Perspectives on Post-Left Anarchism

Far “Left” we place the Anarchists, Libertarians claim far “Right”;
Yet both decry the government: False continuum brought to light.

— from the poem Labels

Libertarians are Anarchists with money; Anarchists are Libertarians with balls.Ask any typical basement-dwelling web-connected self-proclaimed “anarchist” what time it is, and they’ll tell you how to make a watch. Ask ten of them the same question, and you’ll likely get ten different answers – especially when it comes to defining terms like “post-left anarchism”.

As for me, my house has a basement, I’m usually web-connected, and I have on occasion proclaimed myself to be a “post-left anarchist”. Being a man who values deeds more than words, however, I won’t drone on for twenty paragraphs explaining why when one or two will do. It’s really pretty simple. I believe that:

  1. The contemporary political “Left” is largely controlled by the same corporate fascist billionaire/bankster/bomb-maker military-industrial-complex Deep State that largely controls the contemporary political “Right”;
  2. There is a point at which the interests of the “Far Left” intersect those of the “Far Right”, which essentially negates the validity of the left/right political spectrum anyway; and
  3. Given either or both of the above, the political “Left” is no longer (and perhaps never was) a likely route to universal liberty, equality and solidarity.

There you have my perspective on post-left anarchism. Here are some others – possibly wiser, certainly wordier:

Bob Black
Coined the phrase

What is post-left anarchism? I’m not sure who coined the phrase, but it looks like I did. At some point, I asked several of the people most likely to know (including John Zerzan, Lawrence Jarach and Jason McQuinn), and no one was aware of anyone using the phrase before I did. Jason McQuinn confirms this in a recent letter. The first known use of the phrase is in the last sentence of my book Anarchy after Leftism, which was written in 1996 and published in 1997. This is the book’s last paragraph: ‘There is life after the left. And there is anarchy after anarchism. Post-left anarchists are striking off in many directions. Some may find the way…'”

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Jason McQuinn
Leftism is Dead

“[The Left] has most commonly engaged in a substitutive, representational practice in which mass organizations are subjected to an elitist leadership of intellectual ideologues and opportunistic politicians. In this practice the party substitutes itself for the mass movement, and the party leadership substitutes itself for the party… In reality, the primary function of the Left has historically been to recuperate every social struggle capable of confronting capital and state directly, such that at best only an ersatz representation of victory has ever been achieved, always concealing the public secret of continuing capital accumulation, continuing wage-slavery, and continuing hierarchical, statist politics as usual, but under an insubstantial rhetoric of resistance and revolution, freedom and social justice… The bottom-line question is, can anarchists do better outside the Left – from a position of explicit and uncompromising critique, than those who have chosen to inhabit the Left have done from within?”

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“Post-left anarchy is not something new and different. It’s neither a political program nor an ideology. It’s not meant in any way to constitute some sort of faction or sect within the more general anarchist milieu. It’s in no way an opening to the political Right; the Right and Left have always had much more in common with each other than either has in common with anarchism. And it’s certainly not intended as a new commodity in the already crowded marketplace of pseudo-radical ideas. It is simply intended as a restatement of the most fundamental and important anarchist positions within the context of a disintegrating international political Left… If we want to avoid being taken down with the wreckage of Leftism as it crumbles, we need to fully, consciously and explicitly dissociate ourselves from its manifold failures – and especially from the invalid presuppositions of Leftism which led to these failures. This doesn’t mean that it’s impossible for anarchists to also consider themselves Leftists – there has been a long, most often honorable, history of anarchist and left syntheses. But it does mean that in our contemporary situation it is not possible for anyone – even Left-anarchists – to avoid confronting the fact that the failures of Leftism in practice require a complete critique of Leftism and an explicit break with every aspect of Leftism implicated in its failures.”

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C. Derick Varn
Tied to Occupy

“I started going back over the post-left anarchist movement of the late 1990s and early 2000s. What happened to it? Most of the publications seem to have dried up and disappears just before Occupy or just after Occupy. Even Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed seems to be MIA. Interestingly, Murray Bookchin seems to be having a resurgence beyond the grave–and originally Bookchin had been a sort of transitional figure to me, but now reading some of the post-left attacks on him, a lot of them DO seem relevant. That said, aside from the few primitivists still in circulation? What happened to post-left anarchism and why is its fading seemingly tied to occupy, and then Occupy’s dissolution? I wanted to talk about this in the larger discussion of what’s left, and I find their arguments, but I can’t find much of them now. Another wave that crested on the beach of activist history?”

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Edmund Berger
Why Occupy Failed

“There are plenty of reasons why Occupy failed, from the repressive hand of the police to the inability to keep the momentum up following the eviction from the park to internal class-oriented strife. [Calling bullshit here: Occupy failed because it was co-opted by, a front for the Democratic Party, the Left wing of the Deep State bird.] In North America the passing of 2011 seemed to close the door on mass militancy, at least until the #BlackLivesMatter and #ShutItDown protests swept across the nation. The movement between the two allows us a space of reflection, to look at why we failed then and how to better equipment present-day theory and praxis… Where [post-left anarchism] is concerned, debate focused on whether or not ‘lifestylism’ detracted from social anarchism, sidestepping the issue of the relationship between environments and infrastructures as the container for everyday life, regardless of what it looked like. In short, we took a misstep by seeing the world for the way it wanted to be presented, not for what it truly is. The only solution is, then, to take the spirit of past revolts while learning from its failures and, hopefully, craft ways to correct them.”

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Lawrence Jarach
Back to Basics

” Promoting self-activity, egalitarian interpersonal and social relations, and cultivating a critical perspective are among the best aspects of anarchism. As such, they are worth extending. Accepting spoon-fed solutions and programs, engaging in non-reciprocal solidarity with leftists, and other characteristics of ideological myopia need to be discarded. Anarchists, with their emphasis on the principles of mutual aid, voluntary cooperation, and direct action, cannot share a common agenda with contemporary leftists any more than they could 150 years ago… A return to authentically anarchist principles, coupled with some understanding of the troubled history of the relationship between leftists and anarchists, can go a long way toward reinvigorating antiauthoritarian theory and practice. At the same time, moving beyond the melioristic beliefs (especially about western European technology, culture, and science) of 19th century anarchism, which have made the programs of anarchists and leftists seem similar, is crucial. The relevance of anarchist self-activity can only increase when the vestiges of authoritarian leftist assumptions and distortions are discarded from the words and behavior of antiauthoritarian activists, critics, and theorists.”

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Green is the New Red

People and planet before profit!

Green Is The New Red“Anarchists [have] long been advocates of decentralized, human scale technology and sustainable communities. In the 1940s, Ethel Mannin drew the connections between increasing environmental degradation, existing power structures and social inequality, writing that as long as man continues to exploit the soil for profit he sows the seeds of his own destruction – Nature becomes his enemy, responding to his machines and his chemicals with the withdrawal of fertility…”

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“Green anarchists tend to view civilization as the logic, institutions, and physical apparatus of domestication, control, and domination. While different individuals and groups prioritize distinct aspects of civilization (ie primitivists typically focus on the question of origins, feminists primarily focus on the roots and manifestations of patriarchy, and insurrectionary anarchists mainly focus on the destruction of contemporary institutions of control), most green anarchists agree that it is the underlying problem or root of oppression, and it needs to be dismantled. The rise of civilization can roughly be described as the shift over the past 10,000 years from an existence within and deeply connected to the web of life, to one separated from and in control of the rest of life. Prior to civilization there generally existed ample leisure time, considerable gender autonomy and equality, a non-destructive approach to the natural world, the absence of organized violence, no mediating or formal institutions, and strong health and robusticity. Civilization inaugurated warfare, the subjugation of women, population growth, drudge work, concepts of property, entrenched hierarchies, and virtually every known disease, to name a few of its devastating derivatives. Civilization begins with and relies on an enforced renunciation of instinctual freedom. It cannot be reformed and is thus our enemy.”

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“Never before has this planet seen an empire as large as the current American Empire, which is already in massive debt and taking a final stand to hold its power. Our current civilization has become truly a global civilization and all of the tentacles of civilization are linking up as one. Civilization, in its entirety, is now dependent upon global, industrial society which is systematically destroying the land, air, water, and life on this planet. Much as we have ‘progressed,’ we often forget that we are still dependent upon the earth for survival, collectively and individually, a lesson that may be recalled as we meet with social unrest and ecological limits.”

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“At a time when everyone is ‘going green’, most people are unaware that the FBI is using anti-terrorism resources to target environmentalists and animal rights activists. The courts are being used to push conventional boundaries of what constitutes ‘terrorism’ and to hit nonviolent activists with disproportionate sentences. Some have faced terrorism charges for simply chalking slogans on the sidewalk… Like the Red Scare, this ‘Green Scare‘ is about fear and intimidation, using a word—’eco-terrorist’—to push a political agenda, instill fear and silence dissent. The animal rights and environmental movements directly threaten corporate profits every time activists encourage people to go vegan, to stop driving, to consume fewer resources and live simply. Their boycotts are damaging, and corporations and the politicians who represent them know it. In many ways, the Green Scare, like the Red Scare, can be seen as a culture war, a war of values.”

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“Defending Rights & Dissent is building a coalition of national and local organizations to repeal the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act ( AETA ), one of the most blatant examples of Congress expanding the definition of terrorism to crush powerful social movements… At the state level, we are monitoring AG-GAG legislation, laws that are aimed at preventing whistleblowers from exposing poor treatment of animals at factory farms or meat processing plants. Generally, the laws make it a crime to lie on a job application and/or to take pictures or film at an agriculture facility. In 2015, AG-GAG laws were expanded in two states: in North Carolina, every industry is covered, including nursing homes and day care providers; Wyoming’s law criminalizes taking water samples in public waterways… Both AETA and AG-GAG have undergone an escalation in recent years. In spite of years of dormancy federal prosecutors have pursued AETA indictments twice in the last year. Twenty-two states have considered AG-GAG laws since 2012… Activism is being equated with terrorism with deleterious effects on the First Amendment rights of all Americans.”

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#GreenIsTheNewRed  |  #GreenAnarchy  |  #EcoAnarchy  |  #ActivismIsNotTerrorism

Anarchist Flags: The Symbols of Anarchism

Anarchist Flags | Anarchism SymbolsAnarchists are opposed to hierarchy – any system that favors the few at the expense of the many is opposed by default. But what is the central mode of oppression? Different camps make different claims, and they use different flags to show what it is they see as the means of oppression.

Black Flag | Anarchism

“Liberty! Equality! Solidarity!”

Black Flag | AnarchismWhile a solid white flag is the universal sign of surrender (to opposition), a solid black flag is the universal symbol of resistance (to oppression). “Anarchy” refers to the absence of RULERS – not the absence of RULES. It is NOT a synonym for “chaos” (the absence of order). To emphasize that, some anarchists add the letter “A” (for anarchy) inside an “O” (for order) to the center of their flag: The resulting “Circle-A” Ⓐ represents “order from anarchy” (and other things).

Red & Black Flag | Anarcho-Syndicalism

“Workers of the world unite!”

Red & Black Flag | Anarcho-SyndicalismRed (for socialism) and black (for anarchism) is the flag of anarcho-syndicalism. Anarcho-syndicalists view revolutionary industrial unionism (or syndicalism) as a method for workers in a capitalist society to gain control of an economy and, with that control, influence broader society. They see capitalism as a system of inequality that exploits both human and natural resources.

Green & Black Flag | Eco-Anarchism

“People and planet before profit!”

Green & Black Flag | Eco-AnarchismGreen (for nature) and black (for anarchism) is the flag of eco-anarchism. Eco-anarchists extend anarchist ideology beyond class struggle to include a critique of interactions between humans and the world around them, their goals being not only lasting liberty, equality and solidarity but also long-term environmental sustainability.

Purple & Black Flag | Anarcha-Feminism

“Women’s rights are human rights!”

Purple & Black Flag | Anarcha-FeminismPurple (for feminism) and black (for anarchism) is the flag of anarcha-feminism. Anarcha-feminists view patriarchy and traditional gender roles as a form of involuntary coercion that should be replaced by decentralized free association. They believe the struggle against patriarchy is an essential part of the struggle against the state and capitalism.

Orange & Black Flag | Mutualism

“The land belongs to those who work it!”

Orange & Black Flag | MutualismOrange (a blend of red for socialism and gold for markets) and black (for anarchism) is the flag of mutualism. Mutualists believe producers should possess the means of production, either individually or collectively, and seek a liberated market without capitalism wherein private property is abolished and replaced with occupation-and-use ownership.

Pink & Black Flag | Queer Anarchism

“We’re queer and here to fight fear!”

Pink & Black Flag | Queer AnarchismPink (for LGBTQ) and black (for anarchism) is the flag of queer anarchism. The anarcha-queer advocates anarchism and social revolution as a means of homosexual, bisexual and transsexual liberation and abolition of homophobia, lesbophobia, transmisogyny, biphobia, transphobia, heteronormativity, heterosexism, patriarchy and the gender binary.

White & Black Flag | Anarcho-Pacifism

“Give peace a chance!”

White & Black Flag | Anarcho-PacifismWhite (for pacifism) and black (for anarchism) is the flag of anarcho-pacifism. Anarcho-pacifists reject the use of violence in the struggle for social change and the abolition of the state. They see all governments as institutions with a legal monopoly on violence, and believe resistance must be nonviolent or else nothing will ever truly change.

Abraham Lincoln was a Racist: It’s Time To Rename 667 Schools

Abraham Lincoln was a racist and it is time we renamed the 667 U.S. schools named after him.

Abraham Lincoln was a racist and it is time we renamed the 667 U.S. schools named after him.

“I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races… I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people.”–Abraham Lincoln

“You will never prosper with blacks, and it is abhorrent to a reflecting mind to be supporting and cherishing those who are… I wish them no evil in the world—on the contrary, will do them every good in my power, and know that they are misled by those to whom they have given their confidence.”–Robert E. Lee

If You See Something DO Something: 12 Things To Do Instead Of Calling The Cops

If You See Something DO Something: 12 Things to do Instead of Calling the Cops

Calling the police often escalates situations, puts people at risk, and leads to violence. Anytime you seek help from the police, you’re inviting them into your community and putting people who may already be vulnerable into dangerous situations. Sometimes people feel that calling the police is the only way to deal with problems. But we can build trusted networks of mutual aid that allow us to better handle conflicts ourselves and move toward forms of transformative justice, while keeping police away from our neighborhoods.

  1. Don’t feel obligated to defend property—especially corporate “private” property. Before confronting someone or contacting the police, ask yourself if anyone is being hurt or endangered by property “theft” or damage. If the answer is “no,” then let it be.
  2. If something of yours is stolen and you need to file a report for insurance or other purposes, consider going to the police station instead of bringing cops into your community. You may inadvertently be putting someone in your neighborhood at risk.
  3. If you observe someone exhibiting behavior that seems “odd” to you, don’t assume that they are publicly intoxicated. A traumatic brain injury or a similar medical episode may be occurring. Ask if they are OK, if they have a medical condition, and if they need assistance.
  4. If you see someone pulled over with car trouble, stop and ask if they need help or if you can call a tow truck for them. If the police are introduced to such a situation, they may give punitive and unnecessary tickets to people with car issues, target those without papers, or worse.
  5. Keep a contact list of community resources like suicide hotlines. When police are contacted to “manage” such situations, people with mental illness are sixteen times more likely to be killed by cops than those without mental health challenges.
  6. Check your impulse to call the police on someone you believe looks or is acting “suspicious.” Is their race, gender, ethnicity, class, or housing situation influencing your choice? Such calls can be death sentences for many people.
  7. Encourage teachers, coworkers, and organizers to avoid inviting police into classrooms, workplaces, and public spaces. Instead, create for a culture of taking care of each other and not unwittingly putting people in harm’s way. If you’re part of a group that’s holding a rally or demonstration, don’t get a permit or otherwise cooperate with the police.
  8. If your neighbor is having a party and the noise is bothering you, go over and talk to them. Getting to know your neighbors with community events like monthly block parties is a good way to make asking them to quiet down a little less uncomfortable, or to find another neighbor who is willing to do so.
  9. If you see someone peeing in public, just look away! Remember, for example, that many houseless people do not have reliable access to bathrooms.
  10. Hold and attend deescalation, conflict resolution, first-aid, volunteer medic, and self-defense workshops in your neighborhood, school, workplace, or community organization.
  11. Street art is beautiful! Don’t report graffiti and other street artists. If you see work that includes fascistic or hate speech, paint over it yourself or with friends.
  12. Remember that police can escalate domestic violence situations. You can support friends and neighbors who are being victimized by abusers by offering them a place to stay, a ride to a safe location, or to watch their children. Utilize community resources like safe houses and hotlines.

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