Crimethinc Critique

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lkdwnn
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Apr 3 2011 18:26
Crimethinc Critique

Hi, forgive me if you've all heard this before or if I overlooked something.

I'm hoping that I can get a summary of your theoretical critique of Crimethinc. What do you have for me?

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Goti123
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Apr 3 2011 18:43

I saw a survey in which many anarchists rejected or hate Crimethinc, I don't see why they're so bad.

tigersiskillers
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Apr 3 2011 22:10

There are loads of threads on this topic, and there was a lot of debate following this article. It's kind of been done to death.

mons
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Apr 4 2011 15:49

There's also this: http://flag.blackened.net/revolt/anarchism/writers/ramor/horror.html which is written with feeling which, given crimethinc criticises loads the often passionless writing of people with class politics, is a really good piece. It's formatted shit, sorry.

Harrison
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Apr 4 2011 19:47

CrimeThinc are fucking stupid. say no more.

they are the far end of the anarchist spectrum which we reject, just like how bolshevism is the far end of the marxist spectrum that we reject.

they claim their anarchism to be not 'left-wing'. its a load of lifestylist wankery.

bricolage
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Apr 4 2011 19:58

critiques of crimethinc are normally just as lame as crimethinc pieces themselves, all full of platform junkies and people hung up on the 90s.

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xslavearcx
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Apr 4 2011 21:04
Harrison Myers wrote:

they claim their anarchism to be not 'left-wing'. its a load of lifestylist wankery.

that is true,

catharsis were a good band though smile

lkdwnn
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Apr 5 2011 03:27
Harrison Myers wrote:
CrimeThinc are fucking stupid. say no more.

they are the far end of the anarchist spectrum which we reject, just like how bolshevism is the far end of the marxist spectrum that we reject.

they claim their anarchism to be not 'left-wing'. its a load of lifestylist wankery.

I'm actually looking for a coherent look at their ideas, not just general bitching which seems to be what makes up most of the critiques.

redsdisease
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Apr 5 2011 05:42
lkdwnn wrote:
Harrison Myers wrote:
CrimeThinc are fucking stupid. say no more.

they are the far end of the anarchist spectrum which we reject, just like how bolshevism is the far end of the marxist spectrum that we reject.

they claim their anarchism to be not 'left-wing'. its a load of lifestylist wankery.

I'm actually looking for a coherent look at their ideas, not just general bitching which seems to be what makes up most of the critiques.

As someone who feels like Crimethinc has unfairly become a sort of bogeyman for a lot of the anarchist movement, I think that a fair few of the critiques that people have presented are pretty coherent and not "just general bitching." People have been pretty helpful, are you looking for something more particular or should we just keep throwing out more critiques until something sticks?

And to be honest, it would be impossible to make a coherent critique of their ideas because their ideas are not coherent. The Crimethinc of Evasion or Days of War Nights of Love does not seem to have a whole lot of similarity to the Crimethinc of today. For one thing, they now eschew drop out culture which is, obviously, a huge 180 for them. Hell, their book that's coming out this year is supposedly a "grand unified theory of contemporary capitalism." I'm sure I'll have plenty of quibbles with it, but it definitely represents a pretty large shift, one that I think is pretty positive.

Their piece from this year Fighting on the New Terrain shows better than I could some of the ways that they've changed. I read it as having a lot of autonomous-marxist influence, but idk.

Harrison
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Apr 5 2011 07:42
lkdwnn wrote:
i'm actually looking for a coherent look at their ideas, not just general bitching which seems to be what makes up most of the critiques.

i'll stick with general bitching thanks, rather than re-hash what has been intelligently critiqued inumerous times.

how about Ken Knabb's comments, or the critique from a class struggle anarchist

perhaps they are capable of changing, in which case i still hate what they used to stand for

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Apr 5 2011 16:28
redsdisease wrote:
And to be honest, it would be impossible to make a coherent critique of their ideas because their ideas are not coherent. The Crimethinc of Evasion or Days of War Nights of Love does not seem to have a whole lot of similarity to the Crimethinc of today. For one thing, they now eschew drop out culture which is, obviously, a huge 180 for them. Hell, their book that's coming out this year is supposedly a "grand unified theory of contemporary capitalism." I'm sure I'll have plenty of quibbles with it, but it definitely represents a pretty large shift, one that I think is pretty positive.

Their piece from this year Fighting on the New Terrain shows better than I could some of the ways that they've changed. I read it as having a lot of autonomous-marxist influence, but idk.

I think there was an article entitled "declasse war" in Harbinger http://libcom.org/library/harbinger-5-crimethinc.
That would be one specific article people on here would have a huge problem with. I think the ramor ryan article is a pretty decent criticism. Also, Evasion, while they say it doesn't represent their politics now or then, they still published it (I admittedly haven't read it, but friends have). Still, off the map is one of the most unintentionally hilarious books I've read/browsed. grin

They've obviously moving in a new direction, though to me a lot of stuff in Rolling Thunder I've seen still seems "activist" based. The Insurrection article recently was also a new direction. I appreciate the Fighting on the New Terrain and its a step towards humility and growth, but they still argue that the dropping out tactic (strategy even) was right for its time (it wasn't, so just admit that. I can understand a personal attachment to your own past, but sometimes you've got to suck it up ) but now its different so we need a different approach.

What's most interesting is that it seems to be a maturing and development of peoples politics who are getting older and sticking around, committed to their politics and the long term, which would seem to be a bigger shift in a (pre-dominantly) youth based sub-cultural anarchist scene.

Last year, we (Anarchist Group Amsterdam) had a fundraiser at which 'From The Depths' (Crimethinc related band) played and they had a song called 'Marathon' which they dedicated to "all those anarchists over 25 who are still active" or to that effect. smile I kindof felt it was funny when at 27, I'm the youngest member of AGA and from my experiences in other countries I know lots of active older anarchists with families, jobs, etc. But perhaps its a little different in North America. ?

p.s. http://www.crimethinc.com/blog/2011/04/04/new-book-and-poster-work/
http://www.crimethinc.com/blog/2008/09/11/cwc-interview-in-swedish-syndicalist-paper/

p.p.s. I don't think Brand is singularly syndicalist, if they had done the interview with Arbetaren, it'd be a different story. smile

riot_dude
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Apr 5 2011 17:00

I've found 'Rolling Thunder' is often worth a browse, I think they get a number of different contributors, which generally means at least one or two articles will be interesting. Its certainly a lot more diverse, politically, than any of the books they've done.

They've just released a new book entitled 'Work'.

Anywayz, in my internetz chats with US anarchos and punk kids, both seem to despise them, which was odd considering I thought that was their niche, but then again maybe I just talk to the wrong people.

As for a critique, take the worst bits of Situationism and Insurrectionist Anarchism, the rest should follow...

BTW, I think a critique based on readings of 'Evasion' will be slightly problematic, considering they try to distance themselves from that title as much as they can.

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Apr 5 2011 19:02
Quote:
Last year, we (Anarchist Group Amsterdam) had a fundraiser at which 'From The Depths' (Crimethinc related band) played and they had a song called 'Marathon' which they dedicated to "all those anarchists over 25 who are still active" or to that effect. smile I kindof felt it was funny when at 27, I'm the youngest member of AGA and from my experiences in other countries I know lots of active older anarchists with families, jobs, etc. But perhaps its a little different in North America. ?

This is great story and really sums it up. As an American, there are lots of anarchists over 25, they just don't associate with Crimethinc! Ya know, they've gotten jobs, shaved their mohawks, and stopped doing Food Not Bombs, so they're obviously not anarchists anymore....

I've also heard Crimethinc is moving in an, ehhem, slightly better direction. But I got involved in anarchism living about an hour from where Crimethinc was based. "The scene" was crawling with these fuckers. Two stories:

1) One of the Crimethinc bands used to play behind a banner that said showed a burning Wal-Mart and some punks running away from it. Under that scene it said "Take all you need and burn all the rest". Fuck me! Talk about reinforcing the worst bourgeois misconceptions about anarchism. And, Jesus, that's how we're supposed to attract low-wages workers to anarchism? The anarchists are coming to burn down your jobs!....

2) Another Crimethinc slogan (paraphrasing here) was something along the lines of "If you're homeless and not having fun, you're doing it wrong". This literally defies any comment beyond fuck these privileged lifestylist fuckers.

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Apr 5 2011 18:59

Don't know is this has been recommended yet as a critique, but here you go:

http://libcom.org/library/days-crime-nights-horror-ramor-ryan

Also, includes this amazing joke:

What do you get if you cross a situationist with a mafioso? A guy who makes you an offer you can't understand. And what do you get if cross a CrimethIncer with a situationist? A bad photocopy of a good book.

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Apr 5 2011 19:01

How do you bankrupt a Crimethinc kid?
Hide the PIN to their trust fund under a bar of soap.

What's an anarchist joke?
Crimethinc.

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Apr 5 2011 20:02

Though I just want to say that AGA is a bit of an exception in Amsterdam as it is mainly young people active in the scene, but obviously much of the informal oil that makes things work and goes unseen in a lot of infrastructure are the older former squatters. But not many are still around comparative to the size of the movement historically.

Amongst some friends and comrades the running joke about CrimethInc is "They do good graphic design."

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Apr 6 2011 02:15
Chilli Sauce wrote:
What do you get if you cross a situationist with a mafioso? A guy who makes you an offer you can't understand. And what do you get if cross a CrimethIncer with a situationist? A bad photocopy of a good book.

I lol'd. (Actually, I just snorted through my nose 'cause I'm reading this at work).

My only interaction with Crimethinc are their publications (thought Rolling Thunder was okay, despised Recipes for Disaster) and the occasional young person into punk who is right into it.

My own criticism of the organisation is they substitute the organisational with the subcultural. Without a formal membership it seems to rely on friendship networks to function, which in practice, and outside the level of affinity groups, are far more exclusionary than formal agreements. From what I see, this means personal relationships come under scrutiny and individuals are attacked or silently excluded for having bad attitudes or not playing nicely, with little recourse. The result is shitstorms with no capability for resolution. It seems inevitable that these disputes will increase in frequency and intensity and Crimethinc will dwindle to a few resolute individuals who won't budge, but will maintain the banner.

That said, I can see why Crimethinc would be more a more exciting prospect than your average anarcho-syndicalist branch. Crimethinc promises adventure, whereas most anarchist groups involve more drudgery than you might expect. Any critique of the organisation should probably include that its successful element is an ability to make itself attractive – even if it's based on ideas that seem ultimately banal to me.

riot_dude
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Apr 6 2011 07:15
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That said, I can see why Crimethinc would be more a more exciting prospect than your average anarcho-syndicalist branch. Crimethinc promises adventure, whereas most anarchist groups involve more drudgery than you might expect. Any critique of the organisation should probably include that its successful element is an ability to make itself attractive – even if it's based on ideas that seem ultimately banal to me.

'Expect Resistance' is essentially a story of several people living in a tent at their local university's lawn, not exactly exhilarating subject matter, yet they seem to manage to make it so.

Thus making your average anarcho-syndicalist branch seem exciting shouldn't be too hard, just divorce yrself from reality a lot.

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Apr 6 2011 08:44
Lumpen wrote:
My own criticism of the organisation is they substitute the organisational with the subcultural. Without a formal membership it seems to rely on friendship networks to function, which in practice, and outside the level of affinity groups, are far more exclusionary than formal agreements. From what I see, this means personal relationships come under scrutiny and individuals are attacked or silently excluded for having bad attitudes or not playing nicely, with little recourse. The result is shitstorms with no capability for resolution. It seems inevitable that these disputes will increase in frequency and intensity and Crimethinc will dwindle to a few resolute individuals who won't budge, but will maintain the banner.

This is generally true of the anarchist milieu. The only reason I can think of why this is so are the vast swathes of middle class kids temporarily running away from their highly structured suburban upbringing. They confuse structurelessness with freedom and equality. They're also some of the most self obsessed people I've had the misfortune of encountering.

Lumpen wrote:
That said, I can see why Crimethinc would be more a more exciting prospect than your average anarcho-syndicalist branch. Crimethinc promises adventure, whereas most anarchist groups involve more drudgery than you might expect. Any critique of the organisation should probably include that its successful element is an ability to make itself attractive – even if it's based on ideas that seem ultimately banal to me.

What's attractive revolutionary organisation? Surely that type of organisation is attractive to the working class only during periods high class consciousness. If you want access to exotic drugs, exciting squat parties and elaborate sex circles fine. But the life stylists shouldn't justify it by pretending it's in anyway revolutionary.

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Apr 6 2011 10:43
blackrainbow wrote:
If you want access to exotic drugs, exciting squat parties and elaborate sex circles[,] fine.

…Maybe I should get involved with Crimethinc.

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Apr 6 2011 13:00
Lumpen wrote:
blackrainbow wrote:
If you want access to exotic drugs, exciting squat parties and elaborate sex circles[,] fine.

…Maybe I should get involved with Crimethinc.

Dear CrimethInc,

Your ideas are intriguing to me, and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

Rum Lad
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Apr 6 2011 14:11
blackrainbow wrote:
If you want access to exotic drugs, exciting squat parties and elaborate sex circles fine. But the life stylists shouldn't justify it by pretending it's in anyway revolutionary.

Lifestylists pretending their action is revolutionary is no less embarrassing than Class Struggle Anarchists pretending to themselves firstly, that their activity escapes the boundaries of leisure activity, and secondly the hold the key to unlock the secret of REAL WORKING CLASS POLITICS.

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Apr 6 2011 14:44
Rum Lad wrote:
Lifestylists pretending their action is revolutionary is no less embarrassing than Class Struggle Anarchists pretending to themselves firstly, that their activity escapes the boundaries of leisure activity, and secondly the hold the key to unlock the secret of REAL WORKING CLASS POLITICS.

Class struggle types IMHO rarely pretend their actions are revolutionary or that they "hold the key to unlock the secret of REAL WORKING CLASS POLITICS". Most lifestylists I've come across live in a delusional world where their consumption habits are the revolution.

RedHughs
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Apr 6 2011 23:15

There's no reason to have a coherent critique of Crimethinc if there is no coherent articulation of what Crimethinc is.

As I recall, the crimethinc of "The Harbinger" was some version of Pro-situationist/life-stylist politics. Something like that you say was "groping" for some good idea or oppositely, was recuperating/mystifying some good ideas - either way, that by itself might have been worth a "critique".

But the Crimethinc of "Fighting For Our Lives" was more a fusion of activist, individualist and self-glorifying life-stylism - it was "we are everything cool, exciting and committed goodness. And their other books seemed just jump all over the place but still without substance.

Once, I felt inclined to critique Crimethinc but now it seems pointless. Like Gertrude Stein said about Oakland, "There's no 'there', there". Well, except perhaps a lifestylist thread and a self-promoting thread but not enough to make any detailed comment on.

RedHughs
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Apr 6 2011 23:19

PS,

I recently ran into a person described as being the main one behind Crimethinc. He seemed nice enough but offered me no exotic drugs, or invites to squat parties or sex circles. He did have dreadlocks. Perhaps I'll take that up with him if I see him again...

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Apr 7 2011 07:19

Yes, I have met the main guy behind CrimethInc. as well, he is quite a nice bloke really.

I also can't think of much point in critiquing CrimethInc. nowadays, especially as they don't seem to be much of an influence on anyone anymore. That said, I did write a critique of CrimethInc. back in 2005-6, which I sent off to CrimethInc. for their comments, and then in the end never put online, but I think I might just dig it out and put it up for reference as a critique of "early" CrimethInc.

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Apr 7 2011 09:45

Just to add that I have now put this up here:
http://libcom.org/library/communist-critique-some-aspects-early-crimethinc

hpwombat
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Apr 8 2011 19:11

Thanks Steven for posting that. Some thoughts on the aftermath I have is about extended civil unrest and extended strikes. Are there any good analysis that exposes the means people go through in the present age to support struggle? I mean to say, much of Crimethinc's reasoning and approach sounds privileged, but the critic is also privileged enough to not be thrown into a circumstance where some of the more urban survival based thoughts of Crimethinc are useful beyond dropout kid culture.

In other words, some of this is probably street knowledge, as I've heard about the plastic wrapping the body during winter to stay warm, obviously dumpster diving is not just a drop out or homeless thing, but rather a poor thing. And so on. However in crisis periods, the union bureaucracy in many unions aren't wanting an extended battle where such tactics are turned to by its membership to ensure leverage falls on their side anymore. The approach of thinking seems to be because there is no joy in learning how to survive, only privileged people and homeless people can learn these things.

I'd rather maintain a strong work abolitionist stance where a strike can be prolonged. Where we can discover how to summon resources to feed, cloth and house those involved in strike and/or civil unrest. Where an argument on urban survival isn't about spitting on drop outs for having fun surviving, but rather about being tactical for extended battles where money isn't flowing so well and often forces compromise.

Frankly, much of what I'd want to prepare for isn't something everyone can do, nor should it. Some people are drawn to combat while others flee at the slightest provocation. Some prefer evasion over confrontation while others embrace confrontation with a militant extremism. Some aren't able to just throw on some plastic garbage and wander around the city in sweaty warmth while others can roam naked in zero degree weather for extended periods of time without displaying the effects of cold (at least, for a while).

I'm not into apocalypse-styled approaches, but preparation for capitalists to apply attrition tactics isn't unrealistic in the long term.

Also, since this seems to be a more international forum, I was wondering if others could give thoughts on what tactics they used to survive beyond what the union dues could buy and how long the strike/civil unrest maintained using such tactics.