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Welcome to Anarchy101 Q&A, where you can ask questions and receive answers about anarchism, from anarchists.

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+2 votes
The state of Israel is an occupying force on the Palestinians and 'their' land. Every so often they hyper-escalate this violence with West Bank settlements, invasions of Gaza, bombing, and blockading the delivery of food and other necessities.

As an anarchist, do you think this situation is something to fight against or get involved with? Why or why not?

If so, how do you navigate unintentionally supporting the Palestinian government? Or reifying the two states in opposition to each other by picking a side? What about statements like 'this is their land' which places human civilization in a position of ownership over land above that of nature/non-human animals/etc?
by (4.0k points)
Ok, if you want to put your @ cred aside for the moment, and just view this as a human being seeing the suffering of other human beings - then ... well follow your heart i guess.

But as an anarchist, i'm faced with a conflict involving multiple states and proxies:  an israeli government that only represents a minority of its voters, the PLO in the west bank and Hamas in Gaza, - three corrupt states; plus the Lebanese government and Hezbollah, and the Syrian regime and their rebels and their insurrectionary fundamentalists; and the Egyptian military junta and the Muslim brotherhood; plus a dozen other meddling states or supernational agencies, plus all those american fundamentalists (the ones who aren't busy trying to murder queers in uganda...).
In other words, a shit-storm of authoritarian militaristic theocratic misery.  I feel sympathy for the grandmothers and orphans and ambulance drivers, whatever their creed or color; For the rest (the politicians and priests and thugs) - fuck them.  (Now if you boil that down to a placard slogan, we're away!)
(There is some historical solidarity between european insurrectionists and palestinian rebels, but only as a historical artifact.)

As to whose land is it? (which you didn't ask, but i'll open that can of worms...)  That particular patch of sand has been overrun and abandoned and conquered beyond time immemorial, the inhabitants absorbed or chased off or slaughtered outright.  It may have belonged to the fellow who watched some fucking princeling cut down the trees that used to grow there, who watched the last soil wash out to the sea.  Any wildlife there was long ago thrown into a stew pot to be replaced with thin goats.

Sigh.  Your question is actually very good, in asking how to take a position between two states in conflict, and how that often ignores the ecological.  That question applies to a lot of the shit around the world today (and yesteryear, and a thousand years ago... the human race sucks in some really fundamental ways.)

(Hmm - squatter solidarity vs. indigenous solidarity??  This isn't relevant here, but it is an interesting thought, need to find a place for it.)

[editted to add the shit i forgot the first time.]

2 Answers

+1 vote
"What about statements like 'this is their land' which places human civilization in a position of ownership over land above that of nature/non-human animals/etc?"
Which you answered perhaps inadvertently by opening with: "The state of Israel is an occupying force on the Palestinians and 'their' land."

All states begin with the consolidation of a military and/or police force, usually despite or contrary to any desire from the population who are living in the area at the time. Some folks may want a state, some may not, but most are probably indifferent.

The situation in Israel/Palestine is especially ugly because of Israel's decades-long position as a US client state that often refuses to accept the soft nudging of the US State Department. As a non-Muslim wild card surrounded by Muslim-dominated polities, Israel gets to run roughshod over much of the region with little thought to possible international consequences due to the US's ability to veto any UN Security Council resolution.

You can't go too wrong with these folks:
sorry, it looks like their Facecrack page is where most of their activities are listed now
by (570 points)
–1 vote
The first thing you need to do is put aside anarchism for a moment.  Israel/Palestine isn't anarchist and isn't likely to be in the near future.  Realistically we stand absolutely no chance of getting either side (let alone both) to dissolve their states, armies, religious institutions and other systems of domination in the near future.

The two "realistic" scenarios that, to me, seem possible for the region in for the foreseeable future are:

1) Things carry on as they are until Israel has completed its genocidal mission and completely "owns" the whole of Palestine.  Unfortunately, this seems the most likely scenario to me.  It is also possible that Israel will leave small areas to the Palestinians and basically leave them there to rot without any means of supporting themselves or getting support from the outside world.

2) A two-state settlement is agreed on.  Palestine would get sovereignty and full autonomy from Israel.  This scenario seems fairly unlikely to me, and even if it were instituted might not keep the peace for long.

In the absence of an anarchist solution, it seems to me that option two, while being the less likely of the options, is by far the preferable.

It may seem anti-anarchist to support the creation of a state, but the alternative is to permit the slaughter to continue until Israel finally complete their genocidal mission.

If we can at least stop the slaughter then we can start thinking about further (and anarchist) objectives, but as long as civilians are being murdered the highest priority is peace.
by (290 points)
I will just answer your question before I read those articles.  It was after my first comment, where I explained why the Canadian anarcho-syndicalists would have plenty of reason to dislike John Zerzan (because you don't explicitly that this is a post-leftist site I didn't realize until after people started getting hostile that it was pointless posting here).  I admit that those weren't your exact words but they do quite accurately express the tone of your response (at least to me).
i take it you mean here?

perhaps it would be worth your time to revisit my response now that you're in a different mood. perhaps you would read my response in a different way? or you could point out to me on what you're basing your interpretation of my-tone-that-told-you-to-fuck-off.
This seems the most logical place to post this.  If you wish to remove it or move it elsewhere please do (it is massively off-topic, after all).

I will respond to the second one first, mostly because it is shorter and I've had a very long, very shitty day at work (as a wage slave this is something I often feel).

The basic thrust of the article, that anarchists should unite against our common enemies rather than fight between ourselves, is one that I wholeheartedly agree with... except when one faction does something that is massively detrimental to the others, or when the ideologies diverge to such a significant extent that they barely have anything in common anymore.  I genuinely think that both are true of post-leftism (yes, I realize that post-leftism is a generalization and that I am attributing elements of one faction to all of them).

I cannot condone the concept of "collateral damage".  I think the taking of a life should be an absolutely huge decision and should only be done in the most extreme circumstances.  I cry bloody murder when states take lives, even if they executed somebody who could be conclusively proven to have committed terrible atrocities I would denounce the state's response.  So how can I possibly condone the killing and maiming of wage slaves and the absolute lowest rung of the authoritarian systems we oppose?  A postal worker, a campus policeman, a computer shop owner... are these really the people we should be targeting?  I don't think of any of them as "legitimate targets" and I don't think many other people would.  That was cold-blooded murder and it was done in the name of a system many have been living and dying to work for for over a century.  That murdering bastard just set us back decades.  We've got to try even harder to shrug off that image of the bomb-throwing anarchist.

I also think that post-leftism differs from anarchism in the way that anarchists are anti-hierarchy (be it the state, the corporation, the church, or whatever, except where circumstances can justify it*), while post-leftists are anti-civilization, anti-work, anti-technology, and so on.  I genuinely don't see what is wrong with civilization that isn't due to other forces (yep, you guessed it, it's the state, the corporation...).  They warp everything they touch, owning it, selling it, marketing it, branding it... is it any wonder civilization is shit?  But take all that away, allow people to freely contribute as they wish and take as they need, and there is no reason to believe that civilization couldn't be everything we're meant to believe it already is.  It could be the advancement of human knowledge, the exploration of new ideas, the constant improving of the lives of the people who build, maintain, operate, and live in that civilization.
  You can call this utopian but I think it is genuinely possible.  Historical incidents such as the Paris commune, the early days of the soviets, the CNT/FAI, and various other "events" (for want of a better term) have shown that people don't need to be forced to do things, they are intelligent enough to understand that things need to be done, and the fact that they are not being metaphorically (usually) whipped by a boss, and that they have a genuine say in their work they do and the conditions in which they work just makes it all the easier to convince them.  As does the fact that they get to take according to their needs, not just according to whatever their boss thinks he/(she) can get away with.

Also, the fact that post-leftists spend so much time sniping socialists and activists just demoralizes and derails efforts to improve the lives of people who desperately need help.  If you don't want to get involved, fine, but this is too important to fuck about with.

One last thing, it is ridiculous to think you take on the capitalist system in open combat.  Have you seen how much the American government spends on it's military?  Have you read enough history to know the brutality they are very prepared to show to anyone who poses a threat to their way of life?  They are doing fucking fantastic from all of this and if they have to order people killed then they'll order them killed and smile the whole time.  The only chance we have is through numbers, and setting off bombs is quite a shitty recruitment method.

Sorry this post has been long, rambling, irrelevant, off-topic (mostly even off the off-topic it was originally meant to be).  Some of you may understand when I say that it has been a very long few weeks.  I may get round to reading the other article later but right now I want to disengage for a while (more than I already have).

* This is a tricky concept to define exactly, but sometimes people can be incapable of making (reasonable) decisions for themselves (babies are an obvious example) and so it is genuinely in their own interest for one or more other people to make those decisions, until such a time as they are able to do so themselves.
Finally, I'd been hoping you'd take a break from the name calling and actually explain your issues with post-left ideas/post-leftists etc.

I don't mean that in a snide way, it's a discussion I'm interested in having.

I'm going to have to read your comment again and have a cogitate, but before that, I'd just like to comment on this:

"If you don't want to get involved, fine, but this is too important to fuck about with."

I don't know any post-leftish anarchists that actively try to sabotage leftist activism, and I honestly can't imagine any having the time or botheredness to do that.  There's plenty of post-leftish anarchists who critique leftist activism through various publications, but that's discussion not sabotage, and if leftist anarchists aren't interested in having that discussion then they don't have to engage with it.  There's also plenty of post-leftish anarchists who are very open about the fact that they think activism is a waste of time,  but again that's not concretely "fucking" with leftist activism in any way.  Just to add a bit of perspective - leftist activism is far more likely to be meaningfully and intentionally fucked with by undercover bobbies than by post-leftish anarchists who just think it's a patronising waste of time.
" while post-leftists are anti-civilization, anti-work, anti-technology, and so on"

@steve, despite the attempt you have made to describe your issues with post-left anarchists, that statement is evidence that you continue to attribute various ideas - which are indeed held by SOME post-left @'s, as well as others that would not consider themselves post-left - to ALL post-left @'s.  can you see how critical thinkers would consider that to be somewhere between ignorant and deliberately misleading? you simply refuse to acknowledge the breadth and complexity of post-left anarchist critique, reducing it to a few soundbites based on whatever (extremely) limited sources you have gotten that from. surely you can do better....?