Anews Podcast 195 – 1.1.21

from Anews Podcast!

Welcome to the anews podcast. This podcast is on anarchist activity, ideas, and conversations from the previous week on

No “What’s New This Week” this week due to temporary physical incapacity.

U Mad Bro? with chisel and Greg and two guests.

Thanks to Ariel and friend for ToTW conversation: arts

Sound editing by Greg.

There are 14 Comments

Lynda Carter. (And she is still alive)

(and now that I have finished listening...)
The point about spaces for anarchists to do art, or show art, or be anarchist in, I guess, was key. We have fewer spaces now than when I first started calling myself an anarchist, and I think it makes a difference. Just being able to be in a space that may have art on the walls, or art books or zines, even, while a punk show plays, to have public settings for that gives anarchy some zest. anarchy that is merely words is a stunted anarchy. I think of the Chicago surrealists with their Gallery Bugs Bunny. or maybe I'm just wallowing in nostalgia ...

anyhoo- Ted Hughes was married to Silvia Plath when she committed suicide. Some people blame him for her suicide, I am led to believe.

He's a poet. His nature poetry (along the lines of Robinson Jeffers et al) contrasts Plath's confessional style. That's why he was named, I presume, not because of some drama in his and her private lives. But if you want to go down that road, then it's worth nothing that Plath had been in and out of brutal state institutions her whole adult life, piling trauma upon trauma. They are the ones to blame, not her partner.

See, I did not know that about Hughes' poetry. I did know about Plath's struggles with mental health, i too have read the bell jar, and I knew she was married to Hughes. But, frankly, neither one is my cup of tea poetry-wise. Mostly I was surprised neither Ariel nor guest knew who Hughes was at all so I wiki'd and that snippet is the top of his page, of course.

Thanks again for the feedback. I was interested in the "history vs. philosophy" discussion. Just for the record, my formal education was focused on intellectual history and interdisciplinary cultural studies, which may or may not just be a reflection of a character combining equal parts obsessive curiosity and restlessness. There is a fairly well-elaborated "post-Foucault" element to my own thought, but it almost always seems one layer too many in anarchist circles. You'll find, I think, that "power" is a concept almost entirely absent from my work, but that references to "force" (one of Proudhon's keywords) and, to a lesser extent, "might" (with a nod to Stirner) cover much of the same ground. Part of that is a habit born from the need to distinguish between force and authority (terms often conflated in discussions of "power") in so many of the anarchist conversations I'm part of. The argument I was making as far back as the Great Postanarchism Wars is that there are significant similarities between anarchist thought (and the philosophy and social science it could draw on) post-'68 and pre-"anarchism" (say prior to the death of Bakunin in 1876.)

As for the Kropotkin story, one of these days I'll get the presentation right. In theory, it's a story with something for everyone—or at least everyone willing to think about "ignorance and confusion woven into the fabric of anarchist tradition." In practice, half of the folks it's addressed to aren't likely to want to hear bad things about Kropotkin, while the rest don't care much about Kropotkin at all. I think that one useful, if obviously provocative point is that the anarchist past is full of interactions between anarchists that would be clearly identifiable as entryism if they happened between figures or factions more obviously on different sides of the archy/anarchy divide.

"On Order" also functions as a very early example of "anarchist history," which I can't help thinking has always struggle[d] to rid itself of an sectarian ideological character. But there are limits to how much of that argument, the focus of "Our Lost Continent," can easily be folding into this comparatively breezy survey.

i expect you are getting the presentation right, just not necessarily for the people you're hearing back from. we all loved the image of kropotkin twirling his chair, and these kinds of asides humanize both the writer and the subject of the writing. it's just that some of us are trying to focus on less-human things -- like ideas or whatever. 'least, that's my thought at the moment.
interesting that "force" and "might" are what some folks used instead of power. force works better for me (as ... undesirable coercion, or something), but of course all these terms come with appendages that work for some things and not others (as indeed they should/must! gdmt!)

Interesting that you find force as preferable, particularly defined as undesirable coercion. I thought your (chisel) point in the podcast discussion of a Foucauldian definition of power as being everywhere, inevitable, and not (necessarily) a negative force was a good one, but the definition of force as undesirable seems different than that. Maybe I misunderstood what you meant on the podcast or what you meant here. Or maybe inconsistency is ok!

i think we want a way to talk about what our enemies do to us. "power" is one word for that. i would rather use "power" to mean something else, something that's more fluid. so for me, "force" works better, has more of the emotional tone that i think other people use "power" for. they're all gradations of agency, when we feel we have the capacity to do things, vs when we feel that we don't have capacity to do things.
(and using the word "feel" here is to bypass the thorny question of whether we do in fact have the capacity or not, and how that relates to our feelings, etc -- because i have not yet had my tea, and in fact may never have enough tea to have that conversation.)

Might means the same as power. The etymology implies the conjugated form "I/you/they/we might", which related to a capacity or potential of being able to achieve something, and also to successfully exert influence on others.

The problem I got with "power", is about the same as Chisel, power can be a relation on people upon other people, and usually that's the implied meaning. I say a wish and others obey, then it's pretty clear I have power over them. Same for when I talk for hours in a meeting and everyone listens without interrupting, or when I throw an unfounded accusation at somebody and no one questions that openly. That is power. Commies are full into power-building as they see no problem with that aspect of power.

I'd rather go for STRENGTH than power, as strength equates to a capacity, talent or skill without potentially becoming a domination thing (which would be called coercion or force). The fact of possessing strength doesn't make you coercive or manipulative on others by default, But having power... it's a far too risky position, especially when it comes to your usual alpha male.

I'll swap "without potentially" for "without necessarily"... As strength of course can be used for coercion, yet that's not inherently what it's about.

Anyways, the semantics behind those words are still up for negotiation, but "power" is way more problematic to me than "strength", still.

What we can safely say is that sometimes all of these words are synonyms and sometimes a whole range of distinctions are made. Some of the distinctions have real advantages for anarchist analysis. Others we just need in order to understand what others have said or written.

whatever billy. that's exactly the kind of thing anarchists definitely should be developing analysis around, imo. I'm not sure about these definitions people are floating but that's because this stuff is mystified and we probably have huge disagreements and misconceptions that could do with more scrutiny.

I prefer coercion and/or force for more literal, individual level stuff and power for abstraction, as in structural.

literally been watching relatively minor conflicts within small anarchist groups become large problems exactly because of how people haven't thought through this stuff. It's part of how you move from a reactive, oppositional set of opinions to something more functional.

example: it's really easy to sit around saying you hate the cops but it's very complicated to replace them with organized efforts to punt very unpleasant, toxic people out of a community. when is force or coercion ever appropriate? if you say "never", I find your anarchist analysis to require some more work.

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