Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Post-Left Anarchism and Gustav Landauer

Knowing that I am an Anarchist, you probably assume that I am a Marxist too because Anarchy has always been associated with Marxism and Marxism, in turn, reads in the minds of most people thus: Marxism-Leninism-Maoism.

I am not a Marxist and have never subscribed to violent revolution.

An excellent description of my "school" of Anarchy is described in the excerpt below, the author of which is unknown to me:


THE BENEFITS OF NON-CLASS STRUGGLE ANARCHISM TO THE MOVEMENT AS A WHOLE

"Revolution is a process ever going. Like a river it flows; changing shape, altering its course, sometimes slowing down, sometimes becoming a rapid. At times we lose sight of it behind the dogma of some ideology or another. But it can never be stopped. Since the first slave said 'no', since the first people rose up against the tyrants, since the concept of Freedom was formed, the Revolution has always been there. As a comrade wrote to me, "Revolution is a process, not an historical event". The nature of the Revolution stems from the forces it encounters, the aspirations of those within it, and the strength of the reaction. If it can progress unrestrained, then it is likely to be peaceful. The ends will never justify the means, they are inextricably bound together and what better way is there of taking someone's freedom than by killing them. Violence is the basis upon which government stands, and as such it is the counter Revolution. From the writings of Kropotkin up to Colin Ward there have been attempts to hi-light points in existing society where the river may flow - worker co-ops, food co-ops, alternative welfare and education, and countless examples of how order is spontaneous, and springs up from the very act, and point of association itself: "What kept us together was our work, our mutual interdependencies in this work, our factual interests in one gigantic problem with its many specialist ramifications. I had not solicited co-workers. They had come of themselves. They remained, or they left when the work no longer held them. We had not formed a political group, or worked out a programme of action...Each one had made his contribution according to his interests in the work...There are, then objective biological work functions capable of regulating human co-operation. Exemplary work organises its forms of functioning organically and spontaneously, even though only gradually, gropingly and often making mistakes. In contra-distinction, the political organisations, with their 'campaigns' and 'platforms' proceed without any connection with the tasks and problems of daily life". Like the fishermen in Brixham, or the miners in Durham or Brora, Scotland, workers co-operatives provide small, rare examples of how a task provides its own point of association, and provides the associates with a focus, that transcends any necessity for coercive pressure. In short, the act of society provides its own order internally, whereas all ' governments attempt to impose it externally, stifling and smothering the social instinct. These examples exist in modern society. They are not memories of an age before the nation-state, but are modern facts. Paul Goodman once described anarchism as both conservative and radical, for we must attempt to conserve those places where liberty may be developed in full, as well as create new ones. Gustav Landaur also wrote along the same lines "The state is not something which can be destroyed by a revolution, it is a condition of human behaviour; we destroy it by contracting other relationships, by behaving differently". Even, according to the film 'Michael Collins', the Irish Republican leader Eamon de Valera spoke along the same lines by claiming roughly that "We defeat the British Government by ignoring it".

Of course, the name of any government can be substituted for the word "British" in the last sentence of the excerpt.

Other Anarchists are catching on. There is, of late, a school of Anarchism that describes itself as "post-Left". They are Anarchists who were once Leftists, who became disenchanted with the Leftist movement, even while they retain the principles of Anarchy.

There are very interesting articles that constitute an ideological back-and-forth between the post-Leftist Anarchist Jason McQuinn and the Leftist Anarchist Peter Staudenmaier.

You can find their articles on the following URL:

http://www.anarchist-studies.org/publications/theory_politics

I wrote that I am not a Marxist, but I did not write that I am not a Leftist. I am a Leftist, in the most absolute sense of the word. I am an Anarchist-Leftist as was Gustav Landauer who called himself a Socialist always.

Gustav Landauer was an anti-Marxist. With preternatural prescience he predicted what would happen if Marxist Leftist governments would come to power.

It was Gustav Landauer who wrote:

"The State is a condition, a certain relationship among human beings, a mode of behavior, we destroy it by contracting other relationships, by behaving differently toward one and other... We are the State and continue to be the State until we have created the institutions that form a real community."

"One can throw away a chair and destroy a pane of glass; but those are idle talkers and credulous idolaters of words who regard the state as such a thing or as a fetish that one can smash in order to destroy it. The State is a condition, a certain relationship between human beings, a mode of behavior; we destroy it by contracting other relationships, by behaving differently toward one another – One day it will be realized that Socialism is not the invention of anything new, but the discovery of something actually present, of something that has grown…We are the state, and we shall continue to be the state until we have created the institutions that form a real community and society of men." – Gustav Landauer"Schwache Stattsmanner, Schwacheres Volk!"Der Sozialist, June, 1910


"…The realization of Socialism is always possible if a sufficient number of people want it. The realization depends not on the technological state of things, although Socialism when realized will of course look differently and develop differently according to the state of technics; it depends on people and on their spirit…Socialism is possible and impossible at all times; it is possible when the right people are there to will it and to do it; it is impossible when people either don't will it or only supposedly will it, but are not capable of doing it." – Gustav Landauer
"For Socialism", quoted in Martin Buber,Paths in UtopiaTranslated by R.F.C. Hull

About him Martin Buber wrote: "Gustav Landauer fought in the revolution against the revolution for the sake of the revolution. The revolution will not thank him for it. But those will thank him for it who have fought as he fought and perhaps one day those will thank him for whose sake he fought."

In response to Jason McQuinn's article "Post-Left Anarchy: Leaving the Left Behind" I wrote:

I fully agree with Mr. Quinn that the Anarchist movement should distance itself from the ills that have beset the Left for all of the reasons he states in this article and more.


However, I must ask: why did the author find it necessary to indulge in the sarcasm that has gone past being ubiquitous to the point of being de rigueur?

Can't a bit of Anarchist spirit be applied here too and can we not resist the temptation to use expressions like: "Duh!" and "Wow!" that litter so much of the writings on the internet and mar an otherwise intelligent essay that pains were obviously taken to craft?
There is simply no room for sarcasm, which evinces surrender to one's visceral emotions, when writing an essay that also expresses the wish to be accepted on its intellectual merit alone.

Secondly, and more importantly, why is post-Marxist/Leninist /Maoist Anarchism called post-Leftist?

Gustav Landauer was a Leftist also, yet he was anti-Marxist and predicted with preternatural prescience what would happen if governments were to be based on Marxist theory. Yet, he called himself a Socialist and published a paper called Der Sozialist.

You, Jason, speak against the reification of the state, and quite correctly so. Was it not Gustav Landauer who spoke most eloquently against the reification of the state?
Most importantly, and this is what Landauer's Socialist Anarchism included that Marx's did not, was his full acceptance, nay embracing, of Geist (Spirit). Landauer was not only a great mind and a great heart, he was a man of great Spirit, who did not shy away from using the term Spirit. Fom that Spirit derived his vision, his energy, his perseverance and his bravery even when being faced with murder.
Had the Socialism of Landauer not been eclipsed by that of Marx the entire 20th C. would have been different. It behooves us to delve deeply into the human psyche to understand why the teachings of Marx were found to be so very attractive, while those of Gustav Landauer were rejected during his lifetime for the most part and thereafter as well.

When I think that while the Nazi machine churned, the Stalinist purges ravaged the USSR and the orgy of violence that was called the "Cultural Revolution" raped The People's Republic of China, even as the words of Gustav Landauer went unheard in obscurity, I feel an indescribable depth of sadness at the needless tragedy.

And so, Jason, I would recommend to you not to call the Anarchist movement that you set yourself in contradistinction to "Leftist Anarchism" or call it "lame", but rather call it what it is – soulless. Being soulless was the undoing of Marxism from its inception.

May we have the robustness and the courage to embrace an Anarchy that is infused with Spirit.


_______________________________________________________

A good discussion on this topic is going on on the following thread on usenet:

http://tinyurl.com/8cpz8


Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel
DoreenDotan@gmail.com

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Response to: "The Incredible Lameness of Left-Anarchism" by Jason McQuinn

(See: http://tinyurl.com/d6bwt)

I fully agree with Mr. Quinn that the Anarchist movement should distance itself from the ills that have beset the Left for all of the reasons he states in this article and more.

However, I must ask: why did the author find it necessary to indulge in the sarcasm that has gone past being ubiquitous to the point of being de rigueur?

Can't a bit of Anarchist spirit be applied here too and can we not resist the temptation to use expressions like: "Duh!" and "Wow!" that litter so much of the writings on the internet and mar an otherwise intelligent essay that pains were obviously taken to craft?

There is simply no room for sarcasm, which evinces surrender to one's visceral emotions, when writing an essay that also expresses the wish to be accepted on its intellectual merit alone.

Secondly, and more importantly, why is post-Marxist/Leninist /Maoist Anarchism called post-Leftist?

Gustav Landauer was a Leftist also, yet he was anti-Marxist and predicted with preternatural prescience what would happen if governments were to be based on Marxist theory. Yet, he called himself a Socialist and published a paper called Der Sozialist.

You, Jason, speak against the reification of the state, and quite correctly so. Was it not Gustav Landauer who spoke most eloquently against the reification of the state?

Most importantly, and this is what Landauer's Socialist Anarchism included that Marx's did not, was his full acceptance, nay embracing, of Geist (Spirit). Landauer was not only a great mind and a great heart, he was a man of great Spirit, who did not shy away from using the term Spirit. Fom that Spirit derived his vision, his energy, his perseverance and his bravery even when being faced with murder.

Had the Socialism of Landauer not been eclipsed by that of Marx the entire 20th C. would have been different. It behooves us to delve deeply into the human psyche to understand why the teachings of Marx were found to be so very attractive, while those of Gustav Landauer were rejected during his lifetime for the most part and thereafter as well.

When I think that while the Nazi machine churned, the Stalinist purges ravaged the USSR and the orgy of violence that was called the "Cultural Revolution" raped The People's Republic of China, even as the words of Gustav Landauer went unheard in obscurity, I feel an indescribable depth of sadness at the needless tragedy.

And so, Jason, I would recommend to you not to call the Anarchist movement that you set yourself in contradistinction to "Leftist Anarchism" or call it "lame", but rather call it what it is – soulless. Being soulless was the undoing of Marxism from its inception.

May we have the robustness and the courage to embrace an Anarchy that is infused with Spirit.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel
DoreenDotan@gmail.com

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Are BDSM and Anarchy Incongruent?

Please see my Mystical Anarchy site: http://tinyurl.com/8wugt
LOBOTOMIZED

Someone wrote the following:

"There are so few role models allowed by our society. The hope is that we can drop our own differences, and find the similarities in each other."

The author of the two statements above has been successfully lobotomized by the mentality shapers who have taught her/him to employ the jargon and buzz words that s/he did. S/He cannot so much as write two consecutive canards without contradicting herself/himself and realize that s/he has offered a suggestion for there being one role model allowed by our society even as s/he laments the dearth.

As one might expect, the author of the sentences above did not realize that I was decrying the phenomenon, and took what I said as a personal insult despite the fact that I wrote plainly that he had been a victim of social lobotomization.

I responded:

I most certainly did not wish to insult you and am pained that I hurt you.

Indeed, having also grown up in the US, I suffer from exactly the same neurobiological mutilation that all of us who grew up with TV and mass media suffered.

I'll share an anecdote with you so that you will not think that I was insulting you personally and see that I am decrying a ubiquitous phenomenon.

A Polish film maker of some notoriety in his country came to Israel as a new immigrant some years ago. He was interviewed soon after his arrival and was asked why he did not go to Hollywood. He responded: "I did not wish to exchange a political dictatorship for an economic dictatorship."

When I heard the two terms 'economic' and 'dictatorship' juxtaposed for the first time I quite literally saw a brilliant flash of light and experienced profound pleasure as two parts of my brain that had been severed from birth by American propaganda merged for the first time - this despite the fact that I am third-generation Leftist. One of my grand-uncles died volunteering in the Spanish Civil War.

Upon realizing that the facts that I am, as an individual, a fiercely independent thinker; have been a Socialist from my youth; I hail from a family some of the members of which were Leftists from the turn of the 20th C. and I emigrated from the US to Israel for the express purpose of living on kibbutz did not protect me from having US propaganda shape my ability to think, I realized that very, very few were safe from their intrusions.

I was profoundly dismayed and vexed by the fact that until that day I was not able to think the phrase "economic dictatorship". Certainly I understood the concept, but I could not call it by name, could not sum it up in one two-word phrase.

I, for one, cannot accept this state of affairs, cannot accept that my ability to think has been systematically, and frighteningly successfully, tampered with.

I demand the right to think freely, to conceptualize insofar as my innate inability allows me to.

I will not be hobbled this way. I will not accept the fact that I have been brain damaged.


Furthermore, part of the programming is to interpret being presented with this truth as a personal insult and to react with indignation, anger and rejection, seeing the person who dares to write is as "arrogantly" (BIG buzz word) exempting himself or herself from having also been programmed.

Only in controlling the emotional response can we objectify ourselves to the extent necessary to perceive our having been programmed.


If I decry female genital mutilation, if I decry children being mutilated in order to make them more pitiful-looking beggars, will I not decry the mutilation of children's brains for the sake of making them, us, malleable citizens who behave as the powers that be will us to?

I will.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel
DoreenDotan@gmail.com


Tuesday, January 10, 2006


Reading The Words of the Immortal Gustav Landauer Assiduously

"One can throw away a chair and destroy a pane of glass; but those are idle talkers and credulous idolaters of words who regard the state as such a thing or as a fetish that one can smash in order to destroy it. The State is a condition, a certain relationship between human beings, a mode of behavior; we destroy it by contracting other relationships, by behaving differently toward one another – One day it will be realized that Socialism is not the invention of anything new, but the discovery of something actually present, of something that has grown…We are the state, and we shall continue to be the state until we have created the institutions that form a real community and society of men." – Gustav Landauer
"Schwache Stattsmanner, Schwacheres Volk!"
Der Sozialist, June, 1910

"…The realization of Socialism is always possible if a sufficient number of people want it. The realization depends not on the technological state of things, although Socialism when realized will of course look differently and develop differently according to the state of technics; it depends on people and on their spirit…Socialism is possible and impossible at all times; it is possible when the right people are there to will it and to do it; it is impossible when people either don't will it or only supposedly will it, but are not capable of doing it." – Gustav Landauer
"For Socialism", quoted in Martin Buber,
Paths in Utopia
Translated by R.F.C. Hull

We see no violent terms or calls to take up arms against the state in the anarchy of Landauer. He quite correctly understands the state as us, not as an imaginary "them".

To try to smash a state is as foolish as one who, gazing in a mirror, does not like the image she or he sees, and so smashes the mirror.

Notice the use of the term 'fetish' in Landauer's first quote above. Landauer's command of language was exquisite. The Transderivational Morphology in his choice of the term 'fetish' is wholly intentional and masterfully applied.

It is not only, and perhaps not even principally, in our economic behavior that will, gradually, transform society, but also by way of our spiritual and sexual behavior, as determined by our Moral/Spiritual development.

While our interactions with one another as members of the same guilds and unions is very important, it is far more in our faults, failings and foibles as Human beings and in our common need to grow as people that we connect on the profoundest levels.

Alcoholics, for instance, feel a far greater affinity for their fellows in Alcoholics Anonymous than they do for their coworkers who are not recovering alcoholics. Indeed, many express the feeling that other AA members are more their family than their biological families are.

The same may be said, of course, for people engaged in other common struggles with ongoing and complex personal issues and problems. Such people are kindred spirits. They are united in sharing a common problem and are interdependent given the fact that they must create the solutions to their problems together, as other members of society are often woefully unequipped to deal with their problems, or even the proximate cause of their problems.

While "leftists" have always concentrated on considering Human being primarily in their capacities as workers, intentionally ignoring the intangible aspects of Human make-up, it will ultimately be in our recognizing our common Humanity in our personal, and even very personal lives, that will determine the shape our societies take on. The hope for a society that responds to our physical needs in a humane manner rests with our being compassionate toward one another on the more rarified levels of our existence.

The overall form society takes on is a function of how we, all of us, interact with those who we recognize as being our kindred spirits and upon our ability to recognize that we all need maximum succor from society, on the spiritual, intellectual, emotional and physical planes of our existence in order to evolve without suffering.

It is far more efficacious to go gently and serenely about the business of improving our interrelations with one another than to bother ourselves with "resistance", "struggle", "overthrow" and the like. Such an approach is, necessarily, counterproductive, as we are doing nothing but waging battle against ourselves in so doing and rendering ourselves incapable of entering into intimate community with others. We might also get ourselves thrown in jail if we are violent and be rendered incapable of being of any use to society whatsoever.

"We are the state, and we shall continue to be the state until we have created the institutions that form a real community and society of men."


Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel

Thursday, January 05, 2006

קטע זה נלקח מדפי האינטרנט. מחבר הדברים דלהלן במקור האנגלי אינו ידוע לנו. התרגום נעשה בידי דניאל דותן, צפת

יתרונות שלילת השלטון בלי מלחמת מעמדות עבור התנועה בכללותה

מהפכה היא תהליך מתמשך לעד. כנהר היא זורמת; מחליפה תדמית, משנה כוון, לעתים מאיטה ולעתים ממהרת. פה ושם אנו מאבדים את קשר העין אתה מאחורי המוסכמות של אידיאולוגיה זאת או אחרת. אך לעולם אין לעצור אותה. מאז אמר העבד הראשון "לא!", מאז קם העם הראשון נגד רודנות, מאז נוסדה תפיסת החרות, המהפכה היתה שם תמיד. כך גם כתב אלַי אחד מעמיתַי: מהפכה היא תהליך, לא מאורע היסטורי. טבעהּ של המהפכה נובע מהכוחות בהם היא מעורבת, מהשאיפות של השייכים לה, ומעוצמת ההתנגדות. אם היא תוכל להתפתח בלי מגבלה, סביר כי ההתקדמות תהיה ללא מהומות. המטרות לעולם לא תצדקנה את האמצעים; הם אחוזים יחד לבלתי הפרד – ומהי הדרך הטובה ביותר לשלול את חרותו של אדם מלבד הריגתו? כל ממשלה מיוסדת על בסיס האלימות, ובכך היא נוגדת-מהפכה. מכִּתבי קרופוטקין עד דברי קוֹלין ווֹרד נעשו נסיונות להאיר נקודות בחברה הקיימת בהן יוכל ה'נהר' לזרום – שותפויות עובדים, צרכניות, מערכות חלופיות של רווחה וחינוך ועוד דוגמאות לאינספור של סדר עצמוני הפורץ מתוך הפעולה הבולטת של ההקשר גופו: "עבודתנו, פעולותינו המשותפות בעבודה זאת, עניננו העובדתי באותה בעיית ענקים ובכל השלכות המומחיות שלה, הם ששמרו אותנו יחד. לא שידלתי את העמיתים; הם באו מעצמם. הם נשארו, או הלכו כשהעבודה לא החזיקה אותם עוד. לא יצרנו קבוצה פוליטית, לא עבּדנו תכנית פעולה. - - כל אחד תרם את חלקו לפי הענין בעבודה. - - יש, לכן, תפקודי עבודה ביולוגיים העשויים להסדיר שתוף פעולה בין בני אדם. בעבודה-למופת יתארגנו צורות תפקודיה מתוכה באופן עצמוני, אם כי רק בהדרגה, בגישוש ובלימוד משגיאות. הארגונים הפוליטיים, לעומת זה, ב'מסעי הבחירות' וב'מצע המפלגתי' שלהם, רצים קדימה בלי כל קשר למשימות ולבעיות של יומיום.
כמו הדייגים ב-בריקסהאם, או הכורים ב-דוּרהאם וב-ברורה, סקוטלנד, מספקות לנו שותפויות עובדים דוגמאות קטנות ונדירות של משימה המולידה את נקודת ההקשר שלה ומשמשת מוקד למתקשרים בה מעבר לכל צורך בלחץ מלַכּד. בקיצור, הפעולה החברתית מספקת מתוך עצמה את הסדר שלה, בעוד כל הממשלות מנסות לכפות את הסדר מבחוץ, מדכאות ומחניקות את תחושת היחד. דוגמאות אלה קיימות בחברה המודרנית. אין כאן זכרונות מהתקופה לפני מדינת-העם; אלה עובדות עכשוויות. פעם תאר פאול גוּדמן את שלילת השלטון כשמרנית ורדיקלית כאחד, כי עלינו לנסות לשַמר את המקומות בהם תוכל החרות להגיע למלוא התפתחותה, כמו גם ליצור מקומות חדשים. כך גם כתב גוסטב לנדאוּור: "את המדינה אין להרוס במהפכה כי היא מצב התנהגות אנושית; אנו הורסים אותה בהפעילנו כנגדה פעולות אנוש אחרות, ע"י התנהגות שונה." וכן, על פי הסרט מיכאל קולינס, גם המנהיג האירי אימון ד'וַלרה אומר:אנו מביסים את הממשלה הבריטית בהתעלמות ממנה.

הנאמר לעיל אודות "הממשלה הבריטית" נכון, כמובן, לגבי כל ממשלה המתייצבת בנפרד מההמון, הנחשבים בעיניה כנשלטים, ומעליהם.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

THE BENEFITS OF NON-CLASS STRUGGLE ANARCHISM TO THE MOVEMENT AS A WHOLE

The author of the excerpt below is unknown to me. I would be very appreciative to be apprised of the author's identity.

Revolution is a process ever going. Like a river it flows; changing shape, altering its course, sometimes slowing down, sometimes becoming a rapid. At times we lose sight of it behind the dogma of some ideology or another. But it can never be stopped. Since the first slave said 'no', since the first people rose up against the tyrants, since the concept of Freedom was formed, the Revolution has always been there. As a comrade wrote to me, "Revolution is a process, not an historical event". The nature of the Revolution stems from the forces it encounters, the aspirations of those within it, and the strength of the reaction. If it can progress unrestrained, then it is likely to be peaceful. The ends will never justify the means, they are inextricably bound together and what better way is there of taking someone's freedom than by killing them. Violence is the basis upon which government stands, and as such it is the counter Revolution. From the writings of Kropotkin up to Colin Ward there have been attempts to hi-light points in existing society where the river may flow - worker co-ops, food co-ops, alternative welfare and education, and countless examples of how order is spontaneous, and springs up from the very act, and point of association itself: "What kept us together was our work, our mutual interdependencies in this work, our factual interests in one gigantic problem with its many specialist ramifications. I had not solicited co-workers. They had come of themselves. They remained, or they left when the work no longer held them. We had not formed a political group, or worked out a programme of action...Each one had made his contribution according to his interests in the work...There are, then objective biological work functions capable of regulating human co-operation. Exemplary work organises its forms of functioning organically and spontaneously, even though only gradually, gropingly and often making mistakes. In contra-distinction, the political organisations, with their 'campaigns' and 'platforms' proceed without any connection with the tasks and problems of daily life". Like the fishermen in Brixham, or the miners in Durham or Brora, Scotland, workers co-operatives provide small, rare examples of how a task provides its own point of association, and provides the associates with a focus, that transcends any necessity for coercive pressure. In short, the act of society provides its own order internally, whereas all ' governments attempt to impose it externally, stifling and smothering the social instinct. These examples exist in modern society. They are not memories of an age before the nation-state, but are modern facts. Paul Goodman once described anarchism as both conservative and radical, for we must attempt to conserve those places where liberty may be developed in full, as well as create new ones. Gustav Landauer also wrote along the same lines "The state is not something which can be destroyed by a revolution, it is a condition of human behaviour; we destroy it by contracting other relationships, by behaving differently". Even, according to the film 'Michael Collins', the Irish Republican leader Eamon de Valera spoke along the same lines by claiming roughly that "We defeat the British Government by ignoring it".

Of course, that which is said in the passage above about the British government is applicable to any and all governments that stand above the populace, which is considered the governed.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel
visualviolet@hotmail.com
Recommended Link: "Anarchism", from The Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1910.

http://tinyurl.com/co929

There are links to information about many of the most important personalities in the history and present of anarchism on that link.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel
visualviolet@hotmail.com
Recommendation: ANARCHISM IN GERMANY AND OTHER ESSAYS by Gustav Landauer.

The booklet can be purchased from AK PRESS on line.

See: http://www.akpress.org/

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel
visualviolet@hotmail.com
More of my writings related to this topic can be found on the following site:

http://tinyurl.com/7wygb

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel
visualviolet@hotmail.com
Gustav Landauer – Quintessentially Anarchist, Preternaturally Prescient

Gustav Landauer is, for me, the quintessential anarchist.

The brilliance of his mind was exceeded only by the depth of love for Humanity in his heart. His analysis of the poetry of Goethe and Walt Whitman bear witness to this.

Gustav Landauer was a mystic. He was also one of the most grounded and lucid thinkers the world has ever produced. His ability to grasp the essence of both the spiritual and the material in his mind and with his precious Soul was unique and set him apart from many of his comrades. He was able to do this because he apprehended, correctly, that both the spiritual and the material derive, ultimately, from the same source – the Moral, and exist to express moral imperatives.

Precious little remains of the writings of Gustav Landauer. Of that, little has been translated into English.

Below are two excerpts from the writings of Gustav Landauer:

"One can throw away a chair and destroy a pane of glass; but those are idle talkers and credulous idolaters of words who regard the state as such a thing or as a fetish that one can smash in order to destroy it. The State is a condition, a certain relationship between human beings, a mode of behavior; we destroy it by contracting other relationships, by behaving differently toward one another – One day it will be realized that Socialism is not the invention of anything new, but the discovery of something actually present, of something that has grown…We are the state, and we shall continue to be the state until we have created the institutions that form a real community and society of men." – Gustav Landauer
"Schwache Stattsmanner, Schwacheres Volk!"
Der Sozialist, June, 1910

"…The realization of Socialism is always possible if a sufficient number of people want it. The realization depends not on the technological state of things, although Socialism when realized will of course look differently and develop differently according to the state of technics; it depends on people and on their spirit…Socialism is possible and impossible at all times; it is possible when the right people are there to will it and to do it; it is impossible when people either don't will it or only supposedly will it, but are not capable of doing it." – Gustav Landauer
"For Socialism", quoted in Martin Buber,
Paths in Utopia
Translated by R.F.C. Hull

If there is one lesson I learned from the 20th C. it is that revolution is not the way. I can think of no recipe for disaster more sure fire than people having more freedom and responsibility than they are prepared for. Landauer understood this and warned against it repeatedly. He was not in favor of revolution, but rather evolution. In his writings he warns against Communist or Socialist governments and predicts, with startling prescience, what is destined to occur if Communism or Socialism is made into a form of government. Landauer was not a Marxist. Had the Left adopted the Socialism of Landauer, rather than those of Marx, the tragic events of the 20th C. probably would not have occurred.

It is necessarily true that the state must be gradually supplanted by substituting the ways in which we now interact with one another with new and better ways. Common sense tells us why.

Only in the actual adoption of new and better ways of interacting with one another do we demonstrate how and to what extent we are truly prepared for greater responsibility and liberty. The state is transformed, as a matter of fact, by those acts and only insofar as we are able to tolerate the specific new freedoms and responsibilities and then only to those specific extents.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel
visualviolet@hotmail.com

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Communitarian, Mystical, Responsible Anarchism of Gustav Landauer

Gustav Landauer's conception of Anarchism can be described as communitarian and even mystical. It is also responsible Anarchism. It places the nature and make-up of the State squarely on the shoulders of those who make up the State - WE. "We are the State", declares Landauer.

While I would certainly recommend reading the entire article: http://tinyurl.com/9t9kj and this only to whet your appetites to learn more about him and read the works of this great Spirit, I should like to turn your attention to two passages from the article. Quote: "Note how he does not reify the State by turning it into an object above us and how he refuses to turn politicians into scapegoats."

Landauer does not bellyache about how politicians are ruining society. We are the State.

Quote: "The following quote is probably the only bit of Landauer's writing that is fairly well known, among anarchists, at least. The State is a condition, a certain relationship among human beings, a mode of behavior, we destroy it by contracting other relationships, by behaving differently toward one and other... We are the State and continue to be the State until we have created the institutions that form a real community..."(Lunn, Eugene - PROPHET OF COMMUNITY, Univ. of California 1973, pg. 226)

Anyone who has grasped this principle understands that all of the critique of regimes in the world, be it at the highest pinnacles of the academic and journalistic ivory towers or on the lowest, knock-down-drag-out message boards that occupy so much bandwidth will avail anything.

We are the State and continue to be the State until we have created the institutions that form a real community.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel
DoreenDotan@gmail.com

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