Sunday, April 11, 2021

Anarchists Need to Drop the Adjectives

 Every decade or so anarchism seems to find its way back into the limelight for another 15 minutes. We're usually roundly vilified but it still offers us a rare window to attract the non-political class and shop around our ideas. In the late nineties we had the Anti-Globalization Movement and the Battle of Seattle. About a decade and change later we had the Occupy Movement and today I believe we may be approaching another 15 minute window with the uprisings against the grotesque overreach of our post modern police state. The seemingly unique thing about this latest upsurge in stateless insurrection is that it appears to have two bipolar sources, one on the left and one on the right. On the left we have the rise of an old but reinvigorated movement known as Antifa, engaging in fantastic displays of direct action with the state across the Pacific Northwest. On the right we have the more libertarian Boogaloo Movement, creating their own powerful brand of confrontational street theatre with their heavily armed and well organized marches on state capitols across the heartland. Both groups are autonomously decentralized and stateless in nature and outlook. But both groups represent apposing ends of the ideological anarchist spectrum.

All in all, this need not be a bad thing and it really isn't that unusual either. Anarchism has always been a movement that defies and transcends the traditional left-right spectrum. But attempt to suggest as much online and just wait for the bricks to fly.

Contrary to the popular caricature of the tattooed green haired vagabond like myself, anarchism is an almost mind bogglingly diverse ecosystem of fantastic radical freaks. Travel into this jungle online and you will find yourself amidst a teeming forest of colorful countercultures. You have your modern day barbarians of anarcho-primitivism, your cyber punk geeks of crypto-anarchism, your dandy nihilist outlaws of egoism, and your maligned heathen LARPers of National Anarchism. But most of my fellow anarcho-freaks can find themselves beneath one of two major ideological umbrellas. The red leftists of anarcho-communism and the right libertarians of anarcho-capitalism, and here is where my beloved stateless ecosystem finds itself in the eternal conflict that threatens to spoil our latest fifteen minutes of zeitgeist defining public imagination.

The internet is lousy with ancoms and ancaps wasting their precious intellect shitposting on each other's perceived flaws, to the degree that many have foolishly come to see the other as a bigger enemy than the state itself. According to your average ancom keyboard guerrilla, an anarcho-capitalist is a greedy, self-absorbed, commodity fetishist who wants nothing less perverse than to hand over the reigns of power to major corporations and usher in a new era of puppy eating Social Darwinism. And according to your average ancap social media maven, an anarcho-communist is but a knuckle-dragging, quasi-Maoist, rube out to round up everybody's private property and declare the year zero. Both of these representations bare little resemblance to reality and both sides would likely quickly realize this if they could get past their kneejerk revulsion to heavily loaded labels like communist and capitalist. The anarcho-interpretations of both are far from incompatible and even farther from anything you'll find in a mainstream history book, and this is where anarchy without adjectives comes into play. 

Developed in a time of far greater social upheaval than ours, anarchism without adjectives was designed by a couple of Spaniards named Ricardo Mella and Fernando Terrida del Marmol in the 1880's to end the eternal bitching of their eras own communists and individualists, and unite them under a single game plan to annihilate the state they both despised first and then sort out the less dyer details along the way to a new stateless society. It was always intended to be more of a strategy than an ideology and it ended up being adopted by some of the era's greatest and most diverse anarchist minds, like the so-called Italian Lenin, Errico Malatesta, and the mother of American Individualist Feminism, Voltarine de Cleyre, before their 15 minutes blew up into an unfortunate fit of headline grabbing assassinations. 

To me anarchism without adjectives always made sense as more than just a strategy because I've always been something of an anarchist with a thousand adjectives. DeLeonist libertarian socialism will always be my first love because of my childhood infatuation with Marxism and my lifelong fixation with the full spectrum direct democracy of radical syndicalism. But my devotion to a stateless Queer nation has come to be the most significant motivator for my continued dedication to smashing the state and in a twist even I didn't see coming, I've come to see typically ancap philosophies like the Non-Aggression Principle and Agorism as the best ways to achieve my goals for a new humane society without fucking it up like my forefathers did with a bunch of dick-wagging initiatory violence. 

And that's what I love about anarchism without adjectives. It allows us to erase silly ideological lines and allows everyone with something stateless to offer, a place at the table. It's a veritable market place of non-dogmatic ideologies competing in real time. The only real absolute is that everything must be voluntary. Nothing must be coerced. As long as every idea, every new society, remains a choice, it remains kosher for a new revolutionary era of exploration. Wanna live like a barbarian in a torch lit cave without the evils of polyfibers and plumbing? Fuck it, make it voluntary and give it a shot. Wanna create a new Kowloon Walled City of cyberpunk capitalist debauchery? Fuck it, make it voluntary and give it a shot. Wanna create a post-apocalyptic red light republic of genderfuck neon haired syndicates? Fuck it, I'm gonna make it voluntary, and give it a shot.

The future is simply too unpredictable for doctrinaire model building bullshit and dogmatic absolutes. When Western Society finally collapses beneath the weight of its own imperial hubris, you and I will see more revolutionary changes evolve in the first 15 seconds than we've seen in the last 1500 years. The only way for anarchism to survive the coming cataclysm is to remain united by a collective open mind to the endless possibilities of the greatest upheaval this planet has seen since the dinosaurs. Antifa and Boogaloo both have all the right ideas, they just need to respect each other's right to approach those ideas from different directions and remain open to the possibility that somebody outside their circle might know something they don't. Otherwise, we're just going to blow another 15 minutes on shitposting and ballyhoo and it might be the last 15 minutes we got.

If humanity has a future, it's anarchism. If anarchism has a future, it's without adjectives. Lets make it fucking happen people. Some tattooed green haired vagabond believes in you.

Peace, Love, & Empathy- Nicky/CH

Soundtrack; songs that influenced this post

*  Rebellion (Lies) by Arcade Fire

*  Heroes by Peter Gabriel

*  Free to Decide by the Cranberries

*  Walking Far From Home by Iron & Wine

*  Pay Your Way in Pain by St. Vincent

*  Come As You Are by Nirvana

*  No Cars Go by Arcade Fire


  1. Funny, I actually agree with you here.

    My first introduction to the idea of “anarchism without adjectives” was from a book called, “It Usually Begins with Ayn Rand,” written by Jerome Tuccille. He describes it as, “middle of the road anarchism,” and was actually at the very least a strategy originally embraced by Murray Rothbard (before he was seduced by the dark side and went paleocon). But you are correct, the concept is more than simply strategic, it encompasses the idea that we get rid of the state, and whatever develops is by definition both anarcho-capitalist and anarcho-communist, as well as the embodiment of thousands of other forms of anarchism.

    Ayn Rand was no libertarian by any stretch of the imagination, and certainly not an anarchist. She insisted that liberty was useful and beneficial only to ethical egoists. Although she explicitly stated that she believed in the NAP, it just offended the hell out of her that some people might use their liberty to do things she did not approve of, or even that some people in a free society would choose to be what she called “altruist-mystic-collectivists.” She had no comprehension that, as well as the division of labor (which she explicitly endorsed), there could be a “division of values,” and that this was just as essential to a functioning free society as the division of labor was.

    So why did so many of Rand’s would be followers, such as Tuccille and myself, completely break free of her paradigm and embrace “middle of the road anarchism,” not just as a strategy, but as a permanent process? I believe the reason was that her closed mindedness was less attractive to more of her readers than her rebellious spirit was, and that most of her readers simply were liberated by the rebellious spirit, and therefore had to ditch the closed mindedness.

    Nicky, while I admire your insights and keen perception, I still do not know what to make of your optimism. My own life experiences of over half a century would seem to indicate that the effort to tie most people’s thought patterns to the left/right paradigm has advanced greatly, and that this may very well be impossible to change. We have always got the wild card, though, which you constantly bring up: societal collapse. I am well aware of the concept of “the law of attraction” and that both optimism and pessimism may be self-fulfilling. Much of my life has been spent harboring negative attitudes as an emotional defense mechanism, and I constantly struggle to change that. I hope some of your optimism can rub off on me.

  2. As much as I am distressed by the immense growth of the authoritarian state with invasive mechanisms out of the dominating digital spiderweb which goes far beyond what Orwell envisioned, my understanding that the last several thousand years of human social systems have been fairly uniform in producing governments of brutal selfish cruel thugs with only slight variations. The last presidential election produced around 73 million votes for the psychopathic Trump and that leaves me wondering if humanity can produce a decent society of self governing people any better than whatever exists today.

    1. "The last presidential election produced around 73 million votes for the psychopathic Trump…"

      And 6 million more than that for the sociopathic Biden.

      Trump is particularly offensive to me due to his xenophobia, or at least his use of xenophobia to attract the base, but it is my belief that very few of those votes were complete endorsements of either candidate. It is just that each of the "sides" stoked up by the establishment media convinced many voters that they absolutely had to vote for the vomit casserole to avoid getting the turd sandwich. There are a few, certainly in my (red) neck of the woods, who absolutely worship Trump, but the absolute majority of voters did not support or vote for any candidate, they were the non-voters.

      I tend to agree with you that there may simply be no good outcome, whether the ultimate result is either a world of totalitarian dictatorships or a totally stateless world. The severity of our imperfections may preclude a prosperous, non-violent world under any circumstances. I simply see the totalitarian state as the most egregious aberration of decency, and would hope that a mass movement against the state would not come about in a vacuum, but would be a result of people actually giving a fuck about their fellow human beings, and therefore earning some good Karma.

    2. No matter how we cut the mustard in Nov. 2020 six in ten voters (I love this), "...had to vote for the vomit casserole to avoid getting the turd sandwich."

      As Nicky said in English a few essays ago: plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.
      "I shall not go to the polls. I have not registered. I believe that democracy has so far disappeared in the United States that no “two evils” exist. There is but one evil party with two names, and it will be elected despite all I can do or say.”
      — W.E.B DuBois (1956)

      "...non-voters tend to delegitimize the exercise of a government's power as an expression of the 'will of the people.' Without the protective cover provided by voters, the government would have no pretense to act except as a law unto itself."
      ― Hans Sherrer (1999)

      "The most successful one party system is disguised as a two party system, given the people an illusion that they decide"
      ― Stalin

      “The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class are to represent and repress them.”
      ― Karl Marx

      During the 2019 Canuckistan federal election I posted on the Tyee comments section why I was not going to vote. A few of my fellow commentators took umbrage of such an "outrageous" suggestion" (if you don't vote you have no right to complain, etc.).

      On July 14/20 the Tyee blacklisted me. My bad-d-d-d-d!

      Then those very same outraged Tyee posters were encouraging the same "outrageous", don't vote, I proselytized in 2019 during the BC provincial election one year later in Oct. 2020.

      After all, why be simply outraged when you can be outrageous?

      Salutations from the Excited States of Murder's vassal state.

      Sound that influenced this rant:

  3. There is an article at which is encouraging.