By Ian Mayes, Parenthesis Eye
I’ve noticed a pattern that I have. Every few years I feel the need to publicly re-think and re-clarify what exactly it is that I personally believe regarding anarchism. This usually corresponds with me affixing a new anarchist label to my beliefs and presenting it as being a new and unioque anarchist school of thought. The very first time that I did this I was calling my kind of anarchism “communitarian anarchism” and some friends and I created a short-lived organization related to that, the the Anarchist Communitarian Network, to promote this perspective. Following that, there was compassionate anarchism, then Buddhist anarchism, and most recently humanistic anarchism. Now I am calling my approach “utopian anarchism”, and while I have already spoken about this on YouTube as well as in a small informal workshop at the 2022 Online NVC Conference, this is my first time publicly writing about this.
The key thing that sets my current approach apart from my previous ones is that I now view it as being important to place the vision that one has for a radically different world front and center. I know that the world that we live in now is shit, many different anarchist writers have penned many different brilliant critiques of our current society, and the various systems and structures in it that brutalize us all have been analyzed by many anarchist thinkers much smarter than I am. However, I have come to believe that without keeping a vision in our heart of the kind of world that we want to see, that eventually the steady diet of only critique and denunciation eventually leads to things like burnout, cynicism, despair and even misanthropy. How can we create the kind of beautiful world that we would want to live in if the only thing that we can see is shit? How can we have hope and inspiration to move towards a better world if the horrors of our current world is all that we can bear? One needs to hold a vision for a better world and radical imagination is needed for this, as well as analysis and forethought. A breautiful ideal needs to be at the forefront of one’s anarchism in order to lead one to a place that one actually wants to go to.