Fifteen years into the fight, American Revolutionary Vanguard and Attack the System has made remarkable progress. When I first started this website in January, 2001, I certainly did not expect that someday our representatives would be regularly interviewed on international television and radio, speak to conferences with hundreds of attendees, and get written up in the press as a menace to society, although I would have certainly considered each one of these to be worthwhile goals.
ARV-ATS was formed with multiple purposes in mind. One of these was to advance the interests and effectiveness of the anarchist movement itself. My previous experience had been that anarchists were divided into all kinds of warring hyphenated factions rather than putting up any kind of unified resistance to the state and the ruling class. Many anarchists had no interest in resisting the system at all, and were instead oriented towards various progressive-left social causes that were to a large degree irrelevant to the wider struggle. My ambition was to create a forum whereby anarchists could work to achieve a unified revolutionary front against the common enemies, and develop a “back to basics” approach that focused on the big picture without getting sidetracked into secondary concerns.
Since that time, the anarchist movement in North America has grown considerably. Further, the libertarian, anarcho-capitalist, agorist, and voluntaryist wings of anarchism have grown to the point where they have largely become the standard and eclipsed the hyper-leftist stands within anarchism. Additionally, there has been a growing interest in “neither fish nor fowl” brands of anarchism, and I believe an open-ended multiple tendency “pan anarchism” of the kind that John Zube, Will Schnack, Joe Kopsick and I advocate will likely be the next stage in the evolution of the anarchist movement in North America.
A second purpose in the development of ATS was to forge what might be called a “pan-decentralist” consensus among dissident tendencies everywhere in favor of dissolving the USA into something akin to regional federations of city-states where most people can achieve self-determination to a reasonably high degree. A principal difficulty we have encountered involves the fact that it is necessary to forge such a consensus across the spectrum of political, economic, and cultural groups that are in conflict with each other, and sometimes hold polar opposite views. A related problem has been the necessity of including in the pan-decentralist coalition various groups, ideologies, and tendencies that hold profoundly unpopular views regarding a range of taboo subjects. Such an approach is necessary for a variety of reasons. First, the worse someone’s ideas, the better it is that their enclaves be separated from the rest of society. Second, a central point of pan-decentralism is that self-determination for all is the primary means of achieving civil peace between otherwise conflicting groups. Third, it is necessary to weaken the System’s ability to propagandize against its enemies by means of labeling and scapegoating.
It is also necessary to develop a common strategy for the struggle against the system in a way that is able to effectively accommodate the interests of most political groups while at the same time effectively undermining the state. Hence, our emphasis on the city-state system, civilian militias, core demographic theory, fourth generation warfare, anarcho-populism, inside/outside strategy, left-right-center tripartite strategy, pan-anarchist federalism, third-party alliance, alternative infrastructure, the 25 point platform, building coalitions of anti-state interest groups, a peoples’ economic front, legal defense organizations, civilian defense organizations, identity organizations, regionalist movements, and a free nations coalition. Many of these are confusing and unusual enough ideas on their own, and attempting to apply them within the context of other ATS-related activities makes it even more confusing.
There is also the need to develop a hierarchy of priorities based on an objective assessment of the most pressing issues, such as those that involve the greatest harms to the greatest number of people, or which involve the most extreme forms of harm. Instead, far too many political dissidents tend to focus primarily on their favorite social causes, their preferred economic system, or their favorite identity group.
It has likewise been important to develop a critique of the Enemy’s institutions, the entire range of the power elite, and their self-legitimating ideologies, such as neoliberalism, neoconservatism, and totalitarian humanism. A related concern has been to develop a critique of the existing economic system, and to debunk the divisive mythology that so-called “big government” and “big business” are somehow antagonists of one another, rather than the political and economic arms of the ruling class respectively.
Another concern has been to strike a balance between trying to merely forge a pan-anarchist movement and a wider pan-decentralist consensus, and expressing opinions on contentious issues, whether individual or collectively. For example, I have noticed along the way that there are some people who simply refuse to hear the views of anyone who disagrees with their position on abortion, immigration, gay marriage, the minimum wage, or whatever. The question that presents for ATS activists is the issue of whether or not to remain completely silent on such questions, and focus merely on the larger cross-ideology concerns, or take positions on controversial issues parallel to one’s wider advocacy for pan-decentralism.
In spite of these challenges, our general level of success and recognition has far surpassed what I would have suspected fifteen years ago, and it will be interesting to observe the degree to which we will be able to rise above these challenges in the future.