Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Let's Talk About Anarchism

In the past few months, I've been increasingly drawn to the ideas, passion, and penchant for direct action of anarchists. For the vast majority of my life, the only exposure I've had to the idea of anarchism has been (highly biased) news reports of anarchists protesting when they dare to break some windows or push back against the police. This was usually followed by my family members mocking anarchism based on a complete understanding of what it even is.

Anarchism is against hierarchies, power imbalances, and what they call "the state." They're not against any and all forms of government - they're against government systems that allow a few people to take power and resources from the rest. This is hard to grasp at a glance because none of us have existed in a world where there are any recognizable governments that aren't like this. This does not mean it's impossible. It used to exist all over the world before white imperialists went out and extinguished it wherever they could find it. And it still exists in this world today.

I need to do a lot more reading on anarchism before I could call myself an anarchist or claim any kind of expertise, but it's clear to me that I've been fed a lot of misinformation on them, and I clearly now find their ideas intriguing. The more I learn about anarchism, the more I find that it lines up with my ideals.

One interesting thing about me is that there is one thing that I and Republicans can agree on, though they don't seem to talk about it much anymore. And that's the importance of small government. I do believe that it's difficult to impossible for representatives in D.C. to understand or be able to truly empathize with the average person they represent, let alone those who are in the most need. And it's real easy not to care about people you never interact with or even lay eyes on. But believing in small government has to go way beyond yelling "states rights" every time the federal government passes a law you don't like.

Many anarchists seem to believe in the idea of breaking up large nations into comparatively very small communities that govern by direct consensus. I have on many occasions felt like this kind of thing could be the only way that humanity could work due to the human capacity for greed and corruption.

Obviously, this is not an easy thing to achieve. We're talking about a destruction of society as we know it. That of course scares the powerful, but is also difficult to face for anyone who relies on our fucked up system to survive. This is where I think a lot of anarchists fall short. 

Many anarchists are white men, though there are growing collectives of anarchists of color. I watched a video today by an anarchist who talked about traveling the world and sleeping on couches and eating out of dumpsters during his travels. This kind of thing would not be safe for me as a white woman. Imagine if I were a woman of color with chronic pain or a physical disability or more severe mental illness, or were trans, or a combination of those! It's real hard to want to go along with or encourage the collapse of society when you need hormones, pain medication, anti-depressants, or any of the many medications people take to live.

I'm not saying we should do nothing. But white anarchist men show their privilege often, particularly in their callous attitude toward the idea of our society collapsing. As far as I'm concerned, if we can't achieve anarchist utopia without sacrificing the most vulnerable, we don't deserve it.

I don't know if I'll live long enough to see anarchist ideas take hold in this end-stage capitalism world. But it's becoming more and more clear that I have no idea what I'll live to see. The world could look very different in the next couple decades. 

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