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–1 vote
Is anarchism just a political idea that could happen "some day" or is is something that could impact my life today?

edited for tags
edited by
my take: anarchism is a theory (many, actually), and/or an ideology, aimed at creating a new world/society. anarchy is a (transient, usually) state of being - and state of mind - that is devoid of the institutional authorities and hierarchies that define the conditions which anarchism seeks to destroy.

if that makes any sense to you, then I'd say anarchy has much more potential to impact your life in the here and now.

clear as mud, eh?
i'd like to know why people downvoted this question. for someone wanting to know about anarchism/anarchy, it seems like a good one to me.
i agree bornagain, and it's always odd when a question is downvoted, but then many people want to answer it.


8 Answers

+4 votes
Best answer
Anarchy is meaningless if it doesn't impact your life. This is true of any ideology. Why hold fast to a set of rules or principles if they are not advantageous?

As I see it, this is the problem with most anarchists today: they spout some reformed marxist/leftist social ideology or some chauvinist ideology of corporation worship (i.e. Anarcho-Capitalists) wherein individuals are reduced to cogs in the greater community machine. But anarchists should use ideas as tools, not be used by ideas (or ideologues) as tools themselves. The latter option isn't freedom and freedom is the essence of anarchy.

In short, "anarchy is an experience, not a program. And it is something intensely personal. It must be of your own making." Use others' opinions to further YOUR own ends, not the other way around.

If anarchy means 'no rulers,' any autonomous action is anarchistic. So the field is open, my friend. Do what you want and be happy. This is the anarchy of now, not some socio-religious belief in a future utopia (something which isn't even possible). Let the true believers sacrifice their joy, their freedom, their very lives for that fantasy--the fantasy of anarchISM--while you live out your own version of anarchY.

Pose your own question to yourself: What could you do right now to make yourself freer--intellectually, bodily, emotionally? Don't wait: life's too short.
by (1.6k points)
selected by
+2 votes
Stop asking ridiculous questions like this and start thinking for yourself about how to take your life into your own hands here and now.
by (1.2k points)
+4 votes
to address the second part of your question first, it depends on your idea of anarchism. if i had to answer more concretely i would say, it's both.
if you check out the question "what is anarchism", then it's clear that there are a variety of ways that anarchism is relevant to our daily practices, and is all around us at least as potential all the time, and there is also a way that anarchy is so far away from our current situation as to be untouchable.

so one thing that you could do today that some would consider anarchist is to refuse to go to an authority figure in order to get something done. another thing is to work with a peer to do something that is to your mutual benefit (especially outside of capitalism, and that helps - or at least doesn't hurt - other folks).
by (53.1k points)
+5 votes
You could find something in your life, today, that holds you back and begin a path to change it.
by (2.2k points)
i'm really irritated by this answer, and by the seven people who upvoted it.

this is empty as shit (emptier than shit, maybe) and makes anarchy sound like a new age self-help project.

six years later! (lol)
So, if I understand you correctly, you disagree with the answer because you think it is quite obnoxious?
The fact that it is empty bothers you? Would you like it to be full of meaning? Perhaps that is the problem. You expect too much from what other people write and say. You expect, and you project.

Your posturing here is a symptom of your irrelevancy within the wider political scheme. It is a symptom because it makes you feel better about your own irrelevancy, even while it disarms you and renders you powerless.

To liken this comment to a new age self-help project implies that you or I even understand the essence of a new age self help project. I'm not sure that you do.

I think that, ultimately, the essence of it is to distance oneself from official narratives (and, for that reason, it shares the basic postmodern incredulity toward meta-narratives), but to do so in a way which does not reveal any depth or critical distance. This was Fredric Jameson's way of characterizing post-modernism as an ideology of late capitalism. I am simply repurposing that definition to better understand new age self-help.

Now, the extent to which my comment above, so many years ago, was related to that type of postmodern attitude is really difficult to discern. You'd have to bring your own understandings to the table and project a lot into what I didn't write. You'd have to use the opportunity that I opened up by not being precise, by remaining, admittedly, somewhat empty, to fill it with meaning. This is what I mean by project - project as in projection, not as in "the anarchist project." Because, for you, at least here, the anarchist project is a project of projection.
Nihilist, I was responding to dot with the long answer. The shorter response was for you.

I do not believe in self-help. In fact, I am adamantly against self-help. I may derive a considerable amount of revolutionary thought from Stirner, but I do not believe in self-help. Quite the opposite, in fact. I have, in my other public life, written extensively against self-help. So, this is what I mean about the misreadings above. There are assumptions being made about what I wrote, assumptions despite the fact that what I wrote is supposedly empty as shit.

wow dude. seven years later. yea, i agree. you gave me the opportunity to project my own meaning. much as a blank page does. so, good job? i guess it depends on your goals for your comments here.

you have said interesting things in other places, and in past years, on this site. it's too bad that this is the page you chose to come back to. edit: it's too bad that you come back just to be defensive.

edit: and i downvoted because a) you're capable of a better response, and b) i'm harder on respondents than i am on questioners. what makes your answer different from that of a christian, for example?

and for nihilist: your tendency to remove the comments you write is hardly incentive to respond to you. threads in which half the comments have been removed are confusing and distracting.

What's wrong with being defensive?
–6 votes
Find and join or help create popular institutions as alternatives to oppressive and destructive institutions.  These might be labor unions, Community Supported Agriculture farms, food or housing or daycare cooperatives, Local Exchange Trading Systems, DIY/alternative media, neighborhood assemblies, Food Not Bombs locals, free schools and other self-education projects, Time Banks, peacemaking organizations, mutual aid associations of all sorts . . . The more we build, sustain, and defend popular institutions, the more we can withdraw our time, resources, energy, and loyalty from the systems that keep us powerless and miserable.  Sufficiently developed (and integrated), popular institutions can start to form the infrastructure for the kind of post-revolutionary world we want to live in -- "building the new world within the shell of the old," as the Wobbly slogan has it.  When struggle breaks out, popular institutions can be there to support and lend coherence to the forces of contestation, like channels dug to draw the floodwaters.  And while we're waiting for struggles to break out, these institutions can provide little oases of peace and sanity to sustain us.
by (210 points)
Okay, I'm curious -- how come this answer got minus four votes?? Any of the negative voters care to explain?
I agree jc. Your response has been the only one that actually responded directly to the question. Even dot's response to his own question was vague. And the things that you suggest are just the sort of things that anarchists are doing round the world.

Perhaps you offended some people by mixing up a couple of marxist or commie ideas in your listing.
i voted this answer down because it's too specific, without acknowledging that it's specific. it's coming too squarely from a particular anarchist tradition, without saying so clearly. i believe the other answers are vague because they're trying to acknowledge the wide variety of anarchist-approved behavior.
(btw m-t-p: way to trivialize people's possible disagreement by emotionalizing it)
I don't think it's trivializing. Nor did I intend it. In fact when I read it I was tripped up by things like labor unions, etc. but whatever.
4 down votes with no comments is annoying though.
I like my vagueness and jc's narrow specific view and your criticism too.
also - this was not my question. i edited it to add tags.

edit: and i agree that downvotes without explanation are irritating.
I downvoted this because you advocate joining labor unions. Labor unions are bureaucratic piles of shit that have helped keep capitalism and other authoritarian institutions and ideas alive.
dot-- which particular @ tradition is jessecohn's answer from?
formyinformation: it's from a tendency that is heavily influenced by murray bookchin, that emphasizes prefiguration, that believes in a linear progression from "correct action" to "revolution".
0 votes
anarchism is something that you do. It is not something that happens.

And it is not an ideology. It's a different way of thinking.
by (520 points)
m-t-p. this is a lovely sentiment, but is really not answering the question, which was in fact - what do anarchists do?
I do not think of anarchism as a list of prescribed activities, instead I think of it as a more generalized theory of a self-determinate way of thinking fostered through opposition to institutions. There are so many things to do as this thinking affects every area of my life. And by listing off ideas or methods I will be negating my main point - Do what you can to further your self-determination and keep pushing those edges. Everyone must figure it out for themselves and be determined - to follow a suggestion of a particular action or list of behaviors may encourage one to not take strong leadership in their determination. And besides, these ideas are already out there and are not mysterious nor specific to anarchism. They are often obvious and ancient.

I know that this is a bit like pop-psych, but I tend to be concerned much more with the psychological and sociological aspects of what it means to be anarchist than I am with how we define ourselves or what specific actions we undertake. That is why I answered with a vague sentiment rather than a concrete suggestion. And I knew that I could count on plenty of others to give suggestions - ala jessecohen. I had another type of response.
my point is that you are restating the question as an answer to the question. i'm all for philosophical answers, but that's not what you presented.
–3 votes
I do think that this is an important question, though at face value it may not seem as such.  I think it's important to remember that we can create the new world within the shell of the old, then notion of what's called prefigurative politics.  So, while trying to participate in non-hierarchical relationships with loved-ones and friends, calling someone's bullshit when they use racist, homophobic, or ageist language, or starting  a discussion group may not start the revolution, it can serve as consciousness raising.  As "The Coming Insurrection" recommends, we must find eachother first.
You have misunderstood TCI.
+1 vote
Go get sushi and not pay.
by (580 points)
LOL!!! You could probably do this once at every restaurant in a big enough city and not suffer any consequences! Or, pilfer certain strategically selected items from grocery stores the rest of your life....