Does anarchy work? / Anarchy, not Anarchism!

You may already be an Anarchist..

It’s true. If your idea of healthy human relations is a dinner with friends, where everyone enjoys everyoen else’s company, responsibilities are divided up voluntarily and informally, and no one gives orders or sells anything, then you are an anarchist, plain and simple. The only question that remains is how you can arrange for more of your interactions to resemble this model.

Whenever you act without waiting for instruction or official permission, you are ananarchist. Any time you bypass a ridiculous regulation when no one’s looking you are an anarchist. If you don’t trust the government, the school system, Hollywood, or the management to know better than you when it comes to things that affect your life, that’s anarchism, too. And you are especially an anarchist when you come up with your own ideas and initiatives and solutions.

As you can see, it’s anarchism that keeps things working and life interesting. If we waited for authorities and specialists and technicians to take care of everything, we would not only be in a world of trouble, but dreadfully bored-and boring-to boot. Today we live in that world of trouble precisely to the extent that we abdicate responsibility and control.

Anarchism is naturally present in every healthy human being. It isn’t necessarily about throwing bombs or wearing black masks, though you may have seen that on television (Do you believe everything you see on television?That’s not anarchist!). The root of anarchism is the simple impulse to do it yourself: everything else follows from this.

Does anarchy work?

People with very little actual historical background often say of anarchy that it would never work-without realizing that not only has it worked for much of the history of the human race, but it is in fact working right now. For the time being, let’s set aside the Paris Commune, Republican Spain, Woodstock, open-source programming and all the other farmed instances of successful revolutionary anarchism. Anarchy is simply cooperative self-determination-it is a part of everyday life, not something that will only happen “after revolution”. Anarchy works today for circles of friends everywhere- so how we can make more of our economic relations anarchist? Anarchy is in action when people cooperate on a camping trip or to arrange free meals for hungry people-so how can we apply those lessons to our interactions at school, at work, in our neighborhoods?

To consult chaos theory: anarchy is chaos and chaos is order. Any naturally ordered system-a rainforest, a friendly neighborhood-is a harmony in which balance perpetuates itself through chaos and chance. Systematic disorder, on the other hand-the discipline of the high school classroom, the sterile rows of genetically modified corn defended from weeds and insects-can only be maintained by ever-escalating exertions of force. Some,thinking disorder is simply the absence of any system, confuse it with anarchy.

But disorder is the most ruthless system of all:disorder and conflict, unresolved, quickly systematize themselves, stacking up hierarchies according to their own pitiless demands- selfishness, heartlessness, lust for domination. Disorder in its most developed form is capitalism: the war of each against all, rule or be ruled, sell or be sold, from the soil to the sky.

We live in a particularly violent and hierarchical time. The maniacs who think they benefit from this hierarchy tell us that the violence would be worse without it, not comprehending that hierarchy itself, whether it be inequalities in economic status or political power, is the consequence and expression of violence. Not to say that forcibly removing the authorities would immediately end the waves of violence created by the greater violence their existence implies; but until we are all free to learn how to get along with each other for our own sake, rather than under the guns directed by the ones who benefit from our strife, there can be no peace between us.

This state of affairs is maintained by more than guns, more than the vertigo of hierarchy, of kill-or-be-killed reasoning: it is also maintained by the myth of success. Official history presents our past at the history of Great men, and all other lives as mere effects of their causes; there are only a few subjects of history, they would make us believe-the rest of us are its objects. The implication of any hierarchy is that there is only one “free man” in all society:the king (or president, executive, movie star, etc). Since this is the way it has always been and always will be, the account goes, we should all fight to become him, or at least accept our station beneath him gracefully, grateful for others beneath us to trample when we need reassurance of our own worth.

But even the president isn’t free to go for a walk in the neighborhood of his choosing. Why settle for a fragment of the world, or less? In the absence of force-in the egalitarian beds of true lovers, in the democracy of devoted friendships, in the topless federations of playmates enjoying good parties and neighbors chatting at sewing circles-we are all queens and kings. Whether or not anarchy can “work” outside such sanctuaries, it is becoming clearer that hierarchy doesn’t. Visit the model cities of the new world “order”-sit in a traffic jam of privately owned vehicles, among motorists sweating and swearing in isolated unison, an ocean filling with pollution to your right and a ghetto on your left where uniformed and ununiformed gangs clash-and behold the apex of human progress. If this is order, why not try chaos!

Anarchy, not Anarchism!

To that say anarchists subscribe to anarchism is like saying pianists subscribe to pianism. There is no Anarchism —but there is anarchy, or rather, there are anarchies.

For as long as power has existed, the spirit of anarchy has been with us too, named or nameless, uniting millions or steeling the resolve of a single one. The slaves and savages who fought the Romans for their freedom and lived in armed liberty, equality, and fraternity, the mothers who raised their daughters to love their bodies in defiance of the diet advertisements leering from all sides, the renegades who painted their faces and threw tea into Boston Harbor, and all the others who took matters into their own hands: they were anarchists, whether they called themselves Ranters, Taborites, Communards, Abolitionists, Yuppies, Syndicalists, Quakers, Mothers of the Disappeared, Food Not Bombs, Libertarians, or even Republicans —just as we are all anarchists, to the extent that we do the same. There are as many anarchists today as there are students cutting class, parents cheating on their taxes, women teaching themselves bicycle repair, lovers desiring outside the lines. They don ’t need to vote for an anarchist party or party line —that would disqualify them, at least for that moment —to be anarchists: anarchy is a mode of being, a manner of responding to conditions and relating to others, a class of human behavior ….and not the “working ” class!

Forget about the history of anarchism as an idea —forget the bearded guys. It ’s one thing to develop a language for describing a thing —it ’s another thing entirely to live it. This is not about theories or formulas, heroes or biographies —it ’s about your life. Anarchy is what matters, everywhere it appears, not armchair anarchism, the specialists ’ study of freedom! There are self-proclaimed anarchists who never experienced a day of anarchy in their lives —we should know how much to trust them on the subject!

So how will the anarchist utopia work? That ’s a question we ’ll never again be duped into disputing over, a red herring if there ever was one! This isn’t a utopian vision, or a program or ideal to serve; it ’s simply a way of proceeding, of approaching relationships, of dealing with problems now —for surely we ’ll never be entirely through dealing with problems! Being an anarchist doesn’t ’t mean believing anarchy, let alone anarchism, can fix everything —it just means acknowledging it ’s up to us to work things out, that no one and nothing else can do this for us: admitting that, like it or not, our lives are in our hands —and in each others ’.

January 1, 2011 - Posted by | anti-otoriter / anarşizan, sistem karsitligi

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