experience of brushing your teeth with one flavor of toothpaste versus another, nothing hangs on it, the impact upon the wider universe is very limited, and no further choices get... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
One of my less popular beliefs (and that’s saying something) is that any form of sexuality is inherently objectifying. As with all language being violence and all poetry dishonest, that’s not the end of the story, obviously, and certainly not an injunction to never engage with it. My basic argument is that sexual desire is ultimately a very simple lizard-brain thing and while you can hook it up to to complex circuits, there’s a limit to the complexity of the triggers, or at least diminishing sustainability to complex triggers. The triggers can be ‘relatively’ complex, but they have to be ossified enough — have to have permanent enough associations or connections — to actually serve as trigger... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
If the problem with taxation is the coercion, then surely the priority of any coherent and consistent libertarian reformism on taxes should be to minimize the number of people who are robbed at all. Of course this would mean entirely abolishing taxes on the poorest. By the non-aggression principle, a mugger drawing a gun on you to take your wallet is a crime, regardless of how much you subjectively value your wallet’s contents. Thus the government’s armed thug taking $20 from a poor person is in a certain sense categorically the same crime as said armed thug taking $2,000,000 from a rich person. The biggest problem by far, the NAP says, is the stickup, the aggression, the threat of bodily injury, less so the particular th... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Now, obviously, as an anarchist I oppose affirmative action, welfare, public education and the like because they’re statist programs and, as such, are inherently, unavoidably, grounded in violence and the perpetuation of power structures. As statist programs they ultimately do more bad than good. And of course given freedom we could accomplish their stated ends far more efficiently without oppressing anyone. But. There’s nary an anarchist in the world that would go out of their way to abolish such projects first. The reason for this is strategy. The first task of a prisoner is to escape, and with that goal in mind we’re not about to stop eating the meals they give us. Sure those meals are poisoning us.... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
There are two common ways to engage with ideas. The first is to treat them as models for the world, ideally providing us with greater accuracy or understanding and thus agency in our choices. The second is to view ideas exclusively in terms of their effects upon people and their relationships with one another. In practice we all do both. It’s almost impossible to consider a statement without considering the impact it might have upon likely audiences and we can rarely segregate our desire for truth entirely from our other desires or aspirations. Nevertheless there are still clearly different degrees to which we can weigh the first mode of thinking versus the second. It’s tempting to try and parse the differen... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
I want to be clear from the outset, The Last Jedi is a great film with intense artistic and entertainment value. And I don’t begrudge those who enjoyed the shit out it, not even those reviewers that made snide noises about how they never really liked Star Wars until now. The Last Jedi is a fun and at times moving and original film. However. It’s also a abomination that needlessly fucks over Star Wars as a world and as a saga and for all the highs I had experiencing it as a film I left with a stone in my stomach. A sense of loss, alienation, and insult. It would, for example, only have taken a passing sentence or two of Snoke bragging while hitting Rey in the head with Anakin’s lightsaber to make any to... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
A friend asked me for advice in dealing with an accusation of abuse and so I wrote a little guide with input from half a dozen feminists of differing perspectives that I admire… First off you need to take one hell of a step back and try to remember the bigger picture. We are limited creatures, it is easy to self-delude or miss things while still perceiving ourselves as intensely rational and our experience as more objectively accurate. The effect of human cognitive biases not to mention subjective constraints is huge. It may be humiliating to think of yourself in terms of statistics among a much wider category of humans, but it can be a useful corrective. If you weren’t yourself, if you ignore your internal narrative and... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
By definition no consistently anti-statist libertarian believes that government property is legitimate. The state, by its very nature, cannot be meaningfully consented to; its claims to ownership are the claims of a ranting madman armed to the teeth and soaked in blood. It is also broadly recognized that, because the state is aggression at its very core, many acts against it are justified as defense. Some take this to mean that assassinating say the entire New York Police Department would not only be justified but valorous. Yet however repugnant and perhaps irredeemable police are they are in some meaningful, if remote, sense human beings with agency. Killing an agent, an individual mind, unquestionably constitutes violence, regardle... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Serenity – At first it might seem ridiculous and fanboyish to place Serenity higher than Children of Men. Not only is the latter more finely composed, but on first appearance Serenity appears not simply ramshackle but less stalwartly Science Fiction. While there are necessary paradigmatic environmental changes (the G-23 Paxilon Hydrochlorat, the psychic capacities of River Tam) they act less as central thematic drives than as crutches to drive events. If we take the old adage that a truly SF story is one that at its most basic and general can’t exist without a change of paradigm, it’s hard to evaluate Serenity because it’s hard to narrow down just what Serenity’s core is. Bad thing is done, man must expose? Riv... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Arrival – Right out of the gate let’s be clear that Arrival is the best Science Fiction film ever made. Both in the sense of being the purest most prototypical example of Science Fiction as a genre as well as in the sense of being simply one of the best films ever made. It introduced the world to Ted Chiang – long the science fiction snob’s favorite science fiction author – and against all odds somehow did his work justice. There’s an old bit Science Fiction fans like to tell about Mary Shelley, the first formal science fiction author, being the daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin, in turn often cited as the first formal feminist and anarchist. Arrival is very clearly and solidly in this tr... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
The more means by which people can act the easier attack becomes and the harder defense becomes. It’s a simple matter of complexity. The attacker only needs to choose one line of attack, the defender needs to secure against all of them. This isn’t just true of small thermal exhaust ports, it’s true in our software ecosystems today and any other system with many dimensions of movement. Complexity — more degrees of freedom within a system — allows for greater attack surface. When they can come not just from all points on the compass but from above and below as well. The arc of human history is an arc bent by our creativity and inquiry towards more options, more ways of existing and acting. Towards g... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
“They’re even gassing children!” A small affinity group of teenagers raced past me, all in black bloc, one member slowing down only to look at me. I had put my red bandanna away, soaked as it was in tear gas and pepper spray. What remained was a skinny thirteen year old kid in a bright yellow rainjacket my mom had forced me to bring. I grinned to myself because I was no innocent. I had spent the whole day disdainful of the other protesters, sneering at the liberal speeches and inane placards, rolling my eyes at the naivety of the bloc during the fighting. N30 was my first major protest and I wanted more than anything to be above it. I originally went to Seattle more to observe the end of the world, than to pa... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Two anarchists were murdered and one left seriously injured today in an ISIS suicide bombing in ‪Suruc Turkey. The bombing targeted at a group of young leftists at a radical cultural center who had been providing help in rebuilding the city of Kobane, where anarchist or anarchist influenced Kurdish rebels had successfully fought off a lengthy siege and invasion by ISIS forces after many foreign governments refused to provide support, saying Kobane would inevitably be overrun. The attack today inside the borders of Turkey killed 32 people including — it has been confirmed — the young anarchists Alper Sapan and Evrim Deniz Erol. Another anarchist, Caner Delisu, is in critical condition. For a long time now Turkish gov... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
In our everyday language we often to use the term “power” in very different ways. This can lead to all manner of confusion. Worse, it can hobble our own understanding of a situation and allow others to twist and distort our capacity to call shit out. The Bolsheviks infamously appropriated and distorted the decentralist, anti-state slogan “All Power to the Soviets!” into a rallying cry for centralized state control. Today one can visit a demonstration and simultaneously see “Power To The People” sprayed on walls while at the same time “Fight The Power” blasts out a stereo. In activist critiques talk of “empowerment” runs parallel to struggles to “abolish all power relations.&r... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
First, let’s ignore the non sequitur anti-science and anti-tech bullshit for now, since perspectives on either have absolutely nothing to do with post-leftism. After all while there are primmies and anti-civs within the post-left, there are also a plethora of transhumanists, cyberpunx and general internet-loving radicals who see invention and exploration as inherently liberatory acts. Post Left Anarchists are functionally distinct from Left Anarchists in our distaste and suspicion of organization. That is to say our focus on critiquing the drive for organization-as-an-ends-unto-itself. Yes, we recognize that for all the profound changes in social and economic context since the days of yore, there are still workers and bosses an... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Tuesday, as the world prepared to listen to the State of the Union, a small piece of news slunk out with horrifying implication. The Trump administration had withdrawn its pick for ambassador to South Korea, Victor Cha, after he privately expressed disagreement with a plan for a “limited strike” on North Korea. This piece of news largely passed by unnoticed in the US, our media preoccupied with the FBI investigation into Trump and the daily circus of partizan conflict. But it is quite arguably the most blood chilling and stomach curdling development of the last year. It’s been widely reported that Trump is pressuring for a military strike on North Korea, over the objections of just about everyone in the military. Bu... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Anarcho-Transhumanism is the recognition that social liberty is inherently bound up with material liberty, and that freedom is ultimately a matter of expanding our capacity and opportunities to engage with the world around us. It is the realization that our resistance against those social forces that would subjugate and limit us is but part of a spectrum of efforts to expand human agency—to facilitate our inquiry and creativity. This means not just being free from the arbitrary limitations our bodies might impose, but free to shape the world around us and deepen the potential of our connections to one another through it. It means the tools we use should be openly knowable and infinitely customizable; it means bodies that... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Most folks radicalized online in these recent years have virtually no knowledge of what serious state repression looks like, and that lack of preparation scares me to my bones. SWAT raids, abductions, rape, torture blacksites, mock executions… those of us anarchists around from the counter-globalization era have experienced a vast array of state repression. The traumatized stories of our friends built up tacit knowledge that hasn’t been fully conveyed to generations brought up on the internet. Have no doubt, it’s always only a matter of time. Raids will come. House raids usually come down in the wee hours of the morning, almost always involve drawn assault rifles and flashbangs. One recurring favorite... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
The latest entry in panics over social justice comes from my hometown, where some folks have created a list shaming restaurants and foodcarts that were owned by white people but sold “non-European international cuisine.” One of the more annoying restaurants on that list has now closed as a result of hate mail. While the existence of this list (and derivative lists) has generated the sort of furious apoplexia you’d expect in the culture wars, it raises some complex subjects. On the one hand, boycott lists are in some real sense both the market at work and a matter of freedom of information that enables people to have more informed agency in their choices. On the other hand, five years ago the social justice milieu br... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
If there’s one deep and profound disagreement with the left I have it’s a systematic privileging of collective stability or unity over individual free association. It’s a sad fact that leftist activists often hunger for community far more than they hunger for freedom. And one consequence of this is a persistent inability to deal with conflict, a sense that schism and “betrayal of the peace” are greater crimes than the underlying issues prompting said fracture. We see this in consensus process, which has widely been warped to privilege the maintenance of groups over the organic free association of individuals. We also see this in appeals to “restorative justice” which has often been twisted in... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
I have a personal rule — I think you should never review a book that you strongly disagree with or strongly agree with. If you entirely agree, then a “review” would be nothing more than an echo. But if you strongly disagree there’s also little point to writing a review, the disagreements cannot be isolated but expand fractally. Foundational differences — differences of worldview, values, epistemology, etc. — grow too large to be covered, much less amicably debated. For example I never published a review for Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams’ Inventing the Future because I found our disagreements too vast. It became evident that no review would be possible without relitigating the universe of dif... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
I have the fortune to move pretty exclusively in geeky high-intellect circles and one of the most common fights between romantic partners I see all the time and have experienced on either side is the relationship catastrophe when one partner feels compelled to play Devil’s Advocate on a topic the other finds inherently disturbing. At low-energies Devil’s Advocacy plays out rather formulaically. The disturbed individual snaps out some version of “the Devil needs no advocates”, and the other–usually an attentive nerd who’s read tumblr–politely if confusedly shuts up. But their niceness ultimately takes the patronizing form of “oh my lover is stupider/weaker than I thought.” The Devi... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
My sincere answer for why tankies reemerged five years ago is that movements are social hierarchies and newbie teens don’t want to compete for status in existing illegible/inaccessible spaces like anarchism, so they resurrected a dead/empty scene that had trappings of status. Leftism exploded in social cachet for a variety of reasons, and newly minted leftists needed to slap an identity, a brand, a flag of status and association on themselves. “Stalin did nothing wrong, USSR looked cool” is a quickie that requires no work or long acculturation. For all of recorded history tankies were like three old creepy white dudes no one cared about at the back of an IWW meeting. Sometimes they’d trick a kid ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
I’ve identified as an anarchist for over two decades. Like any ideology or flag of identification it is, to most people, a weird, antiquated sort of thing to do. Relatively few people actually care about the world and those with the audacity to set out to change it are rarer still. Even among them radicalism is infrequent, and such prominent flag-flying practically extinct. It is, I’ll readily admit, on the face of it rather intellectually suspect. Akin to the lone old Marxist grumbling in the back of the hackerspace at the nerve of people to choose terminology outside his tradition’s memetic scaffolding. We’re all busy getting things done as informed, free-thinking, universally iconoclastic individuals these days, w... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
At some point my friends eventually feel compelled to ask me why, as an anarchist, I would want to work as a theoretical physicist—rather than say an AI researcher or a geneticist or a cryptographer or a materials scientist or a restoration ecologist. Those are clearly high-impact professions; developments in these fields can reshape the world, and there is desperate need for more people to work in them. The answer is simple: I want to make sure I’m right. I’m really concerned that I might be wrong in some deep way that matters. In a way that ends up hurting people or having a negative effect I never predicted, or going against an unknown but better desire that I might’ve otherwise developed. I could ne... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
So there was a demonstration and some people got a little militant and maybe broke some windows. Chances are the demonstration wasn’t a rally against the existence of windows so this may not look like the smartest of moves to you. In fact, it probably seems pretty asinine. A broken shop window doesn’t really hurt those in power yet it probably rose more than a few folks’ hackles. Vandalism and a few street scuffles with the cops obviously aren’t potent enough to directly overcome the state by force so why bother if it’s going to turn a lot of people against you? The answer as it turns out is a little complex. It may surprise you to learn that most of the time those who break windows or get into scuffles ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Sometimes words are just words — interchangeable and discardable — but sometimes a word belies a knot in our thought, tightly wound and tensely connected. “Anarchy” is one such word. Centuries ago the English peasantry rose up to overthrow the king and radically remake society. The vanguard of this revolution, the levelers and the diggers, sought to demolish the feudal hierarchy, to revise property and the division of land. In their revolt they were joined by opportunists who sought the overthrow of the king to assert their own power. Naturally these factions clashed. It was in this civil war that the word “anarchy” was leveraged to great effect. Those with the audacity to explicitly oppose anyone ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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January 21, 2021; 4:58:11 PM (America/Los_Angeles)
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