Post Anarchism - #OCCUPYWALLSTREET

Saul Newman

The politics of post anarchism.
The Politics of Post Anarchism
University students in Barcelona protest austerity measures taken to end Spain’s debt crisis, June 2011.
AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti

As if in anticipation of future insurgencies, the power of the state has exponentially increased in recent years. Securitization becomes the dominant paradigm of the state – the matrix for an unprecedented deployment of strategies and technologies of control, surveillance and preemption, and for a permanent war-like mobilization.

The continual blurring of different forms of dissidence and protest into the idea of a threat to state security – climate change and antiwar protesters and activists being arrested under antiterrorist powers, for example – suggest that the so-called war on terrorism has as its target all those who dissent from the state-capitalist order. At the same time, however, we should see this logic of securitization and exception as a reaction to a certain crisis in the symbolic order of the nation-state under conditions of capitalist globalization. This nation-state as the container of sovereignty is less certain; its boundaries and identity are less clearly delineated. Security therefore, becomes a way for sovereignty to re-articulate itself in this more fluid global order. Through mechanisms of security, state power spills out beyond its own borders, constructing networks of surveillance, incarceration, control and war-making that are no longer strictly determined by national boundaries. Prisons are not prisons but camps, wars are no longer wars but “policing” operations; global networks of surveillance and information-sharing ... We are in the midst of, as Agamben would put it, a zone of indistinction, in which national sovereignty blurs into global security while at the same time reifying and fetishizing existing borders, and erecting new ones everywhere.

These developments open up two important sites for contestation. First, the logic of security itself, which has become so ubiquitous and omnipresent today, has to be seen as a mechanism of depoliticization: it is a way of imposing a certain order on social reality which is self-legitimizing and beyond question; it is an ideology that authorizes the infinite accumulation of state power. Moreover, as Foucault showed, the idea of security – as it functioned in liberal discourses of government in the 18th century – has become coextensive with the idea of freedom itself. Today we have come to think of freedom only as strictly circumscribed by security; freedom and security become part of a binary, in which the former cannot be imagined without the latter, and in which the former always gives way to the exigencies and prerogatives imposed by the latter. The liberal idea of an appropriate balance between security and liberty is an illusion. The only vision the security paradigm offers us – with its pernicious technologies and its perverse logic that grips us in a double bind – is an empty, controlled, overexposed landscape from which all hope of emancipation has faded and where all we have left to do is obsessively measure the risks posed to our lives from the ever-present specter of catastrophe. The security paradigm intensifies a micro-politics of fear, producing a kind of generalized neurosis. It is against this state fantasy of security, and the affect of the fear and despair that it produces, that radical politics must stake out its ground. It must reassert the hope of emancipation and affirm the risk of politics. This involves more than clawing back lost liberties, but rather inventing a new language of freedom that is no longer conditioned by security. Freedom must be discovered beyond security, and this can be achieved only through practices of political contestation, through forms of resistance, through modes of collective indiscipline and disobedience. For instance, the refusal and subversion of surveillance, and even the surveillance of surveillance, become part of a new language or resistance that expresses the desire for a life that no longer seeks to be “secured.”

The chasm between ordinary people and political elites has never seemed wider or more stark. Therefore the appearance of social movements on a global scale suggests the attempt to constitute an alternative political space, a new body politic: no longer the body of obedient citizens who respect the formal democratic mandate of power, but rather a rebellious, dissenting body – citizens who do not obey and who refuse to recognize the authority of those who represent them, thus breaking the bond between the subject and the state. Therefore the anticapitalist movement challenges not only the hegemony of neoliberal capitalism but also the symbolic claim of the “democratic” state to speak for its citizens. Radical movements today are not post- or anti-democratic, however: they simply find the current forms of democracy on offer inadequate, and seek to open the political space to alternative and more democratic modes of democracy.

Democracy today consists in the invention or reinvention of spaces, movements, ways of life, economic exchanges and political practices that resist the imprint of the state and which foster relations of equal liberty. The struggles that take place today against capitalism and the state are democratic struggles. At the same time, however, we might sound a certain note of dissatisfaction with the term “democracy.” We can echo Bakunin, who finds the term democracy “not sufficient.” As Derrida himself said of democracy: “[A]s a term it’s not sacred. I can some day or other, say, ‘No, it’s not the right term. The situation allows or demands that we use another term …’” The situation is changing, and the new forms of autonomous politics that are currently emerging demand the use of another term: anarchism.

Shipwrecked on the craggy shores of state power, anarchism is now moving to the forefront of our political imagination. There has been a certain paradigm shift in politics away from the state and formal representative institutions, which still exist but increasingly as empty vessels without life, and toward movements. Here new political challenges and questions emerge – concerning freedom beyond securities, democracy beyond the state, politics beyond the party, economic organization beyond capitalism, globalization beyond borders, life beyond biopolitics – challenges and questions that anarchism is best equipped to respond to with the originality and innovation that our new situation demands.

Saul Newman is a post-anarchist political philosopher whose anti-authoritarian perspective is an important counterbalance to the influence Leninist Slavoj Žižek and Maoist Alain Badiou have exerted on the far left. This article is an edited extract from Newman’s just-published book, The Politics of Post Anarchism.

32 comments on the article “Saul Newman”

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Anonymous

Here's an idea, you won't like it because you must exist outside of it all, but hear me out.

I run an investment fund, we gather people together from all over the country and invest in companies, green companies, organic companies, righteous companies. Companies you would like to exist in your new model. we jam these companies with straight liquid cash via the stock market. my investors aren't out for a 4% gain, they're out to vote with there monies, to get these companies cash flow and encourage others to do so as well.

imagine if the scale of such a thing grew...Organic, Green, Good comapnies could see millions of capitol dollars roll in, allowing them to take on controlling companies that hold a controlling share. Sugar will reappear in our food, maybe even nutrients as well.

the free market/stock market system allows for thousands of ways a critical mass of people could effect change. its a turnable rudder on a ship.

the system/state/insert term thrives on the fact that real revolutionaries stay marginal at best because the system has weaved this idea of total seperation into the fabric of rebellion. When the vulnerabilities of the system are glaring.

Maybe you believe my idea is weak, but were doing it, taking action on a different front. Working from the inside out. The free-market system is built for this and as corrupt as it has become and still maintains very simple vulnerabilities.

No one even trades on the floor anymore. So while I believe you actions will be marginalized and downplayed (if even outright unreported)by the media, on that day my fund will see $100,000 more dollars being funneled to quality companies, organic companies, companies ran by decent people. Not for the purpose of making a % of gain, but to funnel capitol into the change we want to come.

I was once right there with you, I have tear gas can scars, it was great fun. But at the end of the day reality is always going to be reality. there are 10,000 ways to effect real change. your just going to have to stop reading the propaganda that tells you it can only be done from outside.

best of luck

Anonymous

Here's an idea, you won't like it because you must exist outside of it all, but hear me out.

I run an investment fund, we gather people together from all over the country and invest in companies, green companies, organic companies, righteous companies. Companies you would like to exist in your new model. we jam these companies with straight liquid cash via the stock market. my investors aren't out for a 4% gain, they're out to vote with there monies, to get these companies cash flow and encourage others to do so as well.

imagine if the scale of such a thing grew...Organic, Green, Good comapnies could see millions of capitol dollars roll in, allowing them to take on controlling companies that hold a controlling share. Sugar will reappear in our food, maybe even nutrients as well.

the free market/stock market system allows for thousands of ways a critical mass of people could effect change. its a turnable rudder on a ship.

the system/state/insert term thrives on the fact that real revolutionaries stay marginal at best because the system has weaved this idea of total seperation into the fabric of rebellion. When the vulnerabilities of the system are glaring.

Maybe you believe my idea is weak, but were doing it, taking action on a different front. Working from the inside out. The free-market system is built for this and as corrupt as it has become and still maintains very simple vulnerabilities.

No one even trades on the floor anymore. So while I believe you actions will be marginalized and downplayed (if even outright unreported)by the media, on that day my fund will see $100,000 more dollars being funneled to quality companies, organic companies, companies ran by decent people. Not for the purpose of making a % of gain, but to funnel capitol into the change we want to come.

I was once right there with you, I have tear gas can scars, it was great fun. But at the end of the day reality is always going to be reality. there are 10,000 ways to effect real change. your just going to have to stop reading the propaganda that tells you it can only be done from outside.

best of luck

Anonymous

get rid of needing these (self-identifying, reductive, inane) labels like democrat, anarchist, capitalist etc. what kind of security is one consciously/unconsciously submitting to, desiring, living, by calling oneself such? I am a democrat, I am an anarchist… all just advertisements.

Anonymous

get rid of needing these (self-identifying, reductive, inane) labels like democrat, anarchist, capitalist etc. what kind of security is one consciously/unconsciously submitting to, desiring, living, by calling oneself such? I am a democrat, I am an anarchist… all just advertisements.

Anonymous

"We have about 50% of the world's wealth, but only 6.3% of its population . . . our real task . . . is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security . . . We should cease to talk about unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of living standards, and democratization . . . [W]e are going to have to deal in straight power concepts." ~ George F. Kennan, U.S. State Department Policy Planning Committee, Policy Planning Study 23, February 1948, p509-529.
________________

Right-wing dictatorships supported by and/or placed into power by the United States: A partial list.

Batista (Cuba); Arenas (Guatemala)*; Reza Pahlavi (Iran)*; Rafael Trujillo (Dominican Republic); Quirino (The Philippines); Duvalier, father & son (Haiti)*; Somoza (Nicaragua)*; Mobutu (Zaire)*; Branco (Brazil); Suharto (Indonesia)*; Duarte (El Salvador); Augusto Pinochet (Chile)*; Alfredo Stroessner (Paraguay)

* = Came to power following a US-backed overthrow or assassination of a democratically-elected leader.
________________

"America's most dangerous enemies are not Islamic radicals, but those who sold us the perverted ideology of the free-market capitalism in globalization. They have dynamited the very foundations of our society; in the 17th century these speculators would have been hung. Today they run the government and consume billions in taxpayer subsidies." ~ Chris Hedges
________________

Conservative working-class Americans: Bending over and taking it up the ass from conservative politicians since the Reagan administration. A Proud Tradition.
________________

"Patriotism is nothing more than the organized interests of the privileged class." — Bakunin
________________

"Remember Ben Tre? That was the Vietnamese village the Americans destroyed in 1968, saying "It became necessary to destroy the town in order to save it." Since then the Americans have been saving towns all over the globe, in Cambodia, Laos, Panama, Nicaragua, Sudan, Iraq, Yugoslavia and more. Then on Sept 11, 2001, someone, no doubt overcome with gratitude, decided to save some Americans." – Bev Currie, Canada

Anonymous

"We have about 50% of the world's wealth, but only 6.3% of its population . . . our real task . . . is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security . . . We should cease to talk about unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of living standards, and democratization . . . [W]e are going to have to deal in straight power concepts." ~ George F. Kennan, U.S. State Department Policy Planning Committee, Policy Planning Study 23, February 1948, p509-529.
________________

Right-wing dictatorships supported by and/or placed into power by the United States: A partial list.

Batista (Cuba); Arenas (Guatemala)*; Reza Pahlavi (Iran)*; Rafael Trujillo (Dominican Republic); Quirino (The Philippines); Duvalier, father & son (Haiti)*; Somoza (Nicaragua)*; Mobutu (Zaire)*; Branco (Brazil); Suharto (Indonesia)*; Duarte (El Salvador); Augusto Pinochet (Chile)*; Alfredo Stroessner (Paraguay)

* = Came to power following a US-backed overthrow or assassination of a democratically-elected leader.
________________

"America's most dangerous enemies are not Islamic radicals, but those who sold us the perverted ideology of the free-market capitalism in globalization. They have dynamited the very foundations of our society; in the 17th century these speculators would have been hung. Today they run the government and consume billions in taxpayer subsidies." ~ Chris Hedges
________________

Conservative working-class Americans: Bending over and taking it up the ass from conservative politicians since the Reagan administration. A Proud Tradition.
________________

"Patriotism is nothing more than the organized interests of the privileged class." — Bakunin
________________

"Remember Ben Tre? That was the Vietnamese village the Americans destroyed in 1968, saying "It became necessary to destroy the town in order to save it." Since then the Americans have been saving towns all over the globe, in Cambodia, Laos, Panama, Nicaragua, Sudan, Iraq, Yugoslavia and more. Then on Sept 11, 2001, someone, no doubt overcome with gratitude, decided to save some Americans." – Bev Currie, Canada

Anonymous

Is this the only "post-anarchist" piece in the issue?

Have you seen the book "Post-Anarchism: A Reader" or the post-anarchist journal "Anarchist Developments in CUltural Studies" ?

Anonymous

Is this the only "post-anarchist" piece in the issue?

Have you seen the book "Post-Anarchism: A Reader" or the post-anarchist journal "Anarchist Developments in CUltural Studies" ?

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