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Forum Post: The Anarchic Dilemma: Why Anarchies Self-Destruct

Posted 6 years ago on Nov. 17, 2011, 1:35 a.m. EST by Thrasymaque (-2138)
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All hierarchic modes of governance are stable in the sense that they cannot be overthrown from within. Rules in decrees such as constitutions ensure the structure remains more or less intact and that the rulers continue to rule. If the people want a change, they must make a revolution. They must kill the king.

Anarchies, by definition, have no ruler(s). They use systems such as direct democracy to empower the people to make decisions for the people, for themselves. The idea is to involve everyone in the decisional process in an attempt to be as fair as possible, to reach a true form of democracy; pure democracy.

In the this linked document, ANALYTICAL & STRATEGIC CONSIDERATIONS FOR OCCUPY, an anarchist explores how direct democracy should be organized and contained in Occupy. Here is a short excerpt pertaining to our discussion:

One role as anarchists we can play is to be conscious of the informal leaders that develop and encourage them to become more anti-authoritarian than managers of struggle. There is great possibility that informal leaders could end up taking over the movements media outlets or over the general assemblies, in fact this has already happened in some places. We should not be afraid to hold people accountable for their actions and work with them to better themselves, and if not challenge their power.

Just like we should guard against the fetishization of individuals, we should make sure to guard against the fetishization of any one form of organizing. It is important in order to keep the autonomous and popular character of the movement. We help to do this by proposing that we have a diversity of assemblies instead of just one centralized general assembly. Anyone who has been to a meeting of more than 25 people know that it is impossible to really be heard. As anarchists decentralizing the assemblies is an obvious tactic to push for.

It seems fair that anarchists wish to guard against the fetishization of individuals or groups who could become leaders within Occupy. After all, if leaders emerge anarchy will be no more. The system would collapse from within and some form of hierarchy would appear. (I'm not sure what this means - "We should not be afraid to hold people accountable for their actions", but that's another story for another post.)

This brings us to the arnarchic dilemma. By using direct democracy to enable a people of various ideologies, ideologies which Occupy claims it treats in equal respect in that none are favored over the others, it becomes clear that through consensus the people could vote to dismantle the very direct democracy that permitted them to vote together in the first place. How ironic would it be if the consensus decided to to elect leaders and replace direct democracy with a republic? How ironic, but any less democratic?

Doesn't there always come a time when a mother must accept that her child is free to wander off and possibly never come back? It would seem the anarchists refuse this possibility. They refuse to allow the ombilical cord to be cut through consensus. They do not wish that the people be allowed to abandon their mother: direct democracy. If this were to happen, it would mean the system has been overthrown from within. It would mean the end of anarchy, and a lose for the anarchists.

We ask the following questions:

  1. If anarchists want to guard against the fetishization of individuals or groups with particular ideologies, are they not themselves guarding their own particular ideology by refusing anarchy to be overthrown from within and replaced by hierarchy?
  2. Are they not rounding us up in a golden cage where we believe we are free to decide our future for ouselves, but in reality are stuck within anarchy permanently?
  3. Is this true democracy?
  4. Is Occupy really a coming together of various people with various ideologies on an equal platform, or is it instead various people with various ideologies looking up at anarchists towering high on their podium?
  5. And, if they have placed themselves on this podium by making it impossible for other ideologies to flourish in the place of their own, have they not already self-destructed by creating an hierarchy: themeselves on the podium, us looking from below?
  6. Finally, to be a true anarchist, isn't it crucial that one accept the inevitable dilemma that for people to be truly free to build a world by themselves and for themselves, the possibility that they choose to reject anarchy and adopt some form of hierarchy must always remain and never be contained?



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