Anarchy. I have heard this term thrown around a lot, especially by the “revolutionary” types here in North America. Brought out significantly in modern pop culture through the punk scene, anarchism can be witnessed in symbology throughout our society. Interestingly, anarchy has been labelled as being almost synomous with popular culture in its disruption and envelopment of every day life of those in societies.
I often wonder what people think anarchy really means. I wonder if the people who use this term have ever lived in a lawless, or semi-lawless society. If they have experienced the breakdown of society, or lack of government. I wonder what they envision a “true” anarchist society to look like. What they think will happen on the process towards anarchism. Many anarchists have themselves benefited tremendously from government systems and laws.
Anarchy and anarchism are difficult to fully define, since there are so many different interpretations and visions of what anarchism is ranging from extreme individualism to total collectivism. It ranges from libertarians and hard-core capitalist neoliberals to the most extreme “tree-hugging” environmentalists.
By dictionary definition, anarchy is the state of lawlessness and disorder, usually stemming from failure of government. Anarchism is a political theory that a community is best organized by the voluntary cooperation of individuals, rather than by government systems. There have been many so-called anarchist communities over time, but all of these communities have had some form of laws or policies that are followed and enforced by communal decree and systems that help make them run smoothly. They may not be labelled as “government” systems or laws, but they are definitely heading in that direction. Over time, one would think that communal decisions would lead us back towards creating governments. Essentially, communal decree is how governments in North America are supposed to run; through democracies. The voice of the people, doing what’s best for the people.
So where is the vision of anarchy that anarchists are really striving for? Are they looking for a different type of system than we have that are better suited to the needs of the population? That’s what I’m looking for too, but I would hardly call myself an anarchist.
I try to imagine a world without some form of government and it makes me incredibly fearful. Anarchy, in my eyes, means a lot of death. It means survival of the fittest as the government breaks down and people must learn to live in new ways without it. Those that find a community and are blessed with resources may find happiness, but those who don’t are doomed to live a terrible existence, especially at the world’s current population. Complete individualism to me is a scary existence that I would not want to experience. Anarchism to me always boils down to separation; but I also have difficulty separating the chaotic definitions of anarchy and the breakdown of government. Separating people from other people into small collectives may result in a thriving environment for some, but in the long run, who looks out for the global environment? Or those who do not fit into the collectives? Or those collectives who don’t have access to natural resources?
Some anarchists say they are rebelling from the coercion of the government, while others believe in using coercive measures to bring about anarchy such as mass violence, revolution or terrorism. In collectives there is also a lot of coercion. In most collectives, there is tremendous pressure to fit in and be part of the group, and this pressure can be a form of coercion.
If the government breaks down in a systemized manner that prevents death and destruction, is it still anarchism? Or would this require an altogether new label?
I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts or visions of anarchism, because to me, it’s the furthest thing from what I truly want or envision for the world. I can’t understand the drive I’ve seen among many educated people to be anarchists. Please enlighten me. I’m intrigued.