- May 22nd, 2013
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Silber called for a general protest against the state here in America. He asserts that the populace is sufficiently angry, across the political spectrum, to mount such a rebellion which could include massive demonstrations and/or a tax protest of sufficient scale to gum up the works of the state. I’m all in favor of that, although I prefer my own idea of a mass general strike which has the advantage of being perfectly legal in every regard under our current regime. Either way, any mass action by a broad swath of the population would be sufficient to upset the current power structure, and perhaps tip the scales sufficiently to effect immediate, radical change.
Silber is cautiously optimistic about peaceful transitions from whatever you want to call our current version of State:
As conditions continue to worsen for many millions of Americans — and they will, for that is obviously the State’s plan — the pressures on the existing system will grow. In time, they will grow to very dangerous proportions. History, and the logic of the situation, tell us that those pressures will eventually erupt in violence. At a certain point, violence will be inevitable. But we may not be there yet. There may be time for a peaceful revolution.
A lot of people are deeply angry, and torn with anxiety about the future. If those colossal energies are directed toward a specific end, an end which will appeal to millions of Americans, there may still be hope for peaceful change, and even change on an enormous scale.
Don’t say it could never happen. Things that could never happen take place all the time, and sometimes on a monumental scale. What I’m describing — what I hope for — represents a massive, once in a lifetime event. And it all starts with a conversation you have with a good friend. If you have that conversation, millions of others might have it, too. Get a group together to get some ads made. Start planning for demonstrations next spring.
Me, I want my Autonomy Day in 2015 (or sooner, no matter).
But that’s not what this post is about. What occurred to me reading Silber’s post was that philosophical anarchism is a pretty simple negative idea that even a child can understand. All the variations on that theme, as in how in a stateless society we ought to organize ourselves, are not anarchism qua anarchism but rather positive political theories derived from whatever wish fulfilling ideology the individual anarchist is starting from.
If one can resist the temptation to posit an alternative to the current state of affairs, it’s possible to convince people quite readily of the ethical superiority of philosophical anarchism. It just hasn’t occurred to them that human beings can function without a state, when in fact that has been the “natural” state of humanity for the majority of its history. It may be helpful to point this out, but even that isn’t necessary.
Start with coercion. Point out the myriad ways in which the State exercises coercive power. If your subject is a 2nd amendment person, point out that no matter how many guns the government lets you own, State owned weapons will always be bigger and more destructive. Does your subject approve of government surveillance of its own citizens? Does your subject care about his privacy? Is your subject bothered by the weight of taxation? Your subject may try to dodge out of your way by pointing out the superiority of the American political system. Your subject may assert the sacredness of American democracy, and America’s defense of freedom against its enemies around the world. In that case point out that the political system that your subject learned about in grade school has evolved over the past two centuries into a system that touches every aspect of our lives. And that’s just the Feds. Then there are the layers of State government organized at the state, county and municipal levels. Nothing in our lives is untouched by the influence of the State. How is that accomplished: threat of violence.
I’m sure my readers are quite accomplished at this line of argument. For myself, I would rather see more anarchists fall from the tree of so-called Progressivism as our liberal friends become irrevocably disillusioned with their agenda in the age of Obama. But we must happily welcome those from the right who already hate the State (if not their patriotic fantasies about what America represents). The point is to get as many people as possible comfortable with the idea of direct action regardless of affiliation.
Our one and only goal must be peaceful disruption of the status quo sufficient to threaten the established power structure. This must be done with massive numbers of people.
Watch out for the people who demand an answer to the question: “what then?” Representations of the power of the State are made daily in every form. Part of that propaganda is the diminution of the individual. Asserting power through numbers is an end in itself. If you believe that human beings are capable of organizing themselves, then put your belief where your mouth is and have a little faith that that part will work itself out. It’s self-defeating to be advocating a particular version of Post-Capitalist this or that. You or some other person will have those ideas ready at hand when the time comes. Asserting your version of the future is itself coercive and self-defeating. The point is to assert power. Period. The rest will take care of itself (eventually).