The Anarchy Gauntlet is a column attempting to move away from my more traditional Marxist-themed articles to a framework centered around anarchism, which better reflects my beliefs. Anarchism advocates for the end to unjustified hierarchies from boss-worker relations to even parent-child dynamics as we know them. Anarchists believe in the same post-capitalism, communist society as other far-left groups but differs in the practice and means of achieving that society. These ideas of anarchism will be inherent throughout these articles.
It is clear, if not obvious, that the U.S. has failed to create any real change or start a meaningful conversation about the centuries-long issue of white supremacy. Our two presidential candidates’ views on it amount to, “The left is the problem, not the right,” and “We don’t need riots, we need to vote” — both of which are woefully regressive. While most people focus on the white supremacists and their Republican representatives themselves, I’m more interested in the liberals who are complacent with white supremacy.
For anarchists, fascists are enemies of war, whereas liberals are enemies of ideology and organizing. You can debate a liberal, albeit painstakingly, but fascists speak with guns, not words. To that end, I’m here to explain why liberalism stokes the flames of white supremacy, and why anarchism is the water that will combat it.
Anarchy has the unfortunate association with chaos, but it is in fact the exact opposite: freedom. Not the “muh Constitution” or “small government” class of freedom we hear so much talk about. Rather, anarchy is the fight for social equity and liberation. This is no small feat; freedom must be achieved by democratizing the economy (i.e., seizing the means of production) and smashing the state.
Instead of galvanizing for some distant revolution, though, I use the principles of anarchy to guide my actions and judgement toward the social, political and economic world. The core features of anarchism revolve around the idea of no unjust hierarchies, which can take many forms: the state, family, education, the workplace and, yes, racial hierarchies. Anarchism literally means “without rulers,” as opposed to a monarchy or an oligarchy. That includes the politicians and capitalists that claim to improve the quality of our lives.
Speaking of politicians, what do I mean by the state? Unlike the boogey man of the government before which libertarians and conservatives cower in fear, anarchists point to the state as an institution of oppression formed in white supremacy and colonialism. Colonial administrations enabled countries like England to force entire countries into serving their material interests.
The idea that we should give power to a small elite of “democratically elected representatives” is an extension of that history. America’s ongoing belief in manifest destiny and its God-given right to commit genocide and plunder the land belonging to Indigenous communities is another example.
Though the state officially maintains order and democracy, it really consolidates wealth and power into the pockets of the capitalist, ruling class. Under anarchism, then, capitalism and the state are two sides of the same coin, and any revolutionary struggle should aim to end both.
As for the social events of today, anarchism has local and global relevance. Politicians across the U.S. have shown an unwillingness to resolve the police brutality, which has occurred since the institution’s roots in slavery.
Meanwhile, liberal organizations call for emptying the coffers of police precincts and the removal of the officers who violate Black and Brown bodies with no end in sight. I’m in support of efforts to redirect police funds toward social causes, as well as seeking justice for the Black and Brown victims of police brutality, such as Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Jacob Blake, Tamir Rice, Philando Castille, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Atatiana Jefferson, Stephon Clark, Aura Rosser, Botham Jean, Alton Sterling, Michelle Cusseaux, Freddie Gray, Janisha Fonville, Daniel Prude, Rayshard Brooks, Akai Gurley, Gabriella Nevarez and Tanisha Anderson to name but a few.
May those who were murdered rest in power.
All that being said, I think our efforts should be directed toward achieving community control of the police. Police departments need to be decentralized, officers need to be members residing in the communities they serve and be held accountable to those communities. Moreover, there should be community councils that consist of elected, paid community members who select multiple commissioners per police department.
The point of this system being that it creates multiple avenues for decentralizing the institution of policing and putting it in community hands. This is by no means a revolution in any sense of the word, but it is one form in which anarchist principles and organizing may take form to offer real solutions.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the failures of capitalism and the state’s horrendous response to crisis, it is abundantly clear that it is up to people and their communities to resolve these problems. This is where the anarchist practice of mutual aid is particularly useful. When healthcare infrastructure and food supply chains break down, for example, the conventional avenues for carrying out their given functions need to be revised.
In the case of personal protective equipment, mutual aid involves networks of people sewing together masks and distributing soap and hand sanitizer. However, anarchists are not currently able to carry out large-scale manufacturing of ventilators because of the sheer resources and labor needed to do so.
As for food distribution, much of our problems are not necessarily out of a shortage but, rather, artificial scarcity. This isn’t to say that at the start of the pandemic there wasn’t a real scarcity of food because people horded food. Much of the problems of hunger and access to food, though, relate to our production and consumption of food as a commodity, a system which denies such a necessity of life to the poor and marginalized.
Mutual aid is one way to combat this contradiction of capitalism, though not to subvert it. These efforts are especially helpful to communities most impacted by the pandemic: BIPOC communities. The K’é Infoshop of the Navajo Nation, for example, has worked with other mutual aid efforts and local food producers to distribute food across the Navajo reservations. Although anarchism has European roots, it has similar values to Indigenous ideas like community solidarity and horizontal organization.
That isn’t to say that we should label Indigenous groups as anarchist, but, rather, anarchists have the unique ability to align themselves alongside Indigenous movements in the fight for sovereignty and justice and against oppression and injustice. Moreover, I hope I’ve made it clear that anarchism is equally poised to fight for Black liberation, dismantle white supremacy and heal our communities.
There are certainly more ways anarchists can accomplish this, but that’s a topic for later. For now, I’d like to close with words from Brandon Benallie, a Navajo/Hopi organizer for the K’é Infoshop: “Capitalism fosters this unhealthy, highly individualist view of oneself. People began to forget their responsibilities to each other, to the land and began to only worry about how much they can benefit from the imbalance from broken kinship … We can’t do this alone. We need all of the good people of the earth to come together.”