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.

Isn't the desire for anarchy really the desire for freedom?

+3 votes
I don't mean to use any charged words or phrases so when I use words like 'freedom' I am referring to the literal dictionary interpretation of the words. Since the state's sole purpose seems to be to dominate all those under it, and domination is the forceful control of someone's behaviors, and a limitation in someone's behaviors is a limitation on their freedom, and anarchists wish to abolish the state, is the true intention of anarchists to stop dominion over the people and thus maximize the freedoms of the people? I wish for critiques of my logic and my assumptions. I am attracted to anarchy more and more nowadays because my own freedoms appear to be disappearing (I am in the United States).
asked May 14, 2012 by anonymous

3 Answers

+5 votes
It depends on what you mean by "freedom". Some people see that as "freedom to do whatever I want", "freedom to be myself","freedom from coercion", "freedom from restriction", all of which take us different places. I don't see much value in the term anymore because it can mean everything from the "freedom" to treat people like property to the "freedom" of not being treated like property, the same way that "equality" can mean everything from "no one has any power everyone else doesn't also have" to "everyone must conform to the same pattern and deviants must be assimilated or destroyed".

My desire for anarchy involves a desire for collaborative self-determination, for diversity without hierarchy, for removing obstacles that solidify abusive behavior. As much as I love mutual aid and autonomy, mine is not just a fondness for some form of "liberty" and "community" but also a hatred for hierarchical power (coercion, domination, exploitation) and alienation. So to a certain extent I do agree, it's probably just an argument of semantics and clarification.

It's easier to merely imagine one's own isolated lifestyle of "freedom", but more difficult to imagine it in a world without statism, nationalism, capitalism, clerical & punitive religion, racism, sexism, ageism, the society of the spectacle, prescriptive gender and sexual orientation, ideological rigidity, and objective morality*. To me that is the relevance of anarchism as social theory: we do not merely consider ourselves and perhaps abstract categories but instead have specific analysis which can inform logistics on a social scale. Merely seeking "freedom" does not necessarily properly inform solidarity; the analyses of oppression must be there.

Bakunin wrote that, "Freedom without Socialism is privilege and injustice, and Socialism without Freedom is slavery and brutality." He believed that the freedom of each requires the freedom of all, and so all must have access to what they need, either through sharing or personal provision, and no one ought to use property against others to create hierarchies and exploitation through profit, interest, rent, and wage slavery. His vision of an entirely anti-statist socialism contrasts with that which most people imagine now, if you're new to this thinking. You could replace "Socialism" with "egalitarianism" or "equality" or something else depending on definitions; it basically comes down to: an owning class and and a laboring class cannot coexist with freedom for each, it is merely freedom for some to exploit others.

*As a green anarchist I add: humanism, scientism, notions of unilinear time and historical progress, the hegemony of symbolic culture (language, writing, time, math, art, ritual) over sensual experience, permanent settlement, labor specialization, mass society of strangers, domestication, urbanization, colonialism, industrialization, technophilia, scientism, drawdown, and overshoot.
answered May 14, 2012 by AutumnLeavesCascade (8,910 points)
+1 vote
I sometimes wonder if the core values of so many democratic societies such things as freedom, rights, the pursuit of happiness are not part of our undoing.  Freedom as a word really has no direction or real content.  Rights usually mean one persons rights over the rights of another.  Often "criminals" have more rights than the "victim"  Along with government our system of justice does not work well either.

Freedom does not bring with it dignity, rights have little to do with fairness, and happiness cannot be found by a pursuit.  Why do we want freedom ... to do whatever the hell we want?  Such an approach to freedom is somewhat beneath freedom to choose one's destiny, being able to reach our potential, and to find fulfill in what we do in life.

With anarchy there is a clean slate where whatever we could imagine could be built.  A vision that can be based where freedom is not something to indulge put something that facilitates our choices and lives.  With freedom like this we choose what values and goals to shape a society not for self-indulgence but to fix things and to change things.  Those are the freedoms that this current world denies us.  

Consider wars, poverty, exploitation of our planet, trashing our oceans, and other issues which government and capitalism have no answers to.  What if that we had a way to find those answers.  Anarchy gives us the freedom to end these things.
answered May 22, 2012 by afunctionalworld (2,050 points)
+1 vote
Sure, you could say we're not free from society, and I could say that anarchists fight for many things such as self-determination. For example, society pressures us to do many things such as get married and have children, obey the law, and so on. I've seen prisoners say the streets are "minimum security", and that goes with others who have said cities are open-air prisons. That would mean we're all prisoners.

Another point of view is that we aren't indentured or enslaved: we are free, but we are on the losing team. We're only owned through circumstances, so we don't need "freedom"; we need to win! From this point of view, even though you could claim we're several kinds of slaves, but that's only bending the truth.
answered May 22, 2012 by frenzy (720 points)
edited May 22, 2012 by frenzy
"cities are open-air prisons. That would mean we're all prisoners."

not everyone lives in cities. where would they fit into that concept of being a prisoner?