I must admit it, I am beginning to grow rather fond of Anarchism. I’ve always found myself having a fairly heightened dislike for authority – my father being a head master may have something to do with this – and the fact that the word anarchy is derived form the Greek word Anarkhia, meaning contrary to authority or without a ruler is all rather fitting.
Reading Emma Goldman’s Anarchism and Other Essays the last few days has left me feeling elated. I know I’m far behind the eight ball, but it’s like reading words from an old friend. One that knows and loves you. One that has seen you through those hard times and understands what it is you’re about. The one that possesses the eloquence and will power to put into powerfully simple words that which you have been unable, or even unwilling to. In the preface to the book she writes of the transient power of the spoken word and its inability to truly affect minds in the long run, and gives over to this notion;
“All claims of education notwithstanding, the pupil will accept only that which his mind craves. Already this truth is recognized by most modern educators in relation to the immature mind. I think it is equally true regarding the adult. Anarchists or revolutionists can no more be made than musicians. All that can be done is to plant the seeds of thought.”
Being an educator for several years now I have always known the above passage to be true and have been subject to it myself many times, yet I oddly enough persist in trying to show others a way. “Lead by example” they say, and they are right. But this doesn’t deter me from attempting to bend an ear or a heart in an attempt to influence; in an attempt to wake another from their slumber, in a sometimes desperate attempt to plant that seed.
This is just one reason why I’m admitting to a fledgling love affair. I’m only knee deep and If I were to count the ways I already feel fond of thee, this would be more than a mere post on a blog, it would be a lengthy book. The proponents of anarchy state openly that one of its soul purposes is to engage and lift the veil of ignorance that has fallen upon the masses. Openly acknowledging that each individual has the right to personal freedom. This freedom is not a tokenistic freedom, the likes of the free-market; freedom to buy, freedom to compete, yet still subservient to a binding and oppressive law, but the freedom to choose the course of ones life without hindrance of preordained or harshly fought economic and social positioning.
From all I have read in previous years, from the great educational emancipator Paulo Freire’s praxis of conscientisation, to Leo Tolstoy’s take on the dreariness of a privileged life lead by the character Ivan Illich, anarchy, for me, nods its head knowingly. To the real life philosopher Ivan Illich and his take on the deschooling of society, the convincing diatribes from the likes of Mohandas K Gandhi, Garry Leech, Ian Angus, David Suzuki and a thousand other brilliant restless minds not content with this lot, all coupled with a questioning spirit that has always disallowed me to be content with that which the dominant paradigm has served up, anarchism appears to fit very snuggly.
One should therefore bare in mind that they are entitled to a change of heart in future, myself included. Therefore if someone, anyone can show me where and why this mode of thinking cannot and should not be the answer in as convincing and beautiful prose as Kropotkin, Proudhon, Godwin and Bakunin, then I will gladly step down from my new found love and follow your noted lead. Until then:
Ever reviled, ne’er understood,
Thou art the grisly terror of our age.
“Wreck of all order,” cry the multitude,
“Art thou, and war and murder’s endless rage.”
O, let them cry. To them that ne’er have striven
To them the world’s right meaning was not given.
They shall continue blind among the blind.
But thou, O word, so clear, so strong, so pure,
Thou sayest all which I for goal have taken.
I give thee to the future! Thine secure
When each at least unto himself shall waken.
Comes it in sunshine? In the tempest’s thrill?
I cannot tell – but it the earth shall see!
I am an Anarchist! Wherefore I will
Not rule, and also ruled I will not be!
John Henry Mackay