by system failure
The last global economic crisis has brought the Left as well as the extreme nationalism in the front line. The rise of the Left in Greece and elsewhere came as an answer to the corrosion of the European Socialism and its absorption from neoliberalism. Current government coalition in Greece consisting from the two parties in power for the last 40 years, the right-wing, now neoliberal, party Nea Dimokratia and the "Socialist" party PASOK, is the best proof of this fact. Despite the fact that the rise of the Left and extreme nationalism creates a new front of intense ideological conflict, this is not something which prevents the dissolving of the old ideological lines.
Therefore, we are now in a period where the old ideological lines are blurring, and various conflicts cannot prevent this fact. This is something which has to do mainly with the fail of the Left to construct a new autonomous language relieved from capitalistic terms, and the full capitulate of the Right to neoliberalism, leading to the "mashing" of traditional ideologies and the prevail of a cultural totalitarianism which spreads in the West and elsewhere.
However, the brutality and the immediacy with which neoliberalism currently expands even in the most developed countries of the West, has not contributed to the emergence of revolutions with the classical form of the past, but it seems that leads societies in gradually rebuild the base of some principles and values which were declined heavily under the highly “economistic” nature of the dominant socio-political model of the last two decades or more.
Bringing back the lost concepts
Only a decade ago, or less, anyone who was speaking about concepts such as collectivism or solidarity in Greece, would be considered at least naive and would be treated with cynicism by the established culture of the extreme individualism. The bubble economy and bank lending which dominated particularly the early 90s and onwards, as well as the corresponding life-style, buried such concepts, buying the majority of people with overdoses of artificial prosperity.
So, while we are in a phase where the old ideological lines fade, and seems that there is a cultural totalitarianism which prevails more and more and has no opponent, the problems created by neoliberalism and the brutality with which prevails, as takes back this artificial prosperity, activate some hidden reflexes of societies and bring back to the surface some concepts, which until a few years ago had ended up being treated nearly as taboos.
In earlier times, Greeks had inside their culture such concepts, which were manifested in their daily life through various practices, such as the exchange of agricultural products, particularly in the Greek countryside. Even today, the older who have memories of such practices, were able to maintain or restore them again, in response to the economic downturn currently experienced by the majority of citizens.
Perhaps this explains, to some extent, the fact that the last five years with the economic crisis, the attitude of Greeks has changed dramatically against such alternative forms of social coexistence, beyond the essential needs created by the crisis. The Greeks can exploit their tradition and change their lifestyle and social organization, but this is not something simple, as conditions shaped by the dominant sociopolitical model, make such a venture to look very hard.
An unequal fight in the new ideological arena
A new great ideological conflict appears that begins to emerge. It's this among alternative forms of social organization and the emerging anarcho-capitalism. The great ideological chasm between these two models comes from the fact that alternative forms of social organization - which can be expressed mainly through cooperative movements or communities and groups of self-management - have in the core of their philosophy the key concepts of collectivity and solidarity, concepts which are totally opposed to the radical individualism that lies in the core of anarcho-capitalism.
The fight between them looks unequal because anarcho-capitalism is actually the final stage of neoliberalism, which paves the way by all means. Also, the conditions that have been formed for decades with the massive urbanization and creation of gigantic urban centers as well as the culture of extreme consumerism, are key facts in favor of anarcho-capitalism and constitute a major obstacle to the dissemination and development of alternative forms of social organization.
In Greece of economic crisis, one can see clearly how unequal is this battle, as the financial elites have imposed legislative decisions that led in sweeping changes to labor rights and welfare state the last three years, affecting these sectors in great extent. On the contrary, the only attempt of a legislative decision in favor of undertaking and self-managing a bankrupt company from employees, was not even brought to parliament for voting.
Thus, SYRIZA's* initiative to pass a specific law that would allow the organization and management of the bankrupted chemical industry BIOME by the workers, stays so far at the fringe, and this is not a surprise because it would create a precedent and could lead to a domino effect of similar actions by employees in other bankrupt companies in the private sector, something which would be highly destructive for the plans of neoliberal dictatorship and anarcho-capitalism as its final stage.
Self-management or anarcho-capitalism?
While, therefore, neoliberalism dissolves the nation-state and although it seems that nothing can stop its final form which is anarcho-capitalism, a rival ideology begins to form (quite slowly though), which necessarily adjusted to the absence of the state-protector and takes form through self-management communities. Self-management communities can easily adjusted to the new facts because their ideological matrix contains as main feature the absence of state and government intervention too. So, we may indeed experiencing a shift of the old ideological lines to another direction.
Although it would be somewhat naive one to try to identify the origin of the new rival ideologies, many believe that anarcho-capitalism contains some theoretical ideas of early anarchists or radical individualists like Stirner and Kierkegaard. Self-management communities, on the other hand, lead to other theorists of anarchism, such as Godwin, Proudhon and Bakunin, who do not reject concepts like collectivism.
Anarcho-capitalism, however, actually borrows the concept of anarchy and uses it misleading. Thus, although anarcho-capitalism requires the state absence, does not mean that will be free from a global power core controlled by the big capital, which, in a seemingly fully deregulated market will continue to determine the rules of the game to its advantage, free from any "embarrassing" state intervention and therefore more powerful than ever. Thus, the concept of anarcho-capitalism is actually spurious because gives the illusion of complete freedom of individual activity, which however, only serves the interests of a global economic elite.
Self-management communities instead, do not favor a global centralized control of any kind because they can operate locally and autonomously, merely having some common values and common characteristics. The locality of the self-management communities is a great advantage as there are no large energy requirements due to scale, but also due to a culture of degrowth and restrictions on basic needs at an early stage. Thus, self-management communities are possible even for the poorest societies.
Thus, the logic of self-management communities is based on a more balanced relationship with the environment, unlike anarcho-capitalism, which is based on unrestrained growth and the continuous downgrade of the natural environment, which ultimately ends in an accelerated environmental destruction.
Another big difference is that the state presence in the case of self-management communities is not an obstacle, but rather, even in limited form under certain conditions, a facilitator in their evolution, and also is possible to support them actively and directly with some additional functions. Such examples can be found in Venezuela of Chavez, but even in Europe, where before economic crisis hit the green development, there were proposals at European level, like for example microgrids, i.e. small and flexible electricity distribution networks, ideal for renewable energy applications and communities of small populations.
Self-management communities have a flexibility also concerning their form. They can be formed by groups of workers at workplaces (BIOME, ERT), or by people in small-scale residential areas (towns, villages). The experiment of ERT in Greece (http://failedevolution.blogspot.gr/2013_06_01_archive.html) showed that the self-management is possible.
The big question is whether self-management communities will become a fact for the vast majority of people in order to prevent the nightmarish final victory of anarcho-capitalism. It is certain that neoliberal dictatorship will do everything to prevent the expansion of a wider movement of self-management, which may eventually lead to an effort of immediate and practical application of the new rival ideologies, which will lead in turn, in the relatively near future, in a major class warfare.
*SYRIZA is the Leftist party in opposition