The names and forms of ideological groups often speak volumes about both their directions – and their mental chains.
Christians have often named their sects after their founders, such as Lutherans, Calvinists, Mormons, Wesleyans, Nestorians, Arians, Franciscans, Swedenborgians, Augustinians, Dominicans, or they have dubbed themselves according to their theological obsessions, such as Old Believers, Orthodox, Christian Science, Catholics, Adventists, Christadelphians, Baptists, Methodists, Jesuits, Carmelites.
Some Christians have identified their groupings according to race, and mostly due to Christianity’s part invention and support of racialism. Two examples represent the African Episcopal Methodists and the Chinese Baptists. Other Christian groups have used similar ethno-nationalist terms, such as the Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Armenian, Byzantine, Assyrian, Anglican, German Brethren, French Reformed, Dutch Reformed, Latin Catholic Rite, Eastern Catholic Rite.
Like the myriad of Christian cults in our modern world, Marxist sect groups have also named themselves after their revolutionary idols, such as Marxist-Leninists, Maoists, Stalinists, Guevarists, Trotskyists, or they have used titles proportional to their political fixations, such as Social Democrats, National Socialists, Socialist Worker, Socialist Action, Christian Liberationists, United Left, Popular Fronts, Left Front, Left Coalitions, Socialist Labor, Revolutionary Communists, Revolutionary Socialists. Like the Christians, Leftists also enjoy designating themselves according to their ethno-nationalist origins, such as Russian Communists, British Laborites, Spanish Socialists, French Communists, Indian Marxists.
Unfortunately, we Anarchists also have our ideological fronts, divisions, tendencies, sectarian splits and particular cliques. Unlike the Christians and Marxists, we do not label ourselves according to our religious-sect founders, nor do we name ourselves in relation to ethno-nationalist groups. We have no Bakuninists, nor Kropotkinists, nor Anarchists of America, nor any United Spanish Anarchists. However, we do label ourselves in proportion to our peculiar inclinations.
The biggest division within Anarchism is between the Insurrectionists and Civic Anarchists. The Insurrectionists use incendiary sabotage, hacktivism, retaliatory violence and property destruction against targeted elites, or the propaganda of the deed. The Civic Anarchists, use direct picketing, immediate shut downs, business boycotts, abandoned building or land squatting, direct media publishing, new age traveling, spontaneous street parties, natural medicine distributions, petty shoplifting, dumpster diving, free learning classes and totally free markets in order maintain some cultural autonomy.
Yet there are many Anarchists that use both tactics, and in fact, true Anarchist revolutionaries, use both methods. Both tendencies unite under the double activities of Anarchy: Direct Action and Mutual Aid.
Direct Action is the offense. It implies the Anarchist Act over Anarchist Words. As we say in America: walk the walk, over talking the talk. Mutual Aid is the defense, and it implies that if you reject the State, then help out others, and share with your fellow Anarchists through every facet of life: food, clothes, shelter, medical care, self-defense and cultural, non-institutional, education activities.
Within contemporary Anarchy, there is, unfortunately, a lot more words than Direct Action, and there is very little Mutual Aid that remains in Anarchist subcultures. With all of the Anarchist tendencies, and even the contradictory ones, they all unite under the hatred of the State – even if they create mini-States within their very own organizations.
Anarchy has unfortunately fallen into similar pits of ideological mess and hodgepodge as the Christian cult institutions and the Marxist-Leftist sect gangs. This is because of our ideological history, when Anarchy had first called itself Anarchism, or Anarcho-Syndicalism.
This ideological situation also has relations to the beginning of the armed struggle, fighting on both fronts: anti-Statism and anti-Capitalism. Around 130 years ago, and also due to possessing common enemies, Anarchists consorted among the other Leftist tendencies, such as the Socialists and the Communists.
What saved Anarchy from Marxist vanguardist and Christian sectarian mental illness was the Punk movement beginning in the 1970s. Punk rock culture returned Rock music to its roots through playing the original rock music, of Black-Working Class rebellion, and with this authentic return, Punk acted in full revolt against the wage slave-work-consumerist culture of Capitalist society. A few bands, such as the Clash, publicly exposed the State criminals and murderers. But like all cultural expressions of ‘rebellion,’ Capitalist culture fought back and eventually co-opted a good deal of the music and fashion sense.
There are still Anarcho-Syndicalists, or Anarcho working class agitators. They often fight through union organizing struggles, the most notable being the IWW, One Big Union, or the Wobblies. Once and a while they do have organizing successes against the bosses because they don’t have the six-figure salary, typical union boss overhead, i.e., the AFL-CIO union hacks, nor do they sell-out the workers during the contract negotiations. The Anarcho-Syndicalists know full well how the Capitalist system functions. Still, the IWW ‘Wobs’ often meet more defeats than victories, and Global Monopoly Capitalism is a lot more powerful than Industrial Capitalism was about a hundred years ago. The rotten capitalist system continues as strong as ever.
Another ideological tendency in contemporary Anarchism is Anarcho-Primitivism, or Green Anarchy. This view represents Anarchy united with a certain element of the Environmentalist movement. This orientation finds that our technology has become a literal social and cultural monolith, and that it has sucked out the joy and magic from our already dismal existence. Technological institutions have replaced Capitalist institutions as the destroyers of the living. Those Anarchists have been right about our dire situation – but it is too late now. Most of humanity has allowed both the laziness and slavery of technology to infiltrate their lives. This woeful actuality includes Anarchist subcultures.
Other contradictory ideologies have latched on to the Anarchy brand. In the United States, there is a large Anarcho-Capitalist perspective. They tend to write blogs, make videos, and have informal gatherings. Some of them are just as hard-core as the other previously mentioned Anarchist groups. This sect believes that there is a true possibility for a totally free capitalist market between willing individuals, and that technology will open and facilitate this freedom.
They use parts of Ayn Rand’s philosophy and take it to the American Libertarian fringe. The issue with this group is that many of them did not continue their readings with Adam Smith. In his Wealth of Nations, (published at the time of the American Revolution), Smith wrote that modern Capitalism absolutely needs the help of the State.
All socio-economic activities require some type of arbitration, or the markets will cease existing as actual markets – and will thus become nasty examples of Darwin’s Survival of the Fittest. Why pay for a product, if you can shoot the seller in the head, keep your money and the prize? And there’s the other way around, why give away your product, if you can just take the seller’s money and shoot the buyer in the head afterwards?
There are also Anarcho-Nationalists, or Anarcho-Fascists. These sects embrace the idea of race, nation and people over other inferior groups or enemies, yet they don’t want a State. How could they even conceive of such a society? How would they even defend themselves from their enemies, which have to fight them eventually since their ideology is so extreme, without even resorting to a state? The only way to mobilize any modern military organization is the institution of the modern state.
And yes, there still exist the Anarcho-Communists. They want a Communist society without a Communist state. They see hope for a utopia vision of a Communist society inside the writings of Karl Marx – or possibly Thomas More’s Utopia, or perchance, the pre-European invaded, Native societies of the Americas? This political cult forgets that humans cannot retrace their steps back into the dark realms of human history. We are very different from those earlier societies. The modern capitalist state destroyed those societies for a reason. We simply can never return to the past.
There are also the sub-sects of Anarcho-Nihilists, who reject all politics, and Anarcho-Surrealists who prefer to fight the system through anti-corporate media activities, even creating ‘anti-events,’ where they counter co-opted festivals and exhibitions.
Anarchy returns to its full circle around the A.
Our only noble fight left remains Autonomy. We cannot destroy any modern class society because there will always exist certain humans that crave power, control and authority, and even inside Anarchist circles; nor can we return to a historical period with less technology and smaller communities. Our minds have permanently mutated through the repetitive use of technology, and through learning brutal habits, while surviving inside the urban monster, called the megalopolis.
Autonomy means that we use all of our personal energies and efforts to maintain both our dignity and honor. We should try to avoid laboring and destroying ourselves inside any demeaning wage slave work. We ought to live our lives the way we see fit. We can refrain from consumerist buying, striving for the Amerikan nightmare, taking out loans, investing in pyramid schemes, borrowing, lending and gambling.
We could remain physically free to live outside of the cages and shackles of the prison industrial complex and the State supported institutional system, which includes hospital clinics, state mandated schools and police-paramilitary units.
We would prefer death over some open or disguised form of slavery. Our dignity and honor depend on maintaining these freedoms and liberties. If we live as Anarchists, then we can never trade nor sell out our sacred autonomy. Autonomy is all that remains.