- Date published:
9:00 am, October 4th, 2017 - 22 comments
Categories: class, class war, community democracy, democracy under attack, democratic participation, political alternatives, Revolution - Tags: adam, anarchism, democracy
This Guest Post by Standardista adam was first published on The Standard in 2015. Given our politics this month it seems relevant to revisit this now.
“Smash the State” was a well know maxim of anarchism for a long time. The state is the point where-by the forces of capitalism and reaction can bring overbearing force onto the population – generally violently and always with a level of malice reminiscent of a two year old who was not getting their way. What is most interesting moving into the 21 first century is the commitment by elements of the right to wholesale destruction of the state. Anarchism has called for just that for much of it’s history, relying on working people to spontaneously create co-operative units, and democratic forms at every turn.
Losing the civil war in Spain was a wake up call that many anarchists missed. Working people did not spontaneously create or co-operate (in all but a few exceptions). And democratic forces were not embedded. The smashed state brought them nothing. The lack of democratic replacements in all but a few exceptions meant that anti democratic forces have at every turn weakened democracy and democratic participation ever since.
At heart, anarchism is a voice of reason; a voice for all that is good in humanity and a voice to offer hope. Democracy is a system which needs people to engage on a regular basis. It’s not a system, which can be brought and sold for 30 pieces of silver, once ever few years.
The road to democracy, freedom and liberty is not born of a spontaneous inbuilt desire that will spawn when the state is smashed. Far from it. Anarchists have had to realise that the road to freedom, liberty and democracy is hard work; that people who live in a anti-democratic environment do not have the skills, nor the drive to embrace a full blown democratic environment. For some, there’s acknowledgement of the need for more democracy. But cynicism and a sense of hopelessness is generally the main outcome of living in this type of system. The will to power should be the will to have power over our own life and its affairs. But the will to have power over our own affairs has been sucked out of most people. It is simpler to just reach for the bottle, or the TV remote – and not have to think about what it means to participate in a fulsome, rich and free society.
When the debased desires of destruction and power are the only point to politics, then politics is rotten. If you respond to that assertion with hopelessness or a feeling of dis-empowerment, then the forces of reaction and capitalism have done their propaganda job well. But if you can think of a society and a better community which does not embrace destruction and power for powers sake – then you stand with democracy. Democracy is not perfect. That should be seen as a positive. Without it, all we have to rule the day is authoritarianism and ideologies that refuse to be critiqued because they believe in there own perfection. Our history is littered with the dead and maimed at the hands of individuals and groups who embraced authoritarianism and ideology. Today an old type of authoritarianism is on the rise – the theocratic state. These states, are just as nasty and vicious as any in the past. They also represent a new high point by anti-democratic forces in the use of fear and terror.
An old adage was that fear is the mind killer. In this age, that has been reaffirmed. A society that embraces the visual medium, can be controlled by fear. Through fear, the mind becomes disengaged, so our base desires and emotions can be manipulated. This is the whole point of propaganda – the drive to control the population. The accumulation of wealth, the divide and rule approach to ruling society – all have at there base in fear. Your choice is to live with fear and let your emotions be manipulated and follow what is prescribed. Or you can face your fear, remove yourself from the constant emotional bombardment and embrace freedom.
Live free or be a serf. This is fast becoming the only options that the forces of capitalism and reaction are leaving society with. We can give up and just roll through this day and into the next, then the next. Sleep, follow orders, do nothing but consume. Or we could try and engage with freedom. We could try thinking for ourselves and become fully engaged members of a true democracy. There will be pain and fatigue and setbacks. That’s part of the price of freedom alongside diligence, vigilance, and a working mind.