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Revolution questions

+1 vote
What is the current goals and progress among anarchists in general ( Educating the masses about Anarchism and political issues / how to measure success in protests / etc ) ? When it comes to revolution what is the best way to move forward ( creating a culture of resistance , direct action , protests , info shops , education on and offline , a little bit of everything ? ) , What are the biggest challenges when it comes to succeeding ( the struggles of getting more and more people interested and involved , authorities getting aggressive , refuses to listen and see things from our point of view , etc ) ? And say revolution happens will it be like war or is there a peaceful non-violent way of going about it ? Perhaps verbal confrontation as long as no one is getting hurt. The reason why I say this is because I feel that behind the uniform people are still people even if their personality might be toxic or clash with another but that’s just my opinion. For me the whole idea of a free society as an anarchist sounds really fun , independence without anyone ruling over me. However there’s people who are going to feel insecure and be in a panic about it and not feel safe. How would the anarchist society go about educating them and heal their knowledge into securities ? I remember hearing a theory that most people believe that a world without authority means that people would just act abusive and cruel but it won’t be the case because most people really focus on their own self and their own day to day lives regardless of an authority figure standing close by or not.
asked Jan 9 by anonymous
Your question contains a lot of assumptions that not all anarchists would share. First of all, not all anarchists agree that "revolution" is a viable or even desireable option in our contemporary setting. Second, not all anarchists see the human population as a "mass" to be converted to their way of thinking. And third, not all anarchists see street protests as a particularly productive use of their time. So to answer your question would require agreeing to things that many anarchists are not prepared to accept.
I think you should let go of the idea of revolution. It's just setting yourself up for disappointment and a long, endless wait for when it doesn't happen.

1 Answer

+1 vote

Anarchists have widely divergent goals and desires, so it is impossible to give a universalizing answer to this, for example, the comments and answers to this question would be entirely different on a discussion board associated with the Anarkismo tendency, or the Black Rose Federation, or even to the old Black and Green forum (I don’t think that still exists?)

Matt Dionysus and human have already touched on a couple things I would say, but being a wholey unoriginal thinker, I’ll say them again, and being a white guy, people will nod their heads and give me credit for the good ideas I bring up (I’m joking – Matt Dionysus and human could each also be white men for all I know , which would negate some of my ability to steal their ideas and get credit for them… this is an aside completely irrelevant to your question).

So, like both MD and h pointed out, many anarchists don’t even believe in the concept of Revolution™. I won’t presume to speak for these anarchists, but for me personally, most talk of revolution implies that we will be getting somewhere. Like there will be a great shrugging off of our chains, and the masses (more on this…) will take the streets, peacefully or otherwise, and a new beautiful anarchist world will be born. I don’t buy it. I just don’t. I see anarchy as a constant struggle, against all the various ways that hierarchy and domination sneak in to our actions, even those of us fighting against hierarchy and domination. If we eliminate the state (big if) and we eliminate capitalism (another big if), it is almost certain that some new hierarchical social organization will arise, and the hierarchs will still need to be hung with the guts of the economists or the priests, or just with their own guts. Anarchy is like a rainbow – you chase it and you chase it, and it is always just seemingly out of reach, just over the next hill.

Back to that idea of the masses. We live in a mass society, but people are more than the masses, just like they are more than merely their class. This idea of a great revolutionary subject is rooted in leftist thinking that while shared by many left anarchists, doesn’t leave any space for individualization of personality, dreams, fears and desires. When used by leftists (of whatever stripe), it tends to carry with it the implication that they (“the masses”, the proles and lumpen proles), are merely needing appropriate political education by us (in this case: “anarchists” the revolutionary experts, or, if you prefer, cadre). This is how Leninism, Maoism, and Trotskyism all work. It invites differentiation, and thus goes back to that idea of recreating hierarchy within the vacuum created by revolution. It is why revolutions have never brought actual liberation in the way that anarchists desire. Your use of the words “progress” and “success” are also interesting. People use that word very imprecisely, but it again can imply a moving forward in a linear way that isn’t how anarchy works, and while I could say more about that, it is largely similar to my critiques of revolution.

All that aside, projects that are interesting to me for anarchists include ones where dialogue happens (like this), that encourage new and deepened relations IRL, projects that build infrastructure, and projects that attack the existent. When I am speaking about these ideas more generally, I tend to simplify to talking about solidarity, infrastructure and attack. Examples of things I might see as each of these are supporting the J20 arrestees or sending money or zines to an infoshop in another part of the world (solidarity), helping to support news sites like IGD or ANews, or using and contributing money to Riseup.net (infrastructure), and … well, attack! This is not the limit of my interest in anarchist projects, but I’ve found that largely, the stuff I care about tends to fall in to these categories (I would actually view talking/educating about anarchy as a form of attack, in that it shatters, or at least challenges the assumptions of the people I talk to – I never try to convince them I am right, but I love to talk to people who have never met an anarchist. I think it’s almost gotten me jumped or shot a couple times, but y’know, it’s for The Cause [patent pending]).

As to addressing the fears of not-anarchists, I’ve seen a lot of different attempts at this, including comparing anarchy to a potluck (thanks, crimethinc.), point by point examples of anarchy not being all against all (Kropotkin, Colin Ward, Peter Gelderloos, John Zerzan, David Graeber, ad nauseum). Personally, I prefer to acknowledge that most people live a lot of their lives without actively submitting to authority and in ways that rely on solidarity and mutual aid, but that if we win, it will be terrible, and we will probably have to become monsters in order to destroy the world we hate. It’s grim, and I don’t tend to win a lot of converts, but my goal isn’t to convince people of the rightness of my thoughts, it is to destroy the world I hate, and live with the people I don’t hate as in keeping with my principles as I can.

If I can be so presumptuous, I'd like to suggest checking out a couple readings that might be of interest:
The Nihilist's Dictionary by John Zerzan
Breaking the Code by dot matrix
Nihilist Communism by Monsieur Dupont 

answered Jan 11 by ingrate (20,620 points)
edited Jan 11 by ingrate

"my goal isn’t to convince people of the rightness of my thoughts, it is to destroy the world I hate, and live with the people I don’t hate as in keeping with my principles as I can."

cheers to that!