This is the first of three conversations about exclusion in the @ space. In the old days I used to say that the only interesting people in punk were the ones in bands, doing zines, putting on shows. The active punks. Today I think it is fair to say that many, if not most, of the interesting people in the anarchist space have been excluded from some anarchist body. Sometimes it looks like typical social clique bullshit. Other times like fucking purges.
This episode is the second step on a process on how to think about exclusion, how we are for and against it, how we learn and grow from it, and what is means for the anarchist space that exclusion is so central to it. In this conversation with Ben we learn about homogeneity, Portland, effectiveness vs maybe principles?, and like usual the gap between people and society.
The first step of this process, for me btw, was the workshop I did for this years BASTARD Conference. Here is the writeup of that.
This is a basic conversation that, if successful, will question a basic anarchist principle and point a way torward thinking about how to form pods of human activity in a possible, viable future. We will discuss what is social, society, and at what numerical breaks are different kinds of organizations possible and impossible. Mostly we’d like to talk about exclusion as a consequence of how this society is ordered but also how utopia planning is largely a reactionary and conservative process. We are against it.
As always email us at the brilliant email address.
As someone who once migrated from a rural community to become involved with an urban anarchist scene, Ben’s core point about hyper-localism as the basis of a vetting process within anarchist subcultures really resonated with me. Where I differ with him is that, in my experience, a desire to “get shit done” is just as much a part of this vetting process as is the development of social rapport over an extended period of time. From what I’ve seen, it is usually the central group of entrenched locals who all know each other who are the most stringent enforcers of “getting shit done.” One of my main critiques of “activism” is precisely its excessive preoccupation with action-for-its-own-sake. If everyone just cooled their jets a bit and realized that the world isn’t going to come to an end if you put “action” on hold for a while and spend a little more time theorizing about the How and the Why of what it is you’re actually doing, then maybe the tendency of anarchists to stagnate in their respective subcultural bubbles could be addressed in a more intelligent and reflective manner.
Also, as a side-note, I really dug his idea of developing a more “nomadic” anarchism. Furthermore, it’s worth pointing out that he’s veering dangerously close to Deleuze & Guattari’s “nomadology” when he makes comments like that. Despite Ben’s reluctance to admit it, maybe his inner “Continental” philosopher is rattling its chains trying to break free.
we’ve already seen several peaks and declines of nomadology in an north american context — crust/dropout/rainbow/anit-globe/earth first/crimethinc/hobos
all of these have been advocated for and critiqued elsewheres, seems like an error to advocate for nomadism w/o mention of current/past attempts at it.
Arguably so, and I welcome such critiques. However, my central point was not so much to “advocate” for anything in particular as to identify a hidden affinity between Ben’s own thinking and the “Continental philosophy” from which he’d otherwise like to distance himself.
However, since you brought it up, it might be worth taking a closer look at how the Israeli military have managed to make use of “nomadology” to some effect in the Palestinian territories:
If anarchists in North America were prepared to up their intellectual game, perhaps they could make effective use of it as well.