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Anarchy is against authority. What is it for?

0 votes
The point of anarchy seems to start with people being against authority. Likely, many rebellious types end up here at one point or another. I think anarchy is for something, not just against it. Would it ruin anarchy to put it in a positive term? Would the rebellious sort be turned off?
asked Jun 26 by zz (260 points)
i often think of it as trusting myself, my instincts, how i relate with other people and living things, and using my senses more and thinking authoritatively much less.

i do think of anarchy as primarily a negation of ways of thinking and relating, but that negation leads me to myriad possible ways of doing things and relating....so open-ended and dynamic really, that i don't think much about what is anarchy "for", even though i do imagine many beautiful scenarios.

3 Answers

+1 vote
many people think of anarchy as a positive project. the traditional tenets are mutual aid, direct action, and voluntary association. there are some others that have been added and are a bit more controversial, like transparency in relationships and projects, and ends and means not being in conflict with each other.

that's on the daily practice as well as long term level.

but there are also people who urge prefiguration (building anarchist institutions right now, not waiting for a revolution), insurrection (attacking right now, not waiting for a revolution), etc.

there's more to say about this, of course. lol.
answered Jun 26 by dot (50,640 points)
Thank you. That is very clear. The 3 tenets would be for sure more difficult to put into a one word.
+2 votes

I am for the basic principles that dot mentions (mutual aid, free association, direct action). These are critical to how I at least want to live my life (I'm human and I fuck up... a lot), and are why I think anarchism as a lived practice is more than teenage rebellion (nothing wrong with teenage rebellion, but...)

Over the years I have come to see anarchism as much more of a negative project, by which I mean that I see my anarchism as a tool or a weapon for attacking the parts of the world and pieces of my life that I hate (I am trying to think of how to concisely define those in counter point to the three principles I mentioned above, but the closest I can get is capitalism, forced relations and mediated life, but I think there is a better way... halp!)

I'm often wary of anarchists who talk about prefigurative politics or who focus on the "after the revolution" side of things because we aren't there yet, and we don't know what that looks like. Certainly I have ways I prefer relating to others, and to the best of my ability I structure my life in conjunction with that, but I think trying to come up with a positive vision of the future (whether we are talking about feral bands of post-linguistic hunter-gatherers, or fully automated luxury gay space communism), while perhaps appealing, and certainly something that not-anarchists are always demanding, is also limiting, and I prefer to keep all the potential options on the table.

Also though, because I love Alexander Berkman, here is what he had to say about this (taken from the first issue of his newspaper The Blast):

"-Do you mean to destroy?

-Do you mean to build?

-These are the questions we have been asked from many quarters, by inquirers sympathetic and otherwise.

-our reply is frank and bold:

-We mean both: to destroy and to build.

-For, socially speaking, Destruction is the beginning of Construction.

Superficial minds speak sneeringly of destruction. O it is easy to destroy- they say- but to build. to build, that's the important work. Its nonsense. No structure, social or otherwise, can endure if built on a foundation of lies. Before the garden can bloom, the weeds must be uprooted. Nothing is therefore more important than to destroy. Nothing more necessary and difficult

Take a man with an open mind, and you will have no great trouble in convincing him of the false-hood and rottenness of our social structure. But when one is filled with superstition an prejudice, your strongest arguments will knock in vain against the barred doors of his bigotry an ignorance. For thousand-year-old superstition and tradition is stronger than truth and logic.

To destroy the Old and the False is the most vital work. We emphasize it: to blast the bulwarks of slavery and oppression is of primal necessity. It is the beginning of really lasting construction

Thus will THE BLAST be destructive

And THE BLAST will be constructive.

Too long have we been patient under the whip of brutality and degradation. Too long have we conformed to the Dominant, with an ineffective fist hidden in our pocket. Too long have we vented our depth of misery by endless discussion of the distant future. Too long have we been exhausting our efforts and energy by splitting hairs with each other.

It's time to act

The time to act is NOW!

The breath of discontent is heavy upon this wide land. It permeates mill and mine, field and factory. Blind rebellion stalks upon highway and byway. To fire it with the spark of Hope, to kindle it with the light of Vision, and turn pale discontent into conscious social action - that is the crying problem of the hour. It is the great work calling to be done.

To work, then, and blasted be every obstacle in way of the Regeneration."

answered Jun 26 by ingrate (19,840 points)
(shit, i need to read more berkman)
yeah you do. :)
I Can see why you like Berkman. Powerful.
I Lost an earlier comment and just lost another one. Frustrating.

Anyway, you all have given me lots to think about. The book(?) /PDF on sacred economics looks very interesting.

I Think technically, I am an @. Not sure I want say just what I am. Haven't really studied any theory to be able to say.

I Would say I am a prefigutive type no matter what the form. There may come a time that a theory of community living appropriate for the # of people alive can take over en mass but I think that would only work if there were enough functional communities already active.

As an aside, I was reading this article about totalitarian leaders of cults. This to me suggests one reason change is so hard. Our state system has enough cult features that people are brain washed. And we know, in general, how hard that can be to effect.

https://aeon.co/essays/how-cult-leaders-brainwash-followers-for-total-control?utm_source=Aeon+Newsletter&utm_campaign=b64c2cdf2f-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_06_20&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_411a82e59d-b64c2cdf2f-69519197
+1 vote
For my own practice, it's about being committed to the ongoing confirmation and clarification of consent, in all the relationships of my life.

Not something that is achievable as a fixed goal, but the process has compelled me to consistently interrogate power and try to address harm (both in myself and others)- and that's lead me to have a much deeper sense of trust and engagement with the people around me.

If nothing else, it makes the world feel less shitty.
answered Aug 24 by webmadman (150 points)
I like the concept of "forcing" (lol the ironicism in this) someone to clarify what they want or not
Not sure where you're getting the 'forcing' from, care to clarify?
For me it's a personal commitment in how I try to communicate- from there I seek to engage with others that are willing to reciprocate. If someone is unwilling to confirm and clarify consent (ie. be clear with what is expected from me and ensure that I am committed to fulfilling those expectations) then I'll keep my distance, I'm not willing to enter potentially coercive situations if I can help it at all.
On a social level, it does lead me to challenge those that are using power to do harm, but that's a matter of pushing back against those that are doing the forcing- with the commitment to keeping check of my own actions while doing so.
ah, forcing...its just a joking reference when I don't understand whether someone else means what they say, to question them
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