Open Letter to the Tokyo
“Libertaire” Group


Near the end of our meeting a couple weeks ago, Mr. Miura asked me to get in touch with you when I came to Tokyo again. In a moment of unthinking mere politeness I said that I would. I would therefore like to clarify my position. In fact when I come to Tokyo again I will not contact you because our one meeting, brief as it was, was enough: I have no interest in your group.

Contrary to your suggestion that while other anarchists perhaps had many of the faults that I criticized, you “Japanese anarchists” were somehow different, I must say that you are unfortunately quite typical, in no way different from anarchists in other countries. You rummage among the corpses of Proudhon, the male-chauvinist ideologue of small cooperative capitalism; of “our Bakunin,” the proto-bolshevik; of World War I supporter Kropotkin; of the state-collaborating Spanish CNT (now once again trying to bureaucratically “organize” the struggles of the radical Spanish proletariat); and of various old oriental imitators thereof. You want to construct a mythical history for yourselves because you don’t know how to make real history now.

Vaguely aware of your own impotence, you hope that it will go away if you join your individual impotencies together. What actually happens is that what little creative energy you do possess is frittered away in the endless discussion and pursuit of such pointless, spectacular projects as a revived “Anarchist Federation.”

Like most anarchists, you have developed a truly ludicrous collective unconsciousness as a defense against any challenge to your complacency. Confronted with a practical critique, you “never heard” of it, or “forgot” it, or are “too busy” for it. Only one of you even knew about my letter and the Society of the Spectacle theses in CIRA’s Anarchism #4. Are Japanese anarchists’ writings so boring that you don’t even bother to read each other’s publications?

I cannot yet read the Japanese in Libertaire magazine, but the incoherent ramblings in the English sections are pitiful enough. But perhaps that is only the responsibility of the two “editors.” Perhaps the rest of you have no role in the magazine. (Or only a subordinate one?) When I thus asked you what other projects you had, some of you spoke vaguely of “support” for the Sanrizuka struggle but were unable to give any concrete details of what this “support” consisted of, or in what long-range strategical perspective you participated in it. Another simply said that he was “a worker,” implying apparently that this excused him from doing any other activity because he was too busy. What then is the purpose of his belonging to your group? What in fact is the purpose of your group?

It may be that I have judged you too much on the basis of the two or three people who talked most. It may be that one or two of you are more serious. If so, it is up to you to begin from the critiques you recognize, define your projects (however small but concrete), and act. This is just what it is impossible for you to do in “Libertaire.” The collective toleration of endless bullshit neutralizes any concrete individual effort in a stew of contradictory, consequenceless “opinions.” Your group is nothing but an obstacle to your real possibilities.

Down with the state! Down with musty anarchism!

Fujinomiya, 5 November 1977


English and Japanese versions of this open letter were sent to several dozen anarchist groups in Japan. Reprinted in Public Secrets: Collected Skirmishes of Ken Knabb.

No copyright.

[French translation of this text]
[Russian translation of this text]