There’s so much misinformation around when it comes to Anarchism. This post is to clear some popular myths and to destigmatize anarchy.
Anarchism means chaos
This is probably the most popular myth because people always associate anarchy with chaos. What is chaos, but a situation where anyone can coerce anyone else as much as they can get away with! Chaos is when everyone acts like a state or “boss”. And, state is “legal” chaos, “legal” coercion and rule as defined by itself. Like the saying goes;
Government is chaos, anarchy is order!
Anarchism is against organization
Engles, in his “On Authority“, was wrong to equate agreement with authority. Agreement is not authority. How we associate and organize is important as freedom itself is a product of association and not isolation. Let it be clear that Anarchism is against specific forms of organizations – the ones that are hierarchical, authoritarian and centralized, like in the capitalist workplace and state. However, it supports the ones that are self managed, decentralized and federal that end the division between the rulers and the ruled.
Anarchism is a fusion of Liberalism and Socialism
Anarchism is not a fusion of those two. It is a socialist critique of state and capitalism. On a similar note, classical liberalism is not very liberal in the modern sense as it justifies voluntary subjection, voluntary authority and exploitation. In fact I read the following:
Is the problem with slavery or dictatorship REALLY that they are not voluntary? Yes, according to “libertarian” Robert Nozik who is echoing classical liberal John Locke. No, according to anarchists like Proudhon and Bakukin who opposed the wage labour that liberalism defended.
Judge for yourselves.
Anarchism is individualism
Yes, anarchists are in favour of individuality, individual liberty and free association by drawing democratic conclusions and not classical liberal ones. Social organization does not equate to state; hence we look for associations that are free internally as well as to join. The thing to remember is that individualism actually justifies authoritarian organizations. For anarchists however, individual freedom implies self-managed organizations and not hierarchical state-like ones.
Anarchism is simply anti-state
No. The first anarchist book was “What is Property” and not “What is State”, and which concluded that it was theft. Consequently, property had to be abolished by becoming socially owned and managed by the individuals and groups who used it. The system of use-rights was termed “possession” and it would end wage-labour by association. So, anarchism has stood for workers’ control of production since 1840. This analysis of the hierarchical nature of property, of capitalism, feed into the anarchist critique of the state.
Anarchism is an unachievable utopia
Anarchism is about applying our ideas in the present as we recognise that people change through struggle. Submitting to the hierarchy corrupts us, while resisting it improves our character. Anarchism is about creating the new world whilst fighting the current one. There will always be imperfect, flawed people. There’s no denying that. But the difference is, those people won’t be in the position of power. Another myth is also the notion that anarchism is Proudhonism, Bakuninism, Kropotkinism, and so on. It is understandable though. These people laid the foundation sure, but some of their ideas are inconsistent with their own which is why we refuse to name ourselves after individuals.
Got any more? Add to the list!