There is no one “anarchism.” There are many anarchisms, quasi-anarchisms, semi-anarchisms, proto-anarchisms, tactical anarchisms, situational anarchists, philosophical anarchisms, implicit anarchisms, anarchist cousins, etc. etc, etc.
By Eric Fleischmann
The terms ‘anarchist’ and ‘anarchism’ are returning to the center stage of political lingo in the twenty-first century. To quote my own article on Center for a Stateless Society:
President Donald Trump has repeatedly attempted to associate Black Lives Matter with anarchists and anarchism. He has tweeted such threatening posts as just the phrase “Anarchists, we see you!” with a video of a man dressed in black at one protest, and he has referred to protesters in Portland, Oregon as “anarchists who hate our Country” and called for Governor Kate Brown to “clear out, and in some cases arrest, the Anarchists & Agitators in Portland.”
It is certainly true that many anarchists—such as myself—have been involved in Black Lives Matter protests, but it is obvious that President Trump is not making an objective ideological observation but rather is attempting to use anarchist as a ‘dirty word’ intended to make protestors out to be terroristic criminals.
Joe Biden employed a similar tactic in the following statement: “I’ve said from the outset of the recent protests that there’s no place for violence or destruction of property. Peaceful protesters should be protected, and arsonists and anarchists should be prosecuted, and local law enforcement can do that.”
The mainstream media’s understandings of anarchism since (at least) the nineteenth century have involved a desire for chaos, disorder, and destruction. In early twentieth century North America, anarchists were depicted as bearded, often-foreign men with bombs, knives, or other weapons, threatening symbols of the United States, liberty, or civilization. Modern day examples might include psychopathic terrorists like Solomon Lane from Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation and Fallout who, as Villains Wiki explains, seeks to create “a new world order based on unstoppable accidents and terrorist attacks that will actually turn the entire world into a massive terrorist superpower.”