Confrontational Politics – clawing back power
Power is addictive, it bestows benefits on those who have it, and it is easy to create a system which allows a few to exploit others for personal gain. Such systems are not going to vanish overnight, and massive systems such as states are adept at using alienation and coercion to maintain themselves. This is why states have police forces and armies; both are political tools when needed, and will be used to suppress any challenges to their overall authority.
Even so called non-authoritarian states, such as those embracing western democratic models, are dependent on the myth that surrendering powers to politicians, police and others is for our own good. These well established hierarchies have been embedded in our collective psyche which presents us with further difficulties if we are to convince people that anarchism provides a realistic alternative.
For some the mere act of maintaining their private freedoms will bring confrontation from the state and society itself, especially where laws are built into the system specifically to keep a disadvantaged or disapproved of group where they are. The history of the struggles for ethnic, gender and sexual rights is a testament to this.
Whether it is for ourselves, or in solidarity with others, the act of redistributing power and resources is a challenge to the State. The more power is distributed vertically, the more those at the top prefer to see it become aggregated in them and the more they will resist its distribution, using both coercion and persuasion as necessary, usually simultaneously.
To strengthen their control over society, those in power will accept only those freedoms that are granted through them, rather than recognising the right to self-determination by each individual. They will further legitimize their authority through claiming control of resources, especially land, water, etc. Economic necessity becomes a tool of oppression, thus putting access to resources such as land or the means to making a living at the centre of anarchist struggle.
Facing up to this is the politics of confronting hierarchies, from the domestic sphere to the State to systemic capitalism. It takes many forms, whether setting up viable alternatives and demonstrating that anarchism works, or equally validly it can be directly challenging the sources of oppression.
Anarchists will not always agree on particular strategies, but anarchism embraces a diversity of tactics, from setting up organic farm collectives to battling the police. Both are expressions of trying to reclaim resources and power from those who would deprive us of them, or use them to maintain inequalities. The point is to actively challenge the hierarchies we have rejected in all their forms.