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Episode 90 – What is Anarchism in 2018 with Bellamy

This is the last episode of 2018. In 2019 along with the Brilliant I’ll be working on a weekly call in show called Anarchy Bang that you should check out on Sundays at noon (PST).

Bellamy and I have another conversation that I’ll release next week about Corrosive Consciousness but for now we discuss anarchism in 2018 (http://thebrilliant.org/podcast/episode-65-what-is-anarchism-in-2018/ and text here http://thebrilliant.org/2018/11/19/season-3-of-the-brilliant/) and where we agree and where BF is wrong (joke!). We discuss whether we are in a third wave of anarchism and what it’s boundary is compared to second wave. Should we fight for the word anarchism, the loyal opposition to anarcho-liberalism, or should we go another direction?

If you haven’t you should check out Bellamy’s article from Backwoods #1 you should. An Invitation to Desertion to understand some of BF’s position in this conversation.

Finally we gossip about Dr. Bones, anarchist nationalism, and spirituality.

Contact us at thebrilliant@thebrilliant.org

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7 Comments

  1. Jon Z. Jon Z.

    Great episode! Glad to hear ole bell-uh-me again.

  2. Matt Dionysus Matt Dionysus

    I’m actually a little surprised to discover that, when it comes to “Truth” as a philosophical concept, I’m somewhat closer to Aragorn!’s thinking than I am to Bellamy’s. Being the unapologetic Stirnerian that I am, I wouldn’t have seen that one coming. Where I differ with both of you is that, if you’re going to speak of Truth as something that either “exists” or “does not exist,” as something to be either “pursued” or “not pursued,” then you’re already asking the wrong question – or at least framing it in the wrong way. Truth is not something to be pursued, discovered, revealed, etc. Rather, it is something to be *created* in collaboration with other individuals in the process of creating *ourselves.*

    But let’s set that question aside for now. Instead, I’d like to pose another one to Aragorn! that is not intended to be rhetorical and that I hope he will take the time to respond to in as few or as many words as he feels are necessary. I agree wholeheartedly with you insofar as I think that any conception of “Truth” that might be considered useful from an anarchistic perspective is “not mappable by the Western metaphysical project.” My question, however, is this: how do you reconcile your contempt for the “Western metaphysical project” (which I, personally, would extend to the entire “analytic” philosophical tradition) with your reluctance to engage with ideas that emerge from “the Academy,” particularly when so many of the most rigorous critiques Western metaphysics have emerged from *within* an academic setting — post-structuralism being a salient example?

    • Bellamy Bellamy

      Matt,
      I am still a Stirnerian, albeit of a highly unorthodox sort, but, once I started more seriously reading and thinking about metaphysics, I had to abandon any heavily relativistic/perspectival sense of the word truth. There are, in my view, real criteria on which claims can be evaluated, one against the other – it isn’t all just power and style. I agree that truth is “created” in the sense that the perceiver is always dialectically related to the percept, and the knower to the known, but that doesn’t imply relativism. I also don’t think one can just throw out whatever is supposedly “Western” or “analytic” – those are big snarl words for what is really a wide diversity of thinkers. Russell is not Whitehead is not Wittgenstein is not Parfit – there is plenty of room for nuance here.

      Incidentally, I tried to write you in response to something you said on anti-civ.net ages ago to no avail.

      • Matt Dionysus Matt Dionysus

        Bellamy:

        Oh, I’m totally with you on rejecting any “heavily” relativistic notion of Truth. However, in keeping with your own point about the importance of nuance in these sorts of discussions, I feel it necessary to emphasize the fact that there are *degrees* of relativism. Between Absolute-Truth-as-alienated-ideal on the one hand and “everything is equally true and, therefore, equally false” on the other, there is an entire spectrum of wiggle room to explore. Even *within* Zerzan’s pet social science, anthropology, one will find the concept of “critical cultural relativism” – the existence of which, it seems to me, he is reluctant to admit. It’s just that, when you speak of yourself as adhering to the “Platonic notion” of “the pursuit of truth” as a “spiritual path,” I have to wonder if you’re inadvertently falling back into Absolute-Truth-as-alienated-ideal rather than the *creation*-of-truth-as-transsubjective-process.

        Speaking purely for myself, any notion of “spirituality” that I would consider appealing would have little if anything to do with the pursuit of truth. In stead, it would be more a process of *personal alchemy* through which I “become who I am” and expand my capacity to act on my desires through my interactions with other people. Whatever “truth” may emerge as a result of this process is something that I would view as a secondary effect. I would also differ with you on the idea that there is any “dialectical” relationship between perceiver and percept. Dialectics is concerned with the resolution of opposites and, as such, is only concerned with *difference* as it relates to *differences between presupposed identity categories* rather than difference in itself – i.e. the process through which those identities differenciate themselves in the first place. (For more on the distinction between between “differentiation” with a ‘t’ and “differenciation” with a ‘c,’ check out Deleuze’s “Difference and Repetition,” p. 207 – 210.) Stirner’s inability to make a decisive break with the Hegelian dialectic is, in my opinion, his one major failing. Alejandro de Acosta makes this very point in an essay from AAJODA #67 called, “How The Stirner Eats Gods” when he remarks:

        “Certainly when I read Stirner I sometimes have to pause to cleanse the unpleasant aftertaste left by too much comparison of Self with God. It’s what is still all too dialectical in Stirner, the desire to invert the monotheist nightmare rather than just wake up from it. Certainly I have witnessed people assimilating such an Ego to an individualism that is rugged, all too rugged.”

        [https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/alejandro-de-acosta-how-the-stirner-eats-gods]

        What is at play here is, as I’ve said to you before, the ontological foundations of individual subjectivity itself. When we use terms like “the Subject,” “the Self,” “Ego,” etc, what are we actually talking about? Are we speaking of some presupposed identity that I don like a mask or about something far more fluid and dynamic? Personally, I would argue, along with Acosta, that, when we speak of “Ego” or “the Self,” what we’re really talking about is a process of ‘becoming’ and ‘co-emergence’ with what we mistakenly perceive as the Other.

        So, to answer your question from that message you sent to me over at anti-civ.net, no, I haven’t yet read Whitehead’s “Process and Reality” but I have long thought it would be a fascinating read, particularly since he was such a strong influence on Deleuze’s own thinking. And I suspect (although, not having read it, I can’t say for certain) that it would go a long way toward developing a non-dialectical and non-essentialist reading of individual subjectivity. Another one of Deleuze’s influences that I would highly recommend checking out if you haven’t already is Gilbert Simondon, whose theory of ‘individuation’ also has much to offer a process-oriented interpretation of subjectivity. His essay (which I’ve referenced elsewhere on this website) called “The Genesis of The Individual” is well worth a look, and can be found here:

        https://monoskop.org/images/b/bc/Simondon_Gilbert_1964_1992_The_Genesis_of_the_Individual.pdf

        At any rate, I have no doubt that there would be some people who would read what I’ve written here and dismiss it as too “academic,” too “pedantic,” etc. To quote Kevin Tucker on the February 15, 2018 episode of the BAGR Podcast, “so sue me.”
        I find this stuff interesting and think these sorts of ideas deserve far more attention than so many of the upturned noses within the anarchist subculture give them credit for. I get the fact that sitting around reading folks like Deleuze, Whitehead, and Simondon isn’t everyone’s cup of tea; but, for those with the inclination to engage with these sorts of concepts, I see no reason why we can’t multitask.

        Either way, it’s high time to get real about the actual reasons *why* certain segments of the anarchist milieu would prefer not to have to think about these sorts of things. It clearly isn’t a simple matter of *anti-academia* because, if it was, then the critiques being put forward would be confined to the mental/manual division of labour and the bureaucratic framework within which questions of individual subjectivity are typically discussed. In lived practise, however, what we typically encounter is a rejection not only of institutionalized academia as such, but also of the capacities of the mind to critique the conditions in which they emerge. Instead of calling this “anti-academia,” which is far too generous, let’s call it what it actually is: *anti-intellectualism* – which has far less to do with a principled rejection of academic hierarchy than it does with ideology’s rebellion against cognitive dissonance. Which brings me back to the question that I posed to Aragorn!:

        How do you reconcile your contempt for the “Western metaphysical project” with your reluctance to engage with ideas that emerge from “the Academy” when so many of the most rigorous critiques Western metaphysics have emerged from *within* an academic setting?

        In any case, Bellamy, I too would describe myself as an “unorthodox Stirnerian,” although this lack of orthodoxy has led me to somewhat different conclusions. Nothing that I’ve said here has been intended to cast doubt on your own perfectly valid interpretation of Stirner and I hope you receive it in the spirit in which it was intended.

  3. another fan another fan

    I’m kind of bemused about a few things that bellamy says. a) he talks about drama being bad for bringing people into anarchy. I didn’t realize that that was a value of his? More importantly b) the ease with which he (and apparently aragorn!?) separate someone’s actions from their politics (in the story of bones). We are not our political ideas, but our actions do reflect our values. I am not for castigating people for going against what they think/believe (or want-to-believe–it would be nice to have a word for that in english), but i don’t think behavior and values are as easily separated as bellamy blows by in this podcast.
    Thanks to bell and a! for this and every brilliant episode they do together! you leave me with things to think about!

  4. Lex Lex

    Left bank books despite “uninviting” LBC is still selling letters of insurgents with aragorns! Introduction. On their website. Hahaha

    • thebrilliant thebrilliant

      I don’t think LBB was central to organizing the bookfair. I believe they were just a vendor there.

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