Sunday, October 19, 2008

Anti-Capitalist, Anti-statist Goals and Strategies

It should be quite obvious, but apparently it’s not, that we can’t devise an anarchist revolutionary strategy until we have a clear idea of what it is we’re trying to achieve.

Regrettably, there has been a vigorous ban on thinking about the future society we want[...]

This lack of attention to the goal is a tragedy, because although it’s true that we live in potentially calamitous times, what with peak oil, climate warming, and the more general crisis of capitalism, we also live in exciting times. A window of opportunity has opened up to create at long last a decentered world, without capitalism, states, or god, a world of democratic autonomous communities.

There are at least two important reasons for this opening. One is the near total collapse of the prevailing social philosophies which have underpinned capitalism to date. Conservatism is dead, as is liberalism... Neoliberalism this second time around through these past forty years has exposed as probably nothing else could have the absolutely destructive, vicious, murderous, immoral, and insane nature of the practices of capitalists.

A second and perhaps more important reason for this historical opening is the possible demise of capitalism itself. At least one eminent anti-capitalist scholar, Immanuel Wallerstein, believes that world capitalism has reached its limits, and faces structural restraints that it will not be able to overcome. He believes we are entering a period of chaos, a time of transition between capitalism and whatever comes next. Whether he is right or not I guess only time will tell.

But at the very least, we know that the century of the USAmerican Empire is coming to an end, and that even if capitalism survives there will be a period of confusion before a new hegemon can establish itself.
Fortunately for us, anarchy, humanity, and the world, many anarchists pretty much ignored the ban on imagining the future.
Actually then, we are not in trouble at all as regards the goal. There is no reason for us to be confused or apologetic about what we want. There is a solid historical consensus on what we want. We want to get the ruling classes off our backs. We don’t want to be exploited or alienated. We don’t want to be slaves. We want to be a self-governing people, free and autonomous.
There is great power in social organization. Revolution means rearranging ourselves socially.... These social forms [e.g.assemblies, cooperatives] will enable us to escape wage-slavery and embed ourselves instead in cooperative labor. They will enable us to get out of commodity markets and build a world based on mutual aid and gift giving. They will enable us to become a self-governing people, free and autonomous in our local communities, and to establish an association of such communities. This is a plausible, realistic strategy.

You see, it is not enough to seize the means of production. We must take all decision making away from the capitalist ruling class and relocate it into our assemblies. To do so we must shift the focus of our attention to these three strategic sites [neighbourhood, workplace, household], and away from protest politics, identity politics, labor unions, and single issue campaigns, which are not getting us very far toward defeating capitalists and establishing anarchy.

What I like about this particular liberatory anti-statist approach is that it works in the interstices, something talked about more and more these days as the vast juggernauts of states and transnational corporations seem impossible to affect. Not to mention they are the only thing we know at the moment - you can't destroy a company someone works for or the state that pays their social security and expect them to be grateful! We need to create positive alternatives, and we need to make sure our movements practice deeply democratic egalitarian principles.

Although I don't agree with abandoning more-or-less failed strategies like electoral politics, identity politics, marches and rallies etc. (I think they do serve an important purpose) I definitely agree it important to connect movements, and work on alternative strategies. Read the rest of this interesting article by James Herod


Mike said...

Testify Jenny...only I hope that you aren't confusing the free market with capitalism, since they aren't the same. I suggest looking into a little Kevin Carson for a "Free Market Anti-capitalist" anarchy approach...

Otherwise, I'm with you.

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