IN describing or defending anarchism, people have been providing some historical examples to show that it can really work. Unfortunately, I don't think the examples are relevant to our time or place in history. I'll tell you why, and then I hope folks might be able to convince me otherwise, or at least make some good points in trying.
People seem to cite three types of precedent (my grouping, not theirs), so let me take one at a time.
1)Revolutionary (or quasi-revolutionary) societies, esp Spain in the 30's or Argentina today.
Problem: revolutionary action tends to be short-lived. If it's not actually defeated, it typically collapses into an authoritarian regime that may enforce certain revolutionary principles at the expense of individual liberty. A communist dictatorship may be logically consistent, but an anarchist dictatorship? I don't think so.
Some will no doubt think that "our revolution" will be different, because it will be truly democratic, it will represent the people, etc. Every revolution thinks it's creating the world anew, but they seem to be subject to the same historical forces.
Problem: tribal societies are small compared to ours. What's more, everyone within the society is typically related through a broad kinship network. This kinship network provides both support services and conflict resolution that we look for in the state. Interactions between people not related through this network have a strong tendency to erupt into violence, which can sometimes go on for years.
Even if you accept that this kinship network demonstrates that we can organize ourselves without a state, it doesn't provide a useful model for us today. We simply don't have that kind of social structure to work with. And that assumes you don't even get into the next...
Problem: Both the tribe and the state are historical developments. Most societies, over the course of thousands of years, go from (loosely speaking) tribes or bands, to chiefdoms, to kingdoms, to states. Each step evolves to remedy the failures of the previous steps for a growing society. If we're trying to take a step beyond the state, we won't get there by looking behind us.
3)Current organizations, notably the IWW (City Bikes and the Red and Black also spring to mind, if I remember right)
Problem: these are not societies organizing themselves on an anarchist model. They are small pieces of a capitalist society, organizing small corners of that society. This isn't to say that they aren't good models for how we can organize ourselves within the current system. However, they have the luxury of drawing relatively like-minded people who perceive themselves as having a range of interests in common, instead of having to organize the range of people you might find in a large workplace or a neighborhood. Also, they can rely on the broader support mechanisms of the state-society within which they exist.
Please note that this is not a slam on these groups at all- just saying they don't necessarily provide a broader model.
I hate to be a naysayer, but I've read too much history to be able to ignore the lack of historical models for what the anarchists propose. My rational mind tells me that the state will one day give way to a new stage of development (and maybe soon, but that's another topic), and that our best bet is to create as much democracy as we can, so that the next stage will be off to a better start than the state was. Other parts of my mind insist that that's compromising bullshit, and that democracy's a scam anyway. Yet another part says I worry too much about it all, and should just go have a beer instead. That's the voice of wisdom, I think.
the sacred chao says...