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amongstclouds wrote

The idea of Progress was central to the modern Western paradigm and the presumption that the entire world was moving ever onwards to a better future was dominant. The idea of the inevitability or possibility of a global libertarian future originates from that belief.

In many ways Anarchism was/is the libertarian extreme of the European Enlightenment — against god and the state. In some countries such as turn of the Twentieth Century Spain it was the Enlightenment — its militantly pro-science anti-clericism being as much an attraction as its anti-capitalism. Yet the rubbish of history is not so easily discarded and ‘progressive’ revolutionary movements have often been, in essence, form and aim, the continuation of religion by other means. As an example, the belief that universal peace and beauty would be reached through apocalyptic tumults of blood and fire (revolution/the millennium/the collapse) indicates firmly that as an enlightenment ideology, Anarchism has been heavily burdened by its Euro-Christian origins. John Gray was talking about Marxism when he said it was a “...a radical version of the enlightenment belief in progress — itself a mutation of Christian hopes... [Following] Judaism and Christianity in seeing history as a moral drama, that’s last act is salvation.” [2] While some anarchists never fell for such bunkum, many did, and some still do.

These days Progress itself is increasingly questioned both by anarchists and across society. I have yet to meet anyone today who still believes in the inevitability [3] of a global anarchist future. However the idea of a global movement, confronting a global present and creating a global future has many apostles. Some of these are even libertarians and look hopefully to the possibility of global anarchist revolution.

The illusory triumph of capitalism following the destruction of the Berlin Wall lead to the proclamation — more utopian [4] than real — of a New World Order — a global capitalist system. The reaction of many to globalisation was to posit one from below, and this was only re-enforced by the near simultaneous public emergence of the Zapatistas and the invention of the Web. The subsequent international action days, often coinciding with summits, became the focus for the supposedly global anti-capitalist ‘movement of movements’. The excitement on the streets enabled many to forestall seeing the spectre by looking in the direction of the ‘global movement’. But there never was a global movement against capitalism, then [5] , or ever [6] , just as capitalism itself was never truly global. There are many, many places where capitalist relations are not the dominant practice, and even more where anti-capitalist (nevermind anarchist) movements simply don’t exist.

Amidst the jolly unreality of this period of ‘Global Resistance’ some could get really carried away: “We have no interest in reforming the World Bank or the IMF; we want it abolished as part of an international anarchist revolution.” [7] Such statements are understandable if written in the drunk-like exuberance one can sometimes feel on having defeated the police, but they are found more commonly. The self-description of one Anarchist Federation reads: “As the capitalist system rules the whole world, its destruction must be complete and worldwide”. [8]

The illusion of a singular world capitalist present is mirrored by the illusion of a singular world anarchist future.