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what is the anarchist response to "cultural alienation"?

+1 vote
the term is one that i made up, because no other term that i know of seems to signify the concept. cultural alienation is the process of capitalism stripping a people of it's culture or the experience of not having a culture. e.g. having your community and natural habitat razed to make way for a shopping mall.

this is something that fascists often focus on as well, but their response is to rally around an amorphous white identity. i ask this question mainly to be better able to counter fascist propaganda.
asked Aug 13 by seraph9888 (390 points)
i feel like i don't "have a culture" and i don't desire one (assuming i even know what it means, which i doubt that i do).....but i hate shopping malls...
do you mean these right-winger people focus on nationalistic romanticism? I don't like shopping malls and highways.

e: added 2 letters

i've found a relevant quote from contrapoints that i'll share with you. contapoints has several videos on youtube on various topics from fascism to transphobia. she is not explicitly anarchist, but has a lot critique that is useful to anarchists. 

"[fascism] mixes nordic, celtic and greco-roman imagery together as if all historical European ethnicities are interchangeable. but this is a fictional unification that only makes sense under the relatively modern concept of whiteness. and if you unweave that fictional unity, it becomes pretty hard to take seriously the utopian vision of a white nation"

this hits at part but not all of the issue. some others being: the continuation of capitalism; and the fascist censoring of "degenerate" art.

A core aspect of the fascist ideology is culture and cultural superiority. Of course they're going to try to exploit your observation that's a wee bit similar to the OG's of fascism observation a hundred years ago or so. I mean, culture encourages nationalism to a degree.

I'm still not sure of what you're asking, but if you really want to counter fascist propaganda, I think it'd be a good idea to have a rudimentary understanding of fascism. I imagine it would surprise you that fascism (italian fascism) itself rejected the concept of race and cared more about the culture and "spirit" of the nation among other things. In other words, fascists are cultural nationalists, so beware! Although, it does attract racists to it, like nazism being a form of it and embraced the idea of race and racial superiority.  I think it's an error to assert fascism is just this white nationalism thing as that quote implies. 

I am so tempted to string together a series of JZ quotes... I am going to think about this. I might not have more to contribute than dot, funky and shinmin, but I just spent time at a place I have a deep connection to, and it might make me belch an answer out.
ingrate: "I just spent time at a place I have a deep connection to"

i'm curious about the correlation between having a deep connection to a place (which i very much understand and have felt) and culture or cultural alienation.

is it that such a deep connection is a sort of remedy for feeling cultural alienation? is there some cultural aspect of that connection for you? something else entirely? or maybe you were not implying any correlation at all?
funky@ - I think so? I've written about the place before. One of two spots in my life that are part of my life predating my actual memories. I go there to mostly be alone with my thoughts and maybe a few people I really like. Connecting to a place seems to counteract spending so much of my time in cultures I feel largely not really a part of. So yeah. I guess it is a respite.

What all that has to do with an actual answer I am less clear on.

4 Answers

0 votes
usually it involves embracing a disappeared/disappearing culture one feels comfortable with.

for white people this comes with the risk of being lumped in with white power people who do the same thing from a different direction. (much as there are probably men who sincerely desire women's empowerment as well as men's, who get lumped in with MRA stuff.)

edit: i'm not sure how this is anarchist, exactly. but of the people i have seen responding to this question explicitly, this is the response i've seen. maybe it shouldn't be an answer...
answered Aug 13 by dot (51,530 points)
edited Aug 13 by dot

yeah becoming a wiccan, pagan, animist etc. is alright but not really what i'm looking for. 

commonly this is an individualized practice, rarely involving groups larger than a family unit. further, these practices are usually pretty benign as far as [insert your name for the thing we all hate] is concerend. what does it care if you worship the christian god, a greek god or no god. start a program to feed urban black kids, and you'll quickly gain its attention. not all of culture is based on aesthetics, but on practical concerns. it could be argued that food not bombs is a cultural practice. though, i'm certainly open to being proven wrong; this is thought that just popped into my head. 

i'm not sure why most of the response so far have been against culture. what's wrong with shared practices and values? as long as the practices work to ensure freedom for the individual members i don't see a problem. 

i wouldn't say i'm against it....

rather, i don't experience it (other than as an abstract generalized thought that i don't desire to engage in).
+2 votes
there is no singular anarchist response to any issue.  there are as many anarchist responses as there are anarchists.

but to answer your actual question, 'turning to anarchy' was my response to this feeling and phenomena.  if people want a feeling of purpose, an identity, a sense of collective euphoria, well frankly fascism is probably a pretty good bet.  anarchy will never compete with that, and most importantly in my opinion, shouldnt try.

additionally i have a problem with the way you word this question.  i dont really believe in ideas of 'peoples', races, '''communities''', whatever, at least probably not in the conventional way.  tending to the wounds of national, social, racial identities is the probably the last thing anarchy should be involved in, though its not like people havent tried before.  leave all that to the 'identitarians'

an anarchist response to this phenomena on an individual level, to alienation, which is effectively what you are describing... well i havent really figured that out myself.  doing things?  living a life of passion and joy?  there are many people on this forum who are much more experienced at living than i am, so probably best to wait for them to tell us if and how they have gotten over it.  probably its not something you get over once and for all, just something that you can deal with and overcome by stages.  thats my bet.  still, doesnt mean you cant have fun.
answered Aug 14 by shinminmetroskyline (1,790 points)
edited Aug 14 by shinminmetroskyline
+2 votes
first let me say i strongly agree with shinmin on this: "there is no singular anarchist response to any issue. "

the word culture tends to give me hives; being alienated from what i perceive as (any) culture in general is something i aspire to.

social alienation is a concept i can more readily grapple with.

i see "social" as the interaction of myself with other individuals; i could describe my relationships - at least those i choose to engage in - as social. for me, that has very little (if anything) to do with "society" (which begins to bleed into "culture", in my mind). even feeling social alienation remains in the realm of my personal relationships.

"cultural", on the other hand, implies some set of pre-determined values, desires, priorities, rules, practices, rituals, etc, that are shared by some group, and through which that group - and the individuals that constitute it - is identified, by themselves as well as by others.

let me be clear: there are elements of many different cultures that i can occasionally find quite enjoyable (and useful). that doesn't mean i want to be a part of that culture, which would feel very constraining and an impediment to my desires for a liberatory life. (please don't get me started on "cultural appropriation".)

bottom line, i find culture to go against the grain of my anarchy, and so being alienated from it is precisely my desire.
answered Aug 14 by funkyanarchy (11,940 points)
+1 vote

The alienation concept is ultimately what better got me to understand "the anarchists" and anarchist philosophy. To live and to not be able to express yourself, or to feel disconnected from the things that other people are saying and doing is not fully living.

So, when I have this feeling that I'm living in a world that is alien to me, I find that I can do the fallowing things:

-I can engage with the things that I don't like and learn about them.

-I can disconnect myself from the things that I don't like (but seriously, this has been very problematic for me, because there are so many things that I don't like!)

-I can acknowledge the thing that I don't like, realizing that I can't do away with it or destroy it, and just think about it until i don't (honestly this is the most common recourse of my actions and I'm kinda sick of it)

Even though I don't like it, "the fascists" have occupied a lot of my thought since both anarchists and leftists (the latter whom i still have some personal and philosophical affinity with even though i decided it was best for me to divorce myself of activist politics) have been talking about it so much and the problem is very troubling. Clearly, anyone who believes that people with european credentials are the superior race has not given enough contemplation to how much european people can suck. I am not talking about fascists and white supremacists in particular especially since obvious racists remarks are pretty rare now adays, but when it comes to other people experiencing misery in alienation, i find the best way to help them come to a better state is to help them sift through whatever is making them miserable like a therapist.

I'm still not convinced that any sort of collective political action is going to solve any of this on the larger level of society. For example, one of the last activist meetings was at a local off branch of an Occupy Wall Street, of which I was a fairly attentive participant. I recall one of the other people there saying that they were toning down the radical-ness of something they were saying "not to alienate" people with a more conservative viewpoint. However, I can't really imagine how I would "tone down" something that I was saying without in a way alienating myself.

Society and capitalism are clearly embodiments of alienation...and i don't think breaking off from the economy by growing your own food and making your own stuff is really a bad idea overall, i think that if the concept of anarchism is to be taken seriously at all it's necessary to atleast experiment in self-sufficiency.

answered Aug 15 by Nihilist (50 points)
I don't think racist remarks are as rare as people think, but I'm basing that on not a whole lot.  I'm still willing to stand by it.  I don't think racism had gotten a whole lot better, and any change 'for the better' can be reversed as quickly as it came, if not faster.
I'm very much in love with the idea of 'self' sufficiency, though it amounts to not much more than a pipe dream at the moment.  I think the topic of self sufficiency is a very complicated one though, and it hinges quite heavily on ideas of self identity which I'm categorically against.  more important to me than self sufficiency is the topic of lack of alienation/compromise/hierarchy, of which large degrees of self sufficiency are a good foundation. but similarly so is parasitism, or just taking what you need from society regardless of whether it wants you to have it, which to me seems a form of self sufficiency itself.  I guess it just depends on the situation such is more appropriate/desireable.
I think you're right about racist remarks, my emphasis was OBVIOUS racist remarks as in talking about about some one else as being inferior due to skin color. Racism hasn't faded away,  it has become less socially acceptable though and people have become more odd and contradictory in terms of the language they use to describe their racist sentiments.

Also, total self-sufficiency is impossible especially if you are a human. Stealing in a way is more self sufficient than working even though I think the ideal anarchist would be dependent on the earth.
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