Anarchism in Action
Probably everyone who has ever crossed paths with the ideas of anarchism has asked questions himself, or heard from others the opinion that anarchism is a utopia, a fairy tale that is good in words, but which can not be realized. Arguments are usually of the same type, that it is contrary to human nature, that states have always existed, that it is a utopia and has never been implemented anywhere. But anarchism is one of the oldest political ideologies developed, refined, and considered by many great men. There have been and still are thousands of examples of the implementation of the concepts of anarchism in the world. With this article we begin a series of publications in which we will analyze the implementation of all the principles of anarchism on real examples. Today we will start with the economy.
Anarchists in economic terms are supporters of the lower planned economy. Which means that all means of production must be equally owned by society as a whole. The concept of economy is based on two key factors — supply and demand. In the current situation, the offer is not based on the real needs of each individual, but on the needs of those who have the money to buy a thing. For example, it is much more profitable for a builder to build luxury homes for the rich than housing for the poor. Because a person with a lot of money can afford to buy more than one cottage per 200 hectares. While the poor man can not afford a one-room apartment in Khrushchev. However, it is the poor who are in dire need of housing, but because they are unable to afford it, large families must be crowded in one-bedroom apartments or on the streets. When an official has dozens of dachas in different countries where he lives, he does not even live.
The planned economy easily solves this problem, because the proposals are formed on the real needs of everyone. People themselves will use the tools of direct democracy (which we will discuss in more detail in a future publication in this series) to decide what and in what quantities to produce.
As for the supply, now we can see how many people are employed in the field of parasitic professions, which in themselves do not produce anything, but earn only at bureaucratic institutions (lawyers, lawyers, judges ...), buying goods in areas that simply serve the capitalist system (various sellers, security guards, customs officers, entrepreneurs…), or serve the state (officials, police, military ..), there is mass unemployment, as it is advantageous for an employer to take one worker for 12 hours than two workers for 6 hours. And how much work goes on advertising, disposable packages, cheap toys, products that are created only to break soon and ensure the purchase of the next version. These professions are completely useless in terms of production. The planned economy, in turn, needs only the productive professions. Which will reduce the working day and week many times over, as the number of hours for the production of goods / services will remain the same, but people who are currently engaged in parasitic occupations or the unemployed will be involved in production.
The planned economy is a powerful thing that allows you to meet the needs of everyone, and reduce dozens of times the amount of time spent on work.
But here it is by no means necessary to draw parallels with the state planned economy, which was implemented in the same USSR. In a state-planned economy, all property is in the hands of the state, not the people. And it is managed by officials. They are not motivated to improve the lives of the people. That is why they can conduct an “economic experiment” in which they will take all the grain from the peasants and sell it abroad, which took place in real history and caused the famine in Ukraine. For the official, this is a net profit that has had a positive impact on the country’s economy. But if the people owned the resources, it is very unlikely that they would start starving themselves to boost the economy.
And now let’s move on to examples of its implementation in real life. During the Spanish Civil War, workers in the occupied factories fully coordinated the entire wartime economy. Anarchist organizations (namely the CNT union) formed the basis of the new society. Of particular note is the industrial center of Barcelona, where the CNT has become the structure that organized the economy. Each factory independently organized work with election technical and administrative positions. The same type of factories in each region were organized into a Regional Federation of a specific industry. The regional federations of the region merged into the Regional Economic Councils. Finally, the regional Federations and Councils merged into the National Industrial Federations and the National Economic Federations. The Barcelona Congress of Catalan Collectives addressed a huge range of issues, such as proposing a plan to build an aluminum factory needed for military purposes. They found the necessary materials, organized the joint work of chemists, engineers and technologists. In addition, the Congress decided to reduce unemployment in the cities by working out a plan with the peasants to cultivate new land for agricultural purposes and attract urban unemployed.
And in Valencia, CNT organized an entire orange industry. 270 square kilometers of territories in cities and villages were involved in the plantations. All of them were engaged in cultivation, purchase and export. At the same time, the grassroots management of the workers themselves got rid of thousands of intermediaries. In Laredo, the fishing industry was collectivized: workers expropriated ships, also fired intermediaries, and the money saved was used to modernize ships or to pay wages. Catalonia’s textile industry had 250,000 workers in dozens of factories. As part of collectivization, they fired high-paying directors, increased their salaries by 15%, reduced working hours from 60 to 40 hours per week, and purchased new machines. In general, the Catalan workers have shown impressive results in managing the complex infrastructure of industrial society that they have seized. Employees have proven that they can organize and even improve their work without any bosses. For the first time since the end of the street clashes, workers have voted to raise wages for the lowest paid jobs. Gas, water and electricity were also collectivized. The staff that managed the water supply reduced tariffs by 50% and was still able to donate large sums of money to anti-fascist police committees. Railways were also seized, and where technicians fled, skilled workers were replaced. They successfully coped with the task, despite the lack of formal education, because experience with technicians taught them to keep roads in working order. Public transport workers in Barcelona (out of 7,000 of whom 6,500 were CNT members) saved a lot of money in a very simple way: they fired directors and other unnecessary managers. They then reduced working hours to 40 per week and raised their salaries by 60% (for low-paid workers) to 10% (for high-paid workers). In addition, they helped the entire population by lowering tariffs and arranging free travel for schoolchildren and wounded police officers, repairing damaged equipment and streets, clearing them of barricades, putting the transport system into operation five days after the cessation of fighting in Barcelona and 700 trolleybuses (600 before the revolution) were repainted in red and black. Some cities have completely abolished money and private property. Some have organized a quota system to meet everyone’s needs. In the city of Magdalena de Pulpice, for example, money was also completely abolished. “Everyone works and everyone has the right to get what they need, for free. He just goes to the store, where all the groceries and other necessities are presented. Which is distributed free of charge, it is only recorded who took what, “said a local resident. Accounting for who took what allowed the community to distribute resources evenly during times of scarcity and, as a rule, provided transparency.
If someone still has objections to whether workers will be able to organize production themselves without managers and hierarchies, then modernity can cite many more examples of workers’ self-organization.
In December 2001, the economic crisis in Argentina provoked people to extreme measures, first began attacks on banks, which escalated into a mass popular uprising. Argentina is always cited as an example of an “excellent student” of neoliberal organizations (such as the International Monetary Fund). But policies that have enriched foreign investors and given Argentina’s middle-class life “like in the first world” have created poverty in much of the country. Anti-capitalist resistance was already widespread among the unemployed and the poor, and after the middle class lost all its savings as a result of the crisis, millions took to the streets, ignoring all the excuses of politicians, economists and the media. They chanted, “Que se vayan todos!” (They all have to go!). Dozens of people were killed by police, but the people were not intimidated. Hundreds of factories left by their owners were occupied by workers who continued to produce to support their families. The teams that seized the factories introduced salary levels and distributed managerial responsibilities to all workers. They made decisions at open meetings and some workers learned, for example, accounting. To prevent a new class of managers, some factories have introduced a rotation of managerial responsibilities or a rule that people in management positions must work in the shops and engage in post-employment accounting or marketing. Sometimes the seized factories exchanged raw materials and products with each other, creating a shadow economy in a spirit of solidarity.
One of the most famous cases is the Zanon ceramic factory in southern Argentina. The owner closed it in 2001, and in January 2002 the workers seized the factory. They began to govern it through open meetings and commissions. From the workers and provided sales, management, planning, security, compliance with sanitary norms, procurement, production and work with the press. After the seizure, they re-hired workers who were fired before the factory closed. In 2004, the team numbered 270 people, and they produced 50% of production before closing. With the help of doctors and psychologists, they organized a system of medical care at the company. The workers found that just 2 WORKING DAYS a week was enough to pay their salaries, so they reduced prices by 60% and set up a network of suppliers to distribute ceramic tiles throughout the city. In addition to the production of tiles, Zanon joined social movements: the factory gave money to hospitals and schools, sold tiles cheaply to the poor, hosted film screenings, performances and concerts, actions in solidarity with other companies. In addition, the factory supported the struggle of the Araucanian Indians. In the future, when the clay supplier refused to work with Zanon for political reasons, the Araucans began supplying clay to the factory. By April 2003, police, with the support of the unions, had made four attempts to destroy the factory. All of them were repulsed by workers together with residents of the district and activists.
In July 2001, employees of the El Tigre supermarket in the Argentine city of Rosario seized their jobs. The owner closed the store two months earlier and declared himself bankrupt, and the workers had not been paid for many months. After fruitless protests, workers opened El Tigre and began running it on their own, with all workers participating in decision-making through a general meeting mechanism. Quite in solidarity, they lowered prices and began selling fruits and vegetables from local farmers’ cooperatives and products produced in other seized factories. In addition, they donated part of the premises to the cultural center for the whole district. It hosted political debates, student meetings, theater performances.
Now the Zanon plant has been renamed FaSinPat. On August 14, 2009, the Neuquen Chamber of Deputies, yielding to popular pressure, finally recognized the expropriation of the plant as legal.
Skeptics often deny the anarchist examples of small “primitive” societies, arguing that large-scale organization is not possible given population growth and scientific progress. But, in fact, nothing prevents a large team from organizing into many small groups. Small-scale organization is clearly possible. Even in the high-tech industry, for example, Gore factories are quite successful in coordinating with each other, suppliers and consumers, while keeping the organization low. Each unit is able to organize its internal relations just as accurately able to organize external ones.
The thesis that an army of officials and various managers is needed to make decisions is just a myth. Most of the decisions we make in our daily lives with friends, acquaintances, colleagues, and family, we make based on interaction, not authority. Everyone has experience in collective decision making.
Politically, anarchists are supporters of direct democracy. The institution of direct democracy is based on collective decision-making. All decisions are made either by collective vote or by delegation. Scientific progress has greatly expanded and facilitated the range of tools that can be used for horizontal decision-making. Direct democracy is much more progressive and effective than any hierarchical system. For comparison, first consider the current top-down decision-making system. Now we can see a situation where the average person has no opportunity to influence decision-making, even on issues that directly affect him. Yes, in most countries there are elections, when every few years they give the opportunity to vote for a candidate. But the elections are completely ineffective and a failure in terms of people’s control over power. To run for office, you need to have a considerable fortune to pay for campaign wear and tear, which significantly limits the number of people who can run in the election. In order to have enough money, you need to own your own business. Most big businessmen do not run directly, but sponsor their representative or even several. It is obvious that after winning the election, such a candidate will defend the interests of his investor, not the people. It follows that the set of candidates we have are representatives of big business or their relatives, lovers, friends or classmates. Therefore, it is not surprising that whoever wins the next election, the situation of the people does not change. In addition, a deputy is elected for a specific term, during which he has unlimited powers in the area under his control, and the mechanism of early re-election is almost impossible to launch. And it is simply impossible for one person to understand the problems of everyone and at the same time be a technical specialist in all areas.
Direct democracy, in turn, proposes to control power through delegation. A delegate is elected to fulfill a specific goal, after which he loses all authority. Society gives him instructions on how it would like to see the end result, and reserves the right to withdraw it at any time. Thus, control over the implementation is completely in the hands of the people. But most decisions are still made directly, through meetings, and thanks to the development of the Internet and technology, decisions can be made without leaving home with one click, and discuss them in forums.
Let’s move on to examples of the implementation of the principles of direct democracy in life. Korean anarchists were given the opportunity to demonstrate people’s ability to make their own decisions in 1929. At the time, the Korean Anarcho-Communist Federation (KACF) had enough support to create an autonomous zone in Xingming Province, outside Korea, in Manchuria, but with 2 million Koreans. immigrants. They used the assembly and the decentralized federal structure that grew out of the KACF to create village councils that merged into county and regional councils to discuss issues related to common agriculture, education, and finance. They also formed an army led by anarchist Kim Jwa-Jin, which used guerrilla tactics against Soviet and Japanese forces. KACF sections in China, Korea and Japan have organized international support for the movement. However, sandwiched between Stalin’s and Japanese armies, the autonomous province was finally defeated in 1931. But for two years, many residents freed themselves from the power of landlords and rulers and reaffirmed their ability to make collective decisions, organize their daily lives, create their own dream with their own hands, and protect it from the occupying armies.
One of the main inspirers of the anti-globalization movement of the 21st century was the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (SANO). It originated on October 17, 1983 in a poor region of Chiaps, Mexico. The peasants of Chiapas were constantly seeking protection and leaving their settlements for several reasons. First, many were dissatisfied with the authoritarian rule of the Kasiks, wealthy influential elders. Second, the Indians came under pressure from pastoralists. Since the 1960s, the government has felled valuable timber and vacated areas for extensive livestock and agriculture. To protect the territories, wealthy landowners have long held paramilitary formations — the so-called “Free Fighting Brigades of Chiapas”, which date back to the Mexican Revolution of 1910–1920. Brigade fighters, unofficially known as the White Guard, often raided Indian settlements to destroy and seize territory. The Zapatista movement declared itself in full force on January 1, 1994, at the time of the entry into force of the North American Free Trade Agreement. At that time, the Indians took part in an armed uprising led by SANO, for which the Zapatistas had been preparing for almost ten years. Old rifles and wooden models were the main weapons in the hands of SANO fighters. However, they began their uprising in the midst of the New Year holidays, so the rebels managed to occupy several key cities in Chiapas and close all transport hubs for a couple of days. As a result of the Zapatista uprising, at least 145 people were killed and no government casualties were reported. Soon the government counterattacked and the separatists had to retreat inland. Mass demonstrations took place in support of the rebels across the country, forcing the government to negotiate with them. Since 1994, the Zapatista movement has been creating a system of direct democracy. It has become a network form of organization, hundreds of thousands of people are involved in the decision-making process. There are 32 municipalities, each with 50 to 100 communities. The presence of 5 language groups, mountainous terrain, jungle and bad roads complicate the task of organizing in the district.
Before the uprising, many communities did not have enough fertile land, so people worked, often in appalling conditions, on local landowners’ farms. After the uprising, many landowners fled, and in most cases the abandoned land was seized and used to create new communities. Regular weekly assemblies are held after Sunday Mass, and sometimes even part of it. The Assembly is open and everyone over the age of 12 has the right to speak and vote, although voting is very rare. These meetings can last up to an hour, and usually raise practical issues related to work or spending. The Assembly elects delegates who are appointed to coordinate work in specific areas. Delegates perform their duties for a limited period of time (one to two years) and may be re-elected if the community feels that the delegate is not doing his or her job as desired by society. There are also teams that perform specific tasks within the community. They are formed at the assembly and are responsible to it, but otherwise they are completely autonomous. Diez produces: coffee, honey, bread, some also sew, raise cattle and chickens. Some of the products of these groups go to the members themselves, and the surplus is sent to the central repository of the community, which is also controlled by the assembly. For big issues, such as making peace or declaring war, a “consultation” must take place — roughly speaking, the decision-making process is like a referendum, accompanied by lively discussions within local communities. This process takes months in all teams are held councils. On which they study, analyze and discuss. Then there is a vote. After which the official results are announced. These reports included: date, place of meeting, number of people present (men, women and children over 12), opinions and positions of principle. Obviously, general meetings are too chaotic to resolve private issues. Problems that need coordination among several communities have necessitated the creation of local councils. They are called autonomous municipalities. 100 communities, such as the Mexican anarchist Ricardo Magon, are an autonomous municipality. The Autonomous Municipality of Land and Freedom on the border with Guatemala includes a total of 120 communities. Societies in the territory of the Indians themselves decide to join the municipality in assemblies with the participation of all members of this community. The communities then elect their representatives to the municipality. Each representative is elected for an individual community and may be removed if the community’s mandate is not met. A person who holds a position in the municipality does not receive a salary for it, but the costs of the representative are paid by the community, which he or he represents through the cooperation of community members. Sometimes board members support a representative in his or her work on the farm so that he or she is not distracted from working on the board. Chiaps is very poor, and the fact that structures of direct democracy can exist there, in the pernicious conditions of creeping war, demonstrates how effective it is.
The MST movement in Brazil generally specializes in seizing land from large landowners for further settlement there. It arose against the background of great social fragmentation. The country has a large number of poor landless people, and most of the resources were in the hands of a small number of landowners. The MST informally has one and a half million members who interact with each other on the basis of direct democracy. During the 1980s and 1999s, new MST settlements were set up by activists from organizations looking for landless people in rural areas or mainly in poor urban areas who wanted to form a group and seize land. They then had to go through a two-month base period, during which they held meetings and debates to try to create a sense of community, closeness and common political views. They then seized a plot of unused land belonging to a large landowner, selected delegates to unite on a federal basis with other organizations, and began farming. Activists working with the local MST periodically came to see if the settlement needed help with tools and materials to resolve internal differences or protect itself from the police, military, or large landowners, who often conspired to threaten and kill MST members. Now the organization is actively pursuing educational projects: opening universities and schools.
Let us emphasize once again that the idea of the impossibility of human existence without the state is a myth. Mankind has lived in horizontal societies for most of its history, but many settlements and cities now live on collective decision-making. And those who continue, despite all the facts to claim that a person can realize himself only within the state, drive themselves into a dead end. Because in all history the state has never served the needs of the people. It has always been an institution of oppression. And officials had a decent life within the state.
It is crime and the penitentiary system that are usually the main arguments in defense of the need for the state apparatus. That without the police, prisons and laws, thousands of criminals will appear on the streets at once, who will not allow decent citizens to live in peace. And only laws deter our world from being absorbed by the chaos of crime. All this is perceived by most people as an axiom that does not need proof. But this “axiom” does not stand up to criticism and exists only through state propaganda.
The police and the state are often the main cause of crime. Historically, law enforcement agencies did not arise out of society’s need to protect themselves from criminals. In particular, one of the first modern police forces is the London Police, founded by Robert Peel in 1829. What do we know about Britain in the 19th century? It is a time of large-scale protests, strikes and riots. It was for the purpose of suppressing the labor movement that the first police force in Great Britain was created. It performs this function all over the world to this day. Policemen like to cover various media, movies and shows as brave heroes. But the experience of most people who have been in contact with the police is strikingly different from the propaganda image. The emergence of the police was not a response to crime or an attempt to solve this problem, on the contrary, its formation has given rise to new types of offenses.
Most of the criminals behind bars are members of the poor, who have been driven to break the law by their difficult economic situation. The state, instead of helping such people, prefers to put them in prison, which only worsens the situation. Not only are all prisoners budget-funded, but prison conditions do not help to correct a person. On the contrary, in prisons a person breaks down psychologically. And the guards are not ashamed to make money on prisoners by distributing drugs and alcohol among them. After being released from prison, a person receives a stamp that will make it difficult to find a job and socialize. Most face endless hardships after release, relapse, and end up in prison again. Quite often people, because of poverty, deliberately commit crimes in order to end up behind bars and thus get at least some shelter and food.
It is no secret that the largest crimes are committed by police, officials and oligarchs. But they will never end up in prison. Because in the state there can be no question of equality before the law. A good lawyer is free to interpret the law as he sees fit. Laws are written by officials. That is why they can not only violate them, but also write, adapting to their criminal schemes. And their implementation is monitored by the police, which gives unlimited opportunities in the area under their control. Not surprisingly, it is the police who cover up all illegal business. And the highest-ranking official, the president, is generally free to violate his own law, because he is not under anyone’s control. We remember the story of Poroshenko and Roshen. In a society where there is no social equality, there can be no question of equality before the law.
Anarchists offer an alternative — a society that can defend itself and resolve internal conflicts without the intervention of the police, the courts or prisons. A society that does not divide everyone into law-abiding citizens and criminals. Anarchists prefer to fight criminals by solving the economic and psychological problems that give rise to crime. And the state and the police are considered one of the main sources of crime. Consider the historical examples of evidence of these anarchist principles.
Let’s start with the prisoners who served time in the maximum security prison in Massachusetts, proved that so-called criminals are less responsible for violence in our society than law enforcement. After the Attica prison uprising in 1971, the country focused on the failures of the penitentiary system in correcting and rehabilitating people. The governor of Massachusetts has appointed a reformist commissioner to the Office of Corrections. Meanwhile, a union of prisoners was formed at Walpole Prison to protect itself and other prisoners from guards, block the prison administration, and organize educational and health programs for prisoners. They demanded more visits, the opportunity to work on a paid or voluntary basis outside the prison, and to earn money to help their families. And the main thing they hoped for was to end the relapses and finally abandon the prison system. Black prisoners formed the Black Power cultural and educational group to unite and fight racism. First of all, they tried to end the racial war between the prisoners, which was provoked by the guards. Despite the repression, the leaders of all groups signed a truce, which was guaranteed by the promise to kill any prisoner who violated it. At the beginning of the Volpol Prisoners’ Union, a senior police inspector tried to separate them and launched a campaign of repression against black prisoners. But in response, all prisoners went on strike, refusing to work or leaving their cells behind. For three months, they were beaten, solitary, starved, denied medical care, addicted to tranquilizers distributed free of charge by security guards, and held in appalling conditions when their excrement and garbage accumulated in their cells and were not exported. But the prisoners refused to surrender or separate. In the end, the state had to give up: they ran out of license plates made by Walpole prisoners, and the press did not comment well on the prison due to the conflict. The prisoners met their first demand: the resignation of a senior police inspector. They then gained additional rights: an increase in the number of visitors, the opportunity to go on holiday, their own programs, a review of cases and the release of prisoners in solitary confinement, and the presence of civilian observers in prison. The guards did not like it, and they resigned in protest of the loss of control. They thought that this act would show how necessary they were, but to their shame it had the opposite effect. For two months, the prisoners themselves controlled the prison. There were no guards inside, but the state controlled the perimeter to avoid escapes. Civilian observers continued to remain in prison for 24 hours, but were trained to stand aside, documenting circumstances, communicating with prisoners, and preventing violence from security guards, which sometimes appeared inside. Walpole was one of the most dangerous prisons in the country, but as long as it was run by prisoners, the rate of homicides and rapes was zero. Prisoners dispelled two main myths about the criminal justice system: people who have committed a crime should be isolated, forcibly rehabilitated, and not independently control the process of their correction. The guards tried to stop this disgraceful experiment of abolishing the prison. The Prisoners’ Union was a powerful enough social force to provoke a political crisis. To keep his job, the head of the department was forced to return the guards to the prison. Key figures in law enforcement agencies — police, security, prosecutors — politicians and media workers opposed the reform and made it impossible to achieve it within democratic means. Civilian observers unhesitatingly agreed that the guards had returned the chaos and violence to the prison, deliberately destroying the peaceful achievements of the prisoners’ self-organization. Eventually, to destroy the prisoners’ union, security guards called police, who shot several prisoners and tortured the main organizers. The most famous leader of Black Power was able to save his life only through armed self-defense. Many civilian observers and the head of the Correctional Facility himself, who was soon forced to resign, came to the conclusion that prisons should be abolished. The detainees who captured Walpole continued to fight for their freedom and dignity. Now in Walpole Prison, now called MCI Cedar Junction, people are being sent to mental hospitals, tortured and killed for those who dared to fight for their right to work for a safer society.
The history of Exarcheia, a district in the center of Athens, has shown for many years that the police do not protect us, but rather threaten us. The Exarchate has long been the basis of the anarchist movement and counterculture. The area has protected itself from gentrification and police scrutiny through fierce resistance through radical direct action. After the destruction of property or public pressure, the police surrendered and agreed that the streets belonged to the people. Undercover police officers who entered the area were repeatedly brutally beaten. In preparation for the Olympic Games, the city authorities tried to renovate the Exarchate Park to turn it from a place to walk into a tourist attraction. The new plan provided for many inconveniences, such as a large fountain and no benches. Residents of the district organized a rally, came there with their own renovation plan and told the construction company that they would work according to the residents’ plan, not the city’s. The constant destruction of construction equipment, in the end, showed the construction company who is the owner. Today, the renovated park is pleasing to the eye with lots of greenery and new benches. The Exarchate is often attacked by the police, and there is always an assault squad nearby. In recent years, the police have tried to occupy the Exarchate, deploying armed police officers ready to attack at any time on the perimeter of the area. Residents often prevent the police from carrying out their functions in a normal manner. People paint graffiti and glue posters in broad daylight. This is an area where the law does not apply. Be that as it may, this is the safest area of Athens. The crimes are political in nature and not directed against the individual. It’s safe to walk down the street alone at night, unless, of course, you’re a cop, the people on the streets are relaxed and friendly, and personal property is safe, unless it’s expensive cars and things like that. The police are not liked here, they are not waiting, and they are not needed here.
And it is in this situation that the police show their true face. It is not a public necessity and was created not as a reaction to crime, but as an institution to maintain control over society. Unable to break the rebellious spirit of the Exarchate, the police used a more aggressive tactic — military occupation of the area. On December 6, 2008, this approach led to the inevitable: two cops shot dead 15-year-old anarchist Alexis Grigoropolus in the heart of the Exarchate. After the anarchists began counterattacks: throughout Greece, police officers were beaten with batons, stones, set fire to Molotov cocktails and in several cases they were shot with firearms. The liberated areas of Athens and other Greek cities are growing, and police are afraid to evict new squats because people have proven they are stronger. In recent years, police have tried to flood the area, and in particular the anarchist movement, with drugs such as heroin. They directly incited drug addicts to hang out in the Exarchate Park. Anarchists and other residents of the area had to defend themselves against this type of police violence. They organized resistance to drug cartels, caught and expelled distributors, and sometimes led to armed skirmishes between residents and drug traffickers. Residents are still repelling gangs and constantly conducting raids and raids. In particular, the K-VOX squat fought actively and during 2015–2016 activists managed to completely expel drug traffickers from the area. The K-VOX squat, by the way, was unsuccessfully seized by the police in 2013. The media is now instilling fear in people, increasing the number of reports of crimes against society and linking it to the existence of autonomous provinces. In fact, crime is an instrument of the state used to intimidate people, isolate them from each other and create the illusion of the need for the state. But the state is nothing but a mafia that has taken control of the whole society, and the laws are a description of everything they stole from us.
The most brutal crimes have their roots in the cultural tradition. The rate of crimes such as murder will drop significantly in anarchic societies, as most of the causes are poverty, glorification of violence on television, prisons and police, military service, sexism, racism, stereotypes and low level of education — will disappear completely or significantly decrease.
Thus, in an anarchic society, violent crimes will be much less common. But if they do happen, will society be more vulnerable to criminals? However, no one can deny that murderous psychopaths may appear from time to time. Suffice it to say that a society capable of overthrowing the government is unlikely to succumb to lone murderous psychopaths.
Anarchism is often used as a synonym for chaos, but the real root of chaos is the state apparatus. It is the police, prisons and the law that are conducive to crime. A free society is able to defend itself.
Development of science
Another myth of capitalism is that competition provides technical progress. That as if without competition people will lose motivation to develop. In the real world, capitalist competition often does not help, but hinders the development of science. Because, in order to promote their position in the market, it is profitable not only to invest in the development of new technologies and modernization of enterprises, but also to hinder the normal development of competitors. Capitalism and state control pose a number of problems that complicate the work of scientists.
One such problem is copyright. Although it seemed that they should motivate the work of scientists by guaranteeing them the right to dispose of and profit from their invention, but as often happens, intellectual property mostly does not belong to those who created it. The inventions are the joint work of many laboratory employees who receive neither recognition nor profits because their corporation acquires patent ownership. Patents themselves often slow down the spread of inventions because they inflate the price of their use. And sometimes progressive discoveries are completely frozen. As do large oil companies, which buy patents for the production of batteries used in modern electric vehicles, thereby regulating, or rather, limiting and restraining their production. The development of these technologies is extremely unprofitable for oil giants because it threatens their economic dominance. And modernization is an extra huge expense. Therefore, it is more profitable for them to artificially prevent the development of advanced technologies. And the most horrible thing about copyright is that various drugs are also branded, which prevents them from being easily accessible to the masses, and creates pharmaceutical monopolies. That is, new vaccines that would help kill dangerous viruses are subject to patent restrictions, which inflate prices and limit their production. As an example, patent restrictions on common vaccines were seriously discussed at the UN Conference on Ebola.
Another major attraction of competition is planned aging. To stay in the market, entrepreneurs need to constantly buy their products. Therefore, instead of focusing on improvements, businessmen are deliberately underestimating the quality of things for quick damage and malfunctions, which would motivate its owner to buy a new one. Also, they are constantly stamping new versions of their product, which are only cosmetically different in several functions from the previous ones. Thus, all resources are invested in the development of low-quality scrap metal and marketing campaigns, which does not help the development of new technologies.
The state, in turn, although provides grants for the development of innovation, but most of the special priority are those technologies that strengthen its position. Insane public finances are spent on developing new weapons, improving police equipment, or developing surveillance systems. The money for subsidies is drawn from the state budget, which is replenished from taxes. But the people who pay for them have no tools to control what new technology they end up spending on. But businessmen often invest money to promote a loyal deputy in the administrative apparatus, which will continue to allocate various benefits and scientific subsidies to support their business. At the same time, he can pass bills against competitors. Such as the introduction of new excise taxes, tax increases, strengthening state control. Which will have a positive impact on the development of the patron’s corporation, but projects that could really improve the lives of society will not receive funding and will not be implemented.
Anarchists completely criticize this approach in the development of science. Both with the economy and scientific progress is not adjusted to the needs of the majority, but to the needs of financial elites. In turn, anarchists believe that everyone should have access to new discoveries without restrictions. That, thanks to free access, everyone will be able to improve the latest methods, and they will be able to spread faster in society. And the best useful inventions come from those who need them. And for this they do not need either the state or capitalism. There are many examples in the history of the practice of anarchism of inventing new technologies to solve urgent problems. Ukrainian anarchist Makhno was the first in history to use mobile machine guns — wheelbarrows, the effectiveness of which against enemies who use traditional tactics was staggering. After the Spanish revolutionaries seized the land of the landlords, the peasants lost the need to grow a single crop for export. Farmers improved the soil and increased the efficiency of the farm through mixed planting: they planted shade-tolerant grains under orange trees. The Levantine Peasant Federation (also in Spain) organized an agricultural university, and other groups established a center for the study of plant diseases.
Millions of peasants live in the densely populated mountain valleys of New Guinea. These communities have no state and are based on consensus. Until recently, they had no contact with the West. Although racist Europeans considered them “Stone Age savages”, they developed one of the most sophisticated tillage systems in the world. These technologies are so specific and numerous that they can be studied for years. Confident Western scientists are still unable to explain how most of these technologies work. And these technologies have proven their effectiveness. For seven thousand years, these mountaineers have been using a dynamic but sustainable form of agriculture. It saves them from major environmental changes that could destroy less innovative societies. They have methods of irrigation, changes in soil moisture, cross-cultivation and many others. They have no leaders, and decisions are made collectively. Due to the lack of copyright, inventions are freely and rapidly distributed in a large decentralized society. Many skeptics smile with contempt at the thought that nations that do not even use metal tools can be an example of technological development. However, technology is not necessarily accompanied by electronic gadgets. Technology is adaptation to the environment. The people of New Guinea have adapted to their conditions with a complex set of techniques that have allowed them to meet all their needs without destroying the environment. Western civilization did not even come close to such a result.
There are a lot of anarchic examples that are more in line with the computer age. Relatively recently, open source programs have become widespread. Decentralized networks with thousands of people working together on a voluntary and open basis. They have created sophisticated software on which the economy of the information age now depends. Large corporations patent and close the codes of their software products, and as part of the open source approach, it is available to everyone so that everyone can view or improve it. As a result, most open programs are better, and usually easier to fix. Traditionally, patented software is less resistant to virus attacks because fewer eyes watch for vulnerabilities.
Kickstarter is a powerful alternative to government subsidies. Kickstarter is a site for funding creative projects, where various talented people post presentations of their projects, anyone who is interested can transfer money to them. Although both the state and corporations have a large resource base, at the same time, most of the sponsors on the kickstarter are ordinary people. Due to the fact that there are thousands of them, they are free to finance huge projects that would not otherwise be able to find financial support. In this way, people have the opportunity to finance projects in which they are interested.
Another example of an open decentralized platform is Wikipedia. It appeared recently, in 2001. Today it is the largest encyclopedia in the world, with more than 10 million articles in more than 250 languages. These articles are not written by experts. Wikipedia is created by everyone. Anyone can write or edit articles. This openness and trust creates the opportunity for many people to quickly edit information. The broad wikipedia community has a tremendous capacity for self-regulation. Therefore, the facts of vandalism, incorrect editing or fake articles are quickly revealed. Wikipedia articles carry much more knowledge than a small elite group of status scholars. There have been several known cases of deliberate sabotage, such as when the staff of The Colbert Report rewrote the story in one of the articles and used it in their program. However, this damage was quickly corrected, as is often the case with incorrect information. A more complex problem is corporations that use Wikipedia for PR and hire employees to edit articles to create a good company image. However, thanks to millions of users, Wikipedia effectively fights such cases and contains much more information about corporate crimes than any traditional encyclopedia whose author can be bribed.
Anarchists are also often the initiators of some technical developments in the field of IT. The state is constantly trying to control the Internet. Censorship limits more and more different resources. But there is a relentless fight against piracy. The Internet is essentially a network for the free dissemination of information that officials and business owners do not like. Anarchists, in turn, developed software to circumvent censorship. In particular, bitmask is a development of anarchists.
Capitalism and competition have long since become obsolete. They do not help the development of technology, but bind them. Only free access to the achievements of science and the subsidization of inventions by society itself will ensure effective scientific progress that will work to meet the needs of everyone.
It is very difficult to imagine any other political system than the connection between capitalism and the state, which would be so devastating to the environment. This couple endangered the survival of the entire human race. It creates incentives for the exploitation and destruction of nature and creates a society incapable of protecting its habitat. In this article, we will look at examples of how states are greedily destroying the environment. And what alternatives anarchists offer to protect the environment.
The main driving force of capitalism is making a profit. He is constantly looking for new places on the world map that can be ruined for the greatest economic benefit. It is not profitable for them to modernize their enterprises in order to make their pollution less dangerous, because they will lose money and will not receive any profits in their favor, which in the conditions of fierce competition in the market will lead to bankruptcy. Financial elites are not ashamed to spray our planet for money, thus making it increasingly uninhabitable. In large industrial cities, people suffocate from smog. And more and more areas on Earth are being polluted with garbage every day. And everyone can watch the effects of global climate change. But most people who join the fight against capitalism because of global environmental problems continue to look to the state and hope that it will be able to limit and resolve the situation. One of the flagship examples that the majority focuses on is Japan. A country where deforestation and hazardous emissions have been severely restricted at the state level. There are now five national wildlife protection areas with a total area of 5,631 ha and ten nature reserves with a total area of 21,593 ha. Only research activities are allowed in these areas. The strictness of control can be illustrated by the following example: it was forbidden to remove even broken branches from protected areas. In addition to these zones, at the end of March 1999, Japan had regional protected areas with a total area of 73,727 hectares. It should also be noted that today in Japan there are 28 national parks and 55 quasi-national parks in the most beautiful natural parts of the country. And here, it would seem, what is not an example of successful government regulation? And the problem is that although Japan has limited the exploitation of nature in its country, it still continues to destroy nature on a huge scale beyond its borders. Japanese society is consuming an increasing amount of imported wood, thus increasing felling in other countries. This led not only to environmental destruction, but also to wars for the seizure of important resources. An analogy can be observed in Western Europe, where state conservation was carried out through the colonial exploitation of third world countries. For nature, unlike humans, there are no borders between countries. Therefore, its protection in one place by destroying it in another does not change the overall situation.
Capitalism and the state all share the same myth of nature as supports its exploitation. This mania for greatness has already shown its, without a doubt, suicidal nature. Instead, anarchism promotes a culture that takes into account various environmental issues. Owners of corporations do not think about how people will survive in smog-clouded cities. The only thing that matters to them is their own income. As we have discussed in more detail in our article on the anarchist economy, it is based on the needs of everyone. And living in a healthy environment is one of the main. The grassroots planned economy is independent of fierce competition in the market and does not promote a culture of consumption, so it can afford to invest in the modernization of enterprises, as people themselves are interested in protecting nature because it affects disease, mortality and quality of life.
Anarchists do not yet have the experience to solve global environmental problems due to the fact that stateless, anarchist societies in recent history have not covered most of the Earth. However, anarchists, as a movement without borders, exercise global coordination. They are organizing international protests against major sources of pollution and their state lobbyists, such mobilizations are taking place during the G8 summits, to hold demonstrations against countries most responsible for global warming and other issues, to which hundreds of thousands of people from dozens of countries have responded. In response to the global activity of corporations, anarchists are coordinating and protesting around the world.
For example, the large-scale protests, boycotts and acts of sabotage against Shell Oil, which were coordinated between people in Nigeria, Europe and North America during the 1980s and 1990s. across the country during a global boycott aimed at punishing a campaign in support of a government responsible for policies of racial discrimination against indigenous peoples in South Africa. In the Netherlands, the underground anti-authoritarian group RARA (Revolutionary Anti-Racist Action) organized a series of bombings of Shell Oil facilities, which played a crucial role in forcing the company to withdraw from South Africa. In 1995, when Shell planned to flood an old oil rig in the North Sea, it was forced to abandon the plan after protests in Denmark and Britain, arson and shelling of Shell gas stations in two German cities, as well as a boycott that reduced prices for petroleum products in this country by 10%. All these activities are a prototype of global networks that can protect the environment in the anarchic future. If we succeed in destroying capitalism and the state, we will eliminate the greatest systemic destroyers of the environment, as well as the structural barriers that now complicate mass action to protect nature.
Here is an example of solving environmental problems in a horizontal society. As much of the Netherlands is below sea level and almost the entire land is at risk of flooding, farmers have had to constantly work to maintain and improve the water regulation system. Flood dams were a common part of the infrastructure that benefited everyone, but maintaining them in working order required everyone’s contribution for the benefit of all. Each individual farmer benefited from evading water regulation responsibilities, but society as a whole could lose in the event of a flood. This example is particularly important because Dutch society is devoid of the anarchic values common to indigenous societies. This area has long been converted to Christianity, and here were sown its harmful to nature and hierarchical values. For hundreds of years it was under state control, but still the empire collapsed, and in the XII-XIII centuries the Netherlands was essentially deprived of state control. Central power in the form of church dignitaries, feudal lords and guilds remained strong in the southern regions and Zealand (where capitalism later emerged), but in northern regions such as Friesland, society was largely decentralized and horizontal. At that time, the contacts between the cities were separated by a huge number of miles — a few days away. Keeping in touch with them was as difficult as keeping in touch with the opposite end of the earth today. Despite such difficulties, rural communities, towns and villages have been able to build and maintain large-scale infrastructure to reclaim land near the reservoir and protect against flooding in the face of fluctuating sea levels. Neighborhood councils organized joint work teams or shared responsibilities between communities, and built and maintained dams, canals, locks, and drainage systems needed to protect society as a whole. It was a comprehensive bottom-up approach, from local communities, which solved the environmental problem through self-organization.
The destruction of nature by capitalism makes anarchism not just a more progressive system, but a condition for the survival of mankind. If we do not destroy the modern system, it will destroy our planet.
The institution of the army is the legitimate child of the modern political system, so it is not surprising that it has absorbed most of what is so strongly criticized by anarchists. Despite all the restrictions on human rights imposed by the military, it is objective in carrying out its tasks effectively. If the anarchists want to oppose the current system, they must, one way or another, have an alternative force behind them to defeat the troops that will defend the officials.
We will not focus on the army’s shortcomings, as the scale of its human rights violations is obvious to everyone. She herself is a good example of how powerless the people are against the state apparatus. In every country of the world a person can be forcibly mobilized and sent to war. Of course, no one takes into account the political beliefs of conscripts. Nevertheless, we are assured that the source of power is the people. State propaganda justifies this curtailment of human rights by the need to protect the homeland from external aggressors. The state always needs such an aggressor for its normal functioning; if it does not exist, it will certainly invent it, because it is very convenient to limit our rights and hide the problems of domestic policy behind the scenes of the fight against the external enemy. You don’t have to go far to follow the example — both in Ukraine and in neighboring Russia, the idea that all protest sentiments are playing into the hands of the Kremlin or the State Department is now being actively promoted. Crazy money is allocated for the maintenance of the army. Expenditures on the “war” have always been one of the largest in state budgets. In particular, 153.242 billion hryvnias were set aside for law enforcement agencies in Ukraine this year, and 86 billion hryvnias were allocated for healthcare. The state allocates no less to support military propaganda. It is obvious that all these resources, as well as able-bodied people involved in military service, would be much more effective in improving living standards. And most ironically, the army does not protect us. And does not defend our interests. Moreover, in many parts of the world, the military is being used to quell protests.
Anarchists are convinced that a free armed people is able to defend itself, so they consider it necessary to ensure that everyone has the right to own a weapon (of course, after a mental health test). Training should be carried out on a voluntary basis, in the shortest possible time, according to the most intensive program in the training centers at the place of residence. Meetings should be held periodically to check the readiness, condition of the entrusted property, skills recovery and retraining. The hierarchical structure of the army is organized by the institute of elected commanders, ie in wartime or in training the commander must unquestioningly obey, and in quiet time he must answer before the meeting and may be re-elected. So, the army will really protect the interests of the people. To be more precise, the people themselves will be an army.
A striking example of such alternative military structures was the Black Guard. It was created as an alternative to traditional army structures, and it was about training units capable of operating in guerrilla conditions. In view of this, anarchist practice, instead of a disciplined integrated army, has created a number of disciplined wives who act not in open combat but in guerrilla units. It was formed in 1917–1918. Detachments of the Black Guard were in different parts of the country. For example, detachments of Black Guards operated in Ukraine in 1917 (in particular, Nestor Makhno formed the Black Guard Regiment in Gulyaipol), and in Moscow in April 1918 there were 50 units of the Black Guard, which were formed on March 5 by the Moscow Federation of Anarchist Groups. The army was replenished with volunteers, and all officers were elected. The strength of the Black Guard grew right before our eyes. In addition, until March 1918, the anarchists controlled 25 mansions in Moscow, some of which were located near strategically important points of the city. In the entire history of the Soviet revolution, it was in Ukraine that anarchism proved to be the strongest. The rebels called themselves the Revolutionary Insurgent Army (RPA). They are often called simply Makhnovists. As the number of the insurgent anarchist army grew, it developed into a more formal structure to carry out strategic coordination on several fronts. At the same time, in essence, it continued to be a voluntary police force based on peasant support. The main directions of policy and strategy were adopted as a result of the general meeting of peasants and workers. The flexible joint structure and strong support from the peasantry helped rather than hindered the liberation of a 450-by-750-kilometer area with a total population of 7 million. The Makhnovists of southern Ukraine managed to preserve the anarchic nature of their lives and struggles in the extremely difficult conditions of hostilities. They tried to stop the Jewish pogroms, while Ukrainian nationalists and Bolsheviks fanned the flames of anti-Semitism to blame the Jews for all the problems. The Makhnovists preferred to defend the region without interfering in their socio-economic system, and this position of “non-interference” was reinforced by the emphasis on direct democracy within the movement. Each unit elected its own commander, who could be removed by decision of the same group of soldiers. Commanders were not honored, they did not have material privileges, during the attack they had no right to sit in the rear. The attitude of the peasants towards them was unique compared to other hostile forces. The Makhnovists could not exist without popular support, and the peasantry voluntarily provided them with horses, food, medical care, shelter, and intelligence during the protracted guerrilla war with the Red Army.
The tactics of decentralized troops are increasingly being used in modern wars, even by states. One such successful example is the 2006 Lebanese-Israeli war. The Israeli army is one of the world’s best centralized armies. Professional, well-off, experienced and highly disciplined. But in the fighting in southern Lebanon, Hezbollah used the tactics of decentralized leadership, which was able to break the numerically and qualitatively superior Israeli army. This tactic, based on the operations of autonomous groups of fighters, was developed based on the experience of hostilities in the Afghan, Vietnamese and Iran-Iraq wars. Hezbollah’s besieged units received assistance from the nearest unit, not on the basis of orders received, but on the basis of current circumstances, when individual units made decisions on their own. The militants operated without units typical of a centralized army: both guerrilla warfare methods and the tactics of small units were used. During the fighting, they acted in units of up to 50 people, often in groups of 15–20 people. There were also small groups of 6–8 people with 5–8 anti-aircraft guns, 1–2 machine guns, and an additional supply of missiles was in well-disguised bunkers. These groups operated mainly at night and, using PNB, struck enemy tanks and other armored vehicles at a distance of 1.5–2 km. The skilful use of ATGM by the militants was noted not only to defeat the enemy personnel who occupied positions in houses and various buildings. Especially effective in the latter case were the old ATGM “Baby”. Grenade launchers were actively used to destroy manpower. Tactics of sudden attacks were actively used, which turned almost into hand-to-hand combat, which did not allow Israeli troops to use helicopters and machine guns. An example of this is the battle for Hezbollah headquarters, when for several days Israeli soldiers not only did not defeat the combatants in shelters at a depth of 20–30 meters, but also found themselves surrounded. The Israeli military, which took part in the fighting, notes the good command and organization of Sheikh Nasrallah’s troops. Even when the IDF managed to inflict severe blows on the Shiites, the decentralized system of government functioned. For example, in Bint Jbel, Israeli paratroopers and Golan fighters killed up to 70% of the militants, but even on the last day of the war the city was not controlled by the IDF, its losses increased with each passing day, and Hezbollah field commanders responded. for this area of “work”, did not stop directing the actions of the militants and sent help to Bint Jbeil. The situation in Aita al-Shaab was not the best: the Israelis besieged the village for several weeks, constantly striking it, but the resistance of the Shiites did not diminish. At the same time, Israeli losses grew. Israeli special forces officers said that even during the raid on Baal-Bek, when the surprise for the Shiites was complete, the militants resisted the Israeli paratroopers in an organized manner. Although Hezbollah has nothing to do with anarchists, it is an authoritarian organization of pro-Iranian Shiite Muslim fundamentalists. It is controlled by an extensive bureaucracy and has a business with a turnover of hundreds of millions of dollars. There is no reason to suspect these extremely unsympathetic people of their love of anarchist methods and tactics. However, theory and practice have led them to use decentralization methods that have proven to be best suited to the conditions of war in the region.
However, questions may arise as to how protest movements will be able to repel highly professional and well-armed armies. In general, the protest movements have repeatedly defeated professional troops. This usually happened in times of economic crisis. In the late 1990s, the World Bank threatened to refuse a large loan on which the Bolivian government depended heavily if it did not agree to privatize all water resources in Cochabamba (one of Bolivia’s largest cities). Authorities agreed to the terms and signed a contract with a consortium led by corporations from England, Italy, Spain, the United States and Bolivia. The water consortium, unaware of local conditions, immediately raised water prices, forcing many families to pay a fifth of their monthly income just for the right to use water. In addition, a strict policy of disconnection from the water supply of any house that did not pay its bills on time was imposed. In January 2000, major protests erupted against water privatization. The crowds of protesters in the city consisted mostly of indigenous peasants. They were quickly joined by laid-off workers, street vendors, youth, students, and anarchists. Protesters seized the central square and barricaded the city’s main roads. They staged a general strike, which paralyzed city life for 4 days. On February 4, the main protest march was attacked by police and soldiers. 200 demonstrators were arrested. 70 people and 51 law enforcement officers were injured in the clashes. In April, the people recaptured the central square of Cochabamba, and when the government launched an active crackdown, protests spread to the cities of La Paz, Oruro and Potosi, as well as a large number of rural areas. Most of the main routes in the country have been blocked. On April 8, the Bolivian president declared 90 days of martial law. Martial law forbade the gathering of more than 4 people, restricted political activity, allowed the police to make arbitrary arrests, imposed a curfew, and imposed military censorship on radio stations. Episodically policemen joined demonstrations, demanding increased salaries, and even participated in some rebellions. But as soon as the government raised their salaries, they returned to work and resumed the usual practice of beating protesters and arresting former comrades-in-arms. Across the country, people revolted against the police and military with Molotov stones and cocktails. The number of killed and wounded was growing. On April 9, soldiers trying to dismantle a barricade on a highway clashed with resistance and opened fire, killing two and wounding several other protesters. Witnesses attacked the soldiers, seized weapons and opened fire in response. They later stormed the hospital, captured a military captain who had been wounded in a shootout, and shot him. In the face of growing violence from protesters, despite (but rather due to) numerous killings and brutal repression by the army and police, the state was forced to terminate its contract with the water consortium and repeal a law on April 11 allowing the privatization of water in Cochabamba. The Department of Water Supply was handed over to the Coordinating Committee of Local Residents, formed in the heart of the protest movement. Some of the participants in the described events later went to Washington to take part in anti-globalization protests and demonstrations. They set themselves the goal of closing the annual World Bank summit. The protest spilled far beyond the local privatization of water supply. The resistance took the form of a social uprising and contained a socialist theory of renunciation of neoliberalism, capitalism, credit obligations, and multinational property rights to Bolivian gas. The practice of roadblocks continued with daily acts and sabotage of government attempts to take control of their villages. There were at least a dozen cases when a mayor or other government official was too annoying and abusive and lynched.
It is very difficult for states to oppose their own people. “Democratic” regimes do not neglect the imposition of martial law, but it opens the door to a number of dangerous opportunities. Dissatisfied people can take up arms. If the struggle continues to enjoy popular support and gain popularity, the majority of the people will begin to treat the government as occupiers. As a last resort, a military coup and the spread of the struggle are possible. In Greece, the military circulated during protests that if the army was thrown to quell the uprising, soldiers would hand over weapons to the people and open fire on police. Military intervention is an inevitable step on the part of the authorities in any struggle against the state. But if social movements can show courage and organizational ability, defeat the police, they can deal with the military or lure them to their side. Thanks to the rhetoric of “democratic” governments, modern soldiers are much less psychologically prepared to quell riots in their homeland than abroad. In addition, the states of the modern world are strongly interconnected. For example, the political crisis in China could destroy the US economy, which in turn will trigger a chain reaction around the world. We have not yet reached the point where there is a chance to overthrow the global system of government, but it is important that under certain conditions, the state is unable to resist us. And the bubbles of autonomous spaces continue to exist and grow in various parts of the system, which declares its universality and non-alternative. The system was not defeated solely because, in most such political clashes, populist slogans are seized by various parties or adventurers, who then destroy all the gains of the protests.
But if anti-authoritarian movements can take the lead in the global resistance movement, it will give us all hope for the future.
Another eternal argument for the protection of the state apparatus is that it provides social protection for its citizens. Many believe that without the state, vulnerable groups will be left without support. That without officials it is impossible to finance various educational, health or social projects. Let’s take a closer look at whether the state is really needed to address these issues, and what alternatives anarchists offer.
To begin with, one fact must be clearly understood: the bureaucracy does not produce anything and does not have its own resources. All the money that the state has at its disposal comes from your taxes with us. Officials are only redistributing funds. That is, it is hypocritical to say that the state provides us with free education or medicine. Assistance from the state is as free as goods in the store. However, in the same store we can choose between different products, or not buy at all to save money. But we can’t control the services from the state, especially if we pay for them, regardless of their quality or necessity. A very interesting system comes out when we are required to pay money and we cannot trace or influence what exactly will be spent. We should not forget about the possibility of manipulation by those officials who are just looking for opportunities to appropriate budget funds. Can this be called social guarantees?
Quality health care is not available to many people, even in the richest countries. Thousands of people die every year from diseases that could be easily cured, there would be money for that. States are not able to provide us with this necessary thing on which our lives depend, although they demand money from us for it. And pensions are one of the biggest scams in the world. The state collects interest from our salaries to the pension fund. In addition to the fact that we have no control over this money, officials are not ashamed to raise the retirement age and cut pensions. What can be called such manipulations, if not fraud, if not the theft of our money under the guise of pension payments? And free public education in schools is a very good tool for advocacy, but in no way helps the child to form the necessary knowledge base about the world around him. The most important thing that public schools consistently teach is to be a “law-abiding citizen.”
The anarchist economy, in turn, offers a very simple alternative. She says that no one can know the needs of society better than society itself, so why not give the community the opportunity to manage their money and choose where to spend it. Let people with disabilities, the elderly and other vulnerable groups have the right to vote in order to influence themselves in which areas they need help.
In Argentina, during large-scale protests in response to the 2001 crisis, an economy of solidarity and concern for all members of the community flourished. The Argentine economic collapse has not led to a war of all against all, which we are so intimidated by state propaganda. Instead, the result was an explosion of solidarity. Elderly and disabled people were also not excluded from this mutual aid network. By participating in district meetings, they were able to meet their needs by making decisions that affected their lives. At one meeting, participants suggested that homeowners waive property taxes and send the money to support a local hospital. And the movements of the unemployed practically won and built a new economy. In General Mosconi, an oil city in the north, unemployment is around 40%. Now most of the city is autonomous. The movement has already organized more than 300 projects to support the needs of the population, including the elderly and the disabled. Throughout the country, workers are seizing hospitals left in ruins by the state, rebuilding them and financing them themselves.
During the Spanish Civil War, the Barcelona Medical Syndicate (organized mostly by anarchists) supported 18 hospitals (6 of which he founded), 17 sanatoriums, 22 clinics, 6 psychiatric hospitals, 3 kindergartens and one maternity hospital. Outpatient departments have been set up in all the villages of Catalonia. Upon receipt of the request, the syndicate referred doctors to patients. In order to resign, a doctor had to have a good reason, because it was believed that medicine was in the service of society, and not vice versa. Outpatient departments were funded by voluntary contributions from local municipalities. The Anarchist Health Workers’ Union brought together 8,000 people, including 1,020 doctors, 3,206 nurses, 133 dentists, 330 midwives and 153 herbalists. The union operated 36 health centers throughout Catalonia and provided medical services to the entire population of the region. There was one central syndicate in each of the nine zones, and once a week a Steering Committee met in Barcelona, consisting of delegates, one from each section. He solved common problems and created general plans. Each department was autonomous in its field, but not isolated: they supported each other. In addition to Catalonia, health care has been organized in the teams of Aragon and the Levant.
As for the organization of education, anarchists also offer a very simple alternative. To prevent education from becoming an advocacy tool, people need to be given free access to various sources of information. In order for education to be really useful, give the student the opportunity to independently choose the areas that interest him and individually shape the learning process. Quite often anarchists rely on the work of Ferrer. Ferrer created the concept of “rational education”, which he revealed in his works “Renewed School” and “Principles of Scientific Morality”. Under “rational education” was understood the intellectual, physical and moral development of the child with maximum regard to his individual characteristics. The educator, according to Ferrer, in his actions should be based on the interests of the child: “The whole value of education should be to respect the will of the child.” The purpose of the school is to educate “people who are able to continuously evolve, who are able to renew their environment and themselves; people whose main strength will be their mental independence and who are not bound by any traditions and prejudices, will always be ready to accept everything new, better. “ Ferrer considered it unacceptable to subordinate the school to the state and the church. He believed that the task of any state education system is to “teach a child to obey, blindly believe and think according to social dogmas”, to adapt people to the place in society that is imposed on him by the ruling elites. One of the goals of the new school, as Ferrer suggested, was to “snatch from the minds that divide people.” The main method of education in our schools is coercion. Therefore, the roots of change in it must be based on the “destruction of coercion”, the elimination of “moral and ethical discipline”, which “imposes on children ready-made ideas… destroy the will of the child.” For the development of a free personality Ferrer considered it necessary to form critical thinking, the ability to self-development and tolerance for another point of view. Ferrer devoted his life to teaching children, opening the Escuela Moderna (Modern School) for middle class children. He has been imprisoned several times. But after the declaration of martial law in 1909, he was arrested again and found guilty of participating in the riot after a long trial, although he was not even in the country during the riot, shot in the Montjuic Fortress in Barcelona on October 13.
Anarchists experiment a lot with educational projects, for example, anarchists from the United States organized “Free Schools”. Some of them are just temporary initiatives, others are full-fledged schools. One of them, the Albany Free School, has existed in the city for over 32 years. The anti-authoritarian school pays attention not only to education, but also to social justice — it offered a flexible scale of tuition fees and does not deduct anyone for financial reasons. Not only are anarchists experimenting with education, but there are now numerous commercial initiatives that also teach children on the principle of free schools. For the most part, these experimental schools are only available to wealthy people, but Albany Free School has a very diverse student body, including children from poor families. This school has no schedule or mandatory lessons, it works according to the philosophy: “Trust the children and they will learn.” Children under 8th grade study at the Free School, and a senior department has recently opened. The school has a small farm, and this is another educational opportunity for students. In addition, they work with social projects, such as public canteens and kindergartens. Despite financial and other difficulties, the school is quite successful.
The state does not give us anything for free. Free social assistance is just a myth, or a cover for another fraudulent scheme of officials. Society is able to independently manage its own funds to ensure a quality standard of living. And he does not need any intermediaries.
It’s time for the final article in the series “Anarchism in Action”. In total, 7 articles were written on the topics: economics, direct democracy, crime control, army, science, environmental protection and social support. There are many different branches of public life, and we may not have been able to cover all the issues perfectly, but we did not set ourselves such a task. Our goal was to show that anarchism is based on truly effective methods, not the utopian dreams of sofa philosophers. Anarchism is a real alternative that shows its progressiveness by life examples, while the state apparatus is an outdated institution that creates many problems. If the propagandists are right that the state is the pinnacle of human development, then we are doomed to suffer from injustice, poverty and crime.
Anarchism tells us that no matter what, a person can live with dignity, regardless of place of birth. Without spending most of his precious life on the hated job. That life is possible without greedy officials. And anarchists have repeatedly shown in practice the reality of such an alternative. The history of mankind is the history of the struggle against the oppressors. Therefore, it is full of examples of the implementation of anarchist principles. Only an ignoramus can stubbornly say that anarchy never existed, despite all those examples of its implementation. There are now hundreds of autonomous provinces and regions in the world.
It is safe to say that anarchism works. However, it should be noted that some social experiments of the anarchists failed. People did not always cooperate, and adjusted their lives in the absence of the state, and even some of the examples we cited eventually fell apart due to their own internal shortcomings. And in most cases, despite their economic progress and rising living standards, liberated communities were brutally suppressed, dispersed by police, and oppressed by the military. However, their experience is very valuable to us, we must learn from their mistakes in order to more effectively defend our views in the future. Anarchism will not come by itself, it will not come in the future to replace the bureaucracy as a fairer system. Hundreds of people have already been tortured in prisons, killed at barricades to regain freedom in the state. The best thing we can do to honor their memory is to keep fighting. If you take all the achievements of the anarchists, all the autonomous districts and rights that have been won, they do not owe their existence to passive viewers. The stories we have told show that anarchism can work. But we have to build it ourselves.