Anarchists and War

Anarchists are often portrayed as violent thugs who believe in nothing apart from smashing windows. Yet the truth is that no anarchist has ever started a war; no anarchist has ever cluster bombed a market; no anarchist has ever invaded another country. This kind of thing has always been the reserve of governments and the democrats.

 Anarchists are opposed to war because we see war as an essential tool of governments and big business. It’s no coincidence that this war began at a time of recession in the United States. Nor is it a coincidence that a good number of Bush’s government were under investigation for corruption. Nor is it a coincidence that the USA is handing out contracts for the rebuilding of Iraq pretty much exclusively to American firms, including Dick Cheney’s old company. Dick Cheney? Name ring a bell? Of course, the US Vice President! Coincidence? You decide.

 This war isn’t just about oil. It’s about power, money, fooling the public and securing new markets. What’s different about this war is that the governments don’t even bother to hide their true motives any more.  They waffle on about liberating Iraq from its dictator, but you don’t have to scratch too deep to find out the truth. In the past, if we’d said this, we’d be dismissed as conspiracy theorists. This time, however, it’s all in the newspapers. Not on the front pages, admittedly, but buried somewhere inside. Now, why might that be?

 Anarchists look at these facts and see confirmation of our belief that we’d be a lot better off without governments. We don’t agree that we need people to tell us what to do. We believe that we are perfectly capable of organising amongst ourselves and sorting out our own lives. We’re pretty sure that if we managed to get this kind of society, there’d be an end to wars. In the current conflict, anarchists don’t support the government, nor do we support “Our Boys”. We support the Iraqi and Kurdish working classes in their bid to liberate themselves from their bosses.

 We know that the working class has no nationality. It can be found in every country and it’s always the first to die in war and the first to suffer in peacetime. We disagree with those people who call for regime change when they mean one regime replaces the other. We call for an end to regimes. Let the people rule their own lives without the parasites who feed on them and claim that they’ve got the best interests of the people at heart. Anarchists have always understood that the best interests of the people are never met by killing them.

 For a long time, anarchists have been laughed at by both the right and the left. We’re often dismissed by political groups from all sides who have their own designs on how the world should be. We say that the world should be as the people living in it want it to be. This will mean different things to different people. As a result, we look forward to a world full of different worlds. Unlike most other political ideologies, anarchism sees difference as a good thing.

Despite governments and would-be governments being so quick to dismiss us, we take some comfort in seeing how more and more ordinary people are realising the effectiveness of our preferred strategies. When people decide to take on the government rather than letting the government take them on; when they engage in direct action instead of leaving the job to others; when they organise themselves instead of waiting to be organised,  they are putting into practice tactics that anarchists have always advocated: solidarity, self help and direct action. It is a promising sign and we note how uncomfortable it makes governments and those political groups who have always put the Party before the People. The anarchist slogan remains as relevant now as ever.