Sunday

Saartje


Saartje liked to play the music of the Dutch band De Kift in her caravan for me. "It's great!", she said. She really liked that poetry in Dutch put on music. Soon after that, Saartje moved to another city. She was young and active in the libertarian left of 'our' city for many years. She had lived for a long time in the Antwerp neigbourhood of the alternative youth center Scheld'apen, in a caravan standing on squatted terrains.
One day, she told me Hugo Schiltz was mad at her. Schiltz was one of those well-known politicians in the region, and a member of the Ultraright as a youngster in the forties, he has always been a supporter of Flemish nationalism too. Schiltz was a lawyer and tried to get her sentenced for a thing that happened at the squatted terrain, a crime she had not commited. She was convicted and had to pay a lot of money.
And then Saartje died last year. De Kift played in Antwerp at the day of her funeral. Just like yesterday : it was a really good concert at Scheld'apen. After they had performed, I talked to the singer. "You're too old for Scheld'apen", I said... and we both laughed. Hugo Schiltz has died too.

Manuel Castells and neo-anarchism

Manuel Castells (picture) has had a significant impact on sociology, urban studies, communication, and many other fields. He is best known in Spain and Latin America, where he regularly contributes columns to daily newspapers. What follows is a long comment on an essay that he published in Catalonia’s La Vanguardia on May 21, 2005. If you want to read the entire text, you can find the translation in English of it here.



I have some problems with this text. Castells says that anarchism “seems to enjoy excellent health in the social movements that sprout everywhere from the depths of the resistance to our increasingly destructive global social order.” I would not agree with this, social movements are not sprouting everywhere and anarchism isn't enjoying excellent health.
It is enough to follow the debates in the movement against capitalist globalization, online or otherwise, to note the prevalence of anarchist principles such as self-organization and the rejection of the state in any form”. Maybe so, but a lack of organization (often an anarchist principle) in this movement is also very present.
Likewise, the autonomist perspective, which is so closely linked to anarchism, has a very strong presence on the theoretical and political terrains.” That's not true, autonomism isn't that much theoretical or political, it can also just be sometimes about fighting in the streets or throwing bricks at people. Ofcourse, I'm not saying that Negri and Hardt do that. But France’s May ‘68 revolt, I guess these writers have been much inspired by that event, was also about these violent things happening in the streets of Paris.
Anarchism’s great difficulty has always been reconciling personal and local autonomy with the complexities of daily life and production in an industrialized world on an interdependent planet. And here technology turns out to be anarchism’s ally more so than Marxism’s.”
I'm much more interested in a social revolution than in personal or local autonomy actually. People have to work together, communes too. I don't know why Castells is so positive about autonomy, people often need support from others. I prefer the things Murray Bookchin has written about autonomy at the end of his life, he wasn't that positive about autonomy either, it's just too much individualistic. And to think of technology as an ally of anarchists? Many anarchists don't like the fact that technology is so important these days, some of them have even opposed technology.
And instead of the nation-state controlling territory, we have city-states managing the interchange between territories.” That cities have become statified is largely the result of nation-states controlling territory. And with a striving for utopia one not always dreams, Castells is wrong about that too, it can be realistic to strive for utopias. Then Castells wants us to believe that anarchists don't believe in God and that socialism is settling into retirement.
With ideology one struggles. Anarchism is an ideology. And neo-anarchism is an instrument of struggle that appears commensurate with the needs of the twenty-first century social revolt.”
I think anarchism was a lot more suitable for struggle in the 19th century. Authentic anarchism is not an ideology, it's several ideologies in one package. Some of its most known proponents, have not cried out “no God, no master!”. The christian-anarchist Tolstoyans have never done that for example. And authentic socialism that is “settling into retirement”? It's regaining its strength in Europe and Latin America, it's not much libertarian either.

Saturday

The undemocratic thoughts of Wolfi Landstreicher

Wolfi Landstreicher is the name of a contemporary activist. He has edited the anarchist publication Willful Disobedience, which was published from 1996 until 2005, and currently publishes a variety of anarchist texts and booklets through his project, Venomous Butterfly Publications. "Landstreicher" is the German word for vagabond, tramp.



Landstreicher is an insurrectionist, he thinks an individual should rise up in open revolt against her or his condition (individual insurrection) and wants “a destructive, subversive rupture on the large scale with the current social order”, indeed, the rising of “the exploited and excluded classes against their condition (social insurrection). “ Now, I never believed much in the importance of destruction, I nowadays think it is really important to revolt in a constructive way, by advocating true democracy, educating people and myself, working together with others.
This is why I really dislike individualist anarchism. While Landstreicher thinks that daily acts of sabotage, theft, subversion and revolt of exploited people are interesting, I think such acts are often badly informed, and can also just be personalistic revolts or deeds of despair. While Wolfi Landstreicher sees no dichotomy between individualism and libertarian communism, I do. And I also see individual revolts as something really differing from class struggle. Individual revolt often is unorganized behaviour. But class struggle can only be successful when it's organized well. While Landstreicher thinks of freedom as something that is opposed to democracy, I and other communalists see democracy as a necessary condition for freedom. Democracy should be deepened and established in confederations of communes. Democracy should therefor become authentic, not often be faked or “representative”.
“At present, capitalism and the socio-political system that best corresponds with it—democracy—dominate the planet”, writes Landstreicher in one of his pamphlets. But capitalism is not at all democratic, in fact it is close to the totalitarian. The anarchist perspective of Landstreicher is egoist and communist at the same time, which is very eclectic. I believe in ecological industrialism, he opposes industrialism. I think institutions of property, commodity exchange and work can sometimes lead to some liberation, he wants to destroy them. No, I am not an ecological anarchist.

Anarchoprimitivism and corporate media

Brian Oliver Sheppard (2003):
With the rise of the anti-corporate globalization movement in recent years, the primitivist problem has assumed a new urgency. Whereas in the past primitive thinkers were consigned to the margins of the movement by virtue of the absurdity of their ideas, a recent absence of lively, mass class struggle activism has allowed primitive thinkers to exert greater influence. The onus is on traditional anarchists to take the movement back, and force primitive thinkers to their previous place on the sidelines.

Not to be discounted, either, is the influence of the corporate media, which has taken primitivism and situated it front and center, presenting it to the public as the lifeblood of a 21st-century anarchist resurgence. Primitivism, the corporate media tells us, is the "new" anarchism - and young adults, hungry for any ideas that point to a way out of the capitalist ghetto, sometimes believe it, and sign up. The popularity of the anti-corporate globalization movement holds much promise for anarchism; the media's attempts to associate it with primitive ideas, however, does not.

Time magazine, for example, ran two articles in 2001 on John Zerzan and the cult-like following he has attracted in his home town of Eugene, Oregon (among other places). And a few years prior, Time bestowed the title "king of the anarchists" upon primitivist/Unabomber Ted Kaczynski in one of the more than 30 articles they devoted to him. The December 13, 1999, issue of Newsweek featured a picture of anarcho-syndicalist Noam Chomsky with images of Zerzan and convicted murderer Kaczynski beside him; the publication associated all three as leading lights of modem anarchist thought. NPR, 60 Minutes, and other news outlets have given air time to the absurd proclamations of John Zerzan even as the unofficial media ban of Noam Chomsky and other more capable analysts continues. Again, as Fabbri, noted: "[A]nd so anarchism comes to be known precisely for the illogical character and ridiculousness which ignorance and bourgeois calumny have attributed to anarchist doctrines."



The effect of the media's focus on anarchism's most embarrassing side has been advantageous for elites; by focusing laser like on the looniest elements of anarchism, the entire movement can be marginalized and discredited. This follows a historical pattern in which anarchist activists are ignored by the establishment until one does something so antisocial or outlandish that elites can score cheap points by reporting it. If the public sees only the primitivist wing of anarchism, it will be unlikely to support anything associated with anarchism. Understandably, few people want to support something that is hostile to the life-saving medical care, information technology, and electronic entertainment they enjoy.

The media's gravitation towards primitivism has pressured other parts of the anarchist movement to accept it as well. The University of Michigan's Joseph A. Labadie collection, commonly regarded as an "archive of record" for the anarchist movement, recently decided to admit the papers of unabomber Theodore Kaczynski into its vaults. This includes interviews where Kaczynski reports on attempts to have a dialogue with terrorist Timothy McVeigh, dragging again the shadiest figures of modem politics into anarchist history. The shelving of Kaczynski's murderous Unabomber Manifesto alongside classics by Emma Goldman and others is presumably something the anarchist community will have to live with. The acquisition is of further irony, given that the figure for which the University of Michigan's archive is named, labor activist Joseph Labadie, favored public control over industrial society, not a Kaczynski-style mail bombing of it. As well, Kaczynski admirer John Zerzan works with a self-styled "Green Anarchy" collective in Oregon. When Z Magazine editor Michael Albert approached John Zerzan to debate primitivism, Zerzan ultimately sniffed, "As an anarchist, I'm not interested."

Tuesday

Murray Bookchin in Dutch

1964

“Ecology and Revolutionary Thought,” under the pseudonym Lewis Herber
translated into Dutch as “Ekologie en revolutionair denken,” in Ekologie en anarchisme (1977)

1965

Crisis in Our Cities, under the pseudonym Lewis Herber (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall)
translated into Dutch as Stikkende Steden

1967

“Post-Scarcity Anarchism,” written Oct. 1967-Dec. 1968
translated into Dutch as “Anarchisme in het tijdperk na de schaarste,” in Ekologie en anarchisme (1977), online.

1973

“Toward an Ecological Society,” lecture to Future World Lecture Series, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Feb. 19, 1973
translated into Dutch as “Naar een ekologiese maatschappij,” in Ekologie en anarchisme (1977)

1974

“Radical Agriculture,” written Sept. 20, 1974
translated into Dutch as “Radicale Landbouw,” by André Bons, in De AS, no. 130-131 (Summer 2000)

1975

“Energy, Ecotechnocracy, and Ecology,” Liberation (Feb. 1975)
translated into Dutch as “Energie, ‘ekotechnologie,’ en ekologie,” in Ekologie en anarchisme (1977)

1979

“Self-Management and the New Technology,” address to international conference on self-management, Venice, Italy, Sept. 28-29, 1979
translated into Dutch as “Zelfbestuur en de Nieuwe Technologie” (Bas Moreel, NL-Wageningen, Feb. 1980), brochure

1984

“Theses on Libertarian Municipalism,” written Sept. 9, 1984
translated into Dutch as Stellingen over libertair municipalisme,” in Eerste Jaarboek Anarchisme, ed. Wim de Lobel and Hans Ramaer (Moerkapelle: De AS, 1994), pp. 135-50

Interview by Peter Einarsson, Stockholm, Oct. 22, 1984
translated into Dutch as “Murray Bookchin: Het anarchisme was als het breken van een schaal,” De Vrije (n.d.)

1987


“Social Ecology versus ‘Deep Ecology’: A Challenge for the Ecology Movement,” written Jun. 1987
translated into Dutch as “Social Ecology versus ‘Deep Ecology’: Een uitdaging voor de ecologische beweging,” Perspectief (Apr.-Jun. 1989), pp. 11-42

1989


Remaking Society: Pathways to a Green Future (Montreal: Black Rose Books)
excerpts translated into Dutch as “Over Vrijheidsidealen,” by Marius de Geus, in De AS: Anarchistisch Tijdschrift [Rotterdam] 94 (Apr.-Jun. 1991), pp. 20-22

“Radical Politics in an Era of Advanced Capitalism,” Green Perspectives, no. 18 (Nov. 1989) (a revised version of “Society, Politics, and the State”)
translated into Dutch as “Radicale politiek in een tijdperk van voortdurend kapitalisme,” by Simon Radius, in De AS: Anarchistisch Tijdschrift [Rotterdam] 91 (Jul.-Sept. 1990), online.

1990

“The Meaning of Confederalism,” written Nov. 3, 1990
translated into Dutch as “De betekenis van het Confederalisme,” in De AS: Anarchistisch Tijdschrift [Rotterdam] 93 (Jan.-Mar. 1991), online.

1991

“The Left That Was: A Personal Reflection,” written Apr. 3, 1991
portions translated into Dutch by Rafa Grinfeld (2007), online at http://libertair.blogspot.com

“Libertarian Municipalism: An Overview,” introduction to Readings in Libertarian Municipalism (Burlington, Vt.: Social Ecology Project, 1991), written Apr. 3, 1991
translated into Dutch as “Libertair Municipalisme: Een Overzicht,” by Ferd. v.d. Bruggen, in De AS, no. 107 (Summer 1994), pp. 18-25, online.

1994

“History, Civilization, and Progress: Outline for a Criticism of Modern Relativism,” written Feb. 15, 1994
published in Green Perspectives, no. 29 (Mar. 1994)
online at http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/Anarchist_Archives/bookchin/hiscivpro.html
translated into Dutch as “Geschiedenis, beschaving en vooruitgang: Een kritiek op het moderne relativisme,” by Bas Moreel, in Tweede Jaarboek Anarchisme/De AS no. 112 (1995), pp. 62-73

1996

“Interview with Murray Bookchin,” by Janet Biehl, Nov. 12, 1996
translated into Dutch by Ronald de Vries, online

1997


“The Unity of Ideals and Practice,” written Mar. 26, 1997
portions translated into Dutch as “De Eenheid van Idealen en Praktijk,” in De Raaf: Anarchistisch Tijdschrift, no. 106 (Apr.-Jun. 1997), pp. 9-10; no. 107 (Nov.-Dec. 1997), pp. 22-23

1999

Anarchism, Marxism, and the Future of the Left: Interviews and Essays, 1993-1998, completed in 1998; published by San Francisco and Edinburgh: A.K. Press
portions translated into Dutch as “Een beweging opbouwen”, translated by Bookshop Rosa and edited by Rafa Grinfeld (2007), online

2000

“Malé není vzdy krásné: Rozhovor s Murray Bookchinem,” interview by David Vanek, Aug. 2000
translated into Dutch as “Het sociale vraagstuk van de ecologie. Interview met Murray Bookchin”, translated by Filip Vanden Berghe, in De Nar. Anarchistisch actieblad. no. 172. Aug. 2002, pp 18-22, online

2004

“The Twilight Comes Early,” written Nov. 2004
translated into Dutch by Rafa Grinfeld (2006) as “De deemstering komt vroeg”, online


2005

"The Third Revolution" (Volume 4). Partly translated into Dutch by Johny Lenaerts, online

The Left that Was : A Personal Reflection

Some of you might wonder what has happened to the translation (I was working on it) of the text The Left that Was : A Personal Reflection by Murray Bookchin. I have now translated another part of the text. I'm going to stop for the moment with translating it. I had hoped it was not much work to improve the original translation that appeared in the Vlaams Marxistisch Tijdschrift (Flemish Marxist Periodical) many years ago, but I was wrong. Up until now, it hasn't helped at all, the original translation (it's full of mistakes and things that are quite unclear). Now, people who want to help me with translating or distributing texts of social ecology can ofcourse contact me at tomsk_be@yahoo.com. At my blog in Dutch, I will continue now with publishing some interesting text parts that have already been translated in Dutch and that deal with the issue of nationalism and nation-states.

Monday

Old Joy

The story of two old friends, who reunite for a weekend camping trip in Oregon's Cascade Mountains. It hasn't been shown in the cinema yet in Belgium, but it is shown this month at Cinema Nova in Brussels and it's also on DVD. I haven't seen it yet, but it looks like a nice movie.

Saturday

Erik De Bruyn and the Left in Antwerp


The party of the Social-democrats in Antwerp city is the electorally most succesful party in this megalopolis, a quite new situation because the Far Right party has been getting more votes here for a very long time before that occured.
It's strange that it obtains so many votes here in Antwerp (and delivers the mayor), because it's really badly organized. At the most recent general members meeting, there were about 200 people present, which is not much because the party has 4500 members in the biggest city of Belgium.
The most militant members in this party are the Marxists, who are trying to take over the party and want everybody to believe that this is possible. They mobilize a lot these days to try and make that happen. At this "general members meeting", a lot of left-leaning people showed up to support the candidacy of the Marxist Erik De Bruyn for the presidency in the party of the Social-democrats.
He got a majority of the votes, so he can participate in the elections for the presidency now. De Bruyn doesn't have a chance in winning these elections for the presidency, but wants everybody to believe that he has. For this he advocates "economic democracy" and "party democracy", but the Social-democratic parties of Belgium (one for each region) are two of the most bureaucratic parties around here. In Belgium they are only getting many votes in the big cities. They have been attracting a lot of currupt politicians, and have fully supported the capitalist economy of Belgium. The marxists in the party often like Leo Trotski and Hugo Chavez a lot, two politicians who have not been good at all in advocating direct democracy.
The bolsjevists Lenin and Trotski have been two of the most influential men within the Left of Antwerp city. The libertarian Left has always been very marginal and little organized here. It's about a few small groups gathering sometimes or some people being active in "social movements", the libertarian Left is not even a movement in Antwerp. In fact, members of the libertarian Left here often move to other cities or travel a lot.

The MOVE stigmata

In 1980 a judge sentenced nine people (the Move 9) in the USA to 30-100 years in prison, after a deadening confrontation with the police had occured. In 1978, a gunfight between MOVE and Philadelphia police had left one police officer dead and nine of the MOVE members later imprisoned for murder. Almost seven years later, a police effort to serve warrants on several other MOVE members resulted in more shooting and a raging house fire that incinerated an entire city block, leaving 11 MOVE members dead, including MOVE founder John Africa, and 250 people homeless. The police had bombed “MOVE's communal residence”. Six adults and five children in the MOVE house were killed.


MOVE is very committed to trying to get the Move 9, that have been in prison for a very long time now, liberated. It also tries to get Mumia Abu-Jamal (picture) out of prison, he has been the most known follower of John Africa. Mumia Abu-Jamal is a journalist from Philadelphia who has been in prison since 1981 and on death row since 1983 for allegedly shooting a Philadelphia police officer.


MOVE is also, in its own words, “a deeply religious organization”. The people in it see their message as very threatening to “those in power” and, according to the group, this is why the very powerful come down so hard on them. “JOHN AFRICA taught us that Life is the priority. Nothing is more important or as important as Life, the force that keeps us alive. All life comes from one source, from God, MOM NATURE, MOMA.“
It is disturbing to see how MOVE is mystical and idolizes its founder, many people see the group as a cult and therefor it receives little support. “JOHN AFRICA live very simply; JOHN AFRICA don't wear no jewelry at all because He don't believe in exploiting MOM-NATURE in any way”. What is also disturbing about the MOVE group, is that it is biocentric. “JOHN AFRICA teach MOVE people to believe in and love life, to understand the absolute necessity of life and protect all life equally, meaning all living beings (people, animals, water, soil, air), because all life come from one source and is necessary, so all living beings are equally important. JOHN AFRICA teach us the principle of equality, the principle of life and there's nothing crazy about that.” All of this makes it more hard to support those MOVE members that are in prison, because it leads to ideological confusion.

Friday

Naomi Klein on China

Naomi Klein in an interview published this week :

You have major new investments in the countryside, you have a commitment to waive school fees for the first nine years for rural children, because there were 87,000 protests in China last year -- an unbelievable statistic -- so clearly someone's not happy with how things are going in China.

At the same time we're starting to see the extraordinary ways in which China is becoming a laboratory for new technologies to put people under a level of surveillance that would have been impossible under Mao. There was just an article in the New York Times about how Shenzhen -- the port city where the export processing zone model was born -- is now this testing ground for biometric identification cards that have everything from your landlord's phone number to your reproductive history to your credit history to your police record. They are leading the way in terms of networking CCTV cameras -- there are 200,000 of them in one city -- and all the police are equipped with GPS. I mean, it is totally sci-fi what is going on there.

Naomi Klein: The Shock Doctrine

Revolution or Submersion: The Politics of Global Warming



"Tokar, an author, activist, and social ecologist, discusses the consequences of warming, the environmental destruction inherent in our political-economic system, and the revolutionary movement required to build an alternative.
A talk from June 2007 at the Z Media Institute in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Runtime, approximately 1 hour, 10 minutes."

Again intimidation in Iran

The wife and sister of the imprisoned Iranian bus union leader, Mansour Osanloo, were arrested in Tehran after they attempted to meet with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights who was visiting Iran.

More...

Thursday

Iran newsticker

TEHRAN, Sep 6 (IPS) - The Iranian establishment has an unstated policy to deal with rising dissidence among academics, artistes and political activists -- encourage them to leave the country and go into self-exile.

More...

Car drivers in the mist

Not the ecology of everyday life...



Ivan Illich:
The habitual passenger cannot grasp the folly of traffic based overwhelmingly on transport. His inherited perceptions of space and time and of personal pace have been industrially deformed. He has lost the power to conceive of himself outside the passenger role.

Jutta Ditfurth and extraparliamentary movements of the seventies

Jutta Ditfurth studied Sociology, Politics, Art, Philosophy,... in Germany, Scotland and the USA. She became a sociologist in 1977 and has since then been very active in the city of Frankfurt. She already became quite active at the beginning of the seventies: in the undogmatic Left, the women's movement and the movement against nuclear energy.



Jutta Ditfurth was a cofounder of the German Green Party. But in 1991, she decided to leave this Green Party (die Grünen) to establish a party for the Ecological Left ( die Ökologischen Linken). Certain decisions had been made that had been destroying the party's alternative culture, step by step. Up until then, the Green Party had been an alliance of tendencies ranging from reformist to revolutionary. But at that time, all revolutionary positions and radical positions had been given up. There had been different left tendencies within the Green Party, there was an anticapitalist tendency that opposed the capitalist kind of economical growth and the social injustice inherent to it.
Jutta Ditfurth (1991) : “A lot of objective developments take place in every radical movement that takes part in parliamentarism. We knew before we founded the Green party that to found a party is an ambiguous undertaking: On the one hand, you get a chance to spread radical ideas to the public for a period of time, but on the other, you are in effect making an offer to integrate your radical movement into the state. But we went ahead and started it anyway in 1977-79 because of the historical situation, the large extraparliamentary movement of that time. We thought we had a chance to reach a large public.”


There was a corruptive careerism going on in the large Green bureaucracy, which led to many problems in and outside the Green movement of Germany. Jutta Ditfurth later wrote this book about the issue.




“Going beyond the Greens, radical ecology has to fill the enormous vacuum that once constituted the left--our movement must be against capitalism, it must be independent, and people in it must be accountable. With the Greens we were too naive--it was too easy for people like Joschka Fischer to take over the Green project for his own purposes. Now we have to keep this from happening again. And we must be prepared to work patiently to build this movement.” (Jutta Ditfurth,summer of 1991)
Before the Green Party was established, environmental and ecology associations, anti-nuclear (energy) groups, the women’s movement, the third world movement, and other alternative groups had not shown much interest in discussing the idea of a new political party (in West-Germany) that would bring these movements together. The social movement activists of the 1970s felt it was more important to establish public legitimacy, and for this they relied on journalists and often even Social-democratic members of city councils, among others. The demand for “an independent newspaper” was met in 1977 with the founding of the Tageszeitung (Taz) following the example of the French newspaper Libération. The idea of organizing regional and national networks of local activist groups was very much in the air in the 1970’s.


The Rote Armee Fraktion (RAF) had also been very active in Germany, with the support of the “intelligence services” of East Germany. In 1976, Ulrike Meinhof (of the RAF) was found dead in her cell, hanging from a rope made from jail towels. An investigation report concluded that she had hanged herself. The RAF described itself as a communist "urban guerrilla" group engaged in armed resistance, while it was described by the West German government as a terrorist group.


Jutta Ditfurth wrote many texts and books as a journalist, she has also been a novelist. She has remained politically very active. In november 2007, a book will appear about Ulrike Meinhof and her involvement with the Rote Armee Fraktion: “Ulrike Meinhof. Die Biografie”. Jutta Ditfurth is the writer. Before, she has written much about ecofascism, the German Greens and left-wing theory.



(edited post)

Wednesday

The radical criminology of Clara Wichmann

The short life of the criminologist and essayist Clara Wichmann (1885-1922) can be seen as a search for freedom. At the age of 17, she got interested in the study of Hegel's dialectical method, which became the core of her philosophical activity. She became active in the feminist movement, the libertarian left and got involved with revolutionary antimilitarism. She saw the application of violence as the most fundamental problem humanity had to deal with. Wichmann saw inner growth as the necessary condition for the emancipation of women. She once suffered from a serious depression, and received treatment in a sanatorium in the Netherlands for it. In her thoughts on crime she was very inspired by the ideas of the pedagogue Maria Montessori. Wichmann saw crime as a product of the existing conditions and relations in a society.


Clara Wichmann (1920) :
And all the inner contradictions and enormous abuses in the “rights”-position of the pet animals are a result of this: that, toward them (like once toward the slaves and in many legislations toward the women), one upholds the fiction that they are things.

Tuesday

The ALF past of Anja Hermans


Anja Hermans is clearly distancing herself from her past these days. She's giving interviews showed on Belgian television, and she's receiving other big media attention. There's also a book (in Dutch) that just has come out in which her story is told.
In March 2001, the in Belgium active Anja Hermans was found guilty of attempting to set fire to the car of a judge. Before that, the activist had put fire to many fast food restaurants in and around the city of Antwerp. Anja admitted then that she was involved with the Animal Liberation Front arsons. She spent many years in prison and in a psychiatric institution.
After a brain tumor had been found and removed, she largely recovered from her continuing physical disorders (leading to many psychological problems). She was a bright teenager, but then got influenced a lot by the ideas of animal liberation activists, anarchoprimitivism and authoritarian communism. At that time, she also got a small alcohol problem and suffered from depressions. Then, the arsons started to happen.

Nationalisms as social nightmares

Murray Bookchin (1993) :

The "nation" as a cultural entity is superseded by an overpowering and oppressive state apparatus. Racism commonly goes hand in hand with "national liberation" struggles, such as "ethnic cleansing" and wars for territorial gain, as we see most poignantly today in the Middle East, India, the Caucasus, and Eastern Europe. Nationalisms that only a generation ago might have been regarded as "national liberation" struggles are more clearly seen today, in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet empire, as little more than social nightmares and decivilizing blights.

Put bluntly, nationalisms are regressive atavisms that the Enlightenment tried to overcome long ago. They introject the worst features of the very empires from which oppressed peoples have tried to shake loose. Not only do they typically reproduce state-machines that are as oppressive as the ones that colonial powers imposed on them, but they reinforce those machines with cultural, religious, ethnic, and xenophobic traits that are often used to foster regional and even domestic hatreds and subimperialisms. No less important, in the absence of genuine popular democracies the sequelae of understandably anti-imperialist struggles too often include the strengthening of imperialism itself, such that the powers that have been seemingly dispossessed of their colonies can now play the state of one former colony against that of another, as witness the conflicts that ravage Africa, the Middle East, and the Indian subcontinent.

Sunday

Nationality and the authentic anarchism of Proudhon

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809 – 1865) was the first one to call himself an anarchist. He was also one of the most influential writers within the 19th century Left of France and Belgium. Together with anarchists like Mikhail Bakunin and Elisée Reclus, he has been very important for the historical anarchist movement in these countries.



Proudhon (lying at his death bed at the picture) openly opposed nationalist movements in Poland, Hungary, and Italy. In 1851 he declared : “If then science, and no longer religion or authority, is taken in every land as the rule of society, the sovereign arbiter of interests, government being void, all the legislation of the universe will be in harmony. There will no longer be nationality, no longer fatherland, in the political sense of the words: they will mean only places of birth.”
And 11 years later he wrote : "I will never put devotion to my country before the rights of Man. If the French Government behaves unjustly to any people, I am deeply grieved and protest in every way that I can.”
In the Principle of Federation (1863) he argued that nationalism inevitably leads to war. To reduce the power of nationalism Proudhon called for a Federal Europe. He advocated a federation of autonomous communes. He believed that Federalism was "the supreme guarantee of all liberty and of all law, and must, without soldiers or priests, replace both feudal and Christian society." Proudhon went on to predict that "the twentieth century will open the era of federations, or humanity will begin again a purgatory of a thousand years."
But his antinationalist notions and strong opposition to the ideas of Napoleon Bonaparte were somewhat diluted by his own Francophilism. Proudhon (1851) : “It was the mania for annexation which, under the Convention and the Directory, aroused the distrust of other nations against the Republic, and which, giving us a taste for Bonaparte, brought us to our finish at Waterloo. Revolutionize, I tell you. Your frontiers will always be long enough and French enough if they are revolutionary.”
In 1995, Murray Bookchin wrote that Proudhon “attempted to formulate a fairly concrete image of a libertarian society. Based on contracts, essentially between small producers, cooperatives, and communes, Proudhon's vision was redolent of the provincial craft world into which he was born. But his attempt to meld a patroniste, often patriarchal notion of liberty with contractual social arrangements was lacking in depth. The craftsman, cooperative, and commune, relating to one another on bourgeois contractual terms of equity or justice rather than on the communist terms of ability and needs, reflected the artisan's bias for personal autonomy, leaving any moral commitment to a collective undefined beyond the good intentions of its members.”
Indeed, Proudhon did not advocate the principle “from each according to ability, to each according to need”. Leftists like Karl Marx, Errico Malatesta and others did do that later. The phrase summarizes the idea that, under a communist system, every person shall produce to the best of his or her ability in accordance with his/her talent, and each person shall receive the fruits of this production in accordance with his/her need, irrespective of what he or she has produced.

The problems with Limonov and National Bolshevism


Eduard Limonov (picture) set up the National Bolshevik Party (Russia). As in many former Eastern Bloc countries, this party is difficult to discuss in simple left-right terms. Eduard Limonov was once an important dissident writer in the Soviet Union. He left Russia but went back later to receive more press. He had a column in the English-language paper in Moscow called The eXile, which was a paper for the English-speaking people who came to Russia to grab what they could after the fall. He then also got involved with some of the ties between the Russian mercenaries who fought on the Serbian side during the Balkan wars.

Limonov looks to the era of Stalin as a period of social stability within the Soviet Union, and this is the part about National Bolshevism.

Peter McNally on the National Bolshevism of Eduard Limonov (the interview was published a few days ago):

Well, for him all this was a logical extension of where to push Russian nationalism, especially with the older folks, who might not have liked Stalin at the time, and it was not a stable regime, but it was a point of Russian dignity, et cetera. So that’s sort of where Limonov comes from.
And another thing about Limonov is that he attracts a lot of people on the cultural margins. And in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, because of punk rock, Oi and so on, you have the beginnings of what we’d now call Russian skinheads, in the sense of a worldwide skinhead movement, or a grouping of people who are aping right-wing skinheads in Britain. So you have people who are in punk bands, industrial bands or whatever, and he courted that because he was a marginal cultural worker and was sympathetic to those aesthetics and hyped them up. And these days he heavily recruits within the Goth and black metal scene, which is probably the central cultural scene for the more avant-garde, out-there far right – the bands, the graphic art houses and so on are serious cultural players there.