Sunday, July 23, 2006

Excerpt from "Fighting For Our Lives: An Anarchist Primer"

The following is an excerpt from "Fighting For Our Lives: An Anarchist Primer" by CrimethInc. For copies of this free publication, contact me via AIM/e-mail, or consult the reference at the bottom of the page.

"Does Anarchy Work?

People with very little actual historical background often say of anarchy that it would never work—without realizing that not only has it worked for much of the history of the human race, but it is in fact working right now. For the time being, let’s set aside the Paris Commune, Republican Spain, Woodstock, opensource computer programming, and all the other famed instances of successful revolutionary anarchism. Anarchy is simply cooperative self-determination—it is a part of everyday life, not something that will only happen “after the revolution.” Anarchy works today for circles of friends everywhere—so how can we make more of our economic relations anarchist? Anarchy is in action when people cooperate on a camping trip or to arrange free meals for hungry people—so how can we apply those lessons to our interactions at school, at work, in our neighborhoods?

To consult chaos theory: anarchy is chaos, and chaos is order. Any naturally ordered system—a rainforest, a friendly neighborhood—is a harmony in which balance perpetuates itself through chaos and chance. Systematic disorder, on the other hand—the discipline of the high school classroom, the sterile rows of genetically modified corn defended from weeds and insects—can only be maintained by ever-escalating exertions of force. Some, hinking disorder is simply the absence of any system, confuse it with anarchy. But disorder is the most ruthless system of all: disorder and conflict, unresolved, quickly systematize themselves, stacking up hierarchies according to their own pitiless demands— selfishness, heartlessness, lust for domination. Disorder in its most developed form is capitalism: the war of each against all, rule or be ruled, sell or be sold, from the soil to the sky.

We live in a particularly violent and hierarchical time. The manicacs who think they benefit from this hierarchy tell us that the violence would be worse without it, not comprehending that hierarchy itself, whether it be inequalities in economic status or political power, is the consequences and expression of violence. Not to say that forcibly removing the authorities would immediately end the waves of violence created by the greater violence their existence implies; but until we are all free to learn how to get along with each other for our own sake, rather than under the guns directed by the ones who benefit from our strife, there can be no peace between us.

This state of affairs is maintained by more than guns, more than the vertigo of hierarchy, of kill-or-be-killed reasoning: it is also maintained by the myth of success. Official history presents our past as the history of Great Men, and all other lives as mere effects of their causes; there are only a few subjects of history they would make us believe—the rest of us are its objects. The implication of any hierarchy is that there is only one “free man” in all society: the king (or president, executive, movie star, etc.). Sinc ethis is the way it has alwats been and always will be, the account goes, we should all fight to become him, or at least accept our station beneath him gracefully, grateful for others beneath us to trample when we need reassurance of our own worth.

But even the president isn't free to go for a walk in the neighborhood of his choosing. Why settles for a fragment of the world, or less? In the absence of force- in the egalitarian beds of true lovers, in the democracy of devoted friendships, in the topless federations enjoying good parties and neighbors chatting at sewing circles- we are all queens and kings. Whether or not anarchy can "work" outside such sanctuaries, it is becoming clearer and clearer that hierarchy doesn't. Visit the model cities of the new world "order"- sit in a traffic jam of privately owned vehicles, among motorists sweating and swearing in isolated unison, an ocean filling with pollution to your right and a ghetto on your left where uniformed and ununiformed gangs clash- and behold the apex of human progress. If this is order, why not try chaos!"

Leave the cave.



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