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Two Reviews: Curious George Brigade vs. Love and Rage

News ArchiveThese two books could not be more different. Anarchy in the Age of Dinosaurs is a collective work written in the ecstatic style of the Crimethinc collective, joyous, subversive and inspiring. A New World in Our Hearts is a collection of articles from the Love and Rage Revolutionary Anarchist Federation, earnest, plodding and declamatory.

The Curious George Brigade
Anarchy in the Age of Dinosaurs

Roy San Filippo, editor
A New World in our Hearts: Eight Years of Writings from the Love and Rage Anarchist Federation

Reviewer: Robert Graham
Social Anarchism #38
2005


These two books could not be more different. Anarchy in the Age of Dinosaurs is a collective work written in the ecstatic style of the Crimethinc collective, joyous, subversive and inspiring. A New World in Our Hearts is a collection of articles from the Love and Rage Revolutionary Anarchist Federation, earnest, plodding and declamatory.

The Curious George Brigade celebrates anarchy. The Love and Rage people pay lip service to it.

The Curious George Brigade consciously eschews the sectarian rhetoric and politics of the ultra left, which belongs to the age of dinosaurs. The Love and Rage people focus on the need to create revolutionary organizations guided by the right theory. They talk about cadres, dual power, and very little about anarchy, except to question it. Why they identified themselves as anarchists remains a bit of a mystery, given the view of many of them that anarchism is a historical failure. Some now prefer to identify themselves as "anti-authoritarians", despite embracing power politics.

While the Curious George Brigade articulates an expressly anarchist vision, they do not seek to promote anarchism as an ideology. Their book begins with a short preface aptly entitled, "How I forgot the Spanish Civil War and Learned to Love Anarchy". They write that the "moment anarchy becomes capital-A Anarchism, with all the requisite platforms and narrow historical baggage, it is transformed from the activity of epople into yet another stale ideology for sale on the marketplace." They describe their nonsectarian, flexible, and inclusive DIY communitarian approach as "folk anarchy... a name, however arbitrary, for an infinite multitude of actions taken to erode the constraints of authority." They believe that there "is no secret for revolution, no grand dialectic, no master theory." Revolutions "are as perpetual as the changing of the seasons."

The contrast with the Love and Rage group could not be more clear. While many of the Love and Rage people ultimately rejected anarchism, it was not to transcend ideology, but to create a new one that will somehow surmount the historical failures of the revolutionary left. They labour under the illusion that the secret to revolutionary success, and the explanation for anarchism's "historical failure", lies in developing the correct revolutionary theory, and the right kind of revolutionary organization. If only it were that simple.

A New World in Our Hearts is really nothing more than a collection of rather tedious position papers curiously lacking in historical context. That the title is taken from a famous interview with Buenaventura Durruti during the Spanish Civil War goes unacknowledged. While there is some discussion of the Platformists, the FAI, and the Friends of Durruti, the analysis of the reasons for their failures is superficial and uninformative.

From Bakunin's International Brotherhood in the 19th centure Europe to the "Anarcho-Bolsheviks" in Russia and France, the FAI in Spain, the Social Revolutionary Anarchist Federation (SRAF) and the Anarcho-Communist Federation of the 1970s and 1980s, to the various Platformist groups in existence today (including NEFAC, which split from the Love and Rage group over "White Supremacy Theory"), not to mention the even more numerous Marxist sects, there has been no shortage of anxious and dedicated would-be revolutionaries in search of the holy grail fo social revolution. That none of them have been successful, including those adamantly opposed to anarchism, would suggest that the lack of anarchist success is due to factors other than the embrace of anarchy as an ideal.

That this sort of approach is entirely misconceived simply escapes the Love and Rage group. Maybe, just maybe, they might consider that a genuinely anarchist social revolution can't be created by small groups of self-proclaimed revolutionaries, no matter how sharp their theoretical analysis and how tight their organizations. maybe there is no magic fulcrum for revolution. Maybe the Curious George Brigade is right: there is no master theory, no secret of revolution. In which case the revolution of everyday life that the so-called "lifestyle anarchists" practice and advocate may be the best way to create a "new world in our hearts". It is also much more appealing than continuing the futile search for the revolutionary holy grail.
**************************

Anarchy in the Age of Dinosaurs, by the Curious George Brigade. 151 pp. Copies and prices available from yellowjack@ageofdinosaurs.net; downloadable at www.ageofdinosaurs.net.

A New World in Our Hearts: Eight Years of Writings from the Love and Rage Revolutionary Anarchist Federation, edited by Roy San Filippo. 139 pp. Oakland, CA: AK Press, 2003. $11.95.
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Two Reviews: Curious George Brigade vs. Love and Rage | 19 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Two Reviews: Curious George Brigade vs. Love and Rage
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, December 04 2005 @ 06:02 PM CST
having read both of these works, i'm pretty sure i don't agree with either.

Anarchy in the Age of Dinosaurs captures much of the necessary rebellious spirit that is utterly lacking in tired, academic-sounding theory. but it also focuses so much on the smallest detail or the haziest dream that it fails to grasp the reality lying somewhere in between. one essay, regarding the favalas or slums of brazil, latin america and much of the global south, actually seems to praise such examples of the horrible consequences of poverty, fetishizing shanty-towns as a DIY paradise. blech. if cholera were so chic, we'd all be drinking direct from the east river.

still, it accomplishes what it sets out to. the same can't be said for the writings of Love & Rage, yet reading A New World in Our Hearts is essential for those seeking to NOT replicate the mistakes of that ill-fated federation, without romanticizing it.

without sounding too simplistic, i think it's time people got off their butts. rather than being passively (dis)obedient -- avoiding confrontation with the powers that be by claiming "lifestylism" or "theoretical purity" or whichever it is -- we need to start acting like properly disobedient troublemakers and hell-raisers. we'll all get a lot further.

your passive lifestyle, whatever that is, won't bring anarchist revolution. neither will a million smug organizational manifestos.

if you disagree and want to challenge this, first ask yourself how many times this month you've fucked shit up. shut up and get active.
Two Reviews: Curious George Brigade vs. Love and Rage
Authored by: Admin on Sunday, December 04 2005 @ 06:07 PM CST
"one essay, regarding the favalas or slums of brazil, latin america and much of the global south, actually seems to praise such examples of the horrible consequences of poverty, fetishizing shanty-towns as a DIY paradise."

The person who wrote that chapter happens to know a few things about favalas and shantytowns. They were explaining how self-organization and mutual aid exist in those places. I think they were also trying to dispel some of the negative liberal stereotypes about those places.

Chuck0
Two Reviews: Curious George Brigade vs. Love and Rage
Authored by: hotdog holler on Sunday, December 04 2005 @ 09:59 PM CST
"if you disagree and want to challenge this, first ask yourself how many times this month you've fucked shit up. shut up and get active."

Yeah, cause spray-painting and property destruction have been really effective.
Two Reviews: Curious George Brigade vs. Love and Rage
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, December 04 2005 @ 10:34 PM CST
for those not in to vandalism, you could alternatively count how many times you've helped organize a union or copwatch or any other subversive, disobedient activity or entity.
Two Reviews: Curious George Brigade vs. Love and Rage
Authored by: hotdog holler on Sunday, December 04 2005 @ 11:31 PM CST
Whether or not unions are subversive is up for debate.
Two Reviews: Curious George Brigade vs. Love and Rage
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, December 04 2005 @ 11:59 PM CST
Except for most people those arent examples of "fucking shit up"
Two Reviews: Curious George Brigade vs. Love and Rage
Authored by: Admin on Sunday, December 04 2005 @ 10:39 PM CST
Spray-painting and property destruction ARE effective. The former helps people see that there is dissent and a culture of resistance. The latter has been effective in many ways. The property destruction during the anti-WTO protests in Seattle helped wake the U.S. up to the fact that people are upset about capitalism. There are many other examples, but I'll cite one of the more obvious ones.

Chuck
fucking shit up, defined
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, December 05 2005 @ 03:43 PM CST
fucking shit up: it doesn't have to be p.d., but it can be.

it must include active confrontation. so, union organizing can be, when it is geared toward a revolutionary objective and harnesses rank and file direct action and participatory decision making. militant street action is included, as would other protest actions that seek active change (counter-recruitment, tree-sits, road blockades, etc.) writing might also be, as long as it is actually ground-breaking and seeks to transform mindsets, but i think it better be pretty good to qualify. community organizing fucks shit up when people realize what they can achieve through concerted effort without the intercession of bosses/politicians.

here's what it is not:
-- eating roadkill and then bragging about it.
-- organizing a meeting to determine the structure of the meeting that will determine the meeting's structure for the federation that will bring about revolution.
-- diy handbags, knitting circles, complaining circles.
-- preaching to the converted.
-- going to shows.
-- saying, i support you/them/those people all the way across the world, but then not making that support tangible (ie it has to be more than just words).
-- reading a book. (although i'd encourage that before you go try to fuck shit up).
-- wearing a certain patch/button.
-- saying you'll help out with other people's efforts and then not showing up.
-- saying that you've helped out with other people's efforts when you never showed up in the first place.
-- never showing up to help other people's efforts in the first place when everyone knows you have nothing better to do.

ok, rant ends. i've already been arrested once this week and now a friend's in jail too. get off your butts. if you're off your butts, keep it toasty.
Two Reviews: Curious George Brigade vs. Love and Rage
Authored by: hotdog holler on Sunday, December 04 2005 @ 11:28 PM CST
Does anyone have the table of contents for the new issue of Social Anarchism or know where I can find it? There website hasn't caught up quite yet.
Two Reviews: Curious George Brigade vs. Love and Rage
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, December 05 2005 @ 09:32 AM CST
From Bakunin's International Brotherhood in the 19th centure Europe to the "Anarcho-Bolsheviks" in Russia and France, the FAI in Spain, the Social Revolutionary Anarchist Federation (SRAF) and the Anarcho-Communist Federation of the 1970s and 1980s, to the various Platformist groups in existence today (including NEFAC, which split from the Love and Rage group over "White Supremacy Theory")

NEFAC split from Love & Rage? Huh. That's funny, considering NEFAC formed two years after L&R dissolved and not one original member of L&R was around for the founding of NEFAC. Shoddy history.

Two Reviews: Curious George Brigade vs. Love and Rage
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, December 05 2005 @ 11:47 AM CST
i'd have to agree with the shoddy history bit. i was a part of Love and Rage until it got really, really boring ('round 95 or so). i seem to remember the group breaking up a few years before NEFAC appeared on the scene. i met a lot of good people through Love and Rage, but i do think many of them were stuck in the same old, same old, ultra leftist rut. Also, a lot of L and R folks were not just into writing theory. They showed up for actions and in my experience were pretty good at solidarity with anarchists in trouble. and many of them, believe it or not, were lots of fun to party with. But, the politics were tired and i think that was represented by how the group shrunk and dissolved from the early to mid nineties.

the CGB, on the other hand... lotsa fun and great folks. i didn't agree with everything in Dinosaurs, but found it a great read. i recommend it!
from the vaults of Spunk Library
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, December 05 2005 @ 01:04 PM CST

Much has already been written on the false divide between "lifestyle" vs. "social" anarchism. Here's a good article:

ANARCHISM: IDEOLOGY OR METHODOLOGY?

Here's the core of what anarchists actually do:

1) organizing solidarity among working people
2) encouraging popular direct action

on the street
at the shop floor
in the classroom

and everywhere else.

Two Reviews: Curious George Brigade vs. Love and Rage
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, December 05 2005 @ 01:14 PM CST
To add to what Chuck is saying about the shantytown thing, in a trully liberated planet, it will not be one of "developement". What we will utimately have is a ludic type return to localized subsistance. The examples of the favalas and slums in the south are examples of people having some direct sustinence of their lives and people who would laugh at those who feel sorry for them. The problem is not the living areas as much as the power of capital, state, techniques, access to land to grow food, ect. Destroying these civilized barriers is the key. Not some liberal guilt trip.

Vigilante
Two Reviews: Curious George Brigade vs. Love and Rage
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, December 05 2005 @ 01:45 PM CST
i'm sure there is cross-over of people, as there seems to be a similarity in politics. (esp. since, as i remember it during the hey day, Love and Rage seemed to be have a lot of folks from the Northeast US. i just don't recall NEFAC emerging after a split from Love and Rage, like the reviewer says. i think Love and Rage faded, then dissolved and some time later NEFAC came about.
Two Reviews: Curious George Brigade vs. Love and Rage
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, December 06 2005 @ 11:52 AM CST
Not sure if two people count as any sort of substantive crossover between groups.
Two Reviews: Curious George Brigade vs. Love and Rage
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, December 05 2005 @ 02:40 PM CST
"That none of them have been successful, including those adamantly opposed to anarchism, would suggest that the lack of anarchist success is due to factors other than the embrace of anarchy as an ideal."

Odd, I've thought of that very same point as in L&R-style anarchist's favor, and against Crimethinc 'style'. It's always seemed to me that the Crimethinc stuff advocates a sort of "Just embrace anarchist ideals, and all will be well!", while it's the 'class struggle anarchists' that are more concerned with serious thought about how to accomplish something.
Two Reviews: Curious George Brigade vs. Love and Rage
Authored by: Admin on Monday, December 05 2005 @ 03:09 PM CST
"while it's the 'class struggle anarchists' that are more concerned with serious thought about how to accomplish something."

It's the other way around. :-)

Chuck
Two Reviews: Curious George Brigade vs. Love and Rage
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, December 06 2005 @ 07:10 PM CST
And what pray tell is the "what" that is supposed to be accomplished by the ideology promoted by businesses like CrimethINC ? Picking on 'Love and Rage' is taking an easy target and generalizing it to include everything the author disagrees with, no matter how far removed from 'Love and Rage'.
back in the day
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, December 06 2005 @ 07:40 PM CST
Yeah. Back in the day (like 100 years ago), there was no dichotomy between class-struggle anarchists and "lifestyle" anarchists.

There were fucking IWW members riding freight trains, eating garbage, having mad good sex, AND organizing workers!!!

We had the yin with the yang, so to speak.