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.


+2 votes
I've discovered recently that I'm an Anarchist. In other words, as a child through my teenage years I always felt the sense of estrangement within the hierarchies of family, school, church, government, and so on, but eventually those feelings were subdued and general conformity began to creep in.

Over the past decade, I've gradually re-awakened to those feelings and have come to understand that the sense of freedom I desired as a young person is the most important thing in my life. After a while, I discovered writings by people who considered themselves anarchists, and realized how much their words resonated with me.

Now, I'm consciously choosing to live my life more and more according to those principles of freedom, and as a result have become more at odds with the family and friends who used to be (or at least seemed to have been) very close and intimate relationships. I expected these conflicts to arise with the context of the powers-that-be in government, work, school, and so on, but was unprepared for the reaction of my family.

Finally (sorry for the long intro), the question I have is how have other self-described anarchists (or those believing in the idea of anarchy) dealt with close family or friends who can't fathom anarchy or who are not willing to face the destruction and pain that the hierarchical thinking has created?

I still want a certain level of closeness, or at least acceptance from them, despite my clearly different views and actions (as I aspire to live more and more without money, for example). Any experiences or thoughts are welcome as to how to navigate all of this. Thank-you.

2 Answers

+5 votes
this is another of those questions that skirts the line of what can usefully be discussed on a web forum, at least one like this.

ie you are the only one who can determine how important these relationships are, how flexible they are, what about them is important to you, how much you are compelled to share with these people about your changes, etc.

many people leave their families and friends behind. others walk a complicated and probably contradictory path (sometimes being transparent and sometimes being opaque). others share everything and come to be known in their circles as the Downer, or the Anarchist, to varying effect. and others have supportive friends and family who either don't know much about anarchy or don't care, or both.

people who are in a certain kind of anarchy are encouraged to be wary of sharing information with people who might end up being questioned by the state (fbi, police, etc)--without the understanding we gain (presumably? sigh) about how to deal with the state, and how good police are at extracting information...

ted kaczynski was turned in by his brother; i'm sure that's not an analogous situation, but worth considering anyway.
by (53.1k points)
Thank-you for the response, dot.

While I'm in complete agreement with you about me being the only one who can determine the importance of my relationships and the nuances of the nature of those relationships, I don't doubt for a moment that this question is useful (at least for  me).

In fact, your response in itself is of value to me, simply by what you have pointed out, and by your willingness to respond. Since I haven't come across anyone who is willing to discuss this (besides my wife, who also is anarchist, and we've talked about it until the moon and sun rose), just having someone who is thoughtful and has a certain understanding of where I'm coming from is helpful, despite your assertion that it might not be!

I realize that everyone has unique circumstances and reactions, but I think the sharing of those experiences (which is really what I'm after, as opposed to a cookie cutter answer), is valuable - not only from a perspective of options to try, but in terms of some sort of mutual understanding of the difficulties and challenges.

Anyway, I appreciate the energy you put into my question, and I welcome anything else you are willing to contribute.

p.s. I wasn't registered at the time of the question, but it is mine. :)
One other thing I realized is virtue of my thoughts I am in a very small minority. And since I also place a lot of value on sharing ideas  with other people, I'm in a position where shared understanding (or even the willingness of anyone I know to just listen openly to my feeling about this difficulty) is rare, and that's one reason I'm here asking questions - even if the only response is "ah, yes, I feel your pain, brother".
It can be difficult. I am relatively "out" with my family, and even my direct coworkers, but am definitely viewed as different. SOme folks get it. Some folks think I am like an ultra-liberal (they are always the ones most angered or offended when I diverge from our shared opinions). A friend actually told someone they were dating who was Army Airborne (don't even ask me how they ended up dating military, I was like "wuuuuut?!") I was an anarchist and he got totally stoked (and confused - he saw anarchists and Special Forces as being really similar and on the same team).

It is really a case-by-case thing. I will say that I personally don't think being entirely cut off from non-amarchists for merely anarchy reasons is a very wise choice, nor do I think that being totally open is (I am as open as I am in part because that is how the cards fell, I wouldn't suggest it to others necessarily).
Thank-you for sharing your experience, ingrate.

I agree with you that cutting people off for being non-anarchist isn't wise, although I realize that complete openness isn't always the answer either (I  don't announce I'm anarchist to everyone, or even most people).

I think part of the cause of hierarchy/domination is the belief and experience of separation (i.e. humans being separate from "nature", from one another, from "God", ,mind from body, etc), and I feel that by cutting people off completely solely based on non-anarchic thinking, I would be perpetuating the concept of separation and perhaps pushing myself toward isolation, which are some of the very things I wish to avoid.
Today I read an essay by Wolfi Landstreicher called "Against the Logic of Submission" that was helpful to me. While it isn't specifically about familial relationships, it does speak to the conflict inherent in relationships when one has an anarchic reality.

Reading this piece has awakened me further, and I've realized that some of my relationships actually need to be drawn further into conflict, while others likely need to be further distanced.

edited to make a comment
^that is a really great essay (never realy read it in the context of this discussion, but that makes me want to re-re-read it!) I highly recommend delving into more of Wolfi's writing. Their stuff is always thought provoking, even if I end up disagreeing.
0 votes
I have 3 brothers who call themselves anarchists, my parents call themselves communists but are, as I see it, anarchists.

My grandfather, on the other hand, is a communist (not a stalinist and not a socialist). The differences in our world views provide sufficient grounds for discussion, so this is not a problem.

If your relatives are interested in discussion, use the opportunity to test your ideas. If they are not I think it is quite possible to have deep and meaningful relationships without ever talking about politics above community level.
by (590 points)