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+2 votes
This is possibly the hardest thing for me to grasp as an anarchist at this moment - the fact that certain tendencies of anarchism seem to have completely mutually-exclusive strategies.

Things used to seem pretty simple back in my early days of reading CrimethInc literature and browsing Infoshop, but now there are a lot more questions floating around.

Some people seem to advocate for a complete refusal to compromise, cooperate, or even be accessible to non-anarchists. Others feel that sort of outreach is necessary.

Some recommend constant attack on all forms of capitalism and authoritarianism, whereas others caution that actions should be carefully considered, strategic, and not always purely aggressive.

I don't know if my understanding of these concepts (among others) is just naive or limited in some way, but I feel confused nonetheless. I like infrastructure, and I like smashing stuff. I like being honest about my politics, and I like doing so in a way that other people can understand.

So can somebody please explain what the fuck the big idea is? Where are the major schisms in anarchist strategy and theory? What are the important concepts? I'm completely in the fucking dark here, and I'm a little ashamed to admit that.
aragorn! was writing strategy columns in anarchy: a journal of desire armed. not sure if they would clarify anything for you, or if you could find them (might be online somewhere?), but could be worth checking out.

1 Answer

+1 vote
This is a really big question. It's really difficult to answer.

First schism: Some anarchists see the "big idea" as a global anarchist revolution (or collapse, or other major event or process) by which all government and capitalism will be abolished. Perhaps gradually, and what might exist afterwards depends on who you ask.

Others don't really see a "big idea," but a more individualized or localized practice. Anarchy is something to live now, and maybe we won't ever abolish the state (or maybe it's largely out of our hands).

Most anarchists do both of those, but the schism's still worth mentioning. The first tendency is more aligned with anarcho-communism, anarcho-syndicalism, platformism, collectivist anarchism. Insurrectional anarchism is kind of on the fence here, since it obviously relates to global revolution but also doesn't see immediate action or individual autonomy as secondary to this goal--these are instead seen as mutually reinforcing. Some green anarchism with its global collapse is on the world revolution page. The second tendency is more aligned with individualist/egoist anarchism, nihilist anarchism, primitivism, lifestyle-based/DIY/punk/Evasion anarchism, illegalism, adventurism...

The idea of the big revolution lends itself more to outreach and strategy, while anarchy as an immediate practice lends itself more to refusal and attack.

But the dichotomy is not so clear. It can be a good idea to not work with non-anarchists if they are police, politicians, movement managers, etc. But there aren't very many anarchists who actually only talk to other anarchists, or who don't find affinity with some apolitical people, or other radicals, or whatever.

Likewise, those who are into the idea of the big revolution generally see attack as a part of it, even if they sometimes (often?) caution others to wait. And even the "attack now, attack always" anarchists usually engage in some kind of strategy, even if they don't think about it a lot. There can be a strategy that unfolds spontaneously, that isn't planned out in advance.]

Something I left out is the "dual power" strategy, which I don't understand very well but I guess involves building a lot of alternative infrastructure in the shell of the old world to replace the existing system. This strategy doesn't really fit into the false dichotomy I outlined above... Also, I left out a lot about how different anarchists think the strategy of global revolution is supposed to happen through class power or what have you.
by (20.5k points)