STIGMERGY: The C4SS Blog
Virtual Reading Group: Individualist Anarchism in 19th Century America

Tuckered Out? Feeling Greene? Get a Spoonerful of de Cleyrification here!

So says Roderick T. Long! Coming up in January, he’ll be hosting a virtual reading group together with Cory Massimino on individualist anarchism in 19th-century America.

As you might guess from the tagline, they’ll be covering the big names in the American individualist tradition, folks like Benjamin Tucker, Lysander Spooner, and Voltairine de Cleyre. Here’s the full intro video from the Agoric Cafe YouTube channel: 

The application deadline is January 12th, and sessions are tentatively scheduled for Tuesday evenings, starting January 19th. You can find more details and the application form here.

Agoric Cafe: Interview With James Bradley

In episode no. 12 of Agoric Cafe, Roderick Long chats with biologist James T. Bradley about the future of, and ethical issues surrounding, biotechnology and nanotechnology; global and civic responsibilities of scientists and of laypeople; intimations of immortality from William Godwin to Ray Kurzweil; the importance of interdisciplinary education, and of instruction in evolutionary biology; the 15th-century (trans)humanism of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, and the perils of invoking the Pope; Bradley’s three-week plan for solving a pandemic; the potential parallels between central planning for sociopolitical systems and central planning for ecosystems; the cosmological theories of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young; that time the National Science Foundation awarded Bradley and Long a $200,000 grant (but they had to spend it all on, like, course stuff); how the universe uses stardust to become self-conscious; and the waning allure of cricket ovaries. Watch here or below.

Why So Many Re-posts?

You might have noticed a series of re-posts going up in the Commentary section over the past few weeks. No, we didn’t run out of content! Rather, with the Students For Liberty blog no longer archiving old posts, we got permission to republish here a handful of pieces by C4SS writers and fellows. 

So, in this collection you’ll find the work of Nathan Goodman, Jason Lee Byas, and Cory Massimino. While was originally published elsewhere, the pieces we’ve chosen to preserve are exemplary of the ideas, values, and debates at work in left wing market anarchist thinking. That’s why we’ve decided to republish them on a rolling basis rather than just adding them to the C4SS site archive. Those who prefer the more radical liberal end of the LWMA spectrum will find this series especially rewarding and I’m excited these pieces are getting a second life. 

And we’ve still got quite a few coming out soon. Enjoy!

Agoric Cafe: Interview With Kelly Dean Jolley

In episode no. 11 of Agoric Cafe, Roderick Long chats with philosopher Kelly Jolley about Jane Austen and J. L. Austin, the veil of perception, Ohio land swindles, the tyranny of nouns, screwball comedies, anti-psychologism, apophatic theology, the arctic perils of SUNY Oswego, the philosophic uses of poetry, Wittgenstein vs. Augustine, 18th-century literary nanotechnology, real love in the spy life, Howard Hawks as an Aristotelean ethicist, the problem of other minds, the Typic of practical reason, Frege’s three principles, religious language and the ineffability of logic, feeling William James’s ‘but’, and Lewis White Beck philosophising with a hammer. Watch it here or below.

Interview with Kevin Carson on Hermitix Podcast

Kevin Carson was recently featured on the Hermitix podcast to discuss anarchism, post-capitalism, and organization.

Hermitix is a podcast focusing on one-on-one interviews relating to fringe philosophy, obscure theory, weird lit, underappreciated thinkers and movements, and that which historically finds itself ‘outside’ the academic canon.

The aim of the podcast is to allow autodidactic thinkers, amateur philosophers and the generally curious an insight into the work of thinkers who are often impenetrable to those outside of the academy.

Some of the topics covered in the interview included: Carson’s book, The Desktop Regulatory State; the already-existing seeds of post-capitalist transition; the history of technological pathways and potential alternatives; and some of the thinkers who have influenced Carson’s anarchism-without-adjectives.

You can listen to the podcast on podiant or on youtube.

(UPDATED 12/18) Legal Help for Logan! C4SS Commentator Faces Charges

UPDATE 12/18/2020 —

Hey everyone, thanks again for all the support and well wishes! I spoke with Logan on Monday (look out for an episode of her Green Market Agorist podcast with that conversation soon). She’s in high spirits despite facing so much and we’re all ready to fight this for as long as it takes.

With the updated cost estimate, we’re getting close to halfway. This is great because the first $7,500 payment is for the lawyer’s initial retainer. Paying that will allow Logan to turn herself in and start the defense process with legal representation in hand. It is crucial that we hit this amount as soon as possible!

But we’re getting close! And with the holidays and end-of-the-year charity, I’m hoping we can get that last bit covered in the next week or so. I know we can do it! The key is going to be sharing, sharing, sharing. Tell your neighbors. Tell your friends. Tell your family. Share to networks even if you don’t think anyone will give. You never know and every little bit helps s get closer to $7,500.

Finally, I want to give a big shout out to It’s Going Down, the anarchist news network, for signal boosting our fundraiser. You can read their call for solidarity here. Thank you everyone <33

UPDATE 12/7/2020 — 

So this is a good news, bad news update. To start with some positive developments, now almost halfway to our original goal and it’s been amazing to see the community come together so quickly and help us raise almost $5k in a few days. This is incredible and I’m deeply grateful to everyone who has given or shared the fundraiser so far. From encouraging notes, to truly generous gifts, you’ve all shown up in such an impressive way.

The bad news is that we’re not there yet. Halfway is, well, halfway, and we have a long way to go to make sure Logan’s legal defense is taken care of and that she can safely continue her work as a writer and activist. You may also notice that our fundraising goal has increased today. After a few negotiations, the full expense we’re looking at is $15,000. But with the response we’ve seen so far, I know it’s not impossible.

If you’ve shared the fundraiser already, please do share it again. Tag a few people. Share in groups. It really does help remind people to give and spread the word around new networks. Thank you in advance for doing all you can to keep the momentum going on this important community effort.

The other good news is that she’s going to be able to pay in two parts, and so we’re looking to try and hit $7,500 first and then focus on raising the rest. So, we’re still pretty close, and I know there’s a lot of energy left in the community. Thanks again, and feel free to reach out to editor@c4ss.org with any questions or offers of support.

* * *

One of our most prolific writers, Logan Marie Glitterbomb, is currently facing charges in Florida for self-defense. We’re calling on you, our friends and supporters, to help us raise funds for Logan’s legal fees in order to keep her out of prison. We need to raise approximately $10,000 to cover legal defense and related expenses. While it’s a steep goal, I’m confident our network is capable of getting us close, and I’d like to thank you all in advance for engaging in such a powerful form of mutual aid. 

We’re asking folks to give through PayPal so the funds can go directly to Logan without a delay. You can still donate via card though, you’ll just need to check out as a guest in the PayPal checkout system.

Long-time readers will know Logan’s work well, as her writing has formed the backbone of our commentary section for quite a while. And Logan’s work as an activist in her own community has been influential as well, most notably through her Coup de Main project, an intentional community meant to serve as a safe haven for queer and houseless folks as well as a resource base for local activism. 

Now it’s our turn to return the favor and show her the support she’s shown her community for so long.

Logan is currently facing firearms charges in Florida, after an altercation where she and a friend were attacked by members and supporters of the St. Augustine Patriots over a Black Lives Matter facemask. Logan let them know she had a gun to discourage attack and this successfully prevented the situation from escalating. Logan was later pulled over and questioned and now warrants have been issued for several related charges. 

This was a clear-cut case of self defense, which resulted in no harm to anyone, and arguably prevented an assault. This is the textbook reason for the existence of gun rights.

So, we’ve taken up this fundraising effort not only because Logan is a deeply loved member of our team, but because the issues at play should be of great importance to anarchists generally. The right to defend oneself is perhaps the most basic measure of human freedom. Help us defend Logan’s right to self defense and support her through this by donating whatever you can. 

In particular, Logan is living with chronic health issues that, on top of being trans, would make a prison stay very dangerous for her. We all know how terrible prisons are at getting people the meds they need and Logan’s currently relying on quite a few medications as well as a specialized diet to survive. This is why it’s so imperative that she’s able to access competent legal support and successfully advocate for her right to self defense. 

Please share widely and give what you can

And remember, we keep us safe. 

Agoric Cafe: Interview With Gary Chartier

In episode no. 10 of Agoric Cafe, Roderick Long chats with philosopher Gary Chartier about Robin Hood, left-wing market anarchism, natural law, free speech and employer power, libertarian secularism, Seventh-day Adventism, religious epistemology, long-arc television, urban fantasy, Lawrence Durrell, Iris Murdoch, Whit Stillman, the evils of giving extra credit and taking attendance, and the attractions of being emperor. Watch it here or below.

Agoric Cafe: Addendum to Ep. 7, “Ayn Rand as a Writer”

In episode no. of Agoric Cafe, Roderick Long talks about what he forgot to mention back in Episode 7 (“Ayn Rand as a Writer”), namely how Ayn Rand’s fiction stands in the tradition of Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People and Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac. Watch it here or below.

Agoric Cafe: Interview With Eric Mack

In episode no. 8 of Agoric Cafe, Roderick Long chats with philosopher Eric Mack about walking out on Ayn Rand, clashing with Nazi Sikhs in Seneca Falls, libertarian rights theory, Kantian vs. Aristotelean approaches to fixing Randian ethics, Nozickian polymathy, the unselfishness of Samuel Johnson, the ethics of COVID lockdowns, physical distancing in Durango, the CIA as an argument against anarchism, shoving someone in front of a bus as a form of restitution, and the edibility of matter. Watch it here or below.

Agoric Cafe: Ayn Rand as a Writer

In episode no. 7 of Agoric Cafe, Roderick Long asks, “Was Ayn Rand a good writer or a bad one?“. Watch here or below.

Meet Your New Coordinating Director

Let me start by saying this has been a long time coming. When Will brought up the idea of my taking over as coordinating director at last September’s Please Try This At Home conference, it wasn’t the first time the idea had been raised. I did, however, want to wait until I felt I could dedicate the appropriate time and thought to the project and that I had enough of a team together to make sure other key aspects of the center’s day to day functioning wouldn’t be abandoned. 

Now, I’m excited to announce that, with all (or at least most) of the pieces in place, I’ll be taking on the mantle of coordinating director, effective November 1st, 2020. 

Those familiar with what goes on behind the scenes at C4SS will know that I’ve been working as an editor and then editing coordinator for the center since the beginning of 2018. At the time, I had written a few pieces for the center and was looking for a way to maintain my connection to anti-authoritarian political thought while working a series of odd jobs. 

As one of the many who came to C4SS from the larger US libertarian movement, I found myself at a crossroads when I realized I had moved further left than the leftward reaches of that milieu. I’d become a libertarian in large part through opposition to war and imperialism, and you can read a bit about that intellectual journey in my piece “A Meditation on Violence” (CW: this has descriptions of graphic violence).

But after working for a series of libertarian non-profits, including, finally, Students For Liberty, I became frustrated with a movement that was purportedly all about individual liberty, but seemed a lot more focused on carrying water for conservatives and further confusing the discourse around markets, the state, and capitalism. I left the US briefly after Trump was elected and was gone from SFL shortly after that. When I returned to the states to be with my partner – and live out the principle of doikayt (Yiddish term meaning “hereness”) together – I was looking for a way to re-engage in the fight against authoritarianism without slipping back into the role of stool pigeon for capitalism. 

I’d always been aware of C4SS, and had written a few pieces for the site, but it wasn’t until this full break with mainstream libertarianism that I started helping with editing and site upkeep and seeing the center as my intellectual home. While most of my friends and loved ones are social anarchists or anarcho-communists, I’m still staunchly in favor of markets and heavily influenced by the more individualist of my anarchist forerunners. Emma Goldman, Max Stirner, and Voltairine de Cleyre are among my favorite thinkers and I often describe myself as a religious egoist when pressed to go beyond “anarchism” plain and simple. So the center has provided me with a wonderfully radical community that still recognizes some of the economic principles I feel are important to accurate analysis of political questions and solid formulations of a political project. After all, my undergraduate degrees are in Economics and International Relations, with an emphasis on trade norms, deals, and frameworks. 

This is one of the things I still appreciate greatly about the work we do here: it is careful and well researched, and it does not shy away from modern advancements in any field of thought. I feel confident that, unlike so many left-wing intellectual movements, we won’t get stuck in some out-dated framework trying to rebuild some new, better version of societies that no longer exist. We are future-oriented, and I intend to continue that trajectory. 

Similarly, we are intellectually humble and open to differing points of view. For someone who combines such unlikely threads as Jewish anarchism and stirnerite egoism, that’s important to me personally, but it also sets us up for success. No one person or viewpoint defines us, and so it is easier to admit when we’re wrong, to consider new ideas, and to be part of many different political conversations at once. There are, of course, limits. 

C4SS will continue to be an anarchist project and while we may sometimes publish left-libertarian minarchists and anarcho-communists, this will be in the service of debate (as exemplified by our recently concluded symposium on Decentralization and Economic Coordination) or in order to nurture the anarchist tendencies in those who aren’t quite in the camp yet. We remain fiercely committed to progress on issues of social justice, advocating for the rights of LGBT+ folks, the liberation of Black and Indigenous people worldwide, and the empowerment of all people with full agency over their own lives. It should be said, though, that we will also remain committed to individualism and economic freedom (rightly held). This is not a blind commitment. Rather, we recognize that – instead of being at odds with human flourishing – the right to buy and sell, and the technology of prices are key components to a thriving and equitable society. 

On the practical side, in addition to editing for the site, I’ve served as producer on our podcast – which will soon have two seasons in the books – and I intend to keep growing our library of audio and video content, beginning with the re-birth of Feed 44 on YouTube. We’ve also discussed continuing to grow the publishing arm of the center, which will involve more and closer relationships with infoshops across the US (and hopefully beyond!). Perhaps most importantly though, we are growing again in terms of writers, editors, coordinators, and everyone else who works hard to keep this venture going. 

I wouldn’t be taking on this position if I didn’t feel I had a solid and growing team to work with. Not to mention this thorough retrospective and explainer Will has put together in anticipation of this transition. So take this as proof positive that many of the pieces missing in the past have fallen into place. And while growth always comes with some amount of pain – we’ve had to re-think our vetting process as more and more people want to be involved – I’m excited to see what we’re capable of with many more hands than we’ve been used to lately. 

In order to keep up with this growth, myself and James Tuttle, our financial coordinator, will be heavily focused on fundraising in the coming months. We’ve made it easier than ever to support C4SS by moving ongoing monthly donations to Patreon. You can now support us there for as little as $2 a month. And we’re going to work to improve donor communication as well, so our supporters have a better idea of how we’re using the funding and are aware when we need a bump for special projects or to fill out a gap. 

Many, many thanks to those of you who already support us. As I’m sure you know, our light administrative structure and reliance on motivated semi-volunteers make us a very lean operation, regularly punching way above our “weight class” in terms of what we can do with a small stream of donations. And people are starting to notice. Firestorm Collective in NC now regularly carries our stickers, pins, and books. And there are translators working to make just about everything we’ve published available in their native languages. 

One big dream I have for the future is a C4SS conference. Whether in-person or virtually, I’m setting a goal to bring together all the left-wing market anarchists, from our various corners of the world, sometime in the next two years. 

While the mainstream left seems unable to rid itself of auth-left influence, and the libertarian movement collapses under the weight of the shifting political landscape, our position may be precarious, but I’m convinced it’s the most solid one out there. We are nimble, and principled, passionate, and careful. If anyone can navigate the coming political storms, I am confident we have those people in the center and its orbit. Thank you all for giving me an intellectual home, hope for the future of humanity, and an amazing group of people with which to push onward.

What Is C4SS?

What is C4SS?

Politically, C4SS was founded to help promote the diverse perspectives found in left market anarchist circles. Our target audiences have long run the gamut from complete mainstream normies, to anarchist insurrectionaries, to libertarian academics. We are anarchists because we oppose every form of domination, but we are also rooted in one of the oldest traditions of anarchism in that we believe markets can be valuable for free people, albeit in a more egalitarian form without bosses, poverty, or severe wealth disparity.

Socially, C4SS emerged as a refuge for market anarchists (of many flavors) critical of capitalism who also rejected nationalism, intellectual property, and other creeping reactionary tendencies in corners of the old Alliance of the Libertarian Left. Our staff is split in original backgrounds between the traditional anarchist movement and the libertarian movement.

Operationally, C4SS primarily comprises 1) a listserv of seventy or so loosely associated people that offer feedback on essay submissions and occasionally exercises a loose consensus process on formal group decisions, and 2) some distinct text chats for everyone listed as a coordinator to handle more nuts-and-bolts things and occasionally bring proposals to the list. Formal membership is limited to fellows, chairs, and coordinators (who have small domains of responsibility), but the consensus process can draw in the voices of more loosely connected people, and day-to-day operations are handled more or less autonomously by the coordinators. A small team of editors coordinates editing submissions from both members and the public at large.

Financially, C4SS is pretty much a volunteer project that gets on average a few hundred dollars every month between small individual donations, Patreon contributions, and donations from the C4SS Store (run by James Tuttle). We hold nonprofit status via the graciousness of Roderick Long’s Molinari Institute (this basically just means he volunteers to file our tax paperwork every year). We focus on paying contributing writers and translators, with some technical costs and occasional projects. We offer regulars a percentage of our monthly donations and contractors, first-time writers, or those contributing in response to “bounties” a fixed amount.

History

Left market anarchism is a contemporary umbrella term that maps commonalities and inclinations dating back to the beginning of the anarchist movement. From Proudhon to the influential three-decade run of the journal Liberty, early mutualist perspectives came to find root among American abolitionists like William Batchelder Greene, Josiah Warren, and Lysander Spooner, and came to more full-throated expression with Benjamin Tucker and Voltairine de Cleyre. Market anarchists played roles across the anarchist movement, from labor organizer Dyer D Lum smuggling Louis Lingg dynamite in prison to Jo Labadie organizing the salvage and preservation of anarchist documents.

In the wake of the second world war, a distinct libertarian tradition emerged in America in the vein of state-critical classical liberals like Frederic Bastiat and Gustave de Molinari. This libertarian movement often identified with anarchism – albeit with weak continuity to the anarchist movement proper – and just as often moved in sharply right-wing directions. However, figures like Karl Hess and Robert Anton Wilson attempted to bridge the gap, taking inspiration and critical analyses from both traditions, and trying to bend the emerging libertarian movement back to the radical left.

Meanwhile, the mainline anarchist movement had not died and neither had its market anarchist current, with projects like Red Lion Press and the Boston Anarchist Drinking Brigade continuing to publish.

In the 90s, with the emergence of the internet, anarchists and libertarians started coming into regular contact and conflict online. In this fighting there were a number of folks that attempted to resolve the contradictions in a productive synthesis, as well as those worried that the polarized conflict threatened to erase the market anarchism of many early mutualists. Individual writers and historians worked in different directions on a number of projects, notably Kevin Carson and Roderick Long, but in general folks were only loosely tied through a number of listservs like Sam Konkin’s Movement of the Libertarian Left and later the Alliance of the Libertarian Left (formed in response to Neil Schulman’s “informational property” claims and litigation threats). These coalitions were more debate salons than organizations, and they dissolved in various conflicts with new forks forming to exclude different reactionaries.

In rough terms, this more fractious era ended with a consistent set of folks stabilizing around C4SS in our rejection of 1) social reactionaries, 2) intellectual property apologists, 3) nationalists, and 4) non-anarchists more generally.

In its humble roots, C4SS was intended as a media project to inject editorials on various current events into local newspapers around the world. But relatively quickly it became an institution with a broader purpose. Ad hoc translations of current events editorials turned into broader efforts to translate theory into a wide array of languages. Small hosted debates became our flagship Mutual Exchange symposiums, which in turn became books. We started publishing in-depth reviews of books and long academic studies on various topics. Our internal discussion listserv grew to many dozens of people, and our contributing writers would grow to the hundreds.

Gary Chartier and Charles Johnson published Markets Not Capitalism with Autonomedia and AK Press, an attempt to compile the wide array of writings in the wider “left market anarchist” milieu. It was compiled in a period when C4SS still was a relatively minor project and hadn’t really grown into its own. Charles ran the Distro of the Libertarian Left, which in turn had built on top of Invisible Molotov, as well as pulling from the journal ALLiance. Increasingly, however, people assumed that these projects were all synonymous and would contact C4SS as if we controlled them. This had the effect – along with changes in internet media consumption patterns – of centralizing activity into C4SS.

Ideology

It’s easier to understand C4SS as a magazine that hosts debate rather than as some vanguard cadre or political party issuing collective proclamations. While we do have shared values, broadly classified as “left market anarchism,” we are a motley crew.

The strongest historical parallel to C4SS is the journal Liberty, the influential mutualist paper run out of Boston by Benjamin Tucker, and populated by an unruly assortment of anarchists like Voltairine de Cleyre, Dyer D Lum, Lysander Spooner, et al. But there are, of course, differences. Unlike Liberty, we are not, at the end of the day, the editorial or political vision of a single person like Tucker. We encourage dissent and diversity of opinions, although we maintain some sharp ethical boundaries.

Most of us have at least some disagreements with most things we publish. And we have published submissions from people from across almost every spectrum, from communists to capitalists, nihilists to christians, insurrectionaries to gradualists, utilitarians to deontologists, primitivists to transhumanists. We are, however, at the end of the day, an anarchist project, expecting an underlying opposition to all forms of domination to shine through every perspective we publish. And thus there are a number of both explicit and tacit litmus tests we apply; most notably, we stridently reject intellectual property and nationalism, but we also reject racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, ageism, et al.

We are primarily a platform for critiques of the state and discussions over the ideal shape of a stateless society, so while we encourage wide-ranging debate, that does not extend to platforming authoritarians and statists.

Internally, we are split over a number of different issues, such as philosophy of ethics (our ranks include virtue ethicists, consequentialists, deontologists, and egoists) as well as tactics and language. In ideological terms, some members identify as “mutualists,” some as merely “individualist anarchists,” some as “left rothbardians,” some as “syndicalists,” some as “egoists,” a few even as “radical liberals,” the list goes on, with many more unique individual positions.

While we all critique capitalism and defend markets, the exact critiques and defenses can somewhat differ from person to person. However, there are some baseline commonalities: we critique the hierarchies of private tyranny within workplaces, we critique monopolies and runaway concentrations of wealth, and we critique systemic class disparities. But we also embrace title and networks of exchange. For a selection of some takes, see our Mutual Exchanges on property, on capitalism, and on decentralized economic coordination.

With submissions from hundreds of people spanning well over a decade, there are inevitably examples of ideological drift from contributors. We generally don’t remove previously published content except in some cases of severe abuse or reactionary entryism. This means that a few contributors have since dropped identification with anarchism or otherwise altered their perspective. In the cases where the author explicitly wants and demands from us, we replace names with pseudonyms. It would be impossible to keep track of the ideological or personal trajectories of every person who has ever contributed to us, but we do appreciate heads-up in bad cases.

Nasty Roadbumps

Probably the best thing that happened to C4SS and allowed it to flourish was the early removal of one Brad Spangler. Brad had been among the core founders but had pretty much abandoned the project by the time he got involved in Occupy, ignoring emails and pilfering funds. He was kicked out by the rest of the group and the fancy role he had granted himself of “Director” was given to James Tuttle, who had been editor of ALLiance. James helped right the boat after Brad’s malign mismanagement and expanded and deepened the Center’s project.

Unfortunately the bad news continued from Brad. He took to transphobic comments on Facebook and hit on women inappropriately, causing most of us active on Facebook to denounce and defriend him. Then, years later, having for a long while heard nothing from him, in 2015 we abruptly learned that Brad had molested a child. Within a day, we’d published a public denouncement and removed his lingering old content from the site. Additionally, I wrote a second sharper personal piece criticizing the libertarian movement and our own circles for both failing to recognize the deeper rot in him, and not having more strenuously run him out of wider social circles for what creepy and transphobic behavior we did see.

Every organization of any size eventually has to deal with monsters, and unfortunately many cover them up or publicly go to bat for them. Thankfully, the internal culture we’ve forged has been following the wishes of survivors and proactively disassociating from abusers. A brief list of the darker moments we had to weather: Stacy Litz, who had risen to lead the coordination of our student groups turned state’s evidence against her friends on drug charges. Doreen de Cleyre had served as an editor with us but was exposed as a rapist. Chris Shaw likewise started to work as an editor but was caught also writing directly for a “national anarchist” (cryptofascist) website.

There are – just by population statistics – possibly still more scumbags lurking undiscovered in an organization so large and with so many folks moving through involvement. What we try to do is create a reputation for respectfully following the requests of survivors so we can get reports of misbehavior early and to create a culture internally where no tolerance is ever expected for such infractions.

Because we sit at the intersection of a variety of ideological discourses, fascists have long identified us as either particularly abhorrent corruptors or as an opportunity to push and legitimize cryptofascist discourse. Figures like Hans Herman Hoppe and Christopher Cantwell have identified us at points as their number one enemy. Some of the earliest content of The Right Stuff singled us out for hate. Additionally, we’ve faced nearly annual attempts by folks associated with the “pan-secessionist” / “national anarchist” circle to try to infiltrate us or convert people loosely associated with us.

The most noteworthy moment was when the disgusting racist Oliver Janssens attempted to steal control over the Facebook of a student group associated with us in Belgium. When we published a disassociation that included screenshots of his own racist posts, he used his wealth to get a lawyer to issue a DMCA take-down of our webserver because, in the lawyer’s actual words, we had “decided to embarrass Oliver Janssens in the worst and most effective way – by words out of his own mouth.” The incident got international attention and he backtracked, but well after we’d exposed his bullshit, even contacting his teachers. He donated money to us, which we then donated to Belgian anti-racists and antifascists, as well as a number of anarchist projects in the global south.

In a kind of inverse situation, our opposition to intellectual property has also led to situations where reactionary outlets have republished our content, often hoping to muddy the waters or help provide scaffolding for third-positionist projects. Everything we publish is public domain / anti-copyright, we refuse to use the state against even fascists, but our hostility towards such misuses is obvious.

Operating Structure

An organization’s formal structure can serve to cloak the implicit informal relationships and activities that underpin it, just as such formalism can get in the way of more human relationships and fluid responses. While C4SS has a broad Working Group, plus the coordinators and the editors, there are obviously numerous side-chats and person-to-person conversations that help coordinate the project. We’re also spread out across communication platforms, with different people more or less easily reachable in different spaces, Discord, Signal, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Each coordinator handles a distinct domain related to their interest. This enables some level of accountability but it primarily gives individuals a sense of investment. So, for example, Cory Massimino handles social media posts while I keep the website and technical infrastructure afloat. We’ve made recurring pushes to try to spread out access to such domains, to avoid any one person becoming a failure point, but in practice there tends to only be one person with sufficient personal interest and investment to keep bottom-lining a given task.

The second issue that creates unfortunate concentrations in practice is trust. As a highly distributed international project, we often have never even met in person the people most interested in contributing to us. Even video meetings are incredibly hard to organize because of different time zones. Beyond learning someone’s temperament or organizing style, there’s the issue of attention and commitment. A project that is maintained for over a decade has a slower pace and thinks in terms of years. Often, someone will reach out to us very interested in helping with a specific task, but their interest is fickle and they get distracted by something else or have personal issues intervene after only a few months. On-boarding is expensive, attention and capacity are limited, so we tend to let people voluntarily contribute and see whether they last. This also gives us the opportunity to build up experience with them personally. We tend to think in terms of years, not months.

One of the more interesting dynamics in recent years has been individuals who, upon getting some submissions accepted for publication or becoming involved in some work or discussions, start presenting themselves as “members of C4SS,” and unilaterally speaking on behalf of us. This is frustrating and has made for hard conversations, but also speaks to our limited capacity to explain everything to everyone or catch up and acculturate folks quickly. (This article is an attempt to create more clarity, in part so we don’t have to repeat everything for every single person writing for us.) Getting involved with a project requires a certain level of humility and attention, it takes time to know individuals, currents, tensions, norms, and culture. While we would like to have more bandwidth, C4SS is a project of love that we work on in spare minutes between work, life, and other academic and activist projects. Navigating those scarcities is a fraught task that makes C4SS fall short of some of our ideals.

On the one hand, it’s important to respect the level of investment and tacit knowledge of those already involved, as well as the traditions or norms built up from experiment and praxis, while navigating inherent issues of trust. On the other hand, it’s important to avoid ossified hierarchies, cliques, or patronage networks. This takes active work and concessions from everyone involved; it ultimately cannot be solved through structure but through intent and culture. A coordinator must be proactively charitable towards tendencies or individuals they do not agree with or like, the group must studiously heed dissent and blocks to consensus, proposals should be work-shopped with preemptive attentiveness to every likely perspective, and concerning behavior should be investigated compassionately and forthrightly. These are not tendencies that can be ordained, they must be attentively built.

What has helped C4SS survive and flourish over the years despite occasional road-bumps has been the ethical sincerity and nerdiness of many attracted to us. It helps that the stakes are so low to those not invested in our values. We are not a titanic institution that promises a path to power or respect in some scene, academic or activist, rather we function as something of a remote monastery or maroon. A refuge for escapees from unproductive ideological wars and team conflicts. Iconoclasts who are not merely trying to climb a different status hierarchy (of edge-lordism), but who are so sincere that they willingly embrace unpopular directions.

While gradients of trust, scarcities of personal attention, and the inherent inside-outside hierarchies remain issues to be navigated, we’ve cultivated an egalitarian culture of peers where one person can wear one hat one day and a different hat the next, or drift out of activity and then return. Whatever proclamations are decided at the abstract collective level of consensus process, the project itself is affirmed and navigated from the bottom-up level of individual relationships.

While there can be some centralization, where for example the past, present, and future “coordinating directors” of James, me, and Alex (and whoever else shows up) have the attention and energy to talk for hours on a call about various plumbing issues, the informal and fluid nature of the project itself provides checks on us. We are constantly trying to preemptively avoid stepping on anyone’s toes, lest we create a combative or conflictual internal dynamic that would undermine the entire project and cause writers and friends to evaporate away. It is only through such efforts that we can build and retain safe spaces for sharp debate and disagreement.

This is not to suggest that everything is rosy or that our organizational form is some kind of blueprint. It is rather an intensely problematic concession that has emerged in hands-on grappling with a number of constraints.

And who knows, C4SS in a year or two might be a radically different sort of organization. We might become a publishing house or archive project. We may cease operations! After all, it is one of the most core anarchist responsibilities to know when a project has served its use and not to fetishize or try to extend it as an end in itself.

 

Agoric Cafe: Interview With Neera K. Badhwar

In episode no. 5 of Agoric Cafe, Roderick Long chats with philosopher Neera K. Badhwar about backyard buffaloes, wild attack monkeys, Ayn Rand, airline deregulation, eudaimonia and virtue, paternalism and suicide, sociopathic grandmothers, child abuse, Aristotelean business ethics, 19th-century robber barons, charitable Objectivists, friendly Manhattanites, charismatic nationalist leaders, and national health care. In more or less that order. Watch here or watch below.

Agoric Cafe: Markets vs. Capitalism in The ABC of Communism

In episode no. 4 of Agoric Cafe, Roderick Long discusses the distinction between markets and capitalism in Bukharin and Preobrazhensky’s ABC of Communism, and in the Marxist tradition generally; or, how Marxism twists itself into a pretzel to avoid endorsing free-market anti-capitalism. Watch it here or below.

Agoric Cafe: Philosophical Thought Experiments and Fantastic Fiction

In episode no. 3 of Agoric Cafe, Roderick Long discusses the relationship between science fiction and philosophy. Watch it here or below.

Cory Massimino on “Non-Serviam” Podcast

C4SS Mutual Exchange Coordinator Cory Massimino was recently featured on the Non-Serviam podcast. The discussion covers a broad range of topics from egalitarianism, radical liberalism, left-libertarianism and more, to immigration and free-market-anti-capitalism.

From the Non-Serviam Episode Description:

Cory began his political journey on the libertarian right. His political philosophy is now more closely associated with what some might call left libertarianism. The libertarian left in America has many tendencies that separates itself from or is sometimes even hostile to thinkers such as Ayn Rand or Murray Rothbard. However my guest today challenges us to not throw out the baby with the bath water, and feels that it’s entirely possible to reject and to criticize the reactionary shortcomings of some of these thinkers, while also highlighting the contributions they made to a kind of libertarianism that may be worth taking inspiration from.

Anarcho-Punk Collab With Cincy Food Not Bombs

I don’t generally like writing about myself, but here we go: I have long been a part of the southern Ohio and northern Kentucky punk scene(s)—playing in bands like NOPE and Soy. and going to shows of bands like Treason, Lockjaw, and numerous others. And I have always considered my involvement in the punk ‘movement’ (meaning the mass conglomeration of all scenes across the United States and the world) as inseparable from my ideology and activism as an anarchist. This is nothing unique to my own experience. As Crimethinc. write in their piece “Music as a Weapon:”

A large proportion of those who participated in the anarchist movement between 1978 and 2010 were part of the punk counterculture at some point; indeed, many were first exposed to anarchist ideas via punk. This may have been merely circumstantial: perhaps the same traits that made people seek out anarchism also predisposed them to enjoy aggressive, independently produced music. But one could also argue that music that pushes aesthetic and cultural boundaries can open up listeners to a wider spectrum of possibility in other spheres of life as well.

And this connection between punk and anarchism has been a catalyst in pushing Soy.—though not all band members are anarchists—to become a part of the Punks Against Sweatshops campaign and ensuring, in solidarity with nationwide protests against police brutality and repression, that almost all of the recent proceeds made by Soy. have gone to the Cincinnati Bail Fund hosted by Beloved Community Church. 

In similar fashion, I’m proud to announce that my most recent project—a powerviolence/grindcore band called Consumerist—is officially collaborating with the Cincinnati chapter of Food Not Bombs so that all our profits from the Consumerist self-titled debut EP (whether made through purchases on Bandcamp or through our label Floorjazz Recordings) will be donated toward their efforts. So, whether you like extreme music or not, please consider buying our EP (or donating directly to Cincy Food Not Bombs)!

Notice: Dissociation With Toby Fitzsimmons

It was brought to our attention recently that a one-time contributor to C4SS has been outed as a member of a racist and misogynistic chat group. Toby Fitzsimmons, a student at Durham University in the UK, submitted one article in May 2020, titled “ANTi-Capitalism: The Use of Knowledge in the Nest.” At the time, we were unaware of Toby’s involvement in such communities and published the article after a quick vetting on Twitter. 

We were notified on September 26th, 2020 that Toby was revealed to be a member of at least one of these chats, and we removed his piece shortly after. You can read the Durham University newspaper The Tab for more on this collection of group chats and the vile things being discussed there. 

In light of the severity of some of the things said: including conversations making light of or even encouraging sexual assault, we’ve also decided to post this disclaimer stating that we won’t be working with Toby in the future nor publishing any more of his work. 

We are also discussing ways to improve our vetting process for guest writers and new submissions moving forward. Many thanks to the Durham students who uncovered this activity and took the time to reach out and let us know about this behavior as well.

Fall Poetry Feature: Rage is a Positive Emotion

You might remember the May Day poetry feature last year, centered around remembrance and emotional release. This year, we thought probably everyone (at least those in the US) could do with some election-related self-expression. So we’re doing another poetry feature, this time centered on election day. I’m selfishly naming this one after what I’ve been told is my best podcast roundtable quote: “Rage is a positive emotion.” (Found in this episode of Mutual Exchange Radio.)

You can of course, however, write on whatever you’re feeling. Fear, grief, tenderness, hope. The idea is to get a snapshot of what it feels like to live in this time. It’s part of why anarchists have historically written poetry: to keep an emotional timeline of our history as well as an academic one. 

Who’s ready to get angry? View all poems here.

Fall 2020 Poetry Feature

Join C4SS and Logan Marie Glitterbomb at This Weekend’s (Virtual) NYC Anarchist Book Fair!

We at C4SS are excited to announce that we will be attending the 2020 NYC Anarchist Book Fair, which is being held virtually this year due to the pandemic. The NYC Anarchist Book Fair is a yearly event where various anarchist groups and individuals gather to share materials and host workshops, panels, and skillshares on topics related to anarchist politics.

Not only will we at C4SS be attending as a virtual vendor selling books, stickers, zines, and more (page goes live Friday, 9/25), but I, Logan Marie Glitterbomb, will also be hosting my own panel entitled Don’t Call the Pigs: Creating an Anarchist Justice System modeled after my similarly named article on the same topic and the updated zine version which can be found for sale here.

At a time when protesters are taking to the streets to demand the defunding of the police and some of the largest prison strikes in recorded history are happening behind bars, the topic of this panel could not be more relevant. It is not my goal to be prescriptive in discussing what I believe should be our end goal, so much as to highlight the various work those in the anarchist movement are already doing and piece it together to show a vision for how to possibly create a more just justice system in the general direction that those projects are already heading. It is my hope that by putting these projects in perspective and to help to guide others to see the importance of collaboration between these projects and provide a general organizing guide around these issues.

So please join me this Friday from 6-8pm EST on Jitsi for this important discussion. The full schedule of panels can be found at anarchistbookfair.net where links to the live streams will be posted beforehand. And be sure to drop by the virtual C4SS table to check out our amazing selection of merchandise and organizing materials. Can’t wait to see y’all there!

Anarchy and Democracy
Fighting Fascism
Markets Not Capitalism
The Anatomy of Escape
Organization Theory