We’re spiraling down a profound systematic crisis of a magnitude rivaling, if not exceeding, the Great Depression of 30’s. In the last century we’ve also seen the utter failure of the two most popular populist political ideologies – Revolutionary State Socialism and Reformist State Socialism – to achieve their goals and thus the utopianism of expecting either of them to bring us out of a capitalist crisis and into an egalitarian future becomes obvious. We’ve also seen (and see currently) how xenophobic, hateful ideologies of the likes of Fascism can feed on human desperation caused by such a crisis and rise to power with disastrous consequences for the world.
It’s thus not difficult for an a socialist, a radical leftist or any egalitarianist in general to despair about the future as their “representatives” fail to act or betray them outright while the “revolutionaries” sit and wait for the “coming revolution” which they can then attempt to “lead” as the vanguard.
Fortunately, there is a way to avoid such a despair, to manage to keep up the hope in a world which seems to be going in the opposite direction of what you’d like. It’s the way of walking your path as much as possible, of making part of the future society come true even within one’s lifetime by living and acting as close to the ideal as structurally possible. In short, it is the path of Direct Action.
Why is this the key to hope? Because through it we can both make our lives easier and know that this also undermines the Capitalist system, and thus bring a social revolution closer. It is the good feeling of not only improving one’s life but also that any success in such an endeavor will inspire others to do the same, while any failure can serve as a learning experience.
And this is where the hope that Anarchists will always feel, comes from.
It is the hope we get by not relying on anyone to act for us. Unlike reformists waiting for the state to act for them, or begging the politicians to do their job for once, Anarchists take matters into their own hand and do what needs to be done. And if or when the capitalists and/or their personal gendarme (ie the state) trip us, block us, jail us or kill us, it only serves to show their true nature to those not yet convinced of it. It only serves to boost our ranks.
It is the hope we get by not being Utopian. Because we know that every libertarian action brings the world a bit closer to anarchy whatever form that might take. We do not then have to despair that we may never live in a “perfect society”, for we know that’s impossible. Nevertheless our actions, as long as they stay within the spirit of libertarian socialism, will always leave the world a bit better, a bit more tolerable for those who come after us to step on and push further.
It is the hope we get from knowing that our actions push the world towards the direction we wish, with a visible and practical result. Unlike academic “revolutionaries” or vanguardists we build the society of the future in the decaying corpse of the old. Co-operatives, Mutual Banks, Syndicates, Community unions, Councils and all other forms of Mutual Aid are what can turn people socialist en mass, not dry rhetoric. Anyone who acts like this, is a friend to Anarchists, regardless of their political affiliation. While anyone who denigrates, disrupts or attacks such initiatives is no ally, regardless of what radical name they choose for themselves.
I wrote before about “the hope that Anarchists will always feel” and you might wonder how true that might be. In fact, I’d argue that you can’t be an Anarchist without having any hope left, as then it’s much easier to simply submit to the system we’re in as something unbeatable, and embrace one of the many palliatives. From trying to polish the rough edges (reformism) to simply passively joining the system and praying for deliverance by God or Glorious Leader, to outright nihilism.
But for those of us who still retain it, Anarchism is its expression and it is self-fulfilling by every libertarian act one makes.