Communes and Land Projects: A Nomadic Critique of Communization

Communes and Land Projects
A Nomadic Critique of Communization

The establishment of intentional communities of all kinds is a popular fad yet again. Perhaps we have reached a point where economic pressures and the failure of government have heightened the desirability of such living arrangements. Leviathan has spread its slimy tentacles across every corner of the globe, and the jungles of concrete — the urban sprawl — have reached nearly everywhere. In the United States, the furthest distance to complete isolation from any road or structure is only 18 miles from one point to another. Where I am currently, this number falls to 6 miles. It gets as low as 2 miles or less in some US States. This shows how the urban setting is now essentially inescapable. There is a total of 2.43 billion acres of land in the United States, and its overseas territories. 17.5% of this land is Alaska. Out of these 2.5 billion acres of land, only 4.5% of it is wilderness today. The State of Alaska comprises 52% of the wilderness in the US. The State of New York, an exception in terms of population, but completely median in terms of geographical land mass, has less than 1%. It is the same for my home State. As a matter of fact, every State in the US besides Alaska and California (14%) have 4% or less. 31 States, including Hawaii, plus Puerto Rico, have less than 1% of the US wilderness area. Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, and Rhode Island don't have any wilderness areas at all. In lieu of this lossage, the very human, yet also wild desire to “get away from it all’ and return to the land and nature is perfectly understandable. Our personal connections to pristine nature are as tenuous as ever. Hundreds of millions of people have never spent a single night camping outdoors. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to escape the ever-present noise and high-pitched buzzing of the AC units, Internet routers, giant flat-screen TVs, PC fans, etc. We are inundated with overwhelming, panic-inducing amounts of ads and information. On top of all this, most feel forced to engage in wage-slavery, for some boss. These realities and countless others paint an increasingly bleak picture of what civilization has to offer to the individual, or any of us, today.

The old idea was that we need to confront the bourgeoisie and the State head-on through class warfare via popular revolution. After centuries of failures, this outlook has been exchanged for one that says we can and must start doing communism now. This is often justified by obscure Easter eggs offered up from the writings of Karl Marx. Anarchy, class warfare, communization, and revolution are all seen by communisateurs as synonymous concepts. The Tiqqunistic text Call by an anonymous author describes “the process of instituting communism” as “only tak[ing] the form” of “acts of communization” [original emphasis], such as “making common such-and-such space” (2009, 22). The text also describes “this constellation of occupied spaces where, despite many limits, it is possible to experiment with forms of collective assembly outside of control, we have known an increase in power.” (2009, 17)

This optimistic talk of occupying spaces, becoming free of control, the talk of increasing power, of acceleration, is surely bothersome especially coming from neo-Marxoids like the communisateurs, but similar suggestions have also been made by anarchists, including Peter Lamborn Wilson (aka Hakim Bey). Similar claims about communes are made in T.A.Z.: The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism, first published in 1991. Much of the ideas of the communisateurs seem informed by, if not lifted from, these older writings of Wilson. And much like the communisateurs have asked us today (more than a quarter century later), Wilson also queried us the same way back in 1991:

“Are we who live in the present doomed never to experience autonomy, never to stand for one moment on a bit of land ruled only by freedom? Are we reduced either to nostalgia for the past or nostalgia for the future? Must we wait until the entire world is freed of political control before even one of us can claim to know freedom?

...a certain kind of 'free enclave' is not only possible in our time but also existent"...(38)

"What of the anarchist dream, the Stateless state, the Commune, the autonomous zone with duration, a free society, a free culture? Are we to abandon that hope in return for some existentialist acte gratuit? The point is not to change consciousness but to change the world.” (39)

Wilson, like the communisateurs, sees this as “the seed of the new society taking shape within the shell of the old” (41):

“I do suggest that the TAZ is the only possible ‘time’ and ‘place’...for the sheer pleasure of creative play, and as an actual contribution to the forces which allow the TAZ to cohere and manifest.” ... “A world in which the TAZ succeeded in putting down roots might resemble the world envisioned by ‘P.M.’ in his fantasy novel bolo'bolo. Perhaps the TAZ is a ‘proto-bolo.’” (52)

Both anarchists of Wilsons ilk, and the communisateurs of today, seem unfocused or uninterested in what many across the communist left (specifically its more traditional groups) have deemed “defensive struggles”, which is a term meant to refer to the increasingly extreme austerity measures imposed on the general populous by the ruling class (attacks made by the bourgeoisie). When I talk about defense, I usually mean the defense of nature rather than the economy. We have seen these attacks come in the form of tax hikes against everyday working families, instead of tax hikes for corporations and the wealthy captains of industry. Another example of these attacks by the bourgeoisie was the use of public revenue in the US to shore up companies and ensure the economic bailout of corporations following the 2008 US stock market crash. But Wilson differs from Marxist class warfare advocates in that he advocates camouflage and social concealment; “a tactic of disappearance” (1991, 50). Wilson believes the commune should blend in to its surroundings as best it can, hide, and not be outwardly confrontational, or stir up trouble with the neighbors. It’s more anarchist in this regard, but even with statements like “TAZ is a nomad camp” (43), the bolo’boloism of T. A. Z. and Wilson doesn’t quite cross into true nomadism, advocating something more similar to hermitry.

The communisateurs differ from Wilson in this regard in that they all want communes as a launchpad for centralized communist attack. Attack is something Wilson rarely mentions, if at all, which is a shame because I like attack as much as the next person! But what is unappetizing about the call for attack by the communisateurs and Tiqqunists is exactly that they are communisateurs — they are Marxists — they want the communes so they can have spaces to build their Party, or build whatever of their organizations, to opportunistically centralize and “increase power” (anonymous 2009, 17). This is in preparation of them launching their inevitable revolutionary war against the bourgeoisie, and following their victory, the communizers would of course seek to institute the dictatorship of the proletariat (also referred to in some circles of the Marxist far-left as the proletarian semi-State).

I am not against the breaking of legs in general, in the typical sense of moral opposition to a particular action, or beyond having my legs broken. And I’m not above, against, or beyond party-crashing tactics, either. I am an individualist, and in the sense of applying force, of many kinds, an occasional nihilist. But I would never use violence with the aim of controlling others. My attack is direct, purposeful. Violence must only be applied when and where it has to be, to the appropriate degree it has to be, without enjoyment, or with the goal of controlling others in mind. Saying this is not to ignore all the reasons violence does happen. But attack to destroy, because you must. I would use violence in self-defense, and perhaps even out of self-interest, but I differ from the communisateurs in that when I apply violence, my intentions and actions are meant to be centrifugal. They are directed away from a given pole of focus or concern. That is why Bolshevik coups are of no concern to me. Neither is direct action that aims to coerce people into dictatorships, the Party, or the Parties way of thinking. This kind of homogeneity is a hallmark of the State, Civilization, and Capital. I am not at all interested in being involved in any kind of community, network, or worknet that aims to progress in a quantitative way, to grow in numbers, or one that maintains a membership. My associations with others are never aiming to be coercive. I wear my intentions on my sleeve. Whether there are two or two-hundred people doing what I am doing and communicating with me about it, makes no difference. Although, groups bigger than three-hundred are increasingly Leviathanic. I suppose this also includes domestic living communities and villages. I prefer small groups. Under ten is perhaps best for me, and we all differ, but the point is small groupings of any size within natural limits encourage heterogeneity naturally. This is another difference between the views of Wilson and the views of the communisateurs. Wilson, displaying at least some awareness of the concept of nomadology, understands the need for not just escape, but dispersal, and generally describes his writing project as being against history, progress, and the narratives they bring with them. Wilsons T. A. Z. may be utopian, but it isn’t even in the same realm as the communization texts in terms of millenarianism.

My issue with attempting to permanently occupy spaces through any means whatsoever is that land occupation does nothing but encourage and even solicit domination over nature, domination over the other animals we share space with, domination over each other, and so on. I don’t have any interest in controlling things or others. In fact, I should not even separate myself from these things I’ve just mentioned in the ontological sense. The word land itself implies domination: I landed a job, I landed a date, I landed the top prize. To land, to be landed, to have stopped being in flux, is not dissimilar to having occupied a thing, and is often the same. This is, according to James C. Scott, the primary goal of the State: to fix populations to specific geographic boundaries. We might say in English, “I have this land. This land is mine.” Which is to say, because you stand there on it, apparently dominating over it, it is yours. I am here, so now this is mine. That’s what it means to land, to have it, to be landed. It’s like Manifest Destiny for everyone, an ideology not restricted only to whites and Christians. I am not part of this community, it is mine altogether! It belongs to me. In fact, God created it like this, just for me!

As you are hopefully beginning to see, or already seeing, we can not lay claims over spaces without first attempting to ontologically separate ourselves from nature, an impossible task. We are nature. Everything that exists, and even things beyond our awareness and perception, are also part of nature. It pains me to say it, but even technology is technically part of the natural world. I refer to this as pluralistic naturalistic holism. For billions of years before our arrival, the planet Earth was already one big commune. For the fishes, for the lizards, for the flowers, for the bees and ants — I think we have just forgotten our place in it.

There are 43 Comments

for this zine I'd be pissed, that's all I'm saying here

your complaint is null since you are given the option access it for free digitally. the website is printed on the back of the zine as well. someone perusing the zine in a stand can look at the website and go and read it there.

if you read it, why do you complain about its nonexistent hypothetical price tag, instead of engaging with what it says?

I respect the complaint enough to inquire, what cheapened it's value for you, anon?

Of what's written here, the parts that make me think, and reminds me of thoughts I've had before, but not put into words, is a combination of the first paragraph, and the second to last paragraph of this zine.

The urban, cities, the built environment, is so sprawled out and so seemingly all encompassing, that at this point, it seems that setting up camp in "the woods" or "free land" is an act of invasion, a furthering of colonization and occupation of what little pockets of non-cement there are.

Along the same lines, it makes me think how in some minds, a vacant lot or abandoned building is immediately seen as a place to plant a flag or set-up shop or housing/tent. I can see that for many, basic necessities make it imperative, but I'm think it more as those who see it as a political project.

As an alternative, I can imagine, not so much propose, letting abandoned buildings crumble, instead of cleaning them up and inhabiting them. Imagine vines and plants taking over, birds and rats and insects and stray dogs. This is not some project or solution. But in places where the urban is almost all there is, maybe a mindset of "opening up spaces" in opposition to "occupying", might bring about new ways of looking at the built environment, and present new possibilities of playful experimentation.

The town where I live, which is mostly now just another shitty suburb, has plenty of vacant commercial spaces due to ever-increasing taxes in the center and lower taxes in the peripheral areas where it keeps expanding. But occupying those useless buildings and get ready to be evicted overnight. Plus, those concrete-made buildings and energetically inefficient as fuck. Lucky if you're in some southern region, but in the north, you'll be better off camping in a forest in the winter than staying in these nightmare buildings.

Other potential benefits from squatting a forest: Resistance operations against these suburbs, maybe maybe?

Let's be clear that it's not humans who're invading, but forms of life. It's structures, infrastructure and networks. So you stop being a colonizer the day you also stop bringing your inculcated form of life to the wilderness, instead of -just like some of the early settlers have been doing as well- living closer to the native ways.

The Métis and Black Seminoles may have been defeated through symmetrical warfare, yet nowhere their ways have been lost... they just shunned by most people around here.

i was referring to places where there's high density of buildings, where instead of a building it could be something else, like a ruin.
i agree with what you said.

a. playing the game "who is that anon" can be done privately or in public
b. if it's done in public, then you're inviting other people (including the guessee) to play with you, but also inviting others to play, potentially in the name of the guessee, which has all sort of other (possible) ramifications
c. it's a latently aggressive act (if someone posts as anon, usually ? it's for a reason? maybe not. maybe it's just as often by mistake or laziness...) by refusing to let anonymity speak for itself
d. it's also that incorrigible human trait of looking for patterns, and finding them even where they don't exist (edit: no wait, there is a pattern, it just doesn't mean what it seems to mean - so that's about misattributing meaning)
there are more but that's enough for now.
and no, to answer your question. i'm not the only one who would like people to address content meaningfully, thank the great godds below (assuming i'm correct in the post you're attributing to me).

people register at @News? This is not the first time you have questioned 'anons' Maybe, you like to post here as an 'anon' too from time to time as does Aragorn! and how many other aliases such SirEinzige are used by @News? 'Anon' exists for @News, I think most people who visit this site have correctly worked that one out. Now, check out my IP address as no doubt meta data is also a check done by those at @News. right?

I meant 10:52

Oops I was being hypocritical. That was just my long-winded way of saying everyone should have to register themselves with me and be nice to me even if I threaten to murder them over and over so if they are mean to me I can better track them down and murder them and harass them incessantly until I do.

Good for you Zhachev, we don't see much of that self-help independent justice dealt out these days!

really not talking to me, or understanding me or anews there, buddy. and A! never posts anon. maybe time for you to meditate or smoke out or take a walk outside or something....
re: 10:52, lol. not even a little me! ;)

pretty thought-provoking read. thanks for sharing this! definitely something to think about...

Hi zhachev! I am glad you like your own piece. Self care is peak nomadism


The desire to share lives, to have base camps, to have deeper connections with others and with your environment isn't a fad. Attack and withdrawal both have their place in the realization of our dreams and desires. "True nomadism". Nomadism is difficult to define. Have you read or heard about "Permanent Subsistence Zones", a sort of green anarchist response to the TAZ.?

I will help define
There are degrees of nomadism and permanence intertwined.
1)Seasonal, to follow the seasonal migration of food sources.
2)Random, to follow the random rainfall event.
3)Permanent. to satisfy the collective wanderlust.
4)Political. to seek refuge away from persecution

We all know Wilson/bey advocates for pedophilia, yes?

Kaczinsky was not a murderer, he just killed a few people. Furthermore it's his weapons that killed, not him...

But he was full of hatred, even if he wants to claim that he was a soldier at war against a toxic society, his psychology was of foul and murderous intent, his ideology was twisted by righteous and malignant evil. An innocent was endangered by the non-precise random nature of his weapon which could have killed an innocent child. He lacked the assassins surgical licence to kill.

None of us are guilty. Apágale el fueguito al lobito de la cuenta de twitter.

Yeah, whereas Wilson/Beh is full of love and positive ideas and solutions, not sociopathically inclined.

I can't tell if you're joking or not, but yes, it is true. He's a pretty open supporter of NAMBLA, and it's brought up basically every time someone mentions him (or it was; my guess is that you don't hear about it as often because his work is just generally less popular and talked about). You can find plenty about it on his Wikipedia article:

In any case, while it usually gets brought up to discredit everything he's written, IMO you don't have to like every position a person has to enjoy/agree with some of their ideas. And obviously, just because I like TAZ doesn't mean I'd leave him alone with any children.

This is the third time your question has been answered and censored.

Is that he could well be the perverted homosexual of the pre-1968 era. I think in due time(likely after he's dead) his ideas will become popular again and the relevance of his ideas will likely coincide with changing attitudes on pedophilia.

I will also second the article below by the late great PZS who understands what an amoral anarch view of the world entails on these kinds of issues. Pedophilia at the end of the day is simply a strongly held, selective, historically specific disgust(Haidt) that is rooted in an acarnal puritanical bias. The Greeks had a very different idea of the evil P world and allowed it albeit under controlled rules. Personally I think modern society treats children FAR worse then the pedo pederastic allowing Greeks of antiquity.

I also strongly suspect that MANY anarchists are former molestes who take the issue personally in an irrational manner. My nigga Le Way is the exception to this.

god damn ziggles … I just woke up, this is one of the first things I read, now I need to go cry in the shower but I'll never feel clean again! So uh … yeah. Great.

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