What Anarchism Means To Me
This essay was written by Cat Farmer
Anarchism is my declaration of peace with you. It is a repudiation of the use of coercive power to achieve my own ends, or to abet the domination of any man by his fellows, or over his fellows. It is a renunciation of the use and support of structures that function to create discord and disparity among men and between nations, and peddle mayhem and mischief under the aegis of security and protection, and carnage as an acceptable cost — not of survival, but of satiety.
Anarchism is my declaration of independence from corrupt and debauched systems which institutionalize the dominance and submission of the mind and conscience, pillaging the property of the peaceful and raping the human spirit. Authority is a form of privilege. There is one kind of wealth that one can only gain at the expense of another, and that is privilege; money may follow privilege, but it may only buy privilege when there exists a warehousing authority to assign it.
Anarchism is my statement of intention to mind my own business, and not to interest myself in yours beyond what is welcome, mannerly, and appropriate to our relationship, because I expect the same courtesy from you. We will only care about each other when our relationship is peaceful, and it is not a peaceful act to care to the extent of violating another person’s boundaries.
Anarchism is my vote of confidence in you. It is not in the interest of any neighbor to harm his neighbor. As neighbors and peers we may not always get along, but we’re as unlikely to do each other violence as we are to do it to ourselves, since the former is simply an indirect means of doing the latter — like committing suicide by cop. As long as neighbors don’t carry badges conveying immunity from making rash judgments, we won’t hear of too many “suicides by neighbor”.
Anarchism is my conscientious objection to the tyranny of other people’s visions, opinions, schemes, fixations, and priorities. We don’t need to understand each other’s motivations, wants, or concerns, but it is essential to extend to others the same respect we expect from them. What we share willingly is a gift or a loan; what we are forced to share is a stolen item; and that is why free trade brings peace among people: it creates the fewest debtors, and rewards the fewest thieves.
Anarchism means many things to many people, but to me it is a state of grace. The stars in the sky do not appoint rulers to tend to their hierarchy; nor do the birds have political dynasties, or the fish in the sea erect thrones for the whales. Natural law and order is not pandemonium; it took man to create pandemonium out of natural law and order, and I’m a nature lover.
Anarchism is my bill of rights; written by the finger of the benign life-force which forged time and space, day and night, male and female, and signed by those who believe that we are all worthy to draw in the same perpetual and impartial breath of the universe. Man can only bring about inequality, by defining equality in terms which persuade us it was never ours to begin with. We are only as equal as we perceive ourselves to be. To consider yourself my equal is to accord me the respect of being yours as well.
Anarchism is my profession of faith in the brotherhood of man. The fact that we are different is a fact that is honored among brothers, and a source of delight to those who are willing to learn from one another. We honor our differences with people we respect; they do not ask our approval or we theirs, yet behold, we get along with them. Mutual respect is an affirmation of shared humanity, and it speaks in a universal tongue.
Anarchism is socially responsible; it doesn’t pollute the environment, has no incentive to create factory farms, or engage in nefarious back room conspiracies. It takes a corporatized government, or a politicized corporation, to do those things, because no other institution can long rationalize — much less profit from — such short-sighted and damaging behavior.
Anarchism is not a utopian scheme, because if we’re all able to create our own little interlocking utopias, then no two will be alike. There is no one-size-fits-all paradise, and one person’s heaven may indeed be another’s hell; to force your heaven upon someone else is as atrocious an act as creating a hell for him. Good intentions are no excuse for making prisoners and hostages of people who have less political clout than you do.
Anarchism does not divide us into partisan systems; it unites us through the realization that if we do not function as part of a sublime and inter-related network of lives, we’re pulling against the tide when it’s much less strenuous — and infinitely more enjoyable and rewarding — to drift along with it.
Anarchism does not pay lip service to diversity. Anarchism is sincere belief in diversity put to the test in practice, and a guarantee that diversity will thrive. If you honestly value diversity, yet believe that it must be administered or doled out by a central authority, you anticipate that the one thing which is most capable of killing diversity, and also has the best incentive to destroy it, will magically act to preserve it. Giving diversity a limited range of acceptable ways in which it can manifest doesn’t honor it any more than protest zones honor the right to free speech; that’s just another way to quarantine the healthy elements of society against infecting the diseased ones.
Anarchism, at its finest, is an expression of unconditional love. It doesn’t bind the hands, or shackle the feet; it doesn’t presume to have superior authority or better wisdom; it doesn’t constrain speech or prohibit choices, even for your own good. It knows that the decision regarding what is good for you must rest with you, because only by being responsible for ourselves can we fulfill our obligation to ourselves, and grow into something beyond ourselves. We’re capable of it; why settle for anything less?