Thursday, October 12, 2006

mass society and the question of voluntary association

Some anarchists wonder, why against mass society? or more specifically, why is, or is not, mass society compatable with anarchism? Firstly, let's define anarchism as a belief in and/or a society based upon three basic principles. one.) Ditect Action as a primary means of engagement with others. Direct means without and mediation between the subjects involved, that is, not alienated. this is anti-technological in essance, but that is another topic. Action meaning if you want something to happen, you act. You Do It Yourself rather than delagating it to someone else. Two.) Mutual Aid based interdependent exchange; I gift you a 'good' or 'service' or something less material, and you gift in return. cooperation. 3.) Volutary Association with any people, cultural mores, traditions, etc. Basically this means choosing what culture you belong to, if at all. Mass society on the other hand is a very large group of people under a single association. This has been also called the Nation, or ethnicity, which can be but is not nessisarily under a single state. For instance, Lebanon is a state but not a nation and is instead many various nations. Whereas Japan is both a single nation and state (except the Ainu). there is no, nor has their ever been, any example of mass societies where everyone chose to be part of them. I do not think there is any reason why people whould ever choose to be part of of a mass society, although some whould I'm sure choose to, but most would not, but then its would no longer be a mass society then would it? if one wants to keep a mass society a mass society, coersion is inevitable. all mass societies, the American one is a good example, continue to be mass societies by either subsuming and incorporating other societies or destroying them. mass society is synonimous with cultural imperialism. there is amazing diversity within humanity, and it exists percisely to the extent that it resists a mass society, and does not associate with it. Human cultures wish to diversify, if allowed. this is the nature of ecological systems, and we are certainly no exception. Just look at the cultural decentralization and diversification within this mass society following the political rebellion 40 years ago? it was marked by an explosion of countercultures and subcultures, this is what people naturally do. They form volutary groups, or associations, which develop their own cultures, when these groups grow to within a certain range, they start to themselves break up into smaller groups. In fact, I would say that one of the strangths of anarchists in the US is their ressistance to mass society. All this makes sense, of course beause for the vast majority of our time as a species, and even before that, we lived in small groupings. it is part of who we are. This can only be changed through coersion. Therefore, mass society is incompatible with voluntary association, and by extension Anarchy. This means also that it is incompatible with all the things that are only possible through mass society, like industrialism, and complex systems beyond a certain scale. in essance, civilization. So for all you anarcho-syndicalists and anarcho-communists out there, such models are not anarchist.


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