The Lemonade Ocean & Modern Times
1. One More River to Cross
In our experience (that is, not merely in intellectual speculation but in everyday-life) we have found that “the Ego” can be as much of a spook as “the Group” — or indeed, spooky as any abstraction which is allowed to control behavior, emotion, thought, or fate. Deeply as we’ve been influenced by Stirner / Nietzsche Tucker/ Mackay, we have never held to any rigid ideological or psychological form of Individualism / Egoism. Individualist anarchism is lovely dynamite, but not the only ingredient in our cocktail.
Our position, put quite simply (in the form of a truism): The autonomy of the individual appears to be complemented & enhanced by the movement of the group; while the effectiveness of the group seems to depend on the freedom of the individual.
In the 1980’s — thru poverty, terror, mediation, & alienation — the individual was more & more isolated, while all forms of “combination” (communes, co-ops, etc.) were eliminated or else reduced to pure simulation. The pleasures of the isolated ego have begun to pull as the “self” is gradually reduced to a comm-terminal or funnel for commodity-fetishes. In the 90’s we will demand effective means of association which depend neither on Capital nor any other form of representation. We reject the false trance of the Spectacular group — but we also reject the lonely ineffectiveness of the embittered hermit. Always one more illusion to overcome!
2. Maximizing Marx
“Type-3 anarchism” (a term coined by Bob Black) designates a radically non-ideological form of anarchism neither Individualist nor Collectivist but in a sense both at once. This current within anti-authoritarianism is not a new invention, however (nor has it been given any final form). One can find versions of it in such works as bolo’bolo, or in the writings of the Situationists. One Situ group (“For Ourselves”) went so far as to suggest a synthesis of Max Stirner & Karl Marx, who in real life were bitter enemies. They pointed out that Stirner’s psychological existentialism does not necessarily conflict with Marx’s economics. Bakunin criticized not Marx’s original critique but rather the solution he proposed, dictatorship.
As for us, Stirner outweighs Marx because psychology precedes economics in our theory of liberation — but we read Stirner in the light of Bakunin & the early Marx — the light of the 1st International & the Commune of 1870 — the light of Proudhon.
In order to clarify this position, we’ll introduce two more names from our “family tree,” Steven Pearl Andrews (1812–1886) & Charles Fourier (1772–1837). In a sense we find them a more congenial pair than Max und Marx, because they both made significant donations to the cause of erotic liberation (a central concern of the Mackay Society), unlike say the virginal Bakunin, or Marx or Proudhon — both prudes — or for that matter Stirner, Nietzsche, or Tucker, who all more or less avoided the subject. Serious historians of the Social often ignore Andrews & Fourier because they were “cranks” — utopianists, marginals, Blake-like visionaries. One needs to be something of a surrealist to appreciate them. But our appreciation is more than erotic, aesthetic, or spiritual. We also draw from them a precise picture of our own position in the “type-3” current of contemporary libertarianism.
3. Lemonade Ocean
Fourier was amazing. He lived at the same time as De Sade & Blake, & deserves to be remembered as their equal or even superior. Those other two apostles of freedom & desire had no political disciples, but in the middle of the 19th century literally hundreds of communes (phalansteries) were founded on fourierist principles in France, N. America, Mexico, S. America, Algeria, Yugoslavia, etc. Proudhon, Engels, & Kropotkin all read him with fascination, as did Andre Breton & Roland Barthes. But today in America he is forgotten — not one complete work by Fourier is in print here — a few anthologies came out in the 70’s but have vanished — & only one work about him (a fine biography by Jonathan Beecher, which may serve to stir some enthusiasm). Fourier’s own disciples suppressed some of his most important texts (on sexuality), which did not appear in print till 1967. It’s about time he was re-discovered again.
To quote Fourier out of context is to betray him. To say for example that he believed the ocean would turn to lemonade in the future, when humanity comes to live in Harmonial Association, is to make him a figure of fun (as Hawthorne did in The Blythedale Romance). To understand the beauty of the idea it must be seen in the context of Fourier’s grand & brilliant cosmological speculations, rivals in complexity of Blake’s prophecies. For Fourier the universe is composed of living beings, planets, & stars, who feel passion & who carry out sexual intercourse, so that creation itself is continual. The miseries of Civilization have deflected Earth & humanity from their proper destiny in a literal cosmic sense. Passion, which we have been taught to regard as “evil,” is in fact virtually the divine principle. Human beings are microscopic stars, & all passions & desires (including “fetishes” & “perversions”) are by nature not only good but necessary for the realization of human destiny. In Fourier’s system of Harmony all creative activity including industry, craft, agriculture, etc. will arise from liberated passion — this is the famous theory of “attractive labor.” Fourier sexualizes work itself — the life of the Phalanstery is a continual orgy of intense feeling, intellection, & activity, a society of lovers & wild enthusiasts. When the social life of Earth is harmonized, our planet will re-join the universe of Passion & undergo vast transformations, affecting human form, weather, animals, & plants, even the oceans.
Passion draws humanity into association just as gravity draws celestial bodies into orbital systems. The phalanstery is a little solar system revolving around the central fire of the passions. Thus, altho Fourier always defends the individual against the tyranny of the Civilized groups (what we’ve called Spectacular groups, in the modern context), nevertheless for him the group in its ideal form takes on a quality of absoluteness. It’s been jokingly said of him that the only sin in his system is eating lunch alone. But “association” cannot be considered a form of collectivism or communism — it is not strictly “egalitarian,” nor does it eliminate personal property or even inheritance. Moreover, all the elaborate titles & ranks Fourier delighted to invent for his Harmonians were voluntary & purely ceremonial. The Harmonian does not live with some 1600 people under one roof because of compulsion or altruism, but because of the sheer pleasure of all the social, sexual, economic, “gastrosophic,” cultural, & creative relations this association allows & encourages.
4. The Convivial Individualist
One of Fourier’s favorite illustrations of how harmony works even in Civilization was the dinner party, where wine, wit, & good food are enjoyed according to a spontaneous order, not subject to any law or morality. Social Harmony would be like a never-ending party: Fourier envisioned people leaping out of bed at 3 a.m. to pick cherries as if they were rushing off to a grand ball.
Steven Pearl Andrews (who also used the dinner-party metaphor) was not a fourierist, but he lived through the brief craze for phalansteries in America & adopted a lot of fourierist principles & practices. His chief mentor was Josiah Warren, first exponent of Individualist anarchism (or “Individual Sovereignty”) in America — altho Warren in turn inherited much from certain strains of radical democracy & Protestant “spritual anarchy” which can be traced to the earliest Colonial period. Andrew was a system-builder, a “logothete” like Fourier & Blake, a maker of worlds out of words. He syncretized Abolitionism, Free Love, spiritual universalism, Warren, & Fourier into a grand utopian scheme he called the Universal Pantarchy.
He was instrumental in founding several “intentional communities,” including the “Brownstone Utopia” on 14th St. in New York, & “Modern Times” in Brentwood, Long Island. The latter became as famous as the best-known fourierist communes (Brook Farm in Massachusetts & the North American Phalanx in New Jersey) — in fact, Modern Times became downright notorious (for “Free Love”) & finally foundered under a wave of scandalous publicity. Andrews (& Victoria Woodhull) were members of the infamous Section 12 of the 1st International, expelled by Marx for its anarchist, feminist, & spiritualist tendencies.
Like Fourier, Andrews created a “religion” to replace all the corrupt authoritarian cults of Civilization. We admit that this mystical tendency in both thinkers interests us a great deal, & again rouses our sympathies more than the cold atheism (or “fundamental materialism”) of a Stirner of Marx. Type-3 anarchism includes for us the heritage of the Ranters, Antinomians, & Family of Love, as well as radical forms of buddhism, taoism, & sufism.
Like Blake, Fourier & Pearl Andrews built systems of their own so as not to be slaves to someone else’s — & these grand structures included psychological, sexual, & spritual dimensions missing from mere ideological or philosophical systems. The structural details of Harmony & Pantarchy are fascinating & inspiring, but for us their deepest value lies in the daring of their total “radical subjectivity.” Fourier & Pearl Andrews created poetics of life, not merely politics or economics, & it is this aspect of their work we most admire & wish to emulate.
5. Universal Pantarchy & North American Phalanx
In a more immediate sense, however, we find that Fourier & Pearl Andrews offer useful arguments & practical hints for the establishment of a kind of association which seems even more desirable now than before the age of Late Capitalism, Dead Communism, pure Spectacle, & the eerie alienation of credit cards & answering machines, polls & surveys, computer viruses, & immune-system breakdowns. In the 1980’s even the anti-authoritarian “Margin” fell into a spooky state of communication via the mail, BBSs, xerography, & tape. Physical separateness can never be overcome by electronics, but only by “conviviality,” by “living together” in the most literal physical sense. The physically divided are also the conquered & Controlled. “True desires” — erotic, gustatory, olfactory, musical, aesthetic, psychic, & spiritual — are best attained in a context of freedom of self & other in physical proximity & mutual aid. Everything else is at best a sort of representation. The entire revolt against Civilization can be seen (at least from one point of view) as an attempt to recreate the autonomous intimacy of the band, the free association of individuals.
Morbid loneliness is no better than the engineered consensus of the New World Order — in fact the two are but opposite sides of the coin, like homelessness & rent: false individualism vs. false collectivism. In the face of this illusory dichotomy we will continue to propagate Individual Sovereignty — but at the same time proclaim that our first & most urgent research of the decade must concern the nature of association.
Thus we announce our intention to revive & amalgamate both the Universal Pantarchy & the North American Phalanx, the local (NY area) manifestations of Andrews’ & Fourier’s systems. The new Universal Pantarchy & North American Phalanx (UP/NAP) will be first a society of appreciation & research (more musty-dusty 19th century obscure crackpots to venerate & imitate!) — but also & perhaps more importantly it may become a nucleus of association. We plan to make field trips to the original sites of Modern Times & the Phalanx; we intend to revive the fourierist tradition of banquets; we plan to construct a shrine to Fourier & the Pantarch; we may even go so far as to produce another newsletter!
And perhaps our research will actually lead to further experiments in the creation of temporary autonomous zones, free times & spaces excavated in the walls of Babylon — creative autonomy & comradeship in the no-go areas where power has “disappeared” — & who knows? even in our lifetimes, the mutation...“A crank? Yes, I’m a crank: a little device that causes revolutions!” (E.F. Schumacher).
Long live Individual Sovereignty! Long live the Pantarchy! Long live Harmony!
April 7 (Fourier’s birthday) 1991 NYC