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Can anarchists ever actually act as "the spark" to revolt and insurrection?

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does anarchist activity ever actually resonate with general public? Can anarchists ever actually spread sentiment? if so to what degree? Can anarchists as students of revolt ever provide anything to uprisings aside from tactical knowledge? In what ways have non-organizationalist or non leftist anarchists made any significant contribution to revolt? How can an anti-organizationalists contribute to the end of capitalist society?
asked 1 year ago by anonymous

1 Answer

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I'm slightly annoyed when people use the additional thoughts section to pose even more questions. Maybe I should become accustomed to providing multiple answers?

I feel that it would be very silly to launch into an empirical argument over the minutiae of anarchist's resonance in the world around them. I can't see a definitive yes or no answer coming out of this as that would require a justification for our whole existence. Evidently something makes anarchism perennial, enduring, but it is doubtful that this is because of a frequency in revelatory experiences with revolt or "street politics". I, for one, did not become an anarchist because I was in an insurrection.

That the most prominent and enduring records of anarchists leading participation in revolts adhere to a timeline that preceded World War 2 may provide us a way of extracting knowledge from this stony problem. I roundly feel that the most explosive episodes of revolt in our epoch that were more likely to accommodate themselves for anarchists correlate with the disappearance of independent grounds for livelihoods during the compulsion of people into industrialism. The ability of people to immanently comprehend the estranged nature of proletarian life was greatly affected by that process. It was, and is, a twilight moment. That comprehension of a need for another way of life that is native in the minds of those who are in most need of it*—people possessed by natural forces speaking through them without the advanced instruction of others—may very well be gone in many places with the dominance of habituation to instruments of capital and the supremacy of bourgeois ideology. (*Rather than the untouchable "general public".) Time will tell.

Anarchists should be of two minds. Being uncompromisingly radical when we voice our demands as anarchists but also being patient and tolerant of the limitations of others in not exceeding the laws of this world with their ethical complaints.

“It is the unlooked for appearance of revolutionary ideas as emergent transitional states in ordinary circumstances, the sudden energising of latent and already existing potentials, which is so enticing in the present. This ‘channelling’ of revolutionary spirits, which ebbs and flows according to wider, external pressures, is a very different model of consciousness to that of Lilburne, whose theatre of transgression continues to this day as a sort of protestant-based activism/witnessing. It is to the falling quiet/bursting forth model we first discover in Walwyn that now forms the object of our study. Watching the ordinary, waiting for its singing.” —

http://www.lettersjournal.org/blog/william-walwyn-or-a-preference-for-states-of-transition-over-acts-of-transgression

“Stepan Petrichenko was himself a Ukrainian peasant.[24] He later acknowledged that many of his fellow mutineers were peasants from the south, who were in sympathy with the peasant opposition movement against the Bolsheviks. In the words of Petrichenko: ‘When we returned home our parents asked us why we fought for the oppressors. That set us thinking.’[25]” —

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kronstadt_rebellion

“The insistence on subjectivity testifies to the fact that proletarians have not yet succeeded in objectifying a revolutionary practice. When the revolution remains at the stage of desire, it is tempting to make desire into the pivot of the revolution.” —

http://www.geocities.com/~johngray/barsit.htm
answered 1 year ago by madlib (3,940 points) edited 1 year ago by madlib
“The wretched condition of the peasantry was matched by that of the growing class of industrial workers. Serfs only yesterday, the workers found themselves uprooted from their native villages and crowded into the squalid factory dormitories of the big towns. Victimized by callous foremen and factory directors, their paltry wages habitually reduced for petty infractions of workshop rule and without any legal means of communicating their grievances, the workmen could adjust to their new mode of life only with the greatest difficulty.

Laborers in the factories, moreover, were afflicted with a crisis of identity. Powerful magnets pulled them in two directions, one leading back to their traditional villages, the other towards a strange new world beyond their comprehension. At the beginning of the new century, a large majority of factory workers—especially those in the textile mills of north-central Russia—were still legally classified as peasants. As such, they retained at least nominal possession of some allotment land and were liable to certain regulations of the commune, such as the issuance of work permits for factory employment. These worker-peasants often left their wives and children in the village, returning for the harvest season, or in times of sickness or old age. Their peasant mentality was evidenced in their sporadic outbursts against harassments of the factory, more akin to the jacqueries of an earlier age than to the organized strikes of a more mature proletariat.

Yet, at the same time, the workers were loosening their ties with the countryside. The heavy concentration of labor in Russian enterprises helped give the factory hands a sense of collectivity that more and more replaced the old loyalties of the village. [8] The odd form of social schizophrenia that plagued the emerging working class was beginning to heal. The workingmen were breaking with past traditions and beliefs and taking on a single new identity as a social group distinct from the peasantry from which they sprang. [9]

The turn of the century brought the embyronic Russian working class an economic jolt as severe as the crop failures that shook the peasants in the central rural districts. in 1899, after a prolonged period of industrial growth, the Empire of the Tsars entered a depression from which it took nearly a decade to recover. The depression first struck a glancing blow at the textile industry of the northern and western provinces, then moved rapidly southward, enveloping factories, mines, oil fields, and ports, and bringing serious labor disturbances in its train. During the summer of 1903, the oil workers of Baku and Batum engaged in bloody skirmishes with the police, and walkouts in Odessa broadened into a general strikewhich swiftly spread to all the centers of heavy industry in Ukraine, striking with particular force in Kiev, Kharkov, Nikolaev, and Ekaterinoslav. [10]

A noteworthy characteristic of the turbulence in Russia was the tendency of disaffected social elements to combine with one another to form highly inflammable mixtures. Factory workers, for example, acting as conduits for the radical ideas they absorbed in the cities, disrupted the isolation of their native villages. In a similar vein, a significant feature of the industrial strikes in the south was the frequent appearance of university students alongside the workmen in mass meetings, street demonstrations, and clashes with the authorities.”

Paul Avrich, THE RUSSIAN ANARCHISTS, pp. 11-13.

We can see the same sort of processes, albeit expedited and more pressurized by the enormity of capital, in places like China today. It isn't even the case that these places and people are waiting to explode, either. They are already exploding every day. But something even greater—impartial and unrelenting—needs to intervene to radicalize the scene in which these antagonistic forces meet again and again everyday. At least, that's the theory I'm working with.
1 year ago by madlib (3,940 points) edited 1 year ago by madlib

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