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THE SUCKING PIT: HOW GREEN ANARCHISM ACCELERATES THE PROCESS OF DECOMPOSITION WITHIN THE SWAMP
During the eighties a theory of anti-capitalist primitivism was developed in the pages of the Detroit based paper Fifth Estate by a variety of theorists including George Bradford. Slightly amended versions of two of Bradford's contributions to the Fifth Estate were later republished under the title How Deep Is Deep Ecology? With an Essay-Review on Woman's Freedom (Times Change Press, California 1989). This book received a glowing review in Green Anarchist 31 (Autumn 92, p. 19): '...an excellent critique of "Deep Ecologists" with their belief in over population, with starvation and AIDS as its solution. Its narrow wilderness stance, general Social Darwinism, racist views on border controls and failure to question imperialism, technology, capitalism and destruction of the planet. He explains Malthusian views were used to justify industrialisation... Deep Ecologists view of wilderness protection as the salvation of the biosphere, in Bradford's view, is very shallow as it doesn't answer questions of technology, capital or the State... Bradford sides with Kropotkin in his theory for social and ecological transformation. Like Bookchin, he is an ecologist on the side of humanity. Though we created the problem, we're also the only ones to put it right. Recommended to anyone with a view on the Eco Crisis.'
One of the issues we will address in the present text is the extent to which Green Anarchist has created a rhetorical shield out of Bradford's arguments, behind which they can continue to propagate a number of the delusions he attacks. As Jacques Camatte observed in Against Domestication (Falling Sky Books, Ontario 1981, p. 1-2): 'The time we are now living through is without doubt the most critical period capitalist society has ever known... Social relations and traditional consciousness are decomposing all around us, while at the same time each institution in society proceeds to ensure its survival by recuperating the movement which opposes it. (An obvious example here is the Catholic Church, which has lost count of all the "modernisations" it has embraced)... For a considerable time, human beings have, strictly speaking, been outstripped by the movement of capital which they are no longer able to control. This explains why some people think that the only solution is flight into the past, as with the fashionable preoccupation with mysticism, Zen, yoga and tantraism in the U.S. Others would rather take refuge in the old myths which reject the total and all-pervading tyranny of science and technology... We now come to the category of people who feel that they have to "do something:" they are now having to realise that their understanding of the situation is totally inadequate, and their efforts to conceal this fact only makes their powerlessness more obvious.'
Green Anarchist certainly feel they have to 'do something,' and in order to project an image of themselves as a 'revolutionary' force, they draw heavily on their superficial acquaintance with many strands of Anglo-American 'radicalism.' Influences from elsewhere, such as France, are only taken on board secondhand; GA's 'knowledge' of the Debordist faction of the Situationist International is clearly mediated through a very shallow reading of George Bradford, Fredy Perlman, John Zerzan et al. As such, it is not unfair to describe GA's writing on the SI as a form of 'historical revisionism.' In this, GA have much in common with those other historical revisionists, the neo-Nazi 'intellectuals' who deny that the Holocaust took place, and who are notorious for their peek-a-boo attitude towards the death camps. Historical revisionists use euphemisms to allude to the victims of Hitler's genocidal policies; their texts are littered with references to 'rootless cosmopolitan elements,' 'bankers' and 'Zionists;' they seem to gain a pornographic satisfaction when they finally come out and state what it is they really mean. The rhetoric of these historical revisionists has remarkable parallels with the 'now you see it, now you don't' stance Green Anarchist has taken on population reduction.
The editorial in Green Anarchist 38 (Summer 95, p. 21) contains the following statement: 'When we discussed population in GA 28, we argued current population levels aren't a problem but if they were, women's control over their own fertility would sort it , well eco-fascist, eh?' This statement jars with the gloating comments to be found on page 17 of the same issue of Green Anarchist: 'Forget about necrotising fascitis, the flesh eater, Ebola is the biggy , a virus as contagious as flu with a 90% mortality rate and no cure, no treatment. We don't really have a datum to compare it with but the Black Death wiped out a third of Europe, 1346-9. If Ebola gets out into a major conurbation and is spread around the world through airliners, all our over population problems will be over...'
Green Anarchism: Its Origins and Influences by PNR (Alder Valley Anarchists, Camberley n.d.), the text of a lecture given by Paul Rogers on 24/11/92, further highlights the contradictory message sent out by Green Anarchist on the issue of population. Discussing feminist reaction to a pamphlet by Richard Hunt, Paul Rogers states (page 5): 'the cover illustration of the first edition of The Natural Society showed men out in the fields driving tractors while the women were shown as remaining indoors preparing tea and sandwiches! He also argued that in order to maintain the cultural integrity of the small communities he advocated , necessary to keep order in the community on an informal, face-to-face basis , they would have to practice "xenophobia." Hunt maintains this term was used in its root meaning, a 'fear of strangers,' but many felt his choice of terms was as ill considered as his choice of cover illustration. To his credit, though, Hunt did not echo the typical reductionist environmentalist line on population. On grounds of population density , the most important factor in determining whether there will be enough land available for those on it to live self-sufficiently , he argued that the UK was one of the nations most in need of reduced population levels.'
Green Anarchist's public proclamations on population reduction, sexism and xenophobia, are schizophrenic. The editorial in Green Anarchist 38 claims Hunt's 'ideas took a reactionary turn during the Gulf War.' This statement implies that the current membership of the Green Anarchist Network don't consider the sexism and xenophobia of The Natural Society: A Basis for Green Anarchism (1976) to be reactionary since it was written before the Gulf War. It appears that Paul Rogers feels Hunt's displays of sexism and xenophobia were ill considered because they led people to criticise the concept of Green Anarchism, but Rogers is remarkably reluctant to condemn these traits in Hunt's thinking, traits which apparently reflect his own views. Of course, Green Anarchist claims to be against 'bigotry,' but then so did the official National Front prior to its disintegration. Likewise, it is interesting that GA should choose to cite what they had to say on population in Green Anarchist 28, the issue which immediately proceeded Hunt's break with the group and contained his notorious article in favour of the Gulf War, since Hunt takes a firm Malthusian line in his current publication Alternative Green.
In our leaflet Green Anarchism Exposed, we stated that: 'with its anti-urban ideology and utopian vision of small autonomous communities, Green Anarchist has yet to face the problem of how it plans to "dispose" of a huge "surplus" population...' The statements quoted above prove that we were correct in making this assessment. In the end it doesn't matter how many contradictory statements Green Anarchist makes about its position on population reduction, GA's ideological opposition to mass society and technology necessitates a reduction in population levels if it is to be meaningfully implemented - and neo-Malthusianism is, to use GA's own words, 'well eco-fascist.' In our leaflet, we observed that 'Green Anarchist does not know what fascism is, and it is therefore incapable of recognising itself as fascist.' Of course, we are quite happy to acknowledge that GA projects an image of itself as being actively opposed the BNP, but as our leaflet made clear, we view fascism as an evolving ideology and would be surprised if its more 'sophisticated' strands didn't verbally condemn those forms of reaction that have become utterly discredited in the eyes of potential supporters. Even Ian Andrson, chair of what remains of the National Front (the rump Anderson still leads recently changed its name to the National Democratic Party), got in on the act earlier this summer when, on the Richard Littlejohn tv show, he denounced the BNP as 'thugs.'
However, we do not wish to limit ourselves to criticising Green Anarchist's inability to identify or understand right-wing ideologies. Returning to Green Anarchist's neat little formula for dealing with the issue of Malthusianism: 'current population levels aren't a problem but if they were, women's control over their own fertility would sort it.' GA appear to have come up with this verbal trick after reading George Bradford's review of Reproductive Rights And Wrongs: The Global Politics of Population Control and Contraceptive Choice by Betsy Hartmann (Harper & Row, New York 1987) which is reproduced under the title Woman's Freedom: Key to the Population Question in his book How Deep Is Deep Ecology? For our present purposes, it isn't important who developed the insights Bradford was propagating in his text, what matters is the fact that they became completely deformed in Green Anarchist's hands; we are no longer dealing with the burning issue of human emancipation, GA seem to think that simply giving women access to birth control and/or abortion will sort out any population problems that might potentially exist. This is, in fact, an inversion of Bradford's argument, he states (p. 68): 'The salvation of the marvellous green planet, our Mother Earth, depends on the liberation of women , and children and men , from social domination, exploitation and hierarchy. They must go together. Neither a radical political vision nor a profound ecological vision can exist without this fundamental dimension.'
On page 73, Bradford criticises the way in which the population-control establishment 'avoids any discussion of the social context within which reproductive decisions are made (or not made),' an argument that is equally applicable to Green Anarchist's rhetorical trick. Bradford makes this point even more explicitly on page 82: 'The question, of course, goes beyond population control and family planning. Women's reproductive choice depends on their role in society as a whole, and their lack of choice is directly linked to their lack of autonomy and personhood as well as to their economic domination... Women's freedom and well-being are at the centre of the resolution to the population problem, and that can only be faced within the larger social context.' Clearly, GA's claim that 'women's control over their own fertility would sort it,' is more than just reductionist rhetoric, it destroys the logic of Bradford's argument.
GA realise that they cannot simply dodge Bradford's critique, although how conscious they are of the fact that they are recuperating it is unclear. Paul Rogers in Green Anarchism: Its Origins and Influences (p.20) states: 'A key problem for deep ecologists is that, being human beings themselves, they will always understand "nature" anthropocentrically... The anti-humanism of their conclusions provoked such vigorous attacks on Earth First! from social ecologist Murray Bookchin and George Bradford, the editor of Fifth Estate, that it split the movement in 1990.' By page 25 Rogers ludicrously claims that: 'After reviewing their literature, the GA editorial group set about integrating the North American anarchist green traditions with the groundwork laid down by Hunt and the more radical elements of British green thought. As a result, the editorial in GA 29, the issue published immediately following Hunt's resignation, noted that Green Anarchist was now "free to promote a more pro-situ, primitivist perspective." ' Clearly, Green Anarchism as a form of ideological recuperation conforms to Guy Debord's description of this phenomena in thesis 212 of Society Of The Spectacle (Black & Red, Detroit 1977): 'Ideological facts were never a simple chimera, but rather a deformed consciousness of realities, and in this form they have been real factors which set in motion real deforming acts.'
Under the utterly bizarre general heading of American Anarchist Green Traditions and the equally misconceived subheading of Primitivism, Paul Rogers in Green Anarchism: Its Origins and Influences, has the following to say about the Situationist International (page 22): 'Turning Marx on his head, they focused on his analysis of alienation, which argued that as the working class did not own what it produced, its sense of identity was undermined. Situationists argued that in an attempt to recover this identity, workers were forced to consume what they produced and to work producing more commodities to pay for that consumption.' Of course, the SI did NOT turn Marx on his head, but no doubt Rogers feels compelled to make this claim because 'anti-marxism' is a touch stone of GA's ideology. GA do not consciously oppose marxism, indeed they do not seem to know what it is, rather they attack an image of marxism propagated by both America and Russia (and their respective satellites) during the cold war.
In his Comments On The Society Of The Spectacle (Verso, London 1990, p. 13-14), Guy Debord observed that: 'Spectacular domination's first priority was to eradicate historical knowledge in general; beginning with just about all rational information and commentary on the most recent past. The evidence for this is so glaring it hardly needs further explanation. With consummate skill the spectacle organises ignorance of what is about to happen and, immediately afterwards, the forgetting of whatever has nevertheless been understood.' Similarly, in an unsigned article in Internationale Situationiste 8 (Paris 1963) entitled The Avant-Garde Of Presence (English translation from Situationist International Anthology edited by Ken Knabb, Bureau of Public Secrets, Berkeley 1981, p. 109) the SI state: 'The dialectic of history is such that the Situationist International's theoretical victory is already forcing its adversaries to disguise themselves as situationists. There are now two tendencies in close struggle against us: those who proclaim themselves situationists without having any idea what they're talking about... and those who, conversely, decide to adopt a few situationist ideas minus the situationists and without mentioning the SI.'
Likewise, in The Veritable Split In The International: Public Circular Of The Situationist International (Piranha, London 1974), Guy Debord and Gianfranco Sanguinetti express the utter contempt they felt towards people like Paul Rogers and the Green Anarchist editorial board, although it is unlikely they foresaw a future in which individuals openly proclaimed themselves to have adopted a pro-situ stance! Thesis 28 (page 36) reads as follows: 'The pro-situs did not see in the SI a determined critico-practical activity explaining or advancing the social struggles of an epoch, but simply extremist ideas; and not so much extremist ideas as the idea of extremism; and in the last analysis not so much the idea of extremism as the image of extremist heroes collected together in a triumphant community. In "the work of the negative," the pro-situs doubt the negative, and also the work. After having plebiscited the thought of history, they remain dry because they do not understand history, nor thought either. To accede to the affirmation, which tempts them strongly, of an autonomous personality, they only lack autonomy, personality, and the talent to affirm whatever it may be.'
In a tract ludicrously entitled Neoist Leaflet Attacking Paul Rogers And Green Anarchist (Paul Rogers isn't mentioned in our leaflet about GA), the Lancaster Bomber (part of the Green Anarchist Network) conclude with a section headlined Action: 'The thing is, with GA's emphasis on @ction and people getting up off their bums and doing something, the Neoists aren't in a position to argue with that. We invite everyone to judge us by our results. The state certainly thinks Green Anarchist is a magazine worth raiding, a magazine worth suppressing.' This is delusional thinking, members of the British National Party and Combat 18 also get off their bums and do 'something,' but even GA appear to agree with us about the fact that just because an unreconstructed neo-Nazi thug is also an activist, this does not raise him or her beyond reproach. Likewise, if the state wanted to suppress Green Anarchist, it could do so with far less effort than it put into the completely successful suppression of the British Union of Fascists and the Imperial Fascist League after the outbreak of the Second World War. While the British state usually turns a blind eye to anarchist journals, it has, on occasion, suppressed publications; for example, Johann Most's London based paper Die Frieheit was raided and suppressed by Scotland Yard in 1881. The state has never experienced any problems suppressing sects and the fact of the matter is, only openly organised struggle on the part of vast majorities can go beyond a mere coup d'état and thereby achieve the fundamental aims of communism, that is to say the abolition of alienation as the only possible means of attaining real human emancipation on a global scale.
The fact that an issue of Green Anarchist appeared after the production of the Lancaster Bomber leaflet proved conclusively that the state was NOT interested in suppressing GA, since it is ludicrous to suggest that GA is capable of resisting suppression by the state. GA's whinging on this subject is a clear indication that they suffer from all the usual democratic illusions and do NOT believe their own propaganda about the evils of statism; liberal regimes have demonstrated time and again that they are more than willing to let the mask of 'accountability' slip when they deem this necessary, GA need look no further than the attack on the Rainbow Warrior and the murder of Hilda Murrell if they still require proof of this banality. Lots of people have had their collars felt but this is no litmus test of their revolutionary credentials. Likewise, it is absurd for the Lancaster Bomber to ask us to judge them on their results, when this is, in fact, what we've been doing all along.
We have found Green Anarchist wanting precisely because those whose personalities are deformed by an activist mentality are doomed to repeat the mistakes of previous generations of swamp inhabitants. To cite just one example, Green Anarchist have learnt nothing from the total failure of the White Panther movement, whose founder John Sinclair wrote in his book Guitar Army (Douglas Book Corporation, New York 1972. p. 51) that: 'isolation from the people drove us straight into the arms of the government in its various incarnations, and instead of being alarmed by this we glorified in it, because it was all the proof we needed that we were "really revolutionary," you know? We fell into the trap... of letting the established order define the terms of our lives, and we not only let ourselves get caught in it but we even revelled in it, thinking that we had decisively proved ourselves as a threat to the system we hated so much. When I was dragged off to the penitentiary on the 25th of July, 1969, where I've been ever since, we felt that we had really accomplished something...'
The activist disease, or swamp fever as it's commonly known, can be traced back at least as far as Mikhail Bakunin, the founding 'father' of 'revolutionary' anarchism. In August 1848, prior to succumbing to the skeletal embrace of anarchism, and therefore at a time when he still supported Pan-Slavism, Bakunin asserted in a letter to the German poet Georg Herwegh that 'revolution is instinct rather than thought; it acts and spreads as instinct, and as instinct it wages its first battles...' (cited by Aileen Kelly in Mikhail Bakunin: A Study in the Psychology and Politics of Utopianism, Yale University Press, New Haven 1987, p. 134). In this way, political activism functions in an analogous fashion to the mind control techniques of religious cults, whose members are kept busy from dawn until dusk precisely to prevent them reflecting on the efficacy of whatever it is they are supposed to be doing. From the point of view of a religious or political 'guru' this is a highly desirable state of affairs, since it makes their disciples very easy to control and prevents them finding time in which to think about breaking with the sect.
Max Nomad in the book Apostles Of Revolution (Secker and Warburg, London 1939, p 180) illustrates the influence of the Jesuits on Bakunin's thinking by quoting from a letter the 'revolutionary' wrote on 7/2/1870, at the very height of his 'anarchist' activity: 'Did you ever ponder over the principal reason for the power and vitality of the Jesuit Order? Shall I tell you the reason? Well, it consists in the absolute extinction of the individual in the will, the organisation, and the action of the community. And I am asking you: is this so great a sacrifice for a really strong, passionate and earnest man? It means the sacrifice of appearance for the sake of reality, of the empty halo for the sake of real power, of the word for the sake of action. This is the sacrifice which I demand from all our friends, and in which I am always ready to set the first example. I do not want to be I, I want to be We. For, I repeat it a thousand times, only on this condition will we win, will our idea win. Well, this victory is my only passion.'
This is the real doctrine of the founding father of anarchist activism, beneath all his fine rhetoric about 'freedom' and 'individuality,' he is utterly contemptuous of both. By demanding a choice between 'thought' and 'action,' the various groups and individuals infected with swamp fever are promoting a false dichotomy. Clearly, the material unfolding of the class struggle leads the proletariat to self-consciousness, and therefore to a unity of theory and practice, something swamp inhabitants rail against precisely because they don't operate from a proletarian perspective. As a pole of regroupment for 'revolutionary' anarchism, Green Anarchist is thoroughly Bakuninist in both its incoherent theorising and its reactionary activist practice. The Situationist Guy Debord, whose thought GA ludicrously claims to have synthesised into Green Anarchism, observed in Society Of The Spectacle (thesis 92): 'The viewpoint which fuses all partial desires has given anarchism the merit of representing the rejection of existing conditions in favour of the whole of life, and not of a privileged critical specialisation; but this fusion is considered in the absolute, according to individual caprice, before its actual realisation, thus condemning anarchism to an incoherence too easily seen through. Anarchism has merely to repeat and to replay the same simple, total conclusion in every single struggle, because this first conclusion was from the beginning identified with the entire outcome of the movement. Thus Bakunin could write in 1873, when he left the Fédération Jurassience: "During the past nine years, more ideas have been developed within the International than would be needed to save the world, if ideas alone could save it, and I challenge anyone to invent a new one. It is no longer the time for ideas, but for facts and acts." There is no doubt that this conception retains an element of the historical thought of the proletariat, the certainty that ideas must become practice, but it leaves the historical terrain by assuming that the adequate forms for this passage to practice have already been found and will never change.'
In an article entitled Anarchism Or Communism (International Review 79, Brussels Winter 1994), the International Communist Current quote a passage from Bakunin's Statism and Anarchy about 'chaotic and destructive' 'negative passion' in which 'the masses are always ready to sacrifice themselves' before commenting that: 'Such passages not only confirm Bakunin's non-proletarian outlook in general; they also enable us to understand why he never broke with an élitist view of the role of the revolutionary organisation. Whereas for marxism the revolutionary vanguard is the product of a class becoming conscious of itself, for Bakunin the popular masses can never go beyond the level of instinctive and chaotic rebellion: consequently, if anything more than this is to be achieved, it requires the work of a "general staff" acting behind the scenes. In short, it's the old idealist notion of a Holy Spirit descending into unconscious matter. The anarchists who never fail to attack Lenin's mistaken formulation about revolutionary consciousness being introduced into the proletariat from outside are curiously silent about Bakunin's version of the same notion.'
The work Lenin As Philosopher by the council communist Anton Pannekoek was first published in Amsterdam as long ago as 1938. In this book, Pannekoek demonstrated conclusively that Lenin was NOT a marxist. By quoting from pages 95 to 97 of the British edition (Merlin Press, London 1975), we can provide a sketch of a much more detailed argument: 'As a fight against absolutism, landed property, and clergy, the fight in Russia was very similar to the former fight of the bourgeoisie and intellectuals in Western Europe; so the thoughts and fundamental ideas of Lenin must be similar to what had been propagated in middle-class materialism, and his sympathies went to its spokesmen. In Russia, however, it was the working class who had to wage the fight... Hence Lenin gave to his materialism the name and garb of Marxism... There is a widespread opinion that the bolshevist party was marxist, and that it was only for practical reasons that Lenin, the great scholar and leader of Marxism, gave to the revolution another direction than what Western workers called communism , thereby showing his realistic marxian insight. The critical opposition to the Russian and C.P. politics tries indeed to oppose the despotic practice of the present Russian government , termed Stalinism , to the "true" Marxist principles of Lenin and old bolshevism. Wrongly so. Not only because in practice these politics were inaugurated already by Lenin. But also because the alleged Marxism of Lenin and the bolshevist party is nothing but a legend. Lenin never knew real Marxism. Whence should he have taken it? Capitalism he knew only as colonial capitalism; social revolution he knew only as the annihilation of big land ownership and Czarist despotism. Russian bolshevism cannot be reproached for having abandoned the way of Marxism, for it was never on that way. Every page of Lenin's philosophical work is there to prove it; and Marxism itself, by its thesis that theoretical opinions are determined by social relations and necessities, makes clear that it could not be otherwise.'
As Aileen Kelly points out in her book on Bakunin (page 267), Lenin expressed admiration for the doctrine of Bakunin's disciple Sergei Nechaev, who took his mentor's ideas about the 'invisible dictatorship' to a logically murderous conclusion. Indeed, Lenin's ideological debt to anarchism and related currents of Russian populism, is readily evident in the fact that he gave one of his tracts the title What Is To Be Done? (the name of a famous nineteenth-century novel by the nihilist Nikolai Chernyshevsky). While anarchists are willing to reprint both Nechaev's Catechism Of The Revolutionist and suitably doctored versions Bakunin's Revolutionary Catechism (the English translation in Sam Dolgoff's selection of Bakunin's writing bizarrely omits the first point), they show little willingness to assist in the dissemination of works such as Bakunin's Catechism Of A Freemason, which might offer the proletariat valuable insights into the exact nature of their plans for an 'invisible dictatorship.' At this point, we would like to make it clear that we consider early Freemasonry to have played a progressive role in consolidating bourgeois rule and thereby assisting in the liquidation of feudal social relations. However, while we thoroughly condemn the reactionary anti-Masonic movements led by adventurers such as Henry Dana Ward, William Wirt, Nesta Webster et al, and forcefully reject the idea that there has ever been an international Masonic conspiracy, we cannot ignore the fact that Freemasonry is an instrument of bourgeois rule, albeit one of minor significance in Northern Europe and North America.
Returning to Nechaev, he initially created a mystique around himself by going into hiding after spreading a false rumour that he'd been imprisoned in the Peter and Paul fortress. Sometime later, he reappeared and pretended he'd escaped from this impregnable prison. These are the tactics of the conman rather than the revolutionary, but they nevertheless impressed the extraordinarily credulous Bakunin. Kelly (page 263) describes how Bakunin's career as a professional 'revolutionary' reached its sordid peak when he provided Nechaev with 'a document declaring him to be an accredited representative of the Russian section of the "World Revolutionary Alliance" (an organisation invented on the spot by Bakunin) and, on the strength of the authority which this bestowed on him, founded a new secret society in Moscow, called The People's Revenge... Little is known about the organisation, but it seems never to have consisted of more than a few dozen members... Nechaev... demanded unquestioning obedience from his group in the name of the Alliance which he purported to represent. When one member of the group, a student named Ivanov, became suspicious of Nechaev's credentials, the later, on the pretext that Ivanov intended to betray the organisation, induced the three other members to collaborate with him in Ivanov's murder, which took place in November 1869. There was no evidence for Nechaev's accusation against Ivanov, the aim of the murder was apparently to cement the society by complicity in crime. The discovery of Ivanov's body by the police led to the uncovering of the secret society... The People's Revenge was destroyed.'
A more detailed account of Nechaev's career can be found in Nomad's Apostles Of Revolution. Paul Thomas in Karl Marx And The Anarchists (Routledge & Kegan Paul, London 1980, p. 293) observes that: 'The Nechaev episode shows that Bakunin's pre-occupation with reckless, marginal, déclassé elements in society was no mere abstract, doctrinaire commitment but one which he actually tried to put into practice, with dire and sinister results that did much to discredit Bakuninism in the International. Nechaev, who was made famous by Bakunin, himself practised what he preached, thus catching Bakunin short; he is best regarded, perhaps, as Bakunin's Bakunin , the protégé or disciple who becomes plus royaliste que le roi and reveals to his mentor the unwelcome logic of his own position. As such Nechaev might serve as the nemesis for Bakunin...' Of course, Bakunin was so indifferent about the social consequences of his doctrine that he didn't even bother breaking with Nechaev after the truth about the murder of Ivanov was revealed to him, and it was proven beyond any doubt that the vast conspiratorial organisation his protégé claimed to head was a chimera; the rupture finally came when the father of 'revolutionary' anarchism realised he'd been conned out of a considerable sum of money by his disciple, and that various incriminating documents had been stolen, most probably for the purpose of blackmail.
As populists, Green Anarchist, like Bakunin before them, throw the ideological justification for their activity together willy-nilly, anything is grist to the activists mill and they appear completely indifferent about the consequences of their actions; perhaps they don't believe there are any consequences to what they do. In Green Anarchist 38 (page 7) there is an article entitled Back To Basics? which attacks marxism, beneath this there is a more sophisticated piece of garbage by-lined to John Moore (a lecturer in the School of Creative, Cultural and Social Studies at Thames Valley University) about so called 'anarcho-primitivism' (are there any anarchist doctrines that aren't thoroughly primitive in their failure to unite theory and practice?). While Moore's piece clearly isn't marxist, it draws very heavily on the forms of marxism taken up by Fredy Perlman, that is to say the left communist tradition of Camatte and Bordiga. The anarchist Guy Aldred in his pamphlet Pioneers Of Anti-Parliamentarism (Bakunin Press, Glasgow 1940) admits: 'Bakunin was unquestionably inferior to Marx as a political economist. His economics are Marxist, and he subscribed enthusiastically to Marx's theory of surplus value and dissection of the Capitalist system. Bakunin believed in the materialist conception of history even more thoroughly than Marx.' Likewise, George Woodcock, another 'libertarian,' states in his Anarchism (Pelican, London 1963, p. 135) that Bakunin's 'best essays are short pieces produced for special occasions, with all the weaknesses of topical literature. Nor are the ideas one can cull from his writings very original, except when he talks of the organisation of revolutions; otherwise he says little that is not derived in some way from Hegel or Marx, from Comte or Proudhon.' Paul Thomas in Karl Marx And The Anarchists (p. 296) cites an unnamed document of 1871 in which Bakunin states: 'as far as learning was concerned, Marx was, and still is, incomparably more advanced than I.' Recently some swamp inhabitants have been talking about constructing a political theory by uniting the best of Marx with the best of Bakunin, but since anything within Bakunin's 'anti-system' that isn't thoroughly rotten is lifted straight from Marx, this is an utterly pointless exercise.
Bakunin's concept of the 'invisible dictatorship' found its practical realisation in Stalinism and Maoism (beneath a democratic facade, the secret police hold the real power in this type of totalitarian state), therefore it comes as no surprise that Green Anarchist is attracted to these models. Discussing Richard Hunt's ideological evolution in Green Anarchism: Its Origins and Influences (p. 13), Paul Rogers writes that: 'Pacifism was rife in the Ecology Party and Hunt was unfamiliar with Maoist doctrines of guerrilla warfare. If it had not been for these limitations, Hunt would have undoubtedly concluded Who's Starving Them? by noting that his idea of revolution on the periphery had elevated Mao's "war of the flea" to the level of a strategy for global economic and social transformation.' From Max Nomad's discussion of Bakunin's Revolutionary Catechism of 1866 in Apostles Of Revolution, it is more than apparent that Rogers fails to trace Hunt's ideas back through Maoism to the common source of both these doctrines in the shape of the founding 'father' of 'revolutionary' anarchism (Nomad p. 177): 'In short, the whole political and economic organisation was to be built up "from the bottom to the top and from the periphery to the centre according to the principle of free association and federation." ' From here, Nomad proceeds to discuss the influence of Bakuninism on Leninism (p. 178-9): 'The document called Organisation is to a certain extent even more revealing than the Revolutionary Catechism. It deals with the organisation of the revolutionary forces and distinguishes two different organisations: "The International Family properly speaking, and the National Families, the latter to be organised everywhere in such a way as to remain always subordinated to the absolute guidance of the International Family."
'The International Family was to consist of "International Brothers," of whom, in turn, there were two categories , "Honorary Brothers" and "Active Brothers." The Honorary Brothers were what nowadays would be called "angels," while the Active Brothers were the militants. The organisation was secret, and all members were subject to strict discipline. However, it was the duty of the secret organisation to build up open organisations wherever this was possible, the task of the latter being to win sympathisers.
'The International Brothers constituted the higher aristocracy among the conspirators of Bakunin's organisation. They were, so to speak, the "Bakuninists of the first rank" in the terminology of the Blanquist societies of the same period. Bakunin believed that about one hundred International Brothers would suffice for organising the world revolution. The "second rank" consisted of National Families, which "constitute a degree of apprenticeship as compared with the great International Family. The object of this subordinate organisation is, as far as possible, to connect the revolutionary elements available everywhere with the universal enterprise of the International Brothers." Moreover, "The National Family of each country is formed in such a way as to be subject to absolute and exclusive control by the International Society." Furthermore, "All members of the national Junta owes absolute obedience in all cases." Thus obedience, discipline, subordination, and penalties for infractions of the rules constitute the leitmotiv of this famous classic of... Anarchism.
'It so happens that all of these methods and principles now form the basis of the organisation of the Russian Communist Party and particularly of the Communist International. The complete subservience of all the national Communist Parties to the Executive Committee of the Communist International in Moscow; the arbitrary changes in party leadership by orders from Moscow; the nomination of all local party officials from above and not by election , it is all part and parcel of a preposterous paradox: that the unheard-of tyranny now exercised by the leadership of the Russian Communist Party is the intellectual child of a man who has gone down in history as the great enemy of all authority. (In fact the Bolshevik historian Steklov, admits that Bakunin's insistence upon the importance of a body of professional revolutionists was a sort of anticipation of Lenin's methods of organisation.) '
Like the flea, Bakuninism is a parasite that lives on the blood of real social movements. This is why Green Anarchism takes on board anything it thinks will appeal to potential supporters. There is no depth to Green Anarchism, its ideologists don't care whether or not their doctrine is coherent, what they're trying to project is an image that people will 'buy.' It is precisely because Green Anarchism has no substance that its handful of adherents become hysterical if anyone 'dares' to criticism them. In Green Anarchism: Its Origins and Influences (p. 17), Paul Rogers writes that he: 'attempted to build links with the media to raise GA's profile, much as Class War had done throughout the 1980s... This strategy met with small success. Following the 1990 riot in Trafalgar Square against the introduction of the poll tax, GA's editorial group were interviewed as part of a general media overview of the British anarchist movement. Later in that year, they were interviewed again after expressing their support for the attempted assassinations of the vivisectors Margaret Baskerville and Max Headley by anonymous animal rights militants.' Despite courting the media in this fashion, Green Anarchist 36 was dedicated to the theme 'the media sucks.'
Recently, Green Anarchist have attempted to build their reputation within the swamp on the back of the claim that the security services are trying to destroy them by spreading disinformation about Green Anarchism through the national press and other media outlets. As we have already pointed out, if the British state wishes to destroy Green Anarchist, it is perfectly capable of doing so. It would be tedious to examine every claim Green Anarchist has made about media misrepresentation, but those we have looked at don't hold any water whatsoever. The editorial in Green Anarchist 37 (page 21) claimed that the article Organised Chaos in the Independent of 25/10/94 contained an 'insinuation that GA is still associated with Richard Hunt,' when it actually stressed the desire of the current membership of GA to distance themselves from their ideological architect Richard Hunt.
Similarly, the editorial in Green Anarchist 38 disingenuously quoted the satirical leaflet Green And Brown Anarchist, which used humour to make a series of points, as if it was a piece of disinformation. In the same editorial, criticism of an anti-tax poster was distorted into being 'laughable' criticism of an anti-poll tax poster. The item in question doesn't mention the poll tax, and it would be bizarre indeed if Green Anarchist were still disseminating propaganda material on this issue long after the community charge had been abolished (as we stated in our leaflet Green Anarchism Exposed 'anti-tax agitation is a favoured tactic of the extreme right, since it diverts attention away from the root cause of alienation and instead attacks a by-product of capitalist relations'). As a campaigning issue, anti-tax agitation receives more attention from broad swathes of the American far-Right than any other topic; US extremists claim that liberal politicians tax the rural middle class and then spend the money on the inner cities in order to 'buy' the votes of the urban poor (the racial content of this argument is made more or less explicit depending to how close the groups and individuals utilising it are to the conservative mainstream). On the other hand, the fierce resistance to the poll tax in Britain arose precisely because it was a way of taking money from the deprived inner cities and redistributing it to suburban and rural toffs. The fact that Green Anarchist are seeking to confuse the sharp class distinctions between those who agitated against poll tax, and the ongoing campaign by far-Right extremists against tax as an alleged subsidy for the poor, demonstrates the way in which they create an ideological vortex or sucking pit.
THE ORGANISATION OF THE CULT
Since their ideology is completely incoherent, Green Anarchist are incapable of engaging in open debate, and instead demonise anyone who 'dares' to criticise them. Just as other fascists use code words such as 'bankers' to describe the non-existent conspiracy that they allege has been orchestrated against them, so Green Anarchist resort to smearing critics to their left as 'assets' of M15 or Special Branch. Green Anarchist's response to criticism is remarkably similar to that of their 'spiritual' father Bakunin, whose anti-semitic tirades eventually destroyed the First International. Kelly (page 231) quotes a typical example of Bakunin's contentless polemic: 'ridiculous inventions, falsification of principles and of facts, odious insinuations, cynical lies, infamous calumnies... a botched-up collection of all the dirty and absurd inventions that the German and Russian Jews, their friends, their agents, their disciples, with their wicked malice... have spread against us all...'
Given this propensity for empty rhetoric, it will not surprise anyone that Bakuninism in its more 'open' 'anarchist' (as opposed to its 'disguised' Leninist) forms has been a fraud and a sham in practice. As the 'libertarian' George Woodcock observes in his book Anarchism (p. 136), Bakunin's: 'admirers, admitting the thinness of his literary and theoretical claims, have usually countered with the contention that Bakunin was really significant as a man of action. Yet even his actions, dramatic as they were, often seem singularly ineffectual. He was involved in more pointless plots and more forlorn hopes than most other revolutionaries in an age peculiarly given to such ventures. He arrived too late for the active phase of the only successful uprising of his life, the February Revolution of 1848 in Paris; the five other insurrections, spread over the map of Europe, in which he took a leading part, were all either heroic disasters or comic fiascos. The secret societies he loved to invent were stillborn or expired early from internal dissensions. And at the end of it all he died a lonely man, out of the struggle to which he had devoted his life and deserted by his own anarchist followers.'
Bakunin was a fantasist who repeatedly claimed to head various vast international conspiracies, when in reality the secret societies he actually established never contained more than a handful of deluded members. Green Anarchist works in an analogous fashion, while its contacts list is made up of more than thirty addresses, we estimate that the Green Anarchist Network consists of approximately half a dozen individuals. We spoke to the Cambridge Anarchists who are listed by the Green Anarchist Network as its East Anglia co-ordinator, and they said they didn't really have anything to do with GA (although they were happy to be included on the contacts list). The Buckfastleigh address GA give as that of their South West England co-ordinator is also the national address for the Anarchist Communist Federation. Likewise, many other addresses on the GA contacts list actually belong to separate organisations. The Green Anarchist Network might look impressive on paper but in reality, like so many other Bakuninist fantasies, it doesn't really exist. GA wants to project itself as 'the invisible pilot at the centre of the popular storm' (the phrase is from Bakunin's notorious letter of 1870 to Albert Richard in which he details his conspiratorial methods), which is why it invites readers to send in details of 'political' actions, and these are then listed in tedious thumbnail outlines on page after page of the paper. These lists give GA the appearance of being the co-ordinating power behind this activity and in this fashion, their federalism is revealed as a form of centralism.
However, this is not to say that Bakuninism doesn't pose a real threat to the proletariat on the rare occasions it reaches any kind of critical mass. Engels in The Bakuninists At Work (written in 1873, quoted here from the pamphlet of the same name issued by Progress Publishers, Moscow 1976, p.26) concludes a detailed commentary by observing: 'As soon as they were confronted with a serious revolutionary situation, the Bakuninists were compelled to throw their whole previous programme overboard. To begin with they sacrificed their dogma of political, and above all electoral, abstention. Then came the turn of anarchy, the abolition of the State, instead of abolishing the State, they tried, on the contrary to set up a number of new small states. They went on to abandon their principle that the workers must not participate in any revolution that did not have as its aim the immediate and complete emancipation of the proletariat, and took part in a movement whose purely bourgeois character was patently evident. Finally, they trampled underfoot the principle they themselves had only just proclaimed , that the establishment of a revolutionary government is but a new deception and a new betrayal of the working class , by comfortably installing themselves in the government juntas of the separate towns, moreover almost always as an impotent minority, paralysed and politically exploited by the bourgeoisie.' As the ICC made crystal clear in International Review 79, 'Engels acerbic comments are indeed almost a prediction of what the anarchists were to do in Spain in 1936, albeit in a different historical context.'
In its desperate, but to date spectacularly unsuccessful, attempts to attain critical mass, Green Anarchist tries to suck all other swamp inhabitants into its depths, thus accelerating the process of decomposition. We have already mentioned the fact that the Anarchist Communist Federation share their national address with GA; the ACF openly tout their Bakuninism in the pamphlets Anarchism: As We See It and Basic Bakunin. While we are highly critical of the ACF's Bakuninism, on the basis of the article Overpopulation , Or A Bit Rich? (Organise! 38, April-June 1995, p. 10-12), we view their position on population as being both acceptable and utterly distinct from that of Green Anarchist; if Malthusianism is viewed as one of the tests of 'eco-fascism,' then GA and the ACF fall on opposite sides of the dividing line. We therefore find it strange that GA and the ACF should share an address. Apart from its PO Box in Buckfastleigh, the ACF simultaneously operates out of a mailing address in London provided by Freedom; and in this manner, the Kropotkinists are also sucked into the vortex of Green Anarchism. The Manchester based group Subversion collaborate with the ACF, although in their defence it must be admitted that they have issued public statements saying there are problems with Bakunin; since Subversion denounce Class War as leftists for supporting Republicanism, we don't understand why they think the ACF are acceptable. John Moore, whose work has been published in Green Anarchist, is closely associated with both the Bulletin Of Anarchist Research and the journal Anarchist Studies.
Likewise, the pro-situ Michel Prigent foolishly allowed himself to be taken in by GA's empty rhetoric and penned a letter to Freedom (27/5/95) in which he attacked the satirical leaflet Green And Brown Anarchist for containing the slogan 'long live death.' Although Prigent correctly identifies this slogan as something chanted by the Spanish fascists, he failed to understand the suitability of its use in this satirical context. The slogan 'long live death' was coined by Bakunin's close associate Aleksandr Herzen; the slogan is cited with accreditation to Herzen by Guy Aldred in his pamphlet Bakunin (Bakunin Press, Glasgow 1940, p. 29). As Richard Essex pointed out in his response to Prigent's epistle, (Freedom 10/6/95): 'It is perhaps a sad irony that someone who has dedicated much of their life to preserving the mythology of a movement which placed itself on the terrain of the game and the combination of humour with the serious business of overthrowing the state, should react in such a way.'
In article 19 of the second section of Catechism Of The Revolutionist (written in 1869, AK Press edition, Stirling 1989, p. 8), Nechaev announces under the general heading of The Attitude Of The Revolutionary Towards Society that: 'The fourth category consists of politically ambitious persons and liberals of various hues. With them we can conspire according to their own programmes, pretending that we are blindly following them, while in fact we are taking control of them, rooting out all their secrets and compromising them to the utmost, so that they are irreversibly implicated...' Although it does not appear to be a conscious policy on GA's part, this is exactly the effect association with GA is having on large swathes of the green and anarchist milieus. This is the central mechanism by which Green Anarchist's activities are accelerating the process of decomposition within the swamp, making it clear that sustained outbreaks of intransigent Bakuninism create a sucking pit from a vortex of baseless fantasies and outright lies. Having made this discovery with very little effort on our own part, we are left wondering why the ICC has failed to mention this phenomena in recent articles such as Anarchism Fails The Tests Of War And Revolution (World Revolution 177, December 93/January 94) or Breaking With Anarchism And The Swamp (World Revolution 185, June 95).
THE REIGN OF QUANTITY
Robin Ramsay in a piece entitled New Threats For Old? in Lobster 28 (December 1994, p.17-20) makes some interesting points about the conspiracy theories being peddled by Green Anarchist and their close associate Larry O'Hara; these concern the alleged fabrication of an eco-terrorist animal rights 'threat' by the security services and the national media: 'it isn't all being fabricated , or even amplified. If anything, the scale of the attacks , terrorism by most lights , by animal rights activists is being under reported. The state and the media appear to me to be colluding, not in the amplification or fabrication of an animal rights 'threat,' but in denying the animal rights 'guerrillas' publicity. This is certainly the impression you get if you read , and take literally , the "Diary Of Actions" printed in Green Anarchist.... Take the issue of Spring 1994. On page 2 they print half a page of such "actions" ranging from bombs sent, to "re-decorating" someone's house, and claim that there are 1800 of such "actions" annually, offering half a page as a "round-up" of some they know about. Little of this reaches the major media.'
The most important words in the quote from Ramsay are 'take literally,' since we have already demonstrated that GA cannot be trusted to supply reliable information about themselves or anyone else. As we have shown, swamp inhabitants are prone to grossly exaggerating the size and importance of their organisations and 'their' activities. While we do NOT believe that greens or anarchists are involved in any form of 'terrorist' activity at the time of writing, there is a danger that one or a small number of adventurers will become so excited by the dynamic being set up in the pages of Green Anarchist, that they will attempt to take up this extreme form of counter-revolutionary struggle; we can be certain that anyone who does so will have learnt nothing from the ignoble failures of the Weather faction of the SDS, who went 'underground' as a 'counter-cultural' 'vanguard' at the end of the sixties.
As Gianfranco Sanguinetti observes in On Terrorism And The State (Chronos, London 1982, p. 100): 'It is certainly not a question of "disagreeing" with terrorism in a stupid and abstract manner, like the militants of Lotta Continua do, and still less of admiring the "comrades who made mistakes" like the so called Autonomes do , who thus give the infamous Stalinists a pretext for preaching systematic deletion , but it is a matter of judging it purely on its results, of seeing who benefits from it, of clearly saying who practices terrorism, and what use the spectacle makes of it , and then it is a matter of drawing conclusions once and for all.
'Obliging everyone to continually take a position for or against mysterious and obscure incidents, prefabricated in reality for this precise end, this is the real terrorism, to continually compel the entire working class to declare itself against such and such attack, which everyone, excepting the parallel services, has no part in. This is what allows power to maintain the general passivity and the contemplation of this indecent spectacle, this is what permits trade union bureaucrats to reunite, under their anti-working class directives, the workers of each factory in struggle where a boss regularly gets shot in the legs.'
Right now the mysterious incidents are on the whole taking place in the deformed imaginations of Green Anarchist and Larry O'Hara. These creeps talk about spooks, security and Searchlight as if we hadn't heard it all before. Anarchy 36 (2nd series, summer 1983, p. 23-25) contains the article Sniper which, a dozen years ago, created a sensation in the swamp: 'Sniper shines the searchlight on Gerry Gable and illuminates some disturbing facts... Not only has Gable admitted, as part of his defence in the 1963/4 burglary trial, that he hoped to supply information to Special Branch on David Irving, but a confidential memorandum written by him to his producers in London Weekend Television... on 2 May 1977 gave clear, hard, evidence that he has also engaged in a two-way traffic of information with the security services of several countries, and acted as a conduit of misinformation for M15 against fellow journalists, and socialists.'
It appears that swamp inhabitants have no memory and no sense of history; this information was widely distributed and yet, for several years now, Larry O'Hara and GA have been whipping up hysteria among greens and anarchists by presenting it to them all over again. The same information has also been touted as the fruit of research by the National Front Security and Information Department, their version of it can be found in the pamphlet The Other Face Of Searchlight: Thuggery, Buggery, Arson and Whores (National Front Security and Information Department, London 1989). As we said in our leaflet Green Anarchism Exposed: 'Since Searchlight has never claimed to be a revolutionary organisation, it is absurd for Green Anarchist and O'Hara to expect it to behave like one. They might just as well attack the Spectator or the Daily Telegraph for the same reason, or rail against a horse because it isn't a zebra.' The logic of this argument also applies to the hysterical prose of Sniper, the National Front Security and Information Department and the anonymous author of White Lies: A Conspiracy to Promote Violence in the City of Leeds (Leeds Nationalist Council, 1995). Green Anarchist 38 (p. 12-14) provided Larry O'Hara with a forum for what basically amounted to an extended advert (including address and other ordering details) for the latter document, which ludicrously depicts Leeds BNP and their friends as a drinking club of 'decent folk' who are being persecuted by leftists and Special Branch.
Returning to Anarchy 36, pages 7 to 15 are taken up with A Wink, A Nod... Or A Shake Of The Hand, an exposé of Freemasonry by the hardcore Bakuninist Stuart Christie. This is followed by a hilarious, but unfortunately unattributed, article entitled The Frankfurt Bombings: Setting the Record Straight (p.16-18): 'Too late to make any changes as Anarchy 35 went to press, we learned that three of the bomb attacks against US military targets included in our report from West Germany (RZ , Bombing On!) were the work of a neo-Nazi cell based in Frankfurt. This sort of mistake (as Black Flag, who kindly pointed out that we should check our sources, well knows) is an occupational hazard for any publication rushing to meet a deadline. The US military has been a central target for the armed resistance of the German Left since the formation of the Red Army Faction in 1970. Confusion is bound to arise when the extreme Right begins to jump on the bandwagon of 'anti-imperialism,' even to the extent of using the same rhetoric. The Frankfurt bombings mark a new point of departure for the neo-Nazi para-militaries in Germany... They are symptomatic of the 'Third Position' (Nationalist Revolutionary) style of fascism currently enjoying popularity with the Nazi international...' History repeats itself, the first time as farce, the second as tragedy. No doubt the rush of deadlines also accounts for Larry O'Hara and Green Anarchist misidentifying individuals as spooks, the right as the left, the top as the bottom, and the centre as the periphery.
In a review of Hakim Bey's Radio Sermonettes in Green Anarchist 38 (p. 18), GA state that: 'His Tong is one of the best chapters on how and why secret societies may be the most useful form for revolutionary anarchist groups.' Here we see the old Bakuninist fantasy of the 'invisible dictatorship' being openly circulated once again; the Tong were actually one of a number of secret societies involved in the bloody suppression of the workers movement in China, the most notorious incidents taking place in Shanghai in 1927. The ICC in an article entitled A Link In the Chain Of Imperialist War (International Review 81, Summer 1995, p.14-19) comment that: 'On the 12th of April a massive and bloody repression organised by Chiang was unleashed in Shanghai. Gangs of lumpenproletarians from the secret societies who had always played the role of strike-breakers were let loose against the workers. The troops of the Guomindang , the supposed "allies" of the workers , were directly employed to disarm and arrest the proletarian militias. The proletariat tried to respond on the following day by declaring a general strike, but contingents of demonstrators were intercepted by troops, leading to numerous victims. Martial law was immediately imposed and all workers' organisations were banned. In a few days, five thousand workers were killed...' The usefulness of this in many ways commendable article, is limited by the ICC's failure to address the issue of how the Chinese anarchist movement responded to the repression. Arif Dirlik in Anarchism In The Chinese Revolution (University Of California Press, Berkeley 1991, p. 260-1) glosses over what he clearly considers to be an embarrassing episode with the comment that: 'It may be no coincidence that the meeting in Shanghai at which anarchists drew up their plans for activity within the Guomindang followed shortly on the heels of Chiang Kai-shek's suppression of communism, followed by a massacre not only of Communists but of Shanghai laborers as well.'
Equally disturbing is the way in which Green Anarchism appears to be reviving in a coded form, and probably quite unconsciously on the part of its activists, an aspect of Bakunin's ideology which has been dropped like a hot potato by most of his more recent apologists, that is to say his anti-semitism. As Norman Cohn notes in his book Warrant For Genocide: The Myth Of The Jewish World Conspiracy And The Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion (Pelican Books, London 1970, page 56): 'the latter-day revival of anti-semitism expressed above all the protest of traditional, rural society against the forces of modernity.' Ruralist ideology all to easily degenerates into tirades against 'city dwellers' and 'rootless cosmopolitan elements.' This type of sloganeering lay at the heart of Nazism, as is clear enough from formulations such as 'blood and soil.' Of course, in a post-capitalist society the relationship between the town and the countryside will be completely transformed, but this transformation will necessarily entail a widespread understanding of the practical tasks ahead, and will NOT reduce either the urban, the agricultural or any other landscape, to the status of abstract rhetorical categories of the type propagated by hate groups like Green Anarchist.
The fact that GA has no understanding of what the city or the countryside might be is readily evident in productions such as Neoist Leaflet Attacking Paul Rogers And Green Anarchist. Here, the Lancaster Bomber claim: 'Not living in cities, being quite close to the sea and the environment, we can see how nature is being really fucked up...' The logical implication of this assertion is that there is no environment in the city (according to GA, not living in the city places you 'close to the environment'), this is an absurdity because if cities lacked an environment, they would not be able to support life forms such as men and women; let alone a wide variety of wild life such as foxes, who thrive in environments where they are not threatened by the scum who pursue blood sports. Likewise, Lancaster Bomber claims: 'the cities themselves are seized with a kind of madness. (Have you ever stood on a motorway bridge and watched the cars rushing by?)' Rather than being a feature of cities, motorways run between cities, which is why the beginning (or end if you prefer) of the M1 is in the north London suburbs, miles away from the centre of town. As Jacques Camatte observes in Against Domestication (p.16): 'Today humanity can launch its battle against capital not in the city, nor in the countryside, but outside of both... The old opposition between city and country clearly no longer exists. Capital has urbanised the planet. Nature has become mineralised (made inorganic).'
The way in which Green Anarchist is creating a new variety of fascism, which projects itself as having emerged from the left, but actually has its roots in the right, can be seen most clearly in the 'novel' City-Death by Stephen Booth (Green Anarchist Books, Oxford, n.d., p. 205-7): 'Barrett saw that the city had to die. The city was the cancer which was killing all of humanity, and not just humanity, but all living things. He saw how the animals, the trees, the streams, the grass: All had a right to life, and did not deserve to be exploited. The city could only see the value of things in money, and even this in the end became worthless. The value of humanity had been disregarded. The value of growing things had been ignored. Life itself had been made to vanish inside the bottomless black felt top hat of politicians. Barrett knew that all the politicians had was that vacant smile and empty rhetoric. The value of the earth and all it contained had been split like the atom, or ground down and broken by The Machine. The callousness of their consumption world was plainly shown towards all living things standing in the path of their maniac regression. Progress! Progress! Even the words describing their obsession with destruction and consumption became empty. Value. Growth. The pigmy-people, squashed between their cramped-in, identical boxes could no longer vocalise their oppression. They became fish in the television goldfish-bowl, unable to see the water. The oppression became an integral part of their conceptual background. They became as empty as the city, they became void, dead behind the eyes. THE CITY HAS TO DIE!... He thought about the cold emptiness of the streets, the dull grey cityscape of those dreadful tower blocks, the sucked out meanness of the people. He thought about their constant poverty, the unhealthiness of it all. Their relentless thievery, their violence. THE CITY HAS TO DIE! The whole city was an act of theft, an act of violence against people everywhere. Why should we be forced, why should we be coerced, why should we be herded together like that? Cramped conditions bring about squashed and stilted people. They had never breathed free air, never turned over their own soil with a spade... Barrett thought about the glorious disconnectedness of Weston. It did not depend on anybody outside itself, and would defend itself against all-comers. It had no leaders, for We bow to no one and no outsiders could tell the people here what to do. All Trespassers will be shot... He could see the settlement a hundred years from now. It would be much the same, and the people in it would be similar. They would be free.'
Booth identifies the city with the working class and, like all hate propagandists, he dehumanises his victims because when they are no longer considered human, they can be disposed of with a 'clean conscience.' The people promised freedom are the petit-bourgeoisie, who will become a new peasantry totally in tune with the earth, and since their descendants are described as 'similar' to those currently working the 'settlement,' it seems logical to deduce from this that they are a racially homogenous group. Above all else this is a despotic community, xenophobia is its ideal: 'All Trespassers will be shot... ' There is to be no free association, no federation, and since everything outside this tiny community is considered hostile and alien, there will be no freedom. Booth is describing a static society, a notion which is intrinsically totalitarian. Although Green Anarchist present themselves to the public as 'radicals,' their ideology is a virulent and deeply conservative strain of xenophobia.
Booth doesn't seem to realise that his ideal community already exists, he could have found it on the David Koresh Branch Davidian ranch in Wacco; he could still find it in the compounds of the far-Right American militia movement. Booth's formulations are at times remarkably close to those of Nazi agriculture minister R. W. Darré in The Peasantry As The Life Source Of The Nordic Race (English translation from Nazi Ideology Before 1933: A Documentation introduced and translated by Barbara Miller Lane and Leila J. Rupp, Manchester University Press 1978, p. 103-4): 'To be a peasant means to be free... Back where the Nordic race began its characteristic single-household settlement, the herd instinct, probably natural in itself, was overcome, and from then on people evolved who were self-dependent and relied on their own abilities... To be a peasant means to know one's craft. The peasant must master every aspect of farm work... To be a peasant means to work on the farm, not to sit on it as a parasite...'
The similarities and differences between Booth's work and the ideas propounded in the Yesterday & Tomorrow: Roots of the National-Revolution anthology (Rising Press, London n.d., p.20), anonymously edited by members of the political soldier faction of the National Front, are also instructive. For example, the introduction to the political soldiers' selection of Viscount Lymington reads as follows: 'Lymington saw that modern farming techniques, using large quantities of artificial fertiliser and pesticides, are harmful to man and the entire environment. Furthermore, since most of the chemicals are imported, he realised that capitalist farming undermines Britain's self-sufficiency in food production, thus threatening famine in the event of war or economic blockade. Lymington was also worried by the effect of bad nutrition and pollution on the people of our cities, and by the appalling effects of mass Jewish immigration. In order to combat these dangers, Lymington proposed a back-to-the-land movement, aimed at making Britain self-sufficient in food produced on small farms owned by free and prosperous yeoman farmers.'
While GA claim to be 'pro-situ,' Booth appears to know nothing about the Situationists desire to realise and suppress art (let alone how to transcend the SI's rather limited formulation). In City-Death he comes out with the usual reactionary clap-trap about culture (p. 202-3): 'The Subverted Image... did not get any official publicity, but it displayed work by all the best controversial and officially ignored artists. People queued up before gallery opening time. What an event! At the end, after several months, the authorities had pulled the plug by threatening the gallery management... Through... (words and pictures) people were free. The system cannot tolerate that... Mark Lewis is dead, but his work still has the power to influence us. Only pictures and words, but through these people were not under control. In their minds they could still be free. Revolt through art. That's why the state wants to control art. That's why the exhibition was stamped out, and the bookshop raided... In Nazi Germany, Goebbels burned the books. In Disneyland, what they don't want you to read just don't get published... The official publication channels only follow the false and empty agenda of literary Freemasonry. There's such an overwhelming weight of crap about that you can't hear the people who really have something to say.'
If Booth took the trouble to read texts by Joseph Goebbels, he'd discover that his attitude towards art and a number of other issues is remarkably similar to that of the Nazi propaganda minister. For example, from Goebbels only novel Michael (English translation Amok Press, New York 1987, p.14): 'I don't like "professional" poets, or rather, "writers." A real poet is something like an amateur photographer of life. After all, a poem is nothing but a snapshot from an artistic soul. Art is an expression of feeling. The artist differs from the non-artist in his ability to express what he feels in some form or other. One artist does it in a painting, another in clay, a third in words, and a fourth in marble , or even in historical forms. The statesman is also an artist. For him, the nation is exactly what the stone is for the sculptor. Führer and masses, that is as little of a problem as, say, painter and colour.' Goebbels would no doubt view Booth as a 'great poet,' whereas we consider GA's failed 'novelist' a talentless hack; Booth has nothing to say, and even if he did, he does not know how to say it. Booth's 'writing' is simply more white noise preventing those who don't know how to listen from hearing any of the many voices with something worthwhile to say.
It may seem perverse to have quoted so extensively from Booth's 'novel' City-Death, but we wanted to deal with a wide range of material published by Green Anarchist. Incredible as it may seem, it appears from the GA Mail Order Service listing to be found in Green Anarchist 38 (as well as earlier issues of the paper) that City-Death and Even Eden, another 'novel' by Stephen Booth, are the only books GA has published (two other books are offered for sale on the most recent GA mail order list, but one was produced by Phoenix and the other by AK Press). Even more extraordinary is the fact that, discounting Richard Hunt's earlier texts, the pamphlet Green Anarchism: Its Origins and Influences is, as far as we can ascertain, GA's only 'sustained' statement of its 'theory' and 'principles.' Therefore, we were forced to concentrate on these thin works because there was nothing else apart from the Lancaster Bomber and GA's 'agitational' paper. As we have demonstrated in, for example, our text The Anatomy Of A Smear, GA's current 'theories' are simply Richard Hunt's far-Right agenda tarted up with large doses of incoherent leftist rhetoric.
Finally, we would like to make it clear that we realise that Green Anarchist imagine themselves to be 'good people' and that since they have already shown themselves unable to refute the charges we have made against them, it is likely they will resort, yet again, to attempts at smearing the individuals they imagine were involved in the production of this text. We have amply demonstrated that GA lied about the content of various criticism we've made of their ideology (see, in particular, our text The Anatomy Of A Smear). In the past, Bakuninists have used other tactics against their critics, but since unlike the Bordigists, we do not consider the whole of Marx's works to be a description of communism, it is not so easy to apply them against us. We agree with much of what Mustapha Khayati wrote in Captive Words: Preface to a Situationist Dictionary (Internationale Situationiste 10, Paris 1966, English translation from Knabb, p. 171): 'To salvage Marx's thought it is necessary continually to make it more precise, to correct it, to reformulate it in the light of a hundred years of reinforcement of alienation and the possibilities of negating it. Marx needs to be detourned by those who are continuing on this historical path, not idiotically quoted by the thousand varieties of recuperators.'
The present essay is not really aimed at the handful of individuals who constitute GA, our most immediate task is to warn the milieu in which Green Anarchist attempts to operate about what happens to those sucked into the vortex of Bakuninist fantasy; and while we wish to make shame more shameful by making it public, we have no desire to demonise the individuals criticised in this text. Jacques Camatte in Against Domestication (p. 15) states that: 'If right from the outset certain people are denied all possibilities of humanity, how can they subsequently be expected to emerge as real human beings? So it is as human beings that they must be confronted... When the conflict comes, as it inevitably will, there should be no attempt to reduce the various individuals who defend capital to the level of "bestial" or mechanical adversaries; they have to be put in the context of their humanity, for humanity is what they too know they are a part of and are potentially able to find again. In this sense the conflict takes on intellectual and spiritual dimensions. The representations which justify an individual person's defence of capital must be revealed and demystified; people in this situation must become aware of contradiction, and doubts should arise in their minds.' We have again turned to Camatte, not because we are in complete agreement with him, but because close study of his text might help GA abandon their reactionary perspectives. To make something constructive out of the current situation, the most effective strategy Green Anarchist could adopt is to dissolve itself, which would at least demonstrate a belated willingness to deal sensibly with our criticisms.
by "Luther Blissett" (aka Stewart Home in this instance)
This essay first appeared in Green Apocalyse
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