Jennifer III posted a great piece yesterday warning about the dangers of collaborating with those who appear to be an enemy’s enemy. To put things in historical perspective, she opens up with an example of how Chinese anarchists were thrown under the bus after helping the Bolsheviks take over.
The whole thing is worth reading, but there’s one part which jumped out at me for some reason:
As soon as the anarchists were no longer needed, the nature of the relationship changed. Many anarchists defected to communism and became influential leaders. Those who chose to continue working toward anarchist goals were dealt with accordingly, just like the guy on the top of this page.
Did the nature of the relationship between the communists and anarchists really change though? Or did the anarchists not properly understand the true nature of the relationship to begin with?
I don’t ask this because I feel her analysis is wrong in any way, but rather because it’s worth exploring just how the Chinese anarchists misunderstood the relationship. Well, that, and lately my brain has been kicking around the question of how so many current “anarchists” continue to align themselves with communists and socialists even after seeing the disastrous real world results.
The obvious answer is that impressionable, would-be anarchists are prone to fall for Marxist propaganda because it claims that the end goal is a classless, stateless society. But under even the most basic examination, this part of Marxist theory is and always has been ridiculous.
According to Marx, the communist workers’ paradise is achieved by passing through an allegedly temporary socialist hell where the state grows so large and powerful that it eventually encompasses everything and everybody. And since the workers supposedly control the state, it is then when the state is supposed to magically disappear. Since everybody would then control everything, the theory is that there would be no need for a state.
But this is only an illusion of a stateless society. What you actually end up with is a state so pervasive that it simply becomes indistinguishable from anything else. With nothing private to point to in contrast, and no limits on the ability of the collective to initiate force against the individual, one could only define such a society as stateless because there would be no way to prove otherwise.
One could say that Marx’s greatest trick was hiding a totalitarian forest state behind a few rhetorical trees..
So, yea, going back to the subject of enemies’ enemies, how should a liberty-minded person– anarchist, libertarian, Threeper, or otherwise –choose who to ally with? And what lesson should they learn from the Chinese anarchists? Well, I’d say a good rule of thumb is to be very wary of anybody who seeks more power for the collective yet claims it will make you more free somehow. This works whether you’re talking about communist revolutionaries, or “Republicans” like Bush who gave you the so-called PATRIOT Act and “abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market.”