Once upon a time, I was a dedicated anarchist. I did much independent research on the cause to make sure it was a decent fit for my beliefs, and, for the most part, anarchy matched up well with my personal reality tunnel. Then I made the mistake of reading recent writings by anarchists, particularly in Anarchy magazine. Some of it was very good stuff: I felt it was important to read about recent books on the topic, general history of the movement, and news updates covering everything from demonstrations to government crackdowns. I read the magazine for a couple of years before finally giving up on them in disgust.

First, they devoted far too much space to pedantic arguments about obscure anarchist terms that I didn't understand. While that may be fun for long-time anarchists, it bored me to tears and surely scared off potential anarchists. Wouldn't a short review of general anarchist philosophies for the benefit of newbies help swell the anarchism ranks?

Second, they spent too much time beating up on both the newbies and the old-timers. Sure, a bunch of the newbies had no real idea what anarchism was about and were just supporting the cause to shock their parents, but the authors and editors were often fairly vicious in their vilification of new anarchists. And their treatment of the old-school anarchists was far worse. Some was justified--they jumped on an old-timer who had just written a self-congratulatory autobiography that denounced everyone else in the movement--but they also ridiculed a respected anarchist solely because he was active in the 1970s.

Next, the magazine started a pro-Unabomber campaign, claiming that, as a bomb-throwing liberal eco-anarchist, he was a model we should all emulate. The fact that the only people he targeted were college professors and aviation engineers--not the Army, not the CIA, not Congress--apparently meant nothing.

The final blow was when the editor started claiming that anarchists should start working with right-wing fringe militia groups. Hello? Last I heard, the militias wanted to destroy the federal government and replace it with their own preferred form of government--in no way does that translate to anarchy.

So I gave up on them. If a worthwhile anarchist movement ever pops its head up, I'd go for it; otherwise, I think I'd prefer to remain outside the political system.

Anarchy magazine is the domain of such anarcho-primitivists as John Zerzan and Bob Black -- the sort of authors the Eugene, Oregon mall rats who caused such havoc at Seattle would be interested in. You call this Anarchism? Their denuciation of technology and promotion of a "workless society" leads me to class them alongside other utopians. You were reading the wrong material. I'm sure you're familiar with the work of Noam Chomsky, Murray Bookchin, and Mikhail Bakunin; these are "real" anarchists. It's safe to disregard whatever the Neo-Luddites and their followers (usually of suburban, middle-class origin) say.

While not being an anarchist myself (I went through that phase during junior high school and so get to mock fellow college students wearing anarchy patches bought with their parents' money), I've read enough to know that anarchism does not reject the idea of organizations, tim_three's writeup aside. (Strangely enough, the one source of information that stuck in my head the best was a didactic college comic strip with a anarchist protagonist)

The idea behind anarchy is the lack of non-consensual organizations and institutions. If you do not wish to follow the laws, rules or morals of an institution, an anarchist feels one has the right to ignore them. As one can imagine, this hardly makes the police, the government or the authoritarian priests of organized religion happy, since according to the idea of Deep Anarchy such beliefs challenge their very existence. This doesn't mean that no organizations should exist. Actually, most serious and intelligent anarchists work hard on building local area-based organizations as a way to decentralize social control and so allow the community to avoid interference from non-consensual institutions. Of course, the majority of anarchists are either alienated adolescents or "I'm more politically aware than you" activists with the resulting alpha male primate power struggle typical of groups that claim to be completely equal, but there's a few clued individuals out there. They're simply more idealistic than most people, who think some amount of non-consensual order is necessary.

My conclusion of that fact, incidentally, is why I gave up on anarchy and became a libertarian several years later. But I still feel the ideal in my heart, if not my head.

The word anarchy stems from greek. It means, roughly, "no ruler." Not "no order," or "no society."

I think that you are confusing anarchy as a movement (which is so very multifaceted-- eco-anarchy, anarcho-feminism, anarcho-syndicalism, and so forth ad nauseum-- that a magazine presents nothing like the whole of the idea) with anarchy as a political scene. If you get caught up in the fads and cliques of some of the "anarchists" you end up missing the meaning which is supposed to be carried through.

This is carried to the extreme when one looks at the general public's views on anarchy, which are, on the whole, completely unrelated to what anarchy actually is. On the whole, the public sees anarchy as a movement which seeks to reduce everything to chaos, which is violent, and which is largely composed of angry, violent adolescents. In reality, anarchy is a movement that, for the most part, is completely supportive of having a cultured civilization, is supportive of technology, and has a rich, varied history. And, in direct opposition to the "violent" stereotype, a large portion of the anarchist movement is composed of pacifists, seeing the use of physical violence as a form of coercion.

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