Chicago Indymedia :
Chicago Indymedia

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Non-hierarchal social structures project

There is a new project for the discussion of non-hierarchal social structures, their forms and how they have existed, and how they can be applied in social and political activism in the creation of dual power structures and in the creation of a society free from hierarchal power relations. This discussion and the ideas generates through it will serve as the basis for an on-line resource and printed work on these types of social relations.
Oftentimes we as anarchists, libertarian socialists, anti-authoritarians, and political dissidents who advocate the reorganizing of society into forms free from hierarchy and oppression, find ourselves confronted in conversation with the following: “Yes, I understand your objections to the way the world is now – but I don’t understand what you want to replace it with. There has never been a society free of hierarchy and oppression, and thanks to human nature there can never or will be one.”
Such objections are not entirely baseless. All too often we either focus entirely upon a critique of existing authoritarian institutions without proposing alternatives. Likewise, when it comes to proposing alternatives, many refuse to go into any degree of detail on the ground that we cannot predict what form such institutions might most effectively take. Although the reasoning for these patterns of thought may hold a degree of validity, they are gravely flawed in terms of actuating social change: to try to convince people of the defects of the current social structure while providing little or nothing in describing the non-hierarchal forms we advocate is a sure plan for failing to convince or alienating the very people that we want to reach out to.
The course of human history is strewn with examples of stateless societies and social groupings that have existed without hierarchal forms of control or the division of people into masters and servants. Although there are numerous reasons why adopting and importing these forms and structures exactly as they are is a mistake, there are clearly lessons to be learned and knowledge to be gained by examining how non-hierarchal social structures have existed, and how they can used as models and catalysts within our struggles. The point is not to idealize such examples, but to acknowledge that they provide important insights into how non-hierarchal structures work, thus vastly increasing our sense of human possibilities.
Therefore, we are calling for a thorough and continued discussion of non-hierarchal social structures as they have existed and functioned. How can these forms and organizational principles be applied to the world as it exists now? How must these particular forms be changed and adapted to exist within the world as it is now? How can non-hierarchal social forms interact with a society that continues to provide rewards and benefits in an exploitative manner? How can these forms exist in way that does not serve to indirectly serve to legitimize and reinforce the very system that they are designed to act outside of and as an alternative to?
It is our hope that that by engaging in such a dialogue will spur interest among how non-hierarchal social forms have existed and how they can be applied today. The outcomes of these discussions, forums, and interactions will coalesce into a guidebook or text that can be used as a reference on the subject, which is currently lacking within the existing realms of both mainstream academic as well as anarchist writings. Also, it is our hope that such discussions will lead to the formation of a loose network for activists to cooperate on the creation and formation of non-hierarchal social structures in our daily lives.



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