Our Ideals are far from Utopian
[Part of the pseudogaffe Anarchism introductory reference]
Anarchist theory has been translated to practice throughout all of history. Before the philosophy was actually named, hundreds of societies and cultures practiced various forms of egalitarian self-organization which extended into their economic and political structures and played major roles in the development of the idea. The Nubians, a sedentary farming society in Egypt, have practiced communal ownership of land and resources with horizontal family structures for as far back as their earliest known existence. The Kibbutz agricultural communities in Israel have been based on collective control of land, tools and production, and communal social values that made them a formidable model of organization during the 1948 Palestine War. The ancient philosophies of Taoism in China and Stoicism in Greece criticized hierarchies of imposed order, and so on.
Its important to note a difference between the organic gravitation toward anarchistic practices among different cultures, and a conscious struggle for anarchism to be realized from rigid hierarchical societies. The former demonstrates its utility in human beings and effectively argues against the narrative of predetermined, predatory instincts among humans to survive. The attitudes we build throughout time are influenced by the situations we find ourselves in and the needs that arise from some previous arrangement. Anarchy is viable and, in a word, natural.
But the artificial instances demonstrate a drive to do better as people. Obviously, the anarchists must be angry at something if they exercise this much energy around their ideas. Anarchy appears to be natural because it almost always arises from mass upset against entrenched oppression, if repression is minimal. Through history, knowing the consequences of each regime, state, monopolization of livelihood and justification for social authority, we continue to determine that people are better off deciding whats best for themselves by themselves, and not simply following the orders of any exploiter.
Among the most cited examples of a fully-functioning anarchist society is the occupied regions of Spain by anarcho-syndicalist labor unions (CNT-FAI) during the civil war of 1936. They collaborated with other Communist groups in the International Brigades against the rise of Fascism on the front lines of Franco’s coup, but also managed whole cities, towns, farms and rural areas by themselves. They collectivized land and infrastructure, and managed it through bottom-up deliberation and delegation in the way they had learned in the trade unions. This vastly improved living standards, education, health care, transportation, food production and industrial manufacturing.
A year after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, Nestor Mahkno lead the Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine and assembled an autonomous, self-managed (though imperfect) territory against the monarchist armies, eventually clashing with the Bolsheviks as well. Their organization was in line with anarchist communism, as they emphasized decentralized communities as the bedrock of the provisional society and free exchange as a sort of gift economy.
After the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994, which sought to privatize native landholdings against Article 27 of Mexico’s constitution, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) staged a peasant rebellion throughout the Mexican State of Chiapas where they occupied government buildings and openly declared war on the Mexican government, resulting in sporadic armed clashes. The political nature of the EZLN combines traditional Mayan practices with libertarian socialism and Marxism. They emphasize indigenous collective land ownership, participatory “bottom-up” democracy, full social equality for all people, and a contemporary furthering of Emilio Zapata’s legacy during the Mexican revolution of 1910. They continue to operate in Chiapas to this day, holding regular assemblies and cooperative coffee manufacturing.
The [presently] ongoing conflicts in Syria around Islamic jihadism has influenced past organizations like the Kurdistan Worker’s Party to adapt to a libertarian approach of social struggle. The various associations fighting for Kurdish recognition and independence in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere have taken up a sort of anti-authoritarian structure to combat fundamentalist opposition, such as democratic confederalism, libertarian municipalism and blatant social anarchism in some areas. The revolution in Rojava continues in a varied consciousness against states, monopolies and hierarchies, recently expressed through the formation of the International Revolutionary People’s Guerrilla Forces (IRPGF), described as, “a militant armed self-organized and horizontal collective working to defend social revolutions around the world, to directly confront capital and the state, and advance the cause of anarchism.”
The anarchist culture doesn’t want to simply reform a central bureaucratic practice from the bottom-up, where we just vote on everything, share everything and nothing changes. We aim to make power the common possession of all, to create groups and greater bodies of groups that exercise power in the most equal and efficient ways possible, and to realize in all corners of society a conception of order that arises from the masses on a simple principle of mutual respect and responsibility.
We are already intuitively familiar with mutual relations and responsibility in current society, but only for the worst reasons. Paying our debts, showing up for work, keeping a schedule of obligations, and so on. The radical and scary thing anarchists are trying to do, when you get down to it, is transplant these social instincts into an environment that has removed hierarchy from the puzzle pieces of society. So our instincts would look a lot more like finding a suitable and voluntary task to contribute to, using practical solutions as different needs arise, helping your neighbor as they help you, honoring each other’s concerns and finding agreement rather than competing with each other. Over time, this would help us fundamentally forget any need to rip each other off to survive. All the functions of people put to good use instead of needing to carefully choose the least degrading things possible would help us find a positive purpose in each daily activity.
A lot of different things can come out of this, and thats exactly what we want. Infinite possibility; unrestrained by the mindless interests of money and rigid social orthodoxies. That is the ultimate end goal of anarchism once true liberty and material well-being becomes the default in life. The area we’ve been struggling in for centuries is shaking the foundations of what we haven’t consented to, and making others realize they haven’t consented to them either.