Revolution!

Why do they call it a revolution? Because it goes around and around and nothing changes, haha! No, seriously. If you’re holding out for the moment when your side rises up and seizes the reins of political power, you probably shouldn’t be. An anarchist critique of power starts with the idea that the particular system by which power is organised – whether socialist, capitalist, corporate, dictatorship – is largely irrelevant. It’s power that’s the problem. Any political system will evolve over time (often very quickly) to something like the modern State, although the flavour of hierarchy may differ.

I have a little sympathy but no time for anarchists who talk about throwing bombs, killing police, smashing shop-fronts. Firstly, killing police is the most ass-about manifestation of anarchism; taking somebody’s life is perhaps the most extreme act of power there is. While it may be morally justifiable to kill in self-defense, it’s never morally praiseworthy. Often police – even politicians! – are caught up in the vast totalizing system, same as us.

Secondly, it accomplishes nothing. I am not arguing that we ought to aim for slow political change or some such mirage. My stated position is that no political action accomplishes anything, and this is no exception – except that, like any violent action, it breeds spite among the victims and an ugly taste for violence in the perpetrator. It’s the lashing out of a frustrated child.

Thirdly, violence and vandalism runs counter to what anarchism should be. To my mind, anarchism is about co-operation, about valuing the particular and distrusting the general, about disengaging with the crass and ugly. Anarchism in political life is a dead-end. Well then, why not try it in your personal life? Don’t categorize people into types. Be aware of the power you have and try to exercise it over others as little as possible. Above all, strive for empathy and cut down any political principle that stands in the way. That’s a revolution, of sorts.

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