Revolutions: American and Spanish, Anarchist and Patriotic

“We should encourage the flower of liberty whether its petals be red white and blue, or red and black.”

-Karl Hess

Readers that are new to ATS/ARV or who are unfamiliar with, skeptical of or even hostile to anarcho-pluralism, national-anarchism, or tribal-anarchism have at times asked how anarchism can be reconciled with nationalism. Here’s how I do it:

The most successful anarchist movement in history was the Spanish anarcho-syndicalist/anarcho-communist movement of the early 20th century.  The American Revolution was arguably the most successful and enduring revolution in history. What I have attempted to do with ATS/ARV is synthesize these two traditions.

The Spanish anarchist movement began when some of Bakunin’s associates started organizing locally in the late nineteenth century, and over the next few decades anarchism grew into a mass movement. Bakunin is my primary ideological influence, and I consider myself and my friends, colleagues, associates and allies (e.g. all of you) to be the modern equivalent of the Bakuninist wing of the First International that became the foundation of the historic anarchist movement. At present, we “alternative anarchists” are at the stage the classical anarchist movement in Spain was in during its very earliest days, e.g. handfuls of dedicated militants organizing local groups.

Eventually, the anarchist movement in Spanish grew into the Iberran Anarchist Federation (FAI), which included anarchist groups in Spain and Portugal, and there was also a large anarchist movement in neighboring France. The FAI was an organization for anarchist militants and ideological leaders, and these militants disseminated their ideas through growing movements of workers and peasants, eventually organizing these into the National Confederation of Workers (CNT). The CNT was a much larger group for which the FAI provided leadership.

As a matter of organizational strategy, I would like to see the eventual emergence in North America of a federation of anarchist militants comparable to the FAI. This would not be any kind of centralized organization like a political party, but would simply be an association or affiliation of completely autonomous local groups, and membership in the federation would be open to all proponents of “alternative anarchism” such as those mentioned in the ARV statement of purpose, e.g. adherents of “anarcho-collectivism, syndicalism, mutualism, post-structuralism, Green anarchism, primitivism and neo-tribalism from the Left, and anarcho-capitalism, anarcho-monarchism, anarcho-feudalism, national-anarchism, tribal-anarchism, paleo-anarchism and Christian anarchism from the Right” along with “sympathetic persons from other ideological currents.”

Eventually, we will grow larger than and overrun the anarchist movement of the present day. The right-libertarian/anarcho-capitalist camp has undergone a major split in recent years between the establishment-friendly “low-tax liberal” types (we know who they are) and the serious anti-state radicals. Hans Hermann Hoppe has emerged as the premiere theorist of the latter camp and his core idea of replacing mass democracy with small, private or semi-private, voluntary or quasi-voluntary communities of scale comparable to present day micronations like Liechtenstein, Luxemborg, or Monaco overlaps in a fundamental way with our own outlook. There are some differences between our approach and those of the the Wal-Mart fans found in some anarcho-libertarian circles as well, but thanks to the noble efforts of Kevin Carson and Sean Gabb there is a growing consensus among radical libertarians that plutocracy is ultimately a creature of the state. As for the anarcho-leftoids, what remains to be said? Eventually, their more serious, intelligent, intellectually honest, and genuinely anti-system people will come over into our camp. I hear from former left-anarchists all the time who have already made the defection. The rest of their movement will be absorbed by liberalism as the anarcho-leftoids ultimately have no barrier to such cooptation.

The classical anarchists built their movement through organizing workers and peasants into labor unions. The labor movement is now a thing of the past, and unions are now mainstream institutions. The resurgent anarchist movement of the 1960s oriented itself towards the New Left, but the movements that came out of the New Left are likewise part of the present day establishment and have been coopted by Totalitarian Humanism and Cultural Marxism.  Some have placed hope in the Tea Party phenomenon, but these have become an arm of the neoconservative-led Republican establishment. The real location of serious radicalism in North America today is in the secessionist movement. Thomas Naylor has described this neo-secessionist movement as “arguably the most radical political movement in the history of the United States” and for good reason. Just as the classical anarchists oriented themselves towards the historic labor movement, so should alternative anarchists in contemporary North America orient themselves towards the secessionist movement (or movements) by providing organizational support, producing pro-secession propaganda, joining and seeking leadership positions, developing workable strategic goals that will contribute to the eventual success of secession, pushing existing secession movements in ever more radical directions, organizing constituent groups for secession, and so forth. Regional and local secessionist movements in North America should have the same relationship to our own alternative anarchist movement as the CNT did with the FAI.

Regarding class conflict, the classical anarchist movement oriented itself towards the peasants, urban industrial workers, and also found a following among dissidents from the aristocracy (which is where both Bakunin and Kropotkin originated from). While the growing alternative anarchist movement overlaps with the right-libertarians considerably, at least the more radical right-libertarians, we generally lack their bias towards the bourgeoisie. Individual or class self-interest and ideological preferences aside, an orientation towards the bourgeoisie in strategically impractical. A Zogby poll published in 2008 indicated that the lower one’s position in the socio-economic hierarchy, and the lower one’s level of formal education, the more one is likely to be sympathetic to the idea of secession. There are valid reasons for this. Those on the bottom layers have the least to lose and the most to gain from political upheaval. The affluent and comfortable prefer security, safety, and stability, not radicalism or revolutionism.

Classical anarchism identified as the enemy not only the state proper, but institutions that are adjacent to or supportive of the state. In their day, this meant the feudal aristocracy, the established Church, and the rising capitalist class (the source of today’s plutocratic order). A contemporary war against the state is out of necessity and, indeed, by nature a war against the plutocracy, and we should be very thankful to thinkers such as Carson and Gabb for injecting this bit of common sense into a libertarian movement that has been so blinkered at times on this question. And while the Church is essentially impotent in modern Western civilization, the theocracies of the past have been replaced with the religions of mass democracy, multiculturalism, feminism, and the therapeutic state. The institutions of the media and academia have replaced the Church as the disseminators and enforcers of this new orthodoxy, indeed, fundamentalism. Just as the classical anarchists battled the monarchical state, the artificially privileged feudal landlords and capitalists, and the theocratic Church, so are we present day alternative anarchists up against the bureaucratic-democratic-managerial state, the plutocracy of “big business” and the “banksters,” and the new theocracy of “political correctness.”

Our understanding of these facts places us light years ahead of other professed anti-authoritarian movements. The right-libertarians often sympathize with the right wing of the establishment, and indeed often view it as being oppressed by the state. Recall Ayn Rand’s declarations that “big business is America’s most persecuted minority” and that the military-industrial-complex is a “myth.” The anarcho-leftoids are essentially the militant wing of the new theocracy who believe in its tenants even more fervently than its high priests actually do. Just as Osama bin Laden regards the Saudi theocracy as far too liberal for his tastes, so do the anarcho-leftoids regard totalitarian humanism as far too impotent, preferring vigilante violence against violators rather than the establishment’s approach of informal or formal censorship, economic or legal sanctions. Therefore, those of us in the various “alternative anarchist” camps are much more equipped to battle all of the establishment’s institutions across the board: the state, the plutocracy, the banking cartel, the military-industrial complex, the empire, the police state, the therapeutic state, prison industry, legal racket, media propaganda systems, academic indoctrination systems, and the “new class” managerial bureaucracy.

The modern libertarian critique of plutocracy offered by Carson and Gabb overlaps fairly well with the classical anarchist critique of the relationship between state and capital advanced by Proudhon and other leading anarchist economists of the time. As Gabb has pointed out, this critique of the plutocratic state dovetails with a thorough-going critique of totalitarian humanism, cultural Marxism, and political correctness, as the PC ideological framework serves to advance the economic interests of the plutocracy, the ideological interests of the totalitarian Left, and the interests of the state in expanding its realm of authority and control. What the Church was to classical anarchism, the institutions of political correctness are to us. If Bakunin were here today, instead of railing against “God and the State,” he would be railing against “political correctness and the state.”

If we compare ourselves to the classical anarchists of Spain, then the managerial-democratic state becomes the monarchy, PC institutions such as the media and academia become the Church, the corporate plutocracy becomes the feudal landlords, the Christian Zionist stooges-for-the-neocons and reactionary jingoists who denounce us for our “anti-American” and “anti-Israel” sympathies become the Francista fascists, and the antifa and other left-wing authoritarian hoodlums become the Stalin-backed Communists who sided with the Spanish liberal-bourgeoisie against the anarchist uprisings of 1936.

If the classical anarchists allied themselves with workers and peasants, then the present day parallels would be the neo-peasantry of rural America, the petite bourgeoisie of self-employed and small entrepreneurs, the lower proletariat (e.g. minimum wage workers in service industries), the lumpenproletariat (e.g. the chronically unemployed or those whose livelihood is criminalized by the state), and the former middle class that is sinking into the ranks of the proletariat due to the combined impact of the global economy and reckless fiscal and monetary policies.

When the Anarchist uprising occurred in Spain in 1936, there were plenty of non-Communist socialists and even some non-fascist or non-Francista nationalists and conservative peasant or agrarian unions that joined the revolution.  In a parallel sense, there are plenty of non-neonconservative rightists and non-politically correct leftists who will either come into our camp or emerge as our allies in the long run. Lastly, let us not forget that the Spanish anarchists and their allies organized a militia confederation that fought a two-front war and lost only because of overwhelming odds. Contemporary military science indicates that the wave of the future in military matters will be “fourth generation” non-state armies of the kind that anarchists are most suited for.

What does any of this have to do with nationalism? I have just outlined how a North American alternative anarchist movement modeled on the most successful anarchist movement in history might eventually grow and expand and achieve preeminence. But it must do so within an appropriate framework and, for America, that framework is the legacy and traditions of the American Revolution. Just as the American revolution of 1776 was a patriotic rebellion and secession from a tyrannical empire, and just as the southern secession of 1861 was a repeat attempt of the same, so should a revolutionary movement in America, regardless of its specific ideological content, root its appeals in these traditions and historical precedents. Further, the present day struggle is a struggle against the global plutocratic order. Upholding the sovereignty of nations, regions, communities, cultures and other particular identities is a threat to and bulwark against global capitalism. Therefore, National-Anarchism and allied tendencies are the way forward, particularly in a nation like the United States with its historic revolutionary and secessionist traditions.

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3 replies »

  1. The most brilliant contextual summation of the struggle that I have ever read. I don’t believe you left a thing out. I have forwarded this to everyone I know capable of thinking. Unfortunately, it was a short list.

  2. This is an excellent condensation of previously stated views and analyses. Unfortunately, the bulk of the contemporary anarchist movement is still too deeply wedded to humanism and the dream of a “global community” (which capitalism is already busily creating for them) to be of much help.

  3. THE question we must ask and ask again is this: Do you really envision a Jetson’s fantasy land of a benevolent brave new world order where everyone does what the central command tells them and in which that central command is somehow trustworthy and wise? Or do you envision a modern tribalism of small, potentially progressive, potentially ugly, often conflicting, but limited power localized groups? Which vision is more human? Which vision offers hope for sustainability?
    I embrace a vision for small, decentralized, not necessarily politically correct, BUT balanced and limited-power structures. IE what existed on this planet for hundreds of thousands of years in between the several large and corrupt empires that have grown and collapsed.
    And I believe that the collapse of our civilization driven by peak everything and economic chaos will bring humans back to reality and give us an opportunity to live like humans again, with some groups creating lifeboats of sustainability and other groups eating each other as their resources disappear. Vermont is the best opportunity for a LIFEBOAT state in the North American experiment and that is why I support the consideration of Vermont secession.

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