Creating Alternatives to the State

When a person with good intentions tries to penetrate into the nepotistic state-capitalist system, only one scenario awaits him. This system will swallow him, and — after indigestion — the system will tear up the remnants of all the good things in this person. A system that aims from the very beginning to rot will exist only in chaos. The rules of the game will never allow changing the existing system because the system itself is ready to encourage the destruction of its opponents.

Guy Debord correctly predicted that the collapse of the USSR and the establishment of a market economy would lead to the triumph of a new spectacle — an integrated one that combined the dictatorship of consumption with a strong repressive apparatus. The total destruction of the market economy led to corporatism. The impoverished population exchanged their rights and freedoms for consumption, which led to the establishment of Putin’s dictatorship. Freedom-loving people in Russia have had to deal with police batons, the rule of supermarkets, and kleptocracy for ages.

Created at the end of the life of the USSR, the spectacle of “socialism” set the stage for a system that rewarded both wealth and authoritarian overreach. Modern Russia is just another chapter in the long chronicle of treachery for the Russian people, and it presents a hypocritical eulogy of the previous hegemony. While the people were wearing rose-tinted glasses, the spectacle destroyed almost all the alternatives for noble people and administered an additional dose of anesthesia.

So what can people do?

The best resistance is to try to outwit the quirky system. Normally, a corrupt system reaches such a level of self-destructiveness that a possible alternative will become an expected option among people who need to be released (détournement). When creating such alternatives, though, the innovator must consider the desires of other people. The creator’s ideal should be secondary. In most oligarchic states, the most important thing would be to consider the class interests of the oppressed and their desire to improve social security. Such goals can make people think of their current situation, that’s how class war starts. Maybe you will be surprised, but not every “outsider” or even the defender of the system has a thoughtful plan. Most people try to chase the agenda, but not to create it.

People mostly expect to see a democratic state that will begin to give lots of privileges and will only improve the culture of consumption. This is not correct, the new regime can be the same after such changes. In Russia, the principle “boyars are bad, but more kind boyars are better” is pretty well spread. This argument about the existence of good authorities is shameful and incorrect. If people could start understanding that those in power make bad decisions in most cases, they could have the motivation to organize themselves.

Decentralization and pluralism are the keys to solving any problems with the state.

The feasibility of self-organization

What would you do if your city were captured by oligarchs and their corporations? What would an alternative to the government look like?

Kropotkin described society as “a very complex result of a thousand clashes and thousands of agreements, free and involuntary, a multitude of remnants of the old and young aspirations for a better future.” It is important for us to admit that mutual aid and self-organization are the main pillars of an anarchist society, without which it is not possible. Relationships between people are the strong bond on which a huge indissoluble linkage of interactions can be built. People who want to carry certain ideas and interests should be united in decentralized groups. Is it possible to imagine an association of tenants making mutually beneficial decisions on the improvement of their home, yards, and entrances? If we can imagine that minimalistic example, what about other communities? More complex structures are able to form organically with small ones, or they might be influenced by other organic structures.

Decentralization does not mean that associations cannot unite in a larger territorial organization. The main thing is that all associations should not be eaten by one person, giving them undue authority and influence.

Federalism is the opposite of government centralization. Power and freedom, the two ever-fighting principles, are always forced to come to an agreement with each other. Bakunin said: The federation resolves all the difficulties arising from the agreement between freedom and power. The French Revolution laid the groundwork for a new order, the secret of which is its heir, the working class. This new order, a new unit, is as follows: to unite all nations into a confederation of confederations,” — said Bakunin. His expression is not accidental: “world confederation” would be too huge; large federations need to be federated among themselves.

Like Proudhon, he recognized the superiority of federal unity over “authoritarian” unity:

When the hated power of the state will no longer force individuals, associations, communes, regions, and areas to live together, they will be much more closely connected and form much more alive, more real, more powerful unity than those that they are forced to form today under the equally oppressive and exhausting yoke of the state.

[Authorities] always mix formal, dogmatic and governmental unity with real unity, which can arise only from the freest development of all individuals and all collectives and from a federated and absolutely free union of workers associations to communes, and then communes to regions, regions in a nation.

Alternatives to the economy

For a practical example of building an independent economy, we should pay attention to the notes of Peter Kropotkin. In Dmitrov, he saw a manifestation of revolutionary restructuring, drawing his attention to the emergence and successful activity of local cooperation.

As Kropotkin noted, the rapid development of cooperation in Russia could be seen at the beginning of the century. In a letter to Marie Goldsmith, he noted in December 1912: “A major movement starts in Russia — cooperation. I received from the Kurgan a newspaper of the Union of Butter Artels. This is something amazing … In 625 villages there are cooperative shops, about 1,000 artels … ”. In some ways, Kropotkin “exported” the idea of such cooperation from England where it was born. In 1844, 28 weavers formed the “Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers,” essentially a consumer co-operative. They published their manifesto, initiating a movement that, at the end of the nineteenth century, swept most countries of the world.

What Kropotkin saw in England and in Dmitrov is an example of the strong partnership of people with the same ideas. Today it is impossible to imagine thousands of artels in the market controlled by the state and large corporations. But if people are ready to try to turn everything upside down, are the rich and the state a hindrance? The whole thing here, as Kropotkin understood, is in following the qualities inherent by nature of a man – sociability, solidarity, mutual aid. Every authority can be taken down if people could be motivated to do that. Cooperation starts with ideas of freedom.

Is it possible to embody ideas into reality? Yes, everything is possible. People must have a tradition of aversion to authority, otherwise, their conformism and loyalty will become destructive. The more people are immersed in the spectacle, the easier it is to pull them out and give the correct path. When all people voluntarily renounce the state, then the anarchists of the whole world will stop yelling at the statists.

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