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Archive for January 7, 2013

Anarchism and Humanism


1. “The State is the political organization of society. As primitive communities grew larger and more complex, and various aspects of public life had to be coordinated,the State was created for this purpose. The function of the State was the public administration of society. Therefore, a democratic State must be coterminous with society. Today, the State has become an abstraction. In the written Constitutions, the State is divided in three branches, the legislative, the executive and the judiciary. If that is all that the State is, then the States must exist only in the capitals and nowhere else. The State, supposed to be the political organization of society as a whole, has come to be completely divorced from the life of society, if you think of society in terms of the human beings constituting society. The individual has nothing to do with the State, that is, the political administration of his society. It exists only in some central place, faraway, beyond the reach and influence of the members of society, and from there makes decisions and imposes its decisions and the people have no say in them.” (1. Page:61)

2. “The first need is to break in our minds with the prejudice that power is the object of all politics, that anybody who wants to participate in politics and achieve anything at all, must have for his first and foremost object to come to power, on the assumption that otherwise nothing can be done, and this is the whole of politics. Party politics in our time is based on that assumption. Power must be captured in some way or other, be it by constitutional or by violent means. All schools of politics, revolutionary and otherwise, have that in common between them; they all must fight to come to power first before they can do anything in pursuance of their programmes. A party is organized with the object of capturing power. It is done with the ostensibly plausible argument that some people know just how society should be organized, and therefore the voters must vote for them so that they come to power and impose the blessings they have in mind from above on the people, who would otherwise never even think of those blessings, much less achieve them on their own.
That is why we say that party politics implies the denial of democracy; it implies that people cannot do anything by themselves; it is a denial of the potential intelligence and creativity of all men, of the sovereignty of the people. Democracy is an empty concept if sovereignty does not mean the ability of the people to do things themselves. If there must always be some-body to do things for them, it means the denial of the sovereignty of the people, the denial of the creativity and the dignity of man.”(2. Pages:62, 63)

3. “Against the prejudice that there can be no politics without parties and that parties can do nothing without power, there are two propositions. Firstly, power is not the primary object of politics; it is a means and there are other means; and secondly, party politics leads to concentration of power and hence carries in it the germs of the destruction of democracy. Political ends can be achieved without capturing power. Politics can be practiced without a party organization. The object of such a political practice will be to give the sovereign people the opportunity of exercising its sovereignty, to persuade the people not to surrender it by voting for anybody else expecting him to do the things they want to be done, but to vote for themselves, and do things themselves. To do those things being the function of government, by doing them themselves, they will increasingly assume the functions of government, and thereby create a government of the people and by the people.” (3. Page:63)

4. “I believe that the object of all political thinking, the object of social philosophy as well as of political practice, is to ensure the freedom of the individual in society. But when we come to examine the relation between the individual and the State, we are dealing with a different problem. The State is not necessarily identical or coterminous with society. At the same time, if the State is to be regarded as the political organization of society, as it should be, then there is no reason why the State should not be coterminous with society. And if the State can be coterminous with society, the conflict between man and State should be no more difficult of solution than the apparent contradiction between the individual and society.” (4. Pages 18, 19)

5. “Although the problem of reconciling the apparent contradiction of man and State has occupied political thought ever since antiquity, the eclipse of the individual at the cost of growing emphasis on the State, first under theocracy, later in monarchies, yet later in parliamentary democracies, not to mention the modern dictatorships, is one of the outstanding features of history. The 19th century held out hope for the triumph of the individual. But the two concepts with which it was heralded were defective. They were, parliamentarism in the political field, and laisser faire in economics. Parliamentary democracy formally recongnised the sovereignty of the individual, but in practice deprived all but a privileged few of effective use of that sovereignty. The sovereign individual became a legal fiction. For all practical purposes, most individuals were deprived of all power and even of their dignity.

In the economic field, the doctrine of laisser faire gave unbridled liberty to a small minority to exploit the vast majority of the people everywhere. Free enterprise meant freedom of a few to exploit many. That being the practical manifestation of 19th century Radicalism – the political expression of which was Liberalism – it was bound to be discredited and lead to a new period of crisis.” (5. Pages 19, 20)

6. “Even when democracies were composed only of a few thousand people, voters could be misled, unless they were educated. This ancient wisdom is even more true in our time. Those who are trying to give Democracy a chance to be practiced must realize that without education democracy is not possible.
But experience has proved that education measured in terms of literacy alone does not create guarantees for democratic government. What is needed is a different kind of education, an education which will not be imparted with the purpose of maintaining any given status quo, but with the sole purpose of making the individuals of a community conscious of their potentialities, help them to think rationally and judge for themselves, and promote their critical faculties by applying it to all problems confronting them.”(6. Pages:58, 59)

7. “Only when the monster called the masses is decomposed into its component men and women, will an atmosphere be created in which democratic practice becomes possible, in which there can be established governments of the people and by the people. In such an atmosphere, it will become possible to practice direct Democracy in smaller social groups, because to make individuals self-reliant, they must be freed from the feeling of being helpless cogs in the wheels of the gigantic machines of modern States, which allow them no other function than to cast a vote once in several years, and give them no idea of how governments function, so that they cannot even effectively help their government, if they wanted to.”(7. Page:59)

8. “We start from the proposition that institutions, political or economic, are created by men. They are created by man to serve his purpose, which is the purpose of having a full life, a good life, and of developing all aspects of his life and all his potentialities. Every institution is as good as the men who work it. But in the modern world the relation between individuals and institutions has been reverse. Supreme importance is attached to institutions, and man is subordinated to them. Social progress is not visualized as the resultant of the development of individuals or groups of individuals, but as structural changes imposed from above, from time to time. This reversal of relations between man and man-made institutions evidently is a denial of the fundamental concept of Democracy, because it completely eliminated man and his sovereignty from the picture of things. Therefore, if a better form of political theory and practice is to be evolved, we shall have to see if this abnormal relation can be reversed again, if man can be placed in his proper position of primacy and supremacy.”(8. Pages:56,57)
9. “So long as individuals cannot judge and discriminate and decide what is right and wrong, there cannot be a good society. Disgust with power politics will produce no result unless it compels us to remember the fundamental principles of democracy, the sovereignty and dignity of the individual, in the light of modern scientific knowledge.
Power can be divorced from political associations and defined as the ability to do things. Thus conceived, it is precisely man’s power which can make a better job of human society. But the usefulness of power is eclipsed and leads to abuses when it is concentrated to such an extent that the community as a whole becomes totally powerless. When that happens, the most powerful State may have the most powerless citizens. Power being associated with the function of the state, some political theoreticians of recent times have defined the state as an organ of coercion, an instrument created by a certain class or section of society with the purpose of exercising its domination over the rest. The corollary to this definition is that a just and fair social order is impossible as long as the State exists. Therefore, thinking out their thoughts consistently, these political theorists came to the conclusion that in an ideal society the State would wither away. The anarchist denial of the very necessity of the State is only an exaggerated version of what may be called the communist utopia.
The ideal of a stateless society is obviously an absurd utopia. The apostles of the withering away of the State have proved that in practice.”(9. Pp. 72, 73.)
Reference:
Politics, Power and Parties,
M.N.Roy.
Ajanta Publications India,
Jawahar Nagar.
Delhi – 110 007

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