When someone says the word “Anarchist” what images come to your mind? Are they cartoonish little guys in black fedoras and trench coats carrying bombs? Is the one “fact” you remember about Anarchists from your high school world history classes that one of them was “to blame for the First World War?”
Entire volumes have been written in an attempt to explain what Anarchism is, how it developed and why it may still be relevant today. At its center, though, is the longing for freedom and for solidarity within the working class.
Nathan Schneider has written an excellent essay for The Nation, exploring what Anarchist roots have brought to the Occupy movement.
At its core, anarchism isn’t simply a negative political philosophy, or an excuse for window-breaking, as most people tend to assume it is. Even while calling for an end to the rule of coercive states backed by military bases, prison industries and subjugation, anarchists and other autonomists try to build a culture in which people can take care of themselves and each other through healthy, sustainable communities.
Schneider outlines some of the limitations that these roots seem to have placed on the Occupy movement, and the frustrations that a stubborn commitment to consensus has caused for traditional political leaders and groups. He cautions us to recognize what the movement is not (and will never be), but also points to what it has already done. “They’ve reminded us that politics is not a matter of choosing among what we’re offered but of fighting for what we and others actually need‚ not to mention what we hope for.”
Read Nathan Scneider’s Essay: Thank You Anarchists [The Nation]
Learn More About Anarchism: AK Press
A Definitive History of Anarchism: Black Flame: The Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism, Michael Schmidt and Lucien van der Walt