Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Notes on the state, anarchism, and marxism

Anarchism vs. Marxism
Marx and Engels on Anarchism
Anarchism: A Marxist Criticism | Molyneux
Anarchism | Paul D'Amato
Marxism & Anarchism | Blackledge
Another side of anarchism | Birchall
The relevance of anarchism | Arblaster
Contemporary Anarchism | Kerl
The Makhno Myth | Yanowitz
EMMA GOLDMAN: A life of controversy | Selfa
In defense of Leon Trotsky | Gasper
Trotsky | Hallas
Anarchists in the Spanish Civil War | Bailey
Proudhon: Father of anarchism | Hal Draper
Anarchist Libertarianism? | IS Canada
Bakunin's antisemitism and his 'invisible dictatorship'
Bakunin vs. Marx | Diemer
Marx vs. Bakunin | Woods
The Philosophical Roots of the Marx-Bakunin Conflict | Robertson

Trotsky & Lenin on Anarchism
My First Exile, My Life
Why Marxists oppose Individual Terrorism, 1909
The July Days, History of the Russian Revolution
The Makhno Movement, 1919
Makhno’s Coming Over to the Side of the Soviets, 1920
How Is Makhno’s Troop Organised?, 1920
Contradictions Between the Economic Successes of the Ussr and the Bureaucratization of the Regime, 1932
Anarchism and Socialism, 1901
Guerilla Warfare, 1906
Socialism and War, 1914
State & Revolution. Controversy with the Anarchists, 1917


* Alienation, dislocation, precariousness, uncertainty; politics of middle-class alienation; the uncertainty principle; politics of powerlessness; exaggerated/obverse pacifism (fear of violence vs. fear of organized violence, i.e., the state); social groups/class bereft of power/agency

* Anarchists view the state in the same way that pacifists view violence -- as something which inherently corrupts all who use it, and is incapable of being used in any sort of emancipatory way.

* Anarchist/pacifist taboos on the self-created sacrosanct fetishes of power/violence are like the superstitious (and ultimately harmful) fears of the ancient Hebrews regarding blood and female menstruation -- it is a natural phenomenon which is not understood and thus feared; a thing to be shunned and hidden along with the unfortunate woman who has thereby been 'sullied' by its presence.

* Mystical fear of a social phenomenon that is not understood -- it is a cursed object (like prehistoric human burned by fire, sees the devil in it, doesn't understand its origins, purpose, transmutations, how to control, etc)

* Thus far, the state has exclusively been used by ruling classes comprised of a minority of society -- anarchists draw the conclusion that states necessarily produce a minority-bureaucracy ruling over majority

* They assume the state first arose by someone/group creating a state out of thin air, subjecting rest of society to state authority, and only then accruing economic powers/privileges by force of arms

* They believe the state was used by its original wielders to create previously-nonexistent capitalist relations of inequality and exploitation; rather than seeing the state as a creation of the rulers of an already-obtaining economic system of capitalist relations, which itself evolved into being out of the contradictions inherent in the feudal system of economy.

* In other words, the fallacious notion that the state produces inequality, rather than itself being a product of inequality -- i.e., the state is an institution brought into being for the purposes of consolidating, defending, and extending, the already-won socio-economic supremacy of a ruling clique in society.

* First state emerges only after a class of people economically freed from productive labor & supported by the development of a social surplus emerges to carry on social functions (irrigation, trade, religion, etc) -- took centuries for this class to gel into a self-conscious clique and impose its laws & authority upon society 'from above' (i.e., constitute a state).

* State is not universally repressive -- to wit, it is not repressive, viz., the class that wields it -- in fact, it is quite responsive to that class's needs and interests (i.e., the monarchy, viz, the landed nobility; the bourg republic, viz, the capitalists) -- to them, the state is merely an organ to express and enforce their will on the rest of society, which it does quite well. To all other classes in society, the state confronts them only as a repressive, non-representative, corrupted tool, which anarchists identify as universal features of all states, regardless of place, time, content

* Definition of state = complex social organization comprised of a group of people who combine efforts & voluntarily submit to the collective discipline of the greater body in the interest of maximizing their total ability to pursue their interests and exert their authority, viz., other groups of people and/or the whole of the rest of society.

* This organization exerts authority primarily via the use of 'organized' violence (armed bodies of men), answerable to & controlled by the ruling class by means of its state officials (be they elected or not), and usually (but not necessarily) mediated through the promulgation of sets of laws.

* State = not only repressive functions; coordinates the execution of the common affairs as dictated by the general coincidence of interests of the class it represents (regulating trade, foreign relations with other states, tax collection, socially-necessary infrastructure like roads/sanitation/etc)

* State is akin to a developed form of a military, militia, or even an armed strike -- to function, even under the most democratic militia or strike committee, requires the voluntary submitting by its members to the discipline & authority of the larger body and/or its elected (or appointed) executives, commanders, or strike committee.

* For instance, in a strike or battle, the rank-and-file can elect a leadership/coordinating body/strike committee, but then that committee or individuals (i.e., picket captains) have authority to make assessments in the heat of the battle & quickly redistribute resources, personnel, etc., and the rank-and-file must follow those orders lest discipline & the whole unit/picket, etc., breaks down

* Obviously, whenever possible, the most democratic decision-making & discussion should determine the course and direction of military/strike/political strategies & campaigns, via mass assemblies, voting, etc.

* However, it is also necessary, if the workers are to wage an effective strike/military campaign against a unified enemy, that they elect and confer authority upon trusted members from their own ranks who can be charged with overseeing the various battles/pickets as they're raging, coordinate communication between the various workers' detachments, and have the authority to make certain judgments/decisions on behalf of the greater body as needed, which decisions are then (temporarily at least) binding on all of the individual members of that greater body (all of which, again, is conditioned by the ability of the greater body to regularly elect, recall, & vote on all major policy/strategy decisions executed by the duly-elected authorities deemed best able to carry out the administrative aspect of those decisions).

* Moreover, the state proper (the elected officials charged with carrying out the above-mentioned administrative tasks) must necessarily look very different and be much less 'top-heavy' in a workers' state vs. a bourg state. The bourg comprise a tiny minority ruling over a vast majority, and so must have a very heavy state apparatus in order to, on the one hand, effectively repress, confuse & defuse the workers (via arms, politicians, and ideologists); and on the other hand, to navigate and mediate the necessarily convoluted relations between the capitalists themselves that arise owing to the eternal antagonism that exists between them as a class of competing profit-seekers.

* In contrast, the workers' state actually need not be that complex and cumbersome at all, first of all, because there is very little need for inter-class mediation (a la the capitalist litany of trade & commercial laws, etc), because the workers do not stand in relation to each other as antagonistic holders of private capital, but rather as individual units of a collectively-owned & operated system of production; and second, because the only way the workers can defeat the capitalists is by the united, mass action of the whole class, and therefore, any state that the workers would be able to use in the suppression of the bourg must be based upon the widest possible self-activity, participation, and therefore, self-coordination (or self-administration), of all the workers.

* In this sense, Marx/Engels' words, "The proletarian movement is the self-conscious, independent movement of the immense majority, in the interest of the immense majority" and "the emancipation of the workers must be the act of the working class itself" (Manifesto;Preface), is relatable to the state if one understands the state in this sense as nothing more than the working class organized as a united and disciplined unit (i.e., operating according to a commonly-agreed upon set of rules/regulations, etc), under the self-conscious control of the working class itself.

* In the same way that a single human being can exert self-discipline over their actions, which are executed by means of an internal division of labor (heart, hands, etc), and still maintain control over their own actions (actually, would likely achieve MORE control over their actions), so too can a body of workers submit to their own discipline & delegation of responsibilities while maintaining control over their actions (again, actually, would only gain MORE control over their collective actions).

* A state, like a strike committee, imposes its authority not only on the bosses, by attempting to repress, defeat, or even expropriate them; but also on other sections of the population (be they workers or lumpenproletarians) who act as scabs & try to break the strike.

* A state, which is created, populated, and controlled by the organized and mobilized working class can stand in relation to the working class the same as did the states of old towards their progenitors (i.e., responsively serving the interests of the class which wields it, while effectively lending itself to the task of disarming/repressing the opposition mounted by those class(es) opposed to the former).

* All states thus far created were done so in the context of the realignment, but not abolition, of classes in society, i.e., each new state was created by a class whose existence was based upon the exploitation of another class even before the new state power had been created (i.e., bourg, landed nobility, feudal despots, etc). In other words, the character of the state power was determined by the character of the previously-existing economic class who created it; not the other way around, i.e., the state itself did not create the inequality in power & socio-economic relations obtaining in a given society -- it merely consolidates or even accentuates these already-existing inequalities.

* If a class emerges whose existence before taking power is not based upon the exploitation of others; whose numbers make up the vast majority of society; whose conditions of life are already relatively advanced in the direction of socialized labor & consumption; this class (the proletariat) would inevitably create a state unmistakeably marked by the unique contours of its class-character.

* The violence of a workers' revolution is similar, in one sense, to the violence of a bourgeois war or strike-breaking operation; yet it is also quite different insofar as the violence of workers' revolution need not be nearly as bloody, indiscriminate, and protracted as a bourgeois war, precisely because the former is characterized by an overwhelming and ubiquitous mass movement of the immense majority against a quite tiny minority.

* Just as for the case with workers' violence, so as for the case of the workers' state which will organize the proper, necessary, and most effective carrying out of this violence. As Lenin put it,

"The Commune, therefore, appears to have replaced the smashed state machine "only" by fuller democracy: abolition of the standing army; all officials to be elected and subject to recall. But as a matter of fact, this "only" signifies a gigantic replacement of certain institutions by other institutions of a fundamentally different type. This is exactly a case of "quantity being transformed into quality"... The organ of suppression, however, is here the majority of the population, and not a minority, as was always the case under slavery, serfdom and wage slavery. And since the majority of people itself suppresses its oppressors, a "special force" of suppression is no longer necessary! In this sense, the state begins to wither away." (State & Revolution)

* Because the proletariat does not depend for its existence upon any other class (which other class presently stands in an exclusively parasitic relation to the proletariat), once it is able by means of state authority to abolish the former prevailing system of capitalist production, and thereby abolish the existence of the capitalist class, it begins to immediately abolish its own existence as a class and therefore classes altogether -- society becomes a singular community of humans who can no longer be differentiated from each other according to their relations to society's means of production and subsistence.

* With the abolition of classes, the state too becomes unnecessary, i.e., there's no longer a need for a special and centralized social organization tasked with creating laws (i.e., proletarian-laws, such as 'one cannot exploit labor,' etc) backed up by force of arms.

* Laws are only necessary as a means of controlling or preventing people from doing something that they otherwise would do if not threatened with punitive consequences. However, in a society bereft of class antagonisms, where the organized working class need not worry about controlling or preventing its former exploiters from undermining their rule; where each member of society is able to realize their full potential; and where harmonious social intercourse becomes a matter of instinct for a people whose whole existence has been based upon socialized labor and remuneration, there need not be any reason to maintain any but the most innocuous mechanisms for social 'control' (if needed at all).

* If people do not commit 'crimes,' than there are no need for police, judges, jailers, or even professional politicians who constantly enact and amend new laws defining an ever-expanding litany of criminal activity. Further, with the internationalization of socialist revolution, it goes without saying that an army or workers' militia, replete with the necessary (albeit democratic) military hierarchy, can be permanently disbanded.

* Without the existence of external war (between nations/capitalists) or internal war (between classes fighting over control & distribution of the national product), it is evident that the state immediately loses 99% of its purpose.

* For the rest, a society based upon social harmony need not have a very complex apparatus at all insofar as simple, collective-administrative tasks are concerned (i.e., transport & communication between peoples, etc) -- and in this sense, Engels's words become a reality when he states:

"The first act by which the state really comes forward as the representative of the whole of society — the taking possession of the means of production in the name of society — is also its last independent act as a state. State interference in social relations becomes, in one domain after another, superfluous, and then dies down of itself. The government of persons is replaced by the administration of things, and by the conduct of processes of production. The state is not 'abolished'. It withers away" (Anti-Duhring, my emphasis)

* Or as Marx put it:

"When, in the course of development, class distinctions have disappeared, and all production has been concentrated in the hands of a vast association of the whole nation, the public power will lose its political character. Political power, properly so called, is merely the organised power of one class for oppressing another. If the proletariat during its contest with the bourgeoisie is compelled, by the force of circumstances, to organise itself as a class, if, by means of a revolution, it makes itself the ruling class, and, as such, sweeps away by force the old conditions of production, then it will, along with these conditions, have swept away the conditions for the existence of class antagonisms and of classes generally, and will thereby have abolished its own supremacy as a class.

In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and class antagonisms, we shall have an association, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all" (Communist Manifesto).

* Finally, a word on the origins of the liberal/anarchist fear of the state, i.e., complex social organization: seems to flow from the material position in society occupied by the various 'middle-classes' (i.e., peasantry, petit-bourg, or skilled artisan/professional).

* This 'middle-class' of people is not able themselves to create a state around their rule, viz., the rest of society, owing to their relatively small numbers amongst the broader population, their general social atomization due to the individualistic nature of their position in society, and their relative lack of economic power.

* Therefore, these middle elements are caught between the two classes in society which do have the potential to impose their authority on the rest of society, i.e., the bourg & prole.

* In relation to the middle class, the state of the bourg AS WELL AS the state of a victorious working class seems to them an alien force over which they do not exercise control -- it is at best a benign force that incidentally works to further their interests and lot in life; at worst, it is a despotic encroachment on their individual liberty to act freely as an unmolested substratum ever floating precariously between the big bourgeoisie and the modern, socialized proletariat.

* This contradiction becomes theoretically generalized in the form of a dogma which contends that all states are inherently alien/repressive institutions, because for their class, all states are inherently alien (if not repressive), due to the fact that the state will always be truly controlled by some other class than themselves.

* This is the material basis for the ideology of anarchism, pacifism, and other sorts of liberal-reformism.

* (Side note: purest anarchism is tantamount to the sort of petty-bourgeois 'laissez-faire' libertarianism that emerged with the first dawning of capitalism -- no state intervention in the eocnomy -- let the small/petty producers compete 'fairly' on a basis of undisturbed enterprise -- anarchism as left-wing libertarianism -- the politics of the petty-capitalist in the early days of capitalism -- an antiquated ideology, and therefore 'reactionary' to the extent that it chases after a bygone era, before the proletariat existed in mass form, and therefore has nothing to offer in the way of proletarian liberation)

* This is not to say that all those who hold anarchist (or pacifist, reformist, etc) ideas are middle-class. All sorts of ideas can capture the imagination of workers at different times & seem to provide the ideological tools with which they can fight their bosses, oppressors, move into mass struggle, etc.

* Insofar as anarchist, pacifist, etc., ideas amongst workers lead in the direction of struggle & growing self-confidence/consciousness, this is obviously progressive, however inadequate from the ultimate standpoint of the necessary steps required of the proletariat if it is to succeed in overthrowing the capitalist class & recreating society anew in its own image.

* Karl Marx, Eighteenth Brumaire:
The small-holding peasants form an enormous mass whose members live in similar conditions but without entering into manifold relations with each other. Their mode of production isolates them from one another instead of bringing them into mutual intercourse. The isolation is furthered by France’s poor means of communication and the poverty of the peasants. Their field of production, the small holding, permits no division of labor in its cultivation, no application of science, and therefore no multifariousness of development, no diversity of talent, no wealth of social relationships. Each individual peasant family is almost self-sufficient, directly produces most of its consumer needs, and thus acquires its means of life more through an exchange with nature than in intercourse with society. A small holding, the peasant and his family; beside it another small holding, another peasant and another family. A few score of these constitute a village, and a few score villages constitute a department. Thus the great mass of the French nation is formed by the simple addition of homologous magnitudes, much as potatoes in a sack form a sack of potatoes. Insofar as millions of families live under conditions of existence that separate their mode of life, their interests, and their culture from those of the other classes, and put them in hostile opposition to the latter, they form a class. Insofar as there is merely a local interconnection among these small-holding peasants, and the identity of their interests forms no community, no national bond, and no political organization among them, they do not constitute a class. They are therefore incapable of asserting their class interest in their own name, whether through a parliament or a convention. They cannot represent themselves, they must be represented. Their representative must at the same time appear as their master, as an authority over them, an unlimited governmental power which protects them from the other classes and sends them rain and sunshine from above. The political influence of the small-holding peasants, therefore, finds its final expression in the executive power which subordinates society to itself.

But let us not misunderstand. The Bonaparte dynasty represents not the revolutionary, but the conservative peasant; not the peasant who strikes out beyond the condition of his social existence, the small holding, but rather one who wants to consolidate his holding; not the countryfolk who in alliance with the towns want to overthrow the old order through their own energies, but on the contrary those who, in solid seclusion within this old order, want to see themselves and their small holdings saved and favored by the ghost of the Empire. It represents not the enlightenment but the superstition of the peasant; not his judgment but his prejudice; not his future but his past.
* Anarchism = rebellion w/o direction -- invite destruction of current, w/ no plan for how to organize something to replace it -- aimless protestation -- quasi-nihilist objection to the status quo, with a lack of confidence/clarity on what (if any) social instrument could actually realize otherwise utopian visions of 'harmonious anarchy' of humans (a la Garden of Eden, pre-Fall, visions)

* If capitalism, class, etc., are not products of material historical forces, than it's either just bad people (i.e., human nature, i.e., resignation to the prospect of constant rebellion without eventual transformation), or its a mystery, in which case it's constant rebellion with blind hopes for outside intervention (leader-hero).

* Anarchism = rebellion + bewilderment; confusion raised to the level of a theory of resistance; rage + nihilism; fury - direction; agitation + desperate uncertainty; anger + chaos; problem - solution; upheaval - replacement (of old for new); rage at conditions prevailing, yet ignorance of how to mold actually-existing conditions into something better (rather than just despairing at existence of those conditions; wanting to destroy them, but not knowing from whence to gather the material to create the utopia existing in the mind)

* Anarchism = tragedy; great aims w/o the means to achieve them (not because they don't exist, but because of failure to see the future as something to be potentially coaxed out of the present as an unraveling evolutionary process -- the completely free state of vapor can be achieved out of the stultifying state of ice only via the re-composition of molecules concomitant with the transformation into water -- if one deplores ice with no sense of how to actually get to vapor, one lashes out at everything incoherently in hopes of smashing the ice into a million pieces & praying that the million molecules magically reform into a gas. That the pooling together of blocks of melting ice into a uniform body of heated water is a necessary stage in the release of a million individual molecules of gas to float free-form & unfettered as countless spirals of whim & wonder.

* (Side note: amongst those anarchists -- syndicalists, lib-coms, etc. -- who may see a role for the state, they then reject the necessity or desirability for a revolutionary party, a la, the Bolsheviks viz., the workers' councils in the Russian revolution. They read the degeneration of the Russian revolution and the overturn of workers' power with the rise of Stalin backwards to before 1917, as something laying inevitably dormant with the nature of the 'vanguard' party itself. That the increasing bureaucratization of the Soviets & the Party throughout the '20s could be owing to the broader historical/material conditions of backwards underdeveloped post-war Russia, and not to an inherent defect in any organization of the most conscious revolutionaries of the working class, escapes these anarchists.

As one anarchist puts it, "It’s not plausible to propose to simply go back to Lenin and the Bolsheviks of 1917 as if their politics had nothing to do with the emergence of dismal bureaucratic class-dominated regimes" (Ideas & Action). [For a good rebuttal to this article on the merits of 'Leninism,' see "In Defense of Leninism," by Sharon Smith].

(Also, those who attempt to locate the degeneration of the Russian Revolution in the Bolshevik Party itself via a liberal-legalistic critique, a la Sam Farber and others, I think really miss the forest for the trees. They point to individual decisions made by this or that Bolshevik or Soviet leader in the course of the revolution that seem to counteract democracy, workers' control, etc., and in so doing want to prove that these are the decisions that reveal the hidden, true, despotic nature of the Bolsheviks. However, this requires two things -- one, it requires ignoring the immense mass of decisions made by Bolsheviks that are the exact antithesis of despotism; and two, it requires ignoring the general sweep of historical circumstances, actors, and effects germane to the revolution, and instead focusing on minutiae; obsessing over the hunt for needles rather than considering the haystack. As if material factors like hunger, depopulation, etc., can be prevented from affecting human beings through the employment of juridical inoculations; that a vibrant workers' democracy could have existed within the context of proletarian decay & crisis if only the Bolsheviks had made or not made this or that decree; recognized or abolished this or that political organ; criminalized or legalized this or that faction. You cannot judge a political phenomenon by examining individually each of its actions, for many many mistakes are inevitable with any mass movement, let alone one attempting to create a new society. It would be like a scientist studying a sick, elderly human body, and then saying, "a ha! this is the REAL body -- the health human body form was merely a ruse & all the important things that one needs to know about the body can be drawn exclusively from studying this particular episode in the life of the body.")

Again, to allude to the anarchist attempts to attribute all evils in the world to social organizations (or 'systems of hierarchy') completely divorced from the content and function of those organizations under particular historical circumstances, it is like the pacifist who sees a group of slaves use violence against each other in a fight over a scrap of meat thrown to them by the master, and thus concludes that slaves are not capable of using violence for their liberation because history shows it is a tool that can only turn them in against each other. The alternative, of course, would be to understand that there is nothing inherent in violence (or slaves) itself that renders it unfit for progressive use, but merely that depending on the circumstances, consciousness of the humans involved, aims & means, etc., violence can either be used by slaves against each other in a way that reinforces the subjugation of all participants; or it can be used jointly by slaves against their masters in order to bring about their mutual liberation.

It is the same with social organizations, whether those be a 'state' or a revolutionary party -- the fact that the Bolshevik Party itself evinced in the extreme both the potential for its role as an unsurpassed instrument in the winning of workers' emancipation, as well as a later unsurpassed tool for the subjection of those workers to the dictates of Stalin's new ruling class, merely proves that social organizations are powerful instruments in the hands of its wielder -- much like violence, fire, and ideas. However, this in and of itself does not tell us about the inherent tendency towards barbarism vs. progress of these phenomena -- it only tells us they are powerful tools. Whether fire or ideas or a state or a party end up having a powerful despotic effect or a powerful emancipatory effect all depends on the context and content of its use.

Those anarchists who would dissuade in advance the proletariat from attempting to create a workers' state to defend their interests, viz., the capitalists; and those who would dissuade the most advanced revolutionary elements within the working class from organizing to agitate amongst the rest of the class, by hurling in their faces the fear of being destroyed by their own creations, are those who in actual practice only serve to disarm the workers in advance -- tell the workers not to play with fire; not to use weapons; not to think about ideas, because these are all things that have been used at one time or another in the service of anti-proletarian ends.

These are people who let their own ignorance and lack of understanding about various social phenomena, which they have as yet not controlled and indeed have mostly been used against them by past minority ruling classes, hinder the ability for workers to use them in their own emancipation. Like the 15th-century human, who only sees terror in the lightning bolt, lets their ignorance & superstition hold back the potential progress of humanity in the form of the mastery of electricity; so too does the modern mystic in the form of the anarchist let their superstition & ignorance assign to the proletariat the role of eternal subject of the capitalist class for fear of 'using the master's tools to take down the master's house'.)

* Whereas socialists seek liberation through humanity by transforming present-day social relations, i.e., creating stronger bonds of intercourse between humans on the basis of collective and shared economic equality and social freedom -- anarchists seek liberation from humanity by destroying/dissolving social relations between humans, reducing bonds of intercourse between humans to the most diffuse/non-existent extent possible (such 'bonds' are seen by anarchists as only 'onerous,' 'meddlesome,' and at worst, 'oppressive' -- they do not see that human bonds/complex social intercourse, by being strengthened, on the basis of an inverse relationship between humans as that which exists under capitalism, is the only way to ensure the complete liberation of all humans . . . then again, it's not clear that anarchists seek the liberation of all humans . . . merely just themselves and those who 'get it' . . . in this way, anarchists either (1) seek to merely limit as much as possible the effects of this intercourse (admittedly awful capitalist intercourse) on their own lives (i.e., reformist-liberal anarchism), or (2) seek to just create enough constant 'turbulence' within the system of capitalist relations as to diminish the reach and strength of these relations, and thereby lessen their power over their own lives (insurrectionist-terrorist), or (3) escape the bonds of these presently-existing social relations (escapist, primitivist).

* Anarchists, like their libertarian 'free-market' counterparts, want the individual freedom to break free of all ties binding them to other humans and/or a social collective -- only see loss of individual freedom by releasing self into a greater whole -- basic mistrust of humans/humanity -- nothing good can come from human intercourse/organization (a 'state'), is inherently repressive to 'the individual' (i.e., not the class, per se, first and foremost).

* Don't see that the individual parts, when combined properly to make up a whole, can contribute to something that will bring out the collective greatness that is only latent in those parts as separate atoms, but becomes realized through its combination and 'melting' in together -- combination of atoms into chemicals, compounds, molecules, and subsequently even greater creations.

* Anarchists feel nothing but disdain/pessimism towards human potential/creations -- don't want to 'melt' in with other humans -- want to 'break free' form humanity.

* Anarchists 'feel' the power of these social relations around them all the time through the medium of other humans around them who themselves have a very particular role & function with the capitalist system.  Anarchists feel this many-sided power coming at them from all angles, and draw the conclusion that the problem is precisely the existence of this relationship-power that exists between humans -- not that it is possible to transform this power of and between humans into one that reinforces and takes care of all humans' mutual care, but as an irremediably evil force.

* However, humans are by nature social creatures, who create culture, who survive through the creation and recreation of social relations amongst each other (i.e., the power of relations amongst humans, whether it is the 'primitive' power within a pre-class native american tribe, using the force of social pressure to prevent acts or behaviors that counter the general interest of the collective tribe or one of its individual members -- or the power of a capitalist who uses his advantaged position in a particular set of relations of production to exploit another human; the power of a multi-racial workplace to exert social pressures on those amongst them who would espouse racist viewpoints, so as to repress their backwards ideologies/actions -- or the power of a group of frat boys who use their advantaged position in the prevailing sex/gender relations to coerce women into 'voluntarily' reducing the whole of their existences to that of submissively pleasing the former).

* Yet, since humans, by nature, are creatures who only survive through the creation of such social relations of intercourse (and the power exercised multi-directionaly between humans as result), and since anarchists reject all 'relations of power,' even those that operate 'horizontally,' or 'democratically,' anarchism is really a nihilistic rejection of that which makes us human -- to hate the power of social relations between humans, is to hate a part of what makes us human; to hate a part of oneself and one's fellow human.

* This is not only why anarchists therefore seek liberation from humanity, but also why anarchism is ultimately incapable of bringing about liberation for humanity -- while socialist seek to liberate humans, not from themselves, not from all social relations, but merely from the presently-existing class relations, i.e., oppressive relations, through creating new, and more socialized, relations of intercourse and economy, not pulled out of thin air, but reconstructed from the socialized, democratic, and collectivist relations that exist in embryo within the working class -- anarchists, on the other hand, at best, seek to liberate humanity from itself, i.e., self-rejection on a mass scale, which is, of course, an impossibility.

* That is why anarchism can never be anything more than a politic of eternal rebellion against, or eternal reform within, unequal social relations -- because it offers no social relations to replace the old ones with, it can not supplant them with any higher form of existence; that is, a set of social relations, no matter how oppressive, cannot just collapse to be replaced by nothing -- for if they are not replaced by an actual system of relations of some sort, than the old relations will inevitably re-emerge (if they can actually be submerged at all via such an approach).  Since anarchists have nothing to replace capitalist relations with, they can do no more than constantly rebel against those relations, without ever being able to replace them.

 * Drawn out to its 'purest' form, anarchism is a (non-)system of utter anarchy, chaos, etc. -- every one for them self, individualism in extremis, 'social-Darwinism' in extreme=survival of the fittest/strongest; absolute freedom for all individuals w/o the mediation of restraints, viz., the needs of the community as a whole (i.e., the infirm, elderly, disabled, etc), is tyranny of the individual as against the whole, which he stands in an antagonistic relation towards, i.e., competition amongst 'free' individuals . . . free in the sense of having no limit to the authority of their own individual proclivities; not free in the sense of each individual being imprisoned by their own individual abilities (or lack thereof).

* A society rendered truly free for all individuals, would have to first, ensure that all individuals are able to pursue their own happiness/aims, even if that meant the restriction of the freedoms of another individual (i.e., the freedom to use one's chance physical/intellectual superiority to cheat, exploit, gain advantage, over another).

* That is, until society has reached a stage where classes and oppression are a thing of distant memory, and all of the species has grown up in conditions of total social harmony and co-existence, there will exist the need for power to be executed by the society at large over its individual members in order to ensure the freedom of all (i.e., using coercion, etc., to push men in the direction of helping women out with childcare, [sexism], etc., to demolish the chauvinist-nationalism inculcated into people via millenia of the sacrosanct existence of borders and national antagonisms, [racism], etc.)

* Especially as concerns the ending of women's oppression -- it is precisely the opposite direction of anarchism that is required here -- the liberation of women precisely requires a more socially-intertwined, mutually dependent, and planned system of coordinated benefit -- i.e., so that childbirth/rearing are not 'spontaneously', 'anarchically,' left solely in the hands of women, but rather that there's a system in place to ensure that this task, which nature and man has hitherto set solely at the lap of the female, will be taken on by the whole of society, so that, aside from the actual act of giving birth, there need not be any difference between the sexes as to the limitations of one's freedom imposed by the necessity of caring after the next generation of the species. 

* A society of all against all, i.e., utter anarchy, chaos, 'free' individuals restrained by no social bounds, would merely bring us back to the days of the dawn of capitalism and the abolition of serfdom amongst the peasantry, i.e., the creation of a mass population of totally 'independent' individuals, 'free' to carve out an existence for themselves amidst the incoherent swirl of other such 'free' individuals (whence libertarianism as the self-evident politic of the small proprietor longing nostalgically for this bygone era of human development).

* Anarchists are people who have not only become alienated from capitalism, but also from humanity (i.e., the actual, currently-existing humans who populate the present capitalist system).  They do not seek the liberation of humanity, merely the liberation of themselves from humanity (i.e., from the socio-economic relations & ties that have ever bound humans to each other).  Since humans are evolved to exist only via the creation of mutually-dependent social relations, which necessarily engender the (at least minimal) relinquishing of individual-autonomous existences for collective existences mediated through the mechanism (in even its most limited form) of socially-recognized and enforced customs and mores of group behavior, the anarchist taboo on all relations of power between individuals is really just a rejection of that which makes us human.  It evinces nothing more than a wish to be some other, less social, species -- perhaps like the individualistic cheetah or tortoise.

* Every step forward that humans have taken towards greater social cohesion and unity -- as against the other fauna of the world -- has tended towards the increase of the quality of life and security of the individual members of the species in the degree to which it has separated them from the dog-eat-dog, anarchical laws of nature otherwise governing the predatory world of the animal kingdom.  Indeed, humanity's long march away from the naturally-existing anarchy of the world of primitive beasts has made for richer, more stable, and fuller existences

* While it is obvious that this 'long march' has ever been contradictory in nature (i.e., since humans emerged from the primordial miasma, every increase in its stability and security -- food, shelter, medicine, etc. -- has been echoed by an increase in poverty, war, pollution, etc., owing to the dialectical nature of class society as the mechanism for technological advance), nonetheless, it is self-evident that such progress requires that humans attain more, not less power over their surroundings, themselves, and each other.

* This is true also of the various classes that compose human society at any given time.  If workers are to improve their lives as against their bosses, they must increase their power over their bosses and over each other.  This is self-evident to anyone in the least familiar with the historic struggle of the working class to secure the right to form trade unions.  Collective bargaining explicitly prohibits individual workers from negotiating individual contracts with the employer; in its most effective form, the struggle for collective bargaining has introduced the closed-shop, which forces every individual in a particular workplace to be a part of the union; moreover, in the occurrence of strikes and other job actions, the union's struggle, in the last instance, is only effective insofar as it is able to physically prevent scabs and other "boss's pets" from continuing to work -- that is, to employ physical force to completely eliminate the individual liberties of such reactionary co-workers in regard to the breaking of the strike.  In this way, a group of workers are most effective when they strictly control and restrict the 'freedom' of each other to act in a way that either (a) is decidedly pro-boss, (b) seeks individual advancement at the expense of other workers, (c) threatens the well-being of the united organization of that group of workers.  The exercise of power by the collective over the individual is the only way to ensure the foregoing.

* Capitalism constantly seeks to upset the united struggle of the working class -- it would rather deal with workers individually, as autonomous atoms.  The degree to which the workers are able to shake off their individual subservience to the capitalist in exchange for the collective power of united struggle (which means exchanging the power held over them as individuals by the capitalists, for the power held over them as individuals by their fellow workers), is the degree to which they are able to effectively fight for the abolition of exploitation, oppression, and classes altogether.

* Powerlessness corrupts; absolute powerlessness corrupts absolutely.

* Insofar as anarchists oppose the present power of the bourgeois exploiters and oppressors over the rest of society, they are revolutionary in content.  However, insofar as they oppose the ability for those exploited and oppressed masses to create and hold their own power over the rest of society (i.e., the bourgeoisie, their intellectual apologists, and the anti-social dregs of capitalist society -- lumpen & middle-class miserly elements), they betray the utterly liberal, bourgeois-reformist nature of their politics.

* Pacifism and anarchism are the scylla & charybdis, twin chimeras, which reside on the radical-most outskirts of bourgeois society, attempting to keep all would-be socialists safely within the confines of the politics of liberal-reformism.

* Revolution is a great wave sweeping away all old relations of exploitation and oppression -- it is not possible to quietly and peaceably make such a 'clean sweep' of all the accumulated muck caked onto humanity by centuries of class rule without such a tsunami.  Anarchists and liberals who want such a revolutionary upheaval without having to get wet are like those criticized in the famous Frederick Douglass quote:

"Let me give you a word of the philosophy of reform. The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims, have been born of earnest struggle. The conflict has been exciting, agitating, all-absorbing, and for the time being, putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing. If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightening. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters."

"This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress. In the light of these ideas, Negroes will be hunted at the North, and held and flogged at the South so long as they submit to those devilish outrages, and make no resistance, either moral or physical. Men may not get all they pay for in this world; but they must certainly pay for all they get. If we ever get free from the oppressions and wrongs heaped upon us, we must pay for their removal. We must do this by labor, by suffering, by sacrifice, and if needs be, by our lives and the lives of others."

1 comment:

  1. I wish this was written as a flowing essay rather than bullet points so my silly brain could digest it more readily. Very interesting though!