Mankind has accomplished more than anyone could have ever imagined in its recorded history. Our species emerged from the wilderness, but unlike our cohabitators, we never really returned to the woods. Humanity traded its primitive lifestyle in exchange for culture and court systems, industry and institutions. Man* searched long and hard for a consistent, convenient method of living, and kicked up art, medicine, and education in the process. We’ve been beneath the ocean, have even stood on the moon, but still, we struggle to find a sustainable lifestyle.
The term ‘anarchism’ has been slowly appropriated over the last century as a social buzzword by the traditional left and right of the modern political sphere. Anarchists aren’t bloodthirsty warlords. They aren’t thieves and criminals. Anarchists are people who’ve seen through the façade of the government structure; they are people who have no desire to be oppressed, controlled, or coerced into anything they don’t agree with. They recognize how people have been misled into monoliths of misinformation, and prefer to not be exploited to generate unparalleled economic wealth for the institutions above them. Anarchism is essentially the deepest form of personal responsibility a person can imagine. It’s the natural response to oppression and injustice.
Anarchism is rooted in autonomy, or self-governance. There is a misconception that in an anarchist society, there are no rules. This implies that rules are the only thing keeping people moral and inline. If the laws were repealed tomorrow – all of them – would you immediately go out to steal, murder, and vandalize things? I’ll assume the answer is no; you’re likely a better person than that. Many of us are. Are people perfect? No, and they never will be. What people are is greedy and incredibly corruptible. These are the people often elected to office.
Those who question anarchists sometimes ask why antipolitical activists don’t attempt to make their changes from the inside, and run for office themselves. Soldiers suggest we enlist and serve in the military, politicians insist we vote, or get personally involved with the electoral and lawmaking processes. To them, we simply ask, would a civil rights activist from the 1950’s join the KKK to implement change from the inside? There isn’t any logic to be found in such an argument: these are conglomerates that don’t maintain any semblance of integrity. There is no internal repair to be made in either example because these concepts are fundamentally broken; only resistance and criticisms from the outside will entice any change.
We live in an era of Post-Enlightenment. We’ve been through the Dark Ages, have witnessed World Wars, holocausts, genocides, and economic collapses. We’ve watched the booms of the Scientific and Industrial Revolutions, even experienced a Renaissance. Humanity has attended class for centuries, and has learned some very powerful lessons along the way. Now it’s time to apply these lessons to a rapidly decaying world that is perishing from abuse and neglect. We understand the folly of war, the misplaced faith of religion. We know that money has an imagined value and there will never be enough of it to pay anyone back, and we’ve learned that pollution is more destructive than we ever could’ve imagined. We are the product of our history, and we should be quick to reflect on the missteps made before us, and the dead-end in which those tracks lead.
One of these lessons is the necessity of structured law, or rules, which dispels the misconception of anarchist societies being without law. Anarchism specifically means to be without rulers, a lack of coercive authority. Whatever rules or laws an anarchist society implements, will have been collectively amended and agreed upon as a community, not by a single leader who may or may not have been fairly elected. Some societies may choose to put no law in place at all – the difference would be voluntary choice. By allowing communities to assemble themselves freely, people with opposing ideals aren’t forced to tolerate each other.
The skeptics ask “well, who will uphold these rules? Who will enforce the law?” The answer to that question is the same answer the current statist societies would offer: the community. There isn’t a policeman on every corner or checking every house, making sure the laws are being upheld. The individual citizens take it upon themselves to follow the code of conduct, both local and nationally. An anarchist society could use a list of laws such as 1) Don’t murder 2) Don’t rape 3) Don’t steal, and the community would obey these laws, as it’s what they’ve agreed to do. If these rules don’t resonate with a person, they wouldn’t be required to be a part of the community, and could find one more fitting with their values. Some would choose to break these laws, as is our nature, and the community would be charged with administering justice. No heavily armed police forces or other militarized gangs would be in control of the people, for the people would be in charge of themselves. A strong, cooperative community would render a police force obsolete, or would produce its own form of peacekeepers.
This boils down to the concept of power vacuums. When there is a point of authority, a pinnacle atop the power structure, or hierarchies based on anything other than pure competence, power becomes a very questionable notion, as everyone involved in such a situation seems bent on annexing as much of it as they can. When there are several figureheads or ideologies competing for control, a vacuum is created, and the competition for power becomes a struggle at the cost of the people. The 2016 US Presidential election is an example: the Republican ballot hosted more than a dozen candidates at the start of the campaign season, more runners than any other ballot in American history. The popular vote was fragmented into only slivers of percentage points across a bingo sheet of potential candidates. As the election moved forward, the tradition of rightwing politics created an echo chamber of regurgitated rhetoric. The Republican candidates proved themselves to be clones of one another, repeating the same broken lines and arguing over the same stagnated topics, breaking not even an inch of new ground. A power vacuum was created on the right, and the unorthodox, shoot-from-the-hip approach of Donald Trump was enough to expose his political opponents as broken records, and block up the vacuum to secure his candidacy. It’s not that Trump was ever ahead of the pack, he was just simply something different.
Power vacuums are a common occurrence. They can take place on a grand scale between nations, on the battlefield between warring armies, in the streets between a citizen and a police officer, and countless social situations involving race, age, gender, or culture. Power is abused to the detriment of innocent people in every capacity, which is why it should never be given to those desperate to hold it, and it should never be centralized for the convenience of a single political panel.
Anarchists realize the social value of fair and just laws, but recognize the detriment from abuse and threat of violence the people experience from their government and “lawful” institutions. A panel of fat, rich white men who are corrupted beyond recognition cannot be charged with shaping and enforcing the moral spectrum of society – it will be broken in their favor every time. What is convenient to the government is corrosive to the people.
Even with the control that politicians have over their citizens, the corporations have a death-grip on the governments. As Chomksy explained in Requiem for the American Dream, “super power will yield super wealth, and super wealth will consolidate super power”. The collusion between the political establishment and the corporate hydra provides “security” to the middle class. In reality, these back alley handshakes between politicians and CEOs are shrouded in ideological dishonesty and sophistry. “Work, and provide for yourself and for your family, and chase the American Dream.” Meanwhile, the conglomerates of power have a stranglehold on those workers and their livelihood, and wring every drop of profit and excess from each in exchange for essentially nothing; the “security” that is provided is a ruse, a fabrication of the oldest kind. Like the serfs serving the feudal lord, we are realizing that the people are many, and we far more capable than our rulers give us credit for.
We’ve seen the evil that humanity is capable of. Man has been lost and then found again, manned the trenches in the face of overwhelming enemies, and discovered intellectual treasures and artistic expressions that are just as valuable as any precious metal or bank note. Why not use logic and philosophical razors to sift through the nonsense and misinformation to piece together essentially a perfect system? This system would adapt and change with its users, which would make it a cycle, or active process, and not a rigid system incapable of meaningful, proactive change. The answer is simple: because such a method of approach would undo the current systems and force those who hold power into the unemployment line. Those who hold the reigns are in no hurry to lose their grasp.
So we will yank the reign from their sweaty, greedy palm, and suggest they find another place to take up space. The words every politician has feared for a thousand years will be uttered: “I don’t need you anymore.”
Anarchism is a philosophy that humanity employed for thousands of years before ever coming together first as tribes, then empires, and then nations. This modern, centralized world has been handcrafted by the oppressors, but it was built by the hands of farmers and framers, miners and masons, engineers and educators, architects and artists. All of the wonders of today can be credited to an endless line of blue and white collar workers who made it possible. All these people have to do to reclaim their labor is turn their aggression and anger against the guilty governments, hold them accountable for their crimes, and strip them of the power they never truly held.
This isn’t fiction. Almost every nation to rise to power is rooted in revolutionist soils. The Colonials repelled the British Crown, and the Union battled the Confederacy. The Sioux held control of the plains among rival tribes before turning their war cries on the greedy bluecoat invaders. The French experienced their own series of revolutions, and fed the guillotine as many necks as they could muster. People have to learn that revolution is not a fairytale, but rather something that has taken place in every empire across the globe. We are only here now through the persistent revolutionary acts of our bloodlines. If one were to examine their heritage, they’d find a rich story of perseverance and personal action.
Anarchism, autonomy as a whole, has served as a beacon for the skeptics and doubters for centuries. By casting a vote, one concedes that someone else is more fit to make their decisions for them. No one is running for office with the public in mind anymore. Instead, these panels of politicians assemble themselves behind a veil of ideological dogma and economic coercion. They distract their subjects with violence and terror, threat of shortage and poverty, and whatever else the mainstream media can conjure to maintain the spotlight; Doomsday, war, disease, crime, gossip, and scarcity. The government is arguably the most powerful institution to exist, and we know as a fact that power leads people to corruption… so I ask this: why would we let a person into office who asks to be there? The person who desires control of an entire population and its money should be the last person considered for the job, for their agenda is obvious, as they welcome further corruption as long as it’s their own. Let the people freely assemble instead of placing an ill-intentioned ruler above them.
Where is the logic in making an appeal to a blatantly broken system that is not interested in self-correction, and does everything in its power to cover its guilty tracks?
Like any fringe-dwelling minority, anarchists are victims of false labels. Black Americans struggled for centuries to be recognized as legitimate people, let alone citizens. Homosexuals faced similar persecution, and are still demonized by religious institutions and their followers. Even right now, as legalization balances on the fence across the country, marijuana users are still resisting the social stigma of Reefer Madness; lazy, complacent, no good troublemakers, even violent criminals. Attorney General Jeff Sessions went so far as to say that “good people don’t use marijuana”. Anarchists face the same conundrum, as it’s implied that anarchists can’t be good people. A politician who makes such a generalization against his critics is actually a sophist, by definition; they operate on fallacy because a coherent argument eludes them. People hear the term anarchist and visualize burning cities and black masked thugs, when in reality they likely know a handful of anarchists who are good, kind people who have conformed to society because it’s the proper, respectful thing to do. Anarchists aren’t starting wars or demanding taxes – that’s the government’s duty, as anarchists seek to disrupt such behavior.