How would North American Anarchists and Libertarians deal with any of these scenarios?

by Keith Preston

The likely future of American society over the next half century will include the following:

1. An going widening of class divisions driven by a complex convergence of a variety of economic, political, technological, and demographic forces.

2. Growing poverty and the expansion of the underclass, the shrinking of the middle class, and the concentration of wealth into the hands of a super-plutocratic elite (the kind of system that has traditionally existed in most of the world).

3. Rising social unrest due to economic frustration, class conflict, cultural and demographic conflict, social anomie, and political alienation.

4. Increased state repression as a means of curbing unrest, including the use of both the police state created by the previous generations’ wars on drugs, crime, and terrorism, and the military-industrial-complex controlled by a regime that can no longer afford to fight imperialist wars but needs a reason to keep its job(s).

5. Ongoing technological innovations that allow for increasingly sophisticated surveillance and population control methods.

Within the context of all of this, a number of potential scenarios are possible:

1. The slow but progressively steady stagnation of American society to the point where America begins to resemble a traditional Latin American country in terms of its levels of poverty, repression, class polarization, and political strife.

2. The failure and collapse of America’s traditional liberal democracy combined with the rise of authoritarian radical movements from both the Left and Right in a Weimar-like situation.

3. The turning of the military inward in a civil war against the domestic population in the style of a number of Latin American countries in the 1970s and 1980s.

4. The collapse of civil society into a civil war with dozens of factions in a manner resembling Lebanon in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

5. The emergence of a global super-state in which the traditional American state is just a component part, and one which possesses weapons and surveillance technology of the kind traditionally found only in science fiction.

So the question is what are anarchists, libertarians, and associated others doing to build movements that will be capable of facing any of these possible scenarios in ways where victory of any kind or on any level is even a remote possibility?


  1. By saying, “I told you so.” You say all this like it’s necessarily a bad thing rather than something that is a precursor to the collapse of the belief in government as a positive force in human affairs. Point 5 is nonsense, technically the barriers are vast and probably insurmountable except as a science fiction fantasy but, more importantly, in the situation of societal decay you posit the infrastructure wouldn’t exist to maintain such a system even if it were technically possible.

  2. It all looks utterly unrealistic to me, Sean. Psychology, sociology and politics is largely fiction those days, as is a lot of what passes for history. The idea of class has never been realistic. Marx was right to say that we could classify people as we liked but what is important is their economic class interests but he found none of that. Like E.P. Thompson who published a 900 plus page book in 1963 on the making of the English working classes, for all his many hundreds of pages Marx found not even one example of his pet classification being an economic interest group. It was all pure romance and I fear that it is the same with you on the USA.   

  3. It does not matter whether someone is an “anarchist” or not.

    A person should still (in the American context), both oppose the “Great Society” schemes that have turned so many people into government dependents (see “Losing Ground”) and oppose the “monetary expansion” (i.e. the government backed “cheap money”, “low interest” policy) that is pushing the ARTIFICIAL bubble-wealth of the Wall Street crowd.

    If one wishes to prevent the United States turning out like so much of Latin America one should support all lending coming from REAL SAVINGS (not government backed “monetary expansion”) . After all it is not exactly a new discovery that credit-money expansion tends to promote inequality – Richard Cantillon was going on about it back in the 1700s. And the history of most of Latin America is the history of endless monetary expansion (credit bubble ism).

    And if one thinks that EVER INCREASING dependence on unsustainable government “entitlement programs” is a bad thing (“Losing Ground”), one should oppose those Federal government schemes.

    Of course “going Cold Turkey” – ending the present monetary and fiscal follies, will have terrible short term consequences (as much of society has become addicted to this government interventionism), but the alternative to the short term pain of breaking the addiction is the continued decline (and eventual destruction) of civil society – and then the government schemes will collapse anyway (a parasite, big government, can not long outlive the death of its host).

    At the risk of using crude language “this is not rocket science”.

    I think Mr Preston (by seeking “deeper” economic and technological reasons for stuff that is actually the direct result of government policies) is off on a wild goose chase.

  4. “But what should an individual American do – and NOT politically”.

    Well moving to a place that is (relatively) less dependent on big government would be a good start – such as North or South Dakota.

    Get a job (or start your own business), and raise a family – whilst being actively involved in your local community (via a Church if you are religious – via various secular clubs and societies if you are not).

    Again I do not see what is special about being an “anarchist” – a person of any point of view (who does not want to get involved in politics) should do something like this.

    One tries to ride out the coming crash as far away from the big Credit-Money Bubble and Welfare-Dependent cities (such as New York) as one can.

    Remember technology will NOT be forgotten (it will NOT be a return to the Dark Ages) – it will be more of a “rioting in the streets” problem.

    And I do not see urban riots being a big problem in (say) North Dakota.

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