By Lawrence Jarach
There has never been a civilization that has lasted more than several centuries. It is reasonable to assume that the one we are forced to inhabit (Western, Euro-American, Capitalist, Post-Industrial, whatever you want to call it…) will also someday fall apart.
Identified and critiqued by anarchists for over 150 years, the disparities between rich and poor and between order-givers and order-takers are increasingly obvious and obnoxious; mainstream public discourse is often gleefully polarized, permeated with facile dehumanization of chosen enemies; so-called culture wars continue apace; the devastating burdens imposed on the natural world and indigenous people (including the semi-permanently displaced) by the extraction of resources and the expansion and development of productive forces continues unabated. The end of this civilization may have the characteristics of some apocalyptic and bellicose horror show, similar to what some call The Collapse, fodder for much American popular culture over the past decade. Alternatively, it could look like a slow erosion of technological dependence with an accompanying reversion to a simpler, decentralized, and rural-centric culture, with people using up industrial gadgets and tinkering with them for as long as there’s material to tinker with. It might even be the result of a self-managed restructuring of urbanism, in line with the histrionics concerning Revolutionary Barcelona (July 1936- April 1937). All anarchists agree, however, that the current organization of this civilization is untenable.
The Fear of Anarchism
Objections to the ideas and visions of various schools of anarchism come from all directions. Anarchists tend to pay most attention to the ones coming from Liberals and Leftists, those who see themselves as supposedly working for the same goals as anarchists — or if not exactly the same, then at least for something they call Social Justice (objections of conservatives, reactionaries, racists, populists, and fascists derive from their devotion to social hierarchies, the State, and the Leadership Principle, and are therefore uninteresting). One of their many objections to anarchist revolution is that thousands, if not millions, will die, whether through violent and vengeful acts of class revenge or due to the propensity of The Masses to be barbaric psychopaths. According to various statist ideologues, the only barrier to a constant situation of rapine, murder, and widespread looting is a strong state with its authoritarian agents to keep this volatile and chaotic rabble in check. Surely there’s some irony to the left-anarchist objection to an anti-civilization perspective that primarily relies on the same argument.