I have written about many topics here at Attack the System over the past 22 years, with a focus on outlining a predictive narrative of how world geopolitics and domestic US politics would likely evolve in the future. The core emphasis has been to develop a theoretical framework that anarchists, anti-statists, decentralists, and others with similar or overlapping ideas could apply in order to fight states, ruling classes, and empires more effectively. At this point, I would maintain that virtually all of the major predictions that have been made by myself and other ATS contributors have since come into being, particularly in the past few years.
1. The decline of US imperialism and the rise of multipolarity
When ATS started, American unipolar hegemony was at its peak. Now a resurgent or newly assertive Russia, China, Europe, India, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and others have essentially created the framework for a new multipolar world. For all practical purposes, we are returning to the kind of world order that existed in the pre-World War One era, which involved rivalries between regional powers with their own spheres of influence.
2. The ongoing polarization of the social classes in the United States
When ATS started, the world was 20 years into the neoliberal era. Now another 20 years have passed, and divisions between the social classes in the US are now the widest they have been at any point since the 1920s, shortly before the Great Depression. For this reason, we are now witnessing a revival of labor organizing, the growth of mutual aid societies, and other forms of economic resistance.
3. The ongoing political polarization of the United States
When ATS started, the Red Tribe/Blue Tribe divide was just starting to be noticed by mainstream commentators. Now, it is the definitive element of US culture and politics.
4. The rise of populism in opposition to neoliberalism, and the rise of nationalism in opposition to globalism
In the early 2000s, I began to notice the rise of the populist right in Europe, primarily in France and Eastern European countries. I predicted at the time that the expansion of globalization would eventually be challenged by the rise of the populist right worldwide, which is exactly what has happened. Likewise, the populist left has also made a return in response to widening class divisions.
5. The hegemony of totalitarian humanism
Fifteen years ago, I published an article on the LewRockwell.Com website, arguing that the emerging ideology of the Western ruling classes involved a continuation of the state-capitalist-imperialist system, but within a framework where conservative pieties like “faith, family, and flag” were jettisoned in favor of the rainbow/multicultural/”pink and green” ideology. This is exactly what has happened in the form of “wokeness” which is now found even in traditionally conservative institutions such as the military.
6. The leftward cultural drift of the United States
I have long predicted that the cultural left would increasingly become a dominant majority in the USA, which is now evidenced by the fact that a supermajority of Americans favors gay marriage and legal marijuana, and a pro-abortion referendum recently passed in the deep red state of Kansas.
7. The cooptation of the cultural left by the ruling class
My analysis of “totalitarian humanism” suggested that as the cultural left became increasingly dominant, the more it would be coopted by the ruling class, which is now evidenced by the total marginalization of the antiwar, civil liberties, and economic left in favor of a cultural left that is rooted in the professional-managerial class and motivated primarily by identity politics, environmentalism, woke capitalism, and liberal imperialism.
8. Insurrection by the lumpenproletariat
While I am not a class determinist, I have long argued that the lumpenproletariat would become the class vanguard in future anti-system battles. This perspective was vindicated by the wave of insurrections in 2020.
9. The rising militancy of the right
I have long suspected that as the cultural right continued to lose power (increased secularization, increased ethnic diversity, increased LGBTQ acceptance, etc) the right would respond by becoming more militant, which is exactly what occurred on January 6, 2021, and in prior street fights between right-wing and left-wing radicals.
10. The growth of fourth-generation warfare
Applying the concept of fourth-generation warfare (war waged by non-state actors) developed by Bill Lind, I suggested in the past that fourth-generation warfare would become more common in the future. Such has been the case in the form of groups like the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, Three Percenters, Antifa, Redneck Revolt, John Brown Gun Club, and Black Lives Matter.
11. The growing sympathy for pan-secession
Sympathy for secession on a casual level is now the highest it has been at any point since polls have been taken on this subject, with most polls indicating at least a third of Americans are at least casually sympathetic to the idea of secession by their region or locality. Articles appear in the mainstream press on a regular basis discussing the possibility of an American breakup, “national divorce,” secession, or civil war.
12. The expanding practice of national-anarchism
The core idea of national-anarchism involves individuals and groups with shared values forming their own communities where they are able to live among like-minded others. This is precisely what is happening in the form of the “Big Sort” that Bill Bishop has identified, and growing numbers of local “sanctuary cities/counties” for those who wish to disregard the laws of the existing state, and in relation to many different issues such as immigration, guns, marijuana, drugs, criminal justice, polyamory, abortion, healthcare, and other things. Even greater plans for the application of ideas of these kinds are being developed through concepts like startup societies and network states.
13. A rising interest in metaphorical “red/brown alliances”
Interestingly, some on the left who take class, antiwar, or anti-state politics seriously have started to realize that totalitarian humanism is a con game, and have moved toward a populist position that involves efforts to appeal to the populist-right or the traditional working class. Meanwhile, some on the right have realized that being an uncritical defender of capitalist power is not exactly “conservative.” Hence, calls for alliances between the populist-left and populist-right. Ideas that would have been dismissed merely as Keith Preston’s nonsense 20, 15, or even 10 years ago are now becoming increasingly common on the Left. When Jimmy Dore interviewed a Boogaloo Boy on his show, he essentially mainstreamed “Prestonism” (for lack of a better term). Populism vs totalitarian humanism is now a contentious topic on the Left. Of course, the totalitarian humanists have offered pushback in response. Katzenberg’s mouthpiece Cenk Uygur tried to excommunicate Bernie Sanders’ ex-press secretary Brianha Joy Gray from the left on de facto anti-Prestonian grounds. Mainstream, well-known figures on the left like Matt Taibbi, Glenn Greenwald, Caleb Maupin, Krystal Ball, Kim Iversen, Max Blumenthal, Aaron Mate, Zero Books, Jacobin magazine, and others are attacked, in varying degrees, by the politically correct in that same way that I have been for 25-30 years. I now pass the torch to my successors.
14. The emergence of criticisms of “world domination anarchism.”
In early 2020, Bellamy Fitzpatrick, an influential figure in the North American anarchist milieu issued a challenge to mainstream anarchism, pointing out the inherent tension between decentralist anarchy, the desire for world domination anarchism and as ideological objective, and desires for worldwide wokeness on a cultural level; the ease with which mainstream anarchism can be coopted by authoritarian/totalitarian leftism, and called for an emphasis on radical decentralization instead. I consider this to be a landmark moment in North American anarchism.
15. The “Anarchapulco” HBO series.
It is still way too early to tell what the impact of this series will be, but its mere existence is a major public relations victory for anarchistic ideas. Yes, some folks will be repulsed by the content of the series, but it will pique the interest of others.
I consider all of the above points to represent merely the bare minimum of conditions that are necessary for a more serious battle in the future. The big question involves the matter of where to go from here. I greatly suspect that Bellamy Fitzpatrick’s identification of a tense but triangular relationship between decentralization, ideological anarchism, and the “woke” cultural phenomenon offers many insights beyond its stated purpose.
While American military and economic imperialism are declining, the most pervasive form of American imperialism is cultural imperialism. This is due to the pervasive influence, on a worldwide level, of American media, entertainment, popular culture, higher education, NGOs, and commercial culture. For example, the McDonald’s “golden arches” symbol is the most recognized symbol in the world in terms of the number of people around the globe who can identify its meaning. The “golden arches” are more widely recognized than the Christian cross or Islamic crescent. At present, the American culture war is being exported to other parts of the world, including previously unlikely places like Eastern Europe, Africa, Latin America, Southeast Asia, and the Gulf States.
Just as unipolarity is now fracturing into multipolarity, it is quite possible the exportation of the American culture war will lead to many countries around the world having their own Red Tribe/Blue Tribe conflicts, and along the same lines of division: urban vs rural, young vs old, educated vs non-educated, affluent vs proletarian, secular vs. religious, libertine vs. ascetic, etc. Many of the same issues will be involved. The proliferation of such divisions around the world will create opportunities for the promotion of ideas like ideological/cultural migration, lifestyle or issue-based sanctuaries, regional or local secession, startup societies, or network states in many different contexts. A growing interest in such ideas will then open the door for the development of greater interest in actual anarchist philosophies and movements.
It is likely that something resembling Balaji Srinivasan’s concept of “network states” will be the next major stage in political evolution because one of the core features of modernity, the nation-state system ruled by presidential or parliamentary governments, is becoming increasingly obsolete due to incompetence, fiscal insolvency, loss of legitimacy, lack of cultural or demographic cohesion, technology, and economic evolution. But network states and related concepts like startup societies are only a few steps removed from the idea of panarchism originally advanced in the 19th century by figures like Paul Emile de Puydt and Gustave Molinari, by the anarchist Max Nettlau, or by contemporary figures like John Zube. And the growth of interest in startup societies, which are becoming increasingly technologically feasible, will likely spur interest in intentional communities, free cities, micronations, utopian colonies, communes, island colonies, cooperative communities, seasteads, or private communities. By extension, interest in ideologies, movements, and philosophies reflecting anarchist, libertarian, decentralist, anti-statist, anti-authoritarian, communal, utopian, voluntaryist, or countercultural ideals will likely grow as a result.
Ultimately our objective should be for our own anarchistic viewpoints to become the most pervasive set of political philosophies and movements worldwide, just as monotheist religions are now the most pervasive set of religious perspectives. The abolition of states, ruling classes, and empires is a project on part with past projects like the displacement of classical polytheistic religions by monotheistic religions, the eclipsing of traditional theocracy by the Enlightenment, or the abolition of slavery. We anarchists need to give more thought to what kinds of strategic or propagandistic methods will help to advance these goals.