Anarchy as a Relationship

<table><tr><td>From <a href="http://parenthesiseye.blogspot.com/2012/09/anarchy-as-relationship.html"... Eye</a>

My personal history with anarchism has been a series of related evolving interests &#8211; from non-coercive parenting to communal living to polyamory to Nonviolent Communication to Client-Centered Therapy to Camphill communities. Underlying all of this has been a primary focus on changing the fundamental social relationship that is being used between people. In all spheres of life, this kind of basic social change is what I see anarchism as being about.

One quote sums it up nicely: &#8220;The state is a social relationship; a certain way of people relating to one another. It can be destroyed by creating new social relationships; ie, by people relating to one another differently.&#8221; This is perhaps the most famous quote that is attributed to the German anarchist <a href="http://parenthesiseye.blogspot.com/2011/10/remarkable-man-remarkable-boo... Landauer</a>. The importance of this quote is in its reminder of how basically what we are dealing with in anarchism are ways in which human beings choose to interact with each-other. </td><td><img title="Impossible yet you can do it at home today!" src="http://anarchistnews.org/files/pictures/2012/brokenheartanarchy.jpg"></t...

The things that anarchists are against &#8211; be it the state, capitalism, patriarchy, what-have-you &#8211; are often viewed sub-consciously as being like physical objects. It is said that these things should be &#8220;smashed&#8221;, &#8220;thrown out&#8221;, and &#8220;destroyed&#8221;. But how does one do such things?
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There is a concept called &#8220;reifying&#8221;, which basically means &#8220;treating an abstraction as a real thing&#8221;. My concern is that this is what a lot of people are and have been doing with the abstract concepts of &#8220;anarchism&#8221; and &#8220;revolution&#8221;, and conversely with the abstract concepts of &#8220;the state&#8221;, &#8220;capitalism&#8221;, etc. as well. In a sense, none of those things really exist. What does exist are people, people who are relating with each-other in different ways, making choices and responding to each-other. At best, these abstract concepts are there to describe these different kinds of relationships that exist. And relationships, it must be kept in mind, are living, dynamic, constantly changing and are experienced subjectively by each person.
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One can physically burn all of the cash that one has, one can cut up government-issued I.D. cards and documents, and one can even blow up buildings that are considered to be &#8220;government buildings.&#8221; But in the end all of these actions wouldn&#8217;t amount to much. Everything destroyed would just be replaced and rebuilt, and the person who did those actions would just be left financially broke and legally in trouble.
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Even if one were to go down a more militantly radical path and choose to kill the people who are called &#8220;police&#8221;, &#8220;politicians&#8221; and &#8220;business executives&#8221;, other people would just come along after them and replace them. These vacancies would be seen by others as being opportune job openings, and other people would be happy to take these jobs. The specific individuals who have these jobs may change, but the roles themselves remain the same.
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The point here is that destroying physical objects and getting rid of individual people are simply symbolic actions. No matter how big, spectacular, and publicized it all is it still exists in the symbolic realm. These are statements, they may be very strongly-expressed statements, but they are still statements nonetheless.
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Another danger that I see in the world of &#8220;anarchism&#8221; is that people can get lost in their own radical rhetoric and intellectual theory. Big phrases, big concepts, and big ideas can come about and be quite amazing and beautiful even. But when it comes down to what these things actually mean or what they look like in the real-life world that we all inhabit, people can be at a loss for how to explain or apply it. I have fallen into this pit myself before, and if anything these kinds of frustrating experiences can be seen as a lesson for how anarchist theory should be useful for developing clarity and coherency in understanding the social relations in the world that we are a part of.
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With this in mind, I would like to advocate that instead of thinking and acting in purely symbolic ways or getting lost in abstractions, we should make efforts to de-mystify our anarchism. Personally, when I first came across anarchist theory it was very helpful for me in that it made very clear and apparent how so many different kinds of social relationships around the world, throughout history, as well as in my own life, were functioning. However, I think that many (perhaps most) people do not have that kind of experience when they first come across anarchist theory. A lot of people find anarchist ideas to be very confusing, incomprehensible, and irrelevant to their own lives. To me this means that we are not doing anarchist theory right.
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We must keep in mind that we are dealing with people here. And in dealing with people that means that we must take into account the whole variety of people&#8217;s actions, reactions, perceptions, interpretations, meanings ascribed to things and choices made in life, as well as people&#8217;s subjective emotional experiences throughout it all. People have all of this as they go about engaging in different social relationships, as they participate in various kinds of social structures, as well as when they are interacting with self-proclaimed anarchists and their theories and projects.
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Underlying all of the things that anarchism is against is domination. Anarchism and anarchists are against a lot of different things, and to me that is indicative of how domination permeates so much of what we do and what we are surrounded by. The term &#8220;domination&#8221; is something that I would say has three different components to it: an attempt to meet a basic human need or needs, force or coercion, and structural inequality.
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The concept of fundamental human needs comes from the Chilean economist <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manfred_Max_Neef">Manfred Max Neef</a>, and the basic premise is that underlying every human action, social relationship or institution is an attempt to meet some basic human needs. These needs include not just the commonly thought of material/physical needs, but also the human needs for social closeness, personal autonomy, mental understanding, self-expression, personal integrity, social belonging, as well as needs for joyful celebration, and even what might be called a &#8220;spiritual&#8221; component in life. The idea is that these are the things that people need present in their lives in some form in order to live happy, healthy, fulfilling lives, as opposed to just looking at bare physical survival. These basic needs are finite and nameable, but the ways in which these needs can be met are infinite and ongoing.
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Looking at the concepts of force or coercion, I would say that this all comes down to the &#8220;&#8230;or else&#8221; threat that is either implied or explicitly stated which is set up within human relationships. Force is when physical violence, removing or restraining somebody or something takes place. Coercion is the threat of that hanging over the relationship.
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There are three main kinds of coercion that are commonly used in our society. The first one is that of laws and the institutionalized punishment of criminals. With this people are threatened with the possibility of people with guns coming and locking them in cages, or killing them if they resist, unless they agree to follow certain mandates. This kind of coercion threatens to deny people&#8217;s needs for basic freedom, autonomy, and life itself.
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Another common form of coercion is that of &#8220;property&#8221; and &#8220;money&#8221;, where if one does not have such things one will be denied food, shelter, clothing, transportation and medical treatment. In order to get &#8220;money&#8221; one must agree to follow the rules, requirements and orders of others. Not following that would result in the lack of money, which then results in one&#8217;s basic physical needs not being met.
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The third most common form of organized coercion in our society is that of social shunning and shaming. With this, people are threatened to have their needs for community, social closeness, acceptance and belonging not be met unless they agree to follow the various cultural norms and mores. This kind of coercion often comes up around issues of race, gender, sexual orientation, romantic relationship and family structures.
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Sometimes these different forms of coercion overlap in some instances. For example, being unemployed one faces the coercion of both the lack of money as well as the social shaming, whereas making money through illegal means leads one to face the coercion of punishment for breaking the law as well as social shaming. Being a homeless vagrant leads one to face the coercion of all three forms simultaneously.
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The third component of domination is that of structural inequality. With this, one person, group or class of people calls the shots, makes the collective decisions, and frames the public discourse. The other people follow orders, don&#8217;t have their voices heard, and live in fear of further marginalization. This takes place in many different realms &#8211; owners over users, bosses over workers, government officials over citizens (or &#8220;non-citizens&#8221;, for that matter), parents over children, men over women, white people over people of color, heteronormative people over queer people, able-bodied over &#8220;dis-abled&#8221; people, and so forth.
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Underlying all of this are people unconsciously agreeing to hold collective stories that answer the questions &#8220;who are we?&#8221; and &#8220;what are we doing together?&#8221; This is the meaning that we ascribe to the things that surround us and the actions that we do. We are born, raised, and live in a society in which almost everyone is repeating the same collective stories. This then leads to us often not even noticing that these stories are even there in the first place.
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People all agreeing to these collective stories creates the consensus reality that transforms a piece of paper into &#8220;money&#8221;, a person with a gun and a badge into a &#8220;police officer&#8221;, and a person with a ring on a certain finger of theirs into a &#8220;husband&#8221; or a &#8220;wife&#8221;. Without these stories, objects would just be objects, people would just be people, nothing more. These stories exist to inform and guide the actions that people choose to take in relation to each-other.
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Not agreeing to these collective stories, and holding different more anti-authoritarian ones instead, would make one an anarchist in thought only. This is a start, an important part of the whole process, but ultimately social relationships by definition require more than one person to work. The anarchist endeavor then, in practice, is to create new kinds of social relationships between people based upon these new collective stories. The goal is to meet as many of the different fundamental human needs as possible, in as many different spheres of life as possible, while using these different kinds of social relationships that are characterized by non-coercion and equality of power.
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These new relationships to meet people&#8217;s different basic human needs already do exist to some extent within anarchist circles, so in a way I am not saying anything new here. Some examples of anarchist relationships/projects that exist to meet people&#8217;s basic needs are: collective houses, communes, social centers, Food Not Bombs, Cop Watch, alternative relationships such as polyamory and co-parenting, Icarus Project, transformative justice, unschooling and community gardens. This is naming just a few of the different things that exist out there - and the potential of what can be created afresh is unlimited.
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So then how do we go about forming and sustaining these new kinds of relationships to meet our needs? In order to help address this, I have discerned five aspects to look at when examining anarchist relationships/projects. Making sure that each one of these aspects is looked after, healthy and strong is essential to maintaining these new relationships.
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The first aspect is to identify which fundamental needs are intended to be met with it. These needs are why you are even doing the whole thing in the first place. Without knowing what needs your relationship or project is trying to meet one cannot evaluate if or how successful it is at meeting these needs.
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The second aspect is to ensure that the freedom and equality are maintained within the relationship. In other words, to make sure that everyone feels at choice within the relationship and that everyone has an equal say within the collective decisions that affect them. If the freedom and equality are no longer there, the project would be &#8220;anarchist&#8221; or &#8220;liberatory&#8221; in name only.
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The third aspect is the ensuring of a healthy emotional relationship between the people that are involved in it. This means making sure that everyone is speaking honestly and openly as well as really listening to, understanding, caring for and valuing each-other. Ultimately, a healthy emotional relationship creates trust, which is absolutely vital for the project to succeed. This healthy emotional relationship is also the basis for the &#8220;solidarity&#8221; or &#8220;fraternity&#8221; part of the old slogan &#8220;liberty, equality, fraternity&#8221;.
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The fourth aspect is being mindful of how these relationships interface with the rest of the world that is outside of this relationship. Examples of the interface are group finances, property ownership, legal statuses, and relations with the next-door neighbors. In other words, your group is relating in one way, while the people surrounding and right next to your group are relating in a different way &#8211; so the intersections where these differences come into contact with each-other needs to be paid attention to.
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The fifth aspect is to look at the question &#8220;who are we and what are we doing together?&#8221; and to create a new liberatory story to answer that. This relates back to the fourth aspect that I just mentioned as well, because the new story to answer this question will be different from the story that those outside of the relationship will be using. Part of the work to be done in this area is maintaining faith in this new story in the face of the world around you that is looking at you and what you are doing through the lens of a totally different story.
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For example, one new story could be &#8220;we are a radical social center and safe space from oppressive behaviors for people to come together at to work on creating a new society&#8221;, while at the same time people outside of that relationship will be operating with the story &#8220;they are a bunch of kids with big ideas who have some sort of nonprofit and run a storefront whose rent is due in two weeks.&#8221; Another story for another project could be &#8220;we are a collective that distributes food to people with no strings attached because no one should live in fear of hunger or other forms of violence&#8221;, while other people outside of that relationship would be using the story &#8220;volunteer group without a permit that gives away free food in the park&#8221;.
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Inside the relationship and outside of it are different stories about the same relationship. In essence you have two different groups of people looking at the same exact thing, one group sees one thing, and the other group sees something else. This difference in perception and interpretation needs to be kept in mind.
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These five aspects of new anarchist relations can be used when looking at already-existing relationships/projects, and they can be used to frame the creation of new ones. Having the clarity of these five aspects in mind can help one to identify any weaknesses within a relationship/project that can be actively addressed and worked with. The key thing is that when approaching all of this more clearly and intentionally, we are a lot more likely to create and sustain the kind of fundamental change in social relationships that we are looking for.

This article was taken from the notes I had for a workshop that I did at the recent <a href="http://tcanarchist.org/">Twin Cities Anarchist Bookfair</a>.

Comments

cool story leftist.

*anarchy as a relationship:
the dream of the machines*
http://vimeo.com/29875053

Nice analysis, but after having read Sapolsky out of Standford, there is a whole collection of human status monkeys who's life drive is to attain status and then ruthlessly lord it over others. This is a biological makeup and no amount of theory or explaining or can pull these people's head from their arses. Sapolsky claims that these "folks" are born to either rule or serve. Period. Remember, you are not just dealing with ideas, but millennia of evolution that has allowed a whole dynamic species of proto-morons to flourish and reproduce.

When has Sapolsky ever taken such a position? When he begins to look at evolutionary precedents for primate (or more specifically human) behavior he seems to consistently refer to a wide variety of primate species. His 3 part lecture on sexuality is a good example of how much Sapolsky takes an interest in the diversity of primate sexuality well above and beyond comparing more hierarchical primate cultures with, say, bonobos.

I stopped at the part about not being able to blow up social relationships.

Because, really, once enough of those motherfuckers get killed, I doubt you'll have too many people lining up to be next.

yeah, like soldiers and now no one wants to be one.

this comment riles me up even more given the anarchist beatification system.

If soldiers were being targeted outside of warfare, then your rebuttal would make sense.

if anarchists weren't pathetic, your point would make sense.

soldiers being attacked is by definition warfare, how do they get attacked outside it? politicians don't punch a time clock, when are they not politicians?

I stopped reading at the word polyamory.

FUCKING LEFTIST!~!!!!$!!!!!

GO FUCKDURSELF.

A/S ROX...... only troo anarchy.

whoever wrote this did a great job. THANKS!! i posted it on twitter and a bunch of friends liked it

Me german using Bing to translation then copying back using Bing again lossing what? You anus bleeding maybe I anarchy no left very post right,,,do circle no? Fuck your ear drum in the morning waking nice fraulien with dick make anus bleed, no? Stirner was down max, Nietzsche no good or bad only haemeroids on left wing sitting on platform.> Otto

"Stirner was down max, Nietzsche no good or bad only haemeroids on left wing sitting on platform." fucking gold! thanks for that "Otto"

I like you. Please come back again and comment more soon!

Another sunset Bing translation I comment anaesthetic enema doctrine Max knows leftist hypycritters german dilemma yes only Nietzsche enema possible understand politic left collusion like colon?

Bing translation again uups made mistake I was Otto yes,,,ooomm, anus hurting why? leftist attempted insertion, NO! Max would not stand for that, not sit down on platform either yes? NO!!!> Otto

This article was horrible in so many ways. Why'd I even bother to read it?

This article neglects to validate the constructive, social reciprocity of confrontation and contention. Neglect is an action, it is the action of not meeting basic needs. Today's epic requires a penultimate violence of learning, learning to be violent appropriately, to interrupt the reification with biological pain. I spend much of my time building things that this person would probably consider..."mind-full", but it is to a diffuse intersection, where good-faith-relationships bond together to fight back. Affinity.

like this ..."It is no secret, that we encourage people to actively participate in the oppositional movement, and we try to direct the opposition towards resolving social problems..." Also, Landauer was involved in violent revolution, which is often not exclusive from other projects.

goddammit shut the fuck up

There's nothing mutually exclusive about essentially military style conflict and social revolution of the sort described here. In fact, they need each other. Each is incomplete without the other for the anarchist "revolutionary" (insurrectionary?) project.

The kind of relationship building that anarchists have been fairly good at lately is necessary from the standpoint of building the culture that we need, both as an obvious politically prefigurative act and also from a purely material standpoint (we need the food, shelter, time etc. that it affords us). It is true that we couldn't achieve the world that we want to live in without this crucial component.

HOWEVER, history clearly shows us that this is not by itself a sufficient "revolutionary" engine. Recent examples like Germany in the 70s and 80s show us that highly dynamic, vibrant squatter communities, even when tied with sympathetic, widespread rural and other community participation and support, just won't cut it. The autonomen got just about as close as you're going to get to building a really large, solid, capable alternative culture in a modern industrial society. And it wasn't enough.

An example farther back is that indigenous societies in the Americas had for all intents and purposes highly functional, and sometimes extremely egalitarian, societies and cultures. Lots of them. Like, they were everywhere. Their lifestyle was not only socially superior to that of the Europeans, but also materially: Europeans starved and scrounged and worked themselves to death for decades just trying to survive on this continent while the surrounding indigenous groups did just fine. This evident superiority caused a number of European colonizers to "defect" or "go Indian," and rightly so. In this sense they had "everything going for them" from not only a relational, but also a material standpoint. Anarchists couldn't even realistically hope to build that kind of size, autonomy and stability in our communities. Was it enough? No, of course not. Europeans who were blinded by their racist "manifest destiny" used military might and coercion to partially or completely crush these societies. Clearly, indigenous groups and individuals survived and still constitute a force, but they are FAR from the dominant force on this continent. When were indigenous groups closest to maintaining their structural integrity? When they had massive military forces that could mount serious defensive and offensive campaigns.

Anarchists have shown that we can build a lot of anarchy in our little communities. We can attract -some- new people to the anarchist fold. This is not only necessary but good. It is however not sufficient. Nation-wide de-Nazification in Germany required and still requires a serious social/relational component (it requires more of it in fact still), but the degree to which it was successfully able to be initiated on a large scale is due entirely to the precondition of a war that temporarily made unworkable the incredibly powerful and effective nazi-state-relationaship-system.

As this piece points out a revolutionary war without the social/relational aspect would simply leave space open for new state-relationship-forms to take over. But bureaucracies and state organizations, even if they are just webs of people and technology enacting a specific relationship, are IN EFFECT more socially and materially powerful than the sum of their human relationships, and the people who make them up are by-and-large resistant to alternative relationship formation. They are insular and set on a specific path which we can, unfortunately, only hope to derail and replace using a combination of tactically applied force and replacement with our alternatives.

Even after some grand revolutionary event, there will be lots of old state remnants and also new individual tyrants popping up all the time. Anarchism can suppress these with a mixture of relational work and, unfortunately, occasionally necessary violence.

Face it anarcho-trolls: most Anarchist Bookfairs have been raided by leftists.

And I actually wonder if theses weren't staffed by leftists from day one.

This is all so depressing... I got kicked out of the militant milieu in my city by those filthy petit-bourgeois lefties who are running the whole ABC show, while sitting in their nonprofit orgs offices and securing their privileges in posh communal apartments. In their world, the individual is an enemy, and you'd better pretend being queer, or you'll have to sleep in the streets this winter!

Again... State: 1 Anarchy: 0

Does someone has anything uplifting to say before I shoot someone?

Except for the remark about shooting people, I wholeheartedly agree with this post.

It's true that it won't solve much... even if shoot bags of shit at them.

What does it mean to fight, alone, against collectively imposed conditions of internalized repression and communal oppression? It's even worse than fighting the larger society, because there are tons of people who identify with those sub-norms.

What does it mean? I might mean the difference between your happiness and health and sanity, and your misery and ill-health and madness. At some point, you have to realize that, even when you are surrounded by people, you are always alone. I wish you luck.

Of course I am, I know that. THe problem's that through social forms, there's many people who pretend not to be alone, and being normal, sane and happy. That's hypocrisy, something very rampant among the Left, as much as in Christianity.

Article: 10 Comments: 0

I'm sorry, but I fail to notice what's good & worthwhile in this article.

The author [Ian Mayes?] puts his finger squarely on the source of dysfunction in our modern society dominated by the intellectual concepts of Western civilization. This clearly thought-through and simply expressed interpretation deserves wide reading and recognition as a distinct and on-target ‘species’ of understanding of the global social dynamic.

What does the understanding encapsulated in this article grasp that most do not?

1. ‘Things’ that we give names to and treat as ‘things-in-themselves’ are resonance structures in the ‘flow’ of the continually transforming relational space we live in. Therefore, we have to deal with the deeper source which is, in fact, the problem of mistaking symbolic entities for real entities.
“Even if one were to go down a more militantly radical path and choose to kill the people who are called “police”, “politicians” and “business executives”, other people would just come along after them and replace them. These vacancies would be seen by others as being opportune job openings, and other people would be happy to take these jobs. The specific individuals who have these jobs may change, but the roles themselves remain the same. The point here is that destroying physical objects and getting rid of individual people are simply symbolic actions. No matter how big, spectacular, and publicized it all is it still exists in the symbolic realm. These are statements, they may be very strongly-expressed statements, but they are still statements nonetheless. “

This understanding is missing from 90 percent of anarchist ‘theory’ and rhetoric. In other words, 90 percent of anarchist ‘theory’ and rhetoric focuses on attacking the symbolic as if it were real; i.e. ‘tilting at windmills’, and as is said of Don Quixote;

"Cervantes leaves open the pages of a book where the reader knows himself to be written.”

The mistaking of symbolic entities as ‘real’ is the core premise of Nietzschean and Machean philosophy, and to ignore it is to foil any attempt to understand the source of dysfunction in modern society.

2. ‘Coercion’ is a primary shaper of social behaviour in our sovereigntist/authoritarian world. Furthermore, it is real physical force and not a ‘fear in our heads’, that operates through relational dynamics;

“Looking at the concepts of force or coercion, I would say that this all comes down to the “…or else” threat that is either implied or explicitly stated which is set up within human relationships. Force is when physical violence, removing or restraining somebody or something takes place. Coercion is the threat of that hanging over the relationship.”

3. Coercion is applied by way of the story we are forced to believe and to live and play out. If one analyzes the behaviour of a sovereigntist-capitalist, one option is to trace it back to ‘ideas’ in the head of the person; i.e. if we model dynamics in terms of ‘what things-in-themselves do’ [we them impute the direction of behaviour to derive from intellect and purpose; i.e. the story in the head];

“Underlying all of this are people unconsciously agreeing to hold collective stories that answer the questions “who are we?” and “what are we doing together?” This is the meaning that we ascribe to the things that surround us and the actions that we do. We are born, raised, and live in a society in which almost everyone is repeating the same collective stories. This then leads to us often not even noticing that these stories are even there in the first place. People all agreeing to these collective stories creates the consensus reality that transforms a piece of paper into “money”, a person with a gun and a badge into a “police officer”, and a person with a ring on a certain finger of theirs into a “husband” or a “wife”. Without these stories, objects would just be objects, people would just be people, nothing more. These stories exist to inform and guide the actions that people choose to take in relation to each-other.”

In the case of coercion-shaped social behaviour patterns [socio-politically-correct protocols], the ‘stories’ follow the actual relational dynamics; i.e. the story; “we are a family that does not put their feet up on the couch” is ‘understood’ even by the dog. Of course, the dog’s behaviour is shaped by the coercive relationship. People kidnapped by violent tribes or bully gangs learn the social protocols very quickly even if they don’t understand a word of the language. These protocols may be captured and stated in words, however, they originate in coercive physical relations. If you are an aboriginal that doesn’t understand a word of English, after being beaten every time that you try to cross an invisible state boundary, your behaviour pattern will be established prior to putting the word story together. The word-story is after-the-fact ‘analytical backfill’ that is secondary to the relational dynamics.

That is, the six foot six, 300 pound goon who is the brother of the 16 year old girl who is pregnant with your child, does not need to bring his shotgun out as a primer for your wedding, ... ‘you know the story’; i.e. the ‘story’ = ‘a pattern of relational dynamics’. This applies at the scale of sovereign states as it does with individuals. The phrase ‘we all know the story’ does not mean that a relational pattern of action derives from the storyline, it means that the story captures the coercive relational dynamic.

“absolute space, absolute time, geometry itself [the imposed conventions that allow us to tell a story of dynamics in terms of ‘what things do’], are not conditions which impose themselves on mechanics ; all these things are no more antecedent to mechanics than the French language is logically antecedent to the verities one expresses in French.” – Henri Poincare, Science and Hypothesis

‘The way we do things around here’, living in the coercively controlled space of a sovereign state, is the relational behavioural starting point,... the ‘story’ follows after that physical fact. The relational behaviour demanded of aboriginals in the Americas is the same demanded of the colonials, but the stories that ‘people agree to’ that ‘exist to inform and guide the actions that people choose [sic] to take in relation to each-other’ are far more likely to be embraced by colonizers than by indigenous aboriginals’. Since everyone seems to be behaving in accordance with the [bullshit] story, we credit the story [patriotism etc., we are good guys, the last great hope for world peace etc.] for the relational behaviour of the collective when it is really, instead, the coercive relations.

The story is secondary. As Goethe says, in the beginning was the deed, not the word. This 'qualification' is to give a bit more depth to the statement in the article;

“People all agreeing to these collective stories creates the consensus reality that transforms a piece of paper into “money”, a person with a gun and a badge into a “police officer”, and a person with a ring on a certain finger of theirs into a “husband” or a “wife”. Without these stories, objects would just be objects, people would just be people, nothing more. These stories exist to inform and guide the actions that people choose to take in relation to each-other.”

That is, the coercion often precedes the story as in 'The colonizer police force is there to 'keep the peace' and thus 'ensure the security of the people' ... NOT! That is just the 'story' that is being put out there to explain the coercive constraints being kept on the people that have been 'penned in' by the colonizing process and its master-slave architectural structures.

Interpretation and Summary:

Many things that we impute to have their own ‘being’ [thing-in-itselfness] and their own self-starting behaviour are resonance features in the relational-spatial flow of community; e.g. ‘capitalism’, the bourgeoisie, the working-class, the state. These ‘things’ are actually patterns of physical relations held together by coercive force, that are then given a ‘cover story’. For example, a ‘producing nation’ is a cover story for a relational pattern maintained by coercion wherein a group of colonizers direct and manage a cycle of exploitation of land and labour and preside over the ‘cashing-in’ phase of the cycle.

The truth could be exposed by making a film like ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ [publicly deemed ‘Communist propaganda’ by the FBI in 1947] but casting a nation like Haiti [or Libya etc.] in the role of George Bailey [played by Jimmy Stewart]. Haiti would have the same empathic character put across by Jimmy Stewart, and have the same exposure to being ‘taken’ by ruthlessly exploitive others and thus appearing to be incompetents because of their lack of ruthlessness. The ‘back door’ relational view of Jimmy and or Haiti would be in terms of how the community dynamic would have evolved WITHOUT Jimmy or Haiti having existed. This view shows up the significant value to the community dynamic of the ‘incompetents’, Jimmy and Haiti, ... value which does not show up on ‘what things-in-themselves do’ based accounting books.

‘George’ or ‘Haiti’ is a name we give to a notional ‘thing’ that is not a physical entity-in-itself; ... just like [hurricane] ‘Katrina’ is a name we give to a notional ‘thing’ that is not a physical entity-in-itself. We always have two choices of representing dynamics (a) in terms of ‘George-behaviour’ or ‘Haiti-behaviour’, the notional behaviour of a thing called ‘George’ or a thing called ‘Haiti’, or (b) in terms of the dynamic web of relations [the suprasystem/host-community dynamic] in which ‘George’ or ‘Haiti’ is included, which gives us the second option of capturing what ‘George’ or ‘Haiti’ mean in the overall scheme of things, ‘relationally’; i.e. in terms of how the community dynamic would differ ‘without’ them versus ‘with’ them. Eg. the captain of a ship might not look as good as he did if some no-account seaman had not risked his life to go below and plug the leak that was punched in the ship's hull when the captain steered to port when he should have steered to starboard.

Every ‘system’ such as a ‘George’ or ‘Haiti’ can be understood as a relational feature within a larger suprasystem that it is included in and not just as a ‘thing-in-itself’ with ‘its own behaviour. What the author of this well-thought-through article is saying is that we are confusing the issues by going with the symbolic [idealized rather than physically-real] ‘thing-in-itself’ view of dynamics. The state is not REALLY a ‘thing-in-itself’ with its own ‘thing-in-itself behaviour’. Things are resonance features in the a relational space dynamic that are sustained by natural or coercive force. E.g. France and Britain, with the Sykes Picot agreement of 1916, carved up the Middle East into ‘states’;

Territorial Allocations: Britain was allocated control of areas roughly comprising the coastal strip between the sea and River Jordan, Jordan, southern Iraq, and a small area including the ports of Haifa and Acre, to allow access to the Mediterranean. France was allocated control of south-eastern Turkey, northern Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Russia was to get Istanbul, the Turkish Straits and the Ottoman Armenian vilayets. The controlling powers were left free to decide on state boundaries within these areas. Further negotiation was expected to determine international administration pending consultations with Russia and other powers, including the Sharif of Mecca.” --- Wikipedia

It doesn’t matter how many times the colonizing powers change the boundaries and re-capture different mixes of people and different patterns of dynamics within the new boundaries, the names ‘Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon etc. etc. will persist because they are symbols that are independent of whatever is really physically going on there; i.e. the relational flow in the region and in the world continue on without missing a beat and new relational patterns gather and regather within the flow, while we superimpose this or that patchwork grid of cookie-cutter sovereign state name symbols over top of it. If one READS the history of Poland, one will see a succession of statements implying Poland or ‘the Poles’ did this and that when this word ‘Poland’ or ‘the Poles’ had no fixed meaning as the collection of peoples and dynamics referred to are those captured within 'Polish state boundaries' that are oscillating like the pupils of a cat's eyes in a strobe light.

George Bailey is like a woman or like Haiti or Libya; generally incompetent and an inferior achiever.

Before I am cut down in a hail of poison arrows, the point is that there is always two ways of assessing a ‘thing’ and the most common is in terms of ‘the thing-in-itself’ and ‘what it does’, as was the first assessment of George [Jimmy Stewart] which he was giving to himself. This first assessment is pure idealization. The second, physically real assessment is in relational terms; i.e. the dynamics of the relational space are the physical reality. The relational dynamics of a non-nature-bounded space [the space called Europe, Africa and the Middle East] are primary and we keep superimposing patchwork forms over top of the spatial-relational dynamics; e.g. ‘Poland’ and MAKING BELIEVE that ‘Poland’ has a ‘behaviour’, and that all these symbolic state names have ‘behaviours’ and we talk about ‘their behaviours’ and whether they are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ or ‘superior achiever’ or ‘inferior achiever’ and this is all ‘total Fiktion’. The only real physical dynamics are ‘relational dynamics’ and viewing dynamics in terms of ‘what symbolic things do’ is ‘Fiktion’. ‘What George Bailey does’ is not a physically real phenomenon. The concept ‘what a thing does’ is totally missing any mention of the role of the spatial-relations the thing is included in.

If a woman commits all her energy and resources to conditioning the shared space she is included in to make it nurturing for her family and friends, then this will show up far more in ‘what they do’, than in 'what she does'. This is Mach’s principle: “the dynamics of women [and men] are conditioning the dynamics of the common living space at the same time as the dynamics of the common living space are conditioning the dynamics of the men [and women] who share inclusion in it”.

The mediating medium of the relational space we live in ‘launders’ the source-identity of the givers and reveals only the identity of the takers. If i quietly convert all my kinetic energy to potential energy by pushing your toboggan up the slope, then it manifests in terms of 'what you do'. I.e. 'what things-in-themselves do’ fails to acknowledge that the real physical dynamic is a relational-spatial dynamic. The physically realistic way of assessing the contribution of George or ‘women’ or Haiti or Libya etc. is to simulate the community dynamic as if they had not existed and compare it to the community dynamic as it is with them included. One inevitably finds, as was found in the case of George Bailey, that contributions are being made which not only do not ‘show up’ on their accounts figured in terms of ‘what they-as-things-in-themselves do’, but which are showing up instead on the accounts of ‘what other things-in-themselves do’.

This is because, as Mach’s principle captures, everyone is ‘putting into’ and at the same time ‘taking from’ the relational space we all share inclusion in [the 'dynamic medium that is the message']. Some, like Haitian slaves, and worker-slaves in sovereign states are ‘putting in more than they are taking out’ while others like bourgeoisie and the manager-leader class are ‘taking out more than they are putting in’. All of this is invisible if one goes with the relational-space-ignoring model of dynamics in terms of ‘what things-in-themselves do’ instead of acknowledging that real physical phenomena are in terms of the continually transforming relational space that we all share inclusion in.

‘State-behaviours’ in the sense of ‘what things-in-themselves do’ are not real physical phenomena, they are symbolic constructs.

‘Man-behaviours’ and ‘woman-behaviours’ and George’s behaviour and Haiti’s behaviour in terms of ‘what things-in-themselves do’ are not real physical phenomena, they are merely symbolic constructs.

Physically real behaviours are spatial-relational behaviours. It is impossible to isolate individual behaviour from the relational dynamic of the collective/habitat. Mathematically, it is impossible, when three or more bodies move under one another’s simultaneous mutual influence [the general case in natural physical phenomena], to solve for the behaviour of a particular individual.

But it is possible to get a back door estimate in terms of how the overall relational dynamic would differ if a particular participant ‘did not exist’. E.g. it is possible to play a chord with and without one of the tones in the chord to assess the ‘value’ of the tone. The tone may meanwhile be ‘dominant’ or ‘subdominant’ so that the performance of the ‘dominant’ tone is enriched by the subdominant tone without the subdominant tone getting its due credit in the ‘what things-in-themselves do’ assessment mode.

In conclusion, as the author of this article says, we are caught up in a delusional world view based on confusing symbolic constructs for physical reality. We have made up ‘stories’ that people have come to believe in, that hide the often coercive relational patterns in the system, and re-present dynamics in the Fiktional terms of the noble [Quixotic/white-knight] acts of notional ‘things-in-themselves’ that every child would like to emulate when they grow up [every child that falls victim to such cultural indoctrination].

Nice job [Ian Mayes?]!

So, it's all about relating/relationhips? Nothing new there. But how does it apply to the current, as in "What is to be done"?

you say;

“So, it's all about relating/relationships? Nothing new there. But how does it apply to the current, as in "What is to be done"?

just to be sure we are seeing it the same way. the relating/relationships in the article re-cast the ‘self’ of the individual or ‘group’ as a relational process, whether this be ‘our self’ or ‘someone else’s self’. our usual practice is for each individual or each group to see and define itself and others as ‘things-in-themselves’, with their own inside-outward driving behaviour’, ... AND THEN begin thinking about how to manage relationships with a mess of believers in such fixed-self concepts interacting in a common space.

in the article, the ‘self’ is instead seen as ‘relational’; i.e. it is the continual process of sustaining relations between the supra-group that the group is included in and ‘the group’. as mayes says;

“... being mindful of how these relationships interface with the rest of the world that is outside of this relationship .... your group is relating in one way, while the people surrounding and right next to your group are relating in a different way – so the intersections where these differences come into contact with each-other needs to be paid attention to.”

this comes back to the point he makes about ‘reification’ and how we tend to think of an individual or a group as a ‘thing-in-itself’, and once a group does this, they no longer have a ‘relational self’, they have a ‘fixed self’ and there are no such things in the real world; i.e. it is purely symbolic, like the ‘state’ or ‘anarchist group’ whose existence depends on nothing other than common belief in its definition by its ‘members’. as mayes says;

“There is a concept called “reifying”, which basically means “treating an abstraction as a real thing”. My concern is that this is what a lot of people are and have been doing with the abstract concepts of “anarchism” and “revolution”, and conversely with the abstract concepts of “the state”, “capitalism”, etc. as well. In a sense, none of those things really exist. What does exist are people, people who are relating with each-other in different ways, making choices and responding to each-other. At best, these abstract concepts are there to describe these different kinds of relationships that exist. And relationships, it must be kept in mind, are living, dynamic, constantly changing and are experienced subjectively by each person.

what is being suggested ‘that we do’ here is to depart from our standard way of viewing things and engaging. in this approach, we ‘let go’ of abstract concepts of ‘our self’ and/or ‘others'; for example, ‘criminals’. the ‘criminal’ is one of those abstractions which in relational terms becomes ‘a conflicted relationship’ as in aboriginal and restorative justice. ‘what we need to do’ in this case is to ‘resolve the conflicted relationship’. in our standard approach, it is to ‘prosecute the criminal’. but maybe the system is ‘criminal’ and the alleged ‘criminal’ is the ‘victim’. such relationships are “experienced subjectively by each person”.

the implication of a Nietzschean revaluation of values and going ‘beyond good and evil’ does not imply non-violence, it just means putting relationship before fixed judgements of ‘who one is’ and ‘who others are’. if the relationship between rich and poor are out of balance, robin hood actions are not ‘criminal’. and the ‘robin hood self’, if it is ‘us’ is neither ‘anti-rich’ nor a corrupted former law-abiding citizen, but a relational process. in this mode one let’s go of symbolic definitions based on ‘ideals’ that ignore the “living, dynamic, constantly changing and subjectively experienced relationships.”

so, ‘what we do’ is to stop doing what we mostly have been doing, orienting to abstractions, which the author identifies as the source of our screw-up;

“My concern is that this [treating an abstraction as a real thing] is what a lot of people are and have been doing with the abstract concepts of “anarchism” and “revolution”, and conversely with the abstract concepts of “the state”, “capitalism”, etc. as well.”

i would also include ‘gender’ in this list since sexual relationships “it must be kept in mind, are living, dynamic, constantly changing and are experienced subjectively by each person.”

so, what we do is (a) allow our sense of ‘self’ and the ‘self’ of others to continually ‘flex’ in a relational-situationally sensitive way without our getting hung up on fixed symbols of ‘self’ and ‘others’. but since this outside-inward --- inside-outward flexing ‘blurs’ the boundary between ‘self’ and ‘other’, we must also (b) eschew judging and valuing ‘abstract concepts’ [such as self and others and states and anarchist groups] in terms of ‘what these things-in-themselves are and do’, but instead value them ‘relationally’.

as in the Machean/Nietzschean view, the relational web [flow] takes precedence over the things that gather in the relational web; things that our abstract phonetic language is architected to give star billing to; At best, these abstract concepts are there to describe these different kinds of relationships that exist. And relationships, it must be kept in mind, are living, dynamic, constantly changing and are experienced subjectively by each person.

therefore, there is no need to specify the architecture of an anarchist society [that would be an abstract ‘thing-in-itself’ concept and we’re trying to avoid them] and there is no need to specify how anarchists will operate in an anarchist society [that would be an abstract ‘what things-in-themselves do’ conception that we’re trying to avoid]. in other words, reconceiving of ‘self’ and ‘other’ as relational processes rather than fixed things is all that is needed to engender the new society and provide the path to get there.

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