Bjørneboe, Gateavisa, and post-anarchism
Is it possible that traits from anarchism still have great validity for some of us today?
The 20-page "PERSPECTIVE" of this issue is devoted Jens Bjørneboe. He would turn 100 in October. It is also 50 years ago Gateavisa was established. They both promoted anarchism at the time. But how relevant is it to be an anarchist today?
Bjørneboe spoke at the time in 1971 to the Norwegian Student Society in Oslo that «a society is a healthy society only to the extent that it shows anarchist traits». Here anarchism is more of an adjective, as is the extent to which a society manages to be democratic.
I perceive anarchism as freedom and solidarity, and as Bjørneboe said, “it only exists degrees of freedom». And freedom must be concrete, not abstract or too idealistic. As he told the students, Leninist communism is "anti-freedom."
A couple of years earlier, he left the character Ilja in the novel Powder Tower (1969) tell of his time as a Russian persecuted anarchist: Marx believed that the ultimate goal of communism was the dissolution of centralized state power. But Lenin "created hatred of the intellectuals" and "the myth of the unreliability of the intellectuals." Ilja i Powder Tower also refers to Rosa Luxemburg: "Lenin's terrorist medicine was worse than the disease to be cured." Here, as in the other two books in the trilogy "The History of Bestiality", there are also plenty of examples of how evil or cynically cruel people can become - individually or as a herd and people. Any deviant or anarchist is an easy victim of torture and persecution. In addition to Ilja, Bjørneboe also gives a "lecture" about the executioner's history - among the insane in the asylum in the old gunpowder tower. The history of bestiality is now played at Det Norske Teatret and is based on this second book in the trilogy.
From the more conservative side, anarchists are detested as "nihilists» - a term also used by the court system for Bjørneboe in the trial of the pornographic book Without a thread. Well, Bjørneboe found in a lexicon "nihilism" explained as "A philosophical direction that refuses to acknowledge inherited, handed down and conventional 'truths' until one has even examined their 'truth content'". Yes, one often hates the irreverent critical intelligence.
Bjørneboe describes in another essay, Anarchism as a future, how the many anarchist variants wanted a reduction of state power, the 'static' as it is derived from 'state'. Bjørneboe envisioned "a horizontal society, divided into free, independent municipalities or federations". For anarchism is both local and international, as we with COVID-19 need a health cooperation locally - but not least internationally and federally.
Lenin described anarchism as both "a bourgeois prejudice" and "one of the childhood diseases of radicalism" - which would die out by itself. Well, both the Soviet Union and the United States forcibly removed the anarchists.
Bjrneboe, for his part, described anarchism as the only attempt at libertarian socialism. At nytid.no you will find several of his articles from our predecessor Orientering, as the series «socialism and freedom» about this.
About the future, he assumed that anarchism would be "the most vital political impulse from now on."
The most prominent first thinkers of anarchism were Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Mikhail Bakunin, Peter Kropotkin and Leo Tolstoy. As you could read about where Pax Forlag published Daniel Anarchist reading book (1970) by Strand / Astorp. Interesting is a quote in Guerin's book that can shed light on Bjørneboe's interest in deviants and criminals: "The criminal is the unauthorized criminal, who has lacked skill, luck or the opportunity to express his crime within the power structure."
Anarchists are rebellious individuals, communists, "intruders of intelligence", maladapted - or as Proudhon is referred to anarchism, they have an opposition to «being controlled, that is to be watched, inspected, spied on, directed, given laws and rules for, fenced, taught, preached for, controlled, assessed, judged, censored, commanded - by people who do not have the right, knowledge or good enough qualities for it […] ».
This was probably setting the tone for Gateavisa as a collective in Oslo. The book Everything possible from Gateavisa, 1970–1986 is now coming out in October. 15 veterans have written articles about their work in the vital environment in Hjelmsgate. Les Audun Engh on Gateavisa and Bjørneboeor Thomas Hylland Eriksen as «late hippie». The book of over half a thousand pages also contains 110 expressive Gateavisa front pages, and old "fake" election posters as well as comics. It is written about deviations, distaste, radical undercurrents, Bibles, hashish, state power, counterculture and the editors' struggles and heart issues. Or what they found in Gro and Kåre's rubbish bins before the parliamentary elections in 1981.
To be governed is to be watched, inspected, spied on, directed, given laws and rules
for, fenced, taught, preached for, controlled, assessed, judged, censored, commanded.
The book editors Audun Engh and Ulrik Hegnar writes in the preface that they were inspired by the Kristiania bohemian, surrealism, Dadaism and existentialism. The editorial staff accepted self-recruitment, and the collective consisted of informal decision-making processes, volunteer work and discussions. And the "reverse right of veto", proposed by Christian Vennerød, allowed one to demand a selected article in print. When the discussions were thorough, she / he could possibly be convinced of something else, but never forced. Articles were also exchanged internationally through the Underground Press Syndicate (UPS).
Gateavisa provoked both an established press and the more dogmatic left. They were sued three times: for an ad with Hitler and Volkswagen; Christian People's Party Kåre Kristiansen in a pornographic context; as well as on the occasion of the conflict with the AKP (ml) movement - which claimed that the 1st May train was initiated from the grassroots. For no, the AKP was behind, the train was steered from above.
Everyone in the editorial staff wrote for free, and they had a network of street vendors. They had 4000-5000 subscribers, but let prisoners get the newspaper for free.
So what's left of '70s anarchism today? The book Gramsci is Dead - Anarchist Currents in the Newest Social Movements (2005) av Richard JF Day shows how important "anarchic traits" have been for much political and critical work in recent decades. Anarchism cannot be a political national party. It is also a long time since the 1800th century anarchist ideas of violent revolution - which easily recreate the oppressive power one wants to remove. As we mentioned earlier in MODERN TIMES, is destitusjon, a kind of "demobilization", rather preferable. See also my interview with Don Lowe, one who chose to live away from enemy and power relations.
As mentioned in German Anarchism 2.0 by Degen / Koblauch (2009) Autonomous groups, direct action and anarchist practices are preferred: activities that undermine the authoritarian, state, centralized, capitalized, militarized, patriarchal, racist and sexist. And often organized in collectivist, feminist, reformist, pacifist or communist networks.
Here in MODERN TIMES you will sometimes find pragmatic or post-anarchist features - and we highlight Bjørneboe and Gateavisa this time. In recent times, many have found political inspiration from thinkers such as the French Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, and yours anti-Ødipus (1972) or A thousand plateaus (1987): The latter criticizes the "primordial state", and the state's many "capture devices" - as we see developed in today's security and control society. We recommend nomadic lifestyles, lines of escape and thinking rhizomatically (in braids) rather than hierarchically. "Do not fall in love with power!" wrote Michel Foucault i Anti-Oedipus'foreword. Although he did not explicitly write about anarchism, the inspiration is clearly behind his descriptions of "governmentality".
As suggested in Days' book: The time is ripe for the reuse of the anarchist, for a "post-anarchist subjectivity".