Beyond the zones of Anarchism is a field, I'll meet you there.
I’ve been playing with the idea of anarchism for many years. First meditating on the difference between “freedom to” and “freedom from,” then finding my way through the numerous compartmentalized zones of anarcho-capitalism, -communism, -transhumanism, -primitivism, etc. Wearing the cloaks of these niche ideologies provided some deep perspective into how we create our worlds.
As an anarcho-capitalist, I found the growth-potential in the freedom to produce and desire. As an anarcho-communist, the necessity for some base order and global connection became apparent. (This aligned with the psychedelic perspective that we are all One.) A brief stint as an anarcho-primitivist ratcheted up my desire to become a hermit, a rebel to a world unconcerned with our Spaceship Earth’s finite resources. Katherine Hayles brought gender into the mix, claiming that real feminism comes through transhumanism, breaking down patriarchal definitions of “woman” and “feminism,” and enabling women to construct their own meaning of “woman” through technology. Hakim Bey’s idea of a Temporary Autonomous Zone fractured my sense of where the State ended and personal or group autonomy began. His essay on Ontological Anarchy summed up a deeper understanding: Since we create our cultural fictions from nothing and they become real through belief, then we have the ability to create our own worlds and connections in the shadow of the State. A state exists when we believe it to exist. Reality is what you can get away with.
But there was one text that stuck with me, finalizing my experimentation with the potent ideas of anarchism: Gene Youngblood’s short book Secession from the Broadcast. His statement was simply this (paraphrased): If we are to be participants in creating the future, and the future is emergent from our present interpretation of reality, then we must consider that the information we receive in the present will create our future. And if we desire to build new futures, we must cease receiving information from “the broadcast” (internet, news, culture). Today, culture finds itself embedded in the many aspects of reality-creation. We assume that any future will be hierarchical, much like our current ideation of the world.
The only way out, according to Conway, is “through the door.” To leave the culture without leaving the country. To secede from the broadcast.
And as lonely and neurotic as this may sound - finding oneself in a world where having an opinion about current events is nearly as important as having the right opinion - I find this perspective the most open to creating novelty in the world. It’s easier to construct when you are outside of the structure.
As Catherine Malibou claims, real anarchism has never been philosophized. All of our trusted philosophical axioms limit the potential growth of any political system. If we view freedom as the base, we find ourselves in an unsustainable system of consumption. If we view order as the base (perhaps God’s will or any founding document), then we limit growth and find ourselves in a finalized creation where the only ideas that are allowed are the ones that don’t change the system.
So, here, I’d like to carry forward the idea of anarcho-indifference. The first half of the term, anarcho, holds within it the idea that what we cannot fully know what reality is or what we are capable of creating. Futures are not to be prophesized but created, not from established axioms and ideologies, but from a personal or collective will-to-create. It also contains the acceptance of new forms which may emerge from our creations. It’s anarchist turtles all the way down.
The second half of the idea embraces a hard line between the individual and consensus reality (culture). The anarcho-indifferent divorces their self (or selves) from the endless feed of culture, recognizing that the information channeled through social media, magazines, news channels, conversation, and contemporary literature creates the limits of thinking and political potential. Simply: If one is consuming culture, one is shaped by culture. So, to be indifferent is to understand that the world will carry on as planned (and to be comfortable with that), regardless of any real challenges presented to it, and that we should not be concerned with the larger goings-on of the world.
Where does this leave us? Would it be unethical to turn off the world?
Anarchism rests on two principles: Direct Action and Mutual Aid. Our ideas and actions having real impact on ourselves and others We have the ability to act in the world to solve problems without concern of regulation. If we are to create worlds that tend toward liberty, then it is in our personal and collective interest to look to our circles of influence and circles of concern and ask, What is to be done? Voting, discussion, party politics are the simulations we entertain which prevent real action. Even rebellion, defiance, and destruction fail to create something new; nation-states integrate it into their narrative and identity, capitalist systems welcoming protestors that buy merch in the lot to project solidarity.
This circumstance leaves us with a third option: embracing anarchy as an egalitarian way to be in the world, and indifference to what actually happens outside our circles of influence and concern.
This is not nihilism, nor is it callous certitude in another anarchist ideology. Anarcho-indifference holds the weight of Taoist uncertainty and the realistic potential of liberty. That is, we can only do what we can do, and we should do that. All else is part of the Show.
If we are to create anything new, be it a new political philosophy, art, or ontologies, then it is in the best interest of the cultural creative to draw the line between oneself and consensus reality - even briefly. For, if our perspectives of the world is emergent from the information we consume, then it is our responsibility to manage what we consume so that we can create.