My Definition of Anarchism


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I’ve been wanting to write an outline of what anarchism means to me and why I think it’s the right choice for humanity, because I know it can be scary for people to hear that I’m an anarchist, that I think police are the bad guys, without a deeper explanation. I was fifteen when I learned there were people who wanted marijuana legalized, and it scared the crap out of me, so I totally understand the fear people may show toward this concept. The problem is that anarchism is a bit more complex than most political beliefs… or maybe it just seems that way because I never hear people talking about it. It’s always been difficult for me to find the right words.

I came up with something I thought was a decent start, and was going to post it here, but then I decided to pop the word ‘anarchism’ into Twitter and found @AnarchistNews, which led me to Are you an anarchist? by Anthropologist David Graeber, which is a definition of anarchism that almost perfectly mirrors my own.

I still wanted to post my own little explanation, though it’s not nearly as well-worded or as in-depth as the one above.

When people think of anarchism, they think of Mad Max and Timothy McVeigh, because that’s the vision that’s been drilled into them. But putting an end to people like Timothy McVeigh is exactly the reason I chose anarchism, because ultimately McVeigh was out for the same justice that our government taught us to seek, and saw the horrible things the government has done in support of its systems, and felt justified in doing something similar. He may have read some anti-government literature, but he was nothing close to an anarchist by my definition. He was still acting under the same core concepts as our government. As hopefully you will read in the article above, anarchism is about focusing our attention on solving problems as a community and not on worrying about concepts like justice, ownership, national superiority, or anything else that doesn’t support the populous.

And Mad Max… well, Mad Max was fiction. Admittedly entertaining fiction, but full of evil characters with no clear motivation for the horrible things they did, probably because the writers could not think of any. Star Trek depicts a system far closer to our vision.

When I think of anarchism, I think o f pirate radio stations and streaking. I think of the way the Native Americans used to live, thinking seven generations ahead, and caring about their environment. I think of the moonshiners during prohibition who fought for our right to drink alcohol. I think of the mob during the 70’s making and distributing porn, helping to force our government to give us the right to look at the human body. I think of the medical marijuana that helps patients deal with a wide variety of ailments. I think o f the illegal gay bars in the 70’s that sparked the modern gay-rights movement. I think of Rosa Parks. I think of The Boston Tea party and the beginnings of the American Revolution, and finally, I think of The Underground Railroad and the Germans during the second world war who risked their lives to stash fugitives in their attics, and of course, Jesus.

These are just a few examples. There are countless more that go all the way back through Roman times. So if there was any one thing I could point to that made me an anarchist, I think I’d say history class.

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