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+4 votes
Or am I just stupid?

2 Answers

+1 vote
Best answer

I'll put aside the question of translation. Sometimes a good translation can make a text a lot easier to tackle than a bad one. And when it comes to Tiqqun, from what I have heard and experienced directly there has been a pretty huge difference in quality. I don't think this is the main factor though--the jargon is really there.

The main factor is that they were writing for a small clique. This is why people use obscure language. If you want to write a note to your friend that no one else can understand (say you're in prison and your mail is being read) you'll try to compose it with references to your past experiences, and inside jokes. But inside jokes are also something you drop for your friend in a social gathering when there are other acquaintances around, to send them a special "wink," just for fun (or just to recognize/remind that there is something unique you share that doesn't dissolve into the larger social group).

Obscure language can be a form of cryptography as well as a special bond. Strategically, it can keep knowledge contained to the close circle and prevent its being used by the enemy (cryptography as a tool of war). Socially, it both arises from and reinforces an in-group and an out-group (language group as social group).

If you contrast the Tiqqun journal with more popular, broadly-aimed texts by (some of) the same people (namely Call and The Coming Insurrection) it becomes clear that the former were written for a small, self-selecting audience and the latter for a broader one.

As an aside, there is an interesting discussion to be had here about obscure and comprehensible... To what extent are anarchists engaged in the formation of small closed cliques in order to try to share knowledge away from watching eyes? To what extent are anarchists engaged in disseminating our ideas broadly? How do these efforts conflict, and how do they mutually strengthen each other? Etc.

[edited for italics]

by (20.5k points)
selected by
+2 votes
The writing builds out of 20th c. French/continental philosophy, which likewise tends to emphasize subjective ways of knowing rather than strictly argumentative or objectivist discourse. Part of the collectives' message is that language itself is a contentious issue, as there is currently no language with which to express the desires of the resistance. The writing (in form as well as content) tries to open up a symbolic counter-hegemonic space. Generally speaking, I don't think it's a body of writing that is trying to be obscure, but this obscurity perhaps comes from close attention to how words and language are used.
by (1.0k points)