This will probably be my last news update. The 9 month gap between this and my last one shows that this just isn't the best vehicle for keeping people abreast of happenings here. I am aware of some very considerable gaps regarding the site, both in regards to unanswered questions as well as an overarching explanation of where some of the writings fit in, and I wanted to do it informally here. But that doesn't look like the best approach right now.
The next phase will be a site restructuring sometime this winter. Everyone enjoy the holidays! :-)
Some time since my last update, but I did get up the new essay What Is Primitivism?
If anyone is interested, here is subscription information for the two Green Anarchist publications.
Green Anarchist BCM 1715, London WC1N 3XX UK 5 issues for 5 pounds or $15
Green Anarchy POB 11331, Eugene OR 97440 5 issues for $11
I just put up a new piece War By Assassination I have been kicking around these ideas for the past 8 years, and I'm glad to have finally written something regarding the topic.
I just added two new pieces, Aleister Crowley and Basa Andere. Both are quite short, but worth checking out. They lend a nice atmosphere to this project, which will be going off in many different directions in the year ahead.
Toki Pona is an unusual project to create a minimalist language. Its author Christian Richard was pretty effusive in praise for this site (thanks!), and his project is inspired by ideas from Zerzan, Taoism, and other sources. The aim is the retention of a symbolic language, but one that is "semantically, lexically, and phonetically minimal."
As an exercise, this would be a big jump for most of us, but if you are intrigued by linguistics, or are wrangling with the Sapir-Whorfian hypothesis, then a project like this might be fun. :)
Here's a new essay I just finished: Post-Tech Food Production
I'm taking a little-used tack here in labeling this
essay with a version number (currently
I just put up my short essay Anarchism and Ideology, sort of a holdover from my involvement in the anarchist milieu. If I hadn't contributed an earlier essay to Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed a few months back, this wouldn't have been written. Not that the issues involved aren't important, but personally I am trying to avoid anarchism even as a center of critique right now. Bob Black fell into that kind of role a few years ago, after his unfortunate experiences with Processed World, and never completely left the milieu. That direction may have been right for him, but it isn't for me.
Right now, I'm exploring many different areas with an enthusiasm for ideas I haven't felt in over a decade. Western and Eastern philosophy; folklore and myth; private law; economics; and much more. This site is admittedly scattered, but my long term plan for 2002 is to fill it out as well as break ground in many new areas. Over the next couple of months, I will also have more of my own writings up.
A warm thanks to everyone for the emails and continuing support of this project. :)
Steve Booth contacted me to correct my assumption, implicit in the below news post, that he was no longer editing Green Anarchist. Steve will continue to put out his version of Green Anarchist, concurrently with John Connor's version. Best of luck to both projects in not getting mired down in anarchist politics, and resolving any misunderstandings that might exist between them.
I think I would rather roll in broken glass than delve much into anarchism right now, but hey, I feel obligated. I was involved with a particular strand of anarchism for the better part of a decade that is now getting some attention from a broader audience. I don't know whether popular interest in it will increase or decrease, but I can say that the tendency is spinning itself out thinner and thinner, with increasingly less to say.
The current move is away from primitivism, with every major anarchist publication excepting England's Green Anarchist denouncing the tendency if they were ever part of it in the first place, and even they took a similar tack under the brief editorship of Steve Booth (maybe to Steve's credit, I think he was more confused about where he was going period, and had some justifiable concerns about the entire anarchist milieu's distance from the real world).
Anarchism's distancing itself from primitivism has been a process taking place over the past several years, possibly beginning with David Watson's Swamp Fever: Primitivism & The Ideological Vortex essay in the fall 1997 Fifth Estate. While many people criticized it at the time, it may have had a bigger impact than anyone would have expected. John Moore might contradict me, but I think this essay had a lot to do with his backing away from primitivism as seen in this interview
He isn't the only one to have retreated in some form. I will say that in my opinion the only really valuable anarchist writings in this milieu have been by primitivists or individuals sympathetic to primitivism. John Zerzan's writing has grown increasingly repetitive and thereby less interesting in recent years. Bob Black has drawn back from the anarchist milieu for some time, at least since his poor treatment by the anarchist community after the Jim Hogshire affair. Hakim Bey, a muddled if sometimes innovative theorist who has written some beautiful prose, for some odd reason concentrated more on ideas than poetry, and hasn't offered much of substance in either category lately, at least that I know of. Crimethink was actually the last anarchist-related project to produce something that impressed me, but they are more talented plagiarists and popularizers than original thinkers.
The connection of primitivism with the anarchist tradition has always been tenuous, and an explanation of the tensions could constitute an essay in itself. For now, I will give a rough guess of what might lie ahead for anarchism.
I see a few strong tendencies emerging in contemporary anarchism that will serve as future anchor points. One is the critical theory approach that finds perhaps its purest expression in the writings of Wolfi Landstreicher, formerly feral faun. Another is a strong moralizing tendency expressed by various anarchists, none of whom need be named specifically. What is interesting is that while both tendencies can usually be found in the same authors, there is an inherent contradiction between the two approaches that really hasn't been discussed. If this tension is brought to the fore, expect the critical theory approach to win initially in open debate and the current climate. Although, honestly, anarchists would be as embarrassed about this contradiction as physicists are that relativity and quantum mechanics more or less contradict one another, so don't expect a big exchange on the topic directly.
Beyond points of theory, where will anarchism itself head? Anarchy After Leftism aside, I think some variants of insurrectionary left-Marxism will become a much bigger influence in the milieu. Some leftist icons (Chomsky?) may be trashed or delegated further to irrelevancy to balance out the sheet and make a shift to leftist moorings seem less apparent to those taking part in it. Marx himself will probably get less attention than various other authors from the Continent. I think everyone would be sick of the sits by now, so they may have to drag out some new Hegelian drones who furnish good soundbite, but I could be wrong.
Anyway, that is just my guess, and it isn't said as a warning or anything. I don't see myself as addressing people who give a damn where the contemporary anarchist milieu heads, but those who simply want to understand these topics as outsiders.
In any case, the Marxist bit will last a while, then be replaced with something else. And I don't feel qualified to extrapolate trends and directions by that point. ;-)
I hope everyone likes the site redesign. Only now, a year after launching it, do I feel that it is finished.
I though I'd list some mentions of this site and its subject matter elsewhere on the Internet
Rage Against The Machine This is by Ron Bailey from Reason, a libertarian magazine. Most of the invective is aimed at the various neo-Luddites, such as Jerry Mander, Kirkpatrick Sale, Jeremy Rifkin, and others. The neo-Luddites referred to are a group of technology critics who take their cue from left-liberalism the way that most primitivists take their political cues from anarchism and to some extent left-Marxism. Here is their best known site
Libertarians Are Right! This one is odder if only for the title, which appeared in the mildly liberal publication The American Prospect.
When more of my own writing is up on the site showing my own position, I'll feel more comfortable doing responses. (To their credit, The American Prospect does publish them...I don't know about Reason.) As it stands, I am weary of picking up after the failings of others.
And now for the Zmag Articles.
Anarchism?! Michael Albert's first and rather silly critique of anarchism. I can even agree with some of his points, but his entire approach was so mealy-mouthed that I have no respect for it.
The Debate This is a long exchange, mostly between Michael Albert and Lawrence Jarach.
Incidentally, I should mention that Michael Albert, co-founder of Zmag, is also involved in the creation of Parecon, or Participatory Economics. I, along with some anarcho-capitalists, debated Tom Wetzel on the topic on Usenet...here is a link covering most of our exchange. If Wetzel's defense of it is any indication, it is just another socialist scam.
I am shutting down the old discussion board for the site, yet another failure of my attempt to link both primitivism and my own perspectives too closely with contemporary anarchism. There is, however, a lot of good discussion there, and it will be kept in perpetuity as an archived resource. If ezboard goes under, I will mirror it onto a new server.
It was rewarding in many respects, but I would never again manage a discussion board where politics is the major fulcrum. On a board with mild traffic open less than two years, I wound up banning no less than four people...more than anything, because a primarily political orientation usually brings in a sort of adversarial debate that is less than rewarding for the participants. Granted, sometimes you have to be adversarial, if only in response. That is how I felt about my last exchange with Ken Knabb.
But from here on in, I will make a conscious effort to limit my communication as much as possible to human beings, and not ideological automatons. :)