I think Morgan‘s main point is that “prescriptive anarchism” is a contradiction in terms. The dispersal/decentralization of power implies extreme diversity of thought and practice. For a lot of left-anarchists, the ideal is merely “Progressive Liberalism + Workers’ Coops” and for a lot of ancaps/libertarians, the ideal is “Lockean Universalism Minus the State.” This misplaced embrace of universalism, along with the failure to embrace paradox in a way that I mentioned in another recent post on here, are among the greatest weaknesses that anarchist theory contains at present. A Machiavellian-Hobbesian-Schmittian approach to political theory, taken to its logical conclusion, more or less affirms the anarchist view that the state is merely the mafia writ large. But affirming the anarchist view does not eliminate the Schmittian problem.

By Morgan Taylor

Anarchists…they’re a funny lot. “Freedom” is their rallying cry, or so they say. Liberty. They repeat the word over and over in reference to their failing worldview. Libertarian socialists, they often call themselves. Holding a monopoly, it seems, on the sacred word “libertarian”, which they are not worthy of at all, I’d say. But, let’s examine that. Because beneath all that talk of having the shackles of authoritarian might released form their ankles, I’d wager that they don’t champion anarchy. Not at all. No, what they want is a variety of…small-scale statism. Municipal statism, as Bob Black would call it. Small-scale Bolshevism, to be precise. The “New Left’s” variety of Bolshevism, anyway. Real Bolshevism, as it manifested, scares them so much that they shirk at the mere mention of Lenin and Stalin (though they are very quick to defend the source of Lenin and Stalin’s ideas). Bolshevism that’s been liberalized, so as to be acceptable and palpable to college kids who have never known anything other than being totally pampered and sheltered their whole lives. Self-determination, freedom of association, that’s not what they want, and subconsciously, they know it. They want order. Order reduced to the size of a small town, a village, a community. A strict, regimented, clear-cut order (to the point of detailing what to do with the “criminally insane”; and these are the people who shout “ACAB”). Their kind of order, that is. Explicitly defined in the tomes of Bakunin, Kropotkin, Goldman, Malatesta, and the other “Marxists moving in fast forward”. And none other shall be tolerated. No other vision is compatible. As long as they believe hard enough, as long as they wish for it whilst donning their black hoodies and red bandanas, getting into street fights with John Birch wannabes, it will happen. It has to. How could it not? Their gods said it would. Even going as far as to lay it all out for them, giving them a program to work with. A new heaven, in place of the old one. Because, well, let’s face it: they don’t want to be free. And if that be the case, then I say, let them be slaves, either to themselves, or the system at large. We’ll gladly strip them of the title “anarchist”. Or we can abandon that term altogether. It’s been sullied enough.
That’s all besides the point. Not really what we’re here for, and honestly, it’s a bit of a dead horse. It’s not exactly new knowledge, to those of us who really know. However, the rant in the first paragraph does pertain to the actual topic of this piece. One that may rock the boat a bit more, and stir up more controversy.
This idyllic world, this paradise, is all supposed to come from a peaceful, bloodless revolution (where the rich are still eaten, and the cops are still lynched, but otherwise harmless and family friendly; “presenting, The Revolution, come see it for yourself, at your local province, and don’t forget the popcorn, hell, you can join in if you like”), since mutual aid, squatting, economic subversion, protesting, community service/organizing, and volunteer/charity groups alone somehow serve to topple the monolithic Leviathan (not that I have anything against these things, not at all, but I’m not stupid enough to think that freedom is somehow won without some brutality and the will being imposed), and then, after all is said and done, everything still miraculously intact, ready to still be used (even though they were all apparatuses of the state, which they were in total rebellion against…allegedly), everything magically sorts itself out, all falls into place, because human nature (a ghost in itself; hardly as real as anything else that’s been thought up) conforms to their idea that human beings are polite, civilized, altruistic beings who will naturally do the “right thing” (which means no hatred or bigotry, no reactionary or “oppressive” ideals being lived out, no war, no imperialism, no struggle, no discrimination or exclusion (or, if you’re a deluded anarcho-capitalist, then only the kinds you like will take place), rampant egalitarianism (if you’re a libertarian, then rampant equality of opportunity, combined with widespread prosperity), no elitism (populism and democracy for all), no harsh language, no “bad” cultures, no religion, individualism and collectivism will be reconciled (both capitalists and communists hilariously believe such nonsense), no more territorialism or tribalism, everyone will be accepting towards each other and get along just fine, and no irrationality). If they don’t, well, that’s not even a factor, is it? Everyone will do the right thing. Even if they have to bludgeoned into it. Well, not bludgeoned, of course. More like…quietly and democratically convinced. If it doesn’t come to fruition, then the illusion is shattered, their faith is called into question, and they martyr themselves for a hungry, bloodthirsty phantom.
The absolute that they crave is very, very gluttonous. Oh, how it demands, and demands.
Lo and behold, the benevolent dictatorship of the proletariat happens (somehow it happened all over the world, simultaneously, and it all succeeded), and all is well.
Everyone bothered to listen to their proselytizing, their declarations, accepting, along with these sorry bastards, the reality of something that isn’t even there, and is constantly found to be absent, in more ways than the most obvious one.
All they had to do was dress it up as a new faith, since that’s the only way a man can possibly think. And that is not the sarcasm talking. I think the human condition is inclined towards myth. It puts a lot of stock in it. Without which, much of man’s activities would be impossible. Unable to be actualized.
Now, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you why this is all a load of shit. But, I’m going to tell why it is, from an anarchist’s perspective, because liberals, fascists, communists, and other such dullards have already given their multitude of reasons, haven’t they? Now’s not the time for them to speak. The dead should stay dead, after all.
Revolutions, as we all know, are violent, disgusting, merciless, shocking, dangerous affairs. They’re gory. Messy. Traumatic. Not for the faint of heart. People will be strung up from lampposts by nooses. Barrels of guns will be turned on various members of society, of all kinds. Not just government officials, banksters, businessmen, law enforcement, etc. But parents, children, elderly, neighbors, fellow workers, friends, teachers, scientists, doctors, minorities, all will be facing the reaper to some degree. Infrastructure, whether that be medical, communications, entertainment, transportation, economic, electric, will crumble to dust, as a result of being blown apart, since, naturally, you cripple your enemy during a war by attacking their means of waging war. And if it isn’t, it will be abandoned. Falling into states of disrepair. Unable to be brought back, now that the necessary means of keeping it functioning, human or otherwise, are now gone. Once could argue that they’d simply be taken over, but why would that be viable? You’d just create the state all over again. The ownership would’ve just changed hands. Which, one could argue, all revolutions are. Ownership of power being swapped. Not exactly untrue, I think. Manifestations of the “revolution” or “insurrection”, disappointingly, tend to turn out this way. Maybe due to the inherent populism present in both ideas.
True, not every revolutionary will be taking up arms, engaging in raucous slaughter. Some will partake in “direct action”, sabotage and disruption and obstruction of various kinds. Large-scale and small-scale. Attacking the enemy’s methods of carrying out their whims, usually technological, throwing wrenches in their carefully-planned logistics. In a scenario like this, casualties will inevitably result, whether directly or indirectly. Others may disseminate propaganda, fueling the fiery hatred of the rebels, writing words that keep the flames of passionate, unreasonable, fanatical hatred alive, conjuring images on both canvas and page that inspire terror in the foe and lively vigor in the friend, since that’s all this struggle really is, at the end of the day. Another lot may decide to take refuge in the unknown, untouched, untapped reserves of Mother Earth, ignoring and undermining their foe, telling it that, to them, it doesn’t mean shit. Nor will it ever. It can kindly, or unkindly, go fuck itself. Their authority is, to them, null and void. Nonexistent. It’s a sham. They have no need for it, and certainly no want for it. What good is it, in their eyes? It doesn’t represent them. If anything, it does quite the opposite. It has no power over them. And if it thinks, for a second, that it does, then they are willing to show the state that it’s only kidding itself. To stay the fuck away. Only attacking when provoked, like wild animals.
It’s not a secret, I’m sure you can guess, that, for a large part of it being carried out, the revolution, whatever form it takes (a revolution, a real one, cannot be controlled, directed, molded, and shaped, for a revolution is not some laboratory creation made by intelligent men; it is a chaotic affair where all sensibility and good sense man decides to forgo, as war, gratuitous violence, is the revealer of what humans really are), whenever and wherever it decides to happen, why ever it happens in the first place, will be…unsightly. Nasty. Blood will flow through the streets. Cries for more bodies will be sounded. Explosions, gunshots, raging flames, all will be heard and seen throughout the land. Agitated mobs of people, once they’ve decided to cast away the notions of civil behavior, morality, respect, manners, worldly and emotional attachments, and the demands and pleas of various figures belonging to institutions of all stripes, they’ll find themselves back in the so-called “state of nature”. To think that the revolution could be anything but wickedly and devilishly violent, well, that’s absurd.
By the way, the revolution, if it does ever happen, and it happens the way we would like it to, will likely not involve the participation of the many. Not for most of its lifespan. The multitude are too content in their slavery and victimhood to do much of anything about it. You know it’s true. If the marginalized and downtrodden really wanted to make a fuss and stir the pot, they would’ve done so by now. Sheep may express discontent towards their shepherd and the dogs nipping at their heals, but never will they fight back and kick the shepherd’s ass.
If anything, they’d rather just vote in another agitator, a demagogue, a rabble-rouser, who pays lip-service to their cries for relief, only to do the exact opposite when no one’s looking.
This brings me to my second point.
Liberty giving birth to order, as Proudhon put it, will not suddenly come about once the chips have fallen and all is said and done. I’d argue that freedom, real, visceral, perennial, ancient liberty, will not give way to order. Not immediately anyway, and certainly not in some carefully thought-out, well-planned, well-structured manner. You’re kidding yourself if you think that mankind will just suddenly behave itself in the absence of a parental figure (for men, the masses of man, have the mental faculties of young, bratty children).
Now, I don’t think we’ll simply “eat each other” right away, and hardly wholesale. Most of humanity is not bred for sociopathic bouts of rending and ripping flesh. Killing is not a matter to take lightly, and even without the eternal watchman around to provide divine or legal punishment, the mark killing leaves on the psyche is not one that disappears. Otherwise, soldiers wouldn’t come back home screaming in the middle of the night.
But don’t think for one second that things won’t be, to an extent greater than any of us would likely expect (stripping away civilization by itself will prove, for many, to be a brutal adjustment period), painful, miserly, hard, dull, tedious, existentially demanding, and scarring. It’s like taking a dog, who has known nothing but a warm house, a steady stream of food, and tender affection his life, and then casting him into the cold, expecting him to somehow act like all is totally well and good.
There will be conflict. There will be battles, and maybe even full-scale wars. Territorialism and tribalism will be paramount.
Imperialism may even be dabbled in. Rape and pillaging and even some sort of perverse slavery may occur.
As a rather erudite fellow once said, peace is a desire; war is a fact. Humanity thrives on conflict, even when there’s nothing to drive it into said conflict. It’s volatile by its own volition.
To try and predict what will happen, much less try and formulate it, make it so before anything has even had a chance to blossom, you’re engaging in a delusion so grandiose, you’ve become a slave to it. Freedom leads to spontaneity. Any attempts to make the future commit to your needs and ideals is fruitless, futile.
And that brings us to the final point I wish to make.
People will naturally band together in the aftermath of society’s collapse, of the downfall of the wretched institutions, the crumbling of civilization, cities and towns and states falling into disarray and disrepair, where ideals and languages and philosophies and religions shatter. Humanity is a social creature, and it tends to seek out others to be around. Usually of like-mind, and, if they’re so inclined, of similar kin. Small communities will form, and maybe seek out other small communities to bond with. Or they may prefer to stay isolated. They might decide to be hostile towards anything and everything, or they might be peaceniks who just want to live uneventful and relatively comfortable lives. Who knows? The possibilities are endless.
Lots of decent, tolerable folks would probably find company that corresponds to how they feel and think, and wish to live. Free love types, psychonauts, nature lovers (both militant and non-militant), queers, vegans, primitivists, simple agrarians, pagans and Satanists, etc.
Yet, the consequence of unrestricted, boundless freedom, much like the consequences of freedom of speech, would be that not-so-nice individuals would form their own factions. Racists of all kinds, whether they be Klansmen, Nazis (or any other fascist for that matter), CSA-worshipping goons, Nation of Islam adherents, hardcore Zionists, or plain-old hatemongers, would have a chance to really revel in what it is they believe. Militant Abrahamics, too. Bigots and intolerant, close-minded chauvinists (misogynists, homophobes, xenophobic nationalists, etc.) of many varieties might find company in those of a similar thought process. They’d all get to live out their lives however they wish. The world would be a truly diverse and…interesting place.
Whether or not one may wish to trample upon them or not, root them out, that’s another story. The only limits one would have are the ones self-imposed. Only by how much strength one or more possesses, and how they are willing to use it, if they wish to.
And to me, it seems anarchism is, or rather should be, beyond the predictability you would get from a pre-described system like communism or fascism. Anarchism should, in theory, eschew that. Now, both libertarians and left anarchists make vain attempts to see into the future and work out in advance how their particular anarchist utopia will function, but, the simple fact is this: anarchism isn’t very compatible with that mode of thought.

Categories: Anarchism/Anti-State

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