The American Dream and the Anarchist Dream

11 Dec

The American Dream and the Anarchist Dream
The Boston Anti-Authoritarian Movement Newsletter, Issue # 20 – April 2009

Throughout the years, much has been written about the American Dream. We learn from our schools, our families, the churches, and the media that to achieve this dream—namely to own a home, to gain material wealth and the freedom to buy, to have both leisure and convenience —is to achieve happiness. In a word, the American Dream is to prosper, to carve out a life of prosperity for you and yours in a highly competitive society.
For millions of Americans, this dream is slipping away. The American Dream is being replaced by the stark reality of American Life: a constant struggle to survive capitalism, to have food on the table and a roof to sleep under. People are increasingly realizing that the American Dream is unattainable. This realization comes from the recent and obvious failure of the capitalist system, represented by the global economic collapse, and ensuing depression that grips us all by the stomach and the throat.
Except for a small minority of people, the American Dream has never been and could never be more than a dream. Most people will never achieve the American Dream because it’s nothing more than climbing to the top of the capitalist system; and not everyone can climb to the top of a pile of climbers. To maintain the American Dream is to condemn the vast majority of people to a lifetime of thankless toil, to produce for the privileged few their celebrated spoils of leisure and convenience. Without the sweat of the working class, there is no American Dream. Thus, the American Dream is not only a false dream for all but the privileged few, it is also a selfish dream, because its realization for anyone dooms the rest of human society to economic slavery.
The myth of the attainability of the American Dream is perpetuated by those who have achieved it, to keep the rest of us working hard to produce the wealth, leisure, and convenience they enjoy.
So let us, then, explore another dream: the Anarchist Dream. Springing forth from the very nature of humanity, a vision of society as old as society itself, it was given a name (Anarchism) late in the process of departmentalization and segregation of civilization into a system of classes, castes, and nation-states. The assignation of a name marked the birth of a movement against the slavery and bondage to which the majority of us are subjected. Our masters consider the Anarchist Dream a dangerous dream indeed. These masters, those leeches who enjoy the benefits of the American Dream by sustaining our nightmare, call it dangerous, foolish, and unattainable. In a way, these condemnations are true.
The Anarchist Dream is dangerous—to the rich parasites that live lavishly off of our grief! The Anarchist Dream is a vision for a new, free world, a society where all humans live in equality, where the things we build and grow, and the things that Mother Earth provides her children, are not to be hoarded by the selfish and violent few—bosses, governments, corporations—but to be shared by all. In such a free world, nations and governments will be replaced by the free associations of communities, villages, and neighborhoods, to organize and self-govern as they see fit. The bosses that hold our time and our stomachs hostage will be replaced, but only by us, the workers, organized together in non-hierarchal collectives, unions, and associations as we see fit. So that we may share the products of our labor among ourselves and with our communities. So that we may create that which we, as human societies, need, instead of just that which will make our bosses the most profit. So that we may create on the principle of “from each according to ability, to each according to need.” So that we may eliminate the useless jobs, the banks, insurance agencies, and greedy corporations who got us into this mess of poverty in the first place, and re-organize the vital jobs in an egalitarian manner. So that we can carry out our labor without carelessly destroying the earth, without which humanity, like all other living things, is doomed to a dull and lonely existence on the road to extinction.
The Anarchist Dream is dangerous—for the rich—because in this beautiful dream there are no rich. There are no rich, and there are no poor to make the rich the rich. There are no poor, there are no homeless, and there are no hungry. For where there are people with hands, brains, skills, and talents, we can create. And where humans can create, we can produce, gather, and distribute vast quantities of all the necessities, more than enough for us to all live good lives. And when we are free, there’s no reason not to share. Just look at the things we’ve already created! Vast cities of skyscrapers, incredible laborsaving technology, and inspiring environmentally sustainable methods of producing energy, food, and everything else. All of these and more are the accomplishments of an enslaved humanity. Imagine what we can do together once we are free, once we are inventing, not for the profit of corporate bosses, not for the dominance of this government or that military, but to dream up, invent, produce, and create for a life of enjoyment for our communities.
The Anarchist Dream is dangerous for the rich because the rich cannot control workers infected by it. They cannot dominate societies that fill their cups to the brim and boil over with the revolutionary spirit. They cannot divide and conquer a people who recognize each other as siblings, siblings for whom life, liberty, health, and fate are infinitely intertwined and interconnected. Siblings, without each other we are nothing, but together, we are unstoppable.
The Anarchist Dream is foolish and unattainable—according to the leeches and parasites—because it can never happen. Except it has happened: in short breaths of life in Greece in December of 2008; in Oaxaca, Mexico in the summer and fall of 2006; in the neighborhoods, factories, hotels, restaurants, and other recovered workplaces in Argentina, 2001-2002; rising from the Kabylie region and spreading across Algeria throughout 2001; in much of Spain from 1936-1939; in southern Ukraine from 1918-1922; in the countless revolts and revolutions of peasants and workers throughout the middle ages; and for all of human history before the class of parasites was able to establish its dominance over free societies by hoarding food and land with violence and treachery.
The Anarchist Dream, rather, is foolish and unattainable—according to our masters—because if or when we try it, they will throw all of their resources at us—their guns, their armies, their bombs, their tanks, their jets, their missiles—as they have every other time we’ve tried it, and they will destroy us. They will destroy us to kill the ideas in our hearts, to kill the examples of a new world we build by our being, acting, creating, and organizing. They will do everything they can to wipe us clean out of existence so that our bad example—bad for them—cannot spread to others, to be planted like the seeds of hardy weeds, or the particles of an infectious virus, to engulf all of society like a forest fire and make life unbearable for the parasites, to burn them out! But they cannot kill us all. Oh, how they’ve tried! Each time, the Idea, the Dream escapes their slippery, sweaty fingers and resurfaces again. They will never kill the Idea, the Dream, nor the rebellious nature of the hardy weeds, constantly trampled underfoot, but always refusing to stay down. They cannot win forever, and we will never stop trying, stop fighting, stop rising up. Our day, our Idea, our Dream will come in time. It will pour out of the earth like a vibrant forest; but just like a forest this growth will take time, and right now we’re just hardy weeds with powerful dreams germinating the soils.
We, foolish dreamers and romantics who profess the Anarchist Dream, will never give up, for we know another thing they wish we’d forget: while their dream, the American Dream, is obtainable only by they, the privileged few, our dream includes everybody—even them, if they’re willing to abdicate their thrones and toss their paper crowns aside. Anarchism, by name, nature, idea, and practice, promises freedom and equality to everybody. This is a far cry from the misplaced dream of the toiling, slaving millions, dreaming only to stand in the place of their oppressors: to be their own masters.
So give up the American Dream, for it can never be yours. Even if it is yours already, it comes at the expense of the rest of humanity, that strong and rebellious breed who will shun you and fight you for freedom until the last breath and the final ounce of blood. Embrace, instead, the Anarchist Dream, the beautiful vision of an liberated humanity, where we are all free to dream, and where the collective creativity of emancipated thought and labor will turn the brightest of dreams into vivid realities. Defect, siblings, to the revolution, that righteous insurrection of dreamers.

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2 Responses to “The American Dream and the Anarchist Dream”

  1. gunnarw94 December 12, 2012 at 1:42 am #

    I love the idea of anarchy. Unfortunately, the people in power in the world are very organized. In order to check that power, an equally organized and efficient group would need to develop. Groups don’t just come into being automatically; every meaningful collaboration has an initiator. Even if some elaborate scheme could be carried out to dismantle the current power structure and build a network of worker organizations, how could the masterminds of this scheme be trusted to abandon their power after the transition?

    • trenchesfullofpoets December 12, 2012 at 12:50 pm #

      This is a good point. To build organizations strong enough to win the revolution, but democratic enough to not strangle the revolution, is a tall order indeed. Part of the solution is building and struggling within two types of organizations: the revolutionary organizations, and the mass organizations. I do not believe it is our role as revolutionaries to come up with an “elaborate scheme” that brings the revolution. The mass organizations (neighborhood, student, and tenants associations, unions, etc) are the bodies capable of creating this type of revolution, and it will in all likelihood be in response to some crisis, such as another economic collapse, rather than a conspiracy. We must participate, push for more democratic means and militant tactics, and share our ideas and experiences.

      To quote the Dielo Truda (Workers’ Cause) group, “the labouring masses have inherent creative and constructive possibilities which are enormous, and anarchists aspire to suppress the obstacles impeding the manifestation of these possibilities.”

      Today I posted an article I wrote three years ago that may answer some of your questions more in depth:

      https://jakecarman.com/2012/12/12/what-we-want-and-how-we-are-going-to-get-it/

      Thanks for your comment!

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