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Anarchy Is for Losers: On Failure and Its Charms October 4, 2012

Posted by Summerspeaker in Anarchism, Despair.

We, the disinherited, the pariahs, the helots, the plebs, the dregs, the scum, the filth of society: we who have no feelings, no eduction, no shame declare that we have reached the depths of misery and that the hour of our triump is at hand. . . .

with a few exceptions, anarchists are recruited from among ordinary criminals, lunatics, and insane criminals

marxism/ anarchism appeals to the angry loser and the jilted among us

Receiving two evaluations today has turned my thoughts to the subject of success and failure. The first evaluation, from those who have power over me, was negative — another rejected article submission. The second, from those who I had power over — students — was positive. This dynamic aligns with my politics and and place in the world. While some anarchists may contest the ideology’s association with criminals, losers, outcasts, queers, and rejects of all kinds, I passionately embrace this designation. I’ve no compunctions about declaring that my lack of status within the existing system goes light-years toward explaining my opposition to it. Envy and resentment indeed animate my spirit. Anarchism serves as a way for me to maintain a fierce sense of self-worth amidst the chorus of voices telling me I’m not good enough and offering that simple choice: conform or die. Were I successful under the status quo, I suspect I’d think and feel much differently. It’s difficult to imagine. I hate hierarchy when it’s on my side too, but with attenuated intensity.

So yes, anarchy is for losers as well as lovers. The prospect of social and material leveling holds obvious appeal to those of us who’ve lost again and again and again. Being judged would be bad enough in an egalitarian world; it’s nightmare when your access to even basic comforts and necessities depends on assessment from above. I’ve limited reason to believe I could ever assimilate enough to win a position of security within the logic of authority and meritocracy. I’ll never be disciplined, pretty, rigorous, or smart enough by their standards. In my case, critics are right: I seek revolution because I can’t (as well as don’t want to) succeed under the established framework. They consider this damning; I consider it structural grounds for transformation. Building a society of adamant autonomy and promiscuous generosity suits my rational self-interest. How else am I supposed to get nice things? Even if I wanted to sell out, nobody’s buying.

To be completely clear, I ain’t exalting powerless or preaching altruism. Empathy sits at the center of my worldview, but that’s distinct from self-sacrifice or what Friedrich Nietzsche called “slave morality.” I’m not looking for pity or condolences by my identification with failure, as nice as those can be. Rather, I’m making a proposal for radical change. We losers should gang up and fulfill our desires via a combination of destruction, expropriation, and production. Let’s take the physical wealth we’re denied and indiscriminately distribute love, affirmation, and recognition amongst ourselves. Anarchism isn’t — or doesn’t have to be — about asceticism, mediocrity, and victimhood. You can understand it instead as wildly ambitious gambit for status. I view my detractors with the same contempt as they view me, but critically without any interest in stifling their dreams. I’m a failure by their standards, not my own, and I’m going to keep it that way.

Some day — and I greatly fear that day is not very far distant — some professional anarchist (for there are professional anarchists as well as professional thieves) will consider that the time is ripe for rebellion, and, raising the fraudulent cry of “Labor against Capital,” instead of his legitimate cry, which is “Rapine, Murder, Booty!” will lead this army of degenerates, composed of anarchists, socialists, nihilists, sexual perverts, and congenital criminals, against society.

Expect us.


1. Dale Carrico - October 5, 2012

You can be a loser, but still helpful.

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