”Anarchists are people who want to immediately abolish the state after the revolution and do not want a replacement state. That's the simplest terms. I was definitely an anarchist. A lot of MLs used to be anarchists.” (source)
I think that for most people, the introductory grip on anarchism once they begin to get it (not including Chomskyan justified authority stuff) is a position like this - Anarchists want to abolish the state and capital and all hierarchies and move to a stateless moneyless society, without an intermediary state that comes into power in order to conscientise the people and wither away.
This position is highly limited but true, and it is useful to use to explain to noobs what anarchism is to get them on board enough to dig deeper. I think that this truth is several removes away from what anarchism is.
People who dig a bit deeper often come to a position like this: Anarchism is against political mediation. We are ok with affecting the political world, but no politicians. Ok with spirituality, but no priests. No specialists structuring our immediate relation to the world we affect - where every mediation is an alienation. This extends pretty far, with people like Zerzan critiquing symbolic thought and language in terms of the alienation that mediation brings.
Deeper still is what I consider the core anti-authoritarian principle that is the seed of anarchist everything. The overthrow of external impositions, (rejection of impositions from Outside, transcendent things). The consequences of the are very far-reaching, for how we understand being subjects, for how we apprehend being, it literally changes the structure of our thought, or in Deleuze’s terms, it is the abolishing of the 'dogmatic image of thought', which is in simple terms how the form of our thought itself is authoritarian and justifies authority (Deleuze calls it State Thought). I wish I had more energy for this, and it’s at this part that this post will be inadequate. I have a friend who’s writing about it right now and I’m going to publish that thing on the anarchist library first chance I get. But it’s supposed to be like a book-length thing lol.
What we find is that in simple form, theoretically anarchism is the permanent calculated revolt against transcendent forms, an orientation in the present that opens up unforeseen possibilities and un-forecloses the future. That time element, the orientation in the present that un-forecloses the future - the orientation itself is an instantiation of a set of anti-authoritarian relations - that is what anarchists call prefiguration. And that is what anarchism is.
Years of doing unmaking external impositions completely reorients you, bodily. It’s a huge bodily change for most people, I think. It’s a deep attunement to flows of power, a sensitivity to impositions from outside, one that literally affects your perception. And the orientation brings you to hunt transcendence to destroy it, everywhere always, it brings you to live in good faith because it’s what you want for yourself, you can be as selfish as you want, because when we destroy transcendence we destroy simplistic ideas of the individual and we recognise how what is preferable for us is bound up in what is liberating and joyous for others.
So yeah, anarchism is about getting to a decentralised moneyless society without the help of an intermediary state. But that’s not what anarchism is. Anarchism is prefiguration, and it is in your body.