Daily Archives: 15/02/2011


“Do be do be dooo.”

— Frank Sinatra

Scholar warriors. Warrior priests and poets. That’s what they were called in feudal Japan — Zen practitioners of learning and warfare. Cultured destroyers, enlightened fighters. Can it be any different with us?

Postmodern jargon-junkies call ideologies (aka, “isms”) like anarchism “emancipatory metanarratives” — can you believe that? What the fuck does that mean, anyway? I’ll tell you: it means systems of belief no different from what came before:

Believe in X, and You Will be Free. You Will Reach Paradise.

Most isms are full of it, and some would say anarchism is, too. Can’t be done. Impossible. Utopian. A crack-pipe dream. Pie-inna-sky. Fuck that. Fuck Paradise. Make your own damned Paradise, or make none at all. Anarchism’s bigger than that. Read More

( In press commentary on the recent events in Egypt, there were frequent expressions of concern that Egypt might be falling into “anarchy.”  “Anarchy,” in conventional journalistic usage, means chaos, disorder, and bloodshed — a Hobbesian war of all against all — that occurs when the stabilizing hand of government is removed.  “Anarchy” is the agenda of mobs of kids in black circle-A t-shirts, smashing windows and setting stuff on fire.

But “anarchy,” as the term is understood by anarchists, is a form of society in which the state is replaced by the management of all human affairs through voluntary associations.  Paul Goodman argued that it was impossible, through violence, to impose an anarchistic order on society, or to achieve a free society by replacing an old order with a new one.  Rather, a free society results from “the extension of spheres of free action until they make up most of the social life.”  Or to quote Gustav Landauer:  “The State is a condition, a certain relationship between human beings, a mode of behaviour; we destroy it by contracting other relationships, by behaving differently toward one another… We are the State and we shall continue to be the State until we have created the institutions that form a real community.”

And we saw a great deal of anarchy in Egypt in recent days, in that sense.  The people of Egypt have made a great start towards extending the spheres of free action, contracting new kinds of relationships between human beings, and creating the institutional basis of a real community.

Despite the poice state’s attempts to promote religious dissension and divide the opposition, Coptic Christians have stood watch over Muslims during their daily times of prayer.  Muslims, likewise, guarded the perimeter of Liberation Square during a Coptic mass.

The resistance organized patrols to safeguard shops and museums from looting, and to watch over neighborhoods from which the security forces had been withdrawn.  Meanwhile, as it turned out, most of the actions of violence and looting were false flag operations, carried out by security forces posing as protestors. So the functionaries of the state were the actual sources of violence and disorder; law and order emerged from anarchy — that is, from voluntary association.

The interim leader, Vice President Omar Suleiman — the object of so much hope on the part of neoconservative partisans of “stability” and “order” — is a torturer and a collaborator with the CIA’s “extraordinary rendition” program.  Never forget:  For every dubious example of an alleged “bomb-throwing anarchist,” like those at Haymarket, there are a million bombs thrown by governments.    For every innocent person harmed by an alleged anarchist in a rioting mob, there are a thousand people tortured or murdered in some police dungeon, or ten thousand slaughtered by death squads in the countryside.  For every store window broken by demonstrators, there are untold thousands of peasants robbed of their land in evictions and enclosures by feudal elites.

The people of Egypt have managed to throw out one tyrant.  Now they find themselves under a military dictatorship which may or may not wind up reducing the level of tyranny.  But if the Egyptian people find the new boss as oppressive as the old one, says Molinari Institute President Roderick Long, they know how to get rid of him.

If there is any real hope for the future, in the long run, it is in the anarchy that the people have built for themselves on the streets. There’s an old phrase that’s popular among the Wobblies, or Industrial Workers of the World:  “building the structure of the new society within the shell of the old.”  The Egyptian people have made a fair start toward doing just that.  May the seeds of anarchy which were planted in the recent uprising continue to germinate and grow.

by Kevin Carson



Chapter 1: Some Facts of Life Utopia or bust. Stalinist “communism” and reformist “socialism” are merely variants of capitalism. Representative democracy versus delegate democracy. Irrationalities of capitalism. Some exemplary modern revolts. Some common objections. Increasing dominance of the spectacle.

Chapter 2: Foreplay Personal breakthroughs. Critical interventions. Theory versus ideology.Avoiding false choices and elucidating real ones. The insurrectionary style. Radical film. Oppressionism versus playfulness. The Strasbourg scandal. The poverty of electoral politics. Reforms and alternative institutions. Political correctness, or equal opportunity alienation. Drawbacks of moralism and simplistic extremism. Advantages of boldness. Advantages and limits of nonviolence.

Chapter 3: Climaxes Causes of social breakthroughs. Postwar upheavals. Effervescence of radical situations. Popular self-organization. The situationists in May 1968. Workerism is obsolete, but workers’ position remains pivotal. Wildcats and sitdowns. Consumer strikes. What could have happened in May 1968. Methods of confusion and cooption. Terrorism reinforces the state. The ultimate showdown. Internationalism.

Chapter 4: Rebirth Utopians fail to envision postrevolutionary diversity. Decentralization and coordination. Safeguards against abuses. Consensus, majority rule and unavoidable hierarchies. Eliminating the roots of war and crime. Abolishing money. Absurdity of most present-day labor. Transforming work into play. Technophobic objections. Ecological issues. The blossoming of free communities. More interesting problems.

( Anarchism builds on the proposition that smaller communities, growing outward from the sovereign individual, ought to determine for themselves the parameters of governing social mores. “Any decentralized, post-state society … ,” teaches the work of Kevin Carson, “is likely to be a panarchy,” a diverse patchwork of contrastive but mutually-respectful legal and social systems.

Accounting for the wide variations between ways that society might be voluntarily ordered and constructed without coercive authority or hierarchy, this pluralistic idea makes statelessness a starting point; it leaves to cooperative associations of free people what Benjamin Tucker called the “constructive work” of actually getting down to solving society’s problems, to confronting them without the albatross of the state.

Anarchism doesn’t contemplate a Utopia, society without crime or unjustified force, but it does urge that we do away with the grant of authority that we now give the state to carry out criminal acts in the name of “the People.” As dissatisfied Algerians and Yemenis are violently disbanded, sent back to their homes to endure the villainy of their countries’ elites, anarchism offers the promise of justice. If the people of Algiers and Sanaa are willing to tune out the state’s bans on their peaceful, public gatherings, they are more than capable of recognizing just how arbitrary and needless the rest of the state’s prohibitions against consensual behavior are.

Their guns, their armored tanks, their statutory paper tigers — all of these are impotent faced with the irrepressible spirit of voluntary, civil society, of a force opposite what Frank Chodorov styled the state’s “spirit of conquest.” Northern Africa and the Middle East have been blighted for generations by the legacies of foreign, colonial rules, and their revolutions have sought autonomy and self-rule in the face of imperialism. The revelation of anarchism is that all of statism is imperialism, external rule imposed by one group on another.

As Franz Oppenheimer and Albert Jay Nock so well understood, “[t]he State originated in conquest and confiscation,” never for “any other purpose” but “continuous economy exploitation.” The subjects of statism from Algeria and Yemen to Canada and the United States — the exploited — have no reason at all to identify with our captors. We ought instead to look on them as foreign invaders, to look at their state’s culverts of power as an empire occupying civil society.

It may be that the Yemeni statesman speaks the same language, has the same culture, and prays to the same God as the Yemeni common man, but the former is as foreign to the latter as any colonial governor. BBC News reported that an estimated 30,000 riot police were cut loose on the crowds in Algiers on Saturday, but the country is home to almost 35 million.

All over the world, the tiny minority of exploiters who laze about collecting from the industry of productive people balance their power on the constant, if latent, threat that free people may — as Orwell described it — shake them off as a horse shakes off flies. Unlike the invasive garrisons of the state, its outposts all around otherwise thriving society, anarchism is for everyone rather than for some. It invites everyone to provide for herself through honest, nonviolent exchange and prohibits nothing but invasion.

Society’s power has been dormant under the bondage of statism, but it is the greater power. As Étienne de La Boétie wrote, “Resolve to serve no more, and you are at once freed. I do not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer; then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break into pieces.”

C4SS News Analyst David D’Amato is a market anarchist lawyer currently completing an LL.M. in commercial law at Suffolk University Law School. His aversion to superstition and all permutations of political authority manifests itself at


( Last month, the world was shocked as the Tunisian autocrat Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, who had ruled his country for 23 years, was overthrown in a protest movement that lasted only 29 days. The event was soon dubbed the “Jasmine Revolution,” a symbolic reference to a blooming flower. While many doubted that this revolution would spread, it was only days later that massive protests rocked Cairo, resulting in theresignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who had been in power for more than 30 years. While the fate of both countries is still unresolved, one thing is clear: the people are demanding democracy, and they have forced massive changes in their government to get it.

Now, many are wondering if this pro-democracy movement that swept Tunisia and Egypt will spread throughout the rest of the Arab world. ThinkProgress has assembled a short list of other autocratic regimes in the region that are facing protests, particularly today, and which may soon be the next to go in the Middle East’s next “Jasmine Revolution”: Read More