the Disillusioned kid: Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution
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Saturday, September 03, 2005

Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution

In a fascinating run through of various aspects of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Dan suggests that the disaster has much to tell the "self confessed anarchists" amongst us:
in fact important lessons for those intent on reminding us all that bloody revolution is the way forward can be learned from the situation. true anarchy +cannot+ come about in one fell swoop until the existing power structures have been dismantled and disarmed. otherwise the vulnerable are bound to be preyed upon, and the wealthy will send in their hired guns to maintain the law. until people are self-reliant shortages of state aid will be catastrophic. katrina has not caused anarchy, it has exacerbated the hierarchical system of pillage that rules our lives.
This echoes many themse I've been wondering about for sometime.

Anarchism has long been portrayed as a violent and dangerous movement. There have certainly been many instances of anarchist utilisation of violence, perhaps most famously during the terroristic campaign against individual members of the ruling classes in the last Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century and during the Spanish Civil War. Nevertheless, violence is but a tactic which has on occasion been utilised by anarchists (and has been the subject of quite some debate). It is not, as some critics would like to suggest, its raison d'etre.

I happen to think that any movement seeking to seriously challenge the status quo is unlikely to be able to do so non-violently. Those in positions of power and privilege tend not to be very keen on losing those positions as even a cursory consideration of history will demonstrate. One need only look to Northern Ireland or the Miners' Strike to see that the British Government is unlikely to have any qualms about turning the full-force of the state on its own people. That said, I don't think that a campaign of violence on the part of anarchists (or any other group) is even remotely likely to bring about fundamental social change in society.

If we want such change we are going to have to go about building the institutions we would like to see in a post-capitalist society in the here and now. That could include co-operatives, workers councils, alternative media etc. These coupled with a sustained campaign to challenge the ideological hegemony of the ruling classes could serve to undermine the legitimacy of the curent system. It is at this point that the powers-that-be are likely to turn on any putative revolution which will require it to defend itself or be destroyed.

None of this, of course, is likely to be of much relevance anytime soon. Nevertheless, I think that we should begin to build the alternative institutions which I mentioned. While they are unlikely to amount to a challenge to the system anytime soon they may help to plant a seed which will at some point germinate into the better world for which we are striving. Such preparatory work may also put us in a stronger position in the event of some major shock to the system (peak oil, climate change etc).

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