The Beautiful Tapestry Of Anarchist Communities
Anarchapulco is a sweeping tribute to Anarchists groups. It brings together in one beautiful environment a host of activities meant to encompass the many facets of our everyday lives including family, finance, and freedom. Under the Anarchapulco banner, a myriad of different characters come to commune, each having unique perspectives about how to live. The rope that binds the entire event together is the belief in liberty.
Like the French Anarchists individualists who fought against government slander, we are constantly faced with unfair media coverage and portrayals. Who wasn’t engrossed in the fictional world of Sons of Anarchy, a program connecting the idea with a ragtag gang of barely literate, corrupt, and violent people? Never in any of the portrayals is there an attempt to elucidate any philosophy behind Anarchy. In modern times if you ask people what they think of Anarchy, facile images of mean biker gangs with axes to grind might be what comes to mind. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Throughout history, Anarchist groups have taken many different forms, many of which have complex ideological underpinnings.
Anarchy, however, hasn’t always been a philosophy of love and respect for the individual. In the past, Anarchist philosophy manifested in many forms, not all of which were equal. Anarchists often do not fit into the mold of public perception. Different groups of Anarchists have existed and are being created as economic, political, and personal views change. Here we’ll highlight a few of the philosophical groups that have come together under the Anarchist banner. *Spoiler alert: none of them are leather-clad motorcycle gangs
The absolute antithesis of angry motorcycle gangs, the Anarcho-pacifists focus on the promise of a more peaceful future. As an Anarchist school of thought, the belief espoused is that the more violence introduced into a situation, the less likely it is for peace to be the result. They posit that from violence and discord, it is impossible for any sort of progress to occur, excepting a focus on the perpetuation of showing force and strength. No revolution can occur unless and until tactical moves can be made that divert energy otherwise devoted to war, into generating a more peaceful society. Anarchist bastions of the world such as France and Greece were breeding grounds for these pacifist ideas. The desire for improved, less materialistic, and less militarized society transformed people from complacent citizens into individualists who sought out change through peaceful means.
People like Henry David Thoreau and Leo Tolstoy promoted this doctrine through their books and speeches, with Civil Disobedience being paramount reading for Anarcho-pacifists (and for all Anarchists really). Although both Thoreau and Tolstoy came from extremely different places, they shared the idea for a world without government. Tolstoy believed that the State “is a conspiracy designed not only to exploit, but above all to corrupt its citizens.” These two thinkers advocated for a society freed from chains of government that would be in balance with man’s purpose. However, they were committed to non-violent means to that noble end.
If a thousand men were not to pay their tax bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State to commit violence and shed innocent blood. This is, in fact, the definition of a peaceable revolution, if any such is possible. -Henry David Thoreau
Although similar to the pacifist Anarchists, the Green Anarchists are more environmentally centered. The doctrine is tied to Tolstoy and Thoreau as well but taken through a different needle hole. They believe that the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness is centered around the earth and our relationship to it. The idea of leaving the earth a better place for the future of mankind is at the top of their priority list. When the earth is happy and healthy, the population of the planet will be able to exist happily as well. Green Anarchists promote self-sufficiency and sustainable living. The simpler the lifestyle the less stress that occurs for all parties involved. These earth-loving anarchists are across the globe, all with the common bond of wanting to live simply and in balance with nature.
The political nature of modern culture is extremely hard on the planet. Political friction and ever-growing militarism is a constant threat not only to humanity but to all living beings. The assault on Hiroshima and Nagasaki are examples of governments at their most horrifying. The effect of their bombing campaigns is the devastation of life. We are the victims of government violence. So too is our earth.
The problem with a state that governs through the use of violence is that its power is an enticement for those seeking to use it toward their selfish ends. This leads to distortions in human interactions. Those interactions, with the state as an interloper, morph from harmonious and mutually beneficial exchanges to relationships of some parties gaining at the expense of others. Capitalism, absent government, is simply the peaceful acquisition of resources, the saving of resources to create for the future, and the free exchange of what has been created.
Today, for many, the word Capitalism possesses negative connotations. We look around and see mega-corporations, materialism, poor treatment of employees, a seemingly unending stream of corporate scandals, and the little guy seeming to suffer in the wake of the money masters. Anarcho-capitalists won’t deny that. However, they understand that what exists now is not Capitalism. The relationship between government and a privileged class of market participants is the source of all of the dysfunction of the present system. Many use government violence through laws and regulation to thwart the normal functions of a Capitalist economy and protect themselves from our free choices in the market place. They seek to make competition more costly and difficult. They shelter themselves from the responsibility of their mismanagement. They get bailed out when their mismanagement and poor allocation of resources might lead to their failure. And we are told that our only protection against heartless Capitalism is the State.
States have always needed intellectuals to con the public into believing that its rule is wise, good, and inevitable.- Murray Rothbard
The State distorts markets in many ways. One of the most glaring is its exercise as a monopoly provider of certain services. The Unites States Postal Service was one such service. Lysander Spooner is a celebrated Anarcho-capitalist. He stuck his neck out and spoke out against the USPS and its monopoly on the delivery of mail. Without the pricing mechanism of the free mark, the USPS charged exorbitant prices for their service. Without anywhere else to turn the public paid the price until Spooner decided he’d take on the USPS and start an independent postal service at much lower rates than the US government. There’s a good reason you’re not shipping your mail out with a Spooner-style postal service. The government did not allow such competition for long. However, his challenge wasn’t without benefit. The postal service lowered rates and postage became reasonable again.
Anarchapulco: The Meeting of Minds
We’ve listed a few schools of thought here, but so many more exist. There are Anarcho-communists, Anarcho-primitives, and the list goes on. If you feel like you’re sort of in limbo, between different Anarchist groups, that’s perfectly okay. Anarchists have a basic fundamental desire for no government rule. The path you choose to get there is personal. Come meet the assorted range of Anarchist thinkers in February at Anarchapulco and see the beautiful diversity that is the anarchy movement.
(Don’t worry, the Sons Of Anarchy aren’t invited.)