“People have only as much liberty as they have the intelligence to want and the courage to take.”
A Brief Overview of Anarcho-Socialism
by Larry Rector
The purpose of this article is to provide a brief overview of Social Anarchy what it is, what it’s ideals are, and how it functions in modern society. It is not meant to be a complete covering of the topic in all its subtleties. There are (as you can well imagine) far too many ideas to cover this subject in its entirety. I assume no knowledge on the part of the reader, as this topic is considered somewhat obscure. If you already have an understanding of what social anarchy is, feel free to skip this article entirely, and look forward to more indepth articles on specific subject from me in the future. This is a followup to my interview on Local Liberty (link at end of article).
What it Anarchy?
Simply put, Anarchy (as we Anarchists define it) is the absence of government and absolute freedom for the individual as a political ideal. We are opposed to the state as a form of society, and seek to discover new ways to live in freedom and harmony without the imposition of the the state in our lives.
How does AnarchoSocialism Differ from other forms of Anarchy?
AnarchoSocialism (also known as Social Libertarianism or Social Anarchism) distinguishes itself from other forms of Anarchy by placing emphasis on supporting communitarian and cooperative aspects of Anarchy theory. Its philosophy can be summed up as: “Individual freedom is dependent upon mutual aid.” Our main focus is on community and social equality.
What are the main beliefs of AnarchoSocialists?
A lot could be said here, but I will stick to some key principals for now. Also, I cannot presume to speak for all Anarchists, or even all AnarchoSocialists, as such a large and freethinking group will be composed of many people with many ideas. These are just the basics that most of us agree on. (Feel free to post any questions in response to this article and I will gladly go into more depth on any given subject.)
We are opposed to the state as a form of society, and to capitalism as a form of economics. That being said, we are not entirely opposed to Federalism or authority altogether. For instance, a mother rushing into the street to pull her child to safety while scolding him for running into danger and ordering him not to do so again is a perfectly acceptable form of authority and in the case of her physically pulling the child out of danger is even a warranted use of force. The guidelines we set for any form of authority are as follows: 1.) It must be necessary and 2.) It must be moral. On these two ideas, we feel the state has failed as an institution, as we do not believe it to be necessary or moral. We also believe in democracy and the right of the people to vote on issues that affect them, and when necessary to have representatives or leaders for large projects.
We are opposed to both nationalism and to any form of oppression, including racism, sexism, religious sectarianism, homophobia, etc.… We are (obviously) antiauthoritarian at our core, and any group that seeks to impose its will on another stands in stark contrast to us.
How do AnarchoSocialists involve themselves with modern society? What do they see their role as?
The major ways in which Anarchists get involved and help to influence and shape society are by getting involved with mass movements, involvement in labor groups, and work within any group or organization which has goals common to our own (such as feminist groups, or racial equality movements). In this regard, we see ourselves as “thought leaders.” Ask any ten people at an occupy protest what they are protesting, and you are likely to get ten different responses. It is therefore imperative that we work to help shape the narrative, as well as offer our support. When working with mass movements, labor groups and others we also discourage any forms of racism, sexism, homophobia or other negative trends from springing up within such movements.
Most of us in modern times work with ‘Platformist Theory’ which offers a set of four major guidelines to follow when doing such work: Theoretical unity, Tactical unity, Collective action and discipline, and Federalism.
I realize that this article may seem somewhat short for being an introduction to a topic as complex as AnarchoSocialism, but hopefully I’ve been able to give you a brief insight into an interesting world of radical political beliefs. If I’ve sparked your interest at all, feel free to leave a comment or question and I’ll be sure to write more in the future.
Live Free, Live Well
-Larry Rector, owner of the blog: LivinLikeLarryOnline.com