There is hope

Written By: - 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: , ,

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.


22 comments on “There is hope”

  1. Gareth 1

    If “Fear is the mind killer” has become an old adage, then I’m too old.

    It was first published in 1965 by Frank Herbert. Part of the Bene Gesserit “Litany against Fear” in Dune.

    “I must not fear.
    Fear is the mind-killer.
    Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
    I will face my fear.
    I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
    And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
    Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

    • Robert Guyton 1.1

      Pretty sure it was around before Frank. It sounds very, very old. Since the days fear first flowered, I’m guessing 🙂

      • Gareth 1.1.1

        Citation please?

        • Robert Guyton

          I know an Australopithecine mother crooned those very words to her child just awoken from a nightmare but I’m damned if I can find the link…

        • Draco T Bastard

          Closest I can find is Rumi:

          Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking. Live in silence.

        • CoroDale

          From Thrice Greatest Hermes’ sacred book ‘The Virgin of the World.’

          27. “Naught have they, then, to stop them from receiving their initiation in the good of freedom from all pain, and unconstrained by terror’s grievous goads, from living softly out a life free from care.

          “Then will they not gird on the armour of an over-busy daring up to Heaven? Will they not, then, reach out their souls free from all care unto the–primal–elements themselves?

          “Teach them henceforth to long to plan out something, where they have as well to fear the danger of its ill-success, in order that they may be tamed by the sharp tooth of pain in failure of their hopes.

          “Let the too busy nature of their souls be balanced by desires, and fears, and griefs, and empty hopes.

          “Let loves in quick succession sway their souls, hopes, manifold desires, sometimes fulfilled, and sometimes unfulfilled, that the sweet bait of their success may draw them into struggle amid direr ills,

          p. 211

          “Let fever lay its heavy hand on them, that losing heart they may submit desire to discipline.”

    • Andre 1.2

      Has “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering” become an old adage yet?

      • Gareth 1.2.1

        Surely not, it only came out in 1999.

        A similar one which might qualify as an old adage is:

        “What man does not understand, he fears. What he fears, he hates. What he hates, he will try to destroy”

    • Quasimodo 1.3

      In an age of widely distributed computing power (easily fried by electromagnetic pulse) why can’t Winston put his search criteria into an appropriate search engine and come up with a result ?

    • alwyn 2.1

      Are you saying that I’M responsible for Winston Peters being the King (or Queen) maker. If I had run for Parliament he would never have happened.
      God, the guilt feelings I am getting.
      Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry. Sob, sob, sob, sob.

      • McFlock 2.1.1

        I read it more that people like you are the penalty for the poor effort of the rest of us.

      • Robert Guyton 2.1.2

        Pull yourself together, man! You are forever blubbering here on The Standard, but this latest out-burst of yours is beyond the pale; yes, you are to blame, but shoulder it, alwyn, like a man and quit your whimpish whining. Tell ya what! Join the Green Party; they’re staunch and hard-core; they’ll put some spine into your jelly!

        • alwyn

          “Tell ya what! Join the Green Party”.

          I may be responsible for Winnie being the de facto ruler for the next 3 years but the offence isn’t really in the class that calls for such a punishment.
          In the US, at least it couldn’t happen. The eighth Amendment would ban it.
          “The Eighth Amendment (Amendment VIII) of the United States Constitution prohibits the federal government from imposing excessive bail, excessive fines, or cruel and unusual punishment.”
          Being made to join the Green party would clearly come into the category of “cruel and unusual punishment” wouldn’t it?

          On the other hand this isn’t the US and we don’t have such an enlightened constitution. Please don’t dob me in to the Inquisition.

          • gsays

            Ha typical, a conversation tries to emerge, and in come the Tories with the pedantry, obfuscation, sasarcasm and bulldust.
            Bugger off I say, or at least let the adults talk in peace.

            • In Vino

              Nice, gsays. I think I have accused alwyn of all those vices, but never so succinctly.

          • Draco T Bastard

            In the US, at least it couldn’t happen. The eighth Amendment would ban it.
            “The Eighth Amendment (Amendment VIII) of the United States Constitution prohibits the federal government from imposing excessive bail, excessive fines, or cruel and unusual punishment.”

            Did you notice that the US engages in torture and being held indefinitely without trail?

            On the other hand this isn’t the US and we don’t have such an enlightened constitution.

            I’m pretty sure that you’ll find our laws are actually better and better obeyed by the authorities.

      • Quasimodo 2.1.3

        Teenage angst, Alwyn ?

  2. gsays 3

    Thanks Adam, great post.
    I have come to the conclusion that anarchy is where politics and spirituality converge.

    By this I mean we need to ‘evolve’ into anarchists.
    Where there is law there is no love, where there is love there is no law.

    Love is the desire for unity.

  3. Sanctuary 4

    Anarchism, the only political movement whose didactic prose is interchangeable with a Depeche Mode track.

  4. Once was Tim 5

    ” 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.”

    That’d be the view of some of my contemporaries who once came up with some grafitti gems as “Mutate before the rush”, and “Smash the Cistern” sprawled around Aro Valley.
    Shortly after, they joined the ranks of the political commentariat, and the severely indebted so that there only way out was a kind of “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”.

    Numbness is always an easier option – right up until the time it kills them

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