The three 20th century Anarchist writers who have influenced my own perspective the most have been William Burroughs, Murray Bookchin and Alfredo M Bonanno. These are three writers whom I think even most anarchist or like-minded activists are very unfamiliar with, so here I will attempt to give a very brief overview of their main ideas, how they can go together, and why I think they are still relevant today, unlike certain other writers..
Unfortunately in my experience most Anarchist and like-minded activists do not read works of political theory at all, being too busy engaging in actual revolutionary activity, or else just posing as revolutionaries, hanging out in counter-cultural spaces and pretending to care. This tends to lead to a lacking in the intellectual skills required to develop realistic strategies for achieving social change, even among those prepared to risk death or arrest to achieve it.
Those that do look into the theoretical side of things usually limit themselves to whichever zines with interesting titles happen to be hanging around. Unfortunately an interesting title does not necessarily actually mean a text is that significant, or even has much original thought gone into it at all.
Some more enquiring minds might decide to look into the distant past of the Anarchist writers of the 19th Century, who were once described to me as ‘Old Dead Russians’. This is not entirely fair – Malatesta was from Italy, Proudhon from France – but the implied criticism that these writers were operating in a context that is no longer relevant is hard to ignore.
Reading the Old Dead Russians – Bakunin, Kropotkin, Emma Goldman etc – you are struck by how much they stick to the basic narrative of the Inevitable Proletarian Revolution, almost like Christians talking about the Judgement Day.
The story goes that the meek, humble, toiling masses will one day seize control of the means of production, by virtue of their organisation and solidarity built up through the culmination of years of trades union activity. Once the factories and farms etc have been collectively seized, on occasion of a great insurrection heralded by a General Strike, all that remains is to ‘defend the revolution’ by means of fighting at the barricades, and once the forces of reaction have been dealt with, we shall all live in perfect harmony and freedom forever more.
Maybe it is a symptom of how desperate people in modern day society are to believe in anything at all that some people still cling on to this old, quasi-religious faith in old-school anarchism. Others know that it is not going to happen like that, but failing to come up with any other theoretical perspective, and not wishing to give up on the actual basic principles of anarchism – positive belief in the values of mutual aid, autonomy and solidarity coupled with a rejection of all forms of hierarchical oppression – they simply muddle on, trying not to think about it, and carrying on with political activities they can not actually justify logically but simply go through the motions of, not knowing what else to do.
But even as the old, glorious Workers movement or Red flags, mass trades unions and socialist parties was dying, in the 1940s and 1950s, there were radical writers around who were sniffing around for new ideas with which to understand reality and fight for universal freedom. One of these was William S Burroughs.
Burroughs had never been a trade unionist or card-carrying socialist, so perhaps he didn’t have any ideological baggage to have to get rid of. He was not a working class man, but, like Bakunin, Kropotkin and Karl Marx before him, was a drop-out from the ruling class. His grandfather had invented the Burroughs Adding Machine, which was a precursor of the modern-day computer, and used mainly in the banking industry, making the family rich. The fortune had collapsed somewhat by the time William was a young man, but he still had the tremendous good fortune of being able to travel the world for most of his youth, as well as the benefits of a classical education.
Willaim Burroughs’ personal rebellion against bourgeois society was on the basis of his sexuality, not his class. Much as his writings decried the gruesome realities of upper-class racism and snobbery towards poorer people, it was the homophobic, heteronormative nature of bourgeois life that offended him, oppressed him and made him into a revolutionary.
Burroughs was the first popular writer to use the word ‘Queer’ as a positive identification. In this he was decades ahead of his time. Even in the 1950s, when Gay rights had not even been won yet, he was already looking far beyond the understanding of sexuality as a binary opposition between gay and straight.
Burroughs was a writer who deconstructed old established ideas, including those of the radical socialist left. This was the spirit of the age in the post-war period, when all the old certainties of liberalism, socialism and nationalism were crumbling in the face of the horrors of the genocide and mass slaughters of the age.
In London, George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm challenged the Communist Party’s vision of the future, but from a left-wing point of view, as did the writings of Satre, Camu, and De Beauvoir in Paris. Similarly in New York, Burroughs and his close friends Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, were seeking meaning in a new and frightening world.
You can not get a sense of Burroughs’ revolutionary views by reading any one of his works alone. He did write political essays, and essays on tactics for creating riots etc, but most of his work was satirical fiction. He was on the attack against all forms of bullshit, and especially was trying to make people ‘hip to the scene’, as he and his beatnik friends would have said.
In Burroughs vision of the world, there are hustlers everywhere. The whole capitalist system, Bolshevik-communist system, and in general the whole business of government at all is a series of cons by sociopathic, sadistic bastards. You are either hip to the scene and engaged in some kind of nefarious activity yourself, involving breaking all the rules you can to get what you want, or else you are just a ‘mark’ – a fool waiting to be conned by some kind of parasitical entity.
William Burroughs made breakthroughs in exposing the true nature of the US criminal underworld, starting with his first published book ‘Junky’. This book reveals how he was himself a conman, preying on the naivety of innocent fools, playing all kinds of tricks on people to feed his heroin addiction, but the really juicy details are not in the things that he did himself, but rather in the complex and fucked up scams he saw being perpetrated by much bigger players than himself, including the US government.
Burroughs saw the US government for what it really was – an imperialistic, genocidal mafia-style organisation that had taken over the world and was just as bad, if not worse, as the regimes of Hitler and Mussolini.
He new that the US government was involved in organised crime, and that the way that drug policy was executed in the country was not at all aimed at actually solving the problems of drug addicts like himself, but rather in keeping money flowing into the pockets of those who really ran the State.
Burroughs portrayed pretty much anyone in a position of authority as a total scumbag, usually with sexual fetishes for death, torture and rape of people of all genders, and complicit in the most unspeakable crimes, lies and exploitation.
Most of his writing, therefore, appears as a series of appalling scenes of depravity, which are shocking and disorientating even to modern day readers who you’d thing would be completely desensitised by Hollywood gore. It is therefore hard to see what positive messages he really had, from a revolutionary point of view. Indeed, many active anarchists I know have been perplexed and disgusted when I have told them I see him as a hero.
But Burroughs did have a positive message for those willing to read between his disgusting lines and find it. His writings describing physical acts of love between men indicate he was a sensitive soul wishing to help other men discover and celebrate their sexualities in the face of the extreme violence threatened to them by the mainstream society.
“Wild Boys” is a post-apocalyptic novel describing the collapse of Western Imperialist society due to an extremely widespread youth rebellion of young men who want to do nothing but have sex with each other and take drugs, but who are organised and numerous enough to constitute an unstoppable global guerrilla movement.
This is perhaps the closes we can get to a manifesto in Burroughs’ work. He did not see revolution emerging from the ranks of trades unions, but from the ranks of alienated youth, the weird crazy hustlers who were the social class he most identified with, for though he was born wealthy he spent most of his adult life among the lumpenproletariat.
People on the fringes of society, who didn’t even try to fit into it except as a scam to get some money to continue their mad liberated lifestyles, these were the people he thought showed promise. People who would not be conned by the hustlers of the State, because they were too busy trying to hustle and con rich people out their money themselves.
He respected sex workers, hustlers, drug dealers, artists and revolutionaries, living outside the system. His friend Jack Kerouac in ‘The Dharma Bums” also foretold a vision opf the future in which the youth, dropping out of society and creating their own values, would bring about social change, in a less violent way than Burroughs’ Wild Boys, simply by hitching around and living in tents.
Burroughs was a pioneer of post-modernism and the youth counter-culture. He didn’t believe in the Marxist idea of setting up a new ideology to get everyone behind, with a new set of leaders to follow, to bring some new ‘workers state’ into being. He saw that as just another con, being perpetrated by a bunch of evil sadistic hustlers who just wanted power for their own sick psychological reasons.
He wanted people to break free of all ideology and to question absolutely all claims to universal truth. ‘Nothing is True, Everything is Permitted’ was perhaps his most repeated phrase. He even tried to get people to challenge the way they experienced the written word, to bring peoples attention to the fact that rationality was simply an illusion, usually used in the course of conning people into something or other.
He followed on from the work of his friend Brion Gysin in experimenting with ‘Cut-Ups’ – texts that were literally cut up and stuck back together in different ways to reveal how even when texts obviously had no deliberate rational meaning behind them, the human mind always imposed meaning anyway. This had huge implications as an artistic idea.
Think about all the forms of art which have been developed since the Burroughs Cut Ups in the 1960s which use the same idea – collage is now one of the most accepted mediums in publishing and fashion, Hip-hop and other sampled forms of music are now the dominant forces in the world, and almost any modern book or film pretty much has to fuck around with flash-backs and flash-forwards to even be seen as credible these days.
These cultural phenomenon maybe not have fully delivered the means of production into the hands of workers yet but they have done a great deal to bring about shifts in consciousness throughout the western world and beyond which mean that people are a lot more able to think outside of the box and not be limited to seeing the world only in a narrow spectrum of belief any more.
This was how the old-fashioned workers movement kept getting betrayed – by leaders and bureaucrats who used ideology to take over people’s heads and turn them into cogs in a party or state machine, making them as dependent on the political bosses as junkies were to their dealers. This was Burroughs central message. He wanted freedom for the working class, but was prepared to abandon that whole language if it was only going to be used as junk for the mind, in favour of raw, wild, spontaneous rebellion coming straight out of the subconscious and into daily life.
These kinds of ideas and attitudes, as everybody knows, burst into the mainstream in the late 1960s. In the year 1968 there were insurrections, mass trade union strikes and even revolutions, all around the world, mainly led by wild youth. In these movements the party and union structures of the Old Left were being shown to be irrelevent and so people talked of it as the New Left.
People were not going out there on the streets all dressing in the same clothes and subsuming their differences under the homogenous identity of being ‘working class’ – rather they were asserting all kinds of other identities which had been suppressed for generations – as women, as queers or gays, as Black people, as indigenous people, as crazy hippy freaks, as whatever the hell they wanted to be – and yet there was still a sense that everyone was on the same side.
This was post-modernism made real. It wasn’t a movement based on one big socialist narrative of “we are the working class and our historic mission is to overthrow capitalism through a revolution that will emerge from class struggle in the workplace”. It was a movement of movements, with many different narratives ranging from ‘the white man has kept us down too long and now we’re gonna show em’ to ‘the dawning of the age of aquarius is upon us’ to ‘we’re here, we’re queer, get used to it’ to ‘I am woman hear me roar’.
Did it matter that there was no overarching narrative? Maybe not. But someone who was part of all these movements, and who was well versed in the dogmas of the Old Left, and therefore in a unique position to write about the differences between the Old and New, was Murray Bookchin.
Unlike Burroughs, Bookchin had indeed been a trade unionist, an organiser and even a Communist party member. He caught the tail end of the glorious old workers movement and saw it all crumble under the boots of fascism and the forces of new technological organisation of workplaces. Also unlike Burroughs, Bookchin wrote serious works of political philosophy, so you don’t need to read between his lines to understand what he was trying to say.
Bookchin wrote a huge body of work, not only thoroughly critiquing the old Marxist paradigms but also attempting to synthesise the most important trends in the New Left into a new theoretical school called Social Ecology.
Bookchin celebrated the fact that the radical movements of the 1960s did not limit themselves to a socialist critique of class divisions, but actually critiqued all forms of hierarchy, whether based on class, race, gender, or even species. The basic idea of Social Ecology is simply that humanity should live in harmony with other species, and that this requires a social revolution with the same aims as Socialism, Anarchism, Feminism etc.
Bookchin was trying to make people think about how everything is interconnected, saying ‘mans domination of man is based in mans domination of nature’. We can not think about changing the way human society works without thinking about changing the way it interacts with the rest of reality, for it is part of that greater reality.
As a committed class warrior, active in revolutionary struggle since he was a little boy in a Communist youth club, he of course was deeply disturbed by the treachery and distortions of the Bolsheviks and other authoritarian socialists and sought to analyse where they had gone wrong both in theory and in practice. To him, as to Burroughs, any kind of bureaucracy was intolerable and dangerous.
According to his essays in the book ‘Post-Scarcity Anarchism’, revolutionary things occurred in history whenever people simply organised their rebellions directly, in a face to face way, without electing representatives or committees to manage the struggle for them. He advocated the a peoples assembly, in the sense of a face to face congregation of people all talking together and coming to decisions by consensus or direct vote, as the tried and tested form of organisation, rather than the ‘workers councils’ called for by others at the time such as the Situationists.
Bookchin in fact regarded the Situationist international as just another club of authoritarian Marxist intellectuals trying to boss people around and control their minds, despite the popular celebration of them as those revealing the horrible authoritarian and treacherous tendencies of the Trotskyites and others. Bookchin’s essay ‘Listen, Marxist!’ is a delight to anyone who’s ever found themselves tongue-tied in an argument by with a Marxist demagogue and wished they’d thought of the right come-back in time. He says it all.
In the struggle for a better world, as his vision for the better world itself, Bookchin was steadfastly opposed to any form of alienation. What was the point of revolution if some ‘council’ was controlling your participation in it rather than yourself? That was political alienation, leaving you as an individual as unfree as you were before..
Also, what was the point of a revolution to seize control of the means of production if once you had it you were going to use it to continue to destroy eco-systems, oppress women, or reproduce hierarchies in the workplace? Suffering from alienation from the natural world, and from other human beings on the basis of categories like gender and race with little real basis to them, what was the point of struggling for such a situation?
Do we even need to seize control of the factories and workshops that currently exist in the world? Are they not just tools for a society that we don’t want to exist any longer? If so, what was the point of identifying as a ‘worker’? What was the point of patiently acting like a good little trades-unionist and keeping ‘revolutionary’ discipline, until one day in the future when supposedly the union would be strong enough to take over the means of production? Was that ever going to happen, now that unions seemed to be completely sold out and serving a function to help keep workers in line for the bosses rather than being something actually controlled by workers themselves?
Weren’t the more radical workers the ones who grew their hair long, showed up to work stoned, bunked off work early to have sex with each other, and try to drop out to enjoy the beauties of nature? Were the hippies and other counter-culture types really just counter-revolutionary degenerates, as many old-school Communists of the day made them out to be, or were they not actually resisting capitalism and hierarchy through their daily lives while Marxists just wrote boring pamphlets about it?
Bookchin saw that the capitalism of the 1960s was not the same as that of the 1930s, and that the struggles against it were obviously not going to take the same form. While so many communists and anarchists refused to accept this, clinging on to their old dogmas as rigidly as ever, Bookchin was part of the new movement, using his Marxist background to help develop a new revolutionary theory for the new generation.
It was not enough to say that your goal was ‘socialism’ or ‘workers control of the means of production’, but that didn’t mean you abandoned that as a goal to focus only on ‘single issue’ campaigns about environmentalism and identity politics, as perhaps some radicals in the sixties were guilty of.
Rather it meant thinking about how the struggle for a sustainable relationship with the environment could actually be the same thing as a struggle for the workers control of the means of production, AND the deconstruction of traditional ideas of gender roles or racial stereotypes.
At the same time, it meant embracing all the new experiments in alternative lifestyles that young people were experimenting with, inspired in part by the writings of Burroughs and his beatnik contemporaries of a decade before. However, unlike Burroughs, Bookchin did insist that living a different, liberated lifestyle was not enough, and that actual revolutionary activism had to be taken seriously.
For all the revolutionary implications of his ideas and work, Burroughs had basically just been a bohemian artist bum, hanging out with other artists and intellectuals, taking drugs, going on holidays to exotic locations and having sex with a lot of young male sex workers of various nationalities. Bookchin was perhaps open minded enough that he wouldn’t have just called Burroughs a degenerate counter-revolutionary, but he certainly wouldn’t have held him up as a role model either.
In ‘Social Anarchism vs Lifestyle Anarchism – an unbridgeable chasm’, Bookchin angrily laments what was lost in the collapse of the old workers movement, revealing that he did not reject the spirit of it even if he critiqued much of the ideological baggage that it left us with.
The kind of person who simply tried to live an alternative lifestyle but who had no interest in helping to build a revolutionary movement, was no anarchist worth the name. He detested things like ‘anarchist cafes’ where a bunch of people would sit around acting like consumers in any other capitalist business, but covering the place with symbols of anarchism. That was the worst form of alienation of all – alienation from the meaning behind the words you are saying.
Someone else who decried this form of alienation was Alfredo M Bonanno, writing in the 1980s, when capitalism was even more clearly different from the 1930s. He called peoples attention to the fact that very little about what went on in Anarchist organisations or informal Anarchist ‘scenes’ had very much to do with fighting for a wider revolution, in his text “The Fictitious Movement vs the Real Movement”.
He saw how revolutionary groups built up ideas above their station, until they considered themselves to be more important than the wider working class, whether they were Stalinists, Trotskyists, Situationists, Anarcho-syndicalists or even just an informal group of radical hippies.
The real struggle, according to Bonanno, is happening all the time, out there on the streets and in the working-class ghettos of the post-industrial world. Capitalism had changed, just as Bookchin said, and there was no use getting stuck in the past and dreaming of the unionised workers taking over factories and farms to create a socialist society. That was just a ridiculous way to think when factories throughout Europe and North America were simply being shut down and relocated all over the world and more and more jobs were being lost to robots anyway.
Bonanno proposed thinking less in terms of people being ‘working class’ or not and more in terms of whether they were ‘excluded’ or ‘included’ in the ‘project of capital’. Bonanno uses the word ‘project’ a lot in fact.
Just as capital has its projects – wars, economic restructurings, the conquest of new areas of the natural world, and generally whatever will keep profits rising and the rich getting ever richer – so can revolutionary people have projects – to destroy the institutions of Capitalism, the State, Colonialism and Patriarchy, among other systems of oppression.
People who are excluded from the projects of capital are the dispossessed and shat-on peoples of the world, the kinds of people that Burroughs hung out with – illegal immigrants, landless indigenous peasants, street hustlers in the ghettos, queers, sex workers, etc. To people excluded from capital’s projects, or from the hierarchies of power based on gender, race or whatever else, life is a daily struggle already, that is going on all the time whether or not any revolutionary activists are around to see it.
Conversely, many of the unionised industrial workers, and indeed, members of socialist or communist parties, were in fact very much included in the projects of capital. You get trade union leader hobnobbing with capitalists , going to business meetings, being consulted on new big deals, and generally giving their consent to whatever the bosses want to do, so long as they can claim to be representing the interests of their members. So if there’s a war going on to get more natural resources into the hands of transnational corporations and out of the hands of local people or governments, then the workers in the industries needed for that war are of course complicit in it if all they care about is getting their union to give them a better salary for it, rather than actively trying to sabotage it.
The only people who would try and sabotage it would be those excluded from it, those who aren’t getting a share of the profits, not even a tiny one in the form of some wages paid by the hour in an arms factory. If an oil company is trying to cut down a rainforest, it is the local people of the rainforest who are likely to try and resist it in some way, not the unionised labour force in the logging company.
So what does this mean for the revolutionary project? We want to destroy all the big bad systems in the world and create a world where everyone can be as invidually liberated as a character from Burroughs’ Wild Boys, while living in Bookchin’s Social Ecological utopia. So who are we revolutionary types who want this going to ally ourselves with? The workers in the unions who are happy to work for capital’s projects so long as their union makes sure they get some meagre benefits or the excluded masses already struggling for liberation every day?
Bonanno lived through periods of mass insurrection in Italy in the 1970s and saw the race riots in the UK in the early 1980s. He saw how the Italian anarchist movement did not necessarily have anything to do with the real movement of people on the street, because maybe the people in the movement didn’t really understand the people on the street at all.
As Bookchin and the Situationists criticised the hiearchies of Marxist groups and showed how they could lead to corruption and a bureaucratic tendency emerging that could put the breaks on real struggles developing in more and more radical directions, Bonanno showed how the same thing could even happen with Anarchist political organisations that had no formal hierarchy.
By forming an organisation like a Federation of Anarchist groups, or an Anarcho-syndicalist union, or even just an informal circle of friends who all happened to be anarchists, all you were doing was cutting yourself off from reality and kidding yourself that you and your buddies were going to change the world. Bonanno said it more politely than this, but that was about the crux of it.
The struggles of the exploited and excluded are happening already. If anarchists want to try and use those existing struggles to build up a big militant movement strong enough to destroy the oppressive institutions once and for all, or even just win some significant victories against them, then we need to be out there where the struggles are really happening, not just hanging out with one another in a ‘revolutionary organisation’ that really just has its head up its own arse.
Bonanno’s advice was to avoid wasting time trying to build up an anarchist organisation with regular conferences and publications and the rest, or an informal scene based around some kind of café of the type that Bookchin detested, but rather to join up with just a handful of comrades you knew and trusted, and get out there to where excluded people were already in struggle and join in with them.
If you and your ‘affinity group’ of close trusted friends succeeded in making links with excluded people in struggle, whether they be undocumented migrants struggling to cross borders, or militant queers resisting police oppression, or even exploited workers fighting the bosses in one of the many industries in the world NOT organised by sold out trades unions, then you could find yourself being the nucleus of a real struggle- an autonomous base nucleus – a self governing hub of activity right at the ‘base’ – the lowest point of society.
Your affinity group of anarchists, alongside the people already in struggle, working together and learning from each other, could escalate the struggle into something more than what it was before. You could plan out a ‘trajectory’ that you want to see the struggle take, and make interventions to make it happen, constantly updating your plans in a spontaneous way as and when things change, but never losing sight of your overall ‘projectuality’ – the project of revolution, which you are doing it all for.
So, lots of big fancy words there – affinity, autonomous base nucleus, trajectory, projectuality. Bonanno even came up with a longer phrase still to describe the whole theory: ‘insurrectionalist anarchism’. We should point out that in Italian it is considered less poncy to use really long words.
So let’s think of an example. Say you are just a few friends who share a political perspective, close enough at least to feel you can work together and commit to each other. That’s all you need, no organisation, not even a ‘scene’ or ‘milieu’ of others around you.
You hear about a struggle going on, a struggle of people excluded from capital’s project who are fighting against an oppressive institution. It could be a bunch of people stuck in a border zone, facing daily police brutality and pitched battles in attempts to get through the border fences.
You see that you as revolutionaries who want to see the State destroyed have a common enemy with these people. They want to destroy the border, they are fighting against it. You want to destroy the border to, and you want to be part of fighting against it. So you go there with your friends and you try to join in.
As long as you don’t just stick rigidly to your group of friends and actually engage with the people in struggle in an honest and friendly way, you are bound to find yourself part of some kind of new group, that is not an anarchist group per se, but which includes both anarchists and other people, and which is actually involved in concrete activity already, is really part of the struggle and not just theorising about it. This is your autonomous base nucleus.
That nucleus of people can do various things. It can produce propaganda, it can raise money for itself, it can acquire resources, it can make strategies, it can have a formal structure or an informal one, whatever it needs to do what it needs to do, which is radicalise and escalate the struggle.
As long as it is actually part of the struggle, doing what needs to be done to build the struggle and win victories, it is not a pointless ideological group or a bureaucratic false entity. All that work of fundraising, producing propaganda, creating formal structures etc takes time and energy. It is worth that time and energy if it is actually part of a real struggle – it is not worth it if it is just some revolutionary debating society living in a bubble-world of its own.
If instead of theorising to one another, preaching to the converted and nitpicking over theoretical points that most people don’t care about, we used the theories of socialism, anarchism, feminism, environmentalism etc to help people already involved in struggle see how their struggles are linked to other peoples, and directly helping to build links between different struggles, then we would actually be contributing to building a revolutionary mass movement, not just talking about it.
So insurrectionalist anarchism is not actually opposed to formal organisation, or in building a mass movement. Insurrectionalist anarchism is actually a theory about how to build a mass movement consisting of many formal organisations – by getting out of our ideological ghetto as ‘revolutionaries’ in our scenes and revolutionary organisations – and actually getting stuck in to the real struggles, hoping to build them up into mass movements by bringing in a revolutionary analysis.
It says, sure, be an anarchist, or social ecologist, or whatever you want to call yourself. But don’t keep going on about it or trying to find others who want to start some little club of people who think exactly the same, just find people you agree with more or less and who you get on with well enough to work with, find some people in struggle and join in. Once you are there, part of a real struggle, then you can talk about how to organise things, based not on abstract theoretical notions but on the basis of whatever the struggle you’re involved in obviously need.
So this is what I mean by ‘insurrectionalism’, and this is what I think Bonanno meant too, not that it really matters. Many people these days in anarchist circles are calling themselves insurrectionalists when actually they are not engaged in any kind of insurrection involving real people but are actually just hanging around in a scene posing as revolutionaries with their friends and occasionally going out in their anarchist affinity group and smashing something up, just so they can feel smug.
Other people look at these people and assume ‘oh well, insurrectionalist anarchism must be a stupid set of ideas then’ and so don’t bother to actually read up on it. This is a terrible shame in my view.
It would be a bit like seeing some hippies inspired by Bookchin, working in an eco village, and thinking they cant possibly have any insights worth listening to if all they’re doing is running gardening workshops, or perhaps seeing some queer punks tearing shit up while listening to recordings of William Burroughs telling stories about talking arseholes and thinking there’s nothing revolutionary about it.
For me Burroughs showed us the attitude of a revolutionary – someone guided not by ideology but by the wild desires of their own subconscious, not able to fit into any abstract system of false rationality and not afraid to be called weird or ‘queer’ just for not confirming to a system built by conmen for their own twisted ends.
Bookchin did his best to give us a new set of theories about what the overall goal of revolutionary struggle is, taking the best parts of socialism and adding in a whole load of other stuff, and possibly providing the only realistic blueprint for a vision of a world which could survive climate change.
Bonanno gave us ideas about the methods to achieve such a world, not by getting bogged down in silly crap like the Judean Peoples Front but by just getting out there and doing it, uniting with the excluded in real struggles, trying to radicalise them in the direct of a full revolutionary insurrection.
You could call this combined approach a Queer Ecological Insurecctionalist one, and debate the merits of it with your ‘comrades’ in your scene or federation for a few years. Or you could just get out there and do it.