Saturday, May 21, 2005

Supporting Not Exporting Revolution

A very intelligent and radical individual asked me a question today about anarchism and exporting it abroad. This person felt that an anarchist movement is not as relevant in the United States as it is in the Third World. Below are the question and my response. This question must be answered for clarification and to draw the line between statist-socialism and the socialist ideals of anarchism.

Question:

What's your stance on exporting the anarchist movement abroad to, say, a third world country that would benefit from such a revolution?

I myself am not an anarchist in any way but I do believe that establishing an anarchist system in a smaller, poorer country would allow the international movement a home from which the revolutionary ideals could be exported abroad with more ease.

Answer:

Third World countries would benefit from anarchist movements, be it under the name of anarchism or not. Indeed, there are anarchist tendencies found in a lot of Latin American countries. In Mexico, there are strong anarchist roots and have been ever since the Mexican Revolution. Ricardo Flores Magon, a Mexican anarchist who took part in the Mexican Revolution, is responsible for most of the anarchist theory found in Mexico today, and there has been a steady anarchist movement in Mexico since the revolution in the earlier part of the 20th century. People like Emiliano Zapata, who were anarchists, played key parts in the revolution until anarchists and workers were either killed or repressed by the “revolution’s leaders” who became the Pedido Revolutionario Instituionale. In the lower part of Mexico, indigenous farmers, the Zapatistas, have fought the Mexican government for "land, liberty and bread," with broad public support since 1994 until the present day. In Argentina, what's called "horizontalism" (an action theory in hopes of making everyone equal in class, without a pyramid of class structure, on a "horizontal" level), has had wide popular support and has involved workers taking over factories and running them in a non-hierarchical fashion is synonymous with anarchist ideals for workers' self-management. There are other examples: such as the pro-revolution indigenous contras in the Nicaraguan revolution in the 1980's, and the workers’ movements surrounding the Sandinistas; anarchists types, more anti-state Marxists, in Eastern European countries, once with many examples of workers' manangement (especialliy in the former Yugoslavia) are being brought back to Third World conditions in order to make room for corporate globalization ever since the fall of the Iron Curtain; anti-state communists in Iran (they have a history and I have a friend whose parents were anti-state communists who fled Iran when the Ayatollah co-opted the revolution); and other examples.

The point is this: anarchist ideals are out there and the goal is not for an anarchist exporting of revolution, but for anarchist support of revolutions. Exporting revolution, like the Marxists do, tends to lead to another case of rulers and ruled. In the pamphlet I gave you by Malatesta, he states, "we anarchists do not want to emancipate the workers; we want the workers to emancipate themselves," and that this false "good that comes from above and imposed by force" would isolate workers from the revolution and lead to another unjust state of affairs. By support, not export, of revolution, I mean helping the workers organize themselves. In the Spanish Revolution in the 1930's, anarchists, socialists and communists from all over Europe and the US sent supplies and people volunteered to fight the fascists. However, there wasn't an outer source exporting worker's self-management. The workers themselves took over the towns and ran a great number of cities and rural villages in a libertarian communist manner, totally in line with anarchist principles.

<> Also, the revolution does not need to happen just in the Third World, but here. This State is the belly of the beast, the heart of the American Empire and the heart of the counterrevolution. In order to make sure the US does not break up revolutions in the Third World and fuck things up for the populace, as this government continually does (examples unlimited), there must be a fight against this government here. There may not be a serious fight for a while but we must work towards this disruption, not just for the people in the Third World, but for us and people here, too. You have to understand that revolution is necessary here as well and that the population in the belly of the beast is struggling, too. Twenty percent of the population lives in Third World conditions in ghettos, barrios, migrant labor camps, Indian reservations, the Appalachian Mountains, etc. You also have to realize that the majority of the population, though privileged because of the destruction dealt out by the Beast in the Third World, is struggling, work far too hard and for little pay. Two thirds of the population have no savings and live from paycheck to paycheck. Only a few really own land or a house. The prison population, too, is at about 2 million, and almost ninety percent are in prison for nonviolent crimes. These people are in slave conditions because they grew up in poverty and were not given the proper opportunities that the State should but will not give them. People are struggling here, as well, and need anarchist ideals to come into reality. In order for economic inequality to stop, anarchist ideals must be put forth for people to understand them and act on them their selves. We must support poor and working class action without forcing exported ideals on them. If there was a true socialism, a true anarchism, to come about, it would be through the will of the workers and through many different and equally relevant theories and organizations, not through a group exporting and imposing their own values on others.

In solidarity and autonomy,

Rob of the Peninsula Anarchist Collective.

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