Note that the site is in archived, read-only mode. You can browse and read, but posting is disabled.
Welcome to Anarchy101 Q&A, where you can ask questions and receive answers about anarchism, from anarchists.

Note that the site is in archived, read-only mode. You can browse and read, but posting is disabled.


0 votes
Soon i will make my choice about what i will study in university. Closest choice is philosophy, but political science and sociology are also options. My concern is which department would be most useful for an anarchist in sense of intellectual development. I also wonder what your choice was if you went to university and what motivated you.


Edited to add that I don't live in US.
by (910 points)
edited by
i guess it depends on what you enjoy learning about. i personally went with a history major and minor in gender & women studies as i'm interested in both. i took some political science classes, but never really found them to be all that informative. some of the history classes and most of the gender & women studies classes were informative.

in other words, i have no idea of how to answer or give a good suggestion for your question.
Are you in university right now, and planning to pick a major? (Sorry I don't know anything about the Turkish university system...)  It seems like if you have a way of meeting the people each of these departments, it might help you decide, because the academic specialties that are represented will make a huge difference if, for instance, you need to find a thesis advisor on a rather unusual subject. One of the things I studied in college was philosophy and I was lucky enough to have a professor/mentor who was a Foucault scholar. If not for her I'd have been fucked, because virtually all the other professors in that department did like analytic or Greek philosophy...
No i am not, i am preparing for exams right now. After i get the results i will choose my university and department. I don't know what do major minor stuff mean, but i think i can take some social science classes after picking philosophy. I myself don't know Turkish university system either.

 Here, for instance, program of one of the best universities of Turkey, in case you wonder:

I prefer continental philosophy rather than analytical, but as far as i know universities here dominated by analytic.
Is there still compulsory military duty there? I met a kid years ago (I was a kid, too) who came to college in the US to avoid conscription, then, I think, dropped out and just became a punk of a vaguely anarcho- variety.

I wouldn't suggest that, but if avoiding military duty plays any role in yur decision, I would go for something that will take quite a while to complete your doctoral dissertation on. Philosophy sounds about right, possibly with a minor in behavioral psych.
I am getting my degree in economics :)
Sorry, didn't see you're from Turkey. A major in the US is whichever discipline of academics you commit to for a degree and a minor is kind of a secondary focus.

I think in Turkey, if you get a degree in something, then you only have to serve 6 months or something. I think you can also "buy" your way out of it.

5 Answers

+1 vote
Poli-sci is probably the way to go.  I studied psychology with the goal of being a therapist, but really because I was f'd up in the head.  Took plenty of other social science classes too.  Here's what I learned:

Who you study with and the culture of the university are more important than the major.  A degree from Berkeley will be better for your principles than the same degree from Oxford or Yale, whether it's poli-sci or chemistry.  

Also, the book is more important than the test - that is, learning is better than passing.  I graduated cum laude, with hardly any more useful knowledge than I had going in.
by (480 points)
+5 votes

i will take a different tack from k.lin and human, and say that university is not good for anarchists. 

fundamentally university is an extension of the training that we get in grade school (i can only really speak for the u.s. here), in training people to take direction, think socially acceptable thoughts, co-opt socially un-acceptable thoughts for socially acceptable purposes, use other people and anarchist ideas as tools in their academic careers, see the value only in formal education, etc. it is true that university can teach some skills that i would say are helpful, including how to research, how to stick with a project, how to work with other people, etc. and taking away the mystique of university can be a real thing. but every one of those skills can be learned better other places, and is in no way guaranteed by attending school.

(university might make sense to get work--although the practical uses of university for getting a job are vastly overrated these days. and student debt is a monster--but that is not related to anarchist thought, afaic.)

two of the most intense anarchists theorists i know never attended university, and produce tons of literate, significant theory (wolfi landstreicher is one, the other used to write for GA magazine and now does deeply researched books re-introducing historically meaningful authors, like Disruptive Elements).

by (53.1k points)
i tend towards this answer more than the rest.

as someone reasonably intelligent who never even considered going to college (i did not identify as an anarchist back then), i have never regretted that choice for a nanosecond. early in my adulthood (early 80s) i found that i had an aptitude for computer programming; that led to a period of time when i made crazy money. if i had been a good capitalist i would almost certainly be quite wealthy right now. instead i live a very simple life (in what most would consider to be extreme poverty) in the middle of nowhere, with my time being my own.

i think the choice to go to college - for an anarchist - can be a reasonable one, as long as that choice is made with full understanding of all the implications, and without expectations. the primary question i have is: WHY? what personal desires will be met by doing so? will the ensuing hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt be a point of stress for the rest of your life? is it being done for a "career"? what life do you desire for yourself?

i think it goes without saying that a college degree guarantees exactly nothing with regards to income, quality of life, etc. on the other hand, it is entirely possible that you could learn a shitload of interesting (to you) stuff, form some meaningful relationships, party your ass off, etc. of course, all that could happen without going to university also. again, it starts with your own desires.

and so i return to this:  why do you want to go?
metalist: after reading a comment to another answer below, i see that you are in turkey. like flip, i was speaking of my experiences here in the united states, which obviously are not universal.

in your case, i can see a very strong (possible) personal desire for you to want to go to university - to stay out of the military! reason enough!
+1 vote
I'd go for a trade school or technical certification. You can land a job or contract yourself out and make enough money while still retaining the autonomy to work part-time. Plus the time that you'd free up would enable you to learn about philosophy or sociology on your own.
by (4.0k points)
I forgot to mention that i don't live in US. If you choose trade school type of education in Turkey you will probably end up being cheap labour. Another reason why university is necessary for me that there is no way to avoid military service in Turkey, refusal of service means jail time, although in practice they don't put every single conscientious objector to jail. Anyway university will give me 5-6 years more before i am called for service, and meantime i will try to figure out what i am gonna do about it.
And here I am like an arrogant American assuming my experiences are universal.

Good luck with that, sounds rough.
+2 votes

Some thoughts:

A kind of answer is something along the lines of: there is nothing that would be the "most useful" thing to study as an anarchist because there is no straightforward anarchist project. 

Determining why one wants to go to university seems more important then determining how to be an anarchist in the university, at least initially. 

To me, the more interesting route a person may choose to take is not to critique the university to shreds, but determine how to be a critical thinker and use the tools of the university to ones own advantage (this could be intellectual, social, emotional, etc). Eventually, emerge as a being with a critique that could be useful.

by (470 points)
this can work. but i think that usually people end up manipulated more than they realize.

it's pretty hard to be surrounded by a socially-accepted institution, including most of your friends and colleagues, to participate in rituals that are totally taken for granted by everyone you run into (like grades and tests, for example), and not be affected in ways that are hard to recognize, much less stop.
+1 vote
What are you interested in? Do you want to go to university? I did not, and that choice has been a mixed bag. I am somewhat limited in my employment, but I am also not saddled with debt.

I did work on the periphery of a large university (I slung the overpriced textbooks), and while that isn't nearly the same as having gone, my observation was that Poli Sci was pretty dry and mostly geared towards folks who thought politics were a good thing. Sociology and anthropology tended to have more interesting seeming people and reading, but they are kinda fucked (esp. anthropology, even though that has been my favorite field of study).

My best friend got a PHD in communication and has used the university setting to do some really interesting research, though honestly, he is smart enough that if he had put his mind to the topics he researches, he would've still been able to do awesome work.
by (22.1k points)