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+3 votes
by (2.2k points)
edited by
"One of the telltale signs of university discourse is that the opponent is accused of being “dogmatic” and “sectarian.” University discourse cannot tolerate an engaged subjective stance. Should not our first gesture be, as Lacanians, to heroically assume this designation of being “sectarian” and engage in a “sectarian” polemic?"

I should ask (to relate this to another thread/question on this website) who the real academics here are? According to Slavoj Zizek (here:, there is some real value in adopting the sectarian stance with regards to those who provoke others with their "anti-sectarian" position: you will recall the way AJODA responded to some critics not too long ago with 'what is sectarianism?'. The university discourse is founded upon a desire to produce knowledge for the master, openly submitting oneself to work for the master. In the case of the sectarianism debate the correct position is not to say: 'well you are being sectarian, and we are not', this is merely the equivalent of suggesting that one is the master of the tradition while the other option is failure, thus closing off, as Jarach would say, the right to another subjectivity (a human right, I would say :-P).

Elsewhere, Zizek says, of T. S. Eliot, that there are "moments when the only choice is the one between sectarianism and non-belief, i.e., when the only way to keep a religion alive is to perform a sectarian split from its main corpse. By means of this sectarian split, by cutting himself off the decaying corpose of the International Psychoanalytic association, Lacan kept the Freudian teaching alive -- and it is upon us today to do the same with Lacan." Well, it strikes me that Anarchism is quickly being brought to death. It seems to me that many folks are aware of this (the post-left debate, nihilist anarchy, anti-civ anarchism, etc) but we have yet to come to terms with the value of our sectarianism. If we care about anarchism it is required that we split from it.

3 Answers

+2 votes
Best answer
There are reasons to maintain bad blood and reasons to come together.  Sectarianism is often not self applied and infighting is typically not given any positive connotation.  You could've expressed this question differently to generate a different answer.

The advantages to ending discourse and association with those one may disagree with is increased free time to use for other things, like showing how you disagree through activity.  Maintaining a discourse also shows a certain amount of importance given to certain areas of difference, so ending the conversation could be a sign that the difference is no longer important enough to bring up.

What are the advantages of those on the same side downplaying sectarianism?

Those that are on the same side of a dichotomy may see "sectarianism" as close minded and unwilling to critically engage a subject.  It isn't that compromise is being sought so much as the significance of the sides might not be important.  To put time into maintaining a divide may also cloud what is being talked about.  Look at the debate surrounding organization in the anarchist movement.  By one side saying they are "for organization" an other side attempts to find a way to be "against organization" when the divide may not be based on organization (both sides may actually be "for organization") but rather how rebellions become.
by (3.9k points)
+1 vote
Sectarianism can obscure the things that are far more deserving of problematization and examination — e.g., anarchists virulently repudiating 'insurrectionism' and somehow making the inference that insurrectionism is an accurate representation of insurrectionary anarchism; in the process completely forgetting that it is both illogical and in bad faith to gauge the validity of several decades worth collection of prose, critical theory, and elaboration on the anarchist milieu itself by observing, and then passing judgment on, popular colloquialisms and countercultural sentiments (etc.) prevalent within the general tendency of militancy among anarchists. Notice how Western European post-situationist theory has been misconstrued as having some element of correlation with insurrectionary anarchism here in the US and Canada. Why is this?

It can lead to unnecessary confusions or even mystifications.
by (2.8k points)
edited by
Come to think of it, is there even such a thing as 'accurate representation'?
Although, to be honest the only reason I'm articulating my answer as such is because, for a person like myself who currently doesn't have a very developed social involvement in the milieu (which is obviously a social confluence), it can be very annoying, confusing, and misleading to wade through all the schoolyard cussing and pontification tournaments and get to that good shit that I'm looking for. I'm too fresh to be dirtied by the poop slinging, see?

Of course, it's also important to differentiate between anarchists simply disliking each other on the basis of disposition, values, and personality and hysterical ideological formations (but obviously they can share causality with each other).
0 votes
if the point of your question is that there are benefits to taking positions and defending them, to having clear lines between people who represent/believe in different things and act in different ways, then yes, i agree.
but sectarianism in particular is the word for when intra conflict is done badly. it is one thing to have clear positions, it is another thing to refuse to see people as people because of those disagreements.
for example, i will not do projects with people if i disagree with their ideas enough, but i will still hang out with them, talk to them at parties or over coffee, and get into fights (and look for common ground too) with them one on one. that is the difference to me between appropriate fighting and sectarianism. the tactic of going into groups and taking them over (the rcp is of course notorious for this) is another example of sectarianism. i don't find anything positive about reducing people to their labels (either good labels or bad) or lying to people in order to rot out a group from the inside.
call me crazy.
by (53.1k points)
edited by
what is the place of good faith argument between anarchists?
"it is one thing to have clear positions, it is another thing to refuse to see people as people because of those disagreements"

I think this line illustrates my point a bit about why I think sectarianism is important. When we take positions that differ from others but continue to be tolerant of deviations from this position we presuppose that there is some 'third' position that we both accept (in your example, probably not what you actually meant but what I am reading -into- your words) a feuerbachian human((ism) essence). I subscribe to the war model presupposed by the egoist dogma (my own dogma):

This, of course, links into the discussion on anarchy101 about "anti-ideological", "post-ideological" and "extra-ideological" -- or, in this context, ideological=religious.