Beginning at the End
Many of us have been watching the events in the Middle East and North Africa with great enthusiasm and hope. Some have even asked, "When will this happen here? When will revolution come to America/Canada/etc.?" Others responded, "Why are you asking and not doing? If you want it now, take it now!"
But is that what we want now? Let's take a look at Egypt. What has all this sound and fury wrought? The 30 year-long reign of American puppet and despot Hosni Mubarak is now over. He has allegedly fled the country. The decades of anger from the abuses suffered under this man's regime finally spilled over into an insurmountable wave that has cleansed that nation of ... exactly one tyrant.
The nation is now in the hands of the military. Political pundits the world over are innundating the media with demands for "new leadership" and a move towards "Egyptian democracy."
In all probablility, this situation will tend to one of two outcomes:
- The old despotic regime will be replaced with a new despotic regime, either civilian or military. The people, having paid such a heavy price in this revolution and getting only more of the same, will lose hope in changing it. We won't see another uprising like it again for a generation or more.
- The old despotic regime will be replaced with a democracy. Whether or not it is merely another vehicle for Western political theater is irrelevant. The protestors will be placated for a time. Eventually, as with all democracies, they will turn to political-infighting. They will identify with collective interests they believe are at odds with the collective interests of others. In short, they will fight each other, rather than the system. Again, we won't see another uprising against the State for quite some time.
Either way, the Egyptian people will still be trapped in the statist paradigm. They will endure another 30 years as tax-slaves and cannon-fodder. After thousands of years of statism, little will have changed but the name of the system which oppresses them.
We, as agorists, see much to admire in the revolutions sweeping Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria, and numerous other Middle Eastern and North African states. The people there became acutely aware of the injustice of the Egyptian regime; and, despite fear and oppression, they resisted the police-state and demanded something better. We saw a largely leaderless, spontaneous, bottom-up organization to the protests. As government services shut down in an attempt to stymie the protestors, vendors sprang into action to provide food, water, and communications. People banded together to provide impromptu protection forces for neighborhoods as police all but disappeared—no doubt deployed entirely to guard "State property", protect bureaucrats, and attack protestors. These impromptu forces could, in time, have formed the seed kernal for private protection forces—a free market alternative to State police.
But, alas, this will all die in its infancy.
And we know this, because we also see the weakness of revolution before its time. We all long for a state-less society; but when revolutions come they inevitably replace one state with another. Why? Because the vast majority of people do not see an alternative. They still cling to the lie that democracy, "the God that failed" as Hoppe puts it, is the ideal form of social order. It is a kind of cultural idée fixe that has gone global. Until that delusion is shattered, through education or through sufficient example, then revolutions will only be a revolving door to yet more statism.
So, to those anarchists who demand "Revolution Now!" and chide those of us who advocate education in state-less alternatives to police, courts, and all the other functions that governments have usurped in order to make us dependent on the State, I say, "Do you understand now?"
Agorism is about living as state-free a life as possible now; starving the State of the products of our labor, both mental and physical, now; and also laying the foundation for an alternative to statism when the State does finally collapse in the future—through both education and implementation of free-market alternatives.
Through counter-economics and libertarian principles, we live as freely and richly as we can in the present statist society. And while we long to rid ourselves of the State completely, we know that to be the last step in the devolution of statism—not the first.
To the agorist, protesting in the streets en masse, driving out the bureaucrats and their enforcers, is the final stage of the collapse of the State. We seek to lay the foundation for a successful end of the State; which is to say, the end of this State in such a manner that it is not replaced with another. Impatient agorists and non-agorist anarchists who would like to see an Egyptian-style revolt here and now may actually do more harm than good if there isn't a likelihood that a state-less alternative will replace the current system.
True anarchists seek not revolution, but dissolution—dissolution of the State in its entirety. We cannot settle for less.