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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)
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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: <http://theanarchistlibrary.org/HTML/Lawrence_Jarach__Anarchists__Don_t_let_the_Left_overs__Ruin_your_Appetite.html#toc6>

"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)
As for the latter question, I'll leave that to somebody who has worked this shit out (as far as I know, nobody really worked this question out very well yet -- although we all sort of know the answer).
The brief exchange between Peter Staudenmaier and Lawrence Jarach (both articles can be found in the post-left topic section of The Anarchist Library) goes well with the essay you quoted.
as the author of the quoted essay i accept your dare. it is not a post-anarchist essay. i reject the category as descriptive of anything. just as i reject the category of lifestylist.
Lawrence, I was actually expecting that answer from you (which is why I wrote the dare in the first place). Post-anarchists tend not to know that they are post-anarchist. If post-anarchism is just a name for the "new" anarchism (second wave as aragorn! calls or, or third wave as some of the Turkish and recently published academic anarchists call it) then most anarchists don't know that they are in fact "post-". I also don't think that the author has any authority over his or her own text: this means that you do not own the interpretation, nor the words you use -- they are a product of the times, as they say.

Post-left, for example, has only emerged as an interpretation of anarchist history recently (during the time of post-anarchism), it is true that it reflects a wider history of anarchism -- but, like I said, the interpretation only happened now. If we look to any book on the subject late pre-1980 (when was the first "post-left" essay written?) we will see that there was no "post-left" explicitly, and nobody really cared to make it explicit until recently.

Just some thoughts to get a discussion started.
"Post-anarchists tend not to know that they are post-anarchist."
i find this deeply creepy.
yep, it's creepy indeed, and for good reason. denying another person's subjectivity and self-identity is the height of authoritarian arrogance. we quite justifiably get annoyed when journalists put "self-described" in front of anarchist -- as if they know what a real anarchist is/should be. the imputation of "post-anarchist" to describe my essay, my ideas, my practices, my self-definition (etc) when i very explicitly refuse the label is a good example of bad faith as well as positioning the describer as some omniscient observer/narrator. excuse me if i find that completely unacceptable.
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 (http://www.lotsofessays.com/viewpaper/1701866.html) -- '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)
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