I sit on a man's back, choking him, and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by any means possible, except getting off his back. -TolstoyWhat is the "Big A" and why does it get so many different reactions throughout society? I suppose we should first take a look at a general definition of what an anarchist actually is, or at least the prominent definitions society accepts presently. First off, the Greek roots of the word anarchism simply means "without rulers". The latin word "anarchia" means "the state of not having a ruler". So basically an anarchist believes in a world which is self-governed without a centralized political structure. Sounds simple doesn't it? Well, I'm afraid the definitions of an anarchist, you will find, can be as varied as the snowflakes in the high elevations of the Rockys. We all battle against irresponsible structures, whether they be governmental ideologies, state and local laws, or within our local and international unions. Let's first take a quick look at a few views from some well know anarchists. • Benjamin Tucker: "Anarchism, which may be described as the doctrine that all the affairs of men should be managed by individuals or voluntary associations, and that the State should be abolished." • Emma Goldman:"Anarchism: The philosophy of a new social order based on liberty unrestricted by man-made law; the theory that all forms of government rest on violence, and are therefore wrong and harmful, as well as unnecessary." • Pierre Proudhon: "Anarchy is... a form of government or constitution in which public and private consciousness, formed through the development of science and law, is alone sufficient to maintain order and guarantee all liberties..." • Noam Chomsky: "Anarchy is a tendency in the history of human thought and action which seeks to identify coercive, authoritarian, and hierarchic structures of all kinds and to challenge their legitimacy, and if they cannot justify their legitimacy, which is quite commonly the case, to work to undermine them and expand the scope of freedom" • Leo Tolstoy: "...each individual man that his life, if he recognizes his life to be his, and its aim,
the worldly good of his personality or of the personalities of other men, can have no rational meaning, because this good, posited as the end of life, can never be attained, because, in the first place, all beings strive after the goods of the worldly life, and these goods are always attained by one set of beings to the detriment of others, so that every separate man cannot receive the desired good, but, in all probability, must even endure many unnecessary sufferings in his struggle for these unattained goods..." So, how can we determine if we are an anarchist or not, or for that matter, if we do determine that we are indeed an anarchist, exactly what kind of anarchist are we? If you think the idea of society as having rights is flawed, and only an idividual should have rights; If you oppose the governmental practice of democracy, because it allows a majority to decide for a minority; If you believe in the ownership of private property and you believe in a competitive free market economy, without government suppressions or restrictions of competition: Then you may be an anarchist! If you believe that God, the State, and society are actually non-existent, that their promises are null and void, since all three are based on man's subordination to a structured hierarchy; If you think man's enslavement is represented by religion, which has kept the human mind in domination, by property, which has dominated our human needs, and by the government, which has built the fences of conduct domination; If you think real wealth consists in things of utility and beauty, in things that help to create strong, beautiful bodies and surroundings inspiring to live in: Then you may be an anarchist! If you believe in a non-coercive exchange economy where individuals and groups could own property and trade the produce of their labour; If you believe in a market system, without profit, where goods would be traded on the basis of the person's time and mutualist banks would lend without interest: Then you may be an anarchist! If you believe that the mainstream media is merely a tool, utilized by big business, corporations, and government, to sell their products; If you think the social norms, beliefs, and so called truths are being manufactured by an elite few through the bombardment of the senses associated with mass media: Then you many be an anarchist! If you believe the only source of authority you ultimately are answerable to is God; If you don't think the government or the established church should have power over you; If you believe in non-violence and turning the other cheek: Then you may be an anarchist! There is so much hype which surrounds the term anarchism due to the fact there is always negative as well as beneficial aspects of the term. The effects brought about through the powerful multi-media corporations has had a very negative impact on being associated with anything having to do with anarchy and with the Patriot Act in place, this association could get you placed on a "watch list"! We never hear the constructiveness associated with anarchy through mass media, only through the efforts of the people in the grassroots alternative media can we begin to wade through the ocean of truths and un-truths in determining what is real and imagined. It's indeed complicating to say the least! And I believe it would be difficult to find anyone who doesn't possess some attributes of anarchic behavior. In the realm of anarchism, there are collectivist and individualist anarchists, revolutionary and pacifist anarchists, atheist and Christian anarchists, communist and socialist anarchists, high-tech and primatism anarchists, industry-centered and environmentalist anarchists, as well as property abolitionist and free-market or capitalist anarchists. But if we look at anarchism simply as the elimination of the state with an unstructured self-governed society replacing the void created by the state's elimination, it should be noted, that within this definition of anarchy, there has never been any successful large scale anarchisms.
There seems to be no common bonds between the many different forms of anarchy and more times than not, the anarchists end up burning up their resources battling other anarchists rather than combining their resources searching for a solution to the oppression and repression of mankind by the coercive structures of the state. Although there are some anarchists who see the need to bridge the gap between the many views of the proponents of anarchy and seek a more narrowed explanation to the question, What does anarchism mean? I would say that if anarchism has truly recognized the need for culture-based, economybased, and gender-based, as well as for polity-based concepts and practice, and if anarchism can support vision originating in other movements about non-governmental social dimensions while itself providing compelling political vision, and if the anarchist community can avoid strange confusions over technology, political structures, institutions per se, and seeking to win non-reformist reforms—then I think anarchism has a whole lot going for it and could well become a main 21st century source of movement inspiration and wisdom in the effort to make our world a much better place. -Michael AlbertAs I see it, the internet promises to be probably the most successful anarchy in history due to the lack of governing rules and the capabilities it offers each of us in collectively contributing towards a more just and equal society. From one anarchist to another, I believe we have the unique opportunity to actively participate in the future of humanity. Of course it's our responsibility to keep the internet open and free, and never take for granted that what we now have will remain without us fighting to keep it that way. There is so much power in the knowledge the web offers us and at some point in time, (it will probably be a gradual thing), the powerful elite will see that the people are building something which could take away their power. Once this happens, there will be a decrease of rights and opportunities available to us on the web. Please remain vigil for our own good, and stay abreast of your online rights! Because now that I'm an internet addict, it would be unimaginable to lose what I have found. I've come to the realization that, "The more I learn, the more I realize I need to learn"!