English and the Anarchists’ Language

An exchange between Kristian Williams and the CrimethInc. Writers’ Bloc – Published on CrimeInc. Ex-Workers’ Collective (scroll down), by CrimethInc. Writers’ Bloc, not dated (linked with Anarchism and the English Language).

“The alchemists have a saying: ‘Tertium non data’: the third is not given. That is, the transformation from one element to another, from waste matter into best gold, is a process that cannot be documented. It is fully mysterious.  No one really knows what effects change.” –Jeanette Winterson.  

Kristian’s essay says much of what we would like to say to other anarchist writers. It is cowardly to conceal slipshod reasoning behind a smokescreen of gibberish—and dangerous, too, if you still encourage people to act on your arguments. Down with pseudo-academic posturing! Death to all who affix suffixes to project, potential, and position! And hyperbole to the guillotine!

Yet seeing this spelled out as a program, our hearts rebel. Orwell’s advice, as Kristian presents it, might improve bad writing, but it says nothing about the alchemy that sets good writing apart from the merely serviceable. Nor does it engage with what could make writing anarchist. Does one write well as an anarchist the same way one writes well as a social democrat or an advertising agent? Or is anarchist writing another project entirely, which must be evaluated according to other criteria? Kristian is either making a big assumption or a fatal omission. It’s important to address this, lest his prescriptions be used against those who strike off in the right direction … //

… (full long text – scroll down).

(CrimethInc. is a maelstrom, a collective hallucination, a practice of subversion that probably doesn’t exist at all).

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