It seems to have become fashionable in some sections of the wider anarchist milieu to claim that, in today’s complex society, revolution has become impossible.
As well as contriving somehow to combine soul-destroying defeatism with sickening smugness, this point of view also happens to be entirely and quite obviously wrong.
Of course, if your idea of revolution is some kind of cliché involving the storming of a modern-day Bastille, then it may well be unlikely to materialise.
But for anarchists, revolution has never in any case been about a small gang of heroes seizing power on behalf of the proletariat – it is instead about bringing down the current system of domination in order to allow a free and egalitarian society to flourish from below.
The ways in which the industrial capitalist system might be destroyed are various – indeed, a combination of many diverse approaches may well be required to bring it about.
Land must be occupied and defended, urban spaces reclaimed, borders torn down, social relationships re-imagined, power confronted, obedience undermined, infrastructure blocked, assumptions challenged and desires unleashed.
But the result of all these activities, no matter how gradually they unfold, can nevertheless amount to something we can identify as a revolution. The revolution will be the moment when all the pressure on the system from these different angles of attack is finally enough to crack it open. Its defences crumble, the walls of our global prison collapse and, as the dust clears, the future of humanity is bathed in the sunlight of liberation.
This may not happen. It may be that humankind and the planet will be dragged down into a slow and painful death under the toxic suffocation of industrial capitalism. But this grim fate is not certain. No matter how unlikely anyone might think it is that we will be able to collectively rise up and smash this death-system, it remains self-evidently true that it could happen. Revolution is possible.
Part of the way that revolutions and insurrections work is by resonance. A sudden excitement sweeps through a population. A sense of hope. A sense of purpose. A sense of possibility. Before you know what’s happening, dozens of rebels have become hundreds, thousands, millions.
It is the spine-tingling feeling that the battle can be won, that the system can be defeated, which can spark extraordinary and unpredictable sequences of events.
Our aim, as anarchists, is to fuel this feeling, to add to the pressure, to try to inspire through word and deed.
Those who instead choose to cynically insist that revolution is impossible cannot thereby prevent revolution from being possible, which it obviously is, but they can certainly make it less probable.
In other words, their analysis is not only logically wrong but it is also harmful to the cause they pretend to support.
As a result, the rest of us are obliged to shout even louder, to make ourselves heard above the depressing dirge of their pointless negativity, to counter it with the empowering positivity of our own message and to repeat again and again that revolution will always be possible!