I’m an Anarchist! December 4, 2006Posted by Andreas in anarchism, Politics.
…most people are at least a little taken aback when I tell them that. I guess I don’t really fit their mental image of an anarchist, but then anarchism has to be one of the most public-maligned, misrepresented and misunderstood concepts out there, so I don’t blame them.
For me, anarchism, in its most distilled form, is the absence of hierarchy – a world where there is no domination or exploitation of one human being by another based on power, privilege, money, status, race, class, sex, ability, sexual orientation, age, ethnicity or any other signifier.
Anarchism provides a framework that accommodates both individual freedom and community solidarity. Anarchists believe that each human being has the inalienable right to manage their own life as they see fit (while never interfering with that same right of all others). Anarchists, also understand, however, that we are social animals and will not be able to survive without a mutually supportive society of equals living sustainably in the natural world of which we are an integral part.
Rather than being a dogmatic political philosophy, anarchism is a long tradition of how to conduct one’s own life and how humanity can coexist with all of nature on this planet.
It is surprisingly inclusive and accommodating – Noam Chomsky quotes a French writer as saying that “anarchism has a broad back”. At its best, it presents both a critical analysis of history and the state of our current society, as well as a revolutionary vision for a better world!
I think the first time I really got in contact with anarchism was on a train somewhere in Europe when I was an undergrad student. I came across Bakunin’s famed statement about how the impulse for destruction can be creative (the actual quote is: “the passion for destruction is a creative passion, too!”). I remember thinking “Wow, that’s a different way of looking at things”.
Quite soon after that I read Peter Marshall’s book Demanding the Impossible – A History of Anarchism (sadly out of print now) – all 778 pages of it – and was hooked.