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Episode 83 – Nationalism and bolo’bolo part III

The Brilliant Podcast
The Brilliant
Episode 83 - Nationalism and bolo'bolo part III

TL;DR This is an interview with Gregor of Tribes magazine. His story (and article in Tribes) is about the move from “left anarchism” to national anarchism. The discussion is about WTF is left anarchism, National anarchism, and a kindred.

This third episode on the question of nationalism wraps up the conversation with a nice bow. I talk to one of the authors of Tribes magazine about their story (and apologies but the first part of the episode was lost to the computer usability gods), and specifically how they went from being a “left anarchist” (which has less to do with leftist ideas than with leftist activities like squatting, occupy, and black bloc!!!) to becoming a national anarchist. We talk specifically about how fucking stupid that name is; what family looks like; why, ultimately, I can’t get on board with their program at all (which was obvious from the beginning but I use this as an opportunity to go through something in good faith and wash away all the cruft and grime to really see what’s underneath). I am really appreciative of Gregor’s patience and understanding in the conversation. They were a good advocate for their position, and really served as a not-paranoid or mealy-mouthed partisan of it.

This episode will be challenging for many listeners as the position we are discussing (national or tribal anarchism) can be easily dismissed as racist. And I’m not going to say it is not racist but my reading of Tribes is that it tries very hard to dance around the issue (though sometimes dog whistling) and is worth examining closer. But I say this because I think that the idea of building community, and how it’s done, and who it’s done with, is worth grappling with seriously, before deciding specific efforts are bad, by whatever epithet. That’s what I try to do here. To put a point on it, I have not found many so-called anti-racists living in a way that is all that different than racists do. Mostly people surround themselves with a homogeneous group of people and don’t question their own social, cultural, and even ethnic comfort zones. This conversation starts to poke at that comfort zone, but I’m not sure where I’d go from here.

To be clear, after this process of discovery of the Tribes/National Anarchist position, I reject it entirely. It turns out that like many other anarchist positions they end up having Hope (with a capital H) in something that I find totally absurd. In this case it isn’t the workers or the movement, but a construction of “heritability” that while being “true” is absolutely not true. You’ll have to decide how you feel about it by listening to the conversation.

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  1. chayim chayim

    i feel a disclaimer is in order, i am still self conscious and fear being embarrassed, so i don’t have the confidence to say what i think without being concerned how it will be perceived. Stirner is helping overcome this however, thanks max, wolfi and LBC. i am obviously not as educated, or experienced, as either of the speakers, but i have an opinion nonetheless. so, in this episode, near the end, you seem to agree, A!, that the de-construction of ethnicity by modernity is a bad thing. am i to understand that you have some proof that ethnicity exists outside of a social construct? i don’t deny that it exists, but , as i understand it, ethnicity is a synonym for race, and i have not heard of any proof that race exists outside a social construct. granted it is an ancient social construct, but a construct just the same. i have been told that i am a jew, you have been told you are Ojibwe, but what proof do we have that we are these things besides agreed upon definitions? am i an ethnic jew, do i have some distinguishing genealogical trait that makes me separate from the “Ojibwe” ? perhaps, but i’m willing to bet our genealogical similarities far out weigh any differences. the other speaker seems to insist that there is some objective truth to ethnicity, but when you cornered him, he claims anyone can be a member of his kindred. he can’t have it both ways. either he has an ethnic relation to his kindred or his kindred is a social construct and therefore nothing more than a choice. i am not a jew, i am a human being, a homo sapien, or simply an earthling, like all the other earthlings, be it a cockroach, or a chimpanzee, or a butterfly. if i choose to identify as a jew, that is a choice based on some socially constructed idea of what that means. and if i do, what kind of jew am i ? orthodox, chareidi, askenaz or sefardi ? all of those labels are constructs that have no objective reality. there is no denying that we believe racial differences exist, but what proof do we have that they really do? racial constructs go back a long way, but that doesn’t mean they are true. if i have misunderstood or am wrong regarding the racial issue, please feel free to correct me. i know this is long so i don’t need to see it in the comments, but i would like to see your response. thanks. and BTW, in the end it i doubt any of even matters cause i believe we are destined for extinction.i am not a defeatists. i am going to fight till i die to be as free as i can be, but i don’t buy into this idea that we can create a world where everyone gets to do their own thing. maybe if we reduce the population back to paleolithic levels, we would have chance, but that is to much to hope for, especially since everyone wants to live forever.

    • thebrilliant thebrilliant

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment. I feel like humans do construct circles of meaning that are both real and not real. I want to keep that tension and openness but I get that some people see one or both sides as false. I call myself an anarchist. It is not real, except how it is. Is it enough to keep me connected to my children? One of my biggest concerns about the egoist line is that it (often seems to) pretends to a lack of human need for each other. I wish I had stronger lines holding me (and my children) to each other. I don’t know the right magic for that though.

      • chayim chayim

        i don’t think this is the place for a conversation, but i do want to reply. first, after spending a significant part of the last week or so researching ATS, specifically the suggested essays for newbies, which i would recommend as an excellent overview, i too find the theories interesting and disturbing. by their own admission they are encouraging entry-ism, and to me that makes me suspicious. so many of the ideas shared there make sense and seem reasonable that i could easily miss the elitism and fascist subtext. the fact that they support the concept that the ‘enemy of my enemy is my friend’ and use it to justify collaborating with race supremacists and neo fascists clearly indicates to me they are not folks i want to collaborate with. unfortunately, the pragmatism of this practice does make sense and could possible be an effective way to bring about the fall of the system i think we all want. the biggest problem is how they naively think, ATR, those racists and fascists will be content to live in there own little bolo ! next, i think we are selling ourselves short by not believing we can create new bonds to hold our relationships together. being anarchist could easily be as effective as any other identity construct to provide continuity to our family. we just need a new definition of what family is and what the goal of that family will be. so much of what i think i want has been programed into me by society that i am suspicious of everything. but i am able to identify what is important to me once i have some objectivity. we do have the ‘magic’ to create those bonds, and we can have both autonomy and community if we learn to be pragmatic and find the courage to make the tough choices. YOU CAN DO IT !

      • Matt Dionysus Matt Dionysus

        “One of my biggest concerns about the egoist line…”

        Which “egoist line” are you referring to? There’s more than one of them. In fact, I would argue that there are as many “egoist lines” as there people who could be described as egoists.

        “…is that it (often seems to) pretend to a lack of human need for each other.”

        Only if the “Ego” is understood to be an ontological *a priori.* Reintepreting Ego as a process of *pre-individual becoming* (in the vein of D&G) should allay any concerns you might have in this regard. From this perspective, it is only through my interactions with others that I effectively “become who I am.” So, from this perspective, where exactly is this perceived lack of need for human connection?

        • Gregor Gregor

          Just responding to the ‘ethnicity is race’ comment above. Race is a social construct because it is merely about arbitrary (from a scientific standpoint anyway) phenotype expressions in humans, skin colour, hair colour and type, and eye colour usually, and that’s about it. These things don’t provide much predictive explanatory power in science, or not any more than any other things that we could divide humans into categories by in terms of genetics, such as a disposition toward diabetes or something. However, ethnicity is not just race nor is it even primarily about race (though race sometimes may be included in the notion of ethnicity). Ethnicity is primarily about culture (i.e. language of course, but also music, food, modes of dress, shared mannerisms, leisure activities, tools, ways of working, etc.) and familial relations (what I called ‘heritability’, but by that I meant both the cultural habits you inherit and the familial connections you have with others), whatever race they may be. It is possible to point to ethnicities where most members do in fact exhibit the same phenotypes more or less, for example most Anglo-Saxons are light skinned typically, but with a variety of hair and eye colours. But one reason ‘race’ doesn’t tell us much is that that describes members of all kinds of European ethnicities, but not all of them are the same otherwise. There are also multi-racial ethnicities, such as Melungeon, who are the descendants of white Americans, black slaves, and Native Americans, but Melungeon is an ethnicity, not a race in itself (and is a good example of how race doesn’t mean much). Anyway, the point is, I can have people in my kindred who share my ethnicity, Scots-Irish descended Americans who now practice Germanic Heathenry, but may not share my appearance, and in our case at least, that’s okay. As long as someone is culturally like us (likes bluegrass music and eating turnip greens and okra for example and grew up knowing how to fish and hunt and such things), then we don’t care what their skin colour is. That’s how that works in our case. Put another way, for us, you don’t have to look like us, but you do have to come from the same place as us so we can bond with each other over those origins and shared experiences. Some people like to keep their groups more phenotypically (‘racially’) pure, and I guess from an anarchist perspective, that’s cool too, but it’s not necessary for a focus on ethnicity. It may also be the case though that culture is a social construct, the biggest one in fact, but it’s still objective and meaningful and real. You either speak a shared language with others, or you don’t. You either connect with music that others in your culture do, or you don’t. You either connect because you grew up eating the same kinds of foods, or you didn’t. You either learned to run a farm the same kind of way as others in your culture, or you didn’t. And connecting over these kinds of things are the deepest kinds of connections people can make, so that’s why I think they are the best place to start when forming anarchist communities (and I think a lack of shared ethnic ties, and thus a lack of understanding, explains the failure of most attempts at anarchist organising and community building). If ‘civilization’ or ‘modernity’ or even capitalism, the state, or globalism, are all primarily concerning because they are the things that try to destroy culture and familial connections, then what could be more anarchist and defiant of that than to make culture and family relations matter again and to seek to preserve them and ground community in them?

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