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Enrager Anarchist FAQ V1.2

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Jacques Roux's picture
Jacques Roux
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Mar 9 2004 23:51

Yeah will try and remember to do it... i'll go thru and have a good pick at it first tho sometime when i get my arse in gear.

Jacques Roux's picture
Jacques Roux
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Mar 10 2004 17:52

I've added bits (green) and removed bits (red). I havent highlighted small punctuation changes.

I think that would be cool to put online now... we can always update and change bits in the future. We can leave this thread here incase anyone wants to change stuff and link to it from the article.

Are you happy with what i have done Saii? Do you want your name on the article?

--------------------------------

Anarchist FAQ V1.3

What is Anarchism?

Anarchism is one of a very few words which has two almost precisely opposed meanings (look it up in the dictionary if you're sceptical).

In the case discussed here, Anarchists are:

* Pro-mutual aid.

* Anti-bosses and the state.

Mutual Aid?

You know when people voluntarily organise things that benefit their community? That's mutual aid. When an earthquake goes off in Turkey, and thousands of people help out saving the victims without getting paid, it's mutual aid in action. On a smaller level, it's local groups voluntarily organising everything from music recitals to self-help seminars.

Mutual aid is also the basis for Anarchist 'economics' (not really the right word to use, but it'll have to do). Instead of having a money based system of exchange, everyone creates for themselves andeveryone else voluntarily.

<i>For example: A farmer will give his vegetables freely to a watchmaker even though he doesn't need a watch, because he does need things like fertilizer, and the guy who makes the fertilizer maker might well need a watch.</i>

Things are therefore produced according to need, not profit, resulting in higher quality goods, less work for all and no overproduction/consumption to cause boom and bust. I'll go into this more later.

How does that tie in with bombing things and revolutionary slogans?

Most Anarchists don't bomb things - in fact I'd guess most Anarchists have never even seen a bomb let alone blown one up. Anarchists are not killers, nor are they mindless thugs. You've probably seen the Mayday riots, and it's true that the police have a nasty habit of starting fights with us, but in the main we are no more or less violent than anyone else - and we do not fight without a very good reason. As with any 'extremist' group we do sometimes attract nutters, but these aren't taken seriously by real Anarchists.

Revolutionary is also misleading. Anarchists come in all shapes, from all-out 'I want it now' revolutionary to gradual reformist, and it is entirely up to you to decide which one makes most sense. What is agreed on by all is the end result, which is the introduction of a kinder, freer and more equal society. In those terms only is Anarchism revolutionary.

When you say you're anti-state though...

That's often taken to mean we're also anti- the people in the state. We aren't. People tell you all the time you should be more proud of 'our' nation, but since when has a national policy been helpful except by accident? People work around national decrees, not because of them. We're far more interested in letting local people decide what's best. You have way more knowledge and experience of what works for your community than any smartarse in Whitehall could ever do.

But it sounds like you're just saying lets get rid of law and order and leave everyone to it. It'd be... Well... Anarchy.

This is the bit most people have trouble with. Yes we are anti-law, but we aren't anti-order. Anarchists believe that laws are a) Used in 90 per cent of cases to prop up the government and big business and b) In all other cases pretty much useless.

Taking the example of murder, tinkering with the law has not made the slightest difference to the actual murder rate - reducing sentences from death, to life, to five years out in three has not led to an explosion of killings. Changes in the economy however have had a massive impact.

Given that an Anarchist society wouldn't be subject to the kind of boom and bust you see today, this suggests that the crime rate would almost certainly be substantially lower under our system in an anarchist society.

But getting rid of law altogether there'd be nothing to tell people what's acceptable...

Well this is where mutual aid, and habit, come in to take up the slack.

Hbit? What the hell has that got to do with anything?

You've heard of the Nature versus Nurture debate? Despite all the science we have no-one is entirely sure how much of a part genetics, as opposed to upbringing, plays in shaping the adults we become.

Anarchists, and most unaffiliated scientists, come down on the side of the latter. A habit is what everybody recognises as unwritten law, like flushing the loo before you leave. If you don't do it the police wont cart you away but it's unsociable and people will disapprove. The result is that the vast majority of people - particularly if they're know about bacteria and disease - flush and get angry if other people don't.

We believe that if habits are changed to encourage mutual aid and discourage anti-social behaviour, this combined with proper education and a stateless and equal community will be more than adequate to replace the school of criminality that is prison.

Well it might be fine for making people flush the loo, but we're talking madmen and murderers here. You can't stop them just by saying 'this is bad'.

No you can't stop the insane from comitting crimes, but as has already been pointed out, neither does the law. At best it keeps them away from the people they might hurt for a while by putting them all in jail.

Anarchists would argue however that if you put all of these people in one place where the norm is violent/irrational behaviour this will not reduce the number of psychotics in the long run but actually increase it, by putting people who might otherwise be saved in a situation where violence is an accepted part of life.

Anarchism doesn't claim to have all the answers to questions like this, no-one can, but we do notice when an existing system is failing to make any difference. For the sake of completeness there is a theory that says care in the community is the most effective idea, because it normalises them. There are various cases of violent, mentally maladjusted people who became docile when placed into a community of people who knew how to deal with them.

And what about people who are just bad to the bone? How can you possibly deal with them?

Again, without knowing the specific circumstances it's difficult to say how that sort of situation should be dealt with. What is true is that the vast majority of 'evil' people have a past based in poverty, abuse, similarly 'evil' parents or all three, and this is something that would be drastically reduced in a society based on mutual aid running without a profit motive.

What is also true is that there is no reason why a society should not defend itself against that sort of person shoud they try to take advantage. Anarchists are pro-freedom but we aren't stupid. There will always be times when you have to defend against your liberties being taken away by someone else, and this includes the freedom to live without fear.

What about the greedy, and lazy? Why would people work in a world where no-one has to?

Again this comes down to habit and mutual aid. As was mentioned earlier, if people feel there is a need for something they'll generally go out and do it, whether they're offered money or not. This is an instinct we all share. The selfish desire to do no work is something our society encourages, but even today, it is a social stigma if you don't work - if you've ever been dole scum or a student layabout, you'll know all about this.

Under Anarchism In an Anarchist society the emphasis on working for a living would actually be far greater than it is now, because if you are taking things for free off other people but give nothing back you will very quickly find yourself out of favour with everybody. In places where 'unorganised' groups have taken control, such as in Argentina, it is noticable that factory output has actually gone up, despite decreased hours.

What's wrong with hierarchy? Surely if people are in charge it's because they're best for the job?

We think it's wrong to assume that a small group of people are so much wiser that they deserve to lead everyone else. Politicians may be smart, and in some cases the Trotskyists and Leninists* are too, but that doesn't make them clever enough to run a land full of millions of people, nor does it make them immune to corruption.

A quick question back to you though. You've never met politicians, you probably never will, they don't know the first thing about you, your family or your community, yet you're prepared to let them run most of your life. Given that you sometimes help out your mates over people you don't know, are you not in the least bit worried that they'll give preferential treatment to the people and places they're part of?

That's different. I'm not running a country.

So? You think the amount of corruption you have now is likely to get smaller when you're wielding far greater power? I know I wouldn't trust myself to have that sort of self control. Anarchists are at heart extremely cynical people. We recognise that humans are a flawed race, and we don't handle power well. The only way to get around this is to take that possibility out of the equation.

This also explains why we're against Left and Right fairly equally. They're as bad as each other when it comes to the crunch. With the Left just look at China, or the USSR, or Vietnam, Cambodia and North Korea. The majority got Left behind (narf). If you haven't noticed the tendency of this society with its one in five poor in the UK alone to screw the poor and empower the rich, I'm not sure why you'd be reading this in the first place.

Okay fine you've said how it could be run, and why it should be done, but how? Most people aren't interested or ready to live without a government.

True enough, and not only is this the point at which we part ways with the Left, it's something we are constantly arguing about. Some Anarchists believe in revolution, some in reform and there are even some who advocate a return to 'barbarism'. There's no one easy answer and it's not something that can be solved in a FAQ; I'm afraid you'll have to come to a conlusion on that through your own experience and learning.

It just seems so useless when everyone around me is so uninterested, what's the point?

The point should not be that everyone else is uninterested, it's that you personally should be Anarchist. This can be done in any number of ways, and again it wouldn't be very Anarchist to dictate these to you.

As examples though, commonly used tactics include practicing Mutual Aid in your own community, promoting the virtues of Anarchism to others and undermining big business by always trying to buy small and local. There is also Direct Action, or going out and fighting directly for things that are good for your community.

If you have no other choice (for example with buying water/electricity from massive utility companies) there's no shame in not doing something 'Anarchist' in that particular case - only you know what you can and can't do to help out. But crying defeat before you've even begun is simply not the answer.

--------------------

*Trots and Leninists are the ones who keep telling you the only way to a better future is to let them lead you to it, because they know all about Marx and stuff. Good for them, I'm sure they'd be welcome in the Soviet Union but I suspect most Russians today would like to give them a good kicking for ruining the country.

Jacques Roux's picture
Jacques Roux
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Mar 10 2004 17:56

Might also be a good idea to post it on the infoshop newswire ainfos incuk etc...

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Rob Ray
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Mar 10 2004 18:36

You've been pretty kind with the editing there so no probs smile.

Putting my name on it... Nah, group effort and I daresay it'll eventually change out of all recognition to what I originally wrote.

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Jacques Roux
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Mar 16 2004 18:18

Have put it online at http://www.enrager.net/faq

Anyone else interested in contributing or updating / questioning bits, please do so and post them up here smile

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Jacques Roux
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Mar 17 2004 22:03

Infoshop talk on the FAQ here.

31337_haxor
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Mar 17 2004 22:52

Thank you for setting up a brilliant FAQ. and for telling people that we dont go around bombing things and arent drunk football hooligans!! smile smile

of course i woudnt mind bombing an empty McDonalds and child labourers (sp?) in GAP if i had to. And no i dont mean a resteraunt full of civilians. On mayday you'll see me happily smashing any shop that price gouges or uses child and slave labour wink

31337_haxor
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Mar 17 2004 22:58

Oh and heres a noob anarchist question. if someone has committed a murder under anarchist law what would happen to him?

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Jacques Roux
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Mar 17 2004 23:27

Good question. Why not post it in beginners thought and theoyr forum? Might be better in its own thread.

I know its a bit confusing with this thread to but ce la vie. smile

norulers
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Mar 22 2004 03:13

First off anarchist don't have laws. Laws imply state control. anarchist are anti state and anti authoritive control. If you want to understand how anarchist might deal with murder in an anarchist community then you sould go to a search engine and type in "Restorative Justice." This murderer could be austrasized from the community or the family might be given the option to kill him or oust him or adopt him to replace the persons life he took with all of the dead persons responsibilities to the family for life.

Jo Bloggs
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May 4 2004 11:37
Quote:
For example: A farmer will give his vegetables freely to a watchmaker even though he doesn't need a watch, because he does need things like fertilizer, and the guy who makes the fertilizer maker might well need a watch.

While, I think that this model illustrates mutual aid very well in general, I don't know if fertiliser (sp?) is the best example of a good in the mutual aid economy. "the guy who makes the farm tools/ploughs" might be better. Efficient sustainable food production should rely on the natural fertiliser available from the community that produces it (composting, green manure, human and animal 'waste', crop rotation ). Industrial agriculture and monoculture have created the 'need' for chemical fertilisers produced seperately from the food production unit as a way of concentrating control of agricultural production. Monoculture suits business and the state. I'm not suggesting you go into all this hippy bollocks in the FAQ - but different examples might avoid alienating peoplewith an ecological perspective.

Quote:
I'd guess most Anarchists have never even seen a bomb let alone blown one up.

I think you could get away with asserting this as a fact rather than a guess.

Quote:
As with any 'extremist' group we do sometimes attract nutters, but these aren't taken seriously by real Anarchists.

This kinda makes me feel uneasy. I don't want to come across as the language police here. I've met nutters in our scene and I've called them 'nutters' or 'wing nuts' or 'fucking liabilities' or 'mad fucking pricks who I never want to have anything to do with, if I can avoid it'. I just don't know if this is the right approach for a FAQ. In my experience, Anarchism does attract more than its fair share of people with mental health problems, and there are a lot of damaged people out there (not surprisingly given the social alienation and ecological damage we live in). I've cringed because some 'nutter' has gone off on one in a meeting or during an action/protest/community event. I'm not sure if you are trying to encourage people to persevere with anarchism even if they encounter some of our more eccentric fellow travellers. I guess my point is that "Real Anarchists(?)" just like "Real People" have to deal with mental health problems in their communities and maybe if a FAQ is going to try to address the issues this brings up it needs to be a bit more subtle than asking people to ignore the nutters.

Quote:
like flushing the loo before you leave. If you don't do it the police wont cart you away but it's unsociable and people will disapprove. The result is that the vast majority of people - particularly if they're know about bacteria and disease - flush and get angry if other people don't.

We believe that if habits are changed to encourage mutual aid and discourage anti-social behaviour, this combined with proper education and a stateless and equal community will be more than adequate to replace the school of criminality that is prison.

Well it might be fine for making people flush the loo, but we're talking madmen and murderers here. You can't stop them just by saying 'this is bad'.

I think that this is another good example of a good general point being made with a bad specific example. I know quite a few anarchists who don't flush the loo after a piss. It uses less water and their ain't much bacteria in a bowl of piss (would you live in piss?). They also often prefer to use toilets that don't have a flush (compost toilets) or shit in the woods. Don't get me wrong, I flush the loo after a dump, and even after a piss if my girlfriend's folks are visiting. But my vision of an anarchist society is one where shit and piss isn't waste that we "clean away" by polluting fresh water with it. Clearly none of this needs to go into a FAQ, but it might make the FAQ appeal more to people with an ecological perspective if you (we?) chose a different socially useful norm.

Quote:
This also explains why we're against Left and Right fairly equally. They're as bad as each other when it comes to the crunch.

Do we? I've got a lot of respect for the grassroots on the left. I might disagree with them. Do you really hold the rank and file of the labour movement and the grassroots of leftist parties in the same contempt as Tory boy? Trots and other socialists rarelyfeel the need to slag us off when they are defining themselves. I think we look better when we do the same. I'm up for a bit of Trot bashing when it is called for but it is good to keep powder dry. That way people listen more when you are critical of them.

Hope this doesn't seem like drivel. If the points seem padantic, maybe it is because on the whole I thought it was better than I could have done and agreed with a lot of it.

Kalashnikov_Blues
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May 4 2004 13:55

Fair points.

Most make sense, I think the toilet thing is totally padantic. I would imagine it was used mainly cuz its a "general" common practice, or at least one most people can relate to whether they choose to flush or not.

I am curious as to what sort of example you would come up with?

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Rob Ray
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May 4 2004 14:05

Yeah tis useful stuff ta, esecially the trot bashing point smile.

Bokonon
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Dec 7 2004 03:21
31337_haxor wrote:
Oh and heres a noob anarchist question. if someone has committed a murder under anarchist law what would happen to him?

To be honest, the suitable way of dealing with issues like that will come up when theyre neccessary. I mean anarchists are against state powers, yet the majority of us don't say too much about anarchists getting into government in the spanish revolution. We are meant to be against prisons, yet fuck me those spaniards created some crazy motherfucking mind bending prisons in their times, to chuck fascists into. It all depends on ths situation.

I would say that a whole load of violence is caused by inequality, racism, genderism, powerlessness, injustice, people dying in state/police cells, the killing off of creativity in kids and the little boxes we shove them into, all that kinda stuff is what anarchists (in my conception) are out to destroy. And with that in place nutjobs should be far fewer between, and hence less of a problem.

Bokonon
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Dec 7 2004 03:26
Jo Bloggs wrote:
Quote:
In my experience, Anarchism does attract more than its fair share of people with mental health problems, and there are a lot of damaged people out there (not surprisingly given the social alienation and ecological damage we live in). I've cringed because some 'nutter' has gone off on one in a meeting or during an action/protest/community event.

I think you'd find a few more pistachios per person in a Conservative Party gathering