Anarchists Fight For a Collective Society Not a Power Vacuum

Perhaps clearing up misconceptions is due to the G20 disruptions a la Black Bloc in Hamsburg. Regardless, this misunderstanding is largely propagated from the flimsy coverage in the mainstream media. Mr Robot, for example, showcase a collective of leftist hackers who erased the debt and crippled the financial system in their universe. Fight Club similarly, bombed the capitalist financial centers by infiltrating the security of buildings. V for Vendetta also bombed Great Britain’s political centers in a symbolic meaning of a new society. Even a kid’s show of Nickelodeon in Legend of Korra featured an evil airbender, Zaheer, who believed that the natural order is “disorder.” He eventually killed a queen and ensued a period of chaos and banditry. It’s no accident then that when anarchists show up on the news or elsewhere, the first thing people believe that anarchists fight for is a power vacuum – no power, no structure, nothing in it’s place.

The proof is in the pudding. Even with it’s problematic inception as an ideology in Europe, anarchism never was for vacuum. Pierre-Joseph Proudhon wanted to replace the system of private property with collective ones. He attempted this by encouraging a semi-reformist mutualist institutions. Yet others, like Emma Goldman and Errico Malatesta, believed that an organized society would have to fight in revolution to achieve anarchist aims. This tendency won out.

So how did this extremely misunderstood idea of anarchism as a political vacuum appear?

Flash forward to the victory of Francisco Franco. Anarchists, who had been able to control sections of Spain during the Spanish Civil War, were forced to go underground. In this political climate of defeat, anarchists turned to direct and lose attacks against the government. Something similar happened in Italy. Perhaps the best theorist of insurrectionary anarchism would be Alfredo Bonanno, who advocated for attacks against the state as a way to regain lost humanity. Anarchist took many of his ideas, and as such, the media would forever overemphasize their take on violence and attack as the end-all-be-all of the anarchist movement.

But this is disingenuous. Anarchism has many streams, but mostly all of the streams are anti-capitalist. And unless one is an Stirnernite, it is basically common sense that anarchists are advocates for a collective society. They emphasize community control of the economy and local autonomy, organized through collectives. In theory, such as the Bolo’Bolo work or classic thinkers like Peter Kropotkin, expectations of a new society would have to sit side by side with capitalism, offering a living and breathing alternative to current conditions. Whatever the case, anarchism has never been about a Mad Max dystopia. From the Spanish Civil War to the Mexican Revolution, or modern revolutions like the Zapatista or Rojava experiments, the historical attempts of this political philosophy is about finding an alternative to capitalism – a system that has run its course.

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10 Comments

      1. Anytime! Very frustrating. We must remember that anarchism is a bad word because the ruling class perpetuates this misconception to hold onto power. Educating people about who/what owns and controls them is the first step I guess.

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  1. you dont realize the main problem of anarchism. You say anarchism is about local self organization of people. But you forget two thinks. the World is one world. How should theese self organized regions work together? And more importand, how theese self organized regions should find their Ethics and Morals? What will they do, with conflicts in the Ethics? You have a clear Moral view about that? But someelse will have another view. So there will be conflicts about the right and the wrong Ethics and then there will be fighting and then there will be autority. Even if you say, no, the regions will be able to unite opon Ethics, each region for himself. But how they will interact with their diffrenct Etics? Will you never interfere in another region, even if you think that in this region is something going bad? If no, that you cant stop bad people from abusing mankind. if yes, then you cant stop other people from interfering in other regions. And if theese conflicts between the regions start, then they will build up higher authorities to get stronger and bigger. The reality is, in he World you have different cultures, diffrent beliefs, diffrent Ethics. So you will always have conclicts between them even without religion. And for that reason you will always have conflicts and war and violence. And for that reason you will always see how societies try to get stronger and bigger and for that reason they will always give up so freedom towards the autorities, so that the autorities can protect the united statebuilding. this is a reality not a matter of discussion.

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    1. You have several points, but also some holes in your argument. For one, anarchism is not about forcing it’s ethics on another entity. Also is the fact that the there actually isn’t really “one” world. Like the Zapatistas have said, there are many worlds. In this case, it is likely that anarchism can live side by side with capitalism, but with a tension. It isn’t about pushing our ethics on the world, but figuring out how to live with each other with our difference. That’s why it is essential that communities of struggle fight with solidarity against statebuilding, building a new world with each other, rather than to each other. Also, who are the “bad people mankind”? Usually, more often than not, it is people that have amassed power, and usually, this power is amassed through a successful state. As such, anarchism is opposed to the state because it takes away the means for control of society by power hungry individuals. It is also easier said than done. But it is possible, and there are dozens of examples of anarchism, or at least, anarchistic tendencies, within societies today.

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      1. thank you for your answer. But I still have a question. You say: ‘ anarchism is not about forcing it’s ethics on another entity.’ So my question is: If not, so how you want to deal with another entity who is doing wrong according to your ethics. So lets say you control a city in an anarchistic way, lets say this would be possible as you say. And then you have another city, another world, as you say, next to you. And this city the majority is treatin the minority in ways, you cant accept. What would you do? Go and talk to them? What if they dont care? leave them? But then you can do nothing if one city is starting to build up an state. or you have to make the redline the statebuilding. But then you have a problem, because this is something not easly can be proven. So if you say the redline is that the city next to you tries to build a state, then you have to stop him, then this meens. All cities could always claim their neighbours would start to build a state. And this will happen because their will be conflicts and tension. so there will be some people who try to become powerfull to reach their aims in ethics and economy. So you cant prevent the others from statebuilding as your are not stronger then them. so if you want to prevent them you need to be stronger then them AND united with your people in moral. This is unrealistic because why the people should become united in ethics after they started anachism? Anarchism is based on the idea, that there would be something like a natural ethic which would come back if the people are leaving the false ethics of the states behind. But this is a spiritual dream, similar to the dream of the socialists or Communists. It is simply not true or sound, their is no natural ethic which would return. And for that reason you cant unite the people against crimes, they will always discuss and then aggressiv people will try to become more poverfull then others so that they can use their power to overcome their moral opponents.

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      2. I am not sure, I think you are pointing out several distinct problems in your question. How about I dedicate a blog post to your question? I can be more thorough and hopefully give you a better answer. Would that be ok?

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