Is anarchism more radical than socialism?
Pat Stack makes the case for revolutionary Marxism rather than anarchism as ‘the way’ of bringing about a better society.
In this article, Mr. Stack argues the same tired rhetoric that a working class revolution is necessary to overthrow the state and direct society for the good of the people.
He also understood that by drawing together large numbers of workers to make profits for them, the capitalists were potentially creating their own gravedigger—a working class that could only move forward if it moved forward collectively.
Workers in the private sector are told to blame workers in the public sector, the low paid to blame those on benefits and the unemployed to blame immigrants.
A consistent minority of workers reject all such fraud.
For Marxists the key to changing the world is the ability of the class conscious minority to win over the vast majority to act in their own interests.
The problem here is that the author seems to think that a sufficient number of people will recognize themselves as working class proletariot if someone simply points it out to them. To me, this seems untrue, but I can’t guarantee it.
The other problem I have with the author’s proposition is the implication that the working class should pick the rules as we reimagine society. It’s as if the working class’ suffering under the state and capitalism grants them insight into fairness and justice. Does this work in real life? If the kid who has been bullied is suddenly in charge, will the new order be more just?
Anarchism would offer many alternatives, generally focused on localized decision making, but it would not mandate a one-size-fits-all approach. I would offer that we need think more broadly than ‘the working class’ or any other outdated concept. Marx was brilliant, yes, and his ideas for the pattern of capitalism were dead on. But it is time to reach out to normal people. The richest 1 percent of society are the only group that have significantly benefitted from capitalism. Recent ‘tips’ in the market and our ongoing recession
Pat goes on to elaborate upon the role of the state:
While Marxists see the state as an apparatus that acts to protect the class system, anarchists tend to see it as the enemy in and of itself. This can lead to utter confusion.
The father of anarchism, French socialist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, is most famous for stating that “all property is theft”.
But his alternative to the growing power of big capitalist firms was to look to small-scale production linked by a network of exchange of goods and services.
This view of the state leads anarchists to reject not just the capitalist state, but post-revolutionary workers’ states that would be necessary to defend the revolution against its capitalist enemies.
When it comes to questions of leadership, organisation and the state, the superficially attractive appeal of anarchism fails to provide a coherent strategy to change the world.
This closing argument resounds a bit hollow in my ears. In a modern world with all the benefits of technology, society and commerce has tended towards decentralization. In a sufficiently decentralized socio-economic system, it is my belief that we could finally start living and get of the treadmill of struggle after struggle. Institutionalizing a revolution and leaving it in place to root out enemies of the state is a terrifying world.
Maybe its idealistic of me to believe that it is possible to have a society in which I don’t need a big brother to protect me from the demons from which I just shook free. But if I have the option to choose, I know I would rather fight for a society without any oppressors as opposed to handing the keys of power over to a state that promises me it will exercise its power for the good of the people.
Finally, Pat Stack never seems to answer the question posed by his article’s title. “Is anarchism more radical than socialism?” I would offer “Yes, yes it is.” If you take the trouble to dismantle capitalism, why build a new leviathan? Let’s work together and dream up something better than the options of “status quo” or “nanny state.” Large states are either ineffective (United States) or oppressive (China) and in truth, we don’t need them.