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+5 votes
What is it?

5 Answers

–5 votes
It's a contrived "us vs them" ideology that uses unfocused inferences and references to the general misery and violence of class society to provide a polarizing framework where self-organization (the "good guys") can appear without interference from the ambivalent nature of real individuals.

It can be anything anarchists want it to be.
by (2.8k points)
Oh, suck it. I thought my answer was good. It was a curve ball!
0 votes
i have a response that is more sympathetic to the concept, although it certainly does not negate madlib's.
i see social war as a reaction to the focus on class war by certain significant portions of political people. class war tends to emphasize rigid distinctions between classes that don't make sense anymore, if they ever did, and a marxist/economic analysis that doesn't address many other causes and effects of hierarchy.
so social war emphasizes both that we are all participants in this war (instead of just the working class-as-revolutionary-agent), and that we are at war with society, and that society is at war with itself.  
that definitely leads to an amorphousness that communists especially (it seems) don't like to deal with, but seems appropriate to the blurry lines and shifting ground that we deal with all the time.

edit: from Occupy Everything:
Rejecting the logic of social peace, we instead assert a different rationale: social war. Social war is our way of articulating the conflict of class war, but beyond the limitations of class. Rather than a working class seeking to affirm ourselves in our endless conflict with capital, we desire instead to abolish the class relation and all other relations that reproduce this social order. Social war is the discrete and ongoing struggle that runs through and negotiates our lived experience. As agents of chaos, we seek to expose this struggle, to make it overt. The issue is not violence or non-violence. What’s at issue in these forays against capital is rather the social peace and its negation. To quote a comrade here in Oakland:
windows are shattered when we do nothing, so of course windows will be shattered when we do something; blood is shed when we do nothing, so of course blood will be shed when we do something.

Social war is this process of doing something. It is our concerted effort to rupture the ever-present deadliness of the social peace.
by (53.1k points)
edited by
0 votes
social war:
The narrative of “class struggle” developed beyond class to include the complexities and multiplicities of all social relations. Social war is conflict within all hierarchical social relations.

Social war means society against the state.


The above is from a few sources, and I think is a lot more on target than what dot eludes to. The whole "war on society" bit is totally strange to me. More like most of society against a tiny elite that control state and capital.
by (670 points)
hence why madlib says it can be anything anybody wants it to be.

just to clarify - while there is a piece of the "most of society against a tiny elite" that makes sense (because having a defined enemy is a piece of what is meaningful), ONLY paying attention to that ignores that we are all part of the society that we are fighting. power/hierarchy/authoritarianism doesn't just exist in some external form, in some easily identified other (the tiny elite), it is in all of us. it is we (tm - also known as the masses), who continue to accept the fucked up situation we are in, We who have not risen up and cast off the chains. The only way to make sense of that passivity (as far as i can tell) is because we are all implicated, even the people who seem to have the most to gain from a revolution. Society, for lack of a better word.
that is a much better answer dot. yes it about social relations too that everyone has internalized. and about transforming those. if that is what you mean by society, sure. but i am at war with the state and capital. more in a struggle with my prole neighbor if they are racist.
struggle/war, hmmm...
okay - but not just with racist neighbors. also with myself - the parts of me that continue to be dominated by the status quo, the expectations and assumptions that keep me thinking as a slave (to use shorthand terminology). the cop in my head, as they say. there is both an external enemy (which holds a particular kind of authority), and an internal enemy (with a different kind of power), and i am at war with both.

the challenge (for me, anyway) is not to use the weapons appropriate for one of those enemies on the wrong one (and vice versa).
–1 vote
the back n forth war (civil war) at times less visible to sum + at times more visible. marginalised ppl know it. sumtimes it explodes n u have to take sides. for authority or against it. the violence of imposing n keeping authoritarian society and the violence of resisting or failing the expectations of or fighting against that society. parents and kids, in relationships, at work, police, the full on military defense of the state that it comes down to.... you fucking know wat i mean
by (710 points)
+1 vote
no to all of these answers! especially madlib's!

social war is a concept taken from foucault that sounds cool and definitely lends itself to grandiose rhetoric, but it has little to do with what we are actually trying to accomplish

the snippet that dot quoted from occupy everything is basically right: "Social war is the discrete and ongoing struggle that runs through and negotiates our lived experience" although I don't think their proposal of 'making it overt' is very helpful at all. social war is just a way of conceptualizing the struggles that are always going on. attempting to publicize them as some kind of unified phenomenon is not necessarily going to give us any new resources -- in fact it risks just making them more legible, easier to police.

here is a quote from society must be defended:

"Its [war's] role is no longer to constitute history but to protect and preserve society; war is no longer a condition of existence for society and political relations, but the precondition for its survival in its political relations. At this point, we see the emergence of the idea of an internal war that defends society against threats born of and in its own body. The idea of social war makes, if you like, a great retreat from the historical to the biological, from the constituent to the medical.”

so I think foucault is clearly not promoting some notion of 'expanded class war' in which we all must battle against 'internalized hierarchies' or whatever.  he is doing what he always does -- studying power as a productive force. of course for every type of control there is also inevitably going to be some type of resistance, but I think the whole point of the anarchist project is that we are not satisfied with the forms of resistance that are already always happening, right?

this is my own not very good transcription of part of the talk by the invisible committee that was on tcn radio (it helps I think if you subvocalize this with a haughty french accent)

"There is a war, a civil war, that is permanent and global. Two things prevent us from identifying it, from perceiving it: first, that the denial of the very fact of confrontation is still a part of this confrontation. Then, that despite all the new () of all the new ... specialists, the meaning of this war is not understood. Everything that is said about the asymmetric shape of the so-called new wars only adds to the confusion.  The ongoing war of which we speak doesn't have the Napoleonic magnificence of regular wars between two great armies of men, between two antagonistic classes. Because there is an asymmetry in the confrontation, it is less between the forces present than over the very definition of the war itself.

That is why we can't talk about social war. Because the social war is the war that is led against us, it cannot, symmetrically, describe the war that we wage from our side. We have to think again the words themselves in order to forge new concepts, as weapons..."
by (8.0k points)
edited by