Internet Feudal Barons and Our Lack of Surprise

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(Subversion News, Itsgoingdown)

December 14th is the congressional vote to repeal Title II classification for Internet service providers, which regulates them as public utilities and mandates equal protection for all Internet traffic, fulfilling the concept of Net Neutrality. It seems that I’ve been here before, and nothing feels different aside from this issue in the grand scheme of things. That, and maybe my level of cynicism.

Three years ago, in my social democrat days, I dove into all that so-called “Team Internet” could really do. The late Obama years were a push to ensure progressive policies would withstand after election season. Everything except physically organizing was what I did when the FCC was urged to adopt clear net neutrality rules. We knew that consumers were just waiting to be fucked over by broadband companies if reclassification didn’t beat them to it, so it was a big deal for most of that year.

Outreach was rather grueling when trying to bring the issue to everyone who uses the Internet. The aggressive lies about “innovation” being at stake if broadband speeds didn’t remain a competitive market seemed as convincing to many as the reality of Internet connections being universally jumbled with the stablest ones concentrated in the hands of those who could pay.

Initially, I didn’t think writing/calling congress and having the situation explained in full would matter much. What felt like this loose network of hackers and nerd-activists seemed to be no match for the landlords of broadband and their lobbyists, so my hopes for victory were modest. But in time the decision to reclassify was sealed, thanks to enough noise against the idea of paying premiums for different connections. There was a sense of accomplishment in banding together within the “safety” of government that my white skin affords me.

This, of course, was before the political jolt that was Trump’s presidency. Around an administration that has been one clique power-grab after the other, Ajit Pai’s flagship decision as newly-appointed FCC chairman was to crash and burn protective Internet regulations, similar to our health care system or public water treatment.

What distinguishes then from now is [my understanding of] what I want out of putting time and energy into an issue. I realized the inherent limitations on what could realistically be won through this perpetually circular politics of appeal and compromise. Self-described “radicals” are engaging in a battle for leverage in a situation that affects what they should realistically be forcing out of the hands of the few. Its not exactly overcoming or progressing (notions that liberals have always suggested) if you’re constantly fighting for the same reforms in different political eras. I arrived at the conclusion that working within authority can only push it to change its tactics of constraint. It has to be deconstructed, physically disrupted and abolished by obsolescing its relevance through new social habits.

This is ultimately no more of a surprise than Trump doing anything else. When you have a president with this kind of hubris, uncharted influence and a tattered but intact support base with various reactionary formations, this is just a drop in the bucket. I was convinced that the definitive sign of more (and worse) to come was the early rhetoric around immigration and “America first”, so its hard to be surprised or significantly upset by any of this.

Let’s not take all this to mean this situation isn’t a problem. Bludgeoning Internet access to guarantee that Telecom giants can exert restraint on consumers as a business strategy in this particular time of polarization and turbulence — especially with most organizing happening online — is going to prove difficult for radicals’ playing field.

But do I clench my heart and cry “Oh, the humanity!” No, because whether we have European-style net neutrality regulations or the same model we have for health care, we are ignoring the relationship at play. The entities people are out to win over cannot have the same conversation. There are mutually opposing interests that are the final say, and accruing their sympathy will not do anything if it conflicts with them. You always run the risk of having any concessions revoked when they’re mere options for appeasement within the negligence of impersonal democracy.

Net neutrality is a false distinction in a society where access to anything is fundamentally broken, let alone the Internet. Nonetheless, liberals will prioritize the things within reach to middle-class whites and avoid the overarching motive behind it all. This is going to be a pain, no doubt. What isn’t in this world?

Hashtag resistance is officially canceled.

What the Internet has demonstrated is among the most effective means of collaborating and opening up new and powerful means of expressing, sharing, reinventing and decentralizing. But that ethos can never reach its fullest potential when Telecom property owners can pull the plug whenever they please. They will never cease control of our access so long as there is any base for them to stand on.

The airwaves are a commons. Every tool and beyond should be, but this will never be adopted as the reality so long as monopolizing or mediating capabilities exist anywhere, be they state or private.

Internet Feudal Barons and Our Lack of Surprise

The Religion of Civility

(For Subversion News)

Two weeks after the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, the geniuses of sacred non-action are still at it.

Between “an-tee-fuh”, the “alt-left” and “violence on both sides“, we’re back to J20 and Pikeville as everyone crawls out of the woodwork to talk about the “violence on the left” and circulate their ready-made expertise on anti-fascism, all while dodging what lit a fire under them, or fighting the actual philosophical meat of it and broader anarchism with condescending outrage.

I’ve been focused on this since I got back, since this was my first major action since being physically involved in such things. Not only that, but the discussion has been going on for longer than expected. Charlottesville was the tamest anti-fascist demonstration I’ve ever seen. We came into a small town and ruined a white nationalist rally before it can even start, without many arrests and without much trouble from the cops, and yet this might be the one event of this decade’s anti-fascist activity that garners the most commentary from the right and center.

Those in the combination of their sheltered media chambers and traditional social litanies, instead of being on the ground in front of struggles, always get the loudest mic to speak into. Not like this is surprising: They get to be pampered by the social byproducts of others’ subordination, and simultaneously defend their legitimacy in all corners of life. Nonetheless, it peeves me when we continue encountering the same angry questions under a different name, and someone is expecting a new answer.

I think, along with someone being killed, the legalistics of permits and free speech coming into this really set the popular stage, allowing the white panic of preserving the current structures to coming into conflict with the larger goals of anti-fascism. Beyond that playing out as usual, I certainly think we’re on track toward a civil conflict for better or worse. Thats precisely why anti-fascists are going all out, we intend to win.

And with the “why” absolutely cleared just now, the heavier baggage of attacking assembly and working outside the perimeters of the law remains. Particularly, the use of violence.

We are always denying ourselves the reality of violence when talking about disrupting social systems. For Industrial Society 101, violence has been monopolized for generations through the state. This is the crux of the issue when looking at how smashing a corporation’s window stacks up to letting thousands of people go uninsured each year, and so on. People have an instinctive way of judging those scenarios with a set of obfuscated, reproduced norms that totally demonize one act while not paying a second glance to another.

Getting to where people see that and understand why its like this involves rediscovering history through a different lens, one that demonstrates how people then and now are affected and repressed. Even trickier is explaining why civility in these conditions is instantly surrender, and how developing our own strategies and coming together on our own terms is the best way to win a better world.

Civility, in how society is presently arranged, is the effect of the privileged accumulating the complacency of the ruled. Alternative social patterns are simply unthinkable or collectively hammered into our skulls as impractical and dangerous, so generations typically reproduce an atmosphere of things being stable the way they are, or disseminating spirituality as a coping mechanism for life being unbearable. Coupled with familial castes and popular media, we have the central nervous system of capitalist state society: a populous that is comfortable and obedient in the limits they were told are the infinite expanses of life.

Resistance happens when the requirements for capital and privilege (subordination, stratification) build up into distinct social groups. With what freedom of thought the ruled have to themselves, there is capacity to design alternatives and nourish its growth while in bondage. Cultures that solidify around exploitation always secure their dreams with a rich and resonating community. Slavery in North America and a class of African descendants carried on a particular consciousness that lives in the changing face of racism and white supremacy. From Nat Turner in 1830s Virginia plantations, to the Black Panthers in 1960s Harlem, to Black Lives Matter in contemporary liberal America, the consciousness that intersects with other struggles (workers’ and queer struggle, etc.) finds the very channels that mediate or propagate oppression and grow beneath them.

Over time, however, incremental reformism has proven to be the most hypnotizing buffer between the dissolving of bondage and the securing of privilege. After trade unionism was legalized, participation in social movements became increasingly perfunctory and symbolic, crystallizing the aversion to direct action in favor of seeking legitimacy from higher authorities. People’s self-confidence in their own actions were, and have increasingly become, disarmed and filtered into a singular, designated political sphere that was reinforced by the doctrines of civility.

Those who cling to this model do so for varying reasons. Commonly in the United States, its liberals whose political identity was forged solely out of this model and know nothing beyond it, or its conservative-right people who find this model to always be a stepping stone toward a real instance of their ideals. The sanctity of what they’re familiar with, the desperation in avoiding what requires fundamental restructuring and demonizing the interests of the exploited always play a synchronized part in propping up a confused warning of danger to further influence civility.

What makes for an obvious double-standard but a opportune entryway is how people who declare that life is savage and that things like markets and speculation are rooted in a human instinct toward savagery can’t at least reconcile this with anti-fascists acting in such a way. The doctrine of “tough shit” is always hammered into those with social grievances, but suddenly the lecturers are shaking in their boots when the act of brutality expands inward on the whole framework.

Undoing this ritual requires understanding violence and the relationships around it: whats is considered violent, how it is regulated, how it is ultimately relative and where to go with that understanding.

Violence is a character of life, a means of dispensing power. But more deeply, violence as a social phenomena isn’t a defined, tangible thing as we might envision it. The underpinnings of force are typically applied to an inherently political situation and manipulated depending on the actor. This covers everything from breaking the windows of a bank that evicts people from their houses, the police arresting protesters, to any form of speech that resonates in society.

Expression has long been painted in the light of reducing the consequences of what people say. On one hand, people today seem to allow racists as well as far-left radicals to say what they please in equal measure. But on the other, they reserve their rights to “disagree” with whomever. These reactions are the modifications to consequences in the light of mediation. They acknowledge an idea of consequences of speech, but only in the form of their own reaction and its relationship to discourse. The possibility of any consequences outside of this are left up to pacifying or quelling forces, like the police. So long as an authority rests on top of these transactions, and as long as they are imbued with trust in stopping anything that deviates from civility, there can only be popular displacement from the genuine consequences outside of upper middle class communities. So while a racist spreading lies about marginalized communities means little to a well-off liberal, it means a hell of a lot to those who will see and live through the consequences of that speech right in front of them.

This is probably the summary for why free speech isn’t so much “opposed” by anti-fascists and anarchists as much as its just a terrible reduction of what language is. Language is a tool as powerful as cutting individuals off from your life or starting rumors. Such things have intention and weight, they accomplish things whether explicit or not. If we can imagine what such things mean for tight-knit social groups of single-digit amounts of people, think of its impact on anything from towns, to cities, to whole continent populations. But again, as long as quelling authorities rest on top of these intimately human transactions, they will always be reduced down to the ins and outs of politics while the genuine consequences play out unaccounted for. Disconnected from any social importance.

So in this framing, the features and levels of violence are anything but unanimously agreed on. Political actions are commonly measured by the weight they carry and how forceful or affective they are, but the affiliation the action is bound to is always the deciding factor for whether its violent.

But the relativity of violence doesn’t imply a disregard for what it accomplishes. For anti-fascists, it isn’t unitary violence that is examined as much as whats behind the violence, who is doing it and to what ends. Violence is expected from the opposition as much as it is from the bindings of today’s society, and so which violence we oppose is made clear because it enforces what we want destroyed. Regardless of seeing the word violence and knowing that people will imagine vastly different examples, it describes an emotional reality underneath the vagueness, and it can be used to align our intentions properly.

Denouncing violence is like denouncing the force required in tackling anything that works against you, but we cannot take this to just mean “in self-defense.” Reducing all of self-defense down to immediate physical protection neglects what violence and preserving oneself entails, especially in a setting where the lifeblood of society is constant threat. The end goal is to eliminate structures of violence: coercion, domination and the like, which comprise forces decidedly not relative, and perform concrete functions such as capitalism, state repression and social bigotry that build a reality of suffering.

The instinctual disregard for criticism from the right and center comes from their dependence on what social emancipation requires destroying. By relying on “its not that bad”, “haven’t you learned anything from Stalin?” or “you hate free speech”, we meet at the same starting point over and over. All that time wasted trying to explain our case just for it to be thrown out could be spent organizing and arming around worthwhile goals.

Obedience to currently acceptable ideals has driven the left away from debate, because the requirement to be taken seriously is to lie down and submit or risk being named “alt”. And every time a glimpse of our case is made, the reaction is simply angry defense of political essentialism or flipping the narrative.

So speaking calmly and acting how we’re told has been proven fruitless, a spectacle for the media facade and self-service repression. We’re over playing pretend. As spontaneous action finds its way in the streets and communities, as the structures of privilege and coercion are discredited, we’re reaching a trying time of discovering our strength and wielding it together, or once again rebranding the game of domination.

Non-violence can only persuade authority to take a new shape or expand appeasement, but it can never mend the relations of exploitation and violence that anarchists will always oppose. Autonomy and dignity in our lives will always be sacrificed so long as we act obediently in the shadow of power.

We might have landed on a particularly stubborn generational spot for the next social transition to happen, as most people still don’t see how we went from Kings and Surfs to Bosses and Employees. Its always difficult to attack the conscience of the population without seemingly devaluing the whole of their character. In doing the latter, we become just as bad as our enemies in allowing material mechanisms to segment us from the whole of humanity. It takes reminding oneself of the values they inherited and the vessel that expresses them, seeking only to revise one of them for everyone’s wellness.

We don’t desire or get anything out of talking down to everyday people, but the frustration and outrage that is perpetuated through popular channels creates the only audible tone. As much as we would prefer diverse and colorful images of anarchy and vanquished white supremacy as a gift to all, a rich connection between the individual, the world, and what fills the space between them, those would be dismissed as utopian in a heartbeat.

The monotone black [and red] of militant negation appears to set the stage well enough for what we have to deal with presently. We appear to be assholes because we’re backed into such a corner where we only have so much to work with. And with what is available to us, we consistently build up our conclusion.

Nazis are for shutting down and putting down, not assimilating and regulating as you would anyone else. Free speech is a political right afforded to you by the same class of elites who arrange the wages of starvation, mandate ritualistic appeals to higher-ups and draw out who suffers and who dispenses. When people aren’t separated from consequences, it isn’t a social axiom that anybody abides by even in their most intimate setting.

We’ll soon be forced out of our screen-lit rooms and into the world we’ve abandoned, reeling at what we left to fester. Popular conscience will experience a thermal shock of reality when people understand that mediating fascism, whether by trademarked Rational Centrism over twitter or the holiness of legislation, is a joke when the bodies start piling up.

So, whats the solution? Social revolution.

The Religion of Civility

Charlottesville is Barely The Start

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(For Subversion NewsIts Going Down)

Our group of four stood at the crosswalk, flagpoles in hand and bandannas around our necks. Off in the distance, the park is teeming with black-clad people with clubs, shields, respirators, flags, banners, signs. Any form of message delivery, all with the same idea. Looking down the street to see if there’s a quicker way to get across, we spot the first of our enemy: Identity Evropa marching in a single column down the sidewalk across the park, their distinct blue and white flags waving above them. Before they round the corner to face the anti-fascists, we already hear cries against them, cries unlike at any sporting event; cries with sincere disdain on every level. “Nazi Scum Off Our Streets!” The column leaves our sight, and we cross the street. This is at 10 AM.

Over the next two hours, we move from park to park, checkpoint to checkpoint encountering the sections of this new wave of terror and fervor of racial fantasy. At the same time, we encounter some of the most courageous and selfless individuals who put themselves in danger to aid their comrades. Street medics tending to those pepper sprayed and injured by the enemy. Redneck Revolt giving armed protection to the mass of anti-fascists. Camp sites out in the woods providing legal info, mental health support and weapons training before the action. Every bit of this would contribute to our victory over the enemy in Charlottesville, but also set the paradigm for what to do from then on.

After the police declared Emancipation park an unlawful assembly for the white nationalists, we regrouped at our initial rendezvous. We eat, rehydrate and plan our next moves. Reports from communications come in and out, that the fascists are approaching us. A couple right-wing stragglers cross the street, get punched in the mouth and get their confederate flag expropriated, which is later burned.

We make our way to McGuffey park to rejoin with people we got separated with. When we arrive we get word that Richard Spencer was arrested and celebrate accordingly. Soon after, we get reports of fascists en route to harass a black, low income neighborhood. As armed bike-runners are dispatched to confirm the situation, the need to gather all the counter-protesters to have the whole town on watch becomes obvious.

We set our sights for the busy roads around the pedestrian mall, a mile out from Emancipation Park. An improvised chant invigorates our numbers down the road leaving McGuffey. “Everywhere we go, pigs wanna know; Who we are — so we tell them: ‘We are the People! The motherfucking people! Fighting for Justice. Black liberation, brown liberation, queer liberation, trans liberation, native liberation, workers’ liberation!

Soon we reach an intersection, and we are greeted by red communist flags and black lives matter banners. Cheers signal them into the mass of people united against white supremacy. We wave our flags and continuously declare these streets to be ours, as they are. But just after clearing the intersection, at Water and Fourth streets, I hear faint screams up the road. I grab my partner and a comrade and rush us to a sidewalk in the opposite direction before the screams culminate in a roaring smash with people tumbling over windshields. The rush of victory and camaraderie is instantly replaced by terror; fear for what the toll of injuries and deaths will be reported on in the news later that day. I clutch my partner, knowing that someone is dead. “This is fucking class war!” we shout.

Paramedics arrive in minutes. One of our group members is missing, and our anxiety peaks when riot police begin stepping in, advancing ten feet per minute. To our greatest relief, she makes it back to us having been trapped on the other side when police cleared the street. For fear of being kettled, we rejoin with people from our state and get somewhere safe.

After the attack, activities on all sides are fragmented into a free-for-all. The give a little, get a littleconvention is thrown out the window. Hospitals caring for injured anti-fascists are circled by cars belonging to Identity Evropa. Reports of drive-by shootings by nationalists put everyone on edge. Sporadic reports of mass arrests send us to ultimately barren locations. Cooling down at a local coffeeshop, we decide that we’ve done our part. We make it back to our car and debrief at camp before getting on the road for home. We get the outside world’s view of the situation in the car. It feels almost insulting, after what we’ve seen firsthand.

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Charlottesville as a city is now tainted to me. I can never get that first impression healed, and that city will always be bookended as where I was on August 12, 2017. Every bit of stonework, every street and every shop can only play a part in mentally outlining the vessel for what arose on that day from devotion to the myth of “blood and soil.” Regardless, a few facts need to be repeated.

We outnumbered them. We shut their event down before it could start. We were lucky enough to have the cops turn on them. But they will step up their game. They will celebrate the murder of Heather Heyer and twist it into a repetitive in-joke, encouraging their fantasy to be built on further. They willkill more of us, and they will try to win. The fascist rise to power is always prefaced in the streets.

The analyses of late show all and more I could say about the situation: This is a testament to this generation’s resurgence of nationalism; the point where everyone agrees that they’ve moved out of the Internet. Where mere disgruntled young white men are organized into formations capable of terrorizing vulnerable communities and securing the already prevalent structures of oppression as the core mode of society.

Charlottesville as some grand call to action was a laughable failure, yes, but I can only speak for the impressions I got in the streets. Personally, it was a declaration of class war that was secured when Heather Heyer was killed. Each side had a sense of this being something momentous, probably not as profound when knowing that it was built up over the weeks prior, but it was there and it meant something more.

And now in the aftermath, as white nationalists announce more rallies over confederate statue removals across the US, threatening posters put in low income neighborhoods and random acts of racist violence, we are seeing that sentiment spreading and coalescing into a real conflict beyond protests. With liberals saying their routine denouncing of violence “on many sides”, its made clear once again that only we will protect us.

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We have to come to the realization of peace and love being an outcome. A result, and not a means of maintaining itself. You can stand up to hate with love, but what vehicle of action is love driving? Certainly not more and more “love” until it somehow forms an effective weapon to literally kill white supremacy. You don’t “love” a fascist to death or make your love out to be deadly if it can’t hate and kill when it needs to.

Our relationships need to break away from appeasing the exploitation of non-violent complacency, monotonous popular dialog, and taking to heart the acceptability of liberal pats on the back.

If anyone cares about standing up to hate, they won’t prioritize “taking a stand” and announcing support while backing down at the first sign of physical confrontation. They will speak last while organizing, arming, training and fighting alongside the marginalized. They will understand the need to raze the shackles of state mediation, working to the crossroads of autonomy or autocracy. It is possible, and day by day it becomes our time to decide.

[Image Credits: Anonymous]

Charlottesville is Barely The Start

National Socialist Movement to join “Unite the Right” in Virginia

(For Subversion NewsIts Going Down)

After the American Renaissance conference in Tennessee, its seems clear what to expect from the Unite the Right event in Charlottesville, Virginia, which is due in one week.

We anticipated the conference to be a sort of ideological warm-up for the alt-right’s journey through the Upper South and Appalachia, met with moderate opposition outside the Montgomery Bell Park Inn. Despite the predictable impressions of the attendees and the laughable enticement of minor physical violence from the far-right side, it remains a far cry from a simple disconnected meeting of nazis.

While international figures convened in Tennessee, the gathering in Charlottesville has its sights set for a very real goal in the communities of those in the US: To preserve the commemoration of genocide, slavery and the prevailing sentiments of white domination over the marginalized, wrapped in the myth of “preserving history”. Even then, there seems to be a deeper goal considering the nature of the right coming together in such a time.

Along with figureheads Milo Yiannopoulos, Richard Spencer, Neo-Confederates League of the South, Strasserists Traditionalist Worker Party and assorted kekistanis wielding stale memes and embarrassment, the National Socialist Movement, led by Jeff Schoep, has announced their partnership with the attendance.

The NSM joining more or less summarizes the drive of the entire event. Yes, whether in swastika’ed bomber jackets or suits and ties, they’re advocating white supremacy. But while Spencer and those like him will definitely make attempts at keeping a civic profile, the attraction of the out-and-loud white supremacists is not as innocent or unintentional as it appears.

Uniting the right is pointless without a good reason. There isn’t much purpose if the right historically has always been divided into their own subcultures ranging from neocons enforcing poverty, to disenchanted rural militiamen defending the constitution; or something. The right in all their incoherence always finds ways to isolate their own strands while fighting for the same side of the spectrum. E.g., an attack on a neo-nazi is an attack on the first amendment, and therefore the constitution and the values of America. Undermining whiteness is a perpetuation of a literal white genocide, and equally an attack on white christian property owners that conservatives bend over backwards for. The outline of similar interests becomes more shared when framed just right.

It takes a big issue, or a bright shining abstraction, to bring together such interests.

The major media scare of anti-fascist resistance and ground-up community action has no doubt played a role in drumming up emotions from all corners of the right and center. The typical suburban household to the local red-lace chapter has adopted and customized the outrage as a political wedge. The pox of white defensiveness has become the current paradigm — a delicate bridge separating the ways this tension will conclude. Opportunism hasn’t been this stirred up since the 1960s.

It seems to come down to lines becoming more and more visible, sides becoming more one or the otherWith us, or against us in the desperation of the political base abandoning party lines. The far-left has always held the line, encouraged crossing it, in the face of growing polarization and instability. But like routine, its often the right that quickly steps up to the plate ready to see how this particular game will go. Our culture wars coming out of our isolated social media chambers and into the streets signifies a very uncertain round of society reconfiguring itself, liberals playing insufferable mediator.

Its time to get fucking real. For those who haven’t already, its time to shake off party-based activism and legislation and look to our own potential: in our own towns and backyards. Its time to subvert the state buffer between the marginalized and the smirking scourge of white supremacy and defeat it where it stalks closest to home.

The fascists must not have the streets. We call on all anarchist, anti-fascist and anti-authoritarian groups in Appalachia and East South Central North America to converge at Lee Park on August 12th at 3:00 PM EST, and carry on the active resistance against white supremacy. We intend to win.

National Socialist Movement to join “Unite the Right” in Virginia

The Sentiment Market and Killing It

After a little way’s into USA network’s premier of Mr. Robot in 2015, the feeling began to crystallize for me and probably others.

I just began restarting a personal blog. My political tendencies were taking shape around my commitment to Internet freedom and the greater hacker community influenced by the threat of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Scared shitless that copyright goons would seize my parents’ router, I immersed myself deeper in the culture to build up a pseudo-militant persona.

I got the first four episodes after an Internet friend kept pressuring me. Before that I only saw one image, later to be seen on different cringe threads. “OUR DEMOCRACY HAS BEEN HACKED,” superimposed over Rami Malek’s hooded face.

Not long after walking away having enjoyed it well enough, I published the first real article on the blog. It seemed like a cozy blend of opposition to intellectual property cut with an acceptance of money being a concrete social thing, simply declaring that media isn’t a tangible item to be commodified. It can’t work. This made me feel steadfast and edgy but grounded and practical, probably engineered to take solace in being looked at seriously enough by everyday people, not needing to engage in significant explanations.

That was my mindset for a while, in that light of Pirate Party support and free culture vigilance. Of course, I grew to see why things I love are being threatened: Why open content and the desire and tools to expand it was scaring the shit out of the entertainment industry, weaponizing their dollars. The problem was the whole structure, the whole interwoven combinations, as well as the narrative of protecting them and ensuring their appeasement.

But looking back on that brief stint of not fully knowing where I stood economically, nor having a conception of a social stance being integral to an economic one, it brought back memories of what was dispensed my way. In them, I found an uneasiness distinct in the artificial tones playing out casually; like they couldn’t afford to pretend anymore, so they needed to adapt themselves by wearing plastic sentiments.

Mr. Robot did so by sprinkling a Fight Club rewrite with cult jargon about onion routing, GNOME, KDE and “hacking”, with a layer of corporate critical, post-Snowden conspiracy fantasy and a slice of appealing to those with emotional problems. Basically all the qualities of the cyberpunk communities I would frequent.

The conversation it must have taken beforehand seems obvious. “That linux-hacker computer-thing has a pretty sizable community online. Lets tap into it by making a TV show about hacking, evil businessmen and social anxiety.”

Immediately, its easy to know what I’m talking about in total, but it seems like this particular feature has more depth to it. There is a sincerity in things like Mr. Robot and countless other media, normally when dealing with trends or niches. But its not an advocacy of the content, instead its a mesh of (plastic) sentiments as a vehicle for richness, of allure when the intensity in scenarios is coated with a positive or heroic representation of the protagonists. The intent is normally for the same reasons as any TV or film undertaking, using these subcultures for spectacle.

However, it also attempts to sabotage the potential in politically-oriented subcultures by using their dialog and ideals for the reverse purposes. And indeed they accomplish them when million dollar documentaries about whistleblowers make their budget back, or when coverage of outcry sends ratings into the stratosphere. When it isn’t the hacker or the guerrilla fighter depicted as heartless and chaotic, their heroism is livened to such a proportion that it accomplishes a mutually opposing interest in the real world.

We can boil down the marketing of sentiments, isolated from the total spectacle, by its power in subtlety. You won’t find intimately relatable people on any TV network or social media anymore, since their only role is distraction. A break from the busy mind. But when the distraction becomes toxic complacency, and those who acknowledge it want a feeling of rejuvenating empowerment like the young beginners of social awareness and political identity, you can find little bursts anywhere that reconcile two halves which ultimately serve one. The Market, then the sentiment: the illusion of a message.

This is one of advertising’s basic survival mechanisms. People won’t care about whats being offered if it feels disconnected from their own world, so it targets as many specific types of people it can for net turnout. It used to be that popular behaviors were copied, or even lived by advertisers, and rewritten to sell. But now they’ve infiltrated deeper, attaching as many timely embellishments as possible, applying research on general social dissatisfaction within these subcultures. All to sell not only representation, but commonality, which is consequentially monopolized.

What makes the end result so plastic is how impersonal the words and images are. For things so integral to personalities, they are shouted off from unfamiliar places and meant to entice those who recognize them. For those observant of this process, it has an Uncanny Valley effect: Relatively agreeable dialogs or situations depicted in contrived environments, rather than playing out in our most familiar collectives, muddles the original texture. For others, when facing the monopoly on cultural representation, there is little choice but to consume its products and enjoy the most of the stories possible, instead of feeling right about the representation in equal measure. To watch yourself be played out by another instead of grasping the actions yourself.

To put it all together, the traits of socially relevant subcultures are accounted for and implemented into commodities and advertisements, which have a corrupted similarity to their source material. We are subjected to deeply engineered versions of our own passions. This is probably why those who enter into a subculture through the contrived channels experience higher fascination when entering the personal spaces, even experiencing feelings of inadequacy, limited belonging.

Inversion of the market by some degree of non-profit causes are not exempt from this. They have the same stench, coming from the same batch of trendy gloss. The framing is distinctly impersonal, held at a distance between viewer and speaker with a long cord of familiarity traveling the length.

The adverts by TruthOrange made it perfectly clear to me. I knew of the typical picture of suits in a boardroom calculating loss and subdividing, but their anti-smoking ads made up entirely of twenty-year olds and Trap music in the background allowed me to peer into those rooms and almost taste the words on their lips. Beat for beat, I knew the formula at the first second.

“If we make our characters young, black, sassy and loud about social issues, talking about ‘recent studies’ and ‘the supreme court’, we can hook onto that burgeoning niche with an appeal to realness.”

It becomes obvious that its not a matter of changing the approach to creating media “for” or “about” such interests. There is not any adequate means of offering groups what they want that can’t generate plastic sentimentality. Its a consequence of market necessities mass filtering socially relevant passions and dispensing hollow spectacles. The sentiments must be well earned, derived from the groups alone.

The gap between the continuation of hierarchies and people’s needs and desires soon becomes marketed. Something new becomes obvious, so they bank on it — possibly a quelling tactic. Resistance itself, the concept, is now a casualty to advertising and plastic moving images, totally displaced from intimately building transformation on a given scale. In its place are those plastic tones in the form of hashtags and mass produced protest signs. Now they’ve run their course for so long, that we begin living them.

You see democrats calling for “resistance” to Trump, but in the fashion of Love not Hate without any praxis whatsoever.

You see people in the streets demonstrating for minimum wage increases with an attitude only suitable for toppling the wage system entirely.

You see clenched fists implemented in political parties and safe, impersonal non-profits.

Of course, its foolish to suggest that large scale, genuine sentiments can break through under capitalism. Its for that reason that “indie” media or other highly contained items are distinguished from all the rest, always proving the model of the adorable little hundred dollar movie that tried. From this, we can derive that fully realized passions not debased by market intrusion is tightly bound up in social revolution.

For gaining the strength to build a true, militant culture free of interference, my hopes are in the inner-city apartment blocks. In the neighborhoods behind the construction sites. In the rural clusters of homes in Appalachia. Where material sorrows exist, there is a young person working to relay anarchy to the dejected. Where there are obscure inclinations toward a better personal network, there is a community who shares them. There is no place or people where trust is stronger, where faith in self-determination and actualization is more defined, and certainly more plausible.

The act of uprooting planned culture through self-organized media outlets, cultural hubs and social structures in the present is probably the right start for revolt entirely. Not simply to keep it healthy for a time, but also to nourish its roots now so they can grow deeper when the scorched earth is removed. And even then, it certainly goes a little deeper as I see it.

People actually building a society within the current one with its own priorities and decisions, negating the ones issued to them, is the general direction. I think people should get to a point where they aren’t working jobs or paying rent or bills or taxes pertaining to the outer, private and public society, but pursuing their existence contextual to what communities they themselves have erected. If they can fend off repression and infiltration sufficiently, they can grow out and revitalize what they keep from the old world.

Among their defense networks and coordination assemblies, there are well-earned, non-contrivedsentiments springing from people’s intimately connected expressions in the pursuit of autonomy. They become the social vessel for what is being enlarged by the voices in the streets. The voices are critical and hopeful, the adapted essence of the situationists for what they themselves adapted to.

Our challenge, this particular one, is in the monopoly on commonality. The brands, TV and Internet markets hold the reigns of trust, given total guidance over our passions (themselves not in our control) or warping what we’re slowly realizing. Meanwhile, we distrust those who most deeply share the ills of class society or the significant issues in a common area.

The continual pressure doesn’t offer many options without dressing up the same melancholy. We wallow in the romantic misery of being oneself in a society of strangers who walk and talk kind of like us, inventing a new pride in being the real thing. Or, we dethrone the channels of impersonal adaption which alienate our passions and aspirations from ourselves and our experiences in the hope of total self-determination.

The Sentiment Market and Killing It

Who are the real “Cucks”?

Perhaps a slightly dated subject considering its assimilation into expectation, but certainly overdue in the wake of recent events, the components that make up the discourse around the Trump presidency, its offspring movements and the resistance to them are new instances of how overall society views existing power and notions of counterpower.

In sum, we are talking about the competition between contentions, and the nature of why people hold them. All past decades have experienced this same thing, even past centuries. The only questions are whether the closest thing to a side’s demand is reached, or if the spectacle itself will shift society onto a different course. Right now is the specific debate around who is more justified to oppose a contention that opposes something relating to the first opposition in question; e.g., anti-fascism.

In conjunction is the present nature of the means to carry on this conversation, specifically, of course, the way its carried on through the Internet. At this point, we’re all familiar with the Internet’s historical and often times much needed cynicism towards big ideas and pandering. This attitude has often been responsible for more good than harm as seen in pre-2010 mobilization against private malice (the occupy movement) and secretive institutions ruining people’s lives (Scientology).

This cynicism was used with a goal, normally with an idea of correcting a specific institutional wrong, in mind. It wasn’t a set of full-fledged social justice causes, but simple action against blatant assholes getting away with whatever they were doing. A yearning among teens and young adults to make a difference and organize over the Internet became a force no longer scoffed at as it was before web 2.0 was effectively in place. People were taking on activities that people across the moderate political spectrum could unite on, and in a sense this moderate normalization set the stage for what was to come when we reached the mid to late 2010s.

A considerable portion of online communities, mainly those who grossed over 10,000 active participants, have at that time been farther right than center-right at worst, farther left than center-left at best. Niche corners of full right and left-wing could be unearthed with a little effort in finding them, but they wouldn’t be discovered right away. Eventually one side (invested in broader social justice) showed their colors in proposals to explicitly tackle bigotry, universally crude behavior and economic inequality for the betterment of all. This was met with reaction by those committed to the moderate section of online politics as they jumped to the other side in an effort to balance the scales, seeing it as a departure from centrism and moreover an attack on those a little more to the right.

Without completely rehashing the story everyone’s already seen play out, this festered and grew into the present centrist outcry against a principled and detailed political fort, and because it was the left that spoke up first, to balance those imaginary scales, they allied with the enemy of the newly found enemy. In the name of that moderate section — in the neo-classical liberal fashion, they sided with the right against the evil left, who apparently sought to take away straight, white men’s free speech and oust them from society.

This raged on for a short while. Gamergate, safe spaces, video essay battles, “alt” online communities, Terabytes worth of twitter arguments and people monetizing the whole show were logs on the fire. It was the left versus the right, with centrist Rationals™️ backing the right and so the two blurred together. As they saw it, the right was the victim: If the left had simply stayed complacent with everyone being committed to non-involvement in substantive issues beyond what they were used to, everyone would be happy. If they had sat quietly as prejudice and wage slavery was as casual an occurrence online as in everyday life, everything would be just fine. Dissent was okay; as long as it was an approved sort of dissent.

And in time, Trump happened. It was probably the succession of what the online conflict had been building up to, no doubt influencing the outcome, but more so it was confirmation of a fearful reactionary response to impotent liberal ventures. The delirium among tragically deluded working class white men angry at basically nothing propelled itself, or provided a reason to keep going. For a response to further drive the cycle. If only we had known what it was at the time; we may have been relieved of that fad before it came to this.

Enter the “cuck”, derived from cuckold, wherein one remains committed to a promiscuous lover. Although in Internet socio-political banter, it’s used to illustrate one who sacrifices all self-respect in the name of a political ideal and its related tendencies. It had been formed prior to Trump in the reactions to isolated cases of left activity, eventually becoming a mainstay in the “alt-right” cadre that took form in the midst of the 2016 election.

The phrase is used as a sort of intellectual weapon with the intent to weaken the drive behind an argument. In its use against the left, it asserts that the person speaking is simply whoring himself out to a cause which would satisfy him emotionally through a commitment to an idea of justice and equality, even if it means his own destruction. Stripping this down more simply, it refers to any individual with a sophisticated involvement in a set of ideas and practices.

What ignites the cuck argument is the proportion between the wellness of the individual and the wellness of the cause: to the rightist, the leftist is destroying himself to raise up the minority, the migrant, etc., and while he is being destroyed (by what they think is white genocide, degeneracy and so on), he will still be emotionally satisfied because that idea of justice was realized.

It becomes apparent that the end is self-sacrifice for an idea, or that the idea demands it. This state of affairs, it seems, cannot be set out solely on reason, but requires an emotional push to make it possible. To enable the passion and sense of meaning in the individual and make the goal viable. But when approached from this angle, we already know that the right isn’t except from this. We understand that all political contentions have varied measures of reason and emotion to build their character.

Due to the history of the right, their emotional push is self-approved as opposed to ethically approved. There was only its own set of institutions to approve anything. Being the political alignment associated with historically imposing power and economic arrangements, their reactions are mechanisms for defending what is and has been the dominant features of society, and not for any seriously needed relief from oppression. The opposition has merely shown themselves, which alone offended the dominant character of society who immediately declared war on an army without soldiers, initiating the aforementioned chain of events.

The right’s commonest insult to the left is that they pursue ideas with only “feelings” driving them. No acknowledgement of oppression based on race, gender and sexuality being integral to class struggle (our boldest concern). No mention of any elementary concepts in social theory (and even when there is mention, its reduced to it being incomprehensible or just not true). No mention of inclusion in building organizations to be what makes them sizable and effective. No distinction between liberal and leftist (which is always amusing). Simply feelings, as abstract as that is.

The ideas that the right uphold have already been applied and studied — maybe more than they should have. All their principles have been taken into account, what they advocate has not only been heard but has played out in the world for well over several centuries. There is no more room for us to debate “fairly”, their argument has already won before two sides could even meet.

Because the ideas that begot the present structures have been around long enough to study a hundred times over, we have deduced that they are not only inefficient, malicious and coercive, but obsolete. The dogma behind them has been proven to be composed of emotion, myth, speculation. The very properties they assert the left of having, all which serves emotion than practical human needs and capacity.

The arbitrary ownership over private property around which hierarchy is created. The downfall of economic competition that drives the ecosystem into disrepair and workers into perpetual servitude. The existence of police forces imbued with protecting the people while simultaneously protecting the property relations which enslave them. All this follows down to nothing. There is no end to one component that hands off to another.

How this cluster is sustained relies solely on who perpetuates it. There really is no viable justification for capitalism or state-society any longer, and whatever is done to support it is done through people continually insisting that anything else is not an option, in the name of the ingrained fantasy.

There is only a large bundle of logical facades for the comfort of the people who are born into them, and die by them. It’s what leftism serves to correct; to make a coherent body of political practice that exists only to nourish free will and well-being as one. The one tragedy is the stigma fastened to such an idea by the ruling class.

By being chained to baseless feelings, and furthermore defending baseless notions of property rights and always letting anyone say anything they want (without actually doing so), they are acting out the very thing they warn against. In this ideological relationship, there is nothing to gain but their own emotional satisfaction. Their success in making these ideas rule can only build the prison for them. For the pro-capitalist worker, to do one of two things: to build a life as an exploited pawn, or to create the property-hoarding ruling class to steal into; the so-called American dream. For the white supremacist, to forfeit limitless community and mutual cooperation for abstract ideas of racial purity, nationhood and a totalitarian apparatus to impose theses fanciful passions.

Lets not confuse ourselves here. It isn’t any passion that deludes an individual, but it rests on the passion to highlight the depth and structure to give it purpose. When an idea encompasses an individual, that will determine what actions the person takes and what they accomplish. If there is no depth, and no end to tie into another idea (to operate on a step-by-step function), the idea is simply conjecture without conclusion.

With the rightists, because it’s what they’re used to, there is no conclusion. There was never anything to strive for other than to keep the tradition and the fantasies valid in the public eye. It paid lip service to reason with such big ideas as fostering innovation, keeping the family together and obeying a deity, but it couldn’t promise any of this and indeed failed the majority when the economy tanked, drowned everyone in poverty and there was no god to save them. The only semblance of a goal then is to guard the status quo with the empires they inherited, and continue reciting the litanies of capital.

It’s through this delusion, this incoherent fantasy that oppression has been exercised. In the name of institutions that manufacture success for the boss and plastic, paper hope for working people, precious moments of our lives have been dissolved for a magnificent charade of opportunity and what they call “freedom”. Lives and dignities are tarnished for the traditional feelings of the champions of such institutions, and the ingraining of subservience and desperation into daily life has brought all these tragedies home into one reality.

Because of all this, looking at who is responsible for it and who protects it, an enemy of liberty has been defined. We are breaking down and dying because of the empty passions of a collective class of forces, and to resist them is to pursue survival.

By identifying as a rightist, [white] nationalist, capitalist or liberal sympathetic to the guardians of the status quo, one is giving consent to regular beatings from the workers: those who built the very platform from which their enemies shout off the dialog of exploitation. It’s by logical succession, in defending the cohorts of political fantasy, that they are declaring to the world that the meek and the innocents deserve to whither and die for the sake of fantasies. In this, they will get what they give.

By adhering to the narratives which casually perpetuate social hierarchy, they are agreeing to killing themselves, their class, and their own potential for the sake of the father-figure bosses whom they will never be, and the cops who keep a gun to their heads at all times, “just in case”.

Both sides can’t pursue survival when only one is in chains. When one moves, the other counters it. Conflict becomes inevitable as one force fights against the other.

The feeling is mutual, and the radical left knows this. We understand that by adhering to an idea of disjointing social coercion and moving toward united, self-managed communities as the only reality, we are painting the target on our chests. We’re on watchlists of some sort right now because we vocally advocate coordinated insurrection against state-society, the capitalist market economy and the diverse enslavement that fuels it all. We are in favor of destroying everything that intelligence agencies exist to defend, as well as subverting their grasp in the here and now. This doesn’t deter me from following this, and I don’t expect it to be different for fascists in their own goals.

With this made clear, I am not here to submit to the Rationals® by humoring their idea of balanced discussion in the name of coming to a middle point of nothingness. I am not here to respect assholes’ feelings at the expense of institutionally oppressed people. I am here to dismantle your warped idea of private property and civility, and physically transform the relations between person and society. I am here to fuck up everything you love which has caused me pain and wasted precious moments of my life and the lives of my comrades.

So I ask sincerely who we should consider the ones destroying themselves for an idea driven by emotions. Do we mock and scold the movements fighting for their lives after centuries under the boot of violent fantasy? Or do we beckon the right to explain why I and billions more must agree to feeble conventions for their passion from nowhere?

Who is really committing self-sacrifice when it’s the left who have had limits for destruction imposedon them, while all stops have been pulled out for the imposer?

Who are the real “Cucks”?

The Responsibility of The General Strike: A January 20th Manifesto

Friction is the byproduct of all social systems. The infinite forms of individuals in a shared region will always come together in a disproportionate cluster of tangles which has equal parts the ability to define or confine us. This is the ends of people and not systems. What counts above all is that our relations are disarmed of any potential to oppress if our system is a parameter to secure our own well-being and free will, and not one for imposing direction.

But never in the longest stretches of human history up until the last one thousand years have we experienced a time where friction becomes competition between classes, and where competition is funneled into a system of oligarchy which is in turn used to sustain profitable inequity defended by political litanies and cultural reinforcement. Where our system is a parameter against case-by-case needs, and moreover a broad apparatus for the elite at the expense of the many.

For the masses of people who work in full for less than half, and those among them who suffer the ills resulting from the historical inequity, their struggle is aimed at, if nothing else specifically, the possibility of freedom and livelihood.

Present society continues what has been done for centuries, only with a new face and refurbished bolsters for the bosses. In regard to the mechanics, we are not different from the serfs of the dark ages, but merely given appeasement in pay for our continued servitude. The institutions connect inward to sustain, in varying ways, the end result of wage labor and exclusive property rights, all which require a workforce not emancipated but not strictly in chains, rather coerced by dominant economic structures protected by the state. This is our current system.

As of writing, tomorrow we will ceremonially patronize a new national headmaster who will be the same bullhorn for profit and enforcement as the last forty or so in the United States. Except now it seems those at the top of the political process have made more than a Freudian slip, but a free declaration of their logical destinations.

“Ban all Muslims.” “Torture even if it doesn’t work.” “Build a massive wall on the US-Mexico border. Because, afterall, they’re rapists, they’re criminals. Some of them might be good people, but nonetheless.” The overlap in the institutions and discrimination has become undeniable, even to the ruling class, and having this realized they will make a last effort to fix their weapons on the working class with a smile. All this suppressed with appeasement, with sensation and with just enough of a supportive demographic to signal those “objective” types to try to fight fairly in an artificially unfair world.

In a way, suppressing the population has a way of destroying itself. Along with incinerating the ecosystem and driving the workforce and consumers into suicide and extinction (as an outcome of anti-democratic practices everywhere), it takes only one person to draw out the inequalities into attainable ideas to light a flame under the workers until they boil over. This manifests, among other ways, as a general strike.

For joint agreement among the working class to protest en mass the injustice that characterizes the system which sustains their exploitation and continual desperation; that is the force behind the general strike. To accomplish an idea where workers halt all service to all employers, both as a means to identify the lifeblood of a society, and to emphasize what happens when that is abused and broken beyond repair.

Historically, on both intellectual and physical battlegrounds, the general strike is a show of force, but it also contains a demonstration of capital’s consequences. It seems to bring into reality for everyone that the boss is an arbitrary formality, while the real power rests with those who perform the jobs. Even the defenders of the bosses cannot adequately shrug off the workers’ efforts. The bosses alone are the crumbled mortar of a vibrant architectural work. They must simply be outraged at the audacity of the workers for addressing their own power.

This further supports that workers are better suited to run themselves democratically. If not practically, at least logically. Though the strike is not self-management, it reflects the capacity of it. Alienation by designated, central leadership is totally absent, instead directed through free groups of the proletariat acting on group-by-group agreement. In this, we find an organic and free expression of demands, all connecting each other and effectively coordinating what has been composed in libertarian socialism.

Hoisting the bisected black and red flag over the angry masses is many things. It is a symbol of unity in anger and hope. It is a call to defiance against tyranny. It represents the revolutionary Syndicalist tradition. It is the greatest threat to the absentee owners of capital. Perhaps more importantly above all, it is a call to reorganize; a call for revolution beyond designated political and economic structures — a call for social revolution.

In dissolving the exclusive rights over production and management through organized expropriation, we dissolve the resulting imbalances that are the base of capitalism and the labor market. We restructure all of the social and cultural products under an equal arrangement by simply acknowledging from where their ills originate, and acting to repurpose what the capitalists have utilized.

The general strike is the clamor for this realization, a foretaste of it in the streets. Its various nature depends on the event or condition which inspired it. In this present case, it’s something of a unique happening. Before now, the past strikes have been solely class-oriented or politically-specific, but we seem to have combined multiple points of discourse stemming from popular outcry rooted in liberal politics, introducing the general strike idea to what can be called “the mainstream.”

Class struggle entails a greater cooperation with differently oppressed groups, as history has shown and discriminatory policy has proven. This is not a new revelation, but it is a factor that has primarily been exercised in the radical labor movement instead of liberalism. Bigotry and greed being connected, their grasp on social conditions intersects and injures everyone. The oppression of the worker affects the minority, and the oppression of the minority affects solidarity. One is not separate from the other, as struggles under capitalism come from the same place.

Class awareness has seemingly reached an all-time low in the United States, but is reaching an upswing. While liberalism dispels class anger in favor of reform, its use in channeling more radical messages cannot be overlooked, especially now. This, of course, is not to say that we should join the liberal side, but to incorporate agitation and organization wherever possible; particularly where the greatest number of people are listening.

In the wake of Trump, instead of individual legislation for progressives to rally against, they’ve found a single figure who resembles all that is loathed in the left. It’s almost comical how much Trump embodies the dominant American values that make up its political caricature, which is what liberals default to instead of class analysis, and so there is an immediate guarantee of where attention will be focused. There is undeniable potential for ideas in the current generation to be taken further in regard to where the root of these problems really are. There is a real, shared desire for potent organization and a substantive exchange of ideas beyond involvement in representative politics. An interest in alternative modes of community and economic structures, and consequently a cautiously optimistic gravitation toward social revolution which must be fostered and amplified fully.

This entire collision between a solid continuation of class struggle history and the mainstream being seized into a joint strike against fascism rests on the crossroads between success in an uprising and another lobotomized political period. A responsibility becomes too apparent.

The responsibility is a lost one — a stolen one. If any circumstantial honor among people had ever been, it was to join arms with those who are exactly like you in every way of condition and dependence. Every person already invested in a leftist perspective will need to take on a careful role of condensing the ideas and pairing them with all-too familiar experiences among liberal or apolitical workers. The stigma against a workers’ revolution must be fought continually, citing the inequities in private property, enforcement of profit by the state, the mutual relationship of greed and bigotry and the methods of anarchist democracy.

The strike must be universal. It must belong to everyone, but at the same time be united under a basic demand for social revolution. Not enriched appeasement made the basis for the same political structure, but for self-management and autonomy to surpass any limitation; to outdo what anything else could ever try. To reinvest power in those who upheld their own slavery.

Socialism or Barbarism is the evident truth. For us to meaningfully oppose Trump, we must reconcile all of our issues: those of working people, women, ethnic minorities, immigrants and LGBTQ people, under the banner of class struggle through revolutionary tactics. The state can do no justice but for the built-in protection of exploitation and alienation, for the frictions between people made a component of the system.

For freedom to be realized, we must consolidate individual freedom into collectively managed, horizontal portions of society and base our relations on trust and mutual aid. For the health of the planet, the security of our friends, family and ourselves, we must pursue and bottom-up rearrangement of society, and it starts with a General Strike.

The Responsibility of The General Strike: A January 20th Manifesto

Social Anarchism Explained Simply

December 2017 note: My own choices of words and examples to describe the nature of concepts have changed a year later. While this essay doesn’t totally deviate from my feelings as of this note, I think that I make too many exceptions with notions like “authority,” “property,” “hierarchy” and “[direct] democracy” that conflict with my present relationships to them. This is not to insight semantic tensions around the content of this work, but to express my own personal changes since the time after publishing this.

The purpose of this article is to give a simple overview of what are the chief ideals of the socialist anarchist tendency of radical political thought, made accessible to the layman.

Considering the volatile shift in the American political environment at present and its influence on the opposition of the victor in the 2016 presidential election, there is bound to be unintelligent conversation when in the course of mainstream discussion around the reemergence of anarchist and communist dialog. This article is intended to correct those misunderstandings in advance and provide an untampered glimpse into the anti-authoritarian far-left. This is done partly against the continuing debate over semantics corrupting substantive discussion in the mainstream, with the hopes of stepping into a less warped understanding of anarchism and what it means to be an anarchist or socialist.

The method used here will be to define and differentiate concepts and institutions to give a nuanced designation of either a concept or institution’s mere reformation, or a collective effort to transcend it, under the realization of social anarchist principles. Furthermore, where a concept is not to be totally abolished under a totalitarian apparatus as popular misconception might suggest, but for its practice to transition to work under a far more equitable social configuration than in a coercive, hierarchical system. With this method in mind, we will go through several crucial elements with an anarchist analysis that defines the approach.

Power

The ability to do anything with all social components cooperating with the person taking action, or an individual’s free will being practical in a social setting, is the sum of what is meant by “power”. The ability to take action in favor or against something, amass and guide support, create lasting change, benefit the wellness of others, pave the way for the future. These are all examples of power, where efforts involving you or others are almost always immediately successful or at least very possible. This can obviously be used for good or bad.

Power concentration is the condition of power being mostly if not totally controlled by a specific ruling apparatus, while those subject to its demands are left with an impotent possession of social power. This is the basis for state societies and governments where we are required to submit to their status.

With this in mind, power is understood as an essential device of human progress, and so anarchism is far from opposing this, and instead wants to see power made accessible to all people without distinction. In practice, the abundance of power would create a self-correcting, self-sustaining federation of communities where the well-being and equality of all people would be the constant aim. This end is assisted by further concepts of material conditions which nullifies the expectation of barbarism in a scenario where there is no restrain on people’s ability to do things. As we go on, this will become clear.

Authority

Authority amounts to one action or possession of power being varyingly more legitimate than another. This can exist in different contexts, such as a qualification on an intellectual matter or in a profession, which are separate from the central type of authority that anarchists oppose.

In referring to a social system based on the constant exercising of authority, this provides the anarchist movement with its goal of anti-authoritarianism. The opposition to a system of management in which a select few hold authority over the direction of the association is central to this. It may be more adequate to define anarchism as anti-authoritarian and not anti-authority, as authority can exist in a resonable context under an anarchist society, while authoritarianism, the disproportionate system of coercive authority, cannot. This type of authority is exercised by governing bodies, the police and military, bosses and owners, etc.

One key notion as put forth by professor and author Noam Chomsky is that authority which cannot justify itself cannot be justifiable for those subject to it, and must therefore be replaced by a better social system.

Additionally, anarchist theorist Mikhail Bakunin stated the following on distinguishing the function of authority verses coercive authority.

Does it follow that I reject all authority? Far from me such a thought. In the matter of boots, I refer to the authority of the bootmaker; concerning houses, canals, or railroads, I consult that of the architect or the engineer. For such or such special knowledge I apply to such or such a savant. But I allow neither the bootmaker nor the architect nor the savant to impose his authority upon me. I listen to them freely and with all the respect merited by their intelligence, their character, their knowledge, reserving always my incontestable right of criticism and censure. I do not content myself with consulting a single authority in any special branch; I consult several; I compare their opinions, and choose that which seems to me the soundest. But I recognise no infallible authority, even in special questions; consequently, whatever respect I may have for the honesty and the sincerity of such or such an individual, I have no absolute faith in any person.

— What Is Authority?, 1882

Its important to note that most anarchists will claim that they oppose “authority” when referring specifically to coercive authority and its primary implementation: social hierarchy.

Social Hierarchy

In terms of how an association is organized, social hierarchy is an arrangement of people in terms of their authority or status. This creates a relationship (sometimes called a “relationship of power”) where what ultimately matters is who is higher up in the hierarchy (boss, politician, etc.), and that who is in service to that authority’s interest is obedient (worker, citizen). This negates the interests of the worker who performs a task for the boss, or a citizen who is subject to the constraints of the state.

As most people would rightly assume the person responsible for the use and maintenance of an object should be the legitimate controller of it, but instead this is given to someone who does not directly operate it, and is simply an appointed, unjustified controller over those who do the actual work. The dictates of the individual at the top of the hierarchy is what matters, and not the interests of the majority subjected to the hierarchy.

With all power centered in a hierarchy, there is no alternative choice of it and we become dependent on it. It forms a self-perpetuating, exploitative relationship where the only option for those within it to survive is obedience, which contributes to the continued necessity of servitude. The instinct to survive overrides the creative and constructive traits of individuals, and reduces them to mere cogs in the exploitative yet sustaining machine of hierarchically structured organizations.

Hierarchy in other contexts is similar to authority in serving reasonable purposes, but it is believed in anarchism that there are arbitrary and unreasonable positions of power over other people that form abusive and inefficient relationships, which in turn unfairly benefits a minority in power and deprives people of their humanity. Unjustified hierarchy, very much synonymous with unjustified authority, is arguably the core enemy in the eyes of anarchists, which manifests in numerous ways.

Property, Ownership and Capitalism

Property is the quality of any item belonging to a group or individual. In the political and economic sense, this refers to who is responsible for the operation of a business or other legally/socially affected establishment. There are a few ways in which this is outlined. Among them, the most common form in state society, is private ownership, in which the authority in a hierarchy controls property (in this case, what is called the means of production: machinery, offices, farms, etc.) while it is operated and tended to by the employment of workers, which generates money, a small fraction of which given to the workers to rent them into continued service (called wage labor) for the productivity of the private business. A market system works alongside this, where a society’s transactions of goods and services is directed by many other businesses, which affects the conditions (prices, demands) of items in circulation for the profit of the owners, all dependent on the rented (exploited) labor of everyday people.

This state of affairs is called capitalism, firstly originating from unequal power in ownership, and working through the reduction of human beings to disposable assets. Additionally, the outcomes of capitalist entrenchment have proven to be the most pervasive, widespread and socially accepted forms of malice by any hierarchical institution. It places the importance of profit far over that of immediate human needs, primarily because it continues to aid in the essential presence of money and market systems in global society. Its existence relies on wasteful practices and artificial scarcity to continue its validity in the eyes of those who it employs and who lives in what it has come to dominate through the centuries following the industrial revolution. This is due in part to the immense bulk of wealth generated that is either wasted in continuous growth expenses, or simply lost to the workers who have made that wealth possible.

Within state societies, a set of property rights is enforced by the government to give legal protection to the owners of private property. These are often used against those (anarchists) seeking the transformation of private ownership into a democratic arrangement. Because the state coupled with capitalism relies on the influx of money, it requires the protection of the producers of it to continue functioning, and so a legal framework is made for deterring its interruption.

Property belonging to an individual is personal property, in which the ownership does not affect other people in any way and serves only the desired use of the owner. This includes houses or apartment rooms, clothing, personal vehicles, electronic devices, tools, books; usually everyday things people have. It is very important to distinguish private and personal property to avoid misunderstandings that have presently been accepted as facts of anarchism. Anarchism seeks that these personal belongings be totally unaffected, but that the means to create them and distribute them are made available to people in a democratic fashion through the process of expropriation (which requires the destruction of capitalism). The kind of ownership of productive property which anarchists seek is called social ownership, where the members of a group own and control the property together without a hierarchical arrangement. This also has its own subtypes.

  • Collective ownership, which refers to group-ownership by joint agreement; e.g., the members of a union agreeing to own a factory and manage their work democratically. (This can be seen in syndicalism or an anarchist market system, and is the root of socialism.)
  • Common ownership, which refers to productive property being owned equally and indivisibly, as a characteristic of society beyond specific agreement; e.g., a community opening its machinery and factories to all members of it. (This form normally constitutes a gift economy model of exchange, and thus the enveloping principle of communism.)
  • Among others (mutualism, participatory economics) which share traits of the previous two.

Social anarchists commonly fluctuate between the first two types of social ownership, sometimes viewing collective ownership as a means to recover into adopting common ownership, or combining the two. The purpose of striving toward social ownership is to establish an important guiding principle: labor according to the extent of one’s abilities, and consumption according to their needs. This is the basis for emancipation from capitalism, creating material abundance of goods and equitable productivity among a workforce.

Class

Class, referring to social class, is a kind of hierarchy which outlines people’s social and economic relation to capitalism and the state. It is primarily determined from one’s relationship to the means of production, while other factors include income, occupation, housing and education. Two contrasting sides (with one meeting in the middle) are made from who gains an upper hand in a system built on hierarchical power relations, normally consisting of who gives orders and who follows them, and who indirectly contributes to the oppression of the other class. Simply put, one class has little and is forced to sell their labor for the other class who has much and does little if any actual work in comparison. This creates a stark contrast of material conditions consisting of a possessing and non-possessing class; working class (historically called the proletariat) and upper (owning, bourgeoisie) class respectively, where the working class is forced to rent themselves out to the profit interests of the owning class in order to survive. Exploited and Exploiter thus becomes a noticeable dichotomy.

For the individual, in the course of working to better oneself under this, a multitude of expenses and debts such as rent, bills, taxes and prices are put upon them to overcome while under a limited income, making enjoyment of life increasingly scarce with the pressures of money-dependent society. The atmosphere of dependence on renting oneself out becomes the whole mode of life: basing our daily lives on the time and dates we attend work and carefully planning what fractions of wages we’ve earned to pay for goods and essentials. Fabricated concepts like The American Dream exist to keep people emotionally chained to the labor market; either to remain an exploited pawn or to assume the role of an exploiting boss.

The class system in the last several decades has expanded to combine different groups of people, such as women, ethnic minorities, the LGBT+ community, disabled people, and others. Because of this, those in lower classes also meeting criteria for these groups experience additional societal disadvantages coupled with being working class. The result is a condition where white, male, able-bodied working people, while still working class, experience an involuntary, unfair advantage in capitalist state society, known as social privilege. This is not the fault of individuals or traits, but a function of social hierarchy. Moreover, it has shifted working people’s focus away from class issues and kept it in the direction of race, sex, etc., in the form of impotent identity politics which distracts from uniting these overlapping struggles into a singular force against the source of oppression, and serves to divide people further.

Now, lets put all this together…

Power is greatly filtered and suppressed by forms of coercive authority and social hierarchy which are dependent on the disposable service of those who live under them. In capitalism, the most prevailing kind of coercion, we find ourselves divided into classes which specify what relation people have to the capitalist system. It identifies workers as non-consenting servants to an all-encompassing domination. In the state, an extension of this coercion overlays and acts as the front-end enforcement of profit. Property rights provide the legal protection of exploitation, and institutions like the military and police physically enable it while representative or parliamentary government determines the wages of force.

The state and capitalism are not viewed as separate entities, but as united halves of an exploitative whole possessing similar but nuanced functions. Both interlace and combine powers to form appendages of maintaining each other. Such things as imperialism (the global expansion of state and capitalist rule) are acted on when investing domination in other regions becomes necessary for profit.

Complimentary to this are the prejudiced narratives of racism, sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia. They originated from other socially hierarchical perspectives, but were directly amplified by the owning class (both in encouraging racist and sexist dialog, and oppressing minority groups) in later centuries to distract working people from immediate exploitation, and initiate a splintered working class to sabotage unity.

There are a number of other factors that play into coercive hierarchy differently, some matters of debate within the anarchist community. But in total, they return to being symptoms of social hierarchy than singular autonomous problems to be added to a long, hypothetical list of issues to tackle.

What all this means

The problem in short is that the important associations in society are arranged in such a way that take advantage of desperation from the conditions which the structure has made concrete to advance itself and keep the subjugated in continued service, working in a cycle. The solution in the anarchist perspective is to bring the working class and other disadvantaged groups together in solidarity and cooperation to replace (by force) hierarchical social arrangements with a democratic and voluntary structure. The way of doing this is to advocate class consciousness, a set of knowledge of what would benefit one’s class, in working people to inform them that what they live in is rigged against them — not simply the present condition of the structure (who is in charge or what the law is) but the structure itself (capitalism, the state, social hierarchy).

Social Anarchism is used to denote itself from radically individualistic trends of anti-statism (such as “anarcho-capitalism” or “free-market anarchism”) which are dismissive of unifying communal efforts, in favor of individual, sometimes hierarchical, institutions existing free of a state, but nothing further. Social anarchism puts importance on community and equality being integral to the security of individual autonomy and freedom. This is a big reason “social anarchism” is specifically used than simply “anarchism”. Interchangeably, Libertarian Socialism is used to lessen an emphasis on explicit anti-statism and instead offer an approach to socialism (worker-control over the means of production) different from the intellectual stigma that has popularly corrupted its meaning.

Anarchy is not chaos, as the most continuous misconception suggests. The phrase meaning without rulers does not entail without rules or without order. It is the condition of people being emancipated from arbitrary institutions of power concentration which thrive off of exploitation and require manufactured violence to vaguely justify themselves. This means that not only will chaos and violence not be abundant, but it will lack purpose when people’s desperation is destroyed alongside capitalist domination. Moreover, any violence is far more suited to exist in an anarchist society than a state society, as people’s direct efforts of combating it are the only solutions, and therefore the most effective and stable, as decided democratically by those immediately affected by violence.

It further postulates that brutality, crime, prejudice and social competition are outcomes of the imbalances caused by social hierarchy and exploitation, and thus it seeks to overthrow and replace these systems with an equitable and democratic group of systems, where power is wielded equally by all and social security is guaranteed by a resulting abundance of material goods and equitable productivity, disarming inner-class conflicts.

In total, the underlying goal of anarchism is to establish perfect human autonomy in all realms of social life: To restructure things and make people free of coercion, the filtering and restraining of power and labor out of desperation. Where principles of direct democracy, free association, horizontal cooperation and self-management guide the growth and health of a community where its functions were formerly entrusted in the state, capitalism and other disproportionate models of occupancy. To enrich freedom of thought, creativity, expression and the expansion of individual personhood and identity. To make the occupants of communities the direct managers of themselves and associate freely with others; in the hopes of a new global, voluntary community breaking the chains of hierarchical confinement.

Schools of Thought

With these principles in mind, a multitude of tendencies of anarchism interpret the ideal means of achieving this differently, specifying different approaches to aspects of society. A few of the major social anarchist tendencies will be explained in under one paragraph.

  • Anarchist Communism — Also called anarcho-communism, anarchist communism is derived from the works of Russian scientist, activist and writer Peter Kropotkin, specifically his books The Conquest of Bread and Mutual Aid. The tendency derives from these works that the state, capitalism, wage labor, markets and private ownership must be abolished and replaced with common ownership of the means of production, direct democracy governing a horizontal federation of voluntary communes, and work being done under the guiding principle of “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need”. Furthermore, the tendency advocates that human beings are naturally inclined toward cooperation rather than competition in the course of production and general society, in contrast to the Darwinist application to society at large. It was the underlying principle behind the Ukrainian Free Territory led by Nestor Makhno in 1918, and is widely believed to be the most common trend of social anarchism.
  • Anarcho-Syndicalism — Originating in the works of Mikhail Bakunin and Collectivist Anarchism(in which collective ownership under a stateless society is achieved through violent revolution), Anarcho-Syndicalism emphasizes radical trade unionism, solidarity and direct action as a means to overwhelm capitalist society and gain large-scale worker control of the economy. With this control, they aim to implement workers’ self-management, abolish the wage system (understood as wage slavery) and transform private property into collective property, gradually expanding this control to other territories and countries. Historically, the most ideal example of anarcho-syndicalism put into real-world use is the trade union activity in the Spanish Revolution of 1936. Members of the CNT and FAI trade unions (among other communist groups) rose up against the existing government and reclaimed Catalonia, Aragon and other smaller parts of Spain under principles of workers’ self-management and direct democracy before the Second World War. German anarchist Rudolph Rocker outlined the history and methods of the tendency in his work Anarcho-Syndicalism: Theory and Practice.
  • Anarcha-Feminism — Combining opposition to capitalism and the state with feminist concerns of women affected by social hierarchy, anarcha-feminism is a school that seeks to dismantle male-centric social domination (patriarchy) in favor of an equal ground between men and women, complimentary to a stateless, horizontal and democratic society welcoming of free love and non-traditional relationships. Feminist anarchist Emma Goldman famously pioneered the combining principles of anarchism with women’s independence from male coercive authority, among fighting homophobia within anarchist circles and criticism of organized religion.
  • Mutualism — Often debated as a more individualist trend of anarchism, Mutualism seeks to establish a reciprocal market system of voluntary associations and means of production, either collectively or privately owned, with use and occupancy justifying ownership alongside self-defense and free contract. It is derived from the writings of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, who famously began to establish the anarchist perspectives on property, ownership and labor.
  • Platformism — A kind of organizing method usually coupled with anarcho-communism, platformism seeks to create tightly-organized anarchist federations as a means to gain broad influence in the working class, rather than only appealing to the far-left. It holds that unity in tactics and ideas, consensus-based decision-making and collective responsibility held by the federation is important in effectively engaging in a class war. This stands in contrast to Insurrectionary anarchism, which instead favors temporary, loosely-connected affinity groups as means toward an anarchist society.
  • Infoanarchism — A recent trend of anarchism, Infoanarchism reconciles decentralized distribution of computer-based information with the aim of creating a stateless society — the Internet seen as being a model of such a society. It primarily opposes copyright law, intellectual property and censorship, deeming them to be state and capitalist tampering in the free and anarchic nature of public information. Though not explicitly in connection to conventional class-struggle trends of anarchism, being more associated with Internet piracy, copyleft and the free culture movement, Infoanarchists have made connections to their approach with how a revolution would operate and participate in direct action over the Internet.

The matter of actually convincing one to identify as an anarchist will be up to their own autonomy of intellect. While one’s material interests in their unfettered perfection would certainly persuade them to it, no one can expect anyone to throw off what convictions they were born into and cling to in the light of new information. The intention of this essay is strictly to give proper representation of the perspective lost in mainstream discourse, and for the debates over semantics to whither away.

Author’s Proposals To Anarchists

The anarchist movement has existed for well over two hundred years. Its core values have been around for about as long as recorded history, but within two hundred years of enlightenment thinking propelling anti-authoritarianism, it has had plenty of time to develop and connect itself with the further identification of hierarchies as they formed. This time has allowed us to examine the methods of bringing people in and what side-effects they had.

Intellectual narratives generally produce a shock in their respective society. In the matter of feminism, it produced a shock in the 1960s and 70s that cultivated discussion around the role of women in society. The drug culture produced shock around illicit substances, their use, their morality and the laws concerning them. These “shocks” are the phenomena of new ideas, not unlike the awe of a marvel or tragedy. The substance is more or less absent to those looking at it, the only genuine value is the spectacle than any meaning.

What really makes the spectacle is conflict, when we have a hypothetical red team and blue team going at it in some way, and nobody is really invested in any side being the victor, let alone anyone joiningthat side, except for the sides essential to having the spectacle go on. We already know this is the model for contemporary politics, with voting having been reduced to a mere obligation of citizenship. In the age of light-speed access to information, the public’s love of conflict merely for one to attach their comments to it overshadows any genuine attempt at social change. On top of this, we aren’t even safe from this alone with ourselves. We have layers upon layers of these spectacles: Inner-community drama over orthodoxy, language, methods, tendencies, and even drama over drama. Posturing and hypocrisy boils over, blinded by the banner of socialism or anarchism, causing the splintering, the separating and the cementing, just for us to splinter and separate again as the forces of profit and imperialism expand unhindered.

I think this is bound to happen when we keep putting ideas out in the way we have online (which is, thankfully to a point, the only way of getting anything out anymore) for the last decade. Its my opinion that we don’t want to have another culture shock where we merely have another divide between adherents and opponents for the uninvested everyday person and omnipresent capitalist class to act as spectators to. Doing so totally reduces ideas to names than informed approaches to life. We instead want discussion not for the sake of looking correct and representing an idea, knowing its just going to devolve into sensation, but for the actual manifestation of a voluntary structure of society, with a sort of foreknowledge that working people in general can easily sympathize what we mean when we address the latest grievances and the unspoken origins of them when we escape the spectacle.

Mere discussion and team-picking is simply posturing, high school levels of shallowness, and furthermore the divides within sides produces more and more spectacles that make a joke of something crucial to mankind’s continued existence. In the same manner of speech and intellectual communities, we should strive toward organizations which emphasize the means of arriving at a horizontal arrangement of society, and more plainly, what we agree on and not mending each difference of perspective. We also do not want posturing given any power outside or within the communities, placing a higher importance on the substance of the association, removing any sort of contradictory competition of who can satisfy a subjective idea of being the best leftist. We want to focus on what we’re here for and not let petty contextual differences ruin something good.

We’ve got so caught up in the process of carefully analyzing every idea that crosses paths with leftism, that an overarching sense of community was sacrificed for the sake of critique. A balance has been lost, one once commonplace. I believe this should be corrected or the last remaining integrity of the left will certainly perish. Thats the matter of ourselves. And with that settled, moving to what matters more: other working people.

In order for us to successfully persuade people into anarchist organizations, I propose that we need to follow a simple and careful procedure of condensing and connecting ideas to real-world current events which will effectively illustrate the problems and the solutions. The independently drawn-up illustrations of immense and complicated proportions in cinematic video essays and stylized publications have been coated in a left-centric aura that fogs the path for many people. It isn’t that a sudden revelation needs to be captured and dropped on every working person, its that the ideas need to be made accessible and connected to everyday experiences of exploitation and inequality. The ideas need to reveal themselves to working people with the subtle, case-by-case nudge of anti-capitalism, until that revelation can be reached, challenged, and understood. This is how many of us started out, and how I think we should aim to keep it going. For me, it was gradually reading The Conquest of Breadalongside working my first job in one of the most deplorable corporations in the world. Bit by bit, we began to understand.

Our aim must be for solidarity and agreement insofar that individuals have the same goal in mind for a stateless society, that they can fight side by side, honor a relationship of mutual aid, and reserve other disagreements for a civil and inclusive environment of free discussion.

That which we overwhelmingly agree on needs to be put first and foremost, mixed with a good dose of self-awareness and even humor at our own orthodoxies. The desperation to obsolesce capitalism and destroy fascism will not come easily with a fixed uprightness in each and every realm of life. A hearty laugh needs to be made when needed in a hilariously complex and worthless scenario. “This is my world, my life; and I decide what gets the better of me and what solidifies my humanity.”

The intimidation rightfully reserved for hardened reactionaries needs to be directed in the most opposite possible direction of newcomers. The list of burdens must be greatly reduced if not suspended to open the gate for all willing proletarians. We are, after all, seeking to bring the greatest possible number of workers into the anarchist community, and we really can’t expect each of our customs to resonate with people of varying educations, convictions and reasons for test-running the anarchist community. Reserving an anarchist organization only for those versed in theory and the other manifold implications is simply inverting the present exclusive jingoism in broader society we are so profoundly opposed to.

We shouldn’t view libertarian socialism as a ship to board with quotas and training need being met beforehand, transporting us to the communist promised land. It should be an ethos that molds to the pre-existing passions and traits of every individual with a heart for an equal society. It should possess a sense of simplicity and optimism that innately appeals to the downtrodden and desperate, as if the phrase they could distinctly feel in their heart but could not adequately proclaim. If we furthermore understand libertarian socialism as a lost friendship linking every and all living things with a lightheartedness in innocent differences not detrimental to the shared vision of the future, and apply this to our present affairs in organizing and informing, I think we have the greatest possible chance of moving on from desperately predetermining the most practical way of anarchy and finding the one crucial element in pursuing the admired historical ideals all along — that being unity.

If we already understand collective action to be what enriches individual autonomy, consequently I think we should know collective sympathy and steadfastness to be what will enrich individual might and compassion to prolong solidarity.

I ask that we resolve our ideals into the perfection of our community and commit to a practical motion of our convictions, that we celebrate our solidarity and camaraderie in all circumstances, and hone our anger into the insidious, smirking curse that is the reactionary capitalist foe.

Further Reading:

Books:

  • The Conquest of Bread, by Peter Kropotkin
  • Mutual Aid: A Factor in Evolution, by Peter Kropotkin
  • God and the State, by Mikhail Bakunin
  • Statism and Anarchy, by Mikhail Bakunin
  • Grundrisse, by Karl Marx
  • The Accumulation of Capital, by Rosa Luxemburg
  • Reform or Revolution, by Rosa Luxemburg
  • Anarcho-Syndicalism: Theory and Practice, by Rudolph Rocker
  • Homage to Catalonia, by George Orwell
  • Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky, by Noam Chomsky
  • Profit Over People: Neoliberalism and Global Order, by Noam Chomsky
  • Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky
  • Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy, by Noam Chomsky
  • Our Word is Our Weapon: Selected Writings, by Subcomandante Marcos
  • Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology, by David Graeber
  • War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, by Chris Hedges
  • Death of the Liberal Class, by Chris Hedges
  • Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt, by Chris Hedges

Essays/Articles:

Websites:

Social Anarchism Explained Simply

What The Election Taught Me

The 2016 presidential race was the first I could fully bear witness to with all faculties and a proper reserve of cynicism intact, having been far too young to know of or care about any details of politics during Obama’s initial run (knowing only from relatives that he would be the worst thing to the country since Osama Bin Laden), let alone Bush’s quest for a second term and his initial race after Bill Clinton’s time in office. But now its over, and frankly its too painful to go into at length and too cruel to make you read another one of these. I want only to compact everything I’ve observed during this election cycle into a few key highlights, and be done with this as best as every sensory origin around me will allow for the next year or so.

Going into it

  • Election season comes on slowly, looming over everyone’s head as the final year of a presidential term arrives, but its official kick-off drops on everyone like a stone in shallow water when we learn about people starting campaigns and listing their crucial issues for the next president. A lot like waking up from a slumber you forgot you settled in for. We have to elect a new president? Oh, right.
  • There are those imbued with faith in the system to some degree who think the whole event is critical to sustaining a legacy of sorts of a past president, those new voters who see an opportunity to contribute to American history with obscure hopes, and those veterans to politics who know the matter to be 20% appearance, 20% pandering, 40% money, 10% logistics of money, 9% sensational drama and 1% repetition.
  • All campaigns preface their own failure, a kind of Schroedinger’s Cat of politics. Modesty, such as that with Sanders, foreshadows this. Mainly because of the expressed weakness seen by the whole game, like in prison. Once you see that, you know it will turn into an only the good die young situation.
  • Learned campaign bystanders will imply the above axiom, letting it germinate and sink in, bursting into a magnificent weed of disappointment and misery for new voters in the election’s progress.
  • Support in a campaign done with intent of “engaging in your future” while having no direct means of any real engagement is the outstanding oxymoron of elections. Moreover, it is active disengagement in reclaiming your future than engaging in a predetermined caricature of it.
  • The hunt for a new president is the search for a new American social period. Bush’s time in office encompassed a period of questioning war, interventionism, nation-building, the historic causes of extremism and the US’s blindness to digging itself in a hole. Obama’s time revolved around accountability, civil rights progression, the simultaneous invasion of them, acts condemned elsewhere done under a different title, and finally the drive to do better all over again. All this propagated by a great shift in media, information and activism.
  • With a lot happening in four to eight years, it isn’t wrong to say that the election cycle is the actual New Year’s Day for the United States. We’re met again with what will define our time, the matter of wading through the waters and scrounging up what we will make of this next era, and how the powers at the top will be affected those.

Halfway through

  • Eugene Debs’ vision of Socialism in the United States has perished, having been reduced to the red-headed step-child of The New Deal in fighting for more comfortable chains than their abolition.
  • Good intentions and a following around them won’t amount to anything in a system built on bureaucracy and fluctuating cash. The system rewards playing by its own rules and then some, along with it being incompatible with human concepts. Humanitarian campaigns in American politics are like charity under capitalism.
  • Issues are just the vehicles for narratives. The two may appear linked in the course of politics, but in the grand scheme its only narratives and support around them than issues that count. Single-issue campaigns contrast by having a steady singular velocity, due to (1) a lack of a figure or personality for things to center around (“We need to elect Hillary to get equal pay”), and (2) the lack of a narrative around this personality (“Hillary said she will get us equal pay”). This furthermore shows that narratives can only drive politics, not issues nor pressing needs for change. There needs to be a political vehicle and occupant; a candidate is elected and a mere facade of hope in an issue is achieved. But this isn’t to say that single-issue campaigns are any better, because they lack the power to break through the barriers set up by the state, otherwise there would be no politics to begin with. The results are narratives carried by the supporters profitable only to the administration’s appearance, and impotent campaigns of singular reform taken up independently.
  • The farther the margin of impossibility and absurdity is set, the more it will be surpassed.

In the end

  • Every young adult too basic, disengaged and happily stupid (wielded as down-to-earth) to get into politics will contribute to the death of urgently needed movements of direct action in favor of the most immediate and comfortable “best of two evils”, wherefore the contingency for freedom against tyranny, agreed to be “not practical”, will be charged back to the social squalor once more.
  • Every reduction of greater concepts in the course of campaign narratives will not only bolster the ignorant support of voters, but contribute to the distance between people’s autonomy and deeper entrenching a public state directed by private interests.
  • Defeat, like the start of it all, comes on slow, but hits harder than anticipated. And when its over the whole picture becomes clear.
  • All things accounted for, pandering coupled with aggression and absorption, giant reserves of money and holding on that fowl inflection in speaking hollow promises, mixed with some side-drama for publicity is the key to it all.
  • The greater hubris, name and bank account yields the greater outcome, or at least a more worthwhile political spectacle.
  • Any ignorant orange blowhard with a capital empire and a name synonymous with everything loathed in the American people will make it in the United States. Truly the American dream.
  • There can be no doubt that politicians are as ineffective in countering competition as they are bound to be the people’s downfall universally. Lousiness wins as intelligence loses, desperation worsened. Every time.

Onward, every American generation is going to have one of these, every new child with a heart and mind to grow into only for it to work itself into a frenzy of political hope in a hopeless machinery of cogs that work against what they claim to provide for. Thats about the last sad truth every child will learn: After the Easter Bunny, the tooth fairy, Santa Claus and life purpose, they figure out for themselves, wishing that it could have been wrapped in that innocent parental sugar coating so it isn’t as tragic, “Candidates are puppets to greater evil, and merge with it quickly”.

Even those hopeless maladjusted citizens stumbling behind Trump will find either in his success or failure in what resembles policy that a candidate can only meet below the minimum expectation for better or worse, whether they take him as the second coming of Bush, or a certain leader of a historic German political party, or not.

Ultimately, on the death bed, the final dying lesson learned in the realm of politics is that the state itself is the biggest sham and far from the necessity we were so convinced it was. We always catch glimpses of this, seeing our elders scoff at big brother or Uncle Sam, but always opting instead to battle for a few months every four or eight years in defense of it, and continually missing a world managed solely by the good will and unfettered power of the people alone. Persuasion so deep into the physiology compels them to answer to the call of a new almighty overseer, that the exit door stretches farther away from them every passing season, looking back at it only before the final moment of perishing.

The greatest misfortune to me was the sheer conviction, the angry strife to be aligned in something where everything is crooked and sad. The entire time I spent watching Hillary apologists lecturing people to get out and vote, rewriting sexism to mean not agreeing with her or questioning her record, alongside hollow calls for justice for working people being spewed by an orange madman billionaire wrapped in unapologetic self-absorption and prejudice, I genuinely could only feel hopelessness. A very real sadness was awakened in me that hearkens back to personal times of an emotional sinkingfeeling at the inertia of the world too powerful for me to overcome. I felt almost precisely that in regard to politics in 2016. It wasn’t the actual words that struck me like that, but the nature of the fervor in something so basically stupid and repetitive as an election, mounting at it becoming one between a war criminal opportunist and a Trump.

Coming back onto myself and others, even the despair culture of this election season provided little, but equally so did the demands for mobilizing around a third-party candidate, recurring back to narratives and issues. The third party side blended with the despair side and canceled each other out as the inevitable raged on. If anything, it cemented that Mars colonization can’t happen any sooner. But I think deeper still, it awakened just enough people, a minuscule minority nonetheless, to a lesson in approaching politics and holding out hope for some people bound to hold ultimate coercion over you, if not the sum of what it means to partake in the electoral performance and to be free.

There are no necessary evils, there is no best of two evils. There is tyranny and freedom. Any in between ultimately sides with an exception to freedom, and thus nullifies it. Any president however Utopian or benevolent can never do justice. The tyranny is not in any action, but in the very place of power. The very seat and foundation where they sit. They cannot grant freedom because it is innate and not bestowed. It springs from the bottom-up and is chained and mutilated as an oppressor needs, taking generations to regain its roots and grow anew attempting to reach us after being vanquished once again.

There are no good presidents. A president distinguishes your ultimate place at the bottom rung in the ladder of power, and submission and humoring of that structure by telling people to participate in asking for a new slavemaster emphasizes your assimilation on every human front, devoid of greater features and realms of thinking. You choose between freedom and tyranny. Tyranny is a deep and jagged chasm described by its pawns with the sweetest words refreshed to call on the newest generation, functioning in varied complex loopholes and convincing gimmicks, stumbled onto by countless agreements, fees and terms. All this coated in fine-trimmed promises that you grow to hate but still serve out of dependence, up until the very end.

Freedom is not the freedom we know. It is the lightness of the heart in the worst of calamities and the grin during tragedy. Freedom is not an allowance or a pardon, it is the holistic envelopment of self in every shade of life outside the confines of state and master. Its sustains itself solely from enjoyment of it. It holds one singular request in the face of its corruption and needing to be bestowed: Revolt in the spirit of unfettered self-determination.

For the final time, I will let Thoreau’s words, often exaggerated and bludgeoned into intellectual jamais vu, make their attempt to sway the heart for approximately the eight thousandth time. Not in the spirit of commentary or angst, but in the spirit of their actual meaning and the hope to see them made real in the world. I feel his ghost weep in this hour.

“Even voting for the right is doing nothing for it. It is only expressing to men feebly your desire that it should prevail. A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority. There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men. When the majority shall at length vote for the abolition of slavery, it will be because they are indifferent to slavery, or because there is but little slavery left to be abolished by their vote. They will then be the only slaves. Only his vote can hasten the abolition of slavery who asserts his own freedom by his vote.”

What The Election Taught Me

The Good Old Boy Complex

just a nation of two hundred million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns and no qualms about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable.

— HST

An irresistible historical specimen with unique overtones continues to be a curious case in the Southern United States, or the lower Appalachian region broadly, mostly to its outsiders. Particularly, the subclass of Americans — not entirely what is known as a redneck or hick, but that demographic which rides the line between them, and consolidates their values amplified by sociopolitical ideals common of the Southern ethos. The generation proceeding hardened male working class Christians, who have entered contemporary society with their fathers’ attitudes and principles in one hand, and the strange complexities of larger society facing them in the other. The result is a rebirth of that last generation struggling to be in a world that forgot their dogmas along with women needing their husbands’ signature for loans, and brushed off the relevance of their character after their collective spite against conditions which would advance their conditions of life centuries ago. I speak of those young Southern men who are in a distinctive social dimension tilting slightly to one side while one foot is in another. Trapped between the past’s lost embers and the growth of modern circles, a sort of cultural uncanny valley that becomes obvious when crossing the state line in Virgina, Tennessee or Kentucky, from my and others’ experience. The Good Old Boy, as I can most adequately identify from the conversations I’ve heard, is the passive-pronounced character trait of the congenital Southern American male, and the product of the Southern antagonism meeting current events, new issues and old covenants kept by silent rites.

Those interested in history, social commentary or any owner of two brain cells are aware of this. In layman’s words, a southern man. But over time I’ve observed a kind of subgroup in this background. More specifically, a young, relatively ambitious southern man engaged in the outside or mainstream to some extent. The offspring of the patriarchs, who also existed in this same situation a generation previous, who carry on their fathers’ attitudes into the next period of time. The subject at hand has been acknowledged and documented a few times times before. As far back as Thomas Jefferson in his Notes on the State of Virginia provided some observations on the castes of Virginian social life close enough at the time to resemble what we’re met with now. Varying factors have all been accounted for as the basis for this in different observations by intellectuals leagues above me, but I think we only glimpse at its surface in the course of critically looking at America today, and we’ve yet to look at how the class of people is fairing in a situation where their only immediate use is the beguiled labor for property owners, and to remind others that they’re a thing.

It used to be that the North and South regions held their own separate social and cultural shades, not exactly intended to maintain territorial identity, but as a matter of circumstance. The interests and class stances concentrating in vertical dispositions one century after British colonization, trades and demands segmenting and booming respective of their place on the pole, and economic institutions settling in bountiful areas all contributed to germinating what we have now. A few miles north of Hillview, Kentucky is now still the horizon of the Yankees. They rarely crossed their own invisible boundaries, and even rural and urban sectors were only slightly dissimilar. The civil war of the mid 19th century hardened the regional differences when confederacy and union were propped up, and war over ownership of people hauled from across the Atlantic was waged. But with that old quarrel over and being accepted as staying in that forgotten corner of time, the shades have progressively melded together as travel and relocation for jobs became more common. This lead to Alabama hicks and Florida crackers being found in Illinois and Vermont, spreading out considerably like they never left Dixie; with their traditions following like a stench. Truly blending the ethno-cultural contrasts into the unified American body.

Before moving into the actual notes, lets recognize an important disclosure for the content at this time. The goal here is not simply to take a razor to the whole features of the South or demean its culture, but to deconstruct a social aura that has put itself in front of me since my own inception of critical thinking around my environment, and is past due a written observation of some sort. Of course at this point all social critics have hammered at the complimentary nature of the culture with the political platforms, but rarely I think they’ve looked at the specific tinges we can find in unsuspected venues should we look hard enough with an eye for its transparent undertones.

My life thus largely spent in Southern states, with a certain fondness and optimism for this region of the continent — but with great disdain for what the culture has always embodied to varying degrees, has left me with a trove of observations and notes from family reunions, mom and pop restaurants out in the boonies, and discussions with elder patriarchs and masters of the universe, opposite to me on all spectrums. I intend for what follows to be a biased but responsible summary from my own accounts, comprising a dialog on an old but filtered breed of people meets the emboldened fixtures of the contemporary setting.

Essentially the good old boy standardizes an assimilation of the redneck to where [subtle] prejudice, contrasting judgment or distrust based on traits and non-conformity is merely a frame, and not a full basis of character in the expected setting, like a person with this trait and the other hackneyed attributes. An example would be an executive director transfered from West Virginia with a Masters in marketing and a quaint demeanor, who is particularly wary of women in hijabs. It removes just enough of the caricature and puts it in every profession or position of power for it to stand on its own.

The engagement outside the culture is the entryway into what reminds us of their existence. Those moments online where you see a 30 year-old new father from Georgia in a camouflage shirt with a Glock 26 on his hip, using emojis and dabbing or what have you. A 60 year-old patriarch signing up for Facebook (and probably snapchat at this point) with the help of his family, sharing and posting rightist political material. Obscure relatives like the cousin of an uncle’s step-sister with a specific set of life values, presumptions of social classes and reductionist outlooks on current events, with a contradictory side note that “people are too uptight”. Sticking out like a sore thumb. Blinking neon arrows exclaiming “country boy”.

From here we move onto the family, and the families that make up a broader family such as the aunts, uncles, in-laws and swarms of first, second and third cousins. Though its more of a product of families in themselves, the good old family has a propensity to exemplify what we normally think of. The sentimentality of families operating as a collective body, folding vague and distant relatives inward into a greater clan when an occasion requests, is an intoxicating and empowering sense of having been born into a magnificent tribe blessed by the good lord, of which the good old family strives to make an empire, both in informal political unanimity and inward power structures secured by firearms and various contrived narratives.

An undercurrent of patriarchal dominance is evident in the family, not as blatantly asserted as in previous decades (while accounting for varying conditions across families today), but it remains in subtle gender relations. Most opposite to adult males are seen with a very delicate tinge of weakness, in the same reductionist fashion elsewhere, just enough to be clearly picked up with attentive observation. Nowadays, the good old family has little choice but to accompany the event of women attaining status as sovereign individuals, lest they suffer excommunication from the society that grants them to be good old boys. Regardless, often coming from both sexes alike, they seem to yearn for a scaling back to when women had a “sense of place” and children fell into familial caste systems of personality to recycle the father’s ambitions.

Gentleness is not done solely out of compassion, but compassion as a necessity to secure that pre-determined inferiority and maintain a rigid family structure, the ends seen as justifiable for cruel firmness. One can reasonably contend that the best interests for the child or spouse are in mind, but the nature all around entails a bigger object. Preeminent masculine traits are injected into the child’s environment as soon as sentience begins to sprout. For the male, to set a goal to meet. For the female, to understand who is favored to really be in charge. “Man-up” and “Boys don’t [do X]” can commonly be unearthed when a male child is acting up or hurt in some way. Into the teenage years the boys may be taken hunting, fishing or the like as a last ditch effort to ensure your kid don’t grow up queer, while the girls are prepped by their mothers for child bearing, marriage and possibly to be a provider alongside the husband. All this contoured around the acceptable minimums of the society they will assimilate into.

If not derivatives of classic white power dialog far more reserved for those going above and beyond a simple good old boy, they sustain the contrasted logic of crime and punishment around ethnic minorities adjacent to the scope of power by police that we’ve seen in the decade’s wake of police violence. Furthermore, basic uneasiness in urban areas and a physiological tension in the pit of the stomach around dark skinned persons, perhaps the occasional angry annoyance at the demand for ethnic justice, is about the worst we see. The suggestion of material conditions being at fault for perceived collective wrongdoings in place of race not once presenting itself to them. And even if it did, it would be a fantastical instance of wording to think any such systems of determining contentedness would do any wrong.

Personal ownership of firearms is a core value, a true holy rite. A kind of ubermensch trait of right-wing bastardization, and precisely as important to the good old family as the firstborn child. It must at all times be proudly displayed on their hip for it to complete its intended impact, as it is often idolized in the culture: The adapted version of Dukes and Princes with daggers and rapiers hanging at their sides as they go about their business is the apparent aim. It reflects on the tribalism, the yearning for a dynasty requiring such protection, and a corresponding victim complex. It demonstrates the fetish of the manifold directions of wielding a kind of power against a perceived constant danger, crucial to upholding the justice of the tribe; up to and including acting on an idea of threat by ethnic minorities at nearly every turn. The ownership of land coincides with this tremendously, though it falls outside the confines of the good old boy nature, as they commonly reside in suburban areas or places bordering town and country.

All these combined and intersecting respectively with that distinctive regional flair, they comprise the outward attitude, and this is more or less the actual weapon of the complex when faced with an issue. As sure as one or more of the good old family members has the DRUDGE REPORT bookmarked, they ready armaments of national providence and vindication of social privilege in their righteous battle to uphold their end of a committed incongruity.

The Broader American Antagonism amounts to the mythic-sensory continuum in sociocultural tensions, namely Southern autonomy which in turn encompasses the slave trade, race relations, civil rights and perceived attacks on individual liberty by big government, all complementary to the mythic realitypossessed by Southern reactionaries, the right overall, and encapsulated by the good old boys. We define the mythic reality as a reality with absent substance, made from emotional subscription and constructed by those who want it desperately to be separate from myth. By existing, this already creates a dialog which of course creates a battle of ideas. Moreover, it is a historically integral constituent of the political dichotomy in the United States: wherein we seem to inevitably trace back and overlap near that great civil conflict we faced one hundred and fifty years ago. Needless in saying, it set the eternal stage for this nation which it will bear for the remainder of its being. It alone was only a circumstantial occurrence and a pawn to greater colonialism, but from its start it was the American social furniture to which we would apply new upholstery every few decades. Jim Crow, the War on Drugs, mass incarceration, police violence, white supremacy and silence in the face of injustice. This is the sensory reality — a reality with tangible elements — possessed by the inhabitants of the greater Union who see through the structures possessed by the complex, and wish to overcome the antagonism.

However, the good old boys also wish to conquer this obstacle, and indeed it is one to them, but from the other side. In total the strife is a game of tug-of-war with the center of the rope composed of two halves — each the goal of the respective side. Each side requires the other to be the instigator with a laundry list of reasons for the strife’s genesis. “The liberals destroyed the south’s economy after the civil war”, or “the ruination of the family” normally among them. It demonstrates strikingly that the social conflicts in the nation can always be boiled down to two defined sides, both of which came out the two factions during the war of the 1860s, always taking form in right or left.

The good old boys, commonly, are the front end, expendable footsoliders to this whole network — but not explicitly in direct service to it. They serve it by being of service to separate but connected monoliths of ideas and attitudes which raise up the complex. The attitudes, culture and enjoyments themselves are mundane and even irrelevant. But their permeation in the repository of American social outlooks is what seems to amplify them, just as much as attitudes common to the left or liberal worldviews tend to amplify and easily mark themselves.

They are victims of a mythic narrative that was inherited by their fathers, who were themselves associated in some sense to reactionary movements, the labor exploiters and religious institutions. These conjured the perfect storm for the antagonism when met with plans for reform, reducing singular grasp of society. The political, economic and social pillars of identity created the precursor to the present manifestation. Right-wing quasi-nationalism, free-market capitalism (now having evolved into a more corporatist neoconservatism) and Christian-centric morality, marking June 26th as a worse holocaust than September 11th, may as well have devised an entirely new United States situated on top of the original Union. They are the delegates in the cities and towns for the rigid and angry families in the hills and ranches, as the emerging generations everywhere continue to overcome the past.

The transformation of the good old boy complex has existed as long as the regional distinctions first became relevant and merged as part of the expansion west. The confederate solider begets the senator in favor of Jim Crow laws, who begets the DEA agent from Alabama, who begets the police officer in the urban squalor. Considering at present the impending election results of 2016, and the constant sparks of current events outlining who falls where, we are nearing a new transformation of its political implications as first seen in the media’s acknowledgement of the “alt-right”. The transformation, in my opinion, will likely be made up of individual social factions, not oligarchical circles of statesmen, returning to nationalistic, nativist and traditionalist values, and aspiring to make them conventional once more. Consequently, there will be a rise in counter-movements center or opposite to them, and the antagonism will as always take new form and carry on. Cats and dogs; Right and Left. The equilibrium is the life force of the nation.

The question becomes not what we do about the good old boys, not if they should be removed by combating their higher-ups by some anarchic anti-racist/fascist force. They are not only the symptom of deeper issues, they are equal parts the paramours of the culture in their historical region, and inheritors of their fathers’ spite against unions and equal protection under the law.

We should seek to defuse the anger and dialog by making them useless. It may take riding out the four to eight years of whichever candidate takes the oath, but inevitably how we actually solve the whole antagonism is to engage in a grand upheaval against the conditions which make the reactionary returns to supremacy seem necessary to those convinced or downtrodden by the ruling economic minority.

The result is the good old boy taking a more modest and fanciful form than one complimentary to the amplification of reactionary narratives. The gentle southerner, born in the parts immortalized by Twain and Faulkner, made melodies by Nelson, Jennings and Charles; not the son of a ranting, raving Trump supporter, doomed to carry that weight in a cozy job in the big city.

The Good Old Boy Complex