Sole: To me there is a very common thread that goes through most radical politics; communism, revolutionary socialism, anarchism, etc. that is where I am coming from. If you ask me, I think we should be more interested in finding common ground. If you were to describe anarchist principles to the normal person on the street and not tell them what “anarchism” is they would agree with it, and they normally do. I’m interested in meeting people where they are, when people are new to the streets or to struggle they bring with them a lot of liberal/reactionary tendencies, a lot of shitty “activist tendencies” too, I think its important to be willing to engage those; whether its overblown identity politics or people who think we need to “end the fed,” if we can’t have difficult conversations with people we should agree with(on some level) then how are we ever gonna engage the working class? Sometimes it just can’t work out, and in those situations, it is what it is. There are groups like that here in Denver that I just don’t fuck with on an organizational level because I think they have shitty politics, but when us human beings are out there engaging in actions its the work that really matters, I still agree to disagree with them, vocally, I send them articles critiquing their politics in a friendly way and I’m not interested in calling people out or shaming them for what they believe(unless they are fascists). That said at the end of the day I end up working mostly with anarchists because I get tired of having stupid conversations with liberals. So I think its a nice goal to not be sectarian, but there are reasons we believe what we believe. People should do what feels right to them, to me it feels right to work with people I have affinity with, and for the most part that tends to be anarchists, luckily there are lots of them in Denver.
Sole: I agree with this critique, I’m just not sure what the solution is either. On one hand I have seen first hand how assemblies became a dead end in Occupy and agree with this fully. I remember actually thinking during Occupy, “holy shit these assemblies can actually form the basis for a new society,” and then Occupy started having these national assemblies in Philly where they would synthesize the perfect list of demands, it was a futile exercise, a fucking joke really. If I think back on Occupy when some of the most bad-ass things happened; things being lit on fire, thrown at cops, militant actions, sitins, etc. these things happened without an assembly and if there were to be an assembly someone who “has it all figured out” would surely rationalize not doing any of these things and stopping them. So the assembly in itself can just become a cesspool of mediocrity, a giant wet blanket that becomes the thing in itself; i believe this. Years after Occupy we experimented in Denver with holding “autonomous assemblies” where nothing was decided, but folks would show up, share projects and ideas and whoever wanted to do shit, could plug in, that was cool, that worked. I had a chance to talk with one of the crimethinc folks about this and asked, “well how can a city function without some kind of way to make decisions” and the answer was really telling, “look the favellas, people are already living like this, if they need to knock a building down or build a sewer line they figure it out and they don’t need assemblies.” I am grossly paraphrasing but it was highly informative. When Elon Musk talks about colonizing mars he says the favorable government there will be a “direct democracy,” but those of us who have already seen what direct democracy produces are asking these questions, is it what we really want? In a world of mass media, mass manipulation, fear and xenophobia what if direct democracy brings us things like Donald Trump? So no I don’t believe legislation or policing are the future, but agency is.
The apocalypse/ armagadden is a common theme in our culture and has been for a long time because we know this world can’t last, and when people think about an anarchist society it scares them, so to feel less scared they say, “we’ll have direct democracy, we’ll all sit around in city squares for 10 hours a week and debate about whether we want to dig a ditch or plant a tree.” I say, dig that ditch, plant that tree. This is why anarchists are also weary of mass movements, if you have to water everything down so much that eventually you’re supporting something that doesn’t feel right, whats the point? In general I think we should be weary of big ideas and big solutions, our solutions should be local, and if those solutions work they can be replicated. The question I’ve been asking a lot lately are what are the solutions? How can we feed 500,000 people without petroleum? How can we build silverware of purify water? How can we educate ourselves in a way that people actually learn valuable things and not be bogged down with bureacracy and busy work? How do we relearn all the important shit we lost so that we don’t need a state or governing body lording over us. This is why crimethinc says, “start anywhere.”
JC. What are your thoughts on Preventing Near Term Human Extinction?
Sole: I think we’d need a serious militant, mass movement to do it. But I also think capitalism is super resilient and a mass die off of humanity might be wishful thinking. In general this civilization has a death drive, its a moth racing towards a flame. I guess in capitalist society, you get what you pay for? lol. It feels like we are living through the end times, but we won’t know until its over. I think that whatever is happening, its going to happen and a mass movement to prevent it is unlikely so I’m more interested in what happens after, as many are.
JC: What are you thoughts on the following terms:
Sole: (In general I’d like to echo my man Scott Crow and say that all these terms you have laid out before, we don’t have to be one or the other. You can be a syndicalist with green tendancies, you can be a nihilist and still pull great influences and ideas from communism. I like to read everything and if something sits right with me I embrace it, and if it doesn’t i skip past it. Take the best leave the rest is what I say, or as marx said, ” “All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his, real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.”)
I come from a marxist background, very influenced by the situationists, brecht, Marx, etc. What I loved about the situationists was their critique of centralized authority, their critiques of communist societies, but more than anything their critique of daily life. They foresaw the alienation that was coming down the chain, the alienation from government, society, through capitalism, technology, etc. A lot of anarchists draw on this. So my take on communism is take the best, leave the rest. I get pretty annoyed with how many anarchists are quick to dismiss anything written by a a Marxist or Communist, but I’m even more annoyed with these 60 year old white dudes who live in a fantasy land and still pore over the works of Hegel & Marx as if they are ends in themselves, its a bizarre religion that finds its church in the University.
I think its outdated to be honest, I don’t think anarchists need to throw an adjective on the end of a phrase to describe what they want. In the last century where the factory was the basis of all labor and society this made sense, seize the means of production because thats where the power was (same thing with communists). But we live in an era of “precarious labor,” where most people just do meaningless jobs where they shuffle around paper, they’re not building cars, or working in a steel force mill, almost all that labor is outsourced and nothing meaningful is really done here anymore, as far as infrastructure that we would need after the revolution. So we need to think beyond labor as the locus of revolutionary activity. Most people would have to learn all new skills and develop new ways of producing the things we need after a revolution. If a bunch of IWW cats wanna seize the whole foods and declare themselves a syndicate I see the value in it, and who knows maybe some meaningful updates could come out of it. But I am weary of of a world that places labor at the heart of it, I want to be free, I don’t want to trade a democratic society where I work all the time for an anarchist society where I am stuck in a factory. I’m more interested in returning to a more pastoral life, a more artistic and romantic life, a life where we can really re-imagine our relationship to ourselves, to nature, to the city, not replicate the 1940s…
Post Left Anarchism/ Egoism
Basically if you’re gonna be an asshole you better have a good sense of humor.
Everything I said about Post left anarchism, except I would add that its hard to read a book like “Desert” and not see the truth in it. I think its important to embrace the nihilism that most of us feel, shit really is hopeless and even the best intentions and planned campaigns barely have an effect, when I feel that way I pull back into myself and stop pretending that I think what we are doing matters. It happens often.
Green Anarchism/ primitivism
Modern movements against ecocide owe a ton ton green anarchist projects. I have personally learned a shit ton from green anarchists. A lot of the skills like foraging, and the sorts of things people learn at places like Feral Future and really important skills we will need to survive. In general I agree with a lot of the critiques that fall under the umbrella of “primitivism,” but going back to living like that is not something I can personally aspire to. I have a few close friends that fall on this end of the spectrum and I have learned a lot from them.
JC: Any advice you’d like give to young artists and revolutionaries?
Sole: Never stop interrogating your beliefs, ask lots of questions, never think you have it all figured out, trust your gut, have empathy, fuck shit up, its ok to be scared but push through it all the way to the end.