Anarchy VS "Progress"

Submitted by Stolenfromreddit in Anarchism

A lot of anarchists make faith-based assumptions centred around the myth of the techno-fix, along with the popular space parasite cosmology that's touted by futurologists everywhere. In Silicon Valley, online, in video games & television, in pop-science magazines & radical circles.

Not to be too nasty here, as its a very insidious mindset and seems to penetrate everywhere these days, but I think anarchist futurologists should really look up criticisms of the idea of meliorism (the belief that improvement of society depends on human effort.), with all of these "predictions". I know it quite well, I used to be just like these people. I'd salivate at everything that the apostles of "Progress" were preaching about, as shiny and silicon as if they were out of a science fiction novel.

Ironically, many anarchists who try to come off as only looking for evidence-based statements backed by science still believe that these technologies will come to pass and be liberatory, somehow, while ignoring the financial, ecological, technological, & physical costs and limitations that would influence how these things would operate themselves, how they would be constructed and maintained, etc....

In a world largely devoid of meaning for most people, it's incredibly tempting to latch on to a narrative like that, one that promises its adherents the power of gods while ignoring just how it would actualize its visions. It also conveniently smears its critics as Luddites, and denies agency to any other existing narratives by seeing itself as the one "true" vision.

John Michael Greer's blog discusses what I'm talking about in far greater detail, here are two links that I think will understand these points, along with Kirkpatrick Sale's ideas on progress:

The Religion of Progress

Which Way to Heaven?

Five Facets of a Myth

The Externality Trap, or, How Progress Commits Suicide


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BrowseDuringClass1917 wrote

Well anarchism, for good or for bad, simply cannot maintain our current levels of production and technology regardless of the wishes of mainstream anarchists. You either embrace 'devolution' or you abandon any pretenses of anarchy.


amongstclouds wrote

I don't think the term devolution is a good term to use. It implies we have full control over our actions. It also implies that it is possible to 'go back' to an earlier time. This just isn't true.


BrowseDuringClass1917 wrote

Well yeah, I just didn't know what else to use


rot wrote



amongstclouds wrote

It's deeper than industrialization. The desire to domesticate one's environment and very life is something I don't think we can easily escape.

Industrialization is just a side effect of something much deeper that I can't ever find a good word for.


ziq wrote

Yeah I've been realizing more and more how deep this goes... we're so broken.


KentTheramine wrote

You are definitely right but have you considered the following:

  1. Human sloth is one factor which actually by irony improve technological progress by the use of furthering automation. Consider this thought experiment. If you are feeling lazy & want to sit on your couch would you get up & get the chips of the cupboard or are you going to ask someone else?

  2. Human envy is another factor, by making people see a better version of an object & the ideal of "Why don't I have that" will always push people to unholy & even dangerous amounts of hardwork. Now, think of this in a Collective. With everybody wanting a Tesla, free electricity, a clean environment while envying the progress of other nations, would they as well not strive to do it?

  3. Human Pride will always make us strive to collectively feel good for ourselves. If we were the one's who launched a rocket to Mars or cured Cancer, would we not have more revolutionary motivation to do more?

  4. Consider all factors combine in a Collective & Dialectical Fashion, with each factor motivating us to move forward, what else can stop us from wanting progress?


ziq wrote

  1. I wouldn't ask anyone to serve me because I'm an anarchist. As long as my legs work, I'll use them rather than inconvenience someone else.

  2. I know I wouldn't want everyone to have a Tesla and unlimited fuel. That would speed up environmental destruction massively. You can't have a "clean environment" and 7 billion new Teslas.

  3. Sounds like nationalism? Depends on what you mean by 'we'.

  4. Your definition of progress is illogical. All the things you talk about as progress set us back collectively more than they send a few individuals forward.


KentTheramine wrote

  1. it's not a matter of serving you, it is inevitable that we will have to give up things to get things, it is inherent. Using them sure, but the inevitability is that self ownership only will lead to Capitalism. Which is one reason why we are sometimes against Anprims.

2)Well that is fair but improving the model is the hallmark of parody. As long as someone wants to copy someone else's style they are always bound to tweek in in the way they desire. It may only be a hypothesis to what ends like environmental efficiency & etc. but yeah. As long as there is copying, there is always a drive to make their copy theirs

  1. "We" in this sense is just a group of people with a common interest. A club is hardly a Nation. If there's a group of people that want to launch a rocket into space, what's stopping them? They have their motivations others have theirs & it is this that differs individual collective interest over National Collective interest.

  2. I actually made a paper on the origins on Morality stating how Dialectics & Collectivism actually pushes people forward not just Morally but even Materially. No one person could just say one day "I legalize same sex marriage" & the next abolish it without collective effort. In this respect Progress actually makes sense. It's inner mechanisms however is Individual & Subjective, it will take a long ass time for us to understand each & everyone's drive but it's there. Protecting this promotes progress & advances humanity.


ziq wrote

  1. Self ownership of myself? I was just responding to your analogy that had us asking others to do for us what we can do for ourselves i.e. I won't exploit human labor.

  2. It doesn't matter who makes the car; 7 billion cars will do massive damage to the environment.

  3. Not having billions to spend on a rocket is stopping them. And if they had billions, they would have gotten it by massively exploiting people.

  4. We don't have a long ass time. While you're busy giving everyone electric cars, the planet is actively expunging us in order to salvage the little non-human life that's left.


KentTheramine wrote

  1. yup Self-Ownership of yourself. But not to a point where you need to sell surplus for things you actually need. Like, if you are a Nomadic Herder, you would need to trade your wool for grain eventually. This is where we can just agree to disagree on Capitalism

  2. There will definitely be an improvement to the system in order to make new cars. It's an inevitability. Without Oil grubbing companies to push for only fuel based cars, you can actually have a better way of transportation to a point where no one really needs a car

  3. Not actually, Remember it's Anarchism, there is no Monetary System of Capitalism to stop you from making a rocket to Mars

  4. So why not start now? If we start late obviously oblivion will reach us before we could get a better world.