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Is anarchism inherently moralistic?

+9 votes
Is the idea that, "no one should be oppressed" or "no one should oppress anyone" a moral? Is there a difference between the two statements? Is this the principle behind anti moralist forms of anarchism like @-nihilism and post leftism? What is moral nihilism. How does this relate to anarchists criticizing liberal activists for their "activist moralism" and what is that?
asked Feb 4, 2015 by anonymous
you asked quite a few questions here...but to partially answer your headline question....

no. i don't see anarchism as inherently moralistic. i think of it as a desire to live free from oppression, hierarchy, and coercion, the thoughts and actions that embody and work toward that desire, and collaborating (giving and receiving, fighting, creating) with others who feel and think this way.

the phrase beginning "no one should...." doesn't come to mind when i think of anarchy, even though i've never met anyone who has told me they like or want to live under oppression or with coercion.


2 Answers

+2 votes
it's hard to argue with nietzsche.

anarchism can be moralistic. probably most anarchists are moralists. (even  people who reject moralism find it challenging to avoid.)
some people reject anarchISM for that reason... (that it is ideological, ie prescriptive). i find a useful tension there, precisely because it is hard to talk about things-that-people-have-talked-about-acted-on-and-understood-to-be-anarchy/anarchist-related... without using something like the word anarchism, which then does tend to reify the ideas...
but i wouldn't say that anarchist thinking necessarily is moralist.
i have long held that a central tension in anarchist thinking is the idea that we know how things should be and also want people to decide for themselves.

re: your first sentence, i would put it differently. i would say that people who use words like "oppression" are participating in a conversation that is almost always moralist (in my experience).

as for the rest of your question, i look forward to other people's thoughts.  (oh, and moral nihilism is entirely confusing to me. where did that come from? how could someone put those words together? wtf?)
answered Feb 6, 2015 by dot (57,750 points)
By freedom from restraint I mean not having rules and punishment so you are not restrained from doing things, I suppose that would go under the categorie of coercion.
dot wrote: "those generalities are exactly where morality lies, i think.
to put it another way, it is not a clear line between things we accept (sexism is bad), and things we reject (morality). "

Since you brought up Nietzsche: "For if language, here as elsewhere, does not cast off its clumsiness and continues to speak about opposites, where there are only degrees and many subtleties of gradation, and similarly if inveterate Tartufferie [hypocrisy] in morality, which nowadays belongs to our invincible “flesh and blood,” turns the words even of us knowledgeable people around in our mouths,"*

One of those opposites, and a primary ground of morality is that of 'in/out' or 'inclusive/exclusive.' To me this **is** clumsy. It's part of what has allowed submission to domestication to grow into everyday self-policing and thrive. You're in or you're out. This denies so many other possibilities which have and may arise within our living engagements.

We have to remember the conditions we refer to interactions we label retrospectively as 'racism' and 'sexism.' Christianity, for us, has taught remain on the hunt (downtown, of course. Xtianity has always been a civilized religion/worldview) for intentions; these also abstracted from a host of interwoven drives, motivations, etc. But, must these labels retain their meaning as we leave the city and walk, run, skip, and/or dance toward the wilds? Where there is no (or far less and by degrees) dichotomy between in and out?

flip, i didn't mean anything specific about racism (dot brought that into the conversation).

the phrase "people should be...." seems moral (or absolute) to me, regardless of what follows.
BAA, I think the problem with what you're saying is related to the fact you are sayin this: "... i remember my sister seemingly gladly going along with things i resented (my father's dictates, going to school and church, etc), and i never felt the need to tell her she "should" desire freedom from coercion too. i just knew i wanted it, and if she didn't want to join me in fighting back or escaping authority, i'd strike out on my own."

All people on some level hate having other people tell them what to do...there are plenty of times i've rebelled against and rejected authority but there are plenty of time i've also shown a blind submission to other people and ideas, and the reasons people do these things are complicated. There's really no such thing as a "true anarchist", except people who never lived under an authoritarian brainwashing to begin with.
rick, i agree with everything in your second paragraph.

but i don't see "the problem with what i'm saying", nor how it relates to your second paragraph.

i don't think people get my meaning on this thread, and i don't plan on explaining it any more at this point. thanks for the effort. :)
+1 vote
Hey everyone, so I've been thinking about this question now because it's a good one, and I feel my answer was very poor, so I've erased the whole thing and made a new one:

We become moralists when we are convinced that we have supreme knowledge and other people must understand this knowledge for the world to become a better place (think evangelists). As anarchists, our goal is to dispel this notion, but since anarchism is an ideological position, then often we become like the evangelists themselves. The truth is that anarchists do not have superior knowledge and are not "better people" than the rest of society. You can't make the world a better place by making people "get it".

Anarchism is useful in the sense that it criticizes the roots of our culture. However, anarchists are also strongly influenced by the things the try to criticize (capitalism, the state, morality, ect.) In "Hello, a greeting from nowhere", it points out how Christianity has deeply influenced our thinking in the United States, and Christianity is a heavily moralistic ideology, so not being a moralist is very difficult. In order to avoid being moralists, I feel that we must dispel the idea that we are superior because of our points of view.
answered Feb 7, 2015 by anonymous
edited Feb 10, 2015 by anonymous
"Understanding of life as it is"
People shouldn't have to pay rent or mortgage to occupy space>> I am an anarchist because of this
I dislike the work rent cycle>>I intend to fight it>> this general attitude makes me An anarchist.
Is this representative of the distinguish ment you were trying to make?
I'm uncertain 'moralism' and 'anti-moralism' makes for a binary worth one's (or more accurately, *my*)  time. Perhaps there may be other possibilities, already lived possibilities, in living as un-moralistically as possible. Difficult? Yes. Impossible? Not really.
Excellent answer.