“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music” (quote)

There is nothing more frustrating than being told by others, that I am “too radical…or too far left” in my thinking about what I consider a socially just society would look like. I came across this posts title quote earlier this week and considered it worthwhile for framing this particular discussion. I want to introduce my readers to anarchism. I am aware that some (or many) of you will be well familiar with anarchism and will have already formed your own opinions. And while I find anarchism highly compelling, I accept that I still have a lot to learn.

Anarchists have long been conveyed as radical, trouble-making activist types with a penchant for violence.  While radical and trouble making activist might be reflective of the anarchist – there is nothing inherent in anarchism that supports violence. Additionally, anarchists are only radical and or trouble-making insofar as they challenge authoritarian norms. This is why I consider the quote so pertinent. Anarchists are not insane, the general populace just don’t understand what anarchists stand for because they are fed  and buy into MSM propaganda.

I’ve accepted that when I am perceived by others to be too radical, its because they cannot perceive what I can about my experience and understanding of the world.

It’s almost been a year since I started this blog (well, from when it was originally hosted at blogspot) and in that time I’ve learnt a lot. That was the point in writing for me.  One thing that I note is the angst against left thinking people and the often made assumption that any person who affiliates themselves with the left were considered statists or commies. And when I reflect on the policies of NZ’s left wing parties, I can understand from where that assumption derives. I don’t necessarily agree with it, but I get it. But anarchism is also a left thinking theory – that debunks that particular assertion about leftists.

I read a little bit of Chomsky throughout my university years, but he was not really a thinker who was covered in my  classes. Perhaps I took the wrong classes.  But I would say over the past year he has had a significant influence on my thinking. Its sad though that Chomsky gets very little attention in NZ except perhaps in academic or activists circles.

The reason I mention Chomsky is that while he admits to being a traditionalist he actively supports and advocates for libertarian socialism/anarchism. So what is Anarchism?

From the Anarchist Writers blog:

“anarchism is a political theory which aims to create a society within which individuals freely co-operate together as equals. As such anarchism opposes all forms of hierarchical control – be that control by the state or a capitalist… rather than being purely anti-government or anti-state, anarchism is primarily a movement against hierarchy…because hierarchy is the organisational structure that embodies authority” 

Under the heading what would an anarchist society look like, the blog states:

“…given that the state is a top-down centralised body it is not hard to imagine that a free society would have communal institutions which were federal and organised from the bottom-up”. However, “given the way in which our own unfree society has shaped our way of thinking, it is probably impossible for us to imagine what new forms will arise once humanity’s ingenuity and creativity is unleashed by the removal of its present authoritarian fetters”

Additionally, on the Centre for a Stateless Society blog, the following excerpt introduces the reader to the FAQ page:

“We can no longer blind ourselves to the fact that concentrated economic power has become as reckless and ruthless and coercive as concentrated political power.

We can no longer attack subsidies for the poor while supporting even greater subsidies for the rich.

We can no longer speak of protecting freedom in the world by turning the world into protective hamlets. We can no longer oppose tyranny by emulating it.

We cannot speak of individual freedom and free communities, self-reliance and self-responsibility, while honoring the assembly line, promoting urban demolition, and making fetish of commodities. We cannot speak of honest work while honest working people are alienated from the work and treated as mere extensions of their machines.

We cannot attack the abuses of arrogant and bureaucratic labor leaders without attacking the abuses of arrogant and bureaucratic industrial and business leaders.

We cannot speak of a land of liberty and a national-security state in the same breath – we must defend freedom at home if we are ever to have freedom in the world.

We cannot speak of a sweet land of liberty when the very land is soured by greed of those who turn the landscape into real estate, who turn the rivers into open sewers, who see in every living thing nothing but a dollar in the process.”

–Karl Hess, Dear America, 1975.

I also encourage you to read this: http://c4ss.org/content/13612

I know that the substance of this post has largely consisted of reposting the work of others, but what I hope is that those who choose to read this post reflect on the ideas of anarchism and visit the links.

I spent most of last year thinking how crazy some people were for considering that we could abandon the ‘state’ as means of control. That stemmed from my fear that the only alternative to state control was corporate control.  Since reading Chomsky, the blogs mentioned in this post, and having discussions on various social media platforms, I’m beginning to understand the alternatives. The state or political institutions we currently have are only legitimate because we legitimise them. We whinge about the authoritarianism but we carry on our daily lives implicitly consenting to the rules imposed on us, not through our free choice, but through the mere fact (for many of us) that we were contingently born in this country and we are conditioned from birth to accept this tyranny.

So I’ve set myself a goal for the rest of this year, to get a comprehensive understanding of anarchism and the alternatives to a state and/or corporate controlled society. I encourage other readers to consider the alternatives.

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2 comments

  1. Ten years ago I would have described myself as wholly libertarian, but over time I am moving in the direction of a laissez-faire anarchism: three big stumbling blocks, however:

    1) I believe anarchism has trouble regarding the rule of law. (Which mirrors some of the contradictions libertarianism has on this issue).

    2) The anarchist position on IP (intellectual property) is appalling.

    3) I don’t believe an anarchist society is in a position to be able to defend itself from outside aggressors.

    [Love the clean-cut look of the new blog … was changing over a major issue?]

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  2. Some things to think about, thanks Mark.

    By the way, changing over wasn’t so bad. Once I learned how to import everything. I did have to restart my stats, and I think I’ve lost a few readers, but hopefully that will pick up again in time!

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