Anarchism, Not Chaos

"People should not be afraid of their government, government should be afraid of their people." I believe this is the most famous quote by V from "V for Vendetta", and he's right. I'm sure all freedom loving anarchists agree with him as well.

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Anarchism is still seen as a radical political philosophy by most people, which is unfortunate and is the result of a fundamental misunderstanding of what anarchism is. Perhaps because anarchism was and is popular in punk culture, it is still mistakenly equated with chaos, disorder, rampant violence and lawlessness. But that's not what anarchism is. Anarchism doesn't mean that we abandon all laws, just that laws are agreed upon consensually. Anarchism is not violent, but wants to remove the monopoly on violence from the government. Anarchism doesn't get rid of all order, but strives for a new order without the top-down hierarchies that define our current order. Anarchism doesn't even imply that there will be no leaders, just that there will be no rulers. In short, anarchism is simply a belief in voluntary cooperation in non-hierarchical institutions and societies.

I like that idea a lot, in fact this kind of social organization would be perfect as far as I'm concerned. There's a big problem though, one that prevents us from reaching this state freedom anytime soon. You see, anarchism doesn't only imply a rejection of the state, which is where most anarchists I interact with get stuck. Anarchism, as a political philosophy, has been hijacked by people on the political right, as they are the ones who constantly advocate for small government, taking away power from the government and for individuals to take more responsibility for their own lifes. Unfortunately that's just rhetoric, because those same people fail to recognize the second part that's necessary to get rid of power-hierarchies; the rejection of capitalism. I've said it many times before, and I'll repeat it here: "anarcho-capitalism" is a joke, it's a contradiction in terms. Any system in which the means of production are privately owned, and businesses themselves, the place where most of us spend 75 percent of our time, are structured hierarchically, is antithetical to anarchism. I'll give you another quote by V:

"We were all humans until race disconnected us, religion separated us, politics divided us, and wealth classified us."

Capitalism only exists by the grace of government. Capitalism and the state feed of, and reinforce each other. Capitalism will always result in what we have right now, the "crony capitalism", the plutocracy, the oligarchy anarcho-capitalists profess to reject. There can be no truly free, egalitarian society as long as we hold on to an economic paradigm that promotes the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the few. In the linked video there's a nice and short description of anarchism: "anarchism is democracy taken seriously." The way I read that it means that democracy is extended into the workplace; the means of production not privately owned, but democratically managed by the workers. Material democracy, if you will. This does not imply the abolition of personal property, mind you, only of private property; you'll still own your own car, bed and toothbrush. The difference between the two is that private property is used and needed by the whole community, unlike your car, bed and toothbrush, and what's used by the whole community belongs in the hands of that community, not in the hands of one person, for that grants power to that one person.

Anarchism, and also libertarianism come to speak of it, is originally a left wing ideology, make no mistake. Anarchists who are worth their salt reject not only the state, but capitalism as well. That's only logical if you understand what capitalism is, and if you recognize that there is no invisible hand. The fact that capitalism is still seen as synonymous with freedom is doublespeak, the result of a subconscious equation between "free markets", "free society", and "democracy", the latter made worse by the unhealthy notion that one can "vote with their dollars". Please watch the video for a deeper dive into what is and is not anarchism; it's a nice one, even if only because of the many references to the masterpiece that is "V for Vendetta" :-)

V for Vendetta - What Is Anarchism? | Renegade Cut

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