What is anarchism and why was I so afraid initially to vocally identify as one? Perhaps it had something to do with the image I’d had constructed for me, angry Sex Pistols spitting into their microphones as they rasped menacingly about the queen (fair enough, actually), the same sex pistols I’d associated with racism cos punks were as scaring looking as the skinheads when you’re a brown girl trying to make sense of white subculture but are too afraid to ask just in case they do turn out to be a paki bashing neo Nazi. There was Vyvyan from The Young Ones who frightened the life out of me as a small child (this was largely due to the metal in his face) and the response “there’d be anarchy” in every discussion regarding the breaking of rules painted a nightmare scenario where we’d all regress to a primitive state, raping and looting and bashing each other to death for larfs. Of course I would be afraid to say the words “I am an anarchist” when I did not want to be associated with such carnage and destruction (plus it also sounds a bit like antichrist).
Then I met some anarchists and they were thoroughly awesome people. I wondered where they’d been all my life as I reflected on all the people I’d made do with, accepted, despite their shades of bigotry because I’d felt there was no other choice and I was alone in my thoughts. Here was a bunch of people who just got it and didn’t need it spelling out. Anarchism is the antithesis of every social structure maintained by authority, disproportionately represented by white men. To call oneself an anarchist means to reject the ways of white men, and to challenge those perpetuating oppression whenever we personally witness it, affecting these changes wherever we have the power and influence to do so. I didn’t go to a posh university to learn all these fancy words and expressions; I was just born this way (in my rundown brown Muslim ghetto). Meeting others like me just helped bring everything in focus, and I was pleased to find they came in all colours, genders and beliefs.
To question the reason for everything is at the core of every true anarchist. Why do we do things in this way? Who benefits from it? Is it to any other person’s detriment, on purpose or inadvertently? How can we ensure justice? If these questions do not matter to you then how can you say you are an anarchist?
Anarchism isn’t about behaving like a dick or actively promoting self-interest cos you’re a libertarian who don’t-listen-to-no-one; it shouldn’t be done for the kudos or kicking back at the state cos you’re angry with your dad (although there is nothing wrong with that). Anarchism is taking a radical approach concerning all things and doing them differently. In this sense, most religions can be compared to anarchy (at the point of inception). A new way of being becomes possible, tired of the old (and often violent and oppressive) way of doing things, seeking to change things radically for the betterment of all, because you need to be inclusive if you’re going to spread that gospel far and wide. I believe Jesus was an anarchist, and Mohammed too. Feed the poor and stop raping/murdering your children are worthy (and radical) causes whichever millennium you’re from, and then, just like now, the people in power persecuted those seeking to end power and control by making a violent example of them.
We’ve all heard the ‘let’s fix class then we can entertain feminism’ orders. They come from primarily white men. There are some women socialists using the same tactic with regards to class and race but that’s another blog post. For anarchy to work, I’m sorry not sorry white men, you have to stfu. It’s not like you don’t already have your say right? White supremacy is a social construct as is patriarchy and when you refuse to shut up and listen you are doing both of these things. You’re simply maintaining the status quo and that as you’ve probably already guessed, is not anarchy. Me telling you to do this right now is not exerting power and control or authority over you but punching up at historical oppressors in a bid to be heard so you can stop being so abusive. I do not have any control over your opportunities but you certainly do mine.
The other huge difference between our arguments is the intention behind them. When I say “stop doing that” it’s because you’re hurting somebody. You bash back because you don’t like being told what to do, because you are entitled and used to getting your own way. When the context is so wildly different you cannot apply the same reasoning/survivor language we use to label us as hypocrites. The truly anarchist response to being called out, if you have the self-awareness to regulate your thoughts despite being bombarded by messages on how we must behave in a white cis heteronormative patriarchy is to reflect and think about why you’re being called out not hit back with abuse or dig a deeper hole with your defence. That is the sign of an anarchist, someone who appreciates their privileges and place in the world and seeks to redress the imbalance, however uncomfortable that might be.
Being an anarchist means having the humility to recognise the impact one’s own existence has on others. In a world where we ask people what job they do in order to ascertain their social standing and bank balance before we know anything else about them, we are an anomaly. It makes perfect sense to an anarchist to be preoccupied with the often murderous actions of governments and their followers, and usually for monetary reasons. It is more shocking that most individuals are not bothered. People are more inclined to follow a world sporting event religiously than protest the hundreds of children murdered to make way for it. I am an anarchist because I object to this way of thinking and being. In the pursuit for self-gratification we have allowed for atrocity. We’re convinced it’s not our problem.
If you are not an anarchist (or a true anarchist), you are complicit. To be an anarchist is to be without rulers, not rules (the rulers have created this cruel uncaring world for personal gain). When the rules include treating all living creatures with respect and always questioning your prejudices, you have to question the sort of anarchist who would object to that.
Being a dick is the norm; a true anarchist would know this.