Review: Crimethinc’s Days of War, Nights of Love

Days of War, Nights of Love: Crimethink For Beginners

Crimethinc. All the rage in 2000, largely forgotten now. Of all the things they did (newspapers, magazines, other books) this was the best. A pretty clear indictment of late capitalism in America and a call to live life fully. Of course, eating out of dumpsters and hopping trains does not a revolution make. It may be fun for a while, for a select few, in a country of riches, but its no way to change the world (or grow old). Interesting as a artifact of a specific time in the history of radical politics in America, but otherwise not worth your time.

Not recommended.

Review: Bey’s Temporary Autonomous Zones (T.A.Z.)

TAZ: The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism (Autonomedia New Autonomy Series)
Hakim Bey

Hakim Bey is, probably, patient zero of the lifestyle anarchist school of thought. We can trace back to this New York eccentric much that came later in the 1990s and 2000s, including Crimethinc anrcho-primitivism, think pieces on Burning Man and more. Much of the lifestyle anarchist mileu amounts to nothing more than sloganeering about personal rejection of capitalism. Bey is a bit better. When he wrote T.A.Z. he already had a long history on the fringe, writing about sufism, anarchism, mysticism and (shudder) pederasty. His ideas are clear (or at least clearer than many others) and his writing style is attractive. Too bad his ideas are so silly.

I’m all for parties, and the creation of temporary zones of fulfilment (which is what this book is calling for) but they aren’t going to feed the starving or clothe the poor.  Party zones aren’t going to change the world, all adults should know this.

Recommended for the enthusiast. (If you’re an enthusiast for this stuff, you might want to rethink your enthusiasms. I know I did.)

Review: Kropotkin’s Mutual Aid

Mutual Aid: A Factor in Evolution

Peter Kropotkin

When I used to work at Bound Together, an anarchist bookshop in San Francisco, they teased me because I had never read this book by Kropotkin (aka the anarchist formerly known as prince). The concept just seemed so basic that it didn’t seem necessary to read the damn thing. Mike Menser made me read it for a class he was teaching on social philosophy. I still don’t think it’s really worth your time though.

Wanna know the gist? Ok, societies work just as well, no; actually they often work better through mutual cooperation than they do through competition. Evolution has actually favored cooperation in certain situations, and so therefore it is as efficient as competitive market based structures. Examples include bees and early trade guilds. Got it? Good, ’cause that’s about it.

Kropotkin — the anarchist formerly known as prince.

The criticisms are obvious. Trade guilds functioned as a means of keeping people out as much as they were structured cooperatively, and they lost out evolutionarily, so they aren’t as efficient as we thought eh? Oh and bees? I see your bees and raise you a lion. I’ll throw in a shark for good measure cause that shit has lasted waaay longer than bees.

I don’t think cooperation is a bad idea (obviously) but I think Kropotkin overplays his hand in thinking that he can defeat arguments for capitalism with a few historical examples…. But that’s just me