By Chris Shaw
This question comes as a result of the lack of cohesiveness amongst the adherents of anarchism. Anarchists, while professing a common universality of values and beliefs, act as roving tribes when it comes to meetings between their different ideological sects. None seem to coalesce around any unifying concept, with each trying to outdo the other in how left-wing, anti-racist or intersectional they are. That’s all well and good for debate stages and internet forums, but it hardly builds a movement that can be politically and socially strong and that can challenge prevailing power structures. It leads to the question of whether anarchism, as the according ideology to so many beliefs, is really worth the time, the activism, the commitment that it is given.
Speaking from my ideological foundations, I’m increasingly coming to the position that anarchism is really only useful as a hollow political standpoint, where one rejects centralised power structures in favour of systems that are distributed and more horizontal. In effect it is seemingly only there to reject the prevailing mechanisms of hegemony, those of capitalism and the state. Now that’s fine but how does this accord to anything other than a statement of intent about one’s political goals. It isn’t an ideology, it’s a signalling tool to tell others what you are opposed to.
Thus all manner of things are tacked onto it that are meant to represent an extension of anarchism’s praxis without actually explaining the original praxis except in the vague, woolly terms of opposition to centralised power. But of course, this opposition is in no way original or particular to anarchism. There are statists who believe in the disaggregation of power. Are they enemies? Or allies? Others try to paint anarchism as the constant act of becoming, of a permanency of revolutionary developments that continue to push humanity forward. Who would this benefit? Revolutions are really only borne from the circumstances of desperation and a real desire for change. But once a revolution has occurred, to maintain its tendential permanency it seemingly has to accrue power into increasingly authoritarian structures.