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A minor thought experiment by wildcat

March 2, 2011

If you ever discuss politics with an anarchist, she will, almost inevitably, eventually pontificate about the Spanish Revolution of 1936 just before WWII proper (or the Civil War to you less libertarian/more statist-minded) to address a myriad of your concerns about anarchism.

Now, let’s assume that you do have a working knowledge about the Spanish Revolution (since I am so very much less statist-minded). Why you might light upon a concern – and a good one too! – and cry, “But the fact that the revolution did fall, even if only because of a complete lack of international support in the face of Franco, Mussolini, and Hitler and the betrayal by the Stalinists, means that a revolution is ultimately futile, given that not everyone in the world can be simultaneously convinced to support or at least leave alone a revolution!” And you would be right, if you weren’t so statist-minded (or liberal to you liberals).

Let’s devise a thought experiment: all the world’s citizenry (of nation-states after all) is very liberal and supports the “right” of some revolutionaries to be left alone and build their own society, in a kind of good-natured skeptical paternalism (“oh, those wayward souls will return to the benefits of good government soon enough”). Now this is a pretty big assumption (aka a miracle), given the constant hail of propaganda we all are pelted by from birth, and is something that will never occur. Note that I’ve specified citizenry; governments will still do all they can to undermine a revolution to “disprove” the idea that they are unnecessary or are deleterious, beginning with an appropriately targeted increase in propaganda and covert action, then progressing to an invasion or hostile containment (read here: imprisonment).

Let’s assume that the world citizenry, aside from the military (since this is necessary for them to do their job), is relatively unaffected by the propaganda and clamors for these egregious acts to cease. For some reason, they find that all their good-intentioned protests fail! All the sanctioned marches, rallies, petitions, votes, calls, and letters in the world just don’t seem to do the trick. Meanwhile, the beleaguered revolutionaries attempt to communicate the need for action that will threaten the states and/or the elites’ economic and political power. Actions such as strikes, boycotts, maybe even property destruction. For a while, this won’t be heard due to the invasion or blockade, but maybe it will get out, or maybe some enthusiastic soon-to-be-former liberals act along those guidelines on their own initiative, or the states and elites just plain get annoyed at their citizenries. Now the states and elites bring the repression home, and if the liberals persist with those oh-so-forbidden tactics, well then gosh darnit, we’ve got a real revolution on our hands!

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