The Seeds of Anarchism

The seeds of anarchism appear most naturally in the daily struggle of the working class. Truly the tyranny of the capitalist system is most fully realized in the hierarchy of the workplace and the dictatorial rule of the bosses. In no place outside of prison are basic freedoms so restricted as in the workplace. In no relationship other than the policeman and citizen is the oppressive power of the state so apparent. The right of the cop to end your life is only marginally more extreme than the right of the employer to end your livelihood. The power of the employer to cut-off the means of survival for a worker is often as good as a death sentence itself.
The relationship between employer and worker is the fundamental relationship of the capitalist system. The inclination to resent and resist this arbitrary oppression produces the impulse to create a classless society, where both power and wealth are distributed on an egalitarian basis. An oppressive boss is the best argument for a world without bosses.
It is in the class struggle at its rawest level that the ideas of anarchism, libertarian socialism, have their best chance of development. The organization of workers to oppose the power of the bosses is where the process of libertarian socialism can be engaged; this is where the egalitarian majority, so necessary for anarchism, can establish itself in a functional way. It is in the victory of the egalitarian majority over the ambitions of authoritarian groups and individuals that the future pattern of anarchist society is created.
The decay and destruction of the labor movement in the United States is the culmination of long decades of decline. The devils bargain made by labor leaders after World War 2 made them rich at the expense of real working class power, and maintained capitalist world hegemony as part of the deal. By accepting a system based on the exploitation of labor and permanent inequality, the US labor movement doomed itself. Wherever the same bargain was made around the world, the same results are occurring. The political power of the US labor movement and the political power of the social democratic political parties have been revealed as illusionary. It was counterfeit power given to counterfeit organizations. Organizations run by men whose selfish concern was for their own elevated position in society, even as the people they claimed to represent sank deeper into poverty and oppression. The raising of the class status of labor leaders is not a substitute for the elimination of the class system.
The project before us is the project to build a new workers movement and nothing less. The question is, are we (anarcho-syndicalists, libertarian socialists…) mentally prepared to help build a new workers movement? Each person must answer that question on their own. The end of class society will require a level of practical activity and cooperation that seems all but impossible under current conditions. Winning the class war, the war to end the class system, is not guaranteed. Unless we can overcome the apathy and cynicism that plagues us, one feeding the other, we will lose, and should lose.
The seeds of anarchism require cultivation by revolutionary workers. We must commit ourselves fully to the struggle of the working class, engaging wherever workers fight against the power of the employing class. We must always be in the fight, wherever it takes us and whatever it takes to win.
The end of the class system in which we live is the goal. We must recognize that it is a system whose origin precedes the industrial revolution, capitalism and all the nation states of the world. It is a system whose creation marked the end of equality and social solidarity. It replaced those things with the domination of the strong over the weak and the rich over the poor. It perverted the relationship between human beings and debased the relationship between humanity and nature. It was a mistake, and it is time for it to be corrected.
Mike Kolhoff

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