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Are US anarchists overassociating individualist anarchism with insurrectionism, violence and nihilism?

0 votes
It is my perception by reading anarchistnews.org. I have to remind them that individualist anarchism included anarcho-pacifists (André Arru), humanistic inclined anarchists (Charles-Auguste Bontemps) and urban bohemians with artistic interests (Oscar Wilde),  alternative society experimenters with intentional communities and alternative economic systems (Josiah Warren, Stephen Peal Andrews), free love and polyamory actvists (Emile Armand), GLBT activists (Adolf Brand) and anarcho-naturism (Emile Gravelle). With humanistic inclined anarchists i mean anarchists who had a special interest in issues such as secularism, freethought, and alternative education. Hopefully we could see one day translated into english the excellent book by catalan historian Xavier Diez about individualist anarchism within the spanish anarchist movement of the 1920s and 1930s. See http://www.viruseditorial.net/pdf/anarquismo%20individualista.pdf

I might even want to suggest that as far as the US we have gone from a confusion of individualist anarchism with "anarcho" capitalism to one in which it is overlinked with Bonnano type insurrectionism.
asked Sep 30, 2012 by iconoclast (3,380 points)
edited Oct 7, 2012 by iconoclast
"Up to Date". MMM are you saying i am "out of fashion" or something like that?. Well it might be since i like someone like Oscar wilde and the ultrahedonist Aristippus of sinope. i guess this is the anarchist fashion police. Anyway i have to remind you that Michel onfray is in his 40s while Bonanno i think is 70 years old or something.
They were talking about your stereotypes of nihilists and insurrectionists, not the stuff you read.
Oh, no, I didn't mean to criticize your reading list as being unfashionable! You should read whatever you're interested in obviously. I was saying that your notion of "punk rock insurrectionists" who supposedly aren't as knowledgeable as you is an absurd stereotype!
well, i admit getting certain pleasure out of it. But also i might be doing it in response to a real situation which is seeing regular common people associating anarchism with punk rock. Also in small vengeance to the terrible pseudo-definition of anarchy in the Sex Pistols song "Anarchy in the UK" "I am an antichrist, i am an anarchist don´t know what i want but i know how to get it i wanna destroy passerby". So many punks might have thought or even will continue to think anarchy is about having the "freedom" to be an asshole to other people and not caring about it and breaking stuff. So indeed they might be giving counterproductive propaganda to anarchist ideas.
What so because "common people" (what do you mean by this?) supposedly all associate anarchism with punk rock, it makes sense for you to stereotype a particular tendency in the anarchist movement in this way? This is all completely ridiculous!

1 Answer

–1 vote
I'd say no.  An individual should be able to perceive all the forces throughout society and realize that the self interest they truly desire is tainted by domination.  Certainly an individual typically would want peace, but for those that see something special in themselves and other individuals and desire a world where people can be themselves, it is rather logical that an individual would see value in a violent assault on those that control society.  Some individuals may have their desires sated by ignoring the world around them and staying focused on living an insular life with little interaction with an occupation that coerces, with police that accost, with stores that commodify, but most individuals do.  It would be ridiculous to assume individualist anarchists, who are overtly in favor of a world without domination, would promote a world view of pacifism and/or non-violence that liberals also promote.  While we can individually decide not to be violent, an anarchist individualist has no reason to limit the violence of others against an order that is propped up on explicit and implicit violence.  The fact that insurrectionary anarchists and nihilist anarchists are often individualists should not come as some sort of shock.  What does shock me is an individualist that goes out of their way to demean and condemn other individualists for their search for ways to undermine this power that goes against individuals.
answered Oct 3, 2012 by hpwombat (4,070 points)
yes, but there is a difference between just retreating into some specific lifestyle and confronting in every aspect of life that which dominates you. So at the same time one could take part in orgies or whatever, while earlier that day fought some cops and broke some property in a riot and/or engage in some clandestine sabotage that night. That is what Wolfie is pointing to. You made it sound as if Wolfie was not for violent insurrection, which if you have read a lot of them you would no that is not true, they definitely are for that kind insurrection.
if a mass uprising happens i will definitely participate in that but otherwise i will not try to force things when the majority of people exist in a state of passivity and conformity and will not follow me or my tiny grop of insurrectionists. This is the reason why insurrectionism has been called a semi-vanguardism. I rather try to participate in what Hakim Bey called TAZ while promoting alternative society views and when i am by myself i live in a non-nihilist stirnerist state of existential insurrection flavored by hedonistic post-situ tactics such as "derive" (which is close to what Apio ludd and Stirner calls being a "vagabond") and "detournment".

"All who appear suspicious, hostile and dangerous to the good bourgeois can be brought together under the name of ‘vagabond’; the entire vagabond way of life displeases the bourgeoisie...Instead of curling up in the family cave stirring the ashes of moderate opinion, instead of accepting the things that gave comfort and relief to thousands of generations as irrefutable truths, they go beyond all boundaries of tradition and run wild with their impudent critique and untamed mania for doubt. These extravagant vagabonds form the class of the unstable, the restless, the volatile," Max Stirner

In fact an important sector of spanish and french individualist anarchists from the early 20th century engaged in organizing trekking trips and nudist or summer camps (see http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/hakim-bey-the-periodic-autonomous-zone), infoshops and rural communities. That was seen as a more immediate way of experiencing anarchy instead of thinking too much in "revolution"  or doing some vandalism and sabotage which can take you to jail without any solidarity from conformist masses. So even in the US there are some imprisioned anarchist mainly from green anarchist views who are in prision for acts of sabotage and arson. I don´t think any of that is worth the sacrifice of one´s freedom.
that's all fine and good to participate in nudist summer camps, trekking trips, and set up TAZs and stuff, but I don't see why you always assume there is a dichotomy between doing those things and attacking domination.  in fact those Nihilists and insurrectionaries you condemn all the time do those types of things while also fighting against that which dominates them (though I'm not sure about the nudist summer camps).  You always pretend you can only do one or the other, but the fact of the matter is people are doing both at the same time, but of course you would rather project on to the insurrectionaries and nihilists a one dimensional personality where they only devote themselves to attacking what dominates them just because you don't like them.

Its always bizarre to me that you think that some how participating in TAZs means you are not risking your freedom, TAZs can be just as risky as doing black bloc tactics during a riot or doing clandestine sabotage. All of those things are illegal and as suck the state is no going to tolerate it, a good example as far a the TAZs go is the crack down on illegal Raves, now they are not TAZs in and of themselves, but they could be and rave like things are are done frequently by anarchists in the US (dance parties in the street or taking over a buildings temporarily for one). anyways, if the cops got wind of these parties they would come and shut down raves and arrest some people there (this also happens with some of the dance parties anarchists do, especially the ones in the street), if the cops didn't find out about it then obviously it was successful and you got away with it.  Basically anytime you do something illegal like shoplifting, sabotage, riot, participating in TAZs, etc you have a chance at getting caught and arrested and  and as a result you might time in jail or prison, house arrest, or on get put on probation, so you are not safe either, but its not guaranteed you will be caught doing any those things.
also I should add that I don't know any insurrectionary type anarchists that desires the masses to follow them.
i have been in jail once for grafitti. one day and a fine. So anarcho-pacifists also go to jail for non-violent resistance actions. So both me and anarcho-pacifists are "attacking" domination and in the case of a pacifist like Matin Luther King, he even ended up being assasinated. In a condition of mass insurrection i might wish to help in bombing police stations and stuff like that. Mainly because of the fact of being happy in seeing in "the masses" a desire for freedom. But in regular times, these same "masses" will tend to see those who do those kinds of things as "criminals", "terrorists", etc and so they will happily want to see them go to jail. So a reciprocity rule is important there for me and as such i will not risk myself too much for non-solidaritarian conformist masses. And so i prefer to stay in propaganda and alternative society experiments.

Also an advantage of non-violent resistance tactics over violent ones is clearly the fact that you get significantly lower days or jail times for them when compared to violent actions.

When old anarchists used to talk about "education" it was in the sense that one could acquire tools for social criticism and for the real practice of anarchy. So i will tend to value more a capacity to live in freedom more than military or street combat skills.

Insurrectionism is inspired by propaganda by the deed anarchism of the early 20th century. So seeing the chilean insurrectionists trying to bomb a police station "http://news.infoshop.org/article.php?story=20090523013528979" one can see either an excess of altruism at work or a lack of personal worth and almost a suicidal psychological state related to nihilism. So insurrectionist type actions which lack a context of social rebelion remind me of Che Guevara and certainly a similar logic is there at work. I prefer an anarchist free in the streets rather than one in jail for a long sentence or dead for excess of heroism.

As far as the US insurrectionists they have not gone as far as for example mexican insurrectionists who recently killed three cops (see http://anarchistnews.org/content/mexico-responsibility-claim-armed-attack-municipal-police-patrol-car-municipality-valle-de-c). The imprisioned anarchists for long sentences in the US tend to come from a green radical ecologist perpspective (Earth Libertation Front) but in their case they might be lacking an individualist prespective and i personally will rather love to see them on the street instead of in jail for some foolish arson action which will get easily undone by an insurance company. From what i read, they are influenced by insurrectionism since primitivist and radical ecologist anarchist websites tend to favour insurrectionist perspectives of anarchist organization and action over others alongside primitivism and the very unindividualistic tendency of deep ecology. So in their case they might be sacrificing themselves for "mother earth". I will suggest primitivists and radical green anarchists who favour such actions to read two good articles by Feral Faun/Wolfi Landstreicher:

"Ours is a revolution of desire, a feral revolution. We do not do it for anything supposedly greater than ourselves; we do it for ourselves. So, come on, anarchic adventurers, let’s go wild! "

Feral Faun
"Beyond Earth First! Toward a Feral Revolution of Desire"

"Nature as spectacle. The image of wilderness vs. wildness"