The Kind of Anarchist Movement I'd Like to See 2

In a previous post, I outlined my view that the radicals from the 60s  have won on virtually every issue, and that the kinds of values associated with 60s radicals aren’ t all that radical anymore, but are actually rather mainstream and normal. Given the demise of Communism and the institutionalization of both social democracy and 60s-era cultural politics, it would seem that a new direction for radicals is necessary, and that such efforts would likely emerge from one or another of the libertarian camps. The surprisingly energetic nature of the Ron Paul campaign in late 2007 and early 2008 is symptomatic of this.

For some time, I held to the position that before there could be a serious anti-state movement there first needed to be a more solid intellectual foundation for anti-state radicals. At the time, libertarianism was limited largely to the bourgeoisie economics of the libertarian-right, and the warmed over Marxism, both economic and cultural, of the left-wing anarchists. More specifically, I realized that an effective radical anti-statist movement would have to have as its primary targets the forces of the State, particularly the police state that taken control of American society over the past few decades, the economic arm of the State, which is the corporate and banking system whose activities have also grown more pernicious in recent years, and lastly the American Empire, which is responsible for roughly 8 million deaths over the last 60 years of its existence. Unfortunately, most of the anti-state movements were fixated on other issues, whether the welfare state for right-libertarians or traditional forms of social prejudice (“racism, sexism, homophobia”) for much of the libertarian left.

To be sure, there have been happy exceptions. One of these in the paleolibertarian movement, which is far more radical in its critique of the State and its emanations that most of its classical liberal counterparts. Another is the militia movement of the 1990s, which was big on attitude but unfortunately short on intellectual substance. Still another is National-Anarchism, which offers potential correctives to various deficiencies in other forms of anti-authoritarian thought.  I have considered all of these to be embryos for a new kind of radicalism that might possibly emerge at some point in the future.

Just as important, however, has been the emergence of some major theoretical works, some of them from outside the various libertarian milieus, that can inform both our ideological and our strategic outlook in the future. One of these is Martin Van Creveld’s work on the origins and demise of the nation-state system. Still another is Bill Bishop’s “The Big Sort,” which indicates that Americans are creating the sociological infrastructure for a future anarcho-pluralist system, and they’re doing it all on their own, without any imput from anarchists. Additionally, we have functional models of what the politics of anarcho-pluralism might actually be in practice in the form of the many micronations currently in existence, for instance, Iceland, Liechtestein, Monaco, Luxemborg and Andorra, and the many functional intentional communities from around the world, ranging from Israel’s kibbutzim to South Africa’s Orania community.

On economic matters, the 21st century now has its own Proudhon in the person of Kevin Carson, whose work provides a magnificent continuation and synthesis of the classical anarchists, Marx, the Austrians, Rothbard, the decentralists, the distributists and others who have come before. Finally, anarchists can answer Keynes and Friedman, Marx and Mises. We also have functional alternative economic models in the form of Brazil’s Semco and Spain’s Mondragon cooperative federation.

On military matters, we have “fourth generation warfare” theory of the kind advanced by Van Creveld and Bill Lind, and a working model of a fourth generation army and social infrastructure in the form of Hezbollah. We also have others who are tired of the “culture war” psychology that dominates much of the Right and Left alike, and is seeking out something more appropriately called “culture peace,” including Kirkpatrick Sale’s pan-secessionist movement and the national-anarchists, both of which are tendenies that recognize the legitimacy of a plurality of cultural foundations and value systems, as opposed to the totalitarianism implicit in both imperialism and left-wing universalism. Likewise, the Americans for Self-Determination Plan offers a constructive “third way” beyond both old-fashioned racism and the totalitarianism of modern liberal “anti-racism.”

The various manifestations of the modern states have already been subject to penetrating critiques. Aldous Huxley and to some degree George Orwell predicted what modern states would become, and the core features of these states-therapeutism, managerialism, mass democracy, military humanism-have been dissected by thinkers as diverse as Hans Hermann Hoppe, Thomas Szasz, Noam Chomsky, Michele Foucault, James Burnham, James Bovard, Richard Lawrence Miller, Erick von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, Murray Rothbard, James Kalb, C.S. Lewis, Hannah Arendt, Paul Gottfried and Alain De Benoist.

An effort to synthesize libertarian anti-statism and class analysis has emerged in the works of Kevin Carson, Walter Williams on race issues, Charles Johnson, Shawn Wilbur and others. No less respectable a figure as Vincent Bugliosi has brought forth a compilation of compelling evidence that George W. Bush and his associates deliberately went to war in Iraq under fraudulent pretenses and deliberately mishandled the war against Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. James Petras from the Left and John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt from the Center have produced comprehensive works documenting Israeli domination of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, and they have done so without relying on the anti-Semitic conspiracy theories of past times.

Another work that needs to be revisited is Walter Block’s classic “Defending the Undefendable.” In my own writings, I have mentioned a large number of political, cultural and economic scapegoats and outgroups that lack political representation, and might well be cultivated as constituent groups for a future anti-state movement. Similarly, now that conservatism, which claims to be the voice of opposition to “big government,”  is in shambles, at least some of the more radical or sincere constituents for conservatism might well be steered towards some sort of crypto-anarchism.

Ultimately, the only way that anarchists can eventually gain enough influence to finally topple the State, Capital and Empire, or at least severely curtail these, is to achieve leadership positions in much larger popular organizations, economic enterprises and political coalitions. Recent events in Greece have shown the potential social power of relatively small organized cadre of anarchists.  So how do we get this revolution going?

2 comments

  1. “Recent events in Greece have shown the potential social power of relatively small organized cadre of anarchists.”

    Not a very good example. Read this re the greek riots:

    http://tmichas.wordpress.com/2008/12/12/greece-is-burning/

    “All of this took place while the security forces simply stood by and watched the disaster unfold. They were following the explicit orders of their political masters to assume a “defensive posture”–which in effect meant that they did not try to prevent the orgy of destruction.”

  2. Thanks for the link. I’ve vacillated a bit on the Greek riots. At first, it seemed like a lot of people letting off steam without any real purpose. Then it seemed to take on a more insurrectionary flavor. From what I’ve read of different accounts of what happened in Greece, it seems to have been like most other uprisings, where political insurrection is blended with opportunism and routine criminality. Either way, though, such events do demonstrate the impotence, or perhaps weakness of will, of the state when faced with a real challenge.

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