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Why call oneself an "Anarchist"?

+3 votes
Isn't it limiting to be an "Anarchist"? It suggests an ideological religiosity, that Anarchism is the true way etc. which raises Anarchism above any singular struggle.

Isn't there a sense of orthodoxy?

What do you think?

If not, why?

edited for tag
asked Jul 28, 2014 by anonymous
edited Jul 28, 2014 by dot
some thoughts:

http://anarchy101.org/356/why-are-there-so-many-different-definitions-of-anarchy

http://anarchy101.org/357/what-good-about-the-broadness-definiton-anarchist-and-what

first, sure. it is always possible to put too much on a name/label. however it's possible to be ideological and rigid without names and labels also. so the label is perhaps not the point.
second, while there is clearly a strong tendency for people to over-identify with words/principles/rigid definitions, it is also a tendency (seems to be growing stronger) for people to not commit to a way of thinking (hipsters are the most obvious current icon of this, but they're only the most modern).

there seems to a balance to be struck between the practice, internal and external, of acting in accordance with what we think is best in the moment; with what we have been considering for a while; and then of being able to communicate with other people about what we are doing/thinking.
I think this is a great question that I've been meaning to pose here. I ask myself that a lot. I have no answer. I wonder if (not having a clue about it) post-anarchism is a relevant idea here?
I thought this A-News comment was relevant:

Starting again, where we are.
Destroy your blog.
Destroy yourself.
Destroy all of your selves.
Please.
Anarchists, in this part of the world at least, have no idea how to just exist. It is always about production of the political and the cultural, identities, positions, claims, slogans. Production of discourse and of activism even when it calls itself, looks to, something else. More masks to hide behind and confuse yourselves with. More pathetic, increasingly cybernetic little enclaves of shared misery and studied intellectual abstraction within the rotting body of the social. Attempting to resurrect it in every shitty little "community" defined always by purges and the amateur politicians who police it.
Destroy yourselves so that you can be.
Destroy anarchism so anarchy can be.
^^^  excellent!
i think anarchism is a good shorthand term for as formyinformation, living life, and "anarchist" is a shorthand term for someone who opposes everything that keeps us from living life.

but i hate saying "im an anarchist" in political conversations, i just state what i think, so i agree with you there. Sometimes I think it would be cool to eliminate the term in general, but i don't think were capable of getting rid of all language at this point haha

1 Answer

+5 votes
Telling someone I am an anarchist provides a shorthand for letting them know that I am opposed to the infrastructure that supports our society like capitalism, the state, patriarchy, etc. I find it is easier to do that than to say "I am opposed to the infrastructure that supports our society, such as capitalism, the state, patriarchy..."

In addition to efficiency (and it isn't always that efficient in the long run), saying explicitly that I am an anarchist separates me from the progressive/lefty crowd who are opposed to capitalism, the state, patriarchy, etc. but who would prefer to legislate, peacefully protest, have discussion groups, make consciousness-raising art and vote away the Very Bad Things, as opposed to attacking them directly.

What makes this not always efficient is that sometimes the progressive/lefties call themselves anarchists too  and think that I want to legislate, peacefully protest, have discussion groups, make consciousness-raising art and vote away the Very Bad Things. Sometimes those who would not call themselves anarchists at all think that saying that means "I listen to punk rock and don't like washing dishes" (in my case only the first half of that is true). In these cases more conversation is required.

As far as the limitations beyond all that, I definitely meet folks who think we are on the same page because we use the word anarchist, when in fact we are not (anarcho-syndicalists, an-caps, many more dogmatic a-p's), but that doesn't actually worry me. Words (and language) are going to be limiting. There can't possibly be a word that encompasses the entirety of what an individual is, but anarchist is a pretty good word for describing what a person is against.
answered Jul 29, 2014 by ingrate (20,420 points)
It's funny that very nearly every anarchist book I read explicitly states that anarchism is a socialist movement.  From About Anarchism by Nicholas Walter (the last book I read): "Like liberals, anarchists want freedom; like socialists, anarchists want equality.  But we are not satisfied by liberalism alone or by socialism alone.  Freedom without equality means that the poor and weak are less free than the rich and strong, and equality without freedom means that we are all slaves together."  Statements similar to this are quite frequent in anarchist literature (though probably not post-leftist literature).

Your claim that real anarchists do no more than peacefully protest, have discussion groups and vote (which is no doubt based entirely on your deliberate misinterpretation of my answer to another question, which wasn't about using the electoral system to create an ideal world, but about using it to prevent the worst politicians and parties from getting into a position where they can do real harm) is entirely wrong.  We don't believe that throwing bombs around is the way to create the kind of society we'd actually want to live in and most of us don't believe that you can successfully confront the state in head-on violence, especially when the actions of post-leftists mean it is very, very hard to recruit new members (they all think we're terrorists because you guys have so much fun with your bombs).

Incidentally, are post-leftists only anti-civ, anti-technology, anti-science, anti-work, anti-socialist (and all the rest of it) just in case we actually succeed in dismantling capitalism and the state?  My guess is that you people would hate to have to stop blowing things up and so choose to hate everything, meaning you'll never to have to stop.
Anarchiststeve - I don't believe anarchists only do those things, I assume that Bakunin, Malatesta, Makhno and Durruti all fall into the false category of "real anarchists" you try to create, and all did far more than vote, have discussion groups and peacefully protest. I'm sure some are also organizing in unions (I kid! I kid! Except, not really...) I think that anarchists I disagree with do lots of stuff that I still support even if I don't agree with their overall analysis. What is really wacky is that I can hold that I don't agree with them completely (or sometimes even remotely and still consider them anarchists.

As to making that pointed based on your previous input on this site, sorry to burst your bubble, but this was based on lived experience, not on your comment to something else. I know many progressive types who have at varying points jumped on the Circle-A Train. Recent historic examples of this include during the heyday of the anti-globalization movement, as well as Occupy. Both of these are places where people both came to anarchism (sounds so religious when I type it!) and also chose to label themselves as such either for self-serving purposes or (what I suspect is more often the case) because anarchism is often peddled or misinterpreted as a sort of extreme liberalism.

As to your question about post-leftists. I am going to refashion that as a question so it can be addressed by people here.
steve, the problem is you don't understand anti-work anti-technology ect. You look at them like liberals do: that all of those things are necessary to survival, like politicians and businessmen.

Let me ask you: how is it possible to have an anarchist civilization when civilization always requires a mass production of resources? with mass production of resources it at least some people will have to be doing really organized, regimented things they hate all day, and how can that be accomplished without an established hierarchy?
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