From a 2015 review of ATS on Apple Podcasts radio.
I’ve followed several anarchist thinkers over social media in recent years and come to the conclusion that most of them understand anarchism in rote, academic ways while having little practical understanding of what anarchy might actually look like, or what kind of challenges humanity would face under any kind of protracted interregnum or paradigm transition. That is not the case with Keith Preston and Attack the System.
Most proudly call themselves anarchists but they do not think in a post-political analytical framework, and most of the issues they champion and the positions they hold are actually subsidized by the very existence of the state. Mainstream culture wars, political correctness, social justice, ideological or economic monism, these are the hallmarks of most of today’s “anarchist” thinkers. But try to imagine a world where the “Anarchy Fairy” has come, and magically, a single, narrow strand of anarchist belief has won consensus over all others. There only exist “anarcho-communists,” or “anarcho-mutualists,” or only “agorists,” or only “libertarian socialists.” Everyone else just gave up on their strongly held beliefs. Moreover, there are no statists, no gassed up, heavily armed former cops or white supremacists to contend with…
This is the fantasy world most “anarchist” thinkers dwell in. They are busy enforcing gender pronouns because they are not thinking post-politically, to the scenario where they are cheek-to-jowl with armed Christian reconstructionists who want to burn transgendered individuals at the stake.
Preston thinks clearly as a pan-secessionist. He understands that unsavory people are out there but I’d say he is also keenly aware of geo-political concepts such as containment, detente, and roll-back, lost on the pie in the sky anarchy types, which would apply, and essentially so, on a smaller scale in the kind of hyper-decentralized world or sodality-model that anarchism would actually yield.
The answer is not to pout or pretend these groups and beliefs do not exist. Social media, in my opinion, has made it easier for this dangerous form of “block solipsism” to exist among bubblegum anarchists. Simply hit the “block” button and pretend they’re not there and you might never have to confront, contend, compete, or even cooperate with these groups. And what of coalition building against the worst of the worst (containment, trade sanctions) for the sake of those who might end up burned at the stake.
Most anarchists today don’t want to think about what an actual anarchic reordering might look like. They live and think in the world we inhabit, the world and conceptual frameworks engendered and enforced by the existence of the state. They essentially mirror the mainstream in their fixation on culture war issues and Internet idleness; the pseudo-academic one-upmanship endemic to the great debaters who spend all day on Facebook.
Keith Preston doesn’t fall into this trap. He extends an ear to those who will inherit the earth if anarchy ever comes, not those he likes or blithely agrees with.
The podcasts show a true variety of secessionist thought while also serving as a primer for those such as myself who have little knowledge or experience with identitarian separatists, bio-regionalists, neo-reactionaries, racial nationalists (of all hues btw), you know, those intent movements far better organized, more culturally cohesive, real-world determined, and better armed than the typical social media anarcho-hipster with no power beyond his/her/ziz/zer block button.
Anarchy is not for the faint of heart. It is not an accommodating, video game reality. The destruction of state institutions creates a fundamental dilemma in any responsible individual who calls themselves an anarchist: how do we create an alternative to the state that is not more vile than what it replaces? Yet look around through history to those places where state institutions have failed. “Blocking” people who use naughty words is not an option, it is an infantilized deferment of reality. Keith understands this.