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Why Futurism Matters

December 9, 2009

By the time we’ve built the capacity to significantly affect the world, the world will have changed.  Thus the models and vectors of attack that we adopt now must be prepared to deal with the conditions and challenges we will face then.

As anarchists this is particularly salient — and not just because of our current weak and ineffectual state.  Our goals are the most long-term of them all.  For us, even the most practical, everyday struggle is only useful insofar as it actually furthers the abolition of all power relations.

That’s not to say that the present is irrelevant — some fights take less time than others, sometimes with certain issues the act of fighting itself can play a critical role of keeping us in the game.  And it can be easy to build support on issues that more tangibly affect people in the here and now.  But the relevance of these realities derives from their service to our longer commitment.

No matter how much we may despise malaise and disconnect, we struggle to accomplish certain ends — not for the sensation of struggle itself.  To fight effectively we must always consider how things might change.  Not just in the short term — the disparate tactical engagements that our individual struggles and projects comprise — but in the long term measured on the scale of our goal.

The fullest realization of the world we struggle for will not be achieved today or in two centuries.  It’s attainment is a vast undertaking and even the knocking aside of our first, tiny impediments — the governments — still appears impassable.  But we cannot afford to retreat from this enormity, to loose ourselves in petty reaction.  If we mean for our struggles and sacrifices to amount to a damn we must consider how the world is developing, how it is likely to develop and what we have to offer in the light of those developments.  We must be smart with our investments, mindful of their payoffs and of the effort required.

We cannot afford to continue building organizations, projects or campaigns whose barest potential will, at best, only be achieved after the relevancy of their battlefield has faded.

Rather than playing catchup to new social and technological developments, releasing critiques and responses after the rest of the world has already stumbled into their own language and analytical framework — we must seek to preempt them.  To be ready and waiting with solutions.  With theory and tactics not only reconcilable with the new context, but uniquely native to it.

Yes, this means we have to be conversant in advanced science.  It means we have to pay attention to social and political trends.  Not just the patterns we immediately pick out but the shaping forces and limitations that give rise to them.  It means we’ll have to work our minds as hard as we claim to work our hands.  And it means, as anarchists, that we’ll have to continue to consider and fully explore things others might dismiss as far-fetched.  Not as exercises in masturbatory self-entertainment, but as an extension of our vigilance as alleged radicals.  Futurism is the only damn hope this movement has.


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