This blog has been set up as a forum for debate and for networking among those in, or with connections to, the Forest of Dean, and who consider themselves anarchists, or with some interest in anarchism, or even those simply curious about what anarchism might be.
Some might want to just debate, some might want to meet up for the odd social, some might want to organise – we hope this and the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/fodanarchists can be the starting point of discussion and, if we so desire, action.
While the writers of the blog think anarchy is the most natural way to be – the natural state of things before conditioning and social constructs muddy the waters – the notion of what an anarchist, anarchism and anarchy are, and are not, is a source of constant debate. Unlike Marxism, Trotskyism, Stalinism, Conservatism, Liberalism and Fascism, anarchism is not a readily defined political brand, ideology or dogma, but a debatable political theory, or set of theories.
The literal meaning of ‘anarchy’ is from the Greek ‘anarchos’, translated as “without a ruler/chief/authority”. It does not mean “absence of order”, disorder or chaos.
Anarchists believe in freedom for all, not just a few. Therefore an anarchist cannot, by this logic, be a supporter of capitalism, as anarchists are opposed to the oppression and exploitation which capitalism, feudalism and slavery thrive on.
An anarchist cannot be a nationalist, racist or fascist either, because these beliefs advocate freedom for only some at the expense of others.
An anarchist can be (but is not necessarily) a socialist, communist and/or green, can be a pacifist, an advocate of civil disobedience, or can believe in opting out of society, or building a society from the bottom-up (rather than top-down).
So much is up for debate. Anarchists can be individualists, or lifestylists, or collectivists, or a mixture!
Anarchists can be their own worst enemies as there are so many arguments about who is/isn’t a “real anarchist”. There’s a good chance some might take issue with this starting point of what I have written above about what an anarchist can and can’t be… but when we made the decision to set up this blog we firmly agreed, anarchism to us is anti-capitalist libertarianism, not the laissez-faire, “free market”, theory of “anarcho-capitalism” peddled by the US Libertarian Party and others.
We hope to educate, agitate and perhaps even organise, too!
Not sure whether you’re in or out of anarchism? Nor were Mahatma Gandhi, Tolstoy, Jung, John Lydon, Shelley, Rousseau, Tom Paine, DH Lawrence, Woody Guthrie or the former Metropolitan Police chief Brian Paddick (who switched from declaring an interest in anarchist thought to standing as a Liberal Democrat in London’s mayoral election!) – some immersed themselves more in anarchism than others but all had anarchic/left-libertarian dalliances.
Anarchism has played far more of a role in historical and cultural life than is given credit for… A rich vein of anarchism today runs through the Occupy and Indignados protests, the Arab Spring, the Zapatistas of Mexico and even many of the world’s communication systems, including the internet and the world’s postal service (free association being the key). Anarchism is very much alive and well, everywhere! Anarchy in action needs to be realised and celebrated much more than it is.
Very little about anarchism is set in stone but, as the Ukrainian anarchist Peter Arshinov advised: “Look into the depths of your own beings, seek out the truth and realise it yourselves: you will find it nowhere else.”
We are far from utopian, we are realists. The struggle will continue, but we believe that a better world IS possible, and that the situationist slogan “be realistic: demand the impossible”, is as valid in Milkwall or Drybrook, 2013, as it was in Prague, Madrid or Paris, May 1968.