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Know of any texts dealing with the problems of identity that aren't as laborious to read as Nietzsche or Stirner?

+2 votes
Seeking readings from an egoist, nihilist or post-left critique dealing with any of the following- ressentiment, homogeneity and mediocrity from identity, critiques of identity based privilege (or lack of), critiques of conceptual systematic frameworks of oppression (e.g. patriarchy, white supremacy) or their relation to the individual, critiques of anti-oppression politics, identity politics in general... Readings that can be found online are helpful, though any suggestion helps, thanks!
asked Jul 1, 2014 by anonymous
Peter Gelderloos - Lines in the Sand and there's a small thing in Wolfi Landstreicher's Against the Logic of Submission.
Gelderloos? Really?
Gelderloos has trouble letting go of identity, though offers glimmers of insight here and there, while Wolfi's piece has nice arguments against gender and such, but is there a less optimistic perspective? That is, one which lacks a dogmatic view on revolutionary action? a nihilist perspective...


edited to make into a comment (it is a continuation of the original question)
Oh right, whoops. He doesn't fit the criteria of egoist, nihilist, or post-left.
What do you have against Genderloos?
who said anything against him?
Ah yes, formyinformation caught on faster than I did. I was wondering what lawrence was objecting to (Gelderloos's thought in general, that essay in particular ...) when in fact it's probably just that he's not strictly post-left.
Gelderloos is neither an egoist, a nihilist, nor a post-left anarchist. I was not objecting to anything in particular -- just that he does not fit the criteria of the question.

For the record, I do object to his views and analyses of most things, but I don't pay much attention to him. The only time I've written anything objecting to Gelderloos' skewed take on anarchism is here in an excerpt from my review of "The Anvil" #4 (published in ajoda #75):

  Rounding out this issue for me is a rather uneven review of Chris Ealham's Anarchism and the City (an appreciated AK Press paperback reprint of the Routledge publication Class, Culture and Conflict in Barcelona, 1898-1937). It seems that PG contacted Ealham directly to discuss some of the factual issues in an early draft of his review, possibly with the intent of beginning a longer correspondence. However, the exchange soon soured, mostly because Ealham couldn't take PG's mischaracterizations seriously -- especially the idea that his job is to recuperate social struggles, and that he's paid by "the State" to conduct his research  -- and told him so. In fact, Ealham writes, he doesn't "live from anarchist history. My Barcelona book was written mainly in my spare time and at weekends, even if I did receive travel grants from 'the state'. And now I have no 'career' - I gave up the formal University career structure when I left England." And "who would be stupid enough to try to build an academic career around anarchist history or even Spanish history? I can't think of anyone, can you? If I'd been so cynical as to pick a subject to advance up the University History career ladder, it'd be international history, which is so easy to write and constantly in demand. Or German history - that's an earner!" (Quotations from personal emails, published with permission.)
   And that's where the emails ended, but that's not the end of the story. PG's review was supposed to appear in (the now-defunct?) Social Anarchism, and Ealham merely requested space to reply. No threat of legal action, no talking to cops, no attempt to suppress his review, and no "living off the struggle" (in addition to the book under discussion, Ealham edited the three-volume history of the CNT by Jose Peirats, published by Christie Books and preprinted by AK Press -- and we all know there's no money in that). Readers of The Anvil and its website may have found PG's arguments solid enough to be convinced that Ealham is a villain in person who just happened to write an interesting book (at least this once), or they saw through PG's silliness and decided not to harass Ealham, or they just couldn't be bothered about this interpersonal dispute that PG tried to inflate into a World Historical Crisis. For whatever reason(s), nobody ever contacted Ealham.
   PG is annoyed that there's more than a few mentions of the POUM, which he calls "a tiny cult following the teachings of the Butcher of Kronstadt," and "a tiny organization which at that time was militarily insignificant." In the first months of the revolution, this "tiny cult" numbered perhaps as many as 10,000 (according to Orwell, who fought with them) and was able to muster more militia volunteers than the Catalan Stalinists and Republicans combined, meaning that it was neither "tiny" nor "militarily insignificant." But the more curious aspect is PG's insistence on calling them Trotskyists, since the only people who have the gall to falsify history like that are Stalinists (for his own reasons, Trotsky was opposed to the formation of the POUM and denounced it); there just aren't any reputable scholars or historians of the past fifty years who dare to make such an obviously inaccurate accusation. PG also insists that Ealham "repeatedly praises" them, but I didn't find any. Ealham mentions "sexual segregation at POUM meetings," that they were "the left-wing of the Generalitat," and were eventually expelled from it. He also refers to the POUM being on the same side of the barricades as the CNT-FAI during the May Days. No praise anywhere, certainly not "repeatedly." I bring up this issue not to defend the POUM; they were a strange, authoritarian, contradictory (almost to the point of political incoherence), and unique -- almost exclusively -- Catalunyan formation. I am much more interested in factual history. PG, it seems, is more interested in scoring rhetorical points against Ealham through some imagined positive assessment of the role of (and therefore some guilt by association with) the anti-Stalinist Marxists of the POUM.
   Which brings me to the biggest accusation PG levels at Ealham's study: its lack of women. PG complains that Ealham forgets "that the proletarian neighborhoods and the CNT were also made up of women, and these women were not passive victims of circumstance..." Further, he laments that "Mujeres Libres barely warrant a mention..." PG must not understand the existence (let alone the subtleties) of what sociologists, anthropologists, and -- guess who else? historians! -- call separate spheres (the public and private). Especially in the modern period, the private sphere was where women were supposed to remain: at home, not engaged in waged work, politics, and other forms of social interactions based on (inter)personal power conflicts. That Spanish anarchists (and not just the Spanish!) were prone to perpetuating such assumptions is precisely the reason that Mujeres Libres was organized as a formal group. But here's the problem with PG's complaint: Ealham's book is primarily about life on the streets of Barcelona (ie, the public sphere), and women didn't become prominent there (except as beggars, peddlers, and prostitutes -- and occasional rioters) until the breach of social hierarchies that characterized the revolutionary period in (especially) Catalunya from July, 1936-May, 1937. So regardless of how PG would prefer it, the fact that it was only in the last two years of Ealham's study when women began to move into the public sphere (with mostly -- but thankfully not exclusively -- negative reception among revolutionaries); and even though their journal began appearing in 1936, Mujeres Libres wasn't officially formed as a national federation until 1937, the last year of the study.
   PG takes Ealham to task for being unfavorably disposed toward the insurrectionist wing of the anarchist movement (by the late 1920s consisting of, and identified more or less with, the FAI), and rightly so; I agree that Ealham's emphasis on the confrontational moments in FAI activism downplays the more mundane infrastructural activities of many faistas and cenetistas, and I also agree with PG that calling the confrontational faistas "elitist" is inaccurate. But these questions are interpretive, not factual, and people are allowed to have different opinions about them and discuss them openly. PG seems to think that because Ealham holds strong and different opinions about the role of illegalism and direct confrontations with the forces of order, that he is therefore on the wrong side of history (anarchist or not). But Ealham is not anti-anarchist, unlike plenty of other historians of the Spanish conflict, so it seems to me that his work doesn't warrant such hostility.
   Should there be one or more books written in English by anarchist (or at least anarchist-positive) historians about the positive roles of both the confrontationalists in the FAI and anarchist women, both inside and outside Mujeres Libres? Undoubtedly. Did Ealham set out to write that book? No. PG would have preferred one that hasn't been written yet, and so his primary complaint comes down to Ealham's book not being the one that PG wanted to read.

2 Answers

–2 votes
If you're looking for specifically continental texts, then you're probably going to find nothing but laborious reads. There's oodles of fiction that deal with the problems of identity, Orwell's "Keep the Aspidistra Flying" and Nella Larsen's "Passing" come to mind, right now, but neither are stellar reads, imo. Susan Wolf's thoughts on meaningful lives and personal identity are available online, but I'm certain her thoughts are as sexy as to anarchists as Stirner or Nietzsche. Brubacker and Coopers "Beyond Identity" might be worth it, as they attack the very term "identity." If you mean identity politics, then Wendy Brown might be a start but I'm not certain she's exactly what you are looking for, as she's not exactly an easy read, most of her work isn't online, and she's not an anarchist.
answered Jul 4, 2014 by veranasi (170 points)
veranasi - how does this answer the question? are you saying any of those people are nihilist, post-left, or egoist? (or that the arguments they  make in the specific articles that you cite are?)
if so then it would be good to explain more in your post.
Sorry, I read *the question*, and didn't associate it with the paragraph below it. Either way, yeah, Wolf is considered a thinker in egoism, Wendy Brown, does have anti-ressentiment feelings, etc. Fiction on the other hand, is fiction. I mean I suppose Kafka counts too, and Durrenmatt, or Beckett. Whatever, Nietzsche is not an egoist, post-leftist, or nihilist.
No, but he has influenced egoist, post-left and nihilist anarchist thought, so he's relevant.

Stirner and Nietzsche's ideas can be very synergistic, to such an extent that there's been a lot of speculation over and investigation into the possibility that Stirner was an unattributed influence on Nietzsche (and not just by anarchists).  Stirner, Nietzsche, egoism, nihilism, and the post-left tendency are all in the same anarchist ballpark, and that's why they're frequently referenced together.

Edited for spelling and clarification.
+2 votes
I recently came across an article (link below) by High Priest Wombat (goes by hpwombat on this site) critiquing feminist identity politics and feminism's potential for women's liberation from a Nihilist perspective.  The critique is made primarily through the prism of the history of the Nihilist movement in Russia, particularly the unique gender roles and familial arrangements that organically developed inside it.  It's a fascinating article,  and I particularly appreciate that hpwombat doesn't spare the Russian Nihilist movement from critique where it deserves it, while still making a very strong case that there are better alternatives to rooting liberation in identity.

The article:
http://interactivist.autonomedia.org/node/3540
answered Jul 5, 2014 by Yosemite (5,770 points)
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