William Gillis 🏴 Profile picture
Anarchist, lapsed physicist, transhumanist. Really into exploring the roots of things and expanding degrees of freedom. Cryptoparty trainer. β€œRadically uncool.”
Ben Chambers 🏴 Profile picture 1 added to My Authors
18 Nov
One of the reasons I think we see reactionary obsessions with a return to monarchy of all things is that the state drains everyone and everything of agency. The most "powerful man on the planet" is just another cog. Of course this was largely true in the era of kings as well.
The difference, between the imperial presidency and imperial monarchies of yesteryear is that the monarchs were expected to keep up the illusion, the pretense, that they had agency.

Telling that in the grey bureaucracy of late capitalist american empire Obama doesn't even try.
This is the President of the United States of America, the ruler of the largest and most powerful empire in human history, going "well you know how it is, just another day in the office cubicle, nothing any of us small schmucks can do about it, eh?"
Read 6 tweets
18 Nov
Social justice and cancel culture are everything that we were fighting to create with freedom of information. The internet's purpose was to facilitate dissolving borders, giving voice to those without privilege, and enabling folks to mobilize and boycott.
c4ss.org/content/50151 Image
I cringe when I see Greenwald and various IDW hacks screaming about "free speech" because it feels like that could have been me. But the thing is, I was never in any danger of going down their path because I was MORE committed to freedom of information than they ever will be.
For them "freedom of speech" is personal -- "I get to shout whatever with no consequences" whereas for me it was always a commitment to connection, engagement, globally, in pursuit of truth. Creating a society where truth rises and pernicious nonsense is efficiently marginalized.
Read 4 tweets
6 Nov
The guy collecting cans is a small business. The punk selling patches is a small business. A gilded storefront with hundreds of thousands in revenue is not "small." The loans it is predicated upon are neither small nor accessible. Small doesn't describe merely employee pool.
Strategy wise I'm "meh" on folks smashing windows in the Pearl, the consequences are often hard to evaluate. But never for a second have I ever looked at the homeless kid being hassled by a "small" storeowner or rentacop or shelter staff and had any doubt which side I was on.
We can debate focus, strategy, & targets, but the whole point of being anti-authoritarians is that we give up any hope of "managing" resistance. We are not the managerial class of an insurrection. We can offer suggestions, not browbeat kids for the joy they feel hitting back.
Read 4 tweets
5 Nov
When we formed the RNC Welcoming Committee in 2006 one of the most explicit shared perspectives we discussed was hostility to Summit Hopping. Anarchists were coming to our city and so we needed to prepare and to facilitate them, but also we needed to have the local scene survive.
At the time I *hated* the Summit Hopping era, and there are a host of valid critiques of it. Long-term & local projects were abandoned for showy spectacles where we'd get our asses kicked. Folks prioritized what amounted to a social/sex festival with window smashing on the side.
However I also think the Summit Hopping era (roughly 1999 - 2009 in North America) is getting an overly bad rap now from hindsight. So I want to emphasize the positives...
Read 12 tweets
3 Nov
I spent my twenties bouncing from location to location as a poor punk, deliberately shedding possessions. I retain very little from my childhood. The tattered copy of Jurassic Park I learned to read with, some photos, The Hard SF Renaissance, some patches, & some star wars cards.
I have a lot more by volume from my undergrad years: a giant pile of the physics textbooks that survived a house fire, a few dissolving screenprinted t-shirts and patches, some notepads filled with essay drafts and math work on abandoned physics projects, some slingshot planners.
Anyway, I realized a few nights ago that my decipher star wars ccg cards are almost the only physical thing I've held onto for over two decades. The last real tangible material link with my elementary school self.
Read 5 tweets
20 Oct
If you want to build an ideological camp you have to both attract and repel people from other ideological camps. Outreached hands, yes, but also some punches.

*Some* level of active repulsion is necessary to maintain ideological distinctiveness and to stop entryism.
Too much repulsion and you're just creating a status hierarchy of purity for those already in your camp, but too little repulsion and your camp dissolves into an indistinguishable rump or useful idiots to another ideological camp.
Evaluating the right mix of repulsion and attraction, of when to punch and when to make entreaties, is complex and context-dependent. No one individual is going to be able to see the whole landscape accurately. As a result it takes all kinds.
Read 31 tweets
18 Oct
Being "free" to associate as one wishes avoids the question of one's inclinations or unexamined instincts, and those inclinations CAN have a huge impact on the success or failure of projects and broader movements, cultures, even societies.

Consensus is a good example...
One of the biggest failure modes in contemporary anarchist organizing is thinking in terms of The Organization and being disinclined or unprepared for fluid disassociation by individuals. This leads people chained in dysfunctional projects without good/smooth exit opportunities.
Consider also the all-or-nothing Communes handwavingly described by Kropotkin and implemented in Aragon. Every individual had the Right of exit, but in practical reality / structure there was pretty much no option besides joining what were often essentially Company Towns.
Read 6 tweets
18 Oct
There are two distinct cores to the chuds with different personalities and organizing emphases: 1) the "we're so innocent, antifa is so mean" whiners/grifters, & 2) the more classic street fighters all about posturing strength.

Sometimes they complement, sometimes they conflict.
Joey Gibson's unique genius was his capacity to mobilize *both* camps. Pivoting a dozen times in a single bit between either dynamic in ways that enabled each camp to focus on their own shit without being derailed by the existence of the other.
But ultimately of course Joey couldn't keep the game going in the face of antifa. The split with proud boys and portland resistance is a good example. The former more street fighter thugs looking for clean wins, the latter lapping up the incels & losers focused on whining.
Read 5 tweets
18 Oct
One of the more amusing things in my journey back to the discourse of the early 00s was all the BAD arguments against the wars. Like on the one hand you have literally every liberal & conservative, all the media in warmongering lockstep. And then you have pure hippie nonsense.
Like when you read inane hippies going on and on about how they'd never even shoot Hitler and how preemptive action is always wrong even in the most extreme case, it's like, wow, why did we ever implicitly tolerate this nonsense. Also... *of course* these allies flipped on us.
But of course I know why. Because I was there and in the face of the overwhelming consensus for imperial supremacy across american political discourse it really felt like we desperately needed to grasp tight whatever fucking allies we could find and ignore their idiosyncrasies.
Read 9 tweets
16 Oct
Something no one really talks about re 90s anarchism: Rent & living expenses were cheap enough that tons of anarchists worked as camp counselors over the summer and then just didn't work the rest of the year.

Like every camp you sent your kids to was *infested* with anarchists.
How did I get access to anarchist theory in the 90s? Well there was the (A) section at Powells, there was Laughing Horse & some other independent bookstores, and my dad handed me shit, but honestly a huge chunk was through anarchist camp counselors at all the camps I was sent to.
(There was also spunk.org although I only found it relatively late, in middle school.)

But yeah, like while we were homeless and in the projects my mom would fill out grants and ship me off to every free summer camp she could find. And then we'd talk about Zerzan.
Read 4 tweets
16 Oct
Electoralism is an statist quagmire and your vote doesn't matter.

But also "if the left withholds its vote that'll punish the dems and teach them there are consequences for always moving to the right" is a stupendously bad argument without a shred of proof in decades.
Anarchist rejection of voting enables us to step back and actually see the sheer fucking nonsense that the electoralist left gorges on in self-delusional feedback loops.

It's kinda impressive and horrifying.
Any way you cut it Nader voters swung the election from Gore to Bush. That's about as powerful an impact as the left could hope to have on an election. Did Democrats realize there was a giant bloc of voters they were alienating and swing back to the left?

Of course not.
Read 10 tweets
10 Oct
For their family of five that's $23 per person per day.

That's an *insane* expenditure, but it makes sense at high degrees of food waste + restaurant orders.
Anyway, reminder that $200 is the foodstamps maximum. So a fuck ton of us grew up in families fed on less than $200 per month.
I used to self-recriminate pretty hard in my early twenties when my monthly expenditure on food reached $300. I thought I was being a frivolous person, over-indulging to make up for my youth. I feared someone would find out and I'd be reviled for such wasteful entitlement.
Read 5 tweets
10 Oct
Good arguments against borders:

1) Nations are not voluntary collectives & cannot claim property.

2) Ethnicity & region are arbitrary and unrelated to personal value.

3) Collectivist dynamics in general are dangerous.

4) Severing mass connectivity reduces options for all.
One of the more unique dynamics around national borders is that their evil is *over-determined*.

There are MANY pressing / root ethical reasons to reject them. And someone making a bad argument for them in along one line inherently invokes outrage along the other lines.
And the typical argument for borders is "you would exclude a neonazi from your house, so why can't we as Country X exclude foreigners with bad cultures" There's just so many fucked up mistakes at play in that you can't quickly address them. You get bogged down in one direction.
Read 7 tweets
9 Oct
The SEIU and the NAACP have dug their grave in Portland.

It's hard to emphasize enough how the left in this city will never forgive them for siding with a universally reviled lumber baron and spineless stooge of the police state. They've cast their lot with the conservatives.
It's critical to note that the SEIU and the NAACP didn't come out swinging for Teargas Ted until it was revealed he was badly losing the election to a leftist.

This isn't an endorsement of shitty politician likely to win, this is a last ditch attempt to defend the establishment.
There's no calculus where standing by a far-right universally hated figure like Ted Wheeler *benefits* workers. The SEIU's stance is *purely* a defense of the boss because the union brass benefit from the existing order and fear even tepid leftist political progress.
Read 5 tweets
9 Oct
I'm still trying to piece together the full context of the Wolverine Watchmen, and the right-libertarian insistence on fighting over COVID precautions of all things is just embarrassing, but it's actually quite funny that MAGA hacks are platforming them to call them lefties.
If you're a MAGA or GOP hack, lemme tell you the last thing you want is to platform before your audience is an ancap critique of Trump as tyrant.

They're immune to critiques from anarchists or people not infested with racism/nationalism, but ancap critiques are effective w them.
One of the things the left tends to do is just assume that every dynamic of ideological infection pulls rightward. But for all their incredibly cringey bad politics, it is also the case that dipshit ancaps can pull MAGA chuds -- for lack of a better term -- "leftward."
Read 4 tweets
7 Oct
So Trump has almost certainly been pressuring the FBI to focus on investigating antifascists for years now, via replacing leadership, DOJ edicts, etc. No doubt there are at least a dozen open deep investigations of various groups. And Trump wants a public show before Nov 3rd.
I have been assuming for four years now that mass raids to enable public show declarations about the horrible "criminal" antifa menace will come this month.

On the other hand the FBI rank n file are going to object "but we don't have much, we need to keep surveilling"
The FBI obviously wants to destroy the anarchist movement, they're not honorable or progressives, they'll happily lie and use clearly absurd overreaches of power against us. However. They're educated and long-term about it. They see themselves as apolitical re elections.
Read 26 tweets
6 Oct
Jurassic Park is far less a critique of capitalism than engineering (and civilization). Wu is very clear that he's not an inquirer or discoverer, he's an engineer. Arnold and Nedry are engineers. Malcolm critiques science and civ explicitly, but his first enemy is engineering.
The only *scientists* in Jurassic Park are Grant, Sattler, and Malcolm. They're brought in to examine the failures of those who engineered the creatures and the park.

And while the profit motive helps spur the park, the specific failures it had are from *engineering* hubris.
Everyone remembers the one scene of criticism they allowed Malcolm in the film's version where he complains about the rapid commodification of nature, but this was a rewriting of his critique into a very different form people were used to. And it's promptly undermined by Hammond.
Read 7 tweets
6 Oct
I admit I called this wrong.

The Crime Nerd thought Sarah could win, and I simply didn't expect ANY Ted voters in the primary to flip to Sarah. I expected 35% Sarah, 60-65% Ted, 1-5% Teressa.

I must now update my priors & prepare to pay out a bet.
wweek.com/news/city/2020…
For Ted to collapse from ~50% of the vote in the primary to 30% is very surprising to me. I expected more class consciousness from middle class liberals, I probably assumed too much political awareness. I thought Ted was so toxic by the primary his remaining base was unswayable.
In trying to correct for the fact that I'm embedded in left circles I tend to take pamplin, nextdoor, and reddit as representative of huge chunks of portland. And everything I saw indicated the city's normie middle classes HATE Sarah (and Chloe).
Read 4 tweets
5 Oct
I think this is a clearheaded evaluation from Gelderloos. Although his aside against antifa is eyeroll-inducing, and there's no real discussion of eg RWDS door-to-door extermination campaigns.
crimethinc.com/2020/10/04/pre…
"The framework of antifascism" is not "pan leftist unity" that papers over the danger from auth leftists and the managerial organizer class it's vigilant and unpopular conflict with much of the left. Long term antifascists HATE tankies and protest managers.
And while Gelderloos emphasizes the success of antifascists at holding the streets contra fascist attacks, I think there's a chance we'll enter a space that looks nothing like what antifa has succeeded against so far. RWDS shit requires different mobilization/organization.
Read 4 tweets
4 Oct
The break around, "but what if inaccurate models make me happy?!" I think highlights the difference between "anarchy as instrumental value" and "anarchy as terminal value."

I'm not an anarchist to make people happy, but to increase freedom (which will make many unhappy).
There are a number of people who identify as anarchists because they believe anarchist struggle or modes of society will achieve some sort of OTHER more ultimate goal, like saving the environment or increasing happiness.

This makes them *contingent* anarchists.
I often find these values to come in a vague cluster with contradictory & conflictual relations. This is, after all, the default state of humans. We often treat desires as random happenstance emergence in chaotic conflict, so why not continue to leave deeper values in such state?
Read 14 tweets