The economic and political system everyone is born into and forced to live under – both State and Capital – continues to function not because it is effective or efficient, or because it is a just and equal system, but because of the various tools at its disposal which it uses to keep people in various states of fear, confusion, insecurity, anxiety, isolation and competition.
Without choice or knowledge of other ways to organise life, as these possibilities are always slandered and painted as unrealistic, the vast majority of people become indoctrinated into life under State and capital at the earliest possible moment, and from then on become increasingly infected with its isolated, individualised outlook through a combination of both fear and competition. This is reinforced over and over again, for example in the misrepresented statement “survival of the fittest” as one where a human has to compete against a human for survival, rather than work together to ensure survival against the difficulties we all are posed with.
And so it continues: in countless ways humans are divided and driven to compete with one another, whether through school, the job market, housing etc. We are all driven to compete in obvious and not so obvious ways.
The education system begins promoting this nature, both subtly and clearly. By and large the school education system is not exactly based on highlighting and reinforcing people’s freedom (as a person not solely individual, but social in nature), but on a simplistic formula that feeds them the minimal and forces them to only recall basic facts without critique, and use that to compete with their peers to get “better” marks, “better” jobs, “better” pay. It encourages them to disregard the fact that we are actually social by nature; that people are equal and free, and should be able to freely work and live together and not be pitted against one another for their survival; that a selection of people do not have the right to secure all the resources of survival for themselves while forcing others to work in order to be able to pay for those same resources; that a selection of people are not more equipped to control your life, than you are to control your own.
We are told that if we work hard enough we will “make it”. But what does that even mean, and how could it even be possible? Of course if people weren’t distracted by the endless competition they have been forced into, they would quickly see that there in fact could never be 7 billion presidents, or 7 billion managers, or 7 billion success stories. Of course some people did “make” it, but they sure didn’t do it alone, and they sure would have had to compete with many others to get there. For every one person that did “make” it, how many more who put in the same amount of work, or more; who possessed the same amount of talents, or more, did not and could not “make” it?
In order to place a further wedge in the divide, various oppressive systems are maintained such as racism, sexism, nationalism to yet again divide people as a class – the working class – and enable the maintenance of a system that reeks of misery, isolation and exploitation, one based on profit and authority. Instead of fighting the boss or the government, we are left fighting each other.
Worryingly so, these systems are both maintained in the shadows, out of our control, or appear so enormous and so powerful we see it as impossible to challenge. As it always does to further ensure its legitimacy and continuation, the system separates the people through deception and violence, while leaving everyone to face the effects of being driven to compete with one another.
Of course every single person is naturally driven to their survival and that means the resources vital to that survival – food and water, housing etc. But that increasingly leads people to fight it out with their fellow human beings (working class) to secure the basics for life, rather than recognising that the State (whatever form it takes) and Capital are those pushing them to this point, much like the trainer prodding the captured bear to perform in order to get a treat.
Climbing the career ladder, and the increased wages that generates, only seems like the greatest way to escape the insecurity of this system. It allows for a perverted sense of freedom in the world of blind consumption. However, in this direction it further perpetuates the idea of competition with everyone else and maintains a system that continues to deny every person’s equal worth as inhabitants of this world and their access to the vital resources it holds.
But if today the tendency to emancipate oneself from the dominant order is increasingly isolated in outlook, we can see all the stirrings to suggest that tomorrow our liberation will be collective in its entirety, one that aims to respect and ensure the freedom of both the individual and the social co-operation of the whole community.
Conquering the divide: Don’t compete, Organise
Anarchists have long attempted to offer a clear vision of another way of living. In organising and supporting networks and community spaces around the world, we have shown the ability to come together to assist each other in meeting basic needs and building the collective capacity for self-defense. In neighborhoods, workplaces, and schools, anarchists are fighting gentrification, police brutality, and exploitation while creating inclusive alternative infrastructures for survival. Across bioregions, we are organising to protect our drinking water and the earth we all depend on for life.
But, of course, you don’t need to call yourself an Anarchist to join the resistance and work towards realising and creating a new way of life. Some further examples of things anarchists organise around and create:
- Community Spaces: cooperatives, social centers, workers centers, community gardens, community parks, reclaimed land.
- Alternative forms of free and open education.
- Creating free and open health clinics.
- Direct Action Unions, Neighborhood and Workplace Assemblies, Solidarity Networks.
- Neighborhood Self-defense Units.
- Self-managed Work Sites: factories, cafes, print-shops, book stores (building alternative horizontal structures that can replace those of the vertical form under State/Capital).