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+1 vote
I know this might be anathema to individualist strains of thought, but I'm wondering how individualist anarchists would perceive a society. I've read that some see a communist society as the best way to achieve full individual autonomy, while others reject it outright. Even Novatore, who very much had disdain for the "proletarianized," knew that a revolution was necessary. What, then, comes after the revolution?
yeah, the notion of "society" is one that carries so much moralistic, collectivist, social responsibility baggage that it can be hard to think about individualist anarchy as anything related.

i want to think about this some more before answering, but i think i might use something like the bolo'bolo idea as a general starting point, and see how it can be adapted to a more explicitly individualist endeavor. at least for those that choose as such.

in my anarchist world, there would only be the web of dynamic relationships between individuals. there would be no over-arching social structure or institutions; "society" would fade into history as a meaningful concept. and there would be no such institution to elevate above the individual.
To respond to funkyanarchy, I'm a little confused how you only see "individuals" and not "society." I agree with you that the term "society" itself does carry a lot of baggage, but don't interpersonal relationships between individuals create a kind of social web that connects people together? Is this not a society?

i would say i want to see only individuals, and not society.

but honestly, it depends on how you define society. i am all into individuals relating in all kinds of ways. those relationships (in my world) are dynamic, transient, contextual. if you want to call any set of personal relationships a "society", then the word begins to lose all meaning. but "society" implies a certain amount of assumed universality in needs, desires, and behaviors; and therein lies one of my primary issues with it. it enforces a one-size-fits-all approach (however much they try to assert freedom and uniqueness and all that crap) to life, and that will never work to my satisfaction. 

i grant that it is difficult for me to think of "society" in any terms other than mass society, as humans have created it since the dawn of civilization. my desire is for mass society to be gone, done, forever abolished to the dustbin of pathetic (modern) human history. a "society" consisting of free individuals, choosing who/when/how they relate with others, and forming dynamic affinity groups as they see fit, and with no imposed structure or rules... that's a society i could deal with. (sounds a bit like... anarchy!)

FA, I understand where you are coming from, but I think my vision of "society" is the inversion of yours. I see a collective body first, but within it, I see "free" individuals forming bonds and relationships. Obviously, this collective "society" or whatever you want to call it would be entirely voluntary, but nonetheless I see human beings first collaborating together to create a better world. It is quite similar to Oscar Wilde's ideas in his essay, "The Soul of Man Under Socialism."

'society' is an impoverished oversimplification and subsequent nounification of an uncountable host of relations and activities. 'individual' is a sorry term for each highly localized relational community loosely called 'I,' 'me,' and 'you' (in this language), made up of 'dust,' uncountable bacteria, plants and other animalia each living/moving slower, faster, and sometimes roughly the same speed as i'm able to perceive them. both words are dumbed-down concepts in a stupid, groping language reflecting a stupid, groping colonialist mindset.

however, in the present context of this civilization, i tend to begin where and how i may be rather than with 'what' questions, which often lead to silly debates regarding the 'what' of 'human nature,' what the essence of 'society' may be, etc. civilization has always tried to quantify, commodify move and render everyone (human and non-human) into units of domination. 'society' is simply an abstract model, a blueprint, of someone other than me in this context. this does not preclude me from socializing/relating with others. in this, i tend toward a sense of individualist anarchy while realizing there is no ultimate reducibility to a 'what.'

good stuff, AF.

hib: indeed, you have pointed out a key difference in perspective between collectivism and individualism. i personally tend more towards an individualist view, but nothing is quite that black and white.

you do, however, raise a question in my mind. how can a "collective body" come first? how would it be possible to have such a thing without individuals making it up? 

i am not even referring to the abstraction that i think amorfati is alluding to. society is surely an abstraction, if also something more (at some level).

af: if your comment was about 10,000 words longer, i might think it came from emile!  :-)  i agree with most of it, but not sure about this:

" 'individual' is a sorry term for each highly localized relational community loosely called 'I,' 'me,' and 'you'"

can you elaborate on how an individual is a "localized, relational community"?

funky, i took AF's comment to mean that "individual" usually conjures up an image of detachment....as if a person somehow lives and breathes independently of all other life on the planet....as opposed to a constantly changing and interdependent relationship that a human has with the plants, animals, air, water, land, rocks, bacteria, other humans, and so on....where each person contains unique qualities and distinctions, yet also remains part of everything around them.

yes, that is probably what af meant. and i understand the perspective.

i guess i don't see connectedness and interdependence as synonymous with being "part of everything around them". [edit: "connected to" and "part of" are very much not the same, to me.] while detachment is surely not how i would articulate what it means to be an individual, autonomy is (a big part of it). i have no need to declare my autonomy from the bacteria living in my stomach, or the groundwater and rainwater that sustains me (as if i could). but i do need to declare my autonomy from my neighbor, who may share my groundwater (and in some cases, even my bacteria).

(for sure a discussion on autonomy would help here, as well).

[edit: maybe i need to distinguish between biological autonomy and behavioral autonomy?]

so perhaps it would be more accurate to refer to an "individual human"? i cannot see myself referring to my own being (my "self") as a localized relational community.  that just seems like a slippery slope. it starts to sound like biological correctness (ala political correctness).

ultimately, spoken/written language sucks at some things. this must be one.

yes, I agree a definition and/or discussion of autonomy would help.

regarding your statement:

"i guess i don't see connectedness and interdependence as synonymous with being "part of everything around them".

what difference(s) do you see between the two?

funky@, i do think a discussion on autonomy may be significant at this point. perhaps as a question?here, however, i only wish to point out the context of origin as a concept as we tend to discuss it ('western' civilization) and how we tend to use it (causality within linear thinking).

o dear god, i am sounding and writing like emile . ;-) this does deserve a lengthy response though, all kidding aside.

anyway, you wrote two lines which may be helpful to understand where i'm coming from within an intra-human context:

'but i do need to declare my autonomy from my neighbor,'


' i cannot see myself referring to my own being (my "self") as a localized relational community.  that just seems like a slippery slope. it starts to sound like biological correctness (ala political correctness).'

 that you have a neighbor means you aren't free of the relationship, but very much entwined in it. also, i think it's difficult to deny that other facets of our 'self' are at play despite our desires and intentions.

for instance, our race most definitely plays a huge part for our 'self' within these particular social relations. race, as i think we're aware, has no real basis 'in biology,' yet it's most definitely at play in every one of our social relations. this makes it no less powerful. where we move through, how we move through these places, with whom we interact, how we speak and think. here we who lean toward individualist anarchy must be careful, because one of the constant excuses for continued segregation and white supremacy is: "i only see individuals, not race.' which is a load of horseshit and easy to say for white folks who've never really lived around/among people of color and continue to benefit from racial disparity (like, as in our greater freedom of movement; less harassment by the pigs).

this has little, if anything, to do with 'political correctness' as an ideology, but everything to do with the nuts and bolts of our social relationships in the US and Europe...and our sense of 'self.' these meanings and relations are historical and ongoing despite what we think of them, how we value them, and so on, these relations are the water through which we fish swim, particularly if we are white. black folks weren't strung up from trees due to their individuality, nor was land taken from natives due to it, nor can we believe we are perceived, interacted with, solely as 'individuals.' each one of us is conditioned and contextualized whether we like it or  not. if we seek to live a life as free from the domination of others while not dominating others, we simply have to look at these patterns. i think this is a great place to use Stirnerian critique, particularly since most antiracists don't go far enough, imo, in refusing to critique the civilizing process.

as one who tends toward individualist/egoist anarchy (but also green and primitivist strains) i have to look at both the condition within which i live and the context these inclinations arose historically through others: where, who, why, when, how? i simply have no reason to believe that the dichotomy, the antagonism between, individual/society is a universal condition, but is predicated upon certain and particular preconditions in order to arise; preconditions i'd like to challenge on a daily basis. i choose to do this by using individualist/egoist critiques/methods because i find nearly all socially-oriented critiques/methods to be rather ham-handed ways toward (yet, more) domination, vain and rather myopic.

i find this to be great and interesting discussion. i don't have too much time right now, but i want to quickly respond to a couple things.

@baa: i guess the main difference i see between the two (connectedness/interdependence and being "part of") has to do with what i think of as my own autonomy. being a part of some other "whole" would seem to imply that my choices are not solely my own, but must involve the entirety of that "whole" of which i am merely a part. that feels like a reduction/removal of my own "individual" autonomy. being connected (and even interdependent) does not imply that as a given, but merely encourages me to be very aware of the others with whom i am connected/interdependent, and the impact of my own choices on them as well as myself. which honestly, is the way i almost always make my choices.

@af: excellent post, which i agree with almost entirely. i probably need to read it again and spend some time thinking about it, but my quick thoughts:

i absolutely acknowledge that there exists some relationship between me and my neighbor; but i would not say i was "very much entwined" in it. in fact quite the opposite. i would still, in certain situations, consider the impact of my actions on them (connected/interdependent in some way), but i would not feel compelled to alter my willful behavior for them as i would, say, if we were in fact part of the same "whole" (whatever that really means). sure, we share our immediate bioregion, and in some way you might consider that as us being "part of a whole". but given my own autonomy and theirs, that starts to sound like the "whole" is something so vague, nebulous and dynamic as to be virtually meaningless to my actual, lived experience.

also, i brought up political correctness only as way to contextualize my phrase "biological correctness". political correctness would not apply to your point, but i thought biological correctness did. now i am not so sure. though i do really like the phrase. :-)  [edit: sure, next thing i know you'll be asking me to define it and shit. the nerve! ]
quick followup: i personally don't find it necessary to define my "being" as either "connected/interdependent" or "part of a whole". it is sufficient for me to see myself as an autonomous individual being (human, i guess), who has innumerable relationships of many different types with many different (types of) beings. sometimes, i may feel like a "part" of some whole, sometimes not. it would be accurate to say that i exist as part of the "web of life", and i have no problem with that, but as i mentioned, that is so vague and dynamic as to be largely meaningless to me.

1 Answer

+1 vote
i just want to see the human race lose its current obsession with fixed routines and order....and for each person to respect the individuality of all other beings, even if they aren't "treating eachother right" in all circumstances
i meant for this to be a comment but an answer works just as well, lol