Exercise: What Would an Anarchist Program Look Like?
This is a manifesto that was published a while back by Crimethinc. Whatever these folks’ intentions, my prediction is that if everything in this document were to be implemented, the end result would be something akin to a Marxist-Leninist dictatorship, and not one of the more functional ones like Cuba, Yugoslavia, the DDR, or present-day China or Vietnam, but one of the wild and crazy ones like Maoist China, Enver Hoxha’s Albania, and Pol Pot’s Cambodia, complete with post-Communist Balkans-style ethnic cleansing.
Something like Mugabism could be the likely result of the concepts described in the Crimethinc manifesto, if not Pol Potism.
While much of their political analysis is accurate, and there are some good ideas contained in this document, the problem with their perspective is that some kind of comprehensive, universally applicable political program is not compatible with the general distribution or decentralization of political, economic, or cultural power, nor is compulsory participation in any kind of social reconstruction program. What they’re advocating is some kind of massive quasi-socialist scheme for economic reorganization, combined with an implied fascination with racial retribution and vengeance that’s kind of creepy. How this is supposed to take place without a state engaged in central planning is not explained, particularly when this social reconstruction scheme is supposed to take place on a transnational basis.
Whatever the intentions of the Crimethinc people, they seem to have a fundamental misunderstanding of the mechanics of power. The problem with concentration of power is not merely that people with the wrong ideology or skin color or economic philosophy or gender or whatever hold it, but the nature of power itself.
Every campaign season, political parties publish platforms detailing their promises plank by plank. These platforms are not binding—politicians rarely fulfill their promises, and it’s often worse when they do—but they do offer an outline of the vision each party claims to represent. Anarchists take a different approach: rather than offering a prefabricated blueprint, we propose to work things out together, dynamically, according to the principles of self-determination, horizontality, mutual aid, and solidarity. Still, whenever people encounter anarchist ideas for the first time, there is a certain kind of person who always demands to see a clear template. In response, one of our contributors has put together an example of an anarchist program—a set of proposals that could be put into effect in the course of a revolution—as an imaginative exercise, to make it easier to picture what sort of practical changes anarchists might aim to implement.