Where is the Anarchist Vanguard Standing for “Anarchy First”? Reply

It has been interesting to see how many predictions I made years ago have come into being.

I predicted that the Eastern powers and “rogue states” would eventually rise to form an axis of resistance to the hegemony of the American empire.

I predicted that populist-nationalist movements would continue to grow in Europe in opposition to the hegemony of neoliberalism.

I predicted that as the right-wing in the United States continued to lose ground politically, culturally, and demographically, it would adopt a more militant stance than what has previously been observed among “normal” conservatives. This has also happened in the form of the rise of Trumpism in the mainstream, the Alt-Right on the far fringes, and the Alt-Lite as a middle of the road position between the two.

I predicted that the right-wing would fail in its efforts to counteract the hegemony of neoliberalism and the cultural Left. This has happened by means of the cooptation of Trumpism by the Republican Party establishment, the cooptation of the Alt-Lite by Trumpism, and the internal implosion and marginalization of the Alt-Right.

I predicted that as totalitarian humanism continues to be a rising force in Western societies that opposition would emerge in response, not only from the right-wing, but also from centrist liberals, dissenters on the Left, minorities, and those on the Left mostly concerned about anti-imperialist, antiwar, economic, or civil libertarian issues as opposed to identity politics. Visible opposition to totalitarian humanism is now emerging in all of these corners.

I predicted that as class divisions continued to widen that class-based politics would make a return.

I predicted that as traditional minorities became increasingly integrated, and as class divisions continues to widen among minority communities, that minority conservatives would grow in number.

I predicted that individual cities and states might engage in resistance to the federal government’s policies in numerous areas.

Many other examples could be identified. See here and here. Some of these things have happened more rapidly than I thought they would.

However, one thing that I not so much predicted as much as called for was the formation of an “anarchist vanguard” that would be the foundation of anti-state front oriented towards the principles of “Anarchy First.”

As I wrote in the mid-2000s:

Obviously, the only kind of ideological framework suitable for such an effort would be something akin to Voltairine de Cleyre’s “anarchism without adjectives”, i.e., a non-sectarian, non-purist, tendency open to anarchists of all hyphenated tendencies as well as their fellow travelers…(T)he most common mistake made by radical activists…(is)… that too many radicals waste time arguing over secondary issues like this or that “ism” rather than focusing on more immediate problems… Larry Gambone describes the problem with doing otherwise:

“Read even the most superficial book on anarchism and you will discover that many forms of anarchism exist-anarchist-communism, individualist-anarchism, anarcho-syndicalism, free-market anarchism, anarcho-feminism and green-anarchism. This division results from people taking their favorite economic system or extrapolating from what they see as the most important social struggle and linking this to anarchism….The hyphenation presents a danger. Like it or not, everyone, without exception, compromises, modifies or softens their beliefs at some point. Where they compromise is what is important. Do they give up on the anarchism of the other aspect? You can be sure that most hypenated anarchists will prefer to drop the libertarian side of the hyphen. There are plenty examples of this occurring .”

In other words, our core creed must be “Anarchy First!” applied within context of decentralism, populism and libertarianism…I suspect that those who do not agree might be inclined towards an excess of purism, sectarianism or utopianism. Unfortunately, those with such an outlook will simply have to fall by the wayside. Principled realism should be our primary analytical and strategic tool. The first order of business in developing a strategic paradigm is to give due consideration to the actual structure of the United States, politically, economically and culturally.

Regrettably, many if not most in the various anarchist, libertarian, anti-state, or anti-authoritarian milieus have moved in precisely the opposite direction. There was an explosive growth in libertarian-like ideas between 2008 and 2012, largely due to the influence of Ron Paul’s presidential campaigns, and the growth of the Tea Party and Occupy movements. However, these growing libertarian tendencies were quickly subsumed by the immersion of many libertarians in the Red/Blue tribal civil war, with many libertarians and anarchists veering off into neoreaction, white nationalism, or the alt-right on one end, or SJWism, Antifa sympathies, or general totalitarian humanism on the other end. Essentially, the North American libertarian milieu became merely a microcosm of the wider society, with constant rivalries for the title of “Most Oppressed” being the norm. Meawhile, the left-wing anarchist movement, which once showed some promise during its anti-globalization, antiwar, and Occupy phases, eventually degenerated into mainstream partisan politics with hysterical anti-Trumpism, protests against center-right public figures outside the state, and ritualistic battles with the tribal enemy (“the fascists”) with seemingly zero interest in opposing the actual power elite.

In recent times, I have seen a number of calls for the development of a left/right anti-authoritarian alliance against such war, imperialism, the surveillance state, police state, censorship, and the corporate/banking. This is precisely the position that I have been advocating for decades. However, many anti-authoritarians do not seem to be capable of formulating such an effort.

So the question remains: Where is the “anarchist vanguard” standing for “Anarchy First”?

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