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The New Anarchism: Smash the State, and What Else?

The Ever Flowing River Part II
Part I Part II Part III
--Bill Burns
[In the last issue, with a broad brush our author explored roots of anarchism in social groupings throughout history.]

Anarchism is an Ever Flowing River because it expresses an innate desire among all humyn beings for solidarity and freedom.

In humyn her-history cultures and communities have been born, grown, and in turn been absorbed or destroyed by other more dominant societies. But always the humyn spirit has woven a rich fabric, a diversity of peoples and cultures that have survived to this day.

The nature-based and goddess spiritualities were destroyed by the monotheistic religions, but elements of them have survived. The Nation-State and the industrial revolution further fragmented communities and drove people off the land and into the cities. But people still built community wherever they were.

We are living in different times. The destruction of cultures, of real community and diversity, is now accelerating rapidly. It has happened in unison with the destruction of our fellow creatures - the trees, animals, and other species, and it is occuring in a way much different than in the past.

This rapid cycle of destruction is linked with the development of capitalism into a worldwide system. Capitalist economy now rules and penetrates every part of the globe, creating taste and encouraging a monoculture that forces each of us to salivate on command to every subliminal piece of advertising. It turns each of us into a commodity whose relationship with one another and with the natural world is distorted, where each of us has become an object to be manipulated. We are no longer real to each other, in community, but rather we have become created images that must fit into the capitalist monoculture.

Capitalism has been around for some 300 years. But for most of its history it did not have the technological tools that now exist to control. With a snap of the fingers capitalism's tentacles of hierarchy, competition, individualism, and meaninglessness can travel immediately throughout the world, entangling all.

The computer and its relative - the mass media - are being used as a form of technological fascism; to create a monolithic culture, people, and mindset that knows only one thing, and that is to buy and accumulate those products that the powers that be have defined as having meaning. The question is before us as people - can we resist? Can we know our alienation and have it not be redirected into bullshit?

Beyond Traditional Anarchism

Anarchism has tried to resist the developing global culture before. At the beginning of the 20th century the Anarchist Gustav Landauer had a vision of anarchism that went beyond the class struggle and smashing the state. Landauer understood that yes, we are all part of the working class, and that yes the state must be eliminated, but that the insidiousness of capitalism lies in its ability to eventually destroy all relationship, community, and diversity. His voice went largely unnoticed by traditional anarchists bent on the class struggle, overthrowing the state, and counteracting Marxist analysis.

For a good deal of the 20th century Marxism has reigned supreme among many progressive peoples. Much of Marxist analysis has now been discredited. Marxism has been unwilling and unable to address the cultural imperialism of capitalism in all of its dimensions.

In the last forty years a developing anarchism has begun to fill this void and meet capitalism head on. Writers such as Paul Goodman began to address the questions of community, alienation, and the meaninglessness of suburban sprawl and its attendant culture. In the 1960s, with the student rebellions of Berkeley and Paris, anarchists and Situationists began to zero in on the mindset of capitalist commodity culture.

The New Anarchism

There has now developed what is in many respects a different kind of anarchism to fight and resist the techno-fascist world we live in. This New Anarchism holds on to the basic tenets of traditional anarchism - such as recognizing the need for doing away with the state, the importance of the class struggle, and the general strike - as tools towards revolution. However, this New Anarchism is willing to take anarchism even further. Anarchism is meant to be fluid and flexible. Those of us born since 1945 have had available to us, in large measure, sources of information about previous cultures, contemporary ideas, and future scenarios, to a degree that our predecessors could not have imagined. So our contemporary anarchism has the expanded possibility of being eclectic.

As anarchists we are in the process of drawing together many different threads. We draw from and respect traditional anarchism. No one can devalue the tremendous efforts of those womyn and men who so cherished and fought for this vision of freedom with collectivity. We can only begin to imagine their suffering and patient determination. The foundation of their basic beliefs is something we can hold fast to and build upon.

From paganism we absorb a love of nature, a desire for a new spirituality that recognizes the importance of the feminine herstorically and in the present, and the need to be in tune with all things.

From the Taoist and Buddhist philosophies we absorb the importance of "Mindfulness," being in the moment, and balance in all things which we undertake.
The autonomist movement of the 1980s in Western Europe gave us the info- shop (a contemporary manifestation of the Spanish anteneos of the 1930s), in which there are anarchist books for sale, a lending library, a meeting place, and a space to develop culturally. One such infoshop is the Autonomous Zone at 2012 W. Chicago Ave. in Chicago.

From the writings of Afrikan-descended anarchist Lorenzo Komboa Ervin, and his book Anarchism and the Black Revolution, many of us have come to realize that the oppression of Afrikan-descended people and other people of color has operated as a "super oppression" by mixing both race and class, and that this very oppression, white racism, has built and continues to build international capitalism. ANY ANARCHISM THAT DOES NOT ROOT OUT WHITE RACISM IN ALL OF ITS SINUOUS MANIFESTATIONS, AND DOES NOT SUPPORT THE RIGHT OF ALL PEOPLES OF COLOR TO SEEK THEIR SELF-DETERMINATION, WILL NOT HAVE THE WISDOM, OR THE ABILITY, TO DEVELOP THE SOLIDARITY AMONG ALL PEOPLES NECESSARY TO DESTROY THE TECHNO-FASCISM WHICH DOMINATES OUR PLANET!

The writings of anarcho-feminists may prove to be the most important source for contemporary anarchism. In such writings as Jo Freeman and Cathy Levine's Untying the Knot, and Carol Erlich's Socialism, Anarchism, and Feminism, anarchism has as its focus the development of the small group, and the consensus process as it is used in both small and large groups, which bring anarchism to all aspects of one's life (relationships, 'the personal is political'); and the need to end all hierarchies in equal measure, be they Statism, Patriarchy, or Homophobia.

We owe the anarcho-feminists a great deal because they have taught many of us that all hierarchies are destructive. It is absolute bullshit to put doing away with the state first, before ridding the world of patriarchy and homophobia. A real social revolution works on them simultaneously.

We are developing an anarchist multi-culture, diverse, multi-dimensional, drawing from many sources; and because it values difference and building "power with" each other, can and will take on techno-fascist culture and in time defeat it.

This ends Part II of "The Ever Flowing River."
In Part III, Bill will discuss the development of an anarchist social revolution.

Part I Part II Part III


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