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Or is it the bonus:salary cap? SumZero produces a good report each year. Why Does Compensation Matter? Then there are student loan payments, meals, transportation, going out occasionally to preserve your sanity, and so on. Anyone adapting themselves to that regime, to its immediate, material reality, that of a despotic military regime, is becoming adapted to just that: a despotic military regime.
The idea that inspired the revolutionaries, the aims they espoused, have vanished completely from the social reality which is now occupied exclusively by a warrior mentality. So what emerges from a revolutionary dictatorship, and will emerge more fully the longer that dictatorship lasts, is a dictatorial warrior society—that is, military despotism.
And it has always been like that.
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What emerged from the political troubles in Rome? The Roman Empire and its military despotism. What emerged from the French Revolution? Napoleon and his military despotism. And you just wait and see what emerges from the Russian Revolution Something that will set back the creation of a free society by decades, but then what can you expect from a country of illiterates and mystics?
Aim: an anarchist society, a free society. Means: a seamless change from a bourgeois society to a free society. That change will be prepared for and made possible by an intense, comprehensive, global propaganda campaign intended to predispose all minds to the idea of a free society and to weaken any resistance.
I mean everything: direct and indirect action, anything that might predispose people to a free society and weaken their resistance to its coming. Thus, having almost no resistance to overcome, the social revolution, when it happens, will be fast, easy, and preclude any need to set up a revolutionary dictatorship because there will be no one to repress. And that is that. Now back to my story.
He struck a match and slowly lit his cigar. We shared a common desire to learn, to find out about things, and, at the same time, a desire to spread our ideas. What we wanted for ourselves and for others, for humanity as a whole, was a new society, free from all the preconceptions that create artificial inequalities amongst men and cause them all kinds of humiliations, sufferings, and hardships that Nature would not.
For my part, everything I read confirmed me in these opinions. I read most of the cheap libertarian books, of which there were quite a few around at the time.
I went to lectures and meetings held by the propagandists of the day. Every book and every speech made me more convinced of the rightness and fairness of my ideas. I say again, my friend, that what I thought then is what I think today; the only difference is that then I just thought it, but now I both think and practice it.
I can see how you became an anarchist and I can understand why. What I want to know is where the banker came from, how he emerged from all that without any apparent contradiction.
I mean, I think I can more or less guess. If I had become a banker and a businessman for the reasons you think, I would not be an anarchist, I would be bourgeois.
But then how the devil? Go on, go on. Those are natural qualities. They were not given to me in the cradle if I had a cradle ; I brought them with me into the world when I was born.
Accordingly, I found it unbearable being merely a passive anarchist, just listening to speeches and discussing them with friends. No, I needed to do something. I needed to work and struggle for the cause of the oppressed and the victims of social conventions. I decided to do so as best I could. I started to think how I could make myself useful to the libertarian cause. I started to draw up a plan of action.
What does the anarchist want? Freedom—freedom for himself and for others, for humanity as a whole.
He wants to be free from the influence and pressure of social fictions; he wants to be as free as he was when he was born, which is how it should be; and he wants that freedom for himself and for everyone.
But aside from that, we can all be equal. It is only the social fictions we live by that prevent our equality. It is those social fictions that we need to destroy. They had to be destroyed. I was sure about one thing, though: they had to be destroyed in a way that would benefit the cause of freedom and with a view to the future creation of a free society.
The destruction of social fictions can contribute to the creation of freedom or to preparing the road for freedom, just as it can contribute to establishing new social fictions which are equally bad because they are equally fictitious.
We had to be very careful there. It was important to draw up the right plan of action, be it violent or nonviolent because in the fight against social injustice, all means are legitimate , by which we would contribute to the destruction of social fictions without, at the same time, getting in the way of the creation of a future freedom and if possible the creation of a little of that future freedom now. Obviously, that fragile freedom is a future freedom, and in present-day terms, it is the freedom of those oppressed by social fictions.
That is not freedom; that is merely the freedom to tyrannize, which is the opposite of freedom. Indeed, that is what we must strive to combat and destroy. That seems to me self-evident. Go on. For the whole of humanity. What is the best way to gain freedom for the whole of humanity? By destroying all social fictions.
How can you destroy those social fictions? I explained that before when, in answer to your question, I discussed other possible philosophies and told you how and why I became an anarchist. Do you remember my conclusion? What could I do to achieve that end? What I could do was to work as hard as I possibly could to prepare for that revolution.
Working for the future is all very well, I thought; working so that others should be free is only right.
But what about me? Am I no one? They would just be the conditions set on our earthly period of adversity for which we would be compensated with eternal life. More than that, I asked, Why should I sacrifice myself? I am a materialist, I would think to myself. I only have one life. Why should I bother about consciousness-raising and social inequality and other such things when I could be enjoying myself and having much more fun than I would have worrying about all that? Yes, the same logic that shows me that Man was not born to be married, or to be Portuguese, or to be rich or poor, shows me that he was not born for solidarity either, that he was born only to be himself, and thus the opposite of altruistic and comradely—in short, utterly selfish.
I argued the question out with myself.
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Look, I would say to myself, we were born as part of the human race and we have a duty of solidarity to all men. But was the idea of duty natural? Where did that idea of duty come from? If that idea of duty obliged me to sacrifice my own well-being, my own comfort, my instinct for self-preservation and my other natural instincts, in what way was the effect of that idea different from that of any other social fiction which produces exactly the same effect?
This idea of duty, of human solidarity, could only be considered natural if it brought with it some selfish reward, because although, in principle, it went against natural egotism, were it to reward that egotism it would not then be contradictory. To give up a pleasure, simply to give it up, is not natural; to give up one pleasure for another is. If there are two things and you cannot have both, then choosing one of them is fine.
Now what selfish, or natural, reward could I gain from my dedication to the cause of a free society and the future happiness of mankind? Only my awareness of having done my duty, of doing something for a worthy end, and neither of those things could be termed a selfish reward; neither of those things is a pleasure in itself. It is a pleasure, if it can be called that, born of a fiction, as, for example, is the pleasure of being immensely rich or of being born into a good social position.
I confess, my friend, that I did have the occasional moment of doubt. I felt like a traitor, disloyal to my doctrine, but I soon overcame it.
The idea of justice, I thought, was here inside me. I felt it to be natural; I felt that there was a duty superior to a mere preoccupation with my own fate.
And so I carried on as before. Your actions were prompted by a purely sentimental impulse. I am merely faithfully describing to you the doubts and difficulties I had and how I overcame them.
I agree that, at that moment, I resolved a logical difficulty with sentiment, not reason. I will explain how that apparently insoluble difficulty found its complete and proper solution, later on, when I came to a fuller understanding of anarchist doctrine.
Now allow me to continue my story. As I told you, I encountered a difficulty and, for good or ill, I resolved it. Immediately after that, pursuing the same line of thought, another difficulty arose which also caused me considerable problems.
It was fine that I was prepared to sacrifice myself with no truly personal reward in sight—that is, with no truly natural reward. But what if the society of the future did not turn out as I hoped, what if there never was a free society?
In that case, what was the point of all my self-sacrifice? It was all right to sacrifice myself for an idea with no prospect of any personal reward, without gaining anything for myself by my efforts, but to sacrifice myself without even the certainty that what I was working for would one day exist, without that idea coming to fruition by my efforts That was a bit much.
I resolved that difficulty via the same sentimental process by which I resolved the other problem, but I warn you that, just as with the first problem, when I reached a full understanding of what anarchism meant to me, the solution I found then was both logical and automatic, as you will see later on. In the end, though, they agreed. We would all work towards the great social revolution, we would work for a free society, whether the future justified our efforts or not. We formed a group, made up of interested people, and launched a major consciousness-raising campaign—well, as major as our limitations allowed.
For quite a long time, in the midst of difficulties, confusion, and occasional persecution, we worked together for the anarchist ideal.
Having got that far, the banker paused for a little longer than usual. He suddenly smiled like someone who has reached an important juncture in his argument; he looked at me hard and then went on, speaking more clearly, more emphatically. I mean that after the consciousness-raising program had been going on for a few months, I began to notice a new complication, and this was the most serious of all the complications I had previously met with; this really was serious.
Having established those criteria, I never forgot them. At the time of the consciousness-raising program I was telling you about, I discovered something else. But how? Some gave orders to others and made the latter do whatever they wanted them to do; some imposed themselves on others and obliged them to be whatever they wanted them to be; some used cunning tricks and devices to lead others into areas into which they did not want to be led.
None of this had an impact on any particularly serious matter; there were no serious matters they could affect. But the fact is that this happened all the time, every day, and not only in matters relating to the consciousness-raising program, but outside that too, in ordinary matters of everyday life. Some drifted into being the boss, others into being the subordinate. Some were bosses by dint of imposition, others by trickery.
You could see this in the most simple of examples. Two men would walk down a street together; they would reach the bottom of the street where one intended to go to the right and the other to the left; each one wanted to go his own way.
Sometimes this was achieved by means of persuasion, at others by sheer persistence, or by some other means. That is, it was never achieved through logic; there was always something spontaneous, something instinctive about this imposition, this subordination. That was just one small example; there were other singular instances, some minor, some major. Do you see what I mean?
It seems perfectly natural to me. What I want you to understand is that this goes counter to anarchist doctrine. Notice, too, that it occurred in a group of people who had gathered together in order to do what they could for the anarchist cause, that is, to do what they could to combat social fictions and to create a future freedom.
Have you taken in those two points? A small group of sincere people I can guarantee that they were sincere , a group set up and brought together expressly to work for the cause of freedom had, in the space of a few months, achieved only one positive, concrete thing—the creation amongst themselves of a tyranny.
And what a tyranny! I mean that this tyranny was, in respect to the usual social fictions, a new tyranny, and it was a tyranny exercised over people who were already oppressed by the established social fictions.
And it happened amongst people whose sincere wish was to destroy tyranny and to create freedom. Now imagine a much larger, much more influential group, dealing with important matters and decisions of a fundamental nature. Imagine that group putting all its efforts, as ours did, into the formation of a free society.
And now tell me if in that tangle of intersecting tyrannies you can glimpse a future society that would in any way resemble a free society or a humanity worthy of the name. And there are secondary factors that are equally odd.
For example, the tyranny of helpfulness. There were, amongst us, people who did not order other people about or impose themselves on others; instead they helped them in every way possible. It too goes against anarchist principles. How does being helpful do that? If that person is not incapable, then you are making him incapable, or else assuming that he is incapable.
You are, firstly, committing an act of tyranny, and, secondly, an act of scorn. On the one hand, you are limiting the freedom of another person; on the other, you are basing yourself, at least unconsciously, on the idea that someone else is worthy of scorn and unworthy or incapable of freedom. Let us return to the case in point. You can see what a serious matter this was. There we were working for a future society with no prospect that that future society would even be grateful to us; we were putting ourselves at risk without that future society even realizing it.
What was not acceptable, however, was that we were supposedly working for a free future, and yet all we had achieved of a positive nature was the creation of a tyranny, a new tyranny, a tyranny exercised by ourselves, the oppressed, over each other.
I set to thinking. There was a mistake here, some error. Our instincts were good, our doctrine seemed right; could it be that our approach was wrong? It must be that. But what mistake were we making? One day, suddenly, as always happens in these matters, I found the solution. It was the finest hour of my anarchist theory, the day on which I discovered, if I can be put it this way, the technique of anarchism.
He looked at me for a moment, but without really looking at me.
Then he went on in the same tone. Here we have a new tyranny, a tyranny that does not derive from any social fiction. So where has it come from? From natural qualities? If a society in which only the natural qualities of Man operate—those qualities with which we are born, qualities given to us by Nature and over which we have no power whatsoever—if a society in which only those qualities operate is nothing but a conglomeration of tyrannies, who is going to lift a finger to contribute to the creation of such a society?
I have already established that if, for any reason, an anarchist society were not practicable, then all that remains—because it is the only natural alternative—is bourgeois society. But did the tyranny that sprang into being amongst us really derive from natural qualities? What are natural qualities? They are the degree of intellect, imagination, willpower, etc.
Someone who gives orders to another for reasons that have nothing to do with the established social fictions must do so because he is superior to the other in one or another of those natural qualities. He dominates the other person by the use of his natural qualities. But is that use of natural qualities legitimate? Is it natural?
What is the natural use of our natural qualities? To serve the natural aims of our personality. Now, can dominating someone else be considered a natural aim of our personality? For an anarchist, of course, the enemy is any representative of the social fictions and their tyranny, and no one else, because all other men are men like him and therefore his natural comrades.
Now you see, the tyranny we had created amongst ourselves was not like that; the tyranny we had created was exercised over men like ourselves, our natural comrades, over men who were our comrades twice over because they shared the same ideal. Conclusion: if our tyranny did not derive from either the social fictions or from natural qualities, it derived from a mistaken application and a perversion of those qualities.
And where did that perversion come from? Now which of these two hypotheses is the true one? It was impossible to determine this in any satisfactory way, that is, in any rigourously logical or scientific way. You cannot use reason to deal with this problem because it is a historical or scientific problem and depends on knowing the facts.
On the other hand, science cannot help us either because, however far back we go in history, we always find Man living under some kind of social tyranny, and therefore in a state which does not allow us to ascertain what Man would be like if he lived in pure and entirely natural circumstances. Since there is no sure way of finding this out, we have to tend towards the most probable hypothesis, which is the second hypothesis.
Thus any thinking person would, with almost absolute certainty, choose the second hypothesis, which is what I did. One thing is then clear. In the present social situation, however well-intentioned a group of people might be, however concerned they all are with combating social fictions and working for freedom, it is not possible for such a group to work together without the spontaneous creation amongst them of a tyranny, a new tyranny, in addition to that of the existing social fictions; without destroying in practice everything they love in theory; without involuntarily standing in the way of the very thing they wish to promote.
What can be done? We should all work for the same end, but separately. I said that we should all work for the same end, but separately. By working separately and for the same anarchist aims, we have two advantages: it will still be a joint effort, and we will avoid the creation of a new tyranny. We will remain united because we are morally united and we are working in the same way for the same end, we will still be anarchists because each of us is working for a free society, but we will no longer be either voluntary or involuntary traitors to our cause—we cannot be—because by continuing our anarchist work alone, we place ourselves beyond the detrimental influence of social fictions and the hereditary effect they have on the qualities given to us by Nature.
Obviously, this whole strategy applies to what I called the period of preparation for social revolution. Once bourgeois defences are broken down and the whole of society has been reduced to a state of acceptance of anarchist doctrine and all that is required is a social revolution, then, in order to drive that home, we might have to stop working separately.
By then, however, we would almost have achieved our aim of a free society, and things would be very different. That, I concluded, was the one true anarchist course of action. Together, we were worth nothing of any value, and worse than that, we became tyrants of each other and we inhibited each other and our theories. We would not achieve very much on our own either, but at least we would not be standing in the path of freedom, we would not be creating a new tyranny.
What we did achieve, however little it was, would be a real achievement with no disadvantage or loss. Working separately, we would learn to trust ourselves more, be less dependent on others, become freer, and, by our example, prepare ourselves and others for the future.
I was thrilled with this new discovery. I immediately went and explained it to my comrades. That was one of the few times in my life I have acted foolishly. I was so full of my own discovery that I just assumed they would agree with me. It is simply out of the question!
No one, though, was capable of saying how it is or how it should be. Then I realized what fools, what cowards I was involved with.
They were unmasked. The rabble were born to be slaves. They wanted freedom as long as someone else arranged it for them, as long as it was bestowed on them the way a king bestows a title.
Most of them are like that, mere lackeys. I was furious. I lashed out. I laid hold of sticks and stones. I almost came to blows with one or two of them.
And I ended up leaving. I isolated myself. I was sick of those sheep. I almost lost my faith in anarchism. I almost decided to have nothing more to do with it all. After a few days, though, I came to my senses. I decided that the anarchist ideal was above such squabbles. They might not want to be true anarchists, but I did. They might merely want to play at being libertarians, but I did not.
If they could only find the strength to fight when clinging to each other and creating amongst themselves a new simulacrum of the tyranny they claimed they wanted to combat, then let them, the fools; that was all they were good for. I had established that, in the true anarchism, each person had to create freedom and combat social fictions by his own efforts. Well, then, that was what I would do.
No one wanted to follow me along the true anarchist path, so I would walk it alone, with my own resources, with my own faith, without even the moral support of those who had once been my comrades in order to do battle with the social fictions. It was a natural gesture. All I needed were my ideals.
Those were the principles and the circumstances that decided me to do what I could to combat social fictions—alone. He paused in his discourse, which had become both heated and fluent. He took it up again shortly afterwards, his voice calmer. What can I do to destroy them? How can I collaborate alone in preparing for the social revolution, in preparing humanity for a free society?
The two options are indirect action, that is, consciousness-raising, and direct action of whatever kind.All these things are social fictions. Rs 90, crore additional income tax collection was seen in and You are, firstly, committing an act of tyranny, and, secondly, an act of scorn.
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