Monthly Archives: December 2016

Some Thoughts on what Anarchism is.

I recently had a lot of interest in a facebook post I made about anarchism so I thought I’d respond with a blog post about the basic ideas I was talking about.

In the original post I threw around a few different terms describing varieties of Anarchist thought without explaining what each kind entails, so allow me to rectify that and I’ll tuck in a couple I haven’t mentioned yet. Additionally to be clear, I don’t necessarily subscribe fully to any of these modes of anarchist thought, but I do think all are valuable.

Anarchism (Basic): The rejection of unjustified hierarchies. Capitalism being the most commonly railed against, do the way “profit” is extracted from workers labour to line the pockets of private owners. (bourgeoisie is a term you’ll regularly see to describe those bosses/owners) It being unjustified because workers don’t really have a choice in weather they work or not, and because of the nature of capitalism owner are generally forced by the market to drain their workers lest they lose their completive edge and go bankrupt. Making the system in anarchist eyes not only unjustified by systemically unjustifiable and deeply unfair. A hierarchies can only be justified if all parties can give informed consent to the hierarchy.

Intersectional Anarchism: When Anarchism is taken to its logical end you find yourself having to work against all forms of unjustified hierarchies, systemic oppression on various groups. So a logically consistent anarchist is also a social justice activist, including being feminist.

Pacifist Anarchism: In standard Anarchist thought, you see the very similar idea of “revolution” as you might expect from a Marxist, and this is where in my opinion the two ideologies have the most overlap. While revolution does not necessitate violent over throwing of the state, many anarchist this is an inevitable consequence when the powerful are threatened. Pacifist Anarchist reject this, and believe a non-violent is either preferable or necessarily for an anarchist revolution. Though of course some might argue redistribution of the means of production (private property*) is itself violent so you know debate continues.

*Oh important note “private property” does not equal “personal property,” in either Marxist or anarchist thought. Private property is when a person own something like a factory, but they don’t themselves use it. Personal property is like your car or house. You can own things, but you can’t for example own a property you don’t actually use.

Communist Anarchism (AnComm): This is where you see the most cross pollination between Marxism and Anarchism, and AnComm’s tend to (although not always) have an revolutionary bent. However they also are strong proponents of intentional housing, housing cooperatives, and communes of various kinds, and if you search Google for such establishments you will find there are many all over the developed world, there are likes others, but they are more challenging to find. Though here is a good link.

AnComms are also are all about seizing the means of production, but so are Syndicalists, so I’ll just explain them, and if you’re interested there is more information out there on the interwebs and there are Anarchist bookshops and coffee houses in some cities. Though one word of warning you will get a few authoritarian Marxism in the mix, some will be doing this “ironically” and it can be quite amusing, but other support a kind of tyranny of the majority, and view that as not only unavoidable, but even good.  I don’t agree with that extreme, and even the “ironic Stalin’s” can be off putting with all there jokes about the gulags.

Anarcho Syndicalism: Basically this ideologies is all about workers taking ownership of factories by collectivizing, forming unions, and forming cooperatives. This particular ideology played a huge from in the early 1900’s for workers’ rights. I’m not super knowledgeable about this history, but Noam Chomsky is a major figure in the field of thought and there is a lot of material on the subject.  And it can be boiled down the idea that workers ought to control the nature of their work, and are better suited to planning that work then a boss or business owner, and are better able to react to changing conditions with into the work environment when they are not having there livelihoods held hostage.
Individualist Anarchism: More a group of ideas then a coherent ideology, however it’s important to include this one as well. Extreme Individualism leads to the kind of lawlessness assisted in popular opinions about Anarchy, however this extreme view of a person ought to be able to do functionally anything is not in my opinion work considering for long. What I am more interested in the more moderated ideas of invalidism, those about informed consent. In any anarchist movement I am interested it is key that individuals are able to give informed consent to the processes they participate or are subjected in. This may sound obvious, but that includes less obvious processes, like capitalism, and various kinds of oppression, and subjection that people are put under. It is one task of an anarchist to identify new and undiscovered ways in which we form hierarchies, and to determine if those hierarchies are justified or not.

Anarcho-Capitalism, Modern “Libertarianism”: While this is not a true from of anarchism, except if you ask some Anarcho-Capitalists its popularity means I will mention it here as well. Anarcho-Capitalist believe that human flourishing can only occur when You dismantle any state apparatus that exist (the end goal of many anarchist models) and you allow unfettered unregulated capitalism (this being anathema to anarchist thought) there by creating the greatest amount of human flourishing.

Of course in hearing this most anarchists will point out that an unregulated free markets result in monopoly and unaccountable tyrants who control the vast majority of the wealth and property with 0 accountability to anyone else, but oh well.

So there some terms, what to I think to be true. Honestly I’m still working out my preferences. I think because we live in modern democracy it make sense to take up pacifist tactics since the chances of a successful revolution are slim to none and even if it succeeds you don’t have the kind of informed population who could make informed decisions, so education and creating working communities practicing anarchist ideas is key to any sort of anarchist future. Creating out own media, building systems that allow us to reject as much of capitalism as we can, i.e. being self-reliant within a community to a greater or lesser extent. Experimenting with systems of self-governance. All of these and more are the things I’m most interested in, beyond you know no having to be a wage slave, that would be nice too.

I’ll probably write some more in the future about this subject, I do have ideas about how to make these communities work, and increase their self-reliance, but for now I think this is an effective starting place.


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