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+2 votes
Granted there is semantic variance about what constitutes "the Left".
by (6.1k points)

5 Answers

+3 votes
 
Best answer
I would say, because they are leftists. They accept the uneasy synthesis because they have affinity with certain Leftist values, even when those Leftist values may contradict and compromise certain anarchist ones. I am *not* saying that Left-anarchists are not anarchists, but I do see the acceptance of this synthesis as resulting in self-contradictory theories. When I first became interested in anarchist ideas I was very much interested in Left-anarchism but, upon scrutinizing my ideas more heavily I turned to favor the post-Left critique, embrace anarchy, and reject compromises in anarchist "principles".

And yes, there is semantic variance about the term "Left" but, as far as I have seen, Left-anarchists have objected to post-Left anarchists characterizations of the Left without providing any definition themselves. I believe that many post-Left anarchists have done a relatively good job explaining characteristics of the Left, what constitutes the Left, and why anarchists should vehemently reject the Left.
by (2.4k points)
0 votes
Your comment points out why this answer is essentially unanswerable. But the simple answer is that anarchism is born of "the left".

I think that the question may not be about left vs. right, but progressive vs. radical.

I opt, as an anarchist, to think for myself and to choose to engage specific values, behaviors and ideas based on their specific merits, not based on what my peers think, so that puts my evaluations outside the confines of the left - right , or any other, dichotomy. Well actually I do the best I can with that - it's an ongoing struggle.
by (520 points)
–2 votes
What does it mean to cling to the left? Historically, anarchists (who are regarded as the left in some circles), have worked with the left, usually finding common ground in terms of economic structure.

If by 'cling to' you mean 'defend' or 'work with' then what's the problem? The anarchist movement has a rough road ahead if we're not going to 'cling to' any movement or group that disagrees with us, even a little bit. Anarchists and the left have so much common ground... But the word 'cling to' doesn't really elaborate on whether it involves people working together or worshipping one another.
by (250 points)
By "cling to" I don't mean to defend or work with, but to be dependent upon. Working with the Left makes sense to me in a lot of cases. Defending the Left seems less defensible. However, what I mean is that many anarchists are dependent on the Left, both in the sense of 1) identifying with the label "leftist" and/or tradition(s) as well as 2) working in coalitions or other organization of an implicit/explicit leftist orientation. In my question I was just thinking of #1, but you raise the issue of #2 which is also worth discussing.
–1 vote
Because it is their mother, and they have not yet outgrown her.
by (170 points)
–4 votes
You might as well ask "why do people cling so tenaciously to their skeletons?". Anarchism is the anti-statist wing of the socialist movement.  To anarchists "post-leftists" are just anarchist sympathisers, at most (and a very large number are hipsters who borrow the tag because they think it sounds cool).

If anarchism should be redefined to allow for "post-leftism" then why not also for "anarcho-capitalism"?
by (290 points)
edited by
lol. so much for that.
i am downvoting you not because i disagree with your point, but because your comparison is odious. slippery slope arguments are a known bad rhetorical practice, and you're either saying that there is a slippery slope between post-left and anarcho-capitalism (don't let the gays marry or soon people will be wedding their dogs!), or you're saying that both of them are right now equally as antithetical to anarchy, which, given that post-left ideas (sans the name) have been around amongst anarchists for a long time, would be anti-historical of you.

you wouldn't want to be anti-historical, would you steve?
"Anarcho-capitalism" has also been around for a long time.  Both that and post-leftism are similar in the sense that they take a bit of anarchist philosophy while leaving a very significant part behind.  Both, of couse, choose to refer to themselves as anarchist.

I think they would both be better served (as would anarchism) if that didn't happen.  "Post-leftism" (without the "anarchist" part) seems suitable (though "anti-leftist" seems more accurate), while "anarcho-capitalists" should refer to themselves as "neoliberal extremists" or something similar (anti-statist neoliberals?)
The difference between post-left anarchy and anarcho-capitalism is that the former is concerned with creating anarchy to the point that they're willing to abandon long-held assumptions about what the best way to create anarchy actually is; the latter is just a weird offshoot of capitalist liberalism.

If you think post-left anarchism "takes a bit of anarchist philosophy while leaving a very significant part behind", your idea of anarchism probably focuses too much on things that are only anarchist through association rather than content.

Also, the ideas within post-left anarchism have been around for much, much longer than anarcho-capitalism - essentially as long as anarchism itself has existed.
"Anarcho-capitalism" is not a real phenomenon. Capitalism is incompatible with the principles of anarchism, which are rejection of government and the state (the relations of capitalism are impossible without the state to enforce them), voluntary cooperation (the relations of capitalism are not voluntary), mutual aid (the relations of capitalism are not mutual), and direct action (the relations of capitalism are mediated throughout).

There is nothing in the post-left stream of anarchism that is incompatible with the rejection of the state and government and the promotion of voluntary cooperation, mutual aid, and direct action. As dot mentions, the primary aspects of post-left anarchy have been a part of historical anarchism from very early on. These include a rejection of representational politics, a rejection of non-governmental hierarchical relations, a critique of industrialism, and a critique of economism (including -- but not limited to -- a rejection of trade unionism as a revolutionary strategy).

From the 1850s through 1917, it is indisputable that anarchism was "the anti-statist wing of the socialist movement." However, there were anarchists even in that period who rejected socialism as the left-wing of capitalism. When socialists during the Mexican revolution turned on the Zapatistas and the anarcho-sydicalists of the Casa del Obrero Mundial, this set an ugly precedent of socialists attacking and killing anarchists (around the world prior to that, disputes were primarily verbal). Once the Bolsheviks grabbed state power in Russia, their rivalry with anarchists turned homicidal within six months, attacking anarchist centers in Petrograd and Moscow with artillery; subsequently the Cheka arrested thousands of individual anarchists and suppressed their projects. In China in the 20s and 30s, the Maoists allowed the KMT to destroy the anarcho-syndicalists and anarchists, and easily dealt with the survivors in the 50s and 60s. In Spain, the socialists and the heirs of the Bolsheviks did their best to sideline, suppress, and murder anarchists from 1936-39, and continued their anti-anarchist actions into the 1950s.

To insist that anarchism is the anti-statist wing of the socialist movement presumes that there has been no history from the time of the founding of the First International. What began as a rivalry of philosophies became a homicidal contest, which anarchists have consistently lost. Many anarchists, and not just the self-identified post-left variety, have declared that while they recognize the historical ties to the left, they do not consider themselves to be part of the left.

More information from people who know a little about themselves and what they want:
http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/lawrence-jarach-leftism-101
http://theanarchistlibrary.org/topics/post-left
"Capitalism is incompatible with the principles of anarchism, which are rejection of government and the state"

Lack of socialism is also incompatible with the principles of anarchism, which is socialist anti-statism.  It doesn't matter how many anti-leftists have called themselves anarchists, or how long they've been doing it, they are not anarchists.

A lot of the stuff I've read on this site makes absolutely no sense to me because there is such a huge difference between anarchism and post/anti-leftism.  The difference between anarchism and "anarcho"-capitalism is bigger, but all that means  is that post/anti-leftists are slightly more like anarchists than ancaps are.
"because there is such a huge difference between anarchism and post/anti-leftism."

Without even one example, you assertion -- no matter how many times you repeat it -- is empty.
Try reading something by an actual anarchist.  Do you agree with anything they say?  Doesn't it just make your blood boil when they talk about helping other people rather than behaving in a completely selfish manner?  Don't you just hate it when they talk about equality rather than just you getting whatever you want all the time?

Anarchism is not about looking out for your own selfish interests (that is a system we like to call "capitalism", you should look into it, you'd love it), it is about building a better, freer, more equal and less oppressive society.

When you remove socialism from anarchism what you end up with is very, very, very different to anarchism.
What was the question again?
Capitalism is probably the least self-interested system to ever exist for 99.9% of the people who participate in it. I feel like you've got a lot of weird moralistic opinions about something that isn't quite post-left anarchism. Maybe you're thinking of something more like Ayn Rand's "philosophy".
"Capitalism is probably the least self-interested system to ever exist for 99.9% of the people who participate in it."

Have you heard of the concept of the 1%?  You probably haven't, being a hater of socialism, but the idea is that society is run by and for the 1%.  Those are the self-interested ones.  They are also the ones who benefit from the system and who are the most ardent supporters of it (unsurprisingly).  Post-leftists are similar to the owning class, not the workers who keep capitalism and capitalists afloat.

I have a theory that post-leftism was created by either a capitalist or a politician in an attempt to diminish and marginalize anarchism.  The idea is brilliant, change anarchism from a vibrant movement that aims to improve the world into a hate-filled, negative movement that does everything it can to discourage mutual aid, co-operation, solidary, and socialism (ie: the backbone of anarchism).

All post-leftists are capitalist collaborators and until post-leftism is utterly smashed there is no hope for an anarchist revolution.
Okay Steve, clearly you are delusional. I posted links to actual post-left @ texts, I mentioned several actual historical processes where socialists targeted anarchists for suppression, and I challenged you to provide even one example of the alleged "huge difference" between anarcho-socialism and post-left anarchy. By asserting that post-left anarchy needs to be "utterly smashed," as if post-left @s were worse than fascists, you have abandoned any remaining shred of dignified and comradely debate. I tried to give you the benefit of the doubt, assuming that you came here in good faith to have an actual discussion of ideas and strategies... But clearly you came here with a pre-conceived agenda of denouncing something about which you are misinformed and almost wholly ignorant (despite the easy availability of texts).

The meme of "the 1%" is perhaps useful as a ridiculously truncated populist slogan, but for anarchists it is absurd. The class-based system that ossified under industrial capitalism is run, maintained, and reinforced by far more people than that. Do you really believe that cops and small business owners are NOT part of the capitalist machinery that is based on wage labor (exploitation), private property, and a market economy? Cops and small business owners are certainly not part of the mythical 1%. You don't have to be "a hater of socialism" to understand that the 99% is made up of our class enemies as well as our class comrades.

The sad fact is that all anarchists are capitalist collaborators in the sense that many of us earn a wage, travel on government-built roads, pay rent and taxes, and in a million other ways help to maintain relations of exploitation and domination.

And just for shits and giggles, here's a list of anarchist writers I can think of off the top of my head whom I've read:
Berkman, Goldman, DeCleyre, Kropotkin, Bakunin, Proudhon, Shifu, Sakae, Malatesta, Rocker, Lorenzo, Flores Magon, Puente, Libertad, Christie, Meltzer, Barclay, McQuinn, Black, Zerzan, Ehrlich, Landauer, Muehsam, Gordon, Heckert, Sheehan, Kinna, Kostelanetz, Reclus, Brand, De Acosta...
I agree with at least some of what all of them say, and I agree more with some and less with others. Not sure what your point is about that.
"as if post-left @s were worse than fascists"

So similar that it can be hard to tell the difference, but not actually worse.

"comradely debate"

This is the funniest thing I've seen on this website so far.  Try posting about a socialist activity on an anarchist website and see how comradely the post-leftists are.  You may be shocked at how aggressive, abusive and dishonest post-leftists are.

I was at the Tolpuddle Maryrs' Festival last weekend and I met my comrades there, they are the anarchists, the communists, the trade unionists and other socialists who are trying to make the world a better place.  Post-leftists are not my comrades (and none of them were there, obviously).

"But clearly you came here with a pre-conceived agenda of denouncing something about which you are misinformed and almost wholly ignorant (despite the easy availability of texts)."

If I'm misinformed then so are all post-leftists.  If you want to know what post-leftism is then watch post-leftists in action.

Incidentally, I'm not the only "misinformed" person.  Thanks to you people there are loads of people being misinformed about what anarchism actually is.  They are also being discouraged from doing the kinds of activities that might lead to a better world.

"The meme of "the 1%" is perhaps useful as a ridiculously truncated populist slogan, but for anarchists it is absurd. The class-based system that ossified under industrial capitalism is run, maintained, and reinforced by far more people than that. Do you really believe that cops and small business owners are NOT part of the capitalist machinery that is based on wage labor (exploitation), private property, and a market economy? Cops and small business owners are certainly not part of the mythical 1%. You don't have to be "a hater of socialism" to understand that the 99% is made up of our class enemies as well as our class comrades. "

Somebody implied that 99.9% of people support the capitalist system and my point was that that isn't really true.  Most people are subjected to capitalist propaganda from the moment they're born until the moment they die, they don't really support capitalism, they just have a deliberately twisted conception of what it is and what it does.

Yes, a lot of cops (probably most but surely not all) would be part of the counter-revolutionary forces (and are part of anti-socialist activities now, but I guess you approve of that) but they are merely the hired muscle of capitalism, they are not the exploiters and they are not the ones who created the system.  They are wage slaves just like the rest of us, they just refuse to look at it like that and assume the capitalists will take care of them.

PS: Your list of anarchist writers seems to include names like Bob Black and John Zerzan.  I'm not sure why you're including anti-anarchists in a list of anarchist writers (or do you mean it in the sense that they've all written about anarchism, either with a pro or an anti stance?)
"If you want to know what post-leftism is then watch post-leftists in action."
You have no idea how to have a discussion to try to make a point. This sentence, like virtually all the others you've used to try to bludgeon people here into submission, is 100% meaningless without at least one example of what you're asserting. What action(s) are you referring to? Which post-leftists are allegedly doing them? How do you know they are post-leftists? Where did it happen? In what context? What were the tangible results?

On a separate note, if you really believe that cops are "wage slaves just like the rest of us," then you must believe that in the absence of wage labor, most (if not all) cops will no longer be authoritarian assholes, then you know nothing about cops. Do a little research into the sociology of policing and you might find the following: number of cops charged with domestic abuse; number of cops who have protective orders issued against them; number of cops who assault people (including with their private firearms) off duty (including other cops). Your analysis is amputated and wildly ignorant. The institutions of policing don't attract happy-go-lucky social workers looking for a decent wage who reluctantly punch; people who want to punch are attracted to institutions of policing where they get paid to punch. In the absence of those institutions and the wages that go with them, those people would find some other way to be assholes. You know, like gangsters. Face it, there's a line that crossed when someone decides to be the hired thug of the capitalists. It doesn't make them into capitalists, but their class interest is altered to make them a part of the capitalist machine. Merely working for a wage doesn't magically confer revolutionary consciousness.
"On a separate note, if you really believe that cops are "wage slaves just like the rest of us," then you must believe that in the absence of wage labor, most (if not all) cops will no longer be authoritarian assholes"

You really do like making massive assumptions about what I say, don't you?  A cop being a wage slave doesn't mean he/she isn't an authoritarian asshole.  In fact, most authoritarian assholes will gravitate towards the police force... but they are still selling their labour and so they are still wage slaves.

Being a wage slave carpenter doesn't mean you wouldn't be a carpenter if you were no longer a wage slave.
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