Note that the site is in archived, read-only mode. You can browse and read, but posting is disabled.
Welcome to Anarchy101 Q&A, where you can ask questions and receive answers about anarchism, from anarchists.

Note that the site is in archived, read-only mode. You can browse and read, but posting is disabled.


0 votes
Not only a description of the Left at the level of ideology or politics but also how it continuously manages to monopolize, if you will,  what can be seen as socially sympathetic, rebellious, or even revolutionary elements within capitalist civilization.
by (2.8k points)
edited by

2 Answers

+4 votes
I'll let Lawrence Jarach answer this question, from this essay "Don't let the Left(overs) ruin your appetite" found here: <>

"An uneasy relationship has existed between anarchists and leftists from the time Proudhon positively proclaimed him self an anarchist 150 years ago. From the 1860s through the 1930s most anarchists considered themselves to be an integral part of the international labor movement, even if there were moments of extreme conflict within it; leftist anarchists saw themselves as the radical conscience of the Left — the left of the Left, as it were. But since the death of 19th century anarchism on the barricades of Barcelona in May 1937, anarchists haven't had a movement to call their own. As a result, many anarchists trail after leftist projects, seemingly oblivious to the sometimes fatal historical rivalry that has existed between the two tendencies. They get seduced either by the seemingly antiauthoritarian characteristics of such groups (like decentralization), or by the use of some anarchic vocabulary (direct action for example).


The Left has consistently been identified with the international labor movement from the time of the First International; with the shift of focus from western Europe toward Russia beginning in 1917 and continuing into the 1960s, leftists have identified themselves in relation to events that occurred in the workers' paradise. Whether a leninist, trotskyist, stalinist, or non-leninist communist, each variety of leftist has a particular view of when things went wrong (or not) with the Russian revolutionary experiment.


A return to authentically anarchist principles, coupled with some understanding of the troubled history of the relationship between leftists and anarchists, can go a long way toward reinvigorating antiauthoritarian theory and practice. At the same time, moving beyond the melioristic beliefs (especially about western European technology, culture, and science) of 19th century anarchism, which have made the programs of anarchists and leftists seem similar, is crucial. The relevance of anarchist self-activity can only increase when the vestiges of authoritarian leftist assumptions and distortions are discarded from the words and behavior of antiauthoritarian activists, critics, and theorists."

(By the way, I dare you to tell me that this is not a "post-anarchist" essay)
by (2.2k points)
i think there's something that is neither completely accepting what someone identifies as, nor completely disregarding it.  
but i don't know what that is.
it's one thing to acknowledge that people will take someone's words and ideas and claim them for themselves (a la anti-semites claiming nietzsche), and another to celebrate it (which seems to be what stirnerites are proposing?) and yet another to normalize it/take it for granted. and all that is different from labeling a person with something that they reject. although of course, we do often put labels on people that they reject (maoist, anyone?).
LJ, I'm sorry you find that unacceptable, but I don't believe that we define the world very well with our labels.(I am not DENYING your subjectivity, I am giving voice to it -- subjectivity means, to be subject to something outside of ones control. It doesn't imply free will). Besides, what does it mean to "deny another person's subjectivity?" -- does that mean that I deny your longing to be subject to a foreign identity that appears to be of your own choosing? Or does it mean that I am denying that subjectivity exists?

The height of authoritarian arrogance is the belief that you control your own subjectivity.
silly me. i thought that subjectivity meant something peculiar to a particular individual, or maybe the knowledge that i arrive at that's conditioned by personal characteristics or conditions, or maybe the perceptions that arise from my own experiences... thanks for awakening me from my dogmatic slumber. NOT.

see smitty, this is why (attempted) communication with you always breaks down sooner or later. you have a peculiar -- dare i say "subjective"? -- definition of certain terms that i (and who knows how many others?) just don't share.

the definition you've decided is exclusively true is listed as "obsolete" in my dictionary.

the imposition of obsolete or idiosyncratic definitions/characteristics is the authoritarian game, not relying on my own reason to make decisions about my own life. how can i possibly be both arrogant and authoritarian in my subjectivity if i take it as, and make it, my own? no imposition, no imputation, no ability to command or intimidate or ridicule or humiliate or embarrass. nothing of the sort.
"Subject", in the arts, refers to something that we choose to represent us. For Foucault, and the people who really studied subjectivity (Shurmann, on "on constituting oneself as an anarchist subject", etc) it means to be subjected to power ( -- 'why do we freely submit to power?' -- this is what I suggest you are doing with your notion of subjectivity. You think you are free but you are knee-deep in authoritarianism.

Anyway, I'm not making up my own terms. Anybody familiar with the study of subjectivity in contemporary philosophy is aware of this definition. No need to start the ad hominems. I am discussing with you in good faith, as you say. Even if I shouldn't be.
eh - I didn't like my response so I deleted it ...sorry! :)
0 votes
A more simple and abstract viewpoint.
Do not think of Anarchists somewhere along a linear continuum in relation to leftists, liberals, conservatives, etc. One may take note of points of commonality with peoples of any groups, identities and do not have to feel as though she/he is tethered to any other ideology or identity.

Not a linear line of connection to the world, but a multi-nodal network in a 3 dimensional framework.

I move further away from the left as my convictions gel, And while I move not necessarily more towards the right, there are specific viewpoints and actions which I admire that previously, being lashed to the left I'd have been horrified by.

I think not post-left, but post-dualism or something.
by (520 points)