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Do young anarchists have potential?

+3 votes
Although I am not new to the general idea of anarchism, I am new to adopting anarchist ideas of my own. I am 16, going on 17 soon. A few months ago I started getting more intensively into politics and world history. I don't have any anarchist influences in my life besides one person I talk to sometimes online. I suppose I am wondering if I am too young to be seeking out comrades. I am still in high school and most of the people around me are opposed to anarchy and see it as a joke and like we are trying to be "edgy." Is it common for people my age to be anarchists? Is this website a good place to stay updated on current events? And lastly, are there any specific texts I should read in order to be properly informed/educated on anarchy?
asked May 8 by 1312
hello 1312.
welcome to the site.
this is not a topical site, so it's not a good place to come for updates or current events. i think it's pretty common for people your age to be anarchists, although it might depend on location.

as you might have noticed if you searched for "books" on this site, or just checked the most recent active thread, folks here tend to like to recommend books, and every anarchist (and every anarchist tendency) will have their own favorites and/or standards.

here are some other threads that might be interesting to you

a more topical site is anarchistnews.org (the only general anarchist site that allows comments, afaik, which i like, but can be an acquired taste). that site collects anarchist stories from around the web. so it's handy.
dear 1312,

i think this site is a great place to engage with anarchist thoughts, and try your luck answering and asking questions to slowly develop a deeper understanding of what anarchy means to you.  also, as dot says, there are many great book recommendations, although i will admit i barely read anarchist literature, preferring sci-fi mostly.  i dont look at anarchynews much, but it is certainly an interesting site, and worth checking out.

3 Answers

+3 votes

One problem i have with the word "potential" is that it's a word that means someone or something could be better in the future, and especially in the case of adults and younger people, adults will use it to say that younger people aren't good enough at the moment, and the kids need to work harder at becoming the ideals that adults set out for them.

But the age related baggage set aside: yes, of course! I see anarchy as having a much greater potential than the state in making people more able to live in the present moment, to leave aside ideas such as "potential", and learning themselves in the moment without so much consideration for "careers" and jobs.

Historically, it's impossible to know what direction things are going in, a lot of things have gotten worse. As humans we have destroyed large amounts of the natural world, and the humans who have done this don't even properly comprehend the amount of damage this does to them personally.

People have dealt with their lives anarchistically in the past and continue to do so in the present. I think the most important thing anarchists can do is to use anarchist ideas to improve their own lives without getting so hung up on morality and what other people think of them. If you don't think someone else tells something that is true (including me), then just observe how what they say makes you feel, and don't compromise so easily with opinions and social pressures.

answered May 9 by anonymous
+3 votes
I discovered anarchism around the same age, and also found my way to this site. This is a great spot to bounce questions and learn a wide variety of takes on different anarchy-related stuff, as well as reading suggestions for theory and praxis.
You are never too young to seek out comrades (though not all comrades are necessarily anarchist, or at least the same anarchist as you). However, from my pessimistic experience, I'd say it's not very common for people your age to be receptive to outwardly anarchist theory (though that may depend on location, as dot mentioned). That doesn't mean you can't find ideas and actions that are anarchistic that others will agree with and possibly help with.
Better sources for current events that are anarchist-leaning are anarchistnews, it's going down, agency, enough is enough. If you have social media, revolution news spams anti-capitalist/state/cop/etc content, though it's good to be wary of accuracy and hype. Otherwise I encourage using any other news sources with a healthy dose of skepticism and questioning to come to your own opinions on the world's happenings.
As for as books, I'm sure you'll find a plethora of suggestions as you browse this site, but The Dispossessed by LeGuin is often a favorite if you're into sci-fi.
answered May 12 by Vindico Vaco (1,300 points)
+2 votes

Please forgive me for addressing your questions out of order, I’m disorganised ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

It’s never too early to seek out comrades, by which I mean people that you feel affinity with, people you trust, people who will talk with you about ideas. People who don’t call themselves anarchists can be comrades and allies too, as can people who don’t identify politically at all.

As dot mentioned, this site isn’t topical, but it’s a great space to explore ideas with other anarchists. There are a number of writers here who’ve profoundly shaped the way I think and what I believe, I’ve been challenged and it’s been fun. Don't be afraid to wade into the comments or answer questions!

I think the point that Nihilist raised about the word ‘potential’ is a good one, and I’d like to expand on it a little. It isn’t just adult’s expectations of you that can be implied by the word ‘potential’, it implies that you could be better, or more useful, than you are now; but more useful to who?

‘The Movement’? ‘Progress’? ‘Society’?

I’d like to give you a comradely caution - ever since you were born you have been becoming, and you will continue to become until you die, so become on your own trajectory, towards your own goals. Don’t try to be useful to a political movement, ideology or concept. If your primary goal is to be useful to someone else because you believe it’s the right thing to do (rather than because it’s the best thing for you) you run a very high risk of just becoming meat for the machine. Politics eats people.

You’re a unique person, you have all kinds of potentials, and it’s for you - no one else - to decide what your talents, creativity, desires and life should be applied to. It’s also your place to judge whether you’re a properly informed and educated anarchist, not ours. Of course I’m delighted to recommend readings I’ve that I’ve enjoyed and have expanded my anarchist consciousness, such as:

Against Identity Politics by Lupus Dragonowl (if you want something zeitgeisty)

The Network of Domination by Wolfi Landstreicher (really anything by Wolfi/Feral Faun/Apio Ludd is worth reading)

Bolo'bolo by P.M. (This book isn't gospel, but it's pretty cool nonetheless)

And finally, Gods and Radicals is generally a bit more explicitly leftist, and more explicitly pagan than I am, but the articles they publish are good for keeping up with what's going on in radical anticapitalist and anti-authoritarian culture.

answered May 24 by Yosemite (6,310 points)