What is Anarchy
Ahead of Socialism, Anarchy is probably the most abused term in history. Thanks to wannabe bourgeois punk bands to weirdo ‘An-caps, to referencing to chaos– appropriated – Anarchy was – and is – forced to be de-constructed and re-constructed to even begin talking about it. So, attempting to explain what Anarchy is, requires a felicitous approach exposing what Anarchy (Anarchism) is – not.
Anarchy is not and never will mean chaos. I am aware of how Joker from Batman helped condition the current generation into believing Anarchy equals chaos… Chaos means complete disorder and confusion; we have police, power, states, secret services, surveillance – and we have disorder and confusion; isn’t it obvious: Anarchy is not how the world chooses to organise itself, but the human specie creates enormous levels of chaos – disorder and confusion. We have war, without Anarchy; The police murder and harass, without Anarchy; Poverty, famine, terror; no Anarchy. De facto, chaos rests on really existing powers.
During the Occupy movement, under heavy handed police terror, media propaganda, participants organised, despite facing a powerful adversary: Powerful capitalism and its state – police. Disorder was born with the cops’ tear-gas, mass beating, tent burning… People were not indulged in murder and rape when the cops had no power over their lives.
The Gezi movement (Turkey, 2013), even more revealing, echoed Occupy. For two nights in a row, in Taksim, the centre of Istanbul’s tourism, people fought against the police, under heavy use of tear-gas and plastic bullets. Hundreds of injured people were carried into homes and cafes to be treated by doctors and medical professionals, who volunteered to help after watching the horrific response by the police. For over a month, Taksim, typically one of the least secure areas in Istanbul, became one of the safest – when the cops were not there, as they had to retreat, following the understanding that the people were not going to leave. An explosion of culture, organisation and social interaction; no state, no police, no capitalists and, thus, no chaos.
The two above are merely recent (and very small) examples that illustrate the point of chaos.
Anarcho-Capitalism is not “Anarcho” (Anarchist). Just as no-state feudalism is a ridiculous idea, so is An-cap-ism. Some prefer calling this racket ‘libertarian’. Tell me: How does one claim their values to be an extension of libertarianism while defending a total tyranny: Businesses and vast land ownership ? A business is a top-down hierarchy; the lower-orders have no say… how is this libertarian ? A business is far more anti-libertarian, anti-freedom than the state; within the state, exists a possibility for the public to play some small role. A ‘capitalist’ institution is not at liberty to up-hold any freedom.
Anarchy does not only en-tail a ‘no state’ structure; It requires the adherent to suppose all forms of authority to be illegitimate if not proven.
What Anarchy is
Refraining from any monopoly over anarchy (-ism) is the best course to take. It can mean different things to various schools of thought- Anarcho-syndaclism, socialism, mutualism, communism, primitivism…
However, Anarchy, like all things, revolves around a shared universe:
“Anarchists do not suppose that all people are altruistic, or wise, or good, or identical, or perfectible, or any romantic nonsense of that kind. They believe that a society without coercive institutions is feasible, within the repertoire of natural, imperfect, human behaviour.” – Donal Rooum, 1995.
Different approaches differ in one point of contact with a possible form of anarchy: How do we achieve a society without coercive institutions and what should be the ultimate form it takes ?
Some argue for an armed struggle (which I do not agree with); others believe it is possible without violence; sometimes, some claim sometimes violence is necessary, but mostly should be avoided. Past this, the debate centers around how society will organize itself under anarchism.
For instance, an Anarcho-socialist could argue for collectively owned industries; an Anarcho-mutualist may argue for the same, but give le-way to those who choose to organise differently, including the contradictory idea of Anarcho-capitalism.
As I have mentioned, Anarchy creeps into all areas of life. Some Anarchists, including many socialistic perspectives on Anarchy, support a free-love movement; the rejection of marriage, often expressed in forms of multiple-partners – or libertinism, which is a notion embraced by Jean-Paul Sartre and his long-term partner, Simone De Behaviour.
Relativist Anarchists may argue for ‘freedom of tribes to organise as they wish’. For instance, a crazy fundamentalist Christian cult in America may choose to organise social relations in a way that fits their religious approach to life. Although many relativists do not exactly argue for this, and I am really touching on extreme impulses within different approaches, this can cause an existing anti-anarchistic reality to form. Hierarchical social relations, just like under feudalism, may cause previous problems to re-emerge – authoritarianism, lack of freedom, division and in-equality among sexes.
‘Anarchists’ criticize really existing structures, not some democratic dream
Often, one may find calls for a social program or support for government regulation in favor of protecting public and worker interests in anarchistic text. And, equally as often, opposers – or opposers of the particular perspective of the text – find route to excuse the creator of not being ‘Anarchist’. Some even excuse this to be ‘using contradictory ideas to force beliefs on others’. An old – but futile – trick by all tyrannical systems: ‘you are forcing us’… This line is strange coming from a hierarchy that uses all power to keep certain classes within their authority, coercing them into a mold they see fit to pay tribute to their interests. De facto, the approach of arguing for state intervention, is accepting the reality in which we live. It is not useful – and counter-productive – to not argue for state power to protect workers from grievous corporate oppression, for instance. If I lived during the FDR years, I would certainly have defended FDR’s use of the army to protect protesting workers in Michigan against the police and company thugs. This does not mean ultimately supporting a big, anti-anarchistic state.
As for Democratic dreams, Anarchists may revere a democratic approach that supposes a need for an elected, easily disposable administrations. An Anarchist society in a capitalist world, for instance, may need elected people bent on diplomacy and international relations. But need for such a structure is abolished when considering how technology can be used by two or more distant parties intending to establish ‘free-association’, especially in a non-capitalist world.
In a brief attempt to explain, I have concentrated this approach to explaining anarchy in the context of a particular audience: The general public. Forgive me for not extending on famous Anarchist thinkers like Chomsky, Proudhon, Bakunin, Kropotkin ect.
Ultimately Anarchy, including its many contradictory traditions, is the rejection of coercive institutions and un-proven forms of authority, from the household to state power. And it has nothing to do with chaos; An Anarchist society is a highly organised one.
“[Anarchism] is not a fixed, self-enclosed social system but rather a definite trend in the historic development of mankind, which, in contrast with the intellectual guardianship of all clerical and governmental institutions, strives for the free unhindered unfolding of all the individual and social forces in life. Even freedom is only a relative, not an absolute concept, since it tends constantly to become broader and to affect wider circles in more manifold ways. For the anarchist, freedom is not an abstract philosophical concept, but the vital concrete possibility for every human being to bring to full development all the powers, capacities, and talents with which nature has endowed him, and turn them to social account. The less this natural development of man is influenced by ecclesiastical or political guardianship, the more efficient and harmonious will human personality become, the more will it become the measure of the intellectual culture of the society in which it has grown”