Between Electoral Politics and Civil War


As Election Day approaches in a context of anxiety about the prospect of Donald Trump attempting to hold onto power by force or cunning, the revolutionary potential that was palpable in early June has receded almost beyond the horizon. Anarchism, abolitionism, and direct action tactics have gained traction throughout the Trump era; thanks to the fearmongering of the administration, anarchists have as much visibility as we have experienced in a century. Yet once again, we are watching the election crowd out any other subject or strategy. Many anarchists, despite decades of rejecting representative democracy, are focused on hoping for a Biden victory—or trying to figure out how to block a Trump coup, lest democracy give way to autocracy. Others are echoing the far right in anticipating a civil war.

This is an old story, in which the twin threats of tyranny and civil war serve to discipline rebels back into supporting representative democracy, foreclosing the possibility of revolutionary change. But what if we want none of these—neither tyranny, nor civil war, nor to perpetually settle for being ruled by the lesser of two evils?

It’s not surprising that anarchists are concerned about the outcome of the election. Which administration comes to power—whether by electoral victory or by other means—will determine what kind of challenges we confront as we continue fighting to abolish police, prisons, borders, and other forms of oppression.


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