aac-theoretical and tactical problem for the anarchist movement


Richard Moore

Dear aac,

Sory to be so long in resonding... I just returned from Geneva where I
addressed an NGO meeting on the topic of "The WTO & what it means...".   I
stayed for the whole week so I could meet activist leaders who were in
town, including Sergio Hernández and Olivier Hoedeman of PGA (Peoples
Global Action), Martin Khor of TWN (Third World Network), others from the
NGO panel, and several who attended an NGO anti-MAI strategy meeting on

I participated in PGA's action on Saturday -- a huge non-violent street
parade with colorful banners from hundreds of groups expressing the truth
and outrage of globalization... "Free trade or freedom - you choose",
"Globalization equals Global Poverty", etc. etc.  Things got messier later
but I won't go into that now.

The PGA approach seems to be essentially an anarchist approach, and in my
conversation with Sergio I learned much that was valuable about how the
anarchist approach has had considerable success in Brazil, India, and
elsewhere in the over-exploited world, and I was forced to rethink my own
ideas about revolutionary strategy.   This process continues.

Upon returning I noticed this note that Patrick Borden sent to me off-list,
in regards to my earlier objections to actions which had been proposed on
this list (aac@tao):

5/12/98, Patrick Borden wrote: That said, I hope we haven't got
    > off on the wrong foot.  I went to your website and you seem to
    > be well qualified to address what is currently a major theoretical
    > and tactical problem for the anarchist movement.  As we fight
    > globalization and neoliberalism, anarchists find themselves
    > increasingly forced into the position of defending the nation
    > state.  Even Chomsky has recommended this position -- and
    > taken considerable flack for it.

All analysts are suffering from varying degrees of future shock.  By this I
mean that the fundamental architecture of the world system has undergone
such profound changes over such a short period of time, accompanied by
systematic disinformation campaigns, that we are all having a very
difficult time finding our bearings in the shifting regime.  This confusion
is made more difficult by the total nonsense that passes for analysis in
the major media, from academia, from political spokespeople, etc.  All of
those have somehow been co-opted into becoming shallow propaganda channels
for a blind neoliberal faith.

But even among people who try to think for themselves, there is
considerable confusion.  In particular -- I've found through repeated
investigations -- those who have been traditionally committed to a
particular ideology (marxism or, in some cases, anarchism) find themselves
unable (whether they know it or not) to relate their ideology in a useful
way to the changing conditions.  They keep trying to make their
previously-applied models work, and none of the old models fit any more.

The nation state, what it is, what it means, how and why it is changing --
this is in fact the central issue in our modern dynamics.  To be more
precise, the _matrix of `nation state', `capitalist elite', and `popular
consciousness' are _together the central triad of issues.

This is one area where I've made a breakthrough in historical understanding
that I've seen no one else articulate, even Chomsky, and I'll be more than
happy to be proved wrong on this last point, "pride of discovery" is not
the issue here.


For the past few centuries (up to 1945) the world has been dominated by
Western imperialism.  This was a _competitive imperialism, where Germany,
France, Britain, and the USA, primarily, elbowed one another for spheres of
influence.  This national-comptetive system created a strong bond between
capitalism and the nation-state, and gave the capitalist elite a reason to
encourage and help fund strong nation states.

If the German sphere were expanded, for example, then Krupps had more
territory from which to extract resources, and more markets in which to
sell its products.  Similarly for General Motors and the US, etc.

The `democratic republic' was in fact a _partnership between popular
interests and capitalist interests.  The strong nation state provided to
the elite the benefits of `sphere of influence' and it provided to the
people, especially the middle classes, a `piece of the pie' from the
imperial cash flow, so to speak.

1945 changed all that.  When the US came out of WW2 as global hegemon, with
undisupted control of all oceans, and in possession of most of the world's
wealth and industrial plant, it chose _not to become the successor to the
British Empire, to become an Imperial USA.  Instead it brought Europe (and
to some extent Japan) in as partners in a new collective-imperialism

While the Pentagon provided a pax-americana global-security service, so
that Europe needn't re-arm itself for competitive games, capitalists in the
West were presented with a non-partitioned world in which they could expand
their operations, unrestricted by traditional empire boundaries.  This is
what has led to the rise of TNC's.

The structural thing to notice here, is that the post-1945 regime no longer
involved a strong bond between capitalism and the nation state.  Krupps no
longer cared if Germany had a strong military; and similarly with Renault
and France -- capitalism already in 1945 began to have an unrestricted
global scope of operations (sans communist block) for the first time in

Due to inertia, the consequences of this profound structural shift have
taken a while to play out.  The immediate postwar system (Bretton Woods)
was set up to _maintain and regularize the nation-state centered system.
But as capitalism naturally adjusted itself to the new economic
opportunties, the size of corporate operations grew, expanded increasingly
`offshore', and the interests of the emerging TNC's grew increasingly
distinct from their erstwhile `home' nations.

It was c. 1970 that the _first major shock wave of this _fission of the
nation-capital bond was felt: it was in the early seventies that the US
went off the gold standard and the Bretton-Woods fixed-exchange rate system
was abandoned.  These changes represented a fundamental shift in power from
the nation state to international bankers, was destabilizing to the nation
state (the recent SE Asia crisis being only the latest example), and I
claim it is from this time that modern globalization can be dated.

1970 was the all-time peak in the nearly 400-year history of the sovereign
nation state system, and from then to now we have seen a startingly rapid
unravelling of that system.  c. 1970 marked the clobbering of the economic
foundation from the _outside (acting _on the nation state), and c, 1980
marked the beginning of the sabotage of the system from _within.

Up until 1980 the mass media propaganda -- ie the elite message -- was one
of nationalism, respect for the flag and government and all that.  From
1980 onwards the message has become one of _disrespect for the nation,
politicians, public services, etc. etc. etc.

What happened is that the structural reality -- the severing of the
capital-nation bond -- had finally led to the _second shock wave: the
expression of that broken bond in terms of public policy.

You might say that the realities of the postwar regime simmered in the
collective unconscious of the elite for thirty five years and then voila in
1980 they roused themselves and set out to take over the world, a project
(the `neoliberal project') that they are well-along in accomplishing.

The scenario they have in mind is now crytstal clear: Western nations are
being destabilized and defunded, driving them down to the same status as
third-world countries.  A world government is being set up (WTO, IMF, OECD,
et al) which represents _only elite interests, and it is being given an
enforcement arm whose training excercises we have seen in the deserts of
Iraq.  This force is currently mostly the US military, but you can see the
moves being made to somehow internationalize it, to seperate it from US
politics, and from the politics of all nations, to bring it under direct
elite control in the same way the IMF is.

There will be one world empire, and we will _all be subjected to the
`colonial experience', but there will no national imperial power.  Instead
there will be an anonymous corporate global regime, some kind of mix
between Judge Dredd and Blade Runner.


If you've seen this analysis anywhere else, please let me know.  And if you
can refute it, please let me know.  No one has done so successfully yet, to
my knowledge.

It is only from the understanding this analysis provides that one can
correctly figure out what attitude to take toward the nation state.


In a very important sense, there is simply no going back to the old nation
state system, and I and most people on this list would say that is a very
good thing.  We can't go back to the system where nations were strong
because capitalism wanted it that way, and that strength was then used to
go off and fight foreign wars in order to get new realms for investments
and markets, with each time some propaganda campaign stirring up
nationalist fears and hatreds.

But if we as activists look at our overall prospects of overcoming the
`neoliberal project', then we need to look at the nation state objectively,
and not through the fog of historical recollections.  The fact is that the
elite have abandoned the nation state, and are dismantling it as rapidly as
they can -- BECAUSE _THEY REALIZE that it could serve as a redoubt of
popular resistance!!

I say to anarchists: if your only choice is to fight in the woods and the
streets, so to speak, then by all means do so.  But if there is an
unoccupied fortress nearby, in a good defensive position, then you should
perhaps consider occupying it, at least as part of an overall strategy.

Look at the western nation state objectively: the elite have abandoned
their traditional partnership with the middle class.  This creates a
fundamentally new demographics in terms of the possibility of a _majority
coalition to overthrow corporate hegemony, and create a bottom-up
anarhistic/ democratic civil society which could also control politically
the state apparatus.

When Chomsky talks about defending the nation state, does he have this
vision of radical possibilities, revolutionary possibilities, or does he
instead envision a return to a Keynsian / bourgeois model?  If anyone
knows, I'd like to hear.  I know his personal preference lies in the
anarchistic direction, but he may or may not realize the potential for that
being realized.

The nation state turns out to be, from a strategic perspective, the
soundest place for democracy to take a stand against the elite usurpation
of global power.

The `only' thing that needs to be accomplished is the building of a
majority coalition to `restore democracy'. `Restore' is probably the
correct rallying cry, but it is tongue-in-cheek, for if we `accomplish'
democracy it will in fact be for the _first time.

Is this a daunting challenge?  It may seem so, but I suggest it is _nothing
compared to trying to overthrow the globalist regime once it is fully
established.  The fate of the Iraqi divisions in Desert Storm gives you
some idea of what resistance to "Earth, Ltd, Inc, Gmbh" will be like.
_Everyone will be an anarchist then, but it will be too late -- how many
third world countries have successfully rebelled against the current
system?  Any region which gets its act together politically can just be
nuked or otherwise scorched as a lesson to the others.

By abandoning the middle class, the elite have given us an opening to use
the democratic process in a way that has never before been possible in the

I believe strategy discussions for revolution must start from this point.

    > The central problem, perhaps, is that we need to defend the idea
    > that our collective resources belong to the people.  At the
    > moment, the way those resources are mobilized back to
    > ourselves is through progressive taxation and social programs --
    > two means under attack by neoliberal policy.  How do we
    > defend our right to our patrimony without a clear and
    > immediately available alternative?

I'm glad going back to progressive taxation and social programs is no
longer an option.  Those were payoff schemes: we let the capitalists run
the nations, and they gave us various crumbs from the table.  The _only
credible defense now available to us (in the West) is to mobilize
politically and take control of government: when we do that _we will be
running the nations, and we'll find that an economy is much easier to
architect when it isn't burdened by the objective of funding the elite
accumulation of wealth.

    > Moreover, how do we mobilize a strong resistance to
    > neoliberalism without participating in the project of social
    > democrats... essentially a doomed effort, but the one we are
    > defending?  And is it possible that capitalim's destruction of the
    > nation state can actually facillitate an anarchist revolution?

The social-democracy program was the explicit promotion of the
middle-class-elite partnership.  That is the model that was abandoned by
the elite c. 1980.  Remaining social democrats are either decoys, such as
Blair and Clinton, deflecting leftward energy into pointless cul de sacs,
or else they are futily pursuing a dance which has already been abandoned
by the elite partner.  The social-democratic program is
dead-but-still-walking and it should be killed outright publicly by our

A return of our energies to the nation state, and to a new and different
political process, should make no reference to the existing political
parties, social-democrat or otherwise.   They are dinasaurs, facades of
their former selves,  power has moved elsewhere.  Political power is now
excercised by the mass media, and corporations directly, and polticians
have become vulnerable pawns in the game just like the rest of us.

It is an anarchistic solution that we need.  The building of political
constituencies from the bottom up.  Anarchism _and the state, responsive to
popular will, a participatory model -- this is possible, it can work, it is
our only hope, and it is, as it turns out, based on the nation state.  But
we must first forget our antique beliefs about what the nation state is,
why it has been warlike in the past, and why it has become at last
available to us, an opportunity to realize the dreams of the Jeffersonian
philosphy, as expressed n the US Declaration of Independence, and to cast
out the Hamiltonian anti-democratic heresy which has prevailed until now.

    > Looking forward to your thoughts... if they develop into an
    > article I'm sure we can get it published in the anarchist press.
    > Love and revolution, Patrick Borden

I appreciated your challenging questions, and hope that what I've said here
can be useful to this group.  You are always welcome to publish things I
post, with appropriate sigs (_especially email addresses of authors), and I
invite your readers to sample the lists mentioned below.

love and revolution d'accord!


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