August 31, 2004
The revolution will not be radicalized!
Those protesting under the banner of anarchism show no real resemblance to the historical phenomenon of philosophical anarchism and at best may be compared to the syndicalists (who would transfer authority to labor unions), the offshoots who fueled early communism (who would transfer authority to the intellectual elite), or Mussolini's several Fasci which need little explanation. None removes authority, but simply aims to replace it, thus none is truly anarchistic in the way each pretends to be.
The current refrain is that they oppose the 'police state', but as my friend noted the other day, 'when you remove the police and someone takes your shit, what do you do? Form a posse and become the new police?'
Save me the line about property as theft. I've read Proudhon. My friend's argument holds no matter the crime. Let's say your child is murdered. Still: do you form a posse and become the new police?
Notions of justifiable violence were as alien to the Haymarket martyrs as to Emma Goldman, but the self-described anarchists of today marry Bakuninite thuggery with any ideology which opposes liberalism.
Philosophical anarchism is thoughtful enough to see that authority, i.e. government, is a necessary evil, and that the spirit of anarchism is a sort of Socratic gadfly, the social conscience writ large in the voices of dissidents, but never with violence where oppression does not exist.
I heard one of these mental giants on NPR recently describing their planned tactics as 'civil disobedience,' you know, the same old stuff that 'goes all the way back to Martin Luther King ... and Green Peace.' Doubtless few of their grunts know any better than their leaders that Civil Disobedience goes all the way back to Henry David Thoreau, and that the point has never been to disrupt or simply to be heard, or to be part of something. It has always been about challenging the law on the court level, and in order to do that you must be willing to break the law, and to have your day in court to challenge the law you've broken.
If you oppose the use of tax dollars to fund a war (as Thoreau did), you refuse to pay the tax and then challenge it's legitimacy in the courts. If you oppose segregation, you go where you're not wanted.
To the credit of the old anarchists (even Bakunin), they thought they'd spark a revolution that would make the world a better place, and they lived in a much bleaker time. But we've learned hard lessons since then, viz. that swift revolutions rarely last, and that socialism is a fantasy that never fails to fall, and always leaves blood in its path.
posted by Dennis on 08.31.04 at 11:36 AM
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