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The Anarchist Option By Max

August 24, 2010

Over the past year, there has been a small but growing number of students on campus who have come to adopt anarchism as their political philosophy. We don’t wish to force our beliefs on anyone, but merely to make the ideas heard so that anarchism is an available option to those looking for a framework to view the world outside of the narrow confines of ‘democrat’ and ‘republican’.

Anarchism is rarely defined in the media but is often used as a label. For example, the ‘anarchists’ in Greece or protesting the World Economic Forum. Most people see the word ‘anarchist’ and immediately think of a bomb-wielding, bandana-covered face, violent extremist, when that is not at all a fair description of who anarchists are or what they believe. The media doesn’t really care to explain what anarchists mean by their name, preferring to throw the term around with the false insinuation that those to whom the term is applied desire chaos and violence.

Anarchism is not a simple, monolithic ideology, but rather a complex set of ideas that includes a wide range of views. What all anarchists generally agree on is that nobody should have coercive power over other persons and that hierarchy is inherently bad and should be abolished where it can not meet a burden of proof for existence. Such power structures that anarchists see as illegitimate include governments, corporations, patriarchal families, the military. If not government and corporations, what do anarchists want?

Our constructive vision of society is one where people have influence over their lives and their relations with others. This may seem within the realm of our current society, but anarchists point out that democratic decision-making plays a minor role or none at all in the jobs of most people and the government that we elect to ‘represent’ us often takes action against what the public wants. Contrary to the common usage of the term to mean disorder, most anarchists desire very orderly and complex forms of social organization. What if people voted to DIRECTLY effect the conditions and directions of their workplaces? What if people made decisions together about the world without representatives? Anarchism isn’t really as far out as one might think.

There are many obvious and important questions that arise when thinking about anarchism: are there any meaningful historical or contemporary examples of anarchist societies? how do anarchists go about changing society? what does it mean for a person to be an anarchist today? is human nature compatible with anarchism, or is it merely utopianism? I will attempt to address these issues in future entries.

There’s a lot of suffering in the world and I take it as the necessary task of every person to ask if the society they participate in, on the whole, contributes to suffering. Does the US contribute to overall suffering by carrying out massive military operations in rural Afghanistan or urban Iraq? Is the US to blame for the resulting harm of imposing sanctions of medical supplies on populations in Gaza and Iran? If the answer is yes, one must begin contemplating different worlds and the realm of human social possibilities.

One Comment leave one →
  1. ada permalink
    August 25, 2010 7:32 pm

    great article, max.

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