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In the present, how do we balance the need for money (for survival) with a refusal to bow to capitalist interests?

+2 votes
Is the answer just "crime", straight-up? (Lemme go into detail before I answer my own damn question.)

Basically, capitalists control that whole "job creation" business. They are in no way compelled to set up shop in a particular city unless they deem it profitable to do so, and generally their deeming it profitable comes alongside such things as lowering minimum wage, labor rights, and other concessions of power to the capitalists.

So, a lot of people are dealing with unemployment and homelessness. It sucks. Here in Chicago, there's some shady-ass political group called the "Pro-Chicago" movement or some shit which is basically ripped straight from a corporate PR campaign. Their agenda deals mostly with getting rid of all kinds of restrictions on corporations and large businesses, in hopes of "economic development" and "job creation", which are both slick ways of saying gentrification and corporate expansion, of course.

But really - where should our strategy lie when it comes to increasingly slim prospects of getting money, and thus, basic tenets of survival? Organize worker co-operatives? Encourage mass theft and looting? Dive in a lot of dumpsters?

Obviously the bullshit capitalist dagger-over-our-heads line of "corporate deregulation creates jobs" is an absurd concept, so I'm really interested in anarchist perspectives. Especially if you have firsthand experience, because I am young and inexperienced and only have my little ideas.

edited to fix tag
asked Jun 21, 2011 by anonymous
edited Jul 13, 2014 by dot
I am really surprised to see this question At All, to be honest.
I am both a Laissez-faire capitalist and an Anarchist.
I think the important distinction lies between Capitalism and Corporatism. I touch on that in this- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7XoIRgKVdAI

Please watch, and don't be so hasty to be rid of your own individual property rights. We know the current way things are running are not the only way they can run.
You cannot be a laissez-faire capitalist and an anarchist. You and I will, one day, be on opposite sides of a barricade.
I can do both, and I do.
twitch I smell "anarcho-capitalism", I have always found that concept truly bewildering.

6 Answers

+1 vote
I can't really speak to this since I have no real experience with employment.

I would like to say this, though. I feel it needs to be said since no anarchists seem to ever say it—even the ones who clearly have it in mind.

I believe anarchists will have the power to overcome problems they experience as people who are burdened by a morally motivated disinterest in the competitive industriousness of the market, and the resulting problems of poverty (etc.), in the event that there is an unprecedented level of cooperation and—well—*mutual aid* among anarchists themselves. This would require a deep and wide-reaching release from the *political* competitiveness that anarchists are more than interested in. (I can distinctly remember someone recounting how anarchist-syndicalists in Canada had threatened to assault John Zerzan if he dared to show up to a conference of some description.)

It seems as if anarchists heavily involved in anarchist activism and organization are so enamored with the aim of exemplifying action and radical cooperation for non-anarchists that it comes at the dramatic expense of any action or cooperativeness within the milieu itself.

In terms of ensuring the well-being of any particular anarchist, I believe it is more important for anarchists to learn to take care of themselves and their closest associates—which, I imagine, often amounts to other anarchists—than dreaming up solutions for problems that are so beyond the scope of anarchists themselves that they can seriously propose plans of action that are truly absurd. (Encourage mass theft and looting? Most anarchists seem to be very tame. How does a tame individual convince another to become a criminal? Hell, how does a criminal convince another to become a criminal for that matter? It's a hell of a thing to ask of another.)

The following may very well still hold true for this anarchist-centric approach: “A proposed solution may never exceed the incomplete formulation of its selected problem.” …But at least with the milieu there is still a chance that you're working with a proportionately appropriate field of problems and relations. (At least if we go by a regional basis.)

Make sense?
answered Jun 21, 2011 by madlib (3,770 points)
We have to learn to take care of ourselves before we can go to others and commit ourselves to saying, "I have something important to show you. It will be of immense value to you and your choice to overcome the problem of your circumstances."

It is a matter of our smallness though, mostly. The milieu can be touched, I think. It could be a place to grasp if you fall. Obviously, nothing like this can be expected in the larger arena of society.
"I can distinctly remember someone recounting how anarchist-syndicalists in Canada had threatened to assault John Zerzan if he dared to show up to a conference of some description."

John Zerzan is presented as a "prominent anarchist" in the Guardian and the New York Times, among others.  Not only are his ideas nothing whatsoever to do with anarchism, they are also incredibly stupid... and this is now how a large part of the world is coming to see us.  We don't want a world in which people are free to work together as they wish, to create the things they need or desire and to build the kind of world we actually want to live in.  We don't want any of that.  What we actually want (according to Zerzan, the "prominent anarchist") is to bring the whole of civilization crashing to its knees, killing at least hundreds of millions in the process, so we can try to live out some hippy's fantasy of what a hunter-gatherer society was like.

You may like to consider the fact that the very same publications that are happy to feature Zerzan, the "prominent anarchist", are less willing to give space to Noam Chomsky, surely the most respected living anarchist.  Have a little think about why that may be.

PS: Greetings and solidarity to the Canadian anarcho-syndicalists.
chomsky is not an anarchist, nor does he claim to be.

jz -- and i am not a fan, fwtw -- is not promoting massive die off. it is one thing to say/acknowledge that something is failing and doing irrevocable damage (and should be stopped before it does more), and another thing to "promote" the consequences of that stopping. your argument uses illogical rhetoric.

there are many questions on this site that could use the attention of a syndicalist. perhaps you would like to weigh in on them?

I'm not a fan of jz either, but he's not the only anti-civ or even primitivist writer.  Lawrence's 'Why I am not an anti-Primitivist' deals with the arguments above pretty well imo:

I'm not sure why you'd tell me I'm not welcome here then suggest I answer other questions instead.  If I'm not allowed to state my opinion then I won't state my opinion, but I certainly won't keep my opinions within your acceptable limits.

PS: you should read Chomsky on Anarchism.  That's one of the many books in which Noam Chomsky identifies himself as an anarchist.  Post-leftists who think they own the concept should read up on it a bit, they'd find out that they aren't even anarchists, let alone the only ones.
No one is trying to silence you, contain your opinions within 'our acceptable limits' or tell you you're not welcome, but just as you have expressed a strong critical opinion on jz and primitivism, dot expressed a strong critical opinion of your arguments, which is something people tend not to hold back on in this forum.  In my opinion those questions dot listed could use input from an articulate syndicalist.

With regards to Chomsky, he now tends to refer to himself as a left-libertarian or something along those lines, I've not seen him refer to himself as an anarcho-syndicalist in some time.  I can't speak for dot but I don't think you should infer from her post that post-leftists (in general and the ones on this site) deny that anarcho-syndicalists are anarchists. While the post left critique is antagonistic towards organizationalist branches of anarchism, the only sub-ideology that the post-leftists on this forum wholly deny as anarchist is anarcho-capitalism.  Equally I think the accusation that post-leftists "aren't even anarchists" is a sweeping generalisation that can't stand up to even cursory scrutiny, particularly because it implies a caricature of 'post-leftists' as followers of some monolithic ideology.  That is not the case, 'post-left' is at most an umbrella term for contemporary anti-capitalist anarchists influenced by individualist anarchism in one way or another.  The strictest sense of the word just refers to anarchists who think leftist strategy, ideology and narratives are limiting, spent or insufficient.

Here are a couple of recent questions you might be interested in contributing to:
+2 votes
Crime, straight up.

And I'm not just talking about shoplifting food to eat, but that is important too.

There are a lot of crimes that can help you survive and that can be a part of overthrowing the state.

I recommend, Theft, Burglary, Robbery, Conspiracy, Arson, Riot, inciting to riot, malicious mischief, pedestrian interference, disorderly conduct, obstruction of justice, Trespassing, Assault, harassment, racketeering, black mail, embezzlement, treason, sedition, mutiny, piracy, assassination, kidnapping and others.

Get creative, and remember: anything can be conspiracy!
answered Jul 4, 2011 by Taigarun (2,810 points)
We obviously have very different definitions of the word Anarchy..
In your version of 'anarchy,' do people follow the law?  What are you talking about?

I included half of these because they are crimes I have been charged with or convicted of, and the other half are there because they have a long history of being used in revolutionary struggle.

The way the state codifies and criminalizes certain actions is of course ridiculous, but we should hopefully agree that our struggle for liberation will often be classifiable within these codes.  
As crime is something inherently defined by the state, anarchist should, of course, undermine and destroy the concept of criminality.  This will include encouraging people in general and ourselves to not see the criminality of an act as a reason not to do it.

The question is not what needs to be done, but how to do it.  I encourage people to get creative and try new things.

Yes we do have different definitions of Anarchy.  Anarchy is not just a lofty idea of what should be, it is also an endless struggle to bring it about.  Anarchy means attack.
I agree we shouldn't hesitate to commit an action just because of how the state labels it. I agree with that. My thinking is.. well, just read my question "How can you support Anarchy for only yourself?" It's easier to say that than to retype it all.
The end goal of anarchism is not violence, robbery, harassment, kidnapping or any of that crap. In fact the goal is trying to stop all of that! Though we know violence and other malicious acts will never cease, us anarchists know that having a government with a monopoly on force (the ability to do all those acts without repercussion) is not okay.

yes you can make money illegally, but you shouldn't do it with violence. That is against what we promote and makes us look bad. This is why the general public thinks that anarchy is chaos and it isn't a possibility!

if you want to support yourself through crime do it by selling drugs, prostitution, weapons. If you're going to steal do it from businesses, don't steal from people unless they are paid by the state or they own a big business.
–1 vote
The answer is not only CRIME.
Committing crime doesn't mean being Anarchist.
Robing  woman, who has a baby, and taking her money, means leaving her baby without food. That's not being Anarchist.

Why can't I work somewhere and at that time, be anarchist? I don't see any problem. We're living in capitalist world, and we need to survive. Working doesn't necessarily mean that you're exploiting someone. Of course , you can't be anarchist and CEO of some big company at the same time, but to get some job - doesn't mean that you're not anarchist any more.
answered Nov 14, 2011 by SydViking (320 points)
I have nothing against people who work to survive, only people who are satisfied with the situation.  Anyone who is comfortable with their job and position in society is a collaborator.  However, if you work a job, and struggle against your job, that is entirely different.  Many people combine work and crime by stealing from their boss or hooking up their friends with free shit, or whatever.  And that's not even getting into criminal workers unions, wildcat strikes, boss kidnappings, and sabotage.

And what's with examples of crime being acts of bullying?
Solidarity means no broke on broke crime, obviously.
That's another thing. I agree with you, that bourgeoisie is our enemy. And ways of survival are different. After all, we're anarchists and we know that bourgeoisie must be destroyed, so, getting resources from them "illegally" isn't wrong, after all.
>> Solidarity means no broke on broke crime, obviously.

which also means one must have sufficient knowledge of the target of their "crime" to know that they are not "broke". right? and of course, everyone (esp the mostly middle-class anarchists in the us) will have their own interpretation of who is "broke".

too easy...
Do you know  anything about crime?
both solidarity and crime are terms i have issues with.

as an anarchist, "crime" is a useless term, since it implies an *authority* that determines what activities are "criminal", and then punishes those who carry out those activities (if they are caught). of course, we live in an authoritarian world, so acts defined by those authorities (and their believers/followers) as criminal happen all the time. from tagging a subway car to raping and killing a 4 year old (just as extreme examples). to me the only context in which the term crime has any meaning is in how my own behavior might be considered such by the authorities, and therefore how i can continue to behave according to my needs and desires without losing what little freedom this shithole world allows me.

solidarity is, imo, a term that is FAR too loosely used. i can have some vague sense of solidarity with someone who acted in a way that somehow furthers my own desires, but that is very different from the deeply rooted solidarity i  feel with someone i know and care about personally, who acts in the same way. i have a hard time feeling solidarity with some labeled group (eg, "the proletariat", "womyn", etc). even if i have some perceived commonality with that group's "identity".
I think it's funny that you say the term crime is "useless" while simultaneously saying that it's context surrounds us.  (authority)

I agree with your overall sentiment, as I said before, "The way the state codifies and criminalizes certain actions is of course ridiculous, but we should hopefully agree that our struggle for liberation will often be classifiable within these codes.  
As crime is something inherently defined by the state, anarchist should, of course, undermine and destroy the concept of criminality.  This will include encouraging people in general and ourselves to not see the criminality of an act as a reason not to do it."

There is no thing that I oppose because it is a crime, but certainly some things that are classified as crimes that I do oppose, however, when most people say "crime" they are talking about crimes against property which I always support.

I have no idea what you are trying to say about solidarity.
Perhaps the distinction funkyanarchy is making is between what I would term "solidarity" and "affinity"?

I dunno, because I am not funkyanarchy, but reading over this thread, it seems possible.
+2 votes
Live modestly and live closest to the form you would if you were living unders the conditions of anarchy.

Capitalism is about consumption and profit.  Rather than theft what if were stop buying so many things.  But still capitalism will either fall on its own or when the population no longer needs it.
answered May 27, 2012 by afunctionalworld (3,290 points)
–3 votes
D'ont ever use violence; theft from corporations is obviously ok. And I don't think working for a corporation is selling out. It's the system we live in, if you dont have a choice then you have a choice. Use capitalism, because it sure as hell using you, and it doesnt worry about selling out for one moment. Obviously when you look at it  from a finiancial perspective, when you have a job in a corporation, you're getting fucked. But i think its fine to pay for what you need to survive with corporate wages, if you then try to participate in direct action; you need a base to operate out of no?

But there's also the question of how long can you stand working for a souless enterprise. That's a personal question. But it isnt the only solution; there are co-operatives and maybe one day you'll have the opportunity to participate in one, but for the time being, you gotta eat.
answered Oct 18, 2014 by I've been used. (100 points)
i downvoted this because the very first words open a can of worms that is not explained. why not use violence; what is violence; is whatever-violence-is really *never* ok; how is working for corporations (for example) not violent; etc...

edited to add: also, you weren't particularly careful in your writing. "if you don't have a choice then you have a choice"? "use capitalism because it's using you"?
there's no hurry to answer here. you can take as much time as you need. :)
My bad dot, I was hungover when I wrote that. I don't actually think violence should never, ever, be used. I think violence is a tool, like a hammer, in the way that a hammer can be used to build a nice bird-house and smash a skull in. But it's also not like a hammer, because there's unintended, and often far reaching consequences everytime you use violence, even when you use it to build. So, my position on physical violence is, you shouldn't use physical violence unless youre being physically attacked, or, youre super, super smart and are able to, not only make imperfect predictions about possible consequences, but also decide if its worth it.

About the sentence, "If you have no choice..."; it's supposed to say, "If you have no choice then you have no choice." And the sentence, "...use capitalism, because it's sure as hell using you..." wasn't a mistake; I meant if you get a job, and use the money for the cause, then you're using them too, right?
+2 votes
my approach is to create my life so that dependence on (and therefore, required interaction with) the capitalist system is seriously minimized. i do things like grow food, catch/store water, provide for my electricity/power needs without the power grid, build stuff with found/free/cheap materials, etc. nothing particularly radical, or even very difficult. but i find that the more i take control of the means of my own survival and happiness, the more i can be removed from the shithole system of democrapitalism. i live in what most anyone would call "deep poverty" (from an economic perspective), and that is both my choice and my strategy. since i don't want or need lots of things that cost money, i don't need much money. i would love to eliminate it entirely from my life, but i doubt that will happen in my lifetime.

a side benefit of creating a life with minimal dependence on capitalism is that should it come tumbling down (from whatever causes), i would be far less impacted than most people. which makes it much easier for me to think about its demise without fear of what the implications of that would be on my life. making it easier to act in ways that might help bring that about.
answered Oct 19, 2014 by funkyanarchy (12,220 points)