Coalition for Statelessness

Many may see anarchism and the general idea of statelessness as a pipe dream of abstract intellectualism and childish radicalism. Anyone who says this must have a stunted imagination and they simply serve as the useful idiots of the state and it’s plutocratic class. The Westphalian experiment is very young and in many respects ahistorical. The concept of governance in historical tribal or feudal structures was seen as much more decentralised and even voluntary. There were many different forms of governance, both economic and political. There was decentralised planning and economic control, as seen with kin groups in some tribes in Oceania and the Americas. There were also community credit-clearing systems, as well as local markets with forms of monetary exchange.

Within the feudal era, we saw the Irish example of local fiefdoms with voluntary membership. Similar examples existed in Iceland and feudal England, with common law courts and fluid governance structures, with the decision of participation being left to the individual or community. Then there was the Spanish version of anarcho-syndicalism, with social credit systems and worker-owned industry. What I’m saying here is that anarchy is pluralistic. It allows for the self-organisation of any system so long as its voluntary. Even today we see multiple forms of organisation and ownership independent of the state. Black and grey markets, native tribal arrangements, the Shenzhen shops in China, the landless workers movement, squatters, American nativist compounds, the people of Zomia, etc are all examples of sites of resistance against the nation-state.

Thus resistance is not uniform. It is relative to cultural dynamics and contextual sites. So to achieve statelessness, we as anarchists need to build coalitions with a wide array of groups and concerns that are naturally opposed to the state.

On the left, this means working alongside socialist organisations such as the World Social Forum and the Landless workers movement. In economic terms, we should work with advocates of participatory economics, Inclusive Democracy, worker occupation movements, cooperative groups and anti-market activists. There are social housing networks and anti-private property associations that can be worked with too. We should also cooperate with feminist groups and Black nationalists and anti-racist organisations, such as Black Lives Matters and the Nation of Islam. Students also represent another avenue of anarchist activism. Working with student unions allows for educational resistance, rejecting marketisation and even creating alternative, democratic organisations that allow for controlled student rents and reduced tuition fees that end reliance on the state.

By working with them, we can help create sites of resistance and support networks that go against the corporate state, creating economic and political independence and interdependence that makes the state and modern economy redundant to the existence of these varied movements. Acute examples of this existed within the Occupy movement and anti-austerity protests, with something of a rejection of statist principles on the left in favour community ownership and resistance to corporate structures. Rather than relying on the state, they sought to become separate from it and develop networks within civil society at large. This is encouraging, and shows a new current of thought within left-wing thinking, which historically has been wedded to the idea of the state.

On the right, there are multiple groups who have the potential to support a stateless society. They include white nationalists, traditionalists, paleoconservatives, nativists, Islamists and American Christian groups. These groups have a general current of anti-state thought running through them, with their support for Jeffersonian ideas of government, gun rights, militias and distributist economic ideas. By extending a hand to groups like nativist or Christian militias and tax resisters of the right we can develop anarchist strains of thought that move away from the left-wing box it’s been regularly placed in.

Building these coalitions means blurring the lines between left and right, breaking the dichotomy that maintains the stultified politics of the modern state and allowing for multiple sites of resistance. It also means creating understandings between disparate groups and ideas and showing that politics and economics aren’t homogenous concepts. Thus radical feminists can create societies that are based on their ideas alongside a Christian or Islamist theocratic society. What is paramount in this is the voluntary aspect, with people being able to join a group or community based on their own wishes.

Of course it may be said that we could see private forms of tyranny develop. However I’m not convinced by this. As Wendy Doniger showed in her book The Hindus: An Alternative History, even in Hindu societies/communities where there was a strict caste system, marginalised groups such as women or the Dalits were able to construct new societal relations and even adopt parts of Hinduism with their own ideas. However, when these hierarchies and private tyrannies get wrapped up in the state, then repression becomes much more omnipresent. Statelessness, then, is an important component in ending the most vile forms of tyranny. Thus if there were to be fascist or theocratic communities, marginal groups such as homosexuals or other religions could create communities neighbouring these, and allow for the minimisation of oppression and tyranny.

As Mary Douglas showed in Primitive Rationing, the concept of spontaneous order is not limited to narrow Hayekian ideas of the market, but allow for all forms of economic and political organisation. For the economy, this could mean a market, a commons, a planned economy, primitivism that rejects consumerism, tribal networks, a communist economy or some combination of these. In terms of societal relations, we could see feminist societies, theocratic societies, individualist societies, proto-nationalism or even fascism. Along as its voluntary, it doesn’t matter. By creating coalitions, and allowing for a pluralistic society, anarchists and libertarians create multiple forms of resistance that chip away at the power of the state, and allow for the redevelopment of personal and cultural borders that mean many ideas and communities becoming important, with individual self-organisation replacing coercive state relations.

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