PQC: Folks, my apology. For some “unexplained” reason, this article was “edited” without my knowledge. Some URL links were taken off and some words were deleted This made the whole paragraph become non-sense. I boldfaced the deleted words/sentence so that you folks would understand what was going on! This problem happened sometimes in the past. Now suddenly it happened again!
First, I would like to extend my deepest thank to our friend “Kyran Won” for his kind insisting and sincere demanding on me to re-read “The Joy of Revolution” by Ken Knabb. Without his kind insisting I would have never re-read the “Joy of Revolution” and would have never had a pleasing surprise. among other things, to read “Tại Xứ Chuông Rè” by Ngô Văn (1913-1 January 2005), in English translation also by Ken Knabb! I read the original copy “Tại Xứ Chuông Rè” in Vietnamese some years ago as one of a contributors of this Blog, a young Vietnamese-Italian had posted it up in 2005. I like to re-read the book in English, for my English is so rusty. I need to re-learn and improve it a bit. In this case it helps me a lot.
I strongly recommend everyone to read “Tại Xứ Chuông Rè” in Vietnamese, or in English “IN THE LAND OF THE CRACKED BELL” IN THE CROSSFIRE Adventures of a Vietnamese Revolutionary, for this memoirs contains many valuable lessons about statism, (nationalism, racism, communism, colonialism, imperialism, capitalism). I have learnt a great deal from the unavoidable or even inevitable “noble” mistakes elder Ngo-Van made in his “revolutionary” life, given the historical period he was born in and endured as a colonized Asian under White (French) colonialism. Most of literate Vietnamese of this period were well verse in Laozi’s Taoism but the anarchist message in Tao Te Ching and Zhuangzi was never recognized and received by Vietnamese even just at the academic environment. I digress.
Now come back to “the Joy of Revolution.” I have to say that, given the revolutionary and controversial subject of “future anarchy”, the essay is so well written, well structured and well strategized in a succinct 70+ A4 pages, but full of sharp comments and especially sharp critiques of modern social-political structures and struggles of different competing ideologies. In the whole first three chapters, Ken Knabb, at least to my tiny knowledge, covered all major issues of our current social-political crises! Even though the Author himself humbly stated:
(In any case, I don’t claim to cover everything; I am merely discussing certain points about which I feel I have something to say. If you think I have failed to address some important topic, why don’t you do it yourself?)
As a simple anarchist myself ( I always prefer anarchism without adjective), despite some minor disagreements with his critique of statism in all shapes and forms I do agree with his remarks and critiques. Here are some quotes:
“Taken together, all these considerations point to the conclusion that a liberated society can be created only by the active participation of the people as a whole, not by hierarchical organizations supposedly acting on their behalf. The point is not to choose more honest or “responsive” leaders, but to avoid granting independent power to any leaders whatsoever. Individuals or groups may initiate radical actions, but a substantial and rapidly expanding portion of the population must take part if a movement is to lead to a new society and not simply to a coup installing new rulers.”
Violence is not only undesirable in itself, it generates panic (and thus manipulability) and promotes militaristic (and thus hierarchical) organization. Nonviolence entails more open and democratic organization; it tends to foster composure and compassion and to break the miserable cycle of hatred and revenge
The system’s power is based on people’s belief in their powerlessness to oppose it
In totalitarian societies the grievances are obvious but revolt is difficult. In “democratic” societies struggles are easier, but the goals are less clear. Controlled largely by subconscious conditioning or by vast, seemingly incomprehensible forces (“the state of the economy”) and offered a wide range of apparently free choices, it’s difficult for us to grasp our situation. Like a flock of sheep, we’re herded in the desired direction, but allowed enough room for individual variations to enable us to preserve an illusion of independence.
Terrorism has often served to break the momentum of radical situations. It stuns people, turns them back into spectators anxiously following the latest news and speculations. Far from weakening the state, terrorism seems to confirm the need to strengthen it. If terrorist spectacles fail to spontaneously arise when it needs them, the state itself may produce them by means of provocateurs.
But here is my favorite:
It’s often said that a stateless society might work if everyone were angels, but due to the perversity of human nature some hierarchy is necessary to keep people in line. It would be truer to say that if everyone were angels the present system might work tolerably well (bureaucrats would function honestly, capitalists would refrain from socially harmful ventures even if they were profitable). It is precisely because people are not angels that it’s necessary to eliminate the setup that enables some of them to become very efficient devils.
I often argue with statists that because “human people cannot be trusted” therefore we must not trust a bunch of of men/women with exclusive violent power over us.
Now comes to what I disagree with “The Joy of Revolution” in chapter 4, the future society of anarchy (my words anyway).
As a simple “individualistic” anarchist, I see that the problem of human world is not just “centralization”, but organization, to organize and be organized. Thus decentralization is just a process of breaking up big central authority into many “smaller” authorities, but authority is still there, not being dissolved or abolished at all. Thus, whatever we do we should de-organize ourselves first. Simply because organization will lead to hierarchy and a certain form of coercion even with just temporary “authority.”
Also because of such nature of anarchy, there will be a diversity of medium of exchange , namely “money” if some insist to call it. Some communities may not want to use “money” at all, but others still do to exchange goods and services, people may use whatever way , method, and medium they freely agree with one another.
Since anarchy is extreme diversity, because all individuals are free to associate with one another. Therefore a person can join a group/community today and tomorrow the next. Because of such dynamism and personal freedoms “… no anarchist claims to have a perfect blueprint. The last thing we want is to impose prefab models on society anyway. The truth is we probably can’t even imagine half the problems that will come up when we try to create a democratic society;..” (David Graeber)
Therefore I myself do not worry much details about the future anarchy, but I have thought much about how we get from here to there, given the fact that the current statist system will violently crush anyone that dares to just try to run away from it, much worse to defy it or want to discard/destroy it! This means “peaceful evolution” into anarchy has very slim chance to be realized, if not absolutely impossible at all.
Well, this is an entirely different topic that deserves a separate serious discussion.