On being an ethical anarchist & shit like that

from A las barricadas, English translation by Anarchist News

by Acratosaurio rex

What is it to be an anarchist? How do you measure that? Malatesta gave a definition that said that an anarchist is one who does not want to command and does not want to obey. He neither wants to dominate, nor to be dominated. Being an anarchist would therefore be a desire. A complex desire. Federica Montseny I think also used to say that anarchism is a philosophy of freedom, which intends the greater good for all. Which is something that is also not clear, what is the greater good.

However, throughout my life, I have met anarchists who have set a series of conditions: not voting in elections, not running as a candidate or being elected mayor, not eating meat, not drinking alcohol, not smoking, learning Esperanto, deciding everything in an assembly and having an ethical behavior.

For me, not being an appointed representative has been very simple: my profile doesn't make the cut. Not even if I sold out would those millionaire bastards buy me. Voting, I've only done it a couple of times to see what it felt like. The first time I felt like a moron I repeated to see if it had been a mistake, and I felt like an moron again, which is something that is also quite habitual in me for one reason or another.

I'm doing bad on the alcohol part. I usually don't drink between six in the morning and 12 noon. From there on anything can happen, so it can be said that when it comes to alcohol, I am only an anarchist during those hours and when I sleep. When I'm drunk, you can say that I'm not an anarchist if it pleases you.

The part about not eating meat, well no problem: I don't like it, it disgust me.

I learned Esperanto one time I broke my leg and had some free time. The bad thing is that since not a single anarchist in my immediate surroundings speaks it, it has not served me at all anarchistically speaking.

The part bout deciding everything in the assembly, I confess that I find those meetings to be tedious and unbearable. I prefer to wait in a bar to be given the the results to find out what I'll have to deal with.

And the part about having an ethical behavior… Here it goes. The ethics that is preached so much, to me, mind you, it's my opinion, I can be wrong… Ethics, it seems to me –in general lines–, a demonstration of Power, an alibi to impose a certain behavior on others. Those from the ethical anarchinquisition tell you that this or that is ethical or unethical, and you suddenly find yourself doing things that you don't really want to do, just because some idiot got into their head that you have to behave in a certain concrete way. And then you look at the guy, and you see that they leave a lot to be desired.

Let's see how I can explain it: for me, anarchism is doing what I really want. It is to carry out what comes out from inside of me with enthusiasm. And when someone starts talking to you about ethics, and what should be done, dash out. Because let's see if anarchism is going to end up becoming doing what one does not want. If you feel like it.

There are 10 Comments

Anarchism rests upon the ìdea that if the individual behaves better then everything else they are associated with will be better. Like lockdown, if the anarchist confines themselves and wears a mask then they wont be tangents for the spreading of the virus and the possible death of frail old grandparents with little grandchildren who love them and would be heartbroken if they died.

and by behave better i mean 'behave as i tell you to behave!'

ethics is just whatever values system you have in your head and an anarchist should probably spend more time than the average person exploring the implications of their values. that said, it's a totally abstract thing, it doesn't actually cause any issues whatsoever, except possibly mental anguish for the person whose brain these values exist in.

what causes the issues is enforcement of values: whether it's guilt or peer pressure or violent coercion or a thousand other things. if I have an ethical judgement, it's just a thought in my head, can't even influence another person until I start to DO something with it: harass them, criticize, force, etc.

ethics or values is just ... something literally everybody is always doing every day and talking about doing away with it or being above it is ridiculous, or worse, a smokescreen for shitty behaviour.

enforcement is about power dynamics and after years of watching people confuse these two things, I'm convinced that any theory that doesn't make clear distinctions around this is junk and will only confuse people further.

a thought experiment: OP infers that they've had a bad time with "ethical anarchists" trying to push them around or whatever. no doubt that's true, we've probably all had some version of this experience. but how many other times have we failed to meet somebody's expectations according to their values but they were chill about it and didn't bother making it an issue?

literally countless times, for everyone.

so it's a confirmation bias to say something like "ethical anarchists always give me shit for [blank]" because you hardly ever notice when somebody doesn't give you shit for [blank]. how could you?

So lumpotroll hypothetically if you know that wearing a mask will save the life of your ailing mother, father, grandma w/e, then you would wear it to produce the greatest good, and is not the greatest good, in all its incremental forms which make up a community's wellbeing the aim of anarchist ideas? Just like if you knew that sharing the produce of the land you had by making it available for free for hungry people to grow vegetables on would be for the greater good and therefore an anarchistic act hmm?

I mean, I think taking reasonable steps to prevent viral transmission or sharing resources is such basic, obvious shit that I'd be a bit suspicious of why it was even considered controversial ... or necessarily "anarchist"? it's not NOT anarchist... except to an idiot who doesn't get the obvious tension between personal liberty and not being a self-centred dickhead all the time. Or a troll who's pretending to be that dumb?

it would make more sense to me to interrogate the opposite. why wouldn't you share resources if it's reasonable to do so? why wouldn't you not take simple precautions for health risks? it's like using turn signals or condoms or whatever.

yeah, nothing much to disagree with there imo! and it leaves a lot of room too. how it should be.

it's annoying how the reactionary discourse around the pandemic has permeated everything, as if anarchists haven't been well aware of these inherent contradictions of liberty for centuries. who else would be such close students of the topic?

it's reactive, not reactionary

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