The mission of anarchism in the modern world
It is not a new idea that today’s great projects for reorganizing the world are in decline. In the twentieth century, powerful driving movements mobilized millions of people to storm political Olympuses and “great construction projects. But over the course of the last century, one by one they became ethically and practically bankrupt and soon faded away. Fascism and Leninist-type communism come to mind first. Even the seemingly triumphant liberal project, in fact, simply dissolved into the global capitalist system and the world political game, in which not liberal mechanisms operate here and there.
Of the ambitious ideocrats who dare to reshape the world according to their beliefs, perhaps only the voice of the jihadists can be heard today. However, Islamism is obviously not a big project that a person of an anarchist worldview can reconcile with.
Failed global plans at the end of the twentieth century gave rise to deep pessimism and paralysis of the idea of transformation. However, the first decades of the new century clearly showed that the “end of history” is canceled. Growing instability, insubordination and ungovernability manifested themselves. The number of anti-government demonstrations under various slogans and flags increased by several orders of magnitude compared to the previous era.
At the same time, there is an urgent need for radical change on the broadest possible territorial scale. As before, we need a new world. Almost everything that exists in society is unacceptable and cannot serve as a framework for the present and the future.
But what will the transformed reality be like? There are unpleasant prophecies of a “marvelous new world” entirely ruled by posthuman elites, or, on the contrary, of a new feudalism and a great schism accompanied by a surge of brutal brutality. The prospect of a global ecological catastrophe also neighbors these pictures. But in parallel with the various glooms, another trend is becoming more and more evident. This is the desire for direct democracy, equal collectivity, the eradication of inequality and oppression, and the search for harmonious coexistence with nature. This trend is still as if “spilled” over many social currents and is not formalized into a single stream. Nevertheless, it brings back to life the relevance of anarchism.
At a time when all other missionaries have shown themselves to be deceivers or maniacs, it is time for anarchists to remember their mission and to reassert their global project. How can we outline its possible common features?
Dismantle the Megamachine
Modern mass society is crowded into gigantic urban agglomerations. The lion’s share of human life is controlled and directed by the laws of states, as well as by capitalist relations of production, exchange and consumption. As a result, modern man finds himself in the situation of an object manipulated by giant machine-like forces. At the same time, we are immersed in a constant bustle. The modern world is a dream of reason and deep feelings, substituted by momentary, externally controlled desires. This state is contrary to human nature, causes dissatisfaction, followed by a thirst for something else.
But the monstrous, heavy giants of the state make us fearful and doubtful: is it even possible to free ourselves from its iron heel? The endless buying and selling that permeates our daily life with a million threads, exacerbates our dependence and, even worse, corrupts and corrupts us underneath, as if from within.
And yet the very course of life pushes man to rebellion. And the accumulated historical experience teaches us that even the most seemingly all-powerful social systems collapse like a house of cards, sometimes quite unexpectedly. These are the starting points of our struggle against the prevailing order. To crush and dismantle the Megamachine is the ambitious task of the anarchist movement.
A new communalism
Today we see a progressive atomization and weakening of collective ties. Neighbors get to know each other less and less, and sometimes avoid each other altogether. Noisy family celebrations are becoming increasingly rare and forced.
The causes of this painful social phenomenon are complex and it is not easy to single out the main ones. These include the growing sphere of individual entertainment, the general trend towards individual comfort, which is always threatened by “excessive” closeness of communication, and the notorious egoism, which is organic to market capitalist society and turns any relationship into a temporary interaction between two consumers for mutual benefit. The word “partner”, which in Russian has distinctly alienated notes and acts as a kind of antonym to such concepts as beloved, friend, comrade…, is becoming more and more popular.
We consider the crisis of collectivity, of being together as one of the most catastrophic consequences of capitalism and statehood. In addition to a purely ethical moralizing, the anarchist revolution also has a concrete institutional tool for creating what we can call a “new communality”. These are popular assemblies, assemblies, collective self-governments and subjects of the economy. When the pincer of the System, which has run its suckers deep into the social fabric and separates us from each other, is ripped away from the body of society, we will be faced with the REQUIREMENT to recreate our warm horizontal ties and join in solidarity.
The collective creation of public life will be a stark contrast to contemporary social practices. Just look at the current initiative of the Russian authorities to organize voting by mail – now even the imitation of choice will probably not gather this crowd of people who are strangers to each other at the ballot boxes.
Yes, we plan to come together to make decisions, to prepare food in crowded and noisy kitchens rather than receiving it in sterile delivery bags, to introduce our children to their peers on the street rather than just sitting them down to watch a cartoon alone…. The degradation of humanity that is rapidly unfolding before our eyes can and must be stopped.
The management of people for personal enrichment, the perception of all living and non-living things in the world as resources for profit, the pathological luxury of a tiny minority and the destitution of the vast majority – these are just a few touches, the most vivid illustrations that characterize the modern economic model. Its essence is diametrically opposed to what we consider right and just. The whole pile of reasons to reject capitalism can be reduced to two main theses: 1) this economic system is unethical, unjust, degrading; 2) it fails to provide a decent material standard for all.
Commodity-money relations, wage labor, investments, bank loans and interest – are so deeply embedded in our everyday life that it sometimes seems unrealistic to get rid of them. It is as if without this set, there would be immediate famine and decay.
But we have something to counter the “trend”: human labor resources (today many thousands of people waste their labor time because of the phenomenon of shit jobs); workers’ work experience that will allow them to maintain the economy without bosses; technologies that allow society to regulate the system of production and distribution according to its needs and values… This should be enough to transfer the economy from the hands of the elite into the hands of society, to ensure equal management of production by humans
The mission of the anarchist movement is to establish in society, by word, deed, and example, an understanding of the principles of economic justice and, by overthrowing the state and capitalists, to “clear the space” – to provide the socio-political conditions for its realization.
Modern society is full of discrimination on various grounds. There are many characteristics and features by which a person or group can be disadvantaged. The reasons for this are: age-old or new prejudices, the principle of collective responsibility, and the alienation of people from each other in a world permeated by capitalist relations.
Prejudice and collective responsibility are skillfully manipulated by unscrupulous politicians, while alienation is a “side effect” of the current system.
One of the oldest and most painful types of discrimination in human existence is gender oppression. Despite the fact that the situation in Eastern Europe, as well as in the “Western World” has changed considerably compared to the openly patriarchal past, women are still oppressed. This is evidenced by data on domestic, sexual and gender-based violence and the difference in average incomes. Practices and behaviors that belittle women remain in force. A prime example: the attitude “Politics is not a woman’s business”. There are many such invisible stones of the current culture that prevent women from revealing their human potential in our social reality.
And one more detail that is not often paid attention to, although it is one of the most important. Relationships between all people in general are heavily poisoned by gender stereotypes and the mutual consumerism and selfishness based on them. Because of this, even the most seemingly close bonds bring pain and unhappiness to people, rather than the other way around. Capitalist and authoritarian worldviews prevent genuine intimacy from being born.
The mission of anarchism is to achieve true sisterhood/fraternity between people over any group characteristics. We have different tools to do this: 1) the joint practice of building and managing society together, which requires equal cooperation and mutual warmth among all participants in the process; 2) a revolutionary political culture, which requires the conscious active involvement of representatives of all oppressed groups in joint social work; 3) finally, education and enlightenment, which helps to leave prejudices behind.
Thus, the ambition of the anarchist project is, by eliminating discrimination, to heal interpersonal relations and, however vulnerable this may sound, to bring love of neighbor back into our lives. Capitalism and Authoritarianism, as social phenomena, stand as an obstacle in this way. This obstacle is not insurmountable.
Resolution of national conflicts
Since time immemorial, human society has been shaken and terrorized by violent clashes based on ethnic or national cultural differences. In addition to them, other criteria have been added: religious and racial. Interethnic and interethnic conflicts reached a special intensity in the era of nation-states, which are still the main form of political organization of mankind. With their emergence, the question of which nation is “titular” in a particular state began to be raised with extreme urgency. What land “rightfully belongs” to this or that national group? The result was the countless sufferings of millions of innocent people: forced assimilation, mass deportations and, finally, brutal acts of mass murder. After all this, national conflicts continue to flare up vividly in all parts of the world.
Hardly any other imaginary contradictions in the history of mankind have had such monstrous consequences as interethnic “contradictions”. National conflicts are often based on the interests of national political and economic elites, state bureaucracies, as well as the most ignorant prejudices and distorted perceptions of their neighbors – “others”, representatives of other national groups.
At the root of the idea of national conflict is the question “Us or Them?” Anarchism offers an alternative: “Both we and they – together and on equal footing”. Denying the nation-state, which is nothing but an instrument of oppression and injustice, anarchists open the way to confederation: the equal cooperation of peoples in all territories. The same land can be Serbian or Albanian; Armenian or Azerbaijani… the list is endless. Equality and self-government, the social pillars of anarchism, are prerequisites for a fruitful and benevolent dialog of cultures. The need for this dialog has not weakened, but, on the contrary, has intensified in the XXI century.
Reharmonization with nature
The fact that capitalism and the ever-expanding human economy and consumption have an extremely destructive effect on nature has long been a well-known platitude. As well as the understanding that such a vector of development threatens the planet and humanity with destruction.
We would like to take a deeper look at the problem. The anthropocentric worldview that prevails today, and the way of life that results from it, is a particular case of a hierarchical attitude towards the world and being as a whole. Nature is “man’s workshop”… This view is neither natural, ethical nor acceptable. The true liberation of humanity cannot take place without overcoming alienation from nature and finding harmony with it.
What ecological measures can anarchism offer? Modern technology should be redirected from profit maximization to the conservation and restoration of nature, combined with the provision of decent material living conditions for all. Ideally, the extensive expansion of man’s destructive influence on nature should be completely overcome. The knowledge and capabilities accumulated by mankind make it possible to accomplish this task, or at least to move close to it.
The reorganization of the living space, the extinction of the monstrous megalopolis as a form of human dwelling is extremely important. The settlement should be commensurate with the human being, no matter how subjective it may sound. The lifeless anthropogenic landscape, which cuts people off from natural complexes, must give way to the harmonious inclusion of the settlement in the natural landscape, the intertwining of natural and human.
Here and now.
The total unacceptability of the current (un)existence… and the outlines of a renewed world stir our minds and hearts like a prophetic reverie. These are the points of mobilization that keep us from giving up and resigning. That is why we are ready to make efforts, risks, sacrifices to create a new society. Organized revolutionary struggle is the way we will reach the goal outlined in this text. Victory is possible, which means we must win.