Right now, I have received a bachelors of science in Business Administration from a small liberal arts college and am currently working in small restaurant owned by my family. I started out with that major because I ultimately plan on taking over the family business. And strangely enough I became a libertarian socialist, which rejects the capitalist values I was taught. Now my major doesn’t seem like much of a fit with who I am. Maybe I would have been happier learning something else, but what’s done is done. I am not sure that I will be continuing my education any time soon, but I never let school get in the way of my education anyways. As far as plans go, I am already getting more involved in the family-owned restaurant. Since I have been born, my family has been very well off, but they had to work up from having next to nothing. So I’ve been part of the upper middle class for my entire life. I know that there are quite a few libertarian socialists out there who are part of the petite bourgeois and can probably relate to some of the feelings of guilt I am experiencing. On the flipside, I definitely believe that my family’s financial success gave me the time, resources, and opportunity to develop my own thoughts. Their success may actually be partially responsible for my ever reaching my beliefs in libertarian socialism. Unfortunately, the nature of state capitalism seems to do a really good job at preventing many people from having the time, resources, and energy to thoughtfully consider things like anarchism.
I am currently working at our family restaurant, and I am doing my own research to better organize and improve upon our restaurant’s success. In keeping with my libertarian socialist beliefs, I am trying to implement better pay while dealing with my parents who are blocking my suggested changes. I am trying to come to a compromise with them by actually developing a pay scheme that would somehow fall between a co-operative form of profit sharing and a normal hierarchical small capitalist business. I just can’t convince the rest of my family to bring in others to share in the ownership of the business. They understandably want to keep the business solely within the family, and I do want to respect their wishes. At the same time, I can’t help but feeling like I am being part of the problem. A small part no doubt, but a part nonetheless. I’m certainly wealthy, but I am not disgustingly super rich. The consolidation of global big business interests is certainly doing no favors for small business.
I know that many anarchists could consider my being a small business owner and therefore a boss fairly hypocritical. To some extent I agree, although I look at anarchism as trying to make everyone his or her own boss. We want everyone to essentially be business owners, and that naturally sounds very petit bourgeois. Although I could probably be called a “petit bourgeois anarchist”, which is a dirty word for some libertarian socialists, I believe that because I live in a State Capitalist society, where money unfortunately buys freedom, I don't have much of a choice other than to use the system to thrive and survive. It would just be a lot to risk giving up. I cannot give up what my grandparents and parents have painstakingly built from the ground up throughout the years. They themselves had to struggle through financial hardship, and I want to make sure that my children and grandchildren don’t have to go through that. I simply do not have the confidence to radically restructure an already very successful business and believe that it would be immensely foolish to give up what I have. Furthermore, I can use the resources gained from our business to hopefully promote some good. We can see that as anarchists we face a never-ending inward and outward struggle for freedom and equality.
Most of us want more money and thus more freedom and power within the current state capitalist system. For the most part, we have no choice but to play their corrupt game. If we don’t, our lives can become quite uncomfortable. Trying to destroy an inequitable system that saturates our society can be very risky to ones own security, health, comfort, and life. Once you move up the socioeconomic ladder it becomes very hard to destroy the very ladder you had to climb to get where you are. It’s understandable that my parents and grandparents, who had to scrape by and work extremely hard to create a successful small business, would be very leery of my desire to share the wealth, comfort, and control with others. Fighting the system can be very risky business. It is for that reason that I believe the anarchist movement needs to do a better job at giving those who don’t want to directly confront the state-government a better outlet for exercising their beliefs. I have no qualms about those who engage in illegal acts such as vandalism, squatting, and violent protest, but unfortunately such activities seem to alienate many people who would like to be doing something for the anarchist movement. While some of us are directly confronting the state-government power head-on, we need others to more actively circumventing the system through the anarchistic organization of their daily lives. As we can see, we certainly have an incredibly uphill battle.
It is clear why a movement that desires such radical change needs the widespread support of the working class (they are the ones who have the least to lose) but I am unsure that the petit bourgeoisie has no role to play. The petit bourgeois has things to gain from libertarian socialism as well. When oppressor an oppressed interact it is not only the oppressed who suffers although they arguable suffer the most. The oppressor also suffers from alienation, dehumanization, guilt, and inner turmoil that result when still being an oppressor with a human conscience. Unfortunately, a large part of the problem is that many in the working class desperately want only to move up the socioeconomic ladder. Many can only see the option of becoming the oppressor to alleviate being oppressed. They see that as the only realistic option to get out of their desperate situation. Many can’t see the alternative of destroying the oppressive ladder altogether. That is a huge part of the problem with our fight against the state capitalist system. The truth is that those within the working class need to step up and assume the roles of management and capital ownership. As anarchists have always said, the revolution needs to come from below and not from above. The working class needs to start becoming small business owners and self-managers of their own communities.
I might not seek to change my current family-owned business into something more compatible with my libertarian socialist ideals, but I personally dream of eventually opening up a separate worker-owned store of some kind. It is certainly possible that this might become a reality thanks to my current access to property and resources. It would ultimately depend upon my technical understanding, financial situation, human resources, level of interest, and will power. Maybe then the rest of the anarchist community won't consider me too much of a hypocrite. It would definitely be a risky venture, so I will be keeping our current restaurant as financial backup instead of trying to radically restructure it. Hopefully, my access to capital will help me further put my principles into action. This control over resources is what the working class desperately needs to really progress the libertarian socialist movement. I also plan on supporting counter-economic activities by promoting things such as the use of alternate forms of currency. While trying to bring down the system, the anarchist movement must also be about finding peace and freedom within our own personal relationships. Even if we can’t completely bring down the state-government and capitalism, there are things all of us could probably do to make ourselves freer. At least we have our freedom of thought. It’s about seeking out and enjoying our own little slice of freedom. So is a petit bourgeois anarchist an enemy or ally? What’s the verdict? We must all fight the enemies outside and within ourselves.