I’ll start my blog post with a disclaimer, my participation in the anarchism subreddit was fleeting at best – I might upvote the occasional post I found interesting and reply if there was something interesting I could contribute but most of the time I was subscribed but never participated. What I thought was funny was a moderator from the subreddit banning me:
Was it because I said something racist? homophobic? I was trolling? I was stirring up drama and derailing? nope, it is because I had the audacity to maybe, just maybe, look at the world and realise that getting from point (A) to point (B) actually requires strategy and tactics, it requires building alliances, having temporary relationships of convenience for the sake of holding ground when confronting a larger more vicious enemy then regrouping to deal with the original institutionalised power structures once the immediate enemy is taken care of. When dealing with the situation in Syria, as anarchists, do you keep your resources stretched by fighting both Assad and ISIS (and its allies/sympathisers) at the same time or do you recognise that it is firstly ISIS (and its allies/sympathisers) who pose the greatest threat and secondly that although Assad is horrible you recognise that a temporary truce with Assad’s forces gives you enough space to fight the greater threat to then regroup to then focus on Assad at a later date.
It is called strategy – something the online anarchists never talk about because the only time they leave the house is when they check their letter box but other than that they’re privileged enough to live in an middle to upper class existence where they can do political cosplay on the weekend because to them it is all fun and games which doesn’t matter in any material way for them because they’ve got nothing riding on it – they’ve got what they want, it is little flirtation with rebellion that they have online to make their otherwise drab suburban middle class existence appear to be remotely interesting.
This is also part of the reason why echo chambers on the internet resulting in nothing ever being achieved in the real world – because deep down inside they don’t want any sort of success as so far as winning power because what that would require of them is for them to deliver not heir promises. Part of delivering on promises involves actually having to take theoretical ideas and bring them into the real world where real people are having to be dealt with – and sorry to be the bearer of bad news but that means having to make compromises, having reform in a piece meal way, that the process sometimes involves 5 steps forward and 2 steps back. Long story short, the nice clean surgical grade purity of a given ideology cannot exist in the real world because the real world is complex, real world involves dealing with people, dealing with conditions that are outside of your control and at times that means making decisions that you wouldn’t have otherwise thought you would have had to do back when your only exposure was participating in an online circle jerk.
When you’re in the world of theoretical speculation you can be as far up your own backside as you want, you can make wild speculative ideas not grounded in reality but utopian views of how one would like the world to work. Sure, it’s a fun parlour game that anyone can play but like the parlour game of “if I had a $1million what would I spend it on” the participants at least admit that it is all fun and games which is more than I can say for the many online anarchists. It reminds me of the critique of neoconservatives by George Will regarding their over estimation of the United States power and influence in the world not to mention the self delusion that United States will be welcomed as liberators after Saddam was toppled. Michael Parenti wrote a great essay dissecting the anti-communist left which touches on some of the issues I’ve raised in this blog post (link).