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+6 votes
Anyone got a good time estimate of how long on average people identify as anarchist or with anarchist ideas ? I am amazed at how often people I formerly knew drop off the face of the anarchist planet and basically never hear from them again.
This could be another question, but why is it such a youth-oriented practice ? I remember one time I held my breath (wearing a nose plug) and attended a Marxist study group as they were reading Ursula Le Guin and several of the Marxists said they previously identified as anarchists when they were young (implying it was a naive position to hold and they had matured to being adults/Marxists.)

tl;dr...nice story, grandpa
by (8.2k points)
edited by
damn good question.

i met a young anarchist recently, and i very definitely had the thought: i would be very surprised if this person was still an anarchist in 10-15 years.

i know that having kids can change people's perspective a lot, and that is often a factor in folks leaving the @-team.

funny, i found my resonance with anarchy later in life, and it gets ever stronger. doesn't seem that is too typical.
Funky@:  like you, i found anarchy later in life, and it resonated with the contempt for authority i learned in my youth, from my rural surrounds.
I've noticed that many of us here are 'of a certain age' (bloody old coots :) ), i wonder if that is because the circumstances of our lives conspired to allow us to reach these ages without hostages to be held against us by civilization?
cb: interesting. my youth was *very* urban (my life now could not be much further from that). and i think because i had the relative freedom to come and go, do pretty much what i wanted (though what i wanted may have been fairly limited by the context of my life at the time), i did not feel very oppressed in my youth (at least not consciously). i was a hard-core subway grafitti artist fairly young (12-15 or so), so i did learn pretty early a somewhat "outlaw" mentality, with all the benefits of hyper-awareness (some called it "street smarts") that brings. that also gave me a healthy disdain for cops. :-)

it is kind of interesting that many of the regulars here seem to be beyond that age of youthful anarchistic exploration; which all to often dissipates as one gets absorbed into the fabric of civilization and progress. i have to say, though, that i have met - as i hope you have as well - some incredibly sharp, critical young @s that give me the impression they are not likely to fall into any of the typical traps. they are few and far between, but when i get to spend some time with folks like that, it makes me happy. i find it somehow inspiring.

it'd be great if some of us old coots could get together in real life and hang out. there is at least one person here i know i have hung out with some. i wish there were more.
Wonderful question and comments. I too began describing myself (rather than *identifying*) as an anarchist later in life. I've always disliked authority, though there have been times I've gone against my own interest in despair and misanthropy. Like cb, I've mostly been rural, and this has most definitely been influential.

Having kids within the current circumstances definitely takes a toll on the lifespan of one's anarchic sense. Also, I think the tendency identifying with a certain strand (or hyphenation) of anarchism has something to do with it as well. Metalist touches on this somewhat. Moralism is exhausting and many anarchisms are moralistic. Anarchy, I feel, is best seen as a process rather than a paradigm,  or a blueprint, and each expression, each anarchism (ex: individualist, communist, green and primitive) that's come along simply best seen as a temporary focus, a perspectival place, through which one refines and strengthens one's own capacities while simultaneously creating new possibilities in the world. The 'inner' and 'outer' are interwoven. I think that stopping in one hyphen creates the conditions for, as I said, moralism and the accompanying features of dogmatism, fanaticism, self-loathing, resentment, etc., all finally concluding in that exhaustion in striving for that singular Higher Ideal.
If coming from a middle class background then chances are a combination of family pressure, a desire for a more controlled environment (no more collective houses), the desire to not be 'a weirdo,' and the ability to get a middle class job are going to cause anarchists to stop being anarchists. So assuming someone's identified as such since their early 20s, I'd say that people will often stop between the ages of 26-30.

Being in my mid-20s, I've still got potential to sell out I suppose. :-p
No worries, flip!
we'll just stage an intervention, like they do when people join 'cults'.
We'll kidnap you from your office tower or suburban tract house, load you up (and us, being a sociable lot) with psychoactive substances, and go on a three-day spree of petty property dystruction and dumpster diving.  You'll be your old self in no time, promise.
Wow! I should sell out more often! ;-)
i don't even feel like i have a choice, now that i've recognized what sort of delusional bullshit non-anarchists believe I can't just do a 180

1 Answer

+5 votes
Max Stirner says young man's actions based on ideals, but adult one's based on interest. Maybe this is true for young anarchists as well. Most young anarchists seem to acting for ideals like justice and freedom (freedom as an end, not a mean for self-enjoyment). And when they age, these ideals' influence diminish, and they drop their idealistic type of anarchism. I think that's why it is important to develop an egoistic point of view. We should show people how it is their interest to abolish state and capitalism so that they do not just dream anarchy, but also actually need it to live.
by (910 points)