How Not to Do Anarchism: An Editorial

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.

It’s Going Down

Anti-Fascist News

Alexander Reid Ross

Spencer Sunshine

Kevin Carson

William Gillis

Categories: Anarchism/Anti-State

4 replies »

  1. I totally agree Anarchism desperately needs diversity, although I still really admire Kevin Carson as a cool anarchist philosopher wspwcially when it comes to bringing back Mutualism as well as alternative economic ideas. I enjoy his books, and I cant wait to buy print copies of those cool books. However, he seems to be misguided, in my opinion, oon the social and cultural issues. He’s far way better than that Alex Reid Ross dude. William Gillis seems to be debabtable, although he got debunked by Jason Lee Byas of C4SS over Antifa’s POS atctics that never work. I am also aware that Antifa has nothing to do with anarchism, especially the fact that the original Antifa was part of the weimar-era German Communist Party.

    • As I said in another thread, Carson’s work in economics is fantastic. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Interestingly, ATS was the first site to host Carson’s work years ago. Eventually, we parted company when he started moving over to the SJW scene while I became involved with the early alt-right (before it degenerated to its present level). Although my approach to the alt-right was always more collaborative than ideological, while he seemed to buy into the actual SJW ideology.

    • You said: “I totally agree Anarchism desperately needs diversity”

      I find that very hard to understand. If anything, the problem is that Anarchism has WAY TOO MUCH “diversity”.
      Effectively, the word “anarchism” has been wildly overused, by people who don’t seem to agree what “anarchism” actually is.
      At base, it’s quite simple: “No government”. A lot of people seem to think that they want lots of government, yet they still want to call it “anarchism”.

    • I would agree that fascism, Communism, Islamism, etc are potentially dangerous to the degree that they have access to power. But I would consider these to be very marginal tendencies in most Western countries. The Left is way overly fixated on fascists and Nazis, and the Right is way overly fixated on Islamists and Communism. These things should be opposed to the degree that they present a credible political threat but at present none of them present a credible political threat. We’re not going to have the Fourth Reich in the US, or a dictatorship of the proletariat, or Sharia law. Extremists from the Left and Right who seriously believe all that have no sense of context and no realistic vision of the future. In the future, North American will be more like Latin American in terms of a highly stratified class system, a failing American empire that is beginning to recede, and a culture that is increasingly fragmented into a collection of highly diversified subcultures.

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