Archive for December, 2010

Sam Dolgoff: “Modern Technology and Anarchism” (1986)

“Modern Technology and Anarchism”
Sam Dolgoff

In their polemics with the Marxists the anarchists argued that the state subjects the economy to its own ends. An economic system once viewed as the prerequisite for the realization of socialism now serves to reinforce the domination of the ruling classes. The very technology that could now open new roads to freedom has also armed states with unimaginably frightful weapons for the extinction of all life on this planet.

Only the social revolution can overcome the obstacles to the introduction of the free society. Yet the movement for emancipation is threatened by the far more formidable political, economic and social power and brain-washing techniques of the ruling classes. To forge a revolutionary movement, inspired by anarchist ideas is the great task to which we must dedicate ourselves.

To make the revolution we must stimulate the revolutionary spirit and the confidence of the people that their revolution will at last reshape the world nearer our aspirations. Revolutions are stirred by the conviction that our ideals can and will be realized. A big step in this direction is to document the extent to which the liberating potential of modern technology constitutes a realistic, practical alternative to the monopoly and abuse of power.  This is not meant to imply that anarchism will miraculously heal all the ills inflicting the body social. Anarchism is a twentieth century guide to action based on realistic conceptions of social reconstruction.

Anarchism is not a mere fantasy. Its fundamental constructive principle – – mutual aid – – is based on the indisputable fact that society is a vast interlocking network of cooperative labor whose very existence depends upon its internal cohesion. What is indispensable is emancipation from authoritarian institutions over society and authoritarianism within the people’s associations – – themselves and miniature states.

Peter Kropotkin, who formulated the sociology of anarchism, wrote that “Anarchism is not a utopia. The anarchists build their previsions of the future society upon the observation of life at the present time…” If we want to build the new society the materials are here.

DECENTRALIZATION

When Kropotkin wrote in 1899, his classic Fields, Factories and Workshops to demonstrate the feasibility of decentralizing industry to achieve a greater balance and integration between rural and urban living, his ideas were dismissed by many as premature. However, it is no longer disputed that the problem of making the immense benefits of modern industry available to even the smallest communities has largely been solved by modern technology. Even bourgeois economists, sociologists and administrators like Peter Drucker, John Kenneth Galbraith, Gunnar Myrdal, Daniel Bell and others now favor a large measure of decentralization no because they have suddenly become anarchists, but primarily because technology has rendered anarchistic forms of organization “operational necessities” – – a more efficient devise to enlist the cooperation of the masses in their own enslavement.

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