Anarchism is often associated with chaos and violence, but the actual theory is a lot more complex, advocating for radical human freedom.
I remember in my second year of varsity, whilst learning about the different political theories and models, I asked my professor if we would at some point be touching on anarchism. I was not too surprised though, when I was met with a smirk, as if I had just asked if the sun is made of frogs and fish.
Beyond what I see as ignorant assumptions and from what I understand, anarchism’s core claim is that the state is simply an illusion used to keep the upper class in power. Anarchists appear to have a deep level of trust in human nature, advocating for non-hierarchical systems with voluntary mutual aid and action.
Could we as a global community survive without hierarchical structures? Are we dependent on hierarchies to be civilized? Rather, is this a myth perpetuated by states to keep the lower class in constant subservience?
I’m not sure I know the answers to these questions, but my respect for the political theory has grown. If anarchist claims are true, then they were the first individuals who fought for shorter working days (what is now known as the eight-hour workday). They managed to eventually get lower class workers one day of rest and were amongst the first to advocate for the rise of trade unions.
The apparent history of the tumultuous relationship between anarchism and communism is also quite endearing. Many state that early advocates of anarchism worked with the communists, but saw the danger of the state becoming a mega-monolith under this philosophy, eventually enslaving the people it once claimed to free. Apparently, the anarchists were some of the first individuals hung, sent to camps, and exiled during the rise of the USSR.
At the very least, the spirit of anarchism is admittedly alluring. One of compassion and radical freedom, it can possibly be summed up by the late American anarchist and activist, Emma Goldman, who stated, “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.”