TotW: Watching the Drift

Some friends and I were just talking about how in their area, the only people who are doing anything, who have any inspiration or energy, are people who are not anarchists, but are close enough not to be terrible. While these particular friends are on solid ground, the conversation reminded me of previous friends who have drifted away from anarchist activity, thought, and friends, into the morass of communism and marxism. Another friend used to say that a certain kind of anarchist would become a commie when unable to find more anarchist theory to read.

My thought (one of them) was that anarchism's brand is getting sullied, inevitably, by being on everyone's lips, and this is a normal, and perhaps even helpful, ebb in the flow of popularity. I also wonder what it might mean to u.s. anarchist thought to have younger people be more interested in other sets of ideas, leaving (relatively) older people to, perhaps, develop and pursue the thinking for a while.

What are your friends doing? Are you watching them slip away? Does it matter whether they identify as anarchist, and if so, why? And if not, why? What are the principles that are significant to your relations with your friends? Do you just have to feel secure that they won't call the cops on you? Or that they won't shoot you in a revolution? Or that they won't urge you to join their group/buy their newspaper? (ok - too old of a reference, maybe). For those of you who are watching (or have seen) such departures, was it more of a leaving to or a leaving from?

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I don't really have any friends, I've been parts of "groups" usually formed around some plan or idea or action but I haven't really had any friendships that have gone beyond being in these groups. Perhaps this speaks to my anti-social tendencies, or how terrible a person I am to be around, but in a way I think this mainly just speaks to what we are pursuing or trying to get out of life. For most, if not all of these groups, the direction I'm trying to take my life just isn't compatible with the way they are taking theirs and think the best thing I can do is identify what exactly it is i am after (if anything) and how i want to implement that into our life (if at all).

So for most of the people I've left behind? We probably feel equal amounts of disgust towards each other. But just as we are ever changing so too can we have people come and go out of our lives. And fostering this coming and going I think is a great way to combat the burdens of expectations and not limiting our selves to who we used to be, while still building and enjoying relationships in the moment.

"...the only people who are doing anything, who have any inspiration or energy, are people who are not anarchists, but are close enough not to be terrible."

Who are doing anything? Like what? Burning precincts or running a laundromat co-op? Are they burning 5g antennas or printing zines? I don't find activism enviable or commendable. I don't judge these, but not getting any FOMO from anything commies are doing, from what I've seen or heard.

"While these particular friends are on solid ground, the conversation reminded me of previous friends who have drifted away from anarchist activity, thought, and friends, into the morass of communism and marxism. Another friend used to say that a certain kind of anarchist would become a commie when unable to find more anarchist theory to read."

If a person begins from a desire to personally oppose authority, they're less likely to turn to communism than if they start from the naive desire of ending world hunger or ending poverty. That is to say egoist assholes are less likely to turn communist, than utopian humanitarians, though being an egoist asshole is not inherently anarchic. Reading "theory" (long-form opinions) is so boring, so lets add "being a bore" as predictor towards trending communist as well.

"I also wonder what it might mean to u.s. anarchist thought to have younger people be more interested in other sets of ideas, leaving (relatively) older people to, perhaps, develop and pursue the thinking for a while."

Younger people (at least in this commie trending context) nowadays seem very academically inclined, though their analysis is Sophomoric at best. They have a preference for big name authors they can quote as authoritative figures, or as pointing towards belonging to a clique or subgroup. Older people tend to implicitly reference so many things and previous conversations as to make the younger folk not know or care what they're talking about.

"What are your friends doing? Are you watching them slip away? Does it matter whether they identify as anarchist, and if so, why? And if not, why?"

They're living normie lives. I've grown apart from a lot of people, as a normal part of aging. People move to places close and far away and start families, etc. The slipping away was me towards anarchism, not them towards anything. It doesn't matter inasmuch as what matters more is who's around in times of need, in the good and the bad.

"What are the principles that are significant to your relations with your friends?"

Trust, clear boundaries that are respected, loyalty, honesty, a shared sense of humor.

"Do you just have to feel secure that they won't call the cops on you? Or that they won't shoot you in a revolution?"

I know for a fact friends and family would call the cops and would shoot me in many situations. It's more a matter of avoiding these situations, rather than avoiding the great majority of people who would do so as well. At least friends and family are not looking for an excuse to do so, and would not jump at the first opportunity to harm me.

"Or that they won't urge you to join their group/buy their newspaper? (ok - too old of a reference, maybe). For those of you who are watching (or have seen) such departures, was it more of a leaving to or a leaving from?"

They won't ask you to buy their newspaper, nowadays there's e-begging and crowdfunding i guess would be the parallel. I think many people orbit (like the image) around anarchism and other vague descriptors such as "radicals" or "the left" because of only one thing or another and they gravitate towards whoever or whatever can give them that, not so much due to an internally consistent set of philosophical and ethical principles.

For me it is definitely a "leaving from" type of situation. The anarchist scene is currently so judgmental and toxic, as well as flat-out boring, that hanging around seems quite undesirable. And then after a sufficient number of anarchist friends leave, there are very few tethers left to tie one to the scene. If and and when true anarchy ever comes about in the future, it probably won't use the a-word.

Anarchism is a subculture. It isn't supposed to be anything more that this.

'No' to your first sentence. 'Yes, it is' to your second sentence.

Huh? Okay, give some practical examples of how what I'm saying isn't the case. Yes, it is a subculture, and no, it isn't supposed to be anything else.

Subculture sounds like a lifestyle to follow by using the right clothes and listening to the right music. Anarchism is a political philosophy and ideology.

yeah, or put another way, anarchy is reduced to a subculture when most of the people participating are too flaky and dysfunctional or lack any coherent principles or values that will contribute in any meaningful way. always and only the sum of its parts!

the beautiful idea requires quality brains and hearts from which to temporarily materialize in to this hell world we find ourselves in.

also, humans already worked very hard to make hell world so i'm not blaming the world haha

(coming from edgy NA wanker who'se seen and experienced everything deemed "anarchist" at the the age of 21)

You're so right, commie! /s

I have been a deep anarchist since adolescence and yet I never preach or seek other anarchists because it is something that rises above ideology and fixed doctrine. Rather, my friends are those who I see as worthy of my advice and guidance who have wandered off their unique and innate path to inner awareness. With my infallible insights into human nature I am never frustrated by any apparent scarcity of anarchist literature because I write my own.
There is a borderline demographic of drifting persons sitting on the fence waiting for the moment when the sullied and tainted legacy of 20th Century anarchism fades away and the collective memories of the dark and violent Era of Revs, when crypto-Marxist guides appropriated and attached to the Anarchism brand the propaganda of the deed, and doomed it to popular derogation and censure.

put me down as - pretty happy with being "[un]worthy of your advice and guidance" thx!

that was my reaction too, lumps. but i wasn't sure if they were being sarcastic.

Then why comment on an anarchist site?

Really? Anarchism is about destroying authority and building a better world.

interesting how you feel it appropriate to speak to the entire u.s. anarchist mix, which includes wildly divergent attitudes, thoughts, and behaviors. ( ;) )

destroying authority, yes. building a better world? not so sure. that is both prescriptive and potentially authoritarian. who defines "better"?

20 years ago I was a dirty squatter anarcho-communist crustpunk who associated with with anarcho-primitivist college kids. Today I am a dirty squatter ultraleft crustpunk and my old primmie friends are not-so-young urban professionals, social-democrats, woke normies, petty-bourgeois hipsters. I think it would be cool if you folks learned to differentiate between Marxism and Stalinism. It might even save you from joining the DSA or getting an expensive college degree in intersectionality.

hey! me too! - to the grumpy, older ultraleftist dressed in rags. aging like the finest toilet wine, damnit!

anyway, so long as you don't expect the hippy soc dems to actually accomplish much, some of them are pleasant enough

That does not mean it's the answer though. The reason that many anarchists become the recuperated people that you speak of is that many do not give anarchy a strong theoretical foundation. For me it starts with returning to Proudhon and Stirner(I'll throw in Godwin as well) and really curating and mining those thinkers properly. Getting the solid theoretical foundations will make for even better practice and less performative contradictions.

What Shawn Wilbur has doing with the classic writings of anarchy is a good example of how to go about this. It starts with getting to what anarchy actually is at the level of meaning and intent.

"mining those thinkers properly"

zigs, you often make points that i agree with. but it is this kind of condescension that makes you so annoying so often. you have many times and in many ways made the point that YOU understand X, while most others do not. get rid of that academic attitude and we might have some interesting discussions.

It was only a matter of time before the status quo eventually leaned into the same space that the drifting anarchist demographic, by logic and social pressures, also found itself, just as the neo-liberal factions drifted into conservative reactionary spaces. This is all within the recurring model of generational recycling of archetypal sentiments within all cultures throughout history.

That's an old idea tho', Machiavelli mentions that history repeats itself, Empires rise and fall often from internal corruptions, oscillating between good and evil moral mechanisms and propaganda disguised atrocities. Usually forming into a binary social-power broker rivalry, there are always 2 sides which have adopted myriad names to describe their doctrines and methods of executing their governance should they gain power.

As I've commented before in previous threads that devolve into a string of the same person complaining about the anarchist scene, this is often a misnomer, and the blame is maliciously misattributed.

To call a "scene" (are we referring to a network of businesses, a neighborhood, a single venue?) anarchist, is often contentious, when at any given time you will see a variety of lefties (socialists, communists, abolitionists, etc) hippies, liberals, and counter-culturally inclined youth with various degrees of political obliviousness, naivety and apathy. Often, the few that call themselves anarchist are only tenuously so. Be it the communalists in solidarity with Rojava who derive their theory and causal disdain for anarchy from the ex-half-assed anarchist Bookchin, the uber-liberals who derive their insights from Chomsky and so on. This situation is specially true in the many fronts (like antifascist fronts) and single-cause specific groups. The anarchists are almost always the minority in these spaces. So apparently this butthurt anon wants to let us know (over and over) that they were the token communist within an exclusively anarchist group that wronged him by not living up to his standards of communist revolutionaries?

Moreover, I would indeed advise against venturing into these spaces precisely because you will find that the people that make it toxic are also the ones that complain about it the loudest and blame others without looking at themselves. There's nothing to gain by sharing space with people that want the opposite to what you want and that will then hold a grudge because you didn't put effort towards that, and even feel entitled to other people's effort, even those which they have never met.

People change and move, but also people come to the scene shopping for ideologies , friends or lifestyles, and then leave when they founnd what they were looking for, and take it with them, or when they don't find what they want and leave empty handed. Worst-case scenario, you find bad things you weren't looking for and leave with trauma, or stay there forever despite hating it.

Sometimes you drift away from anarchism, sometimes anarchism drifts away from you.
Anarchism is the worst political philosophy, except for all the others.

Anarchy though, anarchy is cool.

At the end of the day the only real question is - are you going to help tear up the asphalt or are you going to make an argument for civilization?

"are you going to help tear up the asphalt or are you going to make an argument for civilization?"

how about neither? have you ever heard of "binary thinking"?

yeah, I was thinking more like ... once the tax base is gone and the road repair crews move on to other asphalt pastures, then the trees and plants and water cycle will do for the asphalt? plus maybe the nuclear winter for a few centuries or more? that does a number on asphalt too ...

anyway, tearing it up by hand is hard work! can I at least use a pickaxe or is it sticks and stones only?

i am no primmie, and as one who desires anarchic relations, i would never tell you what tools you "can" or "cannot" use. if you use a jackhammer near my life, i will talk to you about how it impacts me and mine.

don't worry, I'm deeply anti-work like any sensible worker. it's always break time!

drifting in spaaaaaaaceee
far out maaan
we’re all drifters...
wanderers...
planets, “planetes” the Greek word meaning "wanderer"...
“dérive”, in French...you drift around you feel so far out...you feel that “dépaysement“...
where do you call home? where did you come from? where are you going? are you lost?
are we talking about shooting stars?
where are they going?
burnt out, deflagrating
star dust falls to earth’s crust...
tectonic drift maaaan...
it’s all connectedddd!! !

Why do you think people are drifting away? If it’s not repression, then what and why? It’s pretty depressing and strange that entire milieus should collapse for seemingly no reason.

All the hardships, witch hunts, toxic group dynamics, factionalism is sourced in one common factor, which is the drive for appropriation or consolidating this appropriation. This applies to rented spaces of course, as well as coops and even squats (at least those controlled by specific-interest gangs, in collaboration with external politics). But this is not just about spaces, also about bodies, relationships, etc.

I don't give a fuck if anyone calls me a Marxist. This is what I observed. And yeah, Marx can be right on some aspects, where these might occur twice a day.

you already covered a lot of it but maybe this person drills down on the topic a bit more?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Byung-Chul_Han

specifically his theories about psychopolitics and the obvious combinations with technology that have basically amputated huge ranges of human socialization and replaced them with weird, alienated spectacle pods that the vast majority of us are floating around in currently, instead of interacting with the physical world ... like humans used to.

So you’re saying milieus fall apart as a result of the people in them fighting each other for supremacy over spaces, bodies and relationships within the milieu until everyone gets tired, burnt out and deserts?

yeah, i think it's the "horizontal" portion of it, hyper hostile default ways of relating to strangers: like rescue animals that lash out or hide whenever they're startled or made to feel mildly uncomfortable.

which boosts all the other shitty things like state repression, poverty and mental health, other aspects of neo-liberalism, etc.

As you get older and deal with work, rent, physical/mental health, etc. your patience for horizontal highschool power games goes to fucking zero rq.

couldn't agree more but like, either it's a race to the bottom of the suck hole or else people have to push back against this kind of crap?

assuming anyone even thinks there's a "scene" worth saving. i just see the value in public facing anarchist projects and spaces, provided people don't let them get swamped with this bad faith, clout chasing, cool kid bullshit

I’d rather play cyberpunk 2077 and drink white claw. Its more rewarding

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