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Are authoritarian regimes more preferable than democratic ones?

+1 vote
"The techno-industrial system is exceptionally tough due to its so-called “democratic” structure and its resulting flexibility. Because dictatorial systems tend to be rigid, social tensions and resistance can be built up in them to the point where they damage and weaken the system and may lead to revolution. But in a “democratic” system, when social tension and resistance build up dangerously the system backs off enough, it compromises enough, to bring the tensions down to a safe level."
Ted Kaczynski, Hit where it hurts.

Gezi protests that shaked Turkey had started because of authoritarian acts of the government. And those protests gave a different perspective about how we can struggle for our lives.  So do you think anarchists have a better chance when a government becomes increasingly authoritarian?
asked Mar 5, 2015 by Metalist (780 points)
better chance for what?

making the kind of change that we want in a sustainable way? hasn't led to that yet, despite many, many authoritarian regimes in many different times and places.
You may find this book helpful to you, it is said that it was the framework for the arab spring uprisings.

From Dictatorship to Democracy, by Gene Sharp


1 Answer

+1 vote
Kaczynski reminds me a lot of Netchaiev. They share a kind of what I would call romantic nihilism. Not "Nihilism" with a capital N. , but a "kind of".

They share in common this very hegelian idea that the more the people suffer, the more they're going to be "revolutionnary".

Curiously, that's also a common idea among many Marxists, epsecially the most orthodox and the more puritans of these ascetics who preach to the people the vows of abstinence and poverty. The critical history of Mao's china, and of the maoist ideology in general is very revealing on this point.

These red preasts hate anything that talks of joy, enjoying, pleasure, or indolence. So as to quote Bonanno :

"These vestals in jeans have taken a vow of chastity, so they also expect and impose it. They want to be rewarded for their sacrifice. First they abandoned the comfortable surroundings of their class of origin, then they put their abilities at the disposal of the disinherited. They have grown accustomed to using words that are not their own and to putting up with dirty tablecloths and unmade beds. So, one might listen to them at least. "  

At the risk of sounding harsh, I think we can reasonably say the same about Kazcynski and his "naked and in blood or nothing" revolutionary perspectives.

And sincerely, I don't believe that the more authoritarian regime you have, and the more chances of a revolution or insurrection you have. As I also believe that being starving doesn't automatically make a "mass of people" a revolutionnary one. It really depends on many determing facts .

The most important of these things being to me (inter alia) : self-awareness, anachist or anti-authoritarian ethics, self-organisation, autonomy, and the capacity to attack and struggle.

Unfortunalty for him and other preachers of the same kind, history in many places in the world seem to repeatedly tell us that the tendency would be more often close to the contrary.

First of all, the exemple of Turkey is bad : on the one hand because it's not much a "dictatorship" than many other authoritarian democracies (even life is very hard there) of the west, and on the other hand because any regime considered, there is a revolutionnary history that was kept alive (including an important and diverse anarchist movement including direct actions of any kind, and "armed struggle") since more than one hundred years. The events of Gezi are much to be regarded relatively to this history, than with the level of authoritarianism of the regime.

I mean, of course the regime of Turkey is very authoritarian. But on a formal point of view, it's also a laic republic, and a democracy, even not very "humanrightist". But, we are not on human right watch, or "amnesty international" websites, right ? ;-)

What is also to be considered is that, independently from the kind of authoritarian regime, or society you have (and I think that we could consider democracy to be one of them) : the more there is a culture of revolt, resistance and insurrection, and the more we have chances to do anything as anarchists on my point of view.

In fact, for instance, in many countries of the ex-USSR, the most active and/or important anarchist (or autonmous) movements exist precisely in those where there were significative dissident, revolt and insurrectionnary movements (Ex : east berlin, czech republic, poland, etc...).

Some of the most authoritarian regimes, including Russia (until now a day), or Ukrania, or  ex-ceausescu's romania, the situation of revolted people or anarchists today is often desperate or very hard (more than elsewhere, if I take in consideration what some companions/comrads from these places wrote or told those last years - but it's a point of view) even when they are active or actually do exist.   

We should also mention the important, active fascist and nationalist movements in many western or eastern europe countries that kill people every years (not to say every week), including companions.

I think that the situation in the U.S is very complicated, and as many other particular situations shouldn't be compared to other places abusevely.

Of course, we can make generalities. It's sometimes usefull to understand the world we live in, but I think any situation should also be adressed and analysed in its particularities.

To sum it up and end up quickly, I would just quote a text of peter gelderloos that illustrate my purpose.

"But we should not underestimate the importance of social movements. I recently had the opportunity to spend five months among anarchists in the former Soviet bloc, primarily in Ukraine, Romania, and Bulgaria. Unanimously, the anarchists I met told me that the socialist dictatorships had destroyed and subsequently prevented any social movements, and left a legacy of people who hate and distrust the government (many of them are also dissatisfied with capitalism) but who also have no tradition or inclination to trust and participate in social movements, or even cooperate with their neighbors. The anarchist situation there is far bleaker than it is in the US: the anarchists are alone, isolated, without any clear starting point for action, much less insurrection. One Romanian anarchist said organizing in his home country was like going to a foreign country where you don’t speak the language and trying to build anarchy."

The rest is in the text called "Insurrection vs organisation", and you can read it here : http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/peter-gelderloos-insurrection-vs-organization  

Also, I would like to add that this idea that "authoritarian regimes would maybe be preferable" so as to "hasten the emergency of revolution/insurrection/whatsoever" is often linked to the idea that liberal democracy is the worst of all political regimes, etc.

But all these speeches seem to endlessly be a product of people who never known (from far or close) a situation of brutal authoritarian dictatorship (fascist or anything).

I mean, I think that in countries like Chile, greece, spain, or italy, not only the majority of anarchists and even other revolutionnaries, but also random people don't believe in democracy and are more likely to criticize it not because they considere it to be "worse" (or intrisecally better) than fascism or dictatorship, but because they know that the frontier between each of these concepts is fuzzy.

And they know that this political fog has always been a way for so called "democratic societies" to use very authoritarian methods when it's "needed " (and it's "needed" because they say it is), and they know that any fascist regime (in their specifical histories) always emerged from a democratic society, and its democratic leaders, managers and executives that formed the administration of dictatorship (when they didn't turn themselves into the new regime).
answered Mar 5, 2015 by okapy (2,120 points)
edited Mar 5, 2015 by okapy