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Bookchin's unbridgeable Chasm, CrimeThunk, arguing...

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Thrashing_chomsky
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Jan 10 2008 13:35
Bookchin's unbridgeable Chasm, CrimeThunk, arguing...

Finished reading Bookchin's "Social anarchism OR Lifestyle Anarchism" yesterday, I think it's exellent- rightfully angry, but maybe a chapter could have been devoted to lifestylists who having been won over by, for example, Crimethinks Romanticism but have yet to figure out a right pre-fix to their philosophy.

Got an add request on MySpace by http://www.myspace.com/anarchistsarebeautiful
and posted this:

I added you only to advise everyone who regards CrimeThink as a decent philosophy to find an online pamphlet called:
"SOCIAL ANARCHISM OR LIFESTYLE ANARCHISM: AND UNBRIDGEABLE CHASM" by Murray Bookchin. Read it, and read it again.

Before it's too late and these smelly hippies drive the modern minds perception of Anarchism irrecractably into a steaming bucket of piss.

Thank you,

=======================
Here, in their reply.
=======================

Given that the Crimthinc kids are Punks, not hippies, and that Murray Bookchin was involved in the 60s hippie/activist wave and NEVER the punk community, your comment rings a little shallow. *[i]

Of course teh evil lifestylers with their bourgeoisie dumpster-diving are annoying, but Murray Bookchin's shrill misinformed petty infighting never saved anyone from the dropping-out = revolution disease. * [ii]

Furthermore there's plenty to redeem crimethinc, I'd advise YOU to read an article of theirs titled ALL TRAVELER KIDS
PURGED FROM CRIMETHINC. MEMBERSHIP.

==========
wtf?
first of all,
*[i] punks, hippies, whats the difference? And being involved in the 60's activist scene is good carte blanche to critisise the fuck out of it. Being there helps you know...

*[ii] misinformed? read a book. and Kropotkins blindly optimistic determinism has yet to save the revolution, but its. still. true.

I really wish I read this book 5 years ago... anyone care to recomend me a good place to move from The Unbridgeable Chasm? Or just an angle on this fucking argument im having that ive overlooked?

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OliverTwister
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Jan 10 2008 18:01

You should start by dropping bookchin.

It says a lot about him that a police collaborator like bob black can demolish his politics.

eta: For starters black points out that Bookchin was a pretty outright lifestylist for a long time before he wrote that book.

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OliverTwister
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Jan 10 2008 18:14

This is a critique of Bookchin by "Contradiction", a pro-situ group in the 70s, i.e. before he had degenerated to being a "city-statist".

Quote:
Bookchinism

Murray Bookchin arrives at the scene of decay with the history of anarchism in his carpetbag, determined to heal the split between self and organization just as he would cure the “disease” of class society — by a rational triumph of the will. “The very mode of anarchist organization transcends the traditional split between the psyche and the social world.” Bookchin’s version of this timeless mode is the affinity group, which he models after the Spanish FAI, the Parisian sections, and the Athenian ecclesia in direct proportion to their age and inverse proportion to their proletarian content. (The Spanish model is evoked by Bookchin more for the structure of the revolutionary organization, while the ecclesia and sections dominate his vision of post-revolutionary society; but the distinctions are always hazy.) It is of course not these forms themselves which are counterrevolutionary, but their utopian evocation separated from their own content as well as from the present. Bookchin uses the past to idealize the future and appreciate the present (i.e contemporary oppositional movements). Notably, he found the Spanish affinity group in the hero-worshipping, mystified activism of the Motherfuckers, and in the contentless democracy of Anarchos. Rather than shoot a sitting duck by attacking his sense of practice (which has virtually evaporated anyhow), we will mercifully turn to a critique of his theory of revolution.

Bookchin defines the affinity group in a moral critique of Stalinism which appeals to the counterculture by praising its lack of rigidity. In the process he only winds up celebrating its lack of rigor, which lack allowed it to be used by the Left in the first place. The abstention from domination is the only goal articulated for the affinity group; it is the revolutionary institutionalization of doing one’s own thing. Bookchin would have this revolutionary group “marked always by simplicity and clarity, always thousands of unprepared people can enter and direct it, always it remains transparent to and controlled by all.” (This confusion of the “revolutionary group” — which he previously modeled after the tightly-knit, coherent, ephemeral grupo de afinidad — with the general assembly must be expected from an anarchist, who constantly tries to force together the present and the future (i.e. the revolutionary process) by slips of the tongue and magic tricks.) To fill the void created by this “clarity,” he fetishizes the encounter within a vaguely praised general assembly and criticizes workers’ councils for their lack of constant face-to-face encounter.

Bookchin’s vision is in the great tradition of the petty bourgeois utopians: His vision of the future, dominated by the past, is completely unconnected with an endless present entitled “living the revolution.” Bookchin sees mankind, with consciousness raised by ecological disasters and political repression, merely deciding one fine day to reorganize society along rational grounds. His ecological determinism, rather than merely being an attempt to be stylish, is based on his variation of Engels’s mistaken attempt to construct a dialectics of nature: instead of trying to make nature fit into the materialist revolutionary dialectic, Bookchin tries to reduce revolution to a science of social ecology. This organic theory of revolution finds itself bewildered before proletarian self-activity, whose form Bookchin always celebrates without a clue to its content. The most profound praise he can find for the great proletarian uprisings is that they all surprised and surpassed the leftist bureaucrats. His praise of spontaneity never mentions organizational advances or shortcomings (the content of spontaneity). The revolutionary activity of the “masses” is defined only negatively against the hierarchy of the masters and deceivers; it becomes a series of battles connected only by the spirit and heroism of the oppressed. Thus the anarchist learns nothing from revolutionary failures except that the masses were deceived or had illusions, and he joins himself to the mass movement as either an uncritical participant or a professorial advisor.

Bookchin seeks to repeat the Yippies’ synthesis of left politics and hip culture on a higher level by having control of both political and cultural factors. He thus gently prods dozing mystics into nodding agreement with his nightmares, and attacks fading Stalinist bureaucrats in an effort to anarchize their constituents. He is slightly more abreast of reality than they are — thus he hopes that his anarchism will be the avant-garde of a reconstituted Movement.

Smash Rich Bastards
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Jan 10 2008 18:22
OliverTwister wrote:
You should start by dropping bookchin.

It says a lot about him that a police collaborator like bob black can demolish his politics.

eta: For starters black points out that Bookchin was a pretty outright lifestylist for a long time before he wrote that book.

Er yeah... Bob Black really gave him a good walloping with his pathetic (and devoid of any real substance) rebuttal polemic. roll eyes

I got plenty of criticisms of Bookchin. But I also happen to think he made a lot of really important contributions to anarchist theory. Either way, coming to politics towards the tail-end of the period he's criticizing in that book ('80s-early '90s) I'd say he was dead-on in his critcisms. SA vs. LA should be required reading for any serious anarchist.

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EdmontonWobbly
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Jan 10 2008 18:51

To be honest that book had a pretty big impact on me in my early twenties and was kind of the last nail in the coffin for silly lifestylist crap. Not too fond of a lot of his other stuff but I still recommend that pamphlet to comrades.

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OliverTwister
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Jan 10 2008 18:55

Bob Black vs. Murray Bookchin

The best decision Bookchin ever made was to drop the word 'anarchist'.

j.rogue
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Jan 10 2008 19:07
Smash Rich Bastards wrote:
SA vs. LA should be required reading for any serious anarchist.

Agreed. In fact, I said this verbatim on another site.

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Global Dissident
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Jan 11 2008 01:06

Everyone needs to go through a lifesylist phase when they're young. It seperates the weekend revolutionaries from the true believers. The weekenders go home when they get sick of squatting with 50 other people and smelling like garbage and the dedicated anarchists move on to more mature anarchist organizations.....or become full on primitivists, but that never works out well.

Black Badger
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Jan 11 2008 06:22

Just because you may agree with Bookchin's conclusions in SA or LA (it's not "versus" although from the tone throughout it probably should have been so titled) doesn't make his analysis any more coherent or intellectually honest. His main point comes down to this: "Anyone who doesn't agree with me is a Lifestylist." Forget that he repudiated class struggle, forget that he was a devoted electoralist, forget that he supported the Sandinistas--all that's important to the fans of SA or LA is that he disliked the same kind of dilettantes you dislike, so you can overlook his outlandish antics from the 60s through his eventual disavowal of anarchism altogether. Posers and wankers, whether they deck themselves out in black hoodies or carhartts, whether they're crusty freeloaders or shop stewards, are still posers and wankers, and they'll still be dilettantes regardless of which kind of rhetoric they spew.

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OliverTwister
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Jan 11 2008 06:56

yoshomon
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Jan 11 2008 15:43

I think membership to a political organization is definitely a lifestyle choice and defining oneself by that choice is as lifestylist as it gets.

Black Badger
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Jan 11 2008 16:48

You're just trying to invert the intended demeaning dismissal of Bookchin's neologism to fit those who agree with his usage, which is neither honest nor convincing. Rather than using the ridiculous non-category "lifestylist" as a conversation-ender, why not use actual descriptive language to convey criticism?

yoshomon
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Jan 11 2008 17:03

To be more descriptive:

Membership in pro-revolutionary organizations and participation in 'campaigns' is a lifestyle choice and the constant obsession and debate over this or that lifestyle (for example, to "build a syndicalist union" or "agitate within the mainstream union") speak a fetish of lifestyle choice and belief that it is lifestyle choice that will change conditions. One could use the word "lifestylist" to describe this fetish and belief. "Building a revolutionary union" or "strengthening the movement" are basically role-playing games that in an embarassing case of inflated self-importance get confused with class struggle.

Crimethinc lifestyles (whatever that means) and such, while equally unrelated to class struggle, are attacked because they are more fun than the lifestyle advocated and participated in by the left.

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EdmontonWobbly
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Jan 11 2008 17:05

There is a significant strain in anarchism that looks to substitute personal choices and informal social circles with formal organizations and directly democratic processes. Frankly I think that's irresponsible, bad politics. It's not about being counter culture its whether or not you see identification with counter culture ideals as radical at all and its pretty clear a lot of the anarchist movement does think this way.

yoshomon
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Jan 11 2008 17:08

Exactly. Informal social circles versus formal organizations is a clash of lifestyles; a difference in style and social skills.

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OliverTwister
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Jan 11 2008 18:56
yoshomon wrote:
To be more descriptive:

Membership in pro-revolutionary organizations and participation in 'campaigns' is a lifestyle choice and the constant obsession and debate over this or that lifestyle (for example, to "build a syndicalist union" or "agitate within the mainstream union") speak a fetish of lifestyle choice and belief that it is lifestyle choice that will change conditions. One could use the word "lifestylist" to describe this fetish and belief. "Building a revolutionary union" or "strengthening the movement" are basically role-playing games that in an embarassing case of inflated self-importance get confused with class struggle.

Crimethinc lifestyles (whatever that means) and such, while equally unrelated to class struggle, are attacked because they are more fun than the lifestyle advocated and participated in by the left.

Eh sorry, I think you lost all credibility when you advocated racketeering.

Smash Rich Bastards
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Jan 11 2008 19:55
yoshomon wrote:
To be more descriptive:

Membership in pro-revolutionary organizations and participation in 'campaigns' is a lifestyle choice and the constant obsession and debate over this or that lifestyle (for example, to "build a syndicalist union" or "agitate within the mainstream union") speak a fetish of lifestyle choice and belief that it is lifestyle choice that will change conditions. One could use the word "lifestylist" to describe this fetish and belief. "Building a revolutionary union" or "strengthening the movement" are basically role-playing games that in an embarassing case of inflated self-importance get confused with class struggle.

Crimethinc lifestyles (whatever that means) and such, while equally unrelated to class struggle, are attacked because they are more fun than the lifestyle advocated and participated in by the left.

Heavy dude. You must be one of those philosopher types.

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Tacks
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Jan 11 2008 20:25
yoshomon wrote:
I think membership to a political organization is definitely a lifestyle choice and defining oneself by that choice is as lifestylist as it gets.

mwa ha ha ha!

hpwombat
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Jan 11 2008 23:11

Oliver, what do you mean you lose credibility by advocating racketeering? Are you advocating a legal workers movement? Do you have a link to this discussion to expose what you allege yoshomon being for?

SALA was boring. Individual and social autonomy are not a true dichotomy, they are not at odds. Ultimately this is where the beef is in SALA. What I see coming from the critique of "lifestylists" outside of Bookchin is a moral condemnation of a small group of people. I'd like to see more about why this book should be used by anarchists to condemn these so called lifestylists.

tastybrain
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Jan 11 2008 23:17
Black Badger wrote:
Rather than using the ridiculous non-category "lifestylist" as a conversation-ender, why not use actual descriptive language to convey criticism?
Black Badger wrote:
Just because you may agree with Bookchin's conclusions in SA or LA (it's not "versus" although from the tone throughout it probably should have been so titled) doesn't make his analysis any more coherent or intellectually honest.

Why don't you use actual descriptive language to convey your criticisms of Bookchin's arguments? I'd like to hear them.

yoshomon
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Jan 12 2008 02:18
OliverTwister wrote:
yoshomon wrote:
To be more descriptive:

Membership in pro-revolutionary organizations and participation in 'campaigns' is a lifestyle choice and the constant obsession and debate over this or that lifestyle (for example, to "build a syndicalist union" or "agitate within the mainstream union") speak a fetish of lifestyle choice and belief that it is lifestyle choice that will change conditions. One could use the word "lifestylist" to describe this fetish and belief. "Building a revolutionary union" or "strengthening the movement" are basically role-playing games that in an embarassing case of inflated self-importance get confused with class struggle.

Crimethinc lifestyles (whatever that means) and such, while equally unrelated to class struggle, are attacked because they are more fun than the lifestyle advocated and participated in by the left.

Eh sorry, I think you lost all credibility when you advocated racketeering.

Anonymous people on the internet don't have credibility, and who I am does not qualify or disqualify what I wrote. Does your political lifestylism get in the way of honest debate?

Black Badger
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Jan 12 2008 07:03

By request, a summary of my main quibbles with "Social Anarchism or Lifestyle Anarchism" (and by extension, Murray Bookchin Thought):

1. Bookchin uses deliberately provocative/emotional--undefined and non-descriptive--language. Examples: "lumpen" and "petty bourgeois"; as if every reader knows exactly what/who he means.

2. Bookchin promotes deliberately narrow binary oppositions. Examples: mysticism/superstition versus rationality; progress versus primitivism; individualism versus "serious organizations, radical politics, a committed social movement, theoretical coherence, and programmatic relevance." As if these things didn't exist on a continuum, as if they were automatic polar opposites, as if his last list were automatically understandable without illustrative examples. As if there were no possibility of transcending these simplistic binaries.

3. Bookchin deliberately ignores the possibility that what he derisively labels "lifestylism" could be a more or less natural reaction to the self-important pontificating of so-called experts and published writers like himself, whose blueprints for an anarchist future (in this case "Libertarian Municipalism") posit nothing so much as a new set of loudmouth know-it-alls who revel in giving orders--oops, I mean "suggestions."

4. Bookchin subscribes to the quaint 19th century Liberal assumption that individual liberty is the opposite of social freedom. You either believe that or you don't; most anarchists don't.

5. Bookchin, like all other socialist planners, asserts that the main reason to oppose capitalism is its irrationality, completely ignoring the history of actual capitalists adapting--quite rationally--to changing economic circumstances. This is the same logic that Marxists use to decry the "anarchy of the market" and long for the administration of an industrial economy through the full development of the productive forces. Sorry, but that economic positivism is another throwback to the 19th century.

5.1. Following up on the previous point, Bookchin believes that since Libertarian Municipalism is the most rational system of--dare I say it?--GOVERNMENT, that the reason people interested in social justice aren't naturally drawn to it is because those horrible irrational "lifestylists" are ruining the good name of anarchism.

6. Bookchin is wedded to other kinds of positivism. Example: "History...[is] the gradual unfolding of humanity's rational component--its developing potentiality for freedom, self-consciousness, and cooperation..." Talk about irrationality.

7. Bookchin dishonestly clumps all his "lifestylist" enemies into one group, despite the lack of coherence. Example: "lifestylists" are influenced by "existentialism, recycled Situationism, Buddhism, Taoism, anti-rationalism, and primitivism" which all share a desire for a "prelapsarian return to an original, often diffuse, and even petulantly infantile, ego..." which "have nurtured more than one reactionary political ideology over the last century." Naturally he never mentions what those might have been. Regardless, the list is internally contradictory.

8. Like any good authoritarian, Bookchin can't imagine that the tensions and contradictions within anarchist theory and practice might make non-anarchists wary of us. No; what's really going on is that Bookchin's brand of anarchism--the only authentic anarchism--is being ruined by others. The Leninists never considered the possibility that their own policies were generating resentment from others, and the Stalinists never considered that their policies might be disastrous--all discontent was attributed to "wreckers" and "saboteurs" and "traitors." Bookchin learned the lessons of his youthful Stalinism well.

capricorn
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Jan 12 2008 15:21

Black Badger, what exactly do you mean by this:

Quote:
Bookchin subscribes to the quaint 19th century Liberal assumption that individual liberty is the opposite of social freedom. You either believe that or you don't; most anarchists don't.

I thought most of those who call themselves anarchists did believe that and regard majority decision-making by voting as an infringement of the rights of the supposedly sovereign individual and so denounce democracy and democratic decision-making (the only basis, I suggest, for "social freedom" as well as of working class organisation within and to end capitalism) as "the tyranny of the majority". Surely Bookchin was in the opposite camp (along with the Marxists!) of saying that the individual only exists in and through society and that there is (or will be when there's a genuinely communist society) such a thing as the common social interest?
Anyway, how do you reconcile individual liberty and social freedom? Why do you think an individual should accept the majority decision of the collectivity of which he or she is part (if you do think that, that is)?

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madashell
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Jan 12 2008 16:21
capricorn wrote:
Why do you think an individual should accept the majority decision of the collectivity of which he or she is part?

What else do you suggest this "individual" does? Should the majority be subject to the whims of a stubborn minority?

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anarcho-punk
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Jan 12 2008 16:50
Quote:
punks, hippies, whats the difference?

Everything you fucking twat!!
I am a punk, i wear boots not sandals, tight jeans not fucking hemp, I'm an angry cunt not a fucking mellowed out stoner, I disagree with the hippy ideal of everyone working together to create an equal society, I do not embrace the fucking nrm's and nam's of the hippy movement and finaly i want fucking anarchy not communism. Punk is not Hippy, they are two different subcultures, saying they are the same is like saying red is brown you complete arsehole!!

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thugarchist
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Jan 12 2008 16:53

Christ. Even normal topics turn out to be insane discussions lately.

capricorn
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Jan 12 2008 16:55
Quote:
capricorn wrote:
Why do you think an individual should accept the majority decision of the collectivity of which he or she is part?
Quote:
What else do you suggest this "individual" does? Should the majority be subject to the whims of a stubborn minority?

Of course not. I'm a democrat. I just wanted to see if Black Badger was too and also whether others calling themselves anarchists are or, more to the point, are not. In my experience most anarchists argue that an individual cannot be bound by a majority decision.

yoshomon
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Jan 12 2008 17:03
madashell wrote:
capricorn wrote:
Why do you think an individual should accept the majority decision of the collectivity of which he or she is part?

What else do you suggest this "individual" does? Should the majority be subject to the whims of a stubborn minority?

Speaking for myself, I am going to do what I want to do, even if that is at odds with the majority.

Black Badger
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Jan 12 2008 17:23

The principles of federalism include the ability of a minority to secede from the federation in the case of irreconcilable differences. It isn't a question of being "bound" by majority decisions (and how much of a majority are you talking about anyway? A majority of one? Two? Out of how many decision makers?), but of maintaining one's principles. If my principles are at odds with yours, why would I insist on maintaining a federative relationship with you (or you with me)? At some point, wouldn't it make sense for us to separate? Part of the problem with you democrats and majority-rule fanatics is that you presume that there's some kind of "unity" involved in any given social sphere. Why is that?

Personally, I favor a federative model of organization above that of affinity groups, created for specific tasks. Once those tasks are accomplished, there's no longer any need for that particular federation, and it should be disbanded. My preferred method of decision making is consensus-minus-two (or three or four, depending on the size of the federation) in order to avoid the ridiculous excesses of the tyranny of one (by blocking consensus). I also support delaying a decision if it's contentious, rather than forcing the federation to stay locked in an interminable meeting so that people's wills erode due to exhaustion. I am not in favor of a delegate or spokesperson system of decision making; I prefer plenums, where everyone interested in the decision participates (something like teleconferencing could be used for people unable to attend for various reasons). I am opposed to representative-based politics. And I am opposed to majority-rule politics.

How would you bind a minority to a majority decision? How would it be imposed democratically?

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madashell
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Jan 12 2008 17:56
capricorn wrote:
Of course not. I'm a democrat. I just wanted to see if Black Badger was too and also whether others calling themselves anarchists are or, more to the point, are not. In my experience most anarchists argue that an individual cannot be bound by a majority decision.

Yeah, but in my experience, most anarchists are mentally retarded. Where did this fashion for consensus decision making come from, anyway? I've never heard of it being used by anarchists historically.

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Jan 12 2008 17:58
yoshomon wrote:
Speaking for myself, I am going to do what I want to do, even if that is at odds with the majority.

Well if that interferes with the decision of the collective in question, why the fuck should they continue to tolerate you as a member?