(The following paper was to be given at the London Anarchist Forum Meeting on June 12th, 2009 but, circumstances beyond the control of the organisers meant that it could not be presented. However, I was grateful to the LAF for triggering this paper which looks at anarchism from a contemporary democratic socialist point of view, with special thanks to Steve Ash now deceased who suggested it. It is really here just as a matter of record and I have added notes in italics where I have changed my mind in the intervening half decade or have something to add or something needs contextualising or explaining)
The Current Crisis - A Challenge to the Utopianism in Anarchism
I am not going to speak as an anarchist but as a mainstream
democratic socialist who is sympathetic to the anarchist tradition from
the libertarian Left - and who thinks that far more was lost than was
gained when the Left made its successive turns towards sole
concentration on Parliamentary action on the one hand and towards
Marxism and vanguard parties on the other.
I do not think that the decision to organise in political parties
was entirely wrong but the nature and purpose of those parties has
clearly become corrupted so that what passes for the Left has become
degraded into a professional political class seeking to administer the
state for its own benefit - far more than for that of its own
Similarly, the impatience and a-morality of Marxism created a
monstrosity in the consequent management of the 1917 Revolution, even if
a lot of the terror must be put down to the determined attempt by the
Western liberal powers to strangle what started as a people’s rising. In
the pantheon of cowards, Kerensky must go down in history as a man who
failed to seize the moment for peace and land redistribution.
In other words, the victors over the nineteenth century anarchist
tradition have proved worse than flawed, they have proved themselves
either self-regarding opportunists or vicious tyrants. But what do both
have in common that gave them the energy to overcome the fluid
leaderless resistance of early anarchism? They had a commitment to
They introduced both solidarity and a fixed ideology and this
allowed some to step over others to acquire the sort of centralized
power epitomized by Blair in the one tradition and Stalin in the other.
The similarities between these monsters are greater than we may think –
centralization led to sclerosis and ultimately to failure.
Greed for power and office and incompetence are built into
institutions that set the rules for themselves. Just as the Communist
Party of Russia set the rules for a whole society, so Parliament sets
rules that allowed its members, in secret, to take what it wanted as if
of right . In both closed societies, the perpetrators had no
consciousness of their having done any wrong.
They had literally become institutionalized into crime – the Vatican
gives us another example. Think of the link between the Catholic Church
and the Inquisition or the Ustase and then think of the ideals in the
Gospels. This is the common theme of institutionalisation – the
perversion of fine theory into cruel practice.
But this is precisely where anarchist utopianism gets challenged.
First, if anarchism is so good why does it rarely win a straight
fight and then, if it does, not for long. The experience of the
communards and of POUM in Spain suggests that others tend to win in a
fight and, unless you are prepared to rely on some abstract theory of
evil, there must be some reason for this in history. It may be different
in the future and we will come on to that but history tends to show
that anarchists don’t win for long .
Second, the conduct of MPs in modern Britain and of Communist Party
cadres in twentieth century Russia shows very little sign of human
nature being benign. Of course, the anarchist argument is that the
system makes the man and that if you removed social and institutional
pressures on man, the natural co-operative spirit of mankind will out.
Unfortunately, this sounds rather like the essentialist fallacy of human
nature that the Communists themselves held to when they stated that a
New Man would arise from a change in the conditions of the working
This was perhaps Marx’s own transfer of the romantic imaginings of
Rousseau via German Idealism - a nod to anarchist ideals - when he
proposed that the state would wither away when the dictatorship of the
proletariat had been established. It is not that there is no evidence
for this misreading of our animal aspects but that the evidence of
psychology in recent years is in precisely the opposite direction.
Stanley Milgram’s experiments demonstrated what cruelties we will
undertake if sufficient authority is applied to us. To the anarchist
mind, this might merely show that we should seek a state of no
authority, yet other experimentation and observation tends to tell us
that differential intelligence and personality will lead to manipulative
exploitation. Some will always fall into that class of sociopath that
is so problematic for those who believe that humans are intrinsically
(I don’t want to get into the problem of evil, sin and the fall of
man here because these are just attempts to create a moral explanation
from outside of man for contingent facts about what it is to be human.)
Perhaps the most devastating account of human cruelty does not lie
in the bare account of bureaucratic murders in the last century or the
savage conduct of so-called barbaric peoples but in the most disturbing
book that I have read in a long time because it is made up of the
testimonies of individuals who were victims and perpetrators on all
sides of what happens when the rule of law really is removed completely –
the conditions of the second world war in two theatres.
This is Laurence Rees’ 2008 book, ‘Their Darkest Hour’, which
demonstrates the co-existence of great altruism and exceptional sadistic
cruelty but certainly gives no cause to believe that a society without
law would not be anything other than a vicious jungle. Human beings are
complex and only contingently ‘good’ (if good means co-operative and
engaged in non-exploitative conduct, without us even getting into the
possibility of altruism).
There is no reasonable condition of life, including the unlikely
situation of no competition for basic resources, which would not involve
some form of psychic vampirism or exploitation by some over others
because our minds are structured to be limited in perception and to
react to events according to past experiences – unless, that is, we are
prepared to countenance some drug-induced social control such as that
envisaged by Aldous Huxley in ‘Brave New World’ or see the ‘withering
away’ being undertaken as a massively long evolutionary process.
Unfortunately, politics is immediate and messy ....
So we have the problem that progressive anti-anarchisms have failed because the human condition expresses itself as egotism within theoretically
otherwise benign systems, but that anarchism itself cannot succeed in political
practice for long because of that same human nature in its competitive
and reactionary mode. There are even libertarians who would claim to be
brothers and sisters of anarchists but are in direct opposition to them as
persons who see the good society as one of dynamic competition rather
Are we to be left with conservative pessimism then? Is the Left
project, essentially one of liberation, equality and of fraternity,
doomed on the altar of our animal nature. I think not, not because I am
a utopian but because I am an anti-utopian. The findings of
psychologists about the unthinking or limbic aspects of human nature and
their ineluctability and their ‘unknownness’ (we cannot know other
minds and we are certainly not fixed essentially in any particular
moment of time) provide an argument for a politics that is much closer
to anarchism than it is to organized socialism as it exists today within
(say) the British Labour Party or the European Socialists .
It is socialism that has to adapt to anarchism more than anarchism
to socialism to create a workable Left project. The introduction 
referred to my co-ordination (over a decade now ago) of the Centre-Left
Grassroots Alliance within the Labour Party. Its failure was instructive
on two grounds.
First, it did not fail from within. Very disparate left-wing groups
with a radical democratic model of party reform were able to collaborate
on a very limited programme and operate against the party machine to a
very high level of propaganda success (including a supportive editorial
in the Guardian) through using new technologies. The campaign was an
early user (1995/6) of e-mail as a consultative and decision-making
It failed eventually because a deal was made in a smoke-filled room
between the rising faction in the party and the political officers of
the union backers of that party. The rising politicians were engineering
a deal to remove themselves from membership scrutiny, indeed from all
constraints. They traded a special interest agenda with executive
officers who operated without reference to their own union members.
The lesson is that people can self-organise effectively BUT that they are
soon faced with structures that hold power so tightly that no protest,
demonstration or campaign can break the hold of those few who command
it. This was brought home to people in the massive anti-war protests at
the beginning of the century - the public was simply ignored by the
decision-making calculation of, in fact, one man and those close to him.
A traditional revolution, under these circumstances, merely replaces
one set of the few with another … the control systems remain.
This coup by New Labour gave us twelve years or so of the most
viciously anti-libertarian non wartime government since Castlereagh and
the most war-mongering government since Salisbury or perhaps Palmerston.
The harvest was reaped only in the last few weeks  – not only in a
devastating defeat for it in the political field, the democratic
equivalent of the Fall of Berlin, but a defeat that has given legitimacy
not merely to the centre-right and to the propertied interest but to a
vicious racist rump (the BNP)
What happened in 1996 when the CLGA failed and events today are intimately
connected [as argued in Lobster 55]. Political recovery on the
democratic socialist Left is going to require the spirit of the anarchic
to overcome it. Let me explain. The current crisis is a crisis of
big-ness and centralization. Globalisation has created a need for
technocratic institutions at a global or regional level that can never
be properly scrutinised by anything other than other experts of a
similar degree of alleged sophistication .
An argument that such institutions cannot be democratic and must
work against democratic and popular accountability does not need to be
made to this audience. The people becomes a mob mediated by, yes, the
media. This is the politics of Berlusconi yet, in a sense, it is more
authentic than the cod-progressivism served up by contemporary liberals.
The strategy of post-Soviet socialism has been to try match the
technocracy blow for blow, to capture its commanding heights and to turn
it to ‘progressive ends’. But such a strategy means bigger and bigger
trades unions, NGOs and political parties whose ruling membership is
self-appointed, and often interchangeable with each other and even with
the big business that it purports to contain and restrain.
For example, a typical career path today might involve a young
trades union bureaucrat getting into Parliament in early middle age and
then advising a corporation as a public affairs consultant to a
corporation. Another might involve a young public affairs consultant
entering Parliament and then running an international NGO. Under such
conditions, group think and acceptance of the status quo must be the
normal way of doing things. It would be like the flow of think tank
professionals, military men and party officials in Nazi Germany or
Through the Parliamentary and party process, State, progressives and
institutions become one liberal totalitarian whole. Since the
totalitarian process is nearly indistinguishable after a while between
‘progressives’ (whether called Democrats or PES) or ‘conservatives
(whether called Republicans or the EPP) , it is no wonder that effective
resistance to this cold machinery comes only from the Far Left and the
Far Right or from the many differing types of economic, political and
The Ayn Rand worshipping radical free marketer, the polyamorous or
transgendered sexual revolutionary and the political anarchist or
dissident democratic socialist, let alone neo-pagans and thelemites,
will have more in common as dissidents against liberal orthodoxy than
they do with the system against which they struggle.
Excessive regulation that levels people down and assumes that no one
can be trusted, a sexual culture of licentious imagery and commodity
fetishism instead of natural sexuality, centralized power and
bureaucracy and the presumption that unaccountable theocratic appointees
can represent more than themselves … all are part of the same general
culture which turns people into stereotypes, none worse than that of
leftist identity politics.
The socializing tendencies of the machine means that the real
resistance will now always tend to come more effectively from the Right .
David Cameron may be more acute than liberal commentators think in
associating himself with euro-critical Polish and Czech parties than
with those who take all this at face value. Berlusconi adopts yet
another model of resistance – nationalist populism that operates with
almost carnival flair to pinprick the po-faced political correctness of
his dull opponents .
Since entrepreneurs, artists and dissidents are generally
ineffective political organizers, the bureaucratic Left steadily cedes
ground to the populist Right which offers a moderated social and
economic freedom in return for authoritarian state governance.
Berlusconi may protest at pictures of his nearly erect willy in a
Spanish newspaper but it does no harm to his electoral fortunes anymore
than racism did to the BNP’s or Jobbik’s. When excluded from any power,
the public starts to get a taste for sex and violence. As Disraeli said
of old Palmerston when it was revealed that he was allegedly having an
adulterous affair, “Let’s hope that it does not get out or he’ll win by a
landslide”. In despair at progress or under threat, bloodlust soon
becomes normal – give me an imposed Roman Peace and I shall soon give
you the slaughter in the Coliseum.
Socialism has thus lost the plot for the third time in history. The
first time was when it dropped its international trousers in 1914 and
allowed itself to become the catamite of militarists. The second was
when it adopted vanguardism and cornered itself into state terror and
trying to explain complex political philosophy to peasants. The third
moment is now – when it tries to enforce good on a population that is
not ready to be bored in heaven by choirs of angels.
So let’s get back to anarchism. While socialism has made three
attempts at changing the world – in one country, through global
revolution and through progressive internationalism – anarchists have
contemplated their navels or engaged in hobbyism. Read any text on
anarchism and you see nothing but the small scale up to a point. This is
good. This is of the essence of anarchism but it is not doing anything
to drag the mass of the world’s population out of poverty or
redistribute wealth and power in the first world.
What is happening is that anarchists are pauperising themselves to
live a dream, abstracting themselves from a wasteful and incompetent
global system and perhaps hoping it will all go away. But be warned, if
the fascists, communists or even progressive liberals seize the organs
of state and the monopoly of force, then the fate of anarchists is
extinction - whether by aggression or stealth.
The general population will be sucked into the totalitarian mind-set
and, for them, it will be just a case of waiting for the wheel of
fortune to turn again and give them some new noble lie, some totalizing
world view that tells them what to think and what to be.
So, if anarchists have a wrong-headed view of the essential niceness
of the human condition and seem incapable of moving far beyond stunts,
localised insurgencies and happenings and if socialists have proved
malign, incompetent and authors of their own destruction, where do we go
from here …
My proposal is that anarchism does NOT change its essential nature,
which is self-organisation, nor its default position in favour of
collaboration and altruism. What it should be looking at now is having
the courage to return to the experience of POUM in Catalonia which was
snuffed out by force and to the techniques (though not the ideology) of
urban welfare systems like those of Hezbollah and Hamas. Yes, you heard
me right. Though common sense suggests that guns should not be part of
The BNP has overlaid its gangster class on very real distress and
anxiety amongst the weakest sections of the urban working class. The
Labour Movement, though not the socialists (i.e. the 3% of the vote that
emerged last week), has abandoned them and no longer has the will or
the manpower to organize them. If the Left does not adopt an organizing
approach to these communities, they will turn to fascisms or populisms
with more determination than we have seen to date.
This is a rare opportunity to apply anarchistic organizational
principles, even along the original rather than the debased model of the
Soviets, to real social problems and to create an organizational
structure that, in non-sectarian alliance with democratic socialists,
can create a non-racist and non-authoritarian model for localities under
pressure – one that can put the fear of the people into the liberal
establishment, the opportunists in the political class, the State and
the fascists. 
This is true revolution from below and it has a place for direct
action strategies. Indeed, direct action strategies like Raven’s Ait and
the Tyting Farm Community  and the organization of economic and anti-war
protest, will be more effective to the degree that they have a sea of
support in which to swim. The alliance underpinning the campaign against
the third runway at Heathrow in which middle class residents and street
environmentalists is one to watch .
In the event, Raven’s Ait was re-occupied with impunity and its
bland Liberal Democrat MP reduced to mildly sympathetic impotence
because the assumption in society was that the island involved could
only be administered through procedures far distant from the community
in which it was situated.
But there is a price anarchism will have to pay … It will have to
cease to be hobbyist. It will have to cease to be utopian. It will have
to cease to be an aesthetic position. It will have to realize that the
dispersal of power means the acquisition and management of power and
that the control of opportunists, incompetents and exploiters from below
needs to be, yes, institutionalized in a demotic form of the original
liberal vision of 1688.
What we are talking about here is the next stage in the slow
evolution of that long revolution from Magna Carta through 1688 and on
to the welfare state that started to go into reverse under Thatcher and
which reached criminal levels of reaction under Blair.
The point is that positive democratic, social, economic and legal
reform was bought at the cost of the steady centralization of the State
and of culture. This has proved to be a devil’s pact, the sort of
devil’s pact that could order its young to die for diplomatic
misjudgements, listen to only four national radio stations and take that
as arbiter of culture and give, in return, decent welfare provision.
Bismarck did something similar without having to piddle around worrying
National welfare was traded, quite legitimately up to a point for
many working people, for decreasing freedom. The pact was a balanced
one, a social democratic one. But when the system decided to start to
remove key freedoms and community institutions in order to permit
market-led social and economic changes, the pact was broken. Working
people have got neither welfare nor democracy and our Roman Peace is now
inclining them towards a limbic rage about their condition .
Yet the collapse of the shared social democratic (or was it national
socialist?) political structure also meant the collapse of strategies
of moderate resistance. Freedom is not a matter of liberal
constitutional reform, of proportional representation, republicanism and
bills of rights, or the current tinkering of Gordon Brown – these
merely lock in the power of the propertied. It is about the seizure of
power from below in an orderly and sustained way. It is truly
revolutionary, preferably bloodless.
There is a great deal at stake here. An established constitutional
state, such as the US, can apparently lance the boil of mass discontent
with a decisive victory for a President but the UK’s informal
constitution and Europe’s half-baked constitution provide an unusual
opportunity for constructively disruptive action. If the liberals get
their way and impose a written constitution or the Lisbon Treaty is
imposed on the constituent states of the EU through the rank treachery
to the people of their political classes, the game is probably up.
If either happens, anarchism may as well abandon any pretensions in
the developed world to a political life and revert to alternative
lifestyles, aestheticism and community work. So the urgency is clear.
Anarchists, if they have a political sense, need to work in an organized
way with libertarians and socialists against both the Lisbon Treaty  and
similar attempts to create a federal state and against the liberal
elite’s attempt to give itself cover through regulation and legal
structures that will enable a permanent state of manipulation of us by
If they succeed in these plans, political anarchists, libertarians
and 'true' socialists will become neutered or forced into insurgency –
or, in modern parlance, they will become ‘terrorists’. And, before you
think this fanciful, consider the amount of effort going into
intelligence-based policing against dissidents and protesters, often at
the expense of the basic maintenance of social order in the inner
But what I have not referred to is the ‘good society’ and what it
comprises. I have taken a fairly negative view of human nature but this
is not a true reflection of my views. My view is similar to that of many
sensible anarchists – that we are neither good nor bad in essence, just
human, and that our actions are directed, by chance and necessity
(including poverty and history), down channels that may be good or bad
for others or for ourselves.
We are good and bad only in contexts and in relation to others and
our own true will. This is where society comes in because it is the
context against which we measure our true will. It can enable and it can
repress. It can be fair or it can be exploitative. The good society is
one where all are equally enabled and none are exploited. And the best
judge of what is good for me is me and not some cod-progressive in an
office in Whitehall or Brussels.
The difference between me and many anarchists is only in emphasis
and means, The libertarian in me sees the only structure for the good
society as being one in which I have a voice and a stake and which
minimizes its interference in my life and that of others.
However, the issues surrounding enablement and resistance to
exploitation require, for me, some sort of governance, a framework with a
rule of law. That is where we may agree to disagree because at the end
of the day that framework has to be democratic (based on the collective
will of the population at large) and socialist - or at least welfarist
(representing the interests of the whole community).
The great political parties are broad churches and there is no
reason why the resistance to them, to the state and to exploitation
should not be a non-sectarian broad church as well. Contemporary
technology – from contraception through medical intervention to internet
communications – provides much greater opportunities for
self-awareness, self education and self determination than at any other
time in history .
This is the essence of the current potential for revolution. We are
not now free because we are told that we are free – whether by Rousseau
or Marx – but we are free because we are actually free, not potentially
but actually, sexually and in our right to self-expression as much as in
any other respect. We are not beyond good and evil but we are beyond
convention and custom.
For some reason, the ‘authorities’, perhaps existing as no more than
a neurotic authoritarian mind-set, are becoming deeply frightened by
what this may mean in terms of our willingness to be taxed and told what
to do . Their entire machinery is designed to constrain and contain our
free spirits. Our freedom is contained within a ready-made mass culture
of titillation and received ideas, an overt sexual culture that is
observed rather than lived , and a rhetoric of rights and democracy
without the practice.
Now is the time to say that we will not take any more and that
anything, I say again, anything, is permissible to preserve our real
So I shall end there … if you think I have a point, then it is time
for anarchists to start to consider how they will organise themselves at
this critical time.
And if you do not, then I thank you for your time and advise you to
abandon political dreaming and make pots or take up flower arranging.
 The reference here is to the then-recent Parliamentary expenses scandal.
 A current case study in this is going on, while we write, in the streets of Greece where a non-anarchist neo-socialist movement is facing the might of institutional capital after serious errors of judgment by pseudo-socialists in the preceding administrations. If such an organised alternative to anarchism and to neo-liberalism fails to achieve anything at all in defending the Greek people from the past mistakes of their own ruling classes, then we are in very murky waters indeed, driving, perhaps, populations to total submission to undemocratic technocracy, to neo-communist alternatives or to social and political breakdown.
 Close but not identical with - Syriza seems to have some anarchistic elements within an essentially socialist structure while the Russian Marxist Boris Kagarlitsky has recently offered us a Marxism that makes significant concessions to the anarchist position on social structures.
 This refers to an introductory political biography to the talk.
 This was a reference to political conditions at the time which saw a rapid rise in the vote for the Fascist BNP and its subsequent rapid fall. In fact, I was on record in other papers as dismissing the BNP threat and condemning the liberal-left hysteria surrounding, as, more recently, I have comndemned the hysteria surrounding the Charlie Hebdo hysteria. However, June 2009 saw massive falls in electoral support for Labour in the European and local elections and, although not sustained for the 2010 Election, Labour lost power to a Conservative-Liberal coalition a year later. I probably over-egged the crisis for the Left for the audience but it was a shock that eventually resulted in a slight shift to the Left in the Party with the election as leader of Ed Miliband.
 Events since 2009 appear to have confirmed that the international institutional infrastructure that was being built up in the decades before the 2008 crash was coming under severe strain half a decade later. This 'not fit for purpose' aspect of the attempt to contain and control globalisation through liberal institutional structures is self evident to anyone observing the cracks in the system appearing in every direction - political, social and economic - and yet the liberal centre ground persists in avoiding and evading analysis of the facts placed before them by history.
 To some extent we are seeing changes in the cosy situation where global governance is a matter of the competition betwen two bourgeois factions of the same global centrist party. In the years since the talk was drafted, the main revolt has been on the national populist Right represented by non-fascist entities such as the Tea Party, UKIP and the National Front in France as well as national and more neo-nationalist and quasi-fascistic operations in Eastern Europe and Greece. Only recently have we seen a countervailing Left populism emerge with Syriza in Greece and Podemos in Italy and perhaps signs of incipent organisation in Italy and in the US. Taken together, the liberal bourgeois centre faces a war on two fronts but one where the Right is more destabilising and driving power to the liberal-left whose instincts are to ignore reality and expand provocatively their international liberal internationalism - at obscene cost in terms of human suffering on the Western periphery.
 This was definitely true in 2009, especially as Occupy and Femen represented the height of middle class liberal posturing. However, there are signs that the Left is now beginning to even up the resistance score as the centrist model continues to fail to deliver economic growth, the posturing liberals dig themselves into ever deeper holes and the centre appears to have no option left according to its own rules of engagement but to drive an austerity programme that seems to be unfairly directed at the weakest and most vulnerable.
 Berlusconi, like Dominique Strauss-Kahn, eventually fell victim to a centrist liberal strategy of using the law to discredit inconvenient persons and there was a natural end to his tenure because of age but the principle he represented not only persists but flourishes in the smaller European countries whether directed at neonationalism (as in the Czech Republic or Hungary) or a curious form of hyper-liberal Westernism linked to NATO (as in the Baltic Republic and Poland).
 The point I would have made more strongly here (and bear in mind that the rhetoric at this point has moved into persuasive mode designed to shake up anarchists from their torpor) is that the liberal Left took a dramatic wrong-turning with the adoption of identity politics as the basis for coalition-building to the exclusion of locality, family, cultural tribe and work-place organisation. It 'went against nature' by encouraging the attribute of a person instead of the person as the core unit of society.
 A matter of local concern to London Anarchists at that point in history.
 This, resistance to Cross Rail and the Gatwick extensions are still ones to watch. Fracking would have been added to the list except that Cameron suddenly back-tracked from the aggressive promotion of the shale gas industry in anticipation of its effect on the Southern English vote in core Tory areas. The plan was to come back to it after the election with a solid majority and damn the hides of the English middle classes. If he had not drawn back, the Greens might be more of a threat than they are and built up a 'Blue' Green support much as UKIP has defied its right wing tag and built a 'Red' element.
 In fact, as the last 2015 Election TV Debate showed, the limbic rage has moved up the social scale to the articulate middle classes.
 Unsurprisingly, the Lisbon Treaty came into full force at the end of that year (2009) and the post-Crash European Union has looked increasingly ramshackle ever since, hanging on to its constitutional position as substitute for any form of policy that would offer democratic solutions for problems to its population. Needless to say, it was the bankrupt centre-left (or rather 'radical centre') that engineered this farce and so the resistance to its failed model has fallen to the populist Right rather than to the popular Left.
 This was a very serious concern at the time - at a point where the structures imposed on society by the rather spurious 'war on terror' overlapped with the panic in the system about a crisis in the very means of production and distribution. The legislation is still in place but the middle classes themselves started to baulk and fight back at the implications of the security agenda - at least in the UK and Europe if less so in the US. The moment has probably passed for the worst to be imposed, It is fascinating to note in this context that the attempt by NATO to drive public support for its forward policy against Russia has failed in the West of the Continent, including usually militaristic Britain, and that the heavy lobbying for guarantees on defence spending achieved nothing but the opportunistic appropriation of the policy by UKIP.
 Since this was written, we have taken an interest in the rise of transhumanism and the formation of Transhumanist Parties across the West. Our judgment is that these are single issue parties that repeat the intellectual errors of the Greens but the application of technology for the benefit of humanity is a serious issue that deserves being higher on the agenda as a matter for community action. The anti-technological position of the neo-conservative (not in the US sense of the term) environmentalist Left has gone too far.
 I think this fear of the people is the defining aspect of the politics of our time. Though the 'system' has a monopoly of force and could do terrible things if it wished, the complexity and interdependence of society has made the risks of doing so far too great for the safe survival of elites and States. It is not that the people can do much about their situation in a positive sense at this point in history but the disruption caused by non-compliance, selective resistance and sheer bloody-mindedness to a weak and vulnerable system gives it a sort of negative power based on its lack of predictability. This helps to explain the State's obsession with surveillance, Big Data, nudge and behaviourial psychology ... it hopes to manipulate rather than force us into compliance. It is probably a forlorn hope because complexity is not only built into the system but is growing exponentially - the arrival of artificial intelligence is expected by the authorities to be a means of exerting control again but this is to be doubted. AI merely adds another layer of complexity.
 This should not be misunderstood as socially conservative statement - quite the opposite. The fact of an increasingly sex-positive culture is to be applauded. The argument is the opposite - that repression has merely been replaced by voyeurism and that a form of cultural self censorship in the population means that people are still hiding behind the curtain watching others have fun rather than having fun themselves.