Does anarchism make people more responsible?

In this ugly month of May 2014, Nouméa is burning and accumulating clots in the form of barricades on the vast majority of its streets. A Kanak insurrection? More like gangs of young people delighted to be let loose on the city. There was indeed a slogan to launch the affair, but the CCAT (Cellule de Coordination des Actions de Terrain – Field Action Coordination Unit) largely lost control of it. Destructions and looting mainly concern businesses and administrative buildings in the suburbs. The Kanaks burned their own neighborhoods. Some young people were trying to protect their homes and local businesses against others who had come from the East Coast, inspired by a single slogan: break everything.

Do the Kanaks have tenable motives in this insurrection? This is not what we are going to judge here, but rather the form of their action, which is typically anarchist. An instruction is issued and everyone is free to apply it as they please. There is indeed an organization of small mobile groups, in the manner of terrorism, but which mainly aims to gain the upper hand over isolated resistance fighters and the crowd of frightened anonymous people. The CCAT has referents rather than leaders: an exemplary anarchic structure.

Did the general destruction serve the Kanak cause? No, obviously. It brings together the moderates in disgust and demoralization. Many people will lose their jobs. The looting briefly enriched the demonstrators. Then the poor social classes will become even more so. The rich will have left for more welcoming skies. The local economy, already battered by the low price of nickel, is on the verge of collapse. The leaders of the CCAT are short-sighted, but not to the point of blinding themselves to the disaster. What do they say to journalists who ask them about it?

Christian Tein, one of the spokespersons, gives himself two excuses: “We never said to burn the stores” and “It’s the French government’s fault, they just had to give in to our demands.” Disempowerment taken to its zenith, right? But why would Tein bear any responsibility, since there is no leader? This is the great trick of anarchy that I wanted to talk to you about: responsibility is collective, and therefore none is individual. At least when we look for it, it appears so diluted that it becomes negligible. Are we going to put these thousands of young people behind bars? Impossible. The prison is already crowded and there are other priorities than building another one. The promulgation of an amnesty is a certainty.

The collective is looking for a culprit but there is none. In anarchy, no responsibility is more important than another. Thus individuals conform to general rules according to their personal morality. A mass slip? Why would anyone in particular be worried about this, other than anecdotally? By giving back full power of their decisions to the individual, anarchy removes all their responsibilities towards the collective. To speak of an anarchist society is an oxymoron. Anarchy is not compatible with the idea of society, whether it is a Kanak society or any other color.


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