"...it's not the training to be mean but the training to be kind that is used to keep us leashed best." ~ Black Dog Red

"In case you haven't recognized the trend: it proceeds action, dissent, speech." ~ davidly, on how wars get done

"...What sort of meager, unerotic existence must a man live to find himself moved to such ecstatic heights by the mundane sniping of a congressional budget fight. The fate of human existence does not hang in the balance. The gods are not arrayed on either side. Poseiden, earth-shaker, has regrettably set his sights on the poor fishermen of northern Japan and not on Washington, D.C. where his ire might do some good--I can think of no better spot for a little wetland reclamation project, if you know what I mean. The fight is neither revolution nor apocalypse; it is hardly even a fight. A lot of apparatchiks are moving a lot of phony numbers with more zeros than a century of soccer scores around, weaving a brittle chrysalis around a gross worm that, some time hence, will emerge, untransformed, still a worm." ~ IOZ

Oct 24, 2010

Responding to Definitions

 Al @ SMBIVA has a brilliant entry:


I answered there, with this:

[Centralizers fail to understand anarchist critique because they think in terms of centralization, punishment and control.]

"...they really cannot accept that people can live together, cooperate and fundamentally disagree about a bunch of shit.

And yet - this is already exactly what happens, even under highly centralized regimes - be they familial, corporate or governmental.

The centralizing authority doesn't keep them together. It can only punish those who threaten the centralizing authority.

There are literally millions of people who go to work every day, working for a structured, punitive hierarchy - who get their work and play done, in spite of it. Who have to work around it, in order to cooperate.

I think one of the primary anarchist/decentralist critiques aims itself at this: why fuck around with the punitive authority in the first place? We already have ample evidence of people who cooperate despite its obstructive existence. Why not free up all that time and labor spent dealing with it, and have people who don't fundamentally agree do what they're already doing (cooperating, competing) without it?

And this isn't a very utopian position. What's truly utopian is the belief that punishment and authority can get women and men to have the same beliefs about society, to see things the same way, and therefore cooperate.

It's ass fucking backwards, really. It's washing up to take a bath..."

To add to that further, here:

Hierarchies exist to preserve themselves, to preserve the advantages that members of them accrue by having people do their bidding at the same time as those who serve pay (a wage allows the wage payer to give less than the worker produced) for the "protections" offered by the centralizing authority.

Since hierarchies overlap and compete for control of populations, they need the ability to brand their adherents - usually employing cultural, ethnic, religious, national or ideological cues to identify those whom they claim and those whom other hierarchies cannot automatically pirate.

In the case of economically competitive firms, the competition for skilled staffers reduces the need for branding. Remuneration and naked advantage provide ample motivation, and the operation of firms does not (at this time) depend upon the capture of dedicated laborers, especially when seeking skilled or accredited workers who have already demonstrated at least the appearance of fealty to the economic order by obtaining license to participate in at at a more profitable level.

The corporate hierarchy can dispense with the cruder sorts of fealty and identifying marks, because it divides more plainly the social population in which it operates, placing the hierarchy more openly in control of the resources of the group, and removing in many cases the ability of the subsidiary parts to change that hierarchy by franchise or active participation.

National, tribal, ethnic and religious hierarchies generally control a larger population group than the corporate power structures which inhabit their social space - and serve a different, though declining, purpose. The older state, tribal and religious hierarchies still rather obviously exist - but they no longer dominate the means of exchange and resource extraction, as they did for the better part of five or so thousand years. Instead, they now exist to reduce threats to those corporate and economic hierarchies which directly control access to labor and capital, and to police the consuming and laboring populations which remain subject to them.

In all cases, though - hierarchies exist to preserve themselves, with differing rates of success and failure.

Ideological advocates of state or social centralization seemingly fail to understand this, the purpose of power. Instead, they see it as a means to an end - instead of the end itself.

Power serves itself. It has no other purpose. Any power which does not maintain and employ its control over the population it claims, loses it. Any power or authority constituted for any other reason either evolves into a self-preserving hierarchy, or degrades into a weak and fractured stasis, one which often invites the intervention of outside, more powerful competitors who have the means to assert control with violence or the threat of it, and maintain the control of resources and the supply of protection necessary to prevent uprising, or to punish and quash it.

Once more around again: A centralizing authority exists to maintain the resources, loyalty and armed staffers which constitute its power.

Its purpose? To provide membership in a hierarchy of power. And any hierarchy or power which fails to do so ceases to exist as one.


Weldon Berger said...

Man, I love reading your stuff. I dropped out of anarchist boot camp because I'm ideologically dyslexic, so it's nice to have a comprehensible resource to turn to. I'm also happy to see you back on the air.

I'm writing a post that I now recognize to deal with one of the elements in play here, which is the inability of authority to recognize ... well, lots of stuff, but in particular critiques of authority. I think you might find the source material pretty entertaining--it's a back and forth I had with former AOL honcho Barry Schuler about whether or not US internet providers should voluntarily block their customers' access to Wikileaks. And nonono, I am not joking. Here's his post, you can scroll through the comments to see the increasingly odd call-and-response thing we do.


Again, good to see the crow aloft.

BDR said...

Excellent post. Glad you're back.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, Jack. Glad you're back.

Al Schumann said...

Thank you, Jack. You've made a personally difficult effort worthwhile for me.

I particularly appreciate that you posted here. The Crow's Eye has a nice feel to it, like a workshop or similar with an open door. I'd have missed your comment at SMBIVA; I've run out of patience for the hectoring spite thrown at SMBIVA's neighbors.

Jack Crow said...

Really appreciate the kind words and the welcome. More of substance later; have family stuff right now.



Jonathan Versen said...

Weldon: ideologically dyslexic?

I was wondering what happened to you, Mister Crow. I am also glad you are back.

Jack Crow said...

I get migraines and visual artifacts. Staring at a computer screen doesn't help. So, sometimes I have to stop myself from peering into pixels for hours on end. But, I'm weak. So, I took the blog out of public view for a few days to reduce my temptation to sit at this chair for the greater portion of my day, responding to comments and pouring through the blogroll.

Thanks for the well wishes.



Weldon Berger said...

Jonathon: I have a really difficult time making sense of political theory. It's a lot easier when someone like Jack, not that there are many of those, offers up comprehensible interpretations or concrete examples of arenas in which I'm basically incompetent. I was a card-carrying Socialist in my younger days, and I gave up on that because I couldn't figure out what the fuck my comrades were talking about half the time. I have the same weakness with abstract math, and I have no idea why in either instance.

Jack Crow said...


I'm wary of standing in for all of anarchism, although I appreciate your discomfort with theory.

It was Rosa Lichtenstein who really allowed me to take all the mumbo jumbo and see it for what it is (though I imagine she'd have strong words for my anarchist tendencies):


Don't get me wrong, I actually got quite a bit out of Deleuze, Guattari and Foucalt - but I had to spend more time than any person ought to translating all that Heideggerian language down into everyday usage English.

An example: "body-without-organs" from "Anti-Oedipus." First, the authors don't really explain what they mean. Second, they just plunge into it and start using it willy-nilly. Third, the term is opaque as hell if you don't have the very specific cultural, academic and (especially) Gallic reference frames. But, after I spent all that time trying to understand what they were saying, it was kind of useful. A "body-without-organs" is the picture a person carries of his or herself, around in the head. It's ego, but with a twist; its fixity on self-as-spirit betrays a real fragility of persona that cannot fundamentally accept its own guts and goo.

The problem with that sort of language, though, is that it trades out broad comprehensibility for very narrow and very context dependent specificity. I imagine this is very useful in fields with which I have no experience - physics, linguistics, etc. But when dealing with meanings you are actually trying to communicate to actual other persons?

What a fucking colossal obstruction to understanding, no?

So, unless I really, really cannot find the right everyday language term, including no small amount of vulgarity, I just use common English.

And since I was able to translate all that jargon into regular English, I've come to the conclusion that anything which can be said or written in technical jargon can and ought to be written in everyday language, especially when it comes to ideas you want to share.*

But, for people who need to believe they're in possession of secret keys and magic subscriptions, I suppose this just won't do...



* - this doesn't mean everything a room full of physicists say to each other, even in everyday English, will be understood by those without the training and field focus...

Anonymous said...

And since I was able to translate all that jargon into regular English, I've come to the conclusion that anything which can be said or written in technical jargon can and ought to be written in everyday language, especially when it comes to ideas you want to share.*

But, for people who need to believe they're in possession of secret keys and magic subscriptions, I suppose this just won't do...

Pretty much how I see it.