What is all this "post-left anarchism" then?

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Anonymous
Jul 7 2004 13:06
Ed wrote:

What if you want to do something that the majority of people don't want you to do? Isn't it hierarchical of you to enforce your actions onto them?

yes, we need to find some cooperative route which we can all agree to

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Or is it only hierarchical if someone stops you from doing something you want to do?

no - we need to avoid imposing hierarchy on others too

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What if the decisions are made by all the people involved, at grassroots level, without any higher level deciding anything for them? Is that still hierarchical?

not if dissent is tolerated in the future

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of course anarchist arguments sound illogical, that's because they overturn the commonsense of contemporary society.

No they don't. As much as you'd like to be your own personal vanguard, beating back the reactionary nature of most people, that just ain't the case. Just look at how most 'non-politicals' organise themselves.

I don't understand this part of your argument - do you mean that most 'non-politicals' (whoever they are, and I seriously doubt if they exist) are acting in a desirous way, and that all we need is for all the 'politicals' to act like 'non-politicals'?

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We can only overthrow capitalism and the state through investing our time in cultivating the revolutionary potential of aquatic mammals. Think outside the box.

maybe!

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Overall mate, I'd say you and your 'post-left' politics are very, very frosty. Take care.... red n black star

sorry, I don't understand what you mean - 'frosty'?

Anonymous
Jul 7 2004 13:10
GenerationTerrorist wrote:

to be fair to the post-leftist stuff, i don't think john is in any way representative of it.

to be fair to post-leftist anarchism, I don't think I am either!

(in part because a lot of it is about rejecting the idea of a 'movement' which people are either part of or not - in which case it's not possible for me to be representative of anything other than my own position).

the best stuff I've found is the articles on the Institute for Anarchist Studies site:

http://www.anarchist-studies.org/publications/theory_politics

AlexA
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Jul 7 2004 16:41

You didn't answer my question about preventing rape - is that oppressive?

john wrote:
For instance, people regularly get banned from this site - censure - enforcing the rules of the organisation; I find this oppressive and restrictive, and I think it limits the emancipatory potential of these boards.

Sorry but if the moderators weren't here this board would be nothing but homophobic nonsense from right-wing military nuts who regularly launch (rather pathetic) troll attacks, and also Tony White and other fascists posting various individuals on here death threats. We reckon the forums are best without them...

The Institute of @ studies (or Anarchy mag, for example) doesn't let fascists post on its website or write articles in their publications, so why should we give them a mouthpiece confused

Anonymous
Jul 8 2004 10:28

i accept your points, and don't really know the answers, but

on rape - i suppose the point is that A) if we live in a society where people want to rape, then organisation to prevent rape is necessary B) we need to advocate cooperative behaviour (which includes the non-committal of rape). It's only once we have a society populated by cooperative individuals that we will be able to do away with forms of organisation; C) as anarchists we must promote the ability for individuals to overcome/resist rape, rather than needing to rely on the formal organisations that are in place to prevent/punish it (i.e. self-defence, not relying on the police)

on censorship - obviously, because this site is an 'anarchism' board, it attracts nutters who want to ruin it. maybe the solution is to post on general discussion sites?, rather than anarchism/right-wing/left-wing/etc. sites. In the end, isn't this the logical conclusion of post-leftism? That the division of people into liberals, socialists, anarchists, etc. helps to maintain the social divisions that undermine the liberatory and solidaristic potential of movements like anarchism? I.e. an anarchist 'movement' is self-defeating. We need to act in an anarchistic way, but not form movements because they will necessarily ossify social divides and social behaviour.

The emancipatory fluidity at the core of anarchism requires a lack of organisation, so how we can have an anarchist organisation?

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pingtiao
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Jul 8 2004 10:49
Quote:
The emancipatory fluidity at the core of anarchism requires a lack of organisation, so how we can have an anarchist organisation?

You have singularly failed to show this to be the case

I'm with Malatesta- "Anarchism means organisation, organisation and more organisation".

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Ed
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Jul 8 2004 13:18
Quote:
as anarchists we must promote the ability for individuals to overcome/resist rape, rather than needing to rely on the formal organisations that are in place to prevent/punish it (i.e. self-defence, not relying on the police)

But some people are just stronger than others. Yeah, we can all learn self-defence but some people, even in the same class, are better at it than others. Though self-defence is a very important part of stopping rapes, it shouldn't just be up to the individual to defend themselves. Whatever happened to solidarity? We have to be able to stand together as a community to stop rapes not just expect people to deal with it themselves. BTW, this doesn't mean setting up a police force.

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do you mean that most 'non-politicals' (whoever they are, and I seriously doubt if they exist) are acting in a desirous way, and that all we need is for all the 'politicals' to act like 'non-politicals'?

By 'non-politicals' I meant people who aren't activley involved in political activism of any kind. And no, I don't think we need to act like 'non-politicals', I was just using the example that most people don't elect leaders to organise things like parties and people generally co-operate with each other. I was reacting to your point about Anarchists opposing common sense in current society. Of course we oppose some of it ('hard days work for hard days pay' for example) but not all of it and to say that we do implies that non-Anarchists have stupid values and we must show them the 'true way' (even if that way is "find your own path, think the unthinkable, do the undoable", it still implies that their current way of doing things is completely wrong)

Oh, and frosty is a word me and my mates use to say someone's being/looking weird/off-key. It started out as "You're cold turkey" and developed into "You're frosted turkey!" (for extreme circumstances) and has finally ended up as simply "Frosty". red n black star

revolt
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Jul 12 2004 11:10

I don't really know too much about post left anarchism but I've been reading about it a bit. One of the things is that they don't believe in a mass movment because for a mass of people to all unite together it means uniteing under the lowest common denomenator (sp?) of their desires and thus having to surpress their other desires so as to be part of the mass. The alternative to this isn't vanguardist as I think want they envision is the majority of people acting aginst the system automously its kinda like an affiny group revolution! But like i said im not too sure thats just what i think they're saying?

Someone made the point earlier about how you were suppossed to organise a 800 strong factory. Well i think post lefists would say that leftist anarchy want to replace the current economic system to something non heirachical but whilst maintaining mass production. Post leftists wouldn't want to organise a 800 strong factory they'd want to abolish it!

gurrier
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Jul 13 2004 03:22

This post left anarchism stuff is the biggest load of hogwash that I have ever come across and its proponents display an alarming ignorance of the basic ideas of anarchism.

People organise to achieve particular goals because they can achieve more that way. Organisations codify the way they work because it makes them more effective and means they don't have to re-invent the wheel every day. You might reject mass-organisation, but you're not going to get too far against a highly organised state and capitalist sector.

If you don't like mass organisation, sure what's wrong with the present? In contrast to the state, the masses are highly disorganised so there's not too much work to be done. Just the small job of convincing them all that they should all be anarchists - without being organised. But in terms of propaganda, I'd guess that CNN and Fox might have a bit of an advantage with their enormous organisations and resources, so it's unlikely that you'll convince too many of them.

The anarchist concept of the organisation is based on the free co-operation of individuals. There is nothing oppressive about that. You have the freedom to sign up to the collective agreement and you have the freedom to leave it. The important thing is that you are not being forced to do anything - you freely choose to enter into an agreement with a group of individuals in pursuit of a collective goal. The rules of any organisation, whether it be an Internet community or an anarchist organisation, are merely the codification of the collective agreement that we all freely make. You might like to let spammers on these boards, but most of us would just leave. If you no longer want to abide by the collective agreement you are free to leave. You do not have the freedom to unilaterally change the terms of the collective agreement and subject others to something that they never agreed to.

I also find this criticism of organisation from the outside to be highly authoritarian. Who are you to tell me that I shouldn't form free agreements with whoever I like?

Post-leftists are really nothing more than a bunch of snot-nosed rich kids in the US who have zero experience of life and just want a milieu which is so disorganised that they can dominate it with their silly intellectual polemics.

Anonymous
Jul 13 2004 12:50

I'm sorry, Gurrier, but I really think that you've missed the point here.

I think there is an essential contradiction at the heart of anarchism - and I think you've missed it.

For most of the points you've made, I will repeat my earlier objection - then what is wrong with the present?

Your main problem is that you have these abstract entities - "state", "capitalist sector" - and you assume that these rule over and above the individuals that constitute them. But exactly the problem is that these 'organisations' are constituted by the individuals that they organise. So to claim that individuals need to organise in order to overcome the organisations that they themselves consitute becomes a total contradiction.

The point of anarchism, surely, is that we need to dissolve the hierarchical organisations that we currently constitute; in order that we can associate with each other in non-organised, non-hierarchical relationships.

This doesn't mean forming alternative organisations with which to replace the existing organisations. Because, obviously, this would just replace one evil with another - see the Soviet Union.

The contradiction is that if we, as anarchists, seek to dissolve existing relations, we are still doing it in an organised form (i.e. as anarchists). We need to un-organise. This, surely, is the logical conclusion of anarchism, post-left anarchism. It leads logically to a post-anarchist position.

To illustrate my point, let me go through your argument:

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People organise to achieve particular goals because they can achieve more that way. Organisations codify the way they work because it makes them more effective and means they don't have to re-invent the wheel every day.

Indeed - this is why we need government: in order to regulate and police society and make sure that individuals keep to the established ways of doing things. Without codification and policing, an organisation's rules are meaningless.

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In contrast to the state, the masses are highly disorganised so there's not too much work to be done. Just the small job of convincing them all that they should all be anarchists - without being organised. But in terms of propaganda, I'd guess that CNN and Fox might have a bit of an advantage with their enormous organisations and resources, so it's unlikely that you'll convince too many of them.

The point is that the masses aren't highly disorganised - they are organised as workers/subjects/consumers of companies/states (including CNN and Fox). To separate the state and companies from the workers, consumers and citizens that constitute them is highly erroneous. The US government and CNN could not continue to exist if people in the US didn't support them and if people didn't pay for their products. These are modes of organisation. To claim otherwise is merely to claim superiority for your own ideal form of organisation, as opposed to the existing ones: on what grounds?

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The anarchist concept of the organisation is based on the free co-operation of individuals. There is nothing oppressive about that. You have the freedom to sign up to the collective agreement and you have the freedom to leave it. The important thing is that you are not being forced to do anything - you freely choose to enter into an agreement with a group of individuals in pursuit of a collective goal. The rules of any organisation, whether it be an Internet community or an anarchist organisation, are merely the codification of the collective agreement that we all freely make. You might like to let spammers on these boards, but most of us would just leave. If you no longer want to abide by the collective agreement you are free to leave. You do not have the freedom to unilaterally change the terms of the collective agreement and subject others to something that they never agreed to.

I also find this criticism of organisation from the outside to be highly authoritarian. Who are you to tell me that I shouldn't form free agreements with whoever I like?

1) this is exactly the argument used by CNN - you have the freedom to watch it or not. The point is that, once organisations have come to dominate access to resources to such an extent that the decision to not coalesce to the rules of the organisation is highly self-damaging, then the choice to take it or leave it becomes meaningless. This isn't freedom - it's the kind of freedom we've got in the present.

2) you're contradicting yourself in this section: you say that it's a voluntary choice to cooperate - and then you say that it has to be according to the particular rules of the organisation - in which case it's not voluntary, its conditional upon your consent to those rules.

I am freely able to cooperate with the rules of Microsoft - providing I freely comply with the rules of their organisation - to respect their property rights, and to sell my labour-power in order to acquire money to buy their goods.

We live in a free society.

Anonymous
Jul 13 2004 14:51

let me put it simply for you, Revol68,

life isn't that simple - the population isn't simply divided into capital and labour; there are no clear employers' interests and workers' interests; and those people that claim there are and seek to operate in the interests of the most worthy group (be they employers or workers) are normally despots because they can't let it enter their heads that there might be more than 2 points of view on an issue (right and wrong): Stalin being the most obvious example.

gurrier
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Jul 13 2004 18:12
john wrote:
I'm sorry, Gurrier, but I really think that you've missed the point here.

I think there is an essential contradiction at the heart of anarchism - and I think you've missed it.

For most of the points you've made, I will repeat my earlier objection - then what is wrong with the present?

Your main problem is that you have these abstract entities - "state", "capitalist sector" - and you assume that these rule over and above the individuals that constitute them. But exactly the problem is that these 'organisations' are constituted by the individuals that they organise.

Thanks for pointing out my problem roll eyes For a start there is nothing abstract whatsover about the state or capitalism. They are exceedingly concrete phenomena and their problem is not that they are constituted by people but that they the people are coerced into participation in them. Therein lies the big difference with the anarchist idea of organisation - without the genuine freedom to associate and disassociate it isn't anarchist.

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So to claim that individuals need to organise in order to overcome the organisations that they themselves consitute becomes a total contradiction.

No it isn't, in fact it's not even close to a contradiction, it's just you trying to make a clever play on words. The point is not to do away with organisation, it is to do away with coercion. In order to overcome coercive organisations, people need to build free organisations that can overcome them.

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The point of anarchism, surely, is that we need to dissolve the hierarchical organisations that we currently constitute; in order that we can associate with each other in non-organised, non-hierarchical relationships.

This doesn't mean forming alternative organisations with which to replace the existing organisations. Because, obviously, this would just replace one evil with another - see the Soviet Union.

That is an extremely disingenous argument. There is nothing evil about the idea of free association. It is my right to associate with whoever I want and to come to whatever agreement I am happy with to regulate that association. The comparison with the bolsheviks is particularly tendentious. Anarchist want to replace hierarchical organisation with free democratic organisation, the bolsheviks had an entirely different project and anarchists predicted the outcome some 50 years in advance. If the alternative organisation is genuinely based on anarchist ideas of free association and mass participation, then it would hardly lead to the replacement of one evil with another.

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The contradiction is that if we, as anarchists, seek to dissolve existing relations, we are still doing it in an organised form (i.e. as anarchists). We need to un-organise. This, surely, is the logical conclusion of anarchism, post-left anarchism. It leads logically to a post-anarchist position.

Your grasp of logic is exceedingly poor. Anarchists seek to dissolve existing hierarchical coercive organisations and replace them with free democratic ones. Your logical contortions would only hold if the purpose of anarchism was indeed to un-organise which is quite the opposite of nearly everything the anarchist movement has ever said or done in the last 150 odd years.

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People organise to achieve particular goals because they can achieve more that way. Organisations codify the way they work because it makes them more effective and means they don't have to re-invent the wheel every day.

Indeed - this is why we need government: in order to regulate and police society and make sure that individuals keep to the established ways of doing things. Without codification and policing, an organisation's rules are meaningless.

Again you make an indefensible leap of logic. We need government to impose the current hierarchical coercive social order. Anarchist organisations can and do function perfectly well without any governing bodies. It is possible to collectively supervise a collective agreement - look at any half-decent anarchist organisation and you'll see all sorts of mechanisms for supervising the collective agreement - and they're democratic and participatory and don't involve any governing body.

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The point is that the masses aren't highly disorganised - they are organised as workers/subjects/consumers of companies/states (including CNN and Fox). To separate the state and companies from the workers, consumers and citizens that constitute them is highly erroneous. The US government and CNN could not continue to exist if people in the US didn't support them and if people didn't pay for their products. These are modes of organisation. To claim otherwise is merely to claim superiority for your own ideal form of organisation, as opposed to the existing ones: on what grounds?

The masses are not organised, they are ordered. They are forced to do things which they have no say over and have no choice but to obey. You miss my point entirely about CNN.

According to your exceedingly silly theory, the task of people who want freedom should be to attack the idea of organisation in itself. This is to be done without forming any organisation to propagate the idea. So on one side we have a tiny number of individuals who refuse to organise in any way, on the other side we have massive resource rich organisations like CNN. You're not going to be winning too many people over are you?

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1) this is exactly the argument used by CNN - you have the freedom to watch it or not. The point is that, once organisations have come to dominate access to resources to such an extent that the decision to not coalesce to the rules of the organisation is highly self-damaging, then the choice to take it or leave it becomes meaningless. This isn't freedom - it's the kind of freedom we've got in the present.

The big difference is that CNN is organised by a tiny number of people giving orders to a large number of others. I take your point about access to resources, but it has long been known to anarchists. If an anarchist society does have organisations that monopolise resources and effectively prevent people from disassociating, then they are not anarchist organisations and should be replaced with a system that is.

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2) you're contradicting yourself in this section: you say that it's a voluntary choice to cooperate - and then you say that it has to be according to the particular rules of the organisation - in which case it's not voluntary, its conditional upon your consent to those rules.

Again you don't seem to understand what a contradiction is - that isn't one. Choosing to enter an organisation with a particular set of rules is a voluntary act. An organisation, in the anarchist sense, is a free association of individuals who come up with an agreement, in a democratic way, for the rules that govern the association. If you join that association and then ignore the rules, you are imposing an agreement on the other members of the organisation which they have not agreed to. That is authoritarian.

These type of post-left/post-anarchist arguments can sometimes sound sane when they are confined to this type of abstract argument (as they always are). Now let's take them and apply them to a real life situation.

Myself and a bunch of mates like playing soccer. We get together and decide to arrange to play a game every Thursday evening at 8pm. We all have an equal say in coming to this arrangement and we all have an equal say in making any changes to it or further agreements. Over time we make a further agreement to each chip in to buy coloured bibs and that we take it in turns to bring the bibs home to launder them. This is a textbook example of an organisation that runs according to anarchist principles - it's democratic and people have the freedom to join or leave if they don't like the collective agreement that we have come to (there's lots of footie players about).

Now, let's say you rock up and you want to play in our game. You decide, however, that you don't like thursday and that we should abandon this rule and instead play whenever we spontaneously come together to do so. Everybody will consider you mad and tell you where to go as most people know through experience that without organising this detail the games are unlikely to happen at all and the fact that we organise this detail doesn't preclude us also coming together spontaneously at other times.

Or let's say, you don't like the rule about the bibs and decide not to chip in and not to do your share of the laundry. You won't be very popular and will very likely be told where to go.

Or how about you decide that you don't like the rule that says we play soccer. You arbitrarily decide to ignore the rules and play rugby instead while the rest of us play soccer. You will be again quickly be told where to go.

Now none of these rules are coercive. You have the freedom to argue that they should be changed and that, for example, we should play rugby. We, for our part have the right to reply that we formed our organisation on the basis of playing soccer and that you have the freedom to leave and find a rugby playing one if you don't like it. What you do not have is the freedom to force us to change our agreement by ignoring the rules - that is what your silly theories come down - egotisim, individualism and authoritarianism. Any attempt to apply them to the real world quickly collapses into absurdities, which is precisely why the post-leftists are almost all academic intellectuals who do nothing but bleat about their pet intellectual theories on the internet.

AlexA
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Jul 14 2004 10:37

Thoroughly excellent posts gurrier.

I am most impressed 8)

JoeBlack
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Jul 14 2004 11:03
john wrote:
I think there is an essential contradiction at the heart of anarchism

That's called 'letting the cat out of the bag' John.

Your obviously not an anarchist but what might kindly be called a 'post-anarchist' because you belive anarchism has an 'essential contradiction'. In historical terms your really a pre-anarchist as anarchism actually emerged to answer the 'essential contradiction' you point to. Go and read some Bakunin, especially 'On authority'.

Gurriers right the 'post-left' crowd are simply wanky academics and lazy ones at that as they haven't even bothered to research what anarchism actually stands for and how it emerged.

Anonymous
Jul 14 2004 13:52

gurrier - I think the main difference between us is over whether or not imposing rules upon a voluntary association of people is coercive. Personally, I believe that we need to find ways of associating without imposing rules on that behaviour. If that means that we can no longer play footbally, so be it. Maybe we can find new enjoyable modes of leisure-type interaction that don't have pre-defined rules of interaction?

JoeBlack - you're right, I wouldn't call myself an anarchist - in fact I wouldn't apply any label to myself. I think to do so is exclusionary and straightjackets the free forming construction of ideas. I've made that point in a number of posts.

The idea that because I haven't read everything ever written by Bakunin, and so am lazy and ill-qualified to discuss this issue is ridiculous - of course no-one has read everything, and to compel me to do so before I can have a valid discussion with you is indicative of the kind of straightjacketing that I'm talking about.

ok - in reply to your reference to Bakunin, I assume you mean 'What is Authority?' because I can't find anything written by him called 'on authority'. In that piece he basically says that we should rely on people who have developed an expertise in a particular skill to give us advice, but that we shouldn't feel bound by that advice, and we shouldn't delegate our personal sovereignty to those 'experts'. He also talks about mankind moving towards the discovery of 'natural laws' and our operation in accordance with them.

I don't really know how that relates to my argument. But I can respond to it anyway:

1) the idea that there are natural laws that we need to operate according to is obviously deterministic bullshit - i think most people on these boards would accept that

2) we should seek out advice, but not feel compelled to obey it - I accept that - but it doesn't seem to advocate organisation and the policing of the internal rules of the organisation??? Maybe you could outline why you recommended this article?

Last point - I object to labels such as 'wanky academic'. This is really indicative of the authoritarianism and inability to consider other people's opinions and engage with them which sits at the core of ideological zealotry.

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pingtiao
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Jul 14 2004 14:05

Re: football...

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Maybe we can find new enjoyable modes of leisure-type interaction that don't have pre-defined rules of interaction?

smile

Were you joking there, john?

Anonymous
Jul 14 2004 14:29
revol68 wrote:
is it just me or has the level of debate reached an all time low?

if you respond with abuse like this I really don't think you can accuse other people of dragging the level of debate down.

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some fucking idiot
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some post structuralist academic wank and crudely interpreted
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u fucking muppet.
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take ur head out of ur arse.

I think there must be some kind of case for banning this poster!

Anonymous
Jul 14 2004 14:41
revol68 wrote:
ban me? but surely that would be authoritarian

of course it would you fucking idiotic muppet - it's called irony

gurrier
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Jul 14 2004 15:06
Quote:
If that means that we can no longer play footbally, so be it. Maybe we can find new enjoyable modes of leisure-type interaction that don't have pre-defined rules of interaction?.... you're right, I wouldn't call myself an anarchist

Why is it that we get so many of these wanna-be intellectual lunatics hanging around anarchists? You are proposing a world where nothing as organised as a game of football is permitted. Why don't you go out and get laughed at by your friends and neighbours? Maybe you could take some direct action and break up a soccer match. But, please stop spouting your ludicrous ideas on an anarchist bulletin board, we've heard more than enough already.

Anonymous
Jul 14 2004 15:14

gurrier - are you a total fucking idiot?

are you seriously trying to tell me that people don't think you're a bit strange when you tell them that you propose a world without governments or private property?

I'm getting really pissed off with people's inability to discuss ideas different to their own without resorting to hurling abuse.

Anonymous
Jul 14 2004 15:33

ok well good luck with changing the world with your extremely innovative ideas.

They've only been knocking around for the past 150 years, so maybe you're right - just a few more years and then people will finally be convinced that your way is the way forward.

Can I just ask one question, though - why have you failed so miserably over the past 150 years in convincing others?

gurrier
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Jul 14 2004 17:20
Quote:
why have we failed for the last 150 years?

Undoubtedly it is a combination of too much organisation and too much leniency towards football. I mean your average game of five a side is practically the same as Stalin's Russia after all and some anarchists have been even known to take part in these abominations. eek

John, there is really no point in you sharing your elevated intellect with us un-innovative types. We really are just too conservative, stuck in our ways and prone to oppressing ourselves and limiting our creativity with labels and organisations and all that nasty stuff. You shouldn't bother with us though, I'm sure there is a local football game that you can go out and disrupt and there are probably a few alien-worshippers and primitivistst somewhere on the internet that you can have a really great debate with.

Anonymous
Jul 14 2004 17:50

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slsine

smile