Kropotkin: We are already doing what is to be done

I am in the throes of reading Todd May’s The Political Philosophy of Poststructuralist Anarchism, about which I haven’t yet decided what I think.

Although May has his critique of Kropotkin, he points us approvingly to this line, from The Conquest of Bread (Chapter XI), which for me hits the mark:

Accustomed as we are by hereditary prejudices and absolutely unsound education and training to see Government, legislation and magistracy everywhere around, we have come to believe that man would tear his fellow man to pieces like a wild beast the day the police took his eye off him; that chaos would come about if authority were overthrown during a revolution. And with our eyes shut we pass by thousands and thousands of human groupings which form themselves freely, without any intervention of the law, and attain results infinitely superior to those achieved under governmental tutelage.

I think the first belief–that we will tear ourselves apart as soon as the State looks away–is best cured by reading and understanding Hobbes, who taught us to believe that crap.  For Kropotkin, this false belief produces the second problem, our blindness to the many non-State ways of life (as Virno might put it) that proliferate everywhere.

Though Kropotkin is mostly griping here, I think we can read this passage not so much as a complaint about what is wrong, but as a clarion call to a positive politics.  We are already doing what is to be done; we already are who we want to be.  We just need to get better at seeing it, everywhere, in the world around us, and better at developing those kernels into more robust, enduring, and democratic ways of life.

Advertisements

North American Anarchist Studies Network

The North American Anarchist Studies Network is currently seeking presentations for our sixth annual conference to be held March 20, 21, and 22 (2015) at the California Institute for Integral Studies, in San Francisco, California – the indigenous homeland of the Ohlone people.

We would appreciate submissions from a variety of scholars: radical academics, independent researchers, community activists, street philosophers, and students. We invite those engaged in intellectual work within existing institutions, such as colleges and universities, but also those engaged in the production of knowledge beyond establishment walls to share their ongoing work. From the library stacks to the streets, we encourage all those interested in the study or use of anarchism to submit a proposal.

In keeping with the open and fluid spirit of anarchism, we will not be calling for any specific topics of discussion, but rather are encouraging participants to present on a broad and diverse number of themes: from the historical, to the contemporary, to the utopian. This includes topics of current interest and importance such as the “war on terror,” police violence, torture, racism, decoloniality, gentrification, technology, labor, as well as biography, historiography, and other forms of research; works that tend to intersectionality and grapples with race, indigeneity, ethnicity, gender, sexuality; and scholarship that cross cuts with other disciplines and fields including but not limited to: philosophy, political theory, psychology, musicology, literary studies, anthropology, sociology, ethnic studies, critical indigenous studies, queer and trans studies, women and gender studies, disability studies, science studies, and beyond. Submissions for panels, individual papers, workshops, and alternative format presentations will be
gladly accepted.

We seek to include voices of academics alongside those of activists and organizers. We also encourage scholars in the hard sciences and other fields who may see anarchism as influencing or relevant to their work to please become involved. We also seek the participation of organizations or collectives more comfortable the community than in the lecture hall.

We are particularly interested in including marginalized voices and perspectives and encourage the breaking down of barriers between disciplines as well as between the academic and non-academic or even anti-academic. Please spread this call far and wide: it is up to each of us to make this as diverse and complex a discussion as possible.

We hope this gathering to be a place for the dedicated and intensive examination of long standing discussions and debates occurring amongst branches of the anti-authoritarian movement as well as between various groups of anarchist scholars, and ask for all such interventions and interactions to be conducted in the pursuit of communication, understanding, and respectful exchange.

NAASN is an organic organization that has ties with the Anarchist Studies Network in the U.K. as well as with collectives, archives, and scholars across Europe, the United States, Canada, and Latin America.

Previous conferences have been held in Hartford, Toronto, San Juan, New Orleans, and Vancouver. We attempt to maintain connection with scholars working in a large number of languages, including English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, and Portuguese and always are looking to expand out transnational affiliation and capabilities, which are only limited by the skills offered by participants. We constitute an informal and volunteer network, with no due paying members. We ask for no registration fee and seek to accommodate all possible participants regardless of their previous experience with academic conferences or scholarly endeavors.

For inspiration, examples, and event updates, we invite you to visit our website at www.naasn.org. There, you can find past presentations, visual materials, and ephemera from our first five annual events. We also suggest that you join our email listserv in order to remain updated and involved in on group discussion. Conference proposal submissions and further questions should be addressed to NAASN2015@riseup.net. Please respond by February 14, 2015.

3rd International Conference of the Anarchist Studies Network

The provisional schedule for the 3rd international conference of the Anarchist Studies Network is now online:

http://www.lboro.ac.uk/media/wwwlboroacuk/content/phir/documentsandpdfs/Prov.%20Schedule%20ASN2014.pdf

To register for the conference please go here:
http://store.lboro.ac.uk/browse/product.asp?compid=1&modid=2&catid=84

And please check back on the conference webpage for updates:
http://www.lboro.ac.uk/departments/phir/research/seminars/asn-3.0/

Marx and Bakunin

bakunin

My students have just read Marx (Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts, Communist Manifesto, and On the Jewish Question) and Bakunin (selections from God and the State and Statism and Anarchy), and there was a very distinct sense (in discussion and in their assignments) that M and B’s ideas therein made perfect sense to them.  Of course they have been trained to think that communism and anarchism are terrible and dangerous, but on actually reading some seminal writings, they found them quite reasonable and true.  This outcome made me feel quite hopeful, like my yearly ritual of making undergrads read the syllabus I make them readis not at all in vain, like they are taking in something that will serve them quite well in the decades to come.

What Is To Be Done about Constituted Power?

event_120629962

From David Graeber’s Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology.  In Madagascar,

the Vezo lived alongside the Sakalava monarchies but like the Tsimihety, they managed to remain independent of them because, as legend has it, whenever they learned royal representatives were on the way to visit them, they would all get in their canoes and wait offshore until they went away.

Squatting, Radical Spaces, Urban Struggles, Europe

New collectively produced book on squatting released

*Squatting in Europe: Radical Spaces, Urban Struggles*
Edited by the Squatting Europe Kollective

9781570272578

Squatting offers a radical but simple solution to the crises of housing,
homelessness, and the lack of social space that mark contemporary
society: occupying empty buildings and rebuilding lives and communities
in the process. Squatting has a long and complex history, interwoven
with the changing and contested nature of urban politics over the last
forty years.

Squatting in Europe aims to move beyond the conventional understandings
of squatting, investigating its history in Europe over the past four
decades. Historical comparisons and analysis blend together in these
inquiries into squatting in the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, France,
Germany and England. In it members of SqEK (Squatting Europe Kollective)
explore the diverse, radical, and often controversial nature of
squatting as a form of militant research and self-managed knowledge
production.

Essays by Miguel Martínez, Gianni Piazza, Hans Pruijt, Pierpaolo Mudu,
Claudio Cattaneo, Andre Holm, Armin Kuhn, Linus Owens, Florence
Bouillon, Thomas Aguilera, and ETC Dee.

“Amidst the proliferation of post-political banter, it is refreshing to
see the time-tested politics of pre-figurative direct action being
taking so seriously. This is a must-read for anybody who wants to
better understand how the politics of squatting offer a set of
transformative strategies for a creating a more egalitarian world.
Furthermore, this collection illustrates how such transformative
politics so often start in the world’s cities through deliberate
organizing and thoughtful reflection by committed groups of activists,
scholars and everyday citizens.” — Nik Heynen, University of Georgia

“In an era of austerity, capitalist accumulation by dispossession, and
the criminalization of protest this excellent book serves as an
inspiring and timely reminder of people’s re-appropriation of urban
spaces in order to fashion alternatives to the status quo. Structured
around a typology of squatting configurations — as anti-deprivation;
entrepreneurial; conservational; political; and alternative housing
strategies — this empirically-rich collection of essays by scholars and
activists provides persuasive evidence of the creativity and politically
transformative potential involved in such practices.” — Paul Routledge,
University of Glasgow

Bio: Squatting Europe is a research network focusing on the squatters’
movement. Our aim is to produce reliable and fine-grained knowledge
about this movement not only as an end in itself, but also as a public
resource, especially for squatters and activists. Critical engagement
and comparative approaches are the bases of our project. The group is an
open transnational collective (SQEK) whose members represent a diversity
of disciplines and fields seeking to understand the issues associated
with squats and social centres across Europe.

PDF available freely online (http://www.minorcompositions.info/?p=504).

Released by Minor Compositions, Wivenhoe / Brooklyn / Port Watson
Minor Compositions is a series of interventions & provocations drawing
from autonomous politics, avant-garde aesthetics, and the revolutions of
everyday life.

Minor Compositions is an imprint of Autonomedia
http://www.minorcompositions.info | minorcompositions@gmail.com

New Issue of ACME on Anarchism

This is a long time in coming, but it is a collection out of a great session at the Las Vegas AAG a few years back.  My piece feels a bit old to me, but I think my debate with Richard Day is worth a read.  It got a bit heated, but maybe, hopefully, in a productive way.  He is an valuable voice in anarchist thought and practice.  See the details below.

acmelogo1

The latest issue of ACME is now online and available free.

ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies
Volume 11, issue 3, 2012
Table of Contents

Special Theme Issue
Anarchist and Autonomous Marxist Geographies
Guest edited by Nathan Clough and Renata Blumberg


Toward Anarchist and Autonomist Marxist Geographies
Nathan Clough and Renata Blumberg, pp 335-351
http://www.acme-journal.org/vol11/CloughBlumberg2012.pdf

Are “Other Spaces” Necessary? Associative Power at the Dumpster
Nicholas Jon Crane, pp 352-372
http://www.acme-journal.org/vol11/Crane2012.pdf

Anarchism, Geography, and Queer Space-making: Building Bridges Over Chasms We Create
Farhang Rouhani, pp 373-392
http://www.acme-journal.org/vol11/Rouhani2012.pdf

Organizing for Survival: From the Civil Rights Movement to   Black Anarchism through the Life of Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin
Nik Heynan and Jason Rhodes, pp 393-412
http://www.acme-journal.org/vol11/HeynanRhodes2012.pdf

At the Intersection of Anarchists and Autonomists: Autogestioni and Centri Sociali
Pierpaolo Mudu, pp 413-438
http://www.acme-journal.org/vol11/Mudu2012.pdf

Counter (Mapping) Actions: Mapping as Militant Research
Counter Cartographies Collective, Craig Dalton, and Liz Mason-Deese, pp 439-466
http://www.acme-journal.org/vol11/CCC2012.pdf

Autonomist Marxist Theory and Practice in the Current Crisis
Brian Marks, pp 467-491
http://www.acme-journal.org/vol11/Marks2012.pdf

Bridging Common Grounds: Metaphor, Multitude, and Chicana Third Space Feminism
Cathryn Jesefina Merla-Watson, pp 492-511
http://www.acme-journal.org/vol11/MerlaWatson2012.pdf

Gramsci Is Not Dead: For a ‘Both/And’ Approach to Radical Geography
Mark Purcell, pp. 512-524
http://www.acme-journal.org/vol11/Purcell2012.pdf

Re-inscribing the Hegemony of Hegemony: A Response to Mark Purcell
Richard JF Day, pp 525-529
http://www.acme-journal.org/vol11/Day2012.pdf

Frankenstein is Dead
Mark Purcell, pp. 530-532
http://www.acme-journal.org/vol11/Purcell2012a.pdf

*     *     *


Rose Street and Revolution: A Tribute to Neil Smith (1954-2012)
Tom Slater, pp 533-546
http://www.acme-journal.org/vol11/Slater2012.pdf

Nomad Democracy, or, Eugene Holland and Me

D&G's nomad chariot

It is quite a thing to run across someone who seems eerily connected to you in terms of their intellectual project.  That is the experience I had reading Andy Merrifield’s Magical Marxism, and I just had it again reading Eugene Holland’s Nomad Citizenship.  I tend to think in terms of the concept democracy, and Holland prefers citizenship, communism, markets, and general strike, but our overall projects are quite close.  We both draw on a similar stable of thinkers (Deleuze and Guattari, the Italians, the Invisible Committee, Marx) to imagine a politics that does not confront the state and capital, but rather seeks out the alternative forms of economic, political, and social life that are already being tried.  Our job (‘our’ meaning everyone) is not to create those new forms, or organize people and cause them to live those new forms, but to learn to recognize new forms as they exist now and figure out how to help them grow on their own terms and spread by connecting with other, similar initiatives.  I just tried to articulate this idea in a response to a comment made by Nik Janos on my post on Bakunin.  The idea is that these alternative forms of life must survive, grow, and, eventually, come to pervade society, to reach a critical mass, as Holland puts it, to become-general so that we arrive at a bifurcation point after which we spill over into a new land, one that is thick with the presence of democracy (for me, or free-market communism, for Holland).  It is not really a question of wanting to smash the state or capitalism, it is rather a question of “growing” democracy to a point where those oligarchical forms of rule appear quaint and no longer relevant to the needs of our lives.  Holland puts it like this (p. 163): we have to “produce a gradual but irreversible, and ultimately definitive, becoming-unnecessary of our abject dependence on both capital and the State….”  I would just soften his “irreversible” and “definitive” language: we must always understand that even if we reach the tipping point, even if we create a new land, capitalist and State alienation will always return, always re-emerge and seek to reimpose themselves on us.  We must understand the new land to be made up of our perpetual flight from these apparatuses.  Their defeat is possible, but it can never be irreversible.

To be clear, I don’t mean to imply I am at the same level as Merrifield and Holland, just that we are trying to articulate a very similar project.

[Holland and I also share an affinity for Richard Day’s work, but don’t like his penchant for ruling out forms of struggle once and for all, considering them “dead” or passe.  I have an exchange with Day on this point coming out soon in ACME].