Paradoxes of Anarchism
© Edip Yuksel, 2004
Like a cleverly mutated potent virus, anarchism is challenging the immune system of every human organization and institution such as bureaucracies, governments, democracies, capitalism, socialism, corporations, religions, clubs, cults, orders, and even family structure. By putting the individual’s presumptive freedom in the center of universe, by declaring jihad against all forms of authorities and hierarchies, anarchism is providing a new utopia for those who have been disillusioned by capitalism and its alternative socialism.
Capitalism did not deliver happiness and freedom for majority of its subjects; rather it gave birth to a modern slavery and neo-colonialism as by-product of its greedy, exploitive and alienating class system. Capitalism corrupted the democracy so the so-called democratic governments were transformed to the “governments of corporations by corporations and for corporations.” Using both the power of big government and big media, big corporations established their hegemony in every facet of people’s lives; dictating them everything big or small, such as what to eat, what to wear, what to drive, what to watch, what and how to think, and who to vote… People had two choice; either big government or big corporations; which were ultimately the same. Millions of people who were doomed to work long hours found themselves in deep debt to banks and big corporations; they would work their tails off just to keep their chin above water. One of the collateral damages of this neo slavery was family and children, and interestingly, those who would roll the words “family values” more frequently on their tongues were the real destroyers of that institution. The fear of losing their jobs and credits, and the fear of falling to the hellish ranks of underclass, a class that is not only let to rot in slums and prisons but almost utterly ignored by the propaganda machine, yes this fear prevented the middle class from even contemplating an alternative system besides the official white and black ones. With the hope of one day joining the ranks of the few fat cats, they became ardent defenders of those cats; lazy and skinny mice deserved to be eaten by heard working cats. They just needed to get little fatter in the middle and serve fat cats better, thereby avoid being eaten by these deserving cats who somehow had developed appetite for skinnier mice. Complaining about the tragedy of sacrificial mice and the fears of middle class mice was an act of waging class warfare and it was a very bad idea. Politicized churches and their priests repeated their historical pattern and they too joined the chorus of praising fat cats and their economic system; they were the class who would enter the paradise first. Once a while, the propaganda machine would celebrate the mutation of a middle-class mouse into a fat cat. He or she was a hard-working mouse and deserved to join the upper class. This would suffice to rekindle the hopes of millions of other mice and strengthen their faith that the system was indeed rewarding the hard-working people.
Communism and its preparatory station socialism too did not deliver the promised paradise on earth in which people would get according to their needs and would give according to their capacities. The proletariat, according to the masters, had nothing to lose except its shackles, but under the socialistic systems they were shackled to factories and on top of that they lost their freedom for the sake of fulfilling the promised utopia. The dictatorship of proletariat had to be established by the communist party and bureaucracy. The party soon became a class controlling not only the politics but also economy and military. The communist oligarchy soon became corrupt, and it oppressed and occasionally massacred working people in the name of working people. Glorification of work and production was meant forced labor as a sacrificial ritual for new gods called ideology and communist party.
Competition between these two diabolic systems ended up with the victory of capitalism; albeit not forever. Capitalists needed an evil distraction to continue their exploitation of masses. So, after the demise of communism, or more accurately socialism, they found it with the attack of 9/11. The new evil was terrorism, or more specifically radical Islam. This new enemy would buy decades of distraction and schemes for the ruling class. It would also justify their hegemony and implementation of imperialistic ambitions. They had used drug prohibition to meddle with the domestic affairs of banana republics of South America. They had used Israel to keep the oil-rich states run by puppet kings and sheiks under control. Now, terrorism could accelerate and ease the fulfillment of their dream of exploiting the resources of third world countries. The better news, they could easily exaggerate the power of this new nemesis or even create its characters and effects via sophisticated propaganda and clandestine plots.
All of these events led many independent thinkers to search for another tool to fight against capitalism and its global ambitions. They discovered themselves. Even sensitive and averse to a particular definition, anarchism adheres to the ideology of rejecting absoluteness of ideologies, taboos, or dogmas, and considers its fuzzy ideology perpetually open to revisions and mutations; an anarchist is not supposed to be ashamed or reluctant of discarding or betraying a falsified position. It has no allegiance to flags, rules, moral laws, gods, temples, teachings, comrades, or leaders; reminiscent of “everything changes except change itself” it has no allegiance except allegiance to freely and unpredictably destroying allegiances… Inconsistency is a merit for an anarchist, not a weakness.
There is something attractive in this highly liberating paradigm. I see the color of anarchism not black but neon orange! I like the rebellious youth in anarchism, its courage to challenge established traditions, laws, and cultures; its determination to choose for self and take responsibility for own actions. It reminds me the proverb “whatever I like the most is either illegal, or immoral, or fattening!”
I have not read academic books or journal articles on anarchism; I am expressing the following points as my reaction to one and a half popular books, and two and a half articles I have read on the subject. If I am wrong, I will act like an anarchist considering consistency between the past, present and future not a value; and thus I will correct my misconceptions immediately. What was I saying? Yes, though an anarchist resembles the clever brother-in-law of hedonism who seeks prestige by expressing his selfishness in political terms, or resembles the aunt of stoicism who lost her mind, yes despite these similarities I have sympathy for anarchism; perhaps mostly because its emphasis on individual freedom. After age thirty, I left everything behind Atlantic to gain my freedom in a new land; freedom is as precious as air for me.
Anarchism contains philosophical paradoxes. For instance, reflect on the following hypothetical discussion:
A ― I am a monotheist anarchist who has devoted his religion to God alone.
B ― Believers in one God or multiple gods cannot be anarchists.
A ― Why?
B ― You cannot be an anarchist. Period. Because, according to this expert or that master, according to this book or that constitution anarchism is defined as such and such!
A ― Are you trying to dictate me your own ideology by telling me what anarchism is and is not? Do you want to establish authority on me in the name of anarchism?
B ― You are not an anarchist, because I say so!
A ― Ditto! And bye-bye!
Now who is an anarchist? A, B, or Both? Let’s continue this discussion with another round:
A ― My God has many attributes one of his attributes is the Truth. I accept the Truth and all truth with my own mind and free choice.
B ―There cannot be “the truth” or “absolute” truth. Everything is relative. Today’s “truth” may not be “true” tomorrow.
A ― Is your statement “there cannot be absolute truth” is the only absolute truth?
There are practical paradoxes regarding attaining the goals of anarchism, whatever they may be. For instance, anarchists will not be able to obtain a substantial victory against the well-organized governments and multinational corporations just because they cannot mobilize against them as a well-organized movement. When they attempt to organize they will reach to anarchism inversely proportional to their victory. In other words, the more they fight against authorities in organized fashion the more they will betray their dream. In the end, either they will organize in a hierarchical structure and get alienated from themselves or they will annihilate themselves by continuously dividing into atoms and subatomic particles through chaos and fission.
Can the anarchists establish and run an internet forum reflecting their ideals? Why anarchist forums have nice ADMINISTRATORS who blow ash in the fireplace of anarchism (a Turkish proverb!)? What if all those like me who got loose from their shackles and cages visit an anarchist forum, and what if some of those anarchists happen to be idiots? What if the idiot anarchists post child pornography or volumes of their life stories; in short, what if they turn the forum to a circus or Dingo’s Corral? Could in such situation an anarchist ask “Where is the authority? Where is the apartment manager?” Would it be against the tenets of anarchism if some cry out, or whisper, think, or at least fancy such demand for intervention? Would the decision of the most senior or veteran anarchist or the tyranny of majority be the ultimate authority regarding the etiquette and rules of using a common forum?
Is there a black or orange anarchist out there who would slay these paradoxes?