A Glance at Today and Beyond
It is increasingly apparent that neoliberal capitalism is not working well for the majority of the population in the United States … or globally.
Wealth and income inequality is putting the famous American middle class in danger of becoming a distant memory as American children, for the first time in our history, now face economic prospects worse than what their parents enjoyed. We suffer from more frequent financial “shocks” and linger in recession far longer than in the past. Education and health care systems are being decimated. And if all this were not enough, environmental destruction continues to escalate as we stand on the verge of triggering irreversible, and perhaps cataclysmic, climate change.
Ultimately, each one of us must ask ourselves what kind of life we want to live. Does that way of life include the opportunity, resources and freedom to live that life? Shouldn't the purpose, structures and institutions of society assist us in living the life we want to live?
We cannot look to history to provide any relief, answers or solutions. As is well documented, the economic systems of unbridled corporate capitalism and state socialism have absolutely failed at providing equitable opportunity and distributing income and wealth equitably across the world's nations and populations.
Social anarchists believe that the historical and current economic systems cannot be reformed (fixed) to provide all of humanity a more humanitarian existence in which we can all live happy, meaningful and fulfilled lives. Rather, we must look to a new economic, social and political system that places the interests of ALL over a few select ruling elites. This Next System must be more democratic and participatory. The Next System must offer more equity, solidarity, diversity and self-management.
Equity refers to how much we get from our work. And the norm is that we should be remunerated for effort and sacrifice, not for property or power.
Solidarity is the notion that people should be concerned about one another and benefit in concert with one another rather than be mutually opposed and trampling upon one another.
Diversity is about the range of options we have. A wider range of options is better than homogenizing and reducing the range of options at our disposal.
Self-management has to do with how much control we have over our lives. Self-management means that we have a say in the decisions that affect us in proportion to the degree that we are affected by them.
Capitalism is an economic system that, inherently, benefits a select few while everyone else struggles to make ends meet or survive. Capitalism rewards capital … not effort (work).
Capitalism not only survives, but thrives on the exploitation of human labor and talent, and the limited natural resources of Earth.
Anarchism has been defined many ways by many different sources. The word “anarchism” is taken from the word “anarchy” which is drawn from dual sources in the Greek language. It is made up of the Greek words αν (meaning: absence of [and pronounced “an”] and αρχη (meaning: authority or government [and pronounced “arkhe”]). Today, dictionary definitions still define anarchism as the absence of government.
Anarchists are dedicated to social equality because it is the only context in which individual liberty can flourish.
Anarchists do not believe in “equality of endowment,” which is not only non-existent but would be very undesirable if it could be brought about. Everyone is unique.
Anarchists are anti-authoritarians because they believe that no human being should dominate another. Anarchists, in L. Susan Brown’s words, “believe in the inherent dignity and worth of the human individual.” Domination is inherently degrading and demeaning, since it submerges the will and judgement of the dominated to the will and judgement of the dominators, thus destroying the dignity and self-respect that comes only from personal autonomy. Moreover, domination makes possible and generally leads to exploitation, which is the root of inequality, poverty, and social breakdown.
The gist of the anarchistic idea is this, that there are qualities present in man, which permit the possibilities of social life, organization, and co-operative work without the application of force. Such qualities are solidarity, common action, and love of justice. To-day they are either crippled or made ineffective through the influence of compulsion....
We do not recognize the right of the majority to impose the law on the minority, even if the will of the majority in somewhat complicated issues could really be ascertained. The fact of having the majority on one’s side does not in any way prove that one must be right.
“Anarchism, to me, means not only the denial of authority, not only a new economy, but a revision of the principles of morality. It means the development of the individual as well as the assertion of the individual. It means self-responsibility, and not leader worship.”
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