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FOOTNOES: ANARCHIST INTEGRALISM: Aesthetics, Politics and the Après-Garde
1. See, for example, Fascism, Aesthetics and Culture edited by Richard J. Golsan (University Press of New England, Hanover & London 1992) and Fascist Modernism: Aestheticis, Politics, and the Avant-Garde by Andrew Hewitt (Standford University Press, California 1993).
2. Anarchist Studies Volume 4 # 1, White Horse Press, Cambridge, March 1996. For Editorial purposes, Anarchist Studies is run out of the School Of Humanities/Social Sciences, University of Glamorgan, Pontypridd, Mid Glamorgan, Wales CF37 1DL, UK. The White Horse Press offers its main address as 10 High Street, Knapwell, Cambridge, England CB3 8NR, UK; while the subscription address given is White Horse Press, 1 Strond, Isle of Harris, Western Isles, Scotland, UK.
3. Ibid. Anarchist Studies Vol 4 #1, p. 61. For an account of contemporary anarchist reactions to Kropotkin's 1914 pro-war stance see John Quail's turgid The Slow Burning Fuse: The Lost History of the British Anarchists (Paladin, St Albans & London, 1978, p. 287-290). Quail also provides an account of Kropotkin's autocratic personality on page 52. In their hagiographic The Anarchist Prince: A Biographical Study of Peter Kropotkin, (Schocken Books, New York, 1971, p. 380), George Woodcock and Ivan Avakumovic concede that Trotsky was within his 'rights' to state that: 'The superannuated anarchist Kropotkin, who had had a weakness ever since youth for the Narodniks, made use of the war to disavow everything he had been teaching for almost half a century. This denouncer of the State supported the Entente, and if he denounced the double power in Russia, it was not in the name of anarchy, but in the name of a single power of the bourgeoisie.'
Kropotkin's pro-war position is by no means unique among anarchists. For an extreme right-wing variant on it see 'Thoughts On The Gulf War' by Richard Hunt in Green Anarchist # 28 (Autumn 1991, p. 8): 'To resist aggression was my first gut reaction on hearing of the invasion. After the war started it became support of my countrymen who are fighting. Whether the war was just or not was irrelevant; it was now "my country right or wrong". Such a reaction is called jingoism and "the last refuge of scoundrels". If Martians attacked America, who would you support? All countries would unite to fight the invader, and then resume fighting each other again. An Arab proverb sums up such behaviour "Brother fights brother, brother with brother fights cousin, brother with brother with cousin fights..." If my brother raped a girl, I'd say "You total bastard!" and then "No, officer, he was with me all evening". It's a matter of loyalty, largely blind to right or wrong. So my loyalty, when the British are fighting other nations, is to the British. Not to support them would be dishonourable. That doesn't mean I support the soldiers in Britain. Then they're the enemy again. "Brother fights brother, brother with brother..." .'
4. Ibid. Anarchist Studies Vol 4 # 1, p. 48. For an overview of Japanese anarchism that avoids some of the more wearisome excesses of Crump's adulatory perspective see 'Anarchism In Japan' by Chushichi Tsuzuki in Anarchism Today edited by David E. Apter & James Joll (Macmillan, London & Basingstoke 1971, p. 105-126): 'One of the stalwarts of the Tödai-Zenkyötö (Council of United Struggle, Tokyo University) cheerfully declared that they were "aristocratic anarchists". Their struggle, he said, was "not one fought by the maltreated, not even on their behalf, but was the revolt of young aristocrats who felt that they had to deny their own aristocratic attributes in order to makes themselves truly noble"... As the pioneer anarchists sometimes remarked, the spirit of total negation can be traced to the influence among other things of Buddhism and Taoism, and it provided a moral seedbed for the introduction of anarchism as a body of European thought... Shüsui Kötoku... approached socialism and anarchism in terms not of working class politics but of the self-sacrificing devotion of the high-minded liberals of lower Samurai origins... Sakae Osugi... who was destined to succeed Kötoku, came from a family of distinguished soldiers... Sanshirö... Ishikawa's anarchist convictions... had been strengthened by reading Towards Democracy and other writings of Edward Carpenter... Most of Ishikawa's fellow anarchists, however, do not appear to have shared his belief in nudity as the symbol of natural freedom nor his peculiar view that the emperor should be maintained even in an anarchist Utopia as the symbol of communal affection... When SCAP (Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers) issued an injunction against a general strike prepared by a Joint Action Committee of communists, socialists and their trade union allies on behalf of underpaid governmental workers, an industrial offensive which threatened the overthrow of the conservative government, the anarchist organ (Heimin) indulged in Schadenfreude by criticizing what they called "the conservative nature of the strike of the bureaucrats (namely governmental workers)". SCAP sought to contain communist influence among government employees by depriving them of the right to strike, to the relief of the government and to the delight of the anarchists, who insisted that the civil servants were "the agents of authoritarianism"... In the meantime, the pre-war debate on the difference between "pure anarchism" and anarcho-syndicalism was revived, and the resulting division within the handful of participants in the debate led to the dissolution of the Japanese Anarchist Federation in October 1950.'
10. English translation from a citation in International Review #87. Brussels Winter 1996, p. 7. The article from which this is taken 'Marxism Against Freemasonry' is curiously one-sided in its treatment of anarchism; it comes across as the work of a 'rarefied and baroque' scholastic sect who refuse to investigate anything outside their chosen cannon. The International Communist Current seem to have no understanding of the fact that meaningful critiques of anarchism must necessarily broaden their focus beyond Bakunin who while he may have been the founding father of 'revolutionary' anarchism, has also been dead for more than a century. With regard to this, see in particular footnote 26 below.
11. Bob Black Anarchy After Leftism (CAL Press, Columbia 1997, p. 44). Black's bibliographical references have been omitted from the citations which follow. Page 2 of this book carries 'A Note About C.A.L. Press': 'The publication of Anarchy after Leftism by the Columbia Alternative Library signals the opening salvo of a new book publishing collective dedicated to the utter destruction of the dominant society. The collective members, Jason McQuinn, Paul Z. Simons and John Zerzan, while having in the past worked on a variety of projects, found in the course of discussion (and to their mutual consternation), enough points of philosophical agreement to commence a venture the first fruits of which you hold in you hands. This publishing project is dedicated to bringing to the discerning public not only the newest and most devastating critiques of the awful mess we call society, but also to keep in print those "classics" which have lapsed into publishing oblivion...' A review of Anarchy After Leftism in Green Anarchist # 47/48 (Summer 1997, p. 26) concludes: 'Anarchy Beyond Leftism (sic) poses an unanswerable case to all the Steam Age relics in this country and should help facilitate this transition. In ending, I should note this is the first book published by Columbia Alternative Library (CAL) Press, resurrected by Anarchy's Jason McQuinn, John Zerzan and Paul Z. Simons and a good start it is too. We expect more radically critical titles to be published by them in the near-future, a breath of fresh air in a US anarcho-publishing scene previously so stultified that due to sheer personal prejudice, Bob Black couldn't find anyone to publish Anarchy Beyond Leftism (sic) despite its high quality and clear importance as a timely intervention.'
12. Bob Black Anarchy After Leftism ibid. p. 44-5. As well as being the author of 'Politics, Prejudice and Procedure: The Impeachment Trial of Andrew Jackson' which first appeared in the neo-Nazi and holocaust denying Journal Of Historical Review (Vol. 7 #2, Summer 1986, p. 175-192), Bob Black frequently has his articles reprinted in Green Anarchist. Loonpanics Unlimited, who have published Black's The Abolition Of Work And Other Essays (n.d.) as well as other texts by him, specialise in producing extreme right-wing pro-capitalist and survivalist material.
The style of invective quoted above runs through the whole of Anarchy After Leftism: 'The hard Right Republicans, like Newt Gingrich, along with the Neo-Conservative intellectuals (most of the latter, like the Dean, being high-income, elderly Jewish ex-Marxists from New York City who ended up as journalists and/or academics) blame the decline of Western Civilization on the '60s.' (p. 21). Similar sentiments can be found in Black's other writing. For example, 'My Date With Jim Hogshire (Version 2.1)' in Big Bad Bob Black: A Popular Reality Special Report (Popular Reality, Jackson n.d., p. 6), a somewhat idiosyncratic account of events surrounding Bob Black's activity as a police informant: 'I turned the tables on the Muslim maniac. You know how the towel-heads are always taking Westerners hostage: I took one of them hostage. Having a gun trained on you concentrates the mind wonderfully. When Jim pointed his rifle at me, I grabbed Heidi as a human shield. Whereupon (you surely suppose) he put his gun down. Not so! He trained his rifle on his own wife! "The animal did not seem to care!" as he wrote to Junto. I didn't care? I wasn't aiming a gun at her. Jim was wired up and fired up to shoot her if that's what it took to shoot me. Which, come to think of it, is consistent with how Muslims regard their women
For a very different critique of Bookchin see Beyond Bookchin: Preface for a future social ecology by David Watson (Autonomedia, Black & Red, Fifth Estate, Brooklyn & Detroit 1996). Despite the contentious nature of Watson's primitivist perspective, his book is closely and on the whole carefully argued. Watson diligently avoids the gutter populism of Anarchy After Leftism. If anything, Watson an opponent of 'Enlightenment reason' is excessively scrupulous in dealing with Bookchin's claims about rationality. For example, pages 88-9: '...just who is this "we" who "subject brutality to much harsher judgment" the Bosnian Serb soldier raping women to carry out the "ethnic cleansing" orders of his leaders, or the president of the World Bank, or the television-mesmerized cheerleader for the obliteration of Baghdad? ...Bookchin's response to such objections is entirely tautological. Such irrationalities are simply not history which, he contends, 'is the rational content and continuity of events . . . grounded in humanity's potentialities for freedom, self consciousness and cooperation." "History is precisely what is rational in human development," we are told, and phenomena like the death camps and the nuclear arms race, "insofar as they defy rational interpretation . . . remain precisely events, not history . . . they are not dialectically rooted in humanity's potentialities . . . In no sense can episodic capacities be equated with an unfolding potentiality."... This casuistry, worthy of Lewis Carroll's Humpty Dumpty, manages to dispatch history's mountain of corpses to the netherworld with a wave of a wand.' Watson's argument concedes too much ground to deal effectively with its subject. Bookchin regardless of whatever he may believe or claim patently is not a rationalist. For example, in Which Way For The Ecology Movement? (AK Press, Edinburgh & San Francisco 1994, p. 66), Bookchin writes: 'Henri Bergson's conception of the biosphere as an "entropy-reduction" factor, in a cosmos that is supposedly moving toward greater entropy or disorder, would seem to provide life with a cosmic rationale for existence. That life forms may have this function need not suggest that the universe has been exogenously "designed" by a supernatural demiurge. But it does suggest that "matter" or substance has inherent self-organizing properties, no less valid than the mass and motion attributed to it by Newtonian physics...'
14. English translation from Selected Writings Of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon edited by Stewart Edwards, p. 196-7. Bakunin's Pan-Slavism is well documented, so here it is enough to use a summary of Kropotkin's position by his amiable biographers to demonstrate that the thought of all the major anarchist 'theorists' was deformed by nationalism. Woodcock and Avakumovic mildly reprove their idol on this score (op. cit. under footnote 3, p. 290): 'Only towards Russia herself did he adopt the attitude he should have maintained everywhere, dissociating the misdeeds of the rulers from the essential peaceableness of the people, and finding in a system of authority, rather that in national characteristics, the reason for certain faults. If he had applied this standard everywhere, his general attitude would later have been much less confused.'
15. Quoted in an article entitled 'Fascism 1913' by Pierre Andreu penned for the journal Combat (English translation from Neither Right Nor Left: Fascist Ideology in France by Zeev Sternhell, translated by David Maisel, University of California Press, Berkeley 1986, p. 7). While the Cercle Proudhon forms the focus of 'Fascism 1913', the contemporary anarchist writer Hakim Bey is amused by earlier manifestations of fascist/pre-fascist ideology; his somewhat vague reference to tentative links between the anarchist and monarchist movements in fin-de-siècle France are probably an invocation of both anti-Drefusard activity and the anti-semitic current running from Fourier and Toussenel to Blanqui, Proudhon and beyond. Bey doesn't mention the convergence of syndicalism and monarchism in the Cercle Proudhon, founded in 1912. Given Bey's substantial ideological debt to Georges Sorel, if he was explicit on this point it might warn some of his naive leftist followers - whom he obviously considers too ignorant to be au fait with the ideological orientation of the third position politics he now dismisses as being relevant only to the 1917-1989 period - about where he is leading them. Instead, he writes in his book Millennium (Autonomedia & Garden Of Delight, Brooklyn & Dublin 1996, p. 96-101) that: 'there were some amusing & futile attempts in fin-de-siècle France to forge links between anarchism & monarchism against the common enemy, the fading illusion of "democracy" & the emerging reality of Capitalism... In this sense we may have been out-thought by syndicalism & by "council-communism", which at least developed more mature economic critiques of power. Like the left in general however anarchism collapsed in 1989 (a growing North-american movement for example suddenly imploded) in all likelihood because at that moment our enemy the State also secretly collapsed. In order to move into the gap left by the defeat of Communism we needed a critique of Capitalism as the single power in a unified world. Our careful & sophisticated critique of a world divided into two forms of State/economic power was rendered suddenly irrelevant. In an attempt to rectify this lack, I believe we need a new theory of "nationalism" as well as a new theory of Capitalism (and indeed a new theory of religion as well). So far the only interesting model for this is the EZLN in Mexico (it's gratifying to see Zapatista slogans scrawled all over Dublin!) & it would be worth analysing their theory-&-praxis for inspiration. The EZLN is the first revolutionary force to define itself in opposition to "global neo-liberalism"; it has done so without aid or influence from the "Internationale" because it appeared in the very same moment that "Moscow" disappeared. It has received the support of the remnants of Liberation Theology as well as the secret councils of Mayan shamans & traditional elders. In the Native-american sense of the word it is a "nationalist" movement, & yet it derives its political inspiration from Zapata, Villa, & Flores Magon (i.e., two agrarian anarcho-syndicalists & one anarcho-communist). It is concerned with "empirical freedoms" rather than purist ideology. [As Qaddafi says, "In need, freedom remains latent".] No wonder the NY Times called Chiapas the first "post-modern" revolution; in fact, it is the first revolution of the 21st century.
'James Connolly, one of the founders of the IWW, developed in Ireland a theory that socialism & nationalism were parts of one & the same cause & for this theory he suffered martyrdom in 1916. From one point of view Connolly's theory might lead toward "National Socialism" on the Right but from another point of view it leads to "third world nationalism" on the Left. Now that both these movements are dead it is possible to see more clearly how Connolly's theory also fits with anarchist & syndicalist ideas of his own period, such as the left volkism of Gustav Landauer or the "General Strike" of Sorel. These ideas in turn can be traced back to Proudhon's writings on mutualism & "anarcho-federalism". (The quarrel between Marx & Proudhon was far more unfortunate for history than Marx's much noisier & more famous quarrel with Bakunin.) Inasmuch as we might propose a "neo-proudhonian" interpretation of the Zapatista uprising, therefore, Connolly's ideas may take on a new relevance for us (and thus perhaps it's not surprising if the EZLN sparks a response from the Irish left!). Nationalism today is headed for a collision with Capitalism, for the simple reason that the nation per se has been redefined by Capital as a zone of depletion. In other words, the nation can either capitulate to Capitalism or else resist it no third way, no "neutrality" remains possible. The question facing the nation as zone of resistance is whether to launch its revolt from the Right (as "hegemonic particularity") or from the left (as "non-hegemonic particularity"). Not all nations are zones of resistance, & not all zones of resistance are nations. But wherever the two coincide to some extent the choice becomes not only an ethical but also a political process.
'During the American Civil War the anarchist Lysander Spooner refused to support either side - the South because it was guilty of chattel-slavery, the North because it was guilty of wage-slavery - & moreover because it denied the right to secede, an obvious sine qua non of any genuinely free federation. In this sense of the term, nationalism must always be opposed because it is hegemonic & secession must always be supported inasmuch as it is anti-hegemonic. That is, it can only be supported to the extent that it does not seek power at the expense of others' misery. No State can ever achieve this ideal but some "national struggles" can be considered objectively revolutionary provided they meet basic minimal requirements i.e. that they be both non-hegemonic & anti-Capitalist. In the "New World" such movements might perhaps include the Hawaiian secession movement, Puerto Rican independence, maximum autonomy for Native-american "nations", the EZLN, & at least in theory the bio-regionalist movement in the US and it would probably exclude (with some regrets) such movements as Quebec nationalism, & the militia movement in the US. In Eastern Europe we might see potential in such states as Slovenia, Bosnia, Macedonia, the Ukraine but not in Serbia nor in Russia. In the "Mid-East" one cannot help supporting Chechnya & the Kurds. In West Europe the EU must be opposed, & the smaller nations most likely to be crushed by the weight of Eurotrash & Eurodollars should be encouraged to stay out of the Union or to oppose it from within. This includes the Atlantic littoral from Morocco (where Berber resistance & Saharan independence have our sympathy) to Ireland, Denmark, perhaps Scandinavia, the Baltics, & Finland. Celtic secessionism should be encouraged in Scotland, Wales, Brittany, & Man; this would add a strong socialist & green tint to any possible coalition of small Atlantic States. In Northern Ireland the best possible solution to the "Troubles" might be an independent Ulster based on socialist anti-sectarian solidarity a dream perhaps but far more interesting than "Peace" at any price - & a free revolutionary Ulster would no doubt release an unbelievable burst of energy into the anti-Capitalist movement - despite its size Ulster would emerge as a leader of any such movement - it would possess tremendous moral prestige.
'Since we're indulging in dreams let's imagine that an anti-Communist/anti-Capitalist movement emerges in E. Europe, & allies itself with new movements within Islam, no longer "fundamentalist" & hegemonistic but definitely anti-Capitalist & opposed to "One World" culture. In turn an alliance is made with the anti-Capitalist anti-"Europe" states of the Atlantic littoral & simultaneously within all these countries revolutionary forces are at work for social & economic justice, environmental activism, anti-hegemonic solidarity, & "revolutionary difference". NGOs & religious groups lend their logistical support to the struggle. Meanwhile we can imagine Capitalism in crisis for any of a myriad reasons, from bank-collapse to environmental catastrophe. Suddenly the radical populist critique of "neo-liberalism" begins to cohere for millions of workers, farmers, tribal peoples, x-class drop-outs & artists, heretics, & even "petit-bourgeois" shopkeepers & professionals...'
Millennium collects together perhaps the most revealing of Bey's texts since Critique: A Journal of Conspiracies & Metaphysics # 19/20 (Fall/Winter 1986, p. 317-320) published a letter signed in his legal name of Peter (Lamborn) Wilson: 'Marian Kester's well-written article on Historical Revisionism is a great help in understanding this phenomenon. She's absolutely right, I think, to conclude that both sides are missing the point. One thing I regret, though, is the bare reference to the French Jewish anarchists who supported HRism... our present Consensus History is presented in terms of good governments vs. bad ones. But the anarchist considers that there is no such thing as good government, and so would be inclined a priori (as the Guenonists like to say) to suspect the winner's version as much as the losers. And, if we begin to look into WWII history we have no need to delve very deeply to come up with evidence that the Allies committed plenty of "war crimes" of an atrocity or equal (or quantitatively superior) to the Axis. Dresden, Hiroshima, the Churchill/Roosevelt/Stalin agreements are displaced minorities after the war (sic)... no need to go on... On the subject of Guenon and his followers... The Guenonians in general have supplied us with an excellent and positive view of Tradition and an excellent negative critique of the modern world. What they have failed to do is to provide a critique of Tradition and a positive valuation of contemporary reality. The very essence of such an extraordinary idea as "Tradition" depends on the very sort of relativistic and tolerant reading of world culture that the Guenonians and neo-Guenonians hate and condemn... In matters of Sufism, I consider it impolite to discuss secrets, or to indulge in gossip. I limit myself to public arguments about publicly expressed ideas...'
16. Anarchist Lancaster Bomber #17, January 1997, p. 12-16. For detailed critiques of Green Anarchist see The Green Apocalypse by Luther Blissett and Stewart Home (Unpopular Books, London 1995), Disputations On Art, Anarchy And Assholism by Stewart Home and "Friends" (Sabotage Editions, London 1997) and Militias: Rooted in White Supremacy by People Against Racist Terror and Luther Blissett (Unpopular Books, London 1997). Since Green Anarchist reject class struggle as 'out-moded' (in, for example, Into The 1990s With Green Anarchist by Stephen Booth, Green Anarchist Books, Camberley 1996, p. 154), their ideological orientation is quite clear. Despite Richard E. Rubenstein's sympathy towards Bolshevism, his assessment of the political consequences of terrorism in Alchemists Of Revolution: Terrorism in the Modern World (I. B. Tauris, London 1987, p. 202-3) is not without merit: 'Compare the Nazis' sanctification of their terrorist forerunners with the Bolsheviks insistence that leftist terrorism, however understandable, had always been a mistake... the historical evidence suggests, terrorism is rarely effective as a mode of class struggle. On the contrary, its use by the partisans of a mixed movement generally signifies either that a serious mistake of timing has occurred or that nationalist impulses have replaced social-revolutionary expectations.'
17. Reprinted in Green Anarchist #45/6, Spring '97, p. 27, this reads in part: 'A more substantial objection is that we're dependant on the system for our giros - this is precisely where the anti-JSA campaign is most flawed. Because they're dependant on it, the anti-JSA campaign is fundamentally about defending the State's 'benefits system', actually perpetrating their dependancy on it... As with equally pathetic 'Defend The NHS' and 'Save Our Schools' demands, those calling themselves revolutionaries find themselves defending the State's repressive apparatus... We have to ask why they're trying when there are so many more important campaigns with so much more revolutionary potential going on... The answer's immediately apparent when you look at who is doing the organising ouvierist groups whose political focus was workplace and street in the 1980s and early 1990s... now organised labour's been smashed, they've been reduced to raking around to find a few dozen jobs to defend. Frenetic anti-fascist activity was their political life-support machine in the early-1990s (if you can't fight for your own politics, at least you can fight against someone else) but now the far-Right's grassroots have defected to the Tories over the asylum issue and as anti-fascism lacks a coherent critique of the State, the anti-fascist milieau (sic) has degenerated to the point of tail-ending a sectarian, politically illiterate clique into electoralism just because they're 'hard'. History has passed them by...'
Applauding the Primitivist Network's positions on JSA, the 'Jolly Butcher' goes even further in the Green Anarchist Network's Anarchist Lancaster Bomber #16 (Autumn 1996, p. 2). Here, the neo-Nazi Oklahoma fertiliser truck bombing in which 168 people, including 19 children, died is invoked as an 'inspirational' attack on the state: 'The DHSS (sic) should be abolished. Whether or not the government closes it down, revolutionaries everywhere should destroy the DHS (sic). The DHS is the state and it confers dependence through signing on and the fortnightly giro. In the 1940s the Nazi state got rid of people by gassing them in concentration camps. Now the whole of Europe is their concentration camp. In the 1990's the Tony (sic) state gets rid of people using unemployment. Instead of killing us directly in 15 minutes, they do it on the drip-feed method. Water bills, gas bills, electric, council tax shite, TV licences and all that. Revolutionaries today should have no qualms about smashing DHS office complexes, or using chemical and biological warfare agents against their ventilation systems. Unemployment is our holocaust and the time is right... Income support and the Job Seekers Allowance are their Zyklon B. With an armed revolutionary movement, we don't need their grudging welfare shite we only need more fertilizer and bigger trucks... There is no truth in the DHS so the obscene lie that it represents must be liquidated... With the physical abolition of the DHS people would be forced to fend for themselves. Welfare dependency would be brought to an end... There is no hope in workerist moderation, but the physical destruction of the welfare system this is a revolutionary objective worth aiming at. All of that subservience and dependency shite needs to be abolished. Start with the jugular. Abolish the DHSS. ONE BENEFIT OFFICE ONE BLUE TRUCK!'
It should be emphasised that rather than tail-ending the Primitivist Network, the above is merely a more forceful expression of opinions those involved with Green Anarchist have held for some time. See, for example, the anonymous article 'It's Not A Question Of Left Or Right But... Centralist Or Decentralist' in Green Anarchist #20 (Autumn 1988/Winter 1989, p. 15): 'The battle will be fought between the left with the right of the grassroots against the left with the right of the Establishment. We must not alienate the right with some of the nuttier ideas of the left... So don't jump on every socialist or loony left bandwagon. It is sometimes not appropriate. Anarchists cannot get up and shout to oppose cuts in the government Health Service. Anarchists cannot approve of a government anything. Given the brainwashing of education, we should welcome cuts in government education spending and work out our anarchist ways of "education". Women are exploited but the present feminist critique might not be correct. It might not be a problem of hierarchy but obedience to hierarchy. The media and the government have made it the issue of left and right. That splits the opposition. The issue should be government, left and right, or no government.'
The Primitivist Network operates out of PO Box 252, Rickmandsworth, Bedfordshire WD3 3AY. John Moore is identified as the public face of PN in, for example, Stephen Booth's Into The 1990s With Green Anarchist (Green Anarchist Books, Camberley 1996, p. 127) where the relationship between Green Anarchist and the Primitivist Network is described as 'a fruitful alliance'. Moore apparently teaches in the Department of Literary/US Studies at the University of Luton (this information is contained in the editorial credits to Anarchist Studies vol. 5 #1 op. cit.; a previous check on credentials appended to an article in Anarchist Studies vol 4 #1, p. 75, op. cit. revealed that despite the journal's assertion that 'Leigh Starcross' had affiliations with the University Of Sussex, the named institution denied that anyone going by the name had ever been either a student or staff member). Issue 16 of Anarchist Lancaster Bomber (Autumn 1996, p. 10-11) also carries an article entitled 'A Primitivist Primer' by John Moore. Judged on the throughput of Moore and the Anarchist Lancaster Bomber, it makes sense to revalorise an old ultra-leftist formulation by stating that 'primitivism' is absolutely the worst product of 'civilisation'. For a short but lucid critique of John Moore's extremely silly assertions about the origins of 'anarcho-primitivism' see 'From Socialisme ou Barbarie to Communism or Civilisation' by Luther Blissett in Transgressions: A Journal of Urban Explorations #2/3 (Geography Department, University of Newcastle, August 1996, p. 81-5).
18. Information on editorial board membership at Anarchist Studies is taken from the credits at the beginning of the journal vol. 5 #1, op. cit.. There is some doubt about the ability of Anarchist Studies to provide accurate information about those associated with it, see the fourth paragraph of footnote 17. It is likely that the role of a number of individuals on the editorial board - and this is assuming these names have been used with permission - is purely 'honorary'. For an analysis of the prominent role Chomsky played in defending the right of the historical revisionist Robert Faurisson to deny that the Nazis set up gas chambers as part of their final solution, see pages 99-104 of Gill Seidel's The Holocaust Denial: Antisemitism, Racism & the New Right (Beyond The Pale Collective, Leeds 1986).
21. The article 'Politicians Are All Wankers' by anonymous in Class War #72 (August/September 1996, p. 2) announcing the formation of the Anti-Election Alliance was particularly hilarious: 'London Class War is pleased to announce that we are helping to set up, along with the Anarchist Communist Federation and Green Anarchist, the Anti-Election Alliance (AEA). Long term readers of Class War may remember the coverage we gave to the last AEA, which ended in a 1500 strong march being shepherded through central London by 2500 police (figures Police Review)...' Long term readers of Class War will also remember that there was a time when CW used to rant against CND wankers who allowed the cops to shepherd demonstrators around London like sheep. Times change and the now defunct Class War destroyed itself over unsubstantiated allegations about a Leeds member run in the Green Anarchist - newspaper 'Attention! This Is A Genuine Security Alert' by Larry O'Hara, Green Anarchist #38, Summer 1995, p. 12-14 - rather than confront the political differences that separated the warring fractions. After this, the politically illiterate rump (London CW) not only linked up with the eco-fascist GA, it also boasted about the cops shepherding its supporters around London like a bunch of sheep! Towards the end, even the mass media ceased treating Class War as a serious threat to the dominant social order. See, for example, 'Want to Smash The State? Call A Plumber' by Rob Yates in The Observer of 16/3/97 (Review section, p. 1 & 4). Coverage of this type may simply reflect a more realistic attitude within the British media towards anarchism. An earlier shift in press attitudes was noticeable in coverage of the funeral of the anarchist and pensioner Albert Meltzer. See, in particular, 'Anarchy Reigns As A Comrade Is Remembered' by Sandra Barwick in the Daily Telegraph of 29/11/96: 'The anarchist movement is disunited even in death as events following the funeral of Albert Isidore Meltzer, anarchist and former Daily Telegraph copytaker, demonstrate... his brother anarchists have been squabbling about his role in history, with accusations that he exaggerated his exploits and libelled his comrades... "I don't know what he ever did but make a noise." said Charles Crane of the Freedom Press... Friends of Mr Meltzer have defended his role. Stuart Christie, Meltzer's co-author and executor of his will, said at his funeral that the anarchist was "the arch-stone, the link in the chain". Those at Freedom were merely on the periphery... Events after Mr Meltzer's death illustrate why collective anarchist action is unlikely.' Likewise, under the headline 'The Vote Changes Nothing' in Green Anarchist # 47/48 (Summer 1997), GA report on the Anti-Election Alliance as follows: 'The crapness of the anarcho-establishment meant the Anti-Election Alliance consisted of GA, London Class War and ACF only. "Politicians are all two-faced bastards" stickers got everywhere but the AEA meetings rarely attracted over 50.' The use of the plural term meetings may be an exaggeration, I'm only aware of one AEA 'rally'.
22. Even more bizarrely, an outside wall of the Freedom building is decorated with portraits of anarchist 'heroes', including Bakunin, Proudhon and Kropotkin. These works were commissioned through Free Form, working in association with Freedom and the Whitechapel Gallery, with the project being financed by the EC funded Bethnal Green City Challenge, with co-operation from Tower Hamlets council and local businesses. One can only speculate as to how many of those involved in this project were aware that Bakunin and Proudhon were vicious anti-semites, since it is very odd that publicly funded art featuring their portraits should be placed in a part of east London with so many jewish connections.
25. See, for example, Berthold Hinz's Art In The Third Reich (Basil Blackwell, Oxford 1980) and Igor Golomstock's Totalitarian Art in the Soviet Union, the Third Reich, Fascist Italy and the People's Republic of China (Collins Harvill, London 1990).
26. The libertarian George Woodcock is dissembling when he says in his Anarchism (Pelican, Harmondsworth 1963, p. 310): 'Bakunin himself, like Proudhon, was a Freemason: a study has yet to be made of the links between Continental Freemasonry and the early anarchist movement.' While anarchist involvement in masonry appears less widespread than it was fifty or a hundred years ago, it is still very much an ongoing phenomenon. Given the secrecy surrounding the craft, the exact state of play is difficult to quantify. Assuming that freemasonry is in decline due to a considerable decrease in the number of young members it is able to recruit, it is not unreasonable to infer both a percentage and a real drop in the number of anarchists affiliated to lodges. For a recent example of a libertarian defence of this type of secret society see 'Planche/anarchisme en.. Franc-maçonnerie' in the Belgian anarchist paper Alternative Libertaire #176 (September 1995, p. 18-20), where the argument that anarchism and masonry are compatible comes replete with references to 'Frère' Kropotkin.
Woodcock makes the odd nod and wink to the intellectual impact of freemasonry on Kropotkin, but fails to address the issue directly. For example, from The Anarchist Prince: A Biographical Study of Peter Kropotkin, (Schocken Books, New York 1971, p. 113), a book Woodcock co-wrote with Ivan Avakumovic: 'In 1872... when Kropotkin reached Switzerland... the split in the International was not complete... The rank and file of the two sections were still on fairly cordial terms, and when Kropotkin left Zurich his Bakuninist friends do not seem in any way to have prejudiced him, for it was to the Marxist section in Geneva that he first went. The movement carried on its activity in the Masonic Temple Unique. There Kropotkin was welcomed by Utin...' Two pages on, Woodcock and Avakumovic quote Kropotkin as saying: 'every revolutionist has had a moment in his life when some circumstance, maybe unimportant in itself, has brought him to pronounce his oath of giving himself to the cause of the revolution. I knew that moment: I lived through it after one of the meetings at the Temple Unique, when I felt more acutely than ever before how cowardly are the educated men who refuse to put their education, their knowledge, their energy at the service of those who are so much in need of that education and that energy.' (p. 115). Although the source of this quote goes unaccredited in The Anarchist Prince, the segment o fKropotkin's Memoirs Of A Revolutionist (Grove Press, New York 1968, p. 276-280) from which it is lifted is well worth reading for the portrait it gives of the International.
[For a preliminary account of the struggle Marx waged against the conspiratorial politics of his nationalist opponents within the International see The Revolution Is Not A Masonic Affair: Boris Nicolaevsky's "Secret Societies In The First International" (Unpopular Books, London 1997). For a number of reasons, it is best to approach Nicolaevsky's text with caution. Reviewing the pamphlet in Freedom Vol 58 #9 (10/5/97), DR comments: 'We are told that G. J. Holyoake and Charles Bradlaugh were members of the Philadelphe Lodge and that the Reasoner and the Freethinker were Lodge publications. Holyoake and Bradlaugh were militant atheists, and the Reasoner and Freethinker their journals. It is difficult to imagine them in an organisation which claimed the Magi, who brought gifts to the infant Christ, as past members. They were, however, associated with an English secularist group founded in 1793, now called the South Place Ethical Society but then called the Philadelphians. Nicolaevsky may have confused the Philadelphians with the Philadelphes.' Returning to Marx, his primary concern seems to have been neutralising factions within the International that were both organised on masonic lines and disrupting its activities. The business of sorting this out was clearly a more pressing matter than attempting to expel all those who for whatever reason belonged to both the International and a masonic lodge. While it is difficult to admire Marx as an individual - the way in which he conducted his personal life makes the claims of those who adhere to such positions implausible - he did make an important contribution to the communist movement and although his work is not as authoritative as some of his admirers maintain, it is foolish to denigrate it in its entirety.]
Freemasonry seems to be a major if deliberately understated occult link between a 'scientifically' prophesied anarchist society of the immediate future and the pre-Renaissance past idealised by Kropotkin in his Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution (Pelican Books, Harmondsworth 1939, first published in book form 1902). Having discussed mutual aid among animals, 'savages', 'barbarians' and 'medieval' city inhabitants, Kropotkin devotes his final chapters to 'Mutual Aid Among Ourselves': 'In the guild - and in medieval times every man belonged to some guild or fraternity - two "brothers" were bound to watch in turns a brother who had fallen ill...' (p.183); '...societies... like the Cyclists' Alliance, have suddenly taken a formidable development. Although the members of this alliance have nothing in common but the love of cycling, there is already among them a sort of freemasonry for mutual help, especially in remote nooks and corners which are not flooded by cyclists... at the yearly Cyclists' Camp many a standing friendship has been established...' (p. 220); 'For nearly three centuries men were prevented from joining hands even for literary, artistic, and educational purposes. Societies could only be formed under the protection of the State, or the Church, or as secret brotherhoods, like free-masonry. But now that the resistance has been broken, they swarm in all directions, they extend over all multifarious branches of human activity, they become international...' (p. 222).
If Kropotkin's freemasonry was mildly eccentric, even by the standards of the craft, there is nothing sinister about it. Woodcock relates that when Kropotkin settled in England (Anarchism, p. 196): 'To the educated British public he was an honoured symbol of Russian resistance to autocracy. His articles in The Times and in scientific periodicals were read with respect...' Thus membership of a regular masonic lodge would have been a mundane aspect of Kropotkin's immersion in the British establishment assuming he maintained his active participation in freemasonry after his gradual evolution away from the conspiratorial techniques of the continental Bakuninist circles. Unlike Bakunin, who consistently viewed his masonic and quasi-masonic activities as a means of establishing an invisible 'anonymous dictatorship', the doggedly optimistic Kropotkin - at least in his later years - merely saw the craft as a fine example of fraternal resistance to the state. While freemasonry is a perfect example of what Kroptokin meant by his anarchist principle of mutual aid, in his turn of the century world he attributed no more significance to the craft than other voluntary associations such as the Cyclists' Alliance or the Red Cross. This, then, is the foundation on which Kropotkin built his 'scientific' anarchism; it amounts to a simple and indiscriminate attraction to all forms of association conducted outside the church and the state. Kropotkin's positions on freemasonry and other voluntary organisations are, of course, incoherent. The activities promoted by these societies can as readily be placed in the service of the state as provide a counter-hegemony to the power of ruling elites. While voluntary associations tend to interact with states in complex fashions, on balance and for the time being contra Kropotkin, it remains unrealistic to view organisations such as the Boy Scouts as furnishing the motor of social transformation.
Despite knowing about the high regard in which some contemporary anarchists (for example, Hakim Bey/Peter Lamborn Wilson) hold secret societies, I was surprised to receive an undated and unsolicited letter in early May 1997 from a self-styled mason called 'Jonothon Boulter'. This individual wrote claiming to be Command Cell Chairman (UK) of the Green Flame Revolutionary Synarchist League and requested a meeting at which he could tell me more 'under the Rose and Black Star'. Enclosed with this epistle were some extremely silly and very sparsely punctuated documents, including Revolutionary Synarchism: Syncretism of the Green Flame: 'The philosophy and the politics of the Green Flame are from a wide variety of backgrounds. We look back to the 1890's period known as decadent because of the network of writers, philosophers and poets. These people created an organisation called the Redondan Cultural Foundation whose aim was to create an autonomous country where politics economics and the spiritual would intertwine in a gothic mysteriousness. The Green Flame is the inheritor of this. Then we look back to revolutionary Templarism which was alleged to be behind the French Revolution and the Enlightenment. We also believe that the Templars were involved in the technological and cultural evolution of the middle age and that this was due to their secret alliance with Islam. According to the Templarists the aim of the Templars was to create a syncretistic religion and culture of Judaism Christianity and Islam. As we work with both business and the proletariat we have an intelligence network whose aim is also to infiltrate other intelligence services for recruits. The intelligence network is called Xenophon. As we are not a mass political movement we work on a revolutionary cell structure which is loose but in a network. It therefore demands recruits to have an all round intelligence and to work on their own. The organisation structure is secret on all levels but is also democratic as it is small-scale and non-bureaucratic. Our syncretism is constant and on deep levels which is our politics. Vive le Templiers!' For information on the fraudulent nineteenth century synarchist 'movement' of Joseph-Alexandre Saint-Yves see James Webb's The Flight From Reason: The Age of the Irrational (Macdonald, London 1971, p.175-8). Boulter's crank recruiting techniques are modelled on those of Bakunin, who was notorious for inventing secret societies that existed only on paper and in his head as a means of luring naive individuals into his anarchist activities. Although it is unlikely the organisation Boulter claims to represent has as many as two or three members, the texts he is indiscriminately circulating demonstrate the ongoing nature of the attraction some anarchists feel towards a mythological version of freemasonry.
28. Bakunin's immersion in Italian Freemasonry during the 1860s led to his authorship of the notorious Catechism Of A Freemason, but this didn't prevent him from announcing in his Open Letters To Swiss Comrades Of The International (cited here from The Basic Bakunin: Writings 1869-1871 edited and translated by Robert M. Cutler, Prometheus Books, Buffalo 1992): 'It would be a great mistake to judge the Freemasonry of the eighteenth century, or the beginning of the nineteenth, by what it is today. The erstwhile increasing influence of Freemasonry, a pre-eminently bourgeois institution, reflected the growth and influence of the bourgeoisie: later its decadence reflected the moral and intellectual decadence of that class. Today, having sadly become a jabbering old intriguer, it is useless and worthless, sometimes malevolent and always ridiculous, whereas before 1830 and especially before 1793 it was active, powerful, and genuinely beneficent, uniting through its organizations the choicest minds and the most ardent hearts, the most fiery wills and the boldest personalities, with but a very few exceptions... We know that nearly all the main actors of the first Revolution were Freemasons and that when that Revolution erupted it found, thanks to Freemasonry, friends and powerful allies in every other country. This certainly contributed to its triumph...'
29. Rudolf Rocker, Nationalism And Culture translated by Ray E. Chase, Michael E. Goughlin, St Paul 1978. This work was first published in 1937, with a second edition issued in 1947. The dustjacket of the reprint of the second edition issued by Michael E. Goughlin in 1978 features endorsements from such unlikely figures as Bertrand Russell, Will Durant and Albert Einstein.
32. Rocker, p. 502. Passages such as this in Rocker and the works of other classical anarchists are pointedly ignored by the self-styled anarcho-primitivist John Moore, who while either feigning or suffering from a profound ignorance of Bakunin and simultaneously echoing the quasi-Gramscian blather of the French New Right about 'a war of position' absurdly bawls in 'his' essay 'Culture And Anarchy' (included in Anarchy And Ecstasy: Visions of Halcyon Days, Aporia Press, London 1988): 'Within mainstream discourse, and particularly in texts like the one by Matthew Arnold whose title I have deliberately appropriated here, the terms "culture" and "anarchy" are regarded as antithetical. Any putative tendencies toward anarchy become a pretext to entreat authority to intervene and re-establish order and culture. But for proponents of anarchy this polarization clearly remains unacceptable. For the latter, the primary aim becomes the development of a culture of anarchy. Unfortunately, however, this project has been poorly served by anarchist thinkers who for the most part have remained mired in politics.' The sheer absurdity of Moore's claims about an antagonism between anarchy and mainstream discourse can be seen in the fact that not only did the British establishment offer Herbert Read a knighthood in 1953 - while both his art criticism and anarchist writings were published and widely distributed by mainstream commercial companies- but that Read, one of the most influential anarchist writers of the mid-twentieth century, accepted the title. Among innumerable other examples that contradict Moore's ludicrous assertions, the scab illustrations produced by anarchist graphic artist Cliff Harper for Rupert Murdoch's newspapers during the Wapping dispute are equally pertinent. For documentation of the close relationship between anarchy and culture from the French Revolution onwards see the relevant sections in Donald Drew Egbert's Social Radicalism And The Arts: Western Europe (Duckworth, London 1970).
37. Bakunin's ability to dissemble even moved the left-communist Otto Rühle to paint the anarchist as clearly the wronged party in his dispute with Marx. See Karl Marx: HIs Life and Work by Otto Rühle (translated by Eden and Cedar Paul, George Allen & Unwin, London 1929, p. 274-292). Rühle does this despite citing a typical diatribe from Bakunin against his communist opponents (p. 281): 'Marx's circle is a sort of mutual admiration society. Marx is the chief distributor of honours, but is also invariably perfidious and malicious... As soon as he has ordered a persecution, there is no limit to the baseness and infamy of the method. Himself a Jew, he has round him in London and in France, and above all in Germany, a number of petty, more or less able, intriguing, mobile, speculative Jews (the sort of Jews you can find all over the place), commercial employees, bank clerks, men of letters, politicians, the correspondents of newspapers of the most various shades of opinion, in a word, literary go-betweens, just as they are financial go-betweens, one foot in the bank, the other in the socialist movement, while their rump is in German periodical literature...'
43. It needs to be stressed that under Russian absolutism, clandestine political organisation was a practical necessity. Material conditions in Russia dictated the organisational methods employed by opportunists like Bakunin and Lenin. The success of Lenin and the concomitant failure of Bakunin is rooted in the fact that the former concentrated his efforts where Jacobin tactics were a pragmatic response to the prevailing conditions. Bakunin's absurd failure as an avatar of insurrection was a direct result of his attempt to employ conspiratorial tactics willy nilly across the whole of Europe, completely disregarding local conditions. For a history of Russian Jacobinism see Abbot Gleason's flawed Young Russia: The Genesis of Russian Radicalism in the 1860s (Viking, New York 1980).
47. Rocker, p. 203. At points such as this, Rocker's views sound like an echo of the opinions of the reactionary 'Whig' historian Lord Acton, who attacked nationalism and democracy for rotting away the organic liberties of earlier social forms such as feudalism. It was, of course, Acton who wrote in a letter to Mandell Creighton - at that time still a future Bishop of London - that 'Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely'.
53. Rocker, p. 547. It should be emphasised that Rocker learnt Yiddish and ran a Yiddish language anarchist newspaper, since he emphatically included Yiddish speakers within his lofty vision of European culture. Nevertheless, the anarcho-syndicalist is unacceptably Eurocentric and unconscious echoes of Aryan ideology can be found in Rocker's use of completely specious arguments to justify his preference for Greece over Rome. A chapter on 'National Unity And The Decline Of Culture' begins with the assertion that: 'Greece and Rome are merely symbols. Their whole history is just a single instance of the great truth that the less the political sense is developed in a people, the richer are the forms of its cultural life...Greece brought forth a wonderful culture and enriched mankind for thousands of years, not in spite of, but because of its political and national disunion...' (p. 408-9). Rocker then concludes this chapter with the absurd observation that: 'One could perhaps cite England as counter-evidence and show that here culture took a great upsurge in spite of the national state, especially in the age of Queen Elizabeth. But one must not forget that only under the Stuarts was genuine absolutism able to claim an overwhelming success there, and that the English state never succeeded in centralizing public life to the degree which was reached in France, for example. The English government had always a strongly developed liberal opposition against it, which was deeply rooted in the people and which gave to the whole of English history its peculiar character. The fact is that in no other country did so much of the ancient municipal constitution persist as in England, and that the English city government is today, as far as local independence is concerned, the freest in Europe...' (p. 434). For a somewhat more realistic assessment of the development of Elizabethan culture see Richard Helgerson's Forms Of Nationhood: The Elizabethan Writing of England (University Of Chicago Press, Chicago and London 1992).
54 See, for example, 'The Case Against Art' included in Elements Of Refusal by John Zerzan (Left Bank books, Seattle 1988). In this, as in so many other matters, Zerzan's position is at odds with that of George Bradford aka David Watson. Nevertheless, Bradford and Zerzan have been homogenised by the same admirers and detractors as founding fathers of 'anarcho-primitivism'/'lifestyle anarchism' see Beyond Bookchin op. cit. under paragraph three of footnote 12 and Stephen Booth's Into The 1990s With Green Anarchist op. cit., p. 132-141.
55. See both Elements Of Refusal op. cit. and Future Primitive And Other Essays by John Zerzan (Autonomedia and C.A.L. Press, Brooklyn and Columbia 1994). A British edition of Future Primitive was issued by Green Anarchist Books (Camberley 1996), who simultaneously published a hardback edition of T.A.Z.: The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism by Hakim Bey. A number of Zerzan's essays have also been reprinted in Green Anarchist.
60. Organise! For Class Struggle Anarchism autumn/winter 1996, p. 9-11. This is the journal of the UK based Anarchist Communist Federation (ACF). For an even sillier contemporary anarchist take on art, see Rex King's The Arts, & Other Social Diseases (revised edition Pentagon, London 1992, p. 6-18): '...surely no-one can still pretend that a successful career in the arts is a more socially authentic way of making a living than employment in, say, pharmaceuticals or management consultancy.... This parasitical relationship of artists and society is tested in microcosm in a hundred thousand student households around the country, in splendid isolation from the gullible families supplying the handouts, uneasy perhaps that son/daughter might actually be wasting everyone's time and money... The hard fact is that vocational engagement with the arts precludes wider and healthier social interaction... A patronising stigma has become attached to the very word 'amateur'. Professional art is frequently superior in quality to its amateur equivalent. But if superior, then more vital? Does professional art have a more important social role to play? This is not to endorse, say, the crappy efforts at painting that people try to flog at their local library... The artist lives in a solopsistic universe... So the professional artist can indeed become, in a manner of speaking, a 'wanker'.... If art is masturbation, then it is in part a fantasising about the real possibilities of life and communication, and in the meantime it remains a source of pleasure, for many a matter of daily recourse... But artists be warned: you are not liked, and for good reason... Professional artists are wasters. As a reader of this pamphlet observed, artists are the only masturbators to act as carriers of social disease.'
63. Anarcho-communists such as the ACF do themselves no favours by collaborating with far-Right reactionaries like Green Anarchist or looking to Bakunin for inspiration. It is about time the ACF demonstrated some commitment to its political platform by breaking with the circle of eco-fascists gathered around Steve Booth, John Moore and Paul Rogers.
64. For an analysis of a related left/right 'synthesis', see Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron's The California Ideology (Hypermedia Research Centre, University of Westminster, London n.d. http://www.hrc.wmin.ac.uk/). Barbrook and Cameron's critique is incisive despite its flawed perspective: '...The drift toward the right by the Californian ideologues is helped by their unquestioning acceptance of the liberal ideal of the self-sufficient individual. In American folklore, the nation was built out of a wilderness by free-booting individuals the trappers, cowboys, preachers, and settlers of the frontier. The American revolution itself was fought to protect the freedoms and property of individuals against oppressive laws and unjust taxes imposed by a foreign monarch. For both the New Left and the New Right, the early years of the American republic provide a potent model for their rival versions of individual freedom. Yet there is a profound contradiction at the centre of this primordial American dream: individuals in this period only prospered through the suffering of others. Nowhere is this clearer than in the life of Thomas Jefferson the chief icon of the Californian Ideology. Thomas Jefferson was the man who wrote the inspiring call for democracy and liberty in the American Declaration of Indpendence and at the same time owned nearly 200 human beings as slaves...'
65. Ultra-leftists have long insisted on a structural relationship between fascism and bolshevism. Otto Rühle's The Struggle Against Fascism Begins With The Struggle Against Bolshevism first appeared in Living Marxism, vol. 4, n. 8, in 1939. For a more recent English translation see the Bratach Dubh Editions pamphlet, London 1981 (p. 18): '...For Lenin, imperialism was the greatest enemy of the world proletariat, and against it all forces had to be mobilized. But Stalin, again in true Leninistic fashion, is quite busy with cooking up an alliance with Hitler's imperialism.'
66. For an example of self-serving political reductionism on this topic, see 'Commentary On The Anarcho-Futurist Manifesto' by John Moore in Green Anarchist #40/41 (Spring 1996, p. 18-20): '...despite similarities in language use, the ideologoes (sic) inherent in Italian futurism and Russian anarcho-futurism are entirely antagonistic...' In proceeding to contrast the attitudes of the 'anarcho-futurists' and Marinetti, Moore resorts to the favoured method of those whose main use for books is as a means of searching out historical precedents to shore up their ideological beliefs, i.e. selective quotation. Moore takes a manifesto of a few hundred words - the only example of Russian 'anarcho-futurism' I can locate in English - and contrasts it with even fewer words from Marinetti. Depending on what one chooses to cite from Marinetti, one could prove almost anything with this technique. Take, for example, 'Beyond Communism' in Let's Murder The Moonshine: Selected Writings F. T. Marinetti translated and edited by R. W. Flint (Sun and Moon, Los Angeles 1991, p. 156): 'Humanity is marching toward anarchic individualism, the dream and vocation of every powerful nature. Communism, on the other hand, is an old mediocritist formula, currently being refurbished by war-weariness and fear and transmuted into intellectual fashion. Communism is the exasperation of the bureaucratic cancer that has always wasted humanity. A German cancer, a product of the characteristic German preparationism. Every pedantic preparation is antihuman and wearies fortune. History, life, and the earth belong to the improvisers. We hate military barracks as much as we hate Communist barracks. The anarchist genius derides and bursts the Communist prison.' This was written in 1920, after Marinetti had embarked on his fascist political odyssey, something which didn't effect the futurist's notion of himself as an anarchist. For a discussion of the complexities of the relationship between the politics of individual futurists and futurist aesthetics (an issue which is apparently of no interest to John Moore) see Fascist Modernism by Andrew Hewitt op. cit..
Given the lumpen audience Moore is addressing, he is on fairly safe ground making idle speculations about the Russian 'anarcho-futurists'. English language readers have access to very little information about this group which may well, in any case, have existed only on paper. While it is crass to blithely equate the politics of those gathered around the Bolshevik supporting Russian futurist Mayakovsky with the ideological commitments of the Mussolini supporting Italian futurist Marinetti, Moore's speculation places the 'anarcho-futurists' closer to Marinetti than Mayakovsky: 'The anarcho-futurists reaffirm the Romantic notion of the creative genius but generalise this to all who participate in the insurrection. But creativity, in a life-affirming world view, must be complemented by destruction. Bakunin had announced that "the passion to destroy is a creative passion" and Nietzsche had indicated that "he who has to be a creator always had to destroy", and the ideas of both thinkers are perceptible in the manifesto. The words of Nietzsche's Zarathustra are echoed in the anarcho-futurist's assertion that "Everything is permitted! Everything is unrestricted!", and Nietzsche's life-affirmative philosophy is perceptible in the manifesto's affirmation of "Convulsions - flesh - life - death - everything! Everything!" But such life-affirmation entails the affirmation of opposites, and this emerges in the manifesto even amidst the orgiastic insurrection.'
Moore's next conjecture is a link between 'anarcho-futurism' and ego-futurism. He then goes on to say: 'Ignatyev tried to move ego-futurism beyond its Stirnerite ideology by using a Nietzschean perspective on the geneology of power. Moreover, he challenged the ego-futurist urbanist orientation by proposing the city as a site of enslavement and by extension civilisation as the locus of control. From this perspective, it is a relatively short step to the anarcho-futurist position of not merely attacking civilisation and the city in words, but in action too.' Moore offers no evidence that the 'anarcho-futurists' did anything other than write one short manifesto and his analysis of ego-futurism flies in the face of the information about the group available in English. See, for example, the selection of ego-futurist material in Russian Futurism Through Its Manifestoes, 1912-1928 edited and translated by Anna Lawton and Herbert Eagle (Cornell University Press, Ithaca and London 1988, p. 105-129). Since Moore doesn't mention this book in either his article or the skimpy bibliography appended to it, he is probably unaware of its existence. In her introduction, Anna Lawton describes ego-futurism as having been 'laced' with ill digested Nietzschean ideas from its inception. Possibly out of ignorance, Moore also fails to mention the French futurists who self-identified as anarchists and from February to November 1913 were involved with the short-lived Action d'art journal. The patently right-wing views of the French anarcho-futurists (they extolled 'aristocratic individualism') would probably appeal to Moore's eco-fascist chums at Green Anarchist.
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ANY OLD IRONY?
Things are no better in the book world where irony rules the roost. For the sake of clarity here, irony can be defined as saying or doing one thing and meaning another. For example, 'novelist' Martin Amis tries to come on like one of the beautiful people, when everyone knows he's a talentless nerd. Amis became famous after spending more dosh having his teeth cosmetically improved than a confirmed bachelor blows on take-away food and crack hoes over forty years. While irony is now closely associated with European literary traditions, as a rhetorical device it can be traced back through the revival of classical learning during the renaissance to Socrates. In ancient Greek philosophy as practised by Socrates, Plato and Demis Roussos, irony was a form of dissimulation that undeceived the ignorant about the nature of truth. This didn't go down well with the city government in Athens a few millennia back, which felt that Socrates was corrupting teenagers with his jive talk. So the father of philosophy was made to drink the poison hemlock. It may not be ironic, but it is certainly unfortunate that contemporary literary novelists rarely drink anything stronger than Pimms.
If in literary and media circles irony is a cop out for poseurs who need their teeth rearranged, out on the streets and dance floors of planet get down things are rather different. The secret of making irony rock in the post-modern world is to transform it into something closer to sarcasm. You often hear people say that sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, but it should be stressed that it is also the funniest. Sarcasm was always heavily in evidence at those dance yourself into a lather Northern Soul clubs during their seventies heyday. Perhaps the best wind-up carried off against the rare grove herd was Stoke deejay Keith Minshull transforming a bad cover of soul legend Doris Troy's I'll Do Anything by radio jock Tony Blackburn into a floor filler. Minshull covered up the original label and instead attributed the work to Lenny Gamble, who many erroneously assumed was in some way related to dance hipster Kenny Gamble. As a result, the Blackburn track become massive with late-night crowds who'd have turned up their noses at this offering if they'd known what it really was!
More seriously, irony and sarcasm can become an effective vehicle for protest in police states. In the early eighties when Villu Tamme the singer with the Estonian punk band J.M.K.E. was thrown into a mental asylum for his subcultural activities and having an atrocious spiky haircut, various friends channelled their energies into a campaign for the defence of the Warsaw Pact. Tamme's pals would parade around their home town of Tallinn with paper models of tanks on their heads, demanding that the USSR produce more arms to defend the people against reactionaries and imperialists. Likewise, a number of demonstrations were organised in support of the secret police and the important work they were doing in defending the revolutionary gains of the Bolshevik revolution. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, J.M.K.E. were able to record a series of albums including Sputniks Pectopah: 14 Evergreen Russian Melodies which featured tracks such as 'Bravely, Comrades, Keep In Step' and 'Song About Lenin'. Naturally, in his sleeve notes Tamme claims there is nothing ironic in any of this.
So the question that remains to be answered is are we suffering from irony saturation? To this I can reply resoundingly in the negative. Sure, like you I've been to clubs where the deejay is spinning cheesy easy listening, and we're all supposed to be very knowing about it. But then lets face it, a bad record is a bad record. If the deejay wanted to be really ironic he or she could play something decent instead. If I want to hear lucklustre standards I can always join the Hoxton crowd watching Val Rogers doing his act at The Macbeth on Friday nights. Likewise, forget about Martin Denny, I'd rather hear seventies soul act The Moments going MOR on tracks like "Makin' Whoopee". Talking of which, I'm up for some ironic shagging. If every groovy Shoreditch chick who thinks I'm repulsive gave me a sarcastic orgasm, I'd be a happy man. So forget about the pronouncements of newspaper pundits. The problem with our post-modern culture isn't that it is too knowing, but that it is not ironic enough. This isn't a case of me saying one thing and meaning another. What you see is what you get - and any Shoreditch swinger who wants to ridicule an old man with some sarcastic sex can find me in the Bricklayers Arms most Saturday nights.
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