Almost all serious denominations of the left, which of course does not include the liberals of America, or the social democrats of Scandinavia, agree upon the society they wish to achieve. Everyone wants an egalitarian, socialist society (although there are many variations upon that notion); what we do not agree upon is the means of achieving such a society. I'm not referring to the chasm between Marxist vanguardism and more anarchic transitional tactics; the choice between those is clear to anyone with even the slightest understanding of power, and how it corrupts. What I wish to address is rather the dichotomy between reform, and revolution. Believe it or not, I have encountered people who agree, wholeheartedly, that an anarchist society would not only be possible, but also preferable, yet still reject the ideology because it relies upon revolutionary ideas; they argue that violence against the hierarchies cannot be justified, as the system, the establishment, the machine, does not use violence against us, and that revolution, because of the reasons stated, is nothing more than the glorification of violence. This claim is plainly, and obviously, ridiculous; nothing could be further from the truth. Have you seen the world? Have you actually examined our society? Everyone who dies in war has died because of hierarchical power relations; because the capitalist masters of the military industrial complex need more and more economic power, and by extension, more political power. Everyone who's being denied health care, and is subsequently left to die in the streets, is being murdered by the ruling class. Women being refused full wages; immigrants being deported to war and death and starvation; children forced into prostitution; hundreds of thousands of people turning to psychoactive substances, desperate for a distraction from the meaningless, boring, and unfulfilling lives they lead; millions getting thrown out on the streets every day, and the millions who already live there; workers in the entire world, slaving for a tiny, unrecognisably small part of what they've earned for the corporation; the denial, in both industrialised countries and developing ones, of the right to privacy; billions around the world joining in collective hypnosis around televisions, newspapers, and radios, constantly listening to the masters telling them to do nothing, except eating, sleeping, working, and dying. Is this not violence? Perhaps not direct, and active violence, but violence non the less. The revolution is not a glorification of violence; rather it is the denial of it. If you are not willing to fight against the extreme coercion and force of the ruling class (with violence if necessary) you are no real anarchist; an exclusively philosophical anarchist is useless to the movement. The only ones who reject the struggle are either defeatists, or cowards. The latter is understandable; the previous one is not. Some claim that, as history shows, a successful socialist revolution can only lead to dictatorship, and coercion. This is not only historically false*, but theoretically as well. The revolutions of Marxist-Leninists, and Maoists, are classified as political ones; anarchist revolutions, though undoubtedly political, do not belong to the same category. The political revolution entails the burning of books, and replacement of banners and leaders; the anarchist revolution is a social one. It values all people equally, and can, because of this. not allow anyone to take power once it has taken its course. We seek not to put a new man into power, but to put a new system into effect. The political revolution is the march of the coordinator class, while the social revolution is the dance of the people. The third serious objection to revolutionary change is the claim that our goals can be reached through normal, parliamentary methods. The idea is that society has always moved towards greater amounts of liberty, and political involvement of the working class. There are two main points that counter this notion; firstly, the only liberty that has increased in society is the economic one (in the since that we are slowly moving towards neo-liberalism), which of course just means the increased freedom of corporations to limit the freedom of people. I grant you that we have distanced ourselves from the more socially conservative ideologies, but politically it is still the rich who make the decisions. Though bribes are illegal, "campaign contributions" are not. Related to this is the fact that the class chasm is as wide now as it was about 100 years ago, the wage difference between the genders are as big, and wages, when compared with prices, are lower. Furthermore, the ruling class won't let us vote their power away, even if we calmly, and obediently, put a little cross in a box representing that option. Ballots are nothing but indicators of what populist mask the political class should wear next. To quote the anarcho-communist thinker, and activist, Emma Goldman (1869-1940):
"If voting changed anything, they'd make it illegal."
The second negation of parliamentary measures is that even if I grant you that it is possible; that the rich will agree to the abolition of their power, and that decentralisation can be decided upon by a centralised organ of power, it will still take a long time. Not just mere decades, or centuries even, but eons. Can we really allow the perpetuation of war, racism, sexism, wage slavery, violence, et cetera, just because we fear to pick up arms, if needed? If that is us; if that is how our solution is structured; are we really better than the ruling class itself? To be clear, I am not arguing against reform. While we are still locked in this plutocratic, and violent, system, reform is essential; it is what has given us the eight hour work day, and it is also what has extended undeniable human rights to non-white, non-straight, non-rich, and non-male parts of the population (although that is still what one might call a work in progress). My arguments merely concern its inadequacy on a larger scale. I am against reformism; not reform. Likewise, though completely unrelated, I have nothing against the anarcho-capitalist concept of the Non-Aggression Principle (or NAP); I just consider it inadequate as it does not prevent structural, systemic violence. From this I think we can safely draw the conclusion that the social revolution that I, and most other anarchist, propose is not only justified, but probably necessary. Social reform is a method that has been tried again, and again, and again, yet it always seems to fail. In the words of the anarcho-syndicalist thinker Mikhail Bakunin:
“It is time to have done with all popes and priests; we want them no longer, even if they call themselves Social Democrats.”
When social democracy fails, bring forth the revolution!