One of the primary purposes of Attack the System is to reform the anarchist movement so that it will be more capable of further growth and expansion, and to prevent the seeds of future authoritarianism from continuing to spread within the movement. The most immediately problematic aspect of the anarchist movement at present is a pervasive and excessive amount of histrionic leftist extremism (Links to the websites and Twitter feeds of a handful groups and individuals that serve as examples of this difficulty are provided at the bottom of the page).
For some years, Attack the System has promoted pluralistic and non-sectarian forms of anarchism that could have the effect of functioning as an umbrella for many different kinds of sub-tendencies within anarchism or hyphenated forms of anarchism. Many such ideas have been proposed by others as well under such labels as pan-anarchism, panarchism, black flag coalitioning, anarcho-coalitioning, anarchism without adjectives, anarchism without hyphens, synthesist anarchism, bioregional anarchism, anarcho-secessionism, independencia anarchism, enclave anarchism, municipal anarchism, anarcho-federalism, village anarchism, decentralist anarchism, anarcho-ecumenicalism, national-anarchism, tribal anarchism, exitarian anarchism, bolo bolo anarchism, anarcho-populism, alternative anarchism, umbrella anarchism, and big tent anarchism.
This is not to say that all of these ideas are exactly identical, or that the proponents of these various labels do not have serious disagreements with each other. But the common denominator of these perspectives is that anarchism should be an open-ended philosophy and movement, and not a situation where everyone groups off into their own isolated sects and shuns each other. One of the objectives of Attack the System is to develop such a perspective into the standard among anarchists. At present, a prevalent slant toward hard left extremism is pervasive in the anarchist movement. In order to facilitate the future growth of the movement, and curb authoritarian tendencies within anarchism, it necessary to move away from what might be called “compulsory hard leftism” toward an attitude that is more reflective of the ideals of voluntarism.
Anarchism would advance more rapidly if it were a mass movement that is open to everyone who favors the ideals of voluntary association, voluntary communes, localized self-rule, mutual aid, federalism, decentralized societies and other traditional anarchist concepts. What should unite anarchists is a critique of and opposition to authority, and such a framework provides the foundation for what a famous science fiction franchise has called “infinite diversity in infinite combinations.” Our ambition should not be to make the anarchist movement less diverse, but more diverse. And this means engaging in outreach to people with anti-authoritarian impulses and sentiments everywhere, and working to meet people where they are at, while recognizing that the spectrum between anti-authoritarianism and authoritarianism is a continuum, and not a neat and tidy dividing line.
A random individual off the street who examined the pages linked to below would naturally think anarchism is an idea that only applies to the most extreme leftists. This not to say that those presently being criticized are not sincere anarchists, and or never have any good ideas, or never raise any valid concerns. Clearly, there will always be divisions among anarchists over a good many things. Among these are technology, voting, pacifism, violence, religion, economic preferences, identity politics, the relationship between anarchism and other movements, the relationship between nationalism and anti-imperialist anarchism, the relationship between socialism and class struggle anarchism, and the relationship between democracy and social anarchism, to name a few of the more prominent examples. However, too many anarchists have become distracted with supporting or opposing this or that statist politician, this or that left-liberal popular cause, or fighting with rival extremist groups.
Not surprisingly, the size of the anarchist movement has shrunk in recent years after experiencing growth during the period between the anti-globalization movement of the late 1990s and the Occupy movement of the early 2010s. As older anarchists leave the movement, newer anarchists are not coming in. Instead, many people inclined toward radicalism, including many who once expressed sympathies for anarchism of some kind, have instead embraced mainstream electoral politics, joined the statist, authoritarian left, or (in some cases) even the statist, authoritarian right. Clearly, anarchists have a recruiting, sustainability and public relations problem that needs to be changed in order to generate future growth.