A few thoughts on the latest bromide against yours truly by William Gillis, director of the Center for a Stateless Society (follow this “anarcho-transhumanist/antifa/thick libertarian/SJW” freak of nature on Twitter here).
With the election that “national anarchist” scum Keith Preston has once again emerged and gone into overdrive trying to make inroads into anarchist communities and gain respectability he can leverage. Preston tried to gain acceptance among left market anarchists a decade ago and we ran his ass out in no uncertain terms. It’s infuriating to see him trying to slither back, at least on the outreaches, with all his pretenses of intellectual dissent, and so I thought I’d write a post retelling why his project is so intolerable.
Actually, I never went away.
Preston is of course personally rife with reactionary perspectives on race, gender, and sexuality as any number of exposes of him easily attest.
I am neither a conventional conservative nor a conventional leftist on these kinds of issues.
I am neither black nor Hispanic, and don’t claim to speak for anyone from those particular communities (or any other ethnic communities). I generally like folks from all ethnic communities that share my objective of overthrowing the US state/empire/ruling class/power elite. Acknowledging that a wide range of ethnic conflicts exist in the United States, I regard pan-secessionism and decentralization of a means of accommodating everyone’s interests as much as reasonably possible.
Women are not a monolithic entity, and certainly not all women identify as feminists. There are probably just as many women in the United States who self-identify as evangelical Christians as there are who identify as feminists. As an anarchist, I respect of the contributions of many historic anarchist-feminists to anarchist theory, such as Mary Wollstonecraft, Lucy Parsons, Emma Goldman, and Voltairine De Cleyre. There are certain strands of modern feminism that I appreciate (the ideas of Camille Paglia and Wendy McElroy, for instance). I’ve happy to have lesbian separatists as part of the pan-secessionist project. Women’s rights are genuinely compelling issue in the non-Western world, and there are certain categories women in liberal democratic societies that are genuinely oppressed (the homeless, prisoners, sex workers, drug addicts, etc). Other than that, feminism is not a movement that I am particular concerned with one way of another, except to note the various ways in which certain types of feminism have become aligned with the state (so-called “carceral feminism,” for example).
As for sexuality, we live in a society where gays are suing bakeries for not making them a wedding cake. Gay marriage is de facto recognized in the entire USA. Donald Trump, the supposed fascist dictator, even waived a Rainbow Flag at a campaign rally and speaks favorably of transgender restrooms, for God’s sake. What else is there?
And he feels most comfortable palling around with his various outright neonazi friends.
If this were 1969, I would no doubt be speaking at gatherings of the Progressive Labor Party, Socialist Workers Party, CPUSA, Black Panthers, Students for a Democratic Society, and other hard left groups that opposed US imperialism. Today, most serious dissident political activity is on the hard right. Shit happens, dude.
He’s also openly grounded his shitty politics in sociopathic narratives about being part of a natural elite and all the normal fascistic might makes-right-nihilism.
See Max Stirner.
And we should not ignore that much of “national anarchism” emerged out of explicit attempts by fascists to appropriate anarchist aesthetics and culture, both for recruiting purposes and entryism (even if Preston himself came from the left).
And the victory of Trump was a plot by the Learned Elders of the Kremlin to install the ROG regime in the USA under a puppet dictator.
But all this is largely epiphenomenal. They are symptoms of his central and most critical break with anarchism: Preston is not a globalist.
Oh my God, the horrors!
He’s not seeking to build a teeming hyperconnected world where each individual can choose to form myriad different social relations from billions of possible friends. His “anarchism” has nothing to do with actually abolishing power dynamics and maximizing freedom. All that comprises his “anarchism” is merely a thin veneer of political decentralization.
Well, decentralization is a means towards the ends of maximizing freedom where folks can form as many Cool Kids Clubs as they want.
But decentralization alone hardly constitutes anarchism, after all the genocide in Rwanda was decentralized.
No, it wasn’t. It was a massacre incited by the state by means of state controlled media with a minority that was considered to be overly privileged, due to the favorable status it was given under the former colonial regime, being the targeted victims.
A giant state bureaucracy is far less efficient at say killing all the jews and keeping women living in fear than would be an array of hyper-closed small town communities or compounds.
Sounds like plagiarism of Margaret Atwood there.
If we had any remote reason to take seriously Preston’s occasional pretense of being distinct from such “national anarchists” one would of course wonder where the fuck his plan is for avoiding and combating such widespread domination in a politically hyper-fractured world.
Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty…
Preston’s world of secessionism never actually gets all the way down to individual liberation — because what would distinguish it then from standard individualist anarchist or humanistic analyses? No, it terminates on the scale of “communities” — largely discrete and closed, and valued in-and-of-themselves.
Individual liberation is great. I hold to the standard libertarian views of most issues. But no individuals, other than hermits, exist outside a community of any kind. The commitment of not a few anarchists to “individual libertarian” has also been rather dubious at times, both historically and in the present day.
Preston is a cultural essentialist, or maybe better parsed: a *group essentialist*, thoroughly infected and haunted by visions of social structures outside of individuals with their own physics, agency, or narratives. The family, the tribe, etc.
But what on earth could constitute his “leftism” once you slice away all the feminism, queer liberation, and anti-racism he despises?
Well, that statement actually summarizes pretty well why the Left has deteriorated into such a worthless failure as an opposition force. To be a “leftist” nowadays means being about nothing other than narrow identity politics and victimology.
When Preston crows that he’s totally cool with racially exclusive latino or black gangs, as if that somehow makes him *less* racist, what he’s doing isn’t demonstrating a good faith grounding in our shared values, but demonstrating how badly reactionaries have made further inroads to the left on all fronts.
The value of gangs is that they are armed organizations in direct opposition to the state, not their ethnic composition.
But this is cause for all true anarchists to say, “Fuck the Left!”
No disagreement there!
While personally I’m too deeply in the vein of what some might call the enlightenment to not have many bones with the Frankfurt school…they actually had quite a bit of useful critiques when it came to oppressive cultural and social environments.
I’m pro-Enlightenment as well, and agree there’s actually much of interest in the Frankfurt School (its Weberian critique of scientism, and the critique of “culture industry,” for example) even if there’s also much to criticize (Marcuse’s concept of “repressive tolerance,” for instance).
the horrors of our modern “pc” world (where kids sometimes try to encourage new codes of etiquette that aren’t quite as shitty as older ones, the little monsters),
Anyone who thinks that’s all PC amounts to is simply naive, foolish, or dishonest. See my book on this topic.
Preston’s world of fractured rather than abolished power relations, of dramatically curtailed social possibility, where group belonging and cultural detritus holds any value against individual human agency, would be a world of fractal death. A systematic slicing away of human freedom rather than a blossoming of it.
Oh, spare me the melodrama. This goofball needs to get a life.