Against the Paradigm of Identity: A Response to Black Orchid

<table><tr><td>In a recent article entitled Privilege Politics is Reformism, a friend of the Black Orchid collective outlined what he called “privilege politics”.

While the piece is well-written and the ideas are well articulated, it does seem that the basis of the piece is cemented in the archaic voice of rehashed Marxist dogmatism.

For the purpose of speaking of identity as not simply a thing that exists in it's own right, we will have to look at the formation of the social situation.

The persistence of the commonwealth, or community, comes by way of individuals giving up certain freedoms for the sake of creating a social peace. The governing apparatus that is built to ensure this social relationship is what we call the state. The state does not have a basis outside of the ability for it to dominate life inside of it's reach. It's only basis is power.</td><td><img title="why are individuals assumed to always be in conflict?" src="http://anarchistnews.org/files/pictures/2012/colorgirl.jpg"></td></tr></...

Race, gender and class are all products of this dominating process. The social creation of these various identities circulates in such a way that separates people into different value categories, these institutions that come from this evolution includes what the author of the piece calls white supremacy as well as patriarchy. The subjectification of bodies into these named and individuated forms is an imperative development for the expansion and continuance of the state.

It should be noted here that “state” does not mean this state or that state, but the social apparatus that brings together different positions through compromise, it should be seen as a nullifying apparatus.

The basis of white supremacy, as well as patriarchy, is found through the state. The nullification of various different positions into commonwealths gives rise to the ability for there to be commonalities between people based on false positions. Inside of the social peace of the commonwealth the ethical position is not important, because the state uses much of its resources to protect this semblance of social peace.

It is also important to not talk about this process in a historical light, because the network of power dynamics that exists in this society are reproduced at every moment of every day. The concept of the Black Man wasn't just invented one day, we can't talk about it's age like some old building made of brick. It is a concept that is reproduced in every moment of our lives. The same can be said about the concept of the Woman, the Queer, the Man. These are all dynamic identities.

Even inside of the authors own explanation he says:

“Things are not that clear. This is partially a sign that struggles of people of color have forced white-supremacy’s anti-POC language to take a different form. However, white supremacy still exists. In the media for example talk of crime or poverty is code word for lazy Black or Latino people who ruin paradise for the hard working great white citizens of America. “

It is not just that the language to dominate these identities becomes more coded, but that what these identities are perceived as has become more complex. Can we truly say what it is to be a “Black Man” in society? What are the qualitative attributes that one must posses to be this amorphous being?

The mysticism around the idea posits a metaphysical form of the identity.

This means that, because the identity is socially created it exists with the same baselessness as the state which is that it only exists through power.

The function of identity is, at this point, a strategic one. It is to relegate our own possibilities and the potential for our own solidarities to the socially created apparatuses that define us as historical subjects, as citizens. We continue the circulation of the identities the longer we accept and struggle along these false commonalities. The identity exists as a toxic collectivity with a false history. It is the narrative of suffrage that the feminists are asked to recall, it is the history of Black Liberation that young black people are presented with to goad them into political action. In other words, it is the history of the identity that they are forced to take on, not their own qualitative possibilities. They are merely asked to continue into the next act of the theater of history.

Anti-Oppression is Reformism

The language in this piece is quite anachronistic. What could the author's politics be if they still talk of “the Movement”? Could they still be talking of the deterministic lineage of the great oppressed mass that will rise up, if only they would cast off their chains?

It seems as if the author's grievance with the social situation is that it is oppressive, and that one must resist oppression. Don't you see? This society is not based on merely oppressing life, it dominates it.

The perspective in this piece perceives the domination of the social apparatus as simply singular oppressions, or of oppressions of entire identities. It is within this discourse that we find the most liberal of tendencies in the radical culture, and that is that oppression is alleviated by less oppression.

This is an inherently democratic and reformist approach. It insinuates that some form of discourse can occur and that it can have a liberatory end. The importance of understanding the social order as a dominating one, as opposed to merely an oppressive one, is that the response to oppression can be reformist. One could bargain for legislature, for better schools in poor communities and so on. However, the view of the social order as a dominating order makes the possibility of reconciliation impossible. It accepts all forms of social reparation as Trojan horses of the social institution.

Humanity, Really?

“New social relations can only be forged in collective struggle of the most militant character. No amount of conversation and education can form new relationships. It is only the mass involvement and struggle of oppressed people which can ultimately destroy white supremacy, re-establish the humanity of people of color, and create social relationships between people as one among humans instead of the racially oppressed and white oppressor. “

It isn't shocking to me that such language is used, just incredibly annoying. One must question the intention of this piece when the author begins to put forward a program that involves the re-establishment of the humanity (whatever that is) of people of color, coupled with the creation of some new social relationship.

While I do understand that it is important for there to be relations between people outside of the “racially oppressed and white oppressor”, it does not seem that that could even be possible while one is merely reinforcing the false commonality of the mass by struggling as “oppressed people”.

Conclusion

The language used feels old and enlightenment-era.

Even their position of their revolutionary subject, “the oppressed”, feels old and crusty. What else is one to take from such quotes as:

“They have never met an oppressed people who have simply stated, I will either live like a human or die in struggle. I do not know if they have been in rebellions where very oppressed people choose to fight the police and other oppressors risking imprisonment and much worse. Have they seen such a people? Is there any doubt it is only a people who are willing to go this far who have any chance of defeating white supremacy? “

How short sighted and removed from the social situation can a position get? I haven't checked the numbers but I'll go out on a limb and say that there are multitudes more “very oppressed people” now then there were at the point 50 years ago that author talks of with such endearment. The globalized sphere of the world state is destroying and dominating more now than it was 50 years ago, and still the “very oppressed” are not a mass movement.

So where is this mass that will “have a chance of defeating white supremacy”?

The analysis that acts as the setting for this piece is out of date. It is still Marxist inspired to the point of talking about some unifying human positivity, they are still talking as if there is a universal human essence.

To quote Saul Newman in his piece about Stirner and Deleuze:

“For Deleuze the State is an abstract machine rather than a concrete institution, which essentially “rules” through more minute institutions and practices of domination. The State overcodes and regulates these minor dominations, stamping them with its imprint. What is important about this abstract machine is not the form in which it appears, but rather its function, which is the constitution of a field of interiority in which political sovereignty can be exercised. The State may be seen as a process of capture”

This piece does not leave the interiority that the State defines. All of the positions given accepts the identities of the subjects, and with it, it accepts and even reinforces the history of the domination of the identities as “the oppressed.”

The historical identity of “the oppressed” creates a limit that is impossible to exceed so long as one acts within that identity.

While this piece does put forward and enthralling argument against the continual talk of privilege and it's immobilizing consequence, it is shrouded in anachronistic liberal dogmatism. It tranquilizes the qualitative potential of the subjectified citizens that populate this world, and simply cements them to the roles of actors within history.

Comments

this is not my own and is thus my enemy

Bad ass.

TL;DR anybody?

No. It was a quick and easy read for me.

TL;DR: there's no way out! give up now! social peace is not the problem because it covers up and maintains oppression -- it is itself the problem! the idea of social peace is compromise and domination! oppression is merely an apparatus deployed by historically by the social-pacifists to distract us and lure us into humanist and marxist modes of struggle that re-affirm the notion of social peace! smash the beloved community! smash the human commune!

STL;DR: isn't it embarrassing to see them still seeking to establish their humanity, just as it's becoming fashionable in more advanced circles to reject it?

thank you! /sincerity

I'm not even trying to be a jerk here-- but this piece is really difficult to understand for me and I study this very stuff. I think this piece may either be a joke (in form, not content) or the writer(s) doesn't get out and talk with a lot of people very often. Maybe both.

maybe you need to go to a better school. it's easy enough for me to get it.

I never said I studied this in skool and if you can't understand why this is written terribly then you need to go to a better skool.

talking to a lot of people=writing really well

Again, didn't say that. Did you get your degree in strawmanning? Or wait, did you write this and get butt-hurt?

skool

fuck yes. i just keep wanting to quote every paragraph and write fuck yes! under it.

social war, a rupture in normality, in history, in progress, in identity formation is what's necessary to end the system of domination we live under. (i don't think the semantic distinction the author fixates on between using domination or oppression is really important, but the point they make is important: the domination/oppression cannot be lessened without rupture, it cannot be lessened by degrees, only all-together or not at all.)

which is because in capitalism everything step of "progress" or reform gets recuperated, assimilated, and co-opted such that capitalism is just as strong, domination is just as total and complete, and nothing actually changes. for easy examples, see the way slavery was re-instituted within 20 years after the rupture of the civil war, or how Jim Crow is/has been re-instituted in the decades following the urban riots of the 1960s.

social rupture not reform! against integrability!

yay meta struggle, smash the totality dude!

Nothing meta about insurrections to create autonomous territory with the pigs. That's all I'm lookin for.

*without

if the State is so totalizing and dominant, how is creating autonomous territory (community) any different than an island within such a system. Also autonomous territory seems to not grasp that we need world wide insurrections and revolution. That things must spread. Autonomous territory is the North American insurrectionist equivalent of "socialism in one country." Not gonna work brah.

Yes. It's like an island. An island that must expand or be crushed by the state. But once it's open, it's like a refuge that people can go to. I never said anything about how to keep it open, but just that it's a necessary step to open it in the first place

do you not understand that holding autonomous territory IS insurrection? having land that you do not pay taxes on is what autonomous territory means. the state is not OK with that. therefore you need a position of expansion/insurrection/conflictuality to maintain the territory. bam. revolution.

Actually I would say that the dogmatism of the other essay is not liberal so much as social-democratic, and more specifically, a sub-Leninist form of social democracy. The language of mass movements and oppressed people, and the categories of revolutionary subjects that are indicated by the terminology, are nearly indistinguishable from the discourse of the "News and Letters" Marxist-Humanists. Which of course makes sense given the political antecedents of most of the members of Black Orchid. Whatever ideas and practices they pretend to take from anarchism are lost in translation.

social-democracy is firmly in the stream of liberal progessive ideologies (as is the utopianist version of anarchism)

by liberal progressive ideologies i mean to say enlightenment influenced, western philosophy influenced ideologies.

there is no I there is only we.

Then You are an Enemy of I.

how can you be enemy of something that doesn't exist?

insist that "it" DOES exist?

isn't social-democratic out of Marxist theory and liberal out of Smith? liberal progressive influneced by radicals? i could be wrong but usually i distinguish these different ideologies on these lines.

I see Marxism as a continuation of utopian liberalism. Same with utopianist anarchism.

I just want a world without cops and personalized rather than institutionalized situations....

I like the trend here. One article that is against identity politics and then the critique of that article's main point is that it wasn't against identity politics enough. Very very good trend, please continue this thread of thought! We can't rid ourselves of this cancer soon enough!

It helps to know ones semiotext or Deleuze to read this easily.
Marx never envisioned the complexity of future singularities, instead he valorized labor as much as the capitalist did, and for who in the end?. The privileged class of the capitalists with their flagrant displays, or the inverted subdued revolutionaries who valued power not as material wealth, but as the quantity of souls one has precedence over, such as Lenin, Stalin and Mao. Or does the Marxist doctrine embrace members of a collective utopian post-transitional society in a biosphere with a population of 1.5 billion? Sounds very Zerzan to me. I always thought Zerzan had disturbing similarities to Pol Pot!
Maybe its time the world was not a stage, that we reject the role of 'oppressed', thereby liberal charity and its wars wil come to a grinding halt.

Gunter

i never read semiotext or deleuze but i understood this article just fine.

fine, I was trying to unburden a previous poster,,,seems it backfired

Thank you.

I'm no academic but i've persevered with trying to understand political/social dynamics and various philosophial hypotheses. When I first visited this site there was a whole lot of terminology i didn't know, and also abstract theories to comprehend. But it is liberating to approach society prepared and armed with a knowledge of its compromises, thus no longer being oppressed, but instead empowered.

Gunter

One day you'll actually get it right instead of talking out your ass :\

but the sun shines outta my ass, that's what mom told me

Gunter

If only Zerzan was more like Pol Pot ...

What the,,,.Hey, I know what you're trying to do, and I'm not falling for it!!

Gunter

or against the homogenization of individual values, which is the new totalitarian method, a full circle back to a more literate and affluent mob sentiment, the smug thug stereotype, vigilante fascist posses, the ol' bourgeios mercenary syndromes which Marx rightfully despised. But these are roles within a dualistic power play, Stirner knew this before Marx.

Gunter

One should make a distinction between literary persuasion to stop reproducing--cos there are to many damned Blooms--and the forced massacre of humyns by irrational Marxist-fascists like Pol-Pot: just cos the ends seem similar doesn't mean the means are identical--total confusion of cause and effect=total fail.

I look forward to reading an english translation of this essay.

Send a request to war on society?

Can we truly say what it is to be a “a state”? What are the qualitative attributes that one must posses to be this amorphous being? The mysticism around the idea posits a metaphysical form of the identity. It isn't shocking to me that such language is used, just incredibly annoying.

Yeah tldr; basically this piece equates all identity as constructs of the State as an abstract form of domination.

the state = the violence used to control people (and the threat of it that gets to to go along willingly, and even convince themselves they want to do so...)

the state = the cops, prisons, border guards.

-for autonomous territory without the cops.

fuck that - how do you get the State without theological rationalizations to legitimize authority (and later, Enlightenment rationalizsations)? Ok... so maybe there should be some very real, very specific historical analysis on the origin of various states that can then be used for some comparative analysis and definition. But this reduction "the state = the violence used to control people (and the threat of it that gets to to go along willingly, and even convince themselves they want to do so...)" seems extremely problematic for me. It is that same exact equivilancy that pacifists use to call any violent revolt in the realm of statist thought.

I'd like to use the working definition of a state as a formally institutionalized and practically defended order, ideology, or social system which is specifically NOT consistently consented to by those in its reach.

"The state is a relationship between human beings, a way by which people relate to one another; and one destroys it by entering into other relationships, by behaving differently to one another." -Landauer

This, among other things.

But what is that different behavior? I see this Landauer quote a lot but where does it ever go? Does it talk about what is a good way to behave towards heterosexist religious fanatics, traditionally religious fascists or social darwinian fascists, land lords, bosses, other authoritarians, comradeS? The state is "a" relationship between human beings, "a" way by which people relate to one another. That's nice for a soundbite but all forms of social life are "a" relationship between human beings.

I haven't read too much of his work, so I'm not the best qualified to answer this question (which is a good one). But what I take from the sound bite is precisely this: "but all forms of social life are 'a' relationship between human beings." You can see how some folks on this thread don't think of 'the state' in that way, so in this sense the quote is useful.

It's useful to the extent that it's a reduction and can stave off a bit of objectification. It is useless to the extent that it leaves mystificied what we're exactly fighting against, fighting for, and how we're to fight.

It's very good at complementing additional/alternative theories of abolishing the state and forming new ways of organizing ourselves. I'd think putting together what's useful from a variety of sources is better than not. No need to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

landauer's mystical approach suggests he doesn't think there are any incremental ways of forming such an organization, he speaks of moving beyond a politic or an anti-politics (not the way we use it now, for course). He never actually gives an answer of what that might look like, but it certainly is unfortunate that this quote is mainly used by people to advocate bike coops and food not bombs.

i know and practice landauer's methods, have for many years, it's a matter of sensitively rupturing opponents in the nicest possible way, with alot of hubris thrown in if the compassion doesn't work!

Gunter

So i let the "black man" who collects my cans read this, to see what he thought. He thought it was confusing and dumbb to purpose that he wasn't really black because it reproduces domination in everyday life. This would make sense if I was born yesterday and lived in a social and political vaccum.

There is a violence that liberates and a violence that controls.

Another characteristic: a state exercises authority over a territory.

ideological state apparatus vs. the state. Jesus, at least get your terminology correct. Either way, the ideological state apparatus also includes everything, including culture, that is not the state.

how is that a useful artificial distinction? You're just nit-picking about the differences between the kernal of the State and the amalgamation of apparatus at particular states disposal.

NOPE.

Good try, though. Come back when you aren't trying to sound smart.

what is your baseline definition of a state? Is it the post-structuralist state-form stuff, is it the more superficial commonalities that all states have shared (laws, figure heads, administration to high hell, some way to impose the "will of the state" on 'its' subjects, etc.), the whole kit and kaboodle of tax-funded institutions and apparatus? How are we distinguishing a miliary dictatorship from a monarchy from a republic etc. - or are we? Is there any common kernal or is the kernal different for different states?

hahah - ah that wasn't a reply to me...

It wasn't, it's cool though. It's more than just particular states' apparatus, it's everything. Until we can transcend ideological gobbldeygook, we're just being ideological gobbledygookers.

The fact is the state plays a hand, regardless of what ideology we put forward as a more supreme way of looking at things. In fact, we create new state forms by simply creating divisions between us an them. This is why a lot of antipolitical types see resistance as justifying the state and what not. Basically we suck, but we're good at gobbledygooking.

sorry but I barely got anything out of this comment except that "we" suck ...because of ideological models of power? what are you saying?

Think about it as state-forms. There are many state-forms asking you to buy into their power, things that replicate states. Because we're all running around trying to prove we got the biggest dick, we just create new state-forms rather than disruptions. This article above is a state-form, and squares with more dominant state-forms. 90 percent of that is because of gobbledygook.

The fun thing about all this enlightenment talk, is, that in the end, we're all speaking enlightenment-speak. In order to end that, we'd actually have to listen to persons most affected by enlightenment principles. Namely, we'd actually have to give Black Orchid a chance, rather than step in, and in pure enlightenment form and proclaim to have the best ideology and methodology. Gobbledygook.

I thought the Black Orchid shit was fine - I don't buy the state-form shit... sounds too much like a psychiatric diagnosis to me. And I'm not being a jack-ass. Post-structurialism is amazing in its analytic capacity but absolutely disappointing in comprehending a real living existence. Body Without Organs can be filled with the shit such a term implies. The enlightenment ideals suck, but ultimately anything so abstract sucks. There's mistakes to avoid but this tendency towards ultra-philosophical liberation is disgusting. The state-form exists even in superegoic thought. It's really interesting but ultimately, it doesn't do shit for me when neo-nazis are fucking with me at a gas station.

While the piece is well-written and the ideas are well articulated, it does seem that the basis of the piece is cemented in the archaic voice of rehashed mid-twentieth century Deleuzian dogmatism. It seems as if the author's grievance with the social situation is that it is dominating, and that one must negate domination in its totality. Don't you see? This society is not based on merely dominating life, it instrumentalizes it. Overemphasis on domination is an inherently instrumentalizing, anti-life approach. It insinuates that some form of instrumental action can occur that can negate domination and erect a non-dominating order of instrumentality. The importance of understanding the social order as an instrumentalizing one, as opposed to merely a dominating one, is that the response to domination can posit a falsely totalizing and instrumentalizing approach. One could act purposively to end this system of domination, However, the view of the social order as an instrumentalizing order places before us the task of inventing non-instrumental forms of community - the whatever singularity that rejects the simplistic embrace of negation as Trojan horses of instrumental reason.

OK, then what are YOU inventing that's non-instrumental in everyday life. Cooking without power, gathering firewood(adding to the instrumental global warming). Building a 'trojan horse' and hopping inside it with modern machineguns LOL, and donating it as a gift to the HQ of the industrial military complex?

Your incomprehension confirms the singularity (the becoming indeterminate) of our desiring-machines.

the de-instrumentalization of life will only be able to occur within the zones of autonomous opacity, no?

we can only stop turning singularities into cogs once we've created a rupture to breathe freely within.

ah, comrade, one would think so, but then we can only have an egg if it has been laid by a chicken, is it not so?

I think you misunderstand. When the writer speaks of domination as opposed oppression, the implication is that power is instrumentalizing, that it has a positive form, and not simply a repressive one.

i never liked d+g's ahistorical abstractions about the 'State', and this piece really takes that thought to its most banal conclusion.
for example, the author says "For the purpose of speaking of identity as not simply a thing that exists in it's own right, we will have to look at the formation of the social situation." but then goes on, a couple paragraphs later: "It is also important to not talk about this process in a historical light, because the network of power dynamics that exists in this society are reproduced at every moment of every day."
so how do we talk about the formation of the social situation if we're not doing it historically? following deleuze, the author makes up a series of groundless abstractions about it that only gain credibility through their obscurity. except they actually echo the original liberal theorists of sovereignity in their idealized mythmaking about the origin of the state. the author's statement that "The persistence of the commonwealth, or community, comes by way of individuals giving up certain freedoms for the sake of creating a social peace" sounds exactly like locke's infamous 'social contract'. the social contract is one of the most important mystifications for liberal democracy, and here it is treated like a self-evident truth. strange, considering the author's cries against 'anachronistic liberal dogmatism'.

i agree with this author that a weakness of 'privilege politics is reformism' was its appeal to the oppressed's 'humanity'. but i find this piece to be totally uninteresting insofar as it focuses on unfounded abstractions instead of analyzing the concrete dynamics that create oppression/domination. we can do the latter and still come to the conclusion that all identity needs to be destroyed... and in fact for me it's way more important to see how identities, oppressions, dominations are created historically in order to figure out how they can be completely negated.

up this comment.

its tough - part of me wants to like this article more than the original, as some kind of anarchist version of what black orchid had to say...but despite the liberal/humanist/Marxist implications of the original black orchid text, the fact is is that if i wanted a text to hand to a hypothetical well intentioned but reformist progressive type spouting some dumbass privilege politics type shit, i would give them the black orchid piece ten times out of ten over this one. despite its problems, the first piece is well argued and intelligently thought out. its semantics (appeals to "humanity" and the abstract "opressed masses"), no matter how frustrating they may be in knee jerk reaction to me, dont actually get in the way of the argument against identity politics. Adding in the popular but completely abstract "identities are products/projects of the state/capital, therefore need be destroyed" line may feel nice, but its not really necessary to advance the basic goal of getting a reader to reassess the ideas they learned from their "radical" sociology professor.

and, as i think this commenter above pointed out better than i can - dont you get the impression while reading this article that the author isnt actually sure what theyre saying? the whole contradiction about being opposed to liberalism on the one hand, and then essentially reifying a lockean mythology around the state, is the perfect example. The author is trying to put a and b and c together to make a coherent argument, but they dont actually understand the individual parts well enough to do the math - we re left with confusing mish mash of continental philosophy rhetoric.

"The persistence of the commonwealth, or community, comes by way of individuals giving up certain freedoms for the sake of creating a social peace" sounds exactly like locke's infamous 'social contract'. the social contract is one of the most important mystifications for liberal democracy, and here it is treated like a self-evident truth. strange, considering the author's cries against 'anachronistic liberal dogmatism'.

probably strange because you seem to be mis-reading it. they are laying out the social contract theory of the liberal nation state, not claiming it an some essentialist human truth... not sure how you couldn't understand that. are you intentionally trying to misread it to throw barbs?

"and in fact for me it's way more important to see how identities, oppressions, dominations are created historically in order to figure out how they can be completely negated."

i agree with this, however that is just outside the scope of this particular article, IMHO. this article is just arguing against the liberal/progressive/utopian ways of de-constructing oppressions and saying it can only take place in autonomous space free from the domination of the state.

and your critique of their statements about history don't really hold up, either. they are critquing the idea of history as a linear idea, as social progress from bad to good, as one story. there are histories, not history. and those histories, yes, can be informative for understanding oppressions and domination, and how to extricate ourselves from them....

^^word

Gunter

No, don't need an analysis of concrete structures to know they need deconstruction

It reminds me of a joke "what do you get if your cross the Godfather with a Continental philosophy? he makes you an offer you can't understand." For a little while some friends and I made a blog where we'd write stuff like this post as parody. If you crack the grammar of that material and know the right terms it's really easy to say very little with a lot of words, in such a way that people in some academic programs are encouraged to respond to by frowning thoughtfully and nodding slowly.

true it's written verbosely, but i think it's points are actually good. can't get free of oppression without being free from domination which continually re-produces oppressions as long as we remain within the realm of the state's domination.

there is actually a lot of plain language in this, like "Even their position of their revolutionary subject, “the oppressed”, feels old and crusty." "Old and crusty" are not exactly academic terms, lol.

all these people complaining about how hard this to understand really don't make sense to me. i think y'all just don't WANT to understand.

could someone please remind me what this has to do with full communism?

I love how saying that someones argument is "old" is now considered a valid form of critique.

Well 'old' cannot help but be traditional, and despite any nostalgia syndrome you have which you think exempts 'age', or any other type from criticism, you are wrong! Unfortunately, without being ageist, old people are stingy bastards mostly.

^This is the stupidest thing I've read all day, and I just sat through a financial aid orientation.

All this talk of identity is just getting in the way of the important work that needs to be done, like throwing newspaper boxes into the street.

throw liberal newspaper boxes in the street!

throw info boxes in the street!

egoist newspaper boxes -> street

Ive got a proposal:

in the midst of the anti globalization movement, the former panther and BLA member turned anarchist was giving a speech about "black anarchism." In one part, he was attempting to define blackness, outside of the traditional identity paradigm of identity politics. He said,

"I think of being black not so much as an ethnic category but as an oppositional force or touchstone for looking at situations differently. Black culture has always been oppositional and is all about finding ways to creatively resist oppression here, in the most racist country in the world. So, when I speak of a black anarchism, it is not so tied to the color of my ski but to who i am as a person, as someone who can resist, who can see differently when I am stuck, and thus live differently."

Instead of contintental abstractions about how identities inherently reify the state, etc. - what about using a quote like this to start a REAL exploration into how who and what we are, as it is taught and ingrained upon us by this society, can be transformed into an oppositional force, a force for negation. The idea that blackness could be read and experienced not as an "identity" to be subsumed by democratic pluralism, but instead as a force of negation of all that this society represents might offer an actually concrete way to think about this. Thoughts? Essays? Experiences?

in other words... "as an attitude"?

Blacktitude.

I think you've got your thesis right there, comrade--go for it! This is great.

And this has already been started in queer negation theory.

A couple things to the author of "Against the Paradigm of Identity": You can't just tell people not to identify with something that has so shaped their lives and the lives of the people around them. You can offer a critique of identity, of monoliths, of the community, and talk about how the state uses/enforces identity... and this is important shit to talk about... but I liked Black Orchid's comrade's piece because it was clear and will probably get a lot of activists and identity politicians to second-guess themselves, which is so necessary.

"New social relations can only be forged in collective struggle of the most militant character. No amount of conversation and education can form new relationships," is actually really similar (in essence if not in vocabulary) to the idea that "social war, a rupture in normality, in history, in progress, in identity formation is what's necessary to end the system of domination we live under." Here I see different language (which is obviously a major issue for you) with a very similar "feeling," at least to me.

I, for one, am getting really sick of the Big Anarchist List of Bad No-No Words. Perhaps I am too eager to see commonalities between things that are actually quite different, but then I look around and see that people who use different words are actually engaging in very similar practices and towards similar ends: the destruction of state and capital, against domination and oppression, towards autonomy and liberation.

MAAAAYBEE! But my books that no one reads are better than your books that no one reads.

Words do count though.
Militancy, for example, is mistaken for passion and intensity, when in reality it's just an armored straightjacket closing in our nakedness. Seriousness is mistaken for resoluteness, when it really just means enslavement to the abstract, to the future, to the cause, to the past.
I think a big part of the problem is that so many people involved in social conflict don't see themselves as attempting to create their own lives, encountering obstacles, and fighting to destroy those obstacles. Instead they see themselves primarily as oppressed people resisting their oppression.
That's not to say that they aren't oppressed, but as soon as our project becomes resistance to oppression, we center on our oppressors. We lose our focus on our lives, and, with that shift in focus, our ability to seek out and destroy what stands in our way. Because resistance focuses on the enemy's projects, it keeps us on the defensive and guarantees our defeat (even in what might look like 'victory'), by stealing our projects from us.
If, on the other hand, we start from our own project of self-creation, insisting on doing what we want here and now, we will encounter rulers, exploiters, cops, priests, judges, etc., not primarily as oppressors, but as obstacles, to destroy pitilessly rather than resist.

This is what that Landauer quote makes me think of.

the piece isn't so much about what people identify AS, but HOW they struggle. its hilarious to see the resurgence of "workers against work". Cool story bro, but struggling AS workers ties you already to the history of "the worker". We must, in all seriousness, struggle ahistorically, that is, without reference to the historical definitions of our possibilities.

"There is in effect something that humans are and have to be, but this is not an essence nor properly a thing: It is the simple fact of one's own existence as possibility or potentiality..."

So, in the authors own words, basically they disagree with the piece for using "enlightenment era words." Wow. Awesome critique. Glad I just spent 10 minutes wading through your shit. Call us when get over yourself.

Yes, words that, basically, most people can understand. Ultimately, this is threat to sectarian power, you see. There's a fine tradition of hating people of color and if you take that away, how will people who desperately want to be whitest of the white (the amateur critical theorists) have any sway. Using words like oppression or anything like that is not cool. Instead, say, "Deleuze says."

yes. whiteys like bell hooks who criticize western dualism and western ideologies as being at the root of the problem of civilization. she should totally STFU right?

Fuck Stirner.

fuck you.

- the ghost of Max Stirner.

Fuck you, Max--the ghost of Marx

Fuck you, both--the Ghost of Derrida

fuck you Derrida - the still alive body of John Zerzan

yo zerzan, let's get a beer sometime - the still alive body of jacques camatte

Why not just fuck all the young hegelians ...oooo we stole the world stage because we were hegel students.

hahah

I love how the critique of academics is so hopelessly contemporary

I like how the beginning they make a sideways ass comment about Black Orchid being Marxists and then the rest of the article can be summed up by "hey guise check out these words and phrases I learned from reading Negri!"

Pathetic. I see this article being denounced as overly academic, but I think that's too complimentary.

"The subjectification of bodies into these named and individuated forms is an imperative development for the expansion and continuance of the state."

Really? But if I say the state oppresses individuality by classifying people into races and genders, that might be too clarifying and straightforward. Reformist really. Better to hide in obfuscation and pseudo intellectual babble, and pretend I am making up a new liberatory language, even as I basically regurgitate others.

"Really? But if I say the state oppresses individuality"
Read the part about anti-oppresion

"by classifying people into races and genders"

Classification says nothing about the continual social process required for these identities to persist, read the part about how the identities themselves are dynamic.

You've clearly never read Negri.

ZAPP!!!!! so many good critiques of identity politics coming out from @s. and yet is it too little too late? every 'anarchist community' i've ever heard of is hopelessly entangled with the left and reformism precisely VIA identity politics. anti-sexism and anti-racism continue to manifest themselves by colluding in the suppression of uncontrolled hostility to the existent totality.

are the actual anarchists any closer to an exodus, a desertion of the leftist scene produced as a 'movement', a 'community'? or do they go in the same circles and write the same critiques from within arms' lengths of their worst enemies? is it too lonesome to go it alone without the nurturing embrace of civilization and politics, even its most extreme and humanizing frontiers? can sociability have any more noxious and hypocritical form than the 'anarchist community' that allows itself to be managed by identity politicians?

can't someone fucking get rid of them?

The more a regime of biopolitical truth claims to be open to freedom, the more it will be policelike, and furthermore, by delegating to the police the task of repressing insubordinations, it will leave its subjects in a state of relative unconsciousness and quasi-infancy. On the other hand, in a regime of biopolitical truth, where PEOPLE claim to realize freedom while never discussing its form, PEOPLE will demand that those who participate in it will introject the police into their bios, on the powerful pretext that they have no choice.

you know, that sounds really familiar. not just from your comments, but from the form of the 'anarchist community'-as-such....

All of this sure does sound like the kinds of things anarcho-houseguests who have long since worn out their welcome like to rattle on about while they eat your food and drink your beer and refuse to help with the garden or the cleaning or the dishes, or even clean up their own personal mess and tell you what a sick oppressive bourgeoise fuckhead you are for believing in things like mutual, community, and collective labor. If there is a universal human essence--and this authoritative way in which people keep denying it's possibility is grounded in nothing but pissy fartsy wrinkly old academic dogma--it is laziness, the willingness to live off the work of others, and the ability to manufacture complex bullshit to justify it, on the one hand, and on the other, the capacity for empathy, intersubjective understanding, mutual aid, solidarity, community and the deliberate improvement of the conditions under which it must exist. The former sort of people are always making up shit to justify mooching off the people who believe, with great effort and difficulty, in the latter possibilities. Of course there might be other functions and uses for this type of analysis. But I have yet to see an illustrative example from anyone who uses it, and I have only ever encountered it 1)When the lumpenbourgeoisie made me read it at school, even they couldn't read it themselves 2) When I'm making fun of it, or being petty and using it to summarily dismiss someones ideas without a real critique or explanation 3)When other people are using it to summarily dismiss peoples ideas without real critique or explanation. It is intensely ironic that the rhetoric of post- - - talks so much about language and text functioning to reinforce existing power structures, when the entire body of literature is a resounding call for quietism, solipsism, narcissism, and all around hopelessness, packaged in the unappealing but apparently still highly marketable wrapper of smug self righteousness. There is no institution in all of human civilization that is more conservative than what are considered to be the most radical branches of academe, and everyone who draws their critical language from it can just kiss my @#$%@#%@@#**. I'm just sick sick sick of it. No amount of increased funding on behalf of the Semiotics department will save it cognitive neuroscience. Their campaign against Humanity is dead. Kropotkin will rise up and save us again from you mealy mouthed reactionary weasels in radical's clothing.

^this is semantically very bourgeios^

Bourgeois

down it all tumbles, into the void at the utterance of the magic word. poof.

since everything is part of the set of everything and this contains "bourgeois/bourgoeis/whatever," it's clear without your mentioning it that Everything is very semantically bourgioes. let's set it on fire! O but that would only make the Everything stronger. the trials of the mystic! O!

I'd say it was all rather semantically Hobbesian, a bit Malinowskian. I was drunk when I wrote that. These could be lumped in as Bourgeois Theorists, but that's a junk category, in which Leninists et al have also dumped every type of anarchist thought. It's definitely syntactically bourgeois, thank you for noticing, I've been practicing that form of humor for several years by reading Victorian textbooks on the toilet. My Humanities professors, who are most definitely bourgeois, always give me a gold star, because they think my appropriation of bourgeois style and rhetoric is so post-...
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And the above is not to be construed as an endorsement of identity politics, only of my utter contempt for people who use other important issues and critiques as an underhanded means of pursuing their ulterior motives, such as fighting the still popular fascist war against humanity.

"It is the narrative of suffrage that the feminists are asked to recall, it is the history of Black Liberation that young black people are presented with to goad them into political action. In other words, it is the history of the identity that they are forced to take on, not their own qualitative possibilities."
In tenuous defense of identity politics, if someone comes in my bathroom and smears shit on the wall, I am placed by the contingencies of history in the subject position of "someone who is a member of the set of all people who's bathroom walls have been shat on," and it is not an identity of my own choosing, nor an essence that extends from my very humanity, but this in no way changes the fact that I have to by god deal with it before I can go on about my business. I'll be stuck wiping it up myself, "unjust" but necessary, and I will, with the encouragement of other people who share in this experience of having had their walls shit on, feel a great deal of rage against the people who are going around smearing shit on other people's bathroom walls, and I will want to cooperate with those I now perceive as my community of victims, in order to end this practice. If, in addition, we found out that all of us had large earlobes, and a shit smearer's communique, written in shit on the wall, informed us that this was the arbitrary reason for their vandalism, we would be even angrier, and develop a solid sense of identity. We would, yes, be acting in modes of identity structured by the very forces we wish to resist, but that is tautology. This is the same as saying "All existing things cannot escape being members of the set of all existing things," but, for reasons undisclosed, arbitrarily placing boundaries around selected social topics, outside of which this radical structuralism does not apply, such as when you run down the steps to put out a fire on your carpet. You could apply the same sort of analysis to this act, and it would be absolutely absurd. The point is that, however people got grouped together by historical contingency, they are now in that group because they still have common problems to deal with. The problem that arises in time does not arise so much from their "mystical" recognition of their common interests, but from an inability to frame things, situations, and relationships in other terms, when doing so is beneficial or even urgent, and this is better explained as the result of repeated trauma, than by mystifying "anti-mystical" tropes about the interiority of subjectivities within semiotic structures of identity, or whatever. That just sounds a lot like "In the beginning was the Word" to me. These identities arise for the very practical purpose of asserting a mistreated groups obvious membership in universal category--denied in the above essay--of Humanity. It becomes a problem in many situations for the perfectly practical and tangible reason that it can keep people who need to be working together on practical things from seeing one another as obvious members of this Humanity. We don't need to get into whether they are lying to us about the identical nature of the neuro-endocrine system in all human beings. Maybe. But regardless, both the defense and refutation of identity politics, to be "'meaningful'," depends upon this notion of Humanity. Nobody would be bothering with anything at all in the first place if they held no such notion. If it is illusory, it is just as indispensable. But, even if it were totally dispensable, the assertion of this fact would still not constitute a useful critique of identity politics, but only an excuse to show everyone that you learned in college how to say X={x,-x}.

But is it better to organize with people of shared identity or shared desire? This is the point of the critique of identity politics. Shared desires, dreams, and intentions should trump identities every time.

But I share some very specific desires and dreams with the other people who have had to deal with marauding wall shitters. You're never going to persuade people who are fired up about something like that to just put it aside without gittin' a little damm satisfaction out of somebody.

> The persistence of the commonwealth, or community, comes by way of individuals giving up certain freedoms for the sake of creating a social peace.

You lost me there, cause, that's not what actually happens, it's a liberal/capitalist myth. Definitely not the way anarchists have thought about things.

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