Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Anarchy in the UK

When Johhny Rotten sang about anarchy he was about twenty and in his own estimation ‘an ‘orrible little c*nt’. Now he’s over sixty and appears in butter commercials. There in a nutshell, the trajectory of man in the west: Mewling, puking babe in arms, snotty-nosed kid, smelly teenager, angst ridden youth, student political activist, job, kids, responsibility... Those few who resist the ravages of age and unwished for wisdom are variously old hippies, new age charlatans, Jeremy Corbyn or Keith Richards. And unless you’re the latter it really isn’t cool.

So, imagine my delight yesterday on being confronted by a self-declared anarchist.

Anarchy /ˈanəki/ noun, absence of government and absolute freedom of the individual, regarded as a political ideal

Sounds great, doesn’t it? But who mends the roads, polices disorder, collects the means to build the hospitals and heal the sick? Who pays for the clean-up operation after they’ve all kicked off, as anarchists are wont to do? Who, even, does the washing up? Even at a basic family level you have an automatic hierarchy and the most simple of human societies – all animal societies – have order; a form of governance.

He argued, lamely, that Spain had an anarchist ‘system’ for three years up to 1939. Leaving aside the obvious oxymoron, the simple absence of a government is not the same as choosing to live without one. And in any case, Spain’s anarchy had a long history of failure and several different and competing forms, which all ended up organising into ersatz governments, as they have to do if the principle feature of anarchism is to be contained, namely:

‘a state of disorder due to absence or non-recognition of authority or other controlling systems’

But my little interlocutor had his dander up; to be fair I did provoke him by suggesting that he still lived with his mother and probably had homework he should be getting on with. But that’s par for the course on The Twitter. He began searching back through my timeline, grasping at anything at all to prove his predetermined thesis about my character. And evidence was there plenty: I had retweeted a news story, thus I was gullible. I had been disparaging about so-called anti-fascists, therefore I was a fascist. And I had more followers than he had, therefore I must have bought them; in fact he seemed unduly fixated by this last point.

Impressed by his research techniques and critical thinking skills I fed him a few bones, shared him around a few of my – obviously purchased – followers and sat back to watch. He rapidly veered off from a conviction that anarchy was a noble and achievable aim and a perfect model for society and began trashing the place. He invented fictions about those he was attacking and then embellished them further and then, bored with it all, he drifted off, no doubt to record another Carpenters song on his YouTube Channel. I take it all back; maybe he is an anarchist after all.


  1. Didn't Belgium exist without a government for some months a few years back? The buses/trains still ran so maybe we don't need the interfering twats as much as they think we do.

    1. Eighteen months or so. But it wasn't anarchy - as in Germany at the moment, the civil servants carry on regadless.

  2. There still exist Spanish anarchists, bless them. The small CUP party in Catalonia was the catalyst for the recent independence movement which is fizzling out at the moment.

  3. Tsk-tsk, so you’ve taken to openly tormenting the want-to-be dissident Left who more than likely live in their parent’s basement. Are you taking the piss?

    So, let us look at anarchy, as I would like to have a go at answering some of the questions you have asked.

    Of course my comments are in my humble opinion only, however you can rest assured that I long since left my parent’s basement.

    A fundamental concept of anarchy that is often overlooked is is that anarchists envision the same end game as communists, not the communism of China or the former USSR, but a society in which the need for wage-labour has been completely abandoned.

    The one difference that stands out is the path to get to the end of wage-labour.

    Communists envision an intermediary stage often called socialism or the lower form of communism. Fundementally, Capitalism => Socialism => Communism. You don’t have to take my word for that, if you read “The Communist Manifesto” by Marx and Engels and “Socialism: Utopian and Scientific” by Engels, you can easily pick up on that.

    Anarchists do not buy into the need for an intermediary stage, they see getting right to the end game, or Capitalism => Communism. Again, don’t take my work on that, anything by Michael Bakunin, Errico Malatesta, or Nestor Makhno makes that perfectly clear.

    You can imagine that that is where the anarchy part of all of this would be the most obvious, there would be some chaos and disorder if wages were to be abolished in short order. You might enjoy reading Engels with regards to that; he openly takes pot shots at anarchists, who he feels are unprepared.

    That aside, because of China and the former USSR there seems to be a prevailing view that society cannot be organized in the same way as communism as it is with capitalism. I don’t believe that and frankly I don’t see any evidence to support that view.

    What we have from capitalism is socialized labour with private or individual appropriation, what communism seeks is socialized labour with social appropriation. I think the key is the socialized labour, there is no reason to abandon it, and quite frankly it works.

    Sure, a great many products and services that are produced for the sake of making money may no longer be produced or offered, but that is simply an opportunity to focus on the things we actually need.

    Back to your questions. If I want to answer those questions relative to anarchy/communism, I must assume socialized labour and social appropriation. I must also assume society is organized much the same way it is today, sans wage-labour and further that there is no authoatarian or totalitarian regime in place as with China of the former USSR.

    If you don’t allow for that then I would have to say you are taking the piss. If you do, well, nobody loves to speculate more then I do.

    You asked => “But who mends the roads, polices disorder, collects the means to build the hospitals and heal the sick? Who pays for the clean-up operation after they’ve all kicked off, as anarchists are wont to do? Who, even, does the washing up?”

    These questions are non-starters; I say this because I get the impression that your underlying believe is that people will not do anything unless they can monetize it. People who support communism, anarchy if you will, believe that many of the same people who perform these tasks with capitalism will do it in communism, the difference being they will do it as activity not as wage-labour.

    Are these views somewhat Utopian? I’m sure they are. Can they be realized? I would like to think so, but I could only speculate on that.

    That said I believe this to be a fact => the thing that most keeps us from advancing as a species is the steadfast negative insistence we cannot.