MINARCHIST: First let’s join forces to trim all the branches. After that, we can argue about whether to kill the root.
ANARCHIST: Since I already know I want to kill the root, why should I wait until we first trim the branches? If I kill the root now, the branches will die of themselves.
(Further elaboration, if anyone needs it.)
The real question for the anarchist is: When are you going to actually kill the branches? Yes, if you kill the root now, the branches will die. But you have to actually kill it – not write about killing it, not talk about killing it, not think deeply about killing it – in order for those branches to die.
Forgive the harsh tone; I’m in a mood where I’m wondering whether the train is taking us anywhere at all, minarchists or anarchists. When do we kill it, Roderick? Others? When do we start building these alternative institutions we keep talking about? When do we start resisting? What, in other words, are we waiting for? I assume we are waiting for something, and that we’re not just neglecting the dictates of our consciences indefinitely.
If I knew the answer, I would be leading by example, so yes, I know that I don’t need to wait on you guys. But I do so enjoy company in my revolution.
Excuse me, the initial question is: when are you going to actually kill the root?
We certainly need to do more than write about it, but I don’t agree that writing about it isn’t doing anything about it. Education is a crucial part of the strategy, and the number of converts to MFABU (market-friendly anarchism broadly understood) seems to be growing by leaps and bounds.
But I agree that we need to do more in the way of building alternative institutions. I think we need more talk here too, though. Obviously, we need to talk more about what institutions to try to start building (or contribute to building), and how. (And then do it, of course.)
I think part of the answer lies in abandoning the task of conversion, opting instead to demonstrate our good faith by cooperating on issues of mutual interest with the people already doing work on the ground (the existing activist / social justice / radical political groups). Part of the answer also lies in us actually talking about the institutions we want to build, which we only seem to hint at. And part of the answer is in actually executing on our vision. I think the last part relies on a network of mutual aid that extends beyond market anarchists and into other areas of anarchism, social justice activism, etc. We need to start working with others so that they can feel comfortable working with us when we agree on goals.
Jeremy, do you honestly believe that just because one writes about it, he cannot also go about the process in action?
What about Errico Malatesta? Surely he was quite vocal as well as quite active?
I think part of the answer lies in abandoning the task of conversion
Not sure what you mean by conversion (conversion to what? market anarchism? MFABU? anarchism per se? social justice activism per se?) but we — however broadly you define “we” — would seem to need to be a bit more numerous than we are before we can take down the state, no?
Why in Eris’s name would I believe that? I just would like to see us doing something. The Alliance is a crucial first step. As I’m working in Richmond to figure out what the local conditions and needs are for further left libertarian action, I’d just like us to flesh out more what we think alternative institutions, direct action, and other activities look like in which we should be engaging.
I never said we should not write, talk, or think about action. I said that until we act, the branches and roots will not die. Our conversations and writing are invaluable in formulating strategy and getting our philosophic house in order. But it is not the plan that liberates, but the execution.
Roderick is doing good work with MDS. William Gillis is doing good work with the RWC. Charles Johnson is doing good work in Las Vegas. I do not mean to dismiss what we’ve done so far. I do think we should start considering what the next step forward looks like. A little more strategy, even if that comes at the expense of theoretical work (but I see no reason why it must).
Well, forgive me if I misunderstood you, Roderick, but I was referring to your initial response about converting people to MFABU. I was suggesting that we not prioritize conversion, but instead put our energy into cross-ideological coalitions that can unite on issues and stay away from ideological conformity. This is the strategy the RLLA is pursuing.
As Jesse Walker said on the list, there are a lot of alternative institutions and activist groups doing much consistent with our goals. We should help them, work with them, become their friends – this is mutual aid. We have much to learn from existing radical political groups, I believe.
Oh, one other thing about growing our numbers, Roderick. I differ with you here. I don’t think it will be left libertarians, or even anarchists, who bring down the state in the end. I think it’s much more likely that it will simply collapse due to any number of foreseeable phernomena, but if it is brought down it will be by more than just left libertarians, more than just anarchists, more than just anti-authoritarians even. It will be a broad coalition of people who have finally rejected the status quo and have opened up a space for decentralism.
At least, that’s what I predict. I also see it as dangerous to grow our numbers around an ideology. I’d rather have thoughtful people than people who agree with me on everything, or even most things. I’d rather have people who are true to themselves and agree with me on the most important thing: resistance to the empire. Kevin Carson’s concept of a panarchy strikes me as sufficiently decentralized that we should be able to offer autonomy and subsidiarity to a host of different interest groups. If we truly do not seek domination, this would be a wise goal (thick libertarians may decide to go on moral crusades ;-P , but the rest of us can get on with realizing free communities and living free lives).
I also see it as dangerous to grow our numbers around an ideology.
Well, MFABU (unlike market anarchism, perhaps) isn’t an ideology; it’s basically the decentralism/panarchy you’re talking about, or so I was conceiving it.
Hmm. To a very great extent, I don’t think there is anything in particular to be done. Not that we shouldn’t do things, but there is no royal road to science as Herr Marx put it. Lots of different approaches all have their various merits.
Our means must fit our ends. Which means to me that we must embody anarchism as much as possible in our own lives, and reach out locally to other like minded folks and be anarchists with them. From that, much else follows. (because in doing so, we practice a meta-agorism)
This also speaks to the first point, that if we desire decentralism, we should be decentralized and eccentric in our approach to action. What works for me, might not work for thee, and vice versa.
Everything happens at the margins, as an Austrian economist might tell you.
By living an example of our ideals and being joyous in them, the people at the margins of our clusters will get pulled into our lives and become at least partial agorists.
Other than that, the main function we can perform is propagandistic. And to me, so far, it seems like radical skepticism seems like the best tool. It may not win converts immediately, but it will destroy the web of lies used by our enemies. And they thrive mostly on lies.
As G. Carlin [RIP] put it, “if we got rid of all the bullshit, our whole society would fall apart!” Amen.
I recommend the Anarchist Black Cross if one’s looking for something to do in the meantime.