TAPTBSI – episode one

Talking a project through before starting it

I haven’t been blogging lately for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that I’m getting pretty tired of responding to “hot takes” as if they are real engagement. They aren’t. I want anarchy to be a project we are all partaking of but I’m feeling not exactly butthurt (but maybe) but indignant at how different what I’m talking about is for other people. Which is to say that I think the anarchy unleashed at WDC, Berkeley, Portland over the past month isn’t. I think responding to right wing idiots is beneath us. I really do. And debating these points has been a straight up losing proposition so I wont do it.

This is bonus sad because of course I do have “experience on the ground” with this particular topic but that experience is what has led me to this point in the first place. Many topics aren’t worth talking about, except f2f, with friends. That’s a change for me. If you aren’t willing to truly destroy those who are your enemy (as in kill them in cold/warm blood) then you are either engaging them in a version of political discourse or you are walking away from that discourse. I advocate doing the latter.

Enough about that. I’m trying to get wound up to do a new project. It’ll probably be a weekly call in show, it’ll probably be very Internet focused, it’ll probably attempt to appeal to a wider audience that LBC + Anews + other projects. I’m kind of hoping that appeal will be because of humor but finding the right tone is a real problem. Here, and before this new project begins, I’m going to brainstorm about how to do a better @ projects based on the lessons I’ve learned from doing a lot of different projects and project types.

It’s worth mentioning that I have always used @ projects as an excuse to do things I’ve been inclined to do anyway. I was inspired by DIY Hardcore and explicitly projects like Dischord Records. But what I like about Dischord is a lot like what I like about anarchism, breadth.

This project is motivated by wanting to figure out how to speak about @ to a larger audience and wanting the experience of doing something like a call-in show (technically). But it’s hard to imagine me starting a project like this and not getting bogged down in idiocy. To keep it straight I’m going to have to do a dual thing that I’m not quite sure how to organize. One, how do I keep a show like this topical and fun. Two, how do I not get mired in the shit talking that I can easily slide into and that I have a crew of people who’d love.

One, let’s take this week and a for example, should an anarchist topical show talk about the death of a US senator. I’ve generally ignored the US government when it comes to @ projects but it’s clear there are a lot of funny things one could/should say about politicians and dying but it’s a hard call. Can one do it w/o sounding like a liberal? Without sounding heartless? Without sounding like a late night comedy show? I guess the latter wouldn’t be terrible but finding that line w/o a room of writers… not so easy.

Two, it is so tempting to talk online anarchist shit. To talk about JZ or the latest FB drama. I think it is incredibly not interesting to anyone outside the 100 or so ppl who engage in both but how can we get to the heart of what are complicated political disagreements without miring every episode in a ton of exposition that is boring, sectarian, and something-else. That something-else is the death of this project from a long-term perspective.

Anyway over the next couple months I’m going to think this project through with the goal of launching it with a full audio package of effects, organization, and back up plans by the end of the year. Any thoughts/insights on how to do this well would be appreciated. You can get at me at aragorn@littleblackcart.com or add a comment to this blog and if you want it to stay unpublished it will.

What I hate about the Internet and what it means for the future of Anarchism

In another life I work with technology for a living. This means I keep up to date on Internet technologies and the theories that inform them. I just scanned a solid article from new TOR board member and security researcher Bruce Schneier and the power struggle between the feudal internet and those of us who are working for distributed power (by many other names). While Bruce’s goal isn’t necessarily mine, I do think that considering the modern anarchist project one of deliberately distributing power (and working for this distribution) isn’t far off the mark.

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What I hate about the Internet, of course, is that it has quickly moved from a decentralized cacophony of voices, perspectives, and mediums for transmitting different ideas, into a channeled, mediated, controlled, and censored medium replicating most of the media flaws that lead to the popularization of the Internet in the first place. In the context of the anarchist internet this means that the first wave of anarchist controlled internet1 have almost entirely disappeared. Anarchist Internet discussion has almost entirely moved to Facebook and/or the ephemeral snapchat, instragram, and twitter contexts2.

Real life has politically split with the Internet to limited affect. In the activist version of real life (that in my past life as a post-situationist I would call the double abstracted life of the spectacular present) this means issuing communiques on the Internet (with the most secure https and the most blurred of faces) but never discussing strategy or criticism (outside the clique). In the diy version of real life this means rooms with fewer and fewer people talking from the basis of less and less knowledge. Abandoning the internet, as smart as it is from one set of assumptions, has as its major downside a lack of interconnectedness. This fabric of relationships is the one thing I would point to as the most necessary thing to any vision of a future world that isn’t dictated by the feudal concerns of state, capital, and centralized power.

In a different context I am entirely on the side of real life. The meaningful relationships I want to build with individuals lives there. I live there. But that is only one part of what I do with my time. Another part, that of a publisher, propagandist, and curious monkey, lives on the internet. To the extent to which I continue to want to entertain and be entertained I think the feudal internet has to be fought but this seems like such a desperate and lonely fight. Returning to Schneier’s essay here is a nice way to think about the problem.

The truth is that technology magnifies power in general, but the rates of adoption are different. The unorganized, the distributed, the marginal, the dissidents, the powerless, the criminal: they can make use of new technologies faster. And when those groups discovered the Internet, suddenly they had power. But when the already powerful big institutions finally figured out how to harness the Internet for their needs, they had more power to magnify. That’s the difference: the distributed were more nimble and were quicker to make use of their new power, while the institutional were slower but were able to use their power more effectively. So while the Syrian dissidents used Facebook to organize, the Syrian government used Facebook to identify dissidents.

Now I’m not exactly sure I agree that we (the unorganized, marginal, and dissidents) should race to get ahead on tech like quantum computing or VR or whatever. But I am quite sure that whatever innovation happens here (by the unorganized, marginal, and dissident) has to do what it is going to do quickly (and probably in such an uncompromising and vicious of a way as to be entirely disagreeable to most of the unorganized, marginal, and dissident) so as to not lose to the logic of big institutions. The internet wasn’t destroyed the day amazon went live but it took years for us to realize how big of an impact that day was and some of us haven’t learned it yet.

1 spunk, radio4all, indymedia, infoshop, etc
2 Astute readers (and trolls) will notice that I am not mentioning my own sites/work here. Love or hate my projects but you have to admit they are self-organized and not financed or profitable.

The Casual LBC Tour

I am about to head out to the 49th parallel for a two month motorcycle tour. That could be fun.

  1. April 17th – Portland OR: Anarres Infoshop
  2. April 18th – Seattle WA: Left Bank Books
  3. April 24th – Victoria BC: Camas books
  4. April 25th – Vancouver BC: 38 Blood Alley
  5. May 3rd – Minneapolis MN
  6. May 6th-10th – Western Michigan
  7. May 12thish – SE Michigan
  8. May 15th – Hamilton @ The Tower
  9. May 16th – Toronto
  10. May 17th – Kingston
  11. May 18th – Rochester NY
  12. May 20th – Providence RI
  13. May 21st – Boston MA
  14. May 28th – Montreal QC
  15. May 31st – Pittsburgh?
  16. June 1st – Cleveland
  17. June 3rd – Columbus
  18. June 4th – Toledo
  19. June 5th – Bloomington
  20. June 6th-8th – Chicago
  21. June 11th – Tulsa (Oklahoma bookfair)
  22. June 9th-on – Somewhere West of Chicago near the I80

famOtyar