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+3 votes
There are clearly different strands of nihilist thought - diagnostic, political, existential, moral etc and histories, Russian, Dadaists, etc. There have been fascist philosophers who have written on nihilism (Heidegger, Junger, Schmitt, etc), lefty philosophers who've written on nihilism (Sartre, Camus, Baudrillard) etc) and there are Stirner and Nietzsche (or more recently stuff such as the Attentat, Wallow-Negativity and Baedan journals and Alejandro de Acosta's book The Impossible, Patience) who seem to deny or transcend left/right trajectories.

Stirner and Nietzsche (and the Situationists) have also influenced post-left anarchy which attacks Left anarchism's roots in mass/populism, activism, politics, ideology, Humanism and morality, and organization.

Is there a connection between nihilist, post-left anarchy or anti-politics and reactionary, conservative or fascist politics?

In what ways are anti-politics, nihilist and post-left anarchy and then the variety of reactionary, conservative and fascist politics both different and similar? Is there a thread that ties them together or is the refusal, negativity or nihilism these discourses/theories claim or reference different from one another, or maybe coming from different places?

Many people claim that the amoral position in nihilist anarchy allows for the manifestation of totalitarianism. If anarchist thinking should allow for difficult or controversial questions/topics/thoughts and a de-centering of assumptions, how might it critically deal with fascist thinkers and ideas without absorbing politics or authoritarian trajectories?

There are often claims that those who refuse activism and anti-oppression and identity politics, often coming from the nihilist, egoist/stirner and post-left area, don't believe in oppression, structural disparity or care about those who suffer, or at least don't do anything to stop it or fight back. Is there a conservative or reactionary element to refusing activism, identity and anti-oppression or is the logic of their refusal rooted elsewhere?

Is it possible for anarchy to coexist with a group of people who choose to live only with those who look similar to them (think race) but don't promote/demand it of others?

Is there another option outside of the paradigm of a kind of Antifa-derived pure inclusivity* and fascist pure exclusivity that is compatible with anarchy? Think bolo'bolo.

*It might be unfair to claim this as antifa's position, which I am not doing. Rather, it feels more like a general disposition I have gotten from various u.s. antifa groups rhetoric over the years.
by (580 points)
edited by

2 Answers

+5 votes
This is my first post here. Hello all!

I'm assuming that most of the post-left anarchists here have come from the left. I've not necessarily. I've been all over the ideological spectrum, only to come to reject, as much as I'm able, ideology in toto. Ideology is fiction, and any evaluation of an ideologycan itself be ideological in the sense that all moralism is ideology. At the end of the day it resolves into nothing but our opinion. Opinions can change: revaluation of values, right?

People are complex. I know my life has been. I expect that others' have been as well. I've been drawn to Nietzsche and Stirner for a variety of reasons for, like them, I've seen through the prevailing opinions of my today. I've found the latter to subtract substantially from my joy in living.

Those who label themselves (roughly) as post-left anarchists seem to have done so as well, though they may have worked their way out of more hard-left paradigms than I have. In many ways I expect we may have been ideological enemies at some time. I would most definitely been seen as 'fascist' during certain times of my life. And that's OK. I owe nothing to anyone: no apologies, no left-flavored McCarthyite confessions, no moral recompense. Nothing. I may get shit for it, but so it goes.

One thing about the post-left, and yes even the egoist strain (perhaps them in particular), which strikes me, is the pronounced sensitivity toward individuals rather than identities. On this I can only concur. Politics, ideologies, always based in generalizations (identities) rather than individuals qua flesh and blood primates. I find ideology un-necessarily divisive and the divisiveness isn't 'left' or 'right.' It's the nature of ideology itself. It's far more difficult to engage in living what's right around us, what's real, than it is to disengage through abstraction, conceptualization, categorization. Flesh and blood can hurt, after all; dreams are easy. We wake up even from our nightmares only to dream we're flying upon falling back to sleep.

Above, I stated that ideology resolves to nothing but our opinion. I'd qualify this by differentiating  opinion as  (1) ideology and (2) revaluation.  #1 is basically conservative no matter how radical it may seem to be. It's simply an opinion, or set of opinions, held onto as if reality would go away without it. Its presupposed radicalness is simply its own vanity, ideology preening before a mirror.

#2 is made of stronger stuff. It takes more courage, strength, and skill in thinking critically. It is an expression of Nietzsche's 'amor fati' in that one may find the joy of life even in the suffering of one's own living, one's erring (in the oldest non-moral sense of the term). It may even involve erring into places you believed you'd never wander.

Am I a nihilist? Sometimes. It depends upon the definition of that term is being used, but more importantly what I'm doing at any given moment. Living is doing. Living is active; becoming. Am I an egoist? Not if 'I' remains a static concept rather than just a usable linguistic indicator.

So, as a more direct answer to your question regarding 'connections' between post-left/nihilism/anti-politics and what's termed the political 'extreme right.':  I'd have to say that people play conceptual connect the dots all the time. It's a fun pastime. It gets folks riled up. One can feel alive while barely living. It's also ideology in a nutshell, as ideology depends upon static categorizations (opinions) which have no reality at all. It's the vain attempt to make the real conform to our opinion-cum-universal morality and grammar.

 In the beginning there was the Word...

Hogwash. I'd like to give up that ghost.

*edited for clarity*
by (7.5k points)
Interesting answer, you've put into words a few ideas that I've found difficult to articulate.  I'm slightly less hostile to ideology than you are (I think it can be a useful tool sometimes, as long as you don't let it, as a fantasy,  structure your reality),  but I appreciate the main thrust of your argument.  I found the part about prevailing opinions and your joy of living particularly resonant.

Welcome to the site :)
Thanks for the welcome.

I'm hostile to fanaticism in general, even if it has, more or less, a smiley face like self-proclaimed progressives. Basically, I see in, what I consider ideology, is exactly the structure of reality you mentioned.

I tend to pick on contemporary progressivism more because I'm surrounded by a great deal of it on a daily basis. Even the environmentalists here are silly. The expectations and reliance upon the State is really incredible, and now it seems they're parroting Elizabeth Warren's usage of 'anarchy' to describe their right-wing Progressive-era siblings.
+1 vote
I must respond to this, seeing that stirner and egoists have been a huge inspiration to me and have gotten me more deeply into anarchist thought, especially primitivism (ill explain in a second!)

basically most of my life, i've been a fairly depressing negative person to be around (so other people say), even as young as elementary school. I've never been able to find interest in positivity, because to me it's usually so fake and bland. When I was finishing up high school I saw some more leftist shock-umentaries (like about how fucked up things actually are in the world when no one is realizing it) and I also learned about some really deep evils that were going on the poorer part of west virginia (where I live) that I didn't know about. Seriously, the coal industry down here in the 80's poisoned the drinking water of an entire community, killing 40 people and giving serious nuerological problems and property damage to so many more (this is the Rawl water case if you want to look it up.) I also read Ishmael during this time period, which really blew my mind but I didn't really care too much about it at the time because I thought it irrelevant that hunter-gatherers may have lived a better existence than we do, so i got much more into the leftist type activist activity and I didn't like anarchists I thought they were just stupid time wasters.

However, after i got really "passionate" about leftist activism (i was really just trying to escape a severe depression and anxiety i still have today at times), i just become a self-rightous prick. I started to push out other people's ideas and i wanted to be more militant, and this ended up stressing me out immensely so i just kinda dropped out and didn't even really think too much about politics for the next couple years.

I got really into individualist anarchism by accident when i was considering revamping some of my leftist energies....i was argueing with libertarians on facebook and screwed up a relationship with a great friend of mind because i thought he was a "stupid brainwashed conservative". So reading some individualist anarchism at the time was really the perfect thing for me, it took me a while to catch on to it. While im not the shining example of a happy self-actualized person today, it is absolutely true that you can't be happy denying yourself in sacrifice of ideals, which is basically what the left and every other political movement (like anarchism) is.

What your getting at with the "connection" between facism and individualist anarchism is is the fact that all ideas are interconnected in some way or another. There's just as much truth in the current trend of american conservatism as there are lies. This is why the left fails miserably in accomplishing its goals, because they play the game. If you point out how strip mining is poisoning the water and contaminating the air for the stupid rednecks nobody cares about, the conservative will just say "well, how are they gonna survive? strip mining is an opportunity for the poor people in the region" and the actual rednecks will say "stop trying to take our jobs you tree hugging faggot!". Now the current leftist trend is to promote solar energy, which undoubtably destroys mountains in china from the mining of rare earths.

but i have no illusions about individualism: it's ultimately a dead end because a life based on your desires and whims will be just as tragic as your life as a sweatshop worker. However, this in no way means we should continue down the road of masochistic slavery to morality. You can't save the proletariat, so as a middle class/upper middle class person you might as well just not get hung up in that delusion, because were all just intellectuals and most of us don't know anything about living in a working class background. I remember how Renzo Novatore wrote an essay about how people involved in the creative arts should "not stoop down to matters of the belly" because the proletariat are better at that, truly contemptuous thing to say about the working class but contains some truth in it.

all ideology is inherently limiting, which is the point. Once you accept the premises of the ideology you live to attain it and reject every clear contradiction that it contains. I learned this from arguing with anarcho-capitalist libertarians, who simply will not acknowledge the fact that the free market conditions of the industrial revolution created some of the worst lives possible for the majority of the population (only difference now is we export it!). It's pointless to talk to them about politics or really anybody else for that matter. However, political and social thought are definitely NOT irrelevant, they are constantly surrounding us! SHUT UP AND GET BACK TO WORK!

thats why the only way to really reject facism is to get back in touch with the natural world, everything else is tainted by it. Forests are a hell of a lot more beautiful than consumerism, money, monarchy, political screaming matches, artistic prestige, utopian sexual delusions, beer, movies, marxism, anarchism.....
i appreciate the personal flavor of this answer. as well as the "depression" that can come from actually seeing the world in a somewhat clearer way than most seem to. hard to imagine any thinking, feeling person *not* feeling depressed at this world at some point.

but i disagree with this statement:

"a life based on your desires and whims will be just as tragic as your life as a sweatshop worker. "

that just sounds like prescribed rhetoric. how could you possibly think to make that general statement for anyone but yourself?

i also would have to ask: who are you talking/referring to in this statement:

" as a middle class/upper middle class person you might as well just not get hung up in that delusion, because were all just intellectuals and most of us don't know anything about living in a working class background."

sounds like you are making some huge assumptions, that most folks here are  "intellectuals", with no "working class" background. why do you project your experience onto others here? that would seem to me to be the antithesis of "individualist" thought.
i'd like to second funky@'s appreciation of your personal post.

Although it's offtopic, i'd like to hear your thoughts about the economic-survival/enviromental-survival conflict.  It is one i haven't been able to address to my own satisfaction.
It is all well and good to say truthfully that some action is destroying the natural environment (and perhaps the capacity of the earth to sustain complex life); but on the other hand people are trying to keep a roof over their family's heads, while bearing the risks of mortgages and land taxes.

Btw, the chinese multinationals are strip-mining africa now, they've already wrecked the lands the Party had stolen, and the peasants are starting to rebel in fits and starts.
funky, i agree with your criticisms of my post i thought about it later as well. I wrote that in a sleep deprived state and enthusiastic state since I've wanted to talk to other anarchists about my experiences...

yeah, when i said living off desires and whims by themselves is no better than living like a sweat shop worker, i was only trying to say that i think the importance of chasing desires can still be overstated, and can make you much more miserable than someone who just takes their life as it is and is working a lot of the time. I think what im trying to say here is true enjoyment of life involves in just learning to live in the present moment. Also i very strongly believe the current society we live in has corrupted and subverted desire itself.

and i agree the whole thing about most anarchists being entirely being upper middle class intellectuals is just foolish, even though it seems like most political thinkers fit into this category, people who talk about how the world should be.

@clodbuster: yeah i don't know, the situation is really fucked up. People in every parts of the world are having their environment destroyed and being poisoned, and I'm next because there's a shale company who wants to strip mine near my property and despite all of our legalistic/activist efforts they're probably gonna win. The only way to really deal with this would be to organize and destroy them, which is something that Derek Jensen certainly acknowledges, but in that situation there's the issue of both other people joining you and going to jail. My efforts now are all focused on getting more in touch with nature and doing permaculture....which will not drive the companies away.

edit: however, this society will eventually destroy itself, if not the whole world, so there's really nothing more that can be done besides what is being done....
rs666: you raise a really good point about "chasing" desires. that would be kind of like living for some future, "sacred" vision of one's happiness. and that is definitely not how i choose to live with my own desires. so i guess i misinterpreted your words a bit, and i'm glad you clarified.

and yeah, i know that far too many philosophical/political/radical "thinkers" tend to come off as essentially armchair intellectuals, and that is not always an inaccurate perception. as someone who has been (somewhat accurately, at times) accused of being anti-intellectual, i do have some affinity with that perspective. but the risk of unwarranted generalization is way high on that one. :-)