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Can anyone really be an anarchist if their lifestyle conflicts with their philosophy?

0 votes
Example me:  goes to college, is a citizen, lives on privately owned property, will eventually have a job, pays taxes, etc.

Can get involved in local anarchist groups, but I would just feel like a phony.
asked May 6, 2010 by anonymous
edited May 18, 2010 by dot
maybe what's interesting about this question is how many people feel this way.  ursula leguin being a prime example. this is anarchy-as-pure-ideal, a perspective that many people fall towards (for example enkidu on http://anarchy101.org/119/in-what-way-do-anarchists-relate-to-libertarians-on-the-right), but to me seems very christian in its separation of concept and practice.

btw, i edited the question for typo and adding tags.
I think daily life has everything to do with your being an anarchist. Yes, granted, sometimes you're just starting to head towards having your actions in sync with your philosophy, but your actions are what matter most. You must lead by example and be ethical and anarchist in everything you do, or at least be striving towards it. Far be it from me to tell you what anarchism is, because i believe that is immensely personal, but actions matter and the daily action matter too. If you go to a protest and snack on factory-farmed meat, to me that's just not cool

2 Answers

+6 votes
 
Best answer
What exactly do you expect of yourself? You don't have anywhere to run to. There's no haven for people like us. Living on the margins is just another madness awaiting those who can't bare the madness of wage-labor.

Any lifestyle you could possibly live would leave you with the same question. This isn't a matter of making your surroundings shapeshift so you can feel comfortable in your own skin. The only choice you have is to assert yourself into whatever surroundings you may find yourself in at any given time as an anarchist — you see? I mean, far be it from me to tell you how to live. All I'm saying is that there's no "safe space" for anarchists. You've accepted a principled and contrary existence that will constantly toss you into contradictions and struggle.

So keep your job when you get it. Or don't keep it. Either one will be problematic for you. Same thing with school and paying the state. Whichever one makes you breathe easier, I suppose. But none of it will make being an anarchist easier.

You're in the thick of it, amigo.
answered May 7, 2010 by madlib (2,710 points)
edited May 7, 2010 by madlib
–1 vote
All of our lives conflict with our philosophy.  Anarchism is not a search for a pure way to live as an individual, it is about a collective struggle against an oppressive world.
If you are down for the fight against capitalism, the state, and all forms of oppression, then join us and we will fight together.

Being an anarchist is not about the way you live your daily life, it is about your participation in struggles for justice and freedom.
answered May 8, 2010 by Taigarun (1,720 points)
"Being an anarchist is not about the way you live your daily life, it is about your participation in struggles for justice and freedom."

I completely disagree. Why does sloganeering about "social justice" and "freedom" take precedence over daily life? Being an anarchist has everything to do with daily life. It has nothing to do with either getting your lifestyle just right to fit your values (like those commercials showing off "green" commodities) or participation in self-important organizations and groupuscules that spend all their time scheming about how to best popularize their politics, acting as if it is on their word and action that "the revolution" is truly depending.

The point is that you can't make daily life fit you, as an anarchist. I suppose it could be difficult to catch your breath amidst all the contradictions but you'll still go back to practicing your critique of the general establishment of institutions and developing your understanding of them when you have finally caught your breath.

Daily life is the only place fit for anarchists to be.
"I completely disagree. Why does sloganeering about "social justice" and "freedom" take precedence over daily life?"

Um... I said "participation in struggle," not 'sloganeering.'  For a good example of the difference between "participation in struggle" and 'sloganeering' compare the George Jackson Brigade to the Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist Movement, Denver.

I should clarify what I meant by daily life: Some parts of daily life are basically insignificant:
What you buy, where you shop, where you hangout, what close you wear, how you style your hair, what you eat, whether or not you can claim the 'moral high ground'... etc.  These things matter relatively little.

There is a part of daily life that is very important: how you relate to the people around you.
This include: your expressions of solidarity, who holds the burden of work (and what types of work), the way work (and different types of work) are valued, the presence of consent, how you deal with confrontation, how abusive relations are addressed, who takes up space, who is allowed to use space,  who is pushed out of space, and many more things.

I agree that self-important groups that think the revolution depends on them are not the way to go.  The George Jackson Brigade was a good example of a group that said its work was to support and enhance a broader movement, like when they destroyed construction equipment at a site that people had been protesting the development of.  Not only did they stop the construction project, but they got all the charges dropped against the protesters.
You were presenting an erroneous dichotomy so I responded by polarizing the discussion (i.e., attacking the notion that daily life isn't the field of struggle for people, anarchists or not, and that the important stuff happens elsewhere). Sorry if it appeared erroneous to you but that's how it came out. Rhetoric can get messy like that.
There's a difference between thinking with an anarchist framework and living as an anarchist.

Read Alfredo Bonanno's The Anarchist Tension for a discussion of cognitive dissonance.
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