Why the anarchists lost the working class
For the record, the anarchist I will describe here is the typical self-identified anarchist. IE: Western, mostly middle class, breadtube kind of anarchist.
I think proper anarchists familiar with the philosophy might actually appreciate some parts of my criticism. However you’ve also lost the working class on account of how there’s only about 45 of you living in the world today.
Society in every state is a blessing, but government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one: for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.
Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise.
Thomas Paine, Common Sense
I think we are all in agreement when it comes to anarchists: We should respect them. They are not like us, they are different, but we should of course respect them. Why? Because you musn’t starve a tiger.
Anarchism is the working class philosophy of the western middle class, one of the most dangerous classes in the world.
Also I will go on to define both what I mean by “western” and “middle class” in very concrete terms later on in this article.
So obviously we respect them, you musn’t starve a tiger. Anarchism appeals to the liberal frontier mentality. The mythology that human beings are independent and self-made individuals, which is true in Hollywood, but of course ignores the backdrop of slave labour that propped up the liberal homesteader since day 1.
Truth is, all societies need authority, and individual liberty comes from when you outsource the burdens of authority to an underclass. There was a time when I believed in all their propaganda about Marxism, not knowing how the Ukrainian war was based on anarchist aggression, violation of treaties and pardoning murderous war criminals.
It’s just US anti-Soviet propaganda, and they use it to further justify genocide and imperialism to this day.
But we musn’t starve a tiger.
Thomas Paine figured out what anarchists never did. That authority is impossible to escape unless you wish to throw yourself at the mercy of hard natural laws. All social organisation is authoritarian, anything that permits you to turn a vast and empty landscape into a thriving society is authoritarian. Anything that embodies the force by which you can turn mountains into buildings, by which you turn forests into furnishings, by which you turn cold into warmth, is a force embodied by authority.
But anarchism figured out a secret formula to resolving this: Denial. Their authority is magic, it’s horizontal, it’s not there, all of society happens by coincidence under anarchism.
There was no unemployment, and the price of living was still extremely low; you saw very few conspicuously destitute people, and no beggars except the gypsies. Above all, there was a belief in the revolution and the future, a feeling of having suddenly emerged into an era of equality and freedom. Human beings were trying to behave as human beings and not as cogs in the capitalist machine.
George Orwell describing life under libertarian socialism.
Libertarianism is just as authoritarian as anything else. It’s just authority in denial, invisible authority, authority that’s without scrutiny or codification.
So when anarchists racially segregate their worker’s paradise, it’s everyone’s fault. It’s The People’s Racism, and The People’s Mistake, and as such: It might as well be no one’s fault.
When anarchists blame Stalin for all the supposed crimes against them, then guess what? They are showing the world how much more liberatory the Soviet Union was by attaching a name to the accountability of the state.
Meanwhile, who do we blame for the segregation in Catalonia? Apparently the correct answer is the 240,000 members of the Generalitariat. Good thing that they weren’t living in the Soviet Union where that kind of racism was considered punishable by death if carried out by an elected authority figure, imagine the bloodbath.
However they likely did not face any sort of justice, nor did they fear any such justice. Instead it was just the Romani who had to suffer, and we’ve done that for 1500 years so we can just take it I suppose.
A lot of people claim that when the USSR gave us homes and schooling that they were carrying out a “cultural genocide”, because gypsies naturally desire to be excluded and homeless, but I assure you we don’t. In fact, that’s why we no longer call ourselves gypsies. Gypsy life was a coping mechanism, a means to survive horrendous racism, it’s not some romantic calling of wanderlust.
This is the Chetnik Flag. There is no historical evidence of anarchists in Ukraine flying this flag or some variety of it. And it’s largely been used by ultra-right wing death squads to carry out ethnic cleansings in the Balkans. It’s basically like flying a Swastika. The Chetniks were directly comparable to the Waffen SS. It is an unequivocally fascist symbol, especially since a lot of them became mercenaries for the Nazis later on.
And yet western (IE: US and Western European) anarchists love it, and even when they are told about the history of it they just shrug and say “they think it looks cool.” The hammer and sickle is apparently too authoritarian, but saluting the filthy rag that Nazi mercenaries used to slaughter Bosnian children is fair enough apparently.
Similarly, in Ukraine, Nestor Makhno has become a symbol for fascism, and the Ukrainian concept of “Svoboda”, or “Freedom.” Which, in this context, is a common slavic euphemism for fascism.
So here we have Thought Slime, a popular anarchist e-celebrity, discussing contemporary Russian politics, and in doing so, is dropping Neo-Nazi dogwhistles.
Do I think Thought Slime is a Neo-Nazi? Of course not, I just think it shows how these people have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about, how anarchist history and philosophy is extremely tonedeaf to popular sentiments among working peoples.
These people pretend to be the big experts on the true history of Slavic peoples and revolutionary philosophy, while flying the flag of ethnic cleansings and touting the mottos of Neo-Nazis. Not intentionally mind you, but it does say a thing or two about their supposed expertise on the matter.
In that sense, I give the post-left anarchists credit. They don’t like working class people. They want to be Bohemians and Hippies and primitive communards, and they don’t lie about it. So credit where credit is due. I find their way of life and their worldview to be insufferable, BUT, I respect them as people for being sincere. It’s hard to dislike sincere people.
So to all of you posties, especially the really ridiculous ones who don’t believe in industry: Some of you are very good friends, and I genuinely appreciate you, truly. I am sincere in how I think the ideal you’re fighting for is going to become a cholera-ridden incest colony within the century, but I respect you nonetheless.
By and large, all historical patterns point to how most working class people just want better lives. Common Sense if you will, working class people in general are not as personally invested in party or ideological discipline as the upper and middle classes are. That’s why they don’t form organisations like the Brownshirts or the Ku Klux Klan even if they have similar far-right views.
In fact, most working class people I’ve known with far-right sentiments will usually just be three books away from turning their list of grievances and xenophobic scapegoating into a Marxist critique.
I would sum it up thusly:
- Good wages
- Good employment
- Good culture
Most workers on the far right do not only feel economically alienated, but also culturally alienated. A big part of fighting fascism in the Soviet territories and Warsaw Pact nations was culture.
Arbeiter, Bauern, nehmt die Gewehre, nehmt die Gewehre zur Hand! Zerschlagt die faschistischen Räuberheere, setzt alle Herzen in Brand.
Workers, peasants, take your rifles! Put your rifles in your hands! Slaughter the fascists, the robber barons, set all hearts on fire!
Arbeiter, horch, sie ziehen ins Feld und schreien: “Für Nation und Rasse!” Das ist der Krieg der Herrscher der Welt, gegen die Arbeiterklasse!
Workers, listen, they go into the field and shout, “For nation and race!” This is the war of the rulers of the world, against the working class!”
If you ask most anarchists, they call this “indoctrination” and “brainwashing.” But most working class people would call it culture. Things that build confidence, belonging, a sense of connection to their society and their labour.
Endlessly typing out documents for some CEO’s family so they can buy a yacht is not very fulfilling, but to contribute to a society that fights injustice and cruelty and upholds ideas of radical democracy and egalitarianism suddenly makes mundanity a bit less mundane. People want to belong, and exist in a world which is authentic to them. The shallow and commercial culture of private publishing is usually alienating and disparaging to people.
Vapid culture I think can be summed up in the motto of the chart topping publishers of the 1960s: Sex, drugs and rock and roll.
Now contrary to prejudiced assumptions about me, I have in fact partaken in plenty of all three categories. However because I am not a brainwashed sadcase, I do not think I should flaunt my personal life as some kind of social branding opportunity. I believe in privacy, and I think people who don’t believe in privacy are gross and weird I am sorry to say.*
*Unless you’re a sex worker, because sex workers are professionals who respect other people’s boundaries. They go through a big effort to make sure that you need to approach them. I got zero issues with that. That’s quite frankly precisely what I encourage as the norm.
I think “openness” about sex is what decent people describe as “grooming.” If you want to be open about sex: Join a libertine club and be responsible. I know people who are part of libertine clubs, and I respect them for being responsible. Privacy is not just a right, it is a responsibility.
And that is a common working class sentiment, and with good reason. When I lived in a working class neighborhood as a kid, we were across the street from a bunch of night clubs. In the day, workers would be out and about, but at night it was the cocaine sniffing middle class who occupied the streets.
My mother would have to run from shop to shop, as though she was caught in the middle of an air raid in order to avoid the drunken sex pests who would chase women on the street if they went out after dark.
All I mean is, when I hear the average modern day anarchist discuss “sexual liberation” then from a working class perspective it makes me feel as though I am on board of a pirate ship exclusively crewed by clones who were synthesised from Bill Crosby’s courtroom exhibited DNA.
Point is, turns out that sex, drugs and rock and roll are pretty shallow experiences when they are being marketed within a consumer vacuum. In fact, all popular musical genres since private publishing took over cultural modes of production can be described as sex, drugs and [Music.] Whether RnB, Hip Hop, Techno, Dubstep, Disco, you name it.
Granted, Hip Hop and RnB has quite a lot of depth to them at times, but they also famously generate backlash for doing so. Middle class people hate it, working class people like it.
Also my definition between middle class and working class is simple: Viable home ownership. Middle class people have homes which are tied to real estate speculation, which gives them a vested interest in segregation and gentrification and usually makes them prone to develop formal and organised reactionary forces. IE: MLK’s White moderate/Malcolm X’s Fox and wolf.
This is, in my opinion, the underlying reason for it. It’s privately owned homes. I do not see it as a moral issue, I do not fault you for owning a home. I just see these political realities for what they are.
Middle class people are of course working class, just a bit distinct in some ways and contexts. And on some level we still need middle class support in any popular worker’s movement, especially because you musn’t starve a tiger.
You musn’t be a complete pushover to the tiger either, but there’s a nice balance between avoiding outright antagonism, and still remaining firm in one’s own principles.
Point is: A lot of working class people in Europe feel as though their culture is weak, and it makes them frail and insecure. Worse yet is how liberals and libertarians make matters worse, because they admonish every effort of people to reconnect to their culture, usually with slanted and academic history that seeks to scapegoat working class people for the crimes of the wealthy.
And it’s easy for the conservative wing of parliamentarianism to then blame this cultural other. To blame the halal stickers on their foods, to blame the mosques in their town squares, and so on. But the real enemy has always been America.
America has been the most damaging influence on European culture since Nazi Germany. Everything is commercialised, imported, hegemonised, dubbed and sold. Europe is flooded with American music, American TV shows, American studies, American companies, American literature, you name it.
Europe is America’s newest colonial project, and while I am not going to say that we’ve endured what the Indians have in America, or India for that matter come to think of it… perhaps in a few centuries we will have.
I’d say that is plenty of time for the US to carry out further genocidal actions as that seen in Yugoslavia, Chechnya, Russia and Georgia during the 90s. They have not forgiven us for how millions of us joined Asia, Africa and Latin America in the struggle against colonialism and imperialism.
Another noted US anarchist, namely Noam Chomsky, especially shows how neocolonialism seeps into anarchist ideology within the west.
Chomsky, the sweetheart of intellectual libertarianism in the US, touted the WMDs in Iraq canard before it was cool, and did so to genocidal consequence.
(Also give Esha a look, hands down one of the best historians I’ve known, with really cool and obscure research materials such as this video excerpt.)
The general public isn’t going to remember Chomsky’s “We’re the biggest terrorists” platitude, because it’s entirely abstract. What they’re going to remember is how one of the most accredited voices on US foreign policy kept talking about Russian nuclear commandos sneaking into Yugoslavia, and how that might possibly initiate a series of events which ends with them turning into radioactive skeletons. THAT is when Chomsky becomes less abstract.
It’s why western anarchists are seen as so useful to imperialism. Accusing your own empire of crimes is weirdly reassuring to most people if anything. When they play the moral equivalency of saying that imperialism in the west is bad, then most people from the west will experience two things:
If they’re the biggest murderers in the world, then sure, that sucks, but at least it means they’re less likely to get murdered.
Meanwhile, when it’s time to discuss the “other side”, whether that’s Indians, Spaniards, Arabs, Slavs, Africans, Latinos, Japanese, Irish, Chinese, or whomever else that happens to be the villain of the week: Suddenly shit gets real.
Suddenly someone’s a contender for the world championship. Suddenly, you might be murdered by Chinese, or Mexicans, or Cherokees or whomever else. THAT is the part that people are going to react the strongest to, because fear is a far greater motivator than conscience. You can cope with a moral error, but few people cope with a burning building or an angry shark.
Hell, most people get uncomfortable around a perfectly content shark. It’s prejudice at its starkest.
Point is, you look at all these things, the cultural alienation, the historical revisionism, the complete disregard for history and peoples outside of the English speaking world unless it’s for bias confirmation, and so on, leads to people enjoying the popular line of Marxists. Because Marxists don’t simply tell people what to think; They listen to what people have to say.
When people feel culturally defeated, we don’t dismiss it, we write them symphonies. When people feel underpaid or overworked, we don’t give them high minded ideals, we give them better wages. When people don’t feel safe, we don’t tell them some wives’ tale about how human nature is a social construct, we start building tanks.
In short, Marxism has more than explanations for why the world isn’t perfect, Marxists actually shed blood, sweat and tears to make the world better. If the world gives us authority, war and death, then Marxists do not shun the world as reactionary, we simply do the best we can.
You can write as many essays about the abolition of the commodity form as you want, but all you will have contributed in the contemporary material sense is something for the homeless to burn for warmth.
And since most of you do it on the internet these days, you couldn’t even manage that.
In short, click this video: