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What is nihilism and how does it relate to anarchist thought?

+4 votes
asked Aug 31, 2010 by sula (250 points)

3 Answers

+1 vote
 
Best answer
Nihilism responds, in various ways, to the metaphysical question of 'place' as well as the epistemological question of 'process'. This is why there is a distinction drawn between existential nihilism and epistemological nihilism. The answers to these two questions, infused (as they are) with anarchist ethics, allows one to sketch out a critical (negative) discourse against positive conceptions of either place or process as well as escape the philosophical problem of burden of proof. Nihilism, then, is both an extension of traditional anarchist ethics as well as the realization of it.

The nihilists of philosophy have typically proposed paradoxical, as opposed to purely negative, responses to each of these questions. The answer of non-place and non-truth (or, simply, Truth with a capital 'T'), for example, is often provided in order to combat Descarte's self-knowing/self-transparent subject but this does not always mean a rejection of the subject in of its entirety. In Lacanian nihilism the subject is retained as the locus of resistance but only in an inverted form. For Descartes, it is during instances when thinking and being collide that the subject exists, for Lacan and other 'base subjectivists' (psychoanalytical nihilists) the subject exists only when being and thinking do not converge: Not "I think therefore I am" but "I am not when I am thinking".

In other instances, as in Bataille's nihilism, the subject is retained, still in a paradoxical fashion (for what is meditation if not the thoughts of subjects?), but the locus of resistance or creative potential eminates from without the subject even as it does so from the intimate within of the subject. Bataille's nihilism, in this sense, transcends psychoanalytical nihilism as well as Stirner's nihilism.
answered Sep 10, 2010 by Saint_Schmidt (2,230 points)
–2 votes
Nihilism has different thoughts to it but the most common is the general thought that nothing truely matters and there is no wrong or right. I'm nihilist in the since of I feel that nothing matters and living life however you want too.
    Anarchism and nihilism are seperate thoughts completely even though some people might be both. There are religious anarchists and I bet that there are authoritarian nihilists.
    I think that the idea of anarchists having no values or morals is very off from the truth. Most anarchists believe in mutual help, non-violence, and other "good" things.
    There was my 2 cents, you should research nihilism though because it's very intresting.
answered Sep 4, 2010 by PeaceLoveCommunism (110 points)
+1 vote
On this subject i adhere to the scheme proposed by Albert Camus. He established that there is not a single possible easy way of finding a secure place in the world. This he calls the absurd human condition. he said there were three options after one admits this situation. One is to embrace what he calls nihilism which leads inevitably to depression if not suicide. Another is what he calls the "religious"jump which could lead you to become jailed in a closed perspective and so he calls it "philosophical suicide". A third opton which is the one he favours is a solution in which one accepts the Absurd and continues to live in spite of it. He opts for this one because he sees it as a sort of middle path between the scepticism of nihilism and the dogmatism of religious options in which he can move between them in a way in which one can chose partial or temporary places which mean not taking an acritical perspective to anything one embraces.

I think one can have a relationship with anarchism in any of these three forms. One the one hand one can go try to assasin a big capitalist or a head of state as in the days of propaganda by the deed embracing an individualist heroism or in the way of some contemporary insurrectionary anarchists and Earth Libertation Front people who are in jail now. Secondly one can become an romantic idealizer of the Spanish CNT-FAI, of Makno´s army or of "pre-agricultural society" even though we live in a different time and place. Thirdly we can embrace what anarchists have called "free-thought" and so a critical distance to the things one involves oneself as well as a multiperspective complex form of analysis situated in time and place. I can suggest that this is closer to what individualist anarchists in Spain and France called "eclecticism" and "eclectic" although it can also have a more "rationalist" "scientific" interpretation.

Camus was an anarchist (A member of the synthesist Federation Anarch¡ste) so all this should be taken into consideration as part of the anarchist philosophical tradition. This is also the reason I reject both insurrectionary anarchism´s tendency towards unwise extreme tragic self-sacrifice as well as platformism´s "one tactical line, one theorectical line" cuasi leninist position and so I adhere to anarchism without adjectives and synthesis anarchism.  

For some reasons the mainstream political culture and mainstream media has overemphasized anarchism as having a lot to do with "nihilism". I will say as I have tried to show here that it is definitely more complex than that and that the ways one person can establish a relationship with it can be more complex and diverse. Anarchism of course in denying all authority can be seen as "pessimistic" and destructive by considering its definition but this same radical negation can provide too many possibilities for one to stay too much on negation and so embrace a "nihilist anarchism".
answered Sep 6, 2011 by iconoclast (3,250 points)
edited Oct 12, 2012 by iconoclast
thanks for writing this, it was enjoyable to read.
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