Friday, December 21, 2012

Writing as I Wait for the Apocalypse That's Not Going to Happen

There's nothing I'm saying here which I haven't said in the past, but I thought I could put it a lot clearer. I've been in a few discussions with comrades about the issue of where we go from here, and what can we do next. We know that both the state and property (or more specifically, capitalist property) are territorial monopolies that ultimately create authority and control, and that our goal should be to abolish or reduce as much of this authority as possible.

Many times, my comrades have advocated pushing the US into some kind of social democratic system in the short-term, something which I strongly oppose. The problem with a lot of the social-democracy-as-anarchism praxis is that it ultimately creates a lesser evilism; its proponents advocate that oppressed peoples use the state as a means of combatting the abuses of capitalist property. Not only does this de-radicalize the population in terms of swaying them away from actions that are free from our masters, but it also creates this sense of powerlessness among people who feel that their only option is to use the state rather than creating their own networks and institutions.

The thing is, the far-right libertarians, the ron paulbots, ancaps, and various elements of the "Tea Party" from a few years ago fall into this exact same fallacy, only they advocate the opposite: using capitalist property as a means of combating the abuses of the state, hence the reason they demand that schools, police, etc. be privatized. Just like the people who propose the opposite, they too believe that capitalist property is the more democratic of the two options and should be embraced if we want to resolve social problems.

Capitalist institutions and the State need each other. The rich prop up the state and the state props up the rich. It's a chicken-and-the-egg kind of dilemma but one that can be worked around. Any kind of philosophy and actions us radicals think of should combat both instead of going in with the presumption that one is less awful than the other; they are two heads of the same coin.

As odd as it may seem, I really do believe there's something to the "2012" fiasco, the only thing is - as Dr. Estrada told us in CAS 100 back in spring 2009 at CSUN - it signifies the start of a time of great change. We know that the US, EU, and elsewhere are going down the toilet, and I feel it's safe to declare that the "Western World" (especially the US) is going to look a hell of a lot different in 20 or 30 years from what it looks like today. Old paradigms ought to be done away with as new ones will be birthed. The means will lead us to our ends, so let our means be on good terms.


  1. Social-democracy-as-anarchism is of course ludicrous, but I don't worry that its implementation would de-radicalize the population. There seems to be no shortage of anarchists in social democracies; if anything those produce more of them than do banana republics such as the Untied States. Here, social democracy is utterly politically infeasible, so you have nothing to worry about anyway.

    It seems what is needed is a man[sic]-in-the-middle attack that pits state and capital against each other. It is probably good that people on both the far left and the far right are starting to see through the appearance of business-government rivalry that has been created for public consumption.

  2. The problem happens when the fight for social democracy offsets the larger fight for anarchy. People fight to become wage slaves for the government rather than fighting for their own self-management. I don't doubt that a social democracy here in the U$ might be nicer than what we have now, but it ultimately legitimizes the state (and capitalism) in the larger context.

    The countries where anarchists are the most active aren't necessarily those in Europe but rather those scattered throughout hyper-capitalist Latin America (i.e. the Zapatistas and the anarchist movements in Argentina, Chile, and so on). Many anarchist comrades in Europe became far more active when social democracy was falling apart (as opposed to when social democracy was being implemented), as well. So in the scheme of things I would say that statist social democracy does far more harm than good for us radicals.

  3. I will say though that the only time I would make a case for social democracy would be on a utilitarian platform, i.e. building a mutual aid network that will only be able to help 100 or so people vs. joining a campaign to demand that the state provide universal health care that would help hundreds of millions of people. But even then I would argue that it's more important for people like us who have a radical worldview and some privilege to use the resources we have to do what we have the most power to do. It will take years, possibly a couple decades, to get EU-style social democracy for the U$ but it would only take a short amount of time to create a solidarity network in our city. I'm not trying to make a false dichotomy either since I know people are capable of doing both, but I'm just pointing out that one strategy is more effective than the other.

  4. Great blog post, great video, and great comments.