An Open Letter to the Greek People
To the people of Greece. We at Center for a Stateless Society extend our sympathies for your recent disappointment from the Syriza government’s acceptance of the austerity regime imposed on you by the European Union. Unfortunately, movements that focus on capturing the state as the primary axis of struggle find themselves, not only not empowered, but actually a bigger target for cooptation and blackmail by the global forces of neoliberalism. You know this better than anybody.
Fortunately you yourselves still have many weapons at your disposal for combating the forces of corporate rule directly, without working through the state — weapons far more potent than any wielded by the Syriza government even in its headiest days after the election or the referendum.
Our primary focus at Center for a Stateless Society (c4ss.org) — a left-wing market anarchist think tank — is creating the kind of society we want here and now, through horizontal, self-organized counter-institutions and direct action, rather than futile and costly attempts to seize the state apparatus by head-on assault. Or as the Wobbly slogan puts it, “building the structure of the new society within the shell of the old.”
Please note: By “market anarchist” we mean, not a society in which most social functions are organized through business firms and the cash nexus, but a society organized around all forms of consensual interaction — including free market exchange. The bulk of actual production and distribution may well be organized through direct production for consumption and self-provisioning in the informal and household economy, social and gift economies, natural resource commons and peer production — basically things we share with all other social anarchist tendencies.
And we use “free market” to refer, not to capitalism or to state-enforced neoliberal corporate rule (as your blackmailers do), but simply an economy in which the state does not intervene to enforce the artificial property rights and artificial scarcities (like “intellectual property”) from which the propertied classes extract rents, enclose vacant land and mineral resources or evict cultivators from their land on behalf of extractive industries and landed oligarchs, make land and capital artificially scarce as a barrier to self-employment and cooperative production, or impose the monopolies and entry barriers which enable corporations to cartelize their industries. In other words, free market anti-capitalism.
Our goal is not to assume leadership of existing institutions, but rather to render them irrelevant. We don’t want to take over the state or change its policies. We want to render its laws unenforceable. We don’t want to take over corporations and make them more “socially responsible.” We want to build a counter-economy of open-source information, neighborhood garage manufacturing, Permaculture, encrypted barter currencies and mutual banks, leaving the corporations to die on the vine along with the state. We do not hope to reform the existing order. We intend to serve as its grave-diggers.
Quite simply, contesting the capitalists’ control of the state amounts to playing by our enemies’ rules, in a game designed to give an advantage to the side with the most money and inside connections. The good news is that, whatever may have been true in the past, hierarchical institutions like states and corporations are becoming obsolete. For the great bulk of tasks we face in organizing production, distribution and social life, we don’t need them.
New, open-source production technologies like micromanufacturing are making high-tech craft tools affordable for individual workers and small cooperative groups — essentially a reversal of the technological shift from individually affordable craft tools to expensive large-scale machinery that led to the factory system. Raised bed, intensive horticulture can produce many times the ouput per hectare of corporate agribusiness. P2P networks with desktop technology can run circles around the old corporate information industries.
The old corporate dinosaurs and the rentier classes’ large piles of investment capital rely entirely on state-enforced monopolies to stay relevant, attempting to enclose the new technologies of freedom and empowerment within their obsolete corporate framework. Fortunately, the same production technologies that render their capital and institutions superfluous — like file-sharing and encryption — are also rendering their monopolies unenforceable.
These weapons for building a new society beyond capitalist control are freely available to you right now. And the Central Banks, the IMF and Angela Merkel are powerless to stop you because, unlike the government in Athens, you are not embodied in an official institution over which they can exert leverage. They are fighting a ghost.