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March 01, 2006

Comments

interbreeding

I don't think it's possible to understand CrimthInc apart from the d.i.y. hardcore punk scene, for which it provides a piece of the ideological framework. Having been peripherally involved in said scene where CrimethInc literature was embraced, I must say that really what this kind of punk anarchism does is justify a kind of retreat from reality into a hermetic social group who are ostensibly committed to revolution, but have no interest in engaging with the masses, rather simply hoping that the masses will come over to their position. That or preparing in a primitivist way for the collapse of technological society.

Christopher Day

This is a great review. I agree with Interbreeding as well. Its obvious that this scene will not realize its vision of revolutionary change. That said I think its also important to unite with what is good in the scene: its hatred for the existing way of life, its willingness to fight, and its understanding that everyday life really DOES matter. This latter point is where it has the most to teach communists.

celticfire

Really good review, I wouldn't have even heard of it if it weren't for this.

Kitty Catty

Meow!

the burningman

The commentary is flowing in all its Indymedia glory over at the NYC site:

http://nyc.indymedia.org/en/2006/03/65750.html

Sigh

Why do you even bother? Anarchists are fine. They are endemic. They will always fluctuate around artsy neighborhoods and college towns. Nine out of ten will be on the right side even if they come complaining. That last 10%? Who cares.

It's a ridiculous idea and anyone who gets deep in doesn't care about much and will be on to the next new kick inside the week.

Christopher Day

I may be a statistical outlier, but it took me more than a week to wise up. Why bother? Because dedicated enemies of the existing way of living can be won to better politics that make them a hundred times more effective. I agree that anarchists will always be with us, this society produces them daily by the gross. But taking the time to patiently struggle with them can bear real fruit. Additionally many of them actually have some things to teach most communists about the importance of questions of everyday life.

Gen. Molotov

You, Mr. Day, are a statistical outlier.

Post-Anarchist Leftist

As if to jump up and vindicate this critique, Crimethinc "co-conspirators" the Curious George Brigade are, at present, getting blasted for holding an event over at NYU - a facility under strike by its Graduate Student union in a pretty bitter fight for recognition. And when reminded that breaking picket lines is generally not a good thing, the response by a CGB "attache?" - "Sincerely fuck off." Christ on a crutch, when anarchists start sounding like Dick Cheney. . .

http://nyc.indymedia.org/en/2006/03/66271.html

the burningman

Yeah, I caught that. I'm still wondering whether to go or not. The Curious George Brigade is a local (NYC) Crimethinc affiliate.

They were the authors of Anarchy in the Age of Dinosaurs, and perhaps got the most attention for their "swarm of butterflies" theory.

Then the NYPD went and invested in the gigantic orange butterfly nets...

I hate when that happens.

In any case, the crisis in anarchism is now on their front burner. Hype only runs so far, and at this point -- from what I see all over the country -- anarchism is going through a process of distinction between those who are "capital-A" anarchists and "default" anarchists. The latter are moving in several distinct directions, none of them particularly "anarchist."

More as developments merit.

Tchaikovsky

What good is your communism if it's just a heirarchical, forced system without complete freedom? How is that any better than capitalism?

You speak of anarchy as if it's the mistaken wet dream of some mislead teens, which is exactly the way that liberals speak of your communism.

Revolution doesn't mean you have to quit bathing and isolate yourself from society. Society is flawed, yes, and our empty,apathetic consumer culture is very much connected to the oppression of the working class. They're results of the same system. Do you really think that this system is built to allow anyone truly progressive to take power? I think it's guaranteed to stop that sort of thing from happening, and the sooner we can either topple it or create an alternative, the better. Considering Crimethinc isn't a closed organization (and so, can't really be generalized, as you can never know how many people are involved) it's a shame to pretend that many people who affiliate themselves with it aren't working for the same things you are (hopefully... there's always the chance that more than a few of you are working for Mao's memory).

Nate

The equation of anarchist with unorganized or lifestylist is unfair and inaccurate. The anarchist group NEFAC has put a lot of thought into and done a lot of good work on workplace organizing and other very practical questions of calss struggle and organization. The group Bring the Ruckus has also done some good work from what I'm told - they're not an anarchist group but have anarchist members, and the people who edit and write for the magazine Anarcho-Syndicalist Review generally have a lot of experiences in and skills to contribute to the working class movement.

All of that said, I agree with the reservations about some of Crimethinc's work, and of lifestylism etc. In my experience, people from that millieu can sometimes be a real problem if they become involved in other activities, there can be a certain undemocratic ("I must get my way, we must all agree") kind of sensibility there which is not conducive to working with people from different backgrounds or views.

scorchedEarth

For a a debate on anarchism on this blog, see this: http://burning.typepad.com/burningman/2006/02/the_tyranny_of_.html#comments

Christopher Day

When I was an anarchist I often made arguments of the sort that Nate is making here, distinguishing pro-organizational class struggle anarchism from what I dismissed as lifestylism. I think however, that this distinction is not neccesarily as valuable as it seems on the inside. A few observations:

1. The pro-organization anarchists are, and always have been, a minority within a much larger anti-organizational (or at least disorganized) milieu. They often find this milieu frustrating, but it is precisely from its ranks (and from those frustrations) that the pro-organization folks draw their numbers.

2. The pro-organizational folks don't always have the best politics. Often their ideas about the working class are extremely wooden and antiquated, not reflecting massive changes in its character and composition since the high-tide of anarcho-syndicalism almost a century ago.

3. The so-called life-stylists, while often trapped in their own individualism, are often more attentive to the questions of everyday life that are really the area where anarchists have the greatest contributions to make to revolutionary praxis. Their efforts to construct a sustainable counter-culture, while often blinkered, speak to real weaknesses in communist practice which all to often seems to embrace bourgeois norms of sexual and personal morality that have been inflicted on the proletariat as if they were expressions of its own interests and aspirations.

The DIY ethic of self-reliance, the attempt to represent the future in the present in daily life, the popularization of some sort of security culture, should all be components of an a well-rounded revolutionary praxis.

Bully Pulpit

Thanks for this review. As a sometimes participant in Crimethinc endeavors in my own little way, it resonates more than I wish it did.

Christopher's point about trends in anarchism is very interesting. I agree that the differences are not as important as Mr. Bookchin made them out to be.

The world is just not that small.

baader

you guys are pathetic and i don't even think you get the point of crimethinc
so why are you online getting in an argument?
pathetic
you wonder why there is no real social change?
it's because all of you communists and self professed "anarchists" sit online and argue about the most pointless shit
get up and do something
you're sure changing a lot sitting on your ass getting in a fucking fight over how revolutionary a certain book is
and you're all wondering who the next jerry rubin is going to be
right..

hmmmm

yeah, imagine: some people think ther e needs to be thought (theory, plan, organization, levels of unity, strategy) as an integral part of launching into practice.

Imagine: some people thinks there needs to be debate over goals, methods, analysis, and summation.

Imagine: some people think there needs to be "argument" in order for there to be social change.

What a buncha "pointless shit"!

After all we can "just do it" (what ever it is) -- and if we "just do it" we will have something that the system can't co-opt. (Not even Nike, right?)

ghendrix

don't be afraid of nike
think about the phrase "just do it"
and use the excrement (pointless shit) of daily life
to get really worked up
i mean get really really mad at whatever there is to get mad about
then come back
get up
put on your shoes
and go out and solve the problem once and for all
by yourself
because no one is going to agree with you
and if they do
they are still not going to help you
because you will never agree on how to solve the problem
do you not understand that humans have been trying to live together since the beggining of existence?
People are not good or evil by nature they are just different and we are not meant to be organized in to large large groups (like countries or communist organizations, etc)
to quote crimethinc "your politics are boring as fuck"

hey bro

Uh, we're all "doing it" -- but we're not just doing whatever.

Everyone is "organized into large groups."

Do you have a social security number? I bet you do. Or live off someone who does.

Do you grow the food you eat?
I bet not.

Do you grow the cotton for your shirt, spin it, sew it and dye it?
Bet now.

See -- life is social. That's why we need "socialism," not drop-out, whateverism.

To quote Jed:
"If the Situationist author Raoul Vaneigem was right that those who speak of revolution without mentioning everyday life "have a corpse in their mouth," then maybe its fair to say that those who equate revolution with the lifestyle choices of well-read drop-outs confuse making love with jerking off."

bad brained

The world of the social has more antagonisms then you think. Just look at such phenomenas as myspace(multular solitude as Virilio called it) or all the different affinity clubs that exist within this big world of ours. There has always been an unwritten balkanization even in the most wordly set up. The point should be to be honest about this disperse disperse disperse!

hey bro

This is one of those: "I have no idea what you are talking about, and neither do you" moments.

Go disperse or whatever. Why challenge alienation? Embrace it! Right? Please...

Modern Pitung

to quote myself: Crimethinc's fucking is as boring as politics.

passing by

What's up with the bordeom slinging? If any single word sums up the anarchist consumer worldview, it's "boring." This is boring, that's boring.

What a strange way of approaching the world.

manuel

I have to say that crimethinc really emphasizes the power of positive thinking. Sure, they recycle information and put it back out there in a way that will appeal to the punk community, but, I think that the punks already get it. But the book challenges those punks by saying "do you have ideas? or do your ideas have you?" Too bad that so many of the crusty punks who are affiliated with them are just waiting around for industrial collapse or are too wrapped up in their sense of aesthetics and being against everything that it becomes their identity. They just react. That is what is boring. I've learned that the whole punk thing doesn't really appeal to many people. I used to wonder why.
These books are a good start for some suburban kid who is looking for another way. But when I see people who had those ideas start to really do something great and sustainable with their politics in mind, that is a great thing.

Mostly Deffly

This is the best writing on Crimethinc like ever.

Thanks for this, the support and criticism.

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