What is “Vulgar …”?

There are some times when people speak of “vulgar collectivism” or “vulgar libertarianism” or something else like. These phrases refer to what are seen as perverted forms of ideas, whether drawn as strawmen or used as rhetoric for political gain. So from an anarchist perspective, “vulgar …” draw specific meanings. On this blog I even used my own word “vulgar autonomy”. I will describe some of these phrases below.

  • Vulgar Libertarianism: Modern minarchism and privarchist capitalists, especially those around the Libertarian Party, who use the word “libertarian” to describe themselves. They stole the word from libertarian socialists and libertarian communists, who have used it for over 100 years since it was first used in France. Their advocacy for and/or ignorance of the huge social hierarchy in capitalism as it really is automatically contradicts their description of themselves as anything libertarian.
  • Vulgar Collectivism: This is usually a strawman used by vulgar libertarians to attack socialism. Although the monopolization of power within businesses destroys the individuality of workers by reducing their role as order-takers in evermore deskilled and mechanical production, vulgar “libertarians” like to pretend to advocate for individual rights and rail against socialism as the enemy of liberty. The inherent duality of collectivism and individualism are lost on them, so advocating for egalitarian worker’s self-management where everybody can have power over their own part in the economy is seen as the terrible demon of “collectivism”. Vulgar collectivism is more akin to totalitarian governments and transnational corporations, where those at the top of social hierarchies dictate the actions and appearance of the whole, not socialism, which is worker’s self-management and collective ownership of the means of life, where mutual social relationships express all of the individuals collectively working together.
  • Vulgar Individualism: Vulgar individualism correlates to vulgar collectivism as it is usually the position of those attack “collectivism”, usually capitalists, often believers in “rugged individualism”. Vulgar individualists view individuals in a decontextualized, asocial, atomized sense, and ignore our true interconnected nature, in that individual people can only exist in the context of other individual people. This is why they attack “collectivism”; basically they don’t see why they should have to work with others. Inevitably, this leads to social hierarchies as people compete economically instead of cooperate. Capitalists, usually privarchist or minarchist, hold this position, and justify huge totalitarian social hierarchies in the economy, which represents real vulgar collectivism.
    • Vulgar individualists attacking vulgar collectivism, or what they think that is, from anarchism to Marxism, do not see that individuals being together are the collective. The duality of individual and collective, liberty and equality, libertarianism and socialism, anarchism and communism represents the reality for human beings, who are social creatures.
  • Vulgar Autonomy: I use this term to refer to recent ideologies that appropriate anarchism and autonomism to their own devices. This refers to (1) the more theoretical ones, like “anarcho”-monarchists and “anarcho”-capitalists, and (2) the more active ones, like “autonomist” nationalists and national “anarchists”. The distinction is not perfect; it is more about modern tendencies. These tendencies are the focus of this blog because they have used many terms (autonomous, anarcho/anarchist, anti-statist, voluntarism, free association, etc.) and images (circle-A, half-black flag, black bloc-style outfits, black flag, direct action (aka property damage against foreign store-owners, violence against immigrants, people of colors, etc.)) that show that they are trying desperately to appropriate the best of the image of anti-authoritarianism, rather than just rhetoric about freedom, liberty, individualism, etc. The growing trend in closer co-optations of “anarchism” possibly shows that these reactionaries are trying desperately to steal a real revolutionary counterculture that could be a real threat to the established imperialist order, aka capitalism.
    • Honestly this a vague term, because the different aspects of anarchism are present in pretty much every other ideology, at least in rhetoric, but I describe it here, in its pragmatic context, what really matters, as it is relevant to this blog. This definition takes libertarian socialism to be equal to anarchism.


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