What the pseudo-anarchists don’t understand

I was taking a walk through the blogosphere and I found myself on a blog by a group called “Free Society Collective”, based in Vermont. In their own words, they “seek the abolition of capitalism, the state, and all other social relations built on coercion, hierarchy, and oppression.” (emphasis mine)

Now what troubles me, and what has troubled me all along is how some anarchists take a contradictory position on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. To illustrate my point, I will refer to a seminar on anarchism organized by this group. One of the speakers they introduce in the advertisement for that event is described as having been “active in a variety of politics movements, in particular the resistance to Israel’s occupation of Palestine.” Now resistance to occupation is just fine, but occupation of Palestine? Sure, historically there was a Palestine, there are people today who identify as Palestinians, but there is more to the usage of this terminology in an anarchist context than one would notice at first glance. Since when did anarchists believe in the formation of new states?? Rather than working on bringing people together to fight the state, you work to have people fight each other for control over one state or for the establishment of another? Whatever happened to our great father Mikhail Bakunin’s words in “Statism and Anarchy”: “We, the revolutionary anarchists, are the advocates of education for all the people, of the emancipation and the widest possible expansion of social life. Therefore we are the enemies of the State and all forms of the statist principle.

It was about time that we cleared that up. Anarchism is not about supporting people’s struggle for statehood. It is about a people’s revolution against and emancipation from the tyranny of the state. And that, I am afraid, means that supporting Palestinian ambitions for statehood (as opposed to the Palestinian struggle against brutal oppression) disqualifies you as an anarchist.

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4 responses to “What the pseudo-anarchists don’t understand

  1. For me, this is one of the chief problems with labels — how each person or group defines them. While I personally don’t disagree with your stated point, others may and do.

    There is no genuine static definition for words labels like anarchist, socialist, progressive, etc. They come to us in varying degrees.

    It’s like the label, vegetarian. Some vegetarians eschew ALL meat and meat byproducts. Some allow for the eating of eggs and some allow for the eating of eggs and dairy products. I even know some people who eat either fish or fowl and still refer to themselves as a vegetarian.

  2. Hello again,

    Well, actually this has little to do with labels, really. It has to do with a theory proposed by the great Mikhail Bakunin. Granted, there are many forms of anarchism (e.g. anarcho-syndicalism), but the main focus of anarchism is on the tyranny of the STATE. The acceptance of the legitimacy of the state by an anarchist would be a case of (by no means anything unseen before) a walking-talking oxymoron.

  3. Freedom,
    I guess my main point is that definitions are ever evolving. While it’s certainly true that great historic figures first conceptualized belief systems and/or theories, I believe we make a tragic mistake by accepting their dictums as absolute.

    Life itself is about change. What Bakunin or Marx or whoever else experienced when they set forth their beliefs has changed in one manner or another. This is one of my critiques of religion, particularly Christianity. Some guy (Jesus) reacts to the current circumstances of his day and age, and fundamentalists want to cast said beliefs in stone. Well, things have changed since then and our thinking needs to grow and expand with the times and changing circumstances.

    This is not to suggest that nothing anyone has written in the past is not germane to today. Bakunin offered great insights that may well serve any generation. But we err if we accept his take on the world then for our complete take on the world today.

  4. Point taken, although again I must stress that it’s difficult to imagine a definition of ANARCHY that advocates the creation of states as the ULTIMATE goal. Maybe I wouldn’t have had as difficult a time accepting it if it had been a “temporary” goal in preparation for the ultimate goal of worldwide emancipation from the tyranny of authority. I guess whatever rocks their boat. 🙂

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