In recent years, I have noticed that the number of people accepting the label of “anarchist” for their political identity has grown considerably. Equally important is that I have also noticed that an increasing number of people who identify as anarchists are beginning to reject the leftist fanaticism that has dominated much of the anarchist milieu for decades.
Of course, sectarian left-anarchism or anarcho-communism is not the only form of anarchist sectarianism. Anarcho-capitalists, the left-libertarian mutualists, primitivists, “lifestyle” anarchists and others can and do embrace doctrinaire and exclusionary positions at times. However, even sectarians in these camps have the collective impact of diluting the sectarian leftist tendencies or undermining their general level of influence.
This is a necessary transitional development to a more effective form of anarchism. Because I am known for being highly critical of the anarchist milieu in many ways, I am occasionally asked what I think an ideal anarchist movement would look like. Of course, I have written a voluminous amount of material outlining my views on this question (and even then what I have written thus far is complete). But I have also found that the heterodox and eclectic approach that I take to anarchist theory and strategy is overly confusing or complicated for many casual readers.
So here are the basics of my approach in a nutshell.
The new anarchist movement would embrace the many scattered tribes and sects of anarchism (all of the hyphenated tendencies that you can read about in a standard book or Wikipedia article about anarchism). This would include both left and right, as well as “neither fish nor fowl.” tendencies among anarchists. All of the many anarchist tendencies would continue to emphasize projects related to their primary social issues, identity groups, or preferred economic systems, but with the overarching goal of created decentralized societies with diverse and self-managed communities.
The new anarchist movement would generally shun insisting that all anarchists and other radicals adopt the most fanatically leftist views possible on topical issues. Instead, the new anarchist movement would recognize that issues involving standard public controversies such as the environment, race, gender, religion, immigration, economics, guns, sex, abortion, animal rights, euthanasia, etc. etc. etc. are complicated issues on which reasonable, honest, and well-intentioned people can disagree. In the spirit of Voltaire, the new anarchist movement would encourage open and honest debate on such questions with a fair hearing for all contending points of view.
This does not mean that any subgrouping of anarchists needs to renounce their beliefs or activism regarding any particular issue. The new anarchist movement would certainly include black anarchists organizing against police brutality, anarcho-syndicalists engaged in labor organizing, eco-anarchists engaged in environmental activism, feminist and LGBT anarchists organizing on behalf of their own communities, native or indigenous anarchists organizing to obtain rights to their historic lands, non-schoolers agitating against compulsory education laws, youth rights activists organizing against the drinking age and police harassment, anarcho-pacifists protesting military bases, anarcho-libertarians protesting taxes, anti-fascists protesting fascist organizations, neo-reactionary anarcho-capitalists protesting social justice warriors, pro-Palestinians organizing boycotts of Israel, animal rights activists protesting fur or factory farming, pro-lifers protesting abortion clinics, pro-choicers protesting pro-lifers, LGBTs protesting Westboro Baptist Church, MRAs protesting feminists, feminists protesting MRAs, race-realist protesting antifas, sex worker rights activists organizing against vice laws, counterculturalists organizing against drug laws, prisoner rights activists agitating against the prison-industrial complex, militia mene protesting gun laws, sovereign citizens protesting driver’s licenses, etc. etc. etc. etc.
Nor does this means that different types of anarchists will not continue to agitate for their preferred kinds of institutional arrangements, whether syndicalist unions, workers councils, eco-villages, cooperatives, mutual banks, barter and trade networks, collectives, communes, militias, PDAs, land trusts, crypto-currency, et. al ad nauseum.
Ultimately, however, there needs to be some kind of collective resistance to the institutions of mass murder, mass imprisonment, and mass impoverishment that currently rule over everyone, and realistic means of dealing with genuine and irreconcilable conflicts between polarized social and political groups.
As for as dealing with conflict within the anarchist movement, and within the wider society as well, the new anarchist movement would appeal to and apply conventional anarchist principles such as free association, decentralization, federalism, secession, voluntaryism, and pluralism. Towards this end, the new anarchist movement would work to build united revolutionary fronts against the overarching institutions of imperialism, plutocracy, and statism that have come to dominate mainstream societies, and work to develop a society-wide consensus towards the dissolution of concentrated power into regional federations and independent municipalities. This would meaning working to build relationships with decentralizing tendencies across the political and cultural spectrum.
This is not to say that all dissident opinion is compatible with anarchistic or even libertarian values. But the threat posed by authoritarian dissidents, whether communists, fascists, or theocrats should be evaluated on the basis of to what degree these actually have the capacity to achieve state power. At present, neo-Nazi, Marxist-Leninist, and Islamist groups exist only on the margins of the liberal democratic nations. With the possible exception of Golden Dawn, there are no totalitarian revolutionary parties that even hold seats in the parliaments of any Western nations. The primary enemies of anarchists in these nations are the neo-liberal and neo-conservative state-capitalists who actually control these regimes, and that is where the energies of anarchists should be focused. Meanwhile, we should utilize every forum possible to advance our own views.