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(en) Ireland, WSM - Workers Solidarity #90 - What is anarchism? Thinking about anarchism by John Flood

Date Tue, 31 Jan 2006 15:19:02 +0200

Many people still associate anarchism with violence, destruction, and chaos
"Rise, like lions after slumber, In unvanquishable number,
Shake your chains to earth like dew, Which in sleep had fall'n on you.
Ye are many They are few" -Shelley, The Mask of Anarchy
Over the past fifteen years the global anarchist movement has
awakened from its long slumber. In Ireland anarchist ideas and
methods of organising, are gaining a wider acceptance than ever
before. However, many people still associate anarchism with
violence, destruction, and chaos. This concept of anarchism is
reinforced by the corporate media, and those that have an interest in
discrediting the anarchist movement. Needless to say this idea of
anarchism bears no correlation with the society we are trying to
create, or our struggle to achieve it.

Anarchism was born in the crucible of class struggle and emerged
out of the wider socialist movement. Anarchists wish to replace the
economic system in which a minority live off the labour of others,
with a system in which the workers, mental and manual, own, and
control the wealth of society. This would allow people to decide what
it is that they need. This democratically planned production would be
orientated towards satisfying people's needs rather than the
insatiable greed of a minority.

However anarchists feel that this control over the economy cannot
be exercised through a centralised government. We see freedom as
at the very heart of socialism, and the fight to create it. History,
rationality and our own experiences teach us that once given control,
a ruling group becomes intoxicated with power and feel that they
know what's best for the rest of us. Often they will use their new
found power against their enemies, even if they are the people they
are supposed to represent. The bitter experiences of Russia, Spain
and countless other betrayals throughout history teach us that
capitalism and hierarchies cannot be abolished from above. Freedom
is not granted by governments or elites; it is won through struggle by
workers and other oppressed people.

Instead of appointing "good" bosses and leaders to run society for
the rest of us, we want people to directly control all possible aspects
of their life. We believe that any interaction between individuals
should be under the direct control of the participants.

The basic democratic structure of our envisaged society would be
worker and community councils. Here people could come together
to discuss how they want the resources of society to be used. These
councils would federate together on a national and international
basis to plan production for the larger community. The local councils
would appoint delegates to the national, regional or international
councils. If a delegate overstepped their remit or went against the
wishes of the council they would be stripped of their duties. In all
cases the decision making power would rest with the community
rather than the delegate. However, democracy will not simply decide
the allocation of goods. In an anarchist society people would also
control the manner in which production takes place and the
conditions of their work.

Anarchism does not simply satisfy our "animal" wants; food,
clothes, shelter ect. It offers us dignity, self respect and control over
our own lives. It creates the conditions in which people can develop
freely and realise their full potential.

Obviously we are nowhere near this idyllic state of affairs. However,
anarchists are not utopian dreamers. We recognise that it will be a
long, hard struggle until our basic aims are achieved. Rather than
sitting back and waiting for capitalism to collapse, or for the
revolution to come, we believe in organising in the here and now. On
a day to day basis anarchists are involved in union and community
struggles as well as the fight for gender equality, anti-racist,
pro-choice and many other campaigns for a better standard of living
and more control over our lives.

Anarchism is then; an analyses of what's wrong with society, a
strategy of how to change it, and a vision of a future based on
solidarity, equality and freedom.

From Workers Solidarity 90, Jan/Feb 2006
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