Clay Richards, anarchist blogger, writes about politics, art, sexuality and emerging digital realities. More poststructuralist than postmodern, politically incorrect to some, harshly critical to others, the Postmodern Anarchist believes in anarchy without anarchists, yet will freely discuss anarchism at the drop of a hat. Contact: postmodernanarchist(at)netweed(dot)com
The Postmodern Anarchist now resides at postmodernanarchist.com!
It's a blog! It's a portal! It's "A Niched Blog Portal on the Information Futures Markets Powered by Subject Tracer Bots™"!!! Information Futures Markets is all this and more! Created by Marcus P. Zillman, whose Virtual Private Library uses virtually the same template as the Postmodern Anarchist.
Update on Sherman Austin, the jailed anarchist webmaster discussed in my last entry:
Jailed African American Webmaster Sherman Austin Moved Into Isolation After Receiving White Supremacist Death Threats
Recent coverage on flash mobs from Wired News: Culture:
Flash Mobs Get a Dash of Danger
Manhattan Mob Meets Its Maker
At work on 9/11 we didn't even talk about the events of 2001 though my immediate coworker lived in Brooklyn at the time! Nevertheless there was lots of interesting alternative coverage.
Democracy Now did a strong series on historical events related to 9/11:
Sept. 11, 2001: Pakistani Family Mourns Loss of Son Who Went From Terror Suspect to 9/11 Hero
Sept. 11, 1990: U.S.-Backed Military Death Squad Murders Guatemalan Anthropologist Myrna Mack
Sept. 11-12, 1977: Anti-Apartheid leader Stephen Biko Dies From Brain Damage After Beating By South African Police
Sept. 11, 1973: A CIA-backed Military Coup Overthrows Salvador Allende, the Democratically Elected President of Chile
Exploiting the Atrocity - Paul Krugman discusses politicians' use of the 9/11 events for political gain. Good preparation for next year's pre-9/11 Republican National Convention and the corresponding Counter Convention.
Although I am not surprised to see government attacks on projects that support armed revolution, and that is how I see raisethefist.com, nevertheless Austin does seem to have been unfairly targeted. Because of a potentially lengthy sentence and the lack of megabucks, Austin plea bargained and was given a year in prison. His three year probation guidelines effectively remove him from any political activity or association. This is troubling and, if you're interested in offering support to Sherman Austin, go to raisethefist.com for more information.
Anarchists have a long history of support for prisoners, especially political prisoners, and not only because so many anarchists have been imprisoned or otherwise targeted by government forces. Prison represents one of the strongest control tools used by the State in its multiple forms, from the U.S. to Myanmar. One of the manifestations of such anarchist concerns in North America has involved networks of prison support groups including autonomous Anarchist Black Cross groups, the Anarchist Black Cross Federation and the more recently formed Anarchist Black Cross Network.
Currently I'm not keeping up closely with sectarian politics but my quick take on the ABCF and the ABCN, based on prior experience with anarchist politics, is that the Anarchist Black Cross Network is more my kind of thing. For now I will simply link to both groups and such links will be included on netweed's Anarchy page. In general, my discussion of any such group and netweed's linking to any group should not be considered an endorsement. However if I state a clear opinion, then that's my opinion and I'll back it up or change my mind as I deem appropriate.
That said, I should point out that one of the reasons I feel that Michel Foucault's work is relevant to anarchists has to do with his writings about power and prisons as well as his own activist involvement in prison support. Foucault is well known for his book Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, my favorite work of his, that would be more accurately translated as Discipline and Surveil. This work, along with edited volumes such as Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings, 1972-1977 and Power: Essential Works of Foucault, 1954-1984, Volume III, puts forth a sophisticated perspective on social relations that has been mobilized by researchers in widely ranging fields.
Foucault is the sort of theorist who is misread both by leftists and those who want to "transcend" politics (i.e. not be bothered with them) as either being irrelevant to daily political struggles or somehow justifying the uselessness of such activity. Although I recognize that multiple readings of any text are the norm, that misreadings can be valuable, etc., etc., Foucault's work is potent because it stops left business as usual in its tracks and requires one to recognize the lack of innocence of both liberatory projects and apolitical perspectives.
But Foucault is not easy reading and figuring out what he's saying and how it's relevant can be difficult, though many take quite quickly to his writing on the panopticon in relationship to surveillance as well as to the implications of related illustrations. I find that many of his ideas are clarified in interviews and essays as well as in biographical material. I think the interviews help with his theoretical perspective and also with some of the practical implications and both Power/Knowledge and Power: Essential Works of Foucault are useful for pursuing that approach to understanding.
Reading biographies by David Macey and by Didier Eribon helped me even more to relate this work to activist practices. Like most of Foucault's projects, Discipline and Punish related to other realms of his life, in part his prison support work at the time. Foucault took what I consider an anarchist stance, though he would not call it that. He worked with groups to help create channels for prisoners to speak and to shift away from prison reform towards support for self-organizing among prisoners. He refused the role of spokesperson for prisoners while taking an extremely public role in prison support.
Though I cannot read French (which really sucks), I find that Foucault is quite relevant in English and that most of those I encounter do not go far enough to really get what he's up to. I feel that looking at additional material helps quite a bit and, of course, rereading, and I don't just mean poststructural reading as rereading. Ya dig?
What I found interesting was the logic of those who are proposing a shift to RSS newsfeeds. Obviously it would be better for the publishers because their newsletters would get to the readers. However their argument is that this move would cut down on spam. Therefore, newspaper publishers are the source of spam!?! Therefore, HAVING NOTHING TO DO WITH SUCH PUBLISHERS makes more since than further cluttering up one's existence with RSS newsfeeds. Fortunately for the publishers, such logical considerations of human discourse are generally not used in daily life, even by academics. Later.
One of the great events in the widespread reassessment of outdated revolutionary theory was May '68, the uprising in Paris that focused analysis and action in a variety of ways. Accounts of the time and more recent views indicate that this was a unique uprising that involved a wide range of people and suggested fresh possibilities for autonomous organizing, as did many events of that period.
The spirit of May '68 is often invoked through graphics and graffiti slogans. Much of this perspective has been associated with Situationism, an avant-garde aesthetic, political vein that predated '68 and continues today, though primarily through pro-Situ activists and theorists. The Situationist perspective has spread through pamphlets and détourned comics, comics in which the original intent is turned, undermined, deconstructed.
A variety of texts are now available online and can be found at situationist international online, S.I. Archives, and Bureau of Public Secrets. Though the Situationists were not anarchists per se, their views and actions have had a great influence on anarchists interested in moving beyond essentialist notions of identity and obsessions with workers as the engines of revolution.
Workers of all countries, enjoy!
Under the paving stones, the beach!
Though I think post positions have definitely helped open up critiques of anarcholeftist business as usual, the bottom line is that to use French theory to avoid class struggle is bullshit. Perhaps our differences are indicated by the fact that she was drawn more to Baudrillard and I to Foucault. But that oversimplifies her misreading of her world. And Baudrillard's, for that matter.
In any case, on that note, with those comments, I want to just point out that lots of people work full time in the U.S. and are still in poverty and the first officially homeless vet of the war with Iraq has been spotted in Boston. If you think this doesn't relate to you and your issues, get a fucking clue.