The Implications of Autonomy and the Abolition of Politics (sketch #1)
“All phenomena are interdependent. When we think of a speck of dust, a flower, or a human being, our thinking cannot break loose from the idea of unity, of one, of calculation. We see a line drawn between one and many, one and not one. But if we truly realize the interdependent nature of the dust, the flower, and the human being, we see that unity cannot exist without diversity. Unity and diversity interpenetrate each other freely. Unity is diversity, and diversity is unity. This is the principle of interbeing.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh
Politics is the art of manipulating the illusions of separation, while simultaneously maintaining a false impression of individual freedom. A mock war between Individualism and Collectivism is the public face of this of this false reality. Politics itself is not a given, and it’s primacy or inevitability is a deceptive fabrication. In fact, this is the false premise, hidden in plain sight, which must be rejected as the initial step towards healing our global anguish and decolonizing our minds from the lies of civilization.
In truth, the atomized individual in the dominant society is a powerless cog in a collective scheme of production. In contrast, actualized individual autonomy is facilitated by the strength and resiliency of a human-scale community’s self-organization, or, autonomy. It is possible here to make a distinction between Collectivism and genuine human communities. Industrial capitalism is the most successful forced Collectivism the world has ever known, and it’s individualized totalitarian socialism continues it’s ravenous destruction of all the intact human communities that are, to this very day, holding on for dear life. At the same time, those trapped in the belly of this beast must use all of our strength just to maintain our own sanity as we dream our escape.
“We don’t have to surrender our individuality to experience the world as an extended self and it’s story as our own extended story”
I choose to use the word autonomy. I find the word tricky to define or hard to pin down, and hence it has become my ally. I would perhaps even call myself an autonomist, but I don’t want to be mistaken for a Marxist. Autonomy can only be understood through it’s relationships, and while it does not stand alone or exist in isolation, it also cannot be reduced or tied down, least of all labeled and sold. As a concept it is nearly worthless, but as a relationship of lived experience, it is profoundly liberating. A truly free individual human being embedded in a nurturing human-scale community is autonomous, while an individual forced to exist in a competitive economy is an alienated wretch, dependent upon the very system of dispossession and abuse.
A self-organized community, embedded in the living peculiarity of its own bioregion, is in turn autonomous. As we see that it is neither independent of its land base, nor dependent on an economy outside of itself, we see the necessary divorce to be made within the false marriages of dispossession: dependence and independence interpenetrate each other. The realization of interdependence provides both liberation and refuge. And here we can see the history of civilization as a war between allies.
But the emperor has many different clothes to wear, and it doesn’t matter if he wears them or not. The fundamentalisms of Capitalism and Marxism have resulted in these self-same systems of domination and exploitation, and both are rotten to the core. Each offers the misnomer of Independence, while crushing it’s noble spirit. No doubt a new wardrobe is being made by the civilized at this moment, and it is imperative that those of us who are to remain awake stay weary of Fall trends.
“Just because you do not take an interest in politics, does not mean politics will not take an interest in you.”
The concept of “anti-politics” begins from political consciousness, an understanding of the tangled web that this social order uses to keep us entrapped, constantly recuperating our energies if we struggle within it’s context. Anti-political action means that we chose the battleground, refusing to play a rigged game. This way of resistance is constantly reinventing itself in the constant effort of rejecting recuperation, moving beyond resistance to the direct dismantling and abolition of structures and systems of domination and exploitation, both material and social.
If we define politics as the dispossession of our individual autonomy, and following that community and bioregional autonomy, then the reapropriation of our lives and land base consists of the abolition of politics. True, politics is so evident in modern culture that it can be readily observed within the interpersonal dynamics of a family sitting together for Christmas dinner or at a meeting of radical activists. But when we begin to see that even the two-faced, passive aggressive, cynical selfishness endemic to our daily lives as behavior that we can choose not to participate in, we begin to see politics itself as a disposable phenomenon.
Now, to confuse the values of anti-politics with apolitical pacifism or narcissistic magical thinking is completely disingenuous. The game of politics itself is an enemy of the dispossessed, while political consciousness remains simply an anatomical understanding of our enemy to be employed deconstructively. Anti-political action simultaneously requires reclamation and the regenerative healing of both individual autonomy and community self-sufficiency. The abolition of politics is a two way street of deconstruction and creation where the ends of action are embedded in the means of action. The more our energies can be withdrawn from political engagement, the more these energies are liberated for autonomous self-organization and direct action.