The Future of the Anarchist Hyphens

Ian Mayes recently offered the following comments:

I have a theory that in about 20 years, if not sooner, the word “anarchist” will primarily be associated with the anarcho-capitalists. This is because the anarcho-capitalists are very vocal and persistent in claiming to be anarchists, especially on the internet. Whereas I noticed that the regular anticapitalist anarchists have gradually been using the word “anarchist” less and less, and instead have been using other labels more, such as “radical”, “anti-oppressive”, ” queer”, “nihilist”, “insurrectionary”, even “communist”.

For years many rhetorical battles have been fought over the label ” anarchist “, and it could very well be that the anarcho-capitalists will win the term simply because the anticapitalist anarchists became interested in other things.

My reply:

 I suspect what will happen is that the range of anarchist thought will continue to become more diverse. I see new hyphenated forms of anarchism emerging all the time like analytic anarchism, crypto-anarchism, or Green anarchism (along with derivative or overlapping philosophies like geo-mutualism, left-libertarianism, agorism, situationism, bioregionalism, council communism, not that all of these are recent but you get my point). The question is what will be the main thrust of anarchist thought and activism in the future, and I think you may be right that anarcho-capitalism or market anarchism of some kind might come to be the standard in terms of sheer numbers. I don’t really see the left-anarchists necessarily going away, however, as much as splintering into more and more hyphenated tendencies of their own (queer anarchism, anti-fascist anarchism, nihilist anarchism). Also, anarcho-capitalism is mostly prevalent in North America. It barely exists anywhere else. Even in England, my friends in the UK Libertarian Alliance tell me libertarianism there is very marginal. The anarchist movement in Greece, for example, is very much in the black and red mode. Also, it will be interesting to see what kind of lasting influence the Bookchinites of Rojava or the Zapatistas have.

Another respondent says:

 I doubt it mostly because they themselves will more than likely end up abandoning it. (Anarcho-capitalism) is definitely a phase that seems to actually be waning. Also, they don’t exist anywhere else in the world. If the anarchist movement wasn’t growing despite the poor performance of USA based anarchist within this period of growth I could consider it a possibility.

What do our anarchist (or non-anarchist) readers think?


3 replies »

  1. I’m somewhat new to anarchy, so my viewpoint is limited. I think if anarchy became significantly popular, and actually started to effect politics, economics and/or social issues, it would be co-opted just like the tea party, Operation Wall Street, and libertarianism have been hijacked. People liked what Ron Paul had to say, so Fox News spins libertarianism into neoliberalism. I may be wrong, but I don’t think the mainstream, self-identified libertarians, like Rand Paul, take strong vocal stances against corporate welfare, but don’t get them started on domestic welfare, or drugs.
    Although, it seems to me like the establishment is so scared of Anarchy, you won’t find a single documentary on TV about it, or even hear the word anarchy uttered on Fox or CNN, unless by the bastardized usage describing lawless chaos. And I think that’s the definition 95 out of 100 Americans would give, if asked what anarchism means.
    If the term were to disappear or change, since labels can have propagandistic values, you could try using a more empowering title, like self-governism, or independism. I’m sure someone steeped in political history or marketing could come up with a good title.
    As for anarchy continuing to fracture into smaller and smaller sub-units, I think that hurts the whole movement overall, just like diluting a toxin reduces its potency. If everyone could band together on commonalities (as you say) instead of pitting their tiny hyphenated, anarchist movement against the others, the movement as a whole would benefit, and in turn so would all of the hyphenated movements. But to think queer-anarchism alone is going to effect the mainstream political landscape by itself is delusional.
    I guess thinking all anarchs can come together may be a little bit far fetched, as Sir Einzige said in your debate, because they’ll never be able to defeat the trillion-dollar corporations and bankers, who have a trillion-dollar military-industrial complex at their disposal. But, still, what other option do you really have? There is some power in numbers after all. and If the empire does implode, at least there is some affirmed common ground between the multitude of anarchists groups. At least some level of mutual respect and understanding between different groups of radicals would be very helpful in a post-America. Because, I think the elites have prepared for a post America. If a power vacuum opened up in this country, I think David Rockefeller and George Soros would be using their gold stockpiles or whatever, to pay off mercenaries. I don’t think they’ll go out quietly like the former Soviet Union. I may be wrong. How many tons of bombs have they (we) dropped continuously on South America, Asia, Bosnia, now the Middle East, over the last half-century, I don’t think they would hesitate for one second to unleash that type of cruelty in the US to save their power. It would definitely help for anarchists to be united with the possibility of such a grim post America.

  2. What do you guys think a Post America will look like? Do you agree with me that the current, overt and subtle power structures would find a way to maintain power?

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