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Antifa vs. Anarchism

We have decided to post a recent, currently ongoing debate between Keith Preston of Attack The System and Anti-Fascist News. While we very much agree with Preston and his rebuttals and calls for Anarchism to move past the boundaries that the pseudo-Anarchist “Antifa” have tried to force onto it, it’s ultimately up to the reader to decide. We will update this post with further responses as they come…

 

Anti-Fascist News: Letter to Keith Preston: No, You’re Not an Anarchist

Keith Preston’s Reply: More Anarchistic Than Thou

AFN’s Reply: Grasping at Straws: Refuting Keith Preston and Pan-Secessionism

Keith Preston’s Reply: Ignoring the Elephant in the Room

AFN’s Reply: Putting It To Rest: What You Want Isn’t Anarchism

Keith Preston’s Reply: “Visions so radically different…”

Appendix: The Argument from Atrocity

Appendix 2: The legacy of anarchist successes

Appendix 3: Debating Anarchist Tactics: Left Only, or Beyond Left and Right

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Autonomy: Definition and Meaning

An interesting piece from The National Revolutionary Alternative

The word “autonomy” is a combination of the words “autos” and “nomos”, derived from the ancient Greek language, which literally means “own law”. “Autonomy” is the designation for a certain way of thinking, in which independence and individual freedom on the basis of social justice and -equality as well as solidarity are the main principles. However this individual freedom is not meant in the way neoliberals underpin this (licentiousness of autonomous and selfresponsible people, that is to say torn apart from the people), but the opposite of it; individual freedom by collectivity!

Being-autonomous, means being undependent. To be undependent means meeting ones own needs, organizing and governing yourself in order to survive. It means self-sufficiency; one takes what one can use to survive and to accomplish certain political goals. Self-organisation is necessary to collectively retain independence and individual freedoms. For this, resistance is the only path towards freedom and thus is self-organisation absolutely necessary. Self-organisation is needed to achieve collective goals, such as social justice and -equality. Independence is what autonomy is all about. We don´t want to be dependend on some kind of State, Party, Union or leader (Führer). Autonomists think for themselves, decide for themselves and act by themselves! They don´t need anybody who offers “help” from above or tells them what to do, they solve their own problems. They rely on their own force and decisiveness and couldn’t care less about the laws imposed by the establishment. Autonomists practice self-government, that is to say self-organisation.

Therefore this leads to fundamental implications, if being-autonomous is seen as merely a means of action. Being-autonomous requires a certain ideological way of thinking, which can be put into practice in different ways.

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Being-autonomous means act for yourself, think for yourself and act independent. (and don´t wait for instructions, commands from above, from somekind of leader, pope, chairman, tribune, Union or Party boss, in short any authority whatsoever!) Being-autonomous means being averse to any form of authority, means being aversive of any State authority. Autonomists don´t wait for improvements or changes from above (elections), they take matters into their own hands (therefore “Direct Action”- action from the grassroots, by the masses without intervention of selfproclaimed leaders and mediators of Unions or Political Parties). The masses don´t need leaders from outside, they are their own leader. The masses themselves are the vanguard.
This way (anti-authoritarian, anti-Statist, anti-hierarchic) of thinking logically leads toward methods of action. One example is the concept of “Direct Action” (action without intervention of any authority whatsoever) against the State, against the authority and bosses – by the masses themselves. (Some examples are the Cultural revolution 1966-1969, The Mai revolt of workers in Paris, the student uprise of 1968 and the 1969-movement in Italy.) Another example is the “black block”, not only an expression of collective anonymity, but also of collective uniformity; We are all equal, we are one collective unity! No leaders, no followers, no bullshit! There are no leaders, we are all leaders. We are our own vanguard. By means of uniform garb this is stressed; We are all equal (egalitarism). There are no leaders. If there is any case of “leadership” at all, then this is collective leadership by the collective Black Block. The Black Block as collective leader – as collective vanguard (for example in the struggle against the cops). (Such a way of thinking does of course provide issues for discussion, also and above all within the anarchoscene).
Being-autonomous does absolutely and before all else mean the rejection of any authority and all that which is sanctioned by the authorities (uniformed or not). Being-autonomous means opposing any form of hierarchy or authoritarian structures (State, army, church, Party, Union). Only the masses themselves are “pure”, revolutionary, so only the actions of the masses themselves can be considered “pure” and revolutionary, all the other must be rejectes as;
1: Bureacratic 2: Reactionary 3: Bourgeois 4: Hierarchic. 
 
Being-autonomous means opposing any form of personality cult, only the masses are the true heroes. Averse to any Fuhrer worshipping (Hitler, Stalin, Kim il Sung, etc.). Averse of any chauvinism (political boundaries are not recognized!). “Autonomous” Hitlerists are just as much an impossibility as “Autonomous” Strasserists are.  
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“He who is not afraid of death by a thousand cuts dares to unhorse the emperor” – Mao Zedong
Recapitulatory:
1: No leadership (from outside or above) 2: True revolutionary action only comes forth from the masses themselves 3: The masses themselves are the vanguard (without intervention from outside) 
No leaders, no followers! No bull-shit! 
The masses are the vanguard, they are the leaders!

Organizing National-Anarchist Networks

The following is a transcript of a slideshow by the now-defunct Bay Area National-Anarchists, back from 2009. While not perfect, it gives a pretty good introduction to starting a National-Anarchist Network.

Organizing National-Anarchist Networks; or, How to Build the National-Anarchist Movement

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Part I: Network Theory

What is a Network?

A Network of people consists of two or more individuals that connect with each other in common cause. The most important aspect of successful networking is growing the number of connections to likeminded people.

Traits: An effective Network is self-organizing, always available, fault tolerant, and capable of handling losing nodes without loss of effectiveness.

What is the Difference Between an Organization and a Network?

1. An organization is not a movement.

2. An organization has formalities, hierarchy, officers, policies, and relies on single points of failure (primarily the leadership).

3. Organizations depend exclusively on the effectiveness of their leaders.

4. Networks have no:
*official officers
*Rules
*Strict discipline

5. Networks have:
*A unique culture
*Many perspectives
*Social yet informal standards of behavior

The National-Anarchist Movement may best be described as an autonomous subculture of self-managing Networks.

For example, the BANA Network has the ground rules that our activists must be drug free, trustworthy, and productive to society in some fashion (working, studying, or family life).

6. Networks depend on the affinity (value) likeminded people give each other for the purpose of organizing.

7. Characteristics of Networks:
*Grassroots
*Informal
*Relationship driven (relationships built on trust)
*United by core values (beliefs), indifferent towards differences

This makes building Networks more flexible than creating organizations. This also makes Networks dependant on the quality of people involved at all levels of organizing. Many skillsets are desirable.

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”

The ideal Network is a Mesh:

First pic

A fully developed Network contains characteristics of a Tribal society which is a primary goal of forming Networks of National-Anarchists.

The ideal organization is top-down:

Second pic

Organizations are results driven, like a corporation, and should be judged as such. If they don’t produce profits (or results) they should go out of business. National-Anarchists get results by networking with all kinds of political activists and strengthening their community’s ability to get things done without Government or Capitalism.

When the movement reaches a point when an organization is needed for a local community, the Network will have the leaders with the most experience and skills in diplomacy.

Part II: Network Praxis

Things you can do:
*Dedicate a certain ammount of time each week to the cause
*Start a blog with your Network’s name, where you are located, and state your core values
*Distribute fliers at protests

About your views:
*Talk with all kinds of people about National-Anarchism: Leftists, Rightists, Apolitical, etc.
*Make or attend events to meet people and talk about National-Anarchism
*Set aside some money each month for movement activities

Part III: Network Activism

What It Takes to Reach Success

*First, there is one and only one kind of political activism…On the streets and in real life
*Online activism is a myth…Online activities spread information, it does not advance the movement
*Furthermore it is impossible to represent our people in virtual worlds

My Goals:

1. Devote 20 minutes a day to the cause.

2. Bring a greater amount of comedy and laughter at the expense of the opposition.

3. Talk to more people in real life about National-Anarchism and how it is a progressive ideology for our collective.

The Equation of Success: Time/Effort = Results

Expect a 1% return on investment for all of your initiatives. The moral is, get more active to get more results!

4. Keep it fun. This is essential to keep high morale. Social, physical activities, that promote teamwork and trust are perfect for this: rock climbing, camping, hiking, etc.

In order to reach your goals in life, there is a quote I like from a world renowned athlete, actor, and politician:

“This last two or three or four repetitions, that’s what makes the muscles grow. That’s what divides one from a champion and one from not being a champion. If you can go through the pain period, you make it to be a champion. If you can’t go through it, forget it. And that’s what most people lack: Having the guts – the guts to go in and just say…”I don’t care what happens.” I have no fear of fainting in the gym… I threw up many times when I was working out. But it doesn’t matter, because it’s all worth it.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger

In our experience, talking to ten people in real life about National-Anarchism is more effective than 1000 online. Remember that most people have never heard of National-Anarchism. Peoples’ opinions will be formed  based on your confidence, your unique communication style, and the presentation of the idea. Don’t play to lose, play to win.

If someone gets hostile towards you for being a National-Anarchist keep in mind these words from a war veteran on courage:

“…Courage is the wind that drives to the far coasts, the key to all treasures, the hammer that crafts great Empires. The armor without which no culture exists. Courage is the effort of one’s own person to the last consequence, the jump start of an idea against matter, without care for what comes of it… To the Devil with the times that want to take from us courage and men.”
In conclusion we covered:
*Networking
*Things to do
*What it takes to reach success

For more information visit http://www.bayareanationalanarchists.com

Video January 2009
Runa Raven Collective
Bay Area National-Anarchists

Why Anarchists Must Confront Totalitarian Humanism

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via Attack The System

 

It can reasonably be said that the overwhelming majority of liberals, progressives, social democrats, and Marxists would affirm all or most of the following presumptions:

-The state is an expression of popular democracy (see Jean Jacques Rousseau)

-The ever increasing centralization of institutions is conducive to economic and technological progress

-Ever larger states with an ever greater number of functions are necessary to modern society

-The state is a means of advancing the disadvantaged and imposing progressive values on benighted or reactionary local communities and regions

-The legitimacy of an eventual world federal government, and the principles of collective security, liberal internationalism, human rights internationalism, or what Noam Chomsky critically calls “military humanism”

-The desirability of forging a national and international consensus around “progressive” values with these to be imposed by national governments and international institutions

-The desirability of the welfare state, the managerial state, and managed economy

-The core principles of the Enlightenment religion of reason, progress, and scientism

-The legitimacy and necessity of the  public administration state

-The desirability of the nanny state and its involvement in such issues as the compulsory use of seat belts, smoking bans, diet regulation, firearms prohibition, compulsory education, far reaching measures aimed at “child protection,” etc.

It goes without saying that the overwhelming majority of these precepts, perhaps all of them, cannot be reconciled with libertarian, anarchist, anti-statist, decentralist, or anti-authoritarian values of ANY kind. It also goes without saying that since the days of the rivalries between Marx and Engels, and Proudhon, Stirner, and Bakunin, authoritarian leftists, statist socialists, and centralizing progressives have been our enemy. Period. It is time for anarchists to carve out an entirely new paradigm for themselves that defines the political spectrum not in terms of left and right or reactionary and progressive, but in terms of anti-authoritarian vs authoritarian, anti-statist vs statist, and decentralist vs centralist. This will be among the primary dividing lines of the future.

How To Build Your Tribe – Finding ‘Your People’

from Marc and Angel Hack Life

Build Your Tribe

This is a guest post by Marelisa of Abundance Blog at Marelisa Online.

One of the most fundamental human needs is the need to belong.  Noted psychologist, Abraham Maslow, identified it as one of the five basic needs.  We want to be part of a group and to feel loved and accepted by others.  That is, we want to be a member of a tribe.  A tribe-or a pack, clan, elected family, posse, crew, network, or true friends–is a group of people who share common interests and values and show genuine appreciation and care for each other.

Your tribe members are those people who accept you just as you are, and who want the very best for you.  They make you feel understood, and they encourage you to go after your goals and pursue your dreams.  Also, the members of your tribe help you to get through difficult times, and they provide you with a sense of community and support.

To paraphrase Sam Adams–from the Onion A.V. Club–, your tribe are those people you love to cruise the streets with while listening to the Ramones and playing air guitar, and who, at the same time, will come and slap you when you’re acting out of line.  Your tribe is made up of ‘your people.’  Think of the six main characters in the hit series “Friends,” and how they were always there for each other.

Sir Ken Robinson–author of “The Element,” a book on how to find work that you’re passionate about–argues that your tribe is essential in helping you to find your element.  Members of a tribe kick ideas around with each other and validate each other.  Also, tribe members drive each other to explore the real extent of their talents.  In addition, Robinson argues that when a group of people with common interests come together, a synergy is created which allows them to create something much greater than any of them could have created individually.

If you feel tribe-less, rest assured in the knowledge that your tribe is out there.  In addition, if you’re already surrounded by a supportive tribe, remember that there are probably many members of your tribe that you have not met yet.  Below you’ll find twelve valuable tips and insights to help you find your tribe-if you haven’t found it already–, or to help you expand your tribe-if you already have one.

Twelve Tips for Finding or Expanding Your Tribe

American journalist and writer Jane Howard is credited with the following quote: “Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family.  Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.”  Here are twelve tips for finding or expanding your tribe:

  1. Think of the qualities you want your tribe members to have.  As an illustration, you may want each of your tribe members to have the following qualities: treats people with respect; listens but doesn’t judge; has a quirky sense of humor; is an artist; lives with passion; doesn’t sweat the small stuff; is loyal and trustworthy.
  2. Decide if there’s a particular type of activity that you want to engage in with your tribe, such as starting a book club, taking hiking trips, going to happy hour, or visiting museums and gallery openings.
  3. Listen to your inner voice and trust your instincts.  When was the last time you had a gut feeling about someone?  Sometimes you’ll meet someone new and you’ll feel drawn to them right away, almost as if you were old friends.  Other times you’ll come across people who immediately make you want to put up your guard.  Pay attention to your gut reaction to others.
  4. One way to find your tribe is to use Social Media to create a virtual tribe; you can then look for ways to meet in the offline world.  For example, Twitter allows you to search for people who share your interests and who actively talk about these interests.  Use the topics and activities that you’re interested in as key terms.  You can also enter the city where you live as a key term in order to find others who share your interests and live in your area.
  5. Start a blog on a subject that interests you–such as breeding bull terriers, chasing UFOs, Russian 19th century novelists, and so on–and create your own community.  If you can get together a group of bloggers who are like -minded and live in the same city, you can host a blog meet-up so you can all meet in person.
  6. Look for upcoming community events in your city that are centered around activities you enjoy.
  7. Search for Yahoo groups and forums which cater to a particular topic that you’re passionate about.
  8. If there are one or two people you already know who you would like to strengthen your friendship with, try to find a way to work together.  You could plant a communal garden together, or meet once a week to complete unfinished projects–such as crafts, sewing, knitting, or woodworking– as a group.  Working with others can help you strengthen your bonds with them.
  9. Marketing guru Seth Godin advices that you create your tribe by helping others to achieve their goals.  Connect people in your social network who have common interests; give them access to information and resources that they need; and let them know that you’re available if they need help.
  10. Andy Paige–a stylist on TLC– explains that you need to look for your 1/3.  To summarize: Andy argues that 1/3 of the people you come across will dislike you; 1/3 of the people you meet will be indifferent toward you; and 1/3 of the people you come into contact with will love you.  You’re looking for that that last 1/3.  Those are your people.  Don’t worry about the other 2/3.
  11. Create rituals that you can share with your tribe, such as having regular meals together.  You can also have in-jokes and slang or jargon that’s unique to your tribe.  Look for ways to make your group cohere and know that it’s a group.
  12. Keep in mind that the people you hang out with will have a huge impact on every aspect of your life, from your level of income—several financial authors argue that your income is equal to the income of your five best friends–, to your level of happiness—studies show that happiness is contagious.  In addition, we have a subconscious tendency to model the behavior of those around us.  Choose your tribe wisely.

Conclusion

The members of your tribe are your allies on your life journey.  When you’re creating or expanding your tribe, look for people who will lift you up, help you grow, recharge you, inspire you, and celebrate with you, and who are willing to lend a hand when you need it.  In addition, always remember that as a tribe member you have responsibilities toward your tribe.  You need to give back to the tribe and offer other tribe members your support, just as they support you.  Now get out there and start creating or expanding your tribe.

Marelisa Fábrega blogs about creativity, productivity, and simply getting the most out of life over at Abundance Blog at Marelisa Online.  Marelisa is the author of the eBooks How to Be More Creative – A Handbook for Alchemists,  and How To Live Your Best Life – The Essential Guide for Creating and Achieving Your Life List.

Anarchy, Global Revolution and the Purpose of NAM

Anarchy Global Revolution and the Purpose of NAM

By Pasquale Pulella 
NATA-NY

Anarchy’s greatest feature is also its greatest weakness. Anarchy is a world without rulers which means no organized hierarchical violence. This lack of violence is not necessarily a weakness but it has been in the past. Just look at the past examples of anarchy and how quickly they were overcome by the state. One example was the Barcelona Revolution in the 1930’s after the anarchists had liberated Barcelona it had no state no police and a faction who was their ally; the communist backed Republic of Spain had attacked the city, funds were cut off from the Anarchists. The new republic eventually took Barcelona and later Francisco Franco won the Civil war. If there was no government globally than Anarchy would stand a better chance at lasting because no outside government could threaten anyone’s freedom. Is this possible? No.

The Idea that we could globally end all governments at once is impossible for any number of Anarchists. Let alone the fact that we Anarchists have been and still are a minority worldwide, also we are heavily divided and many groups prefer to fight each other rather than the state. Also simple armed revolt is not enough because the chaos created by armed revolt is enough to cause a power vacuum that will be filled. Furthermore we anarchists have no financial backing compared to ALL other revolutions, because no Aristocrat is dumb enough to back a revolution witch would threaten their state defined property. Also people who have not a clue who or what anarchists are will wake up to one day hear that there is an anarchist uprising and that they are terrorists, if this takes place in Europe or north America the public will hate the revolutionary’s and side with the government.

So now we can see why there is no state-less societies today. Anarchy is the hardest thing to accomplish, is it impossible? No. if there is anything we humans can learn from our own creation is that NOTHING is impossible. Scientists are currently working on plasma rockets as a means of propulsion through space; they were successful but are working on a means to make it more efficient. Years ago the words “plasma Rocket” were confined strictly to science fiction novels, they were laughed at as a fantasy but it has become a reality. How than can we say that ANY political or economic system is impossible if we know that nothing is impossible. How then can we achieve a long lasting stateless society? The 17th century pirates of Nassau had to worry about the British Empire, the Spanish had to worry about the outside governments backing their enemies, and the Native Americans had to worry about white westward expansion. If there was a way for the Anarchists to have their cake and eat it too it would be great.

So what’s the answer how do we achieve a long lasting stateless society? The answer is global anarchist revolution through the NAM movement. In order to overcome the differences that Ideological Anarchists have with each other we need a system where Anarchists of different Ideology’s work toward common goal of overthrowing the state and will agree to disagree. This first part is already taking place in the National Anarchist Movement. Next we need other cells of NAM to establish relations with each other and get to know each other just enough to want to help each other. Then we need to focus our resources where it is needed most. For example areas where government is failing and anarchist uprisings are occurring such as Greece. Or we need to start movements in other areas where government is failing but there is no Anarchist movement to speak of such as Somalia. Another good placement of resources would also be the US, Russia, and China because of their global military influence. Also we need a concrete strategy for the creation of a stateless society that focuses on the maintenance of a stable society when the state completely fails. Another vitally important area is education. The Anarchists of the Barcelona revolution have showed us that setting up free schools and local Anarchist publications can go a long way in creating a free society. Public education of anarchy is essential to the movement it is especially important in places where a power paradigm is about to shift such as a civil war area, a failing government, or an area of economic instability. Some places where public education is necessary are South America, USA, Italy, France, Spain, and Somalia. The reason for these places is that the current power structure is extremely fragile for example the Italian government just collapsed again and the taxes are unpayable in many regions.

 

For Increased connectivity between NAM and other Anarchist organizations a platform for communication must be established outside the mainstream and a platform for currency exchange. Actually the currency change already exists. What we need is a Website where Anarchist Factions worldwide can communicate freely and openly. Such a platform would need to be open source, with no servers only a program to download and install. Furthermore when the dark market comes online it will need to be integrated with that as well as all the criptocurrencys currently available including and not limited to Bitcoin and Darkcoin. Together all the anarchists can benefit from increased connectivity. The benefit of global connectivity is that if one anarchist group is in need of allies and they can’t find any locally, International allies may be helpful; we learned this lesson form the Barcelona revolution.

Folkanarchism and Free Communism

from Groene Nationalisten

 

This is an English translation of the article “Volksanarchisme en het vrije Communisme” which was previously published on this website. 

Before the 20th century the word “communism” was not equal to Marxism and the Russian bolshevism with its rigid and authoritarian state-socialism. The term can be traced back to the French revolution and early revolutionary theorists such as Gracchus Babeuf (1760-1797). During that time “communism”represented the return to the organic community of voluntary human relations. The idea that primitive men knew a long period of “primordial-communism” was not limited to the writings of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. This idea was shared among almost all great classic historians from Greece to China, and is an essential part of the mythological history of almost all cultures of the world.

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Our far ancestors who lived in a society of hunter-gatherers could not be anything else than “communist”. The land only supported small groups of humans, who lived of what nature offered them. The division of labour was very limited, the man hunted and the woman gathered. Although one was probably more specialized at its task then the other, no individual within the community could be specialized enough to survive on its own. They depended on each other and therefore there had been a strong natural and organic community. Surplus could only be cumulated limitedly, the surplus of meat simply rotted away before it could be eaten. In such a society simply no class structure could develop itself.

Social stratification within the early agrarian Germanic tribes that arose after the Neolithicum was always within arms length. The tribe leaders or shamans were part of and subjected to the community. Only through the emergence of bigscale systematic agriculture, irrigation and urban revolutions, the castes and classes came increasingly further apart of each other. Within the Germanic tribal life the Ásatrú religion took the form of a group activity in which the whole community participated. However with the growth of bigger cities, religion also became reduced to a ceremonial cult in which fellow community men were merely spectators.

Although since the first Neolithic Revolution daily life was changed greatly due to technological progress, “the primordial-communism” remained still as strongly as in the hunter-gatherer society that preceded it. The class structure and divisions of labour remained very limited and the community was still small, despite surplus allowed a further specialization of individuals. The exploitation of men by the state did not emerge untill the urban revolution drove the agrarian society away; when towns and agriculture started to expand over big areas. Together with the first small cities during the early Middle Ages, kings, priests and a new caste of traders appeared, as well as warfare with organized armies and bigscale irrigation.

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Because of the rise of bigscale, agriculture surplus was created which led to the development of a new class of specialized craftsmen. Therefore in the early Middle Ages a primitive form of syndicalism appeared, were craft groups within the community organized themselves in religious guilds. In the end a new class of warriors and priests utilized this increasing specialisation by developing a rigid class structure and by making the peasant work for the maintenance of this new dominationstructure. Here we find the origin of our present alienation: they were forced to do unpaid work for an autority that stood far away from the people.

Before the 18th century men was still forced to co-operate with its environment to survive. However with the emerging industrialization and scientific progress entrepreneurs treated the world and the people more as a mine, that could be exploited unlimitedly, instead of a farm. When the capitalist forms of exploitation broke through the old feudal and mercantile forms, the contradictions between social- and economic content became even larger. The state and the capitalist system used the ongoing technological revolution for a growing industrial, administrative and political centralization, at the expense of the traditional community, resulting in an unprecedented alienation and loneliness of modern men.

The modern world is torn apart by two contradictory tendencies; one towards social death and the other towards the birth of a new society. While centralization and depersonalisation increase within the dominant globalized society, the concentration of capital increases because of the creation of multinationals and local initiative are being replaced by the central (supranational) state, life becomes increasingly unreal, meaningless and empty. However there are still people who have had enough of living a life without any meaning and all over the globe from time to time we witness uprises against alienation. Where the dominant powerstructure of capitalism fails, the general tendency is to replace it with free communism because people revert to basic initiative from the community.

The crisis of modern civilization is a phenomenon that is continiously without the benefit of an ideology. The call for freedom, the tendency towards the own family, the community and the people are mainly rudimentary and social instinctives. Some say the folkanarchist revolution is a revolution without theory and that it’s anti-ideological. In fact the theory and ideology exists in a tradition that is older then capitalism itself, as old as humanity itself. Folkanarchism does not fight the dominant stateorder because it opposes order, but because it opposes dominance structures. It sees the organic local community as a sovereign entity, which is governed and organized from the basis. It provides an answer to the alienation and to the dehumanization. It strives to return to the core of social and voluntary human relations that take shape in the family, the community and the people; back to free communism.

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An interview with the Green Nationalists

Understanding Markets Without Capitalism

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(image not from original site)

 

By Will Schnack

 

This was composed for a speech given to the UNT Students for Liberty on April 17, 2014 in Denton, Texas.
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.PDF version

Introduction

A common discussion taking place amomg libertarians in recent years is in regard to capitalism’s compatibility with a free market. While some fly capitalism as a flag of freedom, others see capitalism as being antagonistic to voluntary exchange, believing capitalism to be a relationship of domination.

From my own mutualist perspective, I will be offering my understanding of a libertarian middle ground between capitalism and socialism, a free market of worker-owners. This vision is commonly called “free market anti-capitalism.” The goal will be to distinguish markets from capitalism. In order to do this, I will offer definitions grounded in ethics and in history, before describing their common usage, discussing the role they play as isms, and distinguishing them in a measurable sense. I will conclude by depicting a market without capitalism. First, a necessary discussion on semantics.

Loaded Terms

Words like socialism and capitalism are loaded terms, which come with a variety of meanings to their beholders. While some may understand the word socialism to indicate government management over the economy, for instance, others hold the view that a socialist society should manage itself more directly, without state interference.

This second view of socialism has been embraced by such normally opposing forces as individualistic and collectivistic anarchism. The anarcho-communist, Peter Kropotkin, for instance, imagined in his works a society of freely federated communes, which would supply resources to one another based on his understanding of mutual aid. Influenced by Kropotkin, a similar sentiment of freedom is reflected in Oscar Wilde’s libertarian socialist treatise, “The Soul of Man Under Socialism.” The individualist anarchists of the 19th century, concerned much more with individual liberty than with combinations of people into communes, also considered themselves to be socialists by fact that they believed that the masses of society should indeed manage more capital. This can be read in Benjamin Tucker’s essay, for instance, entitled “State Socialism and Anarchism: How Far They Agree, and Wherein They Differ,” in which he suggests that anarchism is a “school” of “Socialistic thought,” which is to be understood in contrast to state-socialism.[1] Even the modern individualist market anarchist, Brad Spangler, suggests, in “Market Anarchism as Stigmergic Socialism,” that his own

contention is that Rothbardian anarcho-capitalism is misnamed because it is actually a variety of socialism, in that it offers an alternative understanding of existing capitalism (or any other variety of statism) as systematic theft from the lower classes and envisions a more just society without that oppression.[2]

One can see the confusion that can be caused by adopting a hard set of meanings for words that people use so variably. We easily speak past one another when we cannot learn to adopt each other’s definitions, at least for sake of deliberation. One does not argue that someone speaking Japanese is wrong because they use different words. Instead, we accept that similar concepts can be described with very different words. Likewise, in our own language, we must understand that the words we speak are connected with a variety of concepts, and others’ understandings of our words do not always align with our customary usage.

With this in mind, and as I continue forward, know that the word capitalism is in a similar boat as socialism. Like socialism, the word capitalism has a sense which is authoritarian, in that it has often been used to philosophically legitimize the control of those who have been disenfranchised from the institutions of the state on behalf of those who have been granted capital in its favor; and it has a sense which is libertarian, which can be seen as the rule of law, whereby even public officials must respect a citizen’s rights to their property to some degree. I aware of both of these contexts, and, for this reason, I’d like you to understand why I disavow words like capitalism and socialism, while they both maintain a positive and a negative usage. This will be rooted in the idea of equilibrium, here reflected in both economics and ethics, and will tie in with my working definitions, which I will state briefly, before following up later, as: a) capitalism is the absence of things commonly associated with socialism, and b) socialism is the absence of things commonly associated with capitalism. Things I commonly associate with capitalism are property rights, markets, state-granted privilege to business, and a renting class (workers, tenants, debtors, etc.). Things I commonly associate with socialism are communal ownership, democracy, centralism, and state-control of the economy. Before we establish the difference between markets and capitalism, we must be clear what we mean by capitalism, and to do this we must contrast it to its opposite.

Ethics and Ideology

In a way, my definitions of capitalism and socialism negate one another, placing each on an extreme. According to this view, any mixing of the elements of capitalism and socialism dilutes them both into a neutral third solution. In this way, capitalism and socialism are found on opposites sides of an equilibrium, which I associate with mutualism, and which can be addressed also as free-market anti-capitalism. Such a dialectical process of sublation—that is, the mixing of the best parts of capitalism and socialism— toward a neutral equilibrium does not only reflect healthy economic systems as they adjust prices, but also reflects a society grounded in virtue-ethics, and can be related then to Aristotle.

In Aristotle’s Ethics, he outlines his system of eudemonia, wherein virtues are esteemed as a means to maintain and achieve happiness. Virtues, he suggests, are never found on the extreme end of a spectrum, but are rather found somewhere in the middle. Vices, the opposite of virtues, are found in the extremes of deficiency and excess, while virtue is found in balance. A real world example tells us that it is neither healthy to eat in excess, nor to starve ourselves—gluttony and anorexia are equally vicious—, but rather to eat a decent amount, being an exhibition of virtue. Likewise, I argue, with the economy.

If we apply Aristotle’s virtue ethics to the economy, we can understand capitalism as a vice of excess, and socialism as a vice of deficiency. This is because, in capitalism, prices are kept artificially high by way of monopoly, and a surplus is built up, which then must be pushed on the masses by way of advertising. In contrast, socialism artificially forces prices down, in an attempt to make everything more affordable, but this actually makes things scarcer, because no one wants to do harder work without more compensation. This is why socialism often ends up in work camps.

Here we can clearly see that capitalism, which builds up an economic surplus due to monopoly, is on the side of excess, while socialism, which exhausts its resources, is on the side of deficiency. If we are working with Aristotle’s virtue ethics, these are clearly vices. Virtue would be found somewhere in between. I offer mutualism as that spring of virtue.[i]

Interestingly enough, mutualism does not only satisfy Aristotle’s virtue ethics, it also appeals to Immanuel Kant’s categorical imperative. While ideas within capitalism and socialism carry valuable purposes, this remains only so far as they satisfy conditions of mutuality and reciprocity, which are universalizable, and in accord with Kant’s categorical imperative. In other words, any useful ideas within capitalism and socialism are not truly rooted in a harsh individualism, nor in a dense collectivism, which neglect one another, but instead in the middle ground of reciprocity, which is universally acceptable. Always acting on one’s own behalf, for instance, without thought for others, unless it is materially beneficial, does not satisfy the categorical imperative. Neither does allowing one’s self to be needlessly harmed for others’ benefit. Self-defense is allowed by the categorical imperative, as the goal is to protect, not to dominate. Reciprocity includes the well-being of all involved individuals, and thus society as a whole. Thus, extreme individualism and extreme collectivism, alike—the individual at the expense of the collective, or vice versa—, do not satisfy the categorical imperative, while elements of these may, to the degree they are mutually beneficial. These mutually beneficial elements of capitalism are the marketplace and private possession, but not to the detriment of society, or at the expense of the equally beneficial aspects of socialism, such as positive rights to influence social contracts, or the benefits gained by shared ownership.

Before we move on, it’s pertinent to our topic of ethics that mutualism also satisfies utilitarian outlooks on the world. If there’s anything that does well at sorting out utility, it’s a society full of free exchanges, without state interference. There is no need to comment further on this obvious fact.

I’ve so far grounded my own working definitions in a spectrum having two poles—capitalism and socialism being vices on the extremes of the economic spectrum, where, when one grows, it is at the expense of the other—, but I’d like also to place them in history, focusing this time on distinguishing capitalism, as a vice, from one of its aspects, which can be considered a virtue. This aspect of capitalism is markets.

Defining Our Terms Historically

A market without capitalism, according to my definitions grounded in ethics, would be a market which does not exclude the positive aspects of socialism. Just as capitalism has positive aspects—markets being primary— socialism also has its virtues. A market exists without capitalism to the degree to which these positive aspects of socialism are allowed to flourish. These positive aspects, to which you may be inquisitive, are influence in social contracts—that is, democracy in association— and shared-ownership of cooperatively-used capital. The degree to which such a market exists is the degree to which free-market anti-capitalism exists. Let’s take a look at these words, markets and capitalism, from a historical context.

The word market has been used for centuries! Being derived from the Latin, mercatus, meaning trade, markets express an ancient form of human interaction, where people get together, set up store fronts, specialize in various trades, and bargain with one another. Though there has historically always been state influence present in a market, this is not a distinguishing characteristic of markets themselves. Historically, an increase in the market has come with a reduction in the state. This can be seen, for instance, in the transition from feudalism into mercantilism, whereby barons lost control to merchants, and a middle class ushered in aristocratic forms of government, such as modern republics.

In contrast to market, the word capitalism has not been around long. It, in fact, has its origins in the 19th century. Interestingly enough, the word capitalist has an older origin. Both of these words share a Latin root word, of course, capitalis, which means having relation to the head. The stated head is that of cattle, or livestock, which gives us clues also to the nature of the stock exchange. Capital is a word for wealth that was traded all the way back in pastoral societies.

Some who use the word capitalism in an idealized sense use it to mean the opposite of state control, but, historically speaking, this is only half of the truth. While the shift from feudalism into capitalism certainly had its steps away from the state, capitalism as we know it today still has much state involvement in the economy. Kevin Carson, a modern mutualist, defines capitalism under such historical terms, referring to “actually existing capitalism.”[3] He suggests that “state intervention […] distinguishes capitalism from the free market.”[4] When looking at capitalism under these terms, capitalism, which includes markets to some degree, can be contrasted with, as William Gillis calls it, the “freed [my italics] market.”[5] Markets as they exist today are polluted with government subsidies, tolls, privileges, and disincentives. This is what mutualists and other anti-capitalist free marketeers oppose when we suggest we are against capitalism; not personal possession and voluntary exchange.

When capitalism is defined in historical terms, as the economic era following feudalism, we can see the evolutionary stretch toward freedom in our economy, with capitalism being a development toward such freedom, as capitalism did indeed come with an increase in market-determination. However, if we are defining our terms historically, in this fashion, capitalism should not be understood as a system which will develop from this one. Our semantics are, in this way, grounded in a historical context.

The Meaning of Capitalism Today

Today, capital includes tangible goods used for production or trade, which disincludes land and labor. There are, however, two clashing views on what determines a capitalist, and what constitutes capitalism. Is any owner of capital a capitalist? Some would argue that this is so, while others argue that capitalism is the system whereby those with capital employ those without (this second view is consistent with our working definition, wherein capitalism includes markets and excludes strong aspects of socialism). Gary Chartier, of the Center for a Stateless Society, for instance, names three senses of the word capitalism (which he adapted from Charles W. Johnson):

Captalism1: an economic system that features personal property rights and voluntary exchanges of goods and services.

Capitalism2: an economic system that features a symbiotic relationship between big business and government.

Capitalism3: rule – of workplaces, society, and (if there is one) the state – by capitalists (that is, by a relatively small number of people who control investable wealth and the means of production).[6]

Gary’s first sense of capitalism is consistent with all definitions of markets. One certainly can’t have a market without property rights or voluntary exchanges. His second and third senses, which he uses to base his argument, “Advocates of Freed Markets Should Oppose Capitalism,”[7] on, are the negative senses in which capitalism is defined, and are the ways in which capitalism dispels the positive aspects of socialism.  That is, his first sense of capitalism is a conflation of capitalism with some of its positive aspects, while his second sense of capitalism is a conflation with its negative aspects. In my view, capitalism is the system whereby all three of these senses exist to some degree, while a virtuous economy would retain the positive aspects of the first sense of capitalism—markets—and dismiss its negative aspects—alienation of labor. A virtuous system would embrace the positive aspects and reject the negative of both extremes, socialism and capitalism, and would find a happy middle ground in mutualism.

Roderick T. Long, a contemporary left-libertarian, makes use of a Randian notion, the anti-concept, and, in particular, a form called the packaged deal:

Rand used to identify certain terms and ideas as “anti-concepts,” that is, terms that actually function to obscure our understanding rather than facilitating it, making it harder for us to grasp other, legitimate concepts; one important category of anti-concepts is what Rand called the “package deal,” referring to any term whose meaning conceals an implicit presupposition that certain things go together that in actuality do not.. Although Rand would not agree with the following examples, I’ve become convinced that the terms “capitalism” and “socialism” are really anti-concepts of the package-deal variety.[8]

Like Chartier, and also working off of Charles W. Johnson, Long offers three distinctions of capitalism. He says,

Libertarians sometimes debate whether the “real” or “authentic” meaning of a term like “capitalism” is (a) the free market, or (b) government favoritism toward business, or (c) the separation between labor and ownership, an arrangement neutral between the other two; Austrians tend to use the term in the first sense; individualist anarchists in the Tuckerite tradition tend to use it in the second or third. But in ordinary usage, I fear, it actually stands for an amalgamation of incompatible meanings. [9]

This is what Long means by capitalism being a “package deal.” According to many people’s view, meaning (a) is incompatible with the other two. That is, according to classical individualist anarchism and mutualism, the free market would not include in its definition “government favoritism” or “separation of labor and ownership.” The free market is seen to contradict these outcomes; this is what Long means by a “package deal.” He makes up a word in order to illustrate this:

Suppose I were to invent a new word, “zaxlebax,” and define it as “a metallic sphere, like the Washington Monument.” That’s the definition a “a metallic sphere, like the Washington Monument.” In short, I build my ill-chosen example into the definition. [10]

Now, we all know the Washington Monument is not a metallic sphere, but Long argues that this usage of his word, “zaxlebax,” is similar to the way capitalism is used now. He says,

what most people mean by “capitalism” is this free-market system that currently prevails in the western world. In short, the term “capitalism” as generally used conceals an assumption that the prevailing system is a free market. And since the prevailing system is in fact one of government favoritism toward business, the ordinary use of the term carries with it the assumption that the free market is government favoritism toward business. [11]

From this, we can deduce a need to semantically distinguish free markets from capitalism. Free markets are the opposite of government-given privileges, and a free market in banking would actually serve to distribute capital more widely, allowing for a society abundant with owner-operators. So long as capitalism carries with it these later definitions— Chartier’s “Capitalism2 and Capitalism3,” and Long’s (b) and (c)— it is inconsistent with their preceding correlations, which equate to the free market [Capitalism1 and (a)].

The Nature of Isms

Ideologies, often expressed in forms of “isms,” are powerful things, to be used for better or for worse. Behind the isms of our ideologies lie sets of general tendencies; the ism’s moniker itself can often tell us their purpose. Individualism, for instance, is clearly a philosophy regarding the centrality of the individual to human affairs. Collectivism, on the other hand, is clearly oriented toward society as a unit, opting at times to ignore individual prosperity in favor of collective well-being. For this reason, individualist philosophies are usually accompanied with capitalism, conservatism, and republican forms of government, which are meant to protect the rights of the individual; while collectivist philosophies are often accompanied by a large degree of socialism, liberality, and democratic management of society on behalf of the majority. It is assumed that individuals acting in their own benefit will avoid collectivistic tendencies whereby their individuality may be overridden; and that collectivities acting on their own behalf will avoid the fruition of the virtuous individual, opting instead to endow power to the majority. Like capitalism and socialism, discussed earlier, individualism and collectivism, when used in this manner, negate one another. A move toward collectivism, then, would be a move away from individualism, and vice versa.

It is my belief that we need to look at the nature of ideologies, and to see what they are negating. All ideologies negate. By taking a word and adding an ism behind it, one is saying “my decisions are based around this idea,” and all ideas are the opposite of something else. By adopting individualism, one negates collectivism, with the opposite also being true. By adopting capitalism, one rejects socialism; and by accepting socialism, capitalism diminishes. So far we have used vices to establish polarities, but what does a virtue negate?

A virtue—defined earlier as being somewhere in the middle, and not on the extreme— negates the negative aspects of both corresponding vices. That is, to illustrate, when one eats the right amount, both anorexia and gluttony are negated. A virtue also maintains the positives of each, however. Anorexia can be seen as the lack of eating, and gluttony as the act of eating, but to the extremes of each. The act of eating should be exercised, just not to the extreme of gluttony, and the inaction of not eating may apply to the proper rate of refrain, so long as it is not taken to the extreme of anorexia.  A virtue, in the words of Ken Wilber, “transcends and includes.” That is, it negates the bad, and keeps the good. We should approach ideologies in this respect.

Isms are suggestions for social behavior or management. A hard socialist ideology, like communism, for instance, gives off the vibe that “everyone should live in communes, which should manage society.” This comes at the expense of capitalism, whereby houses can be privately owned and rented out, and where society is managed on behalf of individual capitalists. We should see both the positive and negative aspects of both of these systems, maintain the positive, and shuck the negative. The positive aspects of capitalism include the rights to property and voluntary exchange—to the degree it is allowed to exist—, and the positive aspects of socialism are having a right to influence social contracts by way of group decision-making, and the cost reduction that can come with sharing resources. The negative aspects of capitalism and socialism are both tied to domination in some form or another. On the side of socialism, this is domination on behalf of the majority of society, by way of the state. On the side of capitalism, this is domination on behalf of a minority of capitalists, by way of the state. That is, in socialism the state rules through democratic centralism, and in capitalism the state rules by chartering capitalists, similar to the way lords chartered fiefdoms to vassals in the feudal ages, upon which the serfs were forced to work.

Indeed, capitalism itself worked along a similar progression of history when it “transcended and included” feudalism. Capitalism, when seen historically, certainly came with a net increase in freedom compared to feudalism. The main distinction between the two is the freedom serfs gained when they became workers. Instead of being tied to the land, and thus their master, as they were under feudalism, workers under capitalism can choose who to apply to for access to resources—land and capital— with which to labor. In this sense, they transcended the relationship of feudalism, by gaining the ability to choose who they work for, but they also included the relationship of master and servant, which was prevalent in the medieval economic system, by having to work for someone other than themselves. This is the dialectical method by which history operates.

For this reason, it is best to look toward compatibilistic philosophies, which do not become polarized, stigmatized, but, instead, represent something universally acceptable, and which embrace the truths of varying ideologies, and encompass them into their own. While ideologies based around individuals or collectivities, around current holders of capital or communes, are naturally polarized, negating one another, ideologies based around principles of reciprocity, mutuality, and fairness—universally celebrated, and exemplified principles—, are well-balanced, well-reasoned, and grounded in human satisfaction, celebrating the positive aspects found in the variety of all of life’s splendor.

We can see that those isms which are polarized against other isms often reject the positive aspects of those isms as well. Isms which are more compatibilistic, on the other hand, celebrate those positive aspects of other ideologies, and, since few ideologies are rooted in fundamentally negative values (“murderism” is not a philosophy of which I am aware, for instance), they need not pit themselves entirely against other ideologies when rejecting their negative aspects. In this way, capitalism and socialism are pitted one against another, negating each other, while mutualism pits itself against only those negative aspects of each, reflected in no ideology which exists today. In this way, mutualism is a positive philosophy, as it pits itself entirely against no other, but only against the negative parts of existing philosophies. A double negative is a positive.

Knowing what is meant by our terms, and their orientations, we may now establish the line of demarcation between capitalism and the free market, and move along our course to understanding markets without capitalism, the goal in mind.

The Line of Demarcation

Can we simply place our point of demarcation between markets and capitalism at employment of one person by another? Again, this becomes a difficult topic, this time because of the nature of bosses. If we think about it, a boss is an inflated consumer. A boss may choose to work, but the nature of a boss is that they may purchase labor from others without themselves having to work to the same extent. Regular consumers, however, are an essential ingredient to the marketplace. Without buyers and sellers the market breaks down. Consumers, though not bosses, are certainly employers! So, we must make a distinction between consumers and bosses, while both employ others. This distinction is connected to reciprocity or a break from it.

Consumers, while employing others by way of their purchases, generally do so by the fact that they themselves have been employed in a similar manner, or have taken credit backed by future employability. This is a reciprocal exchange. Bosses, on the other hand, employ others by fact that they have access to capital and workers do not. This parasitism is not due to virtue on behalf of the boss, as some would like to maintain, but is instead due to the fact that the boss has received money backed by labor that is not their own. There we have it, the classical mutualist solution to the social problem.

When people earn money by way of their own labor, they are unable to employ others without working themselves. When they have access to federal bank notes, however, representing a portion of the GDP—everyone’s labor in the economy— which is not their own, they are able to employ people without working. The reason for this is that federal bank notes are titles of ownership to labor. In other words, dollars are IOU’s which are written on our behalf, backed by the GDP, without our permission, and we are forced to work for these bills in order to pay our taxes. If we do not work for them, we will be removed from our homes by way of force. This is similar to someone writing a title to your car, or deed to your house, and using it to trade for something, without your permission. Dollars are, in fact, deeds representing everyone’s productivity in the economy. These dollars are not issued for free to the general populace, whose efforts they represent, based on their productivity, as would be done in a mutual bank. Instead, they are issued in a manner reminiscent of feudalism, in that a select few landlords and bosses—today’s barons and dukes—are given access to command everyone’s labor.

This has very measurable effects. In fact, almost all of the interest, rent, and profit in the economy, and certainly all of the taxes, demonstrate this. That is, a free society would be entirely free of taxes, and would have very little, if any, interest, rent, or profit. The only reason these feudal returns on property or privilege granted by the state—interest, profit, and rent— are able to exist to any meaningful extent is because of aggression—assault, fraud, theft, infringement, etc.— on its behalf. Without the state’s interference, competition would reward labor alone, and property would be distributed reciprocally, according to voluntary exchange and merit of claim. The state is responsible for capitalism, and is indeed its chief executive.

Imagining a Market without Capitalism

A market without capitalism would be very different from the one we have today. A market without capitalism would be one in which everyone is entitled to use land for their personal benefit, where credit distributes capital more equitably, where state-business collaboration no longer exists, and where bosses can no longer remain inflated consumers, buying and selling labor that is not their own. Without the state’s unilateral monopoly on force, aggression would largely disintegrate, and with it the economic returns associated with capitalism.

Such a society would incorporate the positive elements of capitalism and socialism into a form of free market anti-capitalism, wherein there is complete economic equality of opportunity, and freedom of exchange. This society would be a market society filled with competing jurisdictions, each one reflecting the will of its membership. In other words, the free market would be a sea with competing islands of democracies and republics, such as cooperatives and mutual associations. Instead of providing options between bosses, as capitalism provides, a mutualist society would provide options of social contracts, sets of bylaws, regulations. Instead of choosing between bosses, one, in effect, begins to make choices regarding participation in decision-making systems and their prior outcomes. In the free market, if one doesn’t like the way a place functions, one doesn’t move on to the next arbitrary rule of the next capitalist, but instead can find a place which allows them more influence. In this manner, the competition of the free market breeds democracy and cooperation. This should come as no surprise, as markets have always accompanied freer social organization, as seen in Ancient Athens and in most maritime societies, as well as in the papal states of the Italian peninsula of the medieval ages, and in our own capitalist republic today.

Instead of forcing democracy on people, as socialism does with its democratic centralism, mutualism allows one to “opt out,” and to belong only to those associations which one feels brings them personal benefit. Mutualism—that is, markets without capitalism— in no way endorses the forcing of people into aggregate compounds, but instead supports voluntary combination from the bottom up, facilitated purely by the force of nature. A mutualist market, in every sense of the word, is free of state interference, and a market free from the state is a market free from capitalism.


[i] Some may contest that my definitions are too rigid, and that liberal forms of political economy, such as democratic socialism, or models offered by, say, The Fabian Society, are also “middle way” paths between capitalism and socialism. While this is certainly true to some extent, especially economically speaking, it breaks down at the point of the state. Statism is, in no way, a “middle way.” Statism is “my way, or else.” Like socialism and capitalism, statism and crime can be found as two vices on the ends of a spectrum, with anarchism found between them.

References


[1] Benjamin Tucker, edited by Clarence Lee Swartz, “State Socialism and Anarchism: How Far They Agree, and Wherein They Differ,” Individual Liberty (1926)

[2] Brad Spangler, edited by Gary Chartier and Charles W. Johnson, “Market Anarchism as Stigmergic Socialism,” Markets Not Capitalism (New York: Minor Compositions, NA), 85.

[3] Kevin A. Carson,  Studies in Mutualist Political Economy (Booksurge, 2007), 116.

[4] Kevin A. Carson, “Preface,” Studies in Mutualist Political Economy (Booksurge, 2007).

[5] William Gillis, edited by Gary Chartier and Charles W. Johnson, “The Freed Market,” Markets Not Capitalism (New York: Minor Compositions, NA), 19.

[6] Gary Chartier, edited by Charles W. Johnson, “Advocates of Freed Markets Should Oppose Capitalism,” Markets Not Capitalism (New York: Minor Compositions, NA), 108.

[7] Ibid., 107.

[8] Roderick T. Long, “Rothbard’s ‘Left and Right’: Forty Years Later,” Mises Daily.  Accessed April 4, 2014: https://mises.org/daily/2099/

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

 

 

Will Schnack is a Panarchist activist involved in various projects in the Fort Worth, Texas area, including the Black Cat Collective, Josiah Warren Library, DFW Alliance of the Libertarian Left, and The People’s Arcane School.

Anarchism as Spiritual Practice

The following is a presentation by Jamie O’Hara from the National-Anarchist Tribal Alliance of New York (NATA-NY)

 

Update:

Here is the link to an interview Keith Preston did with Jamie O’Hara for ATS Radio over the subjects in the above presentation.

Ernst Junger: The Resolute Life of an Anarch

from AttackTheSystem.com

by Keith Preston

Perhaps the most interesting, poignant and, possibly, threatening  type of writer and thinker is the one who not only defies conventional categorizations of thought but also offers a deeply penetrating critique of those illusions many hold to be the most sacred. Ernst Junger (1895-1998), who first came to literary prominence during Germany’s Weimar era as a diarist of the experiences of a front line stormtrooper during the Great War, is one such writer. Both the controversial nature of his writing and its staying power are demonstrated by the fact that he remains one of the most important yet widely disliked literary and cultural figures of twentieth century Germany. As recently as 1993, when Junger would have been ninety-eight years of age, he was the subject of an intensely hostile exchange in the “New York Review of Books” between an admirer and a detractor of his work.(1) On the occasion of his one hundreth birthday in 1995, Junger was the subject of a scathing, derisive musical performed in East Berlin. Yet Junger was also the recipient of Germany’s most prestigious literary awards, the Goethe Prize and the Schiller Memorial Prize. Junger, who converted to Catholicism at the age of 101, received a commendation from Pope John Paul II and was an honored guest of French President Francois Mitterand and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl at the Franco-German reconciliation ceremony at Verdun in 1984. Though he was an exceptional achiever during virtually every stage of his extraordinarily long life, it was his work during the Weimar period that not only secured for a Junger a presence in German cultural and political history, but also became the standard by which much of his later work was evaluated and by which his reputation was, and still is, debated. (2)

Ernst Junger was born on March 29, 1895 in Heidelberg, but was raised in Hanover. His father, also named Ernst, was an academically trained chemist who became wealthy as the owner of a pharmaceutical manufacturing business, finding himself successful enough to essentially retire while he was still in his forties. Though raised as an evangelical Protestant, Junger’s father did not believe in any formal religion, nor did his mother, Karoline, an educated middle class German woman whose interests included Germany’s rich literary tradition and the cause of women’s emancipation. His parents’ politics seem to have been liberal, though not radical, in the manner not uncommon to the rising bourgeoise of Germany’s upper middle class during the pre-war period. It was in this affluent, secure bourgeoise environment that Ernst Junger grew up. Indeed, many of Junger’s later activities and professed beliefs are easily understood as a revolt against the comfort and safety of his upbringing. As a child, he was an avid reader of the tales of adventurers and soldiers, but a poor academic student who did not adjust well to the regimented Prussian educational system. Junger’s instructors consistently complained of his inattentiveness. As an adolescent, he became involved with the Wandervogel, roughly the German equivalent of the Boy Scouts.(3)

          It was while attending a boarding school near his parents’ home in 1913, at the age of seventeen, that Junger first demonstrated his first propensity for what might be called an “adventurist” way of life. With only six months left before graduation, Junger left school, leaving no word to his family as to his destination. Using money given to him for school-related fees and expenses to buy a firearm and a railroad ticket to Verdun,  Junger subsequently enlisted in the French Foreign Legion, an elite military unit of the French armed forces that accepted enlistees of any nationality and had a reputation for attracting fugitives, criminals and career mercenaries. Junger had no intention of staying with the Legion. He only wanted to be posted to Africa, as he eventually was. Junger then deserted, only to be captured and sentenced to jail. Eventually his father found a capable lawyer for his wayward son and secured his release. Junger then returned to his studies and underwent a belated high school graduation. However, it was only a very short time later that Junger was back in uniform. (4)

Warrior and War Diarist

Ernst Junger immediately volunteered for military service when he heard the news that Germany was at war in the summer of 1914. After two months of training, Junger was assigned to a reserve unit stationed at Champagne. He was afraid the war would end before he had the opportunity to see any action. This attitude was not uncommon among many recruits or conscripts who fought in the war for their respective states. The question immediately arises at to why so many young people would wish to look into the face of death with such enthusiasm. Perhaps they really did not understand the horrors that awaited them. In Junger’s case, his rebellion against the security and luxury of his bourgeoise upbringing had already been ably demonstrated by his excursion with the French Foreign Legion. Because of his high school education, something that soldiers of more proletarian origins lacked, Junger was selected to train to become an officer. Shortly before beginning his officer’s training, Junger was exposed to combat for the first time. From the start, he carried pocket-sized notebooks with him and recorded his observations on the front lines. His writings while at the front exhibit a distinctive tone of detachment, as though he is simply an observer watching while the enemy fires at others. In the middle part of 1915, Junger suffered his first war wound, a bullet graze to the thigh that required only two weeks of recovery time. Afterwards, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant.(5)

At age twenty-one, Junger was the leader of a reconnaissance team at the Somme whose purpose was to go out at night and search for British landmines. Early on, he acquired the reputation of a brave soldier who lacked the preoccupation with his own safety common to most of the fighting men. The introduction of steel artifacts into the war, tanks for the British side and steel helmets for the Germans, made a deep impression on Junger. Wounded three times at the Somme, Junger was awarded the Iron Medal First Class. Upon recovery, he returned to the front lines. A combat daredevil, he once held out against a much larger British force with only twenty men. After being transferred to fight the French at Flanders, he lost ten of his fourteen men and was wounded in the left hand by a blast from French shelling. After being harshly criticized by a superior officer for the number of men lost on that particular mission, Junger began to develop a contempt for the military hierarchy whom he regarded as having achieved their status as a result of their class position, frequently lacking combat experience of their own. In late 1917, having already experienced nearly three full years of combat, Junger was wounded for the fifth time during a surprise assault by the British. He was grazed in the head by a bullet, acquiring two holes in his helmet in the process. His performance in this battle won him the Knights Cross of the Hohenzollerns. In March 1918, Junger participated in another fierce battle with the British, losing 87 of his 150 men. (6)

            Nothing impressed Junger more than personal bravery and endurance on the part of soldiers. He once “fell to the ground in tears” at the sight of a young recruit who had only days earlier been unable to carry an ammunition case by himself suddenly being able to carry two cases of missles after surviving an attack of British shells. A recurring theme in Junger’s writings on his war experiences is the way in which war brings out the most savage human impulses. Essentially, human beings are given full license to engage in behavior that would be considered criminal during peacetime. He wrote casually about burning occupied towns during the course of retreat or a shift of position. However, Junger also demonstrated a capacity for merciful behavior during his combat efforts. He refrained from shooting a cornered British soldier after the foe displayed a portrait of his family to Junger. He was wounded yet again in August of 1918. Having been shot in the chest and directly through a lung, this was his most serious wound yet. After being hit, he still managed to shoot dead yet another British officer. As Junger was being carried off the battlefield on a stretcher, one of the stretcher carriers was killed by a British bullet. Another German soldier attempted to carry Junger on his back, but the soldier was shot dead himself and Junger fell to the ground. Finally, a medic recovered him and pulled him out of harm’s way. This episode would be the end of his battle experiences during the Great War.(7)

In Storms of Steel

Junger’s keeping of his wartime diaries paid off quite well in the long run. They were to become the basis of his first and most famous book, In Storms of Steel, published in 1920. The title was given to the book by Junger himself, having found the phrase in an old Icelandic saga. It was at the suggestion of his father that Junger first sought to have his wartime memoirs published. Initially, he found no takers, antiwar sentiment being extremely high in Germany at the time, until his father at last arranged to have the work published privately. In Storms of Steel differs considerably from similar works published by war veterans during the same era, such as Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front and John Dos Passos’ Three Soldiers. Junger’s book reflects none of the disillusionment with war by those experienced in its horrors of the kind found in these other works. Instead, Junger depicted warfare as an adventure in which the soldier faced the highest possible challenge, a battle to the death with a mortal enemy. Though Junger certainly considered himself to be a patriot and, under the influence of Maurice Barres (8), eventually became a strident German nationalist, his depiction of military combat as an idyllic setting where human wills face the supreme test rose far above ordinary nationalist sentiments. Junger’s warrior ideal was not merely the patriot fighting out of a profound sense of loyalty to his country  nor the stereotype of the dutiful soldier whose sense of honor and obedience compels him to follow the orders of his superiors in a headlong march towards death. Nor was the warrior prototype exalted by Junger necessarily an idealist fighting for some alleged greater good such as a political ideal or religious devotion. Instead, war itself is the ideal for Junger. On this question, he was profoundly influenced by Nietzsche, whose dictum “a good war justifies any cause”, provides an apt characterization of Junger’s depiction of the life (and death) of the combat soldier. (9)

This aspect of Junger’s outlook is illustrated quite well by the ending he chose to give to the first edition of In Storms of Steel. Although the second edition (published in 1926) ends with the nationalist rallying cry, “Germany lives and shall never go under!”, a sentiment that was deleted for the third edition published in 1934 at the onset of the Nazi era, the original edition ends simply with Junger in the hospital after being wounded for the final time and receiving word that he has received yet another commendation for his valor as a combat soldier. There is no mention of Germany’s defeat a few months later. Nationalism aside, the book is clearly about Junger, not about Germany, and Junger’s depiction of the war simultaneously displays an extraordinary level detachment for someone who lived in the face of death for four years and a highly personalized account of the war where battle is first and foremost about the assertion of one’s own “will to power” with cliched patriotic pieties being of secondary concern.

Indeed, Junger goes so far as to say there were winners and losers on both sides of the war. The true winners were not those who fought in a particular army or for a particular country, but who rose to the challenge placed before them and essentially achieved what Junger regarded as a higher state of enlightenment. He believed the war had revealed certain fundamental truths about the human condition. First, the illusions of the old bourgeoise order concerning peace, progress and prosperity had been inalterably shattered. This was not an uncommon sentiment during that time, but it is a revelation that Junger seems to revel in while others found it to be overwhelmingly devastating. Indeed, the lifelong champion of Enlightenment liberalism, Bertrand Russell, whose life was almost as long as Junger’s and who observed many of the same events from a much different philosophical perspective, once remarked that no one who had been born before 1914 knew what it was like to be truly happy.(10) A second observation advanced by Junger had to do with the role of technology in transforming the nature of war, not only in a purely mechanical sense, but on a much greater existential level. Before, man had commanded weaponry in the course of combat. Now weaponry of the kind made possible by modern technology and industrial civilization essentially commanded man. The machines did the fighting. Man simply resisted this external domination. Lastly, the supremacy of might and the ruthless nature of human existence had been demonstrated. Nietzsche was right. The tragic, Darwinian nature of the human condition had been revealed as an irrevocable law.

In Storms of Steel was only the first of several works based on his experiences as a combat officer that were produced by Junger during the 1920s. Copse 125 described a battle between two small groups of combatants. In this work, Junger continued to explore the philosophical themes present in his first work. The type of technologically driven warfare that emerged during the Great War is characterized as reducing men to automatons driven by airplanes, tanks and machine guns. Once again, jingoistic nationalism is downplayed as a contributing factor to the essence of combat soldier’s spirit. Another work of Junger’s from the early 1920s, Battle as Inner Experience, explored the psychology of war. Junger suggested that civilization itself was but a mere mask for the “primordial” nature of humanity that once again reveals itself during war. Indeed, war had the effect of elevating humanity to a higher level. The warrior becomes a kind of god-like animal, divine in his superhuman qualities, but animalistic in his bloodlust. The perpetual threat of imminent death is a kind of intoxicant. Life is at its finest when death is closest. Junger described war as a struggle for a cause that overshadows the respective political or cultural ideals of the combatants. This overarching cause is courage. The fighter is honor bound to respect the courage of his mortal enemy. Drawing on the philosophy of Nietzsche, Junger argued that the war had produced a “new race” that had replaced the old pieties, such as those drawn from religion, with a new recognition of the primacy of the “will to power”.(11)

Conservative Revolutionary

Junger’s writings about the war quickly earned him the status of a celebrity during the Weimar period. Battle as Inner Experience contained the prescient suggestion that the young men who had experienced the greatest war the world had yet to see at that point could never be successfully re-integrated into the old bougeoise order from which they came. For these fighters, the war had been a spiritual experience. Having endured so much only to see their side lose on such seemingly humiliating terms, the veterans of the war were aliens to the rationalistic, anti-militarist, liberal republic that emerged in 1918 at the close of the war. Junger was at his parents’ home recovering from war wounds during the time of the attempted coup by the leftist workers’ and soldiers’ councils and subsequent suppression of these by the Freikorps. He experimented with psychoactive drugs such as cocaine and opium during this time, something that he would continue to do much later in life. Upon recovery, he went back into active duty in the much diminished Germany army. Junger’s earliest works, such as In Storms of Steel, were published during this time and he also wrote for military journals on the more technical and specialized aspects of combat and military technology. Interestingly, Junger attributed Germany’s defeat in the war simply to poor leadership, both military and civilian, and rejected the “stab in the back” legend that consoled less keen veterans.

After leaving the army in 1923, Junger continued to write, producing a novella about a soldier during the war titled Sturm, and also began to study the philosophy of Oswald Spengler. His first work as a philosopher of nationalism appeared the Nazi paper Volkischer Beobachter in September, 1923.

Critiquing the failed Marxist revolution of 1918, Junger argued that the leftist coup failed because of its lacking of fresh ideas. It was simply a regurgitation of the egalitarian outllook of the French Revolution. The revolutionary left appealed only to the material wants of the Germany people in Junger’s views. A successful revolution would have to be much more than that. It would have to appeal to their spiritual or “folkish” instincts as well. Over the next few years Junger studied the natural sciences at the University of Leipzig and in 1925, at age thirty, he married nineteen-year-old Gretha von Jeinsen. Around this time, he also became a full-time political  writer. Junger was hostile to Weimar democracy and its commercial bourgeiose society. His emerging political ideal was one of an elite warrior caste that stood above petty partisan politics and the middle class obsession with material acquisition. Junger became involved with the the Stahlhelm, a right-wing veterans group, and was a contributer to its paper, Die Standardite. He associated himself with the younger, more militant members of the organization who favored an uncompromised nationalist revolution and eschewed the parliamentary system. Junger’s weekly column in Die Standardite disseminated his nationalist ideology to his less educated readers. Junger’s views at this point were a mixture of Spengler, Social Darwinism, the traditionalist philosophy of the French rightist Maurice Barres, opposition to the internationalism of the left that had seemingly been discredited by the events of 1914, irrationalism and anti-parliamentarianism. He took a favorable view of the working class and praised the Nazis’ efforts to win proletarian sympathies. Junger also argued that a nationalist outlook need not be attached to one particular form of government, even suggesting that a liberal monarchy would be inferior to a nationalist republic.(12)

In an essay for Die Standardite titled “The Machine”, Junger argued that the principal struggle was not between social classes or political parties but between man and technology. He was not anti-technological in a Luddite sense, but regarded the technological apparatus of modernity to have achieved a position of superiority over mankind which needed to be reversed. He was concerned that the mechanized efficiency of modern life produced a corrosive effect on the human spirit. Junger considered the Nazis’ glorification of peasant life to be antiquated. Ever the realist, he believed the world of the rural people to be in a state of irreversible decline. Instead, Junger espoused a “metropolitan nationalism” centered on the urban working class. Nationalism was the antidote to the anti-particularist materialism of the Marxists who, in Junger’s views, simply mirrored the liberals in their efforts to reduce the individual to a component of a mechanized mass society. The humanitarian rhetoric of the left Junger dismissed as the hypocritical cant of power-seekers feigning benevolence. He began to pin his hopes for a nationalist revolution on the younger veterans who comprised much of the urban working class.

In 1926, Junger became editor of Arminius, which also featured the writings of Nazi leaders like Alfred Rosenberg and Joseph Goebbels. In 1927, he contributed his final article to the Nazi paper, calling for a new definition of the “worker”, one not rooted in Marxist ideology but the idea of the worker as a civilian counterpart to the soldier who struggles fervently for the nationalist ideal. Junger and  Hitler had exchanged copies of their respective writings and a scheduled meeting between the two was canceled due to a change in Hitler’s itinerary. Junger respected Hitler’s abilities as an orator, but came to feel he lacked the ability to become a true leader. He also found Nazi ideology to be intellectually shallow, many of the Nazi movement’s leaders to be talentless and was displeased by the vulgarity,  crassly opportunistic and overly theatrical aspects of Nazi public rallies. Always an elitist, Junger considered the Nazis’ pandering the common people to be debased. As he became more skeptical of the Nazis, Junger began writing for a wider circle of readers beyond that of the militant nationalist right-wing. His works began to appear in the Jewish liberal Leopold Schwarzchild’s Das Tagebuch and the “national-bolshevik” Ernst Niekisch’s Widerstand.

Junger began to assemble around himself an elite corps of bohemian, eccentric intellectuals who would meet regularly on Friday evenings. This group included some of the most interesting personalities of the Weimar period. Among them were the Freikorps veteran Ernst von Salomon, Otto von Strasser, who with his brother Gregor led a leftist anti-Hitler faction of the Nazi movement, the national-bolshevik Niekisch, the Jewish anarchist Erich Muhsam who had figured prominently in the early phase of the failed leftist revolution of 1918, the American writer Thomas Wolfe and the expressionist writer Arnolt Bronnen. Many among this group espoused a type of revolutionary socialism based on nationalism rather than class, disdaining the Nazis’ opportunistic outreach efforts to the middle class. Some, like Niekisch, favored an alliance between Germany and Soviet Russia against the liberal-capitalist powers of the West. Occasionally, Joseph Goebbels would turn up at these meetings hoping to convert the group, particularly Junger himself, whose war writings he had admired, to the Nazi cause. These efforts by the Nazi propaganda master proved unsuccessful. Junger regarded Goebbels as a shallow ideologue who spoke in platitudes even in private conversation.(13)

The final break between Ernst Junger and the NSDAP occurred in September 1929. Junger published an article in Schwarzchild’s Tagebuch attacking and ridiculing the Nazis as sell outs for having reinvented themselves as a parliamentary party. He also dismissed their racism and anti-Semitism as ridiculous, stating that according to the Nazis a nationalist is simply someone who “eats three Jews for breakfast.” He condemned the Nazis for pandering to the liberal middle class and reactionary traditional conservatives “with lengthy tirades against the decline in morals, against abortion, strikes, lockouts, and the reduction of police and military forces.” Goebbels responded by attacking Junger in the Nazi press, accusing him being motivated by personal literary ambition, and insisting this had caused him “to vilify the national socialist movement, probably so as to make himself popular in his new kosher surroundings” and dismissing Junger’s attacks by proclaiming the Nazis did not “debate with renegades who abuse us in the smutty press of Jewish traitors.”(14)

Junger on the Jewish Question

Junger held complicated views on the question of German Jews. He considered anti-Semitism of the type espoused by Hitler to be crude and reactionary. Yet his own version of nationalism required a level of homogeneity that was difficult to reconcile with the subnational status of Germany Jewry. Junger suggested that Jews should assimilate and pledge their loyalty to Germany once and for all. Yet he expressed admiration for Orthodox Judaism and indifference to Zionism. Junger maintained personal friendships with Jews and wrote for a Jewish owned publication. During this time his Jewish publisher Schwarzchild published an article examining Junger’s views on the Jews of Germany. Schwarzchild insisted that Junger was nothing like his Nazi rivals on the far right. Junger’s nationalism was based on an aristocratic warrior ethos, while Hitler’s was more comparable to the criminal underworld. Hitler’s men were “plebian alley scum”. However, Schwarzchild also characterized Junger’s rendition of nationalism as motivated by little more than a fervent rejection of bourgeoise society and lacking in attention to political realities and serious economic questions.(15)

The Worker

Other than In Storms of Steel, Junger’s The Worker: Mastery and Form was his most influential work from the Weimar era. Junger would later distance himself from this work, published in 1932, and it was reprinted in the 1950s only after Junger was prompted to do so by Martin Heidegger.

In The Worker, Junger outlines his vision of a future state ordered as a technocracy based on workers and soldiers led by a warrior elite. Workers are no longer simply components of an industrial machine, whether capitalist or communist, but have become a kind of civilian-soldier operating as an economic warrior. Just as the soldier glories in his accomplishments in battle, so does the worker glory in the achievements expressed through his work. Junger predicted that continued technological advancements would render the worker/capitalist dichotomy obsolete. He also incorporated the political philosophy of his friend Carl Schmitt into his worldview. As Schmitt saw international relations as a Hobbesian battle between rival powers, Junger believed each state would eventually adopt a system not unlike what he described in The Worker. Each state would maintain its own technocratic order with the workers and soldiers of each country playing essentially the same role on behalf of their respective nations. International affairs would be a crucible where the will to power of the different nations would be tested.

Junger’s vision contains a certain amount prescience. The general trend in politics at the time was a movement towards the kind of technocratic state Junger described. These took on many varied forms including German National Socialism, Italian Fascism, Soviet Communism, the growing welfare states of Western Europe and America’s New Deal. Coming on the eve of World War Two, Junger’s prediction of a global Hobbesian struggle between national collectives possessing previously unimagined levels of technological sophistication also seems rather prophetic. Junger once again attacked the bourgeoise as anachronistic. Its values of material luxury and safety he regarded as unfit for the violent world of the future. (16)

The National Socialist Era

By the time Hitler took power in 1933, Junger’s war writings had become commonly used in high schools and universities as examples of wartime literature, and Junger enjoyed success within the context of German popular culture as well. Excerpts of Junger’s works were featured in military journals. The Nazis tried to coopt his semi-celebrity status, but he was uncooperative. Junger was appointed to the Nazified German Academcy of Poetry, but declined the position. When the Nazi Party’s paper published some of his work in 1934, Junger wrote a letter of protest. The Nazi regime, despite its best efforts to capitalize on his reputation, viewed Junger with suspicioun. His past association with the national-bolshevik Ersnt Niekisch, the Jewish anarchist Erich Muhsam and the anti-Hitler Nazi Otto von Strasser, all of whom were either eventually killed or exiled by the Third Reich, led the Nazis to regard Junger as a potential subversive. On several occasions, Junger received visits from the Gestapo in search of some of his former friends. During the early years of the Nazi regime, Junger was in the fortunate position of being able to economically afford travel outside of Germany. He journeyed to Norway, Brazil, Greece and Morocco during this time, and published several works based on his travels.(17)

Junger’s most significant work from the Nazi period is the novel On the Marble Cliffs. The book is an allegorical attack on the Hitler regime. It was written in 1939, the same year that Junger reentered the German army. The book describes a mysterious villian that threatens a community, a sinister warlord called the “Head Ranger”. This character is never featured in the plot of the novel, but maintains a forboding presence that is universal (much like “Big Brother” in George Orwell’s 1984). Another character in the novel, “Braquemart”, is described as having physical characteristics remarkably similar to those of Goebbels. The book sold fourteen thousand copies during its first two weeks in publication. Swiss reviewers immediately recognized the allegorical references to the Nazi state in the novel. The Nazi Party’s organ, Volkische Beobachter, stated that Ernst Jünger was flirting with a bullet to the head. Goebbels urged Hitler to ban the book, but Hitler refused, probably not wanting to show his hand. Indeed, Hitler gave orders that Junger not be harmed.(18)

Junger was stationed in France for most of the Second World War. Once again, he kept diaries of the experience. Once again, he expressed concern that he might not get to see any action before the war was over. While Junger did not have the opportunity to experience the level of danger and daredevil heroics he had during the Great War, he did receive yet another medal, the Iron Cross, for retrieving the body of a dead corporal while under heavy fire. Junger also published some of his war diaries during this time. However, the German government took a dim view of these, viewing them as too sympathetic to the occupied French. Junger’s duties included censorship of the mail coming into France from German civilians. He took a rather liberal approach to this responsibility and simply disposed of incriminating documents rather than turning them over for investigation. In doing so, he probably saved lives. He also encountered members of France’s literary and cultural elite, among them the actor Louis Ferdinand Celine, a raving anti-Semite and pro-Vichyite who suggested Hitler’s harsh measures against the Jews had not been heavy handed enough. As rumors of the Nazi extermination programs began to spread,  Junger wrote in his diary that the mechanization of the human spirit of the type he had written about in the past had apparently generated a higher level of human depravity. When he saw three young French-Jewish girls wearing the yellow stars required by the Nazis, he wrote that he felt embarrassed to be in the Nazi army. In July of 1942, Junger observed the mass arrest of French Jews, the beginning of implementation of the “Final Solution”. He described the scene as follows:

“Parents were first separated from their children, so there was wailing to be heard in the streets. At no moment may I forget that I am surrounded by the unfortunate, by those suffering to the very depths, else what sort of person, what sort of officer would I be? The uniform obliges one to grant protection wherever it goes. Of course one has the impression that one must also, like Don Quixote, take on millions.”(19)

An entry into Junger’s diary from October 16, 1943 suggests that an unnamed army officer had told  Junger about the use of crematoria and poison gas to murder Jews en masse. Rumors of plots against Hitler circulated among the officers with whom Junger maintained contact. His son, Ernstl, was arrested after an informant claimed he had spoken critically of Hitler. Ernstl Junger was imprisoned for three months, then placed in a penal battalion where he was killed in action in Italy. On July 20, 1944 an unsuccessful assassination attempt was carried out against Hitler. It is still disputed as to whether or not Junger knew of the plot or had a role in its planning. Among those arrested for their role in the attemt on Hitler’s life were members of Junger’s immediate circle of associates and superior officers within the German army. Junger was dishonorably discharged shortly afterward.(20)

Following the close of the Second World War, Junger came under suspicion from the Allied occupational authorities because of his far right-wing nationalist and militarist past. He refused to cooperate with the Allies De-Nazification programs and was barred from publishing for four years. He would go on to live another half century, producing many more literary works, becoming a close friend of Albert Hoffman, the inventor of the hallucinogen LSD, with which he experimented. In a 1977 novel, Eumeswil, he took his tendency towards viewing the world around him with detachment to a newer, more clearly articulated level with his invention of the concept of the “Anarch”. This idea, heavily influenced by the writings of the early nineteenth century German philosopher Max Stirner, championed the solitary individual who remains true to himself within the context of whatever external circumstances happen to be present. Some sample quotations from this work illustrate the philosophy and worldview of the elderly Junger quite well:

“For the anarch, if he remains free of being ruled, whether by sovereign or society, this does not mean he refuses to serve in any way. In general, he serves no worse than anyone else, and sometimes even better, if he likes the game. He only holds back from the pledge, the sacrifice, the ultimate devotion … I serve in the Casbah; if, while doing this, I die for the Condor, it would be an accident, perhaps even an obliging gesture, but nothing more.”

“The egalitarian mania of demagogues is even more dangerous than the brutality of men in gallooned coats. For the anarch, this remains theoretical, because he avoids both sides. Anyone who has been oppressed can get back on his feet if the oppression did not cost him his life. A man who has been equalized is physically and morally ruined. Anyone who is different is not equal; that is one of the reasons why the Jews are so often targeted.”

“The anarch, recognizing no government, but not indulging in paradisal dreams as the anarchist does, is, for that very reason, a neutral observer.”

“Opposition is collaboration.”

“A basic theme for the anarch is how man, left to his own devices, can defy superior force – whether state, society or the elements – by making use of their rules without submitting to them.”

“… malcontents… prowl through the institutions eternally dissatisfied, always disappointed. Connected with this is their love of cellars and rooftops, exile and prisons, and also banishment, on which they actually pride themselves. When the structure finally caves in they are the first to be killed in the collapse. Why do they not know that the world remains inalterable in change? Because they never find their way down to its real depth, their own. That is the sole place of essence, safety. And so they do themselves in.”

“The anarch may not be spared prisons – as one fluke of existence among others. He will then find the fault in himself.”

“We are touching one a … distinction between anarch and anarchist; the relation to authority, to legislative power. The anarchist is their mortal enemy, while the anarch refuses to acknowledge them. He seeks neither to gain hold of them, nor to topple them, nor to alter them – their impact bypasses him. He must resign himself only to the whirlwinds they generate.”

“The anarch is no individualist, either. He wishes to present himself neither as a Great Man nor as a Free Spirit. His own measure is enough for him; freedom is not his goal; it is his property. He does not come on as foe or reformer: one can get along nicely with him in shacks or in palaces. Life is too short and too beautiful to sacrifice for ideas, although contamination is not always avoidable. But hats off to the martyrs.”

“We can expect as little from society as from the state. Salvation lies in the individual.” (21)

Notes:

1. Ian Buruma, “The Anarch at Twilight”, New York Review of Books, Volume 40, No. 12, June 24, 1993. Hilary Barr, “An Exchange on Ernst Junger”, New York Review of Books, Volume 40, No. 21, December 16, 1993.

2. Nevin, Thomas. Ernst Junger and Germany: Into the Abyss, 1914-1945. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1996, pp. 1-7. Loose, Gerhard. Ernst Junger. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1974, preface.

3. Nevin, pp. 9-26. Loose, p. 21

4. Loose, p. 22. Nevin, pp. 27-37.

5. Nevin. p. 49.

6. Ibid., p. 57

7. Ibid., p. 61

8. Maurice Barrès (September 22, 1862 – December 4, 1923) was a French novelist, journalist, an anti-semite, nationalist politician and agitator. Leaning towards the far-left in his youth as a Boulangist deputy, he progressively developed a theory close to Romantic nationalism and shifted to the right during the Dreyfus Affair, leading the Anti-Dreyfusards alongside Charles Maurras. In 1906, he was elected both to the Académie française and as deputy of the Seine department, and until his death he sat with the conservative Entente républicaine démocratique. A strong supporter of the Union sacrée(Holy Union) during World War I, Barrès remained a major influence of generations of French writers, as well as of monarchists, although he was not a monarchist himself. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maurice_Barr%C3%A8s

9. Nevin, pp. 58, 71, 97.

10. Schilpp, P. A. “The Philosophy of Bertrand Russell”.  Reviewed Hermann Weyl, The American Mathematical Monthly, Vol. 53, No. 4 (Apr., 1946), pp. 208-214.

11. Nevin, pp. 122, 125, 134, 136, 140, 173.

12. Ibid., pp. 75-91.

13. Ibid., p. 107.

14. Ibid., p. 108.

15. Ibid., pp. 109-111.

16. Ibid., pp. 114-140.

17. Ibid., p. 145.

18. Ibid., p. 162.

19. Ibid., p. 189.

20. Ibid., p. 209.

21. Junger, Ernst. Eumeswil. New York: Marion Publishers, 1980, 1993.

 

Bibliography

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