A Brief Introduction to Anarchist Ideals

Proudhon, the first person to declare himself an anarchist, declared the first axiom of anarchism  –  ”Anarchy is order”. From there, the ideal of the anarchist is spawned.

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon | French philosopher | Britannica.com
Proudhon. Credit: Encyclopedia Britannica/ photographer unknown

It is a worldview from the angle of an oppressed person. For such a person, what is order and what is chaos? Naturally, order will be for the person to live his or her life uninterrupted by the things that are oppressing him or her. And, chaos will be oppression. Hence, for a Jew living in Nazi Germany, a life where he can continue to live in his ghetto and socialize with his community will be more orderly than one day being suddenly sent to the concentration camps to die. Such an interruption into the Jew’s self – planned daily routine will be the entropy in this case, hence chaotic.

And, the anarchists see these patterns everywhere. These coercions are everywhere in human society. The different kinds of coercions are fueling each other by nurturing humans to be bitter to other people. An abused child who missed the ability to develop empathy will be more likely to grow up to become a racist. And this idea that the different kinds of coercions fuel each other is named intersectionalism.

anarcho syndicalist flag | Robert Graham's Anarchism Weblog
Anarcho-syndicalist flag. Credit: Robert Graham

From there, the anarchists universalizes the concept of power and violence to all oppressions in human society. To unite all the oppressed people under different kinds of coercions under one morality in the fight for freedom.

Power is the ability to coerce.

Violence is the act of coercion.

Anarchy is order.

Coercion is chaos.

So, anarchism is against coercion. However, coercive authority, those who are benefiting from coercion because they get to have power over others, are now firmly in control of modern society. And, it is also an enormous beast that is very organized as it is not merely one bully being more powerful than his victims on the streets.

It is all unjustified hierachies in this society. So, it can have many layers with each layer being inferior to the layers above and superior to the layers below. We can have middlemen, like bureaucrats or policemen, policing the majority of victims in the bottom layer, and feeling so good about their power to do so that they are willing to do this job for their superiors. And with the existence of these middlemen, a tiny minority of people can rule over the majority of the populace.

But how can this be enough? Won’t the majority realize that the hierachy they are in is unjustified and simply rebel?

To solve this question, let’s look into what Proudhon also wrote in his book What is property  –  the second axiom of anarchism  –  ”Property is theft”. This axiom is a perfectly accurate headshot on the most power weapon that all these coercive authorities have at fooling the majority into not rebelling while being in an inferior position. Memes. (Skip the next two paragraphs if you already know what are memes.)

In one of the more influential books of the twentieth century The Selfish Gene, the concept of memes was first invented. Now, for a moment, let’s pretend to be a primitive tribesmen from the middle of nowhere that is now witnessing the rest of human civilization for the first time. Does he have the concept of nations? Of money? Of law? Of trade? Of property? Of the different branches of science? Of the difference between a lover and a spouse? None of them. And these are all memes.

Memes are the stuff that all of us humans are conditions to believe in, and act accordance to. But those things are not real. They are simply things in our imagination. And, the existence of memes is crucial to humanity. It allowed us to coordinate a group of humans more numerous than that of a primitive tribe. It allowed us to plan the future, so that when we are needing an apple in the future, we have already time – travelled into the past to plant the required seeds. It allowed us to beat the Nenanderthals to extinction, create modern human society and land on the moon.

And, the coercive authority is made of people with very cunning methods. They used their control of the society to condition the right memes into our heads since childhood so that we will believe that their authorities and hierachies are justified and not rebel against them.

Property is the name of those memes. The memes that acted as pillars in the collective psyche of human society to support power, in the anarchist sense of the word.

People sometimes do see through the memes of property and rebel. Hence, what is seen by the mainstream society as things that can be property, and what is not seen as so, varies across human history. For example, in antiquity, humans can be property too, in the form of slaves. Now, it is no more the case for most of humanity.

And of course, the coercive authorities want more things to become property so that they can condition memes into us to be controlled by them. For example, in antiquity, the idea that the farmers, who are not slaves, can not own the land that they are toiling over, is pretty much not existent. But, nowadays, a lot of us pay rent to our landlords while they bag this passive income like it is natural for human society.

The classical example for this will be the factory. The factory is a place where thousands of hardworking workers work, administered by managers who trained for years to arrange all the daily maintenences, that gets supplied by other hardworking people to pump out products for the benefits of the customers, all because of countless generations of humans in the past that improved technology and infrastructure to the point that these are all possible. Yet, some “owner” of the factory who spent his day smoking cigarettes and never set foot on the factory for his entire life can dictate basically everything in the factory, from the paycheck of individual workers, what the factory produces, to when will the factory shuts down and those thousands of hardworking workers suddenly lose their jobs having done nothing wrong whatsoever.

I own the factory, the “owner” claims, so when a product that costed five hundred dollars got sold for a thousand, instead of each worker who produced it getting his or her fair share out of the profit, I am going to take it away for my own pleasure, and, give whatever scraps to the workers that is just enough for the them to not starve to death and continue working for me. If this is not theft, the anarchists thought, what is?

So, anarchism is not being fooled by the meme called property, which is the greatest weapon yielded by coercive authority. From this grew the righteousness that the anarchist felt in opposing all coercion, power and violence. From this grew the ideal of the anarchist, a society in the future that is much more fair than the current one, where “Anarchy is order” and “Property is theft”.

1 reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s