Sunday, July 20, 2008


ANARCHIST THEORY:
ANARCHISM AND LEFTISM:
In the last few days Molly has been quoted on the London (Ontario) Indymedia site because of a post she put up here last June 28th on a ridiculous leftist project to "ban drive-thru restaurants" in London, Ontario. Yes good non-anarchist and non-leftist readers of this blog I shit you not. The righteous "green brigade", supported by the geriatric "commies without the guts to say so" of the Council of Canadians, in that southern Ontario city has the unmitigated arrogance to propose such a thing, and the simple mindlessness to imagine that such a thing is "serious". Molly has a better idea. To reduce carbon emissions ban health food stores that depend upon large transport intensive imports from the transnational corporations behind this scam. Oh horrors say the greenies ! Ban boutique stores that sell products for the "lefty uniform" that are produced by sweatshop labour. Oh horrors once more ! Ban the fashionable "yuppification" that kicks low income people out of cheap housing so the "enlightened" can have their "groovy neighbourhoods" and ban the useless renovations that eat energy and produce carbon so that the greenies can feel oh so superior. Oh, double horror !! Most importantly let's ban folk festivals. None of these schmucks 'walk" to such a thing. If they did, by some miracle, their bean heavy diet would create enough methane as "the caissons go farting along" to more than quadruple their carbon emisions by driving to same. By the way,let's ban beans fror that matter. Methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Let all vegetarians be subjected to "counselling" ie "political re-education. So on and so forth. Let's ban, ban, ban everything that creates carbon dioxide(and methane) that a certain subculture glories in.
But Molly doesn't intend to ban anything. She is also not under the illusion that any sensible city council would ever entertain such a proposal, and she is further well aware of the arrogant mindset that makes advocates of such an attack on the people that the leftists feel so superior to so blind to their own silliness and how they look to people outside of their charmed circles. I've wasted many an hour of my ill temper berating the so-called "post leftists", "primitivists" and other cultists that exist on the fringe of (especially) the North American anarchist movement for exactly the same thing. But, as I have said before, the "post-leftists" are no such thing. They have retained practically everything that was bad about the left that they feel they have "transcended" and nothing of the good. One of the most idiotic things that they have taken up from leftism is the attitude of a mutual admiration society and its attendant snotty superiority.
This attitude was bad enough in the classical left, but it attained truly malignant growth in the 'New Left', particularly as it spiralled downwards as it degenerated. As I have also said before I have been at this for pretty well 40 years now, and I have seen some remarkable stupidity coming out of "the left" over those years. I have to say, however, that the idea of petitioning a city council to "ban drive-thrus" is at least as arrogant, stupid, futile and ridiculous as the old Weatherman (Maoists at the time) idea of making their "cadre" sleep on the floor because "mattresses are white skin privilege". As the poet says, may we see ourselves as others see us.
The initiators of a project to futilely petition a city council to ban drive-thrus are probably aware of the ridiculous nature of their proposal. They know it won't happen. Back in my baby lefty days we used to call these "non-negotiable demands" ie present something that obviously can't be granted as a propaganda tactic to "radicalize" the wavering followers. Of course the end result was more often to convince the followers of the manipulative nature of their leaders.
International Trotskyism has formalized this tactic as the "Transitional Program" and this is a true monument to human arrogance as the Trots arrogantly proclaim the very deception that they attempt to carry out as part of their propaganda about how good their parties are. Most leftists adopt such attempts at sneakiness at one point or the other, but few have the honesty or intellectual coherence to admit-sometimes even to themselves- that they are doing what good old Leon advocated so many years ago. Mostly they chug on forwards under pure emotion, reinforced by the limited circles they live in.
Even if the leftists who advocate such things could be totally honest with both themselves, their purported audience and the general public (an unlikely thing) there is one thing they will never admit. They know, with perhaps with even more rock hard certainty than Molly does, that the average person will never listen to them. But this realization is a non-starter in their minds because they, also with rock hard certainty, look down their sub-cultural noses as the "great unwashed" of ordinary people. Why bother to try and influence people you have contempt for ? You, after all, have such great and superior "ecological consciousness"(substitute any leftist buzzword followed by "consciousness" here if you like) that you feel you can bypass the normal process of "convincing the inferiors" and go directly to those in positions of power that you, after all, have much more in common with than the proles who go to KFC. No matter that the more powerful members of your class will laugh at you even more than Molly might, while the proles are merely offended at your power grab.
This is what is known as "positive feedback". Leftists, ensconced in their tiny friendship groups, attempt to order about other people who they have contempt for. Ordinary people see such actions as reinforcing their (often correct) view of the "left". They resist. They respond with further contempt for the lefties. The lefties respond with further illusions of superiority and further attempts to coerce the ordinary person. The circle builds on itself. Very occasionally a nasty person such as Molly attempts to break the cycle. It is pretty well impossible to convince ordinary people to "make the first move" because the "left" will continue on with its authoritarian ways. What is possible is to reform the left so that it ceases its evil ways, inherited from its evil ancestors.
There is no reason other than arrogance that the left could not adopt a populist "to the people" attitude. Yes, it would not be as "flashy" as putting forward attacks on ordinary people while talking to(and through) your buddies on a city council. The "buddies", by the way, if they were foolish enough to initially support such a thing, would rapidly disavow it when they approached power. There are unlimited possibilities to advance "carbon reduction" by working slowly and patiently with ordinary people. No doubt such actions lack "pizazzz", and no doubt they involve working with people that you have contempt for. They might even involve abandoning your precious "identity" as a "superior" greenie, dressing like ordinary people dress, eating what they eat, listening to the music they listen to. Shudder, shudder, shudder.
The whole idea of "banning drive-thrus' is, of course, simply bizarre, and it is a tribute to the worst in leftism, and its self-destructive "loyalty" to even the most off-the-wall proposals, that the whole thing isn't simply laughed at as the insanity it is. But "leftism" means more than simple foolishness. Let's try and put Molly's relation to "the left" in a wider perspective than just dealing with "kooky greenies".
Regular readers of this blog may end up rather confused as to how I see "the left". The "anarcho-nuts" are able to slot me into the unfashionable and "boring" (to their need for stimulation-may I call it "self-stimulation") category of a "classical leftist". The ordinary reader, naive to the ins and outs of left wing politics-including those leftists who deny the label- would assume something similar because of the constant reiteration of traditional left wing themes on this blog. This whole impression is reinforced by the efforts of both left wing and right wing ideologues to try and pretend that there are only two ways of viewing the world. Anything that disagrees with any of the conglomeration of accepted opinions that each side holds to be true is automatically evidence that the dissident is part of "the enemy". In the case of the left this way of thinking has almost paleolithic antecedents. The intolerance of leftists towards any of their number who don't hold to the fashion of the moment reaches all the way back to Stalinism and the sobriquet of "objectively counter-revolutionary".
To say the least this sort of mindset is very conducive to building a cult, but it is counterproductive to the idea of building a movement. Here is where Molly has to put her relation to "the left" in a plain fashion. To misquote Ghandi , I think that leftism would be a very good idea. The "left" should be the repository of all that is good and democratic and liberatory in human culture. In some cases, particularly where an anarchist left has been powerful, this has been more or less true. In other cases, and I think our present situation in Canada is typical of western countries, the balance is equivocal. In other cases such as the USA "the left" is generally against equality, against democracy (as fools who want to connive a ban on drive-thrus by political manipulation are) and against liberty. Is there anything left besides the fashion that would describe such a subculture as valuable ? Do I dare to remind the reader that classical fascism originated as a "left-wing" movement, or would that merely provoke more screams from the historically illiterate ?
The "left" has always had a dual character. On the one hand it has been a vehicle to increase the values of equality, democracy and liberty that the American left (and those who imitate them) are so against today. It has been a movement of the lower classes to increase their power and influence in society and to better their condition. On the other hand "the left" has always been a vehicle whereby other classes, managers, either present or would-be, have struggled for power using the lower classes as pawns. This sort of power struggle was always obvious in the case of the communist parties-and with less bloodlust and more civilization the social democratic parties. In recent years even the pretense of "representing" the interests of the lower classes has, to a large extent, been dropped. In important left wing movements, such as the NDP or the Greens, the activities of the parties could be described as "the social workers in committee", to echo a leftism phrase from when leftism meant something. In the never-never world of leftist "activism" outside of the major paths to paying careers "the self-appointed superior in committee" would be more descriptive.
It's sad. It's really and truly sad. In the tradition of George Orwell I can best define myself as "a leftist who is disgusted by the left". The "left" should mean more than lying about a campaign ,which is-mercifully-hopeless, to restrict the life options of people who are of a lower class than the campaigners. What is different from Orwell's time and today is that the "managers" who were only in power in one country in the 1930s have pretty well completed their conquest of the world today. The absurdities that Orwell observed amongst the commies of his day have become pretty well universal amongst bothy the rulers and their presumed opposition. The silly things that sometimes come up from this swamp- like banning drive-thrus- are merely the froth of a much more serious day to day class rule that even corrupts its opposition.

9 comments:

Werner said...

I notice all the previous comments that were here, including mine, are gone.

Larry Gambone said...

As the price of oil goes up and people abandon their cars, or at least drive a lot less, drive throughs will become obsolete. Banning them is irrelevant and only angers the people who use them. Like you say, typical dumb-ass leftism. (Though I must say, eating in your car is one more disgusting habit imported from the Yew-alls.)

Toban said...

In this blog post you seem to be mocking the idea of challenging drive-thrus in any way, shape, or form (whereas before you seemed to just object to state policy -centred approaches). Is that fair to say?

As for Larry, he seems content to wait for drive-thru use to gradually decline -- without public intervention to make that happen sooner. I agree that drive-thrus will be used less and less in the future due to oil costs (if not significant efforts to move away from global warming), but I also don't think that we can wait for that to happen.

Anyway...
drive-thrus aren't just an environmental issue. There are a lot of other justifications for opposing them -- some of which I've raised here:
http://tobanblack.net/blog/?p=251
(That post is a response to a pro- drive thru lobbying web site that was set up to drown out the campaigners here in London who have been challenging drive-thrus.)

Out here in London there initially was a call for banning drive-thrus; then some people shifted towards calling for a moratorium on new drive-thrus (without taking down some of the online material about banning the drive-thrus).

However, it's not like everyone out here who has been raising criticisms of drive-thrus is on the same page regarding strategies and goals and such. For my part, I haven't taken a stance on those practical issues -- but people have to if they're going to challenge drive-thrus, and I think that it's important that they try to do that.... somehow.

Toban said...

The campaign against drive-thrus that you're referring to has essentially been a matter of environmentalist concerns.

The local chapter of the Council of Canadians seem to be acting completely on their own on this one. It seems that it isn't connected to the national Council of Canadians organization.

mollymew said...

In reference to the first comment above I was amazed (or not because I know the indivdual from way back and his bundle of resentments) about what happened later. Seems that he took some sort of personal offense and decided to huff and puff. If he was thinking with his frontal cortex rather than his amygdyla he would have noted that 1)if, as he claimed, there were several comments deleted it wasn't directed at him 2)he might have checked to see if he hadn't posted his reply, by mistake, on a previous post with a similar topic-what I think happened- 3)there is serious doubt that he aid anything I might disagree with and so why should I delete his post ?, especially as 4)I have left up ALL other replies, aside from commercial spam, on this Blog no matter how much I might disagree with them or even got into extended insult matches.


But no, we're off into a fantasy world, embellished with claims of having queried TWICE (see the ONCE above- I guess some people just can't hold their liquor). Whazza problem here ? It is, after all, just a blog that will be read by 100 people at most. So...the guy huffs and he puffs, making great noises about "banning" me from his blog and goes ahead to remove the link to Molly's blog from his site.


I have little doubt that the individual in question will be able to make all sorts of "political" cases out of this. This,however, is nothing of the kind. I heard the whole matter put very plainly 25 years ago when one older anarchist tried to talk sense to some younger ones at a meeting. The quote..."Have you never met anyone with which you are in total POLITICAL agreement but whom you just can't stand PERSONALLY at all ?"


That's all there is to it. I never deleted the child's comment. An adult would have seen this at a glance without having to have their fragile ego assuaged. To me it just wasn't important enough to answer. Yup, I am VERY happy to have nothing to do with said indivdual. What is "irrelevant", as the poster claims on his blog, are indeed his petty feelings. There is nothing "political" about this- it is purely personal. I have to deal with difficult obnoxious people all the time, but damned if I'm going to do it without getting paid for it.


The idea of never seeing or hearing from this person again warms the cockles of Molly's stony heart. It would be a great relief.
Molly

mollymew said...

Well, now that I have gotten this personal matter off my chest, and hopefully assured the individual in question that I want nothing whatsoever to do with him ever- and no more going back on this, let's deal with the other matters raised by the post and the replies, matters that are much more important than assuaging "hurt feelings" of someone who can't ever realize that being pleasant is amuch better way to "win friends" than any 'demands".
LEFTISM
I first became an anarchist in part in opposition to "leftism", and things have hardly improved since that day (month/year ?) almost 40 years ago. since the early 70s the left has shed SOME of its stupidity and acquired other stupidities.These hardly equal apologetics for murderous (MASS MURDEROUS, as was the fashion way back when) communist regimes in terms of moral degeneracy. Maybe this is only because the regimes of mass murderers have passed away into history, and nowadays the "left" can only lie on behalf of much more benigh dictatorships such as Cuba.
Still, the "left", seperate from the traditional "labour left", holds essentially the same arrogant contempt for the average person as it did in my young adulthood, even if it isn't manifested in dreams of mass killings. Most of the truly sick commies of my youth are well ensconsed today in social control bureaucracies which was, after all, the end goal of their politics if you would subtract their then-violent rhetoric. A small minority who had smarts and ambition have become rich entrepreneurs.
OK, let's try and illustrate this by a fable. PLEASE...step inside magical munificent Molly's magnificent, multiple, meandering, multiplication machine. let's clone you buggers. Step inside and come out the other side with 100 copies of yourself. Ask your immediate circle iof friends to do the same.
NOW, how about we let the somewhat similar group of you sit down and ponder "what is to be done". Let's say you have 10 friends. This equals 1000 clones. Let's ALSO restrict the "things to be done" to matters of "ecology", perhaps leaving aside other very important issues.
Guess what ? There are probably THOUSANDS of things that you could do that would NEITHER make "direct" demands upon government (which means asking the state to restrict other people's options) nor be offensive to others. Howzza about you do guerilla gardening or tree planting which offends nobody but the powers that be that want to preserve their "powers that are" ? Howwza about you do mass ridership on public transit to try and influence ordinary people to do the same ? Howzza about you participate in the already established "critical mass rallies" ? Howzza about you try and set up "free markets" for exchange of surplus items- the "purest" form of recycling ? Howzza about you do any of the "thousands" of alternatives, other than the three that I have suggested above , NONE of which involve coercion and all of which depend on persuading ordinary people to do something diferently ?
What Molly will guarantee is that you and your cloned friends will NOT have enough time to do all the "good things" that DON'T require assaults against the habits of others via the power of the state. Yup, that's serious.
Why not ? Why gravitate to a campaign that is guaranteed to reinforce public perception of "the left" as a bunch of manipulative totalitarians ? The answer is easy. The "left" today no longer gives even half a flying fuck about the public perception of how their silliness is perceived by others in a lower social class than what the left usually is. The so-cxalled "left" of today in Canada has, in imitation of the insanity of the American left that they imitate, decided that (perhaps realistically) they cannot ever hope to influence enough people to become even a substantial minority, let alone a majority.
Thus they are totally happy to launch campaigns for their causes of the day without even the slightest thought of how this will play amongst others who don't share their privilges.
What a degeneration of the whole idea of what "left" was originally supposed to mean !!!! These sort of campaigns are merely grist to the mill of the neo-conservatives BECAUSE EVERYTHING THE NEO-CONS ARE SAY IS TRUE about the "left" today.
Anarchism makes a break with thios sort of class-based, arrogant leftism. It is one of the tasks of anarchists ORGANIZATIONS (as opposed to vague 'feeling") and those of us who have long term experience to point out how wrong this sort of "campaign" is. NOT that we will have any immediate effects, but we should depend upon those who do NOT get social control jobs to come back to this criticism and position later, and realize that anarchism is NOT a synonym for vague leftism. Perhaps the best of those who are not bribed and who are both dedicated and rational will come to a better understanding of "what is to be done" later.
That's it for now.

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