Release date: January 2022
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Zoe Baker’s succinct analysis outlines how methods of revolution which rely on seizing state power reproduce the systems and ways of living that we are hoping to destroy.
“In “Mean and Ends: The Anarchist Critique of Seizing State Power,” Zoe Baker gives a vital and timely overview of the anarchist analyses of social transformation that refuse the state as the horizon of revolutionary struggle. In recent years, movements from Chile to Palestine, from Iran to the United States have circumvented traditional leadership to express rage and occupy and create spaces of freedom while refusing ‘practical’ limitations on their vision and demands. Baker’s overview of foundational anarchist thinkers like Bakunin and Malatesta indicates the potential and significance of these kind of movements to create revolutionary change in a system that, like all systems of social control, perpetuates its own necessity. For anarchists, truly revolutionary change requires transformation of the consciousness of people in society who must learn to live, think, and sustain themselves differently than the current social order requires. The ends do not justify the means, rather the means are what make the ends possible. Thus, attempts to seize or appeal to state power merely perpetuate the hierarchical and authoritarian conditions and consciousness that the state as a social structure creates and maintains. Like other revolutionary social theorists from Frantz Fanon to Paulo Freire to Jimmy and Grace Lee Boggs, anarchists ask how the process of revolution itself can prepare us for the new world we hope to create; a world we cannot predetermine but only experience in its becoming.” – Boukra Collective
“Zoe Baker defends the Anarchist position against ‘seizing the state’ as an effective strategy towards a more egalitarian society. If the State’s function and evolution has always been tied to Capitalism then the State can not be a tool to defend freedom because in its best iterations, it has only ever achieved varying levels of State Capitalism with a welfare state propping up the same class contradictions. Using historical examples, Zoe shows how Statist Revolutions have always compromised to revisionism in order to protect itself but in so doing end up replicating the woes of the State and, by extension, Capitalism.” – Jimi Spoto
Zoe Baker is a libertarian socialist historian and youtuber.