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Bookchin's Orientalism?

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  • ted.wrinch
    I was reading a bit of Bookchin s pamphlet Social Anarchism or lifestyle anarchism: an unbridgeable chasm , (published in 1995), when I came across this: The
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 3, 2012
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      I was reading a bit of Bookchin's pamphlet 'Social Anarchism or lifestyle anarchism: an unbridgeable chasm', (published in 1995), when I came across this:

      "The very incongruity of these essentially mixed messages, which coexist on every page of the lifestyle "zones", reflects the feverish voice of the squirming petty bourgeois. If anarchism loses its socialist core and collectivist goal, it drifts off into aestheticism, ecstasy, and desire, and, incongruously, into Taoist quietism and Buddhist self-effacement as a substitute for a libertarian program, politics and organisation, it will come to represent not social regeneration and a revolutionary vision, but social decay and a petulant egoistic rebellion. Worse, it will feed the wave of mysticism that is already sweeping affluent members of the generation now in their teens and twenties. Lifestyle anarchism's exaltation of ecstasy, certainly laudable in a radical social matrix but here unabashedly intermingled with 'sorcery', is producing a dream-like absorption with spirits, ghosts and Jungian archetypes rather than a rational and dialectical awareness of the world. "

      …If a social anarchist movement cannot translate its fourfold tenants - municipal confederalism, opposition to statism, direct democracy, and ultimately libertarian communism - into a lived practise in a new public sphere; if these tenets languish like its memories of past struggles in ceremonial pronouncements and meetings; worse still, if they are subverted by the 'libertarian' Ecstasy Industry and by quietisitc Asian theisms, then its revolutionary socialistic core will have to be restored under a new name."

      p 60 and earlier

      The fist thing that struck me is how very C19 Marxist it looks, from the language of internecine strife to the breaking up of the world into idealogical 'isms'. 'squirming petty bourgeois' is almost a stand-in for the Soviet era 'capitalist running dogs'. The next thing I noticed is that Bookchin, who is one of Der Staudi's mentors, 'takes a dim view', to use Der Staudi's expression, of Buddhism, Taoism and 'Asian theism'. Is this not the same misunderstanding of the oriental, 'refracted through a Western cultural prism' (again, roughly Der Staudi's term), that Der Staudi levels as a criticism against Steiner?


      Ted Wrinch
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