Let the Dead Bury the Dead: A Conversation with “L’Unique”
The first history ever grasped by humanity was propelled along by the desire for a knowledge of their Dead.
It’s elemental, primal. While the histories of peoples, nations, and tribes fill our hearts with pride or dread there will always be a visceral thirst to seek out one’s forgotten kin. Nations, peoples, these are immaterial things, temporary flags that individuals may carry in this life. But it’s the real people behind them we often wonder about the most: these people lived like us, eat, shit, and pissed like us; they were happy some days and sad the others. It’s a fascinating feeling to see historical figures merely separated from your own existence by time, yet intimately connected to it.
People make us wonder, and people after our own hearts make us wonder all the more.
For your average Anarchist the history is a tragic, yet heroic one: we see the grand paintings or grainy photographs of the Paris Commune and imagine the jokes told around barricades; we read the words of Mahkno to the Free Territory and can almost feel the rush of wind between our hair on horseback; we dream of Anarchist Spain with grim faces as all we can give our comrades under fire is a solidarity beyond life and death.
We dream of struggles and peoples long since laid to rest, their magic so powerful as to captivate us nearly 100 years later. But this magic has begun to rule us.
To the Barricades!
We lived in this Necromantic world, weavers of ghosts and pleasant visions made to intoxicate ourselves, because for far too long those illusions were all we had. It’s not enough to be some angry teenager, some bitter hotel employee. We want to know others share our struggle, that we’re not an isolated being but part of a collective whole. To those who were raised up in the 90’s outside of Seattle this lack of struggle was all pervasive and strangulating. After 2001, even more so: every would-be-revolutionary was stuck choking on flags and yellow pins made to glorify the slaughter of millions while “the workers” plugged in to every reality show the collective Id could produce. It was suffocating, it was thick enough to drink, and it seemed like in those dark days of patriotism that this could seemingly go on forever. It was only natural then we play pretend, look to the past and sing old hymns to ideological gods long dead, even going so far as rejecting “civilization” outright.
May I propose a toast: to the foolishness of the revolutionaries and the hubris of our foes!
This is no longer 2002; we all know freedom isn’t free because we’ve pissed it all away. What were left with is a world literally being ripped to pieces between a fading and syphilitic empire holding bitterly to the global reins and a rising juggernaut in the East, a vision China has long considered to be part of it’s heavenly mandate:
“The signs of the emerging new world order are many. First, there is China’s astonishingly rapid rise to great-power status, both militarily and economically. In the economic realm, the International Monetary Fund forecasts that China’s share of world GDP (15 percent) will draw nearly even with the U.S. share (18 percent) by 2014. (The U.S. share at the end of World War II was nearly 50 percent.) This is particularly startling given that China’s share of world GDP was only 2 percent in 1980 and 6 percent as recently as 1995. Moreover, China is on course to overtake the United States as the world’s largest economy (measured by market exchange rate) sometime this decade. And, as argued by economists like Arvind Subramanian, measured by purchasing-power parity, China’s GDP may already be greater than that of the United States….
Now, in the wake of the 2008 financial meltdown and ensuing recession, it is clear that Kennedy and other “declinists” were right all along. The same causes of decline they pointed to are at the center of today’s debate about America’s economic prospects: too much consumption and not enough savings; persistent trade and current-account deficits; deindustrialization; sluggish economic growth; and chronic federal-budget deficits fueling an ominously rising national debt.
Indeed, looking forward a decade, the two biggest domestic threats to U.S. power are the country’s bleak fiscal outlook and deepening doubts about the dollar’s future role as the international economy’s reserve currency.”
Let me remind the novices however, nothing is set in stone. Spirits are indeed fickle things.
The new Tower of Babel is off to a rather shaky start. Global finance can’t seem to get it’s shit together either, and with Germany’s Deutsche Bank guessing at a loss of 6 Billion while global stocks remain nervous due to a possible looming currency war, the battle for dominion is far from over.
Militarily even things are far from decided, the Syrian Proxy War still a hotbed of activity though Assad is off the table. Russia is now backing Kurdish forces in the region and getting heated with Turkey, all this amid a very real possibility the house of Saud might fall.
“The fall of the House of Saud may be provoked by a reduction in the price of oil. Incapable of reforming its life-style, the kingdom is borrowing hand over fist, to the point that according to financial analysts, it will probably collapse within two years. The partial sale of Aramco may temporarily postpone its demise, but this will only be possible at the cost of a loss of autonomy.”
Remember: Mecca is under Saudi control. With the most important site in all of Islam up for grabs how much blood would others be willing to spill to take it? In the middle of the puppet war between two powers you could have a religious conflict not seen since the death of Muhammad himself.
A globe engulfed in the fires of war looms in front of us.
I pose the question: Is Anarchism up to the task of this coming instability?
I’ll gladly admit it: I’m probably not the kind of person Anarchism wants as a poster boy. I drink alot, I play with Ouija boards, and for a few dollars I’m more then happy to tell your future or take off a hex. In my heart of hearts I am a militant, a lost member of the Petwo nation whose spirit delights in fire and explosions; when I count among the Dead know that you can summon me with cannonade. For years in Anarchism I’ve heard that things will remain stable, that we need to take a lesson from the liberals and really get into activism. On the other hand I’ve read essays and journals fresh from the “Battle of Seattle,” penned by individuals torn between the love of open conflict and the nihilistic truth that no amount of window smashing would ever make them free.
But that Anarchism was a reaction to that time.
And everywhere around me, in politics and economics it seems that time has passed.
It’s frightening, isn’t? That history is crunching around itself, the wrinkle where there’s just enough instability on the timeline where all possibilities co-exist at once? It’s that moment in spell craft where the interview beings, where you buy that scratch off, where the land lord is walking up to your door. It’s that do-or-die moment that makes people skydive or join bare-knuckle boxing clubs. A rushing of reality, an opening of the gates….
But do we have the will to walk through them?
On quiet and lifeless nights where cars seem to rush into oblivion I pondered these questions, tilting them in my mind like an etch and sketch I could never seem to fully erase. Certainly there was change in the air. You’d have to be crazy not to see that. But was it revolutionary, or just another failed party? Kropotkin’s words rumbled through my brain: “There are periods in the life of human society when revolution becomes an imperative necessity, when it proclaims itself as inevitable. New ideas germinate everywhere, seeking to force their way into the light, to find an application in life; everywhere they are opposed by the inertia of those whose interest it is to maintain the old order; they suffocate in the stifling atmosphere of prejudice and traditions. The need for a new life becomes apparent. The code of established morality, that which governs the greater number of people in their daily life, no longer seems sufficient.”
Instability itself couldn’t be the key, I surmised. Instability was world wide, true enough, but instability had merely turned Libya into the hunting ground of madmen and demagogues.
“Having made a complete mess out of it, and then leaving it to go to create another mess in Syria and then bringing ISIS into being either intentionally(HINT HINT) or by accident – they don’t know what do to about that. Now they see it’s spreading, so they feel some kind of pressure to do something…We don’t even know which of these groups we could possibly work with, because all these militias are even more radical then the next one.”
No, what made events not merely disastrous but revolutionary was ideas to capitalize on the instability. Like a Florida wildfire, new shoots had to be waiting to grow before the old forest retook it’s place. Perhaps what we were missing were these new shoots.
“The Definition of Insanity is Doing the Same Thing Over and Over Again…”
Anarchists on average are akin to the mythological Hydra, in the fact that while one of the philosophy’s heads can always be cut off it will almost always grow back. It is only the poison of the Hydra itself that can actually kill it, and Anarchism has a long history of saving entire venom sacs just for that purpose.
I won’t rehash words or get into inter-sectional arguments. There are plenty of those across the internet and in print. But I will say this:
Anarchism needs an update.
There’s something to be said for the power of the Dead, their role to inspire and mold the present and the future, but there’s also something to be said about understanding the difference between them and the living. I’ve had to explain how a refrigerator works to one of my ancestors, everybody has that one kind but racist grandma, and nobody will deny the appeal of the old leftist jargon and symbols. Remember: this is the guy who wears the bandanna with the hammer and sickle.
But things aren’t adding up anymore: Rosa Luxembourg, Kropotkin, Marx, Tolstoy, Goldman all veritable saints in the pantheon of human liberation! But somethings from those theories are clearly outdated.
“We are asked to focus on the working class as the “agent” of revolutionary change at a time when capitalism visibly antagonizes and produces revolutionaries among virtually all strata of society, particularly the young….We are asked to operate with principles that have been transcended not only theoretically but by the very development of society itself. History has not stood still since Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky died, nor has it followed the simplistic direction which was charted out by thinkers–however brilliant–whose minds were still rooted in the nineteenth century or in the opening years of the twentieth. We have seen capitalism itself perform many of the tasks (including the development of a technology of abundance) which were regarded as socialist; we have seen it “nationalize” property, merging the economy with the state wherever necessary. We have seen the working class neutralized as the “agent of revolutionary change,” albeit still struggling with abourgeois framework for more wages, shorter hours and “fringe” benefits. The class struggle in the classical sense has not disappeared; it has suffered a more deadening fate by being co-opted into capitalism.”
Is anybody happy at their job? Is your job really something you want to do? Is it just something you do to survive? Now imagine the grand revolution happens tomorrow: do you still want to work that same job for the “good of the people” instead of the “good of your employer?”
Even the concept of “revolution” has turned against us, always a mere changing of the guard: the Bolsheviks, the”Republicans” of Spain, Syriza (and I’ll even wager Bernie Sanders eventually) have time and time betrayed us. But we keep holding on, burning incense at the sacred altar of The Left, sure that this time we’d get it together. 1917, the RIGHT 1917(or 30’s or 60’s, or 4,000 BCE), is always just around the corner. Yet it never seems to come.
Anarchism has degenerated from the wild animal that made the heads of state quiver in fear to the equivalent of the blind WW1 officer telling his troops to march horizontally into machine-gun fire over and over again.
Time to evolve.
It was this caustic and new line of thinking that lead to a conversation with a comrade from the frozen north known only as “L’Unique.” It wasn’t an interview, nor some grand political gesture, but simply two free thinking individuals trying to come to terms with what the Left had been, what it had become, and what the future might hold. We began to try to imagine a strain of Anarchism(or perhaps even Post-Anarchism) that promised something beyond liberation for workers, a return to the bronze age, or enslavement to a new bureaucratic hierarchy
In truly comradely spirit, I share it here with you.
If my mind had been tumbling before, it had become a steam engine of speculation now.
A Future Worth Living Beyond “The Means of Production”
Here’s a truly revolutionary concept: We don’t want to be workers anymore.
“As machines and the network take over work, it will be possible to have a Gross National Product even if no humans do any labor. What will society look like when work and wealth are no longer laminated together?
Already, we are seeing the emergence of a worldwide “basic income” movement among Millennials. This is the notion that, as the machines take over work, every human should be guaranteed enough income to cover the essentials of life. This could take the form of government grants or crowdfunded campaigns or even radical sharing systems(cough cough, COMMUNISM). In other words, if anyone could “borrow” an apartment whenever needed or a car whenever travel was required, the need to own and therefore buy things would go down radically and so would the need for traditional income. Trials of this concept have already been undertaken in Canada, India and most prominently Brazil, and there is an active movement in the U.S., as well. More dramatically, Millennials are also beginning to take a fresh look at the fundamental concept of economic growth. The idea that economies must grow, or die, has been with us for ages. But, given the radical new circumstances in the world, has this idea possibly run its course? Facing global warming and shrinking world resources, aren’t ideas like efficiency and reduction now more natural and valuable than growth, as a measure of society? Young adults seem to think so. They are aspiring not to live large, but to live small. Micro apartments. Mini-cars. Backyards turned into food plots rather than showpieces. Perhaps the economy that doesn’t grow, but that maintains a serene equilibrium, will come to be seen as the real exemplar of progress. GNP comes to stand for Gross National Purpose.”
Where’s the Anarchism up to date on the fact that humanity could be free to pursue it’s true passions for the first time in history without worry of material conditions?
Where has the real radicalism gone, the one who had the teeth to rip open a new world along with the throat of the old? Where is the quasi-gnostic liberatory philosophy that promised a flowering of humanity we had only barely glimpsed? Surely not forever bound to the shop floor?
If I can 3D print a car, a railgun, or a house where does that even leave “the means of production?” I am rabidly for renewable energy, but where are the Anarchists demanding the release of Zero-Point Energy technology, something that’s been kicking around for at least 60 years, from the hands of the military-industrial establishment? NASA tests an engine that runs on literally no fuel, yet Eco-Fascists are calling for 2/3 of humanity to be wiped out and for us to return to mud-huts and gathering berries….of course they never mention just who must die and it is almost most certainly NEVER them.
Kropotkin’s vision of humanity as “reasonable enough to follow their natural instincts” and creating an Anarchism where “they will unite across the frontiers and constitute the Cosmos” seems far more radical and timely then anything out of the syndicalists or primitivists today.
The Anarchism I had always been enamored with pointed towards a free community that allowed for the flowering of the true individual within all it’s members, these communities federated amid a world intelligently and creatively shaped to be in tune with the environment. This was to be an evolution of humanity, not a regression. What individual could exist under the forced collective farm, the worker-owned Burger King, or a primitivist technological Inquisition?
“The Ubermensch, instead, is that individual who has the highest of ceilings and who fulfills her potential. Who peers beyond the illusory limitations we impose upon ourselves and accomplishes feats which become legend and myth and which point to liberation and self actualization. In Nietzschean terms, the Ubermensch is simply that person who listens not to the flock, but to their own “daemon” and who seeks out a life they would be more than willing to “say yes” to the prospect of living life again and again, ad infinitum in the highly unlikely-but-frightening-nonetheless case of Nietzsche’s “eternal recurrence. The Ubermensch is supposed to inspire each of us to make human life on this planet what it has always had the potential to be–i.e. spontaneous, creative, bold, heroic. The Ubermensch is she who shows us nothing more than how to make human life worthwhile.”
Amid the cajoleing of Saints and Spirits, fevered prayers, deep research, and a steady stream of vodka all these things crystallized into my head…and onto the pages of my eventual book.
Are such thoughts too radical? Too Utopian? On a planet that might be reduced to smoldering ash or a techno-corporate slave farm in the next 50 years I don’t know of any other choice we have. We’re the first generation in a long time that will be far worse off then our parents. Settling for workplace democracy or fireside villages isn’t going to change this and it isn’t revolutionary. It’s giving up.
It’s time for an Anarchism beyond such things.
Such a vision might not be an easy sell for everybody, indeed there are those so broken on the wheel of the mundane that they cannot live without the self-cast spell of the illusion of the past. They might even make up the overwhelming majority of what we deem “radicals.”
But to those wild hearts that still jump at night to the prospect of freedom, who refuse to be defined or tamed and can only live in spite of this world rather then within it, to those good and noble aristocrats of soul that wish to conjure a new world rather then merely banish the old, to you good people I say this:
It is time we pick up a shovel.
Dr. Bones is an 9 year practitioner of the Southern occult tradition known as Conjure, Rootwork, and Hoodoo. A skilled card-reader and Spiritworker, Dr. Bones has undertaken all aspects of the work, both benevolent and malefic. Politically he holds the Anarchist line that “Individuality can only flourish where equality of access to the conditions of existence is the social reality. This equality of access is Communism.” He resides in the insane State of Florida with his loving wife, a herd of cats, and a house full of spirits.
He can be reached through facebook.