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Are anarchists too demanding?

0 votes
Throughout both classical anarchist literature, modern anarchist literature, the anarchist internet, and in person at gatherings and actions, I have heard time and time again demands for 'complete freedom', 'total equality', an end to exploitation, no hierarchy, no coercion and so on. I have been an anarchist all my adult life, and some time before that, and still find these kinds of demands simply too naive. Is it simply that we like the punchy sound of these kinds of statements? I guess 'we want a much more free and equal society with very little coercion' just doesn't look as good on a banner.

I'm not trying to mock, and I'm not a naive liberal twit. Freedom to elect rich white men is clearly not good enough, capitalism clearly perpetuates highly unequal and oppressive social relations etc.., and I'm still a supporter of what I think of as anarchism. But I guess I want it tempered with 'common sense' (horrible term): do we really need to make puritanical demands for 'absolute freedom' and whatnot that are quite clearly ridiculous?  

It feels like at times honesty is lacking in anarchist circles. Perhaps it is my imagination that is lacking, but I guess many conceptions of anarchism just sound too good to be true.
asked Aug 26, 2012 by Buenaventura (250 points)
What would you suggest as an alternative to 'demanding everything'? The 'beg for nicer prison guards, but leave the walls' mentality of the left is certainly unappealing. What you want, if not complete freedom for your self, partial freedom? Would you be so bold as to counter the demand for the end to exploitation with the "realistic" demand of 'the end of exploitation for only some'?

However, maybe you mean that we are presumptive to assume that everyone wants complete freedom, that everyone wants to be totally equal. I can see how that could be seen as naive, and would be an interesting conversation. But, as it stand, you question leaves no where to go but to liberal demand of 'bigger cages, longer chains'...

Care to expand upon your question?

1 Answer

+3 votes
the idea that "demanding it all" is naive, seems naive to me.
("unlikely" or "improbable" is different from "naive".)
the demand for everything (like the one for "no demands") is a reflection of history, in which demands (which are really requests, since we have had so little power to enforce our will in any concrete way) are a form of negotiation; and requests/demands are either ignored or in worst case scenarios, acceded to and then coopted/subverted.
the system will always work to rehabilitate itself. (an old poli sci professor of mine was remarkably depressed about how resilient capitalism is, for exactly this reason.) the enemy is stronger, more dedicated, and more focused than we are, so i'm not sure how "realism" or even "common sense" has to do with being an anarchist.
answered Aug 26, 2012 by dot (50,470 points)