The Post-Modern Anarchist Revolution

Part 1

Because post-modernism does not go far enough, because post-modernism has not reached the zenith and apex of its critique and programme due to the fact it has been divorced from its motor force, anarchism, revolution/insurrection is unavoidable. In fact, post-modernism demands it.  It demands the total realization of anarchism, that is, its own essence. Post-modernism demands the full-maturation of its inherent principles, radical equality, radical plurality and the total demolition of all meta-narratives. Its only recourse is post-modern anarchist revolution.

In contrast, the meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism impedes post-modern growth and post-modern development at every turn. And, bourgeois-capitalism refuses to secede its rule and its dominion to intelligence and the future, calmly and quietly. As a result, revolution is unavoidable and a must. The revolution is a post-modern anarchist revolution. Namely, a revolution organized to overthrow all the lasting meta-narratives of the Enlightenment, specifically, bourgeois-capitalism. The objective of the post-modern anarchist revolution is nothing less than radical plurality, radical equality, and radical pragmatic-egalitarianism in all its shapes and forms.

Nothing must be left unchanged. The post-modern anarchist revolution shall reach its logical conclusion, only when anarchist demolitionism rids the earth of the Enlightenment meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism, including the state-finance-corporate-aristocracy built and sustained upon it.

Paraphrasing Karl Marx that “the capitalist mode of production…begets, with the inexorability of a natural process, its own negation, [wherefore]…the development of …industry…cuts from under its feet [its] very foundation” ((Karl Marx, Capital (Volume One), Trans. Ben Fowkes, (London  Eng.: Penguin, 1990) pp. 929-930.)) According to Nikolai Bukharin, revolutions emanate from the antagonism between the forces of production and the relations of production, inside the dominant mode of production of an epoch. As Bukharin states:

The cause of revolution, of a violent transition from one type [of society] to another, must be sought in a conflict proceeding between the productive forces, and their growth, on the one hand, and…the production relations on the other hand. ((Nikolai Bukharin, Historical Materialism: (A System of Sociology), (New York, New York: International Publishers, Martino Publishing, 1925) p. 249.))

In essence, it is the radical disconnect between the productive forces of a society and its production relations, inside a dominant mode of production, which, if not rectified, eventually results in the violent overthrow of society; that is, the violent overthrow of the current, dominant, socio-economic framework of a society.

Specifically, according to both Marx and Bukharin, this is exactly what happened with the rise of bourgeois-capitalism and the capitalist mode of production on the back of the feudalist mode of production. However, whereas, Bukharin argues that revolutions are due to the productive forces having outgrown the envelope of production relations for post-modern anarchism, it is the other way around. It is the networks of production relations which outgrow the productive forces and, in effect, begin to press heavily upon the productive forces so as to make them evolve or perish. New relations of production require new organizational forms of production; i.e., new configurations of productive forces. In essence, new networks of relations embody new sets of requirements. And, this demand for new requirements places undue pressure upon the forces of production. They must meet these new requirements through reorganization or perish.

For Bukharin and Marx, “the evolution of the production relations is conditioned by the movement of the productive forces” ((Ibid, p. 244.)), while, for post-modern anarchism, it is vice versa. It is the evolution of the productive forces that is conditioned by the movement of the relations of production. Namely, demand determines supply, consumption determines production. Therefore, contrary to Bukharin and Marx, it is the new requirements of the relations of production which stimulate the technological evolution of the productive forces. And, when the productive forces cannot evolve to accommodate the new parameters and expansions of the relations of production, revolution, catastrophe, and crisis ensues in order to re-configure the sum of the productive forces along a new set of relations, a new mode of production. It is relations which inevitably drag the forces of production into the future.

Indeed, in a rare slip, Bukharin acknowledges the supremacy of socio-economic relations over the productive forces when he states:

It is upon the production relations of cooperation [and equality], maturing in the womb of capitalist production relations, in general, that the temple of the future will rest”. ((Ibid, p. 253.))

Meaning, it is the relations of production, not the productive forces, which is the bedrock for any revolutionary change.

Contrary to Bukharin, according to post-modern anarchism, productive forces only buttress socio-economic relations, they do not determine their form and content. The productive forces mirror and reflect the relations of production.  It is the relations of production which constantly bring forth new forces of production so as to maintain and perpetuate themselves, not the other way around as Marx and Bukharin would have us believe. As a result, revolutions stem from the active side of the antagonism between the forces of production and the relations of production, inside a dominant mode of production. In short, it is the living and dynamic relations of production that instigate revolution, not the dead and static productive forces of capital.

Contradicting his own notion of the supremacy of the productive forces over the relations of production, Bukharin even states “revolutions [always] begin… with ideology [and end with] technical revolutions, a sort of reverse order, as it were,” ((Ibid, p. 262.)) where, in the final analysis, relations of production are deemed superior to the productive forces in the sense that it is always the relations of production which lead the way into the future. Therefore, according to post-modern anarchism, it is the dynamic socio-economic relationships, which interweave the social fabric and exert command over the forces of production, which instigate revolution, not the forces of production. The revolution of the relations of production precede the revolution of the forces of production, not vice versa.

Revolutions begin in, and across, the relations of production and end with the re-arrangement and transformation of the forces of production, which are violently re-configured, or transformed, anew to service the newly established networks of productive relations, which have arisen prior, during, and after the revolution.

And, whenever conceptual and material acts of demolitionism transpire in large numbers in and across everyday life, socio-economic relations have developed new needs and new requirements. And, these new needs and requirements are pressing evermore upon the old organizational forms of the productive forces. In effect, the forces of production and their organizational forms have remained stagnant and, because of this, increasing acts of demolition have ensued. As a result, for post-modern anarchism, technological revolutions are founded on new relations of production, that is, socio-economic relations, demanding more evolved productive forces, which better align with the new requirements of these newly-minted relations. In short, technological revolutions do not precede new relations of production.  They develop and grow out of them so as to accommodate the new set of relational requirements. Demolitionism is a consequence of this conflict and these crises.

Following Bukharin’s notion that the initial step towards revolution “takes place when…objective evolution places the oppressed…in an intolerable situation…causing [the oppressed] to feel clearly that no improvement can be obtained under the existing order” ((Ibid, p. 256.)), a gestalt-switch is needed. In turn, post-modern anarchism stipulates that revolutions begin with disillusionment and nihilism; i.e., radical shifts in the relations of production, rather than radical shifts in the forces of production. As Bakunin states, the people “are made revolutionary by necessity, by the intolerable realities of their lives, their violent hatreds…[being] illegitimately diverted to support…the exploiters of labor,…the bourgeoisie”. ((Mikhail Bakunin, Bakunin On Anarchy, ed. Sam Dolgoff, (New York: Vintage Books, 1972) pp. 191-192.)) Consequently, for post-modern anarchism, akin to Bukharin, it is intolerable situations, whatever these may be, arising from the networks of productive relations, which stimulate revolutionary change and acts of demolition.

Contrary to Bukharin, Marx and the communists, it is not the evolution of the productive forces which drive societies towards revolution, it is the evolution of the relations of production. It is outmoded and obsolete forces of production, which are made outmoded and obsolete by the arrival of new relations, new ways of connecting, arising out of the bustling daily-interactions of people, which drive societies towards revolution. It is not the forces of production. The reason is that productive forces are inanimate, passive and, in the end, their evolution is guided by the relations of production while, in contrast, the relations of production are animate and active, constantly bustling and buzzing with frenetic activity. It is the frenetic networks of relations which inadvertently prompt abrupt leaps and breaks with the old organizational framework of productive relations and forces of production. This is what sparks revolutions, demolitions and radical social change.

Indeed, from the perspective of post-modern anarchism, the initial catalyst to revolution is radical social change in the old networks of socio-economic relations, prompting radical change in the old networks of productive relations, which in turn, themselves, increasingly come to weigh heavily upon the old forces of production. The old mode of production either re-organizes itself and/or succumbs to bolder and bolder acts of demolitionism.

If the old forces of production are able to evolve and meet the new requirements of the newly, re-configured, socio-economic relations, then crisis is rectified and averted. If not, the new requirements of the newly, re-configured, socio-economic relations smash the old organizational form of the forces of production into irreparable pieces, resulting in systemic breakdown, revolution, demolition, and eventually, the re-configuration of society upon a new foundation, that is, a new mode of production. Namely, a new mode of production that is more conducive to the new burgeoning networks of socio-economic relations; i.e., the new relations which have thrown-off the old production relations, including their old organizational form.

In short, all evolutionary and revolutionary capacities lie within the evolutionary and revolutionary capabilities inherent in the networks of socio-economic relations. The litany of competitive dynamic interactions within the networks of socio-economic relations, either spearheads technological revolution and the continued stability of the meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism; or instead, results in the demolition of the meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism and the foundation upon which this meta-narrative is welded and bonded. If the bourgeois-capitalist mode of production is a vertical, centralized, homogeneous mode of production, which it is, then, in all likelihood, the post-modern, anarchist mode of production is, or shall be, a horizontal, decentralized, heterogeneous mode of production, that is, a set of multiple modes of production centred around autonomy, equality and heterogeneity, rather than bourgeois-capitalist unity, inequality and uniformity, namely, any omnipresent bourgeois herd-mediocrity.

Part II

According to Bukharin, over an extended period of time, it is inevitable that “production relations [become such an] emphatic…brake on the evolution of the productive forces that [both productive forces and production relations] simply must be broken up if society is to continue to develop”. ((Nikolai Bukharin, Historical Materialism: (A System of Sociology), (New York, New York:      International Publishers, Martino Publishing, 1925) p. 249.)) And, if the productive forces, including the relations that direct these productive forces, are not burst asunder in order to accommodate the newly-minted socio-economic relations, then, according to Bukharin, “the entire society will become stagnant and retrogressive; i.e., it will enter upon a period of decay”. ((Ibid, p. 249.)) Such is the case with the Enlightenment meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism and the bourgeois-capitalist system. It is stagnant and retrogressive in nature and, thus, must be demolished and burst asunder as bourgeois herd-mediocrity reigns supreme, along with a degenerate, state-finance-corporate-aristocracy.

Essentially, the entire contemporary capitalist edifice and the bourgeois socio-economic landscape have descended into a stagnant, retrogressive period of decay, because the old socio-economic relations of bourgeois-capitalism, best exemplified in the ruling oligarchy, cling fanatically to the outmoded capitalist-mode of production. They cling to a set of socio-economic relations which, in fact, hinder socio-economic development, stifling growth and the advent of the post-modern/anarchist age.

Indeed, an outmoded capitalist mode of production, bent on continuing ad infinitum, invariably kills off anything, or anyone, which threatens its rule, even if this means killing off any possibility of socio-economic growth and/or development. Specifically, the senile capitalist-mode of production and its antiquated, state-finance-corporate-aristocracy, are resolved to stifle all new sets of burgeoning relations of production, which might be antithetical to the meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism and its own existence.

Therefore, today, the objective of bourgeois-capitalism is to maintain the trajectory of socio-economic retrogression and decay, by any means necessary, since the outdated capitalist mode of production supports a small antiquated elite, whose survival is welded to the failing capitalist mode of production. In short, the senile capitalist mode of production supports a specific set of organizational relations over another subset of organizational relations, which threaten its rule. Consequently, the proponents of the outdated capitalist mode of production; i.e., the state-finance-corporate-aristocracy, deny with certain religious-fanaticism, the basic fact that western societies have entered into a period of terminal, socio-economic retrogression and decay.

In fact, the reality of this retrogression and decay is emphatically denied and passed-over in silence by the ruling institutions of the ruling relations of production. In contrast, such socio-economic retrogression and decay is passed-off onto the general-population as a form of socio-economic progress and development via elitist propagandist machines. That is, the empty-celebratory monologue of bourgeois-capitalism, droning on and on, ad nauseam, celebrating bourgeois-centrism as the most reasonable and the most revolutionary. In effect, today, the monologue of bourgeois-capitalism drones on and on throughout the capitalist mass media, about the glorious superiority of bourgeois-capitalism over all other forms of organization. Wherefore, to be reasonable is to be bourgeois and to be bourgeois is to be part of the capitalist vanguard, a dependable stern proponent of the meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism.

Notwithstanding, according to Mikhail Bakunin, revolutions are a natural fact. They occur regardless of any controlled preparations undertaken by the ruling powers that reign over capitalist society. Indeed, states Bakunin:

Revolutions [are] a natural fact…[they do] not take place according to a preconceived plan but [are] produced by uncontrollable circumstances, which no individual, [or group] can [predict or] command. ((Mikhail Bakunin, Bakunin On Anarchy, ed. Sam Dolgoff, (New York: Vintage Books, 1972), p. 357.))

Therefore, similar to Marx’s claim that “crises can only be educed from…capitalist production, competition and credit” ((Nikolai Bukharin, “Crisis Theory”, The Marx-Engels Reader, ed. Robert C. Tucker (New York, New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1978) p. 455.)) and, in the final analysis, are truly unpredictable.  For Bakunin, revolutions are as well an inescapable fact of the capitalist mode of production and bourgeois-capitalism, in general.

For, both Bakunin and Marx, “capital contains within itself the possibilities of [endless] interruptions” ((Ibid, p. 464.)) interruptions, which are in essence unpredictable, random, and at times, explosive. Consequently, a post-modern anarchist revolution is a revolution founded upon “local and spontaneous organization” ((Mikhail Bakunin, Bakunin On Anarchy, ed. Sam Dolgoff, (New York: Vintage Books, 1972) p.180.)), an organization, which mirrors and reflects the seeming spontaneity and randomness of economic crisis. The post-modern anarchist revolution is in essence incessant interruption, without end or solution, culminating in the demolition of the meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism, namely, a total gestalt-switch and paradigm-shift.

Like Bakunin’s notion of revolution, the post-modern anarchist revolution is a revolution sparked by an intolerable situation, requiring nothing less than a total gestalt-switch and paradigm-shift, requesting:

freedom for all individuals as well as collective bodies, associations, communes, provinces, regions. [Such a revolution]…seeks the confirmation of…equality [for all] by [establishing] economic equality [for all]. [Of course,] this is not the removal of natural differences, but equality in the social rights of every individual from birth… [to] equal means of subsistence, support, education…and equal resources and [access to] facilities [for all]. ((Ibid, pp. 96-97.))

Therefore, the objective of any post-modern anarchist insurrection is to do away with all meta-narratives, specifically, the meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism, while establishing a series of anti-capitalist and post-capitalist institutions, which emphasize maximum equality, autonomy and heterogeneity. As a result, to quote Bakunin:

The post-modern anarchist revolution starts by destroying, above all, all…[bourgeois-capitalist] institutions and…[bourgeois-capitalist relationship] organizations [like] churches, parliaments, tribunals, administrations, banks, universities, etc., which constitute the lifeblood of the [bourgeois-capitalist] state. [The bourgeois-capitalist] state must be entirely demolished and declared bankrupt…[so] the people in the…[anarchist] communes [may collectively] confiscate…all state property [for themselves]. ((Ibid, p. 100.))

To have a successful post-modern anarchist revolution, it is necessary to pragmatically demolish, both conceptually and materially, bourgeois-capitalist socio-economic conditions; i.e., capitalist forces of production and capitalist relations of production, in order to install a patchwork plurality of autonomous-collectives, narratives and worker-cooperatives.

Specifically, a successful post-modern anarchist revolution will demolish the concept of private property and the bourgeois-state so as to foster forms of communal organization that maximize equality, autonomy and heterogeneity. To quote Bakunin, the goal is to have a society where all micro-narratives have equal access to resources, in relative equal measure, whereupon no-one is privileged over anyone else and “workers take possession of all [forms of] capital and the tools of production” ((Ibid, p. 358.)), whether, these are conceptual tools and/or material tools. No meta-narrative must be allowed to have dominion over the plethora of micro-narratives, sharing the sum of capital, in relative equal measure.

In brief, the post-modern anarchist “revolution requires extensive and widespread destruction, a fecund and renovating destruction, since in this way, and only this way, are new worlds, [relations and productive forces] born”. ((Ibid, p. 334.))  The ultimate goal of any post-modern anarchist “revolution is the extirpation of the principle of [totalitarian] authority”. ((Ibid, p. 202.)) That is, it is the eradication and demolition of all despotic, overarching meta-narratives, specifically, the meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism in favor of a horizontal-constellation of microscopic narratives, sharing the sum of socio-economic resources equally. Namely, a horizontal-constellation of micro-narratives which exercise decision-making-authority, among themselves, with relative equal force, devoid of any centralized, hierarchical, state-apparatus or meta-narrative.

In sum, any post-modern anarchist revolution, including any post-modern, anarchist, socio-economic formation, is a type of heterogeneous formation exercising power “from all points. [Whereupon, power does] not depend on a single directing center. [In effect,] the center [is] not…the source, but the product [of the periphery.] [It is] not the cause, but, the effect” ((Ibid, p. 180.)) of the peripheral, horizontal-constellation of micro-narratives. This set of peripheral micro-narratives, determining the political-economic center, are to be organized in a manner by which they can freely express their localized authority together, onto one another, in relative equal measure, where none is superior to another. The result is an equilibrium of force and power between a varying array of horizontally organized micro-narratives. These micro-narratives are to function and operate together, as a loose shifting federation or collective-patchwork, devoid of any overarching meta-narratives, specifically, the meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism. They are to function and operate as an open-participatory-democracy.

All told, the post-modern anarchist revolution is perpetual. It is permanent. It is the demolition of meta-narratives, bourgeois-capitalism, without end. The post-modern anarchist revolution shall reach its end only when the earth trembles from end to end with the awesome power of demolitionism, that is, post-modern anarchism!

Michel Luc Bellemare's latest book, Techno-Capitalist-Feudalism, was published in September 2020. He is also the author of The Structural-Anarchism Manifesto: (The Logic of Structural-Anarchism Versus The Logic of Capitalism). Michel Luc is a member of the Metis Algonquin Nation of Ontario, Canada. Read other articles by Michel Luc.