Occupy & Mutuality: Towards an understanding of Anarchy

In Tournament of Shadows episode six of the BBC drama Ripper Street (2012) you find a radical Jew who is blown up in his own house. Framed as a bomb maker the main protagonist of the series goes to visit the victims brother Isaac. Whom, informs the detective that his brother was an Anarchist in a most powerful manner. Isaac’s words describe what could be said to be the desire behind both the Occupy Movement and The 99%. The brother emotionally articulates that his brother believed in ‘Anarchism from the Greek Anarkhos (without rule), Joshua believed completely in altruism, mutuality, and an end to mans dominion over man’. It is a shame that we had to lose this fictional life to be presented with an alternative to the populist definition of an Anarchist. Implying a violent individual causing disorder, upheaval, and living without rules. Well, that may be quite an image that we could carry of the dreams of a contemporary young rebel. However, this text attempts to contemplate how anti-capitalist movements are being undermined through their focusing on existing institutions such as the state and banks.

The main issue that evolves around this particular conundrum is two way, on the one hand, you have the current separation of power and politics. A position described by the professor of philosophy Simon Critchley as ‘It is certainly not populist or people centred. Politics, does not have power, politics serves power. Whereas power is global or supranational, politics is still local and there is a gap between the two’ It is this break in phenomena that Critchley believes is the source of the sense of estrangement or loss we currently carry. Now, this thinker goes on to explain the classical goal of politics being one of Autonomy. This notion is a main goal of the Occupy Movement and subsequently leads us towards the opposing position. It is one’s opinion that for this collective ownership to happen our appreciation/consideration of human nature has to be honed. Currently thoughts such as greed as a form of survival, as part of nature, inherent within ownership and value. Stand, as instant opposition to a direct form of revolutionary emancipation and perhaps society should turn to another word beginning with the letter A.

Autotomy, referred to as a ‘casting off of a part of the body by an animal’ it is a way of surviving an attack. Now it is paramount that we understand why it is important that we cast off this part of our body? And what part of our bodies we need to disperse? To start to answer these two questions one should turn their attention to what happened during the recent riots throughout the United Kingdom. The traumatic experience of the Malaysian student Ashraf Hazig who was seriously hurt with a broken jaw. One individual seemed to comfort him whilst his accomplices raided his backpack clearly escaping with a Sony Psp games console. This horror operates on many levels as it highlights the dark side of our materialistic culture. What Sigmund Freud ordained in his writing ‘Das Unbehagen In Der Kulter’ literally the uneasiness in culture. In this text Freud describes civilisation and its discontent with the norms or rules that it creates for itself. Rules that in this case distorts and alters the distance between the image of our current condition and primordial man.

But this ancient human is still present deep within our psyche it lies patiently waiting to show itself. When it does as in the case of Mr. Hazig and his deceivers we are presented with an ‘Unbehagen’. This uneasiness is what one needs to throw away if we are to participate in peaceful change. Unless we continue to allow for an imbalance that could also be, in a way, be what; in Lacanian thought is known as the ‘return to the real’ or the ultimate trauma. Now, how to begin to think about whether or not it is possible to dissect something attached to culture which is constantly evolving and forever terrifying. Here is where we should think about Anarchism and especially the idea of Mutuality, described by the Frenchman Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. As a form of ‘spontaneous order without central authority, a “Positive Anarchy” where order arises when everybody does “what he wishes and only what he wishes” A nice idea, alas in reality this relies on reciprocal forms of communication. Which does not happen when you have been continuously fed commodities and been told that there allure or value is paramount.

But this is a rather objectified view of our over committed relationship to sell-able objects lets entertain a more subjective angle. In our Capitalist system you have this social hierarchy at the top the Bourgeoisie, at the bottom the Proletariat. Or Employer and Employee, or Master and Slave, as a reading of the prominent Hegel by Alexandre Kojève offers a key systematic component. Describing Desire ‘is the desire for recognition. In order to achieve recognition, the subject must impose the idea that he has of himself on an other’ Now I am not even entertaining or talking about the historic danger of abolishing a market then leading to a Totalitarian relationship. Lets be clear what I am actually proposing by using a visual metaphor, it is a belief that one can grasp easily, in that we need to alter the existing pyramid into a circle. Perhaps intuitively speaking if we are to redesign capitalism then our attention needs to rest on matching the repetitive wheel of growth and recession.

To that of the natural perennial cycle of life and death, order and chaos. Through a transmuted reflection on the Hermeneutic, Gestalt, Metaphysical, and Pataphysical formations. Or more generally the needs of a sentient being, our humanity residing in our consistent reach in time, thought, and action. Our ability for empathy should inspire us to cultivate bewilderment at the structures and sequences we have created. Transferring this energy or ‘Positive Anarchy’ to one another will not be easy to do, it will take a long deep look into the unknown recesses of the dark penumbra of ownership. In an effort to break into modes of thinking, new sequences of being.

  • Paul Harrison (the above writing is some old musings on Anarchy. Maybe, I will revisit them at a later date.)
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