If we continue with the idea that anarchy, socialism, and liberalism all exist as one united continuum, the liberal socialism is being handled by Bernie, but what is going on with Anarcho-Liberalism or Anarcho-Socialism?
They seem to be contradictions. Anarchists are against government, goes the logic.
The truth is more complex.
Most of my generational crop of anarchists really emerged from the antiwar movement under Bush Jr..
In reality, the background most of these people come from is liberalism. They are certainly anarchists of the Left rather than anarchists of the Right.
Many of these people went on to happily vote for Obama. Some may be happy with how it turned out, and others are not.
Most of them are probably fine with universal healthcare, despite it being “Big Government.”
Really these people are not pure anti-state anarchists. They are Anarcho-Liberals, which means they are mostly opposed to the most authoritarian and repressive aspects of government like imperialist wars, the police state, the surveillance state, the prison and military industrial complexes.
They may, like me, see government as part of the solution to the hierarchy of capitalism.
So what is this? All bullshit? Just edgy posturing?
I don’t think so. Anti-authoritarianism is more complex than simple anti-statism.
Abolish Hierarchy Incrementally!
Being an insurrectionist is hard.
Ultimately, you either learn to balance your tactics or you end up in jail. The vast majority of radicals exist in some type of compromise with the existing system.
But it’s still bullshit. Authority is still, generally, bullshit. Maybe not all the time, but certainly in many of the ways it’s being used today.
As radicals we are faced with hilarious choices all the time. Elections, for example – should we choose the lesser evil, or push for more?
The important thing to remember is precisely that the capitalist elections are bullshit – but that doesn’t mean their results don’t materially affect us!
When your choice is between a capitalist state that gives you free healthcare, and one that doesn’t, don’t shoot yourself in the foot. Sell out.
When you live in 1984, and the Party tells you to choose between Bad or Worse, the correct anarchist decision is to push the Bad button, then continue building the revolution against the Party.
It’s been written about elsewhere, but how does an anarchist state make any sense?
Maybe Marx was right that the post-revolutionary state is necessary, but withers away; maybe it just works better under Bernie Sanders than under Joseph Stalin.
That’s not to say the state is at all tolerable in its current form. If we’re going to abolish hierarchy incrementally, we’d better start abolishing in larger increments!
The “anarcho-state” was originally inspired by Lenin’s statement in State and Revolution that the post-revolutionary state will be a “state that is not a state,” because it will be so different in its structure. The involvement of workers’ councils, or workplaces under a democratic workers’ mutiny, makes more sense of the initially baffling confluence between Leninism and anarchy. (I have recently concluded that Anarcho-Leninism is not coherent, as Leninism leans too closely toward dictatorship.)
What if the best way to establish the most free society possible at this time is not to immediately abolish the state, but to reform or replace the state with one that is vastly more participatory, with vastly more direct democracy and individual liberties? What if police were replaced by rotating citizen militia with professional training for all involved? (Or we could just end the War on Drugs, and other proposals for a cop-free world.)
The original Greek etymology of “anarchy” does not mean “no government,” but no rulers.
It is possible, then, to create a more Athenian-inspired direct democracy where all participants are politically equal. (Not the aristocracy part.)
Most anarchists will tell you that anarchy does not mean “no rules,” but individual freedom. Your freedom ends where someone else’s rights begin. You can use a frying pan, not hit someone with it.
This raises an interesting aesthetic point – anarchy is usually understood to be Chaos.
What if that is wrong, catastrophically wrong?
What if, just as the highest stage of liberalism is socialism, the highest stage of socialism is anarchy?
What if anarchy is actually a highly organized utopian society which gives people the public peace and predictability required to live a consensual existence? What if predictability is required for consent?
What if true Anarchy is actually Order?
It makes sense, after all. Hierarchy breeds rebellion, and rebellion is instability.
The Sith had a convention and decided to raise the black flag.
Here And Now
So what’s the point of Anarcho-Statism, besides making up words?
If anything, it would be the centrality of democratic process to the socialist revolution.
We can’t treat democracy and pluralism in our organizations like an afterthought, and then expect the masses to cheer when we take power.
We can’t wait to prove the legitimacy of our democratic process after the revolution.
Demonstrating the legitimacy of our democratic process under capitalist conditions is precisely how we will win the revolution.
I’m certainly not saying that the USA’s “democratic process” is at all legitimate.
I suppose the other main point of Anarcho-Statism is precisely to focus on matters of state and democratic process in capitalist “democracy”:
- to support the abolition of the Electoral College
- to oppose gerrymandering
- to let people vote as individuals instead of states
- to put national laws on the ballot through national and state initiative and referendum
- to democratize the Thought Police
- to end victimless crimes like the War on Drugs
- to overcome the uneven and backward geographic representation of the Senate
- to replace first-past-the-post elections with runoff voting and proportional representation
- to support Murray Bookchin’s idea of a third house in Congress based on the Internet
- to replace the autocratic Presidency with an accountable Prime Minister in a transition from a Congressional to a Parliamentary system
Most of all – we just need to throw out this current group of bums in Congress through a coup d’etat where we just replace this entire group of legislators with a brand new group by starting a new legislature, even if it runs by exactly the same rules.
Down with Congress. Love live Parliament. Incrementally abolish authority.