Empty Days

Monday, July 05, 2004



What's an anarchist ?

There are a lot of anarchists now-days. Of all types and species. The better known type are the urban anarchists of the common-leftist variety who dress in studious rags, smoke dope together, and provoke occasional violence while demonstrating against globalization or what not.

Then there are older and less showy anarchists who do the back-to-nature thing and hide in far-away rural places so you basically never see them in person. But there are quite a few of those and they're very diverse in appearance, which is nevertheless also slightly ragged.

Finally, there are intellectual anarchists, those who are ragged in thought and word rather than dress and lifestyle. They usually belong to the urban intelligentsia and generally mix well with the rest of society. You'd never know them by sight - and are not supposed to either.

But these are all self-declared anarchists. In truth however, there exists an undeclared yet also wide-spread though invisible variety of "natural" anarchists. Those are usually loners and complete drop-outs from society who naturally evolve into anarchist philosophy which is usually personal and is not subject to any particular ideological guidelines. I clearly belong to that variety. It took me some time to realize I was one.

***

I would define anarchism as some sort of revolt against the order of the world - a complete rejection and rethinking of this order. It does not just apply to society but to every parameter of human existence. Anarchism is conceived mostly as a social philosophy, which is perhaps only an expression of a more general philosophical intent which requires certain detachment from environment and one's own inbuilt ideas to get going. In greek "anarchy" means "no-rule". It's a tabula rasa of all existing laws. In the realm of philosophy it is the necessary preliminary to all genuine philosophical effort. Socrates was clearly an anarchist - he started something that was contrary to most existing laws and mores, and he was eventually condemned to death for that reason. Plato was not an anarchist, but only a disciple and a systemizer. He didn't get it as bad as his master. But Socrates made the preliminary step - somebody had to.

In philosophical thinking anarchism is always the necessary first step - and nothing but the first step. After that it has to go somewhere, settle on something. "No-rule" cannot last forever, it is an intermediary and a somewhat nebulous state that is essential to achieve some sort of mental gestation for new thinking to arise. Sometimes, and even very often, it doesn't go very far from there. So a lot of people remain in the mistaken belief that permanent opposition, protest, "no-rule" is a state that needs its own dogmas and conservation. This is of course ridiculous but it's pretty much been the case in social anarchism. Militant anarchists create dogmas, ideologies of their movement, and then spend their lives (or large portions of it) trying to follow these rules. This way "no-rule" becomes yet another big "rule" and the whole exercise soon appears fairly shallow - and it is shallow indeed.

So naturally all anarchists have to be revolutionary. It's the whole point of this way of thinking. When you don't or can't accept existing order you need to overcome it or combat it one way or another. Social anarchists do it through social militancy, philosophical anarchists do it by inner subversion and attending social parasitism (you have to survive somehow through non-participation). What is common to all anarchists however is the essential desire to look at the bare-thread humanity and rethink the whole damn thing, even if it involves looking at the darkest side of human nature. This is why intellectual anarchists usually permit themselves atrocious forrays into the forbidden corners of the mind, while their back-to-nature counterparts rediscover the sanguinary aspect of original Nature; not to mention the social anarchists who engage in violence, sabotage, sometimes murder.

***

Anarchy is amorphous per se. So all these movements and private ways of thinking are naturally somewhat amorphous. Anarchists never really know what it is they want exactly - they only know what they stand against. So they usually adopt whatever comes in handy from the mainstream thought - like leftism, for instance, but it can as well be fascism or purity of race, or whatever triggers one's protest in the first place. Usually anarchism becomes most virulent when there exists a certain void of ideas in the order of the existing world.

Dogmatic social anarchists are the most active and the most ridiculous of all because they try to give a definitive form to something that can't really have a form. But this is their manner of doing and they usually spend far less time philosophizing (though of course it's mostly true of followers - originators of these movements put in a great deal of fundamental re-thinking, with often spectacular though mostly dubious results).

But the most important thing to remember is that anarchists have nothing to offer except destruction. It is often necessary - without this reaction and destruction things would go on rotting forever. So anarchists, despite their unpleasant negative approach are in fact the first insects that start to appear on a rotting corpse - it's a good thing on the whole, somebody has to announce the rot. There are whole ages of anarchism. Zeitgeist creates anarchism - not the other way around. So it's unwise to laugh at anarchists and call them idiots. In the end it will be the myopic participator of the rotting world who will be left crying over a dead body. The anarchist, whatever his specific message, says: "wake up - or you'll rot to death". White-power anarchists, leftist anarchists, back-to-nature anarchists, drop-out anarchists all say the same thing. That something is rotting and the smell is getting bad.

That's what anarchism is all about in the end.





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