A Special Message From Thomas L. Knapp — 2010: Year of the Anarchist?

The most obvious fact about movement toward a stateless society is that it’s a long-term project. Just as Rome was not built in a day, millennia of government and hundreds of years of the modern nation-state will not be un-built in a day.

Even if some catastrophic event came along and decapitated the world’s regimes for us, that wouldn’t get us where we are going.

For one thing, the attitudes and beliefs that kept those regimes going for so long would still remain. The disappearance of government as we know it would quickly be followed by massive, organized efforts to rebuild government as we know it.

For another, the stateless society is not a nihilistic concept. It isn’t a nothingness that excludes the existence of permanent (or at least longstanding) institutions. Far from it! What the anarchist advocates is the creation of new, better institutions — institutions built on a foundation not of coercive hierarchy, but of the uncoerced cooperation which flourishes in an environment of individual freedom.

History abounds with “end times” predictions. Often they’re of a religious nature, but radical politics has provided its share of such prophecies. When the Bolsheviks took control of Russia, for example, they believed that they were within years of instigating and leading worldwide revolution. Some early anarchists believed that they could usher in a millennium of statelessness through the right “Propaganda of the Deed” — kill the right politician, strike versus the right corporation, and the ball would roll quickly and unstoppably downhill.

Such predictions have always proven naive and premature, and my purpose in this column is not to stoke my readers with a false hope that they’ll live in a stateless society a year from today. Nonetheless, 2010 will be a year of opportunities, and I hope that we’ll exploit those opportunities to their last full measure.

The modern nation-state as such is in a period of crisis.

Governments around the world are standing atop the shoulders of their drowning subjects in order to keep the state’s head above a sea of debt. It’s a good bet that when the alternative becomes “shrug the burden off or breathe saltwater,” those subjects will choose the former. States will fall. Yes, most of them will be replaced by new states or by “reformed” versions of the old ones, but that whole process constitutes a window of opportunity to talk with the subjects and influence their thoughts and actions.

Many states — the US and the NATO governments, much of southern Asia, et. al. — find themselves locked in unsuccessful military struggles with non-state opponents. Say what you will about the al Qaeda network (and I’ll heartily agree that they are bad actors, that their tactics are repugnant, and that their aim is statist), but they’ve thus far proven themselves more resilient and adaptive than the states they are at war with. The inability of the state to grapple with such threats becomes more and more apparent each day, not only to its enemies but to the subjects who expect it to do so.

No, the state is probably not in its final crisis, but it is beleaguered. And proponents of the stateless society should seize the day given us by that fact.

The mission of the Center for a Stateless Society (a mission I hope you’ll continue to support) is to communicate anarchist ideas to the general public. We’ll continue doing that, but communication is only part of the big picture.

It’s time to start “building the new society in the shell of the old.” As we at C4SS work on communicating the ideas, I hope that you will begin putting together the post-state society in situ. “Build it and they will come.” We’re trying to send them your way. What will you have to show them when they get there?

It’s time for cooperatively organized mutual aid networks.

It’s time for non-government money.

It’s time for non-government courts.

It’s time for non-government security and defense agencies.

Most importantly, it’s time for those creating all of the above — and yes, I know that that’s a process well under weigh already — to begin more effectively networking with each other, to come out of the shadows and advertise yourselves as the alternative, to take your offerings to market in a big way. It’s time for the Revolutionary Agorist Cadre!

Over the course of 2010, I hope to be able to advise anyone and everyone my column reaches of the existence of many of the alternative institutions you are already building so that they can get involved and start transitioning their own lives out from under the burden of the state. Get those projects functional and ready for prime time, and let me know about them.

Let’s make 2010 the Year of the Anarchist!

Free Markets & Capitalism?
Markets Not Capitalism
Organization Theory
Conscience of an Anarchist