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2 Answers

+1 vote
by (52.9k points)

What kind of job can an anarchist have? I work in a factory and I even belong to one of those mainstream lefty unions. I understand that existing in such a manner contributes to capitalism but what other option do I have? Right now I live better than most. Can I not be an anarchist, or at least have anarchist views on many things, if I continue living like this? Must I stop working, driving, consuming public water etc.? Do I need to raise my kids in a campground and eat out of dumpsters to be an anarchist? I don't know man, it's sounds like an even more miserable life than what I have under wage slavery.

i think you can work at a job and still call yourself an anarchist, but that doesn't make it "consistent with anarchy".

btw, i just camped the last week and loved it....it felt far from miserable, even in the rain.

and i feel curious....what does "living better than most" mean?
what ba@ said.

my understanding of anarchism/y is antithetical to capitalism. therefore the things that we must do to live in a capitalist society are not anarchist. my understanding of anarchy is as a provocation to live a more intentional life, to not take things for granted that other people assume as reality/inevitable, etc.

your response, nogov, is sad to me. i'm not telling anyone to do anything. and the shortness of my response is in relation to the shortness of the question. (how do people expect us to answer questions when there is so little to go on?)

and i will say again that other anarchists will have different answers than this. i have been in fights with anarchists who think that being a professor is the most anarchist thing they can do... (and i'm ready to again! let me at 'em! ;) )


dot:  my understanding of anarchy is as a provocation to live a more intentional life, to not take things for granted that other people assume as reality/inevitable, etc.

i really like that description.


How could anyone live "consistent" with anarchy?

I'm sure camping can be fun for some, it's not fun for me. I certainly wouldn't want to trade my house for a tent and a fire pit and I'm pretty confident in saying that my wife and children would also not be willing to make such a trade.

When I say "better than most" I suppose I mean financially. I'm a homeowner, I drive a nice car, my family has access to health care and ample food. We take a couple vacations a year etc. I suppose I live a life that anarchists despise.

I hear what you're saying. Sorry if I insinuated that you were suggesting for anybody to do anything. For me, I'm so conflicted with these types of scenarios. I appreciate the dialogue.

i think it's a sound conflict to be in. we should be aggravated (if not tormented) by the gap between what we want and what we have; it should bother us that we are structurally unable to live the way we want. the fact that i have a fairly pat answer doesn't mean that my answer is acceptable.

if you see what i mean...

Perhaps the original poster could elaborate on the the issues they want addressed? I think that this question deserves more consideration, in that the act of teaching (especially children) presents unique challenges to me, re my anarchism. I have taught at the university level, and it broke my heart, but I think that at the best of times it can be an honorable activity, so it would be nice to see how other people address this.
geomancer, thanks. i read the question in a particular way and didn't note that (i'm irritated by the rash of one line, untagged questions that have been appearing over the last week, but no excuse).

teaching is a really interesting topic in general, and teaching for money does deserve more conversation. also as you and i both allude to, teaching at different ages--in and out of the system--are all different things.

i won't go on and on, but here is my condensed version of one aspect of this topic--teaching-for-pay allows room for people to do important social work, to intervene in fulfilling ways into the lives of other people who might (frequently do) really need things (a different perspective, more resources of various sorts). but, like all social workers (ie being an agent of the state, no matter how independent one's actions might be), teachers are a part of the system and any assistance they give strengthens the system (ie people see the system as being the thing that helped them). (there's a conversation on anews right now about voting. social work is far more pernicious than voting, at least along the lines of supporting the system.)

i write this as a long-term social worker,  fwtw.
Looking to be consistent with an ideology or way of thinking (or anarchism) will always end up being dissapointing, as funkyanarchy alludes to in the answer. It's foolish to try to ascribe to a certain form of thinking IMO, it's like trying to join a fan club.

I personally don't like the idea of being a teacher in general unless maybe under some university that gives you freedom for how to conduct a class. Being a teacher in elementary, middle, or high school will give you the most monotonous constrained things to indoctrinate your classes with, along with the role of disciplinarian, which means you will have to keep 20+ youngsters docile and obedient most of the time.
+3 votes

consistent with what? some universal anarchist dogma? the social presumption that one must have a job; live a particular way; be "successful"?

for me, the first thing i would question is the desire for consistency. what does it mean to be "consistent"? consistent with what? and why? 

hypocrisy and contradictions (those words come to mind, they may not be precisely accurate) are an unfortunate reality for anyone that lives in this world - which is almost completely driven by economics and power struggles - and has radically different ideas about how they would like to live. such as anarchists. i personally seek to minimize those contradictions as much as possible, but i accept that i cannot avoid some of them. 

if you choose a life that requires a substantial and reliable income, then you will almost certainly need to hold a job of some sort (unless born rich). for sure, some jobs will be much more abhorrent to you than others, and if you have anarchist ideas about life, that will clearly impact your desires, if not your choices (hopefully both). 

my suggestion would always be to find/grow/learn/discover/create what are your desires and priorities, as well as (or as part of that) what it means to you to be an anarchist. of course some of that will come from interacting with others (human and otherwise), reading, observations, experiences, etc. but ultimately it has got to be yoursyour ideas, your desires, your life. only then can you know what you consider to be anarchistic, what goes against your anarchistic desires, and what other considerations will factor into your choices in life.

as dot mentioned below, this democrapitalistic shithole (modern society) is antithetical to most/all anarchistic ideas and desires (at least those i choose to associate with). that fact needs to be accepted and digested thoroughly. then an approach to dealing with it can be derived.

one choice is to do your best to live outside/away from it, minimizing the contradictions it requires (from those that don't buy into it - you?) as well as your interactions with it. another choice is to live within it, making the best of what it has to offer while trying to create an anarchistic life within it (which may be limited to intellectual exercises, writings and discussions). there are many other choices as well.


"What kind of job can an anarchist have?"  

an anarchist can have any job that anyone else can have - anarchists are people too. ;-)  if it is approval from other anarchists you are asking about, that is a different question, and you will no doubt get many different answers. some jobs may be more tolerable than others (and that will vary by individual), and some will require more in the way of compromise from an anarchist perspective. only you can decide where a reasonable balance is for you.

but to be clear: NO job is an "anarchist" job, so you either have to accept that and take a job that you can tolerate, or create a life where a job is not necessary (difficult, but not impossible). that in itself (the latter) will likely bring up its own set of compromises. but again, it is - or ought to be, imo - all about your needs and desires. 

"I understand that existing in such a manner contributes to capitalism but what other option do I have?"

if you are after that elusive "american dream" (which seems the case from a comment i saw), then probably none. if, on the other hand, you are open to exploring other ways of life (and there are many), you have virtually infinite options. to me, the key there is in figuring out what your priorities really are, based on your own needs and desires. and then setting about realizing them as best you can.

i guess that alludes to ba@'s question: what does "living better than most" mean?

damn, this funky dude can sure babble after a strong cup of coffee!

edit (just because this comment wasn't quite long enough), to more directly address the question:

being a teacher is a role that is well defined within a hierarchical structure. it also typically requires adherence to a curriculum that generally valorizes and perpetuates this entire system. on the other hand, it potentially provides some opportunity for exposing students to alternative ideas (with varying degrees of opposition from the hierarchy).

by (12.9k points)