“This is not how things are meant to be; this is not how we are all meant to live”
Paul Cudenec (1963-) is a contemporary anarchist writer who very much fits into the organic radical tradition.
In 2020 he became known for his outspoken criticism of the totalitarianism being rolled out worldwide on the back of the Covid crisis.
He declared on his blog as early as March 25: “It should now be obvious to anyone with even half a brain that we are not in fact facing a deadly global epidemic that threatens to wipe out millions upon millions of our fellow human beings”. (1)
Cudenec went on, in further articles, to condemn other anarchists for “getting angry with me for believing in freedom” (2) and to warn that “there are today some fundamental problems at the very heart of the anarchist movement”. (3)
In a July article, he complained of “the contamination of left-wing thinking by liberal ideas”, adding: “Liberalism is, of course, the philosophy of capitalism. Economic liberalism was, as we have seen, a central pillar of historic fascism”. (4)
He also penned two widely-circulated articles denouncing the “Fourth Industrial Repression” (5) and analysing, in great detail, “Klaus Schwab and his great fascist reset”. (6)
At the end of the year he argued that the events of 2020 had demonstrated the need for “a different civilizational direction”.
He wrote: “We need to rediscover what it means to be truly human, to cherish value over price, communal belonging over personal self-interest, honour above wealth”. (7)
Cudenec’s thought has been particularly influenced by Gustav Landauer, Peter Kropotkin and Herbert Read, with René Guénon also being a frequently quoted source.
He said in a 2013 interview that he is inspired by a kind of primal anarchism, an “Ur-anarchism” that underlies the contemporary political philosophy. (8)
In the 2015 essay ‘Capitalism is built on violence and lies’, Cudenec described the network of structures that have been built up to justify and perpetuate the capitalist system: “Capitalism hides behind a state, which physically imposes the capitalist system on the people. The state hides behind the idea of ‘legality’, having created a legal system which declares the state to be legal!” (9)
This back-to-basics anarchism is combined with a deep green critique of industrialism, inspired by John Zerzan and Derrick Jensen, among others.
Cudenec regards industrialism as simply an extension of capitalism and incompatible with a free anarchist society.
He stresses constantly the fact that human beings are part of nature and follows Kropotkin in seeing the organic structure of life, including human thought and culture, as being the soil from which a possible future anarchist society would grow.
Individuals are part of social organisms called communities. Communities all form part of the human species, which is itself part of the planetary organism. And everything is contained within The Universe, which Cudenec regards as transcending the subjective illusion of time.
He explained in his 2016 collection of essays, Nature, Essence and Anarchy: “In a metaphorical way, The Universe descends into us in order to act through us and through our being.
“It descends in the sense of passing from an abstract level to a physical one, which is often described as the passing from a ‘higher’ to a ‘lower’ level, but without any sense of inferiority or superiority since we are considering different modes-of-being of one and the same entity.
“The necessary subjectivity with which we lead our lives is also the necessary subjectivity with which The Universe takes on a real form and becomes both present and active in its own self-shaping.
“Thus, in a way, we are doubly present in our own subjective experience. Firstly, we are there as our individual selves leading our own individual lives. Secondly, we are there as manifestations of The Universe, of which we all form a living and active part.
“There is no contradiction between these two forms of presence – they are two aspects of the one reality, two sides of the same coin”. (10)
Cudenec’s spirituality is anything but passive. For him, the individual, as part of a greater whole, bears a heavy responsibility to act on the behalf of that whole.
The title of his 2010 essay ‘Antibodies: Life, Death and Resistance in the Psyche of the Superorganism’, referred to the idea that the planetary organism can best defend itself against industrial capitalism by means of aware and active human beings.
Cudenec wrote: “The whole point of nature giving us personal freedom and individuality is to give us the choice as to whether we want to go along with the status quo, accept the direction our species or planetary superorganism is taking, or whether we want to try and change it. We, as human beings, can act as the antennae which sense danger, the control mechanisms which prevent disaster for the whole”. (11)
In his 2013 book The Anarchist Revelation: Being What We’re Meant To Be, he explained that individuals had to make themselves available for the revolutionary task at hand, overcoming their narrow self-interest through a form of internal alchemy.
In a passage summarising his argument, he wrote: “The Anarchist Revelation shows us that this is not how things are meant to be; this is not how we are all meant to live – and it inspires us to put things right.
“It inspires us to fly free over the barriers erected around us, riding the winds of human passion and yearning. It inspires us to see that the state is a destroyer of life, not a necessity for it, and thus to kick over the whole house of cards of authority and control.
“It inspires us to draw on the energy flowing through ourselves, to find our dharma and to be guided by the ‘original instructions’ and natural laws of organic self-governing society.
“It inspires us to plug ourselves back into the collective unconscious, into the heart of nature and to know that if we don’t stop civilization from murdering the planet, nothing else matters”. (12)
Cudenec sets out to synthesise the various elements of his thinking and present them as a coherent whole. In doing so, he claims not to be inventing some new ideology, but to be rediscovering the age-old Ur-anarchism which originally inspired him.
Zerzan described The Anarchist Revelation as “the least pessimistic book I can remember reading” (13) and a life-affirming belief in the possibility of revolutionary change forms an essential part of Cudenec’s philosophy.
Cudenec said in the 2013 interview: “Anarchism is the political label we give to a massive underground river of suppressed thinking that is flowing under the streets of our materialist capitalist civilization, waiting to rise up and sweep away its factories, prisons and city halls. Ultimately, it’s the life-force itself and as such it’s unstoppable”. (14)
Cudenec’s other books include Forms of Freedom (2015) and The Green One (2017).
Audio link: “Anarchy” with Paul Cudenec (59 mins)
1. Paul Cudenec, ‘The politics of fear’, March 25, 2020, https://network23.org/paulcudenec/2020/03/25/the-politics-of-fear/
2. Paul Cudenec, ‘Anarchists against freedom’, April 26, 2020, https://network23.org/paulcudenec/2020/04/26/anarchists-against-freedom/
3. Paul Cudenec, ‘The rebels will return’, April 29, 2020, https://network23.org/paulcudenec/2020/04/29/the-rebels-will-return/
4. Paul Cudenec, ‘Fascism, new normalism and the left’, July 20, 2020, https://winteroak.org.uk/2020/07/26/fascism-newnormalism-and-the-left/
5. Paul Cudenec, ‘Resist the Fourth Industrial Repression!’, April 17, 2020, http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2020/04/17/resist-the-fourth-industrial-repression/
6. Paul Cudenec, ‘Klaus Schwab and his great fascist reset’, October 5, 2020,
7. Paul Cudenec, ‘Dismantling tyranny’, December 14, 2020, https://winteroak.org.uk/2020/12/14/dismantling-tyranny/
8. Paul Cudenec, Antibodies, anarchangels and other essays (Sussex: Winter Oak Press, 2013), p. 119.
9. Paul Cudenec, ‘Capitalism is built on violence and lies’, September 20, 2015, network23.org/paulcudenec/2015/09/20/capitalism-is-built-on-violence-and-lies
10. Paul Cudenec, Nature, Essence and Anarchy (Sussex: Winter Oak Press, 2016), pp. 158-59.
11. Cudenec, Antibodies, anarchangels and other essays, p. 43.
12. Paul Cudenec, The Anarchist Revelation: Being What We’re Meant To Be (Sussex; Winter Oak Press, 2013), pp. 123-24.
13. John Zerzan, Why Hope? The Stand Against Civilization (Port Townsend, WA: Feral House, 2015), p. 135.
14. Cudenec, Antibodies, anarchangels and other essays, p. 119.