Friday, March 6, 2009

Why I'm Suspicious of Social Anarchism

I've already posted on why social anarchism is extremely impractical, in the economic sense. But it's also destined to be authoritarian.

Whenever I hear social anarchists describe their preferred institutions, my blood curdles. I am deeply suspicious of all this talk of "democracy," "libertarian municipalism," "delegates," "federation," and most of all, "voting." I do not have one scintilla of trust in any of this "social democracy" gunk, which always somehow manages to be very state-like in practice..

The social anarchists have done little to reassure us that their system would be truly libertarian. Many of them ally with Leninists or Democratic Socialists, and view scum such as Che Guevara as "comrades." A number of them are lean heavily Marxist. Most of them support far greater state control over the economy than what we have now, endorsing socialized health care, public schools, powerful unions, and other statist institutions.

Rarely, if ever, do they condemn state-socialism. Oh sure, they'll pay lip service to opposing it (at least when the Leninists let them off their leashes). But do they? I don't think they do. They certainly don't ever act like they do. They don't seem to oppose government at all, except in the rare instances that it protects individual rights.

The basic problem is that while the "community" may own the means of production in theory, it always amounts to a small group of elites controlling and planning the economy in practice. The reason for this is that it's ludicrous to think that the individual would actually have a "say" under a system specifically designed for collective mob rule. Rothbard was right when he said:

"But more deep than that is the fact that Karl [Hess] after having been an anarcho-capitalist for some time shifted over to become an anarcho-communist or anarcho-syndicalist. I don't really see any basis for collaboration between the two groups, because even if we are both against the existing state, they would very quickly come up with another state. I don't think you can be an anarcho-communist or an anarcho-syndicalist. You know if the commune runs everything, and decides for everything, whether it is a neighborhood commune or a mass country commune – it really does not matter in this case, somebody's got to make the communal decision. You can't tell me that you'll have participatory democracy and that everybody is going to equally participate. There is obviously going to be a small group, the officiating board or the statistical administrative board or whatever they want to call it, whatever it's going to be, it's going to be the same damn group making decisions for everybody. In other words, it's going to be a coercive decision for the collective property. It will be another state again, as far as I can see. So I really can't see any basis for collaboration. That is really part of a broader analysis of the communist versus the individualist position."

The idea that you could organize any kind of significant economy and give every single individual within it an equal say is 100% impossible. There is no way it can be done. Any system that says otherwise is a fraud.


Neverfox said...


Raskolnik said...

I think many anarchists haven't really grasped what anarchy would look like (at some indeterminable point in the future). For one, the dominant western ideology of mechanism -- with its dualistic, materialist, and reductionist components -- will have to fall and be replaced with something more... (trying to think of something befitting for anarchism) organic. I believe that this will take place soon as this worldview has exceeded the point of its logical conclusion. The seeds are already in place: I'm talking specifically about 20th-century breakthroughs in science and many (albeit immature) New Age spiritualities.

When this happens the past will be cast off, and if tomorrow's anarchy replaces Enlightenment democracy, then the risk of a fall back into statism will be slim. To be honest, I find it a bit naive to think that state-like institutions for collective action will be nonexistent in an anarchist society. It happens, and it's not inherently a bad thing.

FWIW, I find that in anarchy, individualist and socialist communities will look nearly identical. I guess I'd prefer the former, since true individualism is way more iconoclastic. ;)