Anarchism is perhaps one of the most bizarre political ideologies to ever tickle the fancy of mankind. Its central kernel is, in a nutshell, that everyone should do precisely what they want to. Why anyone should want to develop a political doctrine around this moralism is almost incomprehensible. Let us look at the matter scientifically. Either humanity is rational or irrational. If humanity is rational then every human being considers their situation and then acts accordingly. All notions of demonic possession must be dismissed as irrational, so we can be clear that each time a person moves even the slightest action it is a product of their will. Even to move the slightest muscle requires the exercise of will – even more so the complex carefully synchronised orchestra of muscular transformation which is required to mutate the human visage into a smile. (Scientists at Cambridge University used to take the bodies of executed prisoners of the class war and apply electrical shocks to the corpse but they were never able to get more than a deadly grimace.) In short, if humanity is rational then they are unable do anything other than what they want. The fact is that they judge their situation, and then draw conclusions as to how they want to respond to the situation and finally implement their decision. This may well include cloaking their activity in whatever ideological mystification they feel appropriate.
According to this analysis, even when some one has a gun pointed at them they are still at complete liberty. The truth of this shown in one of the high points of revolutionary insubordination that occurred this century – the Soweto revolt 1976. South African armed forces tried to quell a revolt by school students by pointing guns at them and threatening to shoot. The youth replied that they would rather die than continue under their current conditions of life. They responded to the situation created by the state, which the armed men threatened to take beyond a point of no return, and simply dismissed it as of as little interest as a debating point. This clearly proves how our analysis is grounded in the reality of the class struggle.
Of course if humanity is not rational, then why discuss the matter in a rational way. Why not simply use rhetorical devises to appeal to the irrational side of humanity? This clearly demonstrates the absurd aspect of anarchism. As it revolves around a moral argument it uses techniques of persuasion to argue for a society without persuasion, And here we may have stumbled upon its origin. Philosophers are forever throwing up logical anomalies in order pave the way for breakthroughs in mathematical thought. The enigma of the square root of -1 for instance led some wag to invent imaginary numbers denoted by the marker i place by the quantity (eg 3i2 = -9). Likewise Bertrand Russell (denounced by some as the most evil man who ever lived) posed the problem of homologs, words which described themselves, and heterologs, words which do not describe themselves. The question then is that whilst ‘homolog’ is clearly a homolog it is impossible to resolve whether ‘heterolog’ is a heterolog.
In a like manner, the question posed by anarchism “Should we do what we want?” creates a similar aporia. Rather than attempting to refute anarchism – clearly a fruitless task – our goal must surely be to pose the question “What do we want to do?”. And here the coalitions which have sprung up around anarchist ideology turn to dust. Whilst they have all been trumpeting their commitment to Anarchism they do in fact want to do different things. The middle-class liberal anarchists want to jolly along boring everyone with their garbage while class-struggle anarchists are keen to defend the interests of the proletariat. Of course the meanderings of the middle-class liberal anarchists are of only anthropological interest. As for the class struggle anarchists, their anarchism principally serves as an ideological crust which only serves as a barrier to their minds be receptive to developments in class consciousness. As such, whilst it can be desperately frustrating in the short term, such crusts crumble upon any major upsurge of class struggle. We should not let our annoyance with the irrationalities thrown up by anarchism to obscure from us the fact that they are irrelevant.
Like liberalism, of which it is merely a stronger version, anarchism in reality can only serve as a cloak behind which real goals and real desires can be hidden. Thus when a movement is unsure of itself, it hides behind bland calls for freedom of expression (democracy) and freedom of action (anarchy). This can be as much true for subversive movements as for reactionary movements. At times communists have utilised anarchism as a mask behind which to work, particularly during the cold war. By the eighties most communists felt the movement sufficiently strong as to make the appellation ‘anarchist’ superfluous. Unfortunately this is less true now. Meanwhile, the demise of fascism has lead its proponents to become anti-state and even anarchist. All this talk of “leaderless resistance”, klanarchism and the appearance of such creatures as the Unabomber bear this out. Sometimes ‘Chaos’ has been the focus often accompanied by all the hocus pocus of ceremonial magick, satanism and the like.
It is clear that as anarchism becomes a cloak behind which cruelty, brutality and sadism can lurk, the communist movement can gain less and less by hiding in such a sewer. (And it is these terms that we welcome the republication of The Eclipse and Re-emergence of the Communist Movement by Gilles Dauvé and François Martin available from Antagonism Press c/o BM Makhno, London WC1N 3XX. As Gilles Dauvé (Jean Barrot) remarks in his new foreword: “Today classes still exist, but manifested through infinite degrees in consumption, and no one expects a better world from public ownership of industry. The “enemy” is an impalpable social relationship, abstract yet real, all pervading yet no monster beyond our reach: because the proletarians are those who produce and reproduce the world, they can disrupt and revolutionise it. The aim is immediate communisation, not something to be fully completed after a generation or more, but something to be started right away.” What better example of this could there be than The Listening Voice: Newsletter of the Equi-Phallic Alliance whose third issue (Samhain 398) describes itself as Opposing Wessex Nowhere. Having infiltrated the Dorset underchalk, the EPA’s operatives are plotting to “begin to bring the landscape down without explosives.” (emphasis in original). They have discovered that the landscape is transsexual that “the ‘Great Goddess’ is, in ‘fact’ a ‘man’.” This has all manner of consequences: “Many hills are on wheels, we have found. When EPA activists gained access to the Pilsden Pen section of the underchalk and wheeled the hill away, the fraud was exposed. We dumped it in a ditch. Many rustic youths – unwilling to be shepherds, or to play host to a ‘submerged southern voice’ – ‘joy-ride’ in the hills at weekends. They will not be ‘squashed out of acknowledgement’ – knowledge is their game. Burned out hills litter the ‘estates’ most weekends.”
The Listening Voice is available from the Equi-Phallic Alliance, 33 Hartington Road, ‘Southampton’ SO14 0EW.
This critique was published by Unpopular Books.
Unpopular Books can be contacted at
Box 15, 138, Kingsland High Street, London, E8 2NS