If this is anarchism, then I am not an anarchist

If this is anarchism, then I am not an anarchist:

Anarchism as we understand it is a continuation of the socialist labor movement, specifically the anti-authoritarian tendency of the International Workingmen’s Association. This is important in the sense that if it recognizes the existence of anti-authoritarian revolts and movements in human history before that period, as the existence of libertarian ideologies, it is anarchism as an ideological current steeped in history, not as a philosophical trend universally present in human history based solely on the refusal of the principle of domination.[1]

I received in my email this morning a post on the a-infos list, which I have archived here, containing these words. It is a lengthy post, poorly translated (presumably by Google), but clearly relying on cherry-picked authorities and incorrect definitions and stylistically claiming to speak for all anarchists.

The “Coordination of Anarchist Groups,” whose name is attached as a signature at the bottom of the posting, needs to get over itself.

The posting claims that veganism is a diet. Actually, it is more than a diet. It is a lifestyle. As much as possible, we refuse animal products. This means, for example, that our shoes are not made of leather, though they may be made of some mysterious substance that looks like leather. We do not wear wool.

The posting places anarchism strictly within a historical context. Continuing from the passage quoted above:

This does not negate the contributions of the different currents of thought with anti-authoritarian dimension in the emergence of anarchist ideology, but to restore the specificity of the latter, as a result of the Enlightenment materialist ideology based on synthesizing acquired a working emancipation movement, and incorporating the acquired other human emancipation movements also born of the Enlightenment such as anti-racism, anti-colonialism and feminism.[2]

So the authors accept “anti-racism, anti-colonialism and feminism” because, apparently, they are “born of the Enlightenment.” Why this restriction? It is arbitrary and indefensible. It locks anarchism to a historical period and inhibits its evolution. For no good reason.

The concepts of freedom, equality, rights, but also of domination, exploitation and oppression are thus not designed as abstract and subjective concepts, but as concepts related to social relations in the material reality of arrangement of human relations.[3]

And on what grounds are these concepts limited to “the material reality of arrangement of human relations?” They are entirely arbitrary, and with the word “thus” we can recognize a non sequitur.

Any scholar will immediately recognize that this is phony scholarship and an argument built on fallacies. Yet in its language—an authoritarian language, one might note—it pretends to scholarship. So not only is this authority, but it is illegitimate authority.

And if we are to valorize a particular stage of historical development, and thus ignore ethical evolution,[4] then I can just as readily break out the oft-cited etymology from the ancient Greek of the word anarchy, that is, without ruler.

One might note that in so doing, the “Coordination of Anarchist Groups” might limit the notion of ‘ruler’ to government authority, when anarchism is now generally understood to reject economic as well as political forms of authority, when anti-capitalism is increasingly understood to be a part of the feminist, anti-racist, and anti-colonial projects. The term feminism has also expanded. It is no longer, as it began in the early 19th century, simply about women’s rights; rather, it takes in considerations of race, class, sexual preference, gender, and physical ability.[5]

The “Coordination of Anarchist Groups” asserts authority, but illegitimate authority; it defines anarchism on arbitrary grounds; it excludes animals from the category of persons on arbitrary grounds; it valorizes a particular period of history on arbitrary grounds.

What absolute crap.

  1. [1]Coordination of Anarchist Groups to a-infos-en list, “(en) France, Coordination of Anarchist Groups – Anarchism and antispecism (fr, pt) [machine translation],” February 17, 2014, http://ainfos.ca/en
  2. [2]Coordination of Anarchist Groups to a-infos-en list, “(en) France, Coordination of Anarchist Groups – Anarchism and antispecism (fr, pt) [machine translation],” February 17, 2014, http://ainfos.ca/en
  3. [3]Coordination of Anarchist Groups to a-infos-en list, “(en) France, Coordination of Anarchist Groups – Anarchism and antispecism (fr, pt) [machine translation],” February 17, 2014, http://ainfos.ca/en
  4. [4]Philip Kitcher, The Ethical Project (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University, 2011).
  5. [5]Norman K. Denzin, Yvonna S. Lincoln, and Linda Tuhiwai Smith, eds., Handbook of Critical and Indigenous Methodologies (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2008); Gordon, U. (2008). Anarchy alive! Anti-authoritarian politics from practice to theory. London: Pluto.; Charles Lemert, ed., Social Theory: The Multicultural and Classic Readings, 4th ed. (Boulder, CO: Westview, 2010); Elizabeth Kamarck Minnich, Transforming Knowledge, 2nd ed. (Philadelphia: Temple University, 2005); Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Feminism Without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity (Durham, NC: Duke University, 2003).

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