Archive for the 'Buddhism' Category

Nick Griffin: “National Anarchism: Trojan Horse for White Nationalism” (2005)

NATIONAL ANARCHISM: TROJAN HORSE FOR WHITE NATIONALISM

Nick Griffin

[2007 note] This article was written for Green Anarchy magazine under the name “Nick Griffin,” which is obviously a pseudonym. The “other” Nick Griffin is the head of the far-right British National Party, who by coincidence was brought to trial on charges of ‘incitement to racial hatred’ as the issue of GA hit the stands (ie well after the article was written). Apparently more than one unscrupulous North American radical used this opportunity to publicly accuse Green Anarchy of printing an article by the BNP’s Griffin – despite the fact that it was an obviously anti-fascist article! Therefore it should be specified that the “Nick Griffin” of this article is not the same as the BNP’s Nick Griffin; rather, it is a pseudonym of an anti-fascist monitor with a wry sense of humor. Go figure.

Recently a man who hung out in Eugene around green anarchists started promoting the idea of National Anarchism. A few years ago he had written a well-known essay from a green anarchist perspective, and he was a familiar face to many. [2007 note: "Chris" wrote the article "Against Mass Society," which can be found on the cover of Green Anarchy #6 (Summer 2001) and is reprinted in Our Enemy Civilization: An Anthology Against Modernity.] His new belief system advocated that people of different ethnic backgrounds should live in different villages, and he later wrote a letter to Green Anarchy in an attempt to propagate his views about supposedly “natural” hierarchies. [GA Note: We were going to print his letter, but it is almost as long as this article, and we did not want to provide a forum for his ideas on "natural hierarchies" and "National Anarchism". If people are interested in the letter, and who wrote it, you can contact us.] Fortunately his attempt to spread this racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic (so-called) “anarchism” were quickly unveiled. But what is National Anarchism? How did it arise, and what does it stand for, and why are these racist Right-wingers attempting to recruit anarchists?

Radical politics of all kinds took a new turn after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and this accelerated after the demonstrations against the WTO in Seattle in 1999. Decentralized and networked political forms started becoming the predominant types of resistance. In the last few years, we have seen anarchism replace marxism as the dominant radical movement in the U.S., but changes have also occurred elsewhere. Parts of the white power movement started advocating “leaderless resistance” as early as the 1980s; the Islamic jihadists Al Qaeda are a state-less, transnational entity; and even marxist groups like Left Turn have rejected the tight “vanguard party” model in favor of a more network-based structure.

But anarchism itself has also became a magnet for the racist radical right, and a tiny fringe group in the UK called the National Revolutionary Faction has re-christened itself as National Anarchists. They are attempting to use anarchist symbolism and rhetoric to recruit both “White Nationalists” (WN, a catch-all term for the various kinds of white racists) as well as anarchists – especially green anarchists – to their strange belief system. They advocate a decentralized economic and political system which features ethnically-pure villages which are defined by racial separatism, anti-semitism and homophobia.

Most National Anarchists (NA) tend to be long-time participants in the Nazi or other racist movements (ie Klan, Christian Identity) who are looking for a new “hook” to use to break-out of the ghettoized White Nationalist scene. Many are former skinheads who retain their interests in racist Oi!, metal and goth bands, European football (soccer), and sci-fi. They also tend to be interested in occult or pagan religions, although the proprietor of the sole NA-affiliated website in the U.S. is a Christian. Sometimes they are interested in the ecology movement or animal rights, although this seems mostly to be lip service to attract anarchists to their ideas. Their real interests are clearly racism against non-white people and a hatred of Jews.

Unfortunately, their bait has seemed to hook a few from the anarchist scene, mostly mystical anarchists, individualists, and green anarchists – including the aforementioned Eugene hanger-on. There has always been a small Left-Right crossover point, especially where the politics involve a mixture of anti-capitalism, mysticism, environmentalism and questions of technology. (Although skewed in its conclusions, Ecofascism: Lessons from the German Experience by Janet Biehl and Peter Staudenmaier offers a detailed historical account of this, and many of the racists have read this and taken it as a guide.) Continue reading ‘Nick Griffin: “National Anarchism: Trojan Horse for White Nationalism” (2005)’

David Watson: Introduction to the Origins of Primitivism Set (2010)

One thing I would say and may have already said in my books Beyond Bookchin and Against the Megamachine and my essay “Swamp Fever, Primitivism and the ‘Ideological Vortex': Farewell to All That” is that I am not opposed at all to some kind of reasoned primitivism. I just distrust all “isms,” and in the case of much of self-proclaimed anarcho-primitivism, the insights of a primitivist view (for example, to be found in Stanley Diamond’s In Search of the Primitive, The Old Ways, much anthropological literature, and the writings and testimonies of native peoples) has become a simplistic, dogmatic, and sometimes fascistic response to problems that demand instead our humanity, compassion, and humility.

I admire so-called primitive or original and tribal societies and believe they offer profound answers to what it means to be human, particularly in the present crisis in world industrial capitalist civilization. They don’t have all the answers, and there is no way they can be fully reproduced, but we need to pay attention to all our ancestors, and to the great traditions – primitive, archaic, and modern – in our evolutionary experience. I think Gary Snyder’s Practice of the Wild one of the most powerful expressions of respect for primitive and archaic traditions, and search for a synthesis of ancient and modern, today, and I recommend it emphatically for its wisdom, beautiful writing, erudition, sense of humor, humility, and humanity.

I must confess that I am pessimistic about our capacity to save ourselves and the complex web of planetary life we know with any insight or political outlook, but I don’t see any reason to give up, and I admire and try to find ways to support those who continue to seek answers and to fight back. Caring about and responding to the crisis in a humane way is one of the few things remaining that keep us human.

I may look at this later and want to modify (or clarify) what and how I am saying this, but it is largely how I have felt about these matters since the days when we were first exploring and debating these ideas. I am grateful to Dylan Smith and Radical Archives and everyone else who did the hard work to make these texts available.

David Watson,
September 2010

The First Primitivist Essay: “Gary Snyder Asks: Poetry or Machines? Back to the Stone Age” (1977)

GARY SNYDER ASKS: POETRY OR MACHINES?
Back to the Stone Age?

“The Politics of Ethnopoetics” in The Old Ways, Six Essays, Gary Snyder, City Lights Books, San Francisco, 40077 “(Reckoning roughly from the earliest cave paintings)”, 96 pp.

Ever since the dawn of industrial capitalism 200 years ago, a succession of philosophers, poets, social scientists, and mystics have written on the decline of the species since leaving the “state of nature” and entering the modern epoch. Hence, it could be charged, that there is little that is new in this book and much that has been heard from sources whose nostalgia for the days of yore is of a short lasting duration broken by a return to the middle-class life that spawns such ideas.

Almost all radical thought from Marxism through to anarchist thinkers like Murray Bookchin in his Post-Scarcity Anarchism take as a pre-condition for revolutionary change the continuing development of our productive capacity and view any reversal of the process as reactionary. However, just as we would never allow the conservatism of the ruling ideas to govern the direction of our thinking, neither should we allow what formerly passed as radical ideas to have a similar restraining effect.

Civilization is The Culprit

The value then of the book under consideration is that Snyder calls into question basic assumptions of modern society and very directly indicts the whole edifice of civilization as the culprit in the predicament humans have gotten themselves into.

What is being directly confronted is the concept of progress itself. The history of the species has always been taught to us as the history of progress—out of the oceans, out of the caves, onto the fields, into the factories, etc.—without ever really stopping to ask what was the yardstick being used that identified cave dwellers as unfortunate, while seeing the wage workers of Europe and North America as blessed. Nobody ever turned, looked at each group and said, “Gee, are they happy?”

People seem to have the capacity to simultaneously hold a positive notion of civilization and progress while compartmentalizing the knowledge that contact with the modern world by thriving and happy pre-industrial people has always led to their immiseration and extermination. Why is there not the realization that the same process occurred to our forebears as well and we are just their domesticated descendants who can be satisfied with camping in the wilderness for two weeks a year as a substitute for the life our species once led?

To Snyder (after Levi-Strauss and Sahlins), the species began its decline at the end of the Paleolithic Age when hunting and gathering ceased to be the dominant form of sustenance and was replaced by the agriculturally-based Neolithic Age. With the ability to produce large surpluses through stored crops, the centralized state, the patriarchal family and class structure emerged, first only on a small section of the planet involving a limited number of people, but that process now nears completion after eight thousand years of “civilization” with the final destruction at hand of the remaining Stone Age cultures still lingering in the hinterlands of Brazil, Australia and the Philippines.

The decline comes about as the form of human association changes. In an unpublished manuscript, Gerry Winstanley makes the point, “Once a group of people came to rely on agriculture completely, and forgot how to live by hunting and gathering, they could no longer run away en masse into the wilderness to escape slavery.” Hence, the State becomes permanent. Or as Snyder writes,

“Society providing buffers and protection of an increasingly complicated order so that as it became larger in scope and populations larger in size, it protected individuals from those demands for speed, skill, knowledge, and intelligence that were common in the Upper Paleolithic. The personal direct contact with the natural world required of hunters and gatherers—men and women both—a tremendous continual awareness.”

The quick answer, “Well, who doesn’t want to be safe from tigers,” misses entirely what also that “safety” brings—a domesticated species that has all of its affairs that were once handled directly now mediated by the State and commodity relationships so that it seems perfectly natural and reasonable that all aspects of what we do with both our labor and leisure time, where we live and how we live are chosen for us with humans figuring in the equation only as an afterthought.

Rapacious Dangers of the State

Safety from the elements was “won” (a dubious victory) only at the expense of being now exposed to the rapacious dangers of the State and, most importantly, the loss of community with its concept of “place” and definition for the species. Missing those elements, articulated through song, dance, myth and poetry and accepting instead, a society of mediation, is what Camatte calls the “wandering of humanity.”

Snyder knows his anthropology and his ecology, but seems to be influenced by Marxists in those fields even though he realizes their limitations. He states, “Marxists, granted the precision of their critique on most points, often have a hard time thinking clearly about primitive cultures, and the usual tendency is to assume that they should become civilized.” Snyder sees this as a flaw rather than realizing what he has stated puts him into direct opposition with the Marxist project.

As a part of the intellectual development of the bourgeois era, Marxism contains all of its assumptions including the one mentioned by Snyder. To Marx and Engels people were not even human until they entered class society and to them (including their modern epigones like Evelyn Reed in Women’s Evolution) the destruction of primitive communism is a positive and progressive thing, just as the development of capitalism is positive, all enveloped in the mystical view of progress that along this continuum will be created a wonderful world out of the stuff that heretofore has created mostly misery.

Drive Toward Monoculture

Again there is never the central evaluation of the effect all of this progress of the last 8,000 years has had on the planet and its inhabitants. Snyder contends that it has been a disaster, and one that is increasing in its intensity with civilization’s drive toward world-wide monoculture. The tendency away from species-diversity makes our lives extremely precarious since we have become totally dependent upon the continuous smooth functioning of a highly centralized political and technical apparatus. Yet, all of this is built into both the capitalist and Marxist view of the world. Although none of us are willing to relinquish the comforts of modern life, if we take as our starting point the technology created in the modern epoch, we will be sure to continue its social forms as well. At some point there has to be a sorting out of what we want in terms of human relationships and only then think about what is possible technologically.

People in the Upper Paleolithic era worked only about 15 hours a week according to Marshall Sahlins in his Stone Age Economics and never tried to maximize production or produce a surplus apparently preferring to spend more of their time in play, dance, song and magic. That choice of preferences is gone from our epoch where the work-a-day world has been steadily increasing in time spent since that “primitive” era. Are those the choices then?—machines or song and poetry? It’s not entirely clear, except that for certain, the former has obliterated the latter where ever it has touched the folk and people always mirror what is at the center of their society—in ours it’s the machine.

Snyder says the “politics of ethnopoetics” is seeing what “industrial technological civilization is doing to the earth,” but none of this should be taken as a call to return to the caves of our ancestors (the only way that will be done is Gen. Curtis LeMay-style). It means to stop accepting the planet as we find it, to reinhabit it as free humans, and to re-define ourselves through our song and poetry.

Snyder ends thusly, “Such poetries will be created by us as we reinhabit this land with people who know they belong to it… The poems will leap put past the automobiles and TV sets of today into the vastness of the Milky Way (visible only when the electricity is turned down)… These poesies to come will help us learn to be people of knowledge in this universe in community with other people—non-humans included—brothers and sisters.

This is a vision of survival and revolution.

= = =

from Fifth Estate #286 (vol. 12, no. 10), September 1977, p 4.

= = =

RADICAL ARCHIVES NOTE: Steve Millet has identified this as the first primitivist article to appear in Fifth Estate. It is unsigned, but Peter Werbe has confirmed that he wrote it.



Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 30 other followers