Description of a Struggle 139
Description of a Struggle
They came to the Castle for many reasons. Some sought the Truth, others yearned for Community, and still others dreamt of Power.
In August of 1995 a small band of anarchists and ecologists gathered at Castle Toward near Dunoon, Scotland for an "International Social Ecology Gathering." The Castle's cryptic name is quite appropriate. Its dark stone walls seemed to cry out: "Toward What?" A good question, for few of those who gathered realized the true historic meaning of the events in which they had participated. And few were aware of the storm that had gathered and then raged above the turrets of Castle Toward.
Those who gathered were told that the Gathering's theme was "democracy and ecology" and its purpose "to strengthen the ties between political activists and thinkers interested in radical ecological politics, anarchism, socialism, and politics." It is likely that most who were there saw the Gathering, and still look back at it, as no more than a pleasant Anarchist's Holiday where they met like-minded people, socialized and exchanged ideas and addresses.
What they did not know was that the fate of the Gathering was being guided by an Invisible Hand. The Hand of Murray Bookchin, Patriarch of Social Ecology, prophet of "hidden tendencies" and "educer" of the "directionality" of all things. They did not know that the true purpose of the Gathering at Castle Toward was to defend Bookchin's theoretical fortress, the "Castle of Social Ecology," and to serve the true "Movement Toward" of History, its authentic meaning and "directionality."
When the official version of the Gathering was recounted in the Bookchinite Social Ecology Network International, the hidden significance of the event was finally revealed. It was disclosed that the Castle had been the scene of a devious attempt to destroy Social Ecology itself, and that the true Champions of Social Ecology had rallied to its defense.
The cause of the uproar among the devout was the fact that a certain "C," who has been for over twenty years one of the most energetic Defenders of the Social Ecological Faith, had the unmitigated gall to raise questions about some of the Patriarch's ideas.
One is tempted to feel some sympathy for "C," in view of the deplorable treatment he subsequently received from Bookchin and his allies for the unspeakable crime of critical thought. But to be honest, "C" fully deserves his fate. He is only paying the price for his long-term indulgence in the vice of sectarianism, a moral failing long endemic to the anarchist movement. For years, our poor tragicomic hero was fully aware of the fact that the Patriarch was far from an ideal Philosopher King and the walls of the Castle of Social Ecology were in serious disrepair. Indeed the King often carried on scandalously, more in the style of a theoretical Court Jester. Yet the wretched "C" continued to patch together new theoretical garb for our often unclothed Philosophical Emperor, all in defense of his crumbling Fortress of Ideas.
The hapless "C" finally discovered to his dismay that such wishful thinking must founder on the shoals of sectarian reality. In a political cult like that of the Patriarch, there comes a time when one must either supress one's critical faculties in an act of wormlike submission or face expulsion. "C" had for some time been engaging in discrete questioning of certain Bookchinite dogmas, and the future of his social ecological wormhood already appeared in doubt. He now took on a task that sealed his fate: a detailed critique of some of the Patriarch's most fundamental ideas. What is more, he brought along a draft of his critique to the Castle of Social Ecology itself and read and discussed some excerpts.
Before the Law
The Patriarch was enraged that such a challenge to his authority would intrude to within the very Castle walls. While Bookchin faxed an urgent plea to the Castle, warning of dire consequences if his principles were not staunchly defended, his call to arms was not heeded. The participants listened politely and rather impassively to criticisms of Bookchin, his partisans failed to dominate the proceedings and impose his orthodoxy, and the group adopted a statement of principles that spurned Bookchinist sectarianism for the sake of a broader, non-dogmatic social ecology.
The pages of the Bookchinite International, however, told a different story. It published a long report on the Gathering in which all the presentations were summarized. All that is, except for "C"'s illicit critique. In this case, not a single point from the presentation was mentioned. Instead, the editors reported faithfully that "['C']'s very presence created some considerable debate," though there had actually been not a word of debate on this topic. Furthermore, the activity to which the Gathering devoted by far the greatest amount of its time, and the only decision that was made by majority vote were consigned to the social ecological memory hole by the trusty editors of the International. Two days had been spent in the drafting of a document entitled "Principles Of The International Social Ecology Network," which was then adopted by majority vote. However, the Bookchinite vanguard, exercising the famous Bakuninist principle of "Invisible Dictatorship," decided to rewrite this particular bit of history according to its true Bookchinite "latent directionality," ignoring such counterrevolutionary irrelevancies as the facts, and such trivialities as the actual decisions of the people who were there.
History having been corrected, it was not long before the forces of anarchist orthodoxy came down on "C." The Patriarch deigned to reply to "C"'s relatively brief presentation at the Gathering with a lengthy diatribe, "Comments on the International Social Ecology Gathering and the 'Deep Social Ecology' of ['C']," excommunicating "C" from the fold of Social Ecology. The contents of this document, unprecedented in the history of inadvertent political humor, are the basis for "C"'s "Confession," which is reprinted here. While one might suspect that some of the ludicrous accusations have been made up to make the Patriarch look ridiculous, this is not the case. All the indictments to which "C" pleads guilty actually emanated from the fevered imagination of Bookchin himself.
Next, "C" was purged from the International Advisory Board of the journal Democracy and Nature. "C," a Board member and contributor since the inception of the journal, was dropped without discussion or even notification, and his subscription to the journal was immediately terminated. In addition, the editor, Takis Fotopoulos not only reprinted Bookchin's diatribe, but also began a series of attacks on "C"'s critique of Bookchin, while continually refusing to publish the critique itself.
All Seekers of Truth are encouraged to procure a copy of Bookchin's "Comments" and read this treatise carefully at their earliest possible convenience. If any work illustrates the "tendency" and "directionality" of Bookchinism, this is it. Indeed, it creates a new philosophical category for which Bookchin will long be remembered: Eduction to the Absurd.
Meanwhile, we offer you "C"'s "Confession," which we take the liberty of retitling "Memoirs of an Ex-Worm." Furthermore, we compliment "C" on finally realizing his evolutionary potential and present him with the "Max Cafard Slow Learner's Award."
A Postscript on the Castle
After several days at the Castle, the word began to spread among those who had gathered. Castle Toward was not in fact an authentic Castle but rather a latter-day imitation of one. It was a false Castle, and indeed a bit of a travesty of one. The Chateau Fort was in reality a Chateau . . . Faux.
However, it was also discovered that a true Castle existed—out of sight from the false one, but only a short distance away. Those who made the "steep and rugged ascent" to that Castle found, however, that it lay in ruins. The true Castle had been destroyed centuries ago in one of those perennial internecine slaughters in which certain latent tendencies of History are rendered so appallingly real.