A Message to Reformists

All of the great plagues of our time, which include war, racism, poverty, a horrid education system, a horrid health care system, destruction of the environment, tyranny through rent and usury, etc., are not “results” of bad policies from bad politicians; they’re part of what makes up the capitalist and state-controlled system we live in. Vote in Ralph Nader or Cynthia McKinney and I’m sure they will do exactly what Obama is doing right now. This is not because they are bad people at heart, but it’s because their role as the head of state would require them to. It’s not the individual in power who creates totalitarianism but the power structure, and whomever sits on top of that structure will undoubtedly become totalitarian.

The ideas of the reformists – that strengthening the central government will somehow make it easier to abolish the institution in later times – is a laughable one that has no basis in history or reality. They, however, continue to propagate this without giving much thought as to how it will eventually “set the conditions” (a phrase reformists love to repeat) for a future stateless, classless society.

We need to be doing what anarchists were originally doing: putting faith in the people around us instead of the people above us. Use radical decentralized organizing to create the institutions which will replace the State and capitalism instead of spending all this time trying to reform what exists now. The Spanish anarchists did not pressure their government; they formed the closest thing in modern history to an anarchist society by taking things into their own hands. Today, the syndicalist movement in Argentina is repeating these actions. They are not turning to the State for “help” but rather avoiding state politics all together and making their goals a reality, as they understand that the State will only abuse any power its granted or will side with the bourgeoise.

So my question to the reformers is: instead of demanding that taxes be raised to pay for schools, why not suggest that the teachers co-op the schools and start running them democratically, independent from capitalists or the State? Instead of campaigning for more government control, start organizing at this very moment for people’s control. Organize your workplace and community and start depending on people instead of the elite who govern you, even if you think the “conditions aren’t right yet”, because — guess what? — if you decide to wait for the “right conditions” you’ll be waiting forever. Patience is NOT a virtue in this case; it’s an excuse. Just forget about what the government is up to and focus on building the alternative institutions.

Julia Riber Pitt, “Let’s Face It: The State Is Not Great (Message to Reformists),” under a Creative Commons license

Julia Riber Pitt, a philosophy major, attends McDaniel College in Maryland and maintains the blog Propaganda Lalaland.