Society is a smaller part of a state where individuals live together. Society deals with many aspects such as industry, technology, ecology, economy, and cultural-consciousness of its members. State, as a bigger organization from society is believed by most people as an instrument which functions to bring prosperity for each individual. In fact, state is used as an instrument of oppression; repression from the more superior countries to the more inferior, also instrument to rule industry and economy for certain class. This domination of state creates problems in each aspect of society.
Anarchism is an ideology which believes that state must be abolished. Based on this, anarchism can be a solution for social problems which are caused by the domination of state. This paper will explain more about the detail of problems in society, how anarchism can be the solution of them, and how anarchism can be implemented in society.
Terms of Anarchism
What first come to your mind when you hear the word “anarchism”? Some people may associate this term to violence. Whereas, anarchism is an ideology, a political belief, which can be applied just like other ideologies such as socialism, communism, democracy, or liberalism. The most fundamental difference of anarchism from those ideologies is that:
anarchism does not believe that state can be an instrument to assure prosperity for each individual in certain society. Thus, Joseph Labadie, in “Anarchism: What It Is and What It Is Not” says that state must be abolished (par.3). This abolishment of state is also conveyed by Graham Purchase in “Anarcho-Syndicalism, Technology and Ecology”. He writes “in an anarchist society, the absence of centralized state authority will permit a radically new integration of nature, labour, and culture” (par.1).
Labadie states that anarchism can be considered as free association with neither oppressor nor the oppressed (pars. 4-8). In other word, anarchism believes in equal right for each individual. Coordination and operation are run without bureaucracy and hierarchy. Purchase writes that anarchism is depended on self governing of each individual in society (pars.8-10). One of the requirements of anarchism is the integration of environment (Purchase, pars. 12-18).
Problems in Society and Anarchism as the Solution
Before industry revolution, welfare of the individuals in society becomes the responsibility of society. But since industry revolution takes place, the nation has taken control the social welfare responsibility (“Social Welfare”).
Refer to Chaz Bufe in “A Future Worth Living”, we can see that the welfare which just be given from the state to its people does not happen. He states: We live in a world which is deeply unsatisfying for most people, a world in which many of our most basic need – for love, peace, freedom, security, and meaning in life - are not being met. Most of us face constant worry about economic survival, loneliness and isolation, or fear of it,and a constant feeling that there's never enough of anything good to go around, be it love, sex or money (par. 7).
This insecurity of individual prosperity is taken root from industrial, economical, technological, ecological, and cultural problems in society. Those fundamental aspects is taken control by the state.
Most of the states in this world nowadays are run with capitalistic system. This capitalistic system is started to be implemented in England since industry revolution. Industrial revolution was the time when agrarian society was transformed into modern industrial society. Industrial revolution consists of the changes in fundamental technology, economic, social and cultural aspects (“Industrial Revolution”). These changes do not always bring advantage for human being. Industry based on Purchase article has created environmental destruction and dehumanized workers (par. 4).
There are some aspects affected by industry revolution. But, economy is the aspect which has the “strongest relation” with industry. Purchase states that industry “is only made slightly destructive by the narrow, short-term interests of capital and state” (par. 4). Capitalistic economy system which is used since industry revolution seems to be a secondary aspect compared to industry. But from Purchase statement, there is an implicit impression that capitalism changes to be the primary motive with industry as the instrument. Apart from this changed role, industry and capitalism have strong relation. Since capitalism is a system which is based on ownership of capital, and capital is something fundamental in economy system, we can conclude that industry thus has strong relation with economy.
Marxism, a famous ideology which critics industry and capitalism the most comprehensively, argue that “in capitalist society, an economic minority (the bourgeoisie) dominates and exploit the working class (preoletariat) majority. Marx attempted to argue that capitalism was exploitative, specifically the way in which unpaid labour (surplus value) is extracted from the working of earlier political economists on value. He argued that while the production process is socialized, ownership remains in the hands of the bourgeoisie. This forms the fundamental contradiction of capitalist society. Without the elimination of the fetter of the private ownership of the means of production, human society is unable to achieve further development” (“Marxism”). This domination of bourgeoisie, according to Marxism, brings economy inequality. This problem is seen in Bufe’s article. He states there has been economy inequality today. It has been difficult to get job. According to him, this inequality causes alienation of human being because individuals must fulfill their need (pars. 10-12). Inequality which causes alienation is a proof of degradation of humanity done by industry which is run by capital. Human is no longer the center of all. Human becomes object of industry and economy interest.
According to Purchase, to solve industrial problem, there should be worker control in every factory so that workers and bosses has the same position and equality. He states that there should be egalitarian working environment between bosses and employees, also egalitarian among workers. Workers should get better wage and humanity experiences in working. This condition actually can increase production and minimize sabotage (par. 7).
Purchase provides another radical solution for the problem emerged from industrial system. He suggests efficiency and self sufficiency to be implemented in society. Purchase writes every society should have independency in producing one’s own needs. This can avoid exploitation of workers (par. 8).
But have you ever imagined you yourself has to raft your own phone cellular or sew clothes you wear? How about the plates you use to eat? Should you handle them by yourself? Will you have enough time, energy, and material for that? The obstacles of this industrial solution are: not every community has natural resources, no one wants to spend their whole life in factory even though we need goods, and not every body/community has craft to do every single thing (Purchase, pars. 9-10).
To overcome this obstacle, Purchase states that every body should spend a few hours per week to provide goods. No boss should take profit while they are not working like workers do. The production should not be oriented to consumerism but to human needs (pars. 9-10).
However, they are not only industrial and economical problems which bring dehumanization. Technology, as an aspect which become the cause of industry revolution and also the aspect which is affected by industry revolution in the same time, is also one of the other problems which cause humanity degradation in society. Purchase states “…children and adults alike spend hours on end surrounded by deafening noise and blinding lights in video arcades…” (par. 5). According to him there has been industrial robotification of human nature. But to get back to primitivism anarchic era in post industrial where there is no any technology, is utopia. Because primitivism is utopia, there should be mixture of Neolithic primitivism era with technology (Purchase, par. 5).
It has been mentioned that capitalism which uses industry vehicle not only causes dehumanization but also has created natural destruction. But either because capitalists are stupid enough to understand that or because they have no embarrassment, nature balance issue has been used as commodity by capitalism to survive. Purchase states that naturalistic capitalistic product will be used to fulfill individual consumerism. Accumulation of individual consumerism actually costs more expensive than what all people in this world really need (pars. 12-18).Those who have neither consciousness nor attention will consume those kinds of products with -probably- a good aim to save the earth. But the paradox of industrial system toward nature and the expensive amount which has to be turned is worse than the end of the word because of natural damage. Excessive consumption of individual has to be fought with communal consumption. On his article Purchase show how excessive individual consumption is less effective and efficient to overcome natural damage compared to communal use of public transportation. Buying one expensive bio energy car can be more expensive than thousands people’ costs on bus in a day. Thus using public transportation is one of the ways to solve ecological problem (pars.12-18).
We have seen the relation of industry to economy, industry and technology, industrial economy and its relation to ecology, and of course the impact of all those relation to human being in society. There is one more aspect needs to be concerned in society.
The most abstract and most difficult aspect need to be changed in society is the cultural aspect. Its abstract causes it difficult to be analyzed as how other aspects can be analyzed. However anarchism indeed should focus not only to economical and political problems, but also focus on cultural problems because in the end culture can be a very strong basis for individuals to do such actions.
The cultural problems need to be concerned appear on individual psychology such as emotional and individual sexuality (Bufe, pars. 13-52). According to Bufe, the most impactful contexts which create cultural consciousness are religion, family, education, and mass media.
Both family and religion actually has the same character. They are patriarchal. This patriarchal character causes repression to –especially- woman and also to sexuality of the individuals in society. There is subjection and degradation of women in patriarchal religion. Patriarchal religion abandons human intellectuality and put religion above all including humanity (Bufe, par. 13-52).
Object of patriarchy in family is not as wide as patriarchy in religion. However, the repression done to an individual causes not less big effect than the effect caused by patriarchy in religion. This sexual repression will bring an individual to some effects like what is written by Bufe: sexual repression in patriarchal family causes many problems to an individual. An individual would be fear to rebel, become obedient and have the fear of sexuality. It
constructs servility mental and abandonment of self. An individual will identify his/her self with external entities. An individual will only have blunt reason and intelligence, also repressive-authoritarian behavior (pars. 13-52).
Education system which is built by authoritative method took part on that (repression, even sexual repression). This system also has patriarchal impact. Bufe states that in most education systems, the role between student and teacher is very stiff. Student has no big room to question something. Students in schools are built to be an authoritarian because they are taught by authority (par. 50). Thus, authoritative education system also takes part on constructing patriarchy. In the end, an individual in society has no place at all to be him/her self. Society always represses individuals to build “harmony”. If not, an individual has to be ready for the consequences such as physically or psychologically isolation from society.
Education, according to Bufe, never teaches freedom to students. Even though there is a quick advancement in science or other disciplines, individual has never been taught about values. Education orientation is practical: how individual can get money and make profit. Thus, grade becomes something important rather than the knowledge itself (par. 51).
Ironically, violence seems to be the only aggressive expression that can be done unconsciously. Television shows excessive violence in practical and conceptual way. “… the media reinforces authoritarian structures in a more subtle way: it routinely presents such structures as not only being normal, but as being _inevitable_. Even at the height of the Cold War, when power-grubbing sociopaths in Washington and Moscow stockpiled enough nuclear weapons to turn the Earth into a burned out cinder - and came within an eyelash of doing so in 1962 - one never found even the faintest suggestion that there was any way to organize social life other than through coercive, hierarchical structures controlled by power-mad politicians holding the power of life and death over the rest of us. In part because of the media, most people won't even consider the possibility that there are alternatives to domination, submission, hierarchy, and coercion” (Bufe, par. 52).
Implementing Anarchism in Society
I have explained some important aspects in society including its problem and the solution given by anarchism. In this next sub-chapter, I am going to explain about the steps need to be done by anarchist movement to implement anarchism in society.
A movement would not be massively successful without organization. This includes anarchist movement. Some people misunderstand anarchism by relating anarchism with unorganized movement whereas organization is a very important instrument to reach anarchistic society.
According to Bufe, anarchism organization has to have voluntary cooperation/noncoerciveness character. The organization has to be non hierarchial and decentralized. The leadership is spontaneous effect in a horizontal relation and concerns to psychological problem such emotional and sexual issues (pars. 53-87).
The last aspect mentioned is very important. Psychological aspect is the aspect which often be forgotten by many movements. We have seen how big the effects emerged from psychological repression from patriarchy system is. Thus, this abstract aspect really needs to be considered in a movement. According to Bufe, anarchism movement should consider individual sexual longing and sexual repression (pars. 53-87).
The approach of anarchism movement itself should be both theoretical and experimental. Self sustaining is another aspect should be considered. Anarchism movement should provide pleasure rather than pain to all members, has positive orientation, has utilitarian spirit, and means determine ends (Bufe, pars. 53-87).
It is not enough to form an organization without having model. There must be models attractive enough to be adopted by any other anarchism movement (Bufe, pars. 53-87). In the recent sub-chapter, we have seen how big the effect of education for the society is. Thus, anarchism movement must pay attention to this aspect. To convey anarchism ideas, good education is needed to be the media. Purchase says that anarchism needs massive persuading fellow workers to organize themselves and resist state and corporate coercive apparatus (pars. 19-26).
Since fundamental aspects such as industry and economy are held by nation, anarchism has duty to bring them back to people. We have seen how those two aspects collaborated with ecology and technology and bring dehumanization. Thus those important aspects should be controlled by people. Purchase writes power of economy and industry power must be returned to people. Anarchists build nonprofit, community-based forms of individual skills exchange such as barter-based networks. Anarchists also represent co-operative efforts which strengthen the autonomy of both individuals and communities (pars. 19-26). Not only industry and economy, object of both, technology and ecology should be controlled by people also. Purchase says that anarchism movement exploits technology and ecology for the people (pars. 12-18).
The most important and tactical thing need to be remembered during the movement is the stability. There must be no chaotic or coercion actions done by anarchism movement (Purchase, pars. 19-26).
Since states have never functioned, we need anarchism to be implemented in our society. Aspects in society such as industry, economy, technology, and culture do not bring mentally and materially welfare to the people. Anarchism as an ideology has given solutions for the problem appeared in society. Implementing anarchism in society is not a utopia, but it needs a hard work. Anarchistic organization is an important instrument to attain anarchistic society.
Bufe, Chaz. “A Future Worth Living.” Anarchist Library. 1998. 7 February 2010 < http://flag.blackened.net/daver/anarchism/future.html>.
“Industrial Revolution”. Encyclopaedia Britannica.
Labadie, Joseph. ”Anarchism: What It Is and What It Is Not.” Anarchist Library. 1979. 7 February 2010 < http://flag.blackened.net/daver/anarchism/labadie.htm>.
Purchase, Graham. “Anarcho-Syndicalism, Technology and Ecology.” Anarchist Library. 1995. 7 February 2010 < from http://flag.blackened.net/daver/anarchism/aste.html>.
“Social Welfare.” Encyclopaedia Britannica.
Strider, Lorne. “Planet of Room.” Anarchist Library. 2000. 7 February 2010 < http://flag.blackened.net/daver/anarchism/planet_of_rooms.html>.
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