Is “Anarchy” Inherent to Anarchism?

The political vocabulary of the average modern western “civilian” is quite limited. There are lexical gaps everywhere, and certainly when talking about meta-political concepts. And with anarchism, this is even greater, as it is a unique paradigm, and a shift towards a new way of conceiving human nature. Anarchism, for a lot of people who are not affiliated with it or don’t bother reading political theory, can be quite hard to talk about in a sufficiently nuanced manner. For example: here we will discuss the difference between anarchy and anarchism, which is bigger than you might think.

Of course, the first difference is that anarchy is a system, and anarchism is an ideology. Analogous to how monarchy is a system, while monarchism is the ideology that advocates a monarchy. Now, that is only a surface-level difference. For example, this fact does not mean that anarchism can simply be described as: “The ideology which advocates for anarchy,” as is the case with monarchism. That would be a misleading statement.

The second difference shows us something about praxis. An anarchic society (whichever form it takes) is an ideal society, but should we always operate on its basis? No! Anarchism is not about getting stuck in ideal systems and idealist utopias, rather it thinks about real issues right here, right now. And so we must sometimes step out of our ideological wishes to propose different solutions, and sometimes work within the state to diminish greater evils. It is not because we can’t erase the state at once, that we can’t work towards a better state in the meantime. A state which does not interfere with people’s lives as much as now, a state which brings about more economic equality, etc. And so we must sometimes work together with other leftists, but also sometimes work together with capitalist libertarians, while never changing our deeply held beliefs. We must not refuse to criticize the state, for its wrong actions or its lack of philosophical legitimacy. And so we can use aspects of and the contradictions within the state as an instrument for anarchism, while also denouncing it at the same time. However, we still must fight true dictatorship and authoritarian methods with great vigour, as they are never permitted, even if some think it could further our cause. We always must have a balance between our want for statelessness, and our want to better the conditions of the people. In conclusion: we must not enlarge the power of the state, never, but, neither must we vanquish it at once.

Anarchism is like an asymptote, we always want to get closer to anarchy, but we don’t know if we will ever truly get there. Even though one might think anarchy is impossible, however, one shouldn’t necessarily exclude it from all possibilities, but it certainly will take a monumental change in the consciousness of the people through a slow libertarian evolution. Is this gradual and realistic approach any less anarchist? No, because anarchism is not about directly and immediately “installing anarchy,” it’s about getting closer and closer to the ideal of anarchy, and a wish to get to that point (let us not be mistaken, it is still a goal). But, we must also see the challenges of our times, and how the modern human in 2021 goes about their ways, and we must conclude that, even if we just end up in a more libertarian system along the way, we will still be better off than today.

And so we must adopt philosophical anarchism as a way of balancing our ideals and the struggle in which we’re currently engaged. Revolution won’t get us anywhere, we must use counter-economics and dual systems (so, practical means of organisation) to begin an evolution towards anarchy. No revolution, evolution! We must build our own factories, run by our own cooperative workers’ collectives, establish our own mutual credit banks, make sure the workers have houses, are nourished, and have clothing. We will build a second society within the current capitalist one. And if it is better for the workers, those workers are happy and live in better conditions, etc. Then, more workers will switch to our side. We should then institute parties that defend these institutions in parliament, and we will break open the state from the inside. Every second of every day we will tend to anarchy, and work to get closer and closer. 

Anarchism is a journey, a process implemented. Although we are going into unknown territory, the general direction is clear: go forth, toward anarchy, with realism!

Anarchy and Democracy
Fighting Fascism
Markets Not Capitalism
The Anatomy of Escape
Organization Theory