Anarchism as a philosophy is changing. It’s in the midst of a renaissance. Better: its undergoing an evolution. The focal point is shifting. This means anarchists are driving the ship toward greater adoption. Anarchism is on the cusp of going to mass market.
The basic principles remain the same, though. “Without rulers” is still the mantelpiece of the philosophy. The ethos of anarchism still hinges on abolishing government and stomping out slavery and this will likely not change.
Not Just a philosophical Pursuit
However, it’s not just a philosophical pursuit anymore. Anarchists are not merely concerned with convincing other people of the ideas or arguing the doctrine until the point of exhaustion. That war is practically won.
Anarchists are now interested in the philosophy as a lifestyle or aesthetic. In this sense, many anarchists are starting to speak with each other aside from focusing their attention on Statists. Anarchists are talking about freedom in the context of in-group relationships and arrangements.
This is a monumental shift, which is the result of growth. It means enough anarchists exist to develop culture. They are imbuing the ideas with the minutia of life, with style, spiritualism, and personal considerations. In a way, this is a preparation for life sans the State. Anyone can just look at the Acapulco anarchist tribe, the anarchists that are part of the Free State project, or even my own communities.
The Culture Sweep
For instance, over the last couple of years, my target audience has shifted from Statists to anarchists. I have been concerned about how we connect with each other, how we use language, and how empathy uplifts our community. This is because the anarchist population has grown so tremendously. There are now enough anarchists focused on changing people’s minds, that other freedom lovers can speak on matters of the heart and help invigorate the philosophy.
Here is the great news about developing culture: it means people will start to become anarchists just by watching how we relate to each other. They will notice we have culture; an in-group with social mores and shared lifestyle perspectives, and thus they may become an anarchist because of our aesthetic rather than because they’ve been inundated with the principles.
Larken Rose has said this before. You don’t have to convince every single person that taxation is theft and war is bad. You simply have to create enough anarchists that outsiders become attracted to the philosophy because of the people. This is what I call the culture sweep. When enough anarchists create internal culture, the great swaths of people begin to “sweep over” into anarchism proper.
The Bad News: infighting
But with growth come downsides. When any community begins to mature and gain larger audience, infighting naturally occurs. This happens because anarchists don’t always agree with each other. They disagree on differences in tactics, strategy, or details regarding the philosophy. Many even disagree with lifestyle or cultural choices. Some simply have clashes of personality. This causes tension in the group, and along with that tension comes the drama of dispute. The results of this are cultural shunning, ousting, and failures of friendship. I am not going to bother to provide examples, because many of you are already familiar with the intricate details of the community.
Here is the bad news. The infighting causes people to turn away from the anarchist philosophy and culture. People see it and think freedom lovers behave like hoodlums and scum. They believe anarchists are unruly and despotic, and this validates all the stereotypes about anarchists they’ve been indoctrinated with. Nonetheless, it’s my hope that our ability to negotiate with each other and solve internal problems through various strategies will help outsiders see our communities as civilized.
The Future: Opportunity and Anarchic Technology
Regardless of the infighting, the philosophy is winning. It’s clear the anarchist communities are having a major, positive impact on society. After years of struggling for a voice and recognition, people are starting to listen. Anarchists are all over social media. We are making inroads as journalists, entrepreneurs, technology advocates, and philosophers. This is because the arc of freedom has broadened, primarily thanks to the voluntaryist tradition.
For the sake of the future, now anarchists must wield technologies to prepare for the paradigm shift. When the State dissolves, anarchists will ascend as leaders of the free world. Thus, anarchists must focus on technological trends. It’s undoubtedly going to be the peer-2-peer and decentralized technologies that motivate anarchists to solve the problems that were created by the State. Anarchists will also leverage technology to resolve the aforesaid disputes without violence. These are important tools for the new culture, because the last thing anarchists need to do is resort to violence.
Luckily, violence is not part of anarchist culture or tradition. This represents a huge opportunity. Liberty supporters are poised to help midwife society into the paradigm of freedom. We must seize the day, and continue pushing forward. Mass market is right over the horizon.
“Bear it aloft, O roaring flame!
Skyward aloft, where all may see.
Slaves of the World! Our cause is the same;
One is the immemorial shame;
One is the struggle, and in One name —
Manhood— we battle to set men free.
“Uncurse us the Land!” burn the words of the Dead,
-Voltairine de Cleyre