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What do you make of the critique that anarchists exclude themselves from the critique of civilization?

+2 votes
For example, excluding ourselves from implication in the processes of civilization/global petrocapitalist state and from the responsibility of transforming ourselves and the modes of life in which we are tangled in?
asked Sep 30, 2013 by emma (4,070 points)
(I think this exclusion often takes the form of claiming to be outside of lifestyle politics and that it isn't individuals that must change but the larger set of complex connections and institutions that comprise civilization. This or calling advocacy of collective action being called moralistic).
Can you rephrase your question? It's pretty confusing as is. Maybe with more positive statements rather than negative ones? Taking a stab at translating:
There is a critique of some strands of anarchism that do not include a critique of modern industrialism. Why is that?
And/or:
Is there a way for anarchists in the Global North to untangle ourselves from the maintenance and extension of a fossil-fuel based transnational capitalism?
i recognize your desire for clarity and the appreciate the suggested questions but i'm not asking for "ways" or answers to "whys" (or logocentric critiques in general). i'm looking for stories, thoughts, references like what dot has shared below (which is why i phrased the question "what do you make of" and chose the words "civilisation" & "petrocapitalist" because they came to mind first).
Triple word score for "logocentric"!

To your explicit questions, i'd say that those who call themselves anarchists are human, and most of them are as liable to engage in fucked-up conceited navel-gazing delusional bullshit as any other human being.  Even if we should know better.

As has been oft repeated here, we live in a compromised state-of-being, and we are denied the option of living as we'd rather.
So if i drive a petrol-fueled vehicle to an action that destroys the refinery that made the petrol - am i complicit in the harms that the petro-industry wreaks around the globe?  am i exempt from the guilt of those harms because i have taken some (arbitrary) action?  is it balanced off between conflicted consumption and conflicted response?  Or is it all bullshit, because none of us could ever actually take out a refinery*, and because individually abstaining from petroleum has no more effect on the military-industrial-complex that individually abstaining from sex?

As much as we can, (and i'm the first to admit i'm lousy at this,) we should spare a thought for the compromises we are making; not to condemn ourselves for our present 'weakness', nor to gloss over the harms those compromises cause around us, but rather to acknowledge our present space and context, and where/how we'd rather be, and use the difference as a refresh cycle on the rage against all that keeps us here and not there.


* In truth, refineries, and petroleum related facilities in general, are very fragile - work crews accidently burn the fucking things down at an alarming rate, and the penny-wise-pound-foolish business morality curtail effective security or maintenance.
I really like that answer, cb. I wish I could be more specific at this moment, but all I know is that it resonates with me - the dilemma that we face, the paradox of being in this world and simultaneously alien to it, to be gentle with ourselves and yet unyielding to the idea that we push on in the direction of our dreams.

1 Answer

0 votes
the anarchists i am around and read don't seem to be saying that. if anything, i hear an overemphasis on the personal power tip, like if we all just start being right then structural issues will fade away (overstatement, of course).
perhaps it's the difference between post-sit and non-sit anarchists? the sits were pretty clear about how we're all part of the problem. foucault, too, i guess.
for those not sick of me referring to him, century of the self (documentary) by adam curtis talks about how struggles against the status quo started getting very internal once the state demonstrated how little it cares for *any* of its citizens...
answered Sep 30, 2013 by dot (57,810 points)
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