We read The Continuing Appeal of Nationalism last week for a reading group and I've been thinking a lot of how the insurrectionary concept of negation fits with Fredy's critique of nationalist (Maoist) movements.
In this piece, he describes these movements as forming a "photo negative" of the system that oppressed them, where a photo negative is very different from negation in that it retains all the structure of the original with the roles of the subjects simply reversed.
This same critique, and the idea of "photo negativity" can also be applied to increasingly popular Bookchin-style infrastructure projects. Alternative Internets that attempt to shed the chains of the capitalist, oppressive corporations and surveillance state actors of our time, still retain a lot of the structure of the original. These projects also often leave many ingrained premises we have on the desirability of such infrastructure and its impact unchallenged.
The appelista inhabit.global project is a good example of this call for alternative infrastructure, and its climate change context in one in which I see a lot of similar projects being proposed and discussed. While decentralized variations of the Internet, such as mesh networks, are presented as options along with a future phase for "radically changing their use", the project comes off less as a critique of technology and more as a vanguardist attempt to own it for ourselves.
Similarly, there are a lot of discussions on mastodon about the role a decentralized social networking sites and other services could play to maintain our current connections, data, and networks in the increasingly tenuous position that climate change is putting us in.
While I love the conversations I've had on this instance and others, there are several ways that mastodon forms a photo negative of and replicates structures that I find limiting and inimical to liberation.
To be honest, I'm coming from an anti-civ perspective in which any form of technological mediation between myself and others is undesirable, but the visual and technical similarities between mastodon and twitter alone are enough to motivate some serious questioning of what our desires actually are and whether we're stretching the benefits of decentralization and our capacity for repurposing technology too thin.
This brings us to the nihilist concept of negation.
Negation (also a core part of insurrectionary anarchism) acknowledges that we are incapable of shedding our current context in the creation of positive projects. Because we exist and are influenced and a part of (even though we are oppressed by) the current system, it will necessarily be reflected to some extent in anything new that we create.
Therefore, negation focuses on acts of destruction; dismantling and erasing the current system, as necessary to create something new.
@mycelia the inverted/photo negative morality (which perlman also plays with in letters of insurgents) seems to also be present in conservationist conversations. Settlers who care about “nature” insist on turning lush verdant forests into museums/shrines/churches/to a nature that is separate from them. It’s a real shame that in a world with so many beautiful stories, we keep retelling the worst ones.
@bugs yeah I hadn't thought of it from that angle. That along with keeping the structure of the original, a photo negative also serves as a static and two dimensional shrine.
Your last sentence really hits home, damn.
ni.hil.ist is a server run by Anarchists who are friendly to a nihilistic worldview.