George Walford: Even Worse

In spite of all the horrors for which anarchists hold the state responsible, we have little reason to believe that getting rid of it would be enough, by itself, to bring the reign of sweetness and light. In 1989 the Italian authorities admitted that the state no longer controlled Sicily and parts of southern Italy, but the people there did not spend their time dancing in the village square. The mafia had taken over, with drug-dealing, kidnapping and protection rackets flourishing and 90 per cent of the young people in the area unemployed. To quote one inhabitant: “Now every village has a ‘duce’ and we live in terror and poverty.” [1]

History leads us to expect something of the sort. In Europe the period before the rise of the centralised state was not a time of free peasant communities but the feudal age, each district under a dominant warrior with his band of armed retainers – a capioso with no overwhelming power to be brought against him, almost literally a “duce” in every village.

The ultimate aim of communism, that the state should wither away, and the anarchist objective, to do away with it now, both rest on an unspoken condition: That the great majority of people should change their behaviour, coming to act in matters of ownership as members of a community rather than as self-interested individuals, and in political affairs as independent beings accepting neither submission nor domination. Given that change the state disappears of itself; without it, the alternative to the state seems likely to be something worse.

[1] Sunday Times 18 June 1989.

Continue reading Angles on Anarchism by George Walford (1991):
Class Politics; an Exhausted Myth | Anarchy Renamed | Why So Few? | Gnostics as Anarchists of Old | The Two-Sided Anarchist | The Higher the Fewer | The Anarchist Police Force | Even Worse | In the Beginning | The Competitive Co-operators | I. Q. Against Anarchism | Anarchism in Series | Friendly Reason | Anarchist Research | Are They Not Anarchists? | The Trouble With Success | Of Governments and Gardens | The Poll Tax Lesson | Healthy Freedoms | The Conventional Artist | Underground Activity | The Cretan Egoist.