Sunday, May 18, 2008

Debunking Common Myths About Anarchism

Anarchism. What is it?

Some will tell you that Anarchism is violence.

Some will tell you it is chaos.

Some will tell you it is Utopian.

Some will tell you it is oppressive.

Some will tell you it is an abandonment of technology.

Some will tell you it is unrealistic.

Some will tell you it is Marxist.

Some will tell you it is tolerance of anything.

All of these people are lying, deliberately or not.

Anarchism is the decision that all relationships can and should be characterized by consent rather than coercion. That is all.

Why is Anarchism not violence?

Because violence has nothing to do with ethics or politics. Violence happens everywhere, even on Venus where the sky is filled with lightning and the ground with lava. Violence is hated by anarchists, but only when it is committed upon a person without that person’s consent.

Why is Anarchism not chaos?

Because chaos is anomie. Anomie is the absence of order, direction, and meaning. Anarchists think that order is wonderful, because when people are free to use their minds to design their own lives, they can best accommodate themselves with others to whatever ends they may desire.

Why is Anarchism not Utopian?

Utopia (or, On the Best State of a Republic and on the New Island of Utopia) was a novel written by Thomas More about an island where, according to Wikipedia:

- Every household has two slaves.

- Premarital sex is punished by a lifetime of enforced celibacy, and adultery punished by enslavement.

- Atheists are despised... as they are seen as representing a danger to the state.

- Women are not given a high degree of equality in the society. Wives are subject to their husbands and are restricted to conducting household tasks.

All of these things are anathema to Anarchy, and all Anarchists rebuke them.

Why is Anarchism not oppression?

Because all oppression is coercive. Some will try to set up the straw man that Anarchy is any place that does not possess a formally recognized State, even places with chieftains and warlords. But that is not true at all. Chieftains and warlords are tyrants, the worst kind of government, and Anarchists hate tyrants arguably more than anything else.

Why is Anarchism not an abandonment of technology?

Because technology helps everyone. Technology is, literally, the study of technicalities. It’s given us bicycles, bifocals, windmills, and houses. It has also given us dangerous things like H-bombs, but anarchists oppose these technologies alone because their sole use is to kill others, in blatant violation of anarchist ethics (unless you count deploying them to blow up incoming apocalyptic asteroids).

Why is Anarchism not unrealistic?

Because it does not violate natural law. If, for example, I were to claim that we should all live in flying houses and use free energy, I would bear a burden of proof that this was possible. Anarchism by itself does not propose anything like this, and is therefore quite realistic.

Why is Anarchism not Marxist?

To put it simply, because Karl Marx was not an Anarchist. He believed in a tightly controlled State where civil liberties are strictly suppressed. His ideas and their effects permanently destroy the idea that Anarchism has anything to do with Leftism.

Why is Anarchism not a tolerance of anything?

Because a tolerance of anything is apolitical ambivalence, not Anarchism. Anarchists are intolerant towards coercively imposed authority and hierarchy. Always. Anarchists do not make the mistake of thinking that fascists can live with fascists, communists with communists, and other illusions of ideological segregation. There is one objective reality, and consequently, one ideology worth promoting. Anarchism, the abandonment of abolition and the prohibition of mandation.

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