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<TITLE>Section J - What do anarchists do?</TITLE> 
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<H1>Section J - What do anarchists do?</h1> 
<p> 
This section discusses what anarchists get up to. There is little point 
thinking about the world unless you also want to change it for the better. 
And by trying to change it, you change yourself and others, making radical 
change more of a possibility. Therefore anarchists give their whole-hearted  
support to attempts by ordinary people to improve their lives by their  
own actions. As Max Stirner pointed out, <i>"[t]he true man does not lie in  
the future, an object of longing, but lies, existent and real, in the 
present."</i> [<b>The Ego and Its Own</b>, p. 327] 
<p> 
For anarchists, the future is <b>already appearing in the present</b> and is 
expressed by the autonomy of working class self-activity. Anarchy is 
not some-day-to-be-achieved utopia, it is a living reality whose growth 
only needs to be freed from constraint. As such anarchist activity  
is about discovering and aiding emerging trends of mutual aid which 
work against capitalist domination (i.e. what is actually developing),  
so the Anarchist <i>"studies society and tries to discover its <b>tendencies 
</b>, past and present, its growing needs, intellectual and economic, and in  
his [or her] ideal he merely points out in which direction evolution  
goes."</i> [Peter Kropotkin, <b>Kropotkin's Revolutionary Pamphlets</b>,  
p. 47]  
<p> 
The kinds of activity outlined in this section are a general overview 
of anarchist work. It is by no means exclusive as we are sure to have 
left something out. However, the key aspect of *real* anarchist 
activity is <b><i>direct action</i></b> - self-activity, self-help, self-liberation  
and solidarity. Such activity may be done by individuals (for example,  
propaganda work), but usually anarchists emphasis collective activity. This  
is because most of our problems are of a social nature, meaning that their  
solutions can only be worked on collectively. Individual solutions to  
social problems are doomed to failure (for example green consumerism).  
<p> 
In addition, collective action gets us used to working together, promoting  
the experience of self-management and building organisations that will allow 
us to activity manage our own affairs. Also, and we would like to emphasis  
this, it's <b>fun</b> to get together with other people and work with them,  
it's fulfilling and empowering. 
<p> 
Anarchists do not ask those in power to give up that power. No, they 
promote forms of activity and organisation by which all the oppressed 
can liberate themselves by their own hands. In other words, we do not 
think that those in power will altruistically give up that power or 
their privileges. Instead, the oppressed must take the power <b>back</b> 
into their own hands by their own actions. We must free ourselves, 
no one else can do it for use. 
<p> 
As we have noted before, anarchism is more than just a critique of statism 
and capitalism or a vision of a freer, better way of life. It is first and 
foremost a movement, the movement of working class people attempting to  
change the world. Therefore the kind of activity we discuss in this  
section of the FAQ forms the bridge between capitalism and anarchy. By  
self-activity and direct action, people can change both themselves and  
their surroundings. They develop within themselves the mental, ethical and  
spiritual qualities which can make an anarchist society a viable option.  
<p> 
As Noam Chomsky argues:
<blockquote>
<i>"Only through their own struggle for liberation  
will ordinary people come to comprehend their true nature, suppressed and  
distorted within institutional structures designed to assure obedience and  
subordination. Only in this way will people develop more humane ethical  
standards, 'a new sense of right', 'the consciousness of their strength and  
their importance as a social factor in the life of their time' and their  
capacity to realise the strivings of their 'inmost nature.' Such direct 
engagement in the work of social reconstruction is a prerequisite for 
coming to perceive this 'inmost nature' and is the indispensable  
foundations upon which it can flourish"</i> [preface to Rudolf Rocker's  
<b>Anarcho-Syndicalism</b>, p. viii] 
</blockquote><p> 
In other words, anarchism is not primarily a vision of a better future, but  
the actual social movement which is fighting within the current unjust and  
unfree society for that better future and to improve things in the here and  
now. Without standing up for yourself and what you believe is right, nothing  
will change. Therefore anarchists would agree whole-heartedly with Frederick  
Douglass (an Abolitionist) who stated that: 
<p><blockquote>
<i>"If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor  
freedom and yet deprecate agitation are people who want crops without plowing  
up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. That struggle  
might be a moral one; it might be a physical one; it might be both moral and  
physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand.  
It never did and never will. People might not get all that they work for in  
this world, but they must certainly work for all they get." </i> 
</blockquote><p> 
In this section of the FAQ we will discuss anarchist ideas on struggle,  
what anarchists actually (and, almost as importantly, do not) do in the 
here and now and the sort of alternatives anarchists try to build within 
statism and capitalism in order to destroy them. As well as a struggle  
against oppression, anarchist activity is also struggle for freedom. As  
well as fighting against material poverty, anarchists combat spiritual  
poverty. By resisting hierarchy we emphasis the importance of <b>living</b>  
and of <b>life as art.</b> By proclaiming <i><b>"Neither Master nor Slave" 
</b></i> we urge  
an ethical transformation, a transformation that will help create the  
possibility of a truly free society.  
<p> 
This point was argued by Emma Goldman after she saw the defeat of the  
Russian Revolution by a combination of Leninist politics and capitalist  
armed intervention: 
<p><blockquote>
<i>"the ethical values which the revolution is to establish must be initiated  
with the revolutionary activities. . . The latter can only serve as a real  
and dependable bridge to the better life if built of the same material as  
the life to be achieved."</i> [<b>Red Emma Speaks</b>, p. 358] 
<p></blockquote>
In other words, anarchist activity is more than creating libertarian 
alternatives and resisting hierarchy, it is about building the new 
world in the shell of the old not only with regards to organisations 
and self-activity, but also within the individual. It is about transforming 
yourself while transforming the world - both processes obviously interacting 
and supporting each other -- <i>"the first aim of Anarchism is to assert and  
make the dignity of the individual human being."</i> [Charlotte Wilson,  
<b>Three Essays on Anarchism</b>, p. 17] 
<p> 
And by direct action, self-management and self-activity we can make the  
words first heard in Paris, 1968 a living reality:
<p> 
<center><i><B>"All power to the imagination!"</i></b></center> 
<p> 
Words, we are sure, the classic anarchists would have whole-heartedly 
agreed with. There is a power in humans, a creative power, a power to alter  
what is into what should be. Anarchists try to create alternatives that will 
allow that power to be expressed, the power of imagination. 
<p> 
In the sections that follow we will discuss the forms of self-activity and  
self-organisation (collective and individual) which anarchists think will  
stimulate and develop the imagination of those oppressed by hierarchy, build  
anarchy in action and help create a free society. 
<p> 
 
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