Every campaign season, political parties publish platforms detailing their promises plank by plank. These platforms are not binding—politicians rarely fulfill their promises, and it’s often worse when they do—but they do offer an outline of the vision each party claims to represent. Anarchists take a different approach: rather than offering a prefabricated blueprint, we propose to work things out together, dynamically, according to the principles of self-determination, horizontality, mutual aid, and solidarity. Still, whenever people encounter anarchist ideas for the first time, there is a certain kind of person who always demands to see a clear template. In response, one of our contributors has put together an example of an anarchist program—a set of proposals that could be put into effect in the course of a revolution—as an imaginative exercise, to make it easier to picture what sort of practical changes anarchists might aim to implement.
Originally published by CrimethInc.
To be clear, this program does not represent our collective as a whole, nor the international anarchist movement. There should be as many such programs as there are anarchists. As you read this, reflect on what resonates and what does not; think about what changes you want to make in the world and what means of change are consistent with your values and desires.
How to Use this Program
What follows is the opposite of an ordinary political program. It is not written in stone; it does not pretend to represent a general will, the public, the people, or any such abstraction.
Anarchists understand freedom as arising from an ongoing process; it is something we create individually and communally every day of our lives. In our view, it cannot be defined via a piece of paper or granted to us by a powerful institution; each of these practices actually destroys freedom. We also believe that defining and obtaining freedom for ourselves is the best way to guarantee our well-being.
Anarchist analyses of capitalism, the state, patriarchy, and colonialism have proven useful in countless social struggles over the past several decades, as have our critiques of reformism, authoritarian revolution, and the institutional left—and perhaps most importantly, our practices of mutual aid and self-organization. Anarchist forms of struggle have also proven compatible with a number of other struggles that have left their mark on the world, as well as influencing and informing anarchism as a living concept.
We do not present a program on the premise that we could lay claim to an absolute truth, nor that this program could speak to all the visions of liberation that we act in solidarity with. Short of presenting a complete vision, we still find the need to express some vision, no matter how partial. Recent experience has shown that we cannot win a revolution that we are not even able to imagine.
That is the primary purpose of this document: to aid in imagining what sort of changes we would begin working towards right now if we were able to abolish the government or create an autonomous zone. None of these are absolute truths we would want to impose, forcing everyone to support a single vision of freedom and revolution. Rather, this offers a way of envisioning principles and goals that many of us would fight for, which will inevitably shift and grow along the way as we enter into conflict and dialogue with other people and other visions. The point is not to convince everyone that our vision of freedom is the correct one. We will be most free when each of us can imagine our own best possible world in every given moment.
Not even the people writing and publishing it think this document is a valid program or a complete proposal. Our hope is that it will serve as a point of departure for discussion and debate, helping people to articulate similar visions, conflicting visions, or visions that are simply different. The more people who imagine the world of their dreams and reflect on how countless such worlds can fit into a single world, breaking with the homogenizing Western project, the greater our collective intelligence will be.
This program deals with some painful topics that no single collective has the right to decide. We concluded that it would be less harmful to address those topics imperfectly than to avoid them and pretend they do not exist. We hope that our inadequate attempts will inspire others to do better. The incompleteness of this program expresses a fundamental anarchist principle: no one can ever express everyone’s needs. Whatever you find missing, it’s up to you to fill it in, and up to all of us to support each other through the process of accomplishing this together.
At the end, there is a short glossary that explains what we mean by certain terms.
What would an anarchist program look like? [Zine in PDF Format: here]
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