Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Glad to be an anarchist today

There's really one main argument for the U.S. Democratic Party: pragmatism. The lesser evil is still evil, but it is supposed to have the counterbalancing advantage that it can win, and therefore displace even worse results. Without victory, it is nothing. No large constituency loves free trade agreements, "humanitarian" wars, mass surveillance and an economy for the elites. People do have critical interests in reproductive rights, anti-racism, and feminism, but those themselves have been demoted to lesser-evil status -- no one was promising a bold new advance in reforming medical care, the prisons, immigration, or the police, but only to hold back the worst.

And now it hasn't won. On the contrary, it has lost so completely as to make it obvious that engagement with it is futile. Sanders tried what people are always (patronizingly) told to do: run within the system, pull the party to the left. He was predictably defeated by a corrupt party apparatus, and I don't see how his run is going to make any lasting difference. The groundwork for this election was laid in every respect by Obama's Presidential failure (ACA's meltdown, no good economic recovery, no pulling the bandaid off the global warming crisis quickly, no prosecutions of bankers or other action against the financial industry) and now the result is here. But of course the problem goes beyond Obama to the Democratic Party's entire political class.

I invite people to reconsider anarchism. Not because there is supposed to be some kind of blueprint for the future waiting in some dusty file somewhere. But because most peoples' thinking is wrong, and they could stand to give up on their current certainties. The left makes many errors, and has had many failures, but one thing that it generally can't do and remain the left is to dismiss large segments of the populace as racists and sexists who have to be suppressed and who have no real grievances. Try relating to people as if you are yourself and they are themselves, rather than identifying yourself with a state or a party, and then think about what this suppression really involves, who you are really trying to convince, and how. How do you get allies? What would one of the Rust Belt voters who Trump won over take from what you're saying?

The need for a left that is against all the hierarchies of unjust power is as great as ever. But the pragmatic solution of going along with the lesser evil is not actually pragmatic. It's time to toss it and go on. Political action is going to be necessary now more than ever, but people can't let that action go within the channels of a system that's failed.

Edited to add some links (not anarchist ones): Glenn Greenwald, Jeffrey St. Clair. Anarchism doesn't really have the temperament or resources for instant pundit reactions, but these will do.

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