Social Revolution and Anarchism
Opening: my history
The reason I am writing this today is to merely explain my take on vertical organization, the history and nature of such organization, and the history and nature of competition, and how vertical organization and competition are connected, as well as propose an alternative. To understand where I’m coming from with this, you need to understand where my position comes from. It will be kind of humorous, it might make some of you think “how can anybody take this man seriously?” trust me I question that myself. But this is how it happened.
What drove me to start writing this was a long history of questions, stemmed from at least an early age. I remember my pretend stories at the age of four having a more revolutionary nature, where people overcome an oppressive foe. Where these ideas and stories derive from is unknown, but I don’t remember a time when I found myself unquestioning of authority. In later years, my family would be subject to the 2008 Recession. Us being incredibly poor prior to the recession only made our situation during the recession dire.
The nature of our suffering preceding and even more so during the recession made me question why such an event could ever be allowed to happen. In many cases were almost evicted, which led me to question why anybody would evict others from their homes because they were too poor to afford it. This led me to conclude that there were people in this world with a lack of heart. At the time, considering my conclusions now, it may seem childish conclusion but not very far from the truth. Over the years I would understand power relations through a self-driven effort to understand different forms of government and administration. As a child born and raised slightly above the poverty line and used to a life of rationing, I dreamed of a world where no one needed to ration.
If you think the childish dreams are over, think again. What drove me in the political position I am today is but one line in Star Trek: First Contact said by Captain Picard: “money doesn’t exist in the 24th century.” Being but an 8-year-old child impoverished child in the middle of one of the most terrible market failures in history, a world without money would mean a world without poverty, as money and wealth inequality was the direct root cause of poverty. My mind would teem with ideals such as free distribution of wants and goods, and the production of these goods being solely for making others happy. Of course, as time went on, my childish fantasies would fade, but the goal wouldn’t. The goal for a world without the inequality of wealth, without the accumulation, investment, and exchange of monetary items would continue, but the reasoning behind it would mature from an argument for personal desire to a moral cause.
This led me to research the different forms government and organization could take. The idea of a confederation of communities stuck out to me most. Being a thirteen-year-old who knew a lot of history and beginning to grasp the power of hierarchies and the monetary economy saw a confederation as a freer alternative than the consolidating nature of a unitary state and the division and layered powers of a federation. My plight was what predominated my political drive, but as I entered my teens, the plight of others would drive me even further. Ferguson, the Occupy movement, Treyvon Martin, party politics, job crises, the Syrian civil war, occupation of Crimea, all these events opened my eyes to the System and its nature. Black Lives Matter, Feminism, and my introduction to Socialism and the worker’s movement solidified my path to the Libertarian Left.
My introduction to Socialism wasn’t picking up the Communist Manifesto, but in fact it came from reading online forums, and many of my early ideas regarding Socialism was in fact not really Socialism but on par with Social Democracy. I would soon learn my error and understand the flaws with a centralized economy as a fully adopted a confederal alternative. I would also understand that I couldn’t have a market without money and monetary exchange and accumulation, so it was quick after my discovery of the word “Socialism” I would find myself believing in real, worker-ownership, seize the means of production Socialism without even touching a book by a Socialist.
Now, I believed in Socialism, but what I lacked was an idea on how to get to Socialism. When I was fifteen, upon hearing Bernie Sander’s campaign on “Democratic Socialism”, and researching Democratic Socialism, two things happened: I realized Bernie wasn’t a Democratic Socialist and that Democratic Socialism was essentially reforming society into Socialism. I became a Democratic Socialist. I would write ideas of my confederal Socialist alternative, including one that resembled Syndicalism, and even a confederation of independent worker’s units that would parallel the confederation of communities. How they became Socialist was usually something including building a community movement that would grow into a powerful political alternative. Let me remind you, even at this point, sixteen-year-old me still hadn’t touched a book by a Socialist, not even the Manifesto.
My pursuit into Feminism was even more troublesome. I still have trouble remembering, but I know from an early age I said to my dad “boys and girls should be equal.” That would later drive a wedge between me and other young boys and girls, each believing they were better than the other sex. I at first believed in that jargon, but the recession somehow pressed a special button in me that made me more respectful and took away that discriminating filter. Something clicked, and at some point, I was talking to everybody the same way I did when I was three-years-old and unaware of sexual difference. I wouldn’t have any desire to spend my time with just boys or just girls, I was ok with spending my time with anybody, and thought the whole idea of specific roles assigned to me without my consent being utter shit. What was wrong with me crying when I’m sad? What was wrong with girls having short hair? These questions would evolve in maturity and only create more questions with few answers.
I learned about the term “Feminism” when I was thirteen years old and was immediately drawn in to the ideology’s goals of achieving gender equality. I carefully ignored anti-feminist forums, because they always lack basic knowledge on what real Feminism is and learned about Feminism from actual Feminists. I became disillusioned with the Feminist movement I was aware of when I took the title of “Socialist”. Most Feminists I had lived around were Liberal Feminists and supported Capitalism. I would somewhat succumb to the anti-Feminist jargon preached by the Amazing Atheist and other online anti-Feminists, but what dragged me away from that intellectual hole was an off-kind of feeling I felt, I felt what I was succumbing to was wrong. This would make me further research Feminism again and find Marxist Feminism and Anarchist Feminism. However, finding these gems took a lot of digging through jargon right-wing forums and Liberal Feminist websites.
The first piece of Socialist literature I would read would be Democratic Confederalism by Abdullah Öcalan. Confederalism, Socialism, Feminism, all in one. Democratic Confederalism also featured a bit of geopolitics and historical materialism to back it as a viable alternative. I became a Democratic Confederalist and left the Democratic Socialist sphere in favor of Revolutionary Socialism, which was more in-tune with my revolutionist roots.
I soon read Mutual Aid, the Fascist Manifesto, the Communist Manifesto, the Ego and its Own, and attempted to read Das Kapital but lost the time to finish it (still need to). I read more in time, but my readings wouldn’t be determining where I stood, they would simply push me. Today, I am an Anarchist.
The two kinds of Revolution
The Social Revolution is the social upheaval of institutions and systems. The masses themselves taking to the streets, seizing the workplaces, and dismantling state and corporate institutions, replacing them with institutions that directly reflect them and their interests. The Social Revolution is one with a civil objective, launched by the masses themselves. The whole of society is overturned and changed, the culture and power relations are completely obliterated and new power relations, if any were to arise, are completely different in nature and institution from the previous one. One could argue that the American Revolution was a Social Revolution, with the institutions of the monarchy completely obliterated and the ones of a Republic were formed to replace them and the power relations between State and people changed.
The Political Revolution is a revolution within the state. It’s a revolution launched by a political unit for a political objective that leaves the power and property relations intact or slightly distorted. These revolutions are merely a change in regime but not society. The French Revolutions of 1830 and 1848 were political Revolutions.
Vertical Organization (Hierarchy)
What is Vertical Organization?
Vertical organization is a method organization in which decision-making power and command is consolidated into an elite few, with a chain of command that eventually leads to the bottom being a powerless people. The purpose for this form of organization is to make swift and efficient decisions, and push society forward at ever increasing speeds. Another word for this system is hierarchy. The point of today’s essay is to critique it, but if we are going to critique hierarchy as a system, we need to understand where is comes from.
History of Hierarchy
For thousands of years, Humanity has been under the system of hierarchy. Forms of authority have existed since the dawn of Humanity, however for most of our history we lived in tribal democracies. The tribes would collectively make decisions for the good of the communities. As time progressed and communities became larger and more frequently ran into other communities, the rise of inter-community relationships would form. Soon, communities would merge, this is where the first systems of vertical organization, aka social hierarchy, would emerge as a force that would make decisions against the common collective. City-states saw the emergence of powerful militant hierarchies, competing with other hierarchies and utilizing mass propaganda to cull support from its populace.
Hierarchies are the result of growing relationships between Human communities, as the Human population grew from the millions to the tens of millions, struggle for resources and supplies caused competition between communities. Soon, this competitive relationship between Humans would require the consolidation of power for a swifter decision-making process. In times of struggle, quick decision-making was required. Control would be handed to an elite. The early hierarchies would persist as city-states rose. To consolidate power and command over the masses to forward competition and war over the hierarchy’s enemies.
Hierarchies would use various arguments to justify their regimes over the years from divine rule to social contract to even as far as perverting democratic revolutions and claiming they defend and uphold “democracy” and “freedom”. The great city states of Ur, the massive monuments of Egypt, and the architecture of Greek hierarchies, the vastness of the Roman empire and its monuments, to the written propaganda and massive structures built by monarchies and hierarchies today symbolize the power of those hierarchies to direct its collective masses.
Hierarchies have evolved to adapt into controlling every aspect of life and interaction, from civic to economic to religious. Decisions of the people to freely choose their beliefs, laws, and exchange have been uprooted and consolidated into the power of the elites. This uprooting of the people’s basic freedoms has come in the form of militant seizure, as has been done under Fascism, and propaganda to willingly hand it away to a new ruling class, as was done in the American Revolution, French Revolution, and Bolshevik Revolution.
In the last several hundred years, more forms of hierarchies emerging from new sectors of life have been forged from new modes of interaction. Complex forms of trade and economy emerged after the fall of the Roman empire, which led to the rise of Feudalism, and as new modes of exchange emerged came the flexible Capitalism. As people began turning to faith for a driving and moral pull in life, hierarchies emerged to syphon off belief and distort it in the benefit of the religious elite. States were the first forms of hierarchy, and have thus taken the most faces, including that of the liberal democracy, oligarchies, and autocracies.
The Educational Industrial Complex has seen the rise of an educational elite and the subjugation of an entire caste of students and the perversion of Human learning.
Capitalism, Socialism, and Anarchism
Capitalism is a system by which there is private ownership of the institutions of production for the purpose of the investment, accumulation, and exchange of profit, i.e. Capital. This gives Capitalism its very name: a system oriented for the production of Capital, or Capitalism. The production of Capital is oriented towards the benefit of the Capital Class, or the Ruling Class/Private Elite. These are the owners of the institutions of production, the guiders of what is done with them.
Capitalism requires a strict structure and division of power to maintain its own survival. The owners being at the top of this chain, the laborers at the bottom. In between is a unique class in on it’s own that has emerged as Capitalism developed: the coordinators. These people act accordingly with the will of the owners, enforce the policies of the elites, and direct the laborers in the actions for profit.
Socialism is a system by which the laborers own and direct the institutions of production. These institutions include factories, railways, offices, stores, vehicles, tools, warehouses, and any other item used for the sake of the production of profit. Socialism can be characterized as a system by which the workers themselves own and coordinate the institutions of production, with the purpose of those institutions being oriented towards the production of social benefits. The goods and services produced are produced for the purpose of benefiting the communities or society as a whole. This gives Socialism its name: a system in oriented towards the production of goods and services for civil benefit.
Anarchism is a system by which administration, coordination, and the policy of society is done by the people. Anarchism is a society by which power relations cease to exist and power rests equally among all people. Anarchism is a critique of unjustified hierarchy, or the unjust inequality of power division. What makes hierarchy just is if it is 1) a natural occurrence that only forms from Human biological natural (parent-child relationship) or 2) for a coordinative purpose that reflects the direct will of the masses (a revocable and temporary coordinative council). Essentially, hierarchies with a purpose are justified, hierarchies without a purpose are not.
Hierarchies with a purpose are temporary and coordinative, with a purpose that benefits all. The crucial parent-child relationship benefits the child’s social and individual development into Human society as well as pass down key knowledge from generation to generation. This type of development is unavoidable and cannot be abolished with severe social and developmental consequences. Therefore, this type of hierarchy is necessary.
Hundreds of millions of people suffer at the hands of wealth inequality and power inequality. Problems such as world hunger could easily be solved if the resources used to cultivate and produce edible goods were directed towards the benefit of all. The nature of Capitalism prevents this, as the nature of Capitalism is profit. How much profit do you think an owner of a food processing company can squeeze out of processing food for half a billion impoverished Africans? Many people argue in favor of helping the starving, however the elites argue against it because of the fact the profits would be minimal at best. This is why we need to change the fabric of society and economics to bend according to new rules and new methods.
The case of the starving impoverished is but one example of dozens throughout Capitalism’s 200 years of existence and Feudalism’s thousand years in which if the nature of exchange was tweaked for social benefit instead of profit then the countless people who died of hunger, disease, and war would still be alive today.
Socialism is naturally a system oriented towards social benefit. The workers and communities own the institutions of production, needs within these communities need to be met, so naturally the purpose of production will be towards goods and services that benefits the many instead of profit for the few. Socialism is the alternative, if applied on an international scale, can abolish war, as war is not socially beneficial, can eradicate disease, since medicine and advanced medical procedures are socially beneficial, and build a foundation for a better Humanity.
On top of that, the Capitalist wage system is but another issue. Workers are forced to work for menial wages, or else perish to the markets. Workers are told to “sell their labor”. The problem is, labor isn’t a physical object, so what can represent your labor? You can sell your car, that’s a physical object. You can sell your television, that’s a physical object. But your labor is you, you are selling yourself like a slave-seller sold slaves to slave owners in 1800s America. The wage system exists as a means of culling workers from the masses, and to ensure the institutions of production are still used and that profit is accumulated, invested, and exchanged.
Why Anarchism and Socialism
Anarchism is the body by which this Socialism should take it’s form. Historically, State Socialism has made great strides in social benefit, but is still linked to the will of the partisan elites. State Socialism has historically built a new elite. While these elites may have had the people’s interest in mind, the individual interests of the elite were still pursued.
This is but apparent in the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union’s methods of collectivization of agriculture saw them turn the peasantry into wage workers. This is the natural objective of Capitalism, to build wage workers for the purpose of producing Capital. Private property existed but under the term “State property”. It’s goals were the same as Capitalism: to produce in the interests of the elite. A class of wage workers still operated these means of production. The Bolsheviks achieved Capitalistic ends, not proletarian ones. Even Lenin himself admitting that the Bolshevik’s objectives were State Capitalism. The Red Bureaucracy was a dictatorship of the party, not a dictatorship of the proletariat.
Anarchism is a means of the keys of control resting with the masses, and naturally the masses would push for social benefits. Socialism and Anarchism are a perfect pair, in fact the first form of Anarchism, Mutualism, in its end form was essentially Socialist. True worker control over the institutions of production and the purpose of production for social benefit can only happen if the workers and communities were free of all elites because then the use of these institutions would directly reflect the needs and desires of the many and not the interests of the few, as is such with Capitalism and historically with the failed experiments of State Socialism.
The State is a form of hierarchical organization that gives legal and administrative authority to an elite few. The State has taken many faces and forms throughout history, from the Monarchy to the Republic. While the State can be a driver for social order and peace, the State, it being the first hierarchy, has only the sole purpose of competing with other States. This includes the acquisition of territory, the subjugation of its masses, the formation of a military, and the organization of legal units within its territory. These units all acting in the purpose of competition and power.
In the early days of hierarchy, early States were competitive in obtaining resources by commanding the populace to participate in tribal wars and organizing cultivating efforts. The original purpose of the State was to simply be an organizer, but it was soon corrupted into competing against other States. The elites, realizing the only way the people naturally won’t hand over their freedom, employed a vast arsenal of propaganda, some States using defense and god as their justifications. This pacified the masses.
The State consolidates legal power, and often uses laws to direct its populace into doing things that benefit it and ensure control. Some laws were made to keep order among the masses, for example laws against murder and rape, but some were blatantly made for control and to justify State action, a modern example being the Patriot Act and the Communist Control Act.
This begs the question; do we really need the State? For hundreds of thousands of years, Humans lived in tribalistic societies with no formal State. Stateless societies such as the Paris Commune and several near-stateless examples including the Free Territory and Revolutionary Catalonia saw many social benefits and increase in positive lifestyle. While separate units organized the Anarchist revolutions in the Free Territory, and the Socialist revolution in Revolutionary Catalonia, the institutions built by these organizations and the masses as well as collectivization saw an increase in production output. Feminism was a major player in Revolutionary Catalonia, even playing a key role in building educational centers and women actively fighting in the fronts.
Today, we are seeing yet another Libertarian Socialist experiment take place in the Rojava. This experiment is making modern truimphs in Socialism and Feminism. This experiment is known as Democratic Confederalism, which in itself is a revolutionary theory pursuing Communalism. Communalism seeks a stateless society. The Rojava, or known more formally as the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria, is building a community government, in which localized entities such as councils. This grassroots approach isn’t necessarily fully horizontal, but definately stateless, since most governing power isn’t rested with a central elite. economically, it is a blend of co-operatives and small private enterprises. A plan pursued by Democratic Union Party (PYD), which allows for three major property concepts to dominate the economy: common property, private property by use, and worker-administrated businesses. The definition of “private property” in this context being that of “personal property” as described by many Socialists, which falls under “ownership by use”, in which if it isn’t used, it falls under “common property”.
In conclusion to that question, do we really need a State? The answer is not necessarily. The people are fully capable of building their own institutions and assemblies.
Why Social Revolution
Anarchism and Socialism, in the sense that they are together, are completely different systems in which the purpose of their institutions are radically different than today’s Capitalism. Capitalism’s very nature has built a set of conducts that can only exist under a market economy. Profit investment, exchange, and accumulation are the results of the market, and Capitalism can only exist in the market. The market is ultimately the driving force behind Capitalism’s power, and the fact that world starvation and disease are widespread problems that may never be dealt with unless profitable. In order for a society oriented around the will and interests of the masses to arise, it must arise through a means that uproots the fabric of economics as we know them: market economics and consumerism. The fabric of a Socialist economy would be centered around production instead of consumption. The goods or services produced would be produced for the sake of social benefit, need, and interest.
The nature of us as Humans is to better our current condition. This is why we eat when we are hungry, why we sleep when we are tired, why we talk when we are in need of each other. The nature of us Humans will be the driving factor behind a Libertarian Socialist society, in which society reflects our interests instead of our interests reflecting our society. This requires a whole new set of conducts and natural rules that a Socialist Anarchist society and economy live by, these changes are so radical they must result in the masses upheaval of society itself. They require a Social Revolution.
The culture, the institutions, and the relations within society must be uprooted for these changes to occur. The common argument of the Right is that these are simply “unrealistic” and base their criticisms of Anarchist Socialism around the idea it will be a system born out of the current society and its rules. No, Socialist Anarchism is a completely different model that is not born out of Capitalism’s rules by by the total upheaval of these rules. The criticisms of Socialist Anarchism that involve the Human “drive” for market exchange are completely baseless in this sense. That somehow people are “greedy” and will form a quiet black market and secret monetary exchange. Why would anyone need or even want to do this if the fabric of society has been completely changed to where needs and interests are met for the sake of meeting needs and interests? These strawmans, therefore, do not apply to Socialist Anarchism.
What makes these arguments even more baseless is the fact that Human nature is very much flexible. While we are indeed capable of great greed and competition, we are capable of great cooperation. Currently, Capitalism promotes greed in order to survive. Our desire is to better our current condition, that is Human nature. If greed is the way to do this, greed will prevail. In a society that requires greed for Humans to better their own condition, greed will prevail. Several studies by various universities, plus the fact that Human survival for hundreds of thousands of years can be attributed to our ability to form cohesive and coordinative groups, have proven we are in fact capable of cooperation if the situation needs us to cooperate. Therefore, if the rules of how the system works is oriented towards cooperation and teamwork in order for us to better our current condition, then we will surely cooperate.
In this case, in order to build such a society that reflects our interests and nature to cooperate, then we must dissolve the institutions and “greed culture” that promotes greed to survive and better our condition. This requires a Social Revolution.
How to bring about a Social Revolution
Like any action led by the masses themselves, it requires a class conscious. It requires the masses to be conscious of the system, that system being vertical organization (hierarchy, which includes Capitalism) and its nature. The masses also need to be aware of the Libertarian Socialist alternatives. A Social Revolution can only begin with a recognition of the problems and a solution to them. This calls for agitators. Class conscious isn’t something that happens all at once, as history has shown, few people manage to realize their own condition and understand viable solutions to it. These people shall be the agitators for class conscious, the outlets for knowledge and solutions. Agitation is only half the battle, introducing these solutions as real-world alternatives is another. Agitating the masses to organize themselves, such as pushing for locality meetings and community mutual aid, can go a long way when the masses become conscious, and even help them to become conscious.
On top of this, agitators must not spew out dogma, but push for dialogue. Ask questions, but offer no answers. The people themselves must be able to find answers to their questions. Offer solutions to issues, open dialogue with others about their applications. Open dialogue with Liberals, who usually have their heart in the right place, and help them understand the flaws of the market and Capitalism.
Coalition of agitators
The unity of class conscious individuals, who must have originated from the oppressed masses themselves, is dire for the achievement of class conscious. The Coalition of agitators must not come in the form of a party or trade union, but a grouping of people whose sole purpose is dialogue, questioning, and pushing for the initial applications of social alternatives. They must be from the oppressed classes and act as a voice of understanding in the collective struggle.
During which the Social Revolution takes place, there will be a need for coordinative elements. The Coalition of agitators must push for the formation of such institutions, but must not partake in them themselves. Militias and armed units are bound to take rise from the people’s Social Revolution, they need to be unified against the resisting Capitalist forces. This calls for several revocable and temporary coordinative councils to lead a militant federation in the revolutionary struggle. Militant struggle will arise shortly after the initial insurrection, given the Capitalists and State authorities will likely still have a hold on military assets and forces. Guaranteed some of these forces and assets will find their way into the hands of the masses, one must also not forget that modern revolutions will likely result or be the result of a civil conflict with multiple sides. A Social Revolution is the initial stage of the class struggle with it being the initial deconstruction of Capitalist and State institutions and culture within a given region, the armed struggle will surely follow.
Other institutions will also need to be formed, such as localized assemblies and workplace assemblies, with allow for laborers and community members to meet and discuss issues as we as coordinate their efforts in production and self-administration. This calls for the establishment of a Direct Participatory Democracy, which divides administering power between all people. Individual policies can be made through Consensus, which is a compromise between comparing viewpoints and ultimately takes all voices in community into consideration. The alternative following the Social Revolution following the principles of Socialist Anarchism must have the least amount of consolidation of administrative power as possible, to avoid a flawed bureaucracy from taking form.
Abolition of Class
The first objective of the masses during and after should be the abolition of class. Class is a social division that can build the ingredients for hierarchy (vertical organization) in later years. Class builds a supremacy complex within the higher classes, and subjugation over those in the lower ones. The first objective should be to abolish this.
EQUALIZATION OF LABOR: all jobs and positions must hold equal standing and power, no preference over one-and-other. This is a hard concept to grasp, but it’s a necessary one. One shouldn’t be scrutinized or praised for taking on a certain position, the desire to be of that position should be genuine. To equalize labor, salaries and wage labor must be abolished. This means, at the very least needs are free. Labor Vouchers/Credit could be a good place to start, utilizing the labor theory of value instead of the subjective theory of value. Instead, relative to the job, the amount someone earns is based on the time and resources used. Vouchers also act as incentives for people to perform labor. With needs free, non-need goods can still cost vouchers. So of someone chooses not to work, no harmful repercussions are a result.
The eventual goal should be a gift economy. To do this, we must abolish the cultural desire for incentives. In our culture today, most people will not perform deeds without getting something in return. This is an element of Capitalist and market culture. Instead, over time, the youth should be taught in the values of reciprocity and a step-by-step plan be taken by communities to abolish labor vouchers and any form of a direct exchange economy.
ABOLITION OF COORDINATIVE POSITIONS: it is no joke to say that today’s Capitalism has more economic classes than that of 1800s Capitalism. The positions of the coordinative class must be abolished, such as managers or directors, in order for class to be abolished. The only coordinative element should be the laborers themselves. The Social Revolution and the immediate formation of a Socialist economy will bring about the end of the capitalist class, the coordinative class, those who are not owners nor laborers, but coordinative elements within the capitalist paradigm, is one that can become the next capitalist class, since administrative power over the means of production will fall opon them. The coordinative class can be abolished peacefully, by setting up worker’s cooperatives in the place of companies and employed workplaces.
The case for a horizontal society is a tricky one. The abolition of Capitalism, and to a broader extent, unjustified hierarchy, in the 21st century will be more difficult than abolishing Capitalism in the time of Marx. Capitalism is now a global parasite that has a firm hand across all corners of the globe. Capitalism and the State, in many parts of the west, have successfully dulled the minds of the masses into easy sumbition. Today, it is not the police nor the coordinators who enforce the laws of Capitalism, the market, and the State, but the masses themselves who have been propagated to believe in elite’s lies of “freedom”, “democracy”, and “security”. Will Capitalism, the State, and other unjustified hierarchial institutions be successfully dismantled? This is an instance where only time and the success of agitation can tell.