Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Anarchism vs. Bourgeois Anarchism

Anarchism vs. Bourgeois Anarchism

Bourgeois Anarchism

The anarchist movement in the US has turned from a workers movement into something increasingly alienated from ordinary people who would benefit from a serious anarchist movement capable of making changes to the way the country functions. The capitalist controlled media have been repeating for so long the image of the anarchist with bomb in hand that people believe it, and no one who is seriously concerned about their fellow human beings wants to be associated with that. At the same time, popular entertainment has been glorifying that same figure, the “rebel without a cause,” that there are a significant number of “anarchists”, who are upper class kids that have no idea of the meaning behind the word and just like the image. They dig through trash and smoke, or dig through trash and go straight edge, looking down on working class people who eat meat or shop at Wal-Mart. These people will never grow up to become revolutionary men and women because the type of revolution they follow doesn’t extend beyond the infantile, individualistic, and selfish feeling that their lives lack excitement. The fact that their lives of boredom and leisure are built on the shoulders of hard working people who earn nowhere near what they deserve is of far less importance to them than the fact that they bought a pair of new balance shoes or that they ride bicycles. The goal of anarchism is not to stop rich kids from being bored; the goal is for workers to take power from the bosses who exploit their labor, to achieve more equal distribution of wealth, to end the racism and sexism that keeps the people divided and powerless. Once these bourgeois anarchists realize that anarchism is very different than what they thought, they either return to their places as the privileged few (not that they ever really left) or continue to call themselves anarchists and follow their own delusions about what that mean


Most anarchists however, do not grow out of their ideals, because his ideals have substance, because they are realistic. At the core of anarchism are the ideas that all people should be free and equal, that all people should be rewarded for the work they do, that all people have the right to self determination, and that the success of a community should be measured by the health, freedom, and happiness of the members, and by how they achieve and maintain their community, at the expense of others, or by their own labor. These are principles that are subject to adaptation as we grow and learn, and so we can change constantly over our lives while working towards these things. There are anarchists who are 18 and there are anarchists who are 90, because we have no party line to stick to, and we identify as anarchists throughout radical changes in how we feel these goals can best be worked towards. Malatesta says, “better disunited than badly united”, and in that spirit we work with the people whose values we share. We unite with people who we find agreement with while still retaining our individual differences that lead to discussion and development of our ideas. With that in mind there are some things that all anarchists share in common.

Anarchists feel that government is inherently conservative and hinders the natural inventive tendencies of the human spirit. Rigid structure does nothing for people. Enclosed, we are useless and can do nothing but compete, lost in bureaucracy and hierarchy we can seek only to improve our own material condition; free and equal, we can work for the material and social wellbeing of people everywhere. We promote the idea of federalist organization, where worker’s councils, community councils, and regional councils communicate and organize through their own free will. These councils should have no authority to lead or direct past the extent that people accept and want to follow the suggestions they put forward. We believe in mutual aid, meaning that people help each other when help is needed and trade or give extra goods that can’t be produced in various areas but are needed.

Anarchists are against capitalism, as we feel that the capitalist system rewards people not for their ability to make themselves useful to society, or to create things of utility, but for their ability to manipulate and to exploit the hard work of others. In capitalist economic systems, the people who make the most money are those who own the means of production and the land. They do nothing for society, but buy and sell assets for their ridiculously lavish living, while the people who produce, who are useful, live from paycheck to paycheck, and can’t afford health care, food, adequate education, and little, if any, leisure time. The main question is; what do we value in society? Do we value those who make clothes, grow food, and care for children, who are nurses, mothers, firefighters, coalminers, teachers, writers and scientists? Or do we value CEO’s, accountants, corporate lawyers, cosmetic surgeons and politicians, who do nothing or extremely little to benefit the world. The people who are undervalued in a capitalist society are the very people who do the most for everyone around them, the people who are the most valuable.

Anarchism is a constructive theory for an economic organization of society, and we must stress the constructive elements. When violent acts are committed, we must give explanation and justification, or the act has no meaning; for the same reason, destructive acts must be accompanied by the constructive. What use is it to tear down the old if we have nothing to replace it with? We can have all the justification in the world for doing away with the current system, but without presenting a viable alternative, nothing will come of it. It is a good thing to fight against war, against capitalism, against police brutality, against hierarchy, but it is far better to do those things while fighting for. Fighting for healthcare, education, social services, independent media, and creating our own alternatives to the government programs that do these things poorly and inefficiently, and with the pacification of the people in mind. Bakunin says it best, in referring to the 1848 revolutionary movement. “[The movement] was rich in instincts and negative theoretical ideas that gave it full justification for its fight against privilege, but it lacked any positive and practical ideas which would have been needed to enable it to erect a new system on the ruins of the old bourgeois setup…” Such movements, without enough to offer to the world, must eventually crumble. Without the constructive goals of anarchism in mind, anarchism holds no relevance today. With these goals, anarchism stands as the most relevant, humanitarian, and realistic organization of modern society available.

-Megan of the Peninsula Anarchist Collective


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