Anarchy: What It Is and Why Pop Culture Loves It

This article provides a decent overview of what left-anarchism is along with its history. I certainly consider the array of traditions that are described in this article to be legitimate forms of anarchism, although I would argue that there is no one singular anarchist tradition. Instead, there is a multiplicity of anarchisms, which include many leftist variations, along with centrist, rightist, religious, and “neither fish nor fowl” versions of anarchism, many historical proto-anarchism, many sister or cousin ideologies to anarchism, and many “anonymous anarchists” or “people of the anarchist book” who are anarchist in everything but name.

Of course, it’s 90% of the mainstream anarchist movement are merely anarcho-liberals, anarcho-progressives, anarcho-social democrats, anarcho-Democrats, and anarcho-Maoists who have no viable plan for the overthrow of neo-feudalism, the new clerisy, or the global capitalist empire, and certainly, none that would not result in the erection of a new tyranny, a civil war, or mere mass death through disease and starvation.  Viable prototypes do exist, of course, on a world-historical level, even if most anarchists have no interest in them. This only points to the limitations and failures of anarchists, not anarchism.

However, what is troubling is that an article like this would appear in a publication like Teen Vogue. It may be true that “there ain’t no such thing as bad publicity.” But this is obviously a case of “woke” professional class journalists seizing control of an otherwise apolitical mainstream magazine and turning it into an anarchist publication by default. Ordinarily, I would be inclined to say “good job.” But is this really an advancement for the anarchist position or merely the co-optation of anarchism by woke capitalism and the reinvention of anarchism as just another faddish youth culture?

By Kim Kelly

Teen Vogue

In a pop-cultural sense, at least, the idea of anarchy has been characterized by either a middle-fingers-up, no-parents-no-rules punk attitude, or a panicky, more conservative outlook used by national and state sources to represent violent chaos and disorder. Today, we can see an extremely serious, radical leftist political philosophy on T-shirts at Hot Topic.

So what is anarchism? What do those people raising black flags and circling A’s really want? Here’s what you need to know:

What is anarchism?

Anarchism is a radical, revolutionary leftist political philosophy that advocates for the abolition of government, hierarchy, and all other unequal systems of power. It seeks to replace what its proponents view as inherently oppressive institutions — like a capitalist society or the prison industrial complex — with nonhierarchical, horizontal structures powered by voluntary associations between people. Anarchists organize around a key set of principles, including horizontalism, mutual aid, autonomy, solidarity, direct action, and direct democracy, a form of democracy in which the people make decisions themselves via consensus (as opposed to representative democracy, of which the United States government is an example).


Categories: Anarchism/Anti-State

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