By Hogeye Bill
Is Sectarianism a Problem?
There are a significant number of anarchists who hold a narrow view of what anarchism is, defining it in such a way to disqualify other anti-state ideologies. Some try to justify this historically – but in this case only mutualists are “true” anarchists. Others say only “movement” anarchism counts, and ideologies don’t. There are many ad hoc excuses for counting out a school of anarchism one scorns.
This is not a new phenomena which started with the internet and social media. In the 19th century Voltairine de Cleyre experienced the same silly squabbles.
“There are, accordingly, several economic schools among Anarchists; there are Anarchist Individualists [anarcho-capitalists], Anarchist Mutualists, Anarchist Communists and Anarchist Socialists. In times past these several schools have bitterly denounced each other and mutually refused to recognize each other as Anarchists at all. The more narrow-minded on both sides still do so; true, they do not consider it narrow-mindedness, but simply a firm and solid grasp of the truth, which does not permit of tolerance towards error. This has been the attitude of the bigot in all ages, and Anarchism no more than any other new doctrine has escaped its bigots. Each of these fanatical adherents of either collectivism or individualism believes that no Anarchism is possible without that particular economic system as its guarantee, and is of course thoroughly justified from his own standpoint.” – Anarchism, Voltairine de Cleyre
Is the constant bickering over who is a true anarchist good or bad for the anarchist cause? At first sight, it might seem bad, with all the wasted energy on the same old troll posts on Facebook or Reddit. “X is not really anarchism. Y requires rulership. Z is unstable unless it has a State to keep people in line.” On the other hand, perhaps these ardent arguments have a motivational purpose, and keep people exited and inspired about anarchism – as inane and tiring as they are to long-time anarchists. A sectarian hatred of anarcho-capitalism inspired the most popular anarcho-socialist FAQ, for example. Maybe the anarcho-socialist versus anarcho-capitalist rivalry increases our market share. Who knows?