The Best Thing That Money Can Buy

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Police. They might put up a facade of peace and justice, but appearance is not the essence.

Equilibrium can be obtained in situations of imbalance by letting things be. But to maintain imbalance you need to exert external force. And this force becomes necessary in human society when one class “possesses” and other does not. Some people are systematically empowered to dictate the terms on which other people live, work and trade. The ones who do not fit into their idea of a “law abiding citizen”, are dealt with according to their whims.

There are unacceptable people like Salman:

The police said Salman, 25, and his six friends, including two women, had showed disrespect to the national anthem while it was being played inside a movie theatre in the city on August 18. A few others who saw the group remaining seated and allegedly “making catcalls” when the anthem was being played lodged a complaint with the police.

And like factory workers all around the country:

Gowda continued, “The police then forcibly tried to shove workers into the company bus using such violence that two workers fell to the ground. They pounced on the workers, beating them and stomping on them with their boots. The two had to be hospitalized along with seven others who were suffering from the effects of hunger strike.”

And like the activist protesting against actions of Indian armed forces:

The Indian human rights activist Irom Sharmila, who has been on a hunger strike for nearly 14 years to protest a law that gives impunity to armed forces serving in the state of Manipur, was arrested Friday just two days after a court ordered her release from custody

And hundreds of thousands of other “agitators”, most of them unknown.

A recklessly driven police bus went out of control at Rangmahal Square on Thursday morning and crushed a woman to death.

After this incident, demonstrators (including the victim’s son) were beaten by lathis.

Innocents, more often than not, are framed by police just to “close the file” or due to pressure from their higher authorities (mostly when the actual convict is rich enough to bribe the officers). And lets not forget the famous Indian Police Encounters. [1] [2]

Now, where is the media that argues for the interests of poor, oppressed and the minorities? Where is our police force? The truth is, we only have each other. Protests give us voice against injustice. They accuse us of being outside agitators, promising alternatives if we cooperate, but they will do anything to undermine the struggle.

Why don’t we realize that we can aim beyond these police structures. These are just working alternatives. We do need help in some situations but that help doesn’t have to be from cops. We can call our friends or people who, in the particular case, might resolve our problem. For example, Collectives and Communes like The Rape Crisis Center, community-based organizations like SOS Collectives and groups like the ones who searched for thousands of Holocaust survivors and volunteers in Syria, WhiteHelmets.

Even in day-to-day life, communities with “right to issue orders” and “right to settle disputes” and agreements based on diffused sanctions and various social sanctions are examples that prove that we are capable enough of managing our own affairs without a specialized group which has a monopoly over the use of violence!

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200 Years Of The Black Flag

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Although there are dark imprints of Anarchist thoughts in Chinese philosophy of Zhuang Zhou, and in works of Roman philosophers (Christian Anarchists), there is no doubt that Anarchism started taking shape from the Enlightenment eras of late 17th century, with basic idea of questioning authority as it is not self-justifiable. Then it grew stronger with socialist movements and class struggles of 19th century. Marxism and Anarchism , for most part of history, have not been happy. But they have definitely helped shape each other, drawing broader lines between ‘centralists’ and ‘federalists’ within Marxism. This was a very interesting period,  as it started with Marx criticizing Proudhon’ economic theory (1847, The Poverty of Philosophy). In 1860’s, Michail Bakunin took place of Proudhon as Marx’s Anarchist opponent.

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 Michail Bakunin was born on this date 200 years ago (30 May 1814), a prominent Atheist and Anarchist.

“The liberty of man consists solely in this: that he obeys natural laws because he has himself recognized them as such, and not because they have been externally imposed upon him by any extrinsic will whatever, divine or human, collective or individual.”

Bakunin argued that there was a good amount of truth in Marx’s criticism of Proudhon. But he also pointed out the limits of Marx’s own theory. Bakunin and fellow Federalist socialists and Anarchists rejected the idea of a revolutionary government. Marx believed that Government can be changed by the change of party, and if a communist party takes over, it will end the class struggle and make a proletarian dictatorship. In response Bakunin wrote,

“[Marx] holds that the political condition of each country is always the product and the faithful expression of it’s economical situation… He takes no account of other factors in history, such as the present political, juridical and religious institutions on the economic situation. He says “Poverty produces political slavery, the State”, but he does not allow this expression to be turned around, to say:”Political slavery, the State, reproduces in its turn and maintains poverty as a condition for its own existence; so that to destroy poverty. it is necessary to destroy the State”

 There is much truth in this expression. The neo-liberal economical practices and the conditions which it renders in present day maintain poverty, poor working conditions, orthodox education system , extremist religious militants and corporate tyrannies. A recent example:

‘Saint Alan’ [Greenspan]: ““That’s a very healthy thing, because if workers are insecure, they’re not going to ask for benefits, they’re not going to strike, they’re not going to call for an increase in wages.”

There has been a split in Socialists since the Bolshevik (October) Revolution all over the world, which turned bloody for Russia in a way similar to Chinese Cultural Revolution in some respects and made the Red Flag something to be feared. But let us not forget that Stalin and Mao were never federalists, they were the result of what Bakunin called the ‘Red Bureaucracy’. In recent times Anarchists of the New-Left have also given up on the Class Struggle, which lacks future commitment for any cause, for example the LGBT movements. They are very important, but even after everyone has been granted equal rights, there will be no change in the form of operation.

The Red and Black Flags have been successful in creating the living utopia in Spain (1936), Cuba, Venezuela, Algeria, and some were short-lived not because of insufficiency but because of military coups. Anarchism and Socialism are meant to go hand in hand, and one is not bound to use their slogans or flags. But the present dark ages of economic, corporate and state dictatorship can only be brought to an end by “Stateless Socialism: Anarchism” (Bakunin)

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Two hundred years ago a legend was born, and his ideas are most relevant today. It’s a call for all the Anarchists in India and around the world to organize, occupy streets, let your presence be known, fight against operation, most importantly disobey. A new world is possible only if we start building it today.

“We are convinced that liberty without socialism is privilege, injustice; and that socialism without liberty is slavery and brutality.”

“Man becomes conscious of himself and his humanity only in society and only by the collective action of the whole society”