Attack the System is a dissident tendency within the international anarchist movement based in North America. Anarchist philosophy constitutes an intellectual trajectory that can be traced back to Zeno and Diogenes in the West and Zhaung Zhou and Lao-tzu in the East, and which has prototypes in all sorts of indigenous, traditional, and pre-modern societies. Anarchism crystallized as a modern intellectual movement during the time of the Enlightenment with both a left and right wing dimension, with many different cousins and distant relatives, and which continues to evolve and assume new forms over time. Regrettably, many anarchists regard anarchism merely as a fringe movement that developed at some point in the 19th or 20th century, with only their particular sect being the “true” anarchists. Consequently, the mainstream of contemporary anarchism has denied much of its own heritage, and abandoned the central focus of the historic anarchist movement: overthrowing states, ruling classes, and empires. It is this kind of sectarianism that anarchists must eventually overcome in order to restore anarchism to the position it held during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, that of the premier revolutionary movement in the empire’s mother countries of the developed world (the core), and in the global anti-imperialist struggle in the developing world (the periphery).
We likewise embrace our many ideological cousins including decentralists, autonomists, anti-corporate libertarians, regionalists, agorists, individualists, guild socialists, council communists, municipalists, Georgists, farmer liberationists, agrarians, micronationalists, Luddites, radical environmentalists, deep ecologists, animal liberationists, geonomists, geolibertarians, libertarian socialists, libertarian feminists, queer activists, anti-globalists, constitutionalists, revolutionary patriots, sovereign citizens, common law advocates, anti-state conservatives, non-statist nationalists, non-racist militias, non-supremacist separatists, and non-statist class struggle advocates of every kind.
Sympathetic persons from other ideological currents are welcome to participate in our efforts including but not limited to populism, paleoconservatism, Jeffersonianism, Southern Agrarianism, distributism, radical traditionalism, Catholic Worker, black nationalism, southern nationalism, Afro-centrism, European New Right, alternative right, neo-classical liberalism, classical progressivism, liberal civil libertarianism, left-libertarianism, paleolibertarianism, libertarian brutalism, humanitarian libertarianism, bleeding heart libertarianism, cosmopolitan libertarianism, thick libertarianism, thin libertarianism, liberaltarianism, bioregionalism, third-positionism, futarchism, and radical centrism.
Other potentially allied movements include neo-Gandhians, the truther/conspiracy community, the Zeitgeist movement, the Venus Project, the Occupy movement, the liberty movement, the 9/11 truth movement, the “End the Fed” movement, the Tea Parties, anti-globalization activists, the anti-police brutality movement, the antiwar movement, the prisoner rights movement, the Bitcoin community, the LETS and barter community, the anti-drug war movement, the sex worker rights movement, anti-statist neo-reactionaries, anti-statist social justice warriors, third party advocates, the men’s rights movement, non-statist race-realists, non-statist anti-racists, the worker cooperative movement, the non-statist LGBTQ community, ethnic self-determinationists and enclavists, the squatter community, the intentional communities movements, startup societies, alternative religious communities, the underground arts and culture milieu, and all other social, cultural, political, or economic currents with an orientation towards decentralization of political and economic power.
We identify as our primary enemies the international plutocratic empire and its accomplices, the puppet regimes of the empire, their ruling classes and state-capitalist overlords. We therefore support self-determination for all peoples throughout the world, and the struggles of all enemies of imperialism. We stand in ruthless opposition to the domestic police state, its prison-industrial complex, therapeutic state, legal caste, and the institutions responsible for the dissemination of its propaganda, from the state-licensed media to the state-run educational system. We further oppose the ideology of Political Correctness embraced by totalitarian Left (the legacy of Jacobinism, Bolshevism, and Stalinism) which has been appropriated by the forces of liberal-capitalism as the current manifestation of its ideological superstructure. Against this ruling class vision, we offered an alternative vision that is anti-authoritarian, non-Marxist, non-militarist, non-racist, non-fascist, non-statist, and decentralist.
Newcomers to this blog should begin by reading the essays “Liberty and Populism: Building an Effective Resistance Movement for North America,” “Philosophical Anarchism and the Death of Empire,” “National Anarchy and the American Idea,” “Anarchism or Anarcho-Social Democracy,” “Anarcho-Pluralism and Pan-Secessionism: What They Are and What They Are Not,” “The Ten Core Demographics of Alternative-Anarchism/Pan-Secessionism,” and “Smashing the State,” by Keith Preston, “Political Program for Anarchists” and “Reparations Cui Bono?” by Kevin Carson, “Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and Anarchism” and “The Myth of Socialism as Statism” by Larry Gambone and the “American Revolutionary Vanguard Twenty-Five Point Program.” Please check out our sister site Truth Axis.
R.J. Jacob, editor of Ryan Anarchy
Jeremy Weiland, editor of Social Memory Complex
MRDA, editor of MRDA’s Inferno
Miles Joyner, American Revolutionary Vanguard, Cincinnati area, editor of the ARV Facebook page
Peter Bjorn Perls, Denmark ATS, veteran ATS contributor
Dan Canuckistan, contributing editor
Kate Chesney, contributing editor
Ann Sterzinger, scrivener at Ann Sterzinger
Nicholas Corvin, Orthodox Christian National-Anarchism
Michael C., Southern Nationalist Network
Ted Darcy, Northeastern US Attack the System
Jack Donovan, author and contributing editor
Craig Fitzgerald, National-Anarchist Tribal Alliance-New York
Tia Foster, contributing editor
Michael Geathers, contributing editor
Justin Gillespie, contributing editor
Alex Gleason, contributing editor
Rachel Haywire, contributing editor
David Heleniak, contributing editor, “On Pagans and Paleocons”
Welf Herfurth, contributing editor, author of “A Life in the Political Wilderness”
Neil Hiatt, contributing editor
Rodney Huber, contributing editor
Buster James, contributing editor
Jonathan Kelly, The Dionysian School
MK Lords, contributing editor
John Liner, “Discovering the Elephant”
Absurdist Cake, contributing editor
Jamie O’Hara, National-Anarchist Tribal Alliance-New York
Lawrence J. Patti, Queer Attack the System
Spencer Pearson, contributing editor, CivilLiberty.Org
Ted Perron, contributing editor
Josh Rhodes, contributing editor
Steven Saragian, Boston American Revolutionary Vanguard
Adil Sarker, Attack the System Facebook page editor
Skepoet, The Disloyal Opposition to Modernity
Troy Southgate, National-Anarchist Movement
Robert Stark, The Stark Truth
Wayne Sturgeon, Christian Anarchist, contributing editor
Adam Hunter Taylor, contributing editor
For a critical view of American Revolutionary Vanguard and Attack the System, see the following:
Antifa vs. Anarchism ( a lengthy debate between Keith Preston and “Anti-Fascist News”)
“Rising Above the Herd: The Authoritarian Anti-Statism of Keith Preston” by leftist anti-fascist Matthew Lyons (Keith Preston replies here, here, and here).
Keith Preston Still Doesn’t Get It by Todd Lewis
Contra Preston by Todd Lewis
On the Definition of the Empire
The era of globalization has brought with it an ongoing transition from a “modern” phenomenon of imperialism, centered around individual nation-states, to an emergent postmodern construct created among ruling powers. This new imperialism exists not in the form of multiple empires ruled by nation-states, but in the form of a singular, global Empire ruled by the international plutocratic super-class. The rise of the Empire signifies the decline of national conflict. The “enemy” of the Empire, whoever he is, can no longer be regarded as specifically ideological or national. The enemy must now be understood as a kind of criminal, as someone who represents a threat not to a political system or a nation but to the law. This enemy of the Empire will be regarded not as a rival state or ideological foe but as a “terrorist.” In this new order that envelops the entire space of civilization, where conflict between nations has been made irrelevant, the “enemy” is simultaneously banalized (reduced to an object of routine police repression) and absolutized (as the Enemy, an absolute threat to the ethical order).
By using analogies to classical political theory, the Empire can be understood as consisting of a monarchy (the United States and the G20, and international organizations such as NATO, the International Monetary Fund or the World Trade Organization), an oligarchy (the multinational corporations and other nation-states) and a democracy (the various non-government organizations and the United Nations). The Empire is total and resistance can only take the form of negation, or the will to resist. The Empire is total, and economic and political oppression continue, even as all heterogeneous cultural identities are wiped out and replaced with a universal mono-cultural one, the socio-economic identity of the poor persists.
American Revolutionary Vanguard and Attack The System reject all forms of bigotry or out-group hostility with regards to race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, ability, culture, lifestyle, or political affiliation. Anyone who generally supports the ideas of the core ARV/ATS statements and documents is welcome in our camp irrespective of their specific set political, cultural, or personal identities.
We reject the excesses of political correctness to which some anarchists have regrettably succumbed. Vilifying entire categories of people on the basis of group identity or derisive labels such as “privileged,” “white,” “male,” “straight,” “cisgendered,” “European,” or “Christian” is counterproductive, divisive, ethically dubious, strategically self-defeating, and counter to the libertarian ideals of anarchism.
We likewise oppose attacks on the freedoms of speech, association, and religion, due process, academic freedom, and scientific inquiry that have taken place in the name of political correctness, and in which some anarchists have been complicit. We likewise reject the use of violence against other political groups, including ideological rivals, that are at odds with the System and out of power.
Recognizing that statistical evidence indicates that oppressed minorities currently represent 372% of the general population, we stand in opposition to all forms of bigotry, oppression, social injustice, or out-group scapegoating including but not limited to racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, classism, ageism, anti-Semitism, ableism, looksism, fatphobia, thinism, beautyism, producerism, appearance discrimination, mentalism, sanism, speciesism, adultcentrism, pedophobia, chronocentrism, Islamophobia, Iranophobia, Russophobia, Sinophobia, slut shaming, Europhobia, white shaming, privilege shaming, incestophobia, misandry, BDSM oppression, heterosexism, cissexism, cisphobia, Christophobia, rightwingophobia, redneckophobia, religious oppression, right-handedism, culturalism, anti-transracialism, anti-transablism, anti-otherkinism, environmentalism racism, climate oppression, environmental homophobia, anti-homo sapien-presenting otherkinism, zoophobia, anti-asexualism, anti-porn feminism, trans-exclusionary feminism, TERF-scapegoating, anti-sex workerism, therapeutism, monogamism, anti-illegalism, addiction oppression, drugophobia, literatism, educationism, intellectual supremacism, competencyism, alcoholism bigotry, anti-prisonerism, anti-gamerism, parentism, gangophobia, anti-bikerism, anti-aspieism, dylexiophobia, agoraphobia, hydrophobia, penis sizism, four eyes phobia, anti-autism, anti-farsightedism, and cleanism.
On the Social Questions
We are favor self-determination for all unique cultural affiliations. On social and cultural questions, some of us are cultural liberals or radicals, and others are cultural conservatives or traditionalists. Still others are cultural centrists. Our position is that the political philosophy of anarchism transcends ordinary cultural differences of this type. As dissident anarchists, it is our contention that the mainstream of the anarchist movement has abandoned two principles that are essential to any authentic anarchism: freedom of opinion and freedom of association.
We aim to create an alternative anarchist milieu where one may express whatever views one wishes on controversial social issues. Anti-state radicals differ among themselves on a wide range of questions. These include animal rights, children’s rights, abortion, capital punishment, religion, environmentalism in its many forms, the legitimacy of conspiracy analysis, competing economic views, sexual norms, the role of technology, varying expressions of identity politics, matters of political strategy and many other things. Additionally, we aim to engage with the wider society outside of the various anarchist and libertarian milieus for the purpose of building a much larger anti-state populism for which anarchists provide the leadership and militant wing. This inevitably involves recruiting, organizing, or engaging in dialogue with people from all layers of society and from a wide range of cultural backgrounds, including those with a conservative orientation. Therefore, it is necessary to establish an anarchist movement that is fully committed to freedom of thought, speech, expression, and inquiry and rejects the censorious attitudes found among all too many in the anarchist milieu at present. On these matters we take our stand with the late, great anarchist historian Paul Avrich:
Avrich does not shy away from controversy in his books, treating the anarchist acts of violence honestly and in the context of the time. He does not condone the violence of Berkman, but says he still admires his decision, considering how brutal Frick acted toward striking workers. But Avrich does not have the same patience for some contemporary anarchists, who choose to destroy property and who, he says, come mainly from educated and middle-class backgrounds. “I’m not so crazy about anarchists these days,” he says. Anarchism means that you leave other people alone and you don’t force people to do anything.”
He says he is sad that the old-timers are not around to guide the resurgent movement. “They were nicer people –much nicer people.” Their deaths have taken a toll on him. “It’s been terrible for me,” he says. “They were the people who meant the most to me. I admired them and wanted them around the most. There’s nothing else that is me.”
Freedom of association is among the most natural of all human rights. The state seeks to maintain control over its captive populations through the disruption of organic patterns of human association, migration, and self-determination. The result is a “divide and conquer” effect whereby population groups with conflicting cultural values are needlessly pitted against one another as pawns in the machinations of the political class. The necessary corollary to freedom of association is freedom of disassociation. Autonomous individuals and communities should naturally be free to voluntarily associate or not associate with whomever they choose. It can therefore be expected that an anarchist civilization will include the entire spectrum of predictable human sentiments, values, aversions, and affections.
Consequently, there would likely be both religious and secular communities, ecumenical and traditionalist ecclesiastical bodies, sexually conservative and sexually libertine communities, traditional families in their various forms, feminist or homosexual pairs and pan-sexual relationships, ethnically heterogeneous and homogeneous communities, ethnic communities holding both preservationist and assimilationist norms, communities of carnivores and vegans or vegetarians, primitivist communities or seasteads and space colonies, proprietarian and communistic communities, drug-using and non-drug-using communities, communities with an open-entry stance and communities which prefer restricted entry. The result would be a vast array of tribes and communities reflecting the true diversity of humanity.
Towards the Revolutionary Center
We reject the “culture wars” of mainstream Western, and particularly American, politics as a rivalry within the upper-middle class which is irrelevant to our revolutionary struggle. Anarchist participation in the “culture wars” is an unnecessary distraction from the struggle at hand. Irreconcilable cultural differences are best handled through individual autonomy, voluntary association, pluralism and peaceful co-existence where possible. Otherwise, secession, local sovereignty, community self-determination, and mutual self-separation should be the rule. Contemporary political science and social science research shows that people all around the world are currently in the process of self-separating into diverse communities oriented towards the specific interests of those of a particular culture, religion, political affiliation, language, occupation, economic values, age, race, ethnicity, sexuality or preferred way of life. This is how it should be. The natural results of people using their freedom of choice are a pluralistic anarchism, or “anarchism without adjectives.”
US domestic politics is more polarized than at any time since the Civil War (with the Blue and Red Tribes replacing the Blue and Gray), and yet the rivalry is between two center-right imperialist parties struggling for hegemony within the empire. As traditional religion has lost much of its influence, political correctness has become the new social conservatism, and is increasingly becoming a new self-legitimating ideology for the power elite, or at least the left-wing of the power elite. For example, the USA now has what are essentially two center right to far right political parties, the totalitarian humanist globalist Democrats and the quasi-theocratic nationalist Republicans, both of which favor aggressive militarism and imperialism, “neoliberal” plutocratic capitalist economics, and a pervasive police state. Regrettably, far too many people in various anarchist, libertarian, and anti-state milieus have fallen into this trap. Much of the anarchist and libertarian spectrum at present is merely a microcosm of the wider society. Most left-leaning anarchists and libertarians are really just an appendage of the Blue Tribe and most right-leaning anarchists and libertarians are really just an appendage of the Red Tribe.
The historic relationship between anarchists and the general left has been a terrible disaster. Anarchists seem to consistently get eclipsed, coopted, absorbed, or suppressed by the Left. Those anarchists that wish to distance themselves from the Left often go to extremes in the other direction and become radical rightists, and this is one of our main criticisms of many an-caps, paleos, and right-wing anarchists as well as former libertarians who have become alt-rightists or neoreactionaries). We need a better approach. The anti-state perspective needs to be a kind of revolutionary center umbrella with a populist conception of class struggle (the people v. the power elite) that is opposed to the establishment center (liberal democratic state-capitalism, whether in its progressive liberal or conservative versions) but also strongly differentiated from both the Left (state socialism and communism) and the Right (traditional conservatives, reactionary nationalists, monarchists, fascists, etc).
It seems that a problematic issue faced by anarchists and others with similar philosophies is the need to establish an independent identity for ourselves. We should not be merely an appendage to the radical Left (which most people identify with Communism) or the radical Right (which most people identify with fascists and Nazis). Instead, anarchists should position themselves as the “revolutionary Center” (the people vs the elite). Indeed, radical center ideas seem to be growing in dissident circles at the present time.
A good way to frame the issue might be like this: Liberals are the center-left, socialists are the radical Left, and Marxist revolutionaries (like Maoists, radical Trotskyists, some anarcho-Marxists) are the revolutionary Left. Mainstream conservatives are the center-right, while the alt-right and paleoconservatives are the radical right, and fascists, neo-Nazis, radical survivalists, Tim McVeigh types, etc are the revolutionary Right. The mainstream center would be so-called “moderates,” i.e. centrist politicians with milquetoast versions of some liberal and some conservative ideas. The radical center would be the reformist center with a more populist outlook, and anarchists would be the “revolutionary center.,” i.e. the centrist alternative for revolutionaries that reject both Fascism and Communism.
On the Lumpenproletarian Question
Our endorsement of outreach efforts to lumpenproletarian subcultures has understandably raised certain concerns among other honest and well-meaning anarchists. It is on the lumpenproletarian question that we genuinely place ourselves outside the realm of polite society and respectable opinion, including that of the so-called Left. The Left has admirably championed the impoverished or exploited and opposed the persecution and oppression of traditional outgroups such as racial or religious minorities, women, and sexual minorities by the forces of the state and capital or by private or extra-legal violence. However, there remains a substantial number of population groups who continue as recipients of statist assaults while so-called “progressive” political forces look away or even express approval.
We stand with all enemies and victims of the state regardless of their social or legal standing. These include all political dissidents subject to repression irrespective of their ideology and all residents of the total institutions maintained by the state (jails, prisons, detention centers, psychiatric institutions, juvenile facilities, institutions of compulsory education, or conscript armies). Just as past generations have formed civil rights organizations for the defense of racial minorities, feminist organizations for the defense of women, or gay rights organizations for the defense of sexual minorities, so do we advocate the formation of similar organizations for the defense of the handicapped, those labelled mentally ill, those subject to involuntary civil commitment, students, youth, prostitutes and other sex workers, prisoners, the criminally accused, the homeless, anti-police activists, advocates of alternative medicine, drug users, the families of drug war prisoners, migrant workers, lumpen economic elements (jitney cab drivers, peddlers, street vendors, midwives), gang members and those subject to persecution under laws criminalizing consensual behaviors and the byzantine machinations of the regulatory, managerial state.
We have previously called for dialogue and mutually advantageous cooperation with non-political outlaw organizations including street gangs, motorcycle clubs and prison gangs. This is among our most controversial positions but it is a position that has been vindicated by the participation of both motorcycle tribes and urban street tribes in both past and present revolutionary efforts such as the West Coast uprising of 1992 and the contemporary Occupy movement.
On the Indigenous Question
The term “indigenous” is commonly used to refer to those peoples that are either native to a particular geographical region, who existed in tribal forms prior to the rise of nation-state entities, or who share a unique cultural heritage derived from their particular history. For the sake of recognizing and preserving the diversity of humanity, we favor self-determination for all particularly identifiable cultures, ethnic groups, tribes, or traditional ways of life. These include the native peoples or traditional ethnicities of all nations, regions, or continents. A massive plethora of such population groups exist including the American Indians/Native Americans of North America, the Indian peoples of Central and South America, the immensely varied ethnic groups of Asia and Africa, and the historic ethnic groups of northern Europe and the Mediterranean. We recognize and support self-determination for all those possessing a unique cultural heritage within a larger state or imperial system such as the Basques, Catalans, Scots, Kurds, Romani, Hawaiians, African-Americans, the aboriginal people of Australia, the European Americans of Appalachia and the southern United States, Hasidic Jews, white Afrikaaners, the Amish, Tibetans, and Palestinians. We reject the claim that self-determination for all peoples implies racism, ethnocentrism, chauvinism, supremacism, exploitation, or xenophobia. Rather, the principles of self-determination and self-preservation imply an ethos of mutual respect and inter-cultural civility.
On the Rejection of Universalism
On the question of universalism, we take our stand with the Global Revolutionary Alliance:
Each segment of the anti-American front, each element of the Global Revolutionary Alliance has its own vision of the future, its own norm. It must be assumed that these images and these norms are different, disparate, and even mutually exclusive. But this circumstance will be important only if these norms and images of the future are realized as something universal and obligatory, something that is exclusive and excludes all other imperatives common to all mankind. In this case, the split within the Global Revolutionary Alliance is sooner or later inevitable, and, therefore, its activity is doomed to failure at some point.
The Muslims, atheists, Christians, socialists, anarchists, conservatives, libertarians, fundamentalists, sectarians, progressivists, environmentalists, or traditionalists will hardly get along with each other, if they try to spread their vision of the future to their neighbours, and even more so, to all mankind. And the global oligarchy will immediately take advantage of this, hammering a wedge between the opponents; it will split their solidarity and will kill or strangle each individually. Considering the sheer simplicity and primitiveness of such a strategy, it has invariably and consistently given a positive result to those who have been using it over the past millennia. The Global Revolutionary Alliance has no right to succumb to such a pre-programmed and anticipated turn of events. The ability to extract knowledge from history and to create a strategy based upon rational thought is an essential attribute of an intelligent person. Thus, in order for its war to succeed, the Global Revolutionary Alliance must avoid this impending trap.
With diverse and disparate images of the future, we must learn to imagine them in their local, rather than a universal context. Islam for Muslims, Christianity for Christians, socialism for socialists, ecology for environmentalists, fundamentalism for fundamentalists, nation for nationalists, anarchy for anarchists and so on – that should be the way of designing the future. This means that we must recognize the multiplicity, the plurality of the future, its polyvariability, as well as the coexistence of different designs of the future on different contiguous or noncontiguous territories.
In keeping with this anti-imperialist vision, we seek to unite anarchists throughout the world against the American global empire specifically and the international global elite generally. We aim to build an anarchist-led international coalition against imperialism that promotes self-determination for all peoples everywhere. It is the anarchist vision of decentralized societies, autonomous regions and localities, self-managed municipalities and villages, stateless tribes and voluntary associations, peoples’ militias and federated communities that offers the most viable vision for future civilizations liberated from the yoke of imperialism, accommodation of the divergent forces that must be mobilized for imperialism’s defeat, and recognition of the ongoing diversification of modern societies.
On the Economic Questions
The struggle against the state, the global plutocratic super-class, and the Empire is a struggle that transcends specific economic philosophies, ideologies, and policy positions. As advocates of self-determination for all, we reject a universalist approach to economic theory and economic organization. However, as anarchists we maintain a preference for forms of economics that are reflective of the anarchist principles of voluntarism, free association, mutual aid, decentralism, pluralism, federalism, and non-hierarchical forms of organization. We further seek to develop alternative economic arrangements that reduce, minimize, or eliminate the dependence of the individual and of communities on states, corporations, or the impersonal forces of the market. Towards, this end we endorse such economic arrangements as cooperatives, collectives, communes, clubs, village communities, intentional communities, guilds, mutual aid societies, mutual banks, alternative currencies, land trusts, workers councils, individual and family enterprises, libertarian municipalities, anarcho-syndicalist labor federations, worker-owned industries, stakeholder democracy, participatory economics, tenant associations, professional associations, the gift economy, dual power, decentralized planning, social credit, and squatting.
The economic models that we prefer include the Gift economy, Communization, Economic democracy, Guild socialism, Inclusive Democracy, Left-wing market anarchism, Participatory economics, and Socialization. The economic traditions with which we identity are Anti-authoritarianism, Anti-authoritarianism, Anti-capitalism, Anti-consumerism, Anti-Leninism, Anti-Stalinist left, Anti-statism, Classless society, Consensus democracy, Common ownership, Common resources, Commune, Decentralization, Decentralized planning, Direct democracy, Dual power, Class struggle, Economic democracy, Egalitarian community, Free association, Free love, Free school, Free store, Mass strike, Guilds, Libertarian municipalism, Libertarian possibilism, Mutual aid, Phalanstère, Prefigurative politics, Proletarian internationalism, Refusal of work, Social center, Social enterprise, State capitalism, Stateless society, Squatting, Ultra-leftism, Use value, Wage slavery, Workers’ control,Worker cooperative, and Workers’ council.
The economic thinkers who have influenced our outlook include Gerrard Winstanley, Thomas Müntzer, Charles Fourier, Josiah Warren, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Joseph Déjacque, Francesc Pi i Margall, Mikhail Bakunin, Louise Michel, Peter Kropotkin, William Morris, Oscar Wilde, Benjamin Tucker, Errico Malatesta, Leo Tolstoy, Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia, Emma Goldman, G. D. H. Cole, Ricardo Flores Magón, Gustav Landauer, Diego Abad de Santillán, Rudolf Rocker, Otto Rühle, Antonie Pannekoek, Buenaventura Durruti, Nestor Makhno, Sylvia Pankhurst, Paul Mattick, Mahatma Gandhi, Wilhelm Reich, Dorothy Day, Herbert Marcuse, Cornelius Castoriadis, Paul Goodman, Colin Ward, Chris Pallis, Daniel Guérin, Murray Bookchin, Guy Debord, Raoul Vaneigem, Abbie Hoffman, Antonio Negri, Takis Fotopoulos, Noam Chomsky, Gilles Dauvé, Michael Albert, Subcomandante Marcos, and Janet Biehl.
Against an Anarchist Fundamentalism and the Manichean View of the State
Our colleague Dan Canuckistan raises the essential question of how the process of attacking the totalitarian apparatus of the modern state is to be achieved:
Which which institutions do we preserve and which do we allow to be razed to the ground? Do we allow neo-liberal Shock Doctrinarians to gut public institutions and enclose what is left of the commons, or do we fight back with a counter-scorched earth campaign?
Some revolutionaries of a more libertarian persuasion have replaced the outdated left/right dichotomy with an equally Manichaean concept of “statist/non-statist”, the former being absolutely evil and the latter completely desirable & good. Personally, I think the “statist/non-statist” distinction is as useless as the “left/right” one because it doesn’t acknowledge the nuanced blend of possible & existing solutions.
For decentralization to make any sense at all- and libertarians claim an affinity for local solutions- you have to acknowledge the possibility that people of a given locality or region may freely choose a different political or economic model than pure anarchism/libertarianism. All over the world, there are genuine grassroots movements opposing privatization, especially of water supply, transportation and energy grids. In my own area, folks have mobilized against the selling off of a publicly-owned regional bus line. I suppose that makes them “statists” in a narrow sense but local history, culture, geography & environment, as well as sheer practicality, may dictate that a “public option” is the best solution for a particular problem in a given area.
As the modern state becomes less coherent and unified, it would be a mistake to equate a government bureaucrat charged with providing, say, low-income housing or free medical care with another engaged in secret police work. But to libertarian or anarchist puritans, both are equally evil and no grey areas are to found between.
As our co-editor Craig Fitzgerald observes:
I agree that the state vs. anti state debate can become as Manichean as the traditional left right paradigm. I also recognize the limitations “anti statists” and “statists” alike face due to a failure to “acknowledge the nuanced blend of possible and existing solutions.” As Dan states “for decentralization to make any sense at all…you have to acknowledge the possibility that people of a given locality or region may freely choose a different political or economic model than pure anarchism/libertarianism.”
As much as I can see this dichotomy among revolutionaries as a form of philosophical quagmire/masturbation, I believe this debate can and will lead to the “nuanced and realistic solutions…at the core of decentralization” and indeed a pragmatic and populist “ solution has to work for real people, not for the sake of some abstract ideology of either left or right.”
Vision and Wisdom
from A New Kind of Mind
A decent while back, the anarchism subreddit was getting me down with it’s lynch mobs and sectarianism. To find some sanity (and probably to confirm a couple biases), I asked fellow Reddit user BondsOfEarthAndFire — who describes himself as “a market-friendly, primitivist-friendly anarcho-communist” and is a member I’ve always found to be considerate and wise — for his take on the situation. He did not disappoint:
I think that the notion that all of humanity will ever be operating under the same ‘flag’, so to speak, is astonishingly stupid, and demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of humanity and and dumbfounding ignorance of history. It frankly astounds me that the intelligent folk on this reddit manage to convince themselves that the future Earth will be entirely syndicalist or entirely transhumanist or entirely mutualist, or entirely re-wilded, or entirely fill-in-the-blank.
I’ve described myself as an Anarcho-ecumenist, but I fly the red star because the ancom belief system is closest to the system I would personally like to live in. That system may be made of a hundred people or a hundred million people; I have no way of predicting the future, and neither does anyone else. I do make some very broad predictions, however:
I think that the future will be a world of dizzying social complexity, replete with small city-states with governments ranging the gamut from democratic to monarchical to theocratic, surrounded by vast hinterlands filled with eco-villages and wild ranges where hunter gatherer humans chase wild game and forage for nuts and berries, while vast trade fleets of ultra-light zepellins transfer goods and services all over the planet, and transhumant consciousnesses zip through endless, decentralized computer networks maintained by industrial syndicates a million workers strong, who build satellites and launch them into orbit to maintain a global network of communication so primitivists can use cell-phones to trade furs for plastic-composite bows… and so on. Personally, I wish I was there right now.
In the immediate moment, I’m willing to ally myself with anyone who who believes that humans are capable of developing large-scale systems that can be entirely consensus based. I don’t think these social technologies exist yet, and so I’m working towards trying to figure them out. The answers lie across a dozen different flavors of anarchism, and the only to even begin is to respecting A) each others opinions, B) our differences and similarities, and C) the fact that we don’t have the answers yet – if we did, we’d already be doing it!
It always struck me as incredibly stupid to say, “We agree on 97% of everything, but we have differing notions of what the word trade means, so you are therefore my bitter enemy.” It’s a crock of shit, but it’s worse than stupid: it’s counterproductive. We’re working towards a very different world than the one we live in, and we need 100% of the people involved to be, ya know, actually working towards it. Even if someone thinks your direction is 15 degrees removed from their compass bearing, you’re both still pretty much headed in the same direction.
I’d like to think that my unabashed outreach to the pacifists, Christians, primitivists, transhumanists, mutualists, ancaps, and everyone else is beginning to pick up speed, but there’s only so far the mass mentality can be pushed without a profound, systemic change in the way people perceive their potential allies.
Granted, there’s a lot of room for improvement in relations between the different flags, but on the other hand, compared to what we agree on, it’s actually not that much.