Tuesday, July 09, 2019

...I'm not particularly proud of this, but now that it's done I may as well post it here as well.

The origin of this dates back from about 15 years ago, when I had some ideas bouncing around my head, and was toying with the idea of writing a long political manifesto.

I thought about it for a few months, and then never wrote it.  That is the fate of most of my ideas for long epic blog posts.  (And let's face it... that's probably just as well.)

Vlogging, however, allows me to have a shot at the same subject matter without having to do the hard work of writing or paragraphing.  So now that I've started vlogging, it occurred to me that I could perhaps tackle this subject after all.

There were a couple other things that pushed this subject to the front of my brain recently:
* I've been going back and making youtube videos of my old book reviews from 12 years ago, so I've been reminded about a lot of the books I used to read on Anarchism.
* I've been spending way too much time on Leftist Youtube lately, and have discovered there's a whole community of Anarchist youtubers.  (Including another American guy who's also living in Vietnam like me.)  And I've been thinking "Hey! I also know something about this!" So I got the urge to chime in with my own two cents.

The wife and baby were away last week, so I had the apartment to myself, and filmed some videos. I made a rough outline to try to keep myself on topic (something that has been a problem in previous Vlogs).  My notes are HERE, and also posted below. But I didn't get through all the points I had outlined.

As it turned out, the subject was too big, even with the camera on.  (Maybe especially with the camera on.  Writing at least forces you to think about your word choices, but video encourages rambling).

Anyway, for whatever it may be worth, here is my vlog on anarchism

A. Preliminaries
Vlog series, rambling, notes
My history--activist scene.  At first I mocked anarchists. (high school and college education). Media Mouse (Anarchists in Grand Rapids), Reading (History/Biography mainly, not philosophy Melbourne 2010).  Nowadays: not particularly political, no group loyalty, dangers of tribalism
Disclaimer--Other people know this better, Not an expert, Not fresh in memory, Rambling, video time limit, mispronounce French names
Why do? Self-indulgence, (at a coffeehouse talk), possibly clear some stuff up. Invite corrections, Booktube tie in
Structure: What it is, History, arguments for and against.
B. What is Anarchism
Anarchism is difficult to define, and has a lot of different varieties.  Example, the conference I went to.  Anarchists resist strict categorizations.  (Although there are some doctrinaire anarchists.)
Dictionary definition misleading--but same with many political ideologies (Democrats, Republicans, National Socialists, etc).  Historical tradition is more important than definition. Anarchist history 1870s to 1930s.
Anarchism is not anarchy in the sense of chaos (James Bond villain.  Organized anarchism is not an oxymoron).
anarchy= an (no) archy (government/ruler) e.g. monarchy, oligarchy.  Does it mean no government or no ruler?
Usual description: no unjustified hierarchies.  Hierarchy has got to justify itself. (parent/child, ship on high seas)
Anarchism comes out of Socialist tradition--Is this strange?
Common misconceptions: Socialism is higher taxes, Obama-care, etc.  But this is actually welfare state within capitalism
Also: Marx didn’t create Socialism.  Socialist movement from 1820s.
Common misconceptions about capitalism--buying and selling.
History textbooks often say Capitalism emerged in the 18th century.  I found this confusing
Capitalism: shareholders (stockholders) get the profits from the company, not the workers.  (By definition, then, the workers are not being paid the value of their labor, since the profits go to the shareholders).
Socialism: workers control the means of production= workers control the company. (Private property)
Makes sense with anarchism--abolishment of hierarchies.
7. So...It’s on a scale.  Absolute state control of factories (e.g. Stalinism or Maoism) is opposite of anarchism.  But some forms of decentralized democratic socialism are quite close to (or equivalent to) more organized schools of anarchism.  (My experience debating Socialists).  Some of the difference is what tradition you want to identify yourself with. Libertarian Socialism
8. Anarchism: small communes organized into federations.  Direct democracy or recallable elected representatives.  Consensus democracy. (Consensus minus 1).
9. Anarcho-communism versus anarcho-syndicalism.

B. History
Antiquity--Modern (after French Revolution) Max Stirner
Proudhon, Bakunin, Kropotkin
First to self-identify as anarchist. Famous dialogue (But Bakunin often seen as founder). Proudhon more in Socialist tradition. (Against violence)
Biographies: Couldn’t find on Amazon.  Revolutions of 1848 by Priscilla Robertson (Part in the Revolution)
Also, feud with Marx (Marx feuded a lot): Philosophy of Poverty/ Poverty of Philosophy.  Any biography
Dark side of Proudon: anti-semitism (but not major), Patriarchal
Property is theft
4. Bakunin
Russian aristocratic family:
Bakunin also involved in Revolutions of 1848 (Revolutions of 1848 by Priscilla Robertson)  With Wagner (Wagner: A Documentary Study edited by Herbert Barth, Dietrich Mack, Egon Voss)
Imprisonment in Russia, escape to Japan-USA-Europe
Feud with Marx--
Bakunin’s darkside: antisemitism (Francis Wheen: Karl Marx A life), also his love of conspiracies (anti-democratic) Sergey Nechayev; Catechism of a Revolutionary.  Careless about Revolutions (not like Marx).  Also not as brilliant as Marx
But… critiques of Marx still hold (Isaiah Berlin) We believe power corrupts those who wield it as much as those who are forced to obey it. Under its influence, some become greedy and ambitious tyrants, exploiting society in their own interest, or in that of their class, while others are turned into abject slaves. Intellectuals, positivists, doctrinaires, all those who put science before life…defend the idea of the state and its authority as being the only possible salvation of society-quite logically, since from their false premises that thought comes before life, that only abstract theory can form the starting-point of social practice…they draw the inevitable conclusion that since such theoretical knowledge is at present possessed by very few, these few must be put in control of social life, not only to inspire, but to direct all popular movements, and that no sooner is the revolution over than a new social organization must be at once be set up; not a free association of popular bodies…working in accordance with the needs and instincts of the people but a centralized dictatorial power concentrated in the hands of this academic minority, as if they really expressed the popular will….The difference between such revolutionary dictatorship and the modern State is only one of external trappings. In substance both are a tyranny of the minority over the majority in the name of the people-in the name of the stupidity of the many and the superior wisdom of the few-and so they are equally reactionary, devising to secure political and economic privilege to the ruling minority, and the…enslavement of the masses, to destroy the present order only to erect their own rigid dictatorship on its ruins.
End of life: (The World That Never Was: A True Story of Dreamers, Schemers, Anarchists, and Secret Agents by Alex Butterworth...and Bakunin, An Invention by Horst Bienek
Workingman’s International--1872 expulsion (and New York) Jura Federation--1876
5. Kropotkin
I’ve read about the least--but he has the best reputation (reasonable, no crackpot.)
The Great French Revolution --A People’s History of the World by Chris Harman
Supported World War I-- Marxists always bring this up (Emma Goldman autobiography)
6. Paris Commune
Big in Marxist and Anarchist mythology, but ultimately an unplanned revolution.  (Marx warned against it).  Working class revolution, but ideology confused
Anarchist--City autonomous.  Recallable delegates (Bakunin at Lyon the year before)
Marx--name associated with it, but delayed Isaiah Berlin, Paris Commune, Revolution and Reaction
Revolution went off--election Jacobin (Blanquist) majority, Proudhonist Socialist Minority (anarchist), Louise Michel (Louise Michel by Edith Thomas)
"The most fundamental split in the Commune so far had taken place, and henceforth its Assembly would consist of a Majority and Minority faction; the one, controlled by Jacobins, wanting to exercise dictatorship and terror--the methods of '93--and blaming the failures of the Commune upon the sentimentality of the Socialists; the other desiring to govern by reasonably democratic methods, to observe moderation in order to leave, as Rochefort put it, 'the door at least half open to conciliation'. In the light of twentieth-century history, it seems perhaps ironical that the exponents of democracy and moderation should have been chiefly the Internationalists, the forefathers of Lenin's Bolsheviks."--The Fall of Paris by Alistair Horne
Brutal repression--future violence
7. Propaganda of the Deed
assassinations--targeted and not so targeted (The World That Never Was: A True Story of Dreamers, Schemers, Anarchists, and Secret Agents by Alex Butterworth)
8. Anarchism in the United States
Haymarket massacre 1886
Emma Goldman (Living my Life)
Homestead Strike--Henry Clay Frick--Attempted Assassination
Socialist Critique of this--undemocratic--Emma Goldman sort of realizes this later in life
Leon Czolgosz--assassinated President of the United States (Weird, isn’t it?)  Inspired by anarchists in Europe (witnessed police brutality).  Not allowed in any anarchist group, and yet he self-identified as an anarchist.  (Brings up problems of self-identification, group responsibility).  Disavowed by anarchists, except Emma Goldman.
9. China--attraction to anarchism in 1910s and 1920s--Chinese Communist Party largely made up of anarchists until Cominterm, Chen Duxiu used to be anarchist, sons anarchist
10. Korea--anarchists in 1910s
11. Japan
1910 crackdown--accused of killing the emperor
Osugi Sakae (Sakae Osugi) Memoirs of an anarchist--childhood, Osugi Sakae: Anarchist in Taisho Japan by Thomas Stanley. Free love scandal.  Murdered by police in 1923 (precursor to crackdown).
People my age didn’t know him, but 1968 generation did.  Anarchist versus socialist.  (Chomsky)
12. Spain--Spanish Civil War
Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell

Holocaust (120,000 buses), Stalin secret police Gulag
Manhattan project
anarchist space program

Vlog: Anarchism

Anarchist in Grand Rapids:


Part 2: Anarchism

Books Mentioned:

Biographies of Marx:



Part 3: Anarchism

Books Mentioned:
Bakunin, An Invention by Horst Bienek

The World That Never Was: A True Story of Dreamers, Schemers, Anarchists, and Secret Agents by Alex Butterworth

Revolutions of 1848 by Priscilla Robertson

Karl Marx: A Life by Francis Wheen

Karl Marx: His Life and Environment by Isaiah Berlin

Wagner: A Documentary Study edited by Herbert Barth, Dietrich Mack, Egon Voss

Living My Life by Emma Goldman:

A People's History of the World by Chris Harman

Books Mentioned:

Living My Life by Emma Goldman:

The Civil War in France by Karl Marx:

Revolution and Reaction: The Paris Commune 1871 by John Hick and Robert Tucker

Karl Marx: His Life and Environment by Isaiah Berlin

Revolutions of 1848 by Priscilla Robertson

The Fall of Paris by Alistair Horne

The World That Never Was: A True Story of Dreamers, Schemers, Anarchists, and Secret Agents by Alex Butterworth

Louise Michel by Edith Thomas

Playlist HERE

Addendum 1 HERE
Addendum 2 HERE


Whisky Prajer said...

You managed to cover all that in a mere three hours? I'm impressed! FWIW my more long-winded posts are often the byproduct of suddenly being bereft of wife and progeny.

Joel Swagman said...

Actually I didn't. I got right up to Emma Goldman at the end of video 4, and then just gave up trying to do a complete historical overview after that. Then for video 5, I just skipped ahead straight to the end for my personal thoughts on the arguments for and against anarchism. And decided to cut my losses after that.

Joel Swagman said...

Speaking of your longer posts, I enjoyed the post on Larry Norman. I had no idea who the man was before, but the post was interesting.

By the way, this is probably as good as place as any to apologize for not keeping up with the comment-love lately. I keep meaning to drop a line just to let you know I'm reading, but often find that when I'm first reading a post, I have nothing intelligent to say about, and then often forget to go back and comment later once I've had time to digest. The post about Larry Norman was interesting, but having had no idea of who the man was previously, I had nothing really intelligent to add to it. I had the opposite problem with the posts on "The New Agenda for Tech" where I had too many thoughts after watching the video, and needed some time to think about them, and then just never came back to put my thoughts into writing in the comments.

But I've still been enjoying your blog, whether I chime in or not, so keep those long posts coming.

Whisky Prajer said...

Ha! Thanks for saying so, Joel. Blows me away that you had no awareness of LN, though! You're a younger man, but we've traveled similar circles which could have intersected at various points -- I would have thought this could be one such. He was far and away the biggest fish in the Christian Rock pond, for nearly three decades. Goes to show you (well, me, at any rate) just what a backwater puddle that scene truly is in the grand cultural circus.

Joel Swagman said...

Okay, I've spent some time Googling him, and it does sound like indeed I should have heard of him. Except I never did.
I could give you some names of Christian Contemporary Musicians who were big in my circles in the late 80s/ early 90s. But in my community, there was no historical memory of Christian rock.
A lot of the cool kids in high school were into classic rock (Hendrix, Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin, etc). And a lot of the more religious ones were into Christian music. But there was no intersection of the two--no appreciation for any classic rock Christian music.
...at least that's my best explanation.