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+5 votes

First off: First time posting here, though I've been aware of the site for several years now and have over the course of about eight years now gone from "superficially interested in anarchism" to "lefty anarchist" to "post-left anarchist" as far as my relationship to anarchy goes. Hi. Hopefully this post won't be tl;dr

My question mostly pertains to the lattermost. I feel like the biggest attraction lefty anarchism still has for people is that, unlike the post-left body of theory, lefty anarchism provides Hopeā„¢. There is a powerful and obvious appeal to the classical strains of anarchism over the newer ones precisely because the older ones have constructed nice and neat dialectical narratives about the way things are supposed to turn out for anarchy, what it'll be like, what to do, etc. Lefty anarchism provides "solutions", which should be enough to make it suspect perhaps, and it can make even the hopeless situation for anarchy seem like something just about to end (the glorification of the PKK in Rojava, for instance). The post-left strain of thought, however, provides a critique and a challenge, not a solution.

So if we are critical of this dialectical way of thinking and the old tactics, and even the idea of whether anarchy is possible to reach at all (in the case of nihilism, which I have come to favor), what do we do? I'm sure we all at times I say to ourselves that that our lot in life is intolerable, and desperately wish anarchy were a reality. Certainly we want to be able to do some-thing, but what-thing ought we do if we are critical or skeptical of how effective anything we can do to combat capitalism, the State, work, etc. will be? Especially considering that even things like insurrection and direct action which we may at least find enjoyable are also at the same time very difficult, often ephemeral, and upset the relatively easy (if suffocatingly boring) and comfortable lives we live as first-worlders.

Is it possible or desirable to live our lives in a state of permanent revolt? Is there any reason for doing so? Is there any reason to not do so? And how can we approach this hopelessness?

What do you do?

by (610 points)
Sorry if this is a silly question. Do you mean a specific branch/brew of nihilism? I'm somewhat assuming you may mean existential nihilism?
Welp, better late than never to reply I guess.

Existential nihilism is kind of a complicated topic, and not directly what I'm referring to. Though I think that the theoretical basis for it would in part be the active nihilism that Nietzsche talks about, a destructive nihilism that tears down the given so that one can create their own values and all that shit. As opposed to passive nihilism, which pretty much is in support of the given.

Anyways, I'm talking about political nihilism. This was already addressed by Aragorn! here: - who is, by the way, the person to read if you want to delve into nihilism.

5 Answers

+2 votes

i like the question.

i will try to leave aside the bad taste that so much "we" leaves in my mouth. (not to sound all randian and shit). i like the last sentence.  :-)

also, while i have affinity with the post-left critique, i have severely limited understanding of nihilism, and i surely don't equate the two. not implying you do (n1x), just sayin. 

hope, like expectation, is a recipe for disappointment. there's the extent of my own nihilism. or maybe that's just pragmatism.

what i do (as best i can), is to create my own life, on my own terms, as much as possible outside the purvey of my institutional enemies. i long ago gave up trying to create an anarchist world, or change the world, or destroy capitalism, or whatever. my goal is to live my own life, as anarchically as possible; with others that have similar desires, as much as possible.

i actually think that how this plays out is related to urban vs rural lifeways. living in a city makes living "in revolt" essentially a necessity, unless one is not interested in actually living anarchically (but rather is just into theory, discussion, writing, etc). the city, as a microcosm of the state, is on the trajectory of the panopticon. it pretty much defines mass society, which i despise, and consider to be one of the biggest obstacles to anarchy.

living rurally, for me, provides a much broader array of possibilities for creating one's own life, on one's own terms. of course it has its drawbacks as well.  and so many @s i know seem to desire living in cities, with all the amenities and social interaction that urban living provides. 

so, my take is this: what anyone does ought to be driven by their desires, and how they prioritize those desires. it is very difficult for many to cease thinking about how to change the world (destroy capitalism, etc), and focus instead on how to change their own lives to be more in line with their desires and priorities. if one's primary desire is to make life better for everyone on the planet (or even just some subset, like the "proles"), my guess is they are destined for disappointment. i'd love to be proven wrong.

by (13.4k points)
I like your comment except in that i don't see it as a problem that you become disappointed when things do not turn out as planned and that that is a valid reason for not trying to improve conditions you see as negative. Specially when you have children, improving the world a little, for me, justifies some personnal disapointment.

i am all for trying to "improve conditions" as i see them. i happen to see conditions as they relate to my life, not some mass, abstracted "world" (society, etc) that i want to make better. that is because what i consider an "improvement" will not be seen as such by many others. therein lies a major issue i have with trying to "improve the world". too subjective, and too broadly applied. 

by all means, do whatever you think will improve your life (which of course includes those you care about). if disappointment helps you with that, then have at it.

+1 vote
we do whatever we want to do. we just don't think that what we do is going to create the change that we want to see in the world.

(that's a tl/dr for funky's answer... ;) )
by (53.1k points)
lol! and a good one at that!
–2 votes
Well, what I do is avoiding relationships based on power, as much as I can. I also try to undermine any of such relationships that happen to cross my way.  Opposing small powers is also enjoyable and SO much easier than most think. Most of this power just lives in people's minds.
by (530 points)
i don't like this answer because "power" is to broadly used, what do you mean by it?
Power, as I used it, is something that interferes with personal freedom and usually involves obedience. But, yes, I agree it is rather vague. And perhaps not totally consistent. But it was the best word I found.
+2 votes
Naps. We take naps.
by (22.1k points)
fuck yeah!

i wish i could still nap the way i used to.
–1 vote