Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Anarchist Censorship

The Article Infoshop Does Not Want You to Read!

I emailed Chuck O the 'owner' of Infoshop, an American anarchist web site, on 14.06.2004 asking him to post my article Post-McQuinn Anarchism,(see below) on Infoshop as part of the Post-Left Anarchist debate he and Jason McQuinn, 'owner' of Anarchy 'a Magazine of Desire Armed', are foisting on the anarchist movement in North America.

I had posted it to the International Anarchist Studies website as a reply to the debate ongoing there between Peter Staudenmaier and McQuinn.

It is in the reply section under Peters article entitled:
Anarchists in Wonderland: The Topsy-Turvy World of Post-Left Anarchy

In reply to my request to the Rev. Chuck O (as he titles himself at Infoshop, clearly appointing himself as an anarchist of the 'catholic' persuasion: his way or the highway) that he publish this on Info shop he sent me the following dismissive response which I have included below. And in my own charming way asked him again to publish it. He did not reply.

That little spat did nothing, there was no posting of my article on Infoshop. So on June 18 I posted it myself under Anarchist Opinion on Infoshop. And low and behold, it still, as of this date June 22, has not appeared.

The very reverend Chuck O. as the owner of the site, in violation of the anarchist principle of free speech, has censored an opinion he does not like. I leave it to you to determine, whether you agree with me or not as Voltaire would say, whether such obvious censorship should be practiced by self proclaimed anarchists.

In true American entrepreneurial style of his libertarian predilections, Chucky has decided that ownership allows him the corporate right to determine what gets published on 'his' web site. So much for Infoshop being a voice of the anarchist movement. This is another case of Anarchism Inc. once again proving that "the only free press belongs to those that own one."(A.J. Liebling)

Now that I am on Chucks enemies list I feel I am in good company. But at least we all know now that Chuck O. is truly an American libertarian, and like his pal McQuinn, they believe they own the rights to (c) anarchism. This is the reality of their post-left-anarchism. Hey they would do Murray Rothbard proud just kidding, he at least supported free speech. McQuinn and Chuck O. are not anarchists they are members of that fraternity of American Exceptionalism known as libertarianism. Ironically they would say they are the left of that movement.

Finally I am incredulous that the Institute for Anarchist Studies has even given the Post Left Anarchism debate any academic credibility by allowing it to be seriously discussed in the Theory and Practice section of their web site. It is a chimerical debate of navel gazing proportions. It is simply an argument circulated by McQuinn and Co. as simple economic self promotion, it sells his magazine, and gets him paid speaking engagements. It has no more credibility than that.


At 11:36 PM 6/14/04 -0700, you wrote:
>What a pile of crap and ignorant garbage!
>It's a good thing that anarchism has moved beyond marginal cranks such as
>Oh, by the way, as somebody in "McQuinn's circle of friends," I've long
>appreciated Bookchin andhis contribution to anarchism.
Ouch you cut me to the quick I am stunned and agog at your debating skills, your Swiftian editorial pen, please, please do not pummel me oh great one.
If I am a marginal crank it must be because I belong to a marginal movement or are you in your American wisdom assuming that the anarchist movement is marginal in Canada?
Did you even bother to read my article or in fact do you even read the shit you publish on Infoshop, be it the utopian ranting of CrimeThInc. or even over the top ranting of your 'friend' McQuinn when he is challenged.
Shall we hum a few bars of Phil Ochs small circle of friends....you can barely fund raise the money you need to continue your publishing efforts, while Democrats score millions from their web sites, talk about marginal.
But I digress, I don't give a shit if you don't like my opinion, at least if you are going to debate my ideas debate them, do not dismiss them as crap or marginal, twit. Do you intend to publish it or are you the Chief Anarchist censor now?!
As for you liking Bookchin good for you, however I maintain that McQuinn is trying to posit his critique as post-bookchin, and he is not a major anarchist theorist except in his own mind, and obviously yours. I noticed you didn’t mention Dolgoff so am I to assume that like McQuinn Dolgoff is too left for you.
Yours from the margins,
Eugene Plawiuk


Post-McQuinn Anarchism

Girl: What'cha rebeling against Johnny?
Johnny: What'cha got!
The Wild Ones

This in a nutshell sums up the rebellion of Jason McQuinn, and the debate on Post Left Anarchism. That this debate, which in itself is a strawdog, should appear on the web site of IAS befuddles the mind (as it clearly befuddled Mr. McQuinn from his snarky comments on your asking him to publish here).

It is strictly an American debate. It takes place in the context of the American Anarchist Milieu and that milieu alone. It does not encapsulate the rest of North America, such as Canada or Mexico, nor does it address the anarchist movement in Europe, Latin America, Central America, Africa, the Middle East, and Australia-Asia.

It is an argument that has been used to sell a magazine, and to prop up the Infoshop web site with an apparent theory they can embrace. It did not need to be placed with such prominence on the IAS site, which only gives greater credence to this little idea whose time has come and, unfortunately for its authors, gone.

It is not a new idea, as McQuinn admits, it is founded on the ranting of self-appointed theorist Bob Black. Mr. Black is very good himself at taking other peoples ideas and making $$$$ by restating them as his own. In this case his critique of work, workerism, etc. was lifted from LeFargue's The Right to Be Lazy, the proto-situationist text The Right to be Greedy, and from the writings of Wilhelm Reich and the European far left (such as Paul Cardin/Castoradis and Maurice Briton).

Mr. Black has made a tidy sum and a small reputation by attacking and denouncing those he does not like. This he believes makes him a critical thinker in critical theory, actually all it does is make him a critic.

A rebuttal of Mr. Black's post-left anarchism is the essay McAnarchism by Tim Balash.

McQuinn's essay is overly generalized, setting up strawdogs (and proceeds to berate his critics for doing to him what he does in his own essay) of some ambiguous Leninist left. Painting with broad brush strokes the workers movement, the socialist movement, and the communist movement and yes the anarchist movement as if it were all one large monolithic structure unaffected by history. This static strawdog is then knocked down with a fallacious argument that there needs to be a new theory of anarchism, that there has not been any new anarchist theory since Malatesta died.

Ah and that’s the crux of this post left anarchism. It is the new theory of the movement, brought to you by Mr. McQuinn via Mr. Black. The fact that Mr. McQuinn, supposedly a student of Paul Goodman, misses a vast school of post-Malatesta anarchist thought in his essay shows just how specious his argument is. He mentions nothing of Emma Goldman, Alexader Berkman, Elise Recluse, Victor Serge, Ward Churchill, Nicholas Walter, Stewart Christe, Albert Meltzer, Wilhelm Reich, Alex Comfort, George Woodcock, Paul Goodman, Sam Dolgoff, Murray Bookchin, etc. etc. I could go on and on. But you get the point.

That is the crux of his argument, that there has been no new anarchist theory, (which is an entirely false argument) and post left anarchism is the answer. If it is an answer what is the question? Well simply put it is what is the alternative to Murray Bookchin. Let’s call a spade a spade shall we. Stripped of its vacuous rhetoric, vast flourishes of generalizations, McQuinn is, like his mentor Bob Black, attacking Bookchin. So Post-Left Anarchism should rightly be called Post Bookchin Anarchism.

No one in the McQuinns circle of friends, those being the folks publishing and editing his little magazine, likes Bookchin. And resent his popularity, his efforts to theorize, any more than they like Sam Dolgoff, or Malatesta. Like Bob Black, they literally seethe with apoplexy against anyone who would align anarchism with class struggle.

It is the individual that is supreme, cries these radical subjectivists. Ah yes that revolutionary school of thought of Francis Dashwood, DeSade, Stirner, Nietzche, and Crowley that desire must be unleashed. The individual is king, we are all to be kings, in worlds of our own creating. Such magickal thinking is not a theory it is the musings of would be aristocrats, looking backward to some decentralized village community where hermits freely associate or lock their doors.

It is American Exceptionalism not anarchism. It's roots are in the rural artisan culture of America that harkens backwards to its past, rather than accept that America was and is part of the ascendancy of Capitalism. It is, like Proudhonism and his American proponents Tucker, Josiah Warren and Lynsander Spooner, the anarchism of small shopkeepers.

There is nothing new in this. Its clear in the wrintings of the Greenwich Village bohemian anarchist artist Hyppolite Havel, long before Mr. McQuinn or Mr. Black recuperated it for themselves.
Stripped of its rhetoric it is the theory that Anarchism is Anti-Political, and Anti-Organization. That small sect of Anarchists that would have nothing to do with any organization that would have them as a member, as Grucho Marx would say.

And again it is an attack on those who see class struggle as a crucial part of anarchism, in this case the unstated object of this attack is Bookchin, but it could just as easily be Dolgoff.

There is no class struggle in America is the crux of American Exceptionalism and it is the crux of McQuinns theory. So what is the basis of the struggle? Well as the quote says above, What'cha got. We should just revolt, because freedom is revolution. Or as Abbie Hoffman once said; Revolution for the Hell of It.

This is not a theory and it is certainly not an argument that demolishes class struggle anarchism, nor is it even an alternative to class struggle anarchism. It would like to be but it isn't. It is however an argument that is made to criticize class struggle anarchism, and to say American anarchism is an exception.
It is an attempt to say that any subjective struggle is anarchism as long as it is not organized, not permanent, and not political.

It is the anarchism of food coops, food not bombs, homes not bombs, the black block. It is the anarchism of hippie culture, and DIY. It is in a word not anarchism but reformism. McQuinn's anarchism can be summed up in the old cliche, if it feels good do it.

Shucks I just hate dating myself, by even remembering all this old stuff from the Movement days of the late sixties and early seventies, but since we are looking backwards with McQuinn and company, his argument is based in the little pamphlet still in circulation entitled Anti-Mass. Add some Bob Black school of vitrupitive caustic comments posing as a critique and there you have post left anarchism.

In fact I am surprised that McQuinn did not entitle his essay Listen Anarchist! But that would have been too obvious as to whom his comments were aimed at. After all the Bookchin debate has been going on for decades so it hardly qualifies for a "new" theory.

I certainly hope that we can move on from this navel gazing self-aggrandizing debate that exists simply to sell Mr. McQuinns magazine and assuage his ego that he his a profound thinker. His desire may be armed but his Post Left Anarchism is sightless.

June 2004
Posted on the web on Indymedia, Resist.ca, FLAG, and through email lists.
NOT posted on Infoshop by decision of the ‘owner’ Chuck Muson.


William said...

Wow. Here I started off sympathizing with your "censorship" by the if-not-evil-then-at-least-dubious Chuck Munson and ready to rail against the mighty force of Infoshop, then I actually read the article.

Seriously? Really?

You've totally misread the modern Anarchist movement. And... it's just sad. McQuinn has his problems, but your response does more damage to your own standing than his.

Certainly the movement has cultural problems and oft resembles a shallow scene. But the whole Post-Leftist undertaking is an undeniably needed one. I mean really. Class conflict? Could you get anymore antiquated? Class analysis is a blunt, ugly and ridiculously simplistic framework that utterly fails to grasp at underlying systems dynamics. It's parallels reality haphazardly, but it ultimately fails.

...And then you throw out a passing insult at the Individualist Anarchist tradition. I mean really. You sound like a Marxist interrupting a discussion on the hierarchies in our social understanding of beauty to call everyone "Petite Bourgeoisie".

Oh and by the way, Post Leftism is actually MORE popular in swathes of Anarchist Europe and South America. I remember an Anarchist professor in the Balkans telling me that everyone he knew had moved onto Crimethinc.

eugene plawiuk said...

Your statement; "I mean really. Class conflict? Could you get anymore antiquated? Class analysis is a blunt, ugly and ridiculously simplistic framework that utterly fails to grasp at underlying systems dynamics." says it all. You my friend sound like the usual right wing commentators on Fox.