Anarchy 66/Observations on Anarchy 62
Follow-up and argument:
ANARCHISM AS A THEORY OF ORGANISATION
Colin ward’s article on anarchism as a theory of organisation was most interesting and instructive but the sting, I feel, lies in the tail. Anarchism does present an alternative theory of organisation but how do we set about making “the opportunities of putting (it) into practice”?
Social ideas may well become important but will they be concerned with “systems of large variety sufficient to cope with a complex unpredictable environment”? It is possible that they would rather be concerned with a complex, but essentially more predictable environment in which “welfare” is distributed more equably but in which the government’s grip on the citizen is vastly increased—
Ward notes that “people have been conditioned from infancy to the idea of accepting an external authority”. Accepting the authority of the government in the social sphere absolves one from so much (painful) responsibility to one’s fellows. “They” may put awkward irritating obstacles in one’s way in certain spheres but it seems that for the majority, unconcerned with social and “world” problems, life is remarkably pleasant and orderly in the affluent society.
For what are the anarchists offering? Freedom yes, but how is this concept to be made meaningful to the majority? It is freedom with responsibility; problems will have to be solved by the use of personal effort and initiative.
How are people to be persuaded that this will give them a more satisfying life than the present attitude of letting “them” get on with it. Anarchist organisation would require active participation not acquiescence but I am sure that it is not immediately apparent to many people that this is “freedom” or, indeed, worth very much.
was very well aware of this dilemma, although he suggested a Legislator (!) as the way out for people enmeshed in a destructive social process over which they had no control. Substitute “anarchism” for “law” and this seems to sum up the situation very well; “The social spirit, which should be created by these institutions, would have to preside over their very foundation; and men would have to be before law, what they should become by law”.
The must urgent one is simply the question of the here and now. How do we begin now to create a society of permissive institutions?
A proper answer to this question can only be reached if it is clearly understood that, in fact, a social revolution is the coming into being of new institutions which, in a longer or shorter time, become the dominant forms of the society. Movements of protest, demonstrations, acts of violence including armed revolt, are useless for actually changing the conditions of our lives unless they change the nature of the institutions—
The starting place is at the nexus of intimate personal relationships of the individual, which in our society, as in all past human society, has been the nuclear, conjugal family … or nothing. In other words, in our society, urbanized and capitalist, the sole provisions for the encapsulation of the individual into stable social bonds is through the family. And this small model family which has emerged as typical of the Western world is too often a completely unsatisfactory unit to support and nourish the individual. And for a very large proportion of the population, children and adults, there is no basis for family relationships at all. This may arise from any number of causes: death of the parents, separation, widowhood, etc. The result then is an irony that may well appeal to one with anarchist sensibilities : the free individual, torn loose from all significant social relationships, the helpless victim of the capitalist and the state.
The answer provides us with the starting place for the rebuilding of society. It must be surely to find an institutional form which will supplement or replace eventually the function of the family in relation to the individual and society: procreation, physical support, socialization, social intercourse, orientation, etc. This form probably cannot reconstitute from the earlier days of mankind a blood or marriage relationship which will provide satisfactorily for all these things in our complex society. It will, I think, have to be a “contract family”. The relationships under which man, woman and child can live together have to be redefined so that all the isolated individuals of our society can be recreated as social beings by becoming part of a tightly-
To sum up then, I am suggesting here that what can be done immediately to begin building a new society is to begin the establishment of new social bonds between individuals which will begin to provide the institutional framework for the performance of the basic social functions in which every individual must participate or be isolated and helpless.
ANARCHISTS AND NUCLEAR DISARMERS
Unfortunately, the article on Anarchists and Nuclear Disarmers was so inaccurate and so incomplete that it cannot be taken as a serious contribution to the subject.
The anarchists are not unique in their early opposition to the use of
But above all, the article—