Tuesday, July 28, 2015


One more word, to be dissected and discussed—if adequately labeled a “margarine word”—is Solidarity (A de A, The Impossible, Patience). Notes from dissecting this word stem from a discussion held in "Hamilton", on July 14th, 2015. If there are conversations missing from this account, or if it sucks, please do not hesitate to critique everything.

1. One might argue thus:

Material solidarity is distinct from lip-service.

Therefore, it is not enough to say one is in solidarity; one must show it.

Some say this latter term “lip-service” functions rhetorically as if one were to distinguish rhetoric from that which has “substance”, words from deeds, the game from the politico-aesthetic.

We prefer genuine solidarity and fake solidarity to mark the difference that is meant, and will go about the matter in this way. But problems arise almost immediately. First, when we say we are in solidarity with Marius, whether we are carrying out an action, the question of whether Marius is in solidarity with us isn’t addressed. It might be the case that he would be in solidarity with us, would he have but known us by what we do.

So perhaps the function of support, material support, visiting, paying for, helping, writing to, whatever, constitutes the prior possibility of the subsequent reality of Marius being in solidarity with us. But isn’t support just solidarity?

One point here is that solidarity is a two way street; it is not enough to say that one is in solidarity; it takes symmetry to undermine asymmetry for the adequacy of the relationship “solidarity”. The one with whom we are in solidarity must accept the gesture!

There is a nest of terms that we utilize to describe the term solidarity that means something (and remember here we are saying, if there is prior support): empathy, allyship, affinity, and complicitity.

Sometimes, in a rather disgusting way, we use the term empathize, as if to suppose (or pretend) we have crossed over into material identity. We try to identify. Obviously, putting oneself in anothers’ shoes is impossible, given contextual differences, to say nothing of differences in identity.—We have fake solidarity here, a pretending to be solid. 

Allyship strikes me as the most honest account, an account of having different interests too, a sense in which doesn’t try to identify, but rather moves towards being solid, perhaps hoping to be supportive, without supposing that one has become identical. The other has to be supported by me, in a direct way, for me to say, nontrivially, that I am in solidarity with them. Of course, not everyone would take ‘allyship’ in this direction. For those of us that do, perhaps we ironically use the term ‘allyship’. I want to note that 'allies' includes the prior implication that one has independent interests. And this is perhaps the reason that affinity and allyship are sometimes seen as synonymous.

Affinity, on the other hand, seems to be willingness to act in tandem with the tendency, or whatever, because ones’ heart is in it; yet this is an individualist implication; that one acts from one’s self. The question of affinity, I want to say, is not so much whether we are willing to be in solidarity with someone else, but rather, that the other must be in solidarity with our motives, first, before we are willing to say we want to be solid with them.

It seems almost too obvious to note that ‘allyship’ is an asymmetrical relationship. We gift our agency to the other. Affinity is reactionary to this, a reclaiming of genuine agency, or perhaps it is a function of parachuting purposes, feigned solidarity, a nihilist maskwearer. Perhaps under the last category we can discern a better sense for allyship, for here too we have a gesture of failing identification, one that avoids empathy and pity. Genuine affinity certainly comes from real mutual support. Perhaps allyship in its best sense presupposes mutual support too.

2. I want to say something about being solid with oneself. Which other? My future self. The self is a community of peoples, future selves and past selves aiming for coherency, perhaps; for just as there is no unanimous community, (with whom to be solid), there is no prior self to whom we (ourselves) are accountable. Yet, despite all this, despite that point that there are rarely unities of agreement across whole swaths of individuals—and perhaps exactly for this reason—we affirm a unity of disunities, one that is in opposition to the unifying feature of alienation. How? By way of practicing becoming solid. For instance, by becoming solid because I’m in it, not because I feel I must be, because I feel guilt—or worse, because I haven’t yet exorcised constitutive structuralist liberal demons, that fitting (however poorly) some intersectional analyis auto-obligates me into allyship. No! As individuals invested in our own freedom, we want affinity and complicity to define allyship, and affinity and complicity to blot out passive nihilism. Because, in these moments of irascible human being, of blemmyes, we find our solidities, our solidarities. It is precisely because we are untied in possibility, that we must bind ourselves, yet only if it comes from us, from below, from our own coeurage. For here we are in it; for here our hearts have achieved coeu(rage). That is, we sense the conspiring others; we are in touch with how they feel, their backgrounds; we have invested our hearts into knowing them; we sense their capacity to be in solidarity with us, and we give ourselves to becoming solid with them and ourselves. Of course finding others is more difficult than finding oneself; yet finding the capacity to be solid with oneself is difficult too, given that nothing coerces. In the least, if I cannot say that I would be willing to be had, as I have the other, perhaps I have no right to claim solidarity. And if I am not willing to say that I can have myself, or that I have myself, I have no right to call myself solid. And if I can't call myself solid, if folks know I'm not, what could it mean for me to say that "Im in solidarity with X"?

Monday, July 20, 2015

Being had

There is a difference between active nihilists with commitments, and cruel nihilists that we name as cruel, to oppose them in order to provide matter for our targeted againstness. (Depending on how well we hide these acts, we remain untargeted by their againstness). Whether active or cruel nihilist, then, one has commitments; the passive nihilist, on the other hand, is indifferent to commitments, it would seem. From this distinction it is often presumed that everyday people, because they are apolitical, they therefore do not have commitments. But everyone has commitments, in the least, they are committed to their survival, unless, of course, they are death drivers, in the sense of desiring death. Commitment then carries with it a morality, good and bad. And everyday folks fail to have the right kind of commitments.
The trouble is that this often is utilized to make predictions, predictions that are prima facie false: not every persyn that is apolitical is simply passive; apolitical people are not guaranteed to do nothing come what may. Perhaps they will act; perhaps they will riot. Perhaps we too will stay home. Of ourselves we know, come what may, that we will never be cruel nihilists because we are committed to the opposite, because we are committed to the destruction of those that intentionally manage the state and defend it at all costs; of apoliticals, these may join us or may fight against us, alongside the fascists and the pigs; or they too might stay home. With our commitments, we are explicit; apoliticals are not explicit with theirs; therefore, it is meaningless to suppose that we know what their implicit commitments are.
We argue elsewhere that it is fruitful to talk about passive nihilism in the bad sense as acting indifferently, by which we mean, passively consuming without explicit commitments. And we do this if only to mark a difference between active nihilism and passive nihilism, as well as a similarity, given that 'Nihilism' is equivalent to 'Nihilism', and 'active' is not equivalent to 'passive'. Taking the term Indifference--intuitive as placeholder for nihilism--we suggest that (politically) activated indifference involves commitments, arrows from origins, to be distinguished by origins, and that acting indifferently is another beast, but not one without commitments. It may not even be precise to say that a passive nihilist is indifferently committed, that every belief is open to revision. Perhaps we mean, undecided, simply put concerning the question of insurrection and freedom.
Given Nietzsche’s stance on the term nihilism (active or passive) and his criticism of anarchism by way of suggesting that active nihilism ends with utopia where everyone becomes passive, suddenly we became aware of the meaning of nihilism for the Geist of His-Story. Liberalism is purported to be at the end of His-Story, a point from which there is nothing left to do. We argue elsewhere contra Nietzsche that “means without end” just means the union of passive and active nihilism, forever dancing, without rest. We are nihilists in this sense of struggle, always abutting to anarchist projects and always desirous of transgressing stated limits in favor of more freedom for ourselves. As anarchism is parasitical upon liberalism, nihilism is parasitical upon anarchism.

The moral question for the passive nihilist is: Is one ready to act? This main question is different from the question of whether one wants to act, whether they can, or worse, whether there is a point, the latter being a question that “dogs” the nihilist. The insurrectionist says it well against the pessimist when they say there is always a point: Doing something in rejection or revenge is fun!
Does one have the commitment to act? Knowing what I am capable of depends on the degree to which we are friends; and even this distinction is not quite enough because there is still a deeper question of trust. We wish to distinguish the being as such of a persyn on the basis of habits as they really are, and not on the basis of habits as they appear. (An important distinction in mask interpretation). One is surely activated into politics when one has a commitment that one is ready to act on, a habit, or belief as C.S. Peirce or William James would say. Habits are those things that we have. And yet, post rationalist thinking suggests that habits, too, have us. The term (habitus) in medieval texts, has to do with a whole series of virtues and vices—and a wonderful demonology, to be sure; and yet, interestingly, medieval texts correspond with post-thinking in supposing that while we have habits, they have us too. Consider the profound irascible function of bravery which has us in Thomas’ discussion of cardinal virtues. We have fortitude too; and as such, the virtue itself is two, not one; for sometimes it is structured under temperance and prudence, and sometimes not.
If, then, the question of being had is on the table, and it is--given that we are talking about the question of what makes one incapable of acting--I think it is important to note that the way in which we are had, the tone, the strength, is the question. Obviously our commitments have us; and we need to get out from under implicit or explicit commitments that suck, say, going to work, consuming the excrement of leviathan, being completely selfish, whatever. This may require intense modification. Of course, to be clear, it’s not that being had per se is the issue; indeed, we would say we want to be had by the desires of our friends. And perhaps this beautiful idea, this obligation from below, from selection, from desire for having a right to hang out without awkwardness, is sufficient to help us develop new habits, habits that we want to have us. For we want our friends to have us, and not because we want to have them, but simply because we want to be solid.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Absolute Amorality vs. Relative Amorality

Nihilism is often associated with pessimism and apathy, a general form of indifference. Alejandro de Acosta (A de A) has deflated this 'purified negation' with content, provocatively suggesting that nihilism might also be associated with ethics, so long as one is free from the burden of obligation. That is, he articulates nihilism as "I might be ethical: some days I am; some days I am not." (The Impossible, Patience). Being indifferent to morality requires that one not be opposed to it per se, as if one were desperately trying to negate it; to be amoral is to transcend the tied together unity of morality. To be indifferent (amoral) is to be neither moral nor immoral.

I want to futz with this (art)iculation a bit by structuring a place for nihilists within the @ milieu. So let's begin by following de Acosta's reading/repetition of the logic of anti-authoritarianism through Rouselle. If I am opposed to the pope, we might ask (as if we didn't know) Why, why are you against the pope? And my giving reasons here would reduce to opposition to representation, which would then reduce further to the idea of being against all authority, and finally, even to the idea of myself having authority over my future selves (A de A, 39-40). Nihilism thus posits a rift between commitment and negation; negation is always potential. The point here is that we wiggle between the meaninglessness of the universe (pure negation) and naming it with meaning for our personal or public projects, by rendering some project meaningless, that this or that utopian project is insufficient in some respect. Of course, nihilists know that our anarchist projects are temporary, fleeting; that our utopias might not fit with future desires. But if we are always logically open to our own anti-authoritarian presuppositions, the question is the degree to which we permit ourselves this opening onto meaninglessness. Thus the growth of post-anarchism--in particular nihilism and insurrectionary anarchism, green anarchism and green nihilism--can be visualized as anarchy (negation) at war with anarchism, through a logical method of resolving internal contradictions. That is, if one is against all authority, what say the anarchists of yore that would espouse a scientific materialism; of anti-authoritarians complicit with colonial-civilization? It's those badass nihilists that are surely at war with anarchism, among other 'isms' (A de A, 46).

Yet the question remains concerning what we are to do with morality; and I want to suggest that the metaphysical distinction between absolute and relative permits a way of making sense of the rather flat idea of active nihilism. What makes action nihilistic? Surely not that it is action per se. What makes something active nihilism, according to Nietzsche, is the application of Nothingness to something, as the russian nihilists wanted to render the church and the czar to/as nothing, for instance. But we don't really call everyday activists fighting against all sorts of shitty problems in our shitty world nihilists, per se, so much as we merely nod their activity. Is there then something about active nihilists that makes them distinct from run of the mill activists? Nietzsche didn't think so

Historically, nihilists named those willing to carry out assassination, those willing to overlook petty human concerns in the mode of action, to achieve the end result. They are almost willing to say anything goes to get to the end; and so they remain committed to the end, to the project. What nihilists do is visualize a link to absolute amorality, in order to push the envelope, in order to define a position of negation within a project; in order to put activists into a different place, to expand the possible, to redescribe morality as relative, and as such, as linked with its complete opposite, amorality. That is: Nothing underpins morality; morality is just whatever our friends, or those we love, let us get away with.

So let me give you a few examples of how the milieu has gone down these roads. A relatively easy envelope pushing was carried out a few years back when the once amoral conception of property destruction became acceptable in the milieu (in some places). ARM carries out action that might not be acceptable to everyday liberals; but perhaps such actions might be acceptable to some ALFers. In a riot, it might be unacceptable to throw a molotov cocktail (in Toronto), but not in Chile.--And I heard last week that a pig-cop got doused with corrosive acid. How amoral! And Earth First! supports kneecapping (and the OLGA cell) through prison writing now. WTF? Nihilists push the envelope, and they are accepted to the degree that they are committed to the project. Given what we said above, the reasoning here is obvious. Nihilism in the milieu functions to show a circle of commitments for strategy and action as larger than it actually is, because, at root, anarchists are also anti-authoritarian, and so, potentially against everything.