This is an ongoing project to create a better anarchist FAQ that isn't bogged down by long-winded odes to majoritarianism, workerism and other authority. Consider the below wiki to be very unfinished and constantly undergoing revisions.
What is Anarchy?
Anarchy is the rejection of all institutions and doctrines that seek to rule. It is a life of autonomy and self-determination. Anarchy is not theoretical, nor hypothetical. It is not a hope for an imagined future, it is now. It is a living and breathing praxis. It is a path of defiance we create for ourselves in spite of subjugation.
Anarchy is an endeavor to carve out pockets of life free from exploitation and suffering. It is actively working to end authoritarian relations wherever they exist, and building non-authoritarian alternatives. There is no end-goal to anarchy. It is not a prescribed way of life for imagined people in an imagined place and time, but the experiments of countless generations of disparate people far from satisfied with freedom as they are taught it to be.
"Anarchy is the thing we want. It is the Beautiful Idea. It is the entirely impractical idea that we can be, and must insist on being, totally free. From domination, of course, but also from mundanity and morality. It is the id to the super-ego of society and its shaming, fear-instilling humiliations and self-inflicted limitations.
Anarchy is an act of faith—a leap into the unknown—and a totally sober proposition. It is an explosion and the simple things we do unconsciously. It is something that predates civilization and cannot be tamed by cities, governments, exchange, or politics.
Anarchy is anarchy, it is both organization (along completely different lines than the ones that currently exist on a broad level), and chaos. It is each of us having the ability to determine our own lives and the ways that we relate to others, from our most intimate relationships to the more far-flung. Anarchy is impossible and it is that very impossibility that makes it desirable. As desirable as the eventual lover or the water at the end of a long hike. As impossible as independence, autonomy, and collaboration among equals.
Long Live Anarchy!"
-anonymous (from Pistols Drawn)
What is Archy?
The dictionary definition of 'archy' is any body of authoritative officials organized in nested ranks. Be it monarchy, an oligarchy, a republic, a feudal state or any other hierarchical society.
While anarchy is the opposition to social hierarchy and domination, archy is the full embodiment of those things. While anarchy calls for the absence of rulers, archy depends on the majority of a population serving and obeying a minority of rulers. Sometimes a few rulers (e.g. monarchies), and sometimes many (e.g. social democracies).
Hierarchies exist for rulers to maintain their social control & power over the population. This control is maintained with violent force by authorities appointed by the rulers: the army, national guard, police, courts, prisons, social workers, media, tax collectors, etc.
Not all guidance given by one person to another constitutes hierarchy. Choosing to accept a specialist's expertise in their craft needn't create a hierarchy or make them your ruler. A roofer laying your roof or a chef cooking your meal needn't be your superior on a hierarchy simply because they are providing you with a valued service.
Similarly, an individual using force to strike a blow at the system of authority that oppresses them does not turn the individual into an authority.
Authority is not simply an isolated instance of the use of force, but an ongoing social relationship between two parties. It is a relationship where one party has the socially legitimized right to command, and the other party has the corresponding obligation to obey.
Destroying archy where you see it does not create archy, it creates anarchy.
What is Autonomy?
Autonomy is one of the most important of all anarchist principles, and a building block for understanding anarchist philosophy more broadly. So what is it, exactly?
Well... basically, it's freedom. But more than that, it's a particularly an anarchist type of freedom.. the freedom to make decisions, and then act out those decisions without asking permission from a higher power.
In some ways, autonomy is similar to liberty, a political concept that dates back to Europe's so-called “Age of Enlightenment” in the 18th century. Back in those days, liberty was a radical new idea that sought to put limits on the absolute power of kings and queens. Its early advocates argued that human beings possessed certain inalienable rights, granted to them by God, which rulers had to respect. This idea was obviously pretty popular, and so it soon became the rallying cry of the French and American Revolutions, which helped overthrow feudalism and usher in the era of liberal democracy.
Over the centuries, countless astute, and not-so-astute political thinkers, from Voltaire and Thomas Jefferson, to Alex Jones and Glenn Beck have claimed liberty as a universal human right. But to say that this principle hasn't been universally applied would be a gross understatement. This is because from its very beginnings, the concept of liberty has existed within a framework of European global conquest, a process facilitated by colonialism, slavery and genocide. Even today, the language of liberty is still used to mobilize people's support for imperialist wars. Remember when the United States government claimed they were bringing freedom to Iraq?
The roots of this contradiction lie in the fact that liberty has always been tied to the existence of states, and the associated legal category of citizens. Often this is described as a social contract. In exchange for obedience to state authority, citizens are granted rights and freedoms, such as freedom of expression, freedom to associate, and the right to pursue happiness or bear arms. Non-citizens, or citizens of other states are not included in this contract. And even putting aside the problem of who gets to be considered a citizen, just like anything else that is given to you, rights can also be taken away. At the end of the day, it's politicians and courts who get to decide what rights you are allowed to exercise at any given moment.
Autonomy, on the other hand, doesn't rely on a state-based framework of rights. Rather than concentrating power and decision-making in the tops of social and political hierarchies, autonomy starts at the level of the individual, and scales up. If you’re a visual thinker, it might be helpful to imagine it as sort of like an inverted pyramid. As the scope of autonomy grows to include more and more people, we move from talking about individual autonomy to collective autonomy – the power of groups of people to make collective decisions on issues that affect them directly.
Individual and collective autonomy are indivisible under anarchism. You can't have one without the other. Autonomous collectives are made up of autonomous individuals, who have all made the decision to work together to pursue their common interests. Unless you’re living in a cabin in the woods, it's difficult to exercise individual autonomy outside of a collective, first of all because those in power make it hard to get away with, and second because human beings are inherently social creatures.
Building collective autonomy is what anarchism is all about. Whether this assumes the form of an autonomous feminist collective that gets together to make decisions on how to fight patriarchy, or neighbourhood assemblies that come together to fight gentrification... or even the millions of Kurds in Rojava who are building social structures that are autonomous from the Syrian state. While these are just a few examples, the thing that connects them all is a shared pursuit of greater collective autonomy.
And that’s something we should all be striving for…. because at the end of the day… do you really need someone in authority telling you what you can or can’t do?
What is Mutual Aid?
Mutual Aid is a guiding factor behind anarchist practice, and an essential framework for understanding anarchist views on social organization more broadly. So... what is it, exactly?
Well... in its simplest form, mutual aid is the motivation at play any time two or more people work together to solve a problem for the shared benefit of everyone involved. In other words, it means co-operation for the sake of the common good.
Understood in this way, mutual aid is obviously not a new idea, nor is it exclusive to anarchists. In fact, the very earliest human societies practised mutual aid as a matter of survival, and to this day there are countless examples of its logic found within the plant and animal kingdoms.
To understand anarchists’ specific embrace of mutual aid, we need to go back over 100 years, to the writings of the famous Russian anarchist Pyotr Kropotkin, who in addition to sporting one of the most prolific beards of all time, just so happened to also be an accomplished zoologist and evolutionary biologist.
Back in Kropotkin's day, the field of evolutionary biology was heavily dominated by the ideas of Social Darwinists such as Thomas H. Huxley. By ruthlessly applying Charles Darwin's famous dictum “survival of the fittest” to human societies, Huxley and his peers had concluded that existing social hierarchies were the result of natural selection, or competition between free sovereign individuals, and were thus an important and inevitable factor in human evolution.
Not too surprisingly, these ideas were particularly popular among rich and politically powerful white men, as it offered them a pseudo-scientific justification for their privileged positions in society, in addition to providing a racist rationalization of the European colonization of Asia, Africa and the Americas.
Kropotkin attacked this conventional wisdom, when in 1902 he published a book called Mutual Aid: A Factor in Evolution, in which he proved that there was something beyond blind, individual competition at work in evolution.
Kropotkin demonstrated that species that were able to work together, or who formed symbiotic arrangements with other species based on mutual benefit, were able to better adapt to their environment, and were granted a competitive edge over those species who didn't, or couldn't.
In today’s metropolitan societies, people are socialized to see themselves as independent, self-sufficient individuals, equipped with our own condos, bank accounts, smartphones and facebook profiles. However, this notion of human independence is a myth, promoted by corporations and states seeking to mould us into atomized, and easily controlled consumers, concerned primarily with our own short-term well-being. The truth is that human beings are incredibly interdependent. In fact, that’s the key to our success as a species.
Do you ever spend time thinking about where the food you eat, or the clothes you wear come from? What about the labour and materials that went into building your house, or your car? Left to fend for ourselves without the comforts of civilization, few among us would survive a week, let alone be able to produce a fraction of the myriad commodities we consume every day.
From the great pyramids commissioned by the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt, to today’s globe-spanning production and supply chains, the primary function of the ruling class has always been to organize human activity. And everywhere that they have done so, they have relied on coercion. Under capitalism, this activity is organized through either direct violence, or the internalized threat of starvation created by a system based on private ownership of wealth and property.
Capitalism can inspire people to do many amazing things, as long as there is a profit to be made. But in the absence of a profit motive, there are many important tasks that it will not and cannot ever accomplish, from eradicating global poverty and preventable diseases, to removing toxic plastics from the oceans. In order to carry out these monumental tasks, we require a change in the ethos that connects us to one another, and to the world that sustains us. A shift away from capitalism... towards mutual aid.
Glimpses of the Anarchist ideal of mutual aid can be seen today in communities of open source software developers, and in programmers coming up with new forms of encryption to thwart NSA surveillance. They can be seen in neighbours coming together to organize a daycare collective, and in the aftermath of disasters such as Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, when in the absence of state institutions, perfect strangers rush to one another’s aid. It can be seen in the bravery of the white helmets of Aleppo, who risk their lives to pull children from the collapsed ruins of buildings hit by Assad’s barrel bombs.
Imagine a world in which human activity was not organized on the basis of ceaseless competition over artificially scarce resources, but the pursuit of the satisfaction of human needs… and you will understand a vision of the world that anarchists seek to create.
What is Direct Action?
Direct Action is a phrase that gets thrown around a lot when describing anarchist tactics and rightly so, since it's one of the main ways anarchists put our values of autonomy, self-organization and mutual aid into practice.
So what is it exactly?
Well, a simple definition would be to say that a direct action is a political action aimed at achieving a specific goal or objective, and which is carried out directly by an individual or group of people, without appealing to a higher authority for legitimacy.
Now, this broad definition covers a huge range of activities: everything from banner drops, to prison breaks. And it doesn't necessarily tell us much about the politics of those carrying out the action itself.
Direct actions are tactics, meaning that they are a specific type of action that can be used to implement a wide variety of strategies.
While you don't have to be an anarchist in order to carry out, or to participate in a direct action, the concept itself holds a special importance for anarchists and other anti-authoritarian radicals.
And that's because well-timed and well-executed direct actions can offer an escape from the endless cycle of representational politics, which assumes its highest form in the state.
The German philosopher Max Weber famously defined the state as a monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force. In other words, state violence, whether dispensed by a politician's pen, a judge's gavel, or a cop's baton, is a manifestation of legitimate force, and a harsh reminder of the state's role as the ultimate mediator of social conflict.
This mandate includes everything from interpersonal disputes that end up settled in the courts, or by someone calling the cops, all the way up to the broader conflicts that spring from systemic inequality and the structural imbalances inherent to capitalism, colonialism, white supremacy, ableism and hetero-patriarchy.
In its purest form, direct action does not aim to persuade those in power, but seeks to foster and assert the power of those carrying out the action themselves.
When people carry out a direct action, they are rejecting the state's monopoly on decision-making, and asserting their own autonomy while providing an example for others to follow.
To take just one example, rather than petitioning a politician to vote against the construction of a pipeline or appealing to state-controlled regulatory bodies, those who favour a direct action approach often find it more effective and empowering to go out and block the pipeline themselves directly.
Direct action can also be used to set up networks of mutual aid.
Fifty years ago, the Black Panthers were faced with the reality of widespread poverty and lack of service provision in their communities. Rather than appealing to the government, or to the conscience of White America, the Panthers set to work organizing their own health clinics and breakfast programs for hungry school children.
These programs were part of a broader strategy of building community power, and were identified by FBI Director J Edgar Hoover as a primary threat to national security - by which he meant a threat to the legitimacy of the state, and the white supremacist power structure that upholds it.
Because they transgress the official channels of politics, and often the law itself, direct action campaigns are inevitably met with a whole toolbox of tactics aimed at bringing conflicts back under state control. These can range from state and corporate-funded non-profits infiltrating and co-opting grassroots movements in order to force a change in tactics or leadership, all the way up to extreme repression, such as mass incarceration and targeted assassinations carried out by state and paramilitary forces.
Although as a concept, direct action has probably existed for as long as there have been hierarchies to rebel against, the term itself dates back to the early workers movement, where it was used to describe militant practices such as industrial sabotage and wildcat strikes.
By physically blocking production, and collectively defending themselves from repression, workers were able to force concessions from their capitalist masters.
The widespread use of these tactics eventually led to the legalization of trade unions and a whole host of concessions aimed at bringing the more radical sections of the workers movement back under state control.
One of the most significant heydays of direct action in modern history took place in 1970s Italy. Faced with a housing crisis provoked by capitalist restructuring of the economy, thousands of migrants from the country's south squatted apartment blocks, and physically defended families from eviction.
When the government attempted to hike transit fares and energy costs, tens of thousands of people refused to pay the increased rates, in collective actions known as auto-reductions.
Italy was, at that time, a deeply religious, conservative and rigidly patriarchal country, in which both abortion and divorce were illegal.
Within this context, a fearless women's liberation movement organized an underground network of clinics, with doctors and nurses providing hundreds of volunteers, with necessary skills to perform clean and safe abortions.
This direct action approach to reproductive health was complimented by massive and regular demonstrations calling for the legalization of abortion, which were ultimately successful.
In our current age of increasing polarization, uncertainty and insecurity, direct action offers a way for our movements to build and assert our collective power, both to defend our communities, and to fight for the world we want to live in.
What is Praxis?
A question you'll often get when you attempt to discuss anarchism with people new to these ideas is how practical is anarchy? How can anarchy be demonstrated to me in a way that I can appreciate its effectiveness? Nothing is more effective in demonstrating the value of anarchy than praxis.
Praxis is any action that embodies and realizes anarchist theory. It's a valuable method for creating awareness of anarchist causes and building solidarity in your community.
Examples of praxis:
Setting up a Food Not Bombs chapter in your community.
Squatting an unused building to provide a safe space for homeless people.
Setting up a free shop that people can freely take what they need from.
Building community gardens to feed and engage the community.
Preparing free meals for homeless people.
Helping people install a free and open source operating system and the Tor browser for privacy and security.
Converting old combustion-engine cars to electric.
Make a zine/informational about an important topic.
Creating memes from an Anarchist perspective.
Creating an autonomous zone.
Horizontal community public safety organizing to replace the police.
Teaching people how to steal from the rich effectively.
Creating a space online where Anarchists can share their ideas with each other.
Aiding in defending indiginous sovereignty.
Being support for people suffering from addictions, and helping them be on a healthy path they want to be on.
Stopping pipelines from being built.
Investigating history, and appreciating the context for how you have come to be.
Identifying privileges caused by being a part of a white-supremacist, hetero-normative, patriarchal, trans-phobic, classist, state controlled labor farm.
Calling out problematic behaviour in comrades, no matter their status in the group.
Teaching people to be self sufficient by gardening, foraging and upcycling.
Starting an anarchist bike collective to fix people's bikes.
Making anarchist music that shines a light on injustices in the world.
Setting up a community mesh-net to share data with people in a decentralized manner.
What is Leftism and How Does it Relate to Anarchy?
The left vs right divide comes from which side of the French king members of the états généraux parliament were sitting before the French revolution - those on the right were monarchist, those on the left were in favour of the republic. In other words, both were in favour of the state. Obviously all this was a long time ago, and most people aren't really aware of it, but that doesn't mean it's not relevant, because the underlying assumption still persists that the whole spectrum of conceivable politics need to be enacted through the state. That's still true, whether it's social-democrats, liberals, Leninists, greens, whatever.
One of the most important things anarchists need to get across is that worthwhile political changes can only be achieved through direct action outside and against the state, parliamentary democracy and the various structures of class collaboration, and that means questioning the left vs right thing.
Anarchists are not leftists, we side with neither monarchy nor republic, dictatorship nor democracy, free market capitalism nor state capitalism. We stand for anarchy. The absolute negation of all authority, including both wings of government.
Do Anarchists Support Free Speech?
“Doublespeak is language that deliberately obscures, disguises, distorts, or reverses the meaning of words. Doublespeak may take the form of euphemisms (e.g. "downsizing" for layoffs, "servicing the target" for bombing, in which case it is primarily meant to make the truth sound more palatable. It may also refer to intentional ambiguity in language or to actual inversions of meaning. In such cases, doublespeak disguises the nature of the truth.”
The concept of "free speech" is fundamentally flawed, and has historically been used to convince citizens of states that they have "rights" that are gifted to them by the supposedly benevolent and generous state.
In actuality, the state doesn't give you rights; it controls them, limits them, denies you them. It uses its monopoly on violence to censor, stalk, spy on, imprison and terrorize anyone that would threaten to subvert its power.
When an authority grants you "free speech", what they've really done is take away your freedom to speak, and then allow certain people (typically the favored social class) to say certain things under certain conditions. There's nothing "free" about this. You're still forbidden from speech that would threaten the state or those it empowers. You're still legally viable for slandering powerful people that can afford as many lawyers as it takes to sue you into bankruptcy. You're still beaten to a bloody pulp (or worse) for talking back to a cop. You'll still be imprisoned, enslaved and murdered by the state and its enforcers for being the wrong race or the wrong gender or the wrong sexuality or the wrong religion or the wrong class and daring to resist your oppressors.
Free speech is a lie told to us by our rulers to convince us we need to be ruled by them.
Anarchists are aware enough to realize the state does not grant us any kind of freedom. The entire existence of the state is predicated on taking freedom away from us to empower the rich and powerful minority that the state exists to serve. So as anarchists; as people who don't want to be ruled, people who see the blatant lies our rulers tell us for what they are, it would make little sense for us to support an inherently Orwellian concept as "free speech". Much more honest words for this concept would be "controlled speech" or "state-approved speech".
Really, when the state talks about freedom of speech, they're most often talking about the freedom to be a hateful bigot - since bigotry is really the only type of speech the state will go out of its way to protect. Bigotry allows the state to scapegoat undesirable groups and thus create gaping social divisions. If everyone is villainizing migrants or gays, those groups will serve as a fine distraction. Ensuring our rulers and their benefactors can live to exploit us for another day as we focus our rage at anyone but them.
According to the state, white supremacists are free to incite hatred against non-whites (which has often led to mass murder), but if someone were to say they think the president of the nation deserves to be stabbed for his crimes... Well, that person would promptly be carted off to prison for voicing such a dangerous idea.
Unfortunately, some people insist on using bigoted or otherwise oppressive language in anarchist spaces, claiming that free speech allows them to do so. Since we've established that free speech is nothing more than an insipid lie our rulers tell us in order to control us, it's important that we reject the dishonest language of the state when talking about anarchy, and take a long hard look at the reasons someone would have for clinging to the state's shrewd promises of "rights" and "freedoms" that simply don't exist.
"Free speech" is not an anarchist principle in any way. Actual anarchist principles of course include direct action, mutual aid, taking a strong stance against authority in all its guises, as well as freedom of association. This means we are free to associate with whoever we want and free to avoid associating with people that would build authoritarian structures to oppress us.
So let's talk about the people who enter anarchist spaces, direct slurs and hateful bigoted rhetoric at us, and then insist we accept their abuse because they have the sacred right to freedom of speech... These people simply have no understanding of anarchy. Their "right to free speech" that they insist we respect could only be granted to them by a state with a monopoly on violence. If someone comes into your space and calls you a racial slur, no institution should have the power to stop you from showing that person the door.
It takes an incredibly sheltered person to believe there should be no consequences for abuse. When someone is abusing you or people you care about, you should absolutely be free to take a stand and remove them from your space, no matter how many times the person cries "free speech" as they're telling you you're a worthless (slur).
The "freedom" to scapegoat, demonize and demean people who are different from you really stands in direct contradiction with anarchy. Discriminating against people based on ability, race, gender or sexuality creates authority. It makes you an authoritarian. Your rhetoric directly alienates the people who belong to the groups you're choosing to look down on in disgust and present as less-than human. By using demeaning language to chastise marginalized people for their perceived inadequacies, you're upholding normative social roles, creating classes and subclasses and strengthening the authoritarian power structures that directly oppress any people that belong to minority groups.
For example, by using the word "f*ggot" as an insult, you effectively cast gay people as being worthy of scorn and derision. You assert authority over everyone who isn't heterosexual and make life incredibly difficult for people that don't meet the normative standards you've helped construct to maintain the social dominance of heterosexuals.
Anarchists can and will choose to not associate with people that claim they have a right to oppress others. Anarchists are anti-authoritarian to our core, and this means we don't have to put up with hateful bigots in our spaces.
Are Libertarian Socialists the Same as Anarchists?
An anarchist by definition stands against all authority without exception, while a socialist by definition is simply someone who feels the means of production should be collectively owned. So socialism is narrowly focused on economic issues, while anarchy is explicitly concerned with any and all social issues.
When a socialist also identifies as a libertarian, they're indicating that they're critical of the traditional authoritarian socialist states that have been so prominent in the world (the USSR, China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, Yugoslavia, Zimbabwe, etc.)
But while libertarian socialists might reject one-party states, that doesn't mean they reject states entirely. A lot of them will support democratic states or other democratic forms of government. Anarchists, on the other hand, reject all forms of government.
Generally someone who chooses to identify as a libertarian socialist rather than an anarchist is making a deliberate choice to use non-committal language that implies they're willing to accept certain forms of authority. If they opposed all authority as anarchists do, they'd likely call themselves an anarchist.
There are various forms of libertarian socialism that promote a supposedly 'libertarian' state, while there are other libertarian socialists who reject the state form, but embrace other forms of authority.
Communalists are a famous example of libertarian socialists who embrace various forms of authority including majoritarianism but stop short of supporting a full-blown state. But the form of government they do support greatly resembles states on a smaller, more localized scale.
While a few anarchists might also choose to identify as libertarian socialists in polite company, the majority of libertarian socialists aren't anarchists, so anarchists would be better off avoiding the 'libertarian socialist' moniker since all it really says about a person's politics is they like socialist economics but have an aversion to vanguard parties. Anarchy is a whole lot more than economics.
Can Capitalism Be Anarchist?
“Doublespeak is language that deliberately obscures, disguises, distorts, or reverses the meaning of words. Doublespeak may take the form of euphemisms (e.g. "downsizing" for layoffs, "servicing the target" for bombing, in which case it is primarily meant to make the truth sound more palatable. It may also refer to intentional ambiguity in language or to actual inversions of meaning. In such cases, doublespeak disguises the nature of the truth.” (From Wikipedia.org:)
The phrase "anarcho-capitalism" was coined by far-right white-nationalist Murray Rothbard as a way to demean anarchists by appropriating anarchist terminology and diluting anarchy's meaning by associating it with all the things anarchists struggle against.
In one of his unpublished pieces, Rothbard even admitted "we are not anarchists, and those who call us anarchists are not on firm etymological ground, and are being completely unhistorical" because "all" anarchists have "socialistic elements in their doctrines" and "possess socialistic economic doctrines in common."
Capitalism is just as brutal a hierarchy as statism and anyone claiming capitalists are capable of being anarchists is using malicious doublespeak to attack the anarchist movement by confusing the definitions of 'hierarchy' and 'authority'. Capitalism is a perverse authority that creates a multitude of oppressive totalitarian hierarchies. There is no way to make it compatible with anarchy.
These “anarcho” capitalist pretenders would have us believe that capitalism is “voluntary” when in reality private property rights can only be enforced violently; by an authority that is powerful enough to rule a society.
Rothbard's followers claim to oppose the state but not capital. In reality, they wish to replace the state with wholly unregulated corporations; effectively making the corporations into totalitarian states that don't have to answer to anyone.
For all intents and purposes, these so called "anarcho-capitalists", "propertarians" or "voluntaryists" wish to revert to feudalism and fully enslave workers, without the annoyance of human rights, labor and environmental laws or any other controls on their business activities.
They wish to replace the state's police forces and military with private police and military that would work directly for the corporations, with no accountability to the public and with the sole purpose of safeguarding the profits and personal safety of the owners of capital.
They have similarly hijacked the word 'libertarian' which was historically synonymous with “anarchist” (Kropotkin used both words interchangeably) and maintains its original meaning outside the USA.
Within the USA, “libertarian”, “voluntaryist”, “propertarian”, “deontological liberal”, “autarchist”, “paleocon”, “minarchist”, “neocon”, “rights-theorist”, “libertarian moralist” and “social conservative” are all words that just mean "capitalist that doesn't like public accountability or paying taxes" with very minor differences; usually relating to how private property “rights” will be enforced.
By creating far-right capitalist perversions of every anti-capitalist movement, the wealthy largely succeed in erasing the original revolutionary goals of a movement and replace them with more of the same capitalism, imperialism, poverty, genocide and environmental destruction.
"Anarcho"-capitalism is an oxymoron and has nothing to do with Anarchy.
Do Anarchists Practice Democracy?
This article paraphrases parts from the essay "Do Anarchist's Support Democracy?" by ziq
Democracy is derived from the Greek demokratia.
demos - "the people" + kratia - "power, rule".
It means "To be ruled by the people".
Contrast this with the etymology of the word Anarchy. From the Greek anarchos meaning "To have no ruler".
If the definition of the word 'democracy' is "Rule by the People", and the definition of the word 'Anarchy' is "To have no ruler", then the answer to the question "Do Anarchist's Support Democracy?" would logically be no. Anarchists are against all authority, even authority imposed by a majority of voters.
Of course, it's not always that simple. Some anarchists do choose to engage with electoral voting, believing that a "lesser of two evils" approach is worth the trip to the ballot box. But, this is not the same as believing that democracy works or that it's a form of anarchy.
Others (social anarchists) might claim that what we have now isn't "real" democracy. Most working systems of democracy in the world today are 'representative', where the people elect an individual to represent them in government. Some people instead advocate for a return to the 'direct democracy' of ancient Greece, where the intermediary is removed and power is given directly to civilians to make decisions by voting directly on each government policy.
In short, these two forms of democracy are a difference between rule by political proxies or rule by the majority group of voters. However you window dress it, all democratic systems are ways to rule people - something all anarchists oppose by definition.
But, more than this, democracy separates us; pitting the majority against the minority. Many of us - including you - might live in a democracy, and might find that those outside of the ruling class continue to be exploited, living in perpetual servitude. We have never been granted the freedom and liberty that our rulers promise democracy will grant us.
Yet, because we are given the opportunity to take part in the political process by way of democracy, we are lead to believe we have a say in the governing of our lives. As long as we believe that the ballot box is the solution to our problems, we remain passive and alienated, never taking control control of our own fates.
Anarchy rejects this authority of the majority over the minority. Anarchy rejects the authority of any group over any other group. Anarchy is about upholding each individual's autonomy and dismantling the authority forced on us by oppressive actors.
Democracy is a hierarchy of coercive power. What happens when the minority disagrees with the majority? They are either forced to conform, or forced to leave. Democracy either promotes or enables the marginalization of minority groups while putting the onus on them to 'speak up, be heard, and vote for change'. "Power to the people", means "Power to the most powerful group of people". The more power the majority group has, the less power the marginalized minority groups have.
Finally, democracy has proven endlessly throughout history that it enables the authority of brutal power hierarchies starting from its inception in ancient Greece; where only free land-owning men were allowed to participate in the direct democracy system. Democracy is responsible for some of the worst atrocities in history. More than we could list here. But, to scratch the surface:
- Funneling wealth to the ruling class leaving billions in poverty
- The Armenian genocide
- US Oil wars
- South African Apartheid
- Palestinian Apartheid
- Prison states
- The democratically empowered Nazi genocide
- The US carpet bombing of Vietnam
- Guatemalan death squads
- Slavery in the USA (representative democracy) and in ancient Greece (direct democracy)
- and more
Democracy is a tool that maintains the tyrannical capitalist status quo.
So do anarchists support democracy?
Anarchy is the opposition to authority. It is taking a stand against every form of oppression. It is the quest to limit suffering and free people from those who rule them. Anarchy is against all rulers, including democratic ones. Anarchy and democracy are incompatible.
What is Workerism?
Workerism is any ideology or worldview that strives to structure society around work, the workplace and workers, while failing to critique these things. A workerist lacks the imagination to see beyond a work-based existence, to constructive-play focused lifestyles that prioritize joy over sacrifice and profit.
What is Constructive Play?
Post-workerist anarchists seek a new way of life based on constructive play rather than work. They reject the stagnant workerist ideologies put forth by capitalists and communists alike and instead encourage parting with the work industrial complex in totality.
Alfredo M. Bonanno:
Play is characterized by a vital impulse that is always new, always in movement. By acting as though we are playing, we charge our action with this impulse. We free ourselves from death. Play makes us feel alive. It gives us the excitement of life. In the other model of acting we do everything as though it were a duty, as though we ‘had’ to do it. It is in the ever new excitement of play, quite the opposite to the alienation and madness of capital, that we are able to identify joy.
What is Egoism and Post-Workerism?
Egoism is the philosophy of Max Stirner as described in his most famous work, "The Unique and Its Property" and expanded upon later in "Stirner's Critics". A 19th century existentialist philosopher, Stirner was one of the earliest known exponents of anarchy inside industrial Europe. Egoism stands apart from later workerist offshoots of anarchism like anarcho-communism and anarcho-syndicalism by refraining from glorifying work, the factory and other exploitative social constructs.
Egoism emphasizes the individual and their unique will and rejects any abstractions ("phantasms") and their influence ("haunting") on the actions, thoughts, feelings, and desires of the individual ("The Unique"). As such, Egoism is opposed to humanism, liberalism, statism, morality, ideology, work ethic, social custom, religion, tradition and other fixed ideas that are projected onto us by external forces. Stirner posits that The Unique pursue it's own interests, whatever they may be, free of any reservations born from phantasms.
Like most currents of post-workerist anarchy, egoism rejects the idea of mass social revolution, seeing it as a time of violent and unpredictable turmoil which could very easily give rise to new hierarchies that serve new tyrants who rush in to fill the power vacuum.
Instead, egoists and other post-workerist anarchists favor more evolutionary methods of making anarchy: A focus on alternative experiences and social experiments, as well as education and the demonstration of radical modes of living which can easily create anarchy in the world today, in the current time and place, serving the current population.
A lot of anarchists don't believe it's in any way desirable for individuals to wait for a pie-in-the-sky social revolution before they can begin to experience anarchy. Post-workerist anarchists have no qualms about celebrating life by fully-embracing alternative experiences and lifestyles outside of what is offered within the current social system.
Workerist anarchists are quick to demean post-workerists such as egoists, anticivs and green nihilists as "lifestylists" for not adhering to whatever workerist program their off-shoot of stateless socialism decrees as necessary to achieving revolution. Like all socialists, workerist anarchists would rather focus their energies on recruiting workers to their cause and growing their unions in the hopes that they (or more realistically their distant descendants) can accumulate numbers big enough to bring about their much-coveted socialist revolution.
Post-workerist anarchists want no part of any program designed by others to limit them, control them or curtail their individual desires in order to compel them to pursue a collective ideological agenda passed down by long-dead European philosophers who lived in a different time and place and had different ideals, customs and objectives than anyone living in the world today.
Egoists reject the idea that the individual should have to sacrifice for the benefit of the "greater good" and instead they posit that cooperation, the formation of social bonds, altruism and mutual aid are inherently desirable because these things benefit the individual as much as they benefit the collective. For this reason, Stirner advocated for a "union of egoists": Multiple egoists voluntarily associating with one another to fulfill a purpose, goal, or even to simply enjoy eachother's company; free of any coercion or obligation. It's essentially the earliest form of the anarchist concept of freedom of association.
Despite common misconceptions, egoists have nothing against relying on or working with others to achieve a mutually-shared goal. Egoism posits that kindness and charity is born from empathy, not morality. People give and help each other because it feels good for most people to do so, in this sense, what we call "altruism" is simply a side-effect of egoism.
Egoism embraces any act that is done out of the individual's desire to commit the act. If the act is born from obligation, it is not an egoist action. Egoism supports the individual doing exactly what the individual pleases - taking no notice of God, state, morality or society.
To Stirner, "rights" were merely specters in the mind, coercing us to act in a certain way in order to benefit externalities like the state. He held that society does not exist but "the individuals are its reality".