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(en) Anarchist defence alternative

From vegan X edge <xpunkx@seznam.cz>(https://ssl.csaf.cz/csaf/english.php?file=57)
Date Fri, 29 Nov 2002 12:32:43 -0500 (EST)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

On following you can find translation of the article "Anarchist
defence alternative" from the Existence - anarchist revue of the
Czechoslovak Anarchist Federation.

While criticizing militarism we remain realists, and hence, although
one of the foundation blocks of the anarchist ideas is removing
violence from relations within society, we are forced by external
circumstances to consider the defence of anarchist society and
consequently the way of organizing the possible armed units. This
is a result of historical experience gained throughout centuries of
social struggle. The wealthy and privileged classes are willing to
allow only those challenges that do not, by their essence,
radically limit the classes´ own influence.
Whenever this should happen, they are capable to join forces
even with former enemies in order to thwart any emancipation
effort threating their position. In the event of having to face threat
they are ready to abandon all humanist ideals in order to retain
their profits they are leading their liberal-parliamentary
democratic positions to allow harsh dictatorial regimes, such as
Fascism in Germany of 1930s or Pinochet´s regime in Chile take
over 1973. As anarchists we strive to achieve far-reaching
changes, depriving of power and economic advantages
practically all who now live at others´ expense; hence it is more
than obvious that the reaction to our striving for free and classless
society is going to be unusually strong. If we are to survive this
struggle and contest successfully, it is necessary to face the
reactionary armies with our own defensive initiative, capable of
protecting the society we are setting up. The idea of a traditional
army is unacceptable to us. Whether conscriptional or
professional, its structure is always rather authoritarian. The way
and principle of any organisation is a manifold reflection of trends
within the particular society the army belongs to. The more
authoritarian society, the more totalitarian and inhumane the
army. If we apply this principle in the search of defence
organisation, we shall conclude that the defence units must be
structured strictly according to fundamental anarchist principles
of organisation. By these principles we mean, first and foremost,
public control, inspection, free agreement and federalism. If
these principles are applied to the issue in question, they render
several fundamental blocks on which the anarchist defence
initiative rests. These are: militia system, defensive territorial
character of the armed forces and a strong stress on the moral
aspect of the revolutionary upheaval as well as society itself.
What is meant by militia system and how does this concept differ
from a classical authoritarian army set up? The alpha and
omega of militias is democracy and equalitarianism.
Commanders at all levels are elected directly and are subject to
rules of assignment and may be removed from office. The right of
removal office, however, may be limited within the framework of
combat action. Nevertheless, although in the case of militia
system we speak of electing leaders, higher decisive levels etc., all
key and strategic decisions are made collectively in such a way,
that all those who are eventually to be affected by them have a
say in the final resolution. Classifies decisions are made by an
elected council, controlled by a peoples´ body. Commanders as
such are viewed within concept of militias, rather as delegates to
higher coordinating bodies and as militiamen responsible for
operational control and coordination. They take over whenever it
becomes impossible to make collective decisions, e. g. in above
mentioned combat operations or coordination of defence in
case of an enemy attack. The elected commander also propose
military solutions, where the final resulting pla of an actual
operation, situation allowing, in subject to approval by a general
assembly of militia units are to take part the operation.
The democratic character of militias is closely related to another
important aspect, and that is equality. All militiamen are equal,
there are no privileges or ranks for those entrusted with position of
leader. No officers´ clubs, better rations or even using rank tittles
are acceptable from the point of view of maintaining a
libertarian character of militias.
Another typical characteristic of the militia system is voluntary
participation. But who would voluntarily suffer war hardships or risk
his own life - might by the most frequently raised objection. In our
opinion it will be more people, whose resistance will be much
stronger, than could by found in classical authoritarian army.
People fighting out of their own conviction, for their ideals, or
defending their homes before tyrannical aggression are capable
of enormous sacrifices. They do not need to be forced to fight
through mobilisation or under the treat of harsh punishment for
disobedience. Only the ruling class has to force people to fight for
its interests and gains by threats of repression and imprisonment.
Authoritarian objection is that the militia model is not effective or
capable of fight. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Militiamen, who participate in appointing their own commanders
as the best in their ranks, have as consequence full trust in them
and readily accept their decisions. There is no need to force
people into submission, because they themselves have taken
parting the decision making, and hence view it as their own and
are prepared to sacrifice far more than if thy were merely to
obey orders of some anonymous staff somewhere in the rear.
Such phenomenon may by observed after all even in classical
armies. The troops that went through turmoil of wars were led by
experienced veterans, possibly no military rank, who were
nevertheless held in high esteem for their abilities and bravery
and followed by others.
It can be reasonably concluded that militia democracy is, as a
result, far more effective than classical authoritarian hierarchical
structure of armed forces. Our concept stresses mainly its
defensive nature. It is not our aim to form an aggressive army in
order to annex further and further regions. We are concerned,
first and foremost, about defending our homes and freedom
and, as we have mentioned, that is the only reason why we are
willing to consider military organisation at all. The armed units
would be attacked to a village/town or a region, within which
they would function as a kind of civil defence.
All the military technical equipment would be, according to
need, kept by specialized units, most likely around large factories.
It would by maintained by specially trained people and
controlled by a local council. However, defence - as well as many
other activities - cannot be split and atomised into individual
municipalities or regions. It is not the anarchist goal, either - quite
on the contrary it is cooperation and togetherness. Hence
regional units would be bound into territorial federations. In this
way the coordination of defence overall national territory will be
provided, whilst keeping full autonomy of regional militia. Such
national federations would naturally form futher federations and
thus international defence libertarian structure. Futhermore, some
sophisticated equipment or apparatus would have to be
maintained in such a way; it would be a step back and also
rather expensive if each regional militia should be equipped with
it. By such e. g. we mean e. g. radiolocators, anti-aircraft defence
or electronic combat units.
As has been already said, the armed troops would be under
direct control of local councils. Within these councils should by
incorporated also a military council dealing with coordination,
control and logistic support of militia units. This control and its
delegates would - like the other controlling bodies - follow
fundamental libertarian principles of organisation: it would be
effective, responsible for assigned tasks, and may be removed
from office. There would be representants of all professions (metal
industry, food industry, etc.) consumers´ bodies, public
administration, not forgetting military experts. Thus the highest
possible public control of militias and their cooperation with
manufacturing and consumer sectors would be secured.
These local councils then federalize into national and
international councils. Every important issue related to armed
troops would be subject to national referendum. Its result would
decide all fundamental social issues, such as the degree of
country´s "militarisation", its long-term strategy concept etc.
The safeguard of armed forces not becoming decisive and ruling
power of the society is the peoples´ democracy character
contained in the militia concept. The very fact the "army service"
will be absolutely voluntary and available to all, and the people
who decide to fight for the ideal of libertarian society will do so of
their own free will and indetifying with this ideal, and also the fact,
that all key decisions will be taken collectively, should ensure that
these units will not be misused by potential power interests of
minority. Refusal of a membership in the militias would be
considered as a punishment for those, who wrong the society,
although this is rather disputable and would have to be subject
to a decision of a particular collective regional or federal body. In
any case militia members should have the option to keep their
weapons at home, and this right would be denied to anyone
else. Weapon ownership would be no longer the privilege of the
powerful and wealthy classes and their repressive organs, but
could be claimed by every eligible individual. People are not
viewed as incapable individual, ready to shoot at anything that
moves as soon as they lay their hands on a weapon. To be
prevented from weapon ownership would be viewed again as a
punishment and would be extended to those hindering the
smooth running of anarchist society or those not eligible to it
(mentally or physically).
Although it is a sad fact of life, and may appear on superficial
inspection contradictory, it has to be admitted that military
career is a kind of craft and requires certain specific knowledge.
Merely use and maintenance of even the simplest fireguns or
mastering the basics of tactics require at least a short course.
Moreover, military art moves forward with the help of scientific
and technological inventions faster than any other resort, and
the use of much of army equipment requires special training, be
it anti-aircraft defence system, pyrotechnical equipment,
vehicles etc. Solution to this problem is seen in a mechanism of
"voluntary conscription". In practise this would mean that every
man or woman, after reaching certain age limit, e. g. 18 years,
would be approached and given opportunity to undergo
voluntarily elementary military training. This would consist of basic
martial and combat arts and the use of hand weapons. After
completion they would be made part of militia reserves and then
could decide whether they wish to further specialize within the
reserve service. Gaining further military expertise would be done
through short-term courses and the reserves would also have the
opportunity to participate in monthly combat training. Certain
position in the armed troops would have to be filled by
long-serving experts. Such positions would be subject to strict
public control in order to prevent, to the highest degree possible,
potential misuse of the expert status. These positions would be
again elective subject to all rules applicable to elective
delegates. The very status of an expert would be accompanied
by clear boundaries of rights and responsibilities of this post. At the
same tine and accordingly to the democratic spirit and in order
to prevent possible authoritarian trends emerging, it is suggested
to incorporate these positions into rota system, together with time
limit and repeated applications for these posts.
Another important aspect of our concept is also the moral
dimension of the anarchist defence initiative. We aim to free
human absolutely from all oppression and the means through
which we intend to reach it must be necessarily subject to the
goal. The transition to a new society and its ensuing defence must
be, to the greatest possible extent, filled with anarchist spirit of
ideas. Freedom, free initiative, refusal of the principle of collective
guilt, limitation of violence to absolute necessity, humanity and
preference of education to the use of firearms are moral credos,
that must be, in our opinion, observed at all costs, otherwise the
attempt to establish a more just society might turn into a much
harsher regime than the previous one had been. Therefore we
reject the Marxist-Leninist theory of dictatorship of proletariat as
well as its practical consequence of red terror during the Russian
Revolution and Civil War in 1917-1921. "The unbeatable power of
social revolution rests in its justice and humanity." (Alexander
Berkman), and in the same way the survival of anarchistic society
is subject to keeping anarchist moral principles.
Weapons of mass destruction, i. e. nuclear, chemical and
biological weapons, represent a serious problem, that has to be
taken into consideration while contemplating the anarchist
alternative defence. These weapons are the result of, and a
warning against, the perversity of the ruling elite of authoritarian
societies, that are capable of producing weapons of such
destructive, devastating and by definition antisocial nature,
merely to protect their power and economic interests. This
inhumanity in extreme is in direct conflict with our perception of
the world, and weapons of mass destruction would be once and
for all disposed of in an anarchist society. Unfortunately, the
disposal of many such weapons will present problems and even
the residual material will represent potential high risk. It will have to
be stored in special safe places, maintained directly by a military
council of the region in question. Rather a significant risk is the
keeping of the weapons of mass destruction by the ruling class.
As has been already pointed out, it is not possible to rely on the
ruling elite´s executive organs having any conscience, a and
hence it is necessary to be ready even for dreadful possibility to
use of weapons of mass destruction against revolutionary
transition, but also move probably, against established libertarian
society. Alongside or within the militia units, if would be desirable to
keep organs, that are in charge of civil defence. That is building of
bunkers, equipping individuals with protective materials and
means, educating and training civilians etc.
This is our proposal of a scheme providing the protection of
society in accordance with principles of libertarian organisation
contained in anarchist ideas. That means in such a way that the
defence and all armed troops be free and humane in the
highest possible degree. Although we tried o cover all important
aspects of this problem, it is clear that many other issues will
surface whilst actually putting these ideas to practise, and also
some solutions may prove to be wrong. We, the anarchists, are
fully aware that life, society and, after all, even revolutionary
rebirth toward more just and freer society cannot be planned at
drawing board, and that much of what people striving for
realisation of this ideal will have to solve will occur only during the
process itself. However, considerable percentage of these
complications can be anticipated now and it is our responsibility
to seek answers to the questions these potential problems present
us with.

source: A-kontra

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