Disclaimer (updated 7/8/07)

This is just more vanity and armchair anarchy. Virtual cheer leading cannot  be substituted for action.

Neither this author nor the opinions herein are in any way a member of  the Pittsburgh Organizing Group or any other local organizations, so please don’t hassle them because you object to these ramblings. There are links to local organizations, that the YT feel some kind of affinity with, or some personal bias are otherwise considered worthwhile. This is no way implies involvement or association (OK, we are members of the Alexander Berkman Hunting Club) with these groups, any more than linking to local mainstream political blogs connotes a relationship with its authors.

For those of you unfamiliar with the history of the relations between anarchists and authoritarian Marxists, do a little research to see why the YT will have nothing to do with them or their front/umbrella groups.

I am also an omnivore, and while I can’t condemn direct action carried out by animal rights types, I believe that any animal rights movement is an authoritarian glorification of a consumer boycott which seeks to reform capitalism, rather than abolish it. The inherently mystical and moralistic focus of such groups and individuals gives me the willies, and so the YT has no real affinity with groups, other than a love of broken things.

The local member run punk rock space, is also not included, due to their tolerance of fascists in their scene, the use of racist and misogynist images in promotional materials by bands that use their space, as well as being largely co-opted by privileged hipsters, who proudly flaunt their colonial, white supremacist, hetrosexism, at their board meetings, on stage, and on their message board.

While critical of various anarchist tendencies, there is no ill will towards comrades who advocate their own anarchisms, and despite theoretical, strategic, and tactical differences, it is important to appreciate their contributions to the richness and vitality of the ongoing social war.

Anarchism as youth subculture, as opposed to theories about social relations, is no more revolutionary than any other consumer identity, and at least twice as alienating, especially with it’s emphasis on young and bland (folk-punk, veganism, formerly union made running shoes, etc…). The strange thing is, the folks who perpetuate this specific kind of insular, esoteric “youthful rebellion” are often the ones who talk the loudest about “mass”. I’m not so sure that nutritional yeast and the “New SDS” have any relevance to the average person in the US who just trying to sustain their family. Actually, most people are offended by the notion of the suffering student and needlessly disgusting self-denial. Hopefully this can be outgrown?

12 Comments

  1. I find what you’ve written here, both in this disclaimer and throughout the blog, to be refreshing. Your writing style is both inviting and aggressive.

    “The local member run punk rock space, is also not included, due to their tolerance of fascists in their scene, the use of racist and misogynist images in promotional materials by bands that use their space, as well as being largely co-opted by privileged hipsters,…”

    I dealt with folks like this in Las Vegas. When I asked why these fascist people were tolerated I was often not given any answer and instead was largely ignored. I have much respect for the energy in a great deal of punk music and those who participate, but I also felt very uncomfortable being around people who would do what they could to hurt me and kill me simply for having been raised Jewish.

    “…I believe that any animal rights movement is an authoritarian glorification of a consumer boycott which seeks to reform capitalism.”

    This is particularly interesting because I’ve known animal rights folks to be some of the most ardent critics of capitalism, but at the same time, I’ve known animal rights folks who do simply seek animal rights reforms within this capitalist system because other than the poor treatment of animals, their lives are just fine. So, yeah, I don’t know.

    Anyway, thanks for your thoughts on all that you’ve written about and I look forward to reading more.

  2. Akeeba,

    Thank you for all your kind words.

    It seems that the punk subculture is loyal only to itself. When some antifa folks showed up to confront the nazi at this space last year, the spinky hipsters aka “punks”, attacked the ARA people, and proceeded to defend the fascist and the scene tolerance of it on their message board.

    That’s not say that anti-capitalism and animal liberation theology are mutually exclusive, but it’s a half-analysis of capitalism that doesn’t recognize that all commodities are inherently cruel under the existing social order. Further reading: Animal Liberation: Devastate to Liberate or Devastatingly Liberal?
    That, and PA recently passed HB 213 , increasing the penalties for animal/ environmental actions, and I’d rather not go to prison because someone else think foie gras is more cruel than tofurkey.

    I don’t like foie gras because it’s rich people food, and it’s unappetizing like tofurkey. I don’t think that it’s fair or realistic for privileged activist types to demand that oppressed people give up anything else. Haven’t we all given up enough already? If I were to demand that poor people give up anything, it would be the religions they embrace which are used to justify their oppression. They can have their butter and eggs.

    • Hello,
      I need to talk with you about removing a comment on your page. I would appreciate it if you would follow up.

      Thank you

  3. I like what you said about this sort of privileged “self sacrificing” tendency. Basically i am a materialist. I think working folks and regular folks deserve what they can get and it is privileged as fuck to criticize people who want nice things. i work for a union and I think of us as stick up kids. Even if you say we are all grad school students in the SEIU. We say up against the wall motherfucker give us your money to building owners and multinational cleaning companies. Often unions will downplay the demand for higher wages during campaigns and instead focus on publicizing other issues or calling everything a “living wage” campaign. If organized janitors want more then a living wage or already have one and want more then we should get that shit. i mean, i think working folks deserve beautiful things too and if they want food on the table AND a fresh pair of Nikes I am happy to work with them to try and get that.

    Anyway, this is a great disclaimer as I have been getting more and more frustrated with the anarchist mileu so to speak. i am hoping to connect with other anti authoritarians who work in larger social change institutions like unions etc and see what they think and see if we have some common stories because I am just not as interested in privileged “self liberatory” anarchism where the projects of anarchists mostly just benefit anarchists. That just seems like counter culture hippy bullshit and i don’t have time for that personally. i try not to hate on it too much because i want anarchists to be happy, I just want to work on issues that improve the lives of people on the daily. I am not interested in “unplugging” from the system. maybe I just don’t like the music or the haircuts but I am just not a “counterculturist” I guess.

    And Yinzurectionist, i would like to think that I am your favorite non preachy vegan. Christ, i was a vegan while working for the United Steelworkers.

    This is my favorite blog and i love staying somewhat connected to Pittsburgh by reading it. yay!

  4. J,
    You know I don’t lump you in with the soft-handed union organizers, the ones with the really clean fingernails. The whole planet is a labor camp, and you have a little guy to help care for. Besides it can’t hurt for the business unions to employ individuals who know that they are selling themselves short, until we can quit selling ourselves outright.
    But like Leonard Cohen said-“They sentenced me to twenty years of boredom, for trying to change the system from within”. I know you’ve been through worse…
    I’m just started reading “The Politics of Individualism: Liberalism, Liberal Feminism, and Anarchism”, by L. Susan Brown, and while only a chapter or two into it, I’m impressed with the notion that anarchist theory was not only a way to address the shortcomings of Marx, but a critique of John Stuart Mill and classical liberal thought. So forgive my tendency to be really vocal about the last thing I read, like a duckling who think its mother is the first thing it sees after hatching.
    North American (and maybe the rest of the world, for all I know) anarchist groups have a serious retention problem, and we should at least consider that it could be something we’re doing, and not just societal pressure to “grow up, you’re 25 years old”.
    I’m flirting with the idea of some kind of resource for the anti-authoritarians who aren’t as young and pretty as we used to be, home and family and failing health stuff-practical shit. Tips for the social war “out there” away from the meetings and potlucks. Maybe even helping bougie white anarchists get over their fear of working white folks, who knows?
    The ovo-lactos who suck up to the vegans who the real vegangelists. The people who insist that social events must be vegan tend to be guilty omnivores, hoping to abstain by proxy, by catering (pun intended) to a less vocal minority, than I like to admit.
    Sorry that my complaints to CYS about your vegan child-rearing forced you to leave town.
    Hopefully this makes up for it:
    Enough for two sliced eggplants. I haven’t tried the grated eggplant, yet.
    * 1 cup white vinegar
    * 1 cup cider vinegar
    * 2 tablespoon brown sugar
    * 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
    * 1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce (I used one of habenero and one rooster), or to taste
    * 1 teaspoon salt (i like coarse sea salt, so bougie)
    * 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
    * 1 tablespoon hot pepper flakes
    * 1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard or mustard seed
    * a splash of balsamic vinegar
    * 2 tablespoons of some kind of oil
    Mix everything together and let it sit for at least three hours. Add the eggplant and cover. Marinate refrigerated for at least eight hours. I don’t know if it works on an outdoor grill, but you’ve tasted what the indoor hinged grills can do. The sauce should keep for a few months.

    I’m glad you enjoy this. Infoshop’s comment registration policy backed me into this corner.
    Missing you,
    el yinsurgente

  5. “North American (and maybe the rest of the world, for all I know) anarchist groups have a serious retention problem, and we should at least consider that it could be something we’re doing, and not just societal pressure to “grow up, you’re 25 years old”.”

    Uh…it took you this long to figger out?

    Let’s see:

    1. Everything is a problem with no clear, achievable goal.

    2. Da man is behind everything. Everything.

    3. Many are treated like children because they act like children most times.

    4. You (plural) slander those that mean to be your allies with gross generalizations and off target insight into their past.

    5. Your (plural) arguements are unreasonable. A reasonable principle is achieved through consistency of its application. Thus pittsburgh/poggish/lefty groups are unreasonable because they are inconsistent.

    6. The anarchish community can’t accept itself, or each other, let alone outsiders with different tendencies. The literature the poggish people put out says ‘oh yeah we are all about diversity and such’ but in practice, they are not.

    7. So much of the anarchish community really depends on uniforms, codes, and fashion. Its become like some giant self referential crazed version of a bad Kierkergaard book. Really, there are very strict guidelines to operating within the poggish circles and failure to adhear (sp?) to them WILL result in you being ‘outcast’.

    8. It is their almost religious faith in their ‘right’ analysis.

    So I think that’s how guy dubord would put it if he had my experiences. The end sum, though, IS a sense of hopelessness, powerlessness and such that causes such revulsion and the fleeing of the ranks.

    For me, it was a question of liberty vs. equality, and what that meant. It was ‘what the fuck is wrong with some of these people’ and what that meant. It was like a foreman writing you up for being a minute late (I had a foreman, Ray, like that…see “Tales From the Site”) and what that meant. It was also alot of ‘oh shit am I tired’ after work, and what that meant.

    I hope that sheds some light, from one outcast to another,
    Regards,
    C.

  6. The societal pressure I’m talking about is an adjustment capitalism made in response to the unrest in the late 1960’s. To paraphrase Chef from South Park, “There is a time and place for everything, children, and it’s called college.”
    Before the teenager was invented, rebellion wasn’t just a necessary commodity for the young, like the list they give us before boot camp or freshman year.

    1. Everything is a problem with no clear, achievable goal.

    I can live with that. I don’t have a problem with favoring “the battle” over “a battle”. I’ve learned not to root for teams or players, or even plays, but good blocks and moments of teamwork and such.

    2. Da man is behind everything. Everything.

    No argument here.

    3. Many are treated like children because they act like children most times.

    Even though I’m way closer to a colonoscopy than homecoming, I wish more North American activist types would act more like children, but that is the ghost of the Left and the dead West Asian (if Pluto’s not a planet, let’s admit that Olde Europe is not a continent) men with big beards.

    4. You (plural) slander those that mean to be your allies with gross generalizations and off target insight into their past.

    I’d take that up with the “movement builders” and such, I’m personally not looking for digital allies.
    I assume you refer to the ‘Seattle graffiti person’, who didn’t seem to be looking to make any friends. Based on their stated opinions, and the fact that summit-hoppin’ ain’t cheap, I made my generalizations. I’m vain and petty though, too. Between that and the meat eating and love of creature comforts, I’d make a piss-poor Buddhist.

    5. Your (plural) arguements are unreasonable. A reasonable principle is achieved through consistency of its application. Thus pittsburgh/poggish/lefty groups are unreasonable because they are inconsistent.

    I’m aware that I’m unreasonable and not overly principled and I’m learning to live with it. I think the formal, static groups in general are too reasonable. If history is any indicator, anti-authoritarians tend to fare pretty badly when they get too reasonable.
    I’m try to be flexible and reasonable to demand consistency. It helps if inconsistency is honestly assessed, though. Monotheists killing each other; that’s consistency. Most of the examples of consistent behavior I could up with were pretty lousy.

    6. The anarchish community can’t accept itself, or each other, let alone outsiders with different tendencies. The literature the poggish people put out says ‘oh yeah we are all about diversity and such’ but in practice, they are not.

    Anarchists are fond of word games, that’s for sure, but that’s not genuine animosity. If it was there’d be the same shooting and snitching you see with fascist groups. You obviously have a different experience and different expectations than I. If anything I find the static anti-authoritarian groups to be too accommodating with the lefty coalitions and issue groups. Unfortunately, formal, defensive groups eventually have to compete for members and monies, and at the end of the day , I’m glad someone does it, but I don’t have the enrgies. For instance, an anti-authoritarian tendency in the New SDS, is gonna beat their heads against the various Iron Curtainist groups, not to mention the inevitable big money Democratic Party fronts, for the right to use an historical imprint? I don’t know if campus mental health services will be able to absorb the casualties.

    7. So much of the anarchish community really depends on uniforms, codes, and fashion. Its become like some giant self referential crazed version of a bad Kierkergaard book. Really, there are very strict guidelines to operating within the poggish circles and failure to adhear (sp?) to them WILL result in you being ‘outcast’.

    That’s the legacy of the 1960’s and youth subculture, as well as a not unreasonable fear of infiltration. It’s not easy for gubmint agent to be a fixed-gear riding, vegan, in a tiny apartment. Maybe it was just me, but I never really felt ‘outcast’ for being a little older, and little more conventional looking, although treated with caution at first, the same way I do to strangerss, who look like me, oddly enough, in discussing certain matters.

    8. It is their almost religious faith in their ‘right’ analysis.

    I don’t know about you, but that’s not a problem for me, especially when I agree with their ‘right analysis’ ?
    That’s not exclusive to anarchists or activists, the same can be said about certain operating system consumers, motorcycle owners, sports fans, etc.
    It’s not surprising that since we’re all socialized to adopt a religion, and view things from a Judeo-Christian, largely mainline Protestant perspective, that people’s analysis would reflect that influence. Petty criminals aren’t the only ones who are products of their environments.

    So I think that’s how guy dubord would put it if he had my experiences. The end sum, though, IS a sense of hopelessness, powerlessness and such that causes such revulsion and the fleeing of the ranks.

    For me, it was a question of liberty vs. equality, and what that meant. It was ‘what the fuck is wrong with some of these people’ and what that meant. It was like a foreman writing you up for being a minute late (I had a foreman, Ray, like that…see “Tales From the Site”) and what that meant. It was also alot of ‘oh shit am I tired’ after work, and what that meant.

    Debord would have been confusing and badly translated. From the term spectacle on. Activism’s hard, but I’m glad there are people willing to do that kind of thing, and marvel at the people who can do it for long periods of time, and I’m not surprised that many people can’t. There are other modes and models of action, though, without getting into to vanguardist urban guerrilla shit, either. Personally, I feel the need to ‘stay the course’ as I know that I lack cross-class mobility, but that’s just me.

    I’m not good with meetings and such either, but that’s nobody else’s fault. If it works for them, I won’t begrudge them that.

    I need to eat something.

    yinsurgent

  7. The business unions are stick-up artists alright. But I don’t think Stern et al are sticking-up the bosses. Rather, the workers are getting the shaft 😉

    Ok, I had to have that stereotypical rant, just for J.

  8. It’s funny to see Stern, mugging with the Captains of Industry, pretending he convinced them that single-payer health care was in their best interest, and his idea.

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  10. A wonderful disclaimer for a terrific blog.

    I’m a relatively new reader, but I’ve got to say that I appreciate the realism underpinning your take on anarchy, as well as your refusal to let it be co-opted by nostalgic, authoritarian groups for whom affinity with anarchists is essentially strategic. Having seen what World Can Wait constantly tried to do with ARA, or what’s going on here in Barcelona, with the Catalan Republican Left Party’s supporters (and their youth group, JERC) bringing their flags to…fucking everything, I strongly sympathize with you on this rejection.

    Anyway, keep it up!

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