I have always been a closet anarchist of some sort, perhaps a consequence of my bourgeois education and youthful narcissism. This is why I continue to read books written and read by anarchists. Days of War, Nights of Love is the latest anarchist book I read. You can download the pdf for free, here.
Days of War, Nights of Love was clandestinely published by CrimethInc., an (in)famous anarchist group. It was written as some sort of manifesto of their beliefs.There are about 36 chapters, loosely arranged alphabetically (A is for Anarchy, B is for Bourgeoisie, and so on). There are images and mini-stories between the chapters. It is at its core a propaganda book, a collection of essays, or as they claim, “your ticket to a world free of charge.”
As far as I’m concerned the book was written in a very compelling and passionate way. As the majority of anarchist books, it has this rabid and angsty vibe which I often contrast with the dryness of Marxist writing. It is agitating and idealitiscally stupid in a very positive, if not romantic, way. I love it.
As much as I recognize its limitations in political theory, given most of anarchism’s rejection of politics itself, the book somehow provoked the question of compromise and purity, two things which concern me rather seriously these past few weeks. I am beginning to see the limitations of a pseudo-creative/ hipster life founded on the illusion of individual self-sustainability, yet I also refuse to swallow the “mature” logic of a conventional bourgeois divorced from any form of dissent.
Days of War, Nights of Love advocates stealing, shoplifting, squatting, not working, free love and other things which tug at my anarchist heartstrings, but even towards the end of the book, we read stories of true-life anarchists who stated that we need to “compromise a bit” in order to survive. This brings me to a conclusion that as much as they strive for a pure form of life as resistance, their dialectical situatedness in capitalism, not only as a political and economic system, but a total and epochal reality, jeopardizes individual resistance. Thus, resistance achieves nothing but itself within the universe of the individual’s own experience. This impulse to purge the historical from the individual assumes not only a selfishness but also a delusion of the self which is somehow ironic for something as potentially radical as anarchism. You may have noticed that this paragraph encapsulated some of my criticisms of the book.
Nonetheless, I admire the aggressiveness and sense of purity that Days of War, Nights of Love inspires. Given all the compromises we have to make, all the ‘tactical’ decisions and complicated dilly-dallying about in the realm of politics, we need to always remind ourselves why we resist so as to not to lose track of what we really aim to do.