A Dagger of Feral Anarchy
The world doesn't owe you shit.
The universe doesn't know you exist.
Stop waiting for things to happen -
only you can make a change.
- “Do It Yourself” by PUNCH
I remember once over-hearing a conversation in which there was a debate between using “post-left” or “anti-left” to describe anarchy beyond leftism. I thought this was an interesting conversation because it reminded me of how I once viewed and related to anarchy. I remember having viewed anarchy as a world to create, necessitating the organization of others to materialize it. Over time my relationship to anarchy shifted. Soon I found myself relating to anarchy as a sense of feral becoming – a personal revolt that placed emphasis on self – responsibility rather than co-dependence on others. This shift came from the understanding that people are not a singular mass herd of mindless followers but instead unique, complex individuals capable of independent thought, decisions, and actions. For me, anarchy beyond leftism abandons the idea that people are in need of organized leadership, and puts forward an understanding of how people discover their own power best when they’re governed, organized, or controlled the least.
In this text, I will attempt to elaborate more on post-left anarchy as I, personally, understand and relate to it. Since all terms, definitions, and labels are subject to individually unique interpretations, I speak only for myself, and for my own interpretation of the theories and ideas mentioned here.
Post-Left Anarchy & Anti-Left Anarchy:Two Sides of the Same Dagger
For me, post-left anarchy is synonymous with anti-left anarchy. The “post” in post-left anarchy does not represent a ‘new’ or evolved form of leftism – as some would claim with various contemporary anti-state communist and socialist projects. Rather I use the phrase post-left anarchy to merely express a present frame of mind distinct from a past experience of having identified and engaged with leftist thinking. And from this perspective, anti is synonymous with post because it accurately expresses the nature of my present existence – my desire for individualistic, feral freedom - as antagonistic toward the civilizing order of leftism. For me, post-left anarchy does not mean some sort of alignment or sympathy with right-wing politics - I am equally hostile toward nationalism, fascism, and all other conservative ideologies created in the name of preserving law and order. I recognize that both left and right wing ideologies are fundamentally collectivist, requiring the absorption of individual freedom in exchange for the uniformity of a republic. Both sides of the political spectrum integrate people into a binary interpretation of reality that ultimately maintains industrial society. Together, left and right wing politics encourage a type of hive-mind where the reproduction of society is individualized, while authoritarian power over the individual is maintained collectively.
But post-left anarchy is more than just an analysis or a few ideas on how to view anarchy, one’s self, or other people. One can critique philosophical ideas with more philosophical ideas, and even experience emotional changes influenced by those ideas. At the end of the day, philosophy alone is just a brainstorm of thoughts and ideas without landfall. Like a stem without an apple, philosophy is often found in the shallow graveyard of dusty books - never granted the opportunity to materialize beyond academic imprisonment. This is why, for me, post-left anarchy is more than just a philosophical idea or position beyond leftism. It is an anti-leftist lifestyle of owning one’s self, choices, and experiences rather than self-sacrifice to a social body – the group, organization, or commune. Anti-left anarchy is living, breathing self-empowerment and fulfilment as sabotage against the domesticating forces of social conformity.
Industrial society - or what I call the machine - is composed of various institutions built upon oppressive ideologies all around, imposing their influence, control, and civilizing domination upon all wild beings. These institutions are first and foremost built, maintained, and upheld by individuals who have collectively surrendered their freedom to institutional power. Recently, I have decided against using the phrase "the masses" because I have come to understand how it flattens important differences between all individuals. So instead I will use commune to refer to the social continuity of industrial society- a commune of unique individuals whose majority have, either wilfully or through social indoctrination, subscribed to the vision of industrial progress. When enough individuals submit to a social system, those born into it become indoctrinated. Independent thinking becomes difficult and many individuals prefer to continue their social assimilation rather than experience the social isolation of a rebel life.
Institutions like prisons, factories, corporate offices, schools, and so on all share a commonality: their workplace functionally causes the same blood and sweat as that which is shed during the labor of their physical construction. And somehow this civilized paradise of misery and stress continues to expand more rapidly with every passing year. I believe a probable explanation for this could be an understanding of how institutions manipulate one’s perception of reality. As industrial society expands, so does its visual influence. During the first years of colonization in so-called america, indigenous people were intentionally shown cities to psychologically discourage them from continuing to resist. At the root of this strategy is the subliminal message often heard from those who hopelessly comply: “we are too small; the machine is too strong.”
When bank windows get smashed, or police cars get set on fire, or when blockades jam up traffic for miles, one can observe a mixed reaction from people standing by. Some individuals become frenzied with excitement, while others panic in sheer terror. Personally, I believe these kinds of reactions are a response to the chaos of disrupting the normal flow of intimidation that is silently communicated from institutions to individuals on a daily basis. Looting and setting fires to grocery stores doesn’t have to be rational or logical to take place. I believe these activities are simply the result of freedom in bloom during moments when law and order have been torn to pieces. These moments of rupture often happen when the fury of raw emotions outweigh fear - the primary weapon of institutional power. Without the fear of legal consequences, poverty, or social isolation these institutions are exposed as nothing more than a house of cards.
The Social Welfare of Assimilation: Passivity Amid the Death March
When I speak of post-left anarchy, it would be correct to say that I place emphasis on the individual. I do this against a mighty collectivist current that encourages the denial of individual power. And with this denial of individual power comes a denial of individual responsibility for personal choices and actions that ultimately proliferate ideologies of authoritarianism. Time and time again, blame for one’s oppression is placed on ‘the system’, governments, institutions, or other formalized groups of people. But at the core, exactly who is it that contributes to the composition of these social entities? There is very little examination of the vital role an individual plays in producing and maintaining the institutions of control and domination. Is there really such a thing as neutrality in the participation of an ecocidal death march? A neutrality in participating in one’s own enslavement to workerism, to the globalized expansion of capitalism, or the normalization of submission? Some might consider this victim-blaming, but there is no denying the real harm experienced by the individual in a society. Rather, my critique doesn’t involve attributing all social problems to any particular individual, but rather pointing out the fact that on an individual level, power can become authoritarian or anti-authoritarian, submissive or rebellious. Even the most apathetic individual makes a good participant in a society of communal dominion. On an individual level, this power can materialize beyond mere philosophy – either in union with other individuals or alone.
When people critique police, is it merely the philosophy of policing that is being critiqued or does that same critique equally apply to each and every individual police officer who wilfully materializes that philosophy?
In this text it would be inconsistent of me to encourage the expropriation of individual freedom without discussing the power of oppressive individuals. Lets be honest; a war against industrial civilization and all forms of oppression will most likely never end – even in the afterlife of industrial collapse. If all oppressive institutions - including industrial society itself - were to collapse tomorrow (or even gradually over time) I personally believe there will continue to be individuals who crave the power to control and dominate others. It is very likely that these same individuals will continue to carry with them the residue of oppressive thinking. And there will be other individuals willing to surrender themselves to these visions, ultimately enabling authoritarians to materialize that craving for power.
So I ask, who, if not the individual, gives power to the ideology of racism, sexism, speciesism, fascism, capitalism, communism, industrial society, civilization, and so on? Who, if not the individual, constructs a philosophical concept that, when put into practice, rewards and enables hierarchical control over another? Who, if not an individual, is capable of desiring such control and domination of others? As long as individual beings have existed, so has conflict, violence, and resolutions that don’t always end peacefully.
The machine - a civilized, techno-industrial hell-scape that wages war against the wild - was created and enforced by both those who seek total domination, and by those who remain passive amid the death march. The machine represents a large-scale industrialized commune – a highly-coordinated collective of subordinate individuals - working at the highest level of anthropocentric progress.
All too often, people make the mistake of making generalized feel-good assumptions of people as a whole. I’m not sayin’ there aren’t kind, peaceful, or respectful people in the world. But I think it is abundantly impractical to assume there is a ‘common good’ in everyone, when in fact ‘good’ is subjective to individual interpretation. I believe it is safe to assume that as long as there are unique individuals, there will forever be the possibility of re-emerging authoritarian social formations within or without industrial society.
Contrary to popular belief, capitalism is (in my opinion) a shining example of collectivism in practice. Despite the assertion that capitalism is an individualist ideology, it is more evident that capitalism expropriates individual creativity in order to function as a powerful collective. The same individual creativity exploited for capitalist expansion could very well be the catalyst for any number of social formations of control post-collapse. If the individual is recognized as powerful and capable of self-emancipation, then it is equally possible for the same individual to contribute to creating the conditions for social control and domination. By passively assimilating and becoming a wilful participant, an individual becomes the private co-creator of an existing authoritarian worldview through personification and social interaction.
Armed Joy: From Theory to Feral Life
“If anything in this life is certain, if history has taught us anything, it is that you can kill anyone.” - Michael Corleone
Gaetano Bresci was an anarchist who assassinated King Umberto I of Italy. On July 29, 1900, Bresci shot King Umberto four times with a five-shot .32 revolver. Inspired by Bresci's attack, anarchist Leon Czolgosz would go on to kill United States President William McKinley.
In my opinion, the individual is the most powerful element of any given society or social formation. If an individual (or union of individuals who each value their ego) can not be convinced to submit to an ideology (and therefore refuses to materialize that ideology as a life-long active participant), that ideology fails to have the power to materialize beyond mere philosophy.
Who, if not the individual, has the power to reject the ideology of racism, sexism, speciesism, fascism, capitalism, communism, industrial society, civilization, and so on? Who, if not the individual, can reclaim creative capabilities and survive capitalism without succumbing to wage-slavery? Who, if not the individual, can construct new philosophical concepts that, when put into practice, sabotage the fear-based social contract of lawful obedience? With bombs, assassinations, or lifestyle criminality, who, if not the individual, is capable of inspiring others by disrupting the day-to-day routine of submission? This is the essence of illegalist propaganda of the deed.
Every form of oppression that exists is perpetuated, enforced, and ultimately sustained by wilfully participating individuals. I recognize the importance of the role I, as an individual, play in either proliferating all forms of oppression or sabotaging their social functioning. From this perspective, post-left anarchy could be accurately understood as war against society. For me it is not enough to attack the institutional manifestations of these ideologies. I also take aim at the origin of their proliferation – those individuals who willingly enable and perpetuate these forms of oppression.
For me, anti-left anarchy is not a naive mindset that serves as a philosophical basis for denying the material realities of industrial society. Nor is it an egoist excuse to justify the oppression of others. Post-left anarchy - as I relate to it - is an individualist rebellion against both the theoretical and material formations of control and domination. From a nihilist perspective, concepts such as race, gender, species, and so on are all socially constructed. At their root, they are merely products of imagination. But with the subordinated minds of a population of people, these figments of imagination have become materialized into a physical world. While these are indeed constructs of imagination, the number of individuals reproducing them through social relationships gives them power. Therefore, it is not enough to merely declare anti-racism without materially attacking the social and institutional enforcement of white supremacy. It is not enough to merely declare anti-sexism without becoming destructive toward gendered roles, identity-assignments, and the society that enforces them. It is not enough to merely declare anti-speciesism without actively disrupting the human supremacist view and treatment of other animals as flesh and secretions for consumption.
Whether it be physical institutions or individuals, my enemies come in all forms. I have no interest in forming artificial bonds through mere identity politics, nor compromising my desire for total liberation in the name of half-measures and blind unity. When I write these texts, I do not use the royal ‘we’ because I have no intention to deceive the reader into thinking I speak for others, and nor that I automatically assume others will agree with my personal views. Quite often, the use of the royal ‘we’ in texts and in political propaganda is intended to convince the reader that the author is backed up by, and speaks for, an (imagined) community. This deception suggests a personal fear in standing firm behind one’s own words, thoughts, and ideas - without the presence of a collective power for personal validation. My post-left anarchy doesn’t require a general consensus for permission to act, nor emotional validation or camaraderie when faced with criticism. There is no individual more qualified than I to create my life, therefore I have no use for requiring group validation when speaking of it.
My post-left anarchy could be understood as a hedonist lifestyle against authority and civilization – as well as a dagger drawn against any futurist, re-emerging authoritarian impositions that survive industrial collapse. More than just a personal refusal to be a social instrument of oppression – anarchy means attack. The words expressed in this text are merely the philosophical end of a pipe bomb - a wick lit by the flame of egoist desire toward an explosion of life – rebellion, play, and the ageless beauty of individualist sabotage and destruction. And for this lifestyle I fully accept whatever consequences may arise, for I have learned it is better to live than to surrender to the ever-expanding graveyard of passive political theory.