Anarchism in Bergonia




The People
The Land







Daily Life


A related subject: the Pasan People



How Anarchists help make Bergonian democracy work:

"Socialists stand at the revolution's head,

but at the revolution's heart you'll find the anarchists."  --Umac Dherein

First things first:  Bergonia is not, and does not try to be, an anarchist country (and I, the author, do not consider myself an anarchist).  Rather Bergonia is a syndicalist-socialist, or libertarian-socialist country.  Though democratic in form and function, the state is nevertheless strong. 

Nevertheless Bergonia does benefit from a vigorous anarchist movement that enjoys credibility, exerts influence in public debate, and remains vigorous 70 years after the Revolution.  "Anarchy" is not a dirty word in this country; and certainly not synonymous with chaos or disorder.  

Rather "anarchism" gives expression to the ultimate ideal of the end of unjust, nonconsensual authority, as in Marx's poorly-conceived notion of the post-revolutionary "withering away of the state."  But it is more than just the demise of the state (what exactly is the "state" anyway?) that any Bergonian idealist wants, but rather the withering away of all non-consensual authority in all spheres of life. 

This will occur when (a) people limit their own behavior because of their internal ethical sensitivity, internal discipline & honorable character, not because of the strictures of dogma and the scourge of law, (b) money is supplanted by free exchange and systemized sharing, and (c) creative desire is unchained from guilt and social expectations.

The most common Anarchist flag in Bergonia

Public Demonstrations and Disorder

The right to air grievances against the government in Bergonia does not require a parade permit, although they are encouraged.  The constitution specifically allows the right to demonstrate, even to revolt, and neither "public order" nor "property rights" trump this right.  Thus Bergonian anarchists dare to smash windows rather routinely, providing they are the windows of government buildings.  This continues a proud Bergonian tradition of street demonstrations and street violence.  

The police do not (often) fight them.  In fact the anarchists and the police have curiously evolved a cooperative set of scripts that border on ritual.  Usually it begins with the anarchists parading through the streets toward the building housing the particular government agency, with the goal of invading the agency's offices and creating a ruckus.  The first stage of the game hinges on whether the police get between the demonstrators and the targeted building.  If they do, then the two sides will either fight in the street or make a game of besieging the building.  Whenever they fight in the street they are usually running street battles with plenty of rock-throwing.  The two sides will at least once confront each other in the middle of the streets swinging clubs.  Sometimes the police throw tear gas, but they know that this infuriates the public and the anarchist consider it a victory if they can goad the police into doing this.   Sooner or later it is expected for the anarchists to run away, and the longer they resist the more serious the police will abuse them.  

If the police don't arrive in time, the anarchists, armed with bats and bullhorns, invade the building.  Then a ritual confrontation begins between the anarchists and the government workers.  Of course nearly all work ceases, except it is understood that the demonstrators will not (or at least try not to) bother any worker actively helping a citizen.  The police soon arrive and monitor the situation, protect against serious damage to the building (furniture and pane glass are fair game), and mediate between the building's occupants and the demonstrators.  If the police come walking through a room the protesters usually let them pass and chat with them, providing the police don't try to eject them.  The police will bust up fights between rival demonstrators, since sometimes two or more anarchist or radical groups will combine to wreck such havoc.  Soon the press arrives, and they tromp around the offices getting quotes, taking pictures, and helping to keep things stirred up.  At some point, usually right off the bat or at the climax, the anarchists provoke the police so that the police arrest a few people, as if demonstrators are sacrificing themselves to the police in order to vindicate the group's militant image.   

The government workers protect the files and the computers, while the demonstrators loudly state their grievances in a confrontation with the ranking bureaucrats.  Given the Bergonian near-instinctive regard for the written word, the demonstrators will nearly always refrain from tampering with the records and archives, event after they have perused them.  There is a general sense in this society that only people with something to hide want to hide anything, that everyone else would want records maintained.  It is easier to accurately assign blame with records than without.  It is easier to obtain convictions in criminal court with records than without. 

The cops will defend shops and stores from the very rare outburst of hooliganism and looting, and it is generally given that looters will get beaten.  Under such circumstances, no one is concerned about the demonstrators' rights.  In Europe and North America anarchists can justify smashing up MacDonalds and Starbucks as assaults on the manifestations of capitalist dominance.  But in Bergonia there are no MacDonalds or Starbucks, and the shops belong to the workers or the small proprietors which Berg Socialism encourages.   

Anarchists are not the only ones in Bergonia who resort to forceful demonstrations, but they do account for perhaps 80% of of the building takeovers and violent street fights, with radical environmentalists accountable for the remainder.  Bergonia sees much more violent outbursts than the US or Europe.  Bergonia is not as bad as South Korea in the intensity of the violence (South Korean student demonstrators typically throw firebombs), but no country has the number of incidents as Bergonia-- typically over a hundred a year.   

Anarchist contributions to social science

Bergonian anarchists do a lot of "futurist" thinking, which is thinking about the future evolution of applied libertarian socialist democracy.  Many Berg socialists and anarchists have ideas similar to the Marxist idea of additional stages of social development after the revolutionary end of capitalism.  Marx hazily predicted that a socialist dictatorship of the proletariat would prevail after the revolution, and that later society would move to complete "communism."   Bergonian socialists also expect further democratization of society after the present post-revolutionary stage. 

The process of democratization should result in an increase of "direct democracy," further devolution of authority, further limitation of "bossism," more collective living and work arrangements, equalization of pay & income, and the end of money and money culture.  The anarchists ask why not these things now.  The socialists to them want to tiptoe into the future.  

The anarchist clubs contribute to a number of schools and think-tanks.  These have produced a considerable mass of scholarship in political science, economics, sociology & anthropology, and psychology, applying these fields to the aim of projecting how anarchist/communist culture & society can form and work.  It is of course all very speculative in nature, and in a unique way mixed with social criticism, cutting-edge graphics, poetic anti-narrative forms that sometimes perplex and piss off people.

Anarchist economics has produced interesting work in the fields of money, value and exchange, with the idea of someday creating a moneyless society.  Money is a system of credit that is universally transferability, they recognize, and they also recognize that a system of credit is absolutely essential to any sort of economy.  The question is what features are unique to money that make it the corrupting fetish that it is, and what features of money are necessary, useful and non-corrupting.  Money become a fetish because it is accumulatable, because you an store it up in the vault, the bank account or the stock market, and it is for the most part something worth accumulating because of its universal transferability.  Unfortunately its universal transferability is what makes it so desirable and convenient to society.  The mainstream socialist retort is that money is like so many other human inventions, such as government, standing armies and prisons, susceptible to horrid abuses but also useful to good intentions when people work honestly and ethically, and therefore not inherently bad.  Radical anarchists counter: given the almost magical force of money in capitalist society, and given how many lives, communities, nations, cultures, acreage, biomes and species have been destroyed by the pursuit of money, how can anyone doubt the inherent evil of money?  Indeed, how can anyone doubt the inherent evil in human desire?

Anarchist psychology has produced insights into the operation of Transference, which of course entails an authoritarian power, matter of concern to anarchists.  It has always kept the focus on doctor and therapist abuses of the patient, .  R.D. Laing has been a great hero to this branch of psychology.  Anarchist psychology has encouraged the use of leaderless groups (or with a temporary leader emerging from the group) as the best way of healing a wounded psyche, and have held up Alcoholics Anonymous as the best example of the leaderless group.  The radically decentralized society of the ancient Pasans provides other great examples of leaderless institutions.  

Anarchist psychologists noted that AA demonstrated certain possible preconditions for leaderless institutions: (a) the individual has absolute freedom to join the group or to leave it, (b) each participating individual shares the same motivation and derives the same benefit from the group participation, (c) there is a very specific credo and doctrine and ritual that binds everyone together, (d) there is an informal network of benignly authoritarian relationships, i.e. the sponsors & the "elders" present in most AA groups.  It has been pointed out that AA does not produce any sort of product or service, and that therefore AA cannot provide a workable model for a productive economic enterprise.  


Anarchist Clubs
and Political Activity

In every city and large town one can find at least one anarchist club.  The clubs (caserei in Nacateca; orac in Minidun.) are the basic anarchist organization.  They all operate by direct democracy (i.e. full membership voting on all propositions).  There are also plenty of anarchist collectives, both working collective enterprises and residential cooperative communes.  The clubs voluntarily join together in regional and national federations and conventions.  In the past every club attempted to publish a newspaper or magazine, but over time this has become a little less feasible, so now the job of sponsoring anarchist publications has generally fallen to state or county federations.  Many clubs sponsor theater troupes, and they raise money, entertain and spread the good word with dramatic presentations in local theaters.  In the cities one usually can find several bars & nightclubs (run by collectives of cooks & waitpersons) affiliated with or catering to a particular anarchist club-- almost like a clubhouse.

Anarchist clubs would never run candidates for office.  They think even all government stinks, even Bergonian government, and won't dirty their hands with it.  Yet they are explicitly political in nearly all their concerns.  Unique among the world's anarchists, they often attack and sometimes endorse parties and specific candidates according to degrees of adherence to their program.

Moreover, while Anarchist Cubs refrain from the "electoral charade of power," a great many of their members and supporters turn out on election day-- pollsters typically find that 2% of the electorate calls themselves anarchists.

The anarchist clubs constitute what's called the "black" tendency in Bergonian politics: outside the more traditional "red, blue and green" tendencies of socialists, syndicalists and environmentalists, represented by the three major political parties.  

The black has always had a very loose alliance (very, very loose) with the syndicalist  blue, specifically elements within the Socialist Freedom Party, the party in favor of decentralization.  The black has stalwartly opposed the socialist red, which it decries as the champion of statism.  This of course relates back to the time during the Revolution when the Rosists prosecuted the anarchists.  The Rosists after the revolution formed the NDP.  In 1964 thirty-six people died in a frightening series of street fights between anarchist and NDP affiliated political clubs in Piatalani.  

Many anarchists accept the deep-ecology critique of modern industrial-post-industrial institutions, and so have an affinity with the Green tendency, although another strand of anarchism stands leery of the Harmony Party's tendency to favor national or bureaucratic solutions to environmental problems.

These are the consistent anarchist demands: 

no "morality" laws, i.e. no infringements on personal liberty in matters of lifestyle, conscience or "sin," which includes drugs, the sex industry, guns, dress codes, abortion laws.   This is part of the "liberation of desire."  Many anarchists state that they oppose modernism, but this aspect of anarchism became obviously connected with the rise of the ultra-individualist avant-garde tendency within modernism.  


minimal restrictions on individual or communal activity, kind of analogous to conservatives in the US who carp about government interference with business, especially small business.  In this aspect anarchism has a link to right-wing libertarianism.


decentralization of all power (hence the kinship with SFP), including devolution of power to local communities.  In this regard the anarchists consistently promote the idea of direct democracy which means decisions in assemblies, where everyone can speak and where everyone can vote.


anti-property and anti-money.  There is a great deal of ambiguity in the discussions concerning money and interest.  The anarchists typically decry the entire money-based economy, including the idea of loans.  But their debates have never fully addressed the question of how existing workers cooperatives can be induced in a moneyless economy to advance labor and material on the set-up of a future enterprise, such as construction of a factory.


pro worker-owned industry.   Most anarchists work within the cooperative sector of the economy, and work hard to make the cooperative federations work democratically. 


last but definitely not least, utterly anti-authoritarian an anti-force, which sometimes manifests as explicitly anti-military (but in some instances pro-local militia).  


Here we find the core commandment of anarchism, which usefully radiates throughout Bergonian society--  that authority is inherently bad and burdensome and must be limited.  The core value is liberty of the individual, the living, organic workers collective and the neighborhood/commune.  They proclaim their chief goal the protection of the individual and the community-collective against all authoritarianism.  Thus they vocally oppose bureaucratic inflexibility, "stupid rules," and "that's the way it's always been done" attitudes.  


The average Bergonian does not agree with the anarchists on most things, seeing necessity and utility in a certain level of discipline and authority, and finds the anarchists rather strident and impossible, but they end up respecting the anarchists willingness to stand up against stupidity in authority.  Thus their stalwart antiauthoritarianism buttresses the antiauthoritarian tendencies in the population as a whole.  The anarchists are, after a fashion, Bergonia's civil libertarians.  In Bergonia the equivalent of the ACLU is the APL, the Anarchist Protectors of Liberty, and they will file lawsuits and start campaigns whenever government legislates onerous restrictions on speech, expression, personal conscious, and personal lifestyle.  The APL's emblem is an apple.

They are also Bergonia's most important community activists.  If a bureaucrat does something outrageous, if a council proposes stupid or oppressive rules, or when the national government transgresses against the prerogatives of local government, they are often the ones who jump to action.  They call the press, demand meetings, conduct "sarcasm and contempt campaigns," put up signs and hand out leaflets, demonstrate outside buildings, invade buildings and take over offices.  

Anarchists made the decisive difference
in the 1931-34 Revolution.

Most modern revolutions have followed the same script, as if all re-enacting a cosmic drama.  Mercea Eliade & Joseph Cambell would both understand.  The drama is typically a great tragedy of hope betrayed, and in history's course we see the tragedy repeating over and over.

Act One The initial overthrow of the old regime.  Euphoria fills the air, and revolutionary fervor swells.  Immediate reforms are instituted by a provisional regime.

Act Two: Heterogeneity: the various stripes of revolutionaries govern in coalitions and chaos. 

Act Three:  Radicals challenge and subdue the more moderate factions.  Everyone is suppressed by the triumphant party or coalition.  They usher in the "terror."  This stage often achieves the necessary step of eliminating the old upper class utterly.

Act Four: A countervailing reaction comes ("Thermidor"), often by middleclass elements that first supported the revolution.  Either the radicals retreat from their own excesses and maintain power, or others come to the fore and eliminate the radicals.  The revolution, having obliterated the former ruling class, now consolidates.  The  leaders establish stable controls and start trying to build new institutions.  Often the regime faces opposition by conservative states abroad or a civil war of conservative elements.  (In Spain, the revolution failed to survive this part of the process).  

Act Five: Finally the single great martial leader (Cromwell, Napoleon, Stalin, Castro, Khomeini) comes to the fore and hardens the revolution into a dictatorship.  It is the triumph of Judas, ending with Christ sent to the cross, the guillotine or the firing squad, a drama in which the greatest heroes are undone by their brothers with impure hearts.  It is the story of the worst betrayal and backsliding.  Many lives are snuffed out, and many hearts are broken.  Hannah Arendt and Crane Brenton have well described this sad pattern, as did The Who in their anthem, "We Won't Get Fooled Again."

The 1932 Revolution started following this same script, but something different happened in Act 3, because of the Anarchist Clubs.  This is the story about how they helped steer the revolution to a good end:

The Anarchist Clubs and the Anarcho-syndicalist unions, like the big majority of leftist groups, joined the Democratic Front during the 1920's, and endorsed the 8 Principles.  But they were a minority, and continued disputation with the majority socialists.  They kept threatening to leave to leave the DF.  Indeed the Communist Party (not itself part of the DF) tried to induce the anarchists to leave. 

When revolution broke out in 1932, the Anarchists were often the shock troops on the ground, providing "street muscle" when needed (and sometimes when not).  Unions, especially the anarcho-syndicalist unions, took over plants, mines and shops, and sent their bosses running.  Other capitalists took their money and abandoned their plants, and again the unions rushed in to keep them operating.  The Anarchist Clubs contributed their best efforts to these very localized efforts to build the revolution, and in a very real way they played a major role in reconstituting the economy of the country.   The anarchists also assisted greatly in creating direct assemblies of workers and neighborhoods, meeting at least monthly to provide workplace and communal government without representatives.  

The radical Rosists and their Communist allies, according to the script, were supposed to consolidate their power and eliminate all their leftist competition.  This they attempted during the purges of the spring of 1936.  But on the local level the unions entrenched in the factories and mines together with the Anarchist Clubs (and their militias) successfully resisted the Rosist-Communist government.  Their resistance was so successful that finally that the "Radical Regime" collapsed.  The Mistrala, the more moderate socialists (now the SFP), took their place on the national level, and sat down both with them and with the Anarchist wing of the revolution to write a constitution.  In other words, the Bergonian revolution ended with a pluralism of leftist groups, instead of one group triumphant.

Murray Bookchin wrote about the "Third Revolution," which is the third stage of revolution that has never succeeded.  The First Revolution is the revolution overthrowing the old regime by the republicans, which is Act One above.  The Second Revolution is the overthrow of the first moderates by the radicals, who destroy all remnants of the old ruling class, which is Act Three above.  This is where the Jacobins & Montagnards destroyed the Girondists.  The Third Revolution is where the people, the "sections," the "sans culottes," the original "soviets" try to organize a direct democracy.  Bookchin observes that in each of the world's great revolutions the Third Revolution failed.   Would he think that the Third Revolution succeeded in a place like Bergonia?  


[Rev. Feb 04]