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Welcome to Anarchy101 Q&A, where you can ask questions and receive answers about anarchism, from anarchists.

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+4 votes

humor me a moment. this is something i have been thinking, talking and writing about for some time now.

"anarchist" is typically used as a label. labels can absolutely be useful in some contexts, as a shorthand. but far too often, labels become reified into an identity.

what makes one an anarchist? their ideas? their intentions? their behavior? some combination thereof? the simple fact that they (or someone else) refer to themselves as such?

the modern world humans have created makes it all but impossible to behave anarchistically all the time, unless one can create their life completely outside the context of that world (which itself seems impossible without massive resources and quite a few like-minded folks, if even then).

if behavior and intent are primary factors in using the label, then my guess is that nobody is more than a part-time anarchist.

some time ago, i started thinking of the term anarchist as more of an adjective (ala anarchistic, anarchic) than a noun. as a descriptor, it can be used to describe ideas, behaviors, and most relevant for me, relationships. but more and more, i find that using that term as a catch-all label for the dynamic, complex, unique individuals that we all are just seems like more identity-based political baggage that i don't care for.

anarchy, a life without rulers, is first and foremost about how individuals relate with one another. i want nothing more than anarchistic relations in my life. i couldn't care less if anyone calls themselves an anarchist, i only care if they behave and relate anarchically with me and those i care about.

i look forward to critique of this perspective.

by (13.4k points)
just a reminder for when this sort of came up before...
dammit, i thought i had searched well before asking a new question. obviously not. i probably would have posted this under that question. oh well.
fwiw, i see the potential for some distinctions which might be made between asking to define 'an anarchist' and the ingredients going into 'making' an anarchist.

but, interestingly, thought have arisen for me along these paths as well, so you may see an answer in the coming days...:-)

1 Answer

+2 votes
this came up in last week's study group, and i found myself answering (for both nihilism and anarchism) that they are labels i use mostly for myself, as a way to gauge my behavior for myself. ie they're standards for measurement. there's a way that this is cheating (ie it's easiest to defend them as only words to apply to one's self) but it's true as far as it goes.
by (53.1k points)