Per Bylund on Prescriptive Anarchism

At Strike the Root, Per Bylund has made one of the most salient points about anarchism one can make:

It seems many anarchists can't think out of the box: they want something "instead of" the state, and so they put a lot of thought into making plans and defining what society they would want to see. The problem is that they think so much about this dream of theirs that they get stuck in the system they call anarchism. But anarchism isn't a system, it is non-system. Anarchism is spontaneous order, not contrived order.This is the terrifying part of the story: the system approach many anarchists subscribe to is a product of their inability to get rid of their boxed thinking. They are stuck with a statist mindset. They have managed to get rid of thinking of the state as some kind of guarantee, but they still can't get rid of the idea that there must be a guarantee. But as we all should know: there are no guarantees! Understanding that there are no guarantees means you are an anarchist, and it is liberating in the way that you don't have to replace systems with other systems. If there is no guarantee, there is no reason for a state (since it cannot guarantee anything anyway), and there is also no reason for replacing it with some other system.

This is such an important point that it bears repeating: anarchism is the absence of the State. Period. It is not a replacement system any more than atheism is an alternative diety to God. The simple fact that we have to have a philosophy that is defined by the lack of some other philosophy demonstrates how pernicious this fiction of the State is.

It's similar to a point I made earlier last year, but Bylund has made the point much plainer and penetrating. The question of how we convince people to abandon the trap of systems thinking and replace it with nothing still exists, though I do have some thoughts on leveling the field of conceptual possibilities.

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Written on Wednesday, January 10, 2007