« National Liberation Day | Main | CNN - The War Machine's Favourite Network »

What My Anarchism Is Not

At a site called Global Politician, a writer by name of Angelique van Engelen has written a two part series called "The Possibilities For Anarchy" (part 1) and (part 2).  As usual in such pieces, Ms van Engelen confuses "anarchism" with a dictionary definition of "anarchy" and thus fails to grasp the  reality of her subject.

She begins her exercise by proclaiming that "[g]oing about researching the possibilities for anarchy as a viable alternative to a current system of government ought to be as chaotic as we can make it if we want to keep in line with the subject's concept."  In other words, she immediate aligns anarchism with chaos.  Continuing along this path of inaccuracy, she claims that when "anarchists are seen 'live' in action, they are -- true to the nature of their political inclination -- not organised in any way"; once again linking anarchism with disorder. While it is true that she mentions Proudhon's proposition that "Liberty is the Mother, not the Daughter of Order," she fails to follow up this more promising line of inquiry.

I guess it is hard to criticize her position because, as she says, most anarchists only make themselves known through their nihilist actions fueled it seems by little more than inchoate anger.  However, that is not anarchism to me, nor to many other mutual aiders.

I have said it before and I'll keep saying it:  For me, anarchism does NOT mean an absence of rules or societal norms;  rather it is that such rules as exist are (a) accepted voluntarily, and (b) contain no coercion of any kind on those who choose not to voluntarily accept the rules.  I assume that my anarchist society will be a sea of overlapping "clubs", each with their own sets of rules.  There will, of course, be some form of advantage to accepting the rules (access to some resource or knowledge or companionship, perhaps), otherwise there is no point in setting rules at all.  But loss of access to that "advantage" is all that happens if one doesn't accept the rules.  This is the very opposite of the situation within modern capitalist-consumerist-democracy.  No rules in the present society are voluntary.  You have to accept all of the rules or they will take your possessions or lock you up or kill you.

In answer to one obvious question ("Isn't there a real form of coercion if the advantage is some part of the necessary life-supporting environment -- water, for example, or food production?"), yes there is.  But what you describe in the question is not an anarchist society.  When the means of life are held by one group and denied to another except at a high price, that is called capitalism.

I'll go no further now as I merely wanted to lay the canard once again that anarchism must = chaos. 

April 30, 2005 in Anarchism | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference What My Anarchism Is Not:


I am happy that there ARE people in the world like yourself. I took great joy in reading this article posted by you. The world that I live in (as do you, I assume) becomes more and more frustrating with each passing day. I concider myself to be a (self coined) 'realistic-nihilist'. I may have the incorect interpretation of these definitions, however if you would like to reply, I would love to hear your thoughts.

[email protected]

'take care and love everything you do each and every day you wake up, and walk about the earth'

-cheers, Andrew Cuddington

Posted by: Andrew Cuddington | Jan 23, 2007 1:19:08 AM

It doesn't make a big sense at all. Just a segregation in a way.

Posted by: olive oil gift bags | Jun 17, 2011 2:26:56 AM