Several times recently i've encountered commentary in which anarchists1 are accused of being self-centred jerks who are unconcerned with others' welfare and/or wellbeing. More specifically, i've read it argued that whilst anarchists may go on about how we could have a society where people are supported by something other than the state, anarchists don't put their money where their mouths are, and rather than providing practical support to other people now, have a "Somebody Else's Problem" attitude towards doing so.

Well, i'm an anarchist. Moreover, my anarchist politics are partially rooted in those of individualist anarchists such as e.g. Benjamin Tucker. And as we all know, individualism can only ever be egotistical and uncaring, right?2

i am a homemaker for two households. i do (at a minimum) several hours worth of volunteer work per week for an organisation supporting the SGD communities. i regularly provide at least a few hours' worth of emotional support each week to close friends. And i do all this as someone in semi-remission from CFS.

If we're going to engage in political caricatures, it could equally be said that leftist statists' position is: "People should be looked after, but I personally don't want to do it, so how about confiscating part of people's income under threat of physical retribution, and then using that money to pay someone else to do it?"

i recently wrote a comment in which i said:

It depends on what you mean by 'anarchist'.

i now identify as an anarchist, having for many years identified as a Marxist. i do so because i've come to distinguish what i call "political anarchism" from what i call (with a nod to Diane Vera's writings on theistic Satanism) "brat brigade anarchism".

"Brat brigade anarchism" is basically "You're not the boss of me now / I should be free to do whatever the fuck I want". There's no real serious political analysis involved. And this is the 'anarchism' that the mass media likes to promote as all anarchism 'really' is.

In contrast, political anarchism is simply the position that there should not be an institution - "the state" - that claims a monopoly on the legitimate use of physical violence within a particular graphical [sic - should be 'geographical'] area, which one cannot consent to not be a part of. Beyond that, political anarchists take many different positions; but i feel it's a straw man to assert that political anarchists think that everyone would simply be nice to each other and not try to harm one another. Instead, anarchists tend to argue for things like community self-defence organisations which people voluntarily join, and which are directly accountable to the communities they serve, rather than current Western systems in which policing is often done to less privileged community [sic] rather than for them.

i can assure you that i have only begun to take on anarchist political positions after decades of political activism and thinking about the tendencies i've observed in human behaviour. :-)

i would suggest that analysing anarchist politics on the basis of the loudest and most obnoxious anarchists is like trying to analyse Christian theology via the Westboro Baptist Church. Just as there are literally millions of self-identified Christians quietly working every day against social and economic injustice, rather than devoting their time and resources to spreading hateful propaganda, i'm sure there are anarchists apart from myself also working to build grassroots community organisations for the purposes of mutual aid. Beware the possibility of biased samples.

1 And 'libertarians' too, although i've noticed a failure to distinguish between right-libertarianism - which is often what people associate with 'libertarians' - and left-libertarians, which is a distinction that needs to be made.

2. Although 'defences' of individualist anarchism such as this don't do much to reduce that perception. i found the linked-to piece started off promisingly, but then descended into such a morass of fail that i gave up on it.


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