In case you hadn’t noticed, FRR has been on hiatus for the last several months. The TLDR for this goes as follows: One co-host moved, another co-host moved, and I(rydra) moved and lost the recording studio that friends and I built with our own hands in our own warehouse, and some problems with the anarchist milieu and anarchy as it works socially and projectually for a variety of reasons. Now, for the long version.
My journey to anarchy happened in a significantly different way than my journey through anarchy. I came to anarchy alone, at the best time of my life. I was in Hawaii, with heaps of good friends, all social outcasts, but nobody who really considered themselves an anarchist. I was living on a tropical island, surfing, with a cushy high paying part time job, non-stop social engagements, single, and with plenty of time to explore ideas. The only downside was that there wasn’t really anybody to push me, anybody to tell me my ideas were basic, that I was missing something, or that things were more complex than the way I saw them. After reading the Dispossessed I went to a local bookstore and picked up what seemed to me to be the most radical and extreme book I could find. This book happened to be “Elements of Refusal” by John Zerzan. I read this, declared to myself that I was an anarchist and against civilization which was the root problem of the shit world I was born into. For several more years years I hung out in Hawaii, surfing, developing deep personal relationships, and continuing to be the only anarchist that I knew. I looked longingly at the mainland and the rest of the world. I admired all the anarchists chaining themselves down, protesting, “doing shit.” So at the height of my personal happiness and enjoyment of daily life, I moved to California. I wasn’t ready to leave the ocean, so after an 8 month road trip across the states I moved a block away from the beach in San Francisco, a city in which I didn’t know a soul.
My entry into anarchy was painful and slow. Each week I committed to showing up to one anarchist event, talk, protest, whatever. I went a long times in the city without making an anarchist friend or involving myself in a project. I felt people were cold, distant, and couldn’t see a way in. Eventually I moved to a collective house in Oakland and things changed. Nearly immediately I was hanging out in the queer anarchist subculture, going to a reading group at the Holdout, and a core member of East Bay Solidarity Network. I was going to the dance parties, hanging out with the anarchists, living the life I had dreamed for myself for years and years. There was only one problem, it wasn’t what I expected. The politics and internal dynamics were painful, rigid, and far too simple for the way I had cultivated ideas. Luckily, the first and closest friend I made was Bellamy who was on this journey with me. In a lot of ways, Free Radical Radio can be seen as the journey of two boys(who don’t care to be seen as such) through the world we call anarchyland.
Bellamy and I were both living together, doing the parties, the scene, and East Bay Sol together. Fuck, we were even dating the same person for several months. Suffice to say our live were about as intertwined as possible for two people who aren’t fucking(much to the surprise and disappointment of many). I can only speak for myself, but my relationship with Bellamy, whatever it is now or in the future, will be one of the most important of my life. Doing FRR with him was a source of joy and growth and change, and he inspired and challenged me as much as any one other human being ever has. I am extremely grateful to him for this relationship, and for the space and time we had to develop so nearly to one another. Surely we have gone in different directions, aesthetic choices, with Bellamy doing his land project and thoughts on egoism and myself using nihilism as a critique and longing for the sea once again. If you listen chronologically to the episodes you will see immense changes in both of us, in the ways we think and to what we hold dear. I am proud of these things. I have been made fun of for being invested in Ralph Nader as a teenager, and for reading Ayn Rand at 22 and declaring myself a capitalist for 3 months without a hint of irony. I am still given a hard time for being an anarcho-primitivst when we started the show. I am proud of all these things, they are all part of me. If you don’t believe in linear time, then you are a being existing across time and space. That is what I am, something existing in more than just the moment, or perhaps all those moments are happening simultaneously, but to continue down this road would be to get lost in big questions I have no answer for.
Eventually, things with Bellamy and I were no longer working. We had both left the scene we inhabited behind with our share of drama(most of it involving me as I tend to be the far more confrontational of the two, I’m sure there are other adjective that other people would insert here) and moved to a different place. Right now my relationship with anarchy as a whole is much different than it has ever been. I found most of the people/activists I had admired from a distance in Hawaii to be something other than what I had expected. In my least kind analysis, I would call them socialists and people-managers who don’t challenge themselves and help enforce the rules of anarchyland and often act like a shitty high school clique. In my kindest analysis, I would say they care deeply about the life they live on this world and that social change and transformation and making the world a better place are of the utmost importance to them and that in this desire for action, thought is sometimes left secondary. What I found in these scenes though was a group-think that is possibly a part of being human being, but even so, one that I don’t love or admire. I found a narrowness of ideas, a rigid morality, a lack of humor, and a poverty of thought. I have long believed that if you can’t laugh at something that it owns you and that if you can’t play with something then it also owns you. To a large extent(though not completely) I feel that identity politics and rigid morality permeate through anarchyland here in the bay.
When I talk about identity politics I am referring to a tendency and positioning. Obviously, humans are different, but there is a type of thought that invades and weakens ideas. So, when I say Identity Politics, what I mean is a prioritization over the way one is born and an oversimplification of things. So, for instance, obviously the material conditions of the world are racist, and I mostly agree with Frank Wilderson in this regard about anti-blackness. I also agree with him that the world must be destroyed and not reformed. The problem with this is that while I do not see the world as we see it being destroyed as an impossibility, I see it as highly unlikely. I don’t believe in revolution, which is to say that I believe it is possible, and obviously happens, but that I don’t see it as a desirable outcome for the kind of anarchy I desire. Back to the point, I see identity politicians and most anarchists in anarchyland adhering to a set of ideas that fit within the confines of what I would describe as reform. I am fundamentally against the commodity as it is, so why would I want to redistribute the commodities among those who are deemed oppressed. This represents an ultimately reformist attitude and politix which I believe is embedded in the long held ideal of progress. These are the ideas of people like Pinker, who believe, that over time humans have become less violent and developed as a society. These ideas are held by people who believe the civil rights movement and the gay marriage movement made the changes “we” want to see in the world, that they progressed us to a better place. I don’t believe we are in a better place. If pressed I would say we are regressing, that things are getting worse for the average human, each second, of each day, but a more reasonable response would be to say that I think things are still just as shitty, racist, patriarchal, whatever ist you wanna insert here, just in a different way. I want to move beyond this discourse to something more complicated. I want to move on beyond people thinking white people are the only people who conquer and have slaves. I can recognize(though obviously not understand completely or even closely) what it means to be black or a woman, without rewriting history or saying that every problem needs to be reformed and that small changes are helpful. Some call this callous, or racist, or fascist, or whatever pejorative fits, but what I call it is a more honest assessment of the situation. For me, the word is fucked, and the worst part is that there is little in the way of space to run to, but that doesn’t mean that I believe reform/protest/consciousness-raising/organizing/insurrection are going to bring me or anyone I care about any closer to what I feel as anarchy.
So where does this put me? I find myself either at odds or indifferent to most of the current anarchist projects. Any affiliation with leftist projects is a turn off to me, full stop. This is not to say that there is nothing that inspires me. Even if I don’t believe that propaganda or direct action(hello margarine and buzz words) have a tangible effect on geo-politics and social transformation, there are still actions and groups and people who inspire and challenge me. The group to do this most recently for me is RS(wild reaction). Do I completely agree with them? No. Do I agree with their positing of a wild nature? no. Do I appreciate that there are people out there doing what they can to exact some revenge, with as little compromise as possible? Fuck yes I do. The general reaction of the anarchist milieu to deem them fascist misunderstands them completely and renders the word fascism meaningless. Fascism attempts to control. RS is not searching out control, but using terrorism as a way to gain freedom, even if that freedom is just a little less cognitive dissonance between their ideas and actions. So-called anarchists in Oakland will talk a big game all day about killing cops and bankers, but somehow go completely bananas when a terrorist group in Mexico offs some of the top technocrats and scientists and says that there might be collateral damage. These are the same people who talk of revolution and insurrection. Do they imagine some peaceful Jose Sepulveda uplifting of consciousness where we all walk away from work and society and fuck in the wildflowers? I wish they did. Instead they talk of revolution while pretending that it can happen without thousands(millions) of their beloved innocents falling victim.
The idea of innocence and a people to fight over is my main disagreement with anarchists today. There is a slogan that says “everyone is an anarchist.” I don’t buy it. I don’t think everyone is an anarchist and this is getting really close to an essential truth about people, and this is something I used to believe and even at one point wore the patch on my super cool jacket. I don’t believe that everyone is anything anymore. Many believe that there are an innocent and uneducated masses who need to be educated or inspired by some action in the streets. These people will tell you that with more information and knowledge shared we will get closer to the world we want. It should be obvious that this attitude is elitist and condescending at best and vanguardist at worst. I believe people are just people, some like to self determine their lives, some like to follow, and the worst kind like to determine the lives of others. Sadly, lots of anarchists today are taking on the role of people managers. This is not a beautiful idea to me. This is boring and uninspiring. With that said, there are printing projects, podcasts, actions, and friendships and relationships that continue to inspire me.
So for the last several months I have been an anarchist without a project. I have been on hiatus because I was unsure what it meant to do a radio show that advertised mainly to other anarchists. I have been lucky to make several close friends through the radio. I’ve been lucky enough to realize I had dumb ideas more times than I can remember through conversations both on the air and with people I met through the radio. And, it was fucking fun. So, I am left wanting more. Logistically, all my roommates and I were forced to move from our warehouse and with that move I lost the studio. I am in the process of finding a space I want to occupy for a decent amount of time and a space to record consistently, but until that happens the show will likely remain on hiatus(with the caveat that we will likely still record audiobooks at our pleasure and leisure). Bellamy is gone, and unlikely to be a consistent contributor to the show again. While I thank and will always appreciate Doug’s contributions to the show, he will not return to the project. Squee ended up fucking up his leg and moved out of state. And the reality is that not a lot of people are comfortable airing their deeply held ideas to the public. This is for good reason, most of those who have done this have either developed a cult of personality or have been ridiculed and attacked relentlessly. Despite this, I am still open to the show continuing in a similar fashion, or a new fashion, but only if I find other people willing to engage in the way that interests me.
To bring all of this to a close is to acknowledge that it is OK to be an anarchist without a project. Most anarchists don’t have a project in the way that it is commonly seen. I personally still believe that the most important parts of my life are my relationships. I seek to develop and deepen my interpersonal relationships and my relationship with the ocean and world around me, because those are the things that bring me the greatest challenge and ecstasy. I have relieved myself of the guilt that used to come with not having a project, which came after relieving myself of the guilt I felt when not trying to make the world a better place. I don’t believe in making the world a better place. I don’t believe in global communities, masses, or that humanity is one whole. I call myself a nihilist casually now, and what I mean when I say this is: there are no objective values or absolute truth in the world(or if there are I cannot divine them), so I am left to create all my own values and judgements. This means that my life is a series of aesthetic choices. I don’t like to see cities so I am opposed to them. I don’t like to see slavery so I am opposed to it. This continues ad infinitum, but what it also does is free me up to create a life for myself in the way that I want without having to measure up to some imaginary set of values held before me or given to me by someone else. All I really know is that if I don’t feel challenged and like I am having some fun along the way, I won’t be interested and I really really fucking love being interested. So here is to being interesting, playing with our ideas and each other, and having some fucking fun along the way.
P.S. feel free to email me if you like at free radical radio at riseup dot net because I still check the email