An Anarchist Debate

Many thanks to the Grindcore House coffee shop for hosting this debate. From their facebook event page: “Our first debate will explore two strains of anarchism: anarcho-primitivism and anarcho-syndicalism. Author and speaker, Kevin Tucker, will be in the primitivist corner and long-time Wobblie and Anarcho-Syndicalist Review contributor, Alexis Buss, the syndicalist one.

Publick Intercourse is a new series of debates hosted by the Grindcore House. We’re taking you back to the London coffeehouses of the 17th and 18th centuries, a time when coffeehouses were dubbed “penny universities” and provided a space for patrons to debate the political, economic and social questions of the day.”

Part I

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Part II

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Part III

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20 Responses to An Anarchist Debate

    • Anonymous says:

      None of it matters? Workplace organizing, the implications of suicide seeds, indigenous resistance, feminism, what direction anarchism is going to take, how we are to move forward? None of it huh?

      • The direction of popular resistance is not determined through meetings and debates but by the feelings and actions of millions of people. We are no longer in the age of organization plus membership equals liberation. That is a coup, not a revolution. We are in the age of social networks and flash mobs. Its better that way, and the sooner the radicals learn up, the sooner something interesting might happen.

    • x says:

      we can debate nihilism later

      • All I said was that this debate, both sides, are not relevant. I would conduct a person-in-the-street poll on this question, but I don’t think you need me to tell you that nobody cares about this except for members of either of these two churches.

    • Comrade Beautiful Soul says:

      “Nihilism is based on a belief that there is a top object. It is, in other words, a disguised form of theism.” crunch.

      • I suspect you believe that if you convert/convince enough people in to believers of your faith/ideology, the rapture/revolution will come and we will live in heaven/anarchy.

  1. AAustin says:

    I don’t have to time to listen to all the audio right now, but I will say, tha I can’t think of anything that an anarcho-syndicalist and anarcho-primitivist would (or should) disagree on.

    I would just assume all the flavors of anarchism would coexist. There would be syndicalist communities and primitivist communities.

    • Okay, in theory, that would work only if the Syndicalists subjected their society to the demands of Primitivist eco-respect (since that is their main gripe with Civ in the first place.)

      Realistically, there will never be such communities except temporarily and in small, isolated pockets of humanity. Capitalism will either ignore or absorb them because those social models are not sustainable among human beings. Our nature is to invent and build new things. The many technological developments that comprise Civilization cannot be erased forever unless we aim for a permanent Dark Age on all scientific thought. It didn’t go so well the first time.

      Moreover, one must ask how it is that anyone could imagine a sustained society-wide way of living that relies on moral imperatives such as sharing and respecting the environment in the world of today. Can you imagine the 1,000,000 people in Philadelphia working together? How about 300,000,000 Americans?

      We have repeatedly seen the births and deaths of communes and of worker-operated factories around the world. Not all those communes were cool, either; just think People’s Temple or Charles Manson. Many Syndicalist factories were born out of favorable conditions like the abdication of owners and died because they were poorly managed, needed new staff but did not want to pay them equally, etc. As long as the necessities of life are limited in quantity, there will be a means of deciding that distribution and it will never truly be equitable. Money will exist so long as resources are finite. The market and commodification of limited goods will exist to determine that distribution. Where these do not exist, a central authority will take its place. And neither are Anarchy.

      These social institutions cannot be undone simply by the power of the imagination.

      Consciousness can conquer conditions only insofar as the conditions of that consciousness themselves permit. This law of social motion is regularly disregarded by activists who believe the will can simply triumph over reality and create utopia. This is a silly fiction. The real beauty and power of our agency is not in using our dreams as a template for our reality but in using our reality as a template for our dreams. That is when people, not just fringe activists, get interested.

      • admin says:

        Social institutions of course will not be undone by the power of imagination, but they will most definitely be undone by things like peak oil and global war over dwindling “natural” resources. There’s no reason why the human urge to create can’t be directed into sustainable channels, however that’s not what’s happening now. Only the delusional think that we can continue on our current path without disastrous consequences. Those who care about the future are having conversations about how we can avert catastrophe as much as possible and rebuild a fairer, more sustainable world from the ashes of this pernicious system we’re currently suffering under.

        • The issue is how much activists underestimate the versatility of Capital. As long as commodities are limited, there will be Capitalism. Period. The crises ahead of us in terms of environmental devastation and major resource shortages cannot destroy Capitalism but merely rearrange its form. The terms will be renegotiated, but the system will not go away.

          It is very possible that the current leading paradigm of Capital will collapse, such as with the fall of America. The resulting chaos will probably see the formation of many experimental communities as people desperately try to survive. But these will dissipate as Capital gets on its feet again, though that recovery may take up to half a century to accomplish thoroughly.

          In short, the most we can hope for is to form a nation and state that we find more equitable than the current arrangement. People are free to want to “overcome” nations and states, but I hope most of such people will realize the futility and absurdity of such a proposition when the time comes to create our own state. If the Zapatistas had to do it, so will we.

          • jaz says:

            Interesting point, but is it possible that in order for Capital to perform, domesticate and sedate there is a required stable ecological and psychological base. The coming collapse may initially be financial, but then very much environmental and ultimately spiritual. People, many of whom will by then know many friends and relatives who have died in the crises, may lose their core belief in capitalism; this belief is what drives capitalism. The added background resistance of environmental hardships, energy shortages, resource competition and war will only make it a lot harder to return to the paradigm.

          • 888 says:

            Wow, the circle is closed. From Leninism through anarchism to nihilism and back to reformism.

  2. To 888, allow me to explain.

    I wanted an organized resistance to Capitalism, so I joined the Communists. I found authoritarianism in their organizations, so I joined the Anarchists. I found everyone wanting short bursts of aimless violence or to go backwards to authoritarianism like that of the Leninists. Finding all groups accomplishing nothing, I became a Nihilist, but found that I could not stomach doing nothing even when nothing mattered.

    Now, I am only interested in those who are suicidally serious. If you won’t risk your life to destroy capital, get far far out of my way.

  3. Corvus says:

    I unfortunately did not hear much debate here. I heard neither side talking about the entirety of issues out there. I heard a little bit more from the green side than the reds, but overall, it seemed to be a lot of general jargon and no praxis.

    I think about things like how will people with medical needs born of civilization survive in a post-civ world? How will the needs of trans people who choose medical interventions be met? How will those with mental and physical health differences fit into the “collapse”? Will they simply be left behind for being not “fit” enough? How does social darwinism influence primitivism? Does primitivism ascribe to a mutual struggle or mutual aid idea of evolution (or neither)? How will the idea that x amount of people need to die for y to work be sure not to include survivors of only white able bodied already well off white men? How will patriarchy be addressed in a post civ society? Long before civilization, women, queers, animals, and others have been oppressed. How has civilization helped these groups? How has it hurt them? How can we be sure that social issues remain at the forefront while anti-civ issues are practiced? What responsibility do we have to other species now that we have destroyed the world? Can we really revert to being hunters and choose to kill animals after we have been a species already destroying their planet for so long? Wouldn’t some small plant based agriculture make more sense then everyone hunting and gathering given the current population r even a halved population?

    I do think many of my questions about red anarchism were addressed by tucker in some ways. But I also ask, what if the work the workers are doing is inherently oppressive? Old forest logging? Meat packing? Fur factories? Slaughterhouse workers? Production of environment destroying products? Production of oppressive materials? All of these humans deserve rights and deserve to be supported in their work, all of their bosses are oppressive rich assholes in most cases, but where does the critique of the kind of work they are doing come in? Where is the critique of the bosses abuse of the state of immigration prejudice or racism in certain professions come in? Where is the critique of industrialization increasing via this kind of work and how can we support workers while also critiquing this work? Where is the class analysis of those able to unionize? Where is the discussion of unions becoming capitalized and business like and no longer like the old school unions run by the people? How do the needs of individuals from marginalized groups play into union organizing?

    I find that some of the biggest issues with both green anarchy is that they don’t have a decent enough analysis of white hetero patriarchy and cis sexism and child rearing and other things. They do not analyze things that are not material as much as they need to. With red anarchy, the focus is on the worker being more important than anything else. So both are flawed. Like everything. One side seems to think all oppression starts with civilization and another seems to think all oppression starts with bosses. Both of these things are fundamentally wrong.

    Green anarchism argument here seems to think too general. Red anarchism seems to think too specific. I kinda expected more from this debate. I have so many questions about both sides…

  4. It seems to me that the fundamental break that prevents communication here is that the wobbly does not understand that industrialism is destroying the world. It doesn’t matter that workers organize, because the work they do undermines the conditions for survival–the life-support systems their work exploits in the first place.

    The primitivist shies away from “solutions” (though crashing the grid is one)…because he is working with a critique, not a program. The point that seems to me the most fruitful way forward is the idea of industrial infrastructure that makes a culture of city-life possible.

    What about the General Strike?? What about revolutionary ecology–i.e. Judi Bari’s (EF!/IWW) vision for factory workers to refuse to make poison, that “a revolutionary ideology in the hands of working people can bring that system to a halt. For it is the working people who have their hands on the machinery. And only by stopping the machinery of destruction can we ever hope to stop this madness.”

    Organizing to perpetuate a murderous system is irrelevant because it promotes a power grab that perpetuates the fundamental anthropocentricism that destroys habitat and natural systems, elements necessary for a thriving planet. It doesn’t matter if elites or workers hold power if that power murders and exploits the ecosystems of the planet.

    Green bans leading to permanent general strikes give humans the time to rewild and learn to live in non-domesticated ways.

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