Overcoming “Anarcho-Sectarianism”

A reader writes:

“I was wondering why you promote and publish National-Anarchism? NAM is just white supremacist and false anarchism”

I would disagree with that characterization of National-Anarchism. As National-Anarchist Movement explains:

“National-Anarchists do not support Trump, Putin, Assad or Le Pen; National-Anarchists do not endorse racist behaviour or misogyny; National-Anarchists are opposed to fascism and neo-Nazism; National-Anarchists do not defend imperialism and colonialism; and National-Anarchists are not anti-communist to the extent that they forget about the capitalist ruling class or ignore the fact that the historical roots of our struggle can be found among those who have always fought against injustice and oppression. The list goes on. Ironically, there are people on the Left who seek to demonise us by associating us with the Far Right, something which can then lead to members of the Far-Right gravitating towards National-Anarchism itself in the mistaken belief that we are simply ‘playing’ at being Anarchists or using Anarchism as a convenient means of advancing fascist objectives in a more covert and surreptitious manner.”

As free-thinkers who adopt a decidedly non-coercive attitude, however, we also welcome people of various races, cultures, religions and sexual orientation and remain strongly anti-fascist in the sense that we completely reject both the overt fascism of the Right and the violent Left-wing hypocrites who gather under the counter-productive banners of Antifa. So, remember, if you wish to become involved with the National-Anarchist Movement then you must (a) learn what it means to be an Anarchist, and (b) discard the remaining vestiges of those bankrupt ideologies which have already resulted in the death of millions of innocent people all over the world.”

The core aspects of my viewpoint are decentralism, voluntarism, pluralism, and panarchism.

I consider myself to be “pan-anarchist” or “anarcho-pluralist” is the sense of embracing all forms of anarchism, libertarianism, decentralism, anti-authoritarianism, and anti-statism, within a wider pan-decentralist, pan-voluntarist, pan-secessionist paradigm. I certainly consider national-anarchism to be a legitimate form of anarchism (and a very interesting and relevant one), and I am definitely a fellow traveler to national-anarchism. I also consider leftist, socialist, ancap, primitivist, transhumanist, technophile, religious, and anticlerical versions of anarchism to be legitimate as well. The “unity of opposites” idea is one of the things I find interesting about anarchism as a philosophical or meta-political paradigm.

I regard political ideologies in the same way I regard religious sects or ethnocultural tribes. None of them are “true” in the same sense that the laws of physics are true. They’re simply social constructs that people use to order their own psyche or create common meaning or community.

For instance, there was recently an article on the Mises Institute website claiming the Left is “uniquely evil.” That’s nonsense. The Left is not “uniquely evil.” The Left vs Right thing is merely modernity’s version of Protestant vs Catholic, Shia vs Sunni, pagan vs Christian, or Jew vs Gentile, i.e. warring tribes with their own mythologies, mysticism, archetypes, apocalyptic visions, traditions, taboos, totems, etc.

I am generally in favor of “peace among tribes” in the sense of not wanting any single “tribe” to have a monopoly or excessive concentration of power, or to rule tyrannically over any other tribe.
On the economic questions, I’m an “anarchist without adjectives” which initially signified a hybrid of the classical schools of anarchist economic thought (mutualism, individualism, collectivism, communism, syndicalism, and geoism). However, I am not a universalist, which means I accept the legitimacy of other kinds of anarchism (including anarchist economics) as well, including those which were originally not under the AWA umbrella, ranging from Rothbardianism and “anarcho-objectivism” to the range of schools of libertarian socialism and left-libertarianism.

The main weaknesses I have seen in anarchism at the present time are these:

1. Failure to have a plan concerning how to accommodate the contending schools of anarchism following the decline of the state and global capitalism.

2. Failure to have a plan for the peaceful co-existence of anarchists and non-anarchists to the greatest degree possible following the decline.

3. Failure to have a strategy to get “from here to there.” I actually don’t favor a single monolithic strategy as a much as a full spectrum of strategies (“Let a thousand flowers bloom”) but I do think there needs to be some kind of meta-strategy that is focusing on destroying the global system, irrespective of what the most localized or sectionalized strategies may be.

4. Failure to establish a “hierarchy of priorities” that ranks targets of action in a rational way. I’d argue anti-imperialism should come first (particularly for those of us in the US, the world’s leading imperialist power), followed by the struggle against the state itself, followed by economic struggles, followed by social and cultural questions, with their being room for disagreement on many of these things as well. Many anarchists seem to have the order of priorities largely in reverse of what I would recommend.

About 20 years ago I came to the position that the anti-state left in the US should focus primarily on overthrowing the US imperial system i.e. revolution in the “belly of the beast” (Che Guevara) or the “mother country of the empire” (Black Panthers). The natural allies of such an effort would be haters of the USG from across the political and cultural spectrum, from sovereign citizens, militiamen, and survivalists, to urban street gangs, to rebellious privileged class youth (from what are now called “incels” to goth to gamers to whatever). In a scenario like that, the Left would have the upper hand because the Left is dominant in large cities and heavily populated areas (with a slight cultural majority at well).

I’ve “courted” the full range of anti-USG right-wing sectors, viewing them all the same way I view, for example, the Church of Scientology, i.e. all of them are small enough to be individually irrelevant and non-threatening, but collectively large enough to boost the ranks of the anti-state movement considerably while remaining individually containable (I’d say the same thing about the full range of “cults” that I would say about the full range of the fringe right-wing or the M-L or M-L-M fringe left).

The fight against the USG is paramount, IMO, because the USG is not only the government of American but of much of the world, and also the world’s leading killer. We Americans are the new Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia in the realm of foreign policy (though I don’t think that’s true in domestic policy). That’s why anti-imperialism should be our first concern, IMO, along with standard anarchist concerns about the concentration of power.

Categories: Anarchism/Anti-State

3 replies »

  1. Historically, so far as I can tell, “nationalism” has invariably functioned as a conduit for transition of societies from one form of authoritarianism (tribalism, feudalism, etc.) to another (culminating in statism).

    Are you aware of any exceptions to that function (or of any good evidence that that understanding is entirely in error)? If not, what is the argument for co-opting a seemingly inherently authoritarian concept and trying to make an anarchism out of it?

    • It’s a complicated issue, but the core idea is that humans seem to have a hard-wired tendency to want to belong to and identify with groups. I think one of the main reasons why Libertarianism is not more popular is because it posits an abstract individualism that most people just can’t relate to or identify with. “Everyone should be able to do what they want” just doesn’t seem to resonate with many people. Instead, people identify with the values of their particular “tribe.” We see this even among Libertarians. The Libertarian movement grew a bit during the Ron Paul era and subsequently started splitting off into different “tribes” based on cultural preferences and/or wider philosophical values. Some went down the “libertarian to alt-right pipeline” as some have called it, and others embraced SJW/Antifa/far-left outlooks.

      Among people who claim to be anarchists, look at how many hyphenated forms of anarchism there are, and for most anarchists, the hyphens seem to come before the anarchism part, i.e., left-anarchists are leftists first, anarchists second. An-caps are capitalists first, anarchists second, Green anarchists are Greens firsts, anarchists second, etc., etc. etc.

      Many anarchists and libertarians express hostility to “nationalism” because they identify nationalism with statism (the “nation-state), imperialism, interstate warfare, or national chauvinism, racism, fascism, etc. But the actual meaning of a “nation” is “a large body of people united by common descent, history, culture, or language, inhabiting a particular country or territory.” That’s just what people identify with, or if they don’t identify with a “nation” in a conventional sense, they identify with some other kind of “tribe” like their religion, demographic or cultural groups. In that sense, Mormons, LGBTQ people, and Taylor Swift fans are all “tribes” or “nations.”

      Even someone like Goofy Gillis, who rails incessantly against “nationalism,” has tribes to which he belongs, i.e. the anarcho-left subculture, the “left-wing market anarchist” milieu, the transhumanists, the veganoids (I think), the Antifa/SJW scenes, etc. Ninety-percent of his Twitter feed amounts to railing against other tribes or discussing whom he wants to exclude from his own tribes.

      A lot of my thinking on this question is influenced by Fourth Generation Warfare theory, i.e. the view that people in late modernity are transferring their loyalty away from patriotism toward the bourgeois-liberal nation-state model of political organization that emerged after the decline of feudalism toward non-state entities (gangs, cults, gamers, causes, religions, etc.). We see that happening even in mainstream US society as the political groups (Red Tribe and Blue Tribe) increasingly view each other as enemy nations.

      Philosophical anti-statsim just doesn’t appeal to most people. Instead, most people simply want to be governed according to the values of their tribe. That’s just as true of “citizen of the world” progressives as anyone else. For instance, progressives vandalizing Confederate or patriotic monuments are really no different than the Taliban bombing Buddhist statues. In both cases, they see the targeted totem as a form of blasphemy against what they consider to be sacred.

      For most people to adopt the political framework of anarchism, libertarianism, or anti-statism (of any kind) they would have to believe that their preferred tribes would be better off without rather than with the state. Merely rejecting conventional patriotism or burning a flag or whatever doesn’t overcome this problem.

  2. It’s obvious that “national anarchism” is a blatant contradiction in terms. A “nation” is a region with a government. “anarchism” is SUPPOSED to mean “no government”.

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