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Personal Blog of Mark Hoskins – Anarchist Writer and Activist

Five Reasons why “If Modern Anarchists fought in Spain” isn’t Funny or Clever.

(Author’s note: As of 11th August 2015, this post has in the region of 20,000 views, several thousand shares and still gets regular traffic. If, at the time I had realised it was going to get that much attention, I would have expanded more upon what I think the problems of modern anarchism are and what my politics are. If you want some context to this piece, I would suggest you have a look at this follow up piece that I wrote soon after and perhaps this first post on this blog. I don’t outline the broad scope of my politics in any one post, so for a broader overview, have a look at the posts in the communism category).

A lot of my friends on social media have been sharing, and apparantly chuckling at a webcomic called “If Modern Anarchists fought in Spain” (IMAFS), which lampoons the modern anarchist movement by contrasting it with the “serious anarchists” of yore. Far from being an amusing satirical comment on the state of anarchism today, it’s neither funny, nor clever and it sides with power over the oppressed.

Oh, I know what you’re thinking, those anarchists need to lighten up; it’s just a playful dig; It’s just like ‘Great Moments in Leftism’ (GMIL); and hey, it’s kind of true, right? But here lies the problem with the strip, it doesn’t actually tick any of those boxes.

Here are five reasons why:

(All images are from ‘RednBlackSalamander‘ on Deviantart and link back to the original.)

1. Fat is a class issue

if_modern_anarchists_fought_in_spain__part_1__by_rednblacksalamander-d7irpe5

In 1936, it was perfectly fine to label capitalists as “fat cats”. The rich ate the finest foods in whatever quantity they desired while the workers and poor lived from hand to mouth, and you could tell by looking. Today, obesity is common within the working class, because the cheap processed foods that many can afford, and have the time to prepare, are laced with transfats and refined sugars. At the same time, working class people are bombarded with images of slim super-rich celebrities with bodies they are supposed to aspire to. TV shows that poke fun at working class overweight people are often followed by shows featuring those svelte celebrities who we’re supposed to worship. In 1936 calling someone a “fat cat” wasn’t about body-shaming but about pointing to their wealth. People don’t give a shit what weight others are when their priority is how they’re going to feed themselves and their kids. The underlying message in this cartoon is that it’s stupid to object to “body shaming”, and the “serious anarchists” of the CNT in 1936 were above such feminist trivialities.

2. The CNT would not have let people unknowingly face violence

if_modern_anarchists_fought_in_spain__part_4__by_rednblacksalamander-d7k33l9

This isn’t the first time that RednBlackSalamander has poked fun at trigger warnings, but it’s just as silly as their previous attempts. The suggestion is that the militias that went to fight at the front in the Spanish Civil War were far too serious to be warned of the violence they were about to face, but, think about it; Would the CNT have allowed people to go to the front without letting them know there was, er, a bit of fighting going on? Moreover, would the artist think it was okay to walk up behind a veteran of the war and set off fire crackers behind their back? Might need a trigger warning, no? As one commentator tweeted a while back, “why don’t we get rid of nutritional information on food packaging too?” Television channels have had content warnings on programmes for years and no one objected.

3. It pokes fun at the oppressed

if_modern_anarchists_fought_in_spain__part_6__by_rednblacksalamander-d7lldm0 (1)

This strip isn’t funny, for the same reason that Little Britain isn’t funny. The BBC comedy sketch show poked fun at the disabled, the working class, trans people, overweight people and generally anyone who didn’t have a platform to respond. The above strip takes aim at anyone who objects to transphobia. Getting past the rather silly suggestion that modern anarchists would divert troops from the front to “investigate a transphobic comment”, the artist forgets that there were actual struggles against oppression within the anarchist movement in Spain. The Mujeres Libres (Free Women) was founded for the precise reason that “for all their commitment to equality, the boys/men would not treat girls/women as their equals”. But hey, lets not get distracted from the serious man business, eh?

To rub things in, number nine equates oppressor and oppressed, the rights of an activist victim of, say, sexual assault, with the rights of a fascist officer. This is one key area where IMAFS fails where GMIL succeeds. GMIL consistently takes aim at power within left organisations and those who follow orders, such as those in the SWP UK and the ISO US who tried to cover up the sexual assault of a female member by a man in a position of power. A strip depicting RedBlackSalamander getting called out by members of the Mujeres Libres for their shitty cartoons might be more appropriate.

4. A “black blocker” would jump at the chance of using a weapon

if_modern_anarchists_fought_in_spain__part_8__by_rednblacksalamander-d7mjjcm

Seriously, did RBS think this one through? If you think that smashing windows is fun, you’re probably going to enjoy firing a weapon. Moreover, this suggests that if you put a brick through a window, that’s all you’re ever going to do. Calling out transphobia and body shaming and organising are not mutually exclusive, and neither are bricking a window and organising. Context is everything, and this strip lacks context.

5. It has no depth, the characters are cookie-cutter people

if_modern_anarchists_fought_in_spain__part_10__by_rednblacksalamander-d7mt8ll

IMAFS fails as comedy. There is no story, no build up to the punchline and no depth to the characters. But, hey, these are just little comics, I’m expecting too much, right? I don’t believe so. The aforementioned Great Moments in Leftism successfully builds story and character in both single panel and multi panel strips, and is nine times out of ten, searingly satirical, even when taking aim at anarchists.

RedBlackSalamander claims to be an anarchist, claims that there is something to be salvaged from the anarchist tradition, but if they think that anarchism should be pared back to “important man stuff” and that everything else is a distraction from the class struggle, then their anarchism is not my anarchism. You can call for the socialisation of the means of production, for organising workers and communities to fight capitalism, without being a massive dick. Anarchism is a prefigurative politics, our means should match the ends, and activists have struggled for decades to address some of the inconsistencies within the movement. RBS it seems wants to turn back the clock. There’s nothing to chuckle at in reactionary drivel like this.

(Note: If you’re planning on leaving a comment, make sure you familiarise yourself with my comments policy and read the other comments, I’m not approving any more comments that repeat points I’ve already answered).

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46 comments on “Five Reasons why “If Modern Anarchists fought in Spain” isn’t Funny or Clever.

  1. Dave
    June 24, 2014

    No actually it manages to be both hilarious and an incisive political critique at the same time. Your comment that the CNT would need to let people know there was fighting at the front in a war is truly bizarre. I am a Marxist and think it is very funny.

    • El Marko
      June 24, 2014

      You’re obviously easily pleased when it comes to humour. I thought they were the comedy equivelent of fart jokes.

      On your other point – I wasn’t saying people had to be told there was a war going on, but the CNT wouldn’t have sent someone who didn’t know.

      Thirdly, thank you for sharing your ideological position with me. I hope that’s working out well for you. Some of my best friends are marxists.

      • Ken
        June 24, 2014

        Better to be easily amused when it comes to humor, than not amused at all. Some of my best friends are anarchists.

      • UzRich
        June 25, 2014

        to ken (below): why is it ‘Better to be easily amused when it comes to humor, than not amused at all’? it sounds deep but at the same time it looks like it’s going to crack under scrutiny and be another piece of airy rhetoric… on the other hand, what do i know? so tell me…

    • Doherty
      December 9, 2016

      One strip that gave me pause to think was the one where a character is reading a newspaper and says that Stalin seems to be someone to watch out for, while the ‘modern anarchist’ says ‘who cares, all politicians are the same’. I do think us on anarchist circles should pay attention to the nature of state capitalism and particular actors rather than to dismiss it as irrelevant since direct action beyond engaging with the state and capital is the way forward. If only for strategic reasons it’s important to keep an eye out on them and specific actors sometimes.

      • MarkH
        December 9, 2016

        Aye I don’t think that’s a big thing with modern anarchists though – I mean don’t most anarchists single out Trump’s incoming administration as something qualitatively different from the same old status quo politicians?

      • Doherty
        December 9, 2016

        To be honest I think Trump will be pretty status quo in his actions. He’s just standard neoliberal tax cuts for rich and big business and corporate deregulations, while at least talking about more protectionism to protect domestic industries and jobs. He’ll probably use the idea of protectionism in the same way that New Labour in the UK appealed more in rhetoric to social democracy while actually being neoliberal, if you know what I mean. It’s like the Third Way without the social democratic appeal, more protectionist with tax instruments and the potential end of NAFTA, from a guy that said offshoring is a great business move.

        So I don’t think it’s a fundamental change in the basic political economy towards fascism, which is annoying to hear from people. But there are differences that we should be aware of, however I guess there’s this impulse in me where I do kind of avoid thinking about Trump as being very different and don’t engage in those conversations as much as i should. It comes from a visceral place in me because the logic followed in those kind of conversations with what are non-anarchists friends in real life is that voting and the policies enacted from above as where everything important happens, and that singular actors like Trump determine the course of history rather than the underlying logic of state capitalism. So I guess there is a danger in me that this aversion to those conversations will distract me from real insights that are strategic for anarchist struggle

  2. donKey
    June 24, 2014

    this article is pretty fuckin stuck up, the seriousness and anger with which this piece aimed at another anarchist is written follows a trend discernible in radical activist groups to spent more time and policing on ‘internal policing’ than of facing external opponents. consequently energy is spent on weakining ties rather than strengthening them. it makes me sad, but its understandable because its much easier to attack equals than to resist those who are higher up. I’m not sure if I’d agree with the conclusions of deep green resistance, but their point of highlighting how infighting in the movement is damaging and thus damaging is a real one. its a pattern i see destroying networks over and over again.

    • El Marko
      June 24, 2014

      “consequently energy is spent on weakining ties rather than strengthening them. it makes me sad, but its understandable because its much easier to attack equals than to resist those who are higher up.”

      I find this particularly hilarious, because what RBS did, was exactly what you complain about, well almost; His series is total “internal policing”, only it isn’t aimed at equals, it’s aimed at minority strands within the movement who have to fight for their voices to be heard. I pointed that out when I contrasted the the strip with Great Moments in Leftism, twice. But I guess spending time drawing a ten part comic strip aimed at minorities in the anarchist movement isn’t divisive, doesn’t weaken ties and is progressing our cause?

      • Male
        October 22, 2016

        Is the approach criticized in this comic really a minor one in the anarchist movement? I’m not sure about that.

      • MarkH
        October 27, 2016

        In Europe it most certainly is, with the exception of the UK

  3. Savage
    June 24, 2014

    There is a grain of truth in El Marko’s post, the intention of the author of the comic strip should matter. . . if it is true that the author is using this as a way to marginalise and dismiss the critiques offered certain kinds of anarchist evolutions than, El Marko is obliged–maybe even obligated to “call it out”.

    On the other hand, there is something this blog post gets really wrong. And its a critique I would hold of a lot of what this blogger posts on this and similar topics. It seems you set up (intentionally) a false fault line between your views and that of others, e.g. the author of this comic strip. The world looks very sectarian from that angle, I have to be honest, and there is this George Bush mentality of “you are either with us, or against us.” I do not think that is helpful to anyone genuinely struggling to make sense of the critiques posed by feminism, anti-racism, etc and the need to hold those in tension with class analysis. I grant you they are intersectional – you can’t separate feminism and class (or any other -ism). But that does not mean that feminists do not have a sense of humour, that feminism exists without any reflexivity about itself and the serious mistakes and damage that certain tangents have created in the broader movement for solidarity.

    And that is essentially the issue I have with what might be a well-intentioned blog post that falls on its face. You, my blogger comrade, do not speak for all feminists, anti-racists, migrants, transpeople – in fact no woman speaks for all women, no trans-activists speaks for all trans-activists. In fact, I think the over-emphasis on post-structural epistemological deconstruction of theory, linguistics–you name it has a cost. Most of the time that cost is positive – we get things like intersectionality, a concept that has been and continues to be, however flawed, enormously helpful. But I do not deny that people have taken these sorts of theories to extremes where the notion that a feminist discourse was fundamentally about inclusion on the road to justice became about forming cliques of “good feminists” and “bad feminists”–those that knew the lingo and those that didn’t –and, in fact, where we could received feminists points for knowing never to write women (only wymyn–or forgetting that word all together) rather than using the experience, knowledge and skills that our new-found theories afforded us to find ways to organize more horizontally, challenge traditional modes of activism or communities of activists or ways of spreading our ideas.

    El Marko – you explain eloquently how means and ends are fundamental to anarchism’s prefigurative politics by bashing people over the head with it! How feminism is a dialogue of inclusion of the traditionally excluded by utilising a traditionally anti-feminist form of staking out an unyielding sectarian position/identity. The intention is good, the execution is so bad and so hypocritical as to make either you or feminism appear as nothing but utter nonsense.

    There is an important critique that the cartoons encapsulate that applies to feminists/trans-activists as well as many other groups (even, and maybe even esp. those consisting of straight, white cis males!), but if we can’t be critical of our own movements, if we can’t try to see how others view us with smidgen of humility our movement is finished, and our politics will be suffocated by the tyranny of righteousness.

    As a feminist I do not want to be robbed of the freedom offered in this humorous critique. Is it right? Hell no! Is it helpful? I think so. Is it funny? Yup.

    • El Marko
      June 25, 2014

      Hi Savage, sorry it took so long to approve your comment. I was waiting until I had time to reply. You raise some interesting issues so I wanted to give this my full attention. I’ll start from the bottom and work my way back up, if you don’t mind.

      1. No one is denying you the freedom to look at the cartoon strip. But freedom includes freedom to criticise, I took issue with the strip and used my personal blog space to write about it, just like you have the freedom to respond. Now, there’s been a massive internet response to this post, some hostile but, I would say a majority of positive, and the “critique” outlined in the cartoon, and my critique of it and the issues raised, are now being widely discussed. I would see that as a positive. Also, I thought the humour was lowest common denominator stuff and added nothing to the discussion, without a rigorous critique.

      2. Of course we can be critical of our own movements, we should, the problem here is that one type of criticism is aimed directly at new activists and minority strands in the movement. I think that can only have a silencing effect. These are the groups and issues that find it harder to eek out an existence within the existing anarchist movement, so I think that it’s important that critique is not one sided as it was in the comic. On the other hand, I don’t think making fun of people who oppose transphobic commentary is particularly useful.

      3. I honestly don’t see how I bashed anyone over the head with my outline of how anarchism is a prefigurative politics. I think that line was necessary, because some of the critiques of intersectionality border on the worst traditions of Trotskyist economism. I think that if someone takes that approach they really should take the black out of their flag and stick with red.

      4. My approach is far from sectarian, in fact I’d go as far to say it’s unyieldingly anti-sectarian. Sectarian, for me isn’t calling out other lefts and the sects that they are part of, if they are, it’s putting your own organisational and ideological interests before the interests of whatever struggle you’re engaged in. I’m saying that ridiculing trans issues and issues of sexual assault victims is sectarian and divisive.

      5. “do not speak for all feminists, anti-racists, migrants, transpeople – in fact no woman speaks for all women, no trans-activists speaks for all trans-activists.” Of course not, I’ve never claimed it, but I do speak for myself when I call for their voices to be heard, how they want, when they want, and not be silenced in the name of some ossified quasi-religious conception of class struggle that belongs with no age, never mind a bygone age. Essentially, I’m opposing red modernism.

      6. In that sense, I feel that an “post-structural epistemological deconstruction of theory” is useful, because part of what is happening on the left is that there is a growing emphasis on nostalgia, a golden vision of a past that never really existed where the left was united under one banner and the industrial proletarian was the revolutionary subject par excellence. The other part of it is that, harking back to the CNT of the 1930’s for direction on gender issues is not useful, because they had terrible gender politics. Hence the need for the Mujeres Libres as a separate entity.

      7. Following from this, it’s not a matter, IMO, of dividing feminism up into good and bad, on the basis of who knows the lingo and who doesn’t, it’s a matter of critiquing people and groups who can freely exchange phrases like Bourgeois and Proletarian, Commodity Fetishism, alienation and False Consciousness, and complain about complicated concepts when someone mentions privilege or intersectionality and those who point to the primacy of class when their concept of class amounts to dividing up postal codes.

      Finally, you mentioned reading stuff I wrote on this and similar topics, where did you read these? I only have one other post on this blog on anything similar.

  4. Pingback: [TMO.14.6.24] If Modern Anarchists fought in Spain.. | Tempering Mind and Organization

  5. Tio
    June 25, 2014

    You kinda just lost the run of yourself at number 5. Are you an scholar on sequential art and humour now? Because if was the case, neither comics would register on anyone’s quality radar, worth a momentary chuckle at contemporary culture just. The author did get heads nodding in his comics for a reason, Anarchists are beyond lampoonable.

  6. Pardo
    June 25, 2014

    A critique of a comic strip. Really? This would be a great workshop at a conference or a panel. I can’t help but think of the time wasted writing this instead of doing something useful. (and the time I wasted writing this . . . and the time you wasted reading this useless comment)

    • El Marko
      June 25, 2014

      I do plenty of useful things pardo, and it took me less than an hour to write this, but thanks for your concern. On the scale of useful, this ranks significantly higher than some of the things I do, like, binge watching doctor who, talking incessantly about various types of brown sauce and replying to your comment.

      There’s a bizarre theory that spins out on the internet, that if you’re doing something on the internet, you’re not a real activist, like, you can’t blog and organise campaigns. I blog because I’m an activist.

      Now, critiquing a comic strip, why not? It has a political message and anything with a poitical message is up for critique.

  7. Just another reactionary
    June 25, 2014

    To me, a common theme in his comics is that modern anarchists (and leftists in general) don’t really DO anything. I mean sure, they can sit on their blogs, preach to the choir, and wax philosophical about how using the word “stupid” is rooted in seething, ableist hatred, or how “fat cat” is now code for “I’m a capitalistic, misogynistic shill,” but ask these visionaries to confront people in the real world about these same issues and you’ll find that, by and large, they’re too deeply entrenched in their useless pissing contests to accomplish anything beyond going to a Food Not Bombs potluck every weekend.

    Regarding your first three points: something a lot of anarchists and leftists need to realize is that you can still support vulnerable groups without totally sanitizing every word that ever reaches their delicate ears. We all know the meaning of the phrase “fat cats,” and nobody will mistake it for body shaming unless they WANT to mistake it for body shaming, usually so they can appear more “enlightened” than their opponents. And unfortunately, that sort of thing is a trend among anarchists. People have co-opted legitimate movements, gutted them, and turned them into a sort of competition to see who can be the most accommodating person in the room, regardless of whether this accommodation was really warranted in the first place. In other words, it’s good to say “be happy with your body regardless of your weight,” but you’re taking it a bit too far when you say “eliminate the word ‘fat’ from your vocabulary entirely because merely allowing women to hear that word is, like, super oppressive.”

    And regarding the transphobia comic, I think the point is that identity politics (in part because they are incredibly easy for armchair activists to take part in) have become extremely popular and pushed other social issues off the radar. It’s not a case of “focus on my manarchist issues and fuck everyone else,” but more of a “hey, remember when we used to fight against capitalism and imperialism and stuff? Those things still exist, and blog posts and pride parades aren’t going to fix those.”

    The more traditional version of anarchism is “treat people as equals, and don’t be a fucking dick for no reason,” whereas the recently-popular form of anarchism is “here’s etymological proof that by using that seemingly harmless word, you’re an evil, bigoted sack of shit! HA, I WIN!” So yes, there is something worth salvaging from anarchist tradition: the desire to do something beyond stroking one’s own ego. That’s all anyone does anymore, and if we ever hope to see another anarchist society again, we have to get beyond that dick-waving nonsense, stop calling our allies “reactionaries” every time there’s a minor disagreement, and help society evolve in the most realistic, balanced, and nuanced way that we can.

    • El Marko
      June 25, 2014

      Well, I’ve been an activist for 23 years and I set up this blog because I don’t write enough and wanted a place for stuff that I wouldn’t post on wsm.ie – here’s some of that stuff, if you’re interested http://www.wsm.ie/mark-hoskins

      Now, I don’t think we have to sanitise every word, but it isn’t that much of an imposition to try not to offend someone, if it just means not using a word. Moreover I think the strip, because of it’s global reach (well, it reached me here in Ireland), has the effect of silencing new activists who these are major concerns for. I don’t think it’s too much to ask that us seasoned and in my case, white male activists sit back and listen to what others are saying rather than rolling our eyes or sneering.

      On your point on “identity politics” pushing “social issues” off the radar, in my experience that isn’t the case. If people would stop making transphobic comments, which again, is hardly a huge imposition, we wouldn’t have to spend so much time arguing with them. Ditto with trigger warnings – like is it going to kill someone to stick a few extra words at the start of a post or article? Yet we end up spending ages arguing about these things, because many white male anarchos, and yes some women, have taken issue with something that is akin to a “may contain nuts” warning on a food packet.

  8. Turtle
    June 25, 2014

    I agree with most of this. However, I want to challenge you on the medicalization of fatness, in the rhetoric of ”the obesity epidemic.” I don’t have ”obesity,” I’m a fat woman. Fat justice needs to be an inherent part of anarchism/anti-capitalism. Fat people are not victims of food giants, anymore than thin people are. Despite what we constantly hear from mass media and the Medical Industrial Complex, fat does not equal unhealthy and does not mean that you eat crap and don’t exercise. Pathologizing fat bodies [especially working-class fat bodies of color] plays a large role in upholding capitalism, white supremacy, and patriarchy. Please do research on Fat Acceptance and Health At Every Size, it’s all over the fucking internet. Also, it is true that fatness is correlated with poverty, however, the realities of food deserts and cheap high-sugar foods being most available to working-class folks, don’t necessarily explain that. Access to healthy, nutritious foods needs to be completely separated from fat people. There are PLENTY of thin working-class folks, and thin folks living in food deserts, who need access to healthy food. Studies have shown that fat folks are paid on average 24 percent less than thin people, are less likely to be hired, more likely to be denied health insurance or charged a higher premium, and constantly maltreated by medical professionals, who often do not actually address any medical problems, and just tell fatties to lose weight. I understand that you had good intentions, but I urge to please, do some research here http://kateharding.net/faq/but-dont-you-realize-fat-is-unhealthy/ http://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/faqs/ http://www.haescommunity.org/ http://swarthmoreindependent.com/2014/04/10/martinez-offers-guest-response-on-fat-justice/
    http://www.nolose.org/
    http://riotsnotdiets.com/post/4918906457/fat-acceptance-activism-resources-list
    http://www.virgietovar.com/blog/

  9. huddsludds
    June 25, 2014

    The cartoons make valid points about middle class political correctness and the way it has become a diversion from the central struggle. They can also be read ironically to show the limitation of traditional forms of struggle. Of course, the two eras are very different and counterposing them in this way provides both the humour and the questioning of our present values and those of the 30s. It has certainly provoked a debate. Anarchists should not fear criticism but invite it. We should also be able to laugh at ourselves and see the absurd in situations in which we find ourselves…even tragic ones. I don’t know the motivation of either the cartoonist, nor the writer of this blog. What I do know is that Anarchism is a house of many mansions and that we should all try and build without knocking down the walls of others. If that is your game it is indeed a waste of time and energy.

    • El Marko
      June 25, 2014

      I think you quit eloquently, prove my point about what the anti-anti-oppression strain of the anarchist movement is really about and how it makes it’s case.

      In the first sentence you categorise anti-oppression politics as “middle-class”. There is no basis for this claim. The working class is intersectional. The majority of LGBT people, the majority of people of colour, the majority of women are woking class, so their concerns are working class concerns. The pejorative use of the term “middle-class” has become a cliché of economist anarchism, and indeed of most brands of marxism. For those who deploy this insult, it no longer means small proprietors, small business and the top brass of the bureaucracies, it means ‘things they don’t like’ and ‘new fangled’ things they don’t want to learn about, or fear their lack of knowledge of will demote them from their positions as the theoreticians of the movement.

      As for trying to build without knocking down the houses of others, those who classify anti-oppression politics, intersectionality etc are trying to steal the bricks of the house others are building, smashing the windows before they reach the building site. If you want to build a movement of class struggle, it needs to be inclusive of any working class person, and anyone else who would be an ally.

  10. I am a moron
    June 25, 2014

    Keepin’ it simple, because I can’t do big words. I’m stooopid.

  11. Dio Söze
    July 1, 2014

    I thought they were both funny and clever. I understand the criticisms, but I think they miss the overall point: there was a period in time when anarchists presented as a real, tangible revolutionary struggle against the state and capitalism.

    In a modern context I think this can also be seen in the modern anarchist movements in Italy and Greece which are, fundamentally, anti-fascist and insurrectionist. This would be in contrast with anarchism in America that lacks true revolutionary, anti-fascist and insurrectionist elements.

    When I saw these they did not seem to undermine struggle any struggle, for example that of trans* individuals, but instead critique how fundamental elements of struggle (revolution and insurrection) have been abandoned almost completely by modern anarchists.

    • El Marko
      July 1, 2014

      “critique how fundamental elements of struggle (revolution and insurrection) have been abandoned almost completely by modern anarchists.”

      I certainly didn’t see that at all, and surely there were better ways to convey that than by picking on those issues. I accepted at the time that there was some element of “lost in translation” in the cartoons, but picking on those issues, was at the very least, thoughtless with regards to how people voicing them get silenced.

      Certainly, here in Ireland we haven’t abandoned “fundamental elements of struggle” – but we’re a long way from the idea of revolution being in any way tangiable. The immediate task is to popularise anarchist ideas and build a movement that is capable of posing that scenario, and we aren’t going to do that by marginalising the concerns of trans people, feminists, people of colour etc and taking the “we’ll sort this stuff out after the revolution” approach.

  12. Nationals
    July 4, 2014

    Making fun of people is as old as humor itself. Hell, it comprises a pretty major chunk of humor itself. It all depends on drawing the line between the blatantly inappropriate (e.g. blatant ableism like viciously mocking transpeople or African Americans) and light “roasting” as they call it in comedy (in the case of specific individuals).

    • El Marko
      July 4, 2014

      I don’t get your point. Are you saying that the cartoons qualify as “light roasting”? Or blatantly inappropriate?

  13. Pingback: On Being Divisive: Class struggle versus intersectionality or intersectional class struggle? | Self Certified

  14. boohoo
    October 7, 2014

    I am intellectually deficient.

  15. William
    December 17, 2014

    I think the comics are great. The accurately portray the weaknesses that plague modern anarchism. It’s pathetic and shameful. If anarchists of yester-year would have been able to see what anarchism has become-they probably wouldn’t buy into anarchism in the first place.

    Even though their has been more anarchist activity in recent times. Anarchists of today just don’t have what it takes to right the wrongs of the past, topple hierarchy at all levels, and help create a new order of society that is capable of preserving all life on this tiny planet.

    Here in the United States, it is definitely true-where anarchists, even at this dire moment in history, STILL haven’t laid the educational and organizational foundation to prepare people for self-rule. Collectivized workplaces are not ubiquitous. Neither is democratic, con-federal, and revolutionary-unionism. They are too busy trying to “occupy”, when what we really need is a TAKEOVER.

    Bottom line, the failure to build anarchism in this world rests squarely on the shoulders of every individual who calls himself/herself an “anarchist.”

    They all say that they want a revolution and to build a better and brighter world, but none of them have the work-ethic to build it, nor the back-bone to fight for it.

    They are too lazy, too disorderly, too stoned, too drunk, and have a straight-up lack of morals, which, by the way, is a necessity to build better relations between people in order to make a social-system life anarchism work.

    Too many are abusive. They are liars, cheats, addicts, thieves-and even rapists.

    So if you want to build anarchism-your going to have to do A LOT better than this.

    It’s about personal responsibility, and social accountability people.

    Their is a certain standard that you have to reach as a human-being before you can begin to start calling yourself an “anarchist”, and most of you-just don’t make the cut.

    • El Marko
      December 17, 2014

      You sound very bitter. You also seem to have a world view that belongs one hundred years ago. The anarchists of the early 1900’s were able to do what they did because they were numbered in their millions. They had organisations that they had built over decades and the enemy faced was altogether diffetrent. Of course they also had their problems – the fact that the Mujeres Libres existed was testement to this. But if you expect today’s anarchists to crbon copy the movement of the past, you are only trying to conjur up the walking dead of the 20th century.

      I also think you’re fond of red herrings (and not reading the other comments first because this has come up before). Because, despite your lengthy contribution, you didn’t deal at all with my criticisms of the comics. I never said that modern anarchism doesn’t have any problems – though my experience of European anarchism and of meeting anarchists of South America tells a very different story to yours.

      The problem with the comics, is they don’t engage with the problems of modern anarchism – they rage against feminist influence in modern anarchism. It’s not an attack on lifestylism – which isn’t even anarchism – it’s an attack on the movement moving into the 21st century and leaving behind the machismo of the past, because if we want to change social relations in the future, we need to build a movement with different social relations.

      These are some useful articles from the organisation I am part of (and the last one is another from this blog):

      http://www.wsm.ie/c/solidarity-solidarity-class-empowerment

      http://www.wsm.ie/c/anarchism-oppression-exploitation-policy

      https://selfcertified.wordpress.com/2014/07/07/on-being-divisive-class-struggle-versus-intersectionality-or-intersectional-class-struggle/

      Also here’s some stuff we’re involved in right now, lest you think we are lazy stoners:

      http://www.wsm.ie/water-charge

      • Doubletrouble
        December 17, 2014

        No sense of humour, douche!

        It isn’t my revolution if i can’t laugh! Who the hell are you to tell me what is funny and for what reasons?

      • El Marko
        December 17, 2014

        I am your father.

  16. Another Trot
    December 18, 2014

    Hilarious. In your attack of his comic, you become one of the people he’s targeting.

    Identity politics is worthless, worthless, worthless. At best, topics such as fat shaming, gender inequalities, race inequalities, are useless to the lefitst movement. At worst, they are extremely damaging as they have made it passive and helpless, stuck fighting a war on a half dozen fronts that accomplishes nothing of value while the massive societal problems between rich and poor, worker and owner, bourgeois and proletariat.

    The utter failure to realize that all the problems that “social justice” tries to address are ultimately useless and pointless to the left are a signal of just how weak modern leftism is. Oh no! Women don’t make as much money as men if you look at a set of data in a certain way! There aren’t enough blacks in management! Gays can’t marry everywhere! I’m sad and these are all problematic! Get real. None of this actually matters once you realize that attempting to fix these problems is doing little more than shuffling around which people go where in our society. It doesn’t matter if 90% of all rich people are white men when they make up only 30% of the country. Trying to cram more blacks and women only means more blacks and women get bayonetted for being bourgeoisie.

    • El Marko
      December 22, 2014

      It isn’t often that I use the word cretin, but I think it’s appropriate here. No one here is asking for a bit more minority representation amongst the rich. We want to build a movement that is inclusive of the working class as a whole and that means tackling the issues that concern the vast majority of the working class – and that majority is not white, not male etc. I’d wish you good luck trying to build your workers movement that ignores the oppression of women, homosexuals, trans folk, people of coulour, people with disabilities etc. but to be honest, I don’t think a white supremacist patriarchal socialist movement is desirable.

  17. docflamingo
    May 26, 2015

    Just read this. I am fully on the side of the guy who drew the comics. The left has been overrun with whiney little shits who don’t care about changing anything they just want people to know they are superior to them.

    • MarkH
      May 26, 2015

      Looks like you’re the whiney little shit who only cares about changing things that matter to you. It’s the superiority complex of the lefty “intellectual” that raises the need for a response to this cartoon and the ideas promoted by it.

  18. proletarianbeats
    August 2, 2015

    I liked your piece, I think it is important especially since this guy is so popular. I liked him a fair bit for a long time and even sent him a message gushing over some of his art which given new information presented to me is kinda embarrassing, I at first thought these comics where jokes and not things the author was actually trying to argue, but apparently he is actually this much of an ass.

  19. Eric V. Kirk
    August 3, 2015

    Of course they’re “cookie cutter people.” They’re comic strip characters!

    I’m sorry, but your post only underscores the point of the satire.

    • Eric V. Kirk
      August 3, 2015

      Okay, that wasn’t productive. I want to discuss this with more depth when I have the time. I understand your concerns, but the point of satire is to play with caricatures to make a point. It’s not to say that the issues of today aren’t real or necessary. It’s about how those battles are being fought – the whole original sin approach to oppression and the point to where political correctness in its worst forms stifles rather than encourages discussion. The point of how we demand an equivalent level of consciousness and awareness before we’re willing to side with such people in the portions of struggle in which we have unity. The aspect of identity politics which emphasizes shaming and anger over education and consciousness raising. Telling people who are privileged in a given context that their intentions don’t matter – may be true, but putting it in those terms just doesn’t win them over because human nature. The emphasis on putting everyone through an ideological meat grinder because if they don’t say something just the right way, with the right terminology (which is unfortunately fluid and hard to learn, and often lacking in consensus among the oppressed in context – example not all black people want to be called “African Americans,” and many Native Americans embrace “Indian” with pride – so how do we deal with that as whites?). We spend so much time obsessing over the language itself that we forget the sticks and stones principle, because “oppressed people get to decide whether something is oppressive,” and actually that’s just not really true in every case.

      The comics present a discussion. The use of satire is effective, and every activist really ought to study the concept of irony because so few people really understand it.

      • MarkH
        August 4, 2015

        Hey Eric,

        One of the key points that I make in this piece is that effective satire punches up. IMAFS takes aim at those without power, therefore it fails as satire. You make a good point about not putting everyone through an ideological meat grinder – I think this is precisely what IMAFS does. A lot of people embracing intersectional feminism and privelege theory, a lot of tumblr activists are new to the scene. They are finding their way through theory and often find themselves the subject of condescention from seasoned lefties. In a follow up post to this one I wrote about taking an intersectional approach to class struggle, precicesly to meet these new activists half way.

        Now, I think I said so somewhere else, but the modern anarchist movement does have real problems. There are pockets of misogyny, there is vegan lifestylism (I’ve no problem with vegans btw, just the vegan taliban), class purism and nostalgia etc and IMAFS fails to deal with these and in fact itself, falls into the category of anarchist nostalgia. At the end of the day, it’s a poor effort and does nothing to advance the conversation.

        Mark

  20. STLICTX
    October 20, 2015

    I personally found the comics to be quite funny. I also think that dealing with the specific forms of oppression that different groups experience is something that DOES need to be addressed within any real form of revolutionary movement, whether this oppression is due to race, neurological divergences, sexual orientation, physical disabilities or whatever… but I also think that language policing/expecting everyone to conform to what amounts to middle class speech patterns is an ineffective way of actually addressing any form of oppression. For example, I’m a mental patient; if someone dismisses anything I say due to that it doesn’t matter if they call me crazy or if they call me a ‘person with mental illness’, and in fact I would find the mealy-mouthed nature of the second to be more offensive; it’s the actual dismissiveness that is the issue to me. If someone calls me a crazed psychotic but is willing to actually listen to what I have to say they’re far better in my book than someone who conforms to whatever bullshit PC term is considered acceptable but will just dismiss anything I have to say because obviously it must be “your condition” which I should “seek help” for. For this reason, I piss and shit on most so-called “mental health awareness”.

    Thee’s also the fact that certain ‘crude’ terms are part of peoples speech patterns, that they don’t mean anything offensive by it it’s just what they grew up to view as acceptable… which again, seems far less of a problem to me if it doesn’t effect how people are actually regarded and treated than using ‘correct’ speech while internally and in action being a bigoted dickwad.

  21. Rodney
    July 29, 2016

    Point proven!

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This entry was posted on June 24, 2014 by in Anarchism, Class, Feminism, History and tagged , , , , , .
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