Some work needs very little introduction. Please enjoy this banger from Simoun Magsalin, whose writing on anarchy in the Philippines we’ve had the pleasure to publish previously.
On the Erasure of Anarchists in the so-called “Third World” by the Western Left
Again and again, white and Western leftists have erased anarchists in Asia by saying anarchism in the so-called “Third World” does not exist. If they deign to acknowledge our existence, they deride us by saying we are small or marginal in the context of large hegemonic left blocs led by various communist parties. We anarchists in imperialized nations know we are a minority. We are not like Marxists who seek to proclaim gospels and anoint converts. We are not here to proclaim anarchism but anarchy, for people to freely act under their own power. Freedom is a constant struggle.
On and on, these white and Western leftists talk of the “correctness” of Marxist movements, implying marginalization denotes incorrectness. However, to argue that anarchists do not exist in imperialized countries because our milieus are small or marginal is to think that population size determines correctness. Comments spewed from frothing mouths suggest that, because the Communist Parties of China/Vietnam/N.Korea/Cuba boasts several millions of members combined, therefore they are doing something correct. This is obviously ludicrous; population size has never denoted correctness. If that was so, then capitalism is correct and so is liberal democracy, for the hegemonic forces of liberal democratic capitalism still indoctrinate its tenets to the proletarianized the world over.
Elsewhere, these white and Western leftists talk of correctness in the context of “successful” revolutions in Russia or China. But to argue Marxism is correct because of the USSR, PRC, etc. is to fallaciously appeal to past victories. Past victories do not determine the conditions of our struggle today. Nor do we wish to build states and cadre bureaucracies. We struggle for more than that.
Besides, to claim that Marxism is “correct” because of the 1917 Russian Revolution seems to suggest that an absence of “victories” implies incorrectness. If this is indeed so, then ironically Marxism was incorrect on the eve of the Russian Revolution, before which Marxism had only failed. That anarchism has not “succeeded” according to the criteria of authoritarians (whatever that is), therefore does not discount the possibility that anarchy can still win the day in the future.
We know our victories in the imperialized world are limited. We are anarchists not because of our victories, but because we know what currently exists does not have to exist in the way it does. If you “Marxists” want to be victorious, join the United States Military which dominates the entire world, for they are a victorious power. Anarchy is never easy.
In the context of the archipelago so-called as the Philippines, white and Western leftists would uphold the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and their armed wing the New Peoples Army (NPA) as righteous “proletarian” actors against the “petty-bourgeois” anarchists. White and western leftists would claim that the “liberated barrios” and extensive guerrilla infrastructure are ultimate proof of the validity of Marxism. So what if the CPP-NPA “works”? If you are a Marxist because Marxism “works,” you must interrogate what exactly constitutes as “working.” What works is not necessarily what is desirable. Imperialism works and reigns victorious over the world; shall you be an imperialist because it “works”? We anarchists already know the answer: yes, Marxists shall become imperialists because it works. This is proven by the social imperialist policies of the former Soviet Union and the current People’s Republic of China and endlessly defended by many Marxists today.
Yet so what if cadres “work” to build guerrilla fronts? We are not in the business of building guerrilla fronts; we are in no business at all! Party work disgusts us; I ain’t nobody’s political officer!
When we organize, we must ask whom we intend to empower and who is centered in the struggles. Are we empowering an army or workers? A cadre or the proletariat? A party or a people? These are not equivalent. Yet the devotees of Saint Marx such as those in the CPP-NPA see themselves as “proletarian” by virtue of having taken up arms against the bourgeois State, forgetting that to be proletarianized is a negative consequence of this capitalist world that marks us as proles, not a virtue that can be emulated, because it is not a virtue at all.
A social revolution is not determined by past victories nor by a “correct” line but by the generalization of an insurrectionary break with the world that proletarinizes, a break from which there can be no return to the status quo ante. Such a generalized insurrectionary break cannot be directed by any cadre or party, nor even by a party of anarchists. Such a break can only be self-directed by proletarians-in-abolition, those that strike at the world that marks them as proles. By directing militancy towards consolidating guerrilla fronts instead of striking at proletarianization, Marxists such as the CPP-NPA actually suppress revolutionary agency. Yet it is exactly the self-direction of proles striking at their proletarianization that keeps alive the prospects of anarchy in the imperialized world!
More than merely an anarchy, multiple anarchies sprout across the world like mushrooms after a rain. The spontaneity of mushrooms is not accidental but rather the product of large spanning mycelia with long interconnected threads which then sprout mushrooms when the opportunity arises. Just so are the prospects of sprouting anarchies the products of long and patient organizing, of interlinked sites of struggle. Thus the organization of the anarchists is not the party-form, but in our struggles interlinked.
So let us now retire the talk of anarchist erasures in the imperialized world. Let us retire this talk of “correct” lines and party curricula of “victories.” It matters not if we are a minority for anarchies everywhere are forming, and we shall be here when they sprout!
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