I find it helpful occasionally to return to basics. This campaign season was especially viscious, and though I don’t really participate in the political process I still saw arguments on my FB wall that could have been avoided. Many of the conflicts come from two people not understanding where the other person is coming from. More dangerously, some people do not even know why they themselves believe what they do. Many people seem to have forgotten, or never had, the underlying philosophy of their views. So, here is why I consider myself an anarchist.
Anarchy means peace, it is not chaos, it is “without a ruler”. An anarchist is one who believes it is inconsistent and wrong for one person to rule over another. To claim rule over another who does not consent is to claim their body, labor, and life belongs to you. A ruler, whether democratically elected or appointed by god, sees his or her subjects as less than them, less than human, the subjects are sheep to be protected. Subjects are in capable of taking care of themselves. Anarchists recognize this ruler/subject relationship as wrong. The intentions of those in power is irrelevant, laws passed to protect us from ourselves is more than paternalistic, it is dehumanizing. As Proudhon said:
“To be governed is to be watched over, inspected, spied on, directed, legislated at, regulated, docketed, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, assessed, weighed, censored, ordered about, by men who have neither the right, nor the knowledge, nor the virtue. … To be governed is to be at every operation, at every transaction, noted, registered, enrolled, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under the pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be placed under contribution, trained, ransomed, exploited, monopolized, extorted, squeezed, mystified, robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, despised, harassed, tracked, abused, clubbed, disarmed, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and, to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, outraged, dishonoured. That is government; that is its justice; that is its morality.”
Anarchists recognize that you do not need to ask permission to live your life. What you do with your body, your mind, your labor, and your relationships is your own business. Ownership of other human beings is only consistent if you believe a certain group of people is not as human as another, and all governance is an attempt (sometimes successful) at human ownership. Anarchy is love and equality.
An anarchist desires a world of equality and peace, and a world can only be obtained without government. Government, at it’s foundation, is the use of force against peaceful people. Certainly violence exists outside of government but the greatest atrocities against humans has come at the hands of government, not individuals or even gangs of individuals. Slavery, Jim Crow laws, Japanese Internment, Drug/Alcohol prohibition… these were all government approved actions that allowed peaceful people to be treated as subjects or slaves. Without the state monopoly on power the results in all these cases would have been better, they wouldn’t be painless or utopia, but I believe it would have been better.
Anarchists are realists who try to see the world as it is and not how we would like it to be, and through that lens we see government as a net-loss for humanity. I think Brad Spangler puts it best, “Anarchists are the hard-nosed realists. People who have this fixation of some ideal government, which isn’t fundamentally just a criminal gang with flags, are the starry-eyed dreamers without a firm grasp on reality.”