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+4 votes
I'm really having trouble understanding the theory.

1 Answer

+4 votes
Post-left anarchy has strong overlaps with the perspectives of many insurrectionary anarchists, anarcho-primitivists, egoists, and certain anarcha-feminists but comprises its own tendency as well. While wikipedia has a decent overview, and has a respectable compilation of texts, and others such as Lawrence will likely have more to say, in my understanding, post-left anarchy has developed thought in six main areas:

1. The Left
-critiquing the Left as an nebulous, anachronistic, distracting, a failure, and at key points a counterproductive force historically ("the left-wing of capital")
-critiquing Leftist activists for political careerism, celebrity culture, self-righteousness, privileged vanguardism, and martyrdom
-critiquing the tendency of Leftists to insulate themselves in academia, scenes, and cliques while also attempting to opportunistically manage struggles

2. Ideology
-a Stirner-esque critique of dogma and ideological thinking as a distinct phenomenon in favor of "critical self-theory" at individual and communal levels

3. Morality
-a moral nihilist critique of morality / reified values / moralism

4. Organizationalism
-critiquing permanent, formal, mass, mediated, rigid, growth-focused modes of organization in favor of temporary, informal, direct, spontaneous, intimate forms of relation
-critiquing Leftist organizational patterns' tendencies toward managerialism, reductionism, professionalism, substitutionism, and ideology
-critiquing the tendencies of unions and Leftist organizations to mimic political parties, acting as racketeers/mediators, with cadre-based hierarchies of theoretician & militant or intellectual & grunt, defailting toward institutionalization, and ritualizing a meeting-voting-recruiting-marching pattern

5. Identity Politics
-critiquing identity politics insofar as it preserves victimization-enabled identities and social roles (i.e. affirming rather than negating gender, class, etc.) and inflicts guilt-induced paralysis, amongst others
-critiquing single-issue campaigns or orientations

6. Values
-moving beyond anarchISM as a static historical praxis into anarchY as a living praxis
-focussing on daily life and the intersectionality thereof rather than dialectics / totalizing narratives (except anarcho-primitivists tend toward epistemology)
-emphasizing personal autonomy and a rejection of work (as forced labor, alienated labor, workplace-centricity)
-critiquing Enlightenment notions of Cartesian dualities, rationalism, humanism, democracy, utopia, etc.
-critiquing industrial notions of mass society, production, productivity, efficiency, "Progress", technophilia, civilization (esp. in anti-civilization tendencies)

While I can't really speak to the "post-anarchist" strain since I haven't read into it and I don't know if it even exists outside of teh interwebz or the Ivory Tower, I'm sure someone else has a grasp on that and can offer some insights.

In the meantime, look up:
"Whatever You Do, Get Away with It" by Jason McQuinn
"Leftism 101" by Lawrence Jarach
"Anarchists, Don't let the Left(overs) Ruin your Appetite" by Lawrence Jarach
"Critical Analysis of the Left: Lets Clean House" by Joaquin Cienfuegos
"Critical Thinking as an Anarchist Weapon" by Wolfi Landstreicher & Jason McQuinn
"Against Organizationalism: Anarchism as both Theory and Critique of Organization" by Jason McQuinn
"Demoralizing Moralism: The Futility of Fetishized Values" by Jason McQuinn
"From Politics to Life: Ridding anarchy of the leftist millstone" by Wolfi Landstreicher
^heavily critiqued by Lilith in "Gender Disobedience: Antifeminism and Insurrectionist Non-dialogue"
"Radical Theory: A Wrecking Ball for Ivory Towers" by Wolfi Landstreicher
"Against Mass Society" by Chris Wilsom
"On Organization" by Jacques Camatte
"The Revolution of Everyday Life" by Raoul Vaneigem
"Anarchy in the Age of Dinosaurs" & to a lesser extent "Days of War, Nights of Love" by CrimethInc
by (8.9k points)
edited by
I think you did a fine job of providing an overview. It is unfortunately inevitable that in such a shortened version of what is a very broad perspective a certain amount of jargon pops up...

One important topic overlooked is the Leftist (authoritarian or libertarian) perspective toward the fabled Means of Production. Leftists wish to expropriate the MoP intact (or almost wholly intact, perhaps eliminating the most obviously pernicious and destructive forms of production) in order to use them for the benefit of Society (People Before Profits or some such). Along with a critique - or rejection - of work as enforced and/or alienated activity, most interesting post-left @s do not wish to retool industrial modes of mass production. Admittedly there is little explicit discussion of this topic, but it seems to me that the fetishizing of work and the workplace is a legacy of Leftism that must be demolished.

Another topic that you briefly touched on is the post-left rejection of representational models of organization. This fits in with the rejection of formal membership-based organizations and democracy as well as the larger issue of division of labor (not a separation of tasks, but the kind of specialization that results in hierarchy).

Also, a point that I try to emphasize is that there isn't much that could be put in the post-left @ category that hasn't already been said before. Some of us are interested in trying to recapture the early critiques of anarchists toward the more bureaucratic anarchists of the late-19th and early-20th centuries (the anti-syndicalism of Malatesta, the informal communism of Galleani, the hyper-individualism of Novatore - not that all of my inspirations are Italian...). We also appreciate the anti-Leninist critiques of various radical leftists like Camatte and the Situationists.