Deconstructing anarchism or What is anarchism and what it is not?

Lately, a non anarchist reporter just wrote:
"In little ways, more and more, we are all anarchists now".
In a way, this observation reflect the big change in the pool of the opinions held by the people of the more industrialized countries. Lot of complain of disrespect to authority even in kindergartens. The prestige of authority is diminishing fast. Activists of one issue causes tend more and more to adopt antiauthoritarian measures of organizing. Even the remnant of the authoritarians of the left pretend to be less authoritarians.

The legitimacy of "free" capitalism of lesse-faire is lower than ever, and the anarchist scene seems bigger and more prominent than seen for many years.

However if you look closer there is not really one anarchist movement. There is a big and loose antiauthoritarian scene of struggling people and initiatives and group that are also in principle anti capitalists in which the majority define themselves as anarchists. However, it is hard to see the anarcho-primitivists, the anarcho-pacifists, the christian-anarchists, the insurrectionists and the social class struggle anarchists as really belonging to one movement.

Even within the spectrum of social class struggle anarchists you can find people so different in their mode of organization, tactics, strategy and even theory that it is hard to see there unity in one yes or even with highly similar yesses.

One of the main differences if the weight of the future in the discourse of each kind.

Not all "anarchists" conceive the post capitalist society as libertarian communist of "from each according to ability - to each according to needs", organized of multi tier direct democracy of recallable delegates and assemblies of grass root communities.

Among these who claim they wish for it on principle, many have reservations and describe various "transit" social orders from end of capitalism to the real thing.

(Anarcho-syndicalists differ among themselves both with regard to the transition and the nature of the organization of the future society.)

Even among these who wish for one leap from capitalist system to the libertarian communist one there are too many differences regarding the tactics, the strategies, and theory.

Some anarcho-syndicalists and other "practical anarchists" hold vanguardist-elitist trends expressed in their idea that anarchist activists should organize the "less enlightened" in syndicates or community project as means of education. Others are too much present centered and tend to sacrifice the struggle against enemies of our revolution for practical gains at the present.

The wish to be good for the masses of the working class as if just giving is nearly all that is needed is flourishing in the FNB (food no bombs) and the ABC (anarchist black cross).

Three main factors/trends are behind the above diversity. The first of all is respect-disrespect to the wage slaves of the developed capitalist system. The less respecting regard the masses as devoid of real revolutionary potentials at the present. Instead of joining them in the daily social struggles and organization initiatives they are involved with, in order to empower them, activists tend to both bribe them by doing for them and patronize them by the efforts to organize them.

The second is the extreme individualism implanted by the capitalist system uprising that results with "no one will tell me what to do" - not even a collective of like minded people struggling for the same aim.

In the extreme cases people refrain from any long time organization with others to collectives. In milder cases people are capable of only affinity groups who decide by consensus only or accept. Others function only in loose organizations and object to specific like minded people who can think and act together in a quality that extend the sum of the individuals in it.

The third is the future oriented or present oriented. Lot of anarchists of the various trends hold that a bird in the hand is much more important than a flock in the sky. The small gains possible to achieve in the various ways are much more important than the question if the way they are achieved is compatible with the striving for the revolution.

The "pragmatism" direct people to divert lot of efforts to projects and initiatives with one anticapitalist/humanist or another that bring fast and substantial gain at the present even if less promoting the future revolution than others.

People who are on the better side of these three aspects recognize the revolutionary potentials of the broad non revolutionary wage slaves masses. They understand that the present social class struggle will gradually dissolve the hold of the capitalist hold on the mentality of the common wageslave. They believe that the joining of organized anarchist activists these struggle will promote the dissolving. They believe that following the erosion accumulated by such struggles and crisis in the ruling ability of the capitalist elite will erupt and like a butterfly out of the cocoon a revolutionary class will emerge during an apprising that will turn into revolution.

Every serious anarchist revolutionary develop hir own ability to think and being active in the social class struggle. However, it does not prevent one from realizing that on the long run, collective wisdom of collective of like minded people is a better lead of struggle - even if sometimes less than the best. We are active in circumstances of lot of uncertainty. It is seldom that our decision do not involve "speculations" an guesses. A chain of less than perfect decisions which is executed by a cohesive collective will achieve on the long run much more than if each will follow his supposed "perfect" decisions.

People who hold such opinion also point that fact that by applying the direct democracy to the organization of anarcho-communist activists will also serve as educational example.

The ability to "swallow" the egoistic pride when decisions of collective contradict with ones opinions is related to the future orienting mode. The emotional investment in the future revolution make it win and heal again and again the "ego" injuries of being in minority.

The same orientation make the small gains in the daily class struggle that improve life as means to the revolutionary ends and not independent of them. Thus compromises we always do must be shaped by their relation to the big revolutional educational project. Not every gain at the present justify every compromise needed for achieving it.

We all have the urge to be affiliated. However, the false reference group of "all anticapitalists" or even antiauthoritarian anticapitalistsis like being lead by a mirage. Even the more modest urge to affiliate with all "social class struggle" activists or the narrower "direct action social class struggle" activists a false one. (Even if they are self defined as antiauthoritarian anticapitalists).

When your self definition is clearer you can cooperate with others when needed but not stinking compromises with more people who are not like minded but share some important opinions or aims.

Sept. 2004