Some years ago I likened anarchy to a forest glade, each form of life flourishing in its own sovereign way as it is able, calling no ‘other’ master. Of course nature has no use for democracy and yet in the glade is democracy in its purest form. It is exercised subject only to the laws of nature which gave rise to it and sustain and support it and without which the glade would not exist. Plants and animals use the natural resources present in the system for their survival, even predators, and all without deception or guile nor wilful exploitation. Nature never lies and is always true to itself.
The common misconception of anarchy is that it is lawless and chaotic and the dominance of that misconception is no accident, it’s roots lie in the propaganda of those who exercise control over human lives and who will protect that dominance by any means, including brutal armed suppression.
Curiously the responses I received to my analogy were amongst some of the most brutal I have ever received. Hardly surprising. Of all sociopolitical ideas, anarchy is the greatest threat to the dominant elites whether that is government or corporatism and the markets. Noam Chomsky a self declared anarcho-syndicalist describes it as a “conception of a very organized society, but organized from below by direct participation at every level, with as little control and domination as is feasible, maybe none.”
At the heart of anarchy is self determination, free of coercion and oppression. Chomsky talks about ‘the third and last emancipatory phase of history, the first having made serfs out of slaves, the second having made wage earners out of serfs, and the third which abolishes the proletariat in a final act of liberation that places control over the economy in the hands of free and voluntary associations of producers.’
Anarchy, then, is the purest form of democracy as informed, participative, dignified and liberated. Currently, in the west, we have a form of democracy without substance. The only thing decided at the polling booth is who will be our next masters and who will exercise control over us. Yes we are free to vote, but what we vote for is tightly and rigidly controlled by those already in power. If they gave the vote to turkeys, it would not be about Christmas itself, but whether to be broiled or roasted.
Private ownership and private enterprise give rise to what we colloquially call ‘wage slavery’. What workers submit to and devote the bulk of their lives to is a system in which democracy is entirely absent. The so called ‘free markets’ belong to and are run by the owning classes to whom workers merely rent their bodies and who have no say at all in the level of rent they are paid. For example, who sets the minimum wage, a wage below a level required to sustain life, the workers or the owners (via government)? Owners of property also rent out properties but with none of the restraints imposed on workers. Reasonable housing rents, that are sustainable for all concerned, are (almost) exclusive to publicly owned social housing. If the same rules for the minimum rents paid to workers for their bodies were applied to private housing rents, private housing rents would still be going through the roof. If there were both minimum and maximum rules, most workers would still be given the minimum, whilst most property owners would exploit the maximum.
Anarchy has at its core individual self determination yet responsive to their environment and others. As such, anarchy is the finest expression of democracy it is currently possible to imagine, although given time, endeavour and experience, it would, without doubt, evolve for the better. Anarchy is not a utopia because it is not a fixed idea, but a lived experience.
Right now it is nigh on impossible to imagine living without the ‘state’: that is, government control (whether Communism, Neoliberalism or any other ideological state ‘ism’). For anarchy to exist it requires people to participate in a democratic way, informed, educated and fully engaged. It is not a fanciful ideal, it is a living progression, sustainable, fair and, above all, liberating.
Any movement towards anarchy would be subject to immense opposition from the beneficiaries of the current system. Any chaos or bloodshed would not be instigated by anarchists but from the terrorism of the state which would at all times seek to suppress anarchy in any way it could and with all the power at its disposal. There are similarities to war: it is not the people who make war, that power is exclusive to the state, and yet those who must shed their blood in war and, indeed, pay for it in every way are common, ordinary, people.
Of course, as in war, the people would be the ones demonised, hence it is not the makers of war who suffer infantile names like Jerry, Kraut, Argie, Tommy, Nips, Gooks and so on, the trick being, via propaganda (an exclusive tool of state), to blame and demonise the victims. The same demonising is true in economic warfare including the current, infamous, war on the poor and in the use of ‘othering’, such as ‘immigrants’ (a historic favourite). We call it ‘smoke and mirrors’. The fault always lies anywhere other than where it belongs, with the ruling elites. Those who have the power to end oppression, are the very people who exploit it for their own benefit and the reason why poverty is systemic and why the poor will never be masters of their own destiny until and unless they begin to think in terms of anarchy.
Any ‘state of anarchy’ is to be applauded, it means the people demanding and creating change for the better. Under the current system anarchy is, by definition, revolutionary, but only in the sense of co-operative action, informed and educated to better ourselves to support and sustain life for the many in better conditions than anything that the current systems of domination by existing elites offer. Currently, we all know what ‘making work pay’ means, with thousands already dead, if we really want work to pay, then anarchy is the answer, not something to be sneered at and dismissed as some kind of destructive political extremism.
This is the end of this piece of anarchistic writing, as such it is, I hope, informative, helpful and progressive. Not a single life was harmed in the process of thought or writing, nor is it an incitement to riot, nor does it contain any thoughts or ideas that would bring harm to others, although the ruling elites might take exception to it simply because they want everything their own way and I oppose that because what I want is a more equal and just society and an end to exploitation for greed and profit.
KOG 29 December 2016