Perhaps one of the most problematic issues I have encountered when attempting to communicate the ATS message is the fact that I frequently comment on a variety of topics that are only casually related or even unrelated to the essential features of the ATS message.
For example, I have tried to expose anarchists, libertarians, and related others to thinkers such as Nietzsche, Stirner, Ernst Junger, and others whose ideas I believe strengthen the anarchist paradigm in many ways. However, it is certainly not necessary to subscribe to the ideas of any particular set of thinkers of these kinds in order to embrace the core values of ATS. An adherent of the ATS approach to political philosophy and strategy could just as easily be an admirer of John Locke or Emmanuel Kant or Karl Marx or Michele Foucault or Edmund Burke or C.S. Lewis or Franz Fanon..
I have criticized the tendency of many anarchists and libertarians to embrace the “open borders” position on immigration without fully considering the consequential issues associated with this, but one can certainly hold to an “open borders” viewpoint and be an adherent of the ATS outlook.
There are others who disagree with some of my economic positions. For example, some libertarians consider me to be a Marxist, and some anarcho-communists consider be to be an anarcho-capitalist. But it is not necessary to have any particular perspective on economics in order to adopt the general meta-political framework of ATS.
I have also been personally involved with other political tendencies such as the alternative right, but it is not necessary to have a favorable view of the alternative right in order to subscribe to the ATS philosophy. I have suggested in the past that anarchists could learn certain things from European New Right thinkers such as Alain De Benoist, but it is not necessary to be an admirer of Benoist to be an associate of ATS any more than it is necessary to be an admirer of Noam Chomsky or Ayn Rand.
What then are the essential features of the ATS message?
The ATS position on geopolitics is essentially the same as that outlined by Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt in their book “Empire.” Ultimately, there is a need for a global revolutionary struggle against the international super-class of plutocrats and it various component parts. This is essentially the contemporary version of the historic struggle against colonialism that emerged in the 19th and 20th centuries, a struggle in which anarchists were early participants. Additionally, it must be recognized that the Westphalian state as it has existed for four centuries is breaking down on a worldwide basis, and that non-state actors are assuming increasingly prominent roles in social organization. The ATS approach to meta-politics is based on a recognition of these trends.
Much of the ATS focus and emphasis is on attacking the American government, which is the mother country of the empire and its military arm. However, a modified version of the ATS paradigm would likely be appropriate for other parts of the world as well. For example, the ATS concept of “pan-anarchism against the state, pan-secessionism against the empire” is just as applicable to the European Union as it is to the United States, and one could imagine a comparable version of this outlook developing in such places as Latin America, Russia, India, Africa,or China. All of these places have either a historic anarchist tradition, or indigenous or local traditions that blend well into anarchist philosophy.
Further, ATS recognizes and accepts the diversity of anarchist, libertarian, decentralist, anti-authoritarian, anti-statist, anti-capitalist, and anti-imperialist thought. Towards this end, we have embraced such concepts within the anarchist tradition such as anarchism without adjectives, anarchism without hyphens, synthesist anarchism, and panarchism, as well as more contemporary forms of anarchism that accept this diversity such as anarcho-pluralism, pan-anarchism, alternative anarchism, neo-tribal anarchism, national anarchism, anarcho-populism, anarcho-ecumenicalism, demarchy, polyarchy, autarchy, and the like. Our attitude is one of “super-inclusiveness” or “super-diversity” that embraces all generally anarchistic, libertarian, or decentralist tendencies. This provides ATS with a tremendous growth potential in a way that those sects of anarchism who are about being as exclusionary as possible do not possess.
Nor is ATS about the Left or Right. These represent what are primarily abstract philosophical differences. Leftists tend to regard history as progressive and evolving towards to higher state of human existence, and look at the past as oppressive and benighted. Rightists tend to place a greater primacy on respect for tradition. Leftists have a more sympathetic view to the idea of human perfectibility, and regard human nature as largely malleable. Rightists tend to regard human nature as fixed and innate. Leftists tend to emphasize universality while Rightists often prefer to emphasize the particular. Leftists regard equality as a primary value while Rightists place a stronger emphasis on individual merit and natural hierarchies. However, an adherent of the ATS outlook could either be a leftist or rightist when it comes to such considerations. In fact, this dichotomy exists throughout anarchist thought itself. Godwin, Bakunin, Kropotkin, and Most could safely be classified as thinkers of the Left, while Stirner, Proudhon, Tucker, and Rothbard might belong to the Right. And there are plenty of “neither fish nor fowl” thinkers within the anarchist tradition when it comes to such questions. For example, what is to be made of Emma Goldman’s combination of Nietzscheanism and anarcho-communism? Of Malatesta’s view of the state as dangerous precisely because of the imperfect nature of human beings? Of Tolstoy’s anarchist Christianity? Of Gustav Landauer’s anarcho-communist folkish nationalism? There are some ATS associates who trend leftward and some who trend rightward, but the Left/Right dichotomy involves questions that are separate and distinct from the philosophy and objectives of ATS.
However, the primary orientation of ATS is not towards philosophy but towards tactics and strategy.
The largest and (at least for a brief moment) most politically competitive anarchist movement in history was Spanish anarchism during the interwar period. Certainly, there are many things about Spanish anarchism that would not be appropriate today. The doctrinaire anarcho-communism of Spanish anarchism is not appropriate in the technologically advanced societies of the present time. The militant anti-clericalism is not appropriate in societies that have separation of religion and state (which is most of them outside the Islamic world and the atheist “theocracies” of the remaining Marxist Leninist states). However, the Spanish anarchists were able to form a militant corps of activists that provided the political leadership for a wider labor union federation, and a coalition of anti-fascist militias when the civil war emerged. Of course, this approach would need to be modified for diverse contemporary societies but its general model would still seem to be applicable. I would suggest that the core tactical concepts associated with ATS are:
Core demographic theory-identifying the social classes and cultural groups that will be the popular base of revolutionary struggle.
Fourth generation warfare-war and other forms of insurgency waged by non-state actors as the state’s monopoly on war breaks down.
Anarcho-populism-defining revolutionary struggle within a populist context of “the people versus the elites.”
Inside/outside strategy-revolutionaries working both within and outside of established institutions in a mutually supportive way for subversive purposes.
Left-right-center tripartite strategy-gaining support for revolutionary action against the state and ruling class from all points on the spectrum of political dissent.
Pan-anarchist federalism-creating federations of anarchists and anarchist sympathizers from across sectarian ideological boundaries.
Third-party alliance-creating a tactical alliance of minor political parties (or a meta-party) against major or dominant parties.
Alternative infrastructure-creating alternative methods of delivering social services, healthcare, education, and public goods outside the infrastructure of the state.
The 25 point platform-a comprehensive statement of anti-globalization revolutionary tactics.
Building coalitions of anti-state interest groups-identifying and recruiting social and political groups with grievances against the state in a way that transcends conventional political and cultural boundaries
Peoples’ economic front-establishing a federation of organizations, each of which are oriented towards attacking some particular aspect of the alliance between the state and capitalism.
Legal defense organizations-groups which raise funds and provide attorneys and other assistance for radicals who are subject to direct state repression.
Civilian defense organizations-militias, paramilitaries, guerrillas, neighborhood watches, and gun clubs that are organized parallel to state security forces.
Identity organizations-voluntary associations representing the interests and providing mutual aid for members of specific cultural, ethnic, religious, occupational, lifestyle, or ideological groups.
Regionalist movements-political tendencies advocating for the sovereignty or secession of specific states, regions, provinces, communities, or localities.
Free nations coalition-a global alliance of independence and self-determination movements from around the world.
Ultimately, the purpose of employing these tactics is the overthrow of states, ruling classes, and empires. The alternative model that emerges is one of self-determination for all social and cultural groups everywhere within a context of political and economic decentralization. Prototypes for this already exist. For example:
Freetown Christiania is a model for a self-determined countercultural leftist community.
South Africa’s Orania is a model for a self-determined conservative Christian community.
Liechtenstein comes close to approximating the anarcho-capitalist ideal.
Israel’s kibbutzim and intentional communities are a model for anarcho-communism.
Spain’s Mondragon cooperatives are a model of anarcho-syndicalism and worker self-managed industries.
An Amish community resembles the ideal of an anarcho-primitivist society.
The red light districts of Amsterdam are a model of a libertine community.
The town of Eatonville, Florida was model of a self-determined black community even during the height of 19th century American racism.
From all of these models, we find prototypes for what future anarchist communities might be.
The end result of this approach is a paradigm similar to what is outlined this “Wisdom and Vision” description of future anarchist civilizations:
A decent while back, the anarchism subreddit was getting me down with its lynch mobs and sectarianism. To find some sanity (and probably to confirm a couple biases), I asked fellow Reddit user BondsOfEarthAndFire — who describes himself as “a market-friendly, primitivist-friendly anarcho-communist” and is a member I’ve always found to be considerate and wise — for his take on the situation. He did not disappoint:
I think that the notion that all of humanity will ever be operating under the same ‘flag’, so to speak, is astonishingly stupid, and demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of humanity and and dumbfounding ignorance of history. It frankly astounds me that the intelligent folk on this reddit manage to convince themselves that the future Earth will be entirely syndicalist or entirely transhumanist or entirely mutualist, or entirely re-wilded, or entirely fill-in-the-blank.
I’ve described myself as an Anarcho-ecumenist, but I fly the red star because the ancom belief system is closest to the system I would personally like to live in. That system may be made of a hundred people or a hundred million people; I have no way of predicting the future, and neither does anyone else. I do make some very broad predictions, however:
I think that the future will be a world of dizzying social complexity, replete with small city-states with governments ranging the gamut from democratic to monarchical to theocratic, surrounded by vast hinterlands filled with eco-villages and wild ranges where hunter gatherer humans chase wild game and forage for nuts and berries, while vast trade fleets of ultra-light zepellins transfer goods and services all over the planet, and transhumant consciousnesses zip through endless, decentralized computer networks maintained by industrial syndicates a million workers strong, who build satellites and launch them into orbit to maintain a global network of communication so primitivists can use cell-phones to trade furs for plastic-composite bows… and so on. Personally, I wish I was there right now.
In the immediate moment, I’m willing to ally myself with anyone who who believes that humans are capable of developing large-scale systems that can be entirely consensus based. I don’t think these social technologies exist yet, and so I’m working towards trying to figure them out. The answers lie across a dozen different flavors of anarchism, and the only to even begin is to respecting A) each others opinions, B) our differences and similarities, and C) the fact that we don’t have the answers yet – if we did, we’d already be doing it!
It always struck me as incredibly stupid to say, “We agree on 97% of everything, but we have differing notions of what the word trade means, so you are therefore my bitter enemy.” It’s a crock of shit, but it’s worse than stupid: it’s counterproductive. We’re working towards a very different world than the one we live in, and we need 100% of the people involved to be, ya know, actually working towards it. Even if someone thinks your direction is 15 degrees removed from their compass bearing, you’re both still pretty much headed in the same direction.
I’d like to think that my unabashed outreach to the pacifists, Christians, primitivists, transhumanists, mutualists, ancaps, and everyone else is beginning to pick up speed, but there’s only so far the mass mentality can be pushed without a profound, systemic change in the way people perceive their potential allies.
…Granted, there’s a lot of room for improvement in relations between the different flags, but on the other hand, compared to what we agree on, it’s actually not that much.
The bottom line is that if you’re on board with the vision outlined in the preceding paragraphs, then you qualify to be an ATS associate.