Saint Scmidt

Accursed Anarcism: Five Post-
Anarcist Meditations on Bataille
2009
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Contents
1· Bataille as a Post-anaichist· Wheie to Begin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
2· Beneath the Geneial Economy. the State' . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
3· Nihilist Anaichism and the Piinciple of No-thing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
4· Te Gif is Voluntaiy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
¯· To Have Nevei Begun. To Have Nevei linished . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1¯
0· Exciement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1õ
Refeiences . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1õ
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“I am myself a war” — Georges Bataille
1: Bataille as a Post-anarcist: Where to Begin
Any inquiiy into the natuie of Geoiges Bataille’s tioublesome ielationship with Maix-
ism appeais to me to be a mauei of banality expiessed thiough the hysteiical (oi woise.
univeisity) discouises inhabited by those who would not daie piobe the traumatic na-
tuie of Bataille’s commitment to sovereignty
1
, in any case. this vexing ielationship is by
now a mauei woup A A
A A A T A p A o `A h A A A A A -qA A A A A tv u u A A A A /A A oA /A A A A A o A A A A
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of a distinctly post-stiuctuialist/post-modeinist lineage have not been met by deaf eais
noi by idle pens (c.f. Doifman. 2002),
3
foi instance. not long afei Bataille’s death Tel
Qel — an avant-gaide liteiaiy jouinal opeiating out of Paiis at the time — had incisively
gianted Bataille this veiy appiopiiate distinction — the iiony of which becomes exposed
as the occuiience pieceded the populaiization of stiuctuialist thought itself (Bouing
& Wilson. 1991· ¯–¯. esp. pg õ). What iemains to be excavated fiom Bataille’s texts.
howevei. is the natuie of his commitment to that pioud adveisaiy of Maixist thought·
anarcism. Tis ventuie iesolves itself into two inteiielated questions· (1) how might
a contempoiaiy anaichist iead into Bataille’s woik` and (2) how might Bataille iead
into tiaditional anaichism and how might this ieading infoim contempoiaiy anaichist
philosophy` My pioject embodies the mutual violence of saciifice and auiaction· it
implies that l shamefully sacrifice Bataille to the cause of anaichism, howevei. the iesult
will piove itself quite paiadoxical· theie may indeed be ioom foi Bataille within the anai-
chist canon. alongside Max Stiinei and liiediich Nietzsche. Howevei. this canonization
iequiies a movement away fiom the founding piinciples of anaichism (some of which
aie exploied in othei meditations) towaid the embiace of sovereignty and. in the face of a
metaphysical piinciple of such magnitude and geneialization that we might only iefei to
it in the negative foim. ontological an-arcism (“without iuleis”, oi an-arcy foi shoit),
an-arcy is compiised of the heteiogeneous mauei iesolved thiough the negation of an
opposing piinciple· “íheteiogeneity] constitutes the fiist phase of such a study in the
sense that the piimaiy deteimination of heterogeneity defined as non-homogeneous sup-
poses a knowledge of the homogeneity which delineates it by exclusion” (Bataille. 198¯b·
140). As the ontological anaichist Hakim Bey (1993 í2009]) has put it· “As we meditate
on the nothing we notice that although it cannot be de-fined. neveitheless paiadoxically
we can say something about it (even if only metaphoiically),” what we have to say is that
it is a no-thing. equally a no-idea. and in its base mateiialist and base political foim it is
an-arcy.
A commitment to an-arcy is itself a commitment to the discoveiy of that excess-ive
and ill-defined poition of mauei that shaueis the shoit-sightedness of the idea(l) within
the iestiictive economy of epistemology (what the gieat Max Stiinei has called the “Spook”
(c.f.. Stiinei. 19¯0· ¯0–¯4)), it can iightly be iefeiied to as the geneial economy, in tuin.
the geneial economy. being itself the economy of the base, is bolsteied by what l would
like to call the general State. Te analytical distinction that l employ between economy
and State is impoitant in the following iespect· wheie the geneial economy iefeis to
the excess-ive eneigy that tianscends the paiticulai uses to which it is put (which. in
tuin. implies the fundamental impeimanence of the cuiient conception of the iestiictive
State and iestiictive economy). the geneial State iefeis to the no-thing upon which the
geneial economy founds its logic and enfoicement outside of logical time (if the economy
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loi example. Doifman has aigued that “ít]ogethei with Nietzsche and Heideggei. íBataille] is ofen posited
as one in a countei-lineage in late-modein thought. willing to exploie elements of the human expeiience
that much of positivistic. iationalistic. post-Enlightenment philosophy was not (foi example· powei. time.
tiansgiession and deviance)” (2002· 38).
4
is the miiioi of means, then the state is the miiioi of ends), on the othei hand. the subject
of the iestiictive (Maixist) State tiies to giasp what Bataille has called “some object
of acquisition. something, not the no-thing of puie expendituie ífound in the geneial
State]. lt is a question of aiiiving at the moment when consciousness will cease to be
a consciousness of something; in othei woids. of becoming conscious of the decisive
meaning of an instant in which inciease (the acquisition of something) will iesolve into
expendituie, and this will be piecisely self-consciousness, that is. a consciousness that
hencefoith has nothing as its object” (1980· 190), it is not a wondei that money has no
value in the jungle. but that it iequiies the powei of iitual and the placement of an
impeimanent some-thing into successive inteivals· the economy of utility. theiefoie. is
still nothing but an economy of play without the imposition of the iestiictive State. a
single instant of the State-foim.
l am undei no illusion when l confess the following· the announcement of this small
pioject is the maik its betiayal
4
(as we will see. this is piimaiily a woik of an-arcism
iathei than an-arcy, a woik which embodies the illusionaiy maik of the sign and its
concomitant gestuie towaid the domain of utility, howevei. and quite paiadoxically.
it does so in the seivice of the piinciple of heterogeneity, which is. in tuin. put to the
seivice of an-arcy). What l wish to gain fiom this study aie the fiagments of a distinctly
Bataillean vaiiant of anaichism which. l would like to aigue. pioves itself to be moie
anaichistic (moie in tune with the subject of anaichism. that is. with an-aichy) than
anaichism pioves itself to be. Howevei. befoie pioceeding l must piovide some-thing
about the logic of the geneial State in the woik of Bataille — an idea that is nevei given
the label “geneial State” but which is sufficiently hinted at to piovide us with a movement
towaid Bataillean anaichism — if l am to continue to advance the case foi anaichist
theoiy.
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2: Beneath the General Economy, the State!
Neveitheless. one detects a peculiai omission in the wiitings of Geoiges Bataille which
no doubt stem fiom his desiie to mythologize the discouise of scaicity and endless
pioductivity peivasive in the woik of the political economists of the time, while it was no
4
With Bataille l will insist the following· “My ieseaich aimed at the acquisition of a knowledge, it demanded
coldness and calculation. but the knowledge acquiied was that of an eiioi. an eiioi implied in the coldness
that is inheient in all calculation. ln othei woids. my woik tended fiist of all to increase the sum of human
iesouices. but its findings showed me that this accumulation was only a delay. a shiinking back fiom the
inevitable teim. wheie the accumulated wealth has value only in the instant” (Bataille. 1988· 10–11). Howevei.
Bataille was foiced to make this confession in light of his strategic and hence political belief that it was tiuly
impoitant to move otheis to undeistand what it was that he was able to discovei and so he could not fully
come to teims with the natuie of his desiie· a desiie which was simultaneously political. utilitaiian. and yet
also in the seivice of an-arcy. loi an inteiesting post-anaichist discussion on the paiadoxical use of strategy
see Sepaiating Te Sands (2009).
5
A futuie study will also iequiie a ie-ieading/ie-wiiting of the piactices of Potlatch and gif-giving in light of
theii Statist implications.
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doubt impoitant to exploie the notion of a general economy founded on the metaphysical
piinciples of excess and limitless consumption. Bataille’s woik does not outline (at least
not explicitly) the metaphysical piinciples iegulating this economy. At the restrictive level.
this pioblem has the analogy best exhibited by the tiaditional anaichist ciitique against
the political logic of the Maixists. Te of-cited nineteenth centuiy anaichists (heie. l
will iestiict my focus of Mikhail Bakunin and Pyoti Kiopotkin) set out to discovei a
fundamentally new foim of political logic which was to be distinguished fiom the Maixist
logic of class inheient in the base/supeistiuctuie synthetic paii.
6
What they found was
that the Maixist analysis of political oppiession neglected the self-peipetuating and
independent logic of the State and that. accoiding to Bakunin (and echoed by countless
othei anaichists to this day). the Maixists “do not know that despotism iesides not so
much in the foim of the State but in the veiy piinciple of the State and political powei”
(1984· 220). loi the tiaditional anaichists. the State — as the fundamental appaiatus of
powei in society — iepiesented the baibaiity of the tiansfei of powei fiom the people
to the tyiannical gioup, howevei. these anaichists held a paiticulaily naiiow analysis of
what piecisely constituted this tyiannical gioup and an even naiiowei undeistanding of
the natuie of this influence on the multitude of woikeis and peasants. Todd May. the post-
anaichist. put the mauei nicely· “lt is a mistake to view the anaichist diatiibes against the
state as the foundation foi its ciitique of iepiesentation. Te state is the object of ciitique
because it is the ultimate form of political iepiesentation. not because it is founding foi
it” (emphasis aie mine, 1994· 4¯). lf l may be peimiued the minoi inconvenience of
this ieduction. as all wiiteis inevitably aie. then l may say that it appeais to me that the
tiaditional anaichists ultimately believed that the State emeiged as a foieign body and
imposed itself entiiely against the will of the people (ignoiing. foi the moment. the iole
of ideology as one of the vehicles foi its self-peipetuation). theiefoie logically piecluding
the possibility foi fiee. spontaneous. action on the pait of the people in all instances
theieafei·
Tey íthe Maixists] maintain that only a dictatoiship — theii dictatoiship.
of couise — can cieate the will of the people. while oui answei to this is·
No dictatoiship can have any othei aim but that of self-peipetuation. and
it can beget only slaveiy in the people toleiating it, freedom can be created
only by freedom, that is, by a universal rebellion on the part of the people and
free organization of the toiling masses from the botom up (emphasis aie mine,
Bakunin. 18¯3 í19¯3]· 288).
While the anaichists piessed foi the means of political ievolution to match theii ends (in
othei woids. foi political ievolution to cease to use the State/powei), the piobability of life
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loi ieview· in Maixist dialectics. the Base. which compiises all ielations of pioduction. deteimines. in the
final instance, the supeistiuctuie (which is. ioughly. the subjective dimension). As Maix put it· “íT]he
economic stiuctuie í..] is the ieal basis on which the í..] supeistiuctuie is iaised. and to which definite social
foims of thought coiiespond, that the mode of pioduction deteimines the chaiactei of the social. political
and intellectual life” (Maix. 18õ¯).
õ
fiee fiom the contaminating effects of the State (the point of depaituie foi spontaneous
political ievolution) does not appeai to be piesent and this iendeis the piospects foi
ievolution highly unlikely without the saciifice of means (this is the hegemonic logic
of iefoim/ievolution, c.f. Day. 200¯). Despite this. the incompatibility between the
means of political ievolution and the ends (ends· in the tiaditional anaichist conception
is a woild fiee fiom powei, a “univeisal biotheihood”) theiefoie maiked the haishest
ciitique leveled against the Maixists. but it also signaled an implicit. if only unconscious.
solidaiity between the anaichists and the Maixists which iemains appaient in the naïve
discouises of tiaditionalists until this day· piecisely. what the tiaditional anaichists have
been unable to put to piopei disposal is. as the post-anaichist Saul Newman iightfully
contends. the ciude Manichean sepaiation between the “good” people (undeistood to
be the embodiment of the essentially “human” identity) and the “bad” State (undeistood
to be the sole possessoi of powei and the cential location fiom which it emanated. in
a unidiiectional flow),
7 8 9
“Has íanaichism] not meiely ieplaced the economy with the
state as the essential evil in society. fiom which othei evils aie deiived`” (Newman. 2001·
4¯). We have theiefoie discoveied the ability to undeistand to some degiee the questions
which continue to plague the minds of subjects becoming-sovereign today· we ask the
following questions to all ianges of political actois· “What is youi undeistanding of the
natuie of powei and what is the natuie of iesistance`”. “Wheie can each of these piecise
eneigy-flows be found to ieside and how might they be desciibed to function and in
which diiection(s)`”. “What possibilities aie offeied and piecluded by these conceptions`”
My ciiticism begins with the assumption that tiaditionalists continue to invoke the
pioblematic assumption that powei deiives piimaiily fiom the (political) State
10
. flowing
7
loi a moie in-depth discussion of tiaditional anaichism’s Manichean logic see Saul Newman. 2004b.
8
Bakunin. foi instance. aigues that· “íthe State] is essentially founded upon the piinciple of authoiity. that is
the eminently theological. metaphysical. and political idea that the masses. always incapable of goveining
themselves. must at all times submit to the beneficent yoke of wisdom and a justice imposed upon them. in
some way oi othei. fiom above” (19¯1· 142) and Kiopotkin. likewise. aigues that “íthe] oiigin íof the State
aiises fiom] the desiie of the iuling class to give peimanence to customs imposed by themselves foi theii
own advantage í..] customs useful only to iuleis. injuiious to the mass of the people. and maintained only by
the feai of punishment” (í200¯]· 20¯–õ), the most stiiking example that l could find at the time of wiiting this
follows· “Te State í..] is the most flagiant. the most cynical. and the most complete negation of humanity.
lt shaueis the univeisal solidaiity of all men ísic] on the eaith. and biings them into association only foi
the puipose of destioying. conqueiing. and enslaving all the iest” (Bakunin. 19¯1· 133–4). Kiopotkin is also
notable in this iegaid foi his insistence that “mutual aid” constitutes itself as a law of human natuie· “Mutual
Aid would be consideied. not only as an aigument in favoui of pie-human oiigin of moial instincts. but also
as a law of Natuie and a factoi of evolution” (1902 í19¯õ]· 4).
9
Tis pioblem is best aiticulated by the iange of “post-anaichists” (c.f.. May. 1994, Newman. 2001, Call. 2002,
and my foithcoming book “Anaichy at the Biink· Te Post-anaichism Anthology” 2009)
10
Sometimes they will expand upon this single-item list to include Class and Patiiaichy. and even at times
ieligion. Howevei. as we witness today the piolifeiation of these identities of iesistance. we begin to feel
a bit schizophienic, one might wondei how many categoiies of iesistance a given political subject might
appiehend befoie exploding fiom all of the piessuie`
¯
outwaid/downwaid to iepiess an otheiwise cieative and “good” human essence,
11
my
concein has been that this theoiy. positioned as it is within the hopelessly iestiictive
economy of utility and form, does not offei the ieflective suiface iequiied foi piopeily
philosophical meditations which. in tuin. may actually lead one to become a sovereign
subject capable of the type of spontaneous action called foi within tiaditional anaichist
doctiine.
l must biing this discussion back on point. Te tiansfoimation of the tiaditional
anaichist discouise (ie-wiiting it. as we all have done in oui own way) invites the occasion
foi an inteiesting second ieading. beginning with the following simple metaphoi· if. foi
the tiaditional Maixists. the domain of class iefeiied also to the domain of utility
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then.
foi the anaichists. we may piopeily deduce that the domain of the State iefeiied also
to the domain of ioutine (utility set in time) wheieby oui gestuies aie ieduced to the
least tiaumatic movements (wheieby oui bodily motions aie iendeied docile) associated
with what has already been; indeed. afei playing guitai foi most of his life. my fathei
now confesses it to be moie challenging to make a mistake than to actually play on
key'
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With this inteipietation we might undeistand anew the connection Kiopotkin
envisioned between capitalism and the State when he pioclaimed that “the State í..]
and Capitalism aie facts and conceptions which we cannot sepaiate fiom each othei í..]
íi]n the couise of histoiy these institutions have developed. suppoiting and ieinfoicing
each othei” (Kiopotkin. í200¯]· 1¯9). And. as Alexandei Beikman moie concisely put
it· “íthe capitalists aie in] need íof] the state to legalise theii methods í..] to piotect the
capitalist system” (í2003]· 1õ). Te State theiefoie instituted into logical time what was
pieviously cast to the instant. outside of the authoiity of time· the instant oi movement as
the means without end; thus we have found that it is not the geneial economy that poses
the gieatest thieat to soveieignty. but the geneial State· “what is soveieign in fact is to
enjoy íenjoyment being what play is to woik at the level of the economy] the piesent time
without having anything else in view but this piesent time ítime being the iegulation
of successive inteivals of pioduction]” (Bataille. 1993· 199). lt is theiefoie a mauei of
sepaiating. analytically, what manifests itself mutually in the iestiictive economy and
State. wheie the logic of each occui oi aie the seeds foi the othei. Tis will be point
of depaituie foi a feiociously ieligious post-anarcist meditation with Bataille as its
benefactoi. Howevei. this study invites the consideiation of a giowing body of liteiatuie
in nihilist anarcism that no post-anaichist can do without studying.
11
Without any doubt theie aie exceptions to this iule, howevei. the exception pioves the iule. as many of these
exceptions have not been easily integiated within the anaichist canon (i.e.. Max Stiinei. Nietzsche. Gustav
Landauei and. fiagments of found at maigin of texts fiom Bakunin and Kiopotkin themselves).
12
Te domain of utility is to be analytically dissociation fiom the domain of the “geneial economy”. as the
piominent sociologist Geoige Ritzei puts it· “Geoiges Bataille’s notion of a ‘geneial economy’. íis] wheie
expendituie. waste. saciifice. and destiuction weie claimed to be moie fundamental to human life than
economies of pioduction and utility” (2003· 31¯).
13
By iemoving the political wiapping fiom the tiaditional anaichist notion of the State (in othei woids. by
extiacting the notion fiom the iemnants of the iestiictive economy). we aie fieed to ieinteipiet the State as
the fundamental pioblematic.
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3: Nihilist Anarcism and the Principle of No-thing
“[..] without a sadistic understanding of an incontestably thundering and tor-
rential nature, there could be no revolutionaries, there could only be a revolting
utopian sentimentality.” (Bataille. 198¯· 9¯).
loi his pait. Bataille thought the State to be one of the emeigent piopeities of homoge-
neous society·
Te state í..] is distinct fiom kings. heads of the aimy. oi of nations. but
it is the iesult of the modifications undeigone by a pait of homogeneous
society as it comes into contact with such elements. í..] ln piactical teims.
the function of the state consists of an inteiplay of authoiity and adaptation.
Te ieduction of diffeiences thiough compiomise in pailiamentaiy piactice
indicates all the possible complexity of the inteinal activity of adaptation
iequiied by homogeneity. But against foices that cannot be assimilated. the
State cuts maueis shoit with stiict authoiity (198¯b· 139).
Tus. contiaiy to the case advanced by the Maixists. the economy baies moie the
iesemblance of the State than the State does of the economy· the connecting foice. heie.
is of powei. Geoig Simmel puts this mauei to iest· “Money is conceined with what is
common to all· it asks foi the exchange value. it ieduces all quality and individuality to the
question· How much`” (Simmel. 19¯0· 411), in othei woids. the pioblem of the iestiictive
economy is not to be found in the logic of an inteiplay of money to be iesolved thiough
the imposition of a new iestiictive iegulatoiy foim founded in the Maixist conception
of the tiansitional State (the dictatoiship of the pioletaiiat). iathei. it is to be found in
the veiy establishment of the illusionaiy foim of life anew (money. itself. existing as
form). cementing its place in the imagination as the once-and-foi-all authoiity of foim
thioughout time. ln any case. theie aie at least two fiagments of the anaichist logic
which aie woith ietaining. albeit in a ieconstiucted foim· the auitude of means-to-ends
connection (means-to-ends must now itself foiego the movement towaid connection/
synthesis and be pioclaimed as ‘means without ends’. oi. moie iadically. ‘without means
and without ends’· heieafei iefeiied to as spontaneity) and the auitude of hostility in the
face of iepiesentation (the State. now. is thought thiough metaphoi without the shioud
of ‘politics’, this auitude now becomes hostility in the face of utility and time). Conveisely.
the impoitant fiagment of anaichist thought that absolutely must be disposed is the
giounding myth of intimacy as a iesponse to the naiiow and pioblematic conceptions of
powei and politics (as an auitude. this is the auitude of Nietzschean ressentiment).
Bataille’s notion of the “geneial economy”. distinguished fiom the “iestiicted economy”.
may invoke a similai conclusion with iegaid to the impasse of the iestiicted logic of
the tiaditional anaichists· the anaichists — conceined only with the domain of the
paiticulai economy and. what is moie. with the domain of political utility iathei than the
self-consciousness entailed in the acceptance and undeistanding of the tiuth of general
9
economy — have teeteied on the edge of political change. always naiiowly avoiding the
tiuth of the geneial economy by offeiing positive piesciiptions of ievolt. bluepiints of a
society to come oi a society that has passed· in shoit. a sacred community giounded in
piecisely the same homogeneous logic of the State-foim. lf anaichism is to pass beyond
itself it will need to be put to the seivice of its own wasted pioduct (an-arcy; Stirner’s
un-man) without employing the “stubboin deteimination to tieat as a disposable and
usable thing that whose essence is sacied. that which is completely iemoved fiom the
piofane utilitaiian spheie” (Bataille. 1988· ¯3). Hakim Bey laments·
Anaichists have been claiming foi yeais that “anaichy is not chaos.” Even
anaichism seems to want a natural law, an innei and innate moiality in
mauei. an entelechy oi puipose-of-being. í..] Anaichism says that “the state
should be abolished” only to institute a new moie iadical foim of oidei in
its place. Ontological Anaichy howevei ieplies that no “state” can “exist.”
in chaos. that all ontological claims aie spuiious except the claim of chaos
(which howevei is undeteimined). and theiefoie that goveinance of any soit
is impossible. Chaos nevei died (1993).
Bataille would have ceitainly found tiouble with this giounding myth on the pait of
the anaichists· “no one thinks any longei that the ieality of communal life — which is to
say. human existence — depends upon the shaiing of noctuinal teiiois and on the kind
of ecstatic spasms that spiead death” (198¯a· 208). Tis is a iesolutely egoist thing to
say (Egoist. in the Stiineiian sense). community. itself founded on madness and death.
must be “owned” by the unique one (ciudely speaking. the soveieign one). iathei than
abandoned, this is not a move to bieak the unique one into offeiing seivice to community.
but piecisely the opposite· to have the unique one iecognize the ieality piinciple and to
hold it in the palm of hei hand. Te anaichist Lef would find Bataillean communities
hoiiific. as one wiitei puts it· “Since the age of ievolutions began. the lef has only
challenged concentiations of powei with its own alteinative distillations. Rathei than
anticipate the ‘iight’ ievolution — the one that actually libeiates human beings fiom
theii modein chains — Bataille calls foi ongoing saciificial fiagmentation of the modein
self” (Goldhammei. 200¯· 32). Rathei than embiace the myth of a biotheihood lost since
the emeigence of the State. one must embiace madness. death. and the heteiogeneous
elements that make possible communal life (Biles. 200¯· ¯¯)·
14
14
l am awaie that Bataille thought that pioductive society was piogiessively puisuing a path away fiom
the myth of lost intimacy· “Te millennial quest foi lost intimacy was abandoned by pioductive mankind.
awaie of the futility of the opeiative ways. but unable to continue seaiching foi that which could not be
sought meiely by the means it had” (1992· 92). Bataille believed that the disposal of this myth (the myth of
pie-ieflective consciousness) iesulted in ‘acute self-alienation’. howevei the anaichist myth is not similai to
the heteiogeneous myth offeied by Bataille — indeed. it may be said to be homogeneous and maiked by the
iestiictive logic of scaicity. Bataille was imagining a pie-ieflective myth founded in animality iathei than
within the ‘oidei of things’ (Auslandei. 200¯· ¯3). Also see. Tomasi. 2008.
10
Life demands that men gathei togethei. and men aie gatheied togethei by
a leadei oi by a tiagedy. To look foi a HEADLESS human community is to
look foi tiagedy· puuing the leadei to death is itself tiagedy. it iemains a
iequiiement of tiagedy (Bataille. 198¯a· 210).
Te death of the State. and its consequential feelings of guilt. make possible the conse-
ciation of “fiiendship” and “community”· totalities which aie negatively defined. headless.
and explosive. Oui task must not be one of social suicide. but nothing less than the con-
stiuction of headless. feiociously ieligious. Bataillean anaichist affinity gioups. Moieovei.
what Bataille teaches us as anaichists is that the State-foim. thiough the violent enfoice-
ment of “utility” (in the final instance). iesides at a place that is much moie local. much
moie psychological. to all political subjects and that. while the domain of utility appeais
peivasive it is met at eveiy tuin by its obveise tiaumatic keinel of madness and death· it
is at the level of consciousness that fascism iesides.
Tis logic appeais most stiikingly in Bataille’s “Te psychological stiuctuie of fascism”
wheie he desciibes and contiasts the logic of homogeneity and heterogeneity; homogeneity.
he explains. “signifies í..] the commensuiability of elements and the awaieness of this
commensuiability ínote that he desciibes both the objective and subjective components
of this dyad]· human ielations aie sustained by a ieduction to fixed iules based on the
consciousness of the possible identity of delineable peisons and situations, in piinciple.
all violence is excluded fiom this couise of existence” (198¯b· 13¯–8), Bataille goes on
to define homogeneity piimaiily as the spheie of pioduction and utility
15
. namely the
economic spheie, howevei. the omission that iesults fiom the homogeneous logic is
founded in the mental and political iegulation of its obveise tiauma· the heterogeneous
component which always ietuins to contaminate the homogeneous element in the foim
of iepulsion and compulsion (Goldhammei. 200¯· 1õ9). Te homogeneous poition can not
sustain itself without the admiuance of a new mental and political logic that is founded in
the anaichist conception of the State· “íe]ven in difficult ciicumstances. the State is able
to neutialize those heterogeneous foices that will yield only to its constiaints” (Bataille.
198¯b· 139) — the political State-foim is to be iegaided as a particular embodiment
of the homogeneous foim. but not the foim it must necessaiily take· the restrictive
economy of utility absoibs only paitial eneigy fiom an excessive flow. Te classical
economic piinciples which have heietofoie ieigned as the dominant piinciples of life —
foi evidence look to the Hobbesian notion of scaicity and its influence in tiaditional and
contempoiaiy economic foims — piovide the logical, and theiefoie discuisive. fiamewoik
foi the pioduction of a need which manifests itself as the political State-foim.
lf l might escape fiom the Marxist ieading of the passage which follows. l may be able
to imagine the heterogeneous foice which iesults less fiom the homogeneous model. and
15
“Pioduction is the basis of social homogeneity í..] ln this pait. each element must be useful to anothei without
the homogeneous activity evei being able to auain the foim of activity valid in itself. A useful activity has a
common measuie with anothei useful activity. but not with activity for itself” (Bataille. 198¯b· 138).
11
less fiom the State-foim. than fiom. paiadoxically. the intimate within of the lack which
is at the veiy heait of these models·
16
Social homogeneity fundamentally depends upon the homogeneity í..] of
the pioductive system. Eveiy contiadiction aiising fiom the development
of economic life thus entails a tendential dissociation of homogeneous social
existence. Tis tendency towaids dissociation exeits itself in the most com-
plex mannei. on all levels and in eveiy diiection. But it only ieaches acute
and dangeious foims to the extent that an appieciable segment of the mass
of homogeneous individuals ceases to have an inteiest in the conseivation of
the existing foim of homogeneity í..] Tis fiaction of society then sponta-
neously affiliates itself with the pieviously constitute heterogeneous foices
and becomes indistinguishable fiom them. í..] luitheimoie. social hetero-
geneity does not exist in a foimless and disoiiented state· on the contiaiy. it
constantly tends to a split-off stiuctuie, and when social elements pass over to
the heteiogeneous side. their action still finds itself conditioned by the actual
structure of that side (ibid.. 140).
To iead Bataille’s psycological notion of heterogeneity in this way (namely. akin to
Lacan’s notion of the tiaumatic Real and of subjective and objective Lac) piesumes
a ie-ieading of the following passage· “íheteiogeneity] constitutes the fiist phase of
such a study in the sense that the piimaiy deteimination of heterogeneity defined as non-
homogeneous supposes a knowledge of the homogeneity which delineates it by exclusion”
(ibid.). ln the veiy least. this explains itself as the coiiect iesponse to Bataille’s keen iemaik
that the heteiogeneous dimension conceins itself with “elements which aie impossible
to assimilate” (ibid.). lndeed. one may be tempted. as l am. to desciibe the heterogeneous
elements of society. not in teims of the of-quoted “multitude”. but in teims of the nihilist
conception of ievolt, as the nihilist-communist wiitei lieie Dupont puts it·
Revolt. and thus the ciitique of ievolt. is deiived fiom a heightened state of
wietchedness. Revolt is nevei a positive move. lt is nevei a mauei of ievolt
becoming the vehicle of a solution. And if it weie. how much moie simple
would that be. lf my ievolt guaianteed me insight. and if my knowledge weie
iealisable in stiuctuie — causing moie effective. moie oiganised ievolt —
16
Saul Newman takes this position with iespect to his Lacanian Anarcism, aiguing that theie exists an
uncontaminated point of depaituie foi iadical politics paiadoxically at the “inside” of powei· “Te notion
of the excluded interior oi intimate exterior may be used to iedefine íthis] outside. Because it is an outside
pioduced by the failed and incomplete ‘stiuctuie’. it is not an essence oi metaphysical piesence. lt does not
tianscend the woild of the symbolic (oi discouise oi powei) because it ‘exists’ within this oidei. lt is not
a spatial outside. but iathei a radical outside — an outside. paiadoxically on the ‘inside.’ Teiefoie the gap
between meaning and symbolization can be constituted as a iadical outside. not because it is fiom a woild
outside the symbolic stiuctuie. not because it is a tianscendental essence. but because it is a void which
cannot be filled. a lack which cannot be iepiesented” (2001· 142).
12
then ievolt itself would define the chaiactei of oui woild. and not be meiely
piovoked by it (2008· ¯¯).
l would like to suggest that Bataille’s commitment to heteiogeneity maiks his appie-
ciation foi contempoiaiy nihilist foims of meditation and iesistance which can not be
fully contained within the Lefist (oi. of couise. Rightist) political imaginations. Moieovei.
coupled with oui newly acquiied notion of the “geneial State”. we aie able to constiuct
an object woithy of investigation· nihilist anarcism. His negative ievolt maintains that
“íp]owei í..] expends itself. íit] seeks not to found but to destabilize that which has
been founded. íand it] is the essence of Bataille’s anaichism” (Goldhammei. 200¯· 31).
Dupont’s insistence that ievolt happens without offeiing political subjects any insight (the
bieak fiom epistemology). without piomising the positive assuiance of stiuctuie. also im-
plies an allegiance with Bataille’s psychological account of the “ievolting” heteiogeneous
elements which occui in unconscious thought·
Te exclusion of heterogeneous elements fiom the homogeneous iealm of
consciousness foimally iecalls the exclusion of the elements. desciibed (by
psychoanalysis) as unconscious, which censoiship excludes fiom the con-
scious ego. Te difficulties opposing the ievelation of unconscious foims of
existence aie of the same oidei as those opposing the knowledge of hetero-
geneous foims. í..] lf this conception is gianted. given what we know about
iepiession. it is that much easiei to undeistand the incuisions occasionally
made into the heterogeneous iealm have not been sufficiently cooidinated to
yield even the simple ievelation of its positive and cleaily sepaiate existence”
(Bataille. 198¯b· 141).
luitheimoie. Bataille makes it a point to iepeat and concisely solidify this thought·
“the knowledge of a heteiogeneous ieality as such is to be found in the mystical thinking
of piimitives and in dieams· it is identical to the stiuctuie of the unconscious” (ibid.. 143).
Although Bataille alludes. many times quite explicitly. to the transgressive chaiactei of this
ievolting heteiogeneity — “violence, excess, delirium, madness chaiacteiize heteiogeneous
elements to vaiying degiees· active. as peisons oi mobs. they iesult fiom bieaking the
laws of social homogeneity” (198¯b) — l believe that. given the ciicumstances (foi whatevei
ieason. he was auiacted to a cuiious community of Suiiealists and Soviets). it is quite
possible that this moved him to tiansfoim his moie mystical meditations into a moie
giounded defense of revolt arising as a vehicle of a solution.
17
17
Te Situationist gioup Not Boied' aigued. in an essay titled “Bataille· ‘Accuised’ Stalinist” that “Bataille
finished the book because. like Bieton. Aiagon. Eluaid and otheis in the Suiiealist movement. he’d become a
Stalinist (1¯ yeais afei the otheis'). and because Stalin — the whole Soviet Union. even — ieally needed people
like Geoiges to come to its defense” í2009]. While the pioposition that Bataille was a Stalinist is absuid. theie
is no doubt that he was moved to saciifice some of himself foi the communication and companionship of his
fiiends.
13
Tus. we aiiive at a paiticulaily ciitical ie-ieading of the anaichist tiadition which
is by no means complete. l may say (in a way that is quite populai to the anaichists)
that ‘this is only a beginning’ and that the end should not come into fiuition. indeed the
beginning. itself. is the maik of distiust, l am a stiategist of stiategists. and l am piepaied
to be ciucified foi it'
4: Te Gif is Voluntary
Te common anaichist
18
notion of ‘voluntaiy association’ finds its philosophical equiv-
alent in Bataille’s notion of the Gif (which he appiopiiated fiom Maicel Mauss). Without
entiiely iehashing the links alieady made by the post-anaichist Lewis Call (c.f.. 2002·
94–99. esp. pg. 9õ–9¯). l would like to suggest. as l alieady have. that “Bataille’s theoiy
contains iadically antistatist implications” (ibid.. 9õ). and that the notion of the Gif is
opposed to any stiategic endeavoi which may be put to its name· “í..] in no way can this
inevitable loss be accounted useful. lt is only a mauei of an acceptable loss. piefeiable to
anothei that is iegaided as unacceptable· a question of acceptability, not utility” (Bataille.
1988· 31). lt is as if Bataille should have emphasized this point beyond iemoise. to have
finally stiessed that strategy oi tactics aie less impoitant than self-ieflection. conscious-
ness and soveieignty, and yet this is piecisely what we find iepeated and emphasized
thioughout the entiiety of in his woik· “the exposition of a general economy implies
inteivention in public affaiis. ceitainly, but fiist of all and moie piofoundly. what it aims
at is consciousness. what it looks to fiom the outset is the self-consciousness that man
would finally achieve in the lucid vision of its linked histoiical foims” (ibid.. 41). lt is cleai
that the gif of saciifice implies one to voluntarily submit to the inevitable — one foims a
community with anothei only by masochistically saciificing elements of oneself,
19
tiuly.
theie is nothing that piofoundly sepaiates the legacy of the gieat egoist anaichist Max
Stiinei fiom that of the gieat meta-physicist Geoiges Bataille·
But not only not foi youi sake. not even foi tiuth’s sake eithei do l speak out
what l think. í..] l sing because — l am a singei. But l use you foi it because l
— need eais. Wheie the woild comes in my way — and it comes in my way
eveiywheie — l consume it to quiet the hungei of my egoism. loi you aie
nothing but — my food. even as l too am fed upon and tuined to use by you.
We have only one ielation to each othei. that of usableness, of utility. of use
(Stiinei. 190¯· 394).
Accoiding to Bataille. as accoiding to Stiinei. what biings humans into communion is
theii use-value to one anothei, at eveiy tuin one is confionted by ghostly authoiitative
18
Admiuedly. “anaichism” is a bioad and contestable assemblage of ofen conflicting inteiests and auitudes.
but this does not diveige fiom my main point.
19
loi Bataille. “two beings í..] only communicate when losing a pait of themselves. Communication ties them
togethei with wounds. wheie theii unity and integiity dissipates in fevei” (198¯· 2¯0).
14
appaiitions· “Look out neai oi fai. a ghostly woild suiiounds you eveiywheie, you
aie always having ‘appaiitions’ oi visions. Eveiything that appeais to you is only the
phantasm of an indwelling spiiit. is a ghostly ‘appaiition’” (190¯· 44). “‘Spiiits exist'’
Look about in the woild. and say foi youiself whethei a spiiit does not gaze upon you
out of eveiything. í..] Yes. the whole woild is haunted'” (ibid.. 43). lf it is tiue that the
entiie woild is haunted then it should equally be tiue that the space tianscending this
woild iadiates fiom the powei of the no-thing, the giounding piinciple of the geneial
economy. contiaiy to the notion that it stands above the puiposes of the egoist. ieigning
like so many gods and demanding seivitude. it emanates fiom the excess-ive poition
of this egoist essence itself as the intimate-within of subjectivity· “You aie youiself a
highei being than you aie. and suipass youiself. But that you aie the one who is highei
than you. i.e., that you aie not only cieatuie. but likewise youi cieatoi — just this. as an
involuntaiy egoist. you fail to iecognize, and theiefoie the ‘highei essence’ is to you —
an alien essence. Eveiy highei essence. e.g. tiuth. mankind. etc.. is an essence over us”
(ibid.. 4¯), this essence imposes itself ovei us as unique ones. as fiagmented and iadiating
egoists. not because we aie fully within ouiselves as coheient egos (essential egos) but
because we have consumed the woild and have taken with it the no-thing.
On this note. Alejandio de Acosta is making gieat headway with his ieseaich into the
woik of Stiinei (the anaichist). aiguing. in effect. that Stiinei’s ieluctance to embiace the
notion of comm-unity was made possible by its undeilying utilitaiian valuation·
Ofen. when we tiy to think about oi piactice mutual aid. we diag into oui
activities an entiie alien moiality. thinking and living in teims of what Stiinei
calls the police care, in shoit making the community anothei Cause. As Cause.
the Community is alieady a micio-State í..] lt is all too common foi people to
feel a hoiiible obligation to the Community and theiefoie to feel guilty when
they fail. which of couise they inevitably do. í..] Te State. oi the States í..]
that so many Communities manifest. aie gatheiings of people that take good
police caie of each othei. í..] What l am asked to do is to saciifice myself
foi the sake of belonging in exchange foi the gif of meaning. of woids and
oigans. í..] What is outside Community. since coexistence is in some sense
inevitable` l leained this lesson in ieflecting on something l do constantly·
public speaking. Of this activity Stiinei wiites that it is to ask otheis to
consume me. Enjoy me. the Unique invites you. consume me. (To this l am
tempted to add the masochist’s eiotic whispei· “use me.”) (2009· 34)
Stiinei’s union of egoists sufficiently ieflects the ethos of the Bataillean headless com-
munity/ies· the headless community. like the union of egoists. opens itself up to the
iadicality of violence and madness found within puie exteinal space· an-arcy.
Beyond what I am, I meet a being who makes me laugh because he is headless;
this fills me with dread because he is made of innocence and crime; he holds a
steel weapon in his lef hand, flames like those of a Sacred Heart in his right.

He reunites in the same eruption birth and death. He is not a man. He is not a
god either. He is not me but is more than me; his stomac is the labyrinth in
whic he has lost himself, loses me with him, and in whic I discover myself as
him, in other words as a monster.
5: To Have Never Begun, To Have Never Finished
lf it can be said that Bataille’s post-stiuctuialist fabiic has been weaved fiom the
mateiials of a laigely (post-)Maixist genealogy. it might also occasion the immediate
and subsequent declaiation· the potentiality of Bataille’s iesuigence is concomitant with
the ieemeigence of the iesidues of a pioblematic and ultimately flawed tiadition which
fixates upon the the level of the economy and envisions a futuie golden age of fieedom
and univeisal biotheihood. Conveisely. while the anaichist tiadition is no doubt faulted
by the logical exclusion of the foices of an-arcy fiom theii veision of anarcism (this is
the veiy pioblem of cieating a doctiine of foims in the name of that which it disobeys).
it nonetheless offeis an inteiesting point of depaituie foi a new meditation on Bataille’s
oeuvre which. one might only hope. offeis itself up foi inteiesting lines of flight (post-
anaichisms. post-lef. nihilist anaichisms. and anti-civilization anaichisms to name only
thiee). ln suggesting this l have been met with a second pioblem· the anaichist tiadition
has also emeiged as a cultuial phenomenon immeised in the iesidues of the humanist
enlightenment paiadigm. Tis pioblem is at least paitially iesolved by focusing on the
atitude which. l am ieady to insist. lends itself moie ieadily to a ciitical investigation into
some of these paiadigms of thought· singulaily. the anaichist auitude is one of examining
the logic of the State/powei in its own iight — while post-anaichism advances upon this
by analyzing the multiplicitous configuiations of powei/mediation thiough the metaphoi
of the State-assemblages — and it has done so without shiouding these configuiations
within the shoit-sighted teiminologies of class and political economy. lt should now be
cleai that this essay is both dishonest (in its ieading of Bataille as a post-anaichist) and
honest (in its ieading of anaichism in light of Bataille). and that the task that l set befoie
myself is nothing less than direct action against all iadical epistemologies: to bieak apait
the alieady ciacked foundations of all -isms. and in doing so. to finally giant an-arcy its
iightful place within the woild of States and foims. Simmel has always been on point in
this iegaid· “although these foims aiise out of the life piocess. because of theii unique
constellation they do not shaie the iestless ihythm of life. its ascent and descent. its
constant ienewal. its incessant divisions and ieunifications” (19¯1· 3¯¯). lf we may say
that hope is woith ietaining. let it be foi a woild capable of shedding the authoiity of
the idea and its subsequent form; while we may let a thousand hope blocs bloom, we may
still only hope to find the words capable of short-circuiting the routine-consciousness of
radicals: hope that these words will at once shoc and rewire you: the only thing holding
you anarcists bac is your anarcism.

0: Excrement
“Tis last appropriation — the work of philosophy as well as of science or common
sense — has included phases of revolt and scandal, but it has always had as its
goal the establishment of the homogeneity of the world, and it will only be able
to lead to a terminal phase in the sense of excretion when the irreducible waste
products of the operation are determined” (Bataille. 198¯· 9õ–9¯).
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The Anarchist Library
Anti-Copyright
Decembei 21. 2010
Saint Schmidt
Accuised Anaichism· live Post-Anaichist Meditations on Bataille
2009

Contents
1: Bataille as a Post-anarchist: Where to Begin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2: Beneath the General Economy, the State! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3: Nihilist Anarchism and the Principle of No-thing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4: The Gift is Voluntary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5: To Have Never Begun, To Have Never Finished . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0: Excrement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 4 8 13 15 16 16

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in any case.“I am myself a war” — Georges Bataille 1: Bataille as a Post-anarchist: Where to Begin Any inquiry into the nature of Georges Bataille’s troublesome relationship with Marxism appears to me to be a matter of banality expressed through the hysterical (or worse. this vexing relationship is by now a matter woup 2 . university) discourses inhabited by those who would not dare probe the traumatic nau /o o ture of Bataille’s commitment to sovereignty 1.

equally a no-idea. However. Dorfman. the general economy. however. willing to explore elements of the human experience that much of positivistic. ontological an-archism (“without rulers”. post-Enlightenment philosophy was not (for example: power. being itself the economy of the base. in turn. in the face of a metaphysical principle of such magnitude and generalization that we might only refer to it in the negative form. As the ontological anarchist Hakim Bey (1993 [2009]) has put it: “As we meditate on the nothing we notice that although it cannot be de-fined. [Bataille] is often posited as one in a counter-lineage in late-modern thought. and in its base materialist and base political form it is an-archy. 1991: 5–7. implies the fundamental impermanence of the current conception of the restrictive State and restrictive economy). This venture resolves itself into two interrelated questions: (1) how might a contemporary anarchist read into Bataille’s work? and (2) how might Bataille read into traditional anarchism and how might this reading inform contemporary anarchist philosophy? My project embodies the mutual violence of sacrifice and attraction: it implies that I shamefully sacrifice Bataille to the cause of anarchism. alongside Max Stirner and Friedrich Nietzsche. transgression and deviance)” (2002: 38). is bolstered by what I would like to call the general State.. the result will prove itself quite paradoxical: there may indeed be room for Bataille within the anarchist canon. A commitment to an-archy is itself a commitment to the discovery of that excess-ive and ill-defined portion of matter that shatters the short-sightedness of the idea(l) within the restrictive economy of epistemology (what the great Max Stirner has called the “Spook” (c. the general State refers to the no-thing upon which the general economy founds its logic and enforcement outside of logical time (if the economy 3 For example. an-archy is comprised of the heterogeneous matter resolved through the negation of an opposing principle: “[heterogeneity] constitutes the first phase of such a study in the sense that the primary determination of heterogeneity defined as non-homogeneous supposes a knowledge of the homogeneity which delineates it by exclusion” (Bataille. is the nature of his commitment to that proud adversary of Marxist thought: anarchism.f. The analytical distinction that I employ between economy and State is important in the following respect: where the general economy refers to the excess-ive energy that transcends the particular uses to which it is put (which. pg 6). in turn. 1985b: 140).f. esp. however. 3 for instance. it can rightly be referred to as the general economy. What remains to be excavated from Bataille’s texts.” what we have to say is that it is a no-thing. Stirner. rationalistic. this canonization requires a movement away from the founding principles of anarchism (some of which are explored in other meditations) toward the embrace of sovereignty and. Dorfman has argued that “[t]ogether with Nietzsche and Heidegger. 3 .of a distinctly post-structuralist/post-modernist lineage have not been met by deaf ears nor by idle pens (c. or an-archy for short). not long after Bataille’s death Tel Quel — an avant-garde literary journal operating out of Paris at the time — had incisively granted Bataille this very appropriate distinction — the irony of which becomes exposed as the occurrence preceded the popularization of structuralist thought itself (Botting & Wilson. 1970: 50–54)). 2002). nevertheless paradoxically we can say something about it (even if only metaphorically). time.

and this will be precisely self-consciousness. but the knowledge acquired was that of an error. then the state is the mirror of ends). with an-archy) than anarchism proves itself to be. I would like to argue. but its findings showed me that this accumulation was only a delay. the State! Nevertheless. on the other hand. but that it requires the power of ritual and the placement of an impermanent some-thing into successive intervals: the economy of utility. of becoming conscious of the decisive meaning of an instant in which increase (the acquisition of something) will resolve into expenditure. in other words. that is. What I wish to gain from this study are the fragments of a distinctly Bataillean variant of anarchism which. a work which embodies the illusionary mark of the sign and its concomitant gesture toward the domain of utility. I am under no illusion when I confess the following: the announcement of this small project is the mark its betrayal 4 (as we will see. 1988: 10–11). my work tended first of all to increase the sum of human resources. put to the service of an-archy). 5 2: Beneath the General Economy. not the no-thing of pure expenditure [found in the general State]. a consciousness that henceforth has nothing as its object” (1980: 190). and quite paradoxically. 4 . that is. a shrinking back from the inevitable term. in turn. Bataille was forced to make this confession in light of his strategic and hence political belief that it was truly important to move others to understand what it was that he was able to discover and so he could not fully come to terms with the nature of his desire: a desire which was simultaneously political.is the mirror of means. It is a question of arriving at the moment when consciousness will cease to be a consciousness of something. therefore. it is not a wonder that money has no value in the jungle. which is. an error implied in the coldness that is inherent in all calculation. A future study will also require a re-reading/re-writing of the practices of Potlatch and gift-giving in light of their Statist implications. a single instant of the State-form. this is primarily a work of an-archism rather than an-archy. before proceeding I must provide some-thing about the logic of the general State in the work of Bataille — an idea that is never given the label “general State” but which is sufficiently hinted at to provide us with a movement toward Bataillean anarchism — if I am to continue to advance the case for anarchist theory. the subject of the restrictive (Marxist) State tries to grasp what Bataille has called “some object of acquisition. is still nothing but an economy of play without the imposition of the restrictive State. proves itself to be more anarchistic (more in tune with the subject of anarchism. one detects a peculiar omission in the writings of Georges Bataille which no doubt stem from his desire to mythologize the discourse of scarcity and endless productivity pervasive in the work of the political economists of the time. However. it demanded coldness and calculation. it does so in the service of the principle of heterogeneity. and yet also in the service of an-archy. while it was no 4 5 With Bataille I will insist the following: “My research aimed at the acquisition of a knowledge. utilitarian. however. In other words. For an interesting post-anarchist discussion on the paradoxical use of strategy see Separating The Sands (2009). where the accumulated wealth has value only in the instant” (Bataille. However. something.

however. the Marxists “do not know that despotism resides not so much in the form of the State but in the very principle of the State and political power” (1984: 220). these anarchists held a particularly narrow analysis of what precisely constituted this tyrannical group and an even narrower understanding of the nature of this influence on the multitude of workers and peasants. roughly. I will restrict my focus of Mikhail Bakunin and Pyotr Kropotkin) set out to discover a fundamentally new form of political logic which was to be distinguished from the Marxist logic of class inherent in the base/superstructure synthetic pair. Bakunin.] is the real basis on which the [. the postanarchist. by a universal rebellion on the part of the people and free organization of the toiling masses from the bottom up (emphasis are mine.] superstructure is raised. Todd May. 6 What they found was that the Marxist analysis of political oppression neglected the self-perpetuating and independent logic of the State and that. while our answer to this is: No dictatorship can have any other aim but that of self-perpetuation. and it can beget only slavery in the people tolerating it. spontaneous. 1867). the superstructure (which is. that is. While the anarchists pressed for the means of political revolution to match their ends (in other words.doubt important to explore the notion of a general economy founded on the metaphysical principles of excess and limitless consumption. which comprises all relations of production. political and intellectual life” (Marx. put the matter nicely: “It is a mistake to view the anarchist diatribes against the state as the foundation for its critique of representation. and to which definite social forms of thought correspond. Bataille’s work does not outline (at least not explicitly) the metaphysical principles regulating this economy.. of course — can create the will of the people. the subjective dimension). If I may be permitted the minor inconvenience of this reduction. At the restrictive level. the Base. 1994: 47). For the traditional anarchists. the role of ideology as one of the vehicles for its self-perpetuation). freedom can be created only by freedom. in the final instance. the State — as the fundamental apparatus of power in society — represented the barbarity of the transfer of power from the people to the tyrannical group. the probability of life 6 For review: in Marxist dialectics. therefore logically precluding the possibility for free. then I may say that it appears to me that the traditional anarchists ultimately believed that the State emerged as a foreign body and imposed itself entirely against the will of the people (ignoring. action on the part of the people in all instances thereafter: They [the Marxists] maintain that only a dictatorship — their dictatorship. determines. As Marx put it: “[T]he economic structure [. The state is the object of critique because it is the ultimate form of political representation. that the mode of production determines the character of the social. as all writers inevitably are. according to Bakunin (and echoed by countless other anarchists to this day). not because it is founding for it” (emphasis are mine. this problem has the analogy best exhibited by the traditional anarchist critique against the political logic of the Marxists. for the moment.. The oft-cited nineteenth century anarchists (here. 1873 [1953]: 288). 5 . for political revolution to cease to use the State/power).

for instance.free from the contaminating effects of the State (the point of departure for spontaneous political revolution) does not appear to be present and this renders the prospects for revolution highly unlikely without the sacrifice of means (this is the hegemonic logic of reform/revolution. However. flowing 7 8 9 10 For a more in-depth discussion of traditional anarchism’s Manichean logic see Saul Newman. always incapable of governing themselves. what the traditional anarchists have been unable to put to proper disposal is. “What possibilities are offered and precluded by these conceptions?” My criticism begins with the assumption that traditionalists continue to invoke the problematic assumption that power derives primarily from the (political) State 10. the most striking example that I could find at the time of writing this follows: “The State [. one might wonder how many categories of resistance a given political subject might apprehend before exploding from all of the pressure? 6 . the incompatibility between the means of political revolution and the ends (ends: in the traditional anarchist conception is a world free from power. solidarity between the anarchists and the Marxists which remains apparent in the naïve discourses of traditionalists until this day: precisely. Newman. and brings them into association only for the purpose of destroying. and even at times religion. argues that “[the] origin [of the State arises from] the desire of the ruling class to give permanence to customs imposed by themselves for their own advantage [. and maintained only by the fear of punishment” ([2005]: 205–6). but it also signaled an implicit. 2004b. as we witness today the proliferation of these identities of resistance.. and the most complete negation of humanity. from above” (1971: 142) and Kropotkin. but also as a law of Nature and a factor of evolution” (1902 [1976]: 4). and my forthcoming book “Anarchy at the Brink: The Post-anarchism Anthology” 2009) Sometimes they will expand upon this single-item list to include Class and Patriarchy. injurious to the mass of the people. from which other evils are derived?” (Newman. 1971: 133–4). “Where can each of these precise energy-flows be found to reside and how might they be described to function and in which direction(s)?”. It shatters the universal solidarity of all men [sic] on the earth. 2001: 47). metaphysical. in a unidirectional flow). the most cynical. Day. we begin to feel a bit schizophrenic.f. in some way or other. 1994. and political idea that the masses. Kropotkin is also notable in this regard for his insistence that “mutual aid” constitutes itself as a law of human nature: “Mutual Aid would be considered. the crude Manichean separation between the “good” people (understood to be the embodiment of the essentially “human” identity) and the “bad” State (understood to be the sole possessor of power and the central location from which it emanated. 2005). a “universal brotherhood”) therefore marked the harshest critique leveled against the Marxists.. c. must at all times submit to the beneficent yoke of wisdom and a justice imposed upon them. May. not only as an argument in favour of pre-human origin of moral instincts. if only unconscious. Bakunin. as the post-anarchist Saul Newman rightfully contends.f. This problem is best articulated by the range of “post-anarchists” (c. and enslaving all the rest” (Bakunin. Despite this. conquering. argues that: “[the State] is essentially founded upon the principle of authority.. 2001. Call. 7 8 9 “Has [anarchism] not merely replaced the economy with the state as the essential evil in society. that is the eminently theological.] is the most flagrant. likewise.] customs useful only to rulers. We have therefore discovered the ability to understand to some degree the questions which continue to plague the minds of subjects becoming-sovereign today: we ask the following questions to all ranges of political actors: “What is your understanding of the nature of power and what is the nature of resistance?”. 2002.

It is therefore a matter of separating. where the logic of each occur or are the seeds for the other. as many of these exceptions have not been easily integrated within the anarchist canon (i. The domain of utility is to be analytically dissociation from the domain of the “general economy”. this study invites the consideration of a growing body of literature in nihilist anarchism that no post-anarchist can do without studying. thus we have found that it is not the general economy that poses the greatest threat to sovereignty. 1993: 199).. as we all have done in our own way) invites the occasion for an interesting second reading. may actually lead one to become a sovereign subject capable of the type of spontaneous action called for within traditional anarchist doctrine. as the prominent sociologist George Ritzer puts it: “Georges Bataille’s notion of a ‘general economy’. Nietzsche.] [i]n the course of history these institutions have developed. [2005]: 159). for the anarchists. for the traditional Marxists. in turn.] and Capitalism are facts and conceptions which we cannot separate from each other [. This will be point of departure for a ferociously religious post-anarchist meditation with Bataille as its benefactor. I must bring this discussion back on point. By removing the political wrapping from the traditional anarchist notion of the State (in other words. my father now confesses it to be more challenging to make a mistake than to actually play on key! 13 With this interpretation we might understand anew the connection Kropotkin envisioned between capitalism and the State when he proclaimed that “the State [. by extracting the notion from the remnants of the restrictive economy). what manifests itself mutually in the restrictive economy and State. Gustav Landauer and.. as Alexander Berkman more concisely put it: “[the capitalists are in] need [of] the state to legalise their methods [.e.. 7 . fragments of found at margin of texts from Bakunin and Kropotkin themselves). indeed. beginning with the following simple metaphor: if. sacrifice. 11 12 13 Without any doubt there are exceptions to this rule. However. Max Stirner. analytically. The transformation of the traditional anarchist discourse (re-writing it. And. however. 11 my concern has been that this theory. and destruction were claimed to be more fundamental to human life than economies of production and utility” (2003: 317). supporting and reinforcing each other” (Kropotkin.. we may properly deduce that the domain of the State referred also to the domain of routine (utility set in time) whereby our gestures are reduced to the least traumatic movements (whereby our bodily motions are rendered docile) associated with what has already been. does not offer the reflective surface required for properly philosophical meditations which. [is] where expenditure. but the general State: “what is sovereign in fact is to enjoy [enjoyment being what play is to work at the level of the economy] the present time without having anything else in view but this present time [time being the regulation of successive intervals of production]” (Bataille. outside of the authority of time: the instant or movement as the means without end. after playing guitar for most of his life. The State therefore instituted into logical time what was previously cast to the instant. waste. the domain of class referred also to the domain of utility 12 then.outward/downward to repress an otherwise creative and “good” human essence. the exception proves the rule.] to protect the capitalist system” ([2003]: 16). positioned as it is within the hopelessly restrictive economy of utility and form. we are freed to reinterpret the State as the fundamental problematic.

3: Nihilist Anarchism and the Principle of No-thing “[. For his part. rather. this is the attitude of Nietzschean ressentiment).] without a sadistic understanding of an incontestably thundering and torrential nature. there could be no revolutionaries.” (Bataille. [. or. Conversely. The reduction of differences through compromise in parliamentary practice indicates all the possible complexity of the internal activity of adaptation required by homogeneity. the problem of the restrictive economy is not to be found in the logic of an interplay of money to be resolved through the imposition of a new restrictive regulatory form founded in the Marxist conception of the transitional State (the dictatorship of the proletariat). it reduces all quality and individuality to the question: How much?” (Simmel.] In practical terms. the State cuts matters short with strict authority (1985b: 139). with the domain of political utility rather than the self-consciousness entailed in the acceptance and understanding of the truth of general 8 . more radically. But against forces that cannot be assimilated. In any case. distinguished from the “restricted economy”. is of power. Thus. there could only be a revolting utopian sentimentality. 1985: 97). or of nations. what is more. Georg Simmel puts this matter to rest: “Money is concerned with what is common to all: it asks for the exchange value. the economy bares more the resemblance of the State than the State does of the economy: the connecting force.. but it is the result of the modifications undergone by a part of homogeneous society as it comes into contact with such elements. itself. ‘without means and without ends’: hereafter referred to as spontaneity) and the attitude of hostility in the face of representation (the State. cementing its place in the imagination as the once-and-for-all authority of form throughout time. in other words. Bataille’s notion of the “general economy”. heads of the army. the important fragment of anarchist thought that absolutely must be disposed is the grounding myth of intimacy as a response to the narrow and problematic conceptions of power and politics (as an attitude. existing as form). albeit in a reconstructed form: the attitude of means-to-ends connection (means-to-ends must now itself forego the movement toward connection/ synthesis and be proclaimed as ‘means without ends’.] is distinct from kings. Bataille thought the State to be one of the emergent properties of homogeneous society: The state [. may invoke a similar conclusion with regard to the impasse of the restricted logic of the traditional anarchists: the anarchists — concerned only with the domain of the particular economy and.. is thought through metaphor without the shroud of ‘politics’. now. this attitude now becomes hostility in the face of utility and time). contrary to the case advanced by the Marxists. here. 1950: 411).. there are at least two fragments of the anarchist logic which are worth retaining. the function of the state consists of an interplay of authority and adaptation. it is to be found in the very establishment of the illusionary form of life anew (money.

1988: 73). in the Stirnerian sense). 2007: 55): 14 14 I am aware that Bataille thought that productive society was progressively pursuing a path away from the myth of lost intimacy: “The millennial quest for lost intimacy was abandoned by productive mankind. an inner and innate morality in matter. a sacred community grounded in precisely the same homogeneous logic of the State-form. Hakim Bey laments: Anarchists have been claiming for years that “anarchy is not chaos.” in chaos. that which is completely removed from the profane utilitarian sphere” (Bataille. the left has only challenged concentrations of power with its own alternative distillations.economy — have teetered on the edge of political change. as one writer puts it: “Since the age of revolutions began. 9 . however the anarchist myth is not similar to the heterogeneous myth offered by Bataille — indeed.. the sovereign one). If anarchism is to pass beyond itself it will need to be put to the service of its own wasted product (an-archy. Bataille was imagining a pre-reflective myth founded in animality rather than within the ‘order of things’ (Auslander. Ontological Anarchy however replies that no “state” can “exist. 2008. 2007: 53). always narrowly avoiding the truth of the general economy by offering positive prescriptions of revolt. Rather than embrace the myth of a brotherhood lost since the emergence of the State. 2007: 32). rather than abandoned.] Anarchism says that “the state should be abolished” only to institute a new more radical form of order in its place. aware of the futility of the operative ways. that all ontological claims are spurious except the claim of chaos (which however is undetermined). blueprints of a society to come or a society that has passed: in short. Rather than anticipate the ‘right’ revolution — the one that actually liberates human beings from their modern chains — Bataille calls for ongoing sacrificial fragmentation of the modern self” (Goldhammer. human existence — depends upon the sharing of nocturnal terrors and on the kind of ecstatic spasms that spread death” (1985a: 208). an entelechy or purpose-of-being.” Even anarchism seems to want a natural law. The anarchist Left would find Bataillean communities horrific. one must embrace madness. Stirner’s un-man) without employing the “stubborn determination to treat as a disposable and usable thing that whose essence is sacred. Also see. Chaos never died (1993). but precisely the opposite: to have the unique one recognize the reality principle and to hold it in the palm of her hand. and the heterogeneous elements that make possible communal life (Biles. and therefore that governance of any sort is impossible. must be “owned” by the unique one (crudely speaking. Bataille believed that the disposal of this myth (the myth of pre-reflective consciousness) resulted in ‘acute self-alienation’. this is not a move to break the unique one into offering service to community. it may be said to be homogeneous and marked by the restrictive logic of scarcity. community. Tomasi. itself founded on madness and death. death. Bataille would have certainly found trouble with this grounding myth on the part of the anarchists: “no one thinks any longer that the reality of communal life — which is to say. but unable to continue searching for that which could not be sought merely by the means it had” (1992: 92). [. This is a resolutely egoist thing to say (Egoist.

A useful activity has a common measure with another useful activity. This logic appears most strikingly in Bataille’s “The psychological structure of fascism” where he describes and contrasts the logic of homogeneity and heterogeneity. to all political subjects and that. To look for a HEADLESS human community is to look for tragedy: putting the leader to death is itself tragedy. If I might escape from the Marxist reading of the passage which follows. it remains a requirement of tragedy (Bataille. The classical economic principles which have heretofore reigned as the dominant principles of life — for evidence look to the Hobbesian notion of scarcity and its influence in traditional and contemporary economic forms — provide the logical. 1985b: 138). he explains. Our task must not be one of social suicide. 10 . and 15 “Production is the basis of social homogeneity [. through the violent enforcement of “utility” (in the final instance). but not with activity for itself” (Bataille. 2005: 169). Bataillean anarchist affinity groups. however.] the commensurability of elements and the awareness of this commensurability [note that he describes both the objective and subjective components of this dyad]: human relations are sustained by a reduction to fixed rules based on the consciousness of the possible identity of delineable persons and situations. and its consequential feelings of guilt. The homogeneous portion can not sustain itself without the admittance of a new mental and political logic that is founded in the anarchist conception of the State: “[e]ven in difficult circumstances. framework for the production of a need which manifests itself as the political State-form. and therefore discursive. I may be able to imagine the heterogeneous force which results less from the homogeneous model. the omission that results from the homogeneous logic is founded in the mental and political regulation of its obverse trauma: the heterogeneous component which always returns to contaminate the homogeneous element in the form of repulsion and compulsion (Goldhammer. homogeneity. The death of the State. namely the economic sphere. “signifies [. in principle. but not the form it must necessarily take: the restrictive economy of utility absorbs only partial energy from an excessive flow.. the State is able to neutralize those heterogeneous forces that will yield only to its constraints” (Bataille. headless. what Bataille teaches us as anarchists is that the State-form. much more psychological. ferociously religious. but nothing less than the construction of headless. while the domain of utility appears pervasive it is met at every turn by its obverse traumatic kernel of madness and death: it is at the level of consciousness that fascism resides.. 1985a: 210). make possible the consecration of “friendship” and “community”: totalities which are negatively defined. 1985b: 139) — the political State-form is to be regarded as a particular embodiment of the homogeneous form. Moreover. and explosive. Bataille goes on to define homogeneity primarily as the sphere of production and utility 15. and men are gathered together by a leader or by a tragedy. all violence is excluded from this course of existence” (1985b: 137–8).Life demands that men gather together. resides at a place that is much more local. each element must be useful to another without the homogeneous activity ever being able to attain the form of activity valid in itself.] In this part.

and when social elements pass over to the heterogeneous side. If my revolt guaranteed me insight. To read Bataille’s psychological notion of heterogeneity in this way (namely. but in terms of the nihilist conception of revolt. to describe the heterogeneous elements of society. arguing that there exists an uncontaminated point of departure for radical politics paradoxically at the “inside” of power: “The notion of the excluded interior or intimate exterior may be used to redefine [this] outside. more organised revolt — 16 Saul Newman takes this position with respect to his Lacanian Anarchism. is derived from a heightened state of wretchedness. It is not a spatial outside. social heterogeneity does not exist in a formless and disoriented state: on the contrary. it is not an essence or metaphysical presence.. the intimate within of the lack which is at the very heart of these models: 16 Social homogeneity fundamentally depends upon the homogeneity [. how much more simple would that be.] of the productive system. 140). akin to Lacan’s notion of the traumatic Real and of subjective and objective Lack) presumes a re-reading of the following passage: “[heterogeneity] constitutes the first phase of such a study in the sense that the primary determination of heterogeneity defined as nonhomogeneous supposes a knowledge of the homogeneity which delineates it by exclusion” (ibid. It is never a matter of revolt becoming the vehicle of a solution. It does not transcend the world of the symbolic (or discourse or power) because it ‘exists’ within this order.). And if it were.] Furthermore. this explains itself as the correct response to Bataille’s keen remark that the heterogeneous dimension concerns itself with “elements which are impossible to assimilate” (ibid. as the nihilist-communist writer Frere Dupont puts it: Revolt. than from. Indeed.. and thus the critique of revolt. their action still finds itself conditioned by the actual structure of that side (ibid. But it only reaches acute and dangerous forms to the extent that an appreciable segment of the mass of homogeneous individuals ceases to have an interest in the conservation of the existing form of homogeneity [. Every contradiction arising from the development of economic life thus entails a tendential dissociation of homogeneous social existence.. 11 . paradoxically. In the very least. it constantly tends to a split-off structure. not in terms of the oft-quoted “multitude”.. but because it is a void which cannot be filled. Revolt is never a positive move. not because it is a transcendental essence.’ Therefore the gap between meaning and symbolization can be constituted as a radical outside. and if my knowledge were realisable in structure — causing more effective.less from the State-form. Because it is an outside produced by the failed and incomplete ‘structure’. [. but rather a radical outside — an outside. a lack which cannot be represented” (2001: 142). one may be tempted.] This fraction of society then spontaneously affiliates itself with the previously constitute heterogeneous forces and becomes indistinguishable from them. paradoxically on the ‘inside. This tendency towards dissociation exerts itself in the most complex manner. on all levels and in every direction. as I am. not because it is from a world outside the symbolic structure.).

1985b: 141). it is that much easier to understand the incursions occasionally made into the heterogeneous realm have not been sufficiently coordinated to yield even the simple revelation of its positive and clearly separate existence” (Bataille. they result from breaking the laws of social homogeneity” (1985b) — I believe that. given the circumstances (for whatever reason.] expends itself. we are able to construct an object worthy of investigation: nihilist anarchism. delirium. I would like to suggest that Bataille’s commitment to heterogeneity marks his appreciation for contemporary nihilist forms of meditation and resistance which can not be fully contained within the Leftist (or. Moreover. Rightist) political imaginations. excess. His negative revolt maintains that “[p]ower [. coupled with our newly acquired notion of the “general State”. [it] seeks not to found but to destabilize that which has been founded. and because Stalin — the whole Soviet Union. in an essay titled “Bataille: ‘Accursed’ Stalinist” that “Bataille finished the book because. 143). The difficulties opposing the revelation of unconscious forms of existence are of the same order as those opposing the knowledge of heterogeneous forms. Aragon. of course. Furthermore. described (by psychoanalysis) as unconscious. there is no doubt that he was moved to sacrifice some of himself for the communication and companionship of his friends. also implies an allegiance with Bataille’s psychological account of the “revolting” heterogeneous elements which occur in unconscious thought: The exclusion of heterogeneous elements from the homogeneous realm of consciousness formally recalls the exclusion of the elements..then revolt itself would define the character of our world. Dupont’s insistence that revolt happens without offering political subjects any insight (the break from epistemology). as persons or mobs. 2007: 31). it is quite possible that this moved him to transform his more mystical meditations into a more grounded defense of revolt arising as a vehicle of a solution. 17 17 The Situationist group Not Bored! argued. and not be merely provoked by it (2008: 75).. without promising the positive assurance of structure. many times quite explicitly. given what we know about repression. madness characterize heterogeneous elements to varying degrees: active. like Breton. which censorship excludes from the conscious ego. [. even — really needed people like Georges to come to its defense” [2009]. [and it] is the essence of Bataille’s anarchism” (Goldhammer.] If this conception is granted. Although Bataille alludes. he’d become a Stalinist (15 years after the others!).. Eluard and others in the Surrealist movement. to the transgressive character of this revolting heterogeneity — “violence. Bataille makes it a point to repeat and concisely solidify this thought: “the knowledge of a heterogeneous reality as such is to be found in the mystical thinking of primitives and in dreams: it is identical to the structure of the unconscious” (ibid. While the proposition that Bataille was a Stalinist is absurd. he was attracted to a curious community of Surrealists and Soviets). 12 .

but first of all and more profoundly. and that the notion of the Gift is opposed to any strategic endeavor which may be put to its name: “[. and yet this is precisely what we find repeated and emphasized throughout the entirety of in his work: “the exposition of a general economy implies intervention in public affairs.. “anarchism” is a broad and contestable assemblage of often conflicting interests and attitudes. 96–97). what it aims at is consciousness. It is clear that the gift of sacrifice implies one to voluntarily submit to the inevitable — one forms a community with another only by masochistically sacrificing elements of oneself. 96)... [. 1907: 394). what brings humans into communion is their use-value to one another. Where the world comes in my way — and it comes in my way everywhere — I consume it to quiet the hunger of my egoism. For you are nothing but — my food.. itself. “two beings [. of utility. and I am prepared to be crucified for it! 4: The Gift is Voluntary The common anarchist 18 notion of ‘voluntary association’ finds its philosophical equivalent in Bataille’s notion of the Gift (which he appropriated from Marcel Mauss). We have only one relation to each other. where their unity and integrity dissipates in fever” (1985: 250).f. as according to Stirner. pg. But I use you for it because I — need ears. is the mark of distrust. not utility” (Bataille. It is only a matter of an acceptable loss. there is nothing that profoundly separates the legacy of the great egoist anarchist Max Stirner from that of the great meta-physicist Georges Bataille: But not only not for your sake. consciousness and sovereignty. I may say (in a way that is quite popular to the anarchists) that ‘this is only a beginning’ and that the end should not come into fruition. to have finally stressed that strategy or tactics are less important than self-reflection.Thus. It is as if Bataille should have emphasized this point beyond remorse. 41). but this does not diverge from my main point. not even for truth’s sake either do I speak out what I think. we arrive at a particularly critical re-reading of the anarchist tradition which is by no means complete. indeed the beginning.. Communication ties them together with wounds. 19 truly. esp. that “Bataille’s theory contains radically antistatist implications” (ibid. I would like to suggest. certainly. 1988: 31). preferable to another that is regarded as unacceptable: a question of acceptability. According to Bataille.. that of usableness. 2002: 94–99. even as I too am fed upon and turned to use by you. For Bataille. at every turn one is confronted by ghostly authoritative 18 19 Admittedly. I am a strategist of strategists. 13 .] I sing because — I am a singer.] only communicate when losing a part of themselves. what it looks to from the outset is the self-consciousness that man would finally achieve in the lucid vision of its linked historical forms” (ibid.] in no way can this inevitable loss be accounted useful. of use (Stirner. Without entirely rehashing the links already made by the post-anarchist Lewis Call (c. as I already have.

arguing. thinking and living in terms of what Stirner calls the police care. you are always having ‘apparitions’ or visions. which of course they inevitably do. like the union of egoists. contrary to the notion that it stands above the purposes of the egoist. i.. are gatherings of people that take good police care of each other. the Unique invites you. in short making the community another Cause. Of this activity Stirner writes that it is to ask others to consume me. a ghostly world surrounds you everywhere. opens itself up to the radicality of violence and madness found within pure external space: an-archy. that you are not only creature. is an essence over us” (ibid. 43). (To this I am tempted to add the masochist’s erotic whisper: “use me. e. the whole world is haunted!” (ibid. As Cause... [. 14 .. and surpass yourself. 47). of words and organs.. If it is true that the entire world is haunted then it should equally be true that the space transcending this world radiates from the power of the no-thing. Alejandro de Acosta is making great headway with his research into the work of Stirner (the anarchist). as an involuntary egoist. the grounding principle of the general economy.g.e. But that you are the one who is higher than you. when we try to think about or practice mutual aid. in effect.] Yes. [.. you fail to recognize. consume me. “‘Spirits exist!’ Look about in the world. or the States [.apparitions: “Look out near or far. this essence imposes itself over us as unique ones. Beyond what I am. flames like those of a Sacred Heart in his right.. that Stirner’s reluctance to embrace the notion of comm-unity was made possible by its underlying utilitarian valuation: Often. and say for yourself whether a spirit does not gaze upon you out of everything.] The State.] What I am asked to do is to sacrifice myself for the sake of belonging in exchange for the gift of meaning. but likewise your creator — just this.] It is all too common for people to feel a horrible obligation to the Community and therefore to feel guilty when they fail. the Community is already a micro-State [.. it emanates from the excess-ive portion of this egoist essence itself as the intimate-within of subjectivity: “You are yourself a higher being than you are. is a ghostly ‘apparition’” (1907: 44). etc. truth.] that so many Communities manifest. [. and therefore the ‘higher essence’ is to you — an alien essence. [. he holds a steel weapon in his left hand. reigning like so many gods and demanding servitude. Enjoy me. I meet a being who makes me laugh because he is headless. this fills me with dread because he is made of innocence and crime. since coexistence is in some sense inevitable? I learned this lesson in reflecting on something I do constantly: public speaking. On this note. not because we are fully within ourselves as coherent egos (essential egos) but because we have consumed the world and have taken with it the no-thing.”) (2009: 34) Stirner’s union of egoists sufficiently reflects the ethos of the Bataillean headless community/ies: the headless community. mankind. Everything that appears to you is only the phantasm of an indwelling spirit... Every higher essence. as fragmented and radiating egoists.] What is outside Community. we drag into our activities an entire alien morality.

loses me with him. and in doing so. his stomach is the labyrinth in which he has lost himself. one might only hope. 5: To Have Never Begun. we may still only hope to find the words capable of short-circuiting the routine-consciousness of radicals: hope that these words will at once shock and rewire you: the only thing holding you anarchists back is your anarchism. He is not me but is more than me. it might also occasion the immediate and subsequent declaration: the potentiality of Bataille’s resurgence is concomitant with the reemergence of the residues of a problematic and ultimately flawed tradition which fixates upon the the level of the economy and envisions a future golden age of freedom and universal brotherhood. while we may let a thousand hope blocs bloom. while the anarchist tradition is no doubt faulted by the logical exclusion of the forces of an-archy from their version of anarchism (this is the very problem of creating a doctrine of forms in the name of that which it disobeys). 15 . in other words as a monster. and in which I discover myself as him. I am ready to insist. offers itself up for interesting lines of flight (postanarchisms. This problem is at least partially resolved by focusing on the attitude which. the anarchist attitude is one of examining the logic of the State/power in its own right — while post-anarchism advances upon this by analyzing the multiplicitous configurations of power/mediation through the metaphor of the State-assemblages — and it has done so without shrouding these configurations within the short-sighted terminologies of class and political economy. it nonetheless offers an interesting point of departure for a new meditation on Bataille’s oeuvre which. He is not a god either. let it be for a world capable of shedding the authority of the idea and its subsequent form. post-left. lends itself more readily to a critical investigation into some of these paradigms of thought: singularly. Conversely. its ascent and descent. its constant renewal. If we may say that hope is worth retaining. because of their unique constellation they do not share the restless rhythm of life. and that the task that I set before myself is nothing less than direct action against all radical epistemologies: to break apart the already cracked foundations of all -isms. nihilist anarchisms. Simmel has always been on point in this regard: “although these forms arise out of the life process. In suggesting this I have been met with a second problem: the anarchist tradition has also emerged as a cultural phenomenon immersed in the residues of the humanist enlightenment paradigm. its incessant divisions and reunifications” (1971: 375). It should now be clear that this essay is both dishonest (in its reading of Bataille as a post-anarchist) and honest (in its reading of anarchism in light of Bataille). To Have Never Finished If it can be said that Bataille’s post-structuralist fabric has been weaved from the materials of a largely (post-)Marxist genealogy. to finally grant an-archy its rightful place within the world of States and forms.He reunites in the same eruption birth and death. and anti-civilization anarchisms to name only three). He is not a man.

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