One of my ongoing concerns is the redemption of Anarchy from the "punks" and misfits of all stripes who have become the soi-disant representatives and spokespersons for Anarchism.
While I certainly do not fault people who have become a little freaky as a result of living in sick societies (hey, who hasn't); I also recognize that the disturbed and the dysfunctional cannot be depended upon to be the ballast of any society, certainly not one that will require the exquisite common sense and self control that Anarchy will.
I would go further and say that we cannot even depend upon the proletariat to be those who make the revolution happen.
Please don't jump. Kindly allow me to explain my position.
In contradiction to Bakunin and Kropotkin, Gustav Landauer did not have faith in the proletariat to either be galvanized into a revolutionary body or to be able to carry out a successful revolution.
Landauer's heart was shredded by the suffering of the proletariat and to the purpose of eradicating their suffering, most especially, he devoted his thought and efforts as clearly articulated in FOR SOCIALISM: "Priests and middle class citizens who submit to moral restraint have introduced the practice of speaking of these poor wretches as if they were animals, though they are innocently guilty for our despicable innocence. They are called beasts, swine, goats and animals. You stare at their features, when they lie in the morgue. You have spared your own flesh, and your notoriously sensitive hearts! Look at the poor, the miserable, the sunken, the criminals and whores, you good citizens, you withdrawn and reserved youths, you chaste girls and honorable women. Look and learn: your innocence is your guilt; your guilt is your life." – pg. 41
Yet, he knew that the revolution could only be carried out with the support of the Middle Class.
He also wrote: "There they succumb to drink and can often no longer live without being intoxicated. They get drunk because nothing is so essentially alien to them as sobriety." – ibid.
As part of his scathing and uncompromising critique of Marxism he wrote: "Let it finally be understood, what is really being said here. It is recognized here that the workers are not a revolutionary class, but a bunch of poor wretches who must live and die under capitalism. ..But everything that is recognized, admitted ad conceded here, is a blow against Marxism, which seeks to understand the workers in their role as producers not as the poor lowest stage of capitalism but as the destiny-chosen bearers of the revolution and socialism." – pg. 86
"But a major part of suffering is the realization of ones' bad situation; and how many proletarians to this extent undergo not the least suffering!" – pg. 111
"…what is called the proletariat will never of itself be the embodiment of a people..." – pg. 117
Even Bakunin, in a moment of brutal honesty, addressed the proletarians thus: "Let us then be good brothers and comrades, and let us organize ourselves. Do not think that we are at the end of the Revolution, we are at its beginning. The Revolution is henceforth the order of the day, for many decades to come. It will come to find us, sooner or later. Let us therefore prepare and purify ourselves and become more genuine, let us be less talkers, less criers, less phrasemongers, less drinkers and less rakes. Let us gird our loins and properly prepare ourselves for this struggle which will save all peoples and finally emancipate humanity." THE BASIC BAKUNIN WRITINGS 1869-1871, Translated and Edited by Robert M. Cutler, pg. 65
The revolution must have the support of the middle class and middle aged, the middle of the road – the sober of mind, the possessors of self-discipline, those able to compromise, those with the wisdom of decades of living under their belts.
The task at hand, then, as we see from the quotes above from Landauer, is to sensitize the middle class to the sufferings of the poor. We must counter the lack of identification with the poor that has been cultivated among the middle class as a method of "divide and conquer" on the part of the bourgeoisie.
The transition into a normalized Anarchic society after the revolutionary period will not be carried out by enraged teenagers, no matter how sympathetic we may be as to the reasons for their outrage.
Anarchy has to be the Movement of the stable, the mature, the rational, *the average*.
The revolution cannot leave us with a patchwork of Freetown Christianias and life has to be, in the main, more subdued than a Crass concert.
Neither can the revolution cannot leave us with what Bakunin has rightly said is a negative stance – Anarchism. We must be *for* something. This the enraged and the too pained to function, precisely those now being attracted to Anarchism and running it afoul, cannot do.
Only when the Middle Class realize who they are being used and abused and overcome the illusion that they are not among the disenfranchised, just like the poor, will the Revolution occur.
Saul Alinsky recognized that too and just before his death he planned to undertake the major project of his life - the political radicalization of the average Joe. See the interview he granted to Playboy Magazine in 1972 on this URL: http://tinyurl.com/qov5t . He did not live to succeed. That's a tragedy. If anyone could have done it, he could have. He was uniquely gifted to be the catalyst that set off an explosion of awareness and desire for radical change among the Middle Class.
Anarchy, in the final analysis, has to be a Revolution of the average people - not the intellectual, not the punk, not the enraged and disturbed past the point of being able to function. It cannot reach the necessary critical mass if it is the Movement of those on the sidelines of society.
I am convinced that the reason that Anarchy has not succeeded is because it has not convinced the Middle Class that they are among the outsiders, they too are disenfranchised, they are working 60 hours a week when about two hours per day will suffice if technology is employed properly, that they are *emotionally and psychologically destitute* and that is what is impinging on their ability to connect with others and that is why it is worth their while to get radical.
Anarchy must create a way of life that average people can live, feel comfortable with and feel at home in.
Either Anarchy will speak to and for the mainstream, or it won't succeed.
Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan – Anarchist and 50-Year-Old Grandmother