Anarchism is a movement that has been tarnished by hundreds of years of propagandist rhetoric and connotative language from the both sides of the political spectrum, an ideology feared and loathed by the governments and institutions of the nation-state. Many people associate anarchism and anarchists to petrol-bomb-throwing loons that believe in a society with no order or control. In fact, the ideas of anarchism are anything but loony. The sole intentions of anarchist philosophy is a bold defense of the raw ideas of enlightenment. It is a belief in a collective socialism and classical liberalism, a true freedom where the individual can live without any authoritarian institution perpetuating the isolating experience of bureaucratic rationalization and the demoralizing affects of division of labour.
Today, we live in a percunocracy; a state entirely controlled and determined by the flows and fluxes of money. Within this percunocracy, the populations are conditioned in responding to certain incentives irrevocably linked to the production of goods and services, and where all the capital is owned by a small group. ‘Incentive’, a term lovingly used by both traditional and contemporary economists, is a vague term that can essentially be used in any context, and is chosen for exactly that reason. According to the dictionary, incentive is defined as “ a thing that motivates or encourages someone to do something”. From this definition, one has to ask oneself what this means to one. We are taught to believe that a person would have absolutely no incentive to function in society’s systems without a wage and authority. For many, it is hard to distinguish incentive from those two. This is the power of capitalist conditioning and is entirely false. One shouldn’t be driven to produce things that have no internal meaning to them and still believe that that is ‘growing’ or ‘advancing’ society. Yes, society may grow under capitalism, but this growth only means anything to the people who care for unit production and export growth, not to the overworked individual in the office of factory who do the same things day in day out for the same wage. Furthermore, this aggregate growth in capitalism is dispersed in incredibly unequal terms, as has been shown with the emergence of the super elite across the world.
People’s internal drives are naturally set to explore and create, homo sapiens are animals of ponder and wander. We did not evolve to be a simplistic cog in a line of repetitive work that turns the brain to unused mush. We shouldn’t be working our whole lives in order to survive, or to experience any form of happiness (holidays), on the basis of obtaining a made up value (money) as if we were oil-dependent machines made for a singular use. Capitalist societies then are dictatorial in this way because it forces individuals to work not of their own choosing. They must do what they’re told to survive and any resistance may lead to disciplinary meeting and even suspension. If that is not wage slavery then I do not know what wage slavery is.
Anarchist philosophy believes human beings should discover and develop their own imagined projects without the constraints of capitalism limiting their choices. If an individual cannot think of a project of some sort then they can help develop others and learn from their ideas (dissemination of knowledge), this in turn advances society on an equilibrium. I won’t pretend to know what these projects would be, and of course certain individuals will be more influential and creative than others, in no system would people be equal in that sense. But this doesn’t take away from the fact that society can advance without the need for wage incentive and authority. The e only way to see this society in reality is to apply these ideas and then experiment with it, as every other form of system has done. The changes should be done gradually because society is complex and issues multifaceted. Nonetheless, this is the sort of society we should be aiming for.
Authority, of any form, should have to justify is position and the power it has over others. The existence of this overly- rationalized bureaucracy means that in order to change things and truly hold authority to account means getting through a never-ending stream of red tape while at the same time somehow managing to get all the different ranks within the hierarchical structure of our institutions to agree unanimously on such changes. in fact, it would be close to impossible due to the isolating effects of bureaucracy on its workers. Why would someone care for another who has no effect on their own personal life or career? Why would the view or condition of an underling matter when a senior is the asses of the organisation and that underling is easily replaceable? If we don’t see the effects our choices have on other people due to the rank and file of bureaucracy, how can we ever care about another person?Ultimately, if society gets to a point whereby the powers of authority exists simply to preserve the old order, and/or benefit a few, then it must be brought to its knees. The questions you have to ask yourself now is: have we not got to this point already? I think it has been so for a long time and, for me, anarchism intends to dismantle the corrupt world order in this contemporary world, and bring forward a more communicative one.
The problems of the past orders
Liberal capitalism, a system that the first world is structured around, is an oxymoron. In fact, the two concepts are antithetical to one another; the former believes one must be in control of what they do, even if that is not cost effective, while the latter upholds a power system comprising of industrial, political, and financial elites that own the superstructure, thus controlling the consciousness of the masses and the choices available to them. It is simply an illusion, a bourgeois fantasy that cunningly maintains old forms of ruling class dominance. Notions of “equality of opportunity”, human rights, and open borders only benefit the first world countries that spend countless millions of dollars promoting it across the world knowing all along that the real reason they wish to promote such ideas is because of the cheap imports and outsourcing opportunities for cheap labour. This is not liberalism, it is exploitation, period.
Equality of opportunity is a classic term spouted out by politicians across the political spectrum. Theoretically, it is something that would give every citizen, no matter who they are or where they come from, an equal chance in life from the get go. in fact, it just gives the individuals who were better off before the introduction of such policies the same situations as before. The privileged will be able to exploit the opportunities in their favor due to the capitalist model of how our institutions work and the liberal ideal of opportunity goes right out the window. Under liberal capitalism any social movement, protest or attempts at social change is thwarted out by political narratives characterizing such things as naive, counterproductive, and irrational (as a panic or a craze). These terms are prominently used by Western media and complacent politicians to condemn any from of movement that aims to create social change.
When traditional, state socialism takes control of the system (both economy and state) one form of authoritarianism simply replaces another and freedom of expression becomes even under more of a threat than the capitalist, fascist, or aristocratic regime it replaced. This is highly evident throughout history, whether you take the Soviet Union under Stalin, Mao’s China, or the massacre of anarchists after the Spanish civil war by Stalinist oppressors, these are just a small handful of examples showing traditional state socialism’s tendencies towards censoring or extinguishing opposing views, with the outcome being the horrors of totalitarianism. Of course, socialist policies such the welfare state and a national health service are revolutionary ideas that are rightly widely supported. But these are easily applicable to a future society that compromises of collective power without a centralized government, a society that priorities freedom of the individual and embraces the diversity of ideas and expressions that truly liberated people would bring to the table.
The hard left have often passionately come to the defense of state socialism. This is a dangerous position to take and it is a position held only if one has not learnt the lessons of history. Of course, their are deep connections between anarchists and socialists (anarchists should be known as libertarian socialists) but the ideas of state socialism goes against everything that a free society would be, thus it goes against the anarchist movement. Mikhail Bakunin wrote that the ideal anarchist is a socialist of a sort, one that not only opposes division of labour and state bureaucracy, but also opposes the appropriation of capital done by an elite force, thus resisting communist dictatorships. State socialism is the greatest lie ever told, one that many thinkers such as Rosa Luxemburg have suffered for pointing out, and will always turn mass movement and social change into a new enslaved class of people controlled by a central elite. Therefore, Leninism, Stalinism, and other alike them must be resisted at all costs.