Hi. Welcome to the site. Please check out the About Us, and if you have a question about crime and/or punishment, perhaps look at some previous questions along those lines first.
Welcome to Anarchy101 Q&A, where you can ask questions and receive answers about anarchism, from anarchists.

What schools of anarchy should I look into?

+1 vote
So when I was seventeen or so I started thinking a lot about legitimate authority, I couldn’t see any real justification for it beyond force theory, read up on theories of law, and only found weak and convoluted justifications for the state/authority. I eventually rejected the idea of government as arbitrary and inherently violent, but didn’t really have an alternative.

I had some friends who were libertarians, (modern right wing, not classical libertarians,) and tried that on for a few years. I read some of the literature, including the popular stuff like Rand, but I always found most an-Cap logic to be pretty circular and self-defeating even while I ID’d as one. Not to mention I’m incredibly socially liberal and the conservative undertones in the movement bothered me. During this time I started reading philosophy, some individualistic stuff, and the longer I was a libertarian the more I stepped away from being an Anarcho-Capitalist and towards just a general anti-state Anarchist. I stayed in this limbo, leaning towards different philosophies back and forth, for two or three years.

Volunteerism intrigued me for a bit, though I figured, (not just by personal rationalization but stuff I’d read, of course,) that a lot of the Voluntarist models made government replacements look like insurance companies. This didn’t bother me for a while, until I realized what shit-bags insurance companies are. I eventually agreed that modeling government replacements, (where/when/if such replacements are necessary,) after decentralized, confederate unions focused on their own communities was a better system.

I had socialist sympathies and believed that A. everyone has a right to live and B. people are entitled to their own production. The latter was something I’d strongly believed since I was a teenager, but I was deluded into thinking the best way to obtain that was through the free market. (I believed the free market was the most efficient way to solve economic problems, since things could evolve and compete organically like evolution. Eventually I learned more about evolution and holy shit! Evolution is inefficient as fuck, favoring expedient solutions that very rarely result in longevity for the mutated species. Most mutations are detrimental. It wasn't terribly hard to learn where and how Capitalism creates incredible waste, too.)

The real sticking point that pushed me into seriously considering communism was my inability to find any legitimate principle to justify the owning of land. I could justify owning a shirt. Person A makes the shirt, Person B provides a good or service of equal value and trades it for the shirt. That seemed like legitimate exchange to me. But nobody makes land or natural resources. From Rothbard to Hume, every justification for land ownership boiled down to a complicated justification for empiricism. ‘I have the power to take and/or colonialize the land, so I do it.’

Questions of land ownership in part lead to my initial disillusionment with right wing libertarianism in general. (That and the question, ‘the government is just a giant corporation, and aren’t corporations just microcosms of government?) Anyway, if I owned land, couldn’t I make any laws I wished on that land, and force compliance of kick someone off my land? And wouldn’t all land eventually be claimed, each with its own laws, and the only advantage of ‘free capitalism’ over monarchy to a non-land owner is you might be able to choose your king?

This lead to a new understanding of means of production in general that I don’t need to go into, suffice it to say it is fairly typical communist rhetoric. Any sentiment I had towards Capitalism I threw off, and now hold that like Leninism, Capitalism is another name for Feudalism, where the proletariat is the surf and the Lord is the corporation, (in Capitalism,) or the State, (in Leninism.)

I believe strongly in self-determination of all people’s, and visualize a world where individual communities govern themselves, and within those communities individuals govern themselves as well, without a central economy or political structure. Social justice is important to me as well, I think all hierarchal structures that inform society are intertwined, and in my mind fighting patriarchal and white supremacist and heteronormative norms counts as legitimate Anarchistic work even if that work doesn’t center anti-government or financial socialist values.

Perhaps I am less radical than some others, in that I don’t really mind if some communities want to do things I don’t like, like work vouchers, or even have people willingly cooperate to create social structures similar to a modern business. I wouldn’t try and stop that sort of enterprise as long as exploitative contracts aren’t binding. If someone truly does want to subjugate themselves under someone else in some work or religion project, as long as the subjugated individual can leave at any time without penalty, and the means of production are freely available so the subjugated person isn’t coerced into finding a new master after leaving, I see no non-violent means to stop such an affiliation. That doesn’t mean I’m pro-hierarchy, but people who choose to treat someone else as superior can’t be stopped from doing that.

I also figure that in a post-State society there would still be order to the distribution of goods, with trade unions and individual laborers directing the flow of their own product rather than anyone just taking what they feel they can use. For this to work would require the populace to have a different mentality than what most people have today. Ideally, it would develop into a gift/need based economy built on communism principles, but I recognize this could also turn into something akin to medieval debt economies if manipulated.

I’m sure even in such a world there would be people similar to capitalists in that they would accumulate wealth as traders who travel from community to community and keep a cut of traded goods. But as long as they never leveraged that to seize means of production or natural resources, I wouldn’t have anything against such a person. Though I would find it to be an odd way to live one’s life in a post Capitalist world.

For the last year and a half or two years I’ve said I was a socialist when asked, but even some close friends and family probably don’t know that, or else didn’t know it until I became more political vocal about a year ago in response to fascism.

So, yeah, point being, I’m still relatively young as a true Anarchist, (since I was a pro-Capitalist pseudo-Anarchist for a while,) and am wondering what schools y’all would recommend I research next? Either because, “You sound like X type of Anarchist, you’d like this,” or even to challenge my ideas or point me to a school I may have never heard of.

Thanks much.
asked Jan 26 by Denver332 (360 points)
have you been to theanarchistlibrary.org? entering a search term there can bring up fun directions to go in.

you don't say much about anti-civ thinking. it might be interesting for you to read more in that tendency.

and welcome to the site. :)
Yeah, primitivism has never had much appeal to me, I'd rather most industries continue insofar as is possible in an anarchist and environmental context, but I'm glad you brought it up because I've never given anti-civ theory a fair shake so I'll look into it!

Thanks for the welcome. (:
I find that a lot of your attitudes are similar to mine, I dislike the whole anarcho-capitalist/libertarian mode of thought due to the nature of private property, and how there needs to be some sort of muscle for private property to continue to be respected (what would capitalism be without the police and the military?)

However, I find the word "should" to be very flawed given that it directly contradicts the way things are, so I don't want to try and steer you in any direction. Like dot, I have tremendous respect for anti-civ but in the end it's pretty depressing and might not provide any existential answers for you, even though it did for me. I have always found buildings and sitting in chairs for a long to time to suck the life out of me, and while video games and movies can be very fun i feel a great sense of lifelessness after i use them sometimes
What sort of answers/meaning does the idea give you? I find it interesting, and wish nothing but the best for primitivists post-Revolution and hope they have successful communities. But it's never drawn me, per se.

I actually am from a state that is basically a giant forest, and spent a significant amount of time growing up camping, hiking, hunting, fishing, etc. and have even done things like lumberjacking for a wage. I also connect with the past a lot, and engage in things like historical fencing and such, so you'd think the idea would appeal to me.

Ultimately, though, while I think anarchy would slow down technological development, (a good thing imo for environmental reasons,) I think technological advancement doesn't need to stop. It would depress me to think our scientific understanding of the works wouldn't continue to grow

Also, without access to modern medicine, my spine might fuse together, but with it I'll probably lead a normal life, and am not disabled or anything. I could become that way in a primitivism society.
alert alert alert! the following is a message from the jargon monitors... primitivism is trademarked by kevin tucker and john zerzan. (kidding/not kidding)

there are many overlapping terms to use that are more open (and thus interesting): anti-civ, anti-tech, green anarchist.

here is also where i might as well conform to type and recommend bolo'bolo as my favorite vision of a future. fwtw.

...as you were...

1 Answer

+1 vote

I draw most of my personal perspective from a mix of green/anti-civ, post-left, and nihilist perspectives, with a dash of individualist politics mixed in. That said, I spent some time pretty enamored with anarcho-communists like Berkman, Goldman, and Kropotkin, and I still draw a lot of inspiration from their ideas, as well as those of many other tendencies.

dot already suggested checking out theanarchistlibrary.org. As someone old enough to have come to anarchy before the internet was what it now is, I really think it is an invaluable resource.

I would also echo that exploring anti-civ thinking would be useful, even if you don't identify with/feel affinity that direction, there are questions that the various shades of green anarchy ask that are, at minimum, troubling to some of the assumptions many left- or red- anarchists hold. In particular, Zerzan's origins essays (at least the original origins essays, which were initially collected in his book Elements of Refusal), as well as the dialogue on primitivism that occurred within AJODA (this is on theanarchistlibrary).

I also think that some really good writing and thinking is being done by Shawn Wilbur regarding more classic anarchist writing (in particular the -without-adjectives and mutualist varieties, but he has also done a good deal of  writing on early anarcha-feminism). You can find a lot of his stuff on the library, or here: https://contrun.libertarian-labyrinth.org/

I mentioned anarchists-without-adjectives above, I don't have particular authors or links to suggest. Voltarine DeCleyre was  (I think?) the originator of this label, and she is pretty legit (her trajectory actually sounds somewhat similar to your own). Her writing is available on the library, and AK just republished an anthology of her work edited by Alexander Berkman which I have yet to see.

Hope this is helpful.

answered Jan 27 by ingrate (20,130 points)
edited Jan 29 by ingrate
It is very helpful, thank you. This highlights some gaps in my knowledge and points me towards new resources for things I already like, (anarcho-feminism, for example.)

If you are interested in anarcha-feminism, a more current collection of writing I really appreciate (and whose author might reject the anarcha-feminist label for it) is the pamphlet What Have We Done for Us Lately? by dot matrix. Some of it is definitely on the library, the pamphlet can be acquired from Little Black Cart.

I'll check it out, thanks.
...