It’s great to talk about anarchism with people who already agree with us, but how about persuading all those people out there who don’t agree? With all the government and corporate corruption, which is spreading like an infection all over the world in various forms, causing so much disaffection among the people, there seems, paradoxically, no better a time than now to convert as many people as possible to the anarchist cause…and not just to agree, but to take action.
So how do we do that?
I don’t have anywhere close to all the answers to that question, but I’d like to suggest a number of ideas we can use.
1. Appeal to the workers. A no-brainer, of course. Still, I’ve noticed some ‘anarchists’ on the Facebook discussion groups who seem more interested in ‘theory’ and politically correct orthodoxy than in dealing with this all-too-obvious concept.
In George Orwell’s dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, Winston Smith says, “If there is hope…it lies in the proles.” (George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four, New York: Penguin Group, 1981, p. 61) The proletarians have the sheer numbers to overpower the elites. They need to “become conscious of their own strength.” (ibid.) The rich and powerful know how to control them, with distractions: “films, football, beer…filled up the horizon of their minds.” (ibid., p. 63) You can get the people all worked up about nonsense like that, but how is it “…they could never shout like that about anything that mattered?” (ibid., p. 62)
Unionism has been flagging recently, in no small part due to corrupt union bosses. We need a resurgence in legitimate syndicalism. If we can swell up the membership of the IWW (to my understanding, a much better organization), that would help in a big way. We need to pluck up the workers’ courage (especially in Asian countries, where there’s far less unionism of any kind), and get them to strike more, including in the offices. We all must remember that the ultimate goal is to seize control of the means of production, not just put pressure on bosses, and certainly not suck up to the State, even if the government is left-wing. The workers must become the bosses.
2. Avoid divisiveness. Anarchism is about equality for everyone, without exception. No one gets preferential treatment of any kind. It’s contrary to the principles of anarchism to say that one sex should have privileges over the other, or that certain racial or ethnic groups should have entitlements over others, or that there should be any special treatment based on age, sexual preference (of consenting adults), religion, or physical or mental disability. (The examples I’ve given are not meant to be exhaustive, so please forgive any oversights here.)
Not only is such favouritism obviously unfair (regardless of whether rationalized by supposed superiority, which no anarchist believes in; or by a bogus compensating for past grievances, for the establishment of total political and economic equality for all should be sufficient to redress wrongs), but it will cause resentment and division in the anarchist community.
A lot of people seem to think ‘avoid divisiveness’ is a cleverly-worded excuse to tolerate or even encourage such unacceptable nonsense as ‘manarchy’ or ‘anarcho-capitalism’. Though some supporters of that rubbish use those kind of honeyed words, I’m not doing anything of the sort here. I assure the reader that I am not one of those slick-talking phoneys. I understand that anarchy means no ‘archy’ or any kind: no patriarchy (or theoretically possible ‘archies’, like matriarchy, for that matter), no capitalist exploitation, no hierarchies of boss/employee, nor of any based on race, ethnicity, religion, creed, or sexual orientation.
That said, we must eliminate our enemies or rivals through reasoned argument and persuasion, getting them to give up their irrational attachment to capitalism, sexism, racism, or any other form of bigotry. Hostility, personal attacks, four-letter words, and name-calling will be counter-productive, as it will harden their hearts against us, and make our job more difficult. We want to convert them to our cause, not strengthen and ossify their resolution against us.
The mainstream media are masters in manipulating public opinion and stirring up divisiveness to distract us from the more pressing matters in the world. The Zimmerman trial, for example, deftly swayed people’s attention from the trial of Bradley Manning , whose conviction was the elite’s retaliation against him for exposing their war crimes in the Iraq War, etc. I don’t like verdicts that are biased in favour of whites over blacks any more than any other anarchist; but we’ll do a better job of helping the black community by focusing on bringing down the whole system, government and corporate, that hurts African Americans, than we will by letting the media get the masses mad at each other. The elite is the enemy; they conquer us by dividing us.
Similarly, the media used the gay marriage issue to distract millions of people from noticing the passing of the Monsanto Protection Act several months ago. Again, I want gays to have the freedom to love their partners in every way straights do, as does every other reasonable person, but we mustn’t let the media distract us and polarize us. Gay rights will be best protected after–not before–the anarchist revolution finally happens, when we won’t need a government to give gays, or anyone else, permission to marry.
One other thing: don’t feed the internet trolls on anarchist Facebook pages, etc., when they say bigoted things. A lot of them work for the governments and corporations to undermine us and the work we do. We mustn’t let them bait us, as I’ve seen them do many times online. They thrive on our indignation and anger. Ignore them, delete their posts/comments, and ban them from our discussion groups.
3. Plan the revolution. We must learn from the mistakes of anarchists in the past, and also plan how best to prevent the misfortunes that befell the revolutionaries of the Paris Commune, the Free Territory of Ukraine, and anarchist Catalonia.
The points I wish to make here are by no means exhaustive, and for many readers, this will be little more than review of what they’ve already read many times before; but it isn’t enough merely to know of these cautions–we must always be mindful of them. May my repetition thus be a helpful push in that mindful direction.
Plentiful food and supplies must always be available, to satisfy the needs of all when the revolution disrupts normal daily business for an extended time, as Kropotkin discussed in The Conquest of Bread. (Peter Kropotkin, The Conquest of Bread, New York: Dover Publications, 2011, pp. 61-95)
The revolution must be global in reach, and it must be permanent, until worldwide anarchy is attained. The anarchist Catalonians and Ukrainians were defeated in large part because they didn’t go far beyond their domains. Also, their attempts to associate with Bolsheviks, Stalinists, and other state socialists led to their downfall. Compromise with their left-wing rivals, paradoxically, led to more divisiveness, and to their defeat.
Seize not only the means of production and the government buildings, but seize the banks, too. The Paris Commune didn’t do that.
Get the police on our side. If we can somehow convince them that the authority they’re loyal to is illegitimate, we can get at least some of them on our side, and reduce their ability to brutalize us when we protest.
OK, these are just a few thoughts of mine. I’ll understand if you don’t agree with some of what I say, but in any case, I hope this can help in the fight against capitalism, the State, and all forms of inequality. Peace and love, comrades.
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12 thoughts on “Adding As Many Anarchists As We Can”
anarchy is a process not a project ❤
It sure is; it takes time and commitment.
commitment to anarchy is like marrying a stripper 🙂
It’s not easy, that’s for sure.
I am curious, what is your definition of capitalism?
The system of bosses exploiting workers to acquire as much capital as possible.
Some people make a distinction between corporatism, meaning the kind of grotesquely extreme exploitation we see among the big corporations today; but even if one were to accept this as the true evil, and not capitalism per se, I still feel that capitalism in its ‘pure’ form will inevitably lead to the nastier form often described as corporatism, when the State props up Big Business.
So, how would this system of bosses exploit workers in an anarcho-capitalism world?
The exact same way it exploits workers in the present world. Having no government wouldn’t change that. The whole point of having a government is to protect the interests of the ruling class: the capitalists.
I used to be an an-cap (briefly), thinking that small businesses could run freely in a free market system without government interference. But the fact is, when some businesses, even in an an-cap world, become extremely successful and make a lot of money, generally they will find it irresistible to crush any new competition, using unfair tactics, because greed will overwhelm them.
To protect their interests and their property, they’ll want to have a system of power, including police and governments to do so. This system of power wouldn’t come into existence immediately, for the ideal of a non-statist world would be adhered to initially; but the State would eventually come back, as the ‘need’ to do so would arise.
What must be understood here is the crucial difference between ‘anarcho-capitalism’ in theory, where there would be no corruption in business, and that system in practice. I know an-caps have every confidence that there will never be any such corruption, but I’m just not convinced. It’s just like state communism: in theory, the state would protect the interests of the workers and never lord themselves over them; but in practice, well, we all know what Lenin, Stalin, and his ilk did.
Finally, without government, businesses in an an-cap world would be free to pay workers as little as they like without fear of any kind of punishment; the same thing would go for things like beating back unions, etc.
If you don’t agree with what I’ve said so far, please tell me your reasons.
The part that I disagree with is the assumption that in a truly free-market, companies would grow into these large monopoly monstrosities, that poor people wouldn’t have no place to get their basic needs catered to. That these companies would have their workers exposed to horrible working conditions while pay them next to nothing.
How would these companies ever be able to get away with all this, and still have customers? In a free-market, people would have to be extremely picky people. People that make sure that the money they give to a company in exchange for a service or product, wouldn’t lead to the company becoming exploitive, because in the end, it would hurt the consumer, or people the consumer cares about. I mean, why would anyone want to keep supporting a company that hire people to act as ”police”, unless it was for the protection of the company (which makes sense, why wouldn’t you want to guard something valuable)
I can’t speak for other an-caps, but the anarchy-theory I ascribe to is all about making the individual the most powerful force in the world. The individual that doesn’t support companies that want anything to do with people that exploit other people, that use violence for other than self-defense. The individual that doesn’t associate with people only out to exploit others.
Of course corruption would exist in a free-market. But, as smart consumers, we wouldn’t want corruption, because it would hurt our interests.
The way I see it, anarchy won’t work if people don’t start to exorcise their incredible power as consumers in the society, as much in their close relationships as in the free-market.
All one has to do is look at the way companies exploited workers in the 19th century and earlier to see that underpaid, overworked labourers was extremely common, if not universal at the time. The notion that consumers wouldn’t want to do business with such exploitative companies flies in the face of reality.
What’s more, it’s happening more and more today, with the decline of unions; also, in Asia, where I live, syndicalism is almost non-existent. Workers are routinely required to do overtime or work on weekends with little or no compensation. ‘Free market competition’ is no deterrent to that at all.
And while in anarchy there would be no government to prop up the big businesses (before they grew into the monopolies or oligopolies that I predict many soon would), government also wouldn’t be there to restrict them from having the kind of huge power their bosses would hope to have.
Finally, I’m not convinced that the consumer would avoid doing business with exploitative companies to deter them from doing the corrupt things they do. How would the consumer even know they were mistreating their employees? The companies could, with their money, easily do a spin in the media to give the public the opposite impression, thus still having their support.
Your fatal flaw is insisting on reasoned argument to win over the masses. They have been trained by much smarter minds to view anything less than raw-meat tribal appeals with deep suspicion. And the police? Come on! Their whole existence is now based on being a counterforce to “civilians.”
I couldn’t agree with you more. Please remember that this was an OLD post I made three years ago, when I hardly knew what I was talking about. I have learned a lot since then, and I now know that ‘reasoned argument to win over the masses’ was a hopelessly naive idea. And yes, winning over even a tiny percentage of the police is an absurdity.
I’ve grown a lot since the writing of this naive post. Please don’t hold old writing against me.
To get a sense of how I’ve grown, please check out ‘Neoliberalism’s Unwitting Dupes’.