The A.P on forgetting the initial meaning of law and ‘the joy of obedience’ in a lengthily altersation with the U.P
The anarchist Philosopher, we welcome and congratulate you, welcome back.
How have you been?
How is that relevant? I have been fine, I kept on doing what I do just like you kept doing what you do, which lead us both to be here.
Right, have you come up with a Safe Word for our altersations?
No, I have not, I trust you and I both could resolve any discomfort that may arise between us in a reasonable way. We don’t have to have rules for that. And it’s not because anarchism is about having no rules. That’s a misconception and a misunderstanding of the term. I object the Safe Word concept not because it’s a rule, but because it’s an attempt to manage our verbal interaction in a sense that it presupposes some sort of power relations between us.
Are there no power relations in our verbal interaction?
I believe there shouldn’t be. Do you suppose there are?
Perhaps you can find power relations in the core of every interaction if you dig deep enough.
Alright, well, no. this is very much a problem. The problem of over-implementing critical thinking on micro-interactions. Why is that wrong? Because it makes critical thinking about macro-relations seem trivial. In this sense –
This reminds me of our previous altersation about violence. I said the same thing.
I’m trying to remember.
You said that every interaction with institutions of the state is violent, and I asked whether saying this doesn’t cheapen the use of the word violence.
Well, yes, alright.
So you’re saying the same now about power relations. That when we discuss it in a micro level it undervalues our discussion of power relations on a macro-lever.
No, alright, you need to be accurate. These are very different things. There a five reasons why it is different. First –
Oh you’re going to specify each one –
Yes. First, when we talked about violence we talked about definition. How do we define violence. That’s not what we’re talking about now I believe. Now we’re talking about what we’re reading into a situation, how do we choose to interpret a situation. Second, I don’t believe that violence has micro or macro level. Violence is violence, in its absolute. I remember we were talking about this. Third, and it is connected somewhat to the second, violence is not a critical thinking or a way of interpreting something, it is the something, in the sense that violence is always a fact. Another distinction is –
But violence is not always a fact. It’s a part of understanding power relations. To claim that formal interactions with state institutions are essentially violent – that’s an interpretation affected by a presumption of the existence of power relations.
Alright, but no, what you’re saying is that power relations and violence are the same thing.
That’s what you’re saying.
So no, there is a confusion.
There seems to be, yes. About the Safe Word –
Yes, as I was saying, there’s no need for this, for an even simpler reason. The most simple. And the simplest reason is that I believe that two human beings can engage in conversation without needing a set of rules. For example, traffic lights. Have you ever thought how driving is an indoctrination to obey an arbitrary set of rules? In a sense, the joy some people derive from driving is simply this: the joy of obeying. Think about the immediate response you receive by other drivers if you fail to obey a traffic light.
You mean car accidents and death?
No, well, of course not. I am not talking about considering other people on the road. I’m talking about obeying when disobeying would affect no one. For example, crossing a junction late at night in a red light, when there’s certainly no one there, is that disobeying? And if so, what is it that you disobey?
Right, I guess if someone’s in a hurry and really made sure there’s no one there –
But that’s exactly the point, why do you have to be in a hurry? What are traffic lights for? Philosophically they are meant, like any law, to assure the well being of the people they were designed for. But then two things happen. One, we forget what the traffic lights are for. I intend to say, I’ll say it more correctly, traffic lights are not to be followed blindly because they weren’t initially made for that. Long ago, managing large traffic was the work of a person. A person would never make you stand for no reason in an empty junction. But that’s not the point. Once we obey traffic lights simply because they’re traffic lights, that’s when we forget what law is, in its essence. The second thing that happens when we do that is that we forget why we obey the law.
So you don’t stop at a red light?
I don’t drive. But that’s not the point. For example, I was in a protest rally once, it was a big one, and we blocked a central junction. The police were already there but stayed back at that point. It was strictly down to the protesters if the drivers can keep moving. And without discussing this too much, we started moving aside from one lane when the light turned green. And that’s what I intend to say, that we didn’t clear the lane because of the traffic lights. We cleared it because we saw there were many cars waiting. We didn’t obey the traffic lights. We obeyed something else.
But isn’t a protest meant to disrupt public order?
Of course, and we did. This was very spontaneous, clearing the lane. It was a moment when people thought that it was right. And it was right. That’s all. That’s why I talked about traffic lights and obeying them. Because when we talked about the Safe Word it reminded me of it. We don’t need traffic lights in our conversation because we can spontaneously understand each other.
Right, so you’re saying that everyone can just spontaneously get along and do the right thing and there’s no need for a set of rules to regulates our interactions.
Well, no. of course. My example was very revealing in itself. In the sense that we did operate and cooperate under a set of rules, a set of expectations. Bear in mind, we cleared the lane for a green light, we understood what it meant and we knew the drivers understand it too. There is a set of expectations already presumed.
Of course not. Of course not! I’m talking about a common understanding of what we expect from one another –
So where does this understanding come from?
Well, of course, this is a very philosophical question, perhaps the most philosophical there is –
Can you just come up with a Safe Word?
No, of course not, I’m not going to change my mind about this.
Right. So are you an anarcho-capitalist?
What? This is very – to even ask this, it’s very – are you seriously asking this?
Yes, I assumed you were.
Have you not been listening to anything I said? How can you say this?
Is this offensive to you?
It is very much, yes. It’s as if you’re calling me stupid.
Oh such a shame you didn’t have a Safe Word then –
That’s really childish behavior –
But what you said about the traffic lights seemed very anarcho-capitalist. You basically spoke from this self-interest stance, saying that concerning a law, you would abide it just as long as it doesn’t harm you or others, and that you believe everyone should act this way. And if everyone acts this way, what guides them would have to be self-interest.
Well, no, excuse me, no, this is very, very simplistic, and you should know better that anarcho-capitalism is a joke, it doesn’t exist –
You said in your previous alterview that anarchism in general doesn’t exist.
I intend to say that as a theory it doesn’t exist, anarcho-capitsalism, it’s not even a cohesive theory. I’m an anarcho-communist, as anarcho-communism is the most comprehensive anarchist theory.
So you’re a communist?
Alright, I see, it’s as if you’re trying to be dumb now, trying to cause some provocation. Alright, I used to define myself as a communist when I was younger. I’m an anarcho-communist in a sense that my understanding of communism as a goal to be reached has found its most appropriate means in anarchism, and vice versa. I consider myself a neo-materialist in this sense. Not in the historicist sense of course. I regard history as a pure anarchist.
Are these definitions and classifications always this important to you?
In themselves no, of course, but when I try to explain myself I find them necessary.
Can you explain in short what anarcho-communism is?
No, not in short.
So you just want there to be no private property and no rules.
That’s of course not what anarcho-communism is. Anarchy is not having no rules, it’s having no rulers, that is, no social hierarchies, and essentially, it means having no one who is above the rules.
Who sets the rules?
Everybody who live under these rules, the community. And this is of course difficult to imagine in a large scale, I understand that of course, but given the technology we have today it’s not impossible.
You’re talking about direct democracy.
Even before that, I’m talking about community and commonality. There is today a global community. I think about it often, what it means. I don’t know how to define it and what it does, but I know it exists.
What does it mean?
If you’re cynical, it means being self-righteous about everything that’s going on in this world when you’re on social networks, and caring about none of this once you leave your doorstep. But I believe there’s more to the the global community than this, much more. The global community is an amorphous community that amazingly sets its own rules and codes spontaneously, rhizomatically.
Who belongs in this global community?
Again, if you’re cynical, you’d say that only the global north’s middle class and above belong to it, but I believe it’s much vaster. The mere existence of it is a gateway to whoever from wherever. In a sense, you must believe this.
Do you have to be a believer in order to be an anarchist?
Of course you do. Just as much as you have to be a believer in order to be a capitalist or a nationalist. Of course we question our beliefs. Our belief is questioning. And that’s why you won’t see a lot of anarchists speaking vaguely about what they believe to be right. Our language must be very factual because the ideology of capitalism and power is, fundamentally, non factual and vague. Hegemonic ideology never needs facts. But that doesn’t make us non-believers. And of course there is no activism without faith.
What do you make of Tolstoy’s religious anarchism?
That’s a conversation for another time of course. Of course, it is very, well, fundamentally, it is very difficult to approach, in the sense of his blunt essentialism, which I don’t support.
Tolstoy could be a cool Safe Word for you.
Alright, again, this is very childish and not to the point.
Right, I hope next time we have time for you to fully explain what anarcho-communism is and why you’re not anarcho-capitalist.
I’m not an anarcho-capitalist.
So we thank you and congratulate you here and now.
For not being an anarcho-capitalist. Thanks.